China Adventure » Review by Jason
One of the best trips I’ve ever been on! This adventure opened my eyes to a whole new world and culture. The best things about this trip were the places we went to, the activities we did, our outstanding tour manager (Luke), our local guides - and best of all - the other people in the group!
I had initially thought of going to China with another tour company (Wendy Wu), which probably would have been cheaper, since they include flights, visa costs, and all meals. However, having spoken to people that have gone with that company and others, the average age of people on such tours is 40+ (sometimes 50+), the pace is rather slow, and I think I would’ve been bored! I’m so glad I went with Contiki, I'd heard great things about the company (this was my first trip with them), and there were always like-minded people up for having a good time, and for taking part in the more lively activities. (Most people were 20s-early 30s, with a surprising number of people with dSLRs – a random observation!) Also, Hong Kong was included – which was the cherry on top!
Every day was action-packed. The highlight for me was climbing the Great Wall - a day I'll remember for years to come! The Backstage Pass activities were excellent – some of the places that were included, like the 798 Art District in Beijing, were places that I’d never have considered going to if I were on my own, and the lunch with a local family in their house in the Hutong district, would not have been possible if I were on my own! I did all the optional extras, except the last one (the light show in Yangshuo?). Also, in the free time that we had, Luke’s recommendations were always great. The accommodation was top notch. We stayed in four-star hotels (most of them with free wifi) which had great Eastern and Western style breakfasts. The included meals on the tour were all good. And for those of you who are also adventurous with food and drink – there are plenty of opportunities to try the crazy stuff!
Our guides in each city/town were amazing. In Beijing we had Hubert; Xi’an – Ken; Shanghai – Linda; Yangshuo – Julie; and Hong Kong – Gain. Each was a character in themselves! What was great about them was how they added their own touch to each town – whether it was their sense of humour, personal stories, encyclopaedic knowledge, or their god-like ability to retrieve wallets/passports left on trains or in restaurants. Although I am a fan of reading guidebooks, having a living, breathing and interactive guide to tell us about each place was so much better.
To summarise, going to China with Contiki was full of memorable experiences. I wouldn’t have been able to do so many things, learn so much, make so many cool friends, and have such a great time if I went solo, or with another company. The tour was a great introduction to China and Hong Kong – I can’t wait to go back!
Review written May 2013event 0.3