Review 1

What Was The Most Memorable Or Exciting Part Of Your Holiday?

Our holiday was more of an adventure and filled with so many memorable moments that it is hard to pick the best one. Some of the highlights were definitely the yangzte cruise, going to the panda research base, entering the forbidden city and climbing the Great Wall. Seeing the Terra Cotta warroirs and meeting Mr Yung who found them was also a very memorable experience. A personal highlight was definitely sitting in the oldest tea house in Shanghai where we drank chinese flower tea and ate small quails eggs.

What Did You Think Of Your Tour Leader?

Our tour leader Jay was great. Anybody who lands on a his tour should be very happy. He went out of his way to make the tour enjoyable and stayed optomistic even if some of the group got a bit edgy, he really tried to accomodate everyone. He was very informative and was always ready to explain any questions we had about China or the culture.

What Advice Would You Give To Other Travellers?

Be prepared for a lot of walking and to imerge yourself in China. But definitely prepare yourself for the squatt toilets, always carry toilet paper with you and unfortunately the squatt toilets arent of the cleanest or nicest smelling in public restrooms. If you dont like to or cant eat with chop sticks make sure to pack your own spoon and fork!!

Reviewed by Janaline Smalman who travelled in July 2012

Review 2

What Was The Most Memorable Or Exciting Part Of Your Holiday?

Cycling through the rice fields outside of Yangshou, surounded by the Limestone hills – absolutely awesome!

What Did You Think Of Your Tour Leader?

Keith was absolutely excellent – he played a huge part in making the trip fun, and informative. He went beyond what was expected to ensure that everyone got the most out of our adventure.

What Advice Would You Give To Other Travellers?

Take lots of photo’s, try to learn (and use) a few words of Mandarin, immerse yourself in the culture incl. the food, don’t be afraid to adventure off the mail tourist tracks.

Reviewed by Shaun Waterman who travelled in May 2011

Review 3

What Was The Most Memorable Or Exciting Part Of Your Holiday?

I can honestly say that every day of this trip was a highlight, because every day took us to a different iconic place, wonder or cultural phenomenon. The mountains of Yanshuo, depicted in Chinese paintings, the Three Gorges, The Terracotta Warriors, The Great Wall and Forbidden City, The West Lake of Hangzhou, and perhaps above all, the Yellow Mountain….not to mention modern cities like Shanghai and Beijing . Also, all the shows and theaatre trips were brilliant and stunning. Do them all! Perhaps as well as that long list, one should mention that it was interesting, and sometimes overwhelming, to meet modern China head on, over a whole month, and understand more about its position in the world today. But what an incredible opportunity.

What Did You Think Of Your Tour Leader?

Keith, our Chinese tour leader, was absolutely wonderful in every way: great sense of humour, very intelligent and thoughtful, very caring and thorough.. a proper friend to guide us through a month of complex and wide ranging travel, involving trains, buses, taxis, and of course, a boat (Yangtse) and numerous smaller expeditions and theatre trips. Everything ran so smoothly, thanks to him. This really is one trip we could never have managed ourselves, not knowing Chinese. I cannot praise him highly enough. We were lucky to have him.

What Advice Would You Give To Other Travellers?

This is a challenging and amazing trip, particularly if you really interested both in Ancient Chinese Culture, as well as contemporary China – which is evolving faster than the speed of light. You need to be aware that travel is long and often quite basic, though comfortable. You will carry everything yourself so travel light. You need to be healthy to sustain the pace. We took Pre-biotics, as we always do nowadays when we travel, and never had a day of sickness. Do everything, eat almost everything (not bullfrog, dog or jellyfish head) and enjoy the contact with the very friendly Chinese people.

Reviewed by Mary Walker who travelled in April 2011

Review 4

What Was The Most Memorable Or Exciting Part Of Your Holiday?

The cycling day from Yangshuo

What Did You Think Of Your Tour Leader?

Truly brilliant and always ready to help with any extras

Do You Feel Your Holiday Benefited Local People?

They photographed us as much as we photographed them…. Seriously, good interaction, all helping to open up what was once a very closed country

Do You Feel That You Got Under The Skin Of A Country?

Not possible in 16 days, but we made a good attempt!

What Advice Would You Give To Other Travellers?

Pack a camping foam mattress — hard Chinese beds are killers!

Reviewed by Terence Kennedy who travelled in October 2010

Review 5

What Was The Most Memorable Or Exciting Part Of Your Holiday?

Too many memorable parts to pick just one! The Great Wall, the Li River, and the rice terraces stand out for me, but my son’s favourite was playing cards in a tea house in Cheng Du, while my husband had his ears cleaned!

What Did You Think Of Your Tour Leader?

Zhao Bo was brilliant. Informative, patient and with a sense of humour.

Do You Feel Your Holiday Benefited Local People?

Somewhat, but not perhaps as much as other tours we have done, as most of the places were Chinese tourist destinations too.

Do You Feel That You Got Under The Skin Of A Country?

yes. We certainly saw more of daily life and living conditions that the average tourist.

What Advice Would You Give To Other Travellers?

Go with the flow. Do not expect western levels of comfort and stay away from the Starbucks/McDonalds/KFC options available in the big cities. Take flipflops for the rafting in Yangshuo and put on loads of sun cream. You do NOT need to dress up at all. And DON’T order western meals in the Dong village and expect to get them – this is the middle of nowhere!

Reviewed by Prudence Bray who travelled in July 2010

Review 6

What Was The Most Memorable Or Exciting Part Of Your Holiday?

The tour has so many memorable moments but i think the sleeper trains are something we’ll never forget! We loved Yangshuo – the atmosphere here, although a tourist area, was great and the scenery was spectactular. Of course the Great Wall and the Pandas were amazing – such a privilage to witness these.

What Did You Think Of Your Tour Leader?

Our tour leader was great! friendly and approachable, willing to go out of his way to ensure that we had a great trip. Also offering sound, honest advice about the optional extras offered on the trip.

Do You Feel Your Holiday Benefited Local People?

We used lots of local transport and ate at local restaurants. We also used specific local guides for some excursions.

Do You Feel That You Got Under The Skin Of A Country?

I think we did as much as possible.

What Advice Would You Give To Other Travellers?

As the tour started we were presented with a little information pack that was great. It said that one phrase that we’d find our selves saying a lot would be ‘This is China’. We certainly used this phrase a lot – it is unique and you have to view everything with an open mind! The best bit of advice would probably be – always carry some toilet roll in your pocket – you’ll need it!

Reviewed by Sarah Rogers who travelled in July 2010

Review 7

What Was The Most Memorable Or Exciting Part Of Your Holiday?

Walking on the quietest stretch of the Great Wall, A bit scarey but fantastic and two older Poms proved to the Aussie that they were fit enough to do it!!

What Did You Think Of Your Tour Leader?

Victor was great and very considerate to us as the oldest members of the group. His local knowledge and organisation was excellent. He could also cope with our different Western humour.

Do You Feel Your Holiday Benefited Local People?

To the extent that we had local guides and spent money on food and souvenirs locally.

Do You Feel That You Got Under The Skin Of A Country?

Loved the country areas, particularly Yangshuo where we felt we saw the real China. The cities , apart from the people and the old buildings, are beginning to look like all big cities. Would have liked more time in some of the cities though to see more – particulary Xian and Beijing where it was all at a bit of a gallop. Feel I understand a bit more what “China” means.

What Advice Would You Give To Other Travellers?

Don’t take AM Xpress travellers cheques – it took an age to change them in banks and there are loads of ATMs which work fine with a Debit card. Resist the visa agencies advice to get too many visas if you are only passing through China. Transit does not require one.Add on extra days in Hong Kong and Beijing to see everything. Take plenty of snacks for train journeys. The supermarkets are quite confusing and instant pot noodles pall after a while! Be determined to keep your place in a queue – the locals will be. They really appreciate a few words in Chinese. We had a great group that ate together which meant we had lots of different dishes to try. Victor was excellent at ordering. Vegetarians did not always get protein. Have space in your luggage – the markets are very tempting. Laundry is easy to find so you can cut back on the clothes. Take a lap top if you want to keep in touch. Wifi available in a lot of hotels.

Reviewed by Alison Jones who travelled in May 2010

Review 8

What Was The Most Memorable Or Exciting Part Of Your Holiday?

There are SO many! It’s very difficult to choose just one. Apart from The Great Wall and Hong Kong I feel the most memorable, for me, was Tibet. I wasn’t expecting to be blown away with it as I was. In particular I remember the Tibetan women dancing in their town centre and all the traditional clothes the older generation wore. I loved the feeling of being a million miles away and having no contact with my world back home (due to lack of internet access and a personal problem I had with my phone).

What Did You Think Of Your Tour Leader?

The tour leaders were incredible! I feel very safe and trusted them were times got difficult. There were certain obstacles that had to be overcome, like when the jeeps on our safari ride broke down at times. I felt confidant that they were going to be fixed and that we weren’t going to be stranded in the middle of nowhere. Our tour guide for the whole trip was particularly special. I loved his constant enthusiasm even though he’d done this trip many many times before. He was a brilliant storyteller and never failed to make any of the group laugh. He was also very helpful when any of us became homesick or had personal problems. He was a great listener and you felt conformable talking to him.

Do You Feel Your Holiday Benefited Local People?

I certainly did. I loved the homestay because it wasn’t touristy and enabled us to experience something very different to other holidays. Just being around villagers and buying from their family businesses made you feel like they were benefiting from us. This is because you were not pouring money into bigger business in the Cities that sold some of the same products but for a higher price. The Longji Terrace in Guilin comes to mind because they survived on tourism. But at the same time it was not ruined by it. They still sustained the life they had before and could carry on with their day-to-day routines on the rice paddies without being damaged by visitors.

Do You Feel That You Got Under The Skin Of A Country?

Definitely! The time span helped with this because it didn’t feel rushed. Having three weeks enabled you to spend more time in one place so you didn’t feel like you were travelling all the time. However, I did also enjoy the variety of travel methods offered. The sleeper train was a favourite because I loved being around locals and being able to grow a close bond with my group.

What Advice Would You Give To Other Travellers?

Don’t rent a bike with no gears! I did whilst travelling round the Yangshuo scenery and paid for it! It was such hard work and in the heat it became very uncomfortable. I was lucky to have such a supportive group taking it in turns to ride next to me as I lagged miles behind! I would also suggest buying what you like when you see it because you never know if you’ll see it again. And also to not look at you itinerary the day before. I loved waking up not knowing what the day held for me. We also had changes to our tour so it was good not knowing what I was missing as that could of put a downer on the trip, if you had your heart set on something. It also makes the trip feel longer because you’re not counting down the days to all the different excursions.

Reviewed by Mary Allen who travelled in April 2009

Review 9

What Was The Most Memorable Or Exciting Part Of Your Holiday?

There are SO many! It’s very difficult to choose just one. Apart from The Great Wall and Hong Kong I feel the most memorable, for me, was Tibet. I wasn’t expecting to be blown away with it as I was. In particular I remember the Tibetan women dancing in their town centre and all the traditional clothes the older generation wore. I loved the feeling of being a million miles away and having no contact with my world back home (due to lack of internet access and a personal problem I had with my phone).

What Did You Think Of Your Tour Leader?

The tour leaders were incredible! I feel very safe and trusted them were times got difficult. There were certain obstacles that had to be overcome, like when the jeeps on our safari ride broke down at times. I felt confidant that they were going to be fixed and that we weren’t going to be stranded in the middle of nowhere. Our tour guide for the whole trip was particularly special. I loved his constant enthusiasm even though he’d done this trip many many times before. He was a brilliant storyteller and never failed to make any of the group laugh. He was also very helpful when any of us became homesick or had personal problems. He was a great listener and you felt conformable talking to him.

Do You Feel Your Holiday Benefited Local People?

I certainly did. I loved the homestay because it wasn’t touristy and enabled us to experience something very different to other holidays. Just being around villagers and buying from their family businesses made you feel like they were benefiting from us. This is because you were not pouring money into bigger business in the Cities that sold some of the same products but for a higher price. The Longji Terrace in Guilin comes to mind because they survived on tourism. But at the same time it was not ruined by it. They still sustained the life they had before and could carry on with their day-to-day routines on the rice paddies without being damaged by visitors.

Do You Feel That You Got Under The Skin Of A Country?

Definitely! The time span helped with this because it didn’t feel rushed. Having three weeks enabled you to spend more time in one place so you didn’t feel like you were travelling all the time. However, I did also enjoy the variety of travel methods offered. The sleeper train was a favourite because I loved being around locals and being able to grow a close bond with my group.

What Advice Would You Give To Other Travellers?

Don’t rent a bike with no gears! I did whilst travelling round the Yangshuo scenery and paid for it! It was such hard work and in the heat it became very uncomfortable. I was lucky to have such a supportive group taking it in turns to ride next to me as I lagged miles behind! I would also suggest buying what you like when you see it because you never know if you’ll see it again. And also to not look at you itinerary the day before. I loved waking up not knowing what the day held for me. We also had changes to our tour so it was good not knowing what I was missing as that could of put a downer on the trip, if you had your heart set on something. It also makes the trip feel longer because you’re not counting down the days to all the different excursions.

Reviewed by Mary Allen who travelled in April 2009

Review 10

What Was The Most Memorable Or Exciting Part Of Your Holiday?

There are SO many! It’s very difficult to choose just one. Apart from The Great Wall and Hong Kong I feel the most memorable, for me, was Tibet. I wasn’t expecting to be blown away with it as I was. In particular I remember the Tibetan women dancing in their town centre and all the traditional clothes the older generation wore. I loved the feeling of being a million miles away and having no contact with my world back home (due to lack of internet access and a personal problem I had with my phone).

What Did You Think Of Your Tour Leader?

The tour leaders were incredible! I feel very safe and trusted them were times got difficult. There were certain obstacles that had to be overcome, like when the jeeps on our safari ride broke down at times. I felt confidant that they were going to be fixed and that we weren’t going to be stranded in the middle of nowhere. Our tour guide for the whole trip was particularly special. I loved his constant enthusiasm even though he’d done this trip many many times before. He was a brilliant storyteller and never failed to make any of the group laugh. He was also very helpful when any of us became homesick or had personal problems. He was a great listener and you felt conformable talking to him.

Do You Feel Your Holiday Benefited Local People?

I certainly did. I loved the homestay because it wasn’t touristy and enabled us to experience something very different to other holidays. Just being around villagers and buying from their family businesses made you feel like they were benefiting from us. This is because you were not pouring money into bigger business in the Cities that sold some of the same products but for a higher price. The Longji Terrace in Guilin comes to mind because they survived on tourism. But at the same time it was not ruined by it. They still sustained the life they had before and could carry on with their day-to-day routines on the rice paddies without being damaged by visitors.

Do You Feel That You Got Under The Skin Of A Country?

Definitely! The time span helped with this because it didn’t feel rushed. Having three weeks enabled you to spend more time in one place so you didn’t feel like you were travelling all the time. However, I did also enjoy the variety of travel methods offered. The sleeper train was a favourite because I loved being around locals and being able to grow a close bond with my group.

What Advice Would You Give To Other Travellers?

Don’t rent a bike with no gears! I did whilst travelling round the Yangshuo scenery and paid for it! It was such hard work and in the heat it became very uncomfortable. I was lucky to have such a supportive group taking it in turns to ride next to me as I lagged miles behind! I would also suggest buying what you like when you see it because you never know if you’ll see it again. And also to not look at you itinerary the day before. I loved waking up not knowing what the day held for me. We also had changes to our tour so it was good not knowing what I was missing as that could of put a downer on the trip, if you had your heart set on something. It also makes the trip feel longer because you’re not counting down the days to all the different excursions.

Reviewed by Mary Allen who travelled in April 2009

Review 11

What Was The Most Memorable Or Exciting Part Of Your Holiday?

There are SO many! It’s very difficult to choose just one. Apart from The Great Wall and Hong Kong I feel the most memorable, for me, was Tibet. I wasn’t expecting to be blown away with it as I was. In particular I remember the Tibetan women dancing in their town centre and all the traditional clothes the older generation wore. I loved the feeling of being a million miles away and having no contact with my world back home (due to lack of internet access and a personal problem I had with my phone).

What Did You Think Of Your Tour Leader?

The tour leaders were incredible! I feel very safe and trusted them were times got difficult. There were certain obstacles that had to be overcome, like when the jeeps on our safari ride broke down at times. I felt confidant that they were going to be fixed and that we weren’t going to be stranded in the middle of nowhere. Our tour guide for the whole trip was particularly special. I loved his constant enthusiasm even though he’d done this trip many many times before. He was a brilliant storyteller and never failed to make any of the group laugh. He was also very helpful when any of us became homesick or had personal problems. He was a great listener and you felt conformable talking to him.

Do You Feel Your Holiday Benefited Local People?

I certainly did. I loved the homestay because it wasn’t touristy and enabled us to experience something very different to other holidays. Just being around villagers and buying from their family businesses made you feel like they were benefiting from us. This is because you were not pouring money into bigger business in the Cities that sold some of the same products but for a higher price. The Longji Terrace in Guilin comes to mind because they survived on tourism. But at the same time it was not ruined by it. They still sustained the life they had before and could carry on with their day-to-day routines on the rice paddies without being damaged by visitors.

Do You Feel That You Got Under The Skin Of A Country?

Definitely! The time span helped with this because it didn’t feel rushed. Having three weeks enabled you to spend more time in one place so you didn’t feel like you were travelling all the time. However, I did also enjoy the variety of travel methods offered. The sleeper train was a favourite because I loved being around locals and being able to grow a close bond with my group.

What Advice Would You Give To Other Travellers?

Don’t rent a bike with no gears! I did whilst travelling round the Yangshuo scenery and paid for it! It was such hard work and in the heat it became very uncomfortable. I was lucky to have such a supportive group taking it in turns to ride next to me as I lagged miles behind! I would also suggest buying what you like when you see it because you never know if you’ll see it again. And also to not look at you itinerary the day before. I loved waking up not knowing what the day held for me. We also had changes to our tour so it was good not knowing what I was missing as that could of put a downer on the trip, if you had your heart set on something. It also makes the trip feel longer because you’re not counting down the days to all the different excursions.

Reviewed by Mary Allen who travelled in April 2009

Review 12

What Was The Most Memorable Or Exciting Part Of Your Holiday?

Hiking on the Great Wall

What Did You Think Of Your Tour Leader?

Great job! Perfect organization! Everything on time, good restaurants in the evenings, additional information about locations…. He had the difficult task to manage the different interests and expectations of the group: people up to 35 and people older than 60!

Do You Feel That You Got Under The Skin Of A Country?

Sometimes! A little bit disapointed, that China is already this touristic.

What Advice Would You Give To Other Travellers?

Call the tour operator to find out more about the other travellers in the group. In our group we were 4 between 27 and 40 and 11 >60 which is ok, but when more than half of the group complain / had difficulties to carry their bags in and off trains….. Recommendation to imagainative travellers: PLEASE ENSURE THAT EVERYBODY UNDERSTANDS THE TYPE OF THE TRIP! This was not a relaxing beach holiday…..

Reviewed by Alexander Schlegel who travelled in October 2008

Review 13

What Was The Most Memorable Or Exciting Part Of Your Holiday?

Terracotta warriors

What Did You Think Of Your Tour Leader?

Excellent

Do You Feel Your Holiday Benefited Local People?

A little

What Advice Would You Give To Other Travellers?

Do as much background reading as possible before you travel – e.g. Wild Swans by Jung Chang

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