To celebrate our Silver Wedding Anniversary we decided to have a “trip of a lifetime” to China and that is exactly what it was!
Our agreed itinerary included Beijing, Xian (for the terracotta Warriors), Yangtze River cruise, Guilin (for the Li River cruise), and Shanghai.
We flew B.A club world which we found very comfortable, helped by the champagne!
Our first full day in Beijing was spent visiting the Great Wall of China which was a fantastic start to the holiday.
The following day, we visited Tiananmen Square, The Forbidden City, Temple of Heaven e.t.c. All these sights were incredible and our guide, Lee, made it so interesting and explained everything so clearly.
Our next stop was Xian and an excellent tour of the Muslim Quarter but the real highlight was the Terracotta Warriors, just outside Xian. Our Xian guide, Linda, was also very helpful and did a great job explaining the history of the Terracotta Warriors.
The transfer from Xian to Yichang (for the Yangtze River Cruise) was, unfortunately, a bit challenging. The only available internal flight was very early which meant getting up just after 3am. Arriving at Yichang we were really tired, due to this early start and the previous very busy days. We were met by our guide, Adam, who discovered that the Yichang Museum was not yet complete and valiantly diverted to the interesting Yichang Planning Hall Exhibition. We then agreed to go early to the cruise boat and had a welcome rest in the Lounge Bar until our cabin was ready. Perhaps this transfer day needs rethinking for future holidays.
The next part of the journey was the Yangtze River cruise, which we included to allow us to recuperate from the first few days intensive sightseeing. This was such a contrast to the hustle and bustle of Beijing and Xian and allowed us to enjoy the beautiful scenery. Again we were well looked after even though we didn’t have our own personal guide and seemed to be accepted very well by the other tour parties on board.
At the end of the cruise, we were met by Sabrina, who took us for a brief visit to Chongqing zoo to see the charming Pandas.
Then on to Guilin, where we were met by our guide, Monica, who helped us book into the luxurious Waterfall Hotel. The next day was a day cruise on the Li River. We experienced the spectacular mountainous scenery and, again, a different view of the countryside. We disembarked at Yangshuo which was so far south it was sub-tropical and we experienced our first monsoon rains getting us all soaked in the process! In the evening, we enjoyed the impressive Light and Sound Show. After another comfortable night, we returned to Guilin visiting the superb Reed Flute Caves on the way.
Next was Shanghai. On arrival at the airport, we travelled to the city with our guide, Ting, on the Maglev (max. speed 431 Km/hr) as per our special request. We visited the fascinating Bund area and also the wonderful Yu Gardens. Ending with an evening cruise on the Huangpu River to view the city lit up at night.
All the China hotels we stayed at were very comfortable and clean. The cabin on the Yangtze Cruise was more compact but nevertheless also comfortable and clean and perfectly adequate. With the help of our guides, we were able to find “western” toilets when required (most important) and they were spotless too.
Overall, I think we benefited greatly from having our own “personal” guide at each location. We were able to discuss the itinerary with them and, in some cases, agree changes to the order and even leave things out. As well as seeing all the main things on our list, we also saw many other attractions not mentioned above. Because we were a very small party of two, the guides were able to take us to small local restaurants for meals. We got on very well with all the guides and they were very easy to chat to.
We visited a Xian supermarket on our own and chatted to a sales assistant using the voice translation app on her smartphone.
We rode the Shanghai metro in the rush hour, again on our own.
We didn’t try the locusts, the scorpions nor the small freshwater crabs on offer in Guilin.
Thanks to all who made our China trip possible and so enjoyable – the staff involved at Travel Stop and those at Wendy Wu Tours.