There is a great deal to discover in China, which is the world’s most populated country (over 1.3 billion citizens), and a truly fascinating country. Our Travel Consultant Saj Hossain shares an incredible whirlwind journey through China with On the Go Tours and what you can expect to experience in each major city:
China has always been on my bucket list and thanks to On the Go Tours, I was able to experience this unique country. In just 9 days we visited 4 cities, climbed the Great Wall, saw the incredible Terracotta Warriors and even got to see pandas!
After the 13 hour flight, I met with our tour leader Feng, picked up a few more people and before we know it, we were on our way to our first hotel. After meeting the rest of the group on the tour, we went to grab some much needed dinner right across the street. The Rainbow hotel, was a good 3.5 star hotel; basic and clean. Besides the rock hard beds, no complaints here. The free buffet breakfast in the morning is great!
For our first day we went to visit Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City. If I could sum up Beijing in one word it would be – busy! There were people everywhere! Very exciting if you have never witnessed something like this before. The forbidden city was very interesting; beautiful Pagodas, brilliant statues and rich history. Our tour guide was from Beijing and as a result, was able to provide us with a lot of information. Afterwards we went on a rickshaw ride through the Hutongs (narrow alleyways) of Beijing . We stopped at a local house and chatted with the resident about the history of the Hutongs. We then went to have a traditional Peking Duck Dinner. The Peking duck was not my cup of tea however many others on the tour loved it. After dinner, we went to the night market and I ate a scorpion. Yes – that happened!
Our second day in capital city started at the breathtaking Great Wall of China. The climb is steep, but well worth it. My only advice is get to the high point, even if you have to take breaks along the way. Once you are at the high point, look back and be amazed. After the Great Wall we went to see an Aerobatic show. I was expecting the same old, ribbon show but what we witnessed was one of the greatest aerobatic shows I have ever seen! Truly breathtaking and a highlight of the tour – do not miss this!
For day 3 we started with a trip to the Silk Markets. Bring cash – and lots of it! Shop till you drop, and bargain bargain bargain! We spent two and a half hours there and it was not nearly enough time. There are more opportunities to shop along the tour, but nothing as cheap as here. After all the shopping madness, we headed to the Summer Palace (which is a serene peaceful temple to calm down). We boarded the overnight train to our next city, Xi’an. A little tip for anybody thinking about paying for the soft sleeper upgrade, do it! It is well worth it!
After a 12 hour train ride we met our local guide Tom, and headed to our second hotel called The Wan Nian Grand Hotel. This hotel also had a great buffet breakfast. Once again, another good 3.5 star hotel; clean and basic. Xi’an was also very busy, but unlike Beijing, was not by any means a big city. With all the people, it seemed that much more crowded and the pollution seemed a lot more apparent.
After checking in, we were back on the road and headed to the Terracotta Warriors. Tom was our local guide in Xi’an and if you have the pleasure of having Tom as a tour guide, you will know what I mean when I say he is one of a kind! Very nice and a wealth of knowledge. Our fantastic guide Feng was still with us as she was the national tour leader (and Tom was the local guide). The Terracotta Warriors again are just jaw dropping; 7,000 statues and all of them are different from one another. Not a single one has the same face! After spending a few hours there, we headed back to hotel for a leisurely night.
The next morning we had breakfast, checked out of the hotel and headed to see the pandas! We did not go to a zoo, but instead a wildlife rescue center. If you do not see the pandas at first, fear not, throughout the day they will emerge. After the pandas we headed back to Xi’an to ride bikes on the medieval walls which was a lot of fun! After the bikes, we headed back to the train station for another overnight train to Shanghai.
After a 14 hour train ride, we arrived in Shanghai. We exited the train station and met our local guide, Jacky. We headed to our hotel, Shanghai Paradise Hotel to check in. The Shanghai Paradise Hotel is a very good 4 – 4.5 star hotel, definitely the best one on the trip. The first thing you notice in Shanghai are the buildings! They were absolutely enormous and you’ll soon discover that Shanghai is very much a vertically integrated city. The architecture is very different from the other two cities where it is more in tune with the Western world. We visited the Oriental Pearl Tower to get a better view of the city (think of it as the CN Tower of China). Later we visited the beautiful Yuyuan Garden, Jade Buddah Temple and finished the day with a beautiful night cruise on the Huangpu River. The Shanghai skyline at night when viewed from the river was beautiful.
Our second day in Shanghai we took a bullet train to the city of Suzhou for a day trip. Suzhou is absolutely gorgeous. It truly lives up to its nickname, the oriental Venice. This city was also the hometown for our local guide Jacky and as a result, all the information provided came directly from his heart. Jacky’s passion for his city was inspirational. After a day in Suzhou we took the bullet train back to Shanghai to enjoy our last night in China.
I feel like China is a country where a tour is absolutely necessary! On the Go Tours did a fantastic job! Their name says it all, we saw so much in such a little amount of time. If you have little time and want to see as much as possible, On the Go is your tour company! The guides were fantastic; from Feng’s care, Tom’s knowledge, and Jacky’s passion, they truly did an incredible job educating us about their home. I’m going to be honest: if you are looking for a relaxing getaway, head for a beach. If you are interested in stepping outside your comfort zone and exploring the Eastern world, say Ni Hao to China with On the Go Tours!
Interested in visiting China or want more information on travelling with On the Go Tours? Saj Hossain is an International Travel Consultant at our North York City Centre location in Ontario and can be reached online or calling 1-866-662-6531