Great day out. A lot of walking but well worth it. Our tour guide spoke very good English and was very informative. Great lunch too! Would highly recommend.
Our tour had a total of eight people, and we had a comfortable small bus with an excellent driver who transported us to our sites. The tour guide Selena was outstanding. She spoke clear English and prepped us before each sight and along the way. She kept good track of us and kept us at a good pace. We started across the street from Tiananmen Square and then went to the Forbidden City - an amazing place. We stopped at a Chinese medicine business where we had a short lecture on Reflexology and were encouraged to get a foot massage and speak with a Chinese doctor to have him give us medical advice. Our guide suggested we give 30 Yuan for the foot massage, but we did not pay the doctor. Each doctor had an interpreter who told us our ailments individually and suggested remedies we could buy from them. The rest of the day we had a tasty lunch at a small restaurant, visited the Temple of Heaven, had a tour of a silk factory, a pearl business, and finally the Summer Palace. It was a lot in one day, but Selena moved us along and did an excellent job on the whole tour. Some of the sales pitches at the businesses were a little strong especially when you're not accustomed to being assigned a salesperson who shadows you and encourages you to buy things, but that's part of the culture. I appreciated all the sights we saw and how much we were able to do in one day. Thank you.
Our tour guide had good knowledge of the general concepts of what the attractions were about, but was not too specific. When we went to the foot massage / medicine gallery, the employees tried to scam my tour group by refusing to let us know what the names of medicines were that they were offering, there were no pictures of the medicine they were offering, and they wanted to charge 4 times the actual price of equivalent Chinese medicines. Also, my tour group was rushed through the Forbidden City because the tour guide didn't want to pay to park the bus although she could have parked it in the parking lot, which would have prevented my group from having to dodge a lot of traffic. In addition, our tour guide said if you don't like her, then find another tour guide, which was very rude. Our tour guide made excuses for her poor insight, had a horrible attitude, and even forgot about people to the point of telling the bus driver to pull away and leave people behind.
Not all tickets were included, although the tour was specified on Viator as having everything included except for tips. The nickeling and diming was so bad that even soft drinks that were supposed to be included for lunch in the original fee was not included. All in all, we had to spend around 50 dollars per person on tickets and other things that should have been included in the original tour fee. Finally, at the Summer Palace, the tour guide pushed us to go to the island but discouraged us from going up the steps to the temple itself because she claimed we didn't have time to and there was nothing interesting there, although we had plenty of time to and a great view since we actually went up to the temple despite her discouraging it. Right before we left the Summer Palace, everyone in the group was highly irritated. Linda is not a good tour guide - hopefully you do not have her as your guide if you take this tour in the future! Nevertheless, the attractions themselves were great!
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