China: The Long Haul Family Adventure

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In general, Halboth cites the company’s Monograms brand as the ideal family travel style, particularly for a long-haul destination the family’s never visited and for families with younger children. With Monograms, travelers can avoid the bus tour scenario and yet—because China is a very exotic destination—still travel with the kind of hand-holding support from local Monograms guides, making the vacation experience worry-free. “Monograms completely allows that—it gives you all the help that you would get on a tour with the local hosts, who take care of all the sightseeing and the transfers, but you’re also completely on your own, you’re completely spending your time together on a family vacation.”

Avalon Waterways, still another Globus product, offers Yangtze River cruises, but as Halboth points out, “Those vacations have a tendency to be a little bit longer, although I know some operators really try and sell the cruises as kind of an ideal family style. But I truly feel that Monograms is probably a little better situated to really cater to a great family vacation. Unless the kids are a little older, a river cruise can be a little bit confining and there’s probably a lot of things built into it that would keep everybody too much on the go. So, I think Monograms is better for a family vacation than a Yangtze River cruise.”

Still, she adds, “If you’ve got older kids, maybe traveling with their grandparents, then going down the Yangtze together would be an amazing experience. We do have the shorter cruises but they’re tied to land programs so you’re still looking at up to 17-day programs.” Nevertheless, she points out, “if a travel agent wanted to put a trip together, they might want to put a 7-day Monograms program and pair it with a 3-day Yangtze cruise. They could work with the different suppliers and that’s one of the great things about Monograms, it’s really kind of a backbone for building family trips.”

pacific delight tours Because of the long-haul aspect and the number of flights within China that many of its programs utilize, Pacific Delight Tours takes a different approach to family travel in China. “While our most popular routes often combine Beijing, Shanghai and Xian with a five-star cruise on the Yangtze River, these itineraries include a number of domestic flights within China, which can be a bit much for families traveling with small children,” says Larry Kwan, president of Pacific Delight Tours.

As a result, he adds, “While the international flight is unavoidable, we usually recommend that families select one city for an expanded tour of the destination,” noting that, “Beijing is most assuredly the best place for families because sites like the Great Wall and the imposing Forbidden City leave children in awe. Activities such as kite flying in Tiananmen Square and a rickshaw ride through Beijing’s historic alleyways are also great fun for families, and the educational value of China’s cultural capital is second to none.”

In addition, they’ve developed two other excursions for families—Beijing Zoo with Panda Exhibit, where participants can view these wild and rare animals of China, and the Legend of Kung Fu, in which an entertaining and lively performance relates the tale of an adventurous young monk seeking enlightenment. A classic legend of spiritual growth, the performance is a colorful extravaganza of lights, dance and amazing kung fu feats. “The history and culture of China will be an eye-opener for all members of the family, but it will enrich children immensely,” notes Kwan.

The company says Beijing is available for approximately $150 per night, land-only, based on double occupancy accommodations at the five-star New World Hotel. There is an additional cost for children, which varies based on the age and number of children.