Gillian Gillanders review 19 Nov 2015
1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?
The museums in Chengdu, Kunming and Shanghai (all outstanding), and the monasteries and temples particularly Ganden Sumtseling Monastery near Shangri La.
2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?
Book your own accommodation ( in hostels or inns) and arrange all your own meals; this saved us a lot of money and enabled us to escape from the international tourist bubble.
Regard your itinerary with the holiday provider as a legal document, and make sure it specifies EVERYTHING you wish to see as there will be no flexibility to add things ( and conversely, no refunds for things you subsequently decide to leave out). Take a copy of the itinerary with you; we found the Chinese version our guides were working from omitted many things in the English version although the latter was honored.
3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?
All the sites we visited were very very touristy (largely with domestic tourists), and the local people were adept at exploiting tourists - for instance high entrance fees to visit villages and scenic areas.
The environmental impact of mass tourism in the rural areas we visited has been
4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?
Disappointing. The 'old' towns and ethnic minority villages were largely fake and felt like theme parks, while the rural environments were frequently marred by uncontrolled and insensitive development (for instance, the Tiger Leaping Gorge high level path is followed by a power line). We should perhaps have read the guide books more carefully before we booked!
The holiday provider is the inbound tourism department of CITS - long established, and reputable. However, the service they provided in advising on our itinerary was extremely poor - our consultant seemed to know little about the places we wished to visit and made numerous errors from ignorance or carelessness. However, once we were in China the service from guides, drivers and the Guilin head office was on the whole very good.
Read the operator's response here:
This is the supervisor, Karen Yang at China Highlights; we are really sorry for the
inexperience of our former travel adviser. We did have received more specific feedback
from the clients and worked with the clients for a compensation. We now have specially
assigned another travel adviser, Ling who has been working in travel field for more than
10 years. I trust her rich experience would provide memorable experience to future