San Leandro, California
My personal experience with CYTS's China tour
I joined the China tour from 11/03 to 11/14 to visit Beijing, Xian, Guilin, Wuxi, Suzhou, Hangzhou, and Shanghai. This was a 12 day tour. As we know, CYTS is one of the top travel agents in China, but CYTS does not operate the tour themselves. Rather, CYTS subcontracts local agents to handle the tours in different cities. That’s why the quality of the tours were so different. The following statements are my honest opinions from personal experience. Itinerary arrangement: 1. Beijing: Tour was handled by the local agent called CITIC. Long story short, they cheated us on this tour. According to the itinerary, we were supposed to visit the inside of the "Bird's Nest"-National Stadium, but we were told the admission ticket was not included. In addition, they almost cheated us by planning to bring us to visit Juyong Guan Pass, instead of the Great Wall in Badaling. We also got no chance to walk through the 700-meter-long corridor with its wonderful Painted Gallery in the Summer Palace and each person paid 30 RMB for a boat cruise to finish the tour instead. Moreover, we did not have an opportunity to walk around Qianmen Street which is a signature street since Ming dynasty. Thus, I knew it was impossible to ask the tour guide to go the extra mile to show us the must see shopping area called Wanfujing, which is not showed on the itinerary. Fortunately, God is on our side, because of the issue of the Bird’s Nest, the tour guide agreed to reimburse 50RMB per person, and we will visit the Great Wall in Badaling, provided everyone paid an additional 30RMB per person to cover the cost of cable car at the Great Wall in Badaling, which is 80 RMB per person. The Great Wall in Badaling is just like the south rim of Grand Canyon National Park in USA, and Juyong Guan Pass is like the west rim of Grand Canyon. In terms of the scale of view, they are totally different. Please do not be fooled by the tour guide. From one star to five stars, I am only willing to give the itinerary arrangement in Beijing 2 stars. 2. Xian: Tour arrangement in Xian was quite professional. We visited all the sites, which were stated on the itinerary. The only comment I would like to make is the time we stayed at the Terra-Cotta Warriors was not enough. I would like to give the itinerary arrangement in Xian 4 stars. 3. Guilin: Guilin truly deserves to be recognized as the most spectacular natural wonder on earth. Tour arrangement in Guilin was so efficient, professional, and relaxing. Not only did we enjoy all of the amazing sites, but also we got a great opportunity to shop at the famous local shopping street and food court, even kissing fish spa. I would like to give the itinerary arrangement in Guilin 5 stars. 4. Shanghai area ( including Wuxi, Suzhou and Hangzhou): The tour arrangement in Shanghai was also quite professional and efficient. We didn’t miss any of the sites we were supposed to visit. The best part of the tour in Shanghai was the Bund. The night view was spectacular, even better than the one in Hong Kong. What a perfect ending for the China trip this time. I would like to give the tour arrangement in Shanghai 4 stars. Hotel: 1. Beijing: According to CYTS’s website, we were supposed to stay at Crown Plaza Hotel Beijing, which is located at the famous shopping area called Wanfujing. Instead, we stayed at Xinyuan Hotel which is far away from downtown, and has a military base nearby. The hotel lobby was quite fancy and attractive. However, I was shocked by the dirty bathroom when I was walking through the room. No kidding! The floor inside the bathroom was really dirty. It was really disgusting. Everyone thought that the hotel was dirty. I give this hotel a reluctant 3 stars. 2. Xian: The location of Grand Noble Hotel was very good, right on the main street. The facility and room setting were awesome. However, the people working at the front desk were not well trained to handle the travel documents from different countries. In Xian, they didn’t recognize my travel documents and wasted a lot of time for no reason. I would like to give this hotel 4 stars. 3. Guilin: The location of Lijiang Waterfall Hotel was the best one throughout the whole trip. The most popular local shopping street and gourmet food court was just nearby. The facilities and room were excellent. Moreover, we got a free waterfall show every night, and it was spectacular. I would like to give this hotel perfect score 5 stars. 4. Shanghai area: a. Shanghai city: The location of Ramada Plaza Gateway Shanghai was decent. I can easily find the gourmet local food during the night nearby. The room was so cozy and roomy. However, we were asked to prepay 500RMB per room for the security deposit. It made me feel so disrespected. I give this hotel 4 stars. b. Wuxi: The location of Landison Plaza Hotel was not so convenient. I had to walk a long way to get some local food to try. However the facilities of the hotel were very luxurious . I give this hotel 4 stars. c. Hangzhou: The location of Crown Plaza Hotel was bad. It is just located right next to the freeway overpass. It made too much noise and there was no place to walk around. And the people working at the front desk are not well trained to handle the travel documents from different countries. They were inept at handling foreign travel documents. The good thing is the room was awesome. I give this hotel 4 stars. Meals: All the hotels provided an excellent both Chinese and western buffet style breakfast. We enjoyed them so much. They all deserved to receive 5 stars. However, most of lunches and dinners were lousy. Each of us paid US$2,800 for this trip only got these kinds of low quality meals. I am really wondering what kind of meal they will get for those who just pay US$99(plus airfare) for the trip. 1 . Beijing: The lunches and dinners arranged in Beijing were not only bad in quality, but also the quantity was not enough to satisfy our stomachs. Even the roast Beijing duck which I had desired for years was so disappointing. The roast duck served in three different ways at some restaurants in Bay Area are still much better. I only give Beijing’s meals a reluctant 1 star. 2. Xian: The lunches and dinners in Xian were much better. Not only was the quality much better than the ones in Beijing, but also the quantity was enough to satisfy our stomachs. The Imperial Dumpling Banquet Dinner was impressive and unique. I give Xian’s meals 4 stars. 3. Guilin: The lunches and dinners arranged in Guilin were the best. The dinner served at Lijiang Waterfall Hotel was the most outstanding one throughout the whole China trip. However, I found out the tour groups which came from Taiwan were enjoying even better meals (including steamed whole fish) at the same restaurant. Sad! But I still give Guilin’s meals 4 stars. 4. Shanghai area: I did not have any favorite local Shanghai dinner except for one piece of a tiny dumpling and common dishes. Yes, only one tiny piece of dumpling. And I did not have a chance to taste the authentic local food in Suzhou mentioned on the itinerary. However, even though the meals in this area could not satisfy my expectation, at least they were good enough to satisfy my stomach. I give Shanghai area’s meals 3 stars. Tour Guide performance: 1. Beijing: The tour guide name was Lily. I can tell she is an experienced tour guide , and easy to get along with. She was able to work with the driver very well. However, in order to make more money, a few tour arrangements revealed that she was tricky, not sincere, and selfish . I mentioned above about some of the trip arrangements she cheated us out of. The shopping policy of CYTS is one time per city, one hour each time. But, she arranged two shopping stops which are pearl and jade. Furthermore, we stopped at the jade store more than one hour before visiting the Great Wall in Badaling. Because of the shopping delay, we had to have McDonald lunch on the bus in order to beat the closing time at the Temple of Heaven. When we complained about the lousy meals in Beijing, she gave us the wrong information saying those tourists who visited other cities first, and came to Beijing last, they always give the meals in Beijing thumbs up. Everyone scared for the rest of the trip. Luckily, she was lying. In order to receive more tips, she created a formula which was in favor of her, saying we should pay the tips depending on the number of hotel nights in each city throughout the whole trip. Because of her selfishness, even the tour guide in Xian tried very hard to conduct two whole days’ tour. Some tourists were only willing to pay one day’ tips since we only stayed in Xian one night. I only give Lily 2 stars reluctantly. 2. Xian: The tour guide name was Cathy. She is new, but she is sincere and worked so hard. The tour was running quite well and smoothly. I give Cathy 4 stars. 3. Guilin: The tour guide name was John. He was experienced, sincere, friendly and hardworking tour guide. The way he conducted the tour was so professional and smooth. He was so generous to introduce the local shopping paradises and the local gourmet food court to us, without making any commission. Because of his generosity and kindness, we were able to buy some bargain gifts and enjoy authentic local food like local people. I would like to give John 5 stars. 4. Shanghai area: a. Shanghai city: The first day’s tour guide name is Nicole. She is new, but she is a sincere and hardworking tour guide. She knew what she was doing, and covered the sites we were supposed to visit. I give Nicole 4 stars. And the last day’s tour guide name is Judy. She is an experienced, sincere, friendly and cheerful tour guide. I like her, and I give Judy 4 stars. b. Wuxi: The tour guide name in Wuxi was Judy too. She is an experienced and hardworking tour guide. I give her 4 stars. c. Suzhou: The tour guide name is Colin: He is new, but he is a hardworking, friendly and polite tour guide. I give Colin 4 stars. c. Hangzhou: The tour guide name is Fiona. She is an experienced tour guide. Because she was too busy, she was unable to take care of our dinner and hotel check in ( driver covered it nicely). If we were able to stay and walk around the beautiful West Lake longer, it would be even better. I give Fiona 3 stars. Transportation: 1. Beijing: It was a mid-size bus owned by Beijing Yuyang group. It was a decent comfortable bus. And driver, Mr. Lee, was working with Lily quite well. I give the transportation arrangement in Beijing 4 stars. 2. Xian: It was an old model mid-size bus, without luggage compartment. The local agent had to arrange another cargo van to take of our luggage. And driver, Mr. *** was working with Cathy perfectly. I give the transportation arrangement in Xian 3 stars. 3. Guilin: Even though we only had nine people visiting Guilin, the local agent still provided a new model and luxury mid-size bus. The finish of inside bus is so fancy, cozy and roomy. The driver, Mr. Tang, and John were the perfect team to serve us. John would not have been able to run the tour so successfully without Mr. Tang’s good work. I would like to give the transportation arrangement in Guilin 5 stars. 4. Shanghai area: We were using a family-size mini van for the last four days tour in Shanghai area. It was difficult to get in and out frequently for those people who are old like us. Fortunately, the driver, Mr. zhong, is so thoughtful, friendly and responsible. His excellent service compensated for the discomfort of the mini van. I give the transportation arrangement in Shanghai area 4 stars. In conclusion, if CYTS would be willing to give the local agents more budget to improve the quality of meals and also the local agent in Beijing promised to fix the problems mentioned above, then I would strongly recommend all my relatives and friends to enjoy CYTS tours.
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