Customers from UK , traveling from December 2019 .
Create your own memories:
10 Days Best of China and Pandas
Tour Type Private, Small Group, Custom
Hot pot meal in Xian
Mah Jongg in Chengdu
Panda feeding in Chengdu
The Great WallOur China tour started at the end of December. We began our trip in Beijing, which was a bracing -12C when we arrived. We were met at the airport and would add that all pick-ups were on time each morning for tours, and at all stations or airports as well. Our first day was free in Beijing, so we explored, following the tip to visit the National Museum which has amazing stuff on display (as did the Xian Shaanxi museum and Shanghai museum later in the trip). We found a great Peking Duck restaurant which was a short walk from the hotel. The queuing system was a case of organised chaos in such a small space, but the meal was well worth waiting for. Best duck ever! William was our guide in Beijing, and our tour comprised 5 people including us. All the guides were very good, but William takes the star prize. He was interesting and informative, but also a laugh. The usual sights in Beijing were awesome and splendid, but the highlight was the Great Wall, as we expected. When we saw the Temple of Heaven, there is an area where people – or their mothers – have their CVs to find a marriage partner. One of the mothers took a shine to one of our party on behalf of her daughter, and when she discovered he was a lawyer, became very interested. The rest of us found this more amusing than he did! The bullet train was a nice relaxing journey to Xian. Our party of 5 split on the second day as we went to different locations next, but we all saw the Terracotta Army, which is another “must see”. The wall at Xian is big enough and was getting decorated for the coming spring festival (year of the Rat), but after the Great Wall, was less impressive. We all enjoyed the market and had a lunch in the Muslim area which was great fun, followed by a ridiculously cheap group hotpot that evening involving much use of online translation on our phones! The next day, Sally took over from Helen, and despite spending only part of a day with her, she was great. Having only two of us going around the Shaanxi museum, she was able to help us with anything we found interesting, going at our pace. We left on another bullet train to Chengdu. The journey was shorter than before, and we met David, our guide. The next day was an early start to go to the Panda Base. What an amazing day! It was fabulous feeding pandas by hand and cleaning out their enclosures. The park has been designed brilliantly, so we also wandered to see other pandas (including cute red pandas). We were struck how lovely it was to be in a less built up space after our largely city based tours before. David had been to the Panda Base before, so knew what to do, and was a fantastic guide there. Beijing had had clear blue skies and not at all polluted, contrary to what we had expected, but Xian and Chengdu were more polluted. This was the trade off going in winter, although this also meant that the tourist attractions were far less busy. The next morning in Chengdu David took us to the Pavilion Park, where we sat drinking tea (green obviously) and learning Mahjong. We also managed to have our ears massaged and shoes cleaned, although the locals were most interested in our newly taught Mahjong prowess. It was a lovely way to while away a couple of hours and contributed to our stay in Chengdu being fondly very remembered. We went to the airport to fly to Shanghai. Shanghai was about as different as anything could be to Xian, and even much of Beijing. It is as blingy and modern as Xian reflects the ancient part of the country. Our guide Hugo showed us parts of the different concessions in the city as well as the museum, but the Yuyuan Garden was lovely. Later we met up with two of our original tour group for cocktails at the rooftop bar of the Hyatt on the Bund, seeing the spectacular lights. We managed a return trip on the Maglev train which was a marvellous way to bring our China tour to an end. In summary, the organisation was fantastic. Everything went as planned, and the guides were all very helpful and easy to talk to. The hotels were fine throughout, although in our case, we found the Chengdu hotel – which was the swankiest we stayed in – was less well placed to explore too much for places to eat, particularly as we arrived later in the day and had a long day at the Panda Base. Transportation was fine throughout, too. Bus, car, train and plane were all good. We originally considered a private tour but went for a small group one at a lower price. This is well worth it in winter, as the group is unlikely to be even close to the 12 maximum. The mix of locations and sights was perfect for us. Prices of meals were similar or lower than we expected, so we spent less than we took with us. There were so many highlights, so it is difficult to choose which pictures to show, but the attached is a very small sample from what was a truly wonderful holiday.
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