Groupon Getaways and Travel Rewards China - All the details

This was my second Groupon Getaway and I was curious to see if it held up as well as my trip to Ireland in 2016. I was actually on Groupon looking for a quick all-inclusive trip to the Dominican to keep my head out of the oven during the long Indiana winter. As I was perusing the air included packages, I ran across a package for a $599, 10 day trip to China. What? I read the fine print. Departs from Chicago. Limited Dates. Limited dates right over my 49th Birthday . . . Additional fees: $100 fee for tour guide. Visa required. Tours included. Optional tours for purchase. I texted my friend who had done the last Groupon Getaway with me and we had our purchase made within 24 hours.

Once you purchase your Groupon you get an email confirming your purchase and instructions to contact the tour company. It looks like this:

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It was really easy, I just followed the link and emailed my passport info to the travel company. Within a few weeks I got my first digital packet with tour info, deadlines, Visa info and costs for additional tours. My main frustration with Travel Rewards China was some of the info was simply unclear. The Visa information I found really confusing. In the end I used a passport/visa service and secured a 10 year visa. I would highly recommend this route and have that information in the China - Travel Tips blog. I did find that calling Travel Rewards China was the most effective route to answers. If I had a question I typically emailed and didn’t always get a prompt response. I had to buckle down and use the phone and when I did they were very accessible and helpful. We ended up doing two added tours that we paid for outside of the ones included in our package.

The nitty gritty of the tours.

Our first two days went as I expected. We toured Tiananmen Square and The Forbidden City. Both tours were quite quick but we did get a lot of information from our tour guide. The second day was the Great Wall and we had enough time to climb up and back down and take plenty of pictures. The tours really show you a lot in a short amount of time the the pace is fast. I took a lot of notes because I found it fascinating and the tour guides were enthusiastic about giving us as much information about their country as they could.

I didn’t read the reviews before I went because I didn’t want my impression tainted by other reviewers. However. If I had, I might have known what was coming and that was the “timeshare sales pitch”. Except they weren’t timeshares, they were products. One of the reasons my tour went to the amount of places it did was it put us at Government run stores. These were listed in our itinerary as “Jade Factory Tour, Freshwater Pearl Farm, Silk Factory, Tea Plantation”. You get the idea. In reality, we would be lead to a room or series of rooms where we would learn about the product, Jade or Silk or Tea or whatever, and they would tell us all of the amazing things about that product and why we really needed that product and then we would be lead to a showroom to purchase this product. It worked amazingly well. For myself, traveling on a very limited budget, I was turned off. I wasn’t there to buy a $2000 Jade Bracelet or $500 silk sheets. I was pretty upset the first day when I realized I wasn’t going to a Jade Factory, which I had really been looking forward to. By the third day of this I just took in the info, wandered around the store fending off sales people until it was time for lunch (which was always in the upstairs of the store). If someone is going to give you a trip to China with Airfare, Hotel, Tours and lunches for $599 you have to expect they are gonna try and make that up somehow. That’s how.

Overall, I am very happy with my purchase. I learned a lot. I saw so many cool things in a short amount of time. The guides were helpful and knowledgeable and while their job is to sell China, they did a good job educating us Westerners to the current situation of China. Their history, their present, and where they are headed for the future. I would highly recommend.