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Walk The Great Wall + Xian Extension WGT

Visiting: China
Trip Duration 12 Days
 

Reviews for Walk The Great Wall + Xian Extension

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

Trip notes

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We have the following different versions of the Walk The Great Wall + Xian Extension trip available at present.

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Walk The Great Wall + Xian Extension reviews verified by reevooReevoo

25 reviews

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Walk The Great Wall + Xian ExtensionScores 8.6 out of 10 based on 25 reviews
(9 out of 10)

Alan

Guernsey
I did the same tour 4 years ago and found that it was so fantastic that I always wanted to take my 2 daughters who are now old enough to do this tour. To be honest I didn't think that the walking was as good/long as 4 years ago, although the guide did advise that one of the sections that the tour normally uses had been closed a few months ago. In addition I could see that some of the sections that we had walked 4 years ago had been closed off, presumably for health and safety reasons with the increased number of tourists. I can't think of any particularly useful tips that your trip notes don't already cover.
Confirmed traveller: 15 August 2017
Published on: 17 August 2017
(10 out of 10)

Mary

Toronto
Trekking on the different refurbished and original sections of the Great Wall was a dream come true for me. It was an amazing experience with a small group of great people and a guide who knew his history and consistently brought it to life for us. I am petite and in my sixties and found some sections challenging and grateful that, like some others in our group, it was okay to trek only part or even take the whole day off for a needed break. The sight-seeing in Beijing and Xi'an, along with all the meals and shows we attended, were well-organized to the last detail by our guides. The accommodations were sometimes very basic, especially off-the-beaten-path, but the bed linens were always clean and the staff welcoming. The overnight train to Xi'an in first class was a special treat. Loved everything about this tour.
Confirmed traveller: 06 June 2017
Published on: 09 June 2017
(9 out of 10)

Karen

Dorset
Great holiday overall and walking some of the more remote sections of the wall was a fantastic experience and a definite highlight, particularly the final two days. The itinerary was good, with a mixture of sightseeing and walking to keep everyone happy. The walking was very challenging in places (especially as it was very hot), and I definitely think you need a reasonable level of fitness. A couple of our group struggled to complete all of the walks. Personally, I don’t think the wall at Shanhaiguan was worth the long drive to reach it, especially as the following day we had a similarly long drive back again, meaning we had wasted nearly a whole day on the coach. I think there might be more interesting sections of the wall that could be visited instead.

Accommodation was variable, but acceptable on the whole. Wifi was always available, although was intermittent on some networks in a couple of the hotels. Beware of any toiletries or drinks you use in the hotel rooms – make sure they are marked ‘free’ or don’t have a price tag on them if you don’t want to get charged.

The dinners on the whole trip were excellent and the group was quite happy to eat together and for our guide to order for us every night. Vegetarians in our group were reasonably well catered for, although it was not always understood that some protein was required besides just vegetables! Wine is hard to find (and expensive); beer and soft drinks were usually the only drinks offered. Breakfast buffets were mostly Chinese and could be a bit ‘hit and miss’, although most people usually found something to their liking. I took some instant porridge sachets which I mixed with hot water in my room to eat before breakfast on walking days, to give me a bit of extra energy! All hotels had a kettle in the room which was very useful. Take some snacks if you wish, although sweet snacks were very easy to buy most days. Savoury snacks were a bit more difficult to obtain, as was fruit (stock up in Beijing before you start the walking). I brought some oat cakes and peanut butter with me from home, which came in handy. Bottled water was easy to buy everywhere, plus supplies were also kept on the coach to buy if needed. Ice cream was widely available (even on the wall!) and was delicious.

There was a bank and cash machine next to the hotel in Beijing, so it was recommended to stock up on cash there as cash machines were not always available in some of the later places we stayed. However, the amount our guide recommended getting out (3000 yuan) was too much and most people struggled to spend it.

The overnight sleeper to Xi’an was great fun, and the Terracotta Army and Muslim Quarter in Xi’an were the highlights of our stay there. Worth going up onto the city walls if you have time – some of us cycled round the walls (takes nearly 2 hours at a reasonable pace) which gave us an interesting perspective of the city and was very enjoyable.

Our guide unfortunately fell below expectations. He didn’t always communicate instructions or information well and was often miserable and impatient, which had a negative effect on the group. I also would have liked him to discuss options and timings for the extra excursions with us more fully at the start of the tour, rather than presenting them as a ‘fait acompli’ (eg the Kung Fu Show had already been pre-booked for the group, although you could opt out). All other local guides we had, and also our coach driver, were excellent.

China is a fantastic place to visit and the people very welcoming – prepare to have your photo taken by the locals whether you like it or not! It’s worthwhile spending a bit more time in Beijing if you can to see things at a more leisurely pace and buy some of the bargains available in the shops. A friend and I stayed a couple of extra nights and visited the Summer Palace, which is well worth it (better than the Forbidden City in my opinion). Allow enough time to see it properly – we were there 5 hours and still didn’t cover everything! The subway is a very cheap, efficient and easy way to get around the city if you’re covering longer distances.

Other tips: have some toilet paper and hand wipes with you at all times, as they aren't always provided in toilets; don't be afraid to bargain in the shops; take some time to wander around the hutongs in Beijing to see another side of the city; keep a pair of flip-flops on the coach to slip your tired feet into after a long day's walking!

Overall, this was an unforgettable holiday and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it.
Confirmed traveller: 18 May 2017
Published on: 27 June 2017
(7 out of 10)

Ruth

Toddington
Good contrast between the different parts of the wall, from the restored to the crumbling to the wild. Extra costs mount - eg for the visa, and the coach which was not included. Arrangements went smoothly and hotels better than expected, although their standard of cleanliness are not up to our. Many things in the hotel rooms are NOT complementary (eg tea bags, water, soap) so check carefully before using something. Evening meals were excellent and good value. Breakfasts were not to western taste and many hotels do not have milk. bring dried, or UHT tubs or instant cappuchinos if you don't want to live on green tea. We developed quite a taste for it at the end. We had to buy our own 'snacks' to eat for packed lunch from supermarkets. It was bewildering as many foods just were in coloured packets with characters. Fruit was very expensive in May- bring a bag of apples; they seemed OK about bringing them in at customs, there were some nice fruit-loaf things, and fried spicy nuts and broadbeans, but the best for travelling are the cheap pot noodles (50p) as service stations and stations have boiling water available. Ice lollies are good value - I dare you to try the soya lollies! Keep a few squares of loo-paper on you for travelling, but it was provided at all the hotels so you DON'T need to bring a roll!
Confirmed traveller: 16 May 2017
Published on: 14 July 2017
(7 out of 10)

John

Near Oxford
The trip itself was good, however there were odd things that detracted from our overall experience.

The Guide was poor, he had no idea of how to communicate to the group and subsequently we imparted no knowledge (if he had any) of what was happening, when the coach was arriving, what to expect and anything on the journey that was of interest or anything really about the wall.

On arriving, he collected us and then never explained anything, just saying our passports could be collected about 20 minutes after we arrived at the hotel. He then phoned to say why had we not come down as the group were waiting to go out to eat dinner........

On arriving at the restaurant, there was not consultation on what we could have, explaining the menu or taking into consideration the dietary needs of the team, which included myself (Coeliac) and a no pork person. On asking what I could eat from what was delivered I was told, "rice and vegetables" some of which on inspection had soy sauce on them. This theme carried on for the "Walking the Wall trip"

One of the reasons we booked with explore was that meals were not included but it became apparent that the expectation was that he organised the evening meals and pre booked the choices, never taking into consideration regional differences, dietary needs, consequently, sweet and sour pork, chicken with cashew nuts, beef and noodles became the standard.

Occasionally I was able to eat more than just rice and veg, with an omelette and once he was able to organise fish. When we manage to show the Chinese people my concerns without him I was able to arrange a meal without Soy Sauce.

The breakfasts without exception (on the wall section) were poor, in one case you were given an egg, piece of sweet corn, doughball and piece of cake on the same plate.

On most occasions for breakfast and dinner we eat away from the rest of the customers, not our choice, but organised but the guide.

On Tuesday of the tour, we did not follow the plan at all, and spent most of the day on what should have been a scenic drive viewing, coal mines, steel mills, barren land, dried rivers, rubbish and what could have been a war zone. The hotel was not as per the itinerary and when we arrived at 2pm and asked the guide what we were doing in the afternoon, he replied we could rest??? there was nothing to do as the two was one street with a coal mine and steel mill in it and covered in dust, rubbish and a state of dilapidation.
With no explanation from the guide about this, we tackled him about it the following morning and he said the walk we should have done was closed and so he had changed the itinerary / hotel / route. Had we been given a choice we could have stayed longer when on the wall / the town from the morning and arrived later at the godforsaken town we ended up in.

The actual days when we walked on the wall was amazing and had this been for more days would have added to the overall experience.

Xian on the other hand was wonderful, the overnight train uneventful as required, the guide as they should be, informative, helpful, considerate, and fully communicative about the city, history, food, places to go etc.

This part of the tour was all 10's
Confirmed traveller: 01 May 2017
Published on: 07 May 2017

Thanks for your detailed feedback John. I’m pleased that you enjoyed the trip overall but I was disappointed to hear that you found the trip leader’s skills lacking. Unfortunately the usual leader for this trip became unavailable at short notice and, what clearly sound like training issues, have been taken up with our local partner. On the subject of the meal arrangements, whilst customers are completely free to do their own thing (which may be more appropriate if they have individual dietary requirements), it is customary in China for our leaders to organise a banquet style meal with a large variety of different dishes that can be enjoyed by the group. This can save on the hassle of ordering when communicating isn’t easy and allows people to try an array of different dishes at a very reasonable price.

(10 out of 10)

David

Polegate East Sussex
Best part of the tour was when we were walking along the Great Wall. Food interesting but you could eat well. It would have been nice to have had a little more time visiting the various places of interest.
Confirmed traveller: 25 April 2017
Published on: 01 May 2017
(9 out of 10)

Jeremy

Birmingham
A fabulous way of experiencing a few of the main highlights of China, with an obvious concentration on the Great Wall - whether or not you include the Xian extension. The Wall was the main reason for me booking this trip, so the itinerary was close to ideal. The trekking days are pretty much as described in the tour notes, but in my opinion the treks are not for beginners - some experience is preferable, given that so little of Wall is flat (and some sections are *very* steep). For me, walking boots and walking polls were absolutely essential.

Xian is well worth a visit in its own right, as well as for the sake of the Terracotta Warriors. The Muslim quarter was an unforgettable experience.

There are a few long drives on this tour, and the evenings in the some of the towns we stayed in were quiet. Most hotels were better than other reviews had led me to expect, however. The food was excellent - think of a Chinese banquet every evening for £10 a time including a drink. So once you're there, this is not a high-spending tour. Lunch generally consists of snacks taken on the hoof. £20 a day for food would cover everything.

The only slight disappointment was our guide, who we think was a last-minute replacement for someone else (events outside somebody's control, no doubt). He was good at getting things done behind the scenes, and in organising good quality food at affordable prices. In terms of communication, however, he fell well short of my expectations was on the numerous similar trips I've been on. We often found ourselves short of detail on the daily agenda, and we learned very little about the history and culture of the sites we saw. This was a surprise. Practical information given to individual members of the group was sometimes contradictory. Perhaps the slight niggles we all felt will be ironed out once this tour leader has gained more experience of this specific trip.
Confirmed traveller: 25 April 2017
Published on: 28 April 2017
(8 out of 10)

Mike

Malvern
Trip was as good as I'd hoped with a good mix of sight seeing and walking. Xi'an is well worth visiting; the terracotta army lived up to expectations but the city has lots more to see and is easier to manage than Beijing. The walks on the Wall differed widely ... some very short days but a couple of tougher ones. All in amazing scenery though. I was lucky with the weather, I think some of the walks would be difficult on hot days.

I'd recommend a case with wheels rather than a kitbag as some of the hotels and transfers involved a fair amount of lugging bags about. And although the food was very good - everyone says it won't be like Chinese food at home but if you ever eat in places like Chinatown it actually will be - there are fairly limited concessions to Western tourists and if you can't use chopsticks you'll need to learn quickly.
Confirmed traveller: 18 April 2017
Published on: 20 April 2017
(9 out of 10)

Sheila

Serralongue (France)
Excellent trip. Would certainly recommend. Accommodation better than anticipated, as we were advised not to expect too much, but it was fine. Would certainly advise adding the extension to Xian if possible - the warriors are formidable! Walking the wall is an experience I won't forget - no particular highlights, though more agreeable towards the latter part simply because it was less crowded.
Confirmed traveller: 11 October 2016
Published on: 17 October 2016
(9 out of 10)

Anne

East of England
Walking on the wall delivered all it promised . Views were stunning and we covered a variety of different locations, and restored and unrestored sections. Some days were more strenuous, with steep and exposed sectors and high humidity -but no problem for the 'mountain goats' in our group. The guides provided options for both those who wanted to walk further and faster or more slowly. Steps can be steep, and vary in height and depth, so those with knee problems may find walking poles very useful.

Hotels were variable but generally ok, with hot water and clean beds but often smelt of smoke.

The scale and numbers of the Terracotta Army are difficult to imagine prior to the visit and the site well laid out, though very busy.
Confirmed traveller: 20 September 2016
Published on: 29 September 2016