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Popular Walking holiday
Try a host of different activities in glorious Turkish surroundings.
This is a small group adult holiday. The group is usually between 4 and 16 in size, with an average of 12 like-minded clients booking individually, in a couple or as friends together.
Download the detailed trip notes for everything you could possibly want to know about this trip, including detailed itinerary and full kit list
We are a couple aged 29 and 35, this was our first organised tour trip and first time to china. We had no reason to choose exodus over others except for their reassuring and speedy responses to our naive nervous questions.
Highlights of china tour booked and again the exodus team were on hand to assist whatever the question. We had not received our passports until three days before we travelled, but exodus had already given us various options to delay travel at minimal costs.
The trip itself was intense, but that was partly down to our group agreeing to do all activities, shows, treks, bike riding or wherever was offered. We were up before seven on most days and out of the hotel for eight. This again was instigated by William to ensure we didn't have to que or sit in traffic. Or so that we started the day early to fit an additional activity - All for our benefit.
I won't go into individual trips but just say that there were every bit as good as you would expect. Some of the optional activities or the Great Wall are tiring. You will do a lot of walking or cycling on certain trips, which when combined with the humidity and heat really takes it toll. You can opt out if you wish, but you will miss out.
Our guide met us at the first hotel with a very detailed welcome brief and a chance to meet the other people on our tour. (A family of four and another couple) (the age range from 18 to 56). Our guide was William Li, a 6ft 3 china man who was naturally easy to spot on the busy crowds. His English and sense of humour was brilliant, he was older than any other guides we saw going from sight to sight and this gave us a massive advantage. He had a wealth of experience which we clearly benefitted from, he knew all the quieter spots, best places for photographs, best restaurants, great leader who made us feel totally safe. If there was an anytime whatsoever he quickly organised another trip or show, if the weather wasn't great for a particular activity, he would quickly switch activities to work in our favour. Nothing was too much trouble and those on the trip will confirm he treated you like one of his own family.
If you get the chance to create a kitty for tipping, make sure you do. William took all the hassle out. He always showed you the tip or handed it to one of us to give to the driver. He even produced a statement at the end of the holiday detailing where every penny went. Not that anyone paid much attention to it, but it was a nice touch.
I suppose what would have been helpful in other reviews would to have more packing information or suggestions. We packed as regular travellers going on a package holiday with a few walks in mind. (The standard clothing for day and smarter evening wear).
If I could do if all again I would bring some light short sleeved shirts for the day like craghopper type. So that they can be rinsed through and used a few times over the two weeks. Some really cheap throw away t shirts. With the heat, sweat and rucksack rubbing on your back it tends to wreck your cotton t-shirts. Light cargo shorts for the day again quick drying to rinse through. Don't rely on laundry as I did and ended up with a couple of very small polo tops. Bring a hat an a bandanna or snood. A rain mac is essential and a small compact brolly will be useful not just for the rain but as a portable shade. I brought some light trainers but should have brought walking sandles. Not cool looking at home but perfect for here. An additional pair of good walking trainers are needed also for some of the walks. Pack evening wear light, nothing we did was in the slightest formal.
You have to transport your cases yourself while at a train station or a short walk to a hotel, so something easily portable and keep the packing light.
Most meals were included, but where they were not - cost us about £5 per head. This was for a number of quality dishes and a few beers. Let the guide order and don't be afraid to try things. The food is brilliant !!!
Visiting China was the realisation of a lifetime's dream. My husband and I thoroughly enjoyed all the experiences on offer and boy were they numerous! The pace is busy but with enough free time to pace yourself.
The experiences were many & varied; from being punted sedately on a bamboo raft down the Li River amongst the beautiful karst scenery to learning how to make steamed dumplings in the cookery class, trying tai chi & calligraphy to drinking snake wine in a local's house in Yangshuo (don't worry it's not compulsory!)
The hotels were all fine - be prepared for firm beds though, and our hotel in Shanghai was especially good, on the 11th floor with a view of Pudong and the Pearl Tower - fabulous at night! We were only a group of 13 (14 with our guide) and this meant everyone could get to know each other. I had been tempted to book with other companies but didn't want to end up in a group of 45! Exodus small group policy makes much more sense.
This visit has made me want to know more about this vast country - this was only a snapshot in 2 weeks and I'd love to see more. I came back with over 800 photographs - it was a photographer's dream - something to photograph at every corner. If you're debating whether to go - I'd say book now - just go!
There were so many - seeing the Terracotta Warriors for the first time, walking on the Great Wall, having lunch in a hutong in Beijing with Mr Liu - the cricket expert (not the sport!), watching the Impressions Show, at night, on the river in Yangshuo - talking to Jenny the cook in the cookery lesson and Linda our guide for the Warriors. Also seeing the view from 1613' up the Shanghai World Financial Centre tower was truly breathtaking!
Emma was a great group leader. She did everything she could to make our trip run smoothly and was flexible in accommodating the demands of different group members - eg some members had wanted to see the Birds Nest Stadium on the Olympic Park site in Beijing and by tweaking our schedule we were able to fit this in to our itinerary. Emma was always cheerful and well organised - we all dined together for meals and let her choose from the vast menus - the food was fabulous throughout the trip and we were able to try some unusual dishes like frog! She was always ready to answer questions and was as interested in our backgrounds & lifestyle as we were in hers.
It was my husband's birthday on the last day of the tour and Emma organised a cake (which we all shared) and a beautiful Chinese scroll present for him, on the last night at the farewell dinner. This was much appreciated by my husband and the rest of the group. I would recommend Emma or Xing Xing Guo to give her Chinese name to anyone going on this tour. We really felt we had made a friend when we left China.
Much of the advice has been given in previous reviews - carrying hand sanitizer and tissues/toilet paper is a must as soap and toilet paper aren't provided & most toilets are of the squat variety ( apart from in the hotels). I took my travel kettle ( it always goes with me abroad) but needn't have bothered as every hotel and even the small guesthouse in Tongli had one.
If you like decaf coffee I would take your own as I never found any apart from in Starbucks in Shanghai! I used my own at breakfast in hotels - staff were happy to provide hot water.
Be prepared to try Chinese food at breakfast in the hotels - some are better than others but if you can't face it there's usually toast & jam or eggs in some form. Water is very cheap and available for free in most hotels ( be careful and don't use the expensive foreign water also provided, as one tour member did - it cost £5!
The cycle ride in Yangshuo was challenging for me - but then I'm 61 and not particularly fit - but I managed it. You could opt out of this but you would miss so much, so do have a go if you can. We even managed to see the cormorant fishermen whilst on the bamboo rafts ( but be aware you will get a wet bum!)
Overnight on the train was something I was a bit wary of before I went but it was fine - I even slept - though I did use earplugs. Firm beds but clean bed linen although only 1 pillow - I always take a travel pillow too which made all the difference.
We were able to do laundry in Yangshuo - which the guide organised - much cheaper than the hotel ( although it was only washed & dried not ironed)
In Beijing and Shanghai there are quite a few hawkers in the main tourist areas & they obviously target non Chinese visitors - they will try and sell you a variety of bits and pieces but a polite 'boo yow, shay shay' - I don't want it, thank you' seemed to work fine.
I took all my currency in cash before I went but there are ATM's or banks in all the places the tour stays. Take an extra folding bag with you for all the things you'll want to buy to take back with you too!
Just go and soak up the culture and the atmosphere - it is truly an eye opening trip- you will come back with an amazing amount of photographs and memories to last a lifetime.
In cities and hotels you'll find the toilets pretty much match western standards. In the more remote areas and on motorway toilet stops, the majority of toilets will be squat toilets. It's recommended that you carry your own toilet paper as this isn't always provided at toilet stops once you leave bigger cities.
Charlotte Taylor - China Operations
Overall, pretty good! The overnight train will be booked in first-class sleeper A/C, sleepers are four berth and bedding is provided. It's quite a common and comfortable way to travel in China and long gone are the days of the "Iron Rooster"! You can buy drinks, beer and pots of instant noodles on board but you may wish to purchase your own food prior to the journey as well.
Brendan Phelan - Customer Operations
The unit of currency in China is the Yuan, also known as Renminbi (RMB).
Exchange facilities are readily available in all the big cities, and many of the hotels that we stay in also have foreign exchange facilities that do not charge a commission as the banks do. Exchange facilities may be limited in smaller towns. Please note that if you wish to change RMB back into hard currency when you leave China, you may have to produce your exchange certificates to do this. Both Sterling cash and dollars are fine to take. You may want to get some local currency before travelling but it is not 100% necessary, as the leader will help you change some on arrival.
There are ATMs almost everywhere in China, either actually in or close by the hotels we use, in the major towns and cities. Most but not all ATMs will take British/ European style cards, but your leader will be able to advise you.
Charlotte Taylor - China Operations
I had no problems with cash, but then wasn't changing it in every city. I also had no problems changing or getting cash from ATMs.
Sometimes you do have to try a couple of banks to find one with English instructions or which will take a western card, but it's by no means impossible. There are plenty that have, you'll just have to try another.
I just changed money at an exchange desk in the airport and then in a bank in Shanghai. The lady at the counter didn't speak English but it didn't cause any difficulty!
Dollars are simply better known, but I don't think you would have any issues with sterling. I took half and half and had no problems. I also topped up with my ATM card a couple of times, which was no problem, although I did have to try a bank or two the first time to find one that accepted my card.
There was nothing special I packed which I felt was essential, just the usual. Some things which came in handy were a universal adaptor, phone charger, a sun hat, an inflatable travel pillow (just a small one), a travel wallet to keep my documents in, and after that just some music and books for entertainment!
It should be quite warm, so light clothing really. There are some items advised in the trip notes but nothing you really need to worry about, outside of normal travelling clothes.
I used free internet in a couple of the hotels and saw cafes in different places. The internet is restricted, and you may not be able to access such sites as Facebook, but you should have general access to email.
I took a normal wheelie suitcase with a handle and had no problems. You don't really carry it around anywhere, in and out of a few hotels, up and down to reception - whatever suits you best really!
I took a meter taxi from the airport. I would say tips probably aren't expected but it's up to you.
Like here, tipping is down to you but most group meals won't expect a tip. There is a list of optional excursions in all the trip notes, they are booked and paid for locally and usually in cash.
You can get different plug types but I found it was usually 2 pin straight (the first one here). If you buy a Universal Adaptor from somewhere like Boots at the airport (only about £6), then this will cover all plug types.
Diane Knight - Web Sales
Regulations have recently changed, meaning you now need additional supporting documentation in order to get your visa and confirm all arrrangements.
Full details of how to apply are in the Chinese Visa Information Sheet which comes with your original booking confirmation. Please read this carefully. If all your paperwork is in order, your visa normally comes back within a week or so, although you should allow up to 3 weeks to be on the safe side.
Joanna Zubr - China Operations
All the staff at Exodus share a passion for adventure travel, and are always happy to answer any questions you may have. You can find an expert for the area you are interested in here and can contact them to get further information. If you don't see your specific country listed, please email email@example.com and they will get the answers you need!