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Average Rating: Red-stars

Total number of reviews: 2,720

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China On A Shoestring QCH

Visiting: China
Tour Duration 21 Days
Reviews for China On A Shoestring 4.5 out of 5 based on 18 ratings.

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Tour notes

Each departure date has it's own dedicated tour note, detailing all you need to know about that tour. Whether you've already booked, or weighing up your options, please choose carefully the relevant itinerary for you.

We have the following different versions of the China On A Shoestring tour available at present.

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4 Pel West, 21/04/15

Please review your overall experience and what your highlights were

This holiday exceeded my expectations in many areas. Although it is sold as a 'shoestring' holiday all the hotels and, especially the cruise boat, were of a good standard. The train journeys were long and the bunks were hard but we amused ourselves with party games such as charades (much to the amusement and bemusement of our fellow Chinese travellers) and the time passed quite quickly. The food was great and remarkably cheap - sometimes as little as £5 for a full meal with a beer. None of the main attractions disappointed and at the Great Wall and giant panda reserve we arrived early when there were few other tourists about.If you dont mind roughing it a bit and are happy to carry your luggage at times then this is a holiday you will never forget.

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4.5 Janet, 24/12/14

What was the highlight or most memorable moment of your tour?

The whole tour was excellent, but for me the highlight would have to be visiting the Terracotta Warriors in Xian, the sheer size of the site was amazing!

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3.5 Marilyn Staib, 03/12/14

What was the highlight or most memorable moment of your tour?

Rice terraces of Pingan - stunningly beautiful in all weathers with cultural interest & retail therapy available.

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4 Jen Makin, 27/11/14

What was the highlight or most memorable moment of your tour?

The Great Wall of China at Mutianyu was a great highlight. Due to lack of massive crowds, I was able to enjoy the famous site and atmosphere. The wall was really impressive. Really enjoyed my time visiting the different villages. Gave me a great opportunity to see ladies in their traditional clothes. If you go during China's National Holiday, you might be able to watch a pumpkin fight taking place in Ma An Zai village. Just make sure that you move away from the square area because you may be hit with pumpkin parts. It hurts!

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3.5 Lee Smith, 26/11/14

What was the highlight or most memorable moment of your tour?

The food was incredible as was the total culture differences (in a good way). Highlights included the Kung Fu show in Beijing, Great Wall and the acrobats in Shanghai.

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5 Michael Schofield, 26/11/14

What was the highlight or most memorable moment of your tour?

The expected sightseeing highlights such as Tiananmen Square, the Terracotta Army, the Yangste Gorges and the Bund in Shanghai did not disappoint. The 'unexpected' highlights included the presentation by the 'fighting cricket' man in Beijing, travelling by hard sleeper on the trains (I laugh every day about group members' attempts to get on the top bunk), competing for taxis, the shadow puppet show in Xian (10 minutes of gentle, innocent and genuine fun), the challenge of ordering and of course eating in the restaurants, the Yao ladies sales techniques when offering to carry bags to the mountain guest house, the hustle and bustle of the cities and train stations, the charm of so many people, negotiating the underground in Beijing and Shanghai (until is left us stranded by stopping running before 11pm?, haggling in the markets (best strategy to reduce the price is to walk away), the silk factory at Chengdhu, dried worms for snacks, reflections on economic growth and population policies stimulated by observation and discussion. The group benefited from positive attitudes and good humour of its members. In all, a hugely stimulating and experience which will live long in the memory.

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3.5 Linda, 06/10/14

What was the highlight or most memorable moment of your tour?

Staying in a Hutong/Beijing. Kung Fu theatre - exciting. Warriors visit spectacular despite massive crowds. Climbing umpteen slab steps in amongst paddy fields - peace, quiet amongst lovely wooden villages- exhausting climb - damaged foot didnt help. Kindness of young Chinese. Very hard matresses/pillows everywhere! Frenetic scramble for food by locals on the Yangtze river boat - you have to fight for everything! Bored by continuous sameness of food on eating out. Dont do the 'dumpling/show' - no flavour/amateurish show. Li river trip expensive but impressive. Shanghai night trip-superb light show. Chinese Acrobats show impressive.

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5 Karen Nicholls, 17/07/14

What was the highlight or most memorable moment of your tour?

The experiences are so diverse it's really difficult to pull one particular moment out as being above the rest. However the most jaw dropping moments for me were Tianamen Square/The Forbidden City, The Great Wall and the Terracotta Warriors.

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5 Jools, 27/06/14

What was the highlight or most memorable moment of your tour?

Highlights were the Summer Palace in Beijing, The Great Wall, the Terracotta Army, Xian for its City wall its super Muslim night market and bell/drum towers. The beautiful scenery/people of the terrace valleys and finally staying in Shanghuo Guilin - stunningly surreal. The Light Show in Shanghuo is a MUST and not to be missed so make sure your tour guide takes you. The cheapest show and the most fantastic.

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5 , 15/08/13



What Was The Highlight Or Most Memorable Moment Of Your Tour

So many highlights...walking the Great Wall at Mutianyu on a crisp, sunny autumn day, the colourful serenity of Beijing's Summer Palace, getting lost in the city's hutongs, the Terracotta Warriors and their amazing history, watching Pandas at play, Chengdu's night markets and fantastic Chinese Opera, sleeper trains (for the experience and - surprisingly - comfort!), hiking the rice terraces of Longji, the stunning karst scenery around Yangshou, Shanghai's incredible acrobats, and lastly, the wonderful group I travelled with, who all helped to make it an entertaining and memorable adventure.

How Was Your Explore Tour Leader

Ping Qiao (or 'George' as he introduced himself!) was a good guide. The logistics of the trip ran smoothly, he allowed us plenty of time to catch the trains that had been booked for us, and he expertly guided the whole group around China's cities, using a multitude of local buses. He would always give us the freedom to explore independently if we chose to but at the same time he was on hand to answer our questions about the country's history, customs, culture and society (and we did ask a lot!). He took us out to some fantastic local eateries, and ordered a variety of dishes for us to sample, and he was also a lot of fun :-)

What Tips Would You Give To Someone Else Booking This Tour

Pack plenty of toilet roll & baby wipes! The hotels are pretty sparing with the toilet roll they provide, and you'll need plenty for long journeys on sleeper trains & for when you're using public facilities. Baby wipes are a great travel all-rounder & brilliant for when you're eating on the move. If you do go exploring independently, allow plenty of time to get back to the meeting point at the arranged time. China's cities are built on a colossal scale and in my experience, it takes almost twice as long to get somewhere as you think it will! Also, embrace the country, its people, its culture & its food. Try to speak to the locals, learn a bit of the language, sample the food no matter how different it may be, as this will enrich your experience enormously.

Do You Have Anything Else To Add

Of all the 'shows' we had the option of buying tickets for, I would say that the Chinese Opera and the Shanghai Acrobats were by far and away the most worthwhile. Chinese Opera is not opera as we know it, and the changing of the masks will leave you dumbfounded.

5 Keith William Hopewell , 31/12/12

What was the highlight or most memorable moment of your tour?

So many highlights:  Walking along The Great Wall at Mutianyu. Got there early so not many people about. The Terracotta Warriors at Xian. Pandas at Chengdu. Cruising down the Yangtse (we did upgrade to a suite!!). Walking between the 2 hillside villages. Bamboo-rafting on the Li River etc. etc. 


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5 Anthony John Bale, 31/12/12

What was the highlight or most memorable moment of your tour?

Of the sights, probably the Great Wall but our stay in the minority villages and the hike through the rice terraces comes a close second.  Overall my most striking experience was seeing modern China and its rapid development (and the traffic!).


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5 Anthony Michael Vasse , 31/12/12

What was the highlight or most memorable moment of your tour?

Going to the Li river where the scenery is spectacular. 


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5 Ian, 15/09/12

What was the highlight or most memorable moment of your tour?

possibly The Great Wall, but it was all great.

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5 Tim Vickers, 06/09/12

What was the highlight or most memorable moment of your tour?

The Great Wall & Terracotta Army meet all expectations,and the Dong village was an interesting view on how people used to live

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0 Linda Felton, 27/10/11

A fantastic holiday, so varied and interesting. Highlights were numerous: walking the wall, the terracotta warriors, the Yangtze river and the dam - we were there at night and it was very dramatic, the wonderful work of the panda research station, the dong villages where the people were so kind and friendly, trekking among the rice terraces was awesome, shopping in Yangshou!!  I agree with other reviewers that it's best to take a soft bag and a sturdy small rucksack for the treks. Also plenty of toilet paper and hand gel, wet wipes!! Toilets an experience alone!  

What was unexpected was the friendliness of the Chinese and their desire to say hello to us and take our photographs. Also the huge apartment blocks and the building going on in the cities, China is growing fast.  Finally, our guide Rich was the best we have ever had, thank you! (QCH -7th August 2011)

0 Patrick McGuckin, 15/08/11
One of the best trips I've ever made. Such variety. World famous monuments such as the Great Wall and Terracotta Army, unbelievable Mega -Cities (The night scape of Shanghai is the best in the world), sublime stays in small villages among paddy fields, relaxing trip down the Yangste, pandas, limestone pinnacles all in one vast exciting country. A few long train rides -2O hrs on one occasion, but the hard sleepers are more comfortable than any of us imagined. Take a ruck sack or a soft back with wheels rather than a holdhall as you have to lug your own luggage a lot further than on most Explore trips- on and off public buses and metros for example. There are a few more extras to allow for than detailed in the dossier. Eg Cable Car up to the Great Wall, Drum tower in Xian, Mosque in Xian, parks in Beijing plus a few quid for public transport,,but £50 should cover this all and this and you will find food is cheaper than the dossier.  A brilliant way to see an awful lot of this fantastic country in a short space of time. PS -In Shanghai a tube to the airport only cost 70p - far cheaper than a transfer or a taxi if you are land only. (QHC- 5th June 2011)
0.5 Alan Casey, 14/06/11

Fantastic holiday, great value. Chinese people very friendly and welcoming. The hill people enjoyed my half bottle of rum! Too many highlights to mention but you will see more of the country than most Chinese. Go now while the exchange rate is good. Best options Acrobats, Sound and Light show, Li river raft trip. Travel tips. ATM/currency exchange ,laundry and internet, all available. Own travel from Beijing airport easy and cheap. Take hotel name in Chinese as taxi drivers do not speak English. Train/subway and taxi total cost less than £5. (QCH - 27 March 2011)

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