Our China travel agency did a very good job of scheduling the trip and rescheduling when necessary. The guides in each location we visited were friendly and committed to being helpful. There were times when the language barrier was an issue, but no more so than during other international trips. We underestimated the physical demands of the itinerary we had approved. The guides were very willing to accommodate and offered alternate plans. It would be helpful if our travel agency provided more details about the physical demands of the sites they propose. Example: We visited the Jinshanling Great Wall site. It's a Trekker level site. We didn't read the description closely enough and we're not trekkers. It was a beautiful, though much reduced climb. By the time we left China we were exhausted and burned-out. A slower pace, with less climbing would have been better (we're over 65 and in ok physical shape).
An item beyond our travel agency's control - Domestic airline flights become less reliable as the monsoon season approaches. We experienced several delays but were fortunate that they didn't jeopardize our schedule until we were leaving for home. We missed our connecting flight to the USA because of a 4 hr delay in Beijing. Bullet trains were very reliable, clean and pleasant. But we did not use them during the rains so don't know how much they suffer rain-delays.
Giant Panda Breeding & Research Center in Chengdu, Li River Cruise, & Guilin and Yangshuo. After Beijing, we focused on UNESCO sites and national parks. Saw some beautiful countryside around Guilin, Zhangjiajie, and Chengdu. Xi'an was very interesting. Cooking class & Taichi class were fun.
Reduce the amount of climbing - find out about the trams, cable cars & sightseeing trains. They are available at many of the parks and make it easier to deal with the climbs.
Travel Companies Comment
Thanks very much for your detailed review Gayle. It is quite a delight to know that you enjoyed the trip and you were happy with the service provided by the tour guides. I feel sorry for not providing more details on the physical demands of the sites. I recommended the hiking trip from Simatai West to Jinshanling because these sections of Great Wall are remote and have very few travelers. And mostly importantly, the scenery is superb! I should have proposed an easier section like the Mutianyu Great Wall as Jinshanling can be quite challenging.
And for the domestic flights in China, yes, there might be delays and sometimes, the flights may even be cancelled. I agree with you that bullet trains are more reliable, especially in bad weather. Thank you for traveling with us and your kind review. We will work hard to improve our service!
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