I am researching cruises and land tours to determine the best way to see China.
There are drawbacks to each. On a land tour, you must pack and repack every few days. On a cruise, at times you have a long journey from port to a city. As an example, it is approximately 2.5 hrs from Tianjin port to Beijing.
I am still determining the best tour and then I will place it against the best cruise to see, which makes the most sense for me.
Chances are high that I will go to China by myself. Therefore, I have to pick the best solo pricing.
On TripAdvisor, ChinaSpree continues to be discussed as a great option for the land tour. According to China Spree’s website, tours have no more than 20 people (usually 10-16). Two tours from their 2018 catalog interest me, The Middle Kingdom tour ($1299) and China’s Best Treasures ($2499). As a solo, I need to add $400 to the Middle Kingdom and $820 to the Best Treasures.
The Middle Kingdom tour is for the first-time traveler to China. This itinerary presents China’s key highlights in 10 days, 2 days are travel days. The itinerary starts in Beijing with stops at the Summer Place and Zoo as well as the Forbidden City and the Great Wall. In Xian, you visit China’s first emperor’s 6,000 life-sized Terra-cotta Warriors. The tour ends in Shanghai. There are also optional tours to Hangzhou and Suzhou. This itinerary has a lot of optional tours. If you take all the optional tours the cost is an additional $480. For a solo, this itinerary could cost ($1299 + $480 + $400) $2179. This is at the low end and does not include airfare and additional meals.
The China’s Best Treasures tour is 13 days, 2 days are travel days. This tour has inclusive pricing and travelers get to explore five destinations. The itinerary includes the same sights as the previous tour plus Chengdu, Longsheng, and Guilin. In Chengdu, you see pandas. In Guilin, you cruise on the Li River. In Longsheng, there is an exclusive hiking tour to the hidden Dragon Spine Terraces, inhabited by minority nationalities. For a solo traveler, this tour costs about $3319.
Of the two tours, I think the Middle Kingdom tour is the best one through China Spree. Several tour options are given for Xian, Beijing, and Shanghai which allows a traveler to customize this tour to their preferences. The Best Treasures of China is expensive for the experiences. I don’t understand how a tour company would take you to Chengdu and only show you pandas. Chengdu is in the Sichuan Province, the place for Sichuan cuisine and a short distance from LeShan, the giant Buddha. I can’t imagine going to Chengdu and paying to miss those experiences.