- Reviewed on July 25 2019
- Tour Customized by: Wonder
After researching and reviewing a number of tour companies on the web, we chose China Discovery for a 15 day custom trip to China from mid-June to early July of 2019. This is the China Discovery stationed in Chengdu, China and associated with Chengdu Bamboo International Tours Company. I was nervous about going with a company located in China that I only communicated with through email and that I had never heard of before, but their reviews on Trip Advisor were so strong and the tour agent that worked with me, Wendy Dan, was so responsive and professional that I decided to take a (potentially really big) gamble and sign up with them. The price for the tour was also very reasonable, especially since this was a completely custom tour in which my family of four would visit specific places in Shandong, where most tourists do not go, including a small village where my father was born, and then travel to Huangshan, Zhangjiajie, and Beijing. In fact, we weren’t sure if the village was still there, so Wendy engaged her network of contacts and actually confirmed the village was the right one. I can say now, several weeks after returning back to the U.S., that China Discovery is the real deal – they did what they promised to do, plus more. Our trip involved quite a bit of traveling – several plane flights and train journeys – logistically, China Discovery was excellent. They had a tour guide and driver waiting for us at each new location, and comfortable private, air conditioned van to take us to our hotels and our targeted destinations. Our first two tour guides, Bruce and Ellen in Shandong and Huangshan, were outstanding – very intelligent and articulate guides who pampered us. Bruce was unfailingly attentive during our visits to Jinan, Taishan and the Confucius temple, which were rich cultural experiences, although the best part was visiting the old village. Ellen took us shopping at Huangshan and even bargained down some prices for us on Chinese brushes and inkstones, and then taught my kids some beginning Chinese painting lessons as we watched the sun set from a gorgeous viewpoint. Our tour guides in Zhangjiajie and Beijing were excellent at logistics and walked with us for many miles, including a beautiful hike along the Golden Whip Stream and a truly amazing and memorable hike along the Jinshanling section of the Great Wall. All the tour guides spoke English - the first two better than the second two, but all could communicate effectively in English. The hotels we stayed in were air conditioned and comfortable and in outstanding locations, and the food was good – breakfast was typically ok to good, and lunch was always excellent. The only time we had stomach problems was when we ate some odd food at a restaurant that had not been recommended by one of our tour guides. There were several changes to our itinerary during the trip – one hotel cancelled our rooms and gave them to government officials instead, and a planned train journey was cancelled – these were handled well: the tour guide booked us in a similar substitute hotel near the original one, and Wendy arranged for a plane flight instead of the train ride, which only cost us $60 American dollars more per person. The tour guides checked in frequently with China Discovery and I felt that they were monitoring us to make sure we were ok. They seemed to be sincere, honorable people who were trying their best to deliver their product – which was a great time touring China. There was one incident in particular that we were extremely grateful for – my son lost his passport on the plane during a domestic flight and we only realized this at 4 in the morning when trying to check into the hotel in Beijing. I called Wendy on a Saturday and she contacted the airport and located the missing passport. We were so thankful! Overall, this was a fantastic experience. China was not what I had imagined it to be – getting through customs was easy, we felt safe, and people were very friendly in the smaller towns (less friendly in Beijing, with the least friendly people being the foreign tourists!). Shandong, Huangshan, and Zhangjiajie were great places to visit, as was the Great Wall, as I had mentioned. We were less thrilled with the crowds at the Forbidden Palace and other touristy destinations in Beijing, but it was still very interesting. I was worried about the temperature and the air quality, but both were pretty good for most of the trip. The most important thing was that we felt safe during the entire trip (except during the time my son's passport was lost). Thank you, China Discovery, for a wonderful visit to China that my family will never forget.
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