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Your Words - We tell it like it is! Holiday Reviews by previous Exodus travellers  

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124 Reviews

  • Reviewed November 2019
    Julia P

    A lovely introduction to the Great Wall of China

    The Great Wall is even more mind-blowing than in your imagination and doing this fantastic trip at the end of October is a great time to see it. We had beautiful autumn colours, with pleasant, warm days and slightly cooler mornings and evenings, and it's not crowded with visitors. It's suitable for people who are fit and enjoy walking, but it's most definitely not a trek, so if that's your thing you may not enjoy it as much as we did. You get to visit different parts of the wall - from the restored and more touristy, to completely wild and unrestored and we appreciated seeing these different facets. The toboggan at Mutianyou is a hoot so it's well worth giving yourself time to fit that in. The food was good quality and varied (though see below if you're veggie).The hotel in Beijing (Golden Sun Commercial Hotel) was very nice; a little away from the city centre but we enjoyed wandering the local hutongs, parks and temples and we easily got into town via the subway (Guang'anmennei station is an easy walk from the hotel).

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The highlight was undoubtedly the sections at Jiankou and Panlongshan, really beautiful and well away from the crowds. They were also the most steep and challenging, but eminently doable if you have a reasonable level of fitness - you get to challenge yourself and work as a group.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Jack was lovely, he was helpful and considerate and looked after us really well. He sorted out little extras like a Kung Fu show, tea ceremony, paper cutting and even making dumplings at a homestay. He even arranged for us to have a Chinese massage in our hotel, which helped with our stiff legs!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    There's lots to see in Beijing in the free time available and the subway is very easy to use (in English as a well as Chinese) so don't duplicate what you'll see on day 9. As a vegetarian I found the food better than I expected but not always very substantial. I was never hungry but ate a lot of cabbage, spinach or courgette with rice. By the last day of walking I felt quite tired and came back 1 kg lighter than I arrived. It's not a problem but do consider taking some protein bars, nuts etc. for a bit of a boost. Food at the Mutianyou homestay was the best with lots of good and varied veggie options. You won't be able to access Google, Twitter, BBC or the Guardian but we found that WhatsApp worked (though not for photos) and we managed to keep up with the news headlines as much as we wanted.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The itinerary didn't seem to match what we did - the distances were significantly shorter than indicated on a couple of days. We did the Xi'an extension and enjoyed seeing a contrasting city (which did feel quite different). The train ride there was fun and comfortable. Our guide Mrs Ling was informative and an interesting contrast to Jack. The Terracotta Army is well worth seeing but be prepared for some jostling by the crowds. We had a dumpling banquet at a very touristy place but the food was good - choose the veggie ones - they were very tasty and beautifully presented!
  • Reviewed November 2019
    Cathérine Delnooz

    Not off the beaten path, mainly just strolls

    In part beautiful walks over wall and with views. In part disappointment: strolls, not off the beaten path, no local rural life.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Walk at Gubeiko and Juankou are great!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Jack: touristy leader, good English, does not follow itinerary - lunch is more important than hike.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Do not go on this trip if you want an all off the beaten holiday. Day 2-3-7 are a real disappointment. There is no real experience of local life in villages. Hikes are often just strolls and much shorter than stated in the itinerary.
  • Reviewed August 2019

    Great trip, great company and a plenty of sticky rice!!!

    Excellent trip from beginning to end and thoroughly recommend it. This was my third Exodus trip and I can not recommend Exodus enough as a travel company!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The Great Wall of China is truly amazing. Approximately 90% of the time we were on the less touristy sections of the wall with our group being the only people on the wall. To have one of the wonders of the world all to yourself is something not many can say and was really special I thought. Even though walking along the restored sections was beneficial in understanding how the wall looked a few hundred years ago - or in 'Mulan' - I really enjoyed walking along the original/unrestored parts as it gave you a sense of the history regarding the wall but also the people who worked/served on it.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Jerry!!! This was my third exodus trip and like all Exodus guides I have met, Jerry clearly loved his country as he was very passionate and knowledgeable about all things Chinese ranging from culture, food, history and language. Jerry had a good sense of humour which ensured a positive group atmosphere throughout.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Don't be fooled by the distances listed in the trip notes. It may look as if the distances are quite short if you are a keen walker, however the constant up and down of - at times steep - steps in almost constant 30+ heat and 90% humidity ensured it is challenging even for one who may consider themselves very fit. I took a pair of walking boots and trail-running trainers, my advice to future travellers is to take a pair of trainers with good grip because on the one two occasions I wore my boots they were too warm meaning I wore my trail-running trainers for the rest of the time. Also you will need trainers with good grip because the wall is very steep in places and on the one day we had rain the wall was also very slippy! General travel advice, be prepared for plenty of sticky rice and practise using chopsticks before you go if you are afraid of looking like an amateur.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Excellent trip and recommend it to anyone. Even though the trip is mainly about the Great Wall of China, going inside the Forbidden City and walking across Tiananmen Square was memorable as was going to a Taoist temple and seeing all of the offerings given to the Jade Emperor whilst attempting Tai Chi on the Wall!
  • Reviewed August 2019
    Philip Atess

    Fantastic trip

    Another well organised and memorable trip by Exodus. Varied activity and ran very smoothly including transport, accommodation and food. Guide very knowledgeable and passionate about his country. Would definitely recommend.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Walking the various sections of the wall and getting to shake hands and get a signed book from the person who discovered the Terracotta warriors.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Passionate and knowledgeable about his country. Tried his very best to make sure the group enjoyed the trip.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Do the Terracotta extension as you see a more authentic China than Bejieng. Xi-an is much cheaper £3-£4 for huge meal and drink and overnight train journey is certainly an experience. You can get away with shorts on the walks and certainly only need summer walking boots but ensure they have good grip as some sections of the wall are steep. Only take very light waterproofs, Chinese just use umbrellas. Practice using chop sticks before you go.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

  • Reviewed June 2019
    Catharine and David Finn

    Fantastic walking trip

    Fantastic holiday walking the Great Wall .... great group leader and lovely group of people. We both found The Wall absolutely amazing and China is such an interesting country to visit. Would love to go back to visit another part.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The whole of the wall was more amazing than we imagined but particularly the 28 Towers walk.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Alan was outstanding.....really knowledgeable, enthusiastic and organised. Nothing ever seemed to be a problem or too much trouble as he just sorted things out.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take toilet roll and hand gel as not always available. Download VPN before you go if you want to access internet as some sites are blocked.
  • Reviewed June 2019
    Peter Kenny

    The Great wall, a great holiday

    An excellent overall experience, really enjoyed the walking, especially the less touristy parts of the wall. The hotel rooms in Beijing and Xi'an were looking a little tired but, they were clean with comfortable beds and good showers. The homesteads were fine with very welcoming hosts. The food overall was very good, although breakfast was a little limited if you like your traditional "English" style to start the day.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Standing on a hilltop and seeing the great wall stretching out for miles over mountain peaks that look so steep that you'd think they would be impossible to climb let alone build a wall over.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our leader in Beijing was Alan, he really was excellent. Nothing was too much trouble for him, on numerous occasions he went out of his way to help us, I really can't praise him enough. Our guide in Xi'an was Chris, he was OK, nothing more than that.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Having done a number of treks with Exodus don't underestimate the physical challenge that this trip offers. Don't be fooled by the distances in the trip notes, it is very up and down with hundreds and hundreds of steps. When we were there the weather was very hot and that also played a part.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Really enjoyed walking the Great wall and China is a fascinating country to visit.
  • Reviewed May 2019
    Gina Crowcroft

    Great concept but, on this occasion, poorly delivered

    The basic trip concept is excellent. However, a group of 16 with only 1 main group leader was wholly inadequate - it meant that we had a lot of wasted time hanging around for the slowest person and our itinerary was unilaterally changed by the tour leader to ensure that the needs of the slowest person out of 16 was met. Unfortunately this meant that 15 out of 16 people were left short changed and did not get what they paid for. Additionally, most days we were rushed to ensure that the group lunched at a specific restaurant off the wall. Given that people would have signed up for this trip due to an interest in the Wall it seems strange that we were always being rushed everyday to get off the Wall. This meant that most days we could not linger and savour the amazing views nor take our time to get that non-touristy photo! We also had itinerary changes due to local factors. Whilst it is appreciated that these are unavoidable the revised itineraries, each time, resulted in less trekking time never more trekking time - very frustrating and left a feeling that we did not receive what we paid for.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Being on the less touristy parts of the Wall.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Jerry is clearly a lovely guy and a more than adequate tour leader. I think if our group had been more evenly matched re fitness he would have been perfect. However, I believe he was too nice to actually deal with some of the issues on our trek and tried to please everyone but thereby actually not pleasing a significant number of the group. We had our trekking time severely curtailed by a combination of local reasons and a disparity in the speed between the fastest and slowest members of our group but this was not discussed properly with the group and conflicting reasons were given.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Do not underestimate the unrelenting steepness of the Wall trekking. Be prepared for a lot of "wasted" time away from the Wall due to where the restaurants are etc. It would be much better if picnic lunches were provided most days so that time on the Wall could be maximised. Be brave enough to question how the group kitty is used! Our bus driver ended up being tipped a huge amount (the balance of the kitty) due to our guide leader asking in front of the bus driver if it was ok to give him the balance of the kitty - strangely none of us felt that we could object! But we were all wondering why the balance of the kitty was not redistributed to us after a sensible tip taken for the bus driver.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The itinerary and execution of this trip could be improved by a few simple changes: 1. Packed lunches so that time on the Wall is not rushed 2. Two guides every day so that all members of the group could take as long as they wished on the Wall whether that being walking slowly or taking time to take photographs. 3. More information given about the Wall on a daily basis rather than just the last day 4. Changes to itinerary should always be fully discussed and explained with the group in advance
  • Reviewed May 2019
    Kerry Clough

    Memorable Adventure

    Walking the Great Wall in the less touristy sections (in fact almost no other people at all) together with the Xi'an extension to see the Terracotta Warriors surpassed my expectations. It also opened my eyes to a whole new positive side of China that my preconceived ideas had not imagined. A wide range of walking from the flat in Beijing to the undulating and steep on the Wall, on even paths to shingle and scrambling. Delicious food throughout, far superior and less salty than in the UK and friendly, curious locals. Topped off by an absolutely superb Leader/Guide Jerry, whose infectious enthusiasm, wide knowledge of all things Chinese, sense of humour and ability to tell jokes in English made for a truly memorable experience.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Walking the Wall in the quiet sections was spectacular as it weaved its way into the distance over undulating hills with forts on top for as far as you could see. Feeling like we had it all to ourselves most days.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Outstanding. Fluent English, infectious enthusiasm and love of China, friendly approachable personality, ability to assess the trekking ability of all of the tour participants and make adjustments to the walks as appropriate, which in most cases for our group was to seek acceptance from all to walk further than the Tour Notes suggested. He was funny, extremely helpful, organised things to do in the evenings if you wanted to participate like Chinese dumpling making and watching and participating in Chinese paper cutting. He also had a good line in English jokes once he knew the group was open to such banter.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Do the Xi'an extension and walk or cycle the full 14km of the city wall. It is in fantastic condition and affords great panoramic views of the old city inside the wall. For me it was just as good to do as seeing the Terracotta warriors, which I suggest you get to by 9am as the hordes descended by 9:30 and made for a more stressful viewing experience!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Don't be put off by the long winded Chinese Visa Application process. if you are open minded your experience on this tour in China will pay you back many fold. Go!
  • Reviewed May 2019
    Jo Harthan

    One of the best trips

    Fabulous trip but, as with all Exodus holidays, the success is dependent on the tour guide. We had Jerry and he was faaaantastic! What a guy! Knowledgeable, committed and with a wonderful sense of humour. Thank you Jerry - you made the trip gloriously memorable.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Walking the Great Wall in the mountains with hardly anyone else in sight. Great opportunity for silent meditation whilst walking.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Jerry was fantastic. Knowledgeable, funny, energetic and an amazing, last-minute organiser despite difficulties caused by a large Beijing conference.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    If you only consider yourself moderately fit, I would recommend doing a bit of training before the holiday to avoid stiff legs in the morning. Parts of the wall are exceptionally steep, both up and down, and the trip involves walking for 6 consecutive days. And if you go in April, be prepared for all weathers - we had freezing temperatures and sleet one day.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    If you're hesitating - don't. Just do it. I just wish it had been longer. Also, for those fellow GFs - the food was fabulous and the dishes containing wheat were few. I don't eat Chinese in the UK but the food on this trip was nothing like the UK offerings and was really nice - and lots of it.
  • Reviewed November 2018
    Anthony Peake

    Walking The Great Wall

    Most enjoyable trip accompanied by a fun group of fellow walkers and an enthusiastic guide. Would have been 5* BUT a lazy attitude by, i take it, the local tour operator who when given months notice of one of the days hiking having to be altered due to a closed/dangerous section only replaced it with a makeshift day.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Seeing the mass of people on Tienanmen Square on a public holiday

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Enthusiastic and Knowledgeable