When you book a group tour to China usually there is not much choice about what to see and when. Your day is packed from 8am to 7pm when you are taken to a restaurant where the menu is decided by the government. You are usually presented with a visit to the Great Wall of China without specifying which part of the Great Wall. To keep costs down most companies take you to the Badaling section which is close to Beijing and most of the time, very overcrowded.
If you are on a group tour your not able to see any current exhibitions in any of the cities visited, because there’s just not time. In the evenings, you are booked to see a performance of Beijing Opera but without any explanation what is the significance of any of the colours or costumes or masks or dances, so you’ll sit there out of sheer politeness and stay till the bitter end like most tourists do.You’ll go to Shanghai but you won’t have time to catch a world-class performance in the magnificent Shanghai theatre (the seats are so cheap too!). Nor will you be able to ride the fastest train in China, the Maglev, as there is no time, nor will you be able to go to the charming Taikang Lu district as buses can’t park down the narrow streets.
However, on your group tour you will be taken on factory visits, so-called friendship shops, again earmarked by the government for tourists, in order to increase guides’ commission. Most of the time clients are get annoyed that they weren’t told about these visits (sometimes 3 a day) which can take up a considerable proportion of your time – for example, instead of spending some quality time at the Great Wall of China you have to go to the pearl shop and even if none of the group members buy anything, the will still guide get commission. On your group tour there will be at least 20 other people, sometimes 30 or 40, and just one guide – how many questions are you going to be able to answer? Are you going to be able to get close enough to hear them even?
For a perfect holiday in China, book your own guide and driver and set your own pace on a series of private day trips in each city, special discounts are available for more than 3 tours when booked together.
This is what you can see and do in China in just a week with ReadyClickAndGo!
AM: If you early starter get to the Tiananmen Square for flag rising ceremony. Later in the morning visit the magnificent Tiananmen Square bordered by Great Hall of the People and Mao’s Mausoleum. Later visit the impressive UNESCO site, the Forbidden City which was a home to a succession of Emperors for more than 500 years. Exit through the north gate of the Forbidden City and visit the Jingshan Park for panoramic views of the city.
EVENING: Spend the evening with the performers at the Beijing Opera learning about this uniquely Chinese art.
PM: In the afternoon visit another UNESCO site and the Ming dynasty masterpiece, the Temple of Heaven and try Tai Chi. Opposite the Temple of Heaven visit one of the biggest market of fake goods in China, the Hongqiao Market where you can try your haggling skills.
EVENING: In the evening enjoy a traditional Peking Duck Dinner.
PM: Learn about modern Chinese art at the funky 798 street which was formerly a military industrial complex from the 50’s. What’s fascinating is that several of the factories within the complex are still operational.
EVENING: Spend the evening at the Hou Hai Lake among the modern bars and restaurants.
AM: Fly to the ancient city of Xian and transfer to the hotel for two nights.
PM: On the way to the hotel visit the excellent Provincial Museum of Shaanxi Province built on the site of a former Confucian temple.
EVENING: In the evening enjoy the Tang Era music and dance dinner performance.
AM: Visit the greatest archaeological find of the 20th century – the Terracotta Warriors who were interred with the Emperor Qin Shu Huang, marvel at the 7000 individually crafted, life sized clay figures. Stroll around the Muslim Quarter and visit the magnificent Grand Mosque.
PM: If you are travelling to Xian between April and October 2011 try to visit the magnificent International Horticultural EXPO whose landmark is Changhan Tower which has the characteristics of a traditional timber-structure pagodas of the Tang Dynasty: every layer of roof overhang has a layer of supporting pedestals with a patterned layer-by-layer structure.
EVENING: Visit the illuminated Big Wild Goose Pagoda.
PM: Along with the usual visits to the Jade Buddha Temple and the Yuyuan garden. I suggest you walk to the fast-disappearing Jewish quarter around the Astor Hotel. You can even ask at the hotel reception and try to visit the room in which Albert Einstein received a phone call about his Nobel Prize. It’s still the same. Continue along the Bund and watch Chinese people performing tai chi. If you are hungry you can either go to the 8th floor of the Peace Hotel for a sumptuous Chinese meal at the Phoenix restaurant with fascinating views over the Huangpu River. If you prefer something more western why not visit Cloud 8 on the 88th floor of the Grand Hyatt Hotel on the other side of the river. The views are breathtaking…
EVENING: In the evening visit Taikang Art Street, full of art galleries, sculpture workshops, photography studios, pottery and woodcarving workshops, etc. Stroll through Xintiandi Concession area where bars, cafes and shops are housed in typical old Shanghai houses.
AM: Visit the world class Shanghai Museum. Check what’s on at the Shanghai Theatre and continue through the People’s Park to watch the locals relaxing playing cards, performing tai chi…If you are hungry try the Barbarossa restaurant situated in the middle of the People’s Park.
PM: Continue through the famous Nanjing Road towards the Peace Hotel and listen to jazz there at the bar which has been playing there since 1923. Take the stairs to the famous Phoenix restaurant for panoramic views of the Huangpu River.
EVENING: Continue to the Bund and take an evening cruise on the Huangpu River.