Thanks for following up and inquiring about our experience. Let me start by saying it was excellent all around!
First of all, Sarina was absolutely amazing! She was thorough, quick to respond, excellent English, ever patient with all of my questions (and believe me, I had a lot of questions as I wanted to be prepared and I wanted to do everything I could to make sure we saw what we wanted and only what we wanted!) She is so anxious to serve and be helpful and I felt supported all the way through. I never felt rushed, even though we started planning the trip 18 months in advance. It was a highlight of our trip to be able to have dinner with her when we were in Guilin. She is even more delightful in person than in email! When she was on vacation, her email was monitored by Shirley (Sarina had told me long in advance), and Shirley checked on a couple of things for me in a very thorough manner.
I appreciated being able to book 3 of our hotels as that kept the cost down for us and the ability to check out other hotels on the internet and agree on which ones we would use. All the hotels were good. We had a little problem with bugs in the Guilin Sheraton, but the location was excellent and it was otherwise fine.
The tour guides were also fine and it was obvious they had been instructed to take good care of us. Sarina had notified each one of my food allergies and they helped with meal ordering. We loved the food and really enjoyed eating true Chinese food and not Western food. Each tour guide had strengths and weaknesses, some spoke better English than others, but all of them made sure we had a great time, were flexible with us, and seemed willing to please. There were no problems. I loved that Sarina called them and us to make sure all was going well. We saw what we expected to see and a few other things that I inquired about once we got there. We were generous with the tips for our guides as we felt that they were very willing to spend time with us and make sure it was a great experience. If the tour guides were all in your office and wanted suggestions for improvement, I would be glad to oblige but there were no problems that needed fixing or apologizing. The evaluation form that they gave us at the last minute in each city was not very practical. They all met our needs.
The flights were all at good times. Our only delay was caused by the typhoon and wasn’t in anyone’s control. That led to our most exciting story of the trip as we climbed the mountain to Li’an Lodge after dark by flashlight!
I would recommend ETC to anyone wanting to travel to China. A private tour was definitely the way for us to go given my husband’s slower pace and it provided the flexibility, like long lunches, that made us meant our days were full and we saw a lot but we never felt rushed. If you have any specific areas that I have not addressed, let me know and I will be glad to respond.
Charlene Eshleman (and David)
Charlene's Guided Private Tour to China
Day 1 Beijing Arrival
Day 2 Beijing: Morning free at leisure, Tiananmen Square, Forbidden City
Day 3 Beijing: Temple of Heaven, Hutong Tour
Day 4 Beijing: Mutianyu Great Wall
Day 5 Beijing: The Summer Palace, with a short cruise on Kunming Lake, afternoon free at leisure
Day 6 Beijing to Xi’an: Big Wild Goose Pagoda Park
Day 7 Xi’an: Terracotta Warriors and Horses Museum, Ancient City Wall
Day 8 Xi’an to Shanghai: Bell Tower
Day 9 Shanghai: Zhujiajiao Water Town with boat cruise, The Bund, Nanjing Road
Day 10 Shanghai to Guilin to Longji: Huangluo Yao Village, Longji (Dragon Back) Rice Terraces
Day 11 Longji to Guilin: No. 1 & No. 2 Viewing Points
Day 12 Guilin: Reed Flute Cave, Afternoon free at leisure
Day 13 Guilin to Yangshuo: Li River Cruise to Yangshuo, Free at leisure on the West Street
Day 14 Guilin Yangshuo to Guilin to Hong Kong: Cycling tour to the countryside, Bamboo rafting on Yulong River
Day 15 Hong Kong: Victoria Peak, Aberdeen Fishing Village, Repulse Bay
Day 16 Hong Kong: Free day
Day 17 Hong Kong Departure