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Looking for a guided tour company to see China

Longboat Key...
Destination Expert
for Longboat Key
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645 posts
155 reviews
198 helpful votes
Looking for a guided tour company to see China

Hello,

Can anyone recommend a good tour company for seeing China? I'd like to see the great wall, forbidden city, tianimin square. terra cotta warriors, and other places of interest. I'd like to spend 7 - 10 days seeing the sites. I'm looking for the type of tour company where you can stay in nice hotels, eat good food, and where they don't run you ragged. More of a luxury type company than a discount travel company.

Thank you for your recommendation.

21 replies to this topic
New York City, New...
Level Contributor
2 posts
121 reviews
48 helpful votes
11. Re: Looking for a guided tour company to see China

My family booked a 13 day tour of China during Jul-Aug 2017. 4 to 5 star hotels. We started in Beijing, took a HSR to Xi'an, flew to Guilin, did the Li River cruise to Yangshuo, flew to Chengdu, took a HSR to Chongqing, did a 4 day cruise on the Yangtze disembarking in Yichang and finally flew to Shanghai. We were quite busy as you can imagine. This was a private tour so we did not have to wait for other travelers. We had our own bus, and requested no shopping stops which conserved time. We also got to choose our own restaurants but did rely on the guide's recommendations. Overall the trip went ok – it was an ambitious itinerary but with the help of our national guide (Tiger Qi) and the local guides, we were generally on track and covered all the planned touring sites. China is a fantastic place to visit and so dynamic that some of the cities previously visted by some of our group were unrecongnizable. It was summer and many of the destinations were 100+ degrees and humid. Still there is so much to see and experience.

Tiger was a resourceful and affable guide that helped get things done. He was sometimes too laid back, but managed things well. Wheelchairs were reserved effectively for our two disabled passengers and we never missed a connection. Local guides were mixed - we were unnecessarily rushed in some places as the local guides were not taking into account the whole schedule. Our bus blew out one of its rear tires in Guilin, but the guides and driver decided that we could keep driving (at a reduced speed) since the other tires were ok. Very questionable safety but because our flight was delayed it was already midnight and everyone was too exhausted to really debate this. Food recommendations were mixed as local guides sometimes could only recommend tourist traps (Chengdu food was great, Shanghai was terrible). The driver in Chengdu struggled to find the right road to enter Huanglong Xi. It took an hour to check into the Portman Ritz Carlton in Shanghai. The VIP seats for the Sichuan Opera were terrible (all the seats were on the far left side). We were told they have no control of VIP seating - which raises the obvious - why bother paying extra. If we paid for VIP seats, that’s what should be delivered. We had excellent seats for the Shanghai acrobat show but only apparently to make up for the lousy seats in Chengdu. These were apparently considered VVIP seats! Hotels generally good, but the Bravo in Guilin is really a dump. The Yangtze Gold 2 had weak air conditioning, stiff beds, and worn out rooms, but good food and service. We enjoyed the cruise. I would also not recommend a grocery store that the local guide at Chongqing stopped at before the cruise – the cashier clearly tried to double charge us on several items.

The performance of the tour guides were average overall. Plenty of little things went wrong that are not worth mentioning. At the same time, plenty of little things went right. The local guides really make a big difference. The most serious issue occurred sometime between Xian and Chengdu. $350 was stolen from my wallet. My wallet was in my backpack which on a few occasions I left it on our private bus when making pit stops. I advised our guide of the stolen cash in Chengdu and he reported it to his home office but there was no follow-up. As you can imagine, this rattled me and our entire tour group and afterwards we did not feel as secure as we should have. It was distracting. It was foolish of me to leave my concealed wallet unattended but I felt that Pacific Delight should take responsibility for this loss since the guides and drivers were their contractors. I followed up with Pacific Delight but they hid behind their general disclosures. Because of this Pacific Delight gets a poor rating. Good companies go above and beyond to make their customers happy - this one did not.

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cornwall
Level Contributor
6 posts
5 reviews
12. Re: Looking for a guided tour company to see China

We are visiting China next April and have already booked return flights to and from Shanghai. We have received suggested itineraries from China Odyssey, Wendy Wu, Audley, Emperor and China Tours and are a bit baffled by the varying prices and suggestions? We are in China for 20 days. Does anyone have experience of companies that organise private tours which arrange everything for you? We have prices which range from £2500 to £4500 per person and are unsure if the difference is in quality?Any advice would be much appreciated.

Los Angeles...
Level Contributor
11 posts
6 reviews
10 helpful votes
13. Re: Looking for a guided tour company to see China

Would be cautious of Wendy Wu

Wendy Wu Tour-Silk Road Tour-September 2017

A MAJOR DISAPPOINTMENT . We wasted 5 full days......yes, 5 days in which we did nothing relevant to the published tour itinerary, in order to avoid overnight trains (which were on the itinerary) and make sure we were forced to see the "factory tours" (retail sales stores).

Booked online, direct with WW.

Xian was horrible. 2 days of itinerary inexplicably changed into one day AND we did not arrive at the first venue until 11:30 AM, because we were forced to go to a retail store. 1 1/2 hour rush job at Terra-cotta Warriors (+ 1 hr for lunch), one hour on the City Wall and 40 minutes in the Muslim Quarter (my wife and I had spent 3 hours there, before the tour started). People traveled 1/2 way around the world, and we were to " walk thru, and if you have questions, you can ask later".....since it was our first (and only) visit, we started to guess at what would be a good question. Only to be told that we were out of time for Q&A.

There was a complete inability , OR DESIRE, by (all but one) local guides to impart knowledge.

The National Rep was scared of the local guides. Even when our entire group complained to her, she would not ask the local guides to be more informative.

Luckily, there were two Phd.'s, who were tourist in our group........they spent their time correcting the local guides, and they helped provide historical , cultural, and antiquital information.

in Kashgar, the outdoor animal market opened only on Sunday at noon. We were taken there between 10am and 11:15am........and told that we had to leave early.

The entire 25 day tour was fraught with excuses, unnecessary waste of days, and venues in which we had too little time to permit a proper understanding of its' historical importance.

IMAGINE, Spending the money for a couple to take a WW TOUR, and then being told that you needed to rush through several important venues, that were the major highlights of the tour

Longboat Key...
Destination Expert
for Longboat Key
Level Contributor
645 posts
155 reviews
198 helpful votes
14. Re: Looking for a guided tour company to see China

I used China Odyessy and was very pleased with them. It was a private tour and although they had an itinerary, we could go or not go to certain things depending on how we were feeling or what time of morning we wanted to begin. Be sure to visit Shanghai a modern and historic city that will amaze you.

Miami, Florida...
Level Contributor
1 post
14 reviews
11 helpful votes
15. Re: Looking for a guided tour company to see China

We just returned from a trip with Laurus Travel and had a wonderful experience. The guides were very knowledgeable and made us feel comfortable everywhere we went. We traveled in a small group of four and enjoyed the company of our fellow travelers very much. The guides respected our privacy and made sure we were well managed throughout the various cities, including Beijing, Wuhan, Shanghai and Xian. We also loved the cruise on the Yangtze River and the Three Gorges dam. The hotels were excellent, and except for a change in Shanghai that took us away from the Pudong district, the hotels were all immaculate, served great breakfast buffets and had excellent accommodations. Should we ever visit China again, we will call Laurus Travel for sure!

London, Canada
Level Contributor
1 post
105 reviews
49 helpful votes
16. Re: Looking for a guided tour company to see China

Just got back from a 19 day China Odyssey Tour organized by Laurus Travel. Although usually independent travelers, we are late sixties and thought we would prefer an organized tour for our first visit to mainland China. It was a good move as we avoided a lot of the hassles and we think it would be difficult to get as much done in the same time organizing it on our own. We searched the web for a tour company that we thought would suit our needs and then selected Laurus Travel based on their web site and a number of reviews we found. We sure picked the right company and can not say enough good things about Laurus Travel. The tour group was generally 20 people maximum and occasionally fewer as a number of travelers came and went along the way, The group was an excellent mix of Canadians (11) and Americans (9), couples and family groups and friends and we were fortunate that everyone seems to get along well and and had similar likes/dislikes and interests.

Guides

Our guide (Howard) was the best. Always organized, on schedule and very helpful. He kept tabs on everyone and was always very concerned about us - making sure that we were enjoying our selves and that any issues and illness even were dealt with promptly. Additional little things he did (like an evening trip to downtown in Xian) made the trip even more special. We would love to book a future trip with Laurus especially when he is the guide.

In addition, all the local guides in each city were superb. We learned so much about China from their discussions of history, their lives in China and occasionally even about the politics of China. They all seemed to enjoy being guides, were enthusiastic and had a great love for their country. They were proud to tell us about China and its achievements. Additional features they helped to arrange and book (like the Guilin evening cruise on the canals and the Chinese opera show in Beijing) are well received by everyone and added to our enjoyment of a great trip.

Hotels

The hotels were all first class, well situated, had very helpful staff and the very nice breakfasts included were a bonus. Most were Sheratons, all were very well looked after, clean and with comfortable beds. All had separate shower and tub.

Tours

All of the train trips and our flight in China (Guilin to Shanghai) were on schedule, and comfortable and we always knew where we were going and what to expect ahead of time. The local guides were always there to meet us and Howard was always in constant contact with them to ensure that those trips and our arrivals went smoothly.

Everything was organized to maximize our time at the major sites like early departures from the hotel to avoid crowds and this greatly enhanced the experience.

The local buses utilized were clean, well equipped with cold bottled water and the drivers seemed to be able to get us from A to B via the most effective routes despite the horrendous traffic at times.

There was an excellent balance between organized portions of the day and the occasional free time to enjoy the cities and meals on our own.

River Cruise

Although we did not expect the Yangtze river Cruise boat to be very luxurious, it was actually better than we expected and the 3 days went by very fast. All the crew on the boat was attentive and helpful. The included trips off the boat were OK.

Laurus Travel

All of the arrangements by Laurus travel came off smoothly and as promised. We booked extra hotel days at the beginning and end (Beijing and Shanghai) and a train trip before the tour from Hong Kong to Beijing - all through Laurus and these were all arranged with no surprises.The staff in the Vancouver office did a superb job. They were always there to handle questions and help us with the arrangements and the Visa application.

We would very highly recommend Laurus Travel on all fronts. We hope to return to China in a year or 2 to tour additional areas not included in our trip this time. We would only consider booking any China arrangements and tours through Laurus based on our experience this time.

All of the arrangements by Laurus travel came off smoothly and as promised. The staff in the Vancouver office did a superb job. They were always there to handle questions and help us with the arrangements and the Visa application. We can't thank them enough for helping making this a trip of a lifetime.

Level Contributor
46 posts
22 reviews
23 helpful votes
17. Re: Looking for a guided tour company to see China

I'm just starting to plan ... quite a daunting task. THANK YOU for this wonderful review!

Florida
Level Contributor
1 post
113 reviews
67 helpful votes
18. Re: Looking for a guided tour company to see China

After exhaustively researching tours to Asia we decided to book a trip to China with Laurus Travel. We booked the 20 day China in Depth and added on the 5 day package to Guilin and Hong Kong as well as 3 extra days in Shanghai. Several months prior to the trip we added on the 13 day Japan tour as it was a short flight away. This back to back was a leap of faith as we booked with Laurus based on reviews, the website and our interactions with Laurus. We made the right decision! The tours exceeded our expectations. In particular, the trip to China was the best trip we have ever taken. There were 17 people on our tour split between Canadians and Americans. We are seasoned travelers and typically do two international trips per year.

The tour director Paul was concerned and attentive to our needs and was a wealth of knowledge. The guides in each city were very good, in particular Jacob in Beijing and David in Guilin. Between Paul and these guides they knew the best time to arrive at various sites and how to skip the lines, which was greatly appreciated.

The hotels were, for the most part, wonderful. In particular the Pan Pacific in Suzhou was a 5 star property. The Sofitel in Chengdu as well as the Sheratons in Beijing, Xi'an and Shanghai and the Harbour Grand in Hong Kong are all 4+ star properties. The Victoria Jenna is a 3 star ship in my opinion. We went to local restauants, not touristy ones and were usually the only foreigners in the restaurants. I was warned that the food in China was awful. This was not the case at all. The meals were delicious, plentiful and are all served family style.

The tour is a very active trip. Expect to walk long distances and several hundred steps on several days. There were a few very early days. We took high speed trains everywhere with the exception of a flight from Beijing to Guilin. The trains were clean and comfortable and there was plenty of room for luggage. I would recommend 25" or smaller.

The decision to go with Laurus is an easy one. They are genuinely concerned that you are given the best quality tour available at a reasonable price. The hard part is deciding which tour to take. I looked at luxury tours and decided that the price differential was not worth it. I would say that this trip was one step down from luxury, more of a premium tour. Having a small group is a huge plus.

I would recommend including Guilin in your itinerary if time allows. After all of the massive cities in China it was great to experience the beautiful countryside.

New England
Level Contributor
2 posts
19 reviews
9 helpful votes
19. Re: Looking for a guided tour company to see China

We just completed Laurus Travel's 22 day 'Essential China with Yunnan' Tour. The entire experience was outstanding. The city accommodations were 5 star, Guides were knowledgeable, well spoken and provided plenty of information about the important sites, the area and culture, and current China. There were no logistical problems at all over our 9 city route. Meals were excellent, varied and plentiful. The tour package was very well-priced for the value provided. I am quite pleased with the trip and recommend Laurus to you if you're thinking a a trip to China.

1 post
1 review
2 helpful votes
20. Re: Looking for a guided tour company to see China

After an incredible vacation, I had to take mention China Culture Tour for doing a wonderful job on an incredible trip. 5 stars! All the guides and accommodations were wonderful. Special compliments to, Nora who booked the tour and took time after work to come say hello, meet us in person, and Jessica in Chengdu. Translation (our Chinese was very limited) was great, and understanding of the people and history of what we were seeing was awesome. Now, being honest the trip we booked was not for the plush, feet up in the air, vacationers. Maybe China Culture Tour does that, I don’t know. But this was myself and my 17-year-old son, hiking at Least 7K+ every day, through cities, mountains, etc. That being said, to meet the people, culture, taste real Chinese food, and see raw beauty of China, we could not have asked for more. They even rallied all forces at a moment’s notice and got us back on track when we missed a bullet train. Thanks for a great vacation China Culture Tour.

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