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“Wendy Wu Tours - Beijing with Lily”
Review of Wendy Wu Tours

Wendy Wu Tours
Ranked #74 of 468 Tours in Beijing
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Recommended length of visit: More than 3 hours
Reviewed 14 January 2018

We took a private 3 day tour of the Beijing area with Wendy Wu Tours. Our tour guide was Lily. It was great. Lily was very knowledgeable. She has a degree in Chinese history. She is very friendly, personable and took very good care of us. Her English is good and she patiently answered all our questions (and we are very inquisitive). I lost my phone and she went out of the way to call places we had been until she found it. We went with Wendy Wu because of their ratings and the ability to customize a tour for the six of us. We were very pleased with everything on our tour. Our accommodations were excellent. We had to make last minute changes due to unforeseen circumstances and Lily and Wendy Wu made all the adjustments needed. We highly recommend Wendy Wu Tours and Lily.

Thank Cathy-Rick
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 11 January 2018

Rolls-Royce for the Price of a Jaguar

China has a network of Government trained and licensed National, Regional and Local Guides. (See Photo) Wendy Wu has capitalised on this and, in our experience, built a seamless network resulting in an excellent tour for us. We had chosen WWu on friends' recommendation after a similar trip.

Our itinerary followed WWu online brochure ‘Wonders of China’ listing: Beijing, Xian, Three Gorges, Chongqing Zoo, Guilin, Shanghai then back to Beijing for 10 days visiting with a Chinese-speaking relative. We had thought we were joining a ‘group tour’ but after about 3 days the penny dropped that we were on a ‘tailor made’ version – just us!

There were occasions when we felt it would have been nice to be in a group, but on balance the tailor-made was better. We encountered other WWu parties on similar itineraries at times; some of the daily schedules posted in hotel lobbies for other tour companies looked quite punishing and we were glad to be clear of those.

Our UK contact – Katherine Brake – had taken our ‘wish list’ and budget and constructed a tour which was well-paced and far exceeded anything we could have organised ourselves. Many nice little touches – appropriate upgrades, extra excursions or museum/shop visits - had been added in without fussing us about the details, though she was very happy to discuss and address any issues and concerns we raised.

Hotels were generally ‘just right’ though sometimes breakfast service and organisation was mediocre. We’ll review some of the hotels and major sights separately.

Hotels do not seem to be geared up for evening meals, or are too pricey. So eating out in the evenings is cheaper and more interesting. Yes, we did develop our chopstick skills, though we had taken several sets of cheap plastic cutlery ‘secreted about our persons’ for emergencies should the effort become too great. We are now converts to the chopstick style of eating!

At each stop, we were met by a Guide who checked their brief against our itinerary and did their best to match both within time constraints and our tiredness levels etc etc. We had our own car and driver, were seen through hotel check-in, given the contact details for the Guides at the next two destinations, and escorted as far as permitted through the travel check-in/embarkation process. We had an ‘invisible’ Chinese national WWu contact Stephanie who periodically rang us to check all was OK.

At each site or during the drive to it, the guide would give a prepared ‘spiel’ as part of their drill. Very occasionally the desire to complete this took precedence over our comfort, and if there was nowhere convenient to sit, we were glad we had purchased some light folding stools! The guides’ “licensed” status meant that they could buy tickets for us and we were frequently fast-tracked through queuing situations.

The guides spoke adequate or good English and were geared up to provide as much comfort and convenience as possible, including the odd in-car ‘pot noodle’ if time was tight. We had good conversations about Chinese life from their point of view.

WWu arranged our Visas as part of the package and also provided a ‘Travel Guide’ booklet some days before departure. It would have been nice to see it before confirming the booking, but on the other hand some of the necessary warnings about what to expect when embarking and disembarking cruises etc might have put us off!

It was pretty comprehensive but not fully up-to-date about contraband travel items on trains (see below).

Overall everything went off well – even for a pair of not-too-energetic 67 year olds. There were a few ‘glitches’: We kept our Xian guide Andy talking so much at the airport that he forgot to cross-check itineraries and consequently had to re-jig our timetable to avoid crowds at the Terracotta Warriors; at one airport the guide went to the wrong Gate: the brand-new Terminal had only been open a month and nobody was yet used to the layout; our Guilin guide Gloria was very sweet but rather inexperienced, resulting in logistic problems, though this was partly offset by her being paired with a veteran driver who knew the local restaurants.

Gloria tended to rely on website details from her Smartphone rather than personally checking; for instance she did not meet us at the scheduled arrival time because an airline website said our flight was delayed, and one evening after she had assured us we could eat at the hotel we found ourselves in the middle of a full-blown wedding party with no provision for us to ‘eat in’. We later met people from a WWu group at the same hotel who had been diverted to eat elsewhere that evening by their guide who obviously knew all about the issue: perhaps there should have been a bit of WWu ‘guide networking’.

On the plus side, Gloria also told us about, and expertly arranged, a trip to the famous ‘Impression’ dance and light show on the river at Yangshuo – a MUST SEE.

A ‘downer’ for the marvellous and famous River Li trip is that the tourist photos do not usually show the packed cruise ships virtually ‘nose to tail’ and though embarkation was necessarily highly organised, even regimented, by the Chinese authorities, the disembarkation was marred by a seemingly interminable walk past innumerable trade stalls with motor scooters driving through the crowds, beeping incessantly. We were not the only older tourists discomfited by the long walk to buses after 5 hours on the river boat.

Cars and taxis were not allowed into the jetty area to collect us and Gloria was unaware of the ticketing arrangements for the very badly organised ‘public transport’ open minibuses back to the town centre. Our one experience of a ‘Chinese Rabble’.

Even some of the Chinese alongside us were dismayed and apologetic about the crowd behaviour. Perhaps WWu need to re-work the arrangements for that location. One option for a small group might be to transfer to a smaller craft towards the end of the journey and disembark at a quieter location.

The Three Gorges trip was with Victoria Cruises and we had a welcome ‘included upgrade’ to an upper deck cabin just a short staircase from the executive dining area which was waitress service in the evenings. The after dinner entertainment was by the service staff and crew who did a good job doubling as cabaret artistes.

The VC daytime commentaries in English were very poor; the open-air P.A. was unsatisfactory and the commentator’s English inadequate. I learned much more from listening to the detailed talks provided to an East German contingent by a Chinese who had spent 3 years in Germany; his content and vocabulary were excellent. On board, the VC Cruise Director took on the role of Guide for us and did a good job.

In Shanghai we began to appreciate the finer points of a ‘tailor made’ tour: after 24 hours we realised that ‘Chuck’ our guide had in 1 day covered what our DK Guide Book suggests 5 days for. It was fine! Chuck seemed at times annoyingly preoccupied with his Smartphone (he had a second job) but when our family guide did the same thing in Beijing later we realised the truth: they were each constantly checking ahead on details to ensure a smooth trip. The ultimate benefit of a personal guide came when leaving Shanghai on a Bullet Train to Beijing:

The 19th CPC Congress was in session and security was very tight. A number of personally precious items which had passed numerous X-Ray checks for our multiple internal flights were identified and removed from our suitcases: metal picnic cutlery, penknives, toenail clippers and a tiny pair of sewing scissors. (Photo attached) Presumably this was because there is no ‘checked baggage’ on trains, so what would be forbidden in flight carry-on baggage was confiscated for the trip on on of China’s ‘prestige’ railway lines, recently reopened after a crash. Maybe the Chinese railway authorities could think about how to better accommodate foreign tourist needs and wishes.

Chuck offered to keep the ‘contraband’ items and post them back to us. Today, two months later, we have them back through the good offices of the WWu Customer Services network. Service beyond the call of duty!

Two items though there is little point taking to China are aerosol shaving cream or aerosol insect repellent. Not allowed on trains; find alternatives. You can buy tubes of shaving cream in Chinese shops. WWu’s recommended ‘Jungle Formula’ is not available; no problems in flight ‘checked baggage’ but expect to lose it to train security. (We didn’t actually need the insect repellent in October).

We restricted our tourist purchases to small and light items because of the 20kg internal flight baggage limits but in Shanghai we splashed out on a silk-filled duvet at the Silk Museum (without a silk patterned cover, which would have doubled the cost) as the train and external flight weight restrictions are less onerous. Light and warm, in a cotton cover, it is now a treasured possession in daily use.

Haggling at street stalls during excursions is part of the fun. Occasionally we regretted that there wasn’t always enough time in the schedule for this.

We overspent our original holiday budget a bit, but don’t regret a single penny.

Our experiences in Beijing showed us that by making the effort to use Metro, buses, taxis (and even motorised tricycles) we could have saved significant sums. But we couldn’t have done what WWu achieved for us in the time available. And the guides’ local knowledge enabled them (it seemed effortlessly!) to adjust the programme to accommodate our needs and wishes.

Tip: milk sometimes not available in hotel bedrooms and hard to get from ‘room service’. Get the Guide to stop at a shop and buy a carton before arriving at the hotel. Or take ‘Coffee Mate’ for emergencies.

As a retired engineer, I was slightly disappointed to miss out on two things which could have been accommodated in Shanghai: 1. The ‘MagLev’ (Very) High Speed Train from the southern airport into the city and 2. A trip up the highest building in the city. Apparently the view is not so good as from the third-highest, arranged for us by Chuck, which has more established tourist facilities. Maybe next time?

An experience we really enjoyed on the Yangtze Cruise was the ‘largest ship lift in the world’ which takes a full ferry-load of passengers straight down 500 ft. through the Three Gorges Dam in 30 minutes, as opposed to 4 hours using the main lock system.

Apparently the lift had only recently been brought back into service following extensive maintenance. It is perhaps the best way to appreciate the immense scale of this spectacular long-running Chinese engineering project. Neither words nor photographs can capture the experience. But the whole of China seems at present to be one large construction site. It’s a good time to see all this work in progress.

Other contributors have enthused about the ‘tourist’ sights and there are lots of photos on the TripAdvisor website already like the 10,500 images we shot, so we don’t need to elaborate; only endorse.

We would use WWu again without question for a China trip, but next time would want to focus on one or two cities or regions and explore in much more depth. After all, China is larger than the whole of the EU put together!

Regarding Visas, a two-year multiple entry Visa seems now to be standard practice, so we now realise it might have been wise to renew my wife's nearly-expired passport before the trip, as we will now have to reapply for a new Visa for her if we want to return soon.

Thank Neil C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
WendyWuTeam, Customer Care Team (UK) at Wendy Wu Tours, responded to this reviewResponded 16 January 2018

Dear Neil C

Thank you for taking the time to contribute to TripAdvisor and we are delighted to hear you enjoyed your tailor-made tour of China - we hope the memories of this unforgettable destination will stay with you for many years to come!

We love to hear your travel stories and discover your holiday highlights. It’s this feedback that helps us to maintain and improve our high standards and you can rest assured your comments have been passed onto our office in China and our team in the UK.

We'd be honoured to welcome you to China or another one of the incredible destinations we offer.

We hope to hear from you when you are ready for your next adventure.

Kind regards

Lorraine, Customer Care Team (UK)

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Reviewed 31 December 2017 via mobile

Extremely disappointing.
From start to finish we found Wendy Wu tours to be brilliant in theory but in reality hardly any time spent at the actual places of interest, more time spent in “ museums “, which were shops, with a very hard sell.
Our trip to see the pandas was cut short by an hour so that we could spend twice the time in a coffee shop.
We were not told of the change to our itinerary, due to an earthquake, until it was too late for refund. Very convenient!
Our Shanghai boat trip was cancelled due to a typhoon in Japan, some considerable miles away.
A 5 1/2 hour coach journey turned into a 10 hour trip with no explanation or apology.
Food we expected to be different but was so repetitive and long winded that MacDonalds was a welcome luxury.
The Chinese family that were on the tour commented how poor the food was and choose to eat elsewhere.
The Chinese people were fantastic and so friendly and I would return to China but would not go with Wendy Wu.
How they won awards beggars belief!
The itinerary was changed often and with no reason given.
We have been on other tours but this ranks as the worst.
China is an amazing country, and long way to go, so choose wisely.
If you are considering booking with this tour company, don’t!

Thank TT64CF
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
WendyWuTeam, Customer Care Manager (UK) at Wendy Wu Tours, responded to this reviewResponded 2 January 2018

Dear TT64CF

It was unfortunate that Nine Villages Valley was closed following the tragic earthquake that hit Sichuan Province on 9th August. We arranged alternative sightseeing at Wulong Karst National Geology Park – an area of stunning natural scenery with towering limestone karsts, deep gorges, caves and natural bridges. For your second day in this region, you were taken to The Three Bridges National Park and to view the spectacular Longshuixia Fissures. The feedback from our customers confirms that this alternative sightseeing was generally very well received.

With regard to the cruise on Huangpu River in Shanghai, our office in China has confirmed that all tourist cruises were cancelled that evening due to a typhoon. You were due to fly to Beijing the following day and therefore, we regret it was not possible for the cruise to be rearranged.

We usually receive positive feedback about the food provided and are sorry did not meet with your expectations. The best meals in China are naturally the local cuisine and we aim to cater to the tastes of the majority of people so the food is not too spicy or unusual in taste

Our China Splendour tour involves approximately an hour and a half at Chengdu’s Panda Conservation Centre and we are sorry that you felt this visit was cut short. If you would like us to investigate please contact a member of our Customer Care team via our website.

We welcome all feedback and please rest assured your comments have been taken on-board.

We truly hope that there were elements of the tour you enjoyed.

Kind regards

Lorraine, Customer Care Manager
Wendy Wu Tours (UK)

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 31 December 2017

Linda guided my husband and I around Beijing and we saw some amazing sights including The Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, the Great Wall, the Summer Palace and many others. Linda was a great guide and altered our tour a little so that I could manage to see all these things with my arthirits and walking stick and my husband could do some of the extras like climb the Great Wall. We also went to learn about Jade and the beautiful Cloisonne factory. All of our meals in Beijing were lovely and great choices and our wonderful evening meal of Peking Duck was located right next to our hotel. We had and amazing time. Thank you

Thank joanmL5026YT
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 26 December 2017

Excellent itinerary which avoided spending too much time looking at static pandas as 90 minutes was enough.
The best part was the cruise down the Li River through the conical hills. Also excellent was the sound, light and dance show at Yangshuo.
Our guide Raymond was excellent.
The only disappointment was the hotels, many of them were well out of the city. The hotel in Xi'an was very good. The others had very smart Reception areas and corridors but the rooms smelt of cigarette smoke, had stained carpets and bathrooms which needed re-grouting.
Well worth taking the extra day to go to Suzhou where the silk factory is actually mainly a showroom showing the beautiful hand sewn silk tapestries. Ask to go by rail rather than car though as you will avoid the horrendous traffic jams getting back to Shanghai.
In general an excellent tour.

Thank Cosmopolitan802836
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
WendyWuTeam, Customer Care Manager (UK) at Wendy Wu Tours, responded to this reviewResponded 2 January 2018

Dear Pau&Anne

Thank you for taking the time to post your review and we are thrilled to hear you enjoyed your Wonders of China tour.

We love to hear your travel stories and discover your holiday highlights – it’s this very feedback that helps us to maintain and improve our high standards.

We are sorry to hear of your disappointment with some of the hotel rooms you were allocated and please rest assured your feedback in this respect has been taken on-board.

Thank you once again for your feedback and we hope to welcome you on-board another Wendy Wu tour in the future.

Kind regards

Lorraine, Wendy Wu Tours (UK)

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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