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Highly recommended for the solo business traveller with limited sightseeing time, and who does not wish to be conscripted into compulsory tours of crafts factories or shopping outlets. Home-style cooking with shared platters was a welcome and refreshing change from the more fast-food like lunch options we saw other tour groups taking at the same location. A bonus at the end of the tour was when our tour bus got snarled in traffic on the way into Beijing, the tour guides hailed a taxi for me, instructed the taxi driver to take me to my hotel and gave me cash to pay the driver when we got there. Great service - oh, and the Great Wall at Mutianyu was a not-to-be-missed experience in and of itself.
This is a great tour for the price and if you are someone that wants to just go off and explore the Great Wall without getting all of the history tid-bits along the way. I liked that it was a no-nonsense tour that only stopped for the restroom on the way up and got you to the wall long enough for you to be able to explore for 3.5 hours or so. If you are a history buff and want to know everything there is to know then maybe dont take this tour, or study up beforehand : Also, lunch was delicious!
I was traveling solo after a business trip to HK, and decided to make it to Beijing to see the Great Wall. As private tours to Mutianyu were pricing at 155 and up, I decided to save about 90 by taking a group tour to the Great Wall.
The tour guide, Monique, called my hotel the evening prior and advised me to meet at the lobby at 7:10 am. I was promptly at the lobby and around 7:30 am the guide came to meet me. I joined several travelers already on the bus, a mix of foreign visitors and Chinese visitors. We continued to pick up tour participants for another hour or so.
So around 8:30 am, we had all participants and headed off to Mutianyu. We had about 40 people on the bus. Monique made the announcements in Chinese and English, and proceed to collect from those who had not paid in advance. I noted that the Viator price was about 20 higher than what others had paid, but expected that.
We got to Mutianyu around 10:30 am, and oddly had to get out of the bus for a bit and get back on the bus after the gates. Something about our vehicle being too large...so we got to the ticket booth for the cable car around 10:50 am, and Monique announced that we had 3 hours, and lunch would be back at a restaurant near the parking lot at 1:50 pm. So that gave us 3 hours to head up and down for the hike.
One thing that was not explicitly mentioned as an exclusion in the Viator listing was the cable car ride for 100 RMB. It was also not mentioned as an inclusion, so no big deal.
Hike is on your own, so after the cable car I went from Tower 14 to Tower 21 and back. Enough time and got back around 1:00 pm, could probably have gone to Tower 23 and back in time but it was a hot day. Lunch was at Mr. Yang, Chinese food family style I shared the table with a Chinese family and food was not bad. Around 2:50, we departed and got back to Beijing around 4:30.
Tour went as expected, I specifically chose this tour because there were no vendor stops.
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