My spouse and I lately returned dwelling from Nexus Holidays’ 10-day “China Discovery” tour (Might 2018). Observe that this “10-day” bundle is admittedly an 8-day trip, on condition that journey to/from China prices you a day in both course. In different phrases, we truly spent Eight nights in resorts in China.
Right here is my try and reply just a few key questions and supply suggestions on our journey & Nexus Holidays. Perhaps this can make it easier to determine if this sort of trip bundle is best for you.
Q: Did we take pleasure in China? A: Sure.
We liked visiting China. We all know we barely scratched the floor of such a giant, various nation — however we actually loved travelling there, assembly so many clever, joyful, hard-working folks and seeing so many lovely, attention-grabbing locations. This was our first journey to China, and we’re joyful we selected an escorted tour in a rustic with a comparatively small variety of English-speaking folks. It was additionally a surprisingly low-stress approach to journey – as a result of a lot of the considering & planning was executed by others. Our primary function was merely to show-up. General, this (low-cost) journey positively exceeded our expectations.
Q: Did we expect Nexus Holidays was a good selection? A: Sure.
This was our first escorted tour, so I am unable to examine Nexus Holidays to opponents (akin to Gate-1 Journey or Sinorama) which provide related low-cost trip packages. However total, I feel Nexus did a great job planning and implementing a really pleasurable low-cost tour of China. Previous to the journey we interacted — principally by e-mail — with Nexus staff positioned in San Francisco & Chicago. They have been clearly very busy — however they have been responsive and at all times did what they mentioned they might do. They informed us they’d assign our flights inside 30 days of our departure date, they’d assign our resorts inside 10 days of departure, return our journey visas in time for our departure, and so forth. — and every thing occurred precisely as promised.
However I feel the true secret to Nexus Holidays’ success is their tour guides: Kelly met us after we arrived on the airport in Shanghai, and Jing took over after we flew to Beijing. Each Kelly & Jing are very skilled guides and communicate English completely. Each did an exquisite job escorting us, taking good care of us, maintaining us busy (however not too busy), educating us about life in trendy China, and ensuring we have been having a great time.
Q: What was included within the worth? A: Lots – see beneath.
Airfare: We flew from Seattle on Hainan Airways, which was wonderful. Our checked baggage, onboard snacks, meals, drinks (together with wine), blankets, pillows, video & audio leisure, earbuds, and so forth., have been all included. Our tour bundle additionally included a home flight from Shanghai to Beijing.
Resorts: All have been wonderful — higher locations than what we usually select when travelling within the US or Europe. Some have been acquainted manufacturers, akin to Vacation Inn or Days Inn — however our resorts in China have been extra luxurious than these working beneath the identical identify within the US. I feel our greatest lodge was the Days Inn Baile in Wuxi, a phenomenal new 23-story constructing which served us breakfast on the highest ground. We actually loved spending time within the adjoining shopping center & grocery store. Our solely actual grievance was that among the chosen resorts have been positioned nicely outdoors town middle, removed from primary vacationer websites.
Meals: All resorts offered a whole breakfast buffet. They have been all completely different however each was wonderful, with too many American and Chinese language meals choices to checklist. We significantly loved eggs, meat, and recent fruit (akin to watermelon, dragon fruit & pineapple) every morning, nevertheless it was additionally enjoyable to pattern such objects as steamed buns & sauted lotus root. Our journey additionally included a number of lunches and a few dinners, as proven on the itinerary from Nexus.
Transportation: We rode in every single place door-to-door on comfy older coach buses. There was loads of room and the AC labored nice — however as a result of they have been older buses, there have been no USB ports.
The principle vacationer websites: As promised, visits to the Forbidden Metropolis, Tiananmen Sq. & Summer season Palace (in Beijing), Olympic Village (additionally in Beijing), a stroll on the Nice Wall (outdoors Beijing), The Bund & the Metropolis God Temple Bazaar (in Shanghai), and different attention-grabbing locations within the cities of Wuxi, Suzhou, and Hangzhou have been all included.
Q: How was the “pressured purchasing”? A: No drawback.
Observe that subsidies from numerous purchasing venues enable Nexus Holidays and its opponents to supply these low-costs excursions — in any other case, they might lose cash. So if you wish to journey to China at rock-bottom costs, be ready to buy groceries! We had learn evaluations on every purchasing cease forward of time on TripAdvisor, so we knew what to anticipate. I encourage you to learn the evaluations. On our journey, we averaged about 1 purchasing tour per day. Our purchasing stops included jade jewellery & carvings, silk clothes & bedding (lovely & luxurious!), silk embroidery (REALLY lovely!), cloisonne, natural medication (meh!), inexperienced tea, pearls, and even latex mattresses (very top quality but in addition very costly, even with free delivery to the U.S.).
Some purchasing stops have been positively higher than others — nevertheless it depends upon what pursuits you. We purchased objects akin to silk & tea — however at different stops, we selected to not purchase something. Most often, we selected to have a look at these excursions as an opportunity to study extra about Chinese language traditions & tradition. My recommendation: If in case you have hassle saying “No thanks”, this MAY NOT be a great tour for you.
Given such unhealthy evaluations for the Chinese language Natural Drugs Institute (have you ever ever seen something with dozens of evaluations on TripAdvisor, rated at only one star?), I used to be initially shocked that these excursions nonetheless cease there — however just a few members of our tour group did buy medicinal herbs. Once more, I’d counsel studying the evaluations on-line.
Q: What does this bundle deal REALLY price? A: It depends upon which choices you select.
We initially discovered this trip bundle supplied in a weekly “prime 20 finest journey offers” e-mail from TravelZoo.com, with a lowest marketed base worth of $399 (for Spring journey). This assumes that you simply fly from a serious U.S. airport on the West Coast — different cities naturally price extra (as a consequence of greater airfare). Observe that the identical 10-day bundle prices considerably extra if booked throughout peak season in the summertime — when the climate is often scorching & muggy (particularly in Shanghai & close by cities) and all vacationer websites are extra crowded. Our selection of late April/early Might was a great one, given the bottom attainable worth, good climate, and light-weight crowds. Our solely closely crowded day was Might 1 — Labor Day in China — as a result of so many locals have been off work that day.
So — the bottom worth was $399 per individual. Then we selected Nexus Holidays to get journey visas for us — at $190 every. They usually additionally charged us $100 every for “necessary gratuity”. That appears a bit flaky, as a result of that cash was not a gratuity and it didn’t truly go to our guides in China. I feel it will have been extra sincere for Nexus to name it “revenue”, slightly than “gratuity”. OK — so our $399 journey is now $689, and we’ve not added any “choices” but. We selected so as to add a number of elective excursions ($50 for an evening cruise on the river via downtown Shanghai, $30 for a canal boat trip in Suzhou, $79 for an outside present on West Lake in Hangzhou, $60 for an acrobatic present at Circus World in Shanghai, and $79 for a rickshaw tour via an previous “hutong” neighborhood in Beijing). By the best way — all of our elective excursions have been great. Extremely beneficial!
So whenever you add all of it up, that “$399 bundle deal” actually price about $1000 per individual. Do we expect it was nonetheless a great deal at that worth? ABSOLUTELY!
Along with paying for the bundle tour, we additionally purchased numerous souvenirs & items alongside the best way, and naturally just a few lunches & dinners not offered by Nexus. Meals in China was typically fairly cheap. And we additionally tipped each of our tour guides. You’ll need to finances accordingly.
In case you’ve by no means been to Asia, that is prone to be an incredible starter journey for you.