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China Spree or China Focus? Any suggestions?

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Susanville
posts: 3
China Spree or China Focus? Any suggestions?

My husband and I are planning a trip to China in Sept 2007. We are considering China Spree and China Focus. Has anyone been on one of these tours? Any information would be appreciated.

Alabama
posts: 4
reviews: 8
1. Re: China Spree or China Focus? Any suggestions?

Hello Susanville and anyone else,

My wife and I took Chinaspree's 21 day China Panorama tour in Sep 2006 and it was GREAT!!! We booked the tour in Apr and was a bit apprehensive about Chinaspree since there was not much info about them at that time.

I can tell you that Wilson Wu, the manger, is a most accommodating and polite person and is really interested in your satisfaction with his tours. On your return, you will be asked what can be done to improve the tour and your enjoyment.

Our national guide (Jim Mao) absolutely took very personal interest in each person's needs during the trip and we really felt that he was our personal guide. All the local guides were also really good.

One note of caution -- be in reasonably good physical condition before you leave -- the tours are, as advertised " an adventure" and you will be busy the entire time. (There were great sites throughout the tour but the best of all we experienced was the area around Guilin in southern China.)

Susanville
posts: 3
2. Re: China Spree or China Focus? Any suggestions?

Thank you for the information. How were the hotels and food? Was there a lot of shopping? We are looking for a tour that does not focus on the shopping, we want to see the sights.

Alabama
posts: 4
reviews: 8
3. Re: China Spree or China Focus? Any suggestions?

The hotels were good -- most rated as 4 Star. The rooms were well equipped but a bit small. I understand that Chinaspree is going for all 5 star hotels for 2007. One note of caution, be prepared to do your own laundry or pay the price of new item therefor. Look around and ask you local guide about laundries.

The food was very good. Thought I would really get tired of Chinese food in 3 weeks, but it was different from the Chinese food in the US and varied from one place to another. You do get American breakfasts and those are great, with all you can eat buffets.

There was not a lot of shopping and it was mostly "factory stores." Most of the stores were really showplaces with products made by the highest skilled craftsmen. Even in some of those stores, the rule of the day is to bargin -- start at no more than 50% of the asking price, if you do not get what you feel is a good buy, walk away and then you will see if your offer is OK. There is little pressure in these places. Anyway, you will enjoy the stores.

Give Wilson Wu a call at Chinaspree.

Morro Bay...
posts: 4
reviews: 9
4. Re: China Spree or China Focus? Any suggestions?

Hi.....

We strongly recommend ChinaSpree....

Before deciding on ChinaSpree we also checked lots of posts on travel blogs and other sites and everything we read about ChinaSpree was positive......

We were extremely pleased with ChinaSpree. We took the “China’s Best Treasures” tour in Nov '06. The guides were great....we had one with us the whole 2 weeks of our trip and individual guides were with us at the various cities. Very knowledgeable and spoke good English.

Coordination of the tour was also the best we have experienced! They kept us busy but it was not rush, rush.

We compared ChinaSpree’s tour with many on the web as we had been research a China trip for almost a year. ChinaSpree caps their groups at 20 (we had 13) and so many others we saw on our trip were 40+ so we really liked the small group....not so much waiting around for everyone to get done!

Also, many of the other tours don’t include as many meals as with ChinaSpree....I think during the whole 14 days we only had 3 or 4 meals on our own. The food is very good with buffet breakfasts (mix of American and Chinese foods) at the hotels and Chinese meals for lunch and dinner and plenty of food! There was quite a bit of variety with the Chinese meals although after 2 weeks it does get a little repetitious so you might want to take some favorite foods with you just as snacks or supplements.

Hotels were very nice as well...probably 4 star.

If your tour includes the Li River cruise, the hotel at the end of the cruise in Yangshuo is more a 2+ star due to it being in a small town.

One thing we disliked but is unavoidable is the factory tours. Some were interesting but others were just ok....since all tours are overseen & required by China’s travel department, these stops are just part of the experience.....several of the lunches are actually served in very nice restaurants right on the factory premises so you will see lots of other tour groups there as well.

Be sure to read the ChinaSpree page that covers much of what to expect on the trip. Exchanging money with Traverlers Checks in the hotels was easy and the exchange rate is fixed by the government. Also, take plenty of crisp $1 bills to use with the street vendors.....some excellent deals await.

As you can probably tell, we had a great time....if you do go in the summer though, be prepared for hot and humid weather.... the rainy season runs from May to Sept.... Starting in April and May, the summer rainy season monsoons hit the southern provinces of Guangdong, Guangxi, and Hainan. In June, the rains blow northward, and South China gets more rainfall with the poetic name, plum-rain weather, since this is the moment when plums mellow. North China greets its rainy season in July and August, says farewell in September; gradually in October the summer monsoons retreat from Chinese land.

So, good luck on planning your trips and if you do decide on ChinaSpree, we feel very confident that you will also have a wonderful time.

If you are interested, email me at billdog@mac.com and I will send you a link to our travel website that has some of the pics we took on our trip....

Happy travels.......

Palo Alto...
posts: 16
reviews: 4
5. Re: China Spree or China Focus? Any suggestions?

I took the 21 day Panorama tour with China Spree.

This has been my only tour.

I'll never book another.

If you are overweight and over 60, perhaps this tour is for you.

The food was OK except in Guilin.

September is a better time to go than June, July or August.

We spent 1 1/2 hours walking from one end of Tianamen Square to the far end of the Forbidden City. Out of 9,999 rooms, we saw 6. IT wasn't enough for me, but this might suit you just fine.

We stopped at several Tourist Traps. Most of the time there was a 3 minute lecture about what they were selling which at least made it interesting. Once, however, after seeing the great wall, we were forced to spend an hour and a half in a tourist trap where they wouldn't bargain and had inadequate air conditioning.

There was not enough free time to suit me. I'm not sure China Focus would be any different.

Sacramento
posts: 14
reviews: 40
6. Re: China Spree or China Focus? Any suggestions?

Our China Spree May '07 Best Treasures tour was terrific! All the replies to your msg are on target. Yes, you will huff and puff up many stairs, step over many 'ghost doors' and climb in/out of the bus too many times to count, so be in good physical shape and wear good supportive shoes. Have you climbed the Grand Canyon or the Statue of Liberty? same same. Obligatory factory stops can be interesting, no pressure to buy. Little time to shop elsewhere along the way, if that's your thing. Don't expect to do anything in depth - 200,000 plus artifacts in the Shanghai Museum - one hour to see it all. Ha! Expect to skim the surface of all the great sights, then plan a return trip to immerse yourself in what you liked most. Surprisingly, we really do want to go back again! China Spree U.S. office staff and in-country guides are competent, so trust them to do you right. Have fun!

7. Re: China Spree or China Focus? Any suggestions?

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Removed on: 6:55 pm, July 30, 2007
Los Angeles
posts: 10
reviews: 134
8. Re: China Spree or China Focus? Any suggestions?

I just came back from the China Panorama tour of 21 days length. I must admit that the heat/humidity/smog are really oppressive and if you can travel outside of the summer months I think China would be terrific.

Given that your tour operator has no control over the season, I think Chinaspree was fantastic and we will travel with them again in a heartbeat if we decide to go to China in the future. My family and I are not out of shape, have been on a few others tours, generally travel on our own, have lived in foreign countries and have seen much of the earth so we are not novices. I believe China can be done independently but only if you have lots of free time. If you are on a limited vacation schedule, a tour is the only way to go.

Having said that, I really do not think we compromised by using a tour. What most do not know is the cultural revolution actually destroyed most of their historic monuments so what you are seeing is a restoration. I felt we did have adequate time in most of the places we traveled.

The tours guides were competent, spoke english well, the hotels were mostly pretty good. Our means of transporation were more than adequate. We spent very little wasted time and were actually worked very hard (8AM to 8PM was not atypical). Keep in mind that one can always cut out of the tour and use only their hotels and transportation.

As to the food. Well...it is not at all like Chinese food in the USA. Wilson had warned us we would be tired of Chinese food and indeed many of us were. On a few occassions we went out on our own to western eateries.

In regards to tourist souvenir traps. I really did my research on this and spoke with many people. Seems this is a real problem with all tour groups and some are just plain rip offs in terms of daily stops. Wilson promised only four and that is what we got. I think we all knew the stops were about commissions so few purchased. At least at the silk factory, I enjoyed watching the machines as I had always been interested how the cocoons were unraveled in an industrial way.

So, I would say my family is very discerning but feel we got real value out of the Chinaspree program and would go with them again.

9. Re: China Spree or China Focus? Any suggestions?

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Removed on: 8:29 pm, September 20, 2007
Birmingham, AL
posts: 2
10. Re: China Spree or China Focus? Any suggestions?

October 2007. Just returned from a China Focus tour. I'm a very experienced traveler and can say this tops everything I've done before in Europe, the Middle East and Latin America. The accomodations were luxurious or far better than Holiday Inn types in America. And the food was marvelous. For the price -- guides, interenal flights and buses, hotels and all meals , as well as 3 shows and a river cruise, my 13 day trip couldn't be any better. The guides were well informed and humorous -- something not easily done in a second language.

lbuzzard

Birmingham