When booking tours independently with other organizations specialized in the countries they work out of, it is always a nerve-twisting experience to make sure you don’t get a) scammed or b) over pay for an itinerary that really isn’t planned out well.

In the short week Semester at Sea allotted for us in China, it was important to see as much as possible without paying outrageous prices with unnecessary perks that Semester at Sea offers. Of course, Semester at Sea offers the luxury of five-star hotels, complete with a bowling alley inside. However for the budget traveler, especially on such an elaborate voyage to begin with, other tour groups sound more affordable.

A classic favourite of Semester at Sea students opting out of the Semester at Sea trips, but still wanting to tour Beijing and the Great Wall is The China Guide. Used time and time again throughout the semesters, the China Guide was able to still pleasantly surprise.  They were helpful and considerate of our time frame and even designed specific itineraries for students of Semester at Sea.

They proved to show us the most cultural side of Beijing, visiting local preserved neighbourhoods of the Huton. They showed us the modern side of Beijing allowing us to stroll on the grounds of where the 2008 Beijing Olympics took place and sample the various different cuisines of China, like the famous hot pot.  However what really hit the tip of the ice berg for me was that they are the only tourist organization that takes its groups up to sleep on the Great Wall of China. They provided sleeping bags and mats and in the colder months from November to March you get two sleeping bags. You have the option of sleeping out on the wall under the stars or you can take shelter in one of the watch towers. Meals are included on the wall and you wake up to the sun rise before you with warm coffee available.

The guides were helpful, spoke English very well, and are even young enough to relate to students and younger audiences. However are still very professional when on duty and will make your stay more than enjoyable. They cater towards all ages; even children and elderly are welcomed.

Click Here to visit The China Guide

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