Tuesday, November 12, 2013

HKG - SZX - ZHU - MFM : A four city tour review

Just recently I booked my family and I a trip to Hong Kong - Shenzhen, Zhuhai, and Macau from a local travel agency here located in Vigan. I got this all inclusive package from CashCashPinoy. It looked like a very sweet deal as it was just PHP 19000 per head, food + accommodation + flight + tours + visa. <exclusive of the travel tax and terminal fee> So It looked enticing and decided to book my whole family <minus dad> so it was 6 of us. Lucky you Aboex Travel and Tours, about PHP 120,000 in just a day. What I thought would be great idea did not turn out so great after all. I was in such high hopes after my Korea Travel Agency experience that I failed to realize that this might be a failure.

Windows of the World Entrance

So here are my conclusions about this trip/ travel agency:
  • Almost everything was paid for. Only had to pay 25USD for the fountain show and 10 USD for the Shijing Shan Park Cable.
  • English proficient tour guide though the guide from Macau could have been more "clear".
  • Have a PHL guide from the travel agency - someone you can ask if you cannot reach the local guide
  • Network with people from the tour.
  • Hotel accommodation was proper and spacious. Well heated and clean sheets.
  • No hassle for doing the visa or booking the flight.
  • Shenzhen guide acted as a money exchange. He <Lee> was well prepared and very accommodating with guests' needs.
  • PHL guide was alert and always did head counts before moving to another destination
  • Not much idle time to sit and do nothing
  • Coach buses were comfortable
  • Did not have enough time for Disneyland.
  • Not following the itinerary set, did not visit Macau tower, etc.. Gave priority in allowing guests to purchase on the "designated areas". Did not consider other guests waiting. 
  • Issues with the guests affected other guests. Late arrival on the meeting place. Detention on airport.
  • PHL guide did not know the time schedule of activities and fully relied on the local tour guide
  • PHL guide cannot answer or was unsure of basic questions like what is the water fountain show, macau currency, etc..
  • Poor coordination with guests in terms of time schedule and airline checkin. Had the worst checkin ever, waited 1 hour in line cause was put on the list last by the PHL guide
  • Food was bad. <except disneyland and macau foodcourt> It was the same food all throughout. No variety. Even the food served on hotels.
  • Hotel did not have wifi access. 
  • No fixed time for each itinerary item.
Final words:
This trip is best done or taken if you do not have a thing for coordinating trips and are okay to wait for other people. Schedule will not be followed and you will definitely be tired. If you are not fond of commuting, getting travel agency services is perfect as you no longer have to worry about anything but follow the guide. Food requests will not be considered so you must have a strong stomach. Will not recommend this type of tour or trip for too young or old people. It is okay for adult couples who just want to enjoy the company of one another. Do research about a travel plan or even an agency before booking, make sure that it fits well to the style you are comfortable with...this way you can enjoy the well deserved vacation you need.
Me at Japan: Windows of the World
For your appreciation this is our planned itinerary:
Day 1: arrived at Hong Kong Airport around 10 AM (left the airport at 11AM since we waited for one guest),then we headed to a local restaurant (not good food),visit Movie Star Avenue and took pictures for 45 mins <Bruce Lee, Jacky Chan, and Jet Li),Jewellery Company to check jade and diamond (learned that the best carat is 18K carat) and Chocolate paradise (which is just a small store of chocolates),then proceed to Disneyland with Dinner mean coupon worth about HKD$90+,after DL firework display ,proceeded to SZX by bus, went to china border <had an issue with a fellow tour mate getting sick>, then bus to Royal Century Hotel <5 start to sleep, arrived 10 PM>.
Day 1 Snapshots
Me at Tarzan's House

----- COMMENT ----- Day 1 was a series of delays and I could definitely have been executed better. It was bad that we had to wait <almost 2/3 hours> for others. Proper planning, accountability and coordination could have prevented this. Disneyland time was definitely not enough. On an upside the bus rides were pleasant and was not too long. The guide Brenda was fluent in English and communicating with her was no problem.

Day 2: Woke up at 7 AM Royal Century Hotel buffet breakfast <not good, too crowded>,check out hotel at 8 AM, took coach bus SZX city tour with lunch: visit Mangrove Tee Park <did not happen>, Jade shop <pretty awesome, we managed to buy the animal guardian called "pai shu" for $X cause it came with a lot of freebies like baby pai shu and jade boat. Bringing it back home was definitely a challenge due to its weight. Learned a lot about Jade here. Stayed here for about 3 hours I think>, Bamboo& Carbon Store <bought a whole lot of bamboo items, caution for the hair towel...it does not work>, lunch at local restaurant <not yummy food>, Luohu city shopping center <nothing much to buy, wholesale fake stuff>, visit the Window of the World <place was really cool...i will come back to china just to visit this again, time allotted was not enough>, dinner at local restaurant, paid $25 to watch the water show <it was okay>, proceed to Zhuhai, transfer to Jumbo Hotel, check in at 11 PM.
Day 2 Snapshots
Jumbo Hotel

----- COMMENT -----Day 2 was all about shopping, a great emphasis on getting to consumer to spend money. The jade shop and bamboo store was well appreciated since you get to learn a lot from the simple introduction speeches done by the admin there. The stuff I bought at the bamboo store are okay, but the hair towel does not work effectively. The Luohu city shopping center could have been skipped as there is not much to see there. Personally I would have preferred more time on the Window of the World. The fountain show at the Water Show Theater is nice but the dance coordination could have been better. The theatrics, lights, and music were awesome. Caution here that people will get wet. Bring umbrellas or rain coats if you have kids with you. Btw, try to buy the tickets yourself...our tour guide earned a couple of yuan since he charged us more than the published price on the ticket. The hotel rooms were okay, a bit dirtier than the one in SZX. My room did not have a plug, luckily my sisters have one.
Day 3woke up at 6 AM to pack things, hotel breakfast <really awful, no filling dishes>, check out hotel, took bus to do the Zhuhai city tour: saw the Lady Fisher's Statue <stopped a while to take photo>, Shijing Shan park (paid 10HKD for the cable car and cable way), went to a traditional chinese medicine factory <got a free foot massage and bought 600KHD worth of herbs>, decent lunch at local restaurant, then proceed to Macau by passing the border, upon arriving stopped by Ruins of St Paul.Section of Old City Walls to take photos and buy souvenirs, <skipped Senado Square, Temple of A-ma, Macau Tower(OPTIONAL TO LEVEL 58 & 61) due to lack of time>,then transferred to Venetian hotel with dinner meal coupon, transfer to Macau airport by coach, flight back to Manila. 
Day 3 Snapshots
Menu Card for Venetian Meal Voucher

----- COMMENT ----- Day 3 passed by with the speed of a breeze. We did a lot of things in the morning but ended up not doing anything upon getting to Macau: took some photos, bought egg tarts. That was all that time permitted. Shijing Shan park was cool, loved the cable way! You must definitely try it. Buy some traditional chinese medicine, they have this special ointment that smells like Vicks. I on the other hand was diagnosed by a doctor there to have this blood problem by looking at my palm, I ended up paranoid and buying the cheaper herbs.

Hope this blog post helps you. Feel free to post your questions. Cheers! 


profliza said...

I was contemplating on booking for this tour with my son come semester break, but your review turned us off. We do NOT travel for shopping, as most items are readily available in the Philippines, thanks to globalization. :-) We are more of the 'live the moment' travelers.

Seems the 3-day package is super fast-paced with very few time to sleep, but more time for waiting fellow tourists and buying local stuff. These are the two things my son 'hates'.

Thanks for this very enlightening post, we will NOT proceed.

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