WENDY WU CHINA FAM TRIP
21ST-30TH MAY 2018
Hosted by John ***** from Wendy Wu, assisted by Local guides Ricky, Grace and Tracy
6 Barrhead Travel sales staff on the trip
We travelled with Emirates on all four of the international sectors and Air China on one domestic flight. Emirates were fantastic, the cabin crew were helpful and friendly, they staff the aircraft with crew from a range of different countries so they speak a multitude of different languages. Seating is very comfortable especially on the airbus A380 aircraft which we flew to and from Dubai to China. There is a range of seatback entertainment to choose from, the latest release movies, tv shows, games and music. Drinks are free of charge and meals are served twice on each flight. We flew economy on all sectors from Glasgow to Dubai, Dubai to Beijing, Guangzhou to Dubai and Dubai to Glasgow.
The Air China domestic flight was a short two hours from Chengdu to Guangzhou, it was on time, an inflight meal was served and soft drinks were available. No issues at all with the aircraft, the cabin crew spoke English and the safety demonstrations and announcements were made in both Chinese and English.
All of the airports we visited were very modern, clean, had a good range of shopping facilities as well as food outlets. In each one there are lengthy walks involved from check in to the departure or arrival gates so anyone with walking difficulties would definitely need airport assistance.
All clients on a Wendy Wu tour are met at the airport by a local guide and a driver. They are met in the arrivals hall and walked to their transfer vehicle. The local guides are very easy to spot they will be wearing Wendy Wu polo shirts and/or holding a board with the logo.
Beijing – Novotel Peace hotel – 3 nights
This is a modern 4* hotel in a really good location in Beijing. The surrounding area is very modern with shopping malls and restaurants in the area. It is very safe to walk out from the hotel and visit the local shops. There is a restaurant in the hotel which serves breakfast with a good selection of both western and Chinese dishes, there are few staff who speak English but most understand tea/coffee etc.....We didn't eat in the restaurant in the evening so I can't comment on the food at dinner. The rooms were well equipped with a safe, mini bar, tv, iron and ironing board. The bathroom was very modern with a large walk in shower, the rooms were well lit with two comfortable beds and were well serviced by numerous lifts to all floors, you have to use your room keycard in the lifts. There is a small bar on the ground floor and an ice cream vendor, bar prices are reasonable you would pay around the same in the UK
Xian – Novotel Xian SCPG – 2 nights
Another modern 4* hotel located in the city centre. This hotel has a shopping mall below and is surrounded by very modern malls and restaurants, it feels like it is in a very upmarket area. You check in on floor 8 and the rooms are above, the restaurant is on floor 7 for breakfast and the bar on floor8. Bar prices here are lower than they are in Beijing. Breakfast again is a mix of western and Chinese but there's not as much choice as there was in Beijing, most people though will find something that they like to eat.
The rooms again are very modern with a big walk in shower and nice comfortable beds. If you have clients in this hotel try and request rooms facing the rear of the property as there was some road noise in the front facing rooms. The public facilities are fantastic and very clean public toilets.
Again English is not widely spoken in the hotel but for example in the bar you are given an i-pad to choose your drinks so it is well managed for overseas tourists who don't speak Chinese.
Chengdu – Tianfu Sunshine Hotel - 2 nights
4* hotel, not as modern as the previous two certainly the rooms are slightly dated and the bathrooms are well worn with shower in bath and fabric shower curtains but the public areas are very nice. There is a restaurant and a bar on the ground floor and an outdoor swimming pool. The bar prices again are very reasonable and were the best priced out of all three hotels. Breakfast again the usual mix of both western and Chinese, staff again spoke limited English. The hotel appeared to be in a nice central area although we didn't get the chance to explore much outside due to time constraints.
We travelled as if we were part of a Wendy Wu tour group, in each place we had a local guide and a driver dedicated to our group. In Beijing we had Ricky, in Xian it was Grace and in Chengdu we had Tracy. Each guide was absolutely fantastic, they had a wealth of knowledge about their respective cities and were a credit to Wendy Wu. You felt completely safe in their hands and each one had a perfect understanding of both spoken and written English. They answered any questions we had quickly and honestly, I felt that they were all very passionate about their cities and that they genuinely loved their jobs as tour guides.
In Beijing we had three wonderful days of sightseeing, we visited the Forbidden city, Tiananmen Square, the Great Wall, Summer Palace, we even had a master class with a Tai Chi master. The tours are all well organised and leave the hotel early morning usually between 7-9am. There is a LOT of walking involved, please make your clients aware that they need a reasonable standard of fitness and good comfortable walking shoes as they will be on their feet for sometimes 3-4 hours at a time. Each site is very very busy with tourists, we have been advised that your clients avoid Chinese holiday times such as the first week in October as the sites are all doubly busy at this time, for example a two hour drive to the Great Wall would take almost four hours during this time.
In Xian our main visit was to the Terracotta warriors, this again is done early morning to try and avoid the crowds, it is a magnificent site which will take around 3 hours to fully appreciate. In Xian you also have the opportunity to cycle along the city wall, visit the museum where they carve the warriors and go to a chinese dumpling dinner with dancing show.
In Chengdu our main focus was visiting the park where the giant pandas are housed. This site gets very very busy early on, we were there just after 9am and the crowds had already formed. You can see and learn about the Pandas, its a great experience which again involves a lot of walking so expect to be on foot for around 3 hours again. There are large looking golf carts which can carry the less mobile up to the top of the hills if required.
Our sightseeing trips were all wonderful we really packed so much into the 7 days we were there, we did everything from rickshaw rides, to visiting bar street in Xian to learning about the way Chinese mothers set their children up on dates to drinking authentic Chinese tea in a tea house. I felt we were really immersed in the local culture and completely appreciated the way Wendy Wu manage their tours.
As you can imagine we ate mostly Chinese food. Breakfast in all hotels was a good mixture of western and local dishes, for lunch and dinner we mostly ate Chinese style. The way this is presented on a Wendy Wu tour is you visit a local restaurant, sit at a big round table with a 'lazy Susan' in the middle, the guide orders lots of different dishes which are put on the table and you help yourself to these. They make sure they are ordering a range of foods from vegetables to noodles to rice and meat dishes and they range in flavour from mild to spicy. I though the food was all really good and I enjoyed the experience of eating at every mealtime. I also felt secure that the guides were always on hand if you had a question or weren't too sure about what you were eating, at no time at all did I experience an upset tummy due to the food so I'm completely confident we were eating in good restaurants. Drinks (apart from local tea)are not included at mealtimes on Wendy Wu tours and are purchased as an optional extra.
WHAT TO PACK
For a Wendy Wu tour, casual, casual, casual. The weather in China gets very hot in the summer months, I wouldn't recommend visiting in the summer months and would say April/May time is an ideal time to visit for weather. When we were there the average temperature was around 30 degrees but it gets hotter and more humid in July/August so sightseeing then would be draining. Based on the temperatures take light causal clothes and very comfortable walking shoes because you'll spend a lot of time on foot. There isn't anywhere you go on an evening excursions which would involve dressing up so it's not necessary to take any really smart clothes. All hotels had hairdryers and in room body lotions/shampoos/soap etc so you wouldn't have to take those if you didn't want to. It is essential to take suncream/mosquito spray, a hat and a hand held fan if you can!!! I would take a back pack for carrying essentials such as water during the day. Please be warned that on all Chinese internal flights and on the bullet trains Aerosols are strictly limited to one per person but I cannot guarantee these won't be confiscated from you at security even on the bullet train, if you can advise clients to take creams and gels rather than sprays that would be better, some of our group had their sprays confiscated at security at the bullet train in Xian.
Avoid travelling on an organised tour during the hot summer months and during peak holiday times for the Chinese.
For woman please advise most toilets apart from a disabled loo or the odd western toilet are mostly squatting toilets, they are best to carry tissues with them, wipes and hand sanitiser as the loos are often not to our standards.
Take very comfortable walking shoes and have a reasonable level of fitness as there is an awful lot of walking involved. These tours are not for anyone with any mobility issues.
Avoid taking aerosols if you can when travelling by air or train internally.
Learn to use chopsticks before you go!!!!
It has to be a 5 out of 5 – Wendy Wu were absolutely fantastic and have a very well organised set up in China. Everything went like clockwork with them and the local guides really made the trip very special. China as a country is huge, at times overwhelmingly busy but it really has sights and sounds so unique that to experience these truly was an honour.