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Reviews are compiled and evaluated by an independent third party, BazaarvoiceTM, the No. 1 provider of customer reviews. Reviews are never edited or deleted unless the content does not comply with EF and Bazaarvoice's™ terms and conditions, which prohibit the use of such things as personal information and inappropriate language.
Would do it againWe had a wonderful trip. Before going to China, I was somewhat anxious and didn’t know what to expect -- but our lodging and food were very good, and the sites that we saw were great. Our tour director had a witty sense of humor and quickly bonded with the kids. He had to constantly make “just-in-time” adjustments based on the weather, traffic, etc., and made the tour a spectacular success! One night in particular demonstrated his strengths and experience – an adult leader we were travelling with became ill and our tour director quickly arranged for transportation to a nearby hospital, went with the person and interpreted for them, and worked with EF to identify next steps in case the patient needed to be sent to a bigger hospital (thankfully, she did not). I got a strong sense that safety was a priority and the bus drivers did a terrific job of getting us from place to place.
Local guides in the various cities were also very knowledgeable and educated and entertained us.
Of course, the big attractions like the Great Wall, Terra Cotta Warriors, etc. were spectacular – but some of the best and most memorable moments for our kids were just simply walking down the streets of a Chinese city, conversing in Mandarin with street vendors and store clerks, and eating/seeing the bizarre yet tasty food.
We had 3 domestic flights within China – each one was very good with better service than we are used to (hot lunch served on a two hour flight) – it would have been cool, however, if we could have taken a high speed train on one of the legs so the kids could have had that experience. (We did get to do a 10 minute "Maglev" train ride from the Shanghai airport at 430 km/hr!)
I actually hope to do the trip again – my younger child is going to take Mandarin and hopefully her Chinese teacher will plan another trip in a few years.
BusyFun LearningEF Tour Guide based out of Xi'an made it seem easy as she stitched together a high end experience for our group. My 4th trip to China was so much better from both an educational and experiential perspective. The city guides were also helpful, kind, and thoughtful.
Phenomenal OpprotunityThis trip was better than anything that I could have imagined! Each and every single day was jam packed with fun activities. Also, I got to meet some really great people. Through this tour I was able to fully appreciate China's scenery, history, food, and culture. All of this wouldn't have happened without the help of the EF Tour Director and group leaders.
If you every get an opportunity to travel--do it! You won't regret it!
Interesting Tour!!!The tour was interesting and definitely different. It was a lot of fun and there was a lot of interesting information on the history of China.
Awful experienceHorrible experience. Will never go for this company ever again. I did their China tour and now understand why my daughter’s school kicked these guys out not long ago. The tour is a complete chaos from beginning to the end. I can tell that the tour was well planned by the agency, but their “group leaders”, which are supposed to be responsible for the group, are complete idiots with no clue about any of their duties or their employer policies. I mean, where did the company find these creeps?! The group resembles an unorganized crowd running around from city to city with no aim or control. In the process one of their group leaders terrified my daughter while trying to hit on me!!! Is that what I am paying for?! I am enraged even thinking that they forced me to tip this guy up front! Worst experience ever.
Good Experience, Needs ImprovementGood tour, however, along with the pros, I want to point out some things that future leaders and travelers should really keep in mind before deciding on this trip.
I was a chaperone/group leader on this tour. Let me start with some of the positives:
1. Our tour director was great. Students loved him and he was very hospitable/accommodating. As our past tours have been to Europe, this one would have been very difficult without the guidance of our tour director, especially in regards to language. I give the tour a 4/5 for value, and having a tour director is a big part of that.
2. Our hotels were much better than I had anticipated after reading some of the other reviews. Beds are harder than in the US and the air conditioning wasn't always the greatest but rooms were clean and we even had some newer hotels with nice amenities. Group leaders - do not hesitate to make it clear that good air conditioning is a MUST on this trip.
3. Food. the quality of the good overall was good. However, it is repetitive. A lot of family style dining or meals on the flight. They did a good job of being near "western" fast food though for other lunches and it was a welcome break. Also a scheduled pizza night in the middle of the trip was nice.
4. Itinerary - you get to do A LOT on this trip. Highlights for many were the Great Wall, a countryside tour in Yangshuo and fireworks at Shanghai Disneyland one night (an extra surprise from our Tour Director).
THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW:
1. You need cash. Hong Kong will take your credit card but the VAST majority of places in mainland China will not. EF will tell you $50USD in currency but make it at least $100 USD to start and make sure you have access to cash while on tour.
2. It is HOT in the summer. We found we only walked about 6-7 miles a day on this tour (over 10 on other tours), but the heat/humidity make for exhausting days. If you don't like heat and being sweaty all of the time, reconsider this tour.
3. Shopping. WAY TOO MUCH SHOPPING. This reason alone dropped the review from 5 stars to 4. All "free" time was in areas with only shopping. By the end even some of our students were tired of it. You do not need 2-3 hours a day shopping for souvenirs, not to mention one of the markets in Hong Kong was on a pretty "sketchy" street. You need to be aware that people will try to sell you counterfeit goods in back rooms on these shopping streets. I just don't see the point in wasting so much precious time of souvenir shopping. I was also disappointed the Silk Factory. Such a complete and obvious money grab. If I knew beforehand and we were the only group, I would have added other activities in lieu of shopping and dropped the Silk Factory.
4. Hong Kong in June is rainy and there isn't much "scheduled". Do some research and present some ides to your tour director so you aren't stuck shopping or wasting time that could be spent exploring another area.
5. Flights. We had 8 flights in 2 weeks. It's part of the itinerary. It's tiring and a little stressful getting two dozen group members in and our of so many airports. Have a plan and be aware that you may not have time before your flight. Many airports did not have much after security and our only meal during the day was airplane food. Expect to spend a decent amount of time on travel.
This tour has so much potential to be one of the best, if not the best EF offers. You see a lot. We had some great local guides. For many this is truly a once in a lifetime experience. You won't regret it, but I think some things could be communicated better and itinerary tweaked. Xi'an and Shanghai were the favorites.
Excellently run tourOur tour leader was clearly an expert, was considerate, kind and attentive to all the needs of everyone in the group, both as a whole and individuals. They were always prepared, and had numerous activities lined up, as well as contingency plans, all subjects of interest and was sensitive to various people's price ranges. All around, very enjoyable experience, best tour guide I have traveled with so far.
Very RigorousGood trip but, be prepared for alot of walking and not alot of sleep. Further, the hotels are very dirty. The food is good but, redundant.
Tour guide was as good as it gets.
Worth itThe trip to China was an amazing trip, 100% worth it. The following school year, I walked around campus and had small conversations with several of the other travelers from the trip.
Any minor problems I encountered were of my own doing (ie; laundry, dehydration, etc), and the EF people were as helpful as possible.
I look forward to travelling with EF in the future and perhaps one day lead a group of my own.
Chinaa good tour, in an amazing country.