I have just returned from the TripADeal 2 for 1 Unbeatable China tour. I can honestly say that I was sceptical. Flights, transfers, day tours, accommodation - 9 days for 2 people for a total of $999, but TripADeal delivered. It was an amazing holiday.
Welcomed by our TripADeal guide waving the blue flag as we exited the Arrivals Hall we were handed our tour lanyards with the phone number of our guide – we found it invaluable to be able to contact our guide when required and it gave us peace of mind that we could contact someone in the event of an emergency.
Accommodation throughout the tour was about a 4-star rating and breakfast was included daily, and all hotels catered for our western palate, as well as offering the local cuisine.
Our tour group consisted of 36 people, all from Australia, ranging from 24 years up to 85 years, with couples, singles, brothers and sisters, friends – this tour appealed to a wide range of people.
Mornings were leisurely with a departure time of usually 8.30 – 9 am which allowed plenty of time for breakfast. The days began with our guide giving us a brief rundown of how the day would play out, where we were going, what we were going to visit, meals, free time, optional tours etc.
Beijing is so vast that it took us a good hour to get anywhere, but during this time our guide would provide us with background of the next attraction, our local guides had great knowledge of culture and history.
To walk around Tiananmen Square was thought provoking. Standing in the world’s largest urban square, able to hold 1 million people, yet knowing how many people lost their lives here. We walked through each gate of the Forbidden City, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, before viewing the Imperial Palace and the throne where the Emperor’s sat during the Ming and Qing dynasties.
We climbed The Great Wall at the Juyong Pass section, the coach was able to park about 100 metres from the wall, which was convenient, other sections you need to catch a cable car halfway up the mountain and then walk to the wall.
I was not expecting the wall to be so steep! The steps are of varied width and height which makes it quite difficult if you are short in stature! A handrail assisted in the climb, but it was very slow going. I climbed far enough to satisfy myself that I had climbed The Great Wall of China.
In Hutong we experienced a home cooked family dinner in a local house. The food was cooked in front of us and was delicious, our hosts then spoke about their family history and explained the significance of family relics displayed about their home. Tip – Do not try the Fire Water!
We visited the Jade, Pearl and Silk factories which are government run facilities. At each venue we were given a brief introduction of the manufacturing process and shown various stages of production followed by the opportunity to purchase products.
At the Chinese Medicine Centre, we received a well needed foot massage while a Chinese Doctor explained the difference between Western and Chinese medicine and how Chinese medicine is used today. A consultation consists of inspecting the palm, taking the pulse and looking at the tongue.
The Golden Mask Dynasty stage show in Beijing is a must. An original Chinese Musical Drama with over 200 actors portraying the story of war and romance. I have never seen such a large stage manipulated like this before. From flowing rivers to raging rapids and waterfalls, we literally felt the mist from the water in our seats. The end scene must be seen to be believed!
A short flight from Beijing to Shanghai with China Eastern and we were ready to explore the Venice of the East.
From Suzhou we cruised slowly along the Grand Canal and viewed buildings that are so old, I cannot comprehend their age. Families were sitting in their courtyards, children were playing, locals were shopping for fresh produce.
We visited a Tea House and while sipping fresh Green Tea we learnt how tea is grown, harvested and fermented. Green Tea is the highest form of tea in China, and black tea is considered the lowest from of tea, being the ‘leftovers’ in the barrel as such!
The cityscape of Shanghai is blanketed by apartment building blocks and multilevel freeways, high rise buildings, yet beautifully landscaped to perfection with foliage and flowers. A population of 26 million people, more than all of Australia and this isn’t even the largest city in China! At night The Bund and the riverfront glow with neon lights that compete with Las Vegas.
If you are not into theatre style shows, then I recommend the Acrobatic show ERA – An Intersection of Time. From acrobats, bicycles, trampolines, and the Cage of Death with 8 motorbikes it was literally jaw dropping to watch.
There was no shortage of shopping opportunities on this tour, we had free time most days and our guides gave us good hints and tips on how and where to bargain. China Eastern Airlines have a very generous checked luggage allowance of 46kg per person, so naturally I took advantage.
On our last day we experienced the fastest train in the world, the Magnetic Levitation (Maglev) train. The only train of it’s kind in the world travels from Shanghai City to the Airport, 30kms in 7 minutes with a maximum speed of 430kmph!
And just like that, our China trip came to an end. I would recommend this trip to anyone who enjoys history, shopping and food! This is not an ‘easy pace’ tour, we walked a minimum of 5kms each day and some days up to 12kms. The TripADeal local guides were a wealth of knowledge and made the trip extra special with their personal stories and experiences.
Well done TripADeal!