Terrible! The tour provider was Happy Box Travel. Because we arrived after they called the hotel and checked in at midnight, the hotel told them we had not checked in when they called. We were en flight to Beijing. As a result, no one showed up that morning though we paid 900 for a tour for 7 people. They finally arrived over an hour late! I insisted they add an additional sight to make it up to us, which they did - The Nudong District. Our guide spoke very little English and provided minimal commentary on the sights we were seeing. Our tour was on Monday so the Forbidden City was closed. The Summer Palace was substituted instead. We made it to Tianneman Square towards the end of the day. The lines were very long. I asked if we could circumvent the lines as a tour group but our guide said no. It would have been over an hour wait. She then said it was best to come between 900-1100AM for shortest lines. Then why didn't we?! We ended up taking photos outside the Square since it would take so long to get in. Our friends who took the same tour the previous day said they got in immediately as an escorted tour group. The guide and driver seemed to argue a lot. The only good part was we enjoyed a great Peking Duck. Though the operator tried to make it up to us by adding an additional destination, this was a very substandard tour. All of us were very disappointed with the quality and content of the tour. Our tour guide was ill-prepared to share any information on the sites. Her English was very difficult to understand and she had a hard time answering any questions. she seemed very inexperienced and unprepared. Our friends had done the same tour the day before and had a much better experience as their guide was very good.
The Forbidden City and Temple of Heaven are pretty much must-sees if you're in Beijing and haven't seen them before. Our tour guide, Torry, was cheerful, friendly, helpful, and knowledgeable. You couldn't ask for more. She answered questions about the attractions and about life in China in general. My husband's ankle was sore and she gave us a recommendation for an herbal medicine. A couple negatives: first, Beijing is unfortunately quite polluted. If it rains, the next day can be nice, but if not, it is pretty bad. Second, both these attractions are understandably very popular. Tons of tourists, tour groups, and the accompanying din of microphoned tour guides. For both climate and crowd reasons, if you can avoid visiting Beijing in the summer, you should. Obviously these elements are out of the tour guide's control I'm saying this just so you know what to expect. Again, Torry was great!
Torry is a very nice person and a delight to have as our tour guide. She was very responsive to our needs. We were traveling with my elderly parents and infant daughter. She was helping my parents when they were walking up the stairs and gave them umbrella shade when it was very hot. We saw Forbidden city and Temple of heaven with her but upon our request she made these tours in slow pace and we could have rest in such hot weather tour. A nice tour. I recommend this to all of you.
Our tour guide - Dean - was the best I've ever experienced. Both myself and my partner are extensive travelers, and we both agreed that Dean's level of service, professionalism, knowledge and enthusiasm for his vocation was unsurpassed. I had been to the Forbidden City before with other tour guides, and yet still learned more from Dean that I didn't know. His attention to detail is exceptional. His attention to our needs was superb. And when we wanted something a little different he was incredibly accommodating.
Highly recommend this tour, and if you do - make sure you request Dean. You will be so glad you did.
Booking a private tour was not cheap but 100 worth it. Attending a conference in Beijing I heard a lot about being rushed during tours done by others. Not me. I had all time I wanted. I was told a lot of stories which I will recall and sensed a bit of the history of this remarkable place. Much more than I had expected! The guide, Dean, made me feel welcome and different to the quite numerous other visitors.
Alison our guide was very knowledgeable about the history and architecture of all three sites. Interestingly, when I asked about 1989 she revealed most about today's China when she hushed me and indicated that she couldn't talk about that! So, while China appears open, certain topics are clearly off limits for even tour guides to speak of! The main complaint about this tour was the retail tour--which was NOT revealed in advance in the advertisement for the tour. This is simply fraud by the tour operator. All tour information should be provided up front, especially for private tours like we booked, so customers can know in advance that there are things the operator wants to take them to that they may not want to visit--like a silk museum which was really a silk manufacturer and store, and the tea shop demonstration which was another sales pitch for Chinese tea. Not good business! Had the tour NOT included these aspects and simply focused on the sights, I would have given it 4 stars.
We've done a lot of traveling and have utilized our fair share of tour guides...and Torrey has surpassed them all!
Beijing has a reputation for being chaotic and unpunctual (mostly due to traffic) but Torry was prompt and well-organized. Her primary mission was to show us the genuineness of China. From authentic food to enriching us with Chinese history to her pleasant presence...the overall tour was greatest display of hospitality we have ever experienced!
Torry exudes such a bright enthusiasm for Chinese culture and shares this enthusiasm with everyone she comes in contact with. She never rushed us and always had a good walking pace which allowed us to absorb the sights and drink up all of the culture we were exposed to. She was more than happy to take our pictures from time to time and even asked locals to politely step out of our pictures (which happens all the time when visiting popular sights).
Torry was truly a delight and made thee absolutely best ending to our trip. We wanted to stay an extra day just so that she can unveil more of the true Beijing we have always dreamt of experiencing.
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