I will travel to China to meet some suppliers in late April. It's my first time to visit there. I am thinking to hire someone in local who speaks good English as my personal tour guide and interpreter for this trip. Does anyone know how to find one?

  • 2
    Do you have any friends or colleagues who've been to the region you're going to before? Personal recommendation is likely to be best, given how big China is, and how many people live there!
    – Gagravarr
    Mar 23, 2015 at 12:34
  • 1
    Many Chinese suppliers will arrange things like airport pickup and transport to/from hotel to factory or office. That's fairly standard business practice and not considered ethically questionable.
    – Hilmar
    Mar 23, 2015 at 22:13
  • If you're going to the Canton fair there are plenty of English-speaking guides who will take your money. But really, I don't think it's all that necessary, especially if you have even a bit of Mandarin. You're buying so it's up to them to accommodate (within reason). Mar 24, 2015 at 0:33
  • Can you elaborate on where in China, and define what you mean by "professional"? Professional (in the sense of primary means of employment and income) services are surely available, but there is a wide spectrum of quality and cost. Service standards and regulation in China are quite different from those in North America / Western Europe. Related (not a duplicate). Apr 2, 2015 at 5:30

1 Answer 1


Your question is how to find one, and not to make a direct referral of a translator/guide. I have assumed that you want a trustworthy and reasonably high quality daily escort. Mark Mayo added 'credible and/or official sources to the question. To research an answer I sent out five emails (I made it clear that I intended to pay the fair market rate for that service)...

  • The Chinese Commercial Attaché at the Chinese Embassy in New York
  • The Chinese Commercial Attaché at the Chinese Embassy in London
  • The Catholic Diocese in Beijing
  • The Church of England post at the Theological Seminary in Nanjing
  • The British Council's mission in China

The two commercial attaches replied within several hours. They both said that they could not help.

The British Council replied saying that they do not make referrals on an official basis and suggested that the Cultural Section at the British Embassy in Beijing may be able to help. I then contacted the consular officer on a personal basis and he was able to help make several referrals subject to my schedule and the specific regions of China I would be visiting. I would consider these to be the most trustworthy and highest quality translators/guides.

The two religious organisations both replied wanting further details of my schedule and geographic destinations within China. Also the type of translation required (simultaneous, consecutive, whispered, or escort) and if engineering or technical expertise was needed. Although I was vague, they invited me to contact them again when my plans were solidified. Based upon the email exchanges I am confident that I would be ultimately referred to a trustworthy and high quality translator/guide.

I also searched the net for language schools and escorted tours, but these are readily available to you anyway and would be difficult to qualify them as 'credible and/or official sources'. See https://www.google.com/search?q=escorted+tours+in+china

For your question, how to find one, you can use this template...

  1. Nail down your travel dates along with the specific locations you will be visiting. This seems to be vital in order to proceed.
  2. Identify which type of translation you need: simultaneous, consecutive, whispered, escort
  3. Identify any niche vocabulary requirements such as engineering or technical terms
  4. Compose an introductory email that lists all of the above and send it to the cultural section of the embassy in China that represents your nationality. You may need to approach an officer on a personal basis.
  5. Do the same for any allied cultural organisation in China that has a post designated for your nationality or religion. If you need an introduction you may be able to obtain one locally from the corresponding organisation in your own country.
  6. Follow up as needed. Including another, more detailed question on this site if needed.
  • This may well find you highly qualified guides, but I'm pretty sure you will also pay through the nose for them. The mere mention of an embassy tends to magically inflate rates considerably... Jul 11, 2016 at 13:40

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