It’s also home to some of the more fascinating ruins, more fascinating because they aren’t even ruins. The Great Wall still could keep out a Mongol hoard. The army of Terra-cotta Warriors and Horses at Xian could, presumably, in the event of an animating spell, kick some ass. China is an amazing fusion of old and new, often times with no clear lines between “how things were” and “how things are.” It’s a fascinating place and you could spend a lifetime exploring it. That’s why for a short trip to China I would seriously consider a tour service. The most interesting one I’ve found online is www.chinatours.com
The thing that really jumps out about this company is the many tour types and destinations, as well as the almost endless customizable options. For example, on the front page there are five tour categories. There are private tours, join in tours, customized tours, city tours, and extension tours. Extension tours cover nearby countries, including Tibet and Nepal. All of them come with guides and drivers. City tours are tours of one city, and are much cheaper than the other multi-city and multi-region tours. There were over thirty different city tour destinations, and each destination had multiple itineraries and packages. And the city tours were just a small part of the site.
The private tours seem to be the real meat of the site. There are endless options, from two week adventures, complete with river cruises, to more historical romps. The tours leave whenever you want, and each tour, and there are lots of available tours, have three pricing options, which allow you to choose how pricey you want the meals and accommodations to be. That’s right, these tours are all-inclusive. There are join in tours as well, which just mean that you will be on a tour with strangers. But some don’t fill up, and the company promises that even if only one person is signed up, the tour will go off as scheduled. Finally, there are custom tours, where you choose cities, attractions, and prices in an easy to navigate form, and the company contacts you later with a custom tour itinerary for you. It couldn’t be easier.
The only drawback about this site is the English. It communicates everything it needs to, but there are times when the native English speaker can tell that the site copy is not written by a native speaker. That’s okay though, because the many (and surprisingly candid) customer reviews demonstrate that the company puts a premium on effective communication, before, during, and after the tours. I’d love to try one.