Reviews of 8 Days Flight Tour (Beijing - Xian - Shanghai) by Jeffrey ***
October in China is beautiful, but you must avoid the week following October 1st as almost all of China goes on vacation during this time and the crowds make it unpleasant. My average rating is not because of the crowds. In Beijing, our tour guide "Sue" was great and knew all of the back doors to the sites to avoid most of the long lines. She rearranged the daily schedule to avoid the crowds. The food was excellent and on the last day she found, at our request, a very good dumpling restaurant. The hotel (Howard Johnson) was very good, 4-star as expected. Downside and the reason for the average rating is that for everything that we were interested in doing, it was followed by or preceded by a visit to a government factory where we faced high pressure salespeople to buy over priced Jade, Silk, tea. At one point I tried to discuss (stop) a ridiculous purchase with my wife and subtle insults thrown in our direction, as they tried to redirect me to another room. Fortunately we did not buy the $600 silk blanket and got out with some overpriced pillows.
In Xi'an, we stayed at the Days Inn (supposed to be 4 start, a stretch to call it a 3 star). Lots of cigarette smell in the hallways fortunately not in our rooms. Limited western options for breakfast. Beds not very comfortable. Our tour guide Michellia was very nice, but the Terracotta Statue Factory with the high pressure sales was irritating. Our favorite part was the 1.25 hour bike ride around the city wall (we were fast) The driver in this city was very aggressive, fast and even got into a fender bender. I was not planning on giving him a tip but our guide and driver in the end applied unnecessary pressure.
In Shanghai, there was some mix-up and there was not anyone to pick up our family at the airport at 11:30 pm and the "night" telephone number for ChinaTour was not working. We found a taxi to get us to our hotel. The next morning we did not know when our tour guide would meet us. After several calls to Chinatour (not getting though until late morning), they arranged a last minute driver and tour guide and our day started around 11:30 am. Because of the crowds and weather we were finished with our abbreviated tour around 3:00 pm. Our tour guide was nice, but obvious to me that he had planned to have the day off before he got assigned to us at the last minute. From what I saw in Shanghai, I don't think it was worth the visit. Chinatour did reimburse me for the taxi charge. The Bund Riverside Hotel is located in a very good location and we were able to walk/run along a large pedestrian area and the boardwalk along the river which was quite pleasant. Breakfast was good, but I could feel the box-springs in the uncomfortable mattress.
Some other things to be aware of, is that the internet is terrible in China. I rarely could get send or receive my gmail. Maps that I had down loaded to my phone did not work. WhatsApp, facebook, Netflix did not work. I knew there were internet restrictions going to china, but I had hoped to at least have better access to my email.
I would go again to China, and probably even use Chinatour again. We are not really that picky when it comes to traveling but other travelers might not have been so tollerant. In summary October is great, but don't bother going the 1st week of October.
Rating: [3 of 5 Stars!]
Date Added: 10/07/2018
—— review written by Jeffrey ***