Amanda's Feedback on 10-Day China Tour

What made it for us really was Ada in Beijing. She was so helpful and so accommodating, we enjoyed getting around and we felt safe. The other guides and drivers were good, but Ada was our star, and if we come back we will be requesting her as our guide!
Client: Ask Amanda about her/his experience Age: Unknown Nationality: United Kingdom
Tour Date: March 20, 2013 - March 29, 2013  
FeedBack Date: April 3, 2013

China Highlights Tour – March 2013

Amanda Paton

Fiona met us at the airport in Shanghai when we arrived. She was pleasant and friendly. She took us to the car where we drove to the train station, all the while Fiona chatted about Shanghai and pointed out interesting things on the way.

At the train station she explained the tickets and how to find seats on the train. She gave us a China Highlights back with neck rests, a booklet about the company and hand sanitizer, and she explained that we would get the mobile phone from the guide in Beijing.

We had an issue with the train to Beijing as we could not get any food as there was no one who spoke English and all menus were in Chinese with no pictures! Might be useful to inform people of that so they can buy food before boarding the train.

The train was fun and the kids enjoyed it.

Ada met us off the train in Beijing, very helpful with bags, interacted with the kids, and took us to McDonalds so the kids could eat something. We got into the car where she explained everything about the tour, the mobile phone, her availability 24 hours and her number and Doris’s number were on speed dial. We arrived at the Peninsula Hotel, where Ada was with us while we checked in, again chatting and getting to know the kids, and assisting with any Chinese. She also asked us to wear warmer clothes the next day as it had been snowing and it would be cold – great tip – the following day was freezing!

Staff in the hotel were helpful and had a good command of English. Ada told us the pick up time and what we would be doing the following day.

We found that the breakfast in the hotel is best if you are there early – we had an early start the first day and the following days a little later, tended to be a bit less choice and more rushed later in the morning.

We were picked up on time and went to Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City. Absolutely fascinating for us and Ada was very well informed of everything around us. She also pointed out bathrooms and washrooms and she had told us the day before to bring tissues.

My husband and I had a great time walking through the forbidden city, however the kids got a little bored, as it took a couple of hours at least. My daughter suggested that a kid friendly tour book would be a good idea, so the kids could look at that and perhaps find stuff or things to look at. That said it was a fabulous morning and we very much enjoyed it, as Ada was very friendly and made us feel comfortable.

We then had a wonderful lunch, really great food which we all enjoyed. I was concerned that the kids would not like much food in China, but we were off to a great start with this restaurant. Ada gave us privacy, but was nearby and came over occasionally to ask if we needed anything else. We chose the food and she ordered, it worked well!

We then went to the Hutong and went round there on a rickshaw, and our guide there was very knowledgeable and spoke good English, he took us to a local family house where we painted opera masks. Great for the kids, and the master showing us explained all about the meaning of different colours and how the ancient Chinese wear the masks and why. He also spoke about the opera and older Chinese history around art. Very interesting. We then went to an acrobat show which the kids enjoyed.

Again Ada explained the programme for the following day and the pick up time.

Picked up on time again, we visited the Temple of Heaven. Amazing place again and the gardens and park were great to walk around. The kids enjoyed this as it was a shorter trip than the Forbidden City and less crowded. We then headed towards the Great Wall. We went to the Cloisonne factory and after seeing the workshops went into the showroom to buy a few items. There was no pressure from Ada or the shop keepers to buy anything, very relaxed. We decided to buy a few items and realised we had left our credit cards in the hotel safe! Ada kindly paid and we gave her the money the following day – that was exceptionally kind and we appreciated that very much.

Another great lunch followed, again with Ada in the background making sure all was good and we really enjoyed the food in that restaurant, different from the first in terms of the style of the cooking, and delicious!

Then the Great Wall. Iconic and amazing. Ada once again knew the history very well and we were just fascinated by the enormity of the Wall. The kids flew the kites with Ada on the Wall while my husband and I took a walk along it. Incredible memories, and the kids were astounded.

We then drove back into Beijing City, where we has Peking Duck for dinner followed by the Kung Fu show, again Ada made sure food was good, and in the theatre she got cushions for my son to sit on so he could see. Back to the hotel for the night with the next day’s programme discussed.

We changed the programme and went to the Beijing Zoo and the water cube the following day so that we could let the kids have some fun. The kids also requested pizza for lunch and Ada took us to Pizza hut. We had swimmers but not towels and she took us to a department store where we bought them. Couldn’t have done that easily without her!

Beijing Zoo is quite run down and I noticed some animals in mild distress, zoos in the West are not like this and it was a bit sad and a bit of a shock. We saw no zoo keepers and lots of people feeding the animals. This may not be the best attraction for westerners as we are not used to this type of zoo.

The Olympic Park and the Water Cube were amazing. The kids had a great day, and we saw the Olympic grounds which we watched on the TV in 2008. Stunning.

On our final day in Beijing, Ada made sure we had all our belongings, passports and she called the airline to confirm tickets and names. We went to the Summer Palace then had lunch (again great food) and then made our way to the airport.

Ada stayed with us throughout check in and said goodbye at the security entrance. She explained that is there was anything we needed we could call her, and or Doris at any time for anything including emergencies.

The flight to Xian went smoothly and Johnny met us at the airport, explained who he was, and helped with the bags to the car. We headed to the hotel and Johnny gave us a history of Xian and explained the programme for the next day. He stayed with us throughout check in and he left as we were shown to our rooms.

The hotel rooms were lovely, very comfortable and spacious – thank you for that booking. We had good food in the Sofitel.

We were picked up on time and headed to the terracotta army. I can’t say anything about this as it was fantastic. Johnny has huge knowledge of the local area and the museums and the exhibits and answered any questions we had.

We then had lunch – the food again was great, however the restaurant was very smoky with people smoking inside – that is normal in China we found, but again we are just not used to that kind of atmosphere in a restaurant. We then went to the City Wall of Xian and took a walk along it. My daughter rode a bike, and it was a nice relaxing afternoon.

Back to the hotel and informed of the programme the next day.

Picked up with all our belongings, we went to the museum, again Johnny’s knowledge was great and we saw all the important exhibits. We then made and ate dumplings which we could not have done without a guide as no one spoke English! Food was good and we went to the Big Wild Goose Pagoda had a look round, had ice cream and made out way to the airport.

Johnny stayed throughout check in and we said goodbye at security.

Flight to Shanghai was good, and Fiona met us there, we got to the hotel, discussed our plans for the last two days.

Fiona stayed through check in and ensured all was good and she left as we were shown to our rooms.

The Peninsula Shanghai is probably one of the best hotels I have stayed in. The rooms were great, lots of space, clean, modern and welcoming. I would highly recommend this to anyone coming to Shanghai. Meals and room service were 100% perfect, and the kids enjoyed the pool.

We were picked up on time and went into the Yuyan Gardens and market – Fiona was knowledgeable and friendly. We then went into the financial district where we went up the bottle opener, kids loved it, however, I stayed at the side as I don’t like heights!!! I was glad to get to ground level again!!

We asked for a specific restaurant for lunch and she took us there and met us an hour or so later. The restaurant is a chain restaurant and menus etc were in English and the staff spoke English, so we didn’t need Fiona’s help there. We then went back to the hotel and took the following day as a free day, and Fiona picked us up and took us to the airport in good time. Stayed with us through checki in and said goodbye.

On our free day we took the open top bus around Shanghai, and saw some interesting things and learned a bit more history.

We arrived home, tired but it was well worth it. We saw what we wanted to and found China to be a wonderful country.

What made it for us really was Ada in Beijing. She was so helpful and so accommodating, we enjoyed getting around and we felt safe. The other guides and drivers were good, but Ada was our star, and if we come back we will be requesting her as our guide!

We will recommend China Highlights to our friends without hesitation, a top class, professional company, we didn’t have to do anything, it was all fully organised and well planned.

Kindest Regards

Amanda, Will, Daisy and Hamish Paton