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China On A Shoestring QCH

Visiting: China
Trip Duration 21 Days

Reviews for China On A Shoestring

Travellers were asked to provide a review of the trip, including highlights and tips.

Trip notes

Each departure date has its own dedicated trip note, detailing all you need to know about that trip. 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 trip available at present.

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China On A Shoestring reviews verified by reevooReevoo

42 reviews

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China On A ShoestringScores 8.7 out of 10 based on 42 reviews
(9 out of 10)


We all had an absolutely amazing time on this trip and Oliver, our guide, was brilliant! He was always able to help and point us to the best spots and was honest and helpful. I was very happy with the trip and everything on the itinerary, but I feel that if you really want to make the most of the tour, you should book on all the optional tours you can.

I was, unfortunately, a little disappointed with the pandas, which is a shame because it was the thing I was most looking forward to, however the zoo was too crowded and almost all the pandas were indoors which meant it made it very uncomfortable to try and see them without fighting the crowds, this was obviously no fault of Explore or Oliver but just thought I should mention it!

Overall, amazing trip!
Confirmed traveller: 14 August 2017
Published on: 21 August 2017
(9 out of 10)


Greatest praise must be the tour leader, Oli, he was there to meet us all, he took all our proclivities into account. He was very knowledgable and informative at all the venues and constantly gave us insight into life in China before and now. He freely spoke from a personal perspective. He kept us all looked after, gave recommendations for our free time and meals which were spot on. He bought us all fans which I found indispensable. He understood our feelings on some of the cultural differences which we might be put off by and gave forewarning. He kept us safe from his long experience of travellers travails.
The itinerary was excellent and we saw so much more because of the organised and escorted aspect. Some extras Oli sorted were some cheap street noodles, and hot pot meal which was a thrill. He was mindful of our costs.
All the hotels were fine for quite, clean linen, en suite facilities and safety. They were all a little tired hence the lower costs. Our Chengdu room reeked of smoke, the minorities and hill village accom was particularly nice and Shanghai was best.
For other travellers I would advise clothes to really sweat in like fast wicking training tops that dry quickly from a hand wash.
The hard sleepers are hard so either sleep on top the duvet with your own blanket on top or take a self inflating bedroll.
Chinese beds are hard in the hotels and they only provide thin pillows so come equipped for bolstering.
We felt the highlights were the wall and the rural villages and walks. The best shows were the acrobatics in Shanghai and the tribal Li river show.
Confirmed traveller: 13 August 2017
Published on: 18 August 2017
(10 out of 10)


This trip was a real journey and adventure of a lifetime. Like it says in the trip notes the tour pace is full on with a packed itinerary but it is worth the effort. Our guide was brilliant throughout the whole trip and I could never have travelled over half this magnificent country without his help and support. If you are the type of person who skips breakfast then you will like this trip too because only a few breakfasts are provided as part of the tour. Travel as lightly as possible so that it's easy for you to get around on buses boats coaches sleeper trains and underground trains etc. Don't use the local water to drink or even brush your teeth ever! Highlights for me were the Great Wall, Xian, Chengdu, the Yangtze River Cruise, the rice terraces and Shanghai. So pretty much the whole trip ha ha 😄
Confirmed traveller: 13 August 2017
Published on: 17 August 2017
(10 out of 10)


Fantastic trip from start to finish.
Expected poor accommodation but was far better than anticipated, including air conditioning in hotels (much appreciated as extremely hot in August!)
Oliver our tour guide was brilliant, advising optional tours that were excellent and looking after us so well.
Keep luggage to a minimum & be prepared to wash clothes as you go along, as travelling a lot and occasionally need to carry up/down steps. (I had a wheeled bag that could be carried as a backpack). Sleeper trains an prepared to sleep in sweaty clothes and minimal washing options, varied (squat) toilet conditions (don't forget your toilet roll) and loud Chinese travellers (ear plugs recommended). By the last one we were pros and more relaxed about the whole business & we were tucking in to Pot Noodles with the locals. We had a great opportunity to talk to fellow travellers who wanted to try out their English.
If you're blonde be prepared to be stared at & have your photo taken with endless fascinated Chinese people.
Too many highlights to isolate a single thing...from the Tianamen Square, Forbidden City, Great Wall, Terracotta Warriors, Xi'an Muslim Quarter, Three Gorges, Pandas, hiking in the Dragon's Backbone Rice Terraces, cycling through Karst Mountains around Li River to The Bund in Shanghi lit up at night.
Cities overcrowded and be prepared to fight for your place in a 'queue' but rural areas beautiful.
What more can I say? Thank you Explore for a well organised tour packed with so many contrasting experiences.
And especially thank you Oliver. 😀
Confirmed traveller: 13 August 2017
Published on: 17 August 2017
(8 out of 10)


A great tour and we saw a variety of the highlights of the country. Be prepared to enjoy train travel.

Make sure you don't take clothing that you will not need. China is hot in summer, and we were grateful to be introduced to a laundry!
1 of 2 people found this review helpful
Confirmed traveller: 04 June 2017
Published on: 11 June 2017
(9 out of 10)


3rd Day slipped - suspected sprained ankle - severe pain rest of trip -no one with the group with medical knowledge - rest of group gave me their personal - painkiller pills - on arrival home - went to A&E - X-ray shows broken ankle - now wearing boot for 6 weeks.
1 of 2 people found this review helpful
Confirmed traveller: 04 June 2017
Published on: 09 June 2017

Hi Violet, thank you for your feedback. It’s a shame that the injury was more serious than you first believed and I hope you are on the path to a full recovery. Our leaders are first aid trained and will always take a customer to a local clinic or hospital if requested. As you can appreciate, we can only be led by the injured party after they have taken on the leader’s input.

(8 out of 10)


A busy trip to the main sites in China. Be prepared for some long train journeys – up to 18 hours. Bring luggage with wheels as there is a lot of walking between buses, trains and hotels. You WILL need to be fit to get the most out of this trip.
Walking the rice terraces was my highlight, but none of the main attractions disappointed. Get ready to use your elbows, especially at the Terracotta Warriors or if you happen to get between the Chinese and food.
The trip on the Yangtze was more like a cruise and probably the least enjoyable part of the holiday for me. I could have done with more time in Shanghai.
The trip may be 'China on a Shoestring', but the optional excursions, which include some of the main sites, soon add up.
1 of 2 people found this review helpful
Confirmed traveller: 04 June 2017
Published on: 09 June 2017
(9 out of 10)


A very busy tour which packed so much into it. All the main tourist attractions plus trekking in rural China - brilliant. Would have liked more time at some places but this would have meant less time elsewhere and I really relished how many experiences we shared. Highlights for me were definitely the Great Wall, the pandas, the Terracotta Army and the trekking. The tour leader, Frank, was excellent. He clearly loves his country and showed us so much, even on our free days and half days he gave his time to arrange more trips and experiences for us. Absolutely nothing was too much trouble for him. He has a lovely sense of humour, a good command of the English language and endless patience. I would recommend packing prudently as there is a lot of travel (and therefore carrying of your own luggage) and space is limited on the trains. The first hotel was poor but they got better from thereon. Ladies - take a shewee as western toilets are a rarity! Finally, embrace the 'shoestring' aspect of this tour, it enables so much more to be experienced than on a 'standard' tour.
1 of 2 people found this review helpful
Confirmed traveller: 04 June 2017
Published on: 09 June 2017
(9 out of 10)


Brentwood, Essex
Be prepared for some long train journeys. My favourite highlight was the Ma An Zhai village. Tip upgrade on the Yangtze cruise.
1 of 2 people found this review helpful
Confirmed traveller: 04 June 2017
Published on: 08 June 2017