My sister and I chose the 3-day custom private tour. I had many questions and ideas beforehand, which were all answered before we arrived. The company added places that I mentioned I would like to see and arranged our schedule to accommodate it all!
Our tour guide, Serena, was amazing! She was very knowledgeable of each place and was patient with our slow pace, millions of questions, and fascinations with mundane things we don’t see anymore in the US. Even locals we encountered during our outtings were amazed by her and would follow us around listening to her explain things to us in English. We enjoyed very much experiencing Beijing with her. If I could rate her 10 stars I would.
Our driver, Mr. Jong (?), was great and was always there when we needed him for a respite from walking. Having the private vehicle was one of the best things about this tour. It eliminated the walking and stress of getting from one place to another. An added bonus... the car was a great place to keep all the stuff we bought throughout the day so we didn’t have to carry it!
We loved the tour guide (Joe) and rickshaw driver that Serena arranged for our tour of a hutong in the Houhai Lake area. Joe rode his bicycle next to us while we were in the rickshaw and explained everything we saw. He brought us to some cool places to see how people live and to eat at a family’s home.
Overall, this was the best trip I have ever taken. We felt safe, were kept engaged, and although we are foreigners, we neve felt out of place. Locals were friendly and curious about us. It was an absolute necessity to have Serena with us at all times in order to translate for us so we could interact with the locals. We could have done a few things on our own but would not have gotten as much out of it without being able to talk to people or learn in depth about the places we visited. Having a car and our schedule arranged for us allowed us to see a ton of places! Otherwise, we would have wasted time figuring out maps and public transportation, waiting in lines, trying to buy tickets ourselves, etc. We would not have been able to do even half of what we saw without this tour. It is expensive when you only have 2 people on the tour but it was worth every penny!! I can’t wait to go back to Beijing!