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comments from Csaba (Hungary)

Dear Eric,

We have arrived at home. Our China trip was amazing, everything was nice. This was my parents most beautiful journey of life.

The organization was perfect, the guides were clever, patient and helpful and the most of the car drivers were also kind. The cars were enough big and clean.

The food was delicious in the most of the restaurants, but not better than in the hotels.

Thank you for your flexibility in interchanging of the programs. This made the trip unforgetable for me.

The weather was also good, except in Zhangjiajie, which was very rainy and foggy.

I would like to teturn to China, it is a wonderful country.

Best Regards,

Csaba

Comments from June Aubrey (Philippines)

Hi Eric,

We just got home from Beijing.

On behalf of our group, I'd like to thank you for the excellent service you and Absolute China Tours have provided us. From the first time I've emailed you to our visa application until the tour itself, you have been very accommodating. You were always willing to help.

We enjoyed Beijing a lot and we had so much fun. Too bad it rained on our last day so we asked Johnny to cancel the World Park tour and take us to shopping markets instead.

Great choice for a guide by the way. Johnny speaks english very well and funny, too. No dull moment for our group while on tour. We like that we were provided with a comfortable car  with plenty of water supplied to us everyday. We were also brought to good restaurants which served excellent lunch. Even Wong, the driver is very pleasant and he always smiles.

If there is any way that we can give back, like a testimonial or a rating or something, please let us know. We'll gladly make one for you. Be assured that we will be recommending you to our family and friends who plan to visit China.

Thank you again and kudos to your team! Till next time. :)

Xie xie ni!

June Aubrey

comments from Rolando Recio (Australia)

Dear Christina,

Having read about "factory tours", I specifically asked for a non-shopping trip and that's exactly what we received. We are a group of 10 friends who have traveled together, both on-our-own and at times on a private tour, to different countries over the past 10 years. Christina from China Absolute Tours provided us with great service, responding to our individual questions, concerns, and requests on a timely manner. She put together a well-paced itinerary, touching on all the highlights, choosing 4 and 5 star hotels in each city. She even customized the itinerary for one couple who have been to Beijing, not interested in seeing it again, arriving 2 days later.

About a month before the start of the trip, another couple decided to join us at the last minute. Since they have been to Shanghai previously, Christina customized yet another itinerary. She was amazing - (since she had to wait until this last couple had received their Chinese visas) on short notice booked rooms at the hotels where the original group were staying, seats on the same domestic flights, which I noticed were all flying full. Even their Tibet travel permit arrived just a few days before that part of the trip.

The vans provided for transfers and sightseeing were very spacious, and the drivers drove safely. The guides in each city were knowledgeable, accommodating, and very flexible, being that we love to take photos, especially group photos, which take a little time to set up. They also had a good sense of humor, especially Ryan in Shanghai, who never seem to run out of jokes and trivia. They were pro-active on a couple of occasions, re-arranging the sightseeing schedules to minimize the impact of adverse weather (rain). The few shopping breaks we requested were easily and conveniently arranged.

A low water level at Chongqing prevented all passengers from boarding the Yangtze cruise boat there, but the cruise operator had buses waiting to take us to the next stop at Fengdu. The guides on site were great in handling the situation and, except for the minor inconvenience of the two-hour bus ride and a little exhaustion at the end of a long day, the transition was handled quite smoothly.

When the recent CICA summit in Shanghai triggered a shortage of certain hotel rooms and higher prices, China Absolute bent over backwards to honor their commitment per the original quote and ate the difference. It was important that we ended the trip on a high note, staying at the Marriott City Center.
Everyone in the group enjoyed the trip, pleasantly surprised that everything went smoothly, there were no domestic flight delays, and all felt we got a good value for the price we paid.

We definitely have some enjoyable and memorable parts during the trip. Such as:
1).Visiting the less-crowded Mutianyu section of the Great Wall made it more enjoyable. Experiencing a massive sea of humanity on a Saturday in Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City is unforgettable. Peking duck dinner at Dadong Restaurant in Beijing was a wonderful way to start the trip.
2).Seeing and hearing about the history of the terra cotta warriors in Xian is fascinating.
3).There was anxiety among the group about altitude sickness before we arrived in Lhasa, but the effects were relatively minor and easily dealt with. We (in our 60's and mostly out of shape) all managed to make it to the top of the Potala Palace and it was definitely a memorable experience. One more item crossed off the bucket list.
4).Winding down the trip with a 3-day cruise on the Yangtze river through the vistas of the three gorges was a great idea, capped by two nights in a luxurious hotel in Shanghai.
5).Christina from China Absolute Tours, who arranged this trip, taking a 60-minute train ride plus 40 minute metro from her home base Hangzhou to Shanghai to meet us just for a few minutes and give us some local treats - priceless. She said we were special.
All in all, we think this is an amazing trip!

Rolando Recio

comment from Thuan Pam (USA)

Hello my friend Eric,

It was so nice to meet with you in person in Hangzhou.  I and my wife had a very pleasant time in China.  We safely returned home  on Monday, May 19.  After a 2-week long vacation, I have to come back to the real world where many things are waiting for me at work as well as at home. 

I am writing to express my sincere thank to you and every employee in  Absolute China Tours International for all the  hard work and time that you have spent to help me have a very pleasant vacation in China this time.  I will arrange time to write a comment and post it on Trip Advisor next week.  I also want to provide a few feedback about my trip  for future reference.

As for tour guide, the one in Tibet is very excellent.  He could answer almost every question about Tibet, and he was very helpful to us when we need assistance.  The ones in  Putuoshan, Huangshan, Jiuhuashan,  are very good, nice and friendly.  The guide in Emeishan is OK.  At least she knows which bus to take and where to go.  I understand that it is very difficult to find and English speaking tour guide in these areas, because most of the tourists are local.

The driver from Putuoshan to Hangzhou is OK.  The one from Hangzhou to Huangshan is very smart.   He knew exactly what we needed and stopped for rest room after 2-3 hours.  The driver from Jiuashan to Heifei is not smart enough.  I told him 3 times that wee needed to go to the  bathroom but he kept driving all the way to Hefei without stopping any where.  Drivers in Emeishan and Tibet are very pleasant and nice.

For hotels, both hotels in Shanghai are very good, Hefei is excellent, Emeishan is below average, and the rest are good or fine.

I will mail you my SIM card and some photos to your company address next week.  I did not have time to do so on the last day in Shanghai. Thank you again for everything you have done to help me with my vacation in China this time.  I always expect to see you again and want to welcome you and your wife in US.

Thanks,

Thuan

 
 

Thuan Pam

comments from Mr. Sven Ripper & Ms. Jamisen Lee Jenkins (Germany & America)

Dear Zoe,

This is the first time we have used a other custom trip planning service. Overall we were pleased with the final result and we are sure that we could not have had the same experience on our own. Absolute China, and in particular our contact Zoe, did a fantastic job planning our itinerary and being accommodating with some issues we had along the way. We had considered doing a group tour with Adventures/ Intrepid or the like, but we just could not find the right tour that fit our interests. Zoe, at Absolute China, made all the difference, really taking our feedback into account and continuously tuning our itinerary until we were happy with both the content and pricing. In the end we got a very personal experience for a price that is similar to a nicer group tour.

It is important to note that Zoe pulled together our trip very quickly. We were on a trip around the world when we booked this trip and already had our Chinese visa and flight to China. We were coordinating with here, while we were in Japan and requested a proposal only about 3 weeks before starting our trip! Given the time constraint she did very well in getting everything organized!

The biggest highlights on our trip were our time in Tibet, our cruise on the Yangtze River, the food in Beijing and Szechuan, our hike of the Great Wall and of course the Pandas in Chengdu.

Our hike on the Great Wall was truly memorable. We had a fantastic guide in Peter, who was a very experienced. We hiked two different sections of the Wall in two days. It was the perfect combination of nature, physical activity and history. Peter ensured that we had a solid understanding of the Great Wall on the way there, by handing out FAQs, showing us pictures and maps. During our hike he did a great job highlighting key parts. Unexpectedly he took pictures of us during the whole hike and gave them to us on a USB stick at the very end. Truly a memorable experience!

Tibet is an amazing region of China and we were very lucky with our guide Nyima and our driver. Our guide did a wonderful job explaining Tibetan Buddhism to us and sharing Tibetan culture in a way that we just would never have gotten on a regular group tour. We also fulfilled my wife's lifelong dream to hike to Mt Everest base camp, which while not very long, was still taxing on us due to the altitude. Even though we struggled a bit with the altitude, we really enjoyed the stunning landscape of the Himalayas.

After Tibet we went on a multi-day river cruise on the Yangtze. This was the exact opposite of Tibet, in that it was a much more slower and relaxing pace, but perfectly placed after our physical challenge in Tibet. To our surprise we were upgraded to an even nicer cruise ship, as the original booked ship had technical problems with the air conditioning. The cruise ship was great, and had the right mix of information, tours (both included and optional) and entertainment. Our favorite was that every room had their own balcony, were we spent lots of time and watched the landscape go by.
Overall the guides did a good job introducing us to local food, particular our guides in Beijing (Richard) and Chengdu (Lisa) made sure we got a great sampling of local flavors. We love spicy food, so we were in heaven in Chengdu!

We had a lot of back and forth with Zoe at the beginning to plan the trip. Some of that could have been avoided, if I would have taken a bit more time in filling out the zicasso "in-take form". However it probably would have been most useful to have a 30 min phone call early on. In the end we still got the perfect itinerary, but a call probably could have clarified things more easily.

Another thing I'd do differently is to really demand experienced guides and guides with strong English skills. We had a bit of a mixed bag in that regard. Our best guides were Nyima (Tibet), Peter (Great Wall hike). Our worst guides were Christina and Coco (Xian).

Furthermore, I would also take the time to look up all hotels on booking.com/ TripAdvisor before committing to them. We fully trusted Absolute China in that department and while we were quite satisfied for the most part, we did have an issue with our first hotel in Beijing. In fairness Zoe immediately rectified this after my feedback, but it could have been avoided if I'd done a bit of research myself.

Most everything went flawless, but we had an issue with our pick-up from the Chengdu airport. Somehow our flight numbers got mixed up and upon arrival no one was expecting us with a sign. Eventually we managed to get in touch with our guide through the kindness of a random stranger, but at that point we had already left the airport on our own. I would encourage to either have a functioning SIM card in your phone or buy a phone booth calling card (IC card).

Yours,
Sven & Jamisen
 

Mr. Sven Ripper & Ms. Jamisen Lee Jenkins

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