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Popular Cultural Holiday
This is a small group guided 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.
A very enjoyable itinerary to see sections of the Great Wall that are free from the tourist crowds. As stated in the Trip Notes, there are a number of sections where you need to be careful walking and/or which may be unpleasant for those suffering from vertigo. However, in a few (not all) situations it was possible to detour around certain sections.
The trip also included visits to some of the restored sections of the Wall. The section near Gubeikou (last two days) had spectacular views and few other tourists.
I also did the Xi'an Extension, which was a quick but enjoyable trip to Xi'an, mainly to see the Terracotta Warriors. It would have been nice to have an extra day in Xi'an so something worth considering.
I enjoyed the food throughout the trip but it is worthwhile to note that most of the meals (particularly at the guest houses) is served communal style with a number of different dishes served to the table - meals are not ordered individually and the dishes served are to be shared amongst the group.
Spending the last two days near Gubeikou walking along the wall and seeing the stretch completed and the stretch ahead - definitely very scenic. Also the cycling tour in Beijing was a wonderful experience. I was a bit apprehensive at first about cycling in the busy streets but it, surprisingly, felt safer than cycling the streets at home!
Jerry was great - very organized and informative. He had a great sense of humour and was passionate about his country and its history. He was always concerned about the welfare of the group and went out of his way to ensure that everyone had a great time.
As mentioned above, all of the group meals, including all meals in the homestays, are served communal style and individual meal choices are not available. As stated in the trip notes, vegetarian options are limited. Therefore, people with restricted diets or food preferences may want to consider either bringing their own food or considering another destination if they are not open to trying things they may not eat at home.
Also, chopsticks are often the only utensils provided so if you are uncomfortable to use chopsticks you may want to consider packing some cutlery.
Walking poles were a definite plus. There were a lot of steep up and down sections and the poles proved very useful, particularly in the descents.
A great trip and a wonderful experience - would definitely recommend it!
Great trip with some stunning sights however, various aspects were not up the the usual excellent Exodus standard. Safety in various places on the wall could have been improved by having another guide at the back of the group. A member of the party was asked to do this which was unfair, this was a position for Exodus to fill. Fortunately, we had a fantastic group and no one was left behind on their own. Goodness only knows what would have happened in the event of a mishap, having only one guide who was ahead and seldom waited for people to catch up.
Also, the itinerary was changed, which Exodus reserves the right to do, but we were given no explanation and very vague information on the following days walks.
The city tour was a huge disappointment as our guide gave us very little time to take pictures and did not wait for the whole group before giving information or issuing instructions.
Seeing unrestored parts of the wall and having it all to ourselves.
Nice chap but fairly unenthusiastic and very vague. Overall not up to Exodus usual excellent standard.
Make sure you're reasonably fit as there are plenty of steep climbs. Vegetarian food it quite hard to come by but what there is, is delicious.
The views of and from the wall were amazing with many brilliant photo opportunities. Beijing is a vibrant and engaging city with many parks and places of interest to visit.
My first Exodus trip into a country I didn't know and with people I didn't know. - I am already looking to book my next one. The Great Wall was amazing, with spectacular and breathtaking views. The walking was great, well planned and everyone done it at there own pace, no harassment to hurry, although there was some steep and challenging sections, I am not a seasoned walker and I managed them without too much effort. Our group of 15 got along great, fun-loving, witty, sociable with interesting lives, this group of people helped make this trip unforgettable. The hotels were all good and the food second to none, except maybe the sandwich for the one packed breakfast we had (don't believe the stories of being offered dog and scorpions).The Xian extension was really worthwhile, not only to see the terracotta warriors, but also to experience the sights and sounds of this lovely city and the food market also overnight train from Beijing to Xian.
There were so many - The first steps on the Wall, and the realisation of its vast scale, the third or fourth day of trekking when you looked around and saw nothing but green mountains, with the Great Wall stretching away as far as the eye could see, with no one else but our small group in sight. the Great Wall stretching away as far as the eye could see. Not forgetting the first sight of the warriors.
Kevin was absolutely superb, we could not have wished for a better group leader, He shared his considerable knowledge of Chinese history,culture with us with passion and good humour. Even before and after the actual trip Kevin took care of us, taking us out on our first and last night in Beijing for Food and a trip to a theatre. Exodus should be honoured to have Kevin as a Group Leader.
There are some physically challenging sections, scrambling up or down steep and uneven slopes. I took trekking poles and was very glad of the extra support. If you are afraid of heights some sections will be uncomfortable. Our group was of mixed ages and abilities - from students to retirees, from occasional day hikers to multiple marathon runners - all managed the walk. What i wasn't prepared for was the actual walks to reach the wall some days - I stupidly thought, after reading the itinerary that we got dropped off on one end and picked up the other - not quite like that but still all great.
This was a great holiday, obviously the experience of the great wall and our excellent Group Leader Kevin. Just as important were my fellow trekkers - it was a really nice group of people. This was my first Exodus experience, so maybe I just got lucky. So I'll have to book another Exodus trip to test whether all Exodus trekkers are as sociable and good-humoured as this bunch! I also think Kevin will have set a very high standard for any future Group Leaders - Uganda her I come.
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
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
Whilst you're trekking, your bags tend to be in the van that accompanies you throughout (with the driver). All you need to carry is a day bag (rucksack) with water, sun cream, snacks etc.
You'll be in twin rooms throughout - not dormitory style accommodation. The only possible exception will be the homestay nights, when it's possible that there may be an extra woman or two (from the group) in the same room. In fact, your group of 12 has 7 women in it, so there's every chance that that may be the case.
Beyond the clothes referred to under the "essential equipment" section of your trip notes, I'd say you only really need a light fleece and something warm to wear under your trousers for the cold nights, especially if you're outside.
I don't recall any mosquitoes when I was there - but then there wasn't much rain either, so you wouldn't expect there to have been. As long as you take a repellent spray (just in case), you'll be fine. You'll be advised by the tour leader when you're going to be trekking off the wall, through bushes or over rough ground, so wear trousers on those days to save your legs from getting scratched or bitten by any insects that tend to hang around in the undergrowth. The rest of the time, you're trekking up on the wall itself.
In terms of making the trip more comfortable, I'd suggest making sure you have a good head torch and wet wipes/toilet paper on you - as they can prove invaluable if you need to go to the toilet at night or get caught short in an area where the only toilet option is a brick wall built around a hole in the ground!
When I did the tour, we visited a local school out in the countryside. That was a definite highlight for myself and a lot of the group. We ended up giving a brief English lesson and playing some of the pupils in an 'Exodus Vs the school' game of basketball!. We went shopping before going, so that we could take along pens, pencils, basketballs etc for the kids - but the teachers at the school said they really needed English books and magazines. Although we don't guarantee you'll visit a school whilst you're there, if you do have any old books or English magazines (ideally about football or basketball, as the teachers said that they find it particularly hard to make the boys to read English unless it's about something they have an interest in), take those along. Even if you don't visit a school, you can always give these to the tour leader to pass on the next time they do take a group to one of the local schools.
When I walked around the Forbidden City, I pretty much explored it by myself. There were audio guides you could rent for a small charge (with Roger Moore explaining what you're looking at) too. I don't recall any local guides being offered to us, so that might be something new. I got enough out of the city by listening to what our tour guide told us and by exploring myself.
Your time in Beijing at the end of the tour is pretty rushed, as you see a lot in one day. The shopping there is excellent, and if you tell the tour leader about anything that you'd like to look for in particular, they all tend to know someone who can give you a discount and ensure that you get time at a mall to get it. The guide on my tour had business cards from pretty much every type of shop possible, which meant we were able to get discounts on all manner of stuff! I also went back to China independently the following year, and my wife and I went to see some of the Olympic sights. If you do manage to get a few hours to yourself, then I really recommend going to see the Birds Nest stadium in particular, as it's a very impressive building (and right next to the swimming pool they used for the Olympics, which is also housed inside an unusual building). You will need to take a taxi there though, and I doubt you'll have the time.
I absolutely loved this trip and I'm sure you will too. Like I said, I ended up going back the following year and that made me appreciate just how easy having the Exodus guides had made our trip, as China's a hard place to get around independently (even though my wife speaks Cantonese and Mandarin, we really struggled and managed to miss out on a lot of the sights due to not having someone around to explain the weird opening times, rules and regulations!).
Kai Aylward - Web sales
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|Thu 01 Jun 17 - Fri 09 Jun 17||Available & guaranteed||Price excl. flights (pp) from EUR €1,145||Book now|
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