Three adults, extended family members, traveled to China for sight-seeing and to visit children studying and working in Suzhou.
Wonder at China Discovery was terrific. An itinerary was suggested to us (at a reasonable rate) and then modified according to feedback about things we wanted to do and see over several emails back and forth. Wonder responded quickly to requests for more information or changes. It meant that we were able to personalize our trip (now with experience I'd personalize even more). We chose to upgrade to five star hotels, for example. The hotels selected by China Discovery were excellent, except for the Pan Pacific in Suzhou (very beautiful in public areas with a great restaurant, but rooms were not kept up as well and location not preferable). Hotels in Beijing, Xian and Shanghai were in particularly good locations and all had included Wi-Fi (usually of good quality).
We were also able to add another family member and friend living in China to join us on specific days for touring. Each city had an individual guide and driver with car (usually a seven-passenger minivan) who handled transfers from train stations and airports and toured with us for about eight hours each day. Because we were a small group (usually three or at most five of us) we could speak in depth with our guides. A very extensive full breakfast was included at the hotel (with Chinese, American and European choices - always good and often outstanding), and our guide arranged a pickup time the day before.
We saw a lot each day and there was a lot of walking - the days were full. Except for Beijing arrival, the transfers were very easy. At each sightseeing stop and for transfers our guides picked up tickets for us and at sights accompanied us inside and narrated a cultural tour. We were on our own once we passed security at train stations and airports but our guides gave us good instructions first so we never felt lost. Our tour guides were good, although some stood out as fantastic.
We spent several days with Johnny in Xian, and he was extremely knowledgeable about the area and its history and pleasantly social (along with our driver there who had a good sense of humor). Leedan in Hangzhou was very energetic, warm and friendly. We enjoyed her company. Lily in Shanghai was very cheerful and bright and Mr. Wu our driver was quick to assist with luggage. Lily was also very very helpful in recovering a mobile phone forgotten in a restaurant, and at our lunch in Shanghai ran next door to get some special fried dumplings for us to try. Another benefit to having a private guide is at included lunches. Our guides all carefully asked about any allergies or food restrictions (we had none). We had several "foodies" in the group and the guides learning our preferences took care to order dishes or even select lunch spots that were more adventuresome and local to the area.
There was always more than enough food for our group and it was excellent quality with a lot of variety. We particularly enjoyed lunches in Xian, Hangzhou and Shanghai. Our guide Jenny in Suzhou arranged a boat ride for us and took us (at our request) for tea tasting at a local shop. We were generally on our own for dinner. Selected sights were mostly very good to outstanding.
The Great Wall (near Beijing) and Terracotta Warriors (near Xian) were highlights. The Muslim Quarter in Xian is an absolute must for foodies (go see it at night too). The Lingering Garden and Pingjiang Road in Suzhou were lovely, interesting and fun. Feilai Peak in Hangzhou was unique. The trip up to the observation deck in the Jin Mao Tower in Shanghai gave an impressive view both outside and inside (into the 88-story Grand Hyatt atrium). If you don't want to visit multiple Buddhist temples or museums or want more shopping or a slower pace, be sure to make this clear. There were always options offered to see additional sights or for activities (like boat or bike rides) at an optional extra cost when available and time permitted. The only negatives in visiting China were the long air travel, traffic and other drivers, and public restrooms (not a style Americans are used to). Car drop off and pick up at each sight was usually handled extremely smoothly, and the drivers handled the traffic conditions well. Another huge positive were the Chinese who approached us or who worked in the hotels - usually friendly, helpful, and interested in speaking or interacting with us.
Our Happy Time in Xian
Wonder shared the names and phone contact for our guides in each city ahead of the tour, along with all of the flight and train numbers and schedules (and of course a confirmation letter with itinerary for obtaining the visa). Overall we really appreciate Wonder and the team from China Discovery and would highly recommend them to other American or English-speaking tourists. We enjoyed our trip very much.
" Hi, I'm Wonder, Juan's travel consultant! Are you interested in their 11 Days Flexible & Personalized China Tour? Want to know their trip itinerary, accommodation, transportation or other arrangements? Feel free to contact me, and I will be glad to tell you more stunning stories about the places they visitied. Or, if you want to customize a tour on your own, I'm always ready to help at any time. I’m an enthusiastic traveler to explore the beautiful scenery and nature like you. I’m well prepared to help to DIY the tours you want most. Right here waiting for you! "
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Shanghai / Wuzhen / Hangzhou / Xian / Beijing
Beijing / Xian / Shanghai
Beijing / Huangshan / Hangzhou / Wuzhen / Shanghai / Suzhou / Shanghai
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[Important] Travel News for Expats: China travel is reopening now! Travel with China Discovery and learn about where to visit & requirements for each destination! Read Details >