Great trip! Guides / drivers were flexible as we made changes on the trip to skip some shows and instead go to antique / art markets. Since this was our first trip with a fully pre-planned itinerary, we didn't do as much research prior to the trip as we should have to locate markets, though these changes were mostly handled without problems. Guides handled our need for vegetarian food without a hassle, we had clean air-conditioned vehicles (including our travel company happily changing one that we requested to have changed after a pick-up vehicle that smelled of smoke), and guides that were interested in us and what they had to teach us. Yangshuo guide was a bit difficult to understand at times, but very pleasant and happy to be with us. Our agent checked in whenever there was an issue (i.e., hotel setting in Chengdu was under unanticipated construction - the area around the hotel was completely torn apart by renovation, which our travel company was unaware of; however, they offered to move us. We ultimately decided to stay because the hotel itself was great, and the area intriguing). Guides should give a 5-10 minute warning to clients that destinations are nearby - until our last guide we didn't have this and often didn't realize we were about to disembark until the car stopped suddenly and we had to scramble to get our belongings together. The itinerary should indicate approximate travel times during each day from one location to another - a couple times we got in the car in the morning to find out we were in for a 1-3 hour car ride to our destination, which we could not tell from the itinerary. On a future trip we would ask for lunch to be sometime between 1-3pm, vs. at 12 which was too early for us. For the Beijing hotel, the travel company should choose a hotel other than the hotel we stayed in, since there's nothing of interest to see / do / walk through in the evenings unless travelers are into mall shopping. We prefer to be within walking distance of sites / night markets / art districts / museums, etc. Overall, we had a wonderful experience and would use this company again.
Forbidden City, Summer Palace, and antique market in Beijing, Confucian temple in Pingyao, Terracotta Warriors, city wall biking, and Calligraphy Street in Xian, Giant Buddha of Leshan, Longsheng rice paddies in Guilin, Li River cruise to Yangshuo, and the food!! We ate veggies and noodles and rice at each meal and were never disappointed. Delicious.
Stay longer to go to Tibet and possibly the silk road / Mongolia. Arrange in advance to go to antique markets, art districts, and museums.
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