I booked Mark from the good reviews on tripadvisor. He was very responsive by email and easy to work with. I had full confidence going into the day. We Were supposed to meet driver Yang in the morning at 7:45 for a day at mutianyu and summer palace as Advertised on Marks website. The driver was on time but then we had to wait for him while he tried to get a map from the hotel. That was the first red flag. For the whole driver up to mutianyu, he kept calling another person and trying to meet up with him on the road. When I asked about it he finally admitted that he was not Yang. His name was Dong and he was helping Yang because Yang had another client and he was not familiar with the road and was helping him out. So when we finally caught up to Yang to follow him to the Great Wall, Yang drove like a crazy person, switching lanes, passing cars on winding 1 lane roads which made me and my kids feel very unsafe. Our driver Dong apologized and said he usually doesn't drive like this but since he doesn't know the way we have to follow him. We arrived at mutianyu about 45 minutes behind schedule. After we parked, our driver had no idea where to go and was calling for Yang who promptly ignored us, we finally found our way to the ticket booth and I told our driver Dong that we wanted to take the cable car up and the toboggan down. He told the ticket lady we didn't need bus tickets or entrance tickets. After we got the tickets he told us to go down the road and he would meet us by the restaurants when we wer done. We had no idea what to do down the road but when we got there and asked around we figured out we see supposed to board a shuttle. When we got to the front, they told us we didn't buy the right tickets and had to go all the way back to the entrance to buy the tickets, I called Dong and he said he had to call Yang to figure out what was going as he never comes here. After about 30 minutes back and forth we finally and the right tickets and went to wait for the shuttle which had a very long line now. Since we were so behind, we had to cut our stay at the wall by an hour.
Our next stop was summer palace and my friend rcommended a restaurant by there for lunch. I gaveDong the name and address but it was clear he had no idea where it was. He kind of said, I can look for it for you but let me recommend a place to eat. I thought he meant he was going to look it up on GPS but he did not, When I realized he was not going the right way to the restaurant, I told him to stop anywhere along the way to the summer palace. He ended up getting off the highway and going 20 minutes out of the way towards the city to his neighborhood and took us to a bun place that only sold 3 things since it was already 2 in the afternoon. We ate for 15 minutes then were on our way. Don't couldn't find the entrance to summer palace and then dropped us off on the south gate which I don't recommend. There are no sites there, only the lake. After walking around the lake for about an hour, we tried calling Dong to pick us up at the esst gate but he didnt answer so we hiked all the way back to the south gate to meet him. We had 2 kids in tow who were very tired at the point and dinner reservations with friends. We saw nothing at summer palace besides the lake. We should have been dropped off at the east gate where all the attractions are. We asked to be dropped off at a restaurant near our hotel where we were meeting friends. Don't did not know where it was and was asking other people . I found it in my GpS and said I could tell him where to go but he said he knew, On my GpS with traffic it estimated about 50 minutes. I asked Dong to take the route recommended by google maps but he insisted he knew the way and drive us right into traffic. The entire route was red on my google maps. We were crawling on the road for almost 2 hours and decided to walk the rest of the way to the restaurant.
Our driver was actually very nice and felt bad. He was just completely clueless and didn't know directions. Please use a GPS!! He was old and drove the only routes he knew which were not Efficient and had tons of traffic.
We were not given any water or a cell phone to use like what was stated in the email, Thank good I had my own phone but our driver didn't pick up 2/3 times.
Mark was informed about what happened in the morning whenI was furious. He did try to give us an extra hour and decrease our rate but to me, that was not the point. I have 2 young kids, they were tired, we had dinner plans that we had to get to and the morning just put the schedule off for the rest of the day. We ate lunch at 2pm!! For a 4 and 7 years old that is really difficult. Also, we had to cut our time short in both places and didn't not get to see what we wanted. Since this is the only time we will ever be in Beijing and that was the only day we had to see the 2 places it was s huge disappointment.
We have hired drivers in many countries including Indonesia, Thailand, Cambodia, etc since I have young kids. Every experience has been great but this is by far the worst I have ever encountered. I ruined our day and ruined our vacation and I would have been better off hiring s taxi driver off the street.