CHOICE membership

Wendy Wu tours to China


#1

Planning to visit China September or October of this year.
Choice Travel website is very informative,
also the tripADeal review was a bit of an eye opener.
I picked up a Wendy Wu Tours to China brochure at the recent Travel Expo, there are many very interesting tours on offer in it, but before I make my selection I was wondering if anyone has had a personal, recent, experience with any WWT to China which they would care to share. It would be much appreciated.


#2

Haven’t any first hand experience with Wendy Wu, but the travel agency has been around for many years and should be reasonably reliable as they specialise in east Asian tours.

Our first trip to China we used Helen Wong. Like Wendy Wu, Helen Wong has been around for a long time. Since then we have done independent travel to China (and also lived there as well). If it is you first trip to China, it can be a bit daunting and a tour is the better option.

Out of interest, which Wendy Wu tour are you thinking of doing?

The main attractions in China are (which can be googled to see if they interest you):

  • Beijing attractions and Great Wall
  • Xian City Wall and Entombed Warriors
  • Guilin/boat trip on the River Li
  • Yangtse River/Three Gorge Dam cruise
  • Chengdu (Panda research centre, Emei Shan/Great Buddah and Huanglong and Jiuzhaigou National Parks)
  • TIbet (Lhasa/Potala Palace and surrounding countryside)
  • Harbin Ice Festival

Most tours include Shanghai and to me is a bit of a hit and miss unless one likes big cities and contrasting modern Chinese architecture.

Nanjing is also interesting city as well and has more history and sights than Shangahi (Purple Mountain, city walls, presidential place etc) There are also water towns in the lower Yangtse river also worth a day trip (such as Zhoujiang)

Also ignore the advice about taking US dollars. AUDs are just as exchangeable in China with good rates, even in more remote areas off the main tourist trails. Credit cards aren’t widely accepted.

Wiki travel also has some useful general information:

https://wikitravel.org/en/China


#3

Wendy Wu have outstanding reviews on TripAdvisor and Product Review.

Looks like you picked a winner. Enjoy your tours.

image


#4

Hiya Gaby

My best friend went on a Wendy Wu tour to China and thoroughly enjoyed herself.

She said that it was very well organised, they stayed in lovely Hotels and travelled to interesting places with Tour guides that were very well versed in Chinese culture and history.
She was so happy with her tour she has booked another one with Wendy Wu for later this year.
Enjoy your travels! and I hope this helps with your choice.
Cheers Natalie :wink:


#5

Thank you @phb, yes my first trip to China! Looking at Classic China or Exquisite China. Interesting to learn you lived in China!:slightly_smiling_face:

Thank you @Fred123, shall look closely into the links you forwarded!:slightly_smiling_face:

Thank you @njfking, I’m encouraged to hear of your friend positive experience with WWT. :slightly_smiling_face:

Thanks to all for your good wishes!:blush:


#6

The tours looks reasonable and will give you a taste of China. It is also worth looking at Helen Wong as well as she has a similar reputation to Wendy Wu.

If you do end up/start in Shanghai at the end/start of the tour, see if you can extend your stay in Shanghai by a few days if you like gardens. It is possible to do a day trip to Suzhou and see some of the National Gardens…itnis also possible to do a day trips to one ofthe water toens…there b are a few a short distabce from Shangahi and quite interesting.

Likewise with Beijing an extra few days to explore yourself is worth it.

Also, avoid eating any meals (other than that included in the tour) in hotels. There will be good, cheap restaurants near hotels which will offer some of the local foods and delicacies. Don’t worry about language barrier doing such as if you take an app like Google Translate, you can usually work things out. The local restaurants have fresh and fantastic foods quite different to the western style Cantonese T’away food outlets in Australia.

When selecting a local restaurant, a busy one full of locals usually means the food is very good. These are the ones to eat at.


#7

As @phb stated.

In 1998, my wife and I attended a business seminar on the Gold Coast, and we walked down the main drag to find somewhwre to eat at.

We walked past a flash Chinese restaurant in which many of the other seminar attendees were eating but there was a very conspicious absence of Asian diners.

We walked on, and around the corner we saw a sign for an Asian restaurant which occupied the second and third floors of a building on the next corner and we proceeded up the stairs.

It was packed with Asian diners. The service was great, the food was fantastic, and the prices were very reasonable.

Next morning of the seminar, we asked some of the attendees we had seen in the fancy restaurant about their experience, and they advised it was terrible.

Since then I have used a policy of seeing if their are many, or any, Asians eating in an Asian restaurant before eating there.

If the restaurant is not good enought for them, I avoid it like the plague.


#8

We had booked with our travel agent a Wendy Wu tour of China and paid the deposit in advance. Unfortunately because of family circumstances we were not able to do the tour and had to cancel (our insurance did not cover the situation). Wendy Wu would not refund the $600 even though it was about 7 months out from the tour start. Based on our experience I suggest you exercise extreme caution when dealing with Wendy Wu and perhaps look at other operators.


#9

Thank you @john.blakey for kindly sharing your experience with cancellations for WW tours. Don’t think you were treated fairly.


#10

@john.blakey makes a good point. It is worth checking the terms of conditions for cancellations, including deposit refunds in the case that ones changes their mind (or needs to cancel for reasons not covered by travel insurance such as can’t afford to pay for the remainder of the holiday when it is due) in relation to travel.

Often in most cases deposits are non-refundable, but may be transferable to a different date, when the customer cancels the travel. This is something to be aware of before making a financial commitment for a future holiday.


#11

Noting that describing Tibet as “in China” is politically contentious.


#13

John Blakey, Isn’t that what travel insurance is for? As soon as you have booked and paid for anything on a trip from flights to accommodation, tours etc you get your travel insurance. Then if you cannot do the trip your insurance would pay the non-refundable bits the travel organisations won’t refund.

As they say:“If you cant’afford travel insurance, you can’t afford to travel”. And as you can see it is worth it even before you actually travel.


#14

I believe from the post that travel insurance was faken out however didn’t provide cover as the grounds for the cancellation were excluded by the policy terms and conditions. All travel insurance polices have exclusions where cover is not provided. This website provides some examples of cancellations which are not covered by the insurance policy cover…

These exclusions are similar to most other policies available for purchase.

It is important to understand these if one takes out travel insurance and there is a chance that the holiday may not be taken because of one of these exclusions.


#15

Quite possibly but John didn’t mention he had insurance, so just thought I’d throw that into the mix. John was dealing with Wendy Wu travel agent and it was them that did not refund the full amount. That’s all.


#16

It is very importsnt to have travel insurance as you indicated in the event that travel can’t be undertaken and the insurance covers reimbursement of travel costs.

Smart Traveller also provides good information on why travel isnurance should be taken…


#17

For the record, their web site states the following condition regarding cancellation charges: “2. More than 75 days prior to departure; loss of deposit plus any administration fees”

So you are lucky that Wendy Wu did not hit you for administration fees ! (or maybe they did?)

Is the above quoted condition reasonable? There’s no right or wrong answer but in my opinion, it is inflexible and seems unreasonable. They should have an additional clause for cancellation even further in advance.

They would obviously know better than we do the likelihood of being able to fill one or more places on a given tour given X months notice of cancellation. For a high demand tour, it is likely that they will be able to fill the place and the loss on cancellation to you should be less and hence you should book well in advance (at your risk). For a low demand tour, it is more likely that they will not be able to fill the place and the loss on cancellation to you should be greater and hence you should book closer to the date (thereby reducing your risk).

However I can understand that they want to keep the conditions simple and just give some numbers that average out over all their tours.

I looked at one other tour company and their conditions were even worse (slightly). So looking at other operators may not help unless you can point to another company that offers much better cancellation conditions.


#18

Agree that their cancellation policy is inflexible, however, I expect that Wendy Wu (or any other tour company) would incur costs when a booking is made. I expect that these costs may include the time of their own personnel and potentially costs associated with reserving accommodation and potentially flights. Their T&Cs in relation to cancellation are not dissimilar to other tour operators in the industry. As you found out, many other tour operators have more limiting cancellation conditions.

Reserving seats on flights early can mean cheaper flights are booked…and if this has occurred, I expect that they may be at the whim of the airlines in relation to their cancellation policies and fees. Airlines also don’t allow a ticket to be transferred to another party…I suspect that this is even more a risk in the past 20 years, in the modern terrorism age.

In the event of a cancellation which is potentially within your control (namely something which was caused by your own circumstances), should the service provider (tour company, accommodation or airline) or insurer be responsible for these? I am of the view that unfortunately all risks associated with travel can’t be removed and some responsibilities are taken on by insurance companies (mainly event outsides one control) and the individual traveller (with events in ones control).

I personally wouldn’t dismiss the services of Wendy Wu because one had a cancellation which dd not result in the return of the paid deposit by either Wendy Wu or the travel insurer.

It would however be interesting to hear if anyone works for a travel/tour agency and can give an idea of the costs incurred after the booking of a holiday and payment of a deposit.


#19

I agree. Administration costs could reasonably be recouped by the company even if you cancel a year (or more) in advance. That includes the original cost of doing the booking and then the additional cost of processing the cancellation.

As far as the cost of flights goes, I didn’t quote that part (because I don’t know whether it is relevant) but that is covered separately in the Wendy Wu Booking Conditions. Basically for “airline and rail tickets” you could lose up to 100% of the fare. I assume that this is because it is outside Wendy Wu’s control. If the airline or rail company refuses to offer a refund then Wendy Wu shouldn’t have to go beyond that.

Wendy Wu’s conditions could be more reasonable though e.g. they could guarantee to refund whatever the airline or rail company refunds, less an administration fee for their hassle.

This is one of the problems in having a chain of companies. The airline or rail company in this situation may not be bound by the ACL.

I agree. You can’t expect that all risks can be pushed onto someone else.

That is unclear. The description does not say whether the “family circumstances” were within the traveller’s control. They may have been outside the conditions covered by the travel insurance but also outside the control of the traveller.


#20

Establishing a good customer relationship is not valued anymore? Surely they lost more financially now that @ John.blakey very understandably will not travel with them anymore. To me it’s not the T&C that are a problem, but the inflexibility: surely 7 months is long time for a cancellation to be replaced by a new booking!
I hope that Travel Insurance, which I always take out, and will look at more closely now that I ever did before, will not take over the topic: please, personal, recent experience with the WW tours. Thank you.


#21

We booked with Wendy Wu to do an independent tour of China for myself and my husband in 2018. Told them where we wanted to go and they came up with excellent itinerary, guides to meet us at airports, great safe drivers, excellent hotels etc etc. Everything worked a treat. I had been worried about meeting guides at big airports and train stations, but no worries there at all. We would have paid more, but it was worth it to have such great service and insights into the country, from their local staff and good recommendations where to eat. Sometimes we paid the guides meal as well to experience the best of menus, when this had not been included.

Really recommend using WeChat in China if you do social media as Facebook and Face Time mostly do not work, and we used this with hotel WIFI to video with friends and family back home, and also communicate with the guides etc in China.

It did take time to arrange all this with Wendy Wu though, so do not leave until last minute.