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The Excellent China Trip - Beijing, Xian, Guilin, Shanghai

  • Submitted by: Diana, United States
  • Submission Date: 16th Sep 2009

1st Day---arrived in Beijing in late evening--met by Sally, and transported to hotel. She spoke good English, was charming and facilitated registration at the hotel. The hotel exceeded our expectations, the bed was very comfortable, and breakfasts were excellent. Staff were all friendly and helpful.

2nd day-- Sally arrived on time and took us to Tiananmen Square--slight rain did not detract from the stunning buildings around this huge square. Sally gave us good explanation of the history. We then went to the Forbidden City, which again was stunning and the history was fascinating. Lunch, our first true meal in China was excellent. In the afternoon we went to the Temple of Heaven, which again was beautiful and very interesting. After a slight rest (plenty of time to change and shower), we had a Peking Duck dinner, followed by the Legends of Kung Fu Show, which was very entertaining and of high quality. Altogether a wonderful first full day.

3rd day -- visit to Cloisonne factory- very interesting, with some exquisite displays. We were shown around by Herbie, who spoke very good English, and was very knowledgable. Bought a beautiful vase, which looks great back in our home. We then went to the Ming Tombs, which again were very interesting, and history was explained well by Sally. Lunch was at a jade factory. Watching the carving of jade was fascinating, but the pieces were very expensive. Lunch was of moderate standard. After lunch we visited the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall, which was stunning. The walk up to the wall is steep and fairly long, and Sally and Diana took the chairlift. We think that clients over the age of 50 yrs, should be pre-warned of the steepness of the climb, and be advised of the presence of a chairlift, and its approximate price. However, as already mentioned, the scenery and architecture were stunning. A full and tiring day--great!

4th day-- morning free, so we went to Beihai Park. This is a beautiful large park, and was especially interesting for us, as there were large numbers of local people playing music, dancing, singing and playing games. Lunch was again good, and in the afternoon we went to the Summer Palace-- beautiful place. We went to a tea ceremony on the way back to the hotel, and we found that very pleasant. We went to the Acrobatic Show at night, and this was very entertaining and value for money.

5th day--visit to Hutongs--local guide(called Sonic) was very entertaining and informative--the rickshaw driver definitely earned his fee! Lunch was at Mrs Yuang's house. She made us feel very welcome and the food was excellent. We were not so successful at making the dumplings ourselves! We then went to the airport for our flight to Xian. The flight was comfortable and on time. We were met by Lisa who escorted us to the hotel, which was very comfortable and the staff were friendly.

6th day--started off with a visit to the Banpo Museum, which we found to be one of the most interesting places we visited in China. Lisa spoke good English and her explanations were excellent. Next we went to the factory where Terracotta Warriors, as well as furniture and ceramics, were produced. This was interesting and informative--we didn't buy anything! Then to the Terracotta Warrior site--the size of the complex is mind-boggling. Although there were lots of visitors, it was another highlight of our trip to China. Lunch was good, apart from the large number of people squeezed into the dining area. Next to the city walls which are very impressive--we walked a little but did not cycle. Finally an excellent dumpling dinner and the Tang Dynasty Show--another top class entertaining show. An exhausting but wonderful day.

7th day-- first to the Shaanxi Provincial Museum-very well laid out, and also very interesting (although it was a Public Holiday and was very crowded). The Big Wild Goose Pagoda was o.k. Next hot-pot lunch-- our best meal in China( including some of the expensive restaurants we went to with Alex in Shanghai). Then to the Mosque, which was o.k. and the nearby streets and markets. Finally to the Bell Tower, which was interesting with very good porcelain displays.

8th day--sleep in! then to airport. Lunch at the airport was good considering the normal standard of airport food worldwide. Good flight to Guilin. Met by Angel, who spoke very good English, and who escorted us to the hotel. The scenery of the area, and around the hotel was stunning. Although generally the hotel was good, the room air-conditioning was not efficient.

9th day --visit to Ping an terraced rice fields. The drive was long but very picturesque. The walk up to the top was done at a leisurely pace and was very beautiful. Lunch was excellent.

10th day--cruise on the river Li--the scenery was beautiful and lunch on the boat was good. Bicycle ride was through more magnificent scenery and was not strenuous--the road was flat! The Hotel Paradesa had very good air-conditioning! Dinner was good. The light show was mind-blowing and was probably the highlight of our China visit.

11th day-- drive back to Guilin and visited your office--you are very lucky living in such a beautiful area. After another great lunch, we visited Fubo hill and Elephant Trunk hill both of which were picturesque. Then on to Reed Flute Cave--a magnificent cave and very well lit --we have seen many caves in Europe and Australia, but this cave is far and away the best.

12th day--flight to Chongqing--met by Cherry--good English. First we visited a silk factory which was interesting and had many beautiful goods. Lunch was again good. We then went to the Stilwell Museum, which was interesting as we had no knowledge of US participation in the defence of China. The building itself was in need of restoration and hopefully funds can be found to facilitate that. Next was the Flying Tiger Museum, which was interesting, and contained some beautiful art work. Then to Erwell Park, which had great views over the city. The Three Gorges Dam exhibition was well set up, and the long mural depicting the relocation of people affected by the dam was especially interesting. Finally we went to a tea ceremony, where we found the 8 treasures tea particularly enjoyable, followed by a hotpot dinner, which was one of the best meals we had in China. We then boarded the Regal China cruise ship.

13th day-- the cabin was quite adequate, the food was good, and the staff were very helpful. Our English speaking guide, Fred, spoke excellent English and was very knowledgable. The shore excursion to Feng Du, Ghost City, was very interesting.

14th day--cruising through the gorges was beautiful, and peaceful. The excursion to the Shenong streams was very picturesque.

15th day--tour of the dam site was interesting. The rest of the day was to Ichang through further beautiful gorges. It was very peaceful on the boat as only 17 passengers were left on board!

16th day-- we left the boat early( 07:30). First we went to the Three Poet's Cave area. As well as being interesting history, the views over the Yangtze were beautiful. We then went to a Sturgeon Farm, which was informative, although the displays were a little "tired". Then to the airport, and the end of our holiday with China Odyssey Tours.

General Comments-- the choice of places to visit was very good as we were able to learn about old and modern history.

Guides-- all were pleasant, spoke good to very good English and were very knowledgable.
Flights--all planes appeared to be in good condition, the flights were comfortable, and were on time.

Food--generally of very high standard.
Shanghai--Hangzhou- beautiful scenery and a lovely boat ride on the lake, and Zitang, whose canals, old houses, still occupied, and general atmosphere was excellent.

In summary, we really enjoyed our trip and were really impressed with the organization. We would have no hesitation in recommending COT(China Odyssey Tours) to friends visiting China.