Our guide Grace was outstanding. She held our attention from the moment she began our tour until the very end. She wove an historical story of the China's Ming and Qing Dynasties everyday political, social and family life from 1420 up to 1920. Our entire tour was so special thanks to her tireless attention to our desires to experience Beijing and the fascinating history of China. Thanks Grace!
Okay, firstly I must say that I would give the Tour Guide, Winser Zhao a very good rating because he was friendly, well-informed, had very good English-speaking skills and was very knowledgeable about what we saw on the tour. On our visit to The Forbidden City, Winser took us to the calligraphy exhibition and showed us around the exhibits. His knowledge regarding the calligraphy - historical and contemporary - was interesting and impressive - so full marks to Winser!
However, if you want to take this tour because of an interest in the Underground City or aspects of the Cold War, then this tour is not for you. When we were picked up at our hotel, Winser made it clear the tunnels and bunkers had been closed to tours since 2008!!! And so, the 'Underground City' aspect of this tour should be well-and-truly deleted from all advertising. Had we not been interested in the calligraphy, we would probably have been very disappointed. As we enjoyed the calligraphy however we have rated the tour accordingly. The visit to the China World Trade Tower gave us a great bird's-eye-view of Beijing. And the lunch provided at the brewery (especially the Iron Buddha Brew) was excellent. You don't get any insights into the manufacture of the beers available, but the lunch itself was excellent. As the calligraphy went over time, we had to make our own way back to the hotel by taxi.
Overall, the tour is well worth it to see the Forbidden City (particularly the calligraphy exhibition), to get the bird's eye view, and the unusual but tasty lunch. Winser is an excellent guide! Subsequent to the tour he visited our hotel and gave us a very generous gift of some calligraphy of his own. This was testament to the friendliness and generosity we experienced throughout Beijing on our winter trip to this wonderful city!
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