We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

China-first time in Asia-ClubABC or China Odyssey or others?

Richmond, Virginia
Level Contributor
199 posts
108 reviews
Save Topic
China-first time in Asia-ClubABC or China Odyssey or others?

Although we have traveled a lot independently, we have never been in Asia. We are fit in our early 60s. Thinking about whether we should take a tour. Would prefer small group size and few commercial (shopping) stops. Has anyone used either of the above companies, have other tour company recommendations or thoughts about a tour, in general? Thank you, in advance!

Mentioned in this post
Asia
Asia
World
Ft. Laud, Florida
Level Contributor
1,039 posts
165 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: China-first time in Asia-ClubABC or China Odyssey or others?

We just returned from 17 days in China...our first trip to Asia. This included a 13-day tour with Pacific Delight Tours.

Like yourself, we are usually independent travelers, but we were unsure about what to do in China. After consulting various sources and doing some research, I decided to arrange the trip so that we did part of it with a tour group, and part of it independently.

As for using Pacific Delight Tours, we were GREATLY impressed with her their operation from start to finish....from the reservation process to the final goodbye. I am a traveler who pays attention to all the fine details. And PDT did so as well.

I started contacting them by email with dozens of questions. They were all answered promptly, courteously, and knowledgeably. The paperwork was handled very efficiently and correctly.

We chose the "gold" tour....so that it would be a small group tour and included "5-star" hotels. Of course, you pay more for this but it was well worth it.

Most impressive about this tour company was how carefully every day and every stop was arranged. All the flights and hotel check-ins went smoothly and seamlessly. Every request and concern was answered.

The PDT tour manager in China was outstanding.

For the first 2 days in Beijing, we used a private guide, Ellen Lan. She was wonderful and very knowledgeable. I gave her a list of the places we were going to see with the tour group in Beijing. She arranged a list of other places to visit that we really enjoyed seeing.

She also took us to 2 wonderful restaurants for Peking Duck and DimSum. We learned so much by talking with Ellen. Our trip was so much more valuable with her guidance. She made advance reservations for our visit to the National Museum and she knew just about everything about all the displays inside the museum. She also offered to get us tickets for the opera or acrobats. We saw the acrobats at the Chaoyang theater which was quite thrilling.

It would be my recommendation to use either a tour company or a private guide for first timers in China because I don't think you can learn as much by just using a guide book. Also, even though there are many signs in English, there is so much more to know about the logistics of getting around than just reading the signs.

We were very happy with both Pacific Delight Tours and also our private guide, Ellen Lan.

Mentioned in this post
Asia
Asia
World
Richmond, Virginia
Level Contributor
199 posts
108 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: China-first time in Asia-ClubABC or China Odyssey or others?

Thank you, pacosmom. Do you have an itinerary and/or the name of the tour? Where were you on the "extra" days besides Beijing? I will look at their website.

Mentioned in this post
Ft. Laud, Florida
Level Contributor
1,039 posts
165 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: China-first time in Asia-ClubABC or China Odyssey or others?

We did the 13-day "Gold Experience Gold Route Tour"

"Gold Experience" denotes that it is a small group tour (we had 18 people in our group) and they use the 5-star hotels...Ritz-Carltons or Shangri-La Hotels.

The "Gold Route Tour" meant that it went to Beijing, Xian, Shanghai, Guilin, and Hong Kong.

It did NOT include the Yangztee River Cruise. We wanted to see Hong Kong instead of doing the cruise. Of course, Pacific Delight also offers "Gold Experience" tours that include the cruise...if that is what you prefer.

In addition to spending 2 days in Beijing with our private guide, Ellen Lan, at the end of the group tour, we had 2 independent days in Hong Kong which we toured by ourselves....very easy to do.

Mentioned in this post
Shanghai
Shanghai
Shanghai Region, China
Melbourne, Australia
Level Contributor
2,106 posts
254 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: China-first time in Asia-ClubABC or China Odyssey or others?

I would like to just add a couple of tips for you for China.

1. Never drink the tap water. Buy bottled water. If you do use tap water boil boil boil please! It is okay for brushing your teeth.

2. Buy from street vendors several packets of paper tissues as most places do not provide toilet paper etc.

3. You may have to get use to the Chinese toilets where one has to squat. there are a lot of them but the Hotels etc have conventional toilets.

4. Have a card with the name and address of the hotel(s) written in Chinese Characters for each person in your group. Even if you are on a tour!

5. Do not take too much currency with you. Take a small amount to start with say 750RMB and then change at the ATM's in China. You get a better rate.

Use you credit cards, bankcard at the ATMs. Check with your own bank B4 going on interest and fees.If you have a travelex type cash passport, remember if inactive the provider charges you a fee each month. If you know you are not foing to use the card then it is cheaper to cancel the card.

6. A lot of the tours include visiting medical venues. Be careful here! They try to sell you medication etc at extremely high prices and most of the time it does not and will not work! Remember the tour guide is on commission!!!!!

SEASONS

Rememebr North China is cooler than South China

March, April, May is Spring cool to warm depending on which part of China.

June, July August is Aummer and hot April and may are nice months for a tour.

September, October and November is Autumn September and October beautiful. Weather is very comfortable!BUT try and avoid the first week of october as it is China NATIONAL holiday 1st to 7th October! It gets so crowded and busy!

December, january and february Brrrrrrr! very cold indeed! You may like the cold weather but for holidays I think not.

I hope this helps you. I go to China 3 times a year and some TAers actually live there! Do not rush the trip and try to see too many place / Cities in one go. Take tour time and enjoy. have quality not quantity.

Spend perhaps 3 weeks on the first trip and then the next time you will know and have more experience.

Happy planning and enjoy your holiday

Albon

Richmond, Virginia
Level Contributor
199 posts
108 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: China-first time in Asia-ClubABC or China Odyssey or others?

pacosmom-thanks for the details! we, also, are not leaning towards cruise time.

did you experience much shopping/commercial time on the tour? do you think that would vary with a "silver" tour if we so choose?

Albon-thanks for all the great tips! we also think less is more when we travel and try to not do too much.

Melbourne, Australia
Level Contributor
2,106 posts
254 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: China-first time in Asia-ClubABC or China Odyssey or others?

pleasure!

Enjoy and take care

Richmond, Virginia
Level Contributor
199 posts
108 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: China-first time in Asia-ClubABC or China Odyssey or others?

pacosmom:was Herb Fong your tour guide with PDT? I have heard good things about him.

Ft. Laud, Florida
Level Contributor
1,039 posts
165 reviews
Save Reply
8. Re: China-first time in Asia-ClubABC or China Odyssey or others?

Richmond....Our tour manager with Pacific Delight was Davis Nie. He was amazing....brilliant, organized, efficient, thoughtful, witty, resourceful. We were totally impressed.

There were a few souvenir "opportunities" everyday. But nothing too onerous. NO PRESSURE. Very low key. Very short stops.

And at every souvenir stop, it was also a chance to use the restroom. In addition, if you weren't interested in any of the shopping, there was always a place to sit down and have some snacks and beverages. These were all very short stops. So people used this time to relax in various ways.

Richmond, Virginia
Level Contributor
199 posts
108 reviews
Save Reply
9. Re: China-first time in Asia-ClubABC or China Odyssey or others?

That's good to hear, because my only concerns on these group trips are the stops and, unfortunately, every organization that has 90% good reviews gets some negative ones, from unhappy customers, and one has to try to block them and hope. No group is getting 100% rave reviews... For example, we went with O.A.T to Costa Rica and had a stellar experience, but sometimes, you see a bad review.

You responses are so very helpful and appreciated!

Mentioned in this post
Costa Rica
Costa Rica
Central America
10. Re: China-first time in Asia-ClubABC or China Odyssey or others?

-:- Message from TripAdvisor staff -:-

This topic has been closed to new posts due to inactivity. We hope you'll join the conversation by posting to an open topic or starting a new one.

To review the TripAdvisor Forums Posting Guidelines, please follow this link: http://www.tripadvisor.com/pages/forums_posting_guidelines.html

We remove posts that do not follow our posting guidelines, and we reserve the right to remove any post for any reason.

Removed on: 20 June 2013, 20:17