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Taipan (Tai Pan) Tours Canada East 3 Day Bus Tour Review

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Taipan (Tai Pan) Tours Canada East 3 Day Bus Tour Review

Tour Bus

Big bus - good for 50 people. Seats were reclineable. It was clean and the driver was good.

Tour Guide

Spoke in English first then Mandarin then Cantonese maybe because these were the proportion of people in the tour. His english is passable, some mistakes in grammar but overall we knew what he meant. He really knows a lot about the places like history, background, etc. I don't care if he just made up the specific dates. Although he was annoying in asking for donation for the church, he was generally OK; showed some sense of humor and signs that he gives a **** on the tourists. Much better than what I was expecting after reading some reviews online.

Hotels

Montreal - Holiday Inn Midtown (only location is commendable).

Quebec - Hotel Universal (cheapest), Hotel Plaza Quebec (mid), Loewes Le Concorde (highest). Stayed at the Le Concorde, much much better hotel than the Holiday Inn and location was fantastic. Those who stayed at the other 2 hotels couldn't walk to the Old Quebec anymore.

Food

Everyone had the option of joining the buffets. 1 Dinner ($18) and 2 Lunch buffets ($13) including tax per person. The guide collected the money without telling the name or type of restaurant. He eventually allowed our group to check the buffet first before paying.

Good thing the places these buffets were located had other restaurants around them.

Optional Tours

Civilization Museum - $12

Biodome and Montreal Tower - $27

Thousand Island Cruise - $20

Day 1

8AM: Left Pacific Mall in Scarborough

1030AM: Reached Kingston. Drove by Prime Minister McDonald's House, the jail museums and then gave us 30 minutes to take pictures around the harbour.

12NN: Reached Brockville, 1 hour for lunch at our own among fastfood chains.

230PM: Reached Ottawa, gave us 30 minutes to take pictures in Parliament Hill. Obviously not enough time.

330PM: Spent roughly an hour in the Museum of Civilization. Why they chose this museum, I don't know.

7PM: Dinner at Fu Lam fake Chinese buffet for those who went with the tour. A couple of restos in the area including a McDonalds.

8PM: Check-in at Holiday Inn Midtown Hotel. Very tired and old hotel with soft beds. Walked to Rue St. Catherine on our own.

Day 2

730AM: Arrived at St. Joseph Oratory. Guide asked for $5 donation each. Not everyone gave of course. Spent an hour here; too much considering only 30mins was given for the much nicer Notre Dame Basilica.

9AM: Arrived at Notre Dame Basilica. Barely appreciated the place because of the time constraint.

10AM: Arrived at the Biodome for the optional tour. Didn't bother joining.

Lunch at Fu Lam fake chinese Buffet again before reaching old Quebec.

4PM: Arrived at Old Quebec. Free time for the rest of the day.

Day 3

1130AM: Brunch at Win Wah, another fake Chinese buffet. Ate at Eggs and Crepes which wasn't great either.

12PM: Reached Thousand Islands; cruise for 1 hour.

530PM: Stopover at the Big Apple before heading back to Toronto.

--------------------------------------------------------------

Pros: Cheap and you get to see 3 cities in 3 days.

Cons: Very tiring (wake up at 6am for 3 days but you get back to the hotel early also). Barely enough time to take in the grandeur of the places. Limited food choices.

I don't know why they included the Civilization Museum, the Biodome and the Montreal Tower while skipping Old Montreal and some more popular sites. I'm guessing the tour agency gets a cut from these places. The tour would have been better if we were given alternatives (or free time) to these places.

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West Grey, Ontario
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1. Re: Taipan (Tai Pan) Tours Canada East 3 Day Bus Tour Review

Hi greenarcher04;

Thanks for the trip report.

Best Regards

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2. Re: Taipan (Tai Pan) Tours Canada East 3 Day Bus Tour Review

<Fu Lam fake chinese Buffet>

LOL!

Thanks for the report back and closing the circle on your earlier querries. It should be invaluable to others contemplating the same tour.

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3. Re: Taipan (Tai Pan) Tours Canada East 3 Day Bus Tour Review

It is a Chinese tour. That's what their clients want and are willing to pay for. Maximum number of destinations in the minimum amount of time so that you can take the "been there" pictures to show for it.

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4. Re: Taipan (Tai Pan) Tours Canada East 3 Day Bus Tour Review

Yes I know that. It's the same reason why I was wondering why would they include a museum and the Biodome. Chinese in general do not like museums. Zoos and oceanariums are everywhere in China as well. Old Montreal on the other hand offers a very western feel. If I were a mainlander Chinese, I would rather go there than the 2 above.

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5. Re: Taipan (Tai Pan) Tours Canada East 3 Day Bus Tour Review

In the back of my mind, I seem to think we had offered up some cautions about how much was being crammed in. Doesn't sound like my kinda tour, but they have their uses when you're in a tight time frame.

Nonetheless, it was good of you to post such a detailed review. Gives us locals a chance to understand what these kinds of tours offer so that when other visitors ask us, we can point them to this review.

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6. Re: Taipan (Tai Pan) Tours Canada East 3 Day Bus Tour Review

Yeah. These tours are popular yet there's hardly anything on them here in TA. I got my info on redflagdeals and Chinese blogs.

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7. Re: Taipan (Tai Pan) Tours Canada East 3 Day Bus Tour Review

Hi Greenarcher04,

Welcome (back) to the TORONTO TRAVEL FORUM.

First off… thank you very very much for this detailed TripReport… it will go a LONG way to helping out other Travellers.

To tell the truth I don’t know whether to laugh, cry or scream…

The idea that this company is selling this as a “Tour of Canada” is LAUGHABLE… you saw very little of what makes this country great. As a Canadian who has great passion for my country… that makes me sad… truly so sad that I want to CRY… that you’ve come all this way and spent most of your time on a bus being herded from location to location while essentially seeing little more than the Expressways that link our major cities together. And I want to SCREAM, because this Company is continually finding customers to rip off in this way !!

In the end, I am very angry with this company…

This tour is unbelievably disjointed… beyond the fact that the days were long, you literally went to very little that I as a Canadian here on the CANADA FORUMS would pick as our MUST DOs or MUST SEEs (you probably realize that now from reading thru the various FORUMS).

I have said it before, a good amount of these Motorcoach Touring Companies that are operating in our country are actually being run by Non-Canadians (US Touring Companies, European Touring Companies, Asian Touring Companies)… and as such they are truly out-of-touch with what makes our country great… focussing on the wrong stuff… and not giving enough time to our fantastic scenery, and memorable destinations. Hopefully, in the not to distant future, this will change… and we’ll see more Canadian owned Touring Companies in this industry. BUT in the meantime, my advice stands that the best way to see Canada is on one’s own, and preferably with a rental car.

Knowing ALL of these Destinations well (live in Ottawa, born in Montreal, have family in Quebec City, and wanting to retire in the Kingston-1000 Island area)… I can say that this is a “horrible” itinerary on what makes these places truly stunning to Travellers and Canadians alike.

Kingston & Montreal aside for a moment… the rich Canadian tapestry that exists in Ottawa & Quebec City alone truly needs to be savoured… and explained. Something that I doubt your Tour Guide did (no matter how “convincing” he sounded)… and rushing thru both of these locations… lol, a couple of hours for Ottawa, and an evening in Old Quebec is well… just plain painful for me to read here !!

So it is no wonder that Ottawa’s Canadian Museum of Civilization came off making no sense what-so-ever !! The Museum of Civilization is ranked as one of the BEST Museums in Canada showcasing ALL of this great country… 10 Provinces & 3 Territories… and how incredibly different we are from sea-to-sea-to-sea (a land mass equivalent to the size of ALL of Europe) and yet what binds us all together into something that makes us uniquely ALL Canadian. But with aprox 1 Hour to take it all in… it is no wonder that it came off as being so incomprehensible. One word… CRAZY, comes to mind, for whoever dreamed up this part of the Schedule.

It certainly would have been better in a more “comprehensive” Itinerary… say if you had actually had the opportunity to take the Tour of Centre Block at Parliament Hill or visited Government House (Rideau Hall) beforehand… As I cannot say enough about how knowledgeable of Canada both of these locations Tour Guides are… and the great job that they do introducing not only these Historic Buildings but also our colourful history, culture and modern country to Visitors from around the world.

3 Days in total for this Motorcoach Tour (which BTW covered aprox 1700 Kms and 20 Hours of Driving Time… best case scenario) not to mention 4 Cities, and countless important geographic areas… ALL that it sped on thru… is absolutely RIDICULOUS !!

Kingston & the 1000 Islands deserve an OVERNIGHT… Ottawa & Montreal EACH NEED 2 FULL DAYS, and Quebec City another 3 DAYS.

As you have guessed many of these Destinations are most likely offering kick-backs to the Tour Company (KNOW THIS FOR A FACT about the Big Apple along the 401). In a kick-back situation, the spending of all the patrons on the Tour Bus is tracked… in the case of the Big Apple that means what you eat at the Café, buy from the Bakery, or in the Gift Shop… then the Tour Company gets a credit (cash or cheque?) issued back to them from the company.

Which is a LOT DIFFERENT from a normal Restaurant’s operations when a Tour Bus comes in… in that scenario the Bus Driver and the Tour Guide eat “on the house”… as a sort of thank you for bringing in the 50 say Passengers.

(In regards to the above 2 paragraphs… I have FIRST HAND knowledge of this because I have infact been involved with some Motorcoach Tours for another group that I volunteer with).

Interesting from your description, that those places having the most solid of reputations were the places where a Passenger was required to pay EXTRA to visit… the Museum of Civilization in Ottawa – the Biodome in Montreal – and the 1000 Island Cruise. (BTW… the $ 5 was for the entrance to Notre Dame Basilica in Montreal… not St Joseph’s Oratory… guessing the Tour Operator tried to collect it at St Joseph’s in hopes that by the time you all got to Notre Dame, that everyone would have “broken down” and given him the “Donation”… (also gotta wonder about this, in that it is a KNOWN EXPENSE and as such probably should have been handled the same way as the other TOUR EXTRAS… can’t help but think therefore that the “Donation” request is some sort of a scam).

Sad to see there were no “optional” tours in Quebec City… but then again, with the limited visiting time you were given (and most of it night when things are closed… cannot be all that surprised).

As for St Joseph’s Oratory… and WHY they were on this tour… I haven’t a clue… BUT do know that this is not a place that we typically recommend on the MONTREAL TRAVEL FORUM… unless one has a particular interest in either Father / Brother Andre (Montreal’s Patron Saint) or is a devout Catholic wanting to tour this Shrine.

Far more important to the History of Montreal… is Notre Dame Basilica in Old Montreal… a church that tells a story about the city itself (religion – history – craftmenship etc) … and of course again, it should be seen as part of a much broader Itinerary, that includes the rest of Old Montreal where it resides (gosh… cannot imagine that you weren’t given time in this area… considering you were RIGHT THERE !!)

The Restaurants as you’ve mentioned are not outstanding… just “fake Chinese” (lol… good terminology). And not well regarded here on TA (currently at 2-1/2 and 3 HOOTS Respectively).

Same thing with the Hotels… the Holiday Inn Midtown in Montreal (420 Sherbrooke Street) is desperately in need of a facelift… and ranked on TA currently at # 96 out of 170 Hotels for Montreal and with 3 HOOTS for TA Member Satisfaction.

Lol, What I can’t understand is why they are not using the Holiday Inn Express Centre-Ville (155 Rene Levesque Blvd) which is extremely well located in regards to both Montreal’s China Town and Old Montreal… as it literally sits on the border of both neighbourhoods. (Currently ranked on TA at # 67 out of 170 Hotels for Montreal… and has 3-1/2 HOOTS for TA Member Satisfaction).

Lol… oh ya, silly me I forgot… it probably is more expensive, or doesn’t give a “kick-back” to the Tour Operator.

Oh well… c’est la vie.

GREENARCHER04… I as I said at the beginning, your TripReport here will go a LONG way to helping out other Travellers with the “reality” that these Motorcoach Tours offer... and for that I am grateful.

But I am sad, that unlike yourself, there are so many others who haven’t discovered TA who obviously are being duped by these companies… and getting such a poor picture of Canada and these Destination Cities… this truly is a crime.

Hopefully now when someone GOOGLES this Motorcoach Touring Company, this TA FORUM Topic will come up, so they can read and know more about what really they’ll be getting for their money.

As the saying goes… “Sometimes a bargain… isn’t a bargain at all... ya just end up getting what you pay for... a CHEAPENED experience"

Cheers!

Wine-4-2

Edited: 27 May 2011, 12:35
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8. Re: Taipan (Tai Pan) Tours Canada East 3 Day Bus Tour Review

Few of these bus customers are duped, at least not for the Chinese tours. The majority of their customers are Canadian/American residents and they know exactly what they are getting, and what they are going to see. They don't have the time for the "full" Canadian experience. And you won't be able to stay in the same hotels with the same transportation for what they charge if you try to arrange that on your own.

North Americans visiting Asia on similar coach tours, it's the same thing.

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9. Re: Taipan (Tai Pan) Tours Canada East 3 Day Bus Tour Review

Yep, there are tours everywhere that do a great disservice to the areas they cover. There are some higher-quality bus tours -- where you pay more for better accommodations, a better-qualified guide, a smaller group, and a more relaxed pace -- but even then there's something about travelling in a mob of people following a guy holding up an umbrella that makes it hard to get a true sense of the place you're visiting. Large group tours can't go to the off-the-beaten-path places (by definition), can't linger to accommodate one person's particular interests, and they change the atmosphere of the places they do go (as many independent travellers have witnessed).

It seems like GreenArcher mostly knew what he was getting himself into, so I'll just add my thanks to him for writing up the details for us.

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10. Re: Taipan (Tai Pan) Tours Canada East 3 Day Bus Tour Review

@Wine-4-2

I also enjoyed your reply. Like what mattInTO said, I knew what I was getting into because I was with someone who lives in Mississauga and has joined some of their tours before. The only reason we pushed through with the tour was because we are coming halfway around the world and we wanted to see as much as we can (while doing a lot of non-touristy stuff which I will explain later). Hopefully there will be a next time for those cities we visited.

Yes almost all the people in the tour was OK with how the tour was laid out. They know what they were getting into and they were OK with that. Seeing their reaction after the tour, it seems none of them were closed to being pissed off. LOL.

My companions stayed for 2 weeks while I still have another week. We did St. Jacob's, Niagara Falls, Niagara on the Lake, Blue Mountain, some parts of downtown and a LOT of shopping (Wal-Marts, Sherway, Vaughan Mills, Erin Mills, Square One, Eaton Center plus the outlets at Niagara and St. Jacobs).

The weather was also not cooperative so we weren't able to enjoy downtown as much (skipped CN Tower, Harbourfront, Distillery, etc.) Good thing I still have a week to see them. We're still fairly satisfied since the weather was great when we went to Blue Mountain and the 3 day tour. It could have been much worse.

Edited: 27 May 2011, 23:47
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