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Amazing. Just do it.
Was picked up by guide at hotel lobby. Were driven to airport where he guided us through line to pick up boarding passes and got us to security.
Met at other end by cheerful, friendly guide who took us to van.
First stop was a government owned silk factory. Fairly interesting but the hard sell to buy a comforter was annoying. The scarf prices were better than Silk King and quality was good so grabbed one.
Then on the Forbidden City. This MUST be experienced to be believed. Photos cannot convey the awesome scale of the place. Guide had good information and helped us find a calendar in one of the onsite shops.
Then in the van to the jade factory for a really mediocre lunch bring your own snacks!
The real hard sell came in the enormous but empty store where the manager could focus his whole attention on us. Nothing interested us but he REALLY wanted to sell us something. Sorry, no sale.
Then a very short ride to the mountains outside the city to the wall.
The wall is....steep. Breathtaking....literally. Wear comfy shoes and be ready for a workout. But worth every moment.
The views are stunning and we had great luck to have clear air after a week earlier Red alert smog days don't know what would have happened if that was our tour day as airports and highways were closed
From there we were dropped at the curb not taken to the gates
There is no way we could have managed this day on our own.
We have had the cousin-in-law tequila factory/souvenir stops in Mexico as well so that's the price one has to pay for the service.
The language barrier makes China more challenging than other countries as well so a guide is almost a necessity. Went to Souzhou on our own and just buying train tickets was an adventure NO English signs in Souzhou station!
Will continue to use Viator as tour company of choice!
It was a nice and slow kind of tour, small group which is great and the guide Frank speaks good English and polite! Lunch provided was plentiful and of good quality. We bought the silk duvet from the factory and now our sleeps are so much more better.
Since we only had one day to do the tours of Suzhou and the old water town, I suppose this was a reasonable trip. However, if you can do a better one I'd recommend you keep looking. This tour had us rushed through a silk factory where they pushed goods on us - about 30 minutes of the tour was us being held back in the shops of the silk factory hoping we'd buy something. Two other issues: in one day, we only had time for one garden in Suzhou. We also went to the most commercialized water town - if I did this again I'd be looking for a less popular one that hopefully is much more authentic.
In summary, the duration allocated for sight-seeing or leisure strolls at the above scenic locations is way too short for me and my family as we didnt have the chance to adequately absorb the calm ambiance and the beauty of Suzhou as well as Zhouzhuang Water Village.
Prior to the tour day, the tour agency did send someone to the hotel lobby to inform us on the exact hotel pick up time. I personally think that this is a plus point as we didnt have to wander aimlessly at the hotel lobby from 7.45am. The committed pick up time at 8.30am from the hotel lobby was on the dot. The journey to Suzhou took slightly more than an hour. The tour guide speaks fluent English but there wasn't much talking done during the ride. I would have expected a little more interaction from the tour guide to keep everyone in the van entertained or excited about where we were heading to but instead, he either slept or was busy with his phone throughout the entire journey.
Upon reaching Suzhou, there were many beautiful sites that we saw from the inside of the minivan. We werent clear of what we were looking at exactly as the tour guide decided that it wasnt part of his itinerary to explain. When we got to the Net Master Garden, some light walking was required to reach the garden as the minivan was parked further away. We completed the entire Net Master Garden in less than 30 minutes. The tour guide was only engaged with the idea of ensuring he never misses a detail of the well-prepared narration about every room and courtyard in the Net Master Garden but forgetting about how to make the tour lively and fun. We were urged to move from room to room after he finished narrating and we were told that photo taking should be kept until the end of the session so that we wont disrupt his pre-planned speech. Well, we tried to take some photos here and there but obviously, we still need to catch up with him as we didnt want to be left behind. After we completed the garden tour, one of the tour mates which is less enthusiastic decided that no photo session was needed and we just moved on from there. Since it was just the first stop and us being optimistic, the time saved can be spent on something better on our next stop. To my dismay, no free time is allocated for souvenir shopping outside the garden although we observe abundant of good bargains on our way out. Keep on Walking was his theme.
Next, we got to the picturesque Grand Canal. The view was awesome but again, not surprised, my family and I were urged to walk quickly with no photo stops. We ended up being stared upon when we insist to make photo pit stops. We had to do so as there may not be another chance since one or two of the tour mates isnt exactly the enthusiast tourist while our tour guides mind is definitely programed to complete his mission on the tight schedule. After 15 -20 minutes, we are back on the minivan.
We were then off to learn about the process of silk making. It was a good experience to look at the silk making process. After that, we ended up spending about 30 minutes to wait for other tour mates to shop for silk goods while the tour guide isnt rushing them for time, well, for obvious reasons. After that, we got to lunch at a restaurant which is just a stone throw away. We could have started our lunch earlier if only the tour guide led us to the restaurant so we dont have to wait. Again, midway during lunch, the less enthusiastic tour mate decide to make or answer a phone call that lasted almost 30 minutes which caused everyone else to wait while she finishes her lunch after an obviously important phone call. We left the restaurant at approximately 1pm.
Nevertheless, we resume our journey to Zhouzhuang water village. The journey took about 30 minutes. The view at the water village is simply spectacular. All we wanted to do was to leisurely stroll along the man-made canals as it was just breath taking. At this point, the time conscious tour guide was again walking faster than ever and made sure everyone is following so we can all board the gondola as it was his final task for the day. I have to admit that the gondola ride is great and it shouldnt be missed. After the 20 minutes gondola ride, it was around 2.10pm, we felt relieved thinking that we still have at least one to two hours of free time in the water village before returning to Shanghai since the original tour package mentioned a total of estimated 10 hours including travel time. But then, we were strictly only given 30 MINUTES to explore the entire water village. At this point, we were completely devastated with the tour arrangement. The tour guide made it very clear we will all need to reconvene at 2.40 pm, so that we can all walk to the minivan by 3 pm so that we can return to Shanghai in time to beat the peak hour traffic before 5pm. So there goes our trip experience. Well, we are still thankful that there were no hidden cost and all the entrance fees were paid off by the tour company.
Great guide lovely driver best way to see the city
Really enjoyed this trip and the guides!
Wonderful, I characterize Zhouzhuang as the Venice of China it was beautiful despite being a cloudy / rainy day. While the guide seemed to have lost interest in guiding or providing information I still very much enjoyed the tour. Suzhou was certainly nice it was not as impressive as the garden I visited in Shanghai the day before the tour was still worthwhile.
I have rated 4 stars as I prefer to do my own research and therefore the lackadaisical attitude of the guide did not bother me but others might be disappointed and not appreciate the beauty and gondola type ride in the water village. I personally thought it was wonderful
As others have stated, it is a long day. They picked you up very early, in my case 4:50 am and dropped you off at my hotel after midnight.
When they picked you up from your hotel, they give you your airline tickets and info on who will meet you in Xi'an. The departure time is a bit stressful as it does not give you much time at the airport in Shanghai. I literally got to the gate as they were calling to board the plane. So maybe a pick up of 4:30 would be better. My guide in Xi'an, Lucy, was great. Our first stop was store selling clay warriors. Interesting place. Some of you may be turn off by the idea but I would suggest you go. No need to buy anything but a great place to take picture with the replica warrior as you will have to pay extra at the site. I had lunch and they we visited the famous Army of Terracotta Warriors. As it was off season, it was easy to walk around the pits. There are 3 pits and the most impressive pit is the first one and it has a lot of different warriors.
the Xian city walls was also interesting. I wanted to ride the bike around the wall but the smog in the city was really bad so I only walked a bit.
The muslin market was interesting as well. Tried a few sweets and they were great. I was drop off at the airport in Xi with plenty of time to get something to eat. I got back to my hotel around 12:30 AM. All in all a good day trip. It was well organize and my guide in Xi'an was great
Doing what: Xi'an in One Day: Day Trip from Shanghai by Air
In theory this could have been a great trip but in practice it was quite disappointing. Definitely not value for money and I would advise you not to book this trip.
My disappointment started with the preparations - minor points and if the trip had been good I would surely have forgotten about these. After booking this trip, I contacted the local agent to confirm at what time I would be picked up. To my surprise, the agent indicated that my foreign phone number didn't work in China ? and therefore that I would need to contact them again the next day to check with them at what time I would be picked up. I decided not to argue and called them again the next day. I was told I would be picked up at 8.00 and needed to be ready 5 minutes early. I was picked up around 8.25 hrs, which meant that I had to wait outside in the cold for about half an hour without being informed about the delay.
We had a very nice van and a good driver. We also had a very nice and friendly group. We were in total with 4 ladies. This is why I rated the trip with 2 stars instead of 1 star.
Unfortunately, the guide was incredibly inflexible, which is very surprising as we were such a small group and the ladies were actually really flexible. For instance, when we entered the gardens in Suzhou, we were rushed through the gardens in about 10 minutes and were not allowed to take pictures when the guide was speaking lady, listen to me!!. We then had about 15 minutes of walking through the gardens i.e. we had to do exactly the same tour again so that we could take pictures. Very weird experience. At that point I still thought it was funny as my fellow travel mates started rebelling : After a full day of rigid guidance it really started to annoy me. The highlight of inflexibility: I wasn't allowed out of the car to walk back home when we were about 1.5 km from the place I was staying. We first needed to drop of the other 3 ladies on the other side of the city centre and then we returned the same way to bring me back home... My fellow travel mates had absolutely no objection to the driver stopping the car to let me out and there were absolutely no safety concerns. So I was stuck for about one additional and unnecessary hour in traffic jam - traffic jam can be quite horrible in Shanghai.
Lunch was pretty average which is unnecessary as there are so many great and cheap places to eat in China. The silk museum was also average: small museum followed by expensive shops. The guide did not provide any information in the museum, he rushed out and we had to read the signs ourselves if we wanted to have any information. Perhaps the guide was just too tired: when we were in the van he was asleep for quite some time.
This was a total rip-off
We spent nearly 4,000 for 4 people to see The Forbidden City and The Great Wall. But, here's how the day really went down:
-- We were picked up in Shanghai at our hotel and escorted to the airport. Our guide was quick and smart and thorough. We had zero issues on the Shanghai side on both ends of the day. The Beijing was another matter altogether.
-- We were picked up on time in Beijing and driven immediately to some silk scam shop, where we were marched through a 2-minute explanation of how silk works the same explanation about worms and larve and moths you saw in 2nd grade and then held hostage inside as we were expected to buy poorly-made silk products one could find in any Chinatown shop in America. We were HOUNDED by several touts in this shop who were relentless in their effort to sell us this garbage.
-- Since we had to get up at 4am to hit the airport in time for our early flight, we hadn't eaten breakfast yet. When we asked to stop to get something to eat at about 10am, we were told we had no time and had to wait for lunch later -- and that it was better for us to wait because we could eat more food when we are hungrier.
-- We were then driven to the Forbidden City and dropped off on the street several blocks away from the entrance. We were then marched to the front gate by our shockingly empty-headed guide who seemed to be obsessed with how many babies the various princesses had, but offered little else about the City or the fact we were standing right in Tiananmen Square or across the street from Maos tomb or anything else of relevance.
-- Once inside the Forbidden City, our guide continued on about the babies, didnt know much about the individual buildings and encouraged us to take a lot of selfies. We were inside the City for about an hour when we were told we needed to shuffle off to our next destination. So, we were marched outside the wall again, back to where our driver had parked the car.
-- On the march back to the car, we saw several shops, etc. where we could grab a snickers or whatever to stave off the hunger. But, we were told that food was dirty and that we needed to wait for the official lunch.
-- We then started to make our way to the wall by car or at least thats what we were told. At some point our guide made a phone call where she pretended to arrange for our lunch at a restaurant.
-- An hour or so later, our driver pulled off the highway to a largely empty parking lot that surrounded a large building. We were told this was a our lunch stop. Once inside, we were shuffled into a room and told to sit down. Another woman walked into the room and started a spiel about jade and how to tell good jade from bad jade, the history of jade, the importance of jade, etc. Still no lunch.
-- Then we were corralled into a massive warehouse where, of course, several touts were trying to sell us jade at highly inflated prices.
-- Once we spent about 30 minutes literally pushing the salespeople off of us, we were escorted into an adjacent building where lunch would be served. We saw no menu and were offered no choices. Cold dishes of food that had been prepared several hours earlier were flung onto the table. We ate the rice and left the rest of it, which was horrible. So, so much for the theory that it was better for us to wait because we could eat more food when we are hungrier.
-- Finally, we were back on the road and off to the wall. We were told that because it was so late in the day and because traffic back to Beijing would be bad, we could not go to the back part of the Wall where most people go, that we should go to the beginning to save time.
-- At the beginning of the Wall we were given 45-minutes to walk around and be back at the van. We did that and got back in the van, where we we told we could just sleep because there was SO MUCH TRAFFIC.
-- An hour and 15 minutes later, we arrived at the airport more than 4 hours before our flight. We were dumped off outside the airport where we were told we should just look around for our flight and gate by ourselves and that we should give the driver a big tip.
I debated between four stars and five stars and finally opted for five because the tour itself was excellent. The only drawback was Shanghai traffic. Our tour guide was very good and attentive to what we needed. She also provided us with great and interesting information about both Suzhou and Zhouzhuang. I would take this tour again.
Great organisation and accommodation. Michael was fabulous - knowledgeable and friendly and very accommodating. Food was great, the hotel very luxurious and the car was clean and very comfortable. We weren't rushed and yet we saw all we wanted to see. Highly recommend this product.
Doing what: 2-Day Private Tour of Xi'an from Shanghai by Air
Excellent option for traveling to China on business. I booked this tour to see as many sights as I could with my limited schedule. Airport pick ups were great and drop offs included attentive check in at the airports. The guides were great and the food was abundant. I could have skipped the shopping stops, but that's just my own preference. There was another woman from US also traveling on business that had booked the same tour, so we enjoyed some meals together. Too bad the tour company didn't offer to pair us up to share a guide and driver, as we could both have saved some money. First hotel so-so, second was great. Overall, a fantastic option for a quick visit to this amazing country.
This was a wonderful introduction to Shanghai It was a small-group tour and the tour guide Rita was excellent- fantastic communicator, highly knowledgeable and very friendly. I'd highly recommend this tour if you are new to the city and want to get a good, general impression.
Suggestions for improvement: I think for me personally it would have been nicer to have a little free time for looking around the Old Town instead of spending so much time at the Silk Factory.
Kartweeler United States of ...
The tour was well organized and the tour guide, Valerie, was quite knowledgeable. I went to Shanghai on a work trip and had no idea what the city was like - this tour gave me a great feel for what I discovered was an AMAZING city. I hope I get to return!
I felt like a schmuck for buying it, but I have to say I love my comforter from the silk factory. The only thing I would change, and the reason the tour loses a star, is the lunch spot. The food was barely mediocre, the air was smoky, and we were packed in like sardines. Surely EVERY tour group in town doesn't need to eat at the same place at the same time?
The Suzhou garden was good but not great. The garden was worn and I saw better stuff in Shanghai Museum for free. Zhouzhuang water was rather poetic, but the light rain killed off half of the fun. Most of the shops along the shore sold nothing but pig feet. Too much time was spending in the silk factory is a minus.
It was supposed to be a day trip with bullet train to maximise time efficiency and enhance experience of travel in the famed bullet trains.
It was a surprise to learn that the travel to Hangzhou from Shanghai was arranged in a A/C coach in which travel time was 3 hrs one way. No where in the voucher was this aspect mentioned and the rates charged talked about transportation in A/c coach which typically would be understood to mean within city travel.
Even for the lunch - which is a part of the package - the tie up is not with any quality restaurant but with a group booking eating place that serves limited quality irrespective of number of guests 1 plate of each item to be shared between the tourist having lunch. Pointed out about the same ,extra was being offered at add on costs- which is a complete rip off.Not seen it happening anywhere else.
Overall charge for the package and its delivery there is a huge gap and a feeling of being taken on a ride. Caution for other who trust that benefit of tourist is being protected and there is honest transparency in the packages being created. I have seen Bullet train package being offered at 138 wherein I had paid 169 and still got trapped on 6 hours of commute on 1 day trip.
Doing what: Hangzhou: Heaven on Earth Day Trip from Shanghai
This tour tried to do too much, the tour guide was uninformative, and too much time was wasted in transit in Shanghai and between Shanghai and Suzhou. The water village was the best thing on the tour and I recommend just doing that by yourself or with a competent guide.
Further detail: it is far better to take the bullet train to Suzhou from Shanghai round trip about 1.5 hours and hire a taxi or vehicle vs wasting 4 hours of your tour in a van. This could possibly have been compensated if our guide had been great, but he is probably the worst guide I have had - Tom gave barely any or no information at each site including no information on how silk is made at the silk factory or any history on the water village. He also berated me for being 5 minutes late for a 7:30am start before I proceeded to spend 1.5 hours waiting for everyone else to be collected and who certainly weren't waiting outside their hotels. He seemed far more interested in discussing Buddhism with the four Indians on the tour, who weren't even Buddhists. Also, this tour was far too rushed - we barely had any time at any site. I like to do a lot in one day, but this was just stressful. Tom literally herded us from site to site, telling us to hurry up.
Great trip. Our tour guide, Frank, made it truly extraordinary and delightful. He was soft spoken, knowledgable, warm, friendly, and really made this trip memorable.
Excellent tour and guide. I absolutely recommend it. Regards from México
The water village and The silk Factory wereboth verf Nice. The Guide Spike verf Well English. So we had a Great day and advies everybody to do this excursion with Viator.
Fantastic! The guide was great!
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