first time china



As this was my first time in China I was keen to see as much as possible. Yet I was aware of our limited time. Our China tours adviser guided us through our options and that whatever we wanted he could make happen. He gave us so much confidence, that we went for it and visited not only Beijing but also Xian and Shanghai. Although the possibility of where you can travel are endless, after talking to a few people they all said as these cities are so diverse, the best way to explore the culture is to visit all 3.

Beijing full of excellent restaurants and the Forbidden City

This turned out to be accurate. We found Beijing not only to be full of culture and history but also beauty. Our guide had been in the business for many years and was very informative, funny and friendly. Beijing through its capital history has accommodated emperors, governments and then me. We were impressed with the coming together of the old world with the new. Although people do tend to push to get photos of the inside of buildings, a little patient’s pays off. Our guide gave us loads of time to explore. At the wall traders can be very overpowering, however if you can barter it can be one of the best places to get a bargain. This surprised me as I normally find prices at sites elevated. 

After the wall we had a lovely lunch in a garden restaurant.  It was important to us to try and use chops sticks and respect Chinese manors and culture. Restaurants are so helpful when ordering, that you know your manors are necessary.  You also need to be aware that you might have trouble getting onto your face book account or other social net works, as this is band in China.  On our second day, as our hotel was so central, we went to the Forbidden City alone. After looking around for 10 minutes for the ticket office we realized it was signed the museum office. We also hired an electronic tour and at first got lovely and lost but this is a very modern device that follows you with satellite navigation.  It also took us a while to realise there is a map on the back that tells you where you are and where you’ve been, (I’m not even blonde but was in holiday mode).
blog china first time 1
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Tour to Xian and the Terra Cotta Army

Xian is a different city altogether. Even though it has been the capital city in times gone by. Other than the historical sites, like the terra cotta army and city walls, it is in a very bad state. From holes in the pavements to run down buildings. Even crossing the road can be dangerous as there doesn’t seem to be any rules on who has right of way. It is however still worth a trip out to the Muslim quarter for lunch on the street and in the evening. As Xian is famous for its dim sum, we visited a restaurant near the bell tower known for its dim sung buffet. We were ushered into a side room on our own to enjoy the meal, it was a great experience and the dim sung not only looked good in their different shapes and colours but tasted good as well.

Modern 21st Century Shanghai

Shanghai is a modern city that is pushing forward to keep in line with cities such as LA. With mile high sky scrapers and 21st century idea’s it shows a side of China that is evolving. This is not to say that there are not hidden Gems.  Within the city is a garden dating back hundreds of years that a son built for his father to rest in and “the bund” area shows different architecture throughout the years. We took a river cruse that showed the diversity of this city and it becomes easy to forget the culture and beliefs of this country. However you need to remember it is still deep routed, even here. Even our hotel was modern. This includes a state of the art shower!! It took me 10 minutes to figure out how it worked. It also boasts a wonderful night view of the city and a top floor restaurant. This made breakfast a whole new experience. However their dinner menu seemed expensive. So we headed off down the night market opposite the hotel and soon found ourselves in a nice restaurant.

All in all we found our trip to be a great experience and did so much that we will be remembering things for months. Many of the things we had worried about, like pollution in the cities were tenuous. We were glad we’d included transport and tours within our trip, as it takes away a lot of stress. This reassured us because as we left the train at Beijing; we become part of a massive crowd moving as one. Although security is always on your mind, everyone seemed to move in their own space. There was no pushing and shoving but it was still a relief to find our guide waiting at the exit. You really do feel that should anything happen, this company is there for you, even thousands of miles from home.

Guest blog entry

This is the fifth and last in a series of 5 articles written by guest blogger Louisa Howard who recently completed a Trans-Siberian tour with us from Moscow to Shanghai via the Trans-Mongolian, Beijing and Xian.



Siberia's Top 5

Siberia is one of the highlights of a Trans-Siberian journey and most visitors will undoubtedly have at least one stop in this magnificent region.

A Plumb Adventure

The Trans-Siberian Travel Company's staff member Chris Plumb took an epic journey from Vladivostok to St Petersburg visa Mongolia and the Tsars Gold train.

Trips Avoiding China

In the past most tourists have focused on the Trans-Mongolian to Beijing but in recent years the Trans-Siberian line to Vladivostok has become increasingly popular.

Visiting St Petersburg

Is it worth adding on a visit to the second city of Russia; St Petersburg? After all, it isn’t strictly a part of the Trans Siberian or Mongolian train lines.

Moscow Metro

There are so many options of tours in Moscow but a Metro tour should be the top of everyone’s list and is one of our favourites with plenty of surprises!

Irkutsk & Lake Baikal

One of the most popular stops on any Trans Mongolian or Trans Siberian Railway tour is the wonderful Siberian city of Irkutsk and nearby Lake Baikal.

Destination Ekaterinburg

Ekaterinburg is the fourth largest city in Russia and one of the most popular stops on the Trans-Siberian Railway offering up history and rural Russia in the Urals.

Moscow's Kremlin

Literally meaning “fortress inside a city” the Moscow Kremlin refers to the fortified collection of palaces and cathedrals that look over Red Square.

St Petersburg's Hermitage

The State Hermitage is one of the world’s oldest museums having been founded by Catherine the Great 250 years ago and has been open to the public for over 160 years.

First Time China

As this was my first time in China I was keen to see as much as possible. We settled on Beijing, Xian and Shanghai which offer great contrasts.

Platform Life

This trip is full of discovery but you have to also get up and go out on the platforms to find the most exciting experiences to complete your Trans-Siberian trip.

Train Life

Guest blog entry describing life on board a Trans-Siberian train and the daily coming and going and routines you get into on a long train ride.

What Route to Take

When first exploring into the Trans Siberian railway, one of the first questions to ask yourself is which way to go. Here our guest blogger gives her views.

Moscow Impressions

First in a series of 5 articles written by guest blogger Louisa Howard who completed a Trans-Mongolian trip with us from Moscow all the way to Shanghai.

Trans-Siberian History

Learn about the history of this extraordinary railway in our brief guide to the construction and importance of the train routes across Russia and to China.

Tsars Gold Train

The Tsars Gold private train is one of several that run tours just for tourists in a good level of comfort along the Trans-Mongolian route. Learn more here.

Life On Board

What is a Siberian train really like? Here we go into detail about what you experience on the trains and how they really are and what facilities they have.

Destination Vladivostok

Vladivostok lies at the Far Eastern end of the Trans-Siberian railway and has been a city that has had an important part in the history of several countries.

Destination Krasnoyarsk

One of the lesser know destinations available for Trans-Siberian Tours is a stopover in the city of Krasnoyarsk despite being the third largest in Siberia.

About Siberia

With a total size of 13.1 million square miles Siberia takes up three quarters of Russia’s total size and a tenth of the whole world’s surface - learn more.

Off The Beaten Track

Learn about our Off The Beaten track rail tours that visit destinations less visited along the Siberian and Trans-Mongolian rail routes including Kazan and Krasnoyarsk.

Gers in Winter

One of the Highlights of a Trans-Siberian Tour is Mongolia and a night or two out at a ger camp on the steppe. How about visiting Mongolian ger camps in winter?

Visa Requirements

There are few nationalities that can take a Trans-Siberian trip visa free. This article intends to shed some light on the paperwork required by most.

Bogie Changing

Whether you are a train aficionado or not one of the more unusual Trans-Siberian tours experiences available to the traveller occurs at the Chinese borders.

Planning A Trip

For many people the idea of how to start organizing their Trans Siberian holiday is a daunting task. Here is a beginner’s guide to deciding what’s best for you.

Trans-Siberian in Winter

Winter is a very special time to travel the Trans-Siberian but many might be put off by the cold. This article will hopefully convince you to dress up warm and travel!

Accommodation Options

One of the joys of Trans-Siberian is the wide variety of accommodation on offer. Here we list some of the best options for the most popular stop overs.

Destination Kazan

Kazan is half way between Moscow and Ekaterinburg and an increasingly popular stop on Trans-Siberian trips for its exciting mix of cultures from East and West.

Trans-Siberian Routes

In this article we discuss the different Trans-Siberian route options available including the Trans-Manchurian, Trans-Mongolian and the Baikal Amur Mainline.

Who Travels The Trans-Siberian

Using the public trains in Russia who are you likely to come across on your Trans-Siberian travels. Here we discuss the different groups you are likely to find.

Train Classes

Picking the right train class can make all the difference on a Trans-Siberian train trip where so much time is spent on board. Learn about the different train classes here.

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