Reviews of 2 Days Huangshan Tour (overnight on the mountain top) by Michael ***
I actually had a pretty lousy experience with ChinaTours.net, but a great experience with the mountain itself that sort of offset the poor experience with the company. Huangshan is a very impressive place, even when the weather isn't great. If the mountain wasn't so special, I would probably give this a 1 or a 2 out of 5. My criticisms:
1. I booked my flights after agreeing to the tour and was almost immediately told that my flight in was too late to catch the gondola up to the hotels at the top where you can catch the sunrise (don't miss this). I rebooked a train that was only about 1 hour earlier and probably lost 200CNY as a result of needing to make this change, which I think I should have been informed of earlier because it was the only flight in from Shanghai (so other travelers must have had a similar issue in the past). Also, once I actually arrived, there was enough time to get a long lunch, so I don't believe that rebooking was actually necessary.
2. After the issue with the flight, I was very careful to give clear info on my dates/times in and out of Huangshan, however they accidentally booked me for a day earlier (granted, I didn't notice the mistake in the confirmations they sent to me). They acknowledged the mistake, however still asked me to pay half of the fee to rebook the hotel, which came in at 500CNY.
3. There's 1 flight out to Shanghai at about 10PM. The itinerary doesn't spell this out, but essentially there are no activities scheduled from 5PM to 10PM if you have a late flight, so you have an option to see a village for 300CNY, a play/show for 300CNY, or be brought to the airport 5 hours early for your flight. I think that this should be spelled out somewhere in advance so you know that the tour essentially costs an additional 300CNY. Also, the drivers will expect tips of 50CNY, which was not my experience with other tours in China (and there will be several drivers). This should be spelled out up front.
4. The tour guide was very nice and I liked her, but on the mountain, she left me to figure out where I was supposed to go on my own several times (including for over an hour) and most of the directions are in Chinese and not in English. I felt like most of the fee is for this kind of direction, so that kind of rubbed me the wrong way. Also, from about 5PM to 8PM, she left me in the old town, which is okay, but I didn't really have anything to do for these hours and the walk around old town is mostly just tourist shops (it takes only about an hour and we did this walk prior to 5PM). I also suggested that we get an earlier start than 8AM because rain was supposed to roll in at about 9AM and I think I would have seen more of the mountain if the guide had agreed to this, but I don't fault her for wanting to get a little more sleep.
In all, I would recommend travelers just try their luck getting to the mountain without the tour company. For English speaking travelers, it would be a little bit of a challenge, but it would have been a lot cheaper for me. An extra 1000CNY+ for mistakes and omitted information isn't really good business in my opinion. Again, don't miss the mountain - it's really spectacular.
Rating: [3 of 5 Stars!]
Date Added: 08/25/2016
—— review written by Michael ***