18 Days Silk Road Exploration Tour
Tour Code: SK04
Tour Duration: 18 Days
Destination: Beijing, Dunhuang, Guilin, Hong Kong, Kashgar, Turpan, Urumqi, Xi'an, Yangshuo
Tour overview: This tour begins in HongKong, travel to Guilin and Xian, and moves westward to Dunhuang, Turpan, Kashgar and Urumqi, end in Beijing, along the Silk Road. You'll explore centuries-old cities once enriched beyond measure by local suppliers and merchants who traveled the trade route.
- Tour Summary
- Day by Day Itinerary
|Tour Dates||Destinations||Services Provided||Meals Included|
|Day 1||Hong Kong||
Arrive at Hong Kong, you will be met and transferred to your hotel.
|Day 2||Hong Kong||
Half day tour to Victoria Peak Aberdeen Repulse Bay
|Day 3||Hong Kong/Guilin||
The morning is at your leisure before boarding your flight to Guilin. Upon arrival in Guilin, you will be met and transferred to your hotel.
Full day tour to visit Elephant Trunk Hill Fubo (wave-subduing) Hill Reed Flute Cave Seven Star Park
Full day tour to take the Li River West Street
In the morning,.Then be transferred to airport for flight to Xian, arrive in Xian, be met and transferred to hotel. Visit Shaanxi Provincial Museum
Full day visit The Terracotta Army and Horses Big Wild Goose Pagoda Ancient City Wall
Take morning flight to Dunhuang. Arrive in Dunhuang, be met and transferred to your hotel. Visit Yumen Pass The Han Dynasty Extends of The Great Wall
|Day 9||Dunhuang/Turpan||Full day visit Mogao Grottoes Mingsha Shan & Yueya Quan (Singing Sand Mountains & Crescent Moon Spring) After the tours, you will be transferred to Liuyuan railway station to take overnight train to Turpan Details...||(B,L)|
Early morning arrive in Turpan, be met and transferred to your hotel in Turpan. After a short rest, start the city tour to see Ancient City of Jiaohe (Yarkhoto) Grape Valley, Turpan
Full day tour to see Astana-Karakhoja Ancient Tombs Flaming Mountain, Turpan Bizaklik Thousand Buddha Caves Then you will be transferred to Urumqi airport by private car. Take flight to Kashgar. Arrive at Kashgar, be met and transferred to your hotel.
Full day visit to Idgar Mosque, Kashgar Sunday Bazzar Abakh Khoja Tomb Kashgar Old Town
After breakfast, take morning flight to Urumqi. Arrive in Urumqi, be met and drive to Heavenly Lake take boat cruising on the lake. Transferred back to the city of Urumqi.
Today you will explore the South Pasture visit the pastureland, then continue to visit the Terai Camp to experience the Kazak nomadic life. Afternoon visit with the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region Museum
Morning flight to Beijing. Arrive at Beijing, be met and transferred to your hotel. Visit Summer Palace Hutong Tours in Rickshaw
Full day visit Mutianyu Great Wall ith round-way cable car, Ming Tombs The Sacred Way On the way back to hotel, you will be driven to visit the main 2008 Beijing Olympic venues, take an exterior visit of both the Beijing National Stadium (Bird's Nest/Olympic Stadium) National Swimming Centre('The Water Cube') Beijing feel free to take some photos of the stadiums.
Full day visit Tiananmen Square Forbidden City The Temple of Heaven
|Day 18||Beijing||Free at leisure till be transferred to airport for your flight departure. Details...||(B)|
Price Inclusions and Exclusions
Price IncludeA. Entrance fees：To scenic spots as listed above in the itinerary.
B. Meals: All meals as specified in the itinerary.
C. Private Transfers: Among airports, hotels and scenic spots while sightseeing in the above cities by the private air conditioned vehicle.
D. Guide and Driver: As outlined in the itinerary, a well selected English-speaking guide and driver will accompany you throughout the entire tour in that city. They do not fly with you from one city to another.
E. Hotels: Hotel Based on two persons sharing one room with twin beds. All hotels as listed in the above itinerary serve daily western or Chinese breakfast. All rooms are air-conditioned with private facilities unless specified.
F. Luggage Transfers: Between airports and hotels.
G. Service Charge & Government Taxes.
H. Travel insurance in mainland China during the above travel period.
I. Arrangements: The tour cost includes planning, handling, operational and communication charges.
Price ExcludeA. Entry or Exit China International Airfare or train tickets.
B. Visa Fees.
C. Excess Baggage Charges.
D. Personal Expenses: Expenses of a purely personal nature such as laundry, drinks, fax, telephone call, optional activities, sightseeing or meals which are not included in the itinerary.
E. Meals: Any meals which are not specified with "B", "L" or "D".
F. Single Room Supplement.
G. Insurance coverage of personal loss, illness or damages incurred during your trip.
H. Gratuities, Tips to Guides and Drivers.
Day 1 Arrive in HongKong
Transfer via: Flight on your own arrangement
Upon your arrival you will be greeted by our local guide and then transferred to your hotel by a private air-conditioned car. For the rest of the day you will enjoy some leisure time.
Day 2 HongKong (B, L)
Sightseeing: Victoria Peak, Aberdeen, Repulse Bay
Today we will start to explore Victoria Peak first. The Peak is Hong Kong’s number one tourist destination. It features the city's oldest mode transport, the 112-year old Peak Tram and Hong Kong's most unusual building and icon, The Peak Tower where you will find shopping, restaurants, and entertainment.
Then you will visit lovely Repulse Bay: Primarily an exclusive residential area, Repulse Bay has a relaxed, resort-like atmosphere. You will find statues of Kwun Yum and Tin Hau, both protectors of fishermen.
The tour will continue with a visit to Aberdeen fishing village where you will enjoy a Sampan Ride on the harbor to get a close-up look at this unusual way of life.
For the rest of the day you will have leisure time to explore Hong Kong on your own.
Day 3 HongKong/Guilin (B)
Transfer via: Flight on our arrangement
The morning is at your leisure before boarding your flight to Guilin. Upon arrival in Guilin, you will be greet and then be transferred to your hotel for check in
Day 4 Guilin (B,L)
Sightseeing: Elephant Trunk Hill, Fubo (wave-subduing) Hill, Reed Flute Cave,Seven Star Park
Start today’s tour with a visit to Elephant Trunk Hill. Located at the conjunction of the Li River & the Peach Blossom River, the whole hill looks very much like a giant elephant with a long trunk drinking out of the river; it is the symbol of Guilin city.
Then you will head to Fubo Hill. You will see lots of rock stone carvings & Buddha statues from since Tang Dynasty. If you climb to the summit, you will have a wonderful bird's-eye view of Guilin city.
We’ll continue to visit visit to Reed Flute Cave, which is a vast and very impressive cave system, and one of the most important sights of Guilin. Known as "the Palace of Natural Arts", you can see beautiful stalactites & stalagmites and learn how they are formed.
Afterwards we will make a walk through Seven Star Park. It is one of the best urban parks in China. The park is in the east bank of Lijiang, the largest park in Guilin with the theme of rock caves.
Day 5 Guilin/Yangshuo/Guilin (B,L)
Sightseeing: Li River and West Street
Guilin is famous for its picturesque scenery, and the best way to see it is from the deck of Li River Cruise ships. In the morning you will depart from your hotel and be transferred to the Zhujiang Pier (about 1 hour drive) for a 4.5 hours wonderful cruise. You will enjoy the unique mountains, peaceful green fields, farms and villages with water buffalos, cows wondering around on both sides of the river bank.
In the afternoon you will disembark at the old town Yangshuo. Having a history of more than 1,400 years, West Street is the oldest street in Yangshuo. You will have some time to explore the old town’s lovely attractions and will be transferred back to Guilin city in the evening.
Day 6 Guilin / Xian (B,L)
Transfer via: Flight on our arrangement
Sightseeing: Shaanxi Provincial Museum
After breakfast, you will be transferred to airport and take the flight to Xi’an. After your arrival there, you will be met and transferred to your hotel by our local guide.
This afternoon, visit the Shaanxi Provincial Museum. It is a magnificent architectural complex in the Tang Dynasty style. The Museum possesses a treasure of 113,000 historic and cultural artifacts unearthed in Shaanxi, and it covers an area of 1,100 square meters for exhibition.
Day 7 Xian (B,L)
Sightseeing: Terra Cotta Warriors and Horses, Big Wild Goose Pagoda, Ancient City Wall
Today you will experience the highlights of Xi’an. After breakfast, you will depart you’re your hotel. You will visit the amazing 2000-year-old Terra-cotta Warriors and Horses. Regarded as the 8th Wonder of the World, the Terra-cotta Warriors and Horses are the most significant archeological excavations of the 20th century. Over 2,200 years ago, the first emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang, ordered the construction of a vast army of Terra-cotta warriors in search of immortality. After his early death they were buried with him to protect his empire.
Another highlight today is the Big Wild Goose Pagoda. Situated in the south of Xian city, it is one of the main constructions in the famous Buddhist temple-Da-Ci-En Temple. There, the well-known Buddhist Master Xuanzang (Monk Tripitaka) stored his collection of classic Buddhist artifacts brought from India in Tang Dynasty. Now it is the Landmark of Xian.
Then we will go on to visit the Ancient City Wall. You will experience a half-hour's hike along the Ancient City Wall. You will experience a half-hour's hike along the Ancient City Wall. It is the largest and best preserved present city wall in ancient China and is probably the best military battlement in the world. If you want to, you can rent a bicycle for a ride on top of the spectacular city wall. The wall was built in the Tang dynasty (618 -907) and enlarged in the Ming dynasty (1368-1644).
Day 8 Xian/Dunhuang (B,L)
Transfer via: Flight on our arrangement
Sightseeing: Yumenguang Pass, Great Wall of the Han Dynasty.
This morning, you will be transferred to airprot to take flight to Dunhuang. Arrive in Dunhuang, your local guide will greet you and then accompany you to hotel.
After lunch, you will have the visit to Yumenguang Pass, Once as one of the west gates out of the country of the Han Dynasty (206 B. C. -220 A. D.), it is quite ruined by the shifting sands but still shows the ever splendor. And Great Wall of the Han Dynasty. Great wall of the Han dynasty was build for defending the nomadic Xiongnu during the Han Dynasty (206 BC--220 AD).
Day 9 Dunhuang/Turpan (B,L)
Transfer via: Overnight train –on our arrangement
Sightseeing: Mogao Grottoes, Crescent Lake, Echoing-Sand Dune,
After breakfast, you will head for the Mogao Grottoes for a visit: Constructed over a millennium, from the 4th to the 14th centuries, the caves hold the world's richest treasure house of Buddhist sutras, murals and sculptures.
Later we continue to visit the Echoing Sand Dune and Crescent Lake. The Echoing-Sand Dune are famous for the sounds the wind makes when blowing over the dunes. Also, the sand is said to be rather noisy when tread upon. The Spring's name derives from the crescent moon shape the small pool of spring water has taken between two large sand dunes. Although the area is very dry, the pool doesn't dry up as one might expect. And this is a resort of Taoism for local people.
Day 10 Turpan (L)
Sightseeing: Jiaohe Ruins,Karez Well ,Grape Valley
Early morning arrive in Turpan, be met and transferred to your hotel in Turpan. After a short rest, start the city tour to s explore the Jiaohe Ruins, the remains of an ancient walled capital of the Uighur with its large monastery and palace. It is probably the same size as Gaochang but better preserved. UNESCO has contributed to its preservation. The dry weather has helped city preserve its cityscape. It is a life-sized model of a Tang Dynasty city.
Move on to visit Ancient Karez system.The entire Turpan region has for 2000 years relied upon the Karez underground irrigation system for sustenance; There is currently one karez well site open for exhibition. It is complete with a museum of displays and pictures. It is a good way to get an understanding of how the tunnels were dug.
Then we will proceed to visit Grape Valley. Lying at the base of the western end of Flaming Mountains, Grape Valley is a unique world of vineyards and fruit trees. you can sit in the shades and sip the local wines to kill a brutally hot afternoon.
Day 11 Turpan/Urumqi/Kashgar (B,L)
Transfer via: Flight-on our arrangement
Sightseeing: Astana Tomb,Passing by Flaming Mountain to Visit the Bezkelik Thousand Buddha Caves,
Today you will visit to The Astana Tomb, which is located in the Gobi Desert and 6km from the Gaochang Ancient City. Astana means capital in Uygur. Covering an area of 10 square kilometers, the tombs were the public cemetery of the ancient Gaochang residents, both aristocrats and commoners.
Passing by Flaming Mountain to Visit the Bezkelik Thousand Buddha Caves, Once an important Buddhist site with many caves covered with brightly painted murals, Bezeklik means "place of paintings" in Uighur. The caves were hewn into the cliffside, and large murals, Monks used to live inside the caves and the frescoes here clearly represent the life work of generations of devotees. Unfortunately, this place was damaged by the locals who converted to Islam in the 10th century and looted by the western archaeologists in the early 20th century.
After the tours, you will be transferred to Urumqi airport by private car. Take flight to Kashgar. Arrive at Kashgar, you will be met and transferred to your hotel.
Day 12 Kashgar(B,L)
Sightseeing: Id Kah Mosque, The Abakh Khoja Tomb, Sunday bazaar, The old twon of Kashgar.
Today’s ctiy tour include ID Kah Mosque. It is the largest mosque in China. Every Friday, it houses nearly 10,000 worshippers and may accommodate up to 20,000.
Then we will visit the Abakh Khoja Tomb, which is also known as the Tomb of Xiang Fei (Fragrant Lady) in China. Situating 5 kilometers (3.1 miles) northeast of Kashgar City, Abakh Khoja Tomb is an ancient Islamic building, where five generations of a famous Islamic master were buried. It is also commonly known as the tomb of Xiangfei, the only Uygur concubine of Emperor Qianlong in Qing Dynasty (1644-1911).
Later, we will go to Sunday Bazzar. There is a bazzar everyday in Kashgar, but the one on Sunday is the liveliest, as the whole community gets together. The Bazzar in Kashgar is a social and commercial highlight of the week in Western Xinjiang. In the bazaar you can find different kinds of goods: ironware, silverware, fruit, clothes, local food, livestock, etc. Traders are buying and selling one week's stock of cows, sheep, goats and horses. The process of bargaining is fantastic.
Finally, we will have a visit to The old twon of Kashgar,contains a large group of Uygur residential houses. The Old Town city is now home to 630 homes with more than 2450 people, all of whom are Muslims.
Day 13 Kashgar/Urumqi (B,L)
Transfer via: Flight –on our arrangement
Sightseeing: Heavenly Mountain
This morning, you will be transferred to airport to take flight to Urumqi. Arrive in Urumqi, you will be met and transferred to hotel by our local guide.
After lunch, you will head to visit the Heavenly Mountain (Tianchi); it is surrounded by green pastures and pristine conifer forests. Snowy Alp-like peaks soar to great heights and enclose the lake. Take a boat ride on Heavenly Lake and escape into a peaceful, dream-like world.
Transferred back to the city of Urumqi.
Day 14 Urumqi (B,L)
Sightseeing: Nanshan Pasture, Terai Camp, Xinjiang Autonomous Region Museum
Today you will explore the Nanshan Pasture. The Nanshan Pasture is located in Kelawucheng Mountain, a branch of north Heavenly Mountain. Moreover, there are numerous valleys in the pasture. It is cool here in the summer, and is a good place to get away from the heat. You can ride a horse or a camel running through the valleys, walk across the woods picking mushrooms and enjoying the magical wild flowers, you also can climb up the mountain to overlook.
Then continue to visit the Terai Camp to experience the Kazak nomadic life and taste delicious Xinjiang Cruise – milk tea and mutton.
In the afternoon, move to Xinjiang Autonomous Region Museum with exhibits of local arts and crafts. The building occupies a space of 11,000 square meters and is built in a modern style enhanced by local architectural features. The central dome is thirty meters high and from its height one can view the entire city of Urumchi.
Day 15 Urumqi/Beijingi (B,L)
Transfer via: Flight – on our arrangement
Sightseeing: Summer Palace, Hutong Tours in Richshaw.
In the morning visiting the Summer Palace. Equally famous as the Forbidden City, the Summer Palace is called 'Yiheyuan' (Garden of Nurtured Harmony) in Chinese. Until nowadays, it is the best preserved and the largest imperial garden in China. You will regret it if you leave Beijing without having visited this grand imperial garden.
We will experience a unique Hutong tour by taking a rickshaw in this afternoon. Hutongs are a kind of ancient city alley or lane and are very typical for Beijing. Most of them can be found close to the Forbidden City, and many were built during the three dynasties of Yuan, Ming and Qing. Today, the Hutong is a living museum of Beijing history showing the traditional lifestyle of Beijing people.
Day 16 Beijing (B,L)
Sightseeing:. Mutianyu Great, Ming Tomb, Sacred Way. Beijing National Stadium (Bird's Nest/Olympic Stadium), National Swimming Centre('The Water Cube')
Today we will be transferred to the surrounding countryside of Beijing and visit the Mutianyu Great Wall, the pride of China and one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Whereas Genghis Khan contemplated it as a military obstacle, Richard Nixon described it as one of humankind's greatest achievements. You will be able to climb and walk on the sections of the 2,000 years old ancient wall, admiring the splendid mountain views. Bring a jacket and layer- although it is breezy, the climbing is tough. So be in a good shape!
This afternoon we will visit the legendary Ming Tombs, The Ming Tombs are situated at the foot of Heavenly Longevity Mountain, northwest of Beijing. Since there are 13Ming emperors buried there, there are also called the 13 Ming Tombs. Passing though the Sacred Way, a road guarded on both sides with stone statues by which the ancient emperors went to hold a memorial ceremony for the ancestors, you will encounter the marble tombs of the Ming Dynasty emperors.
On the way back to hotel, you will be driven to visit the main 2008 Beijing Olympic venues, take an exterior visit of both the, Beijing National Stadium (Bird's Nest/Olympic Stadium), National Swimming Centre('The Water Cube'),feel free to take some photos of the stadiums.
Day 17 Beijing (B,L)
Sightseeing: The Temple of Heaven, Tiananmen Square,Forbidden City, .
This morning our tour will begin with a visit of the Temple of Heaven, which was completed in 1420, and expanded over the years by two Qing Dynasty Emperors. It was the place where the Emperor came every winter solstice to worship heaven and to solemnly pray for a good harvest. With the three blue-tiled cone-shaped roofs, a unique wooden and blue-tiled structure built without a nail, it has become a worldwide symbol of Beijing.
After lunch, we will go on our city tour to visit Tiananmen Square, the symbolical heart of China and gathering place for the masses. It is the biggest public square in the world, which can hold one million people.
From here we will walk across the Golden River Bridge to visit the Forbidden City and experience the ancient Emperor's daily life. For 5 centuries Chinese emperors carried out their administration here. With almost 10,000 rooms, it was the centre of the Ming and Qing dynasties, a massive complex of palaces, pavilions, courtyards and gardens where 24 emperors used to live. Forbidden City was the largest palace in the world, and in the past it was indeed a forbidden place for commoners. Your tour here will include private access to the Emperor's palace.
Day 18 Beijing/Departure (B)
Transfer via: Flight on your own arrangement
Today will be free for your own purposes, until our guide will escort you to the airport for your next destination.
Dear Molly, Hope you have been well. We will be returning to Singapore in a couple of hours. Would like to commend on the tour guides, driv... Read more »
Booking Code: VOC-20190605-M Tour Starting Date: Wednesday, 5 June 2019
Client's information: Chew Huay Huay, Singapore
Hope you have been well.
We will be returning to Singapore in a couple of hours.
Would like to commend on the tour guides, drivers and accommodation that VOC has arranged for us. The guides and drivers are very professional,very helpful, thoughtful, caring and experienced. They practised good ethics as well.
We definitely have a wonderful touring experience and I will definitely recommend your company to my friends.
Van and I thought you put together a wonderful itinerary for our two-week vacation in China. Even though we missed a day in Beijing due to bad weather, our guide was v... Read more »
Booking Code: VOC-20190517-S Tour Starting Date: Friday, 17 May 2019
Client's information: Jayne Ellen Wilgus, USA
Van and I thought you put together a wonderful itinerary for our two-week vacation in China. Even though we missed a day in Beijing due to bad weather, our guide was very accommodating and helped us see as much as possible in the two remaining days.
We enjoyed our guides, the food, and the hotels.
Thank you for all of your help in putting together this trip.
Dear friends of visitourchina, We went to visit Nanning between April 28th and May 3rd 2019 with my wife and my daughter. For us, it would be the fi... Read more »
Booking Code: VOC-20190428-M Tour Starting Date: Sunday, 28 April 2019
Client's information: Arnold Demeyere, Belgium
“By accident” we get contact with visitourchina. It has been one of the best trips we ever had, we’ve learned very much of this part of China, enjoying the people we’ve met and with who we’ve got contact. It give us a real view of Chinese people and community and for us, a new world opened. A very good society, well organised, Nanning very good organised concerning environment and climate.
Dear friends of visitourchina,
We went to visit Nanning between April 28th and May 3rd 2019 with my wife and my daughter.
For us, it would be the first visit to China and we needed some support to organise this as I wanted to organise it all by myself (hotel, plane, visa, …). But as I was organising everything I felt the need of some extra support and help from people of China (for instance English talking guide, English talking organiser in China to take us around in a personal tour).
“By accident” we get contact with visitourchina. And they “give” us Molly Mo as contact person. It was a winning number from the lottery !
Molly took care of us like “a real mother” ! No question I’ve asked her, she answered them immediately with her advice and experience. Always in a very friendly and positive way, adding a human sense so we were even more longing to visit Nanning and it’s people. Molly organised our guide in Nanning, Wendy, who was TOP for us. Wendy took care of us, from early morning till evening with a very professional view on guiding adding a good human sense to her work. We were so good prepared we had one day on our own and we could fill in without problems.
It has been one of the best trips we ever had, we’ve learned very much of this part of China, enjoying the people we’ve met and with who we’ve got contact. It give us a real view of Chinese people and community and for us, a new world opened. A very good society, well organised, Nanning very good organised concerning environment and climate.
So, we came back from Nanning after a too short stay with very positive feelings, hoping once more to visit China again.
We’re very grateful to Molly in the first place. She is the ideal person to represent Visitourchina. She take care of my many, many questions with a great heart, she had many patience with us and she never disappointed us, her answers give us the extra love for China and it’s people. Visitourchina must be happy with her.
It's a pity we couldn’t see her to transform our personal gratitude to her. Many, many, many thanks !
I hope this is not my least mail to you, I would miss our contacts,
Arnold en Rattana Demeyere
Hi Molly, The tour was great. Both guide and driver are very friendly and helpful. For the meals on the trip, so much food and delicious dishes. We loved t... Read more »
Booking Code: VOC-20190426-M(A) Tour Starting Date: Friday, 26 April 2019
Client's information: Brandon Michael Driggs,USA
The tour was great. Both guide and driver are very friendly and helpful. For the meals on the trip, so much food and delicious dishes. We loved the trip. Thanks for all your help.
The tour was great. Both guide and driver are very friendly and helpful. For the meals on the trip, so much food and delicious dishes.
We loved the trip. Thanks for all your help.
Hi Stella, I must extend our thanks to you and the Tour Guide for this trip Peter (Hope i didn't get his name wrong) . The trip was fun and informative... Read more »
Booking Code: VOC-20190425-Y(A) Tour Starting Date: Thursday, 25 April 2019
Client's information: Serene Zhou,Philippines
I must extend our thanks to you and the Tour Guide for this trip Peter. The trip was fun and informative.
I must extend our thanks to you and the Tour Guide for this trip Peter (Hope i didn't get his name wrong) .
The trip was fun and informative. Peter is extremely caring and helpful to all the guests who participated in this group trip to Mutianyu great wall & Ming Tombs tour. He made sure nobody was left out of left behind. He is very polite and attentive to our needs.
Peter also made sure we are safe, he was concerned about the distance if the guests could find their hotel or find their way back to their hotel. I must thank Peter for insisting to drop us near our hotel where we CAN see our hotel building at least.
I hope you can let Peter know that he's an awesome guide and the Americans and the rest of us had so much fun.
Serene Zhou & Ernest
This is a tour agency in China that provides private English tours. I booked a 1 person private tour with these people for 4 days trip in Harbin for the Winter festiva... Read more »
Booking Code: VOC-20190223-M Tour Starting Date: Saturday, 23 February 2019
Client's information: Qiao Wenshu, Australia
This is a tour agency in China that provides private English tours. If I needed another private tour, would I use them again? Definitely!! I would recommend them for the service too.
This is a tour agency in China that provides private English tours. I booked a 1 person private tour with these people for 4 days trip in Harbin for the Winter festival and I think it was really worth it.
I booked a 4 day tour in Harbin with them at the last minute and the person I contacted was Molly, who did all the arrangements for me. They pulled it off at the last minute, and around Chinese new year too! I contacted them just before Chinese New year and they responded really quick (yes, China time is 3 hours behind Sydney, so my responses came after 12pm local time each day). She even told me they will be on public holiday from Chinese New Year until Monday the 11th of Feb and then on Monday the 11th of Feb, I got a message from her back with a quote from the local partners first thing, so I was able to make other arrangements quickly, like getting my plane tickets, and visa.
Molly provided me with an itinerary and a quote and I was happy with it, costed $1560 AUD including single non-shared accommodation (I chose 3 star accommodation because I am not fussy about the hotel), breakfast, private transport, pick up and drop off from airport, driver, and an English speaking guide all for myself, so I had 2 people helping me out during my time there, plus entry tickets to all the attractions, for 4 days. I saw a local Australian tour company that had a 5 day Harbin group tour for $1525 AUD with a maximum of 12 people, but it’s really a 3 day tour because that tour lets people arrive in Beijing, then everyone catches the train overnight to Harbin, and days 2-4 are spent sightseeing before catching the train back to Beijing on the 5th day, plus there was another tour company that offered private tours that quoted over $2000 AUD for a similar itinerary, so I believe it was money well spent. My itinerary included the Ice and Snow world, Snow Sculptures and skiing.
Molly gave me the name and contact details of my guide (Allison) as soon as one was allocated to me, and I contacted her on Wechat (a Chinese messenger phone app). Allison is pleasant and speaks English well. The driver helped put my luggage in the car. Allison was knowledgeable and I was impressed that she was flexible and had the sense to check with the local contacts immediately upon picking me up from the airport and getting into the car, to see if the attractions I wanted to see were still open.
Allison took photos for me, and was pretty good at it, and told me lots of relevant history and behind the scenes stories, for example, how the ice blocks are harvested from the river with people standing on the frozen river, drilling holes along the perimeter of the block as deep as it is thick, and connecting them with a saw and lifting them out with a crane; how the Dao in Laodaowai refers to the railway the Russians built when they came to Harbin, and forced the locals out of the railway/developed area, hence the name Lao “Old” Dao “Railway” Wai “outside” refers to outside the railway area.
As a local, she also helped me haggle a better price for the candied fruit sticks (Bing Tang Hu Lu) and I learnt that the Modern (Ma Die Er) Ice cream block is so named because it used to be sold from the Modern Hotel/shop and they were never individually packaged, rather, sold in tubs, so technically it’s only authentic if you buy it from the Modern shop on Central Street. (There is a shop with an oval red neon sign with 1906 on it.), and the original flavours are Original and Coffee (maybe something else, I forgot), the fruit flavours are new, so I recommend the original one. I saw reviews saying it's not that good - last time I was there in the summer I had one and didn't think it lived up to it's reputation because I ate a different branded one, so go for the authentic one at ￥10 each for the original flavour. (same price as the shop in the domestic airport in Harbin). They come on a stick, I haven't see the scoop ones.
Allison also took great care of me as a friend, and helped me walk around on slippery snow/ice and gave me some bandaids and heat packs when I got some grazes from the snow shoe walking around, and warned me not to go onto the frozen lake.
The car I used was a private car, in China, cars are allowed on road according to the numbers on the license plate, to limit the maximum number of cars on the road each day. Thankfully my itinerary was relaxed so there was some space to move around to get everything done, while still being within the permitted days for the car (if it’s outside, you can still have the car on the roads I was told, but just further from the attraction than if it was on a permitted day, which means a little more walking. I got door to door service every day!). It was clean and comfortable inside. Larger groups get coaches.
If I needed another private tour, would I use them again? Definitely!! I would recommend them for the service too. The driver was very professional and like another reviewer said, did not talk all the time, and didn't ask random personal info like local taxi drivers might. Wasn't too much 'awkward silence' either cause I talked with the guide in the back seat.
I got dropped off at the airport and Allison took me directly to the check in counter and they knew exactly which counter and flight I was taking (gave them the info before arriving, was surprised they kept it) so the driver drove me right up to the correct entry. Best service!
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Hope you have been well.
We will be returning to Singapore in a couple of hours.
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