Viator.com Shanghai Tour Review

This is a follow-up to a previous review of Viator.com’s Vatican Tours, which I thoroughly enjoyed. I just finished my Viator.com Shanghai tour and have to say that it was not the same experience as the first in Rome. Let me start with the cost though, it was dirt cheap. $69 for an 8 hr tour, with lunch, only 3 other people, and a private driver is chicken feed. Add in a 20 for tip, and you are still rollin’ on the cheap. They could maybe throw in a Chinese massage at the end, but now I’m just getting greedy. Unfortunately, that cheapness cost comes at a price. Although the tour guide was very friendly, there were a few other agendas at work on the tour.
We were supposed to go to a place where they harvest pearls as Shanghai is the “Pearl” of the East. This turned into a 2 min explanation of the difference between fresh water pearls and saltwater, and then 45 min of browsing a pearl store with very high pressure sales people working hard to get some more of my cash. The Jade exhibit was exactly the same thing. 2 min of “can you tell which is real and which is fake?” followed by 30 min. of buy something, name your price, buy, buy, come on, buy! So yes, it was much like a 40 yr old stripper selling lap dances at the Rhino.
When we got to old town, we got to some cheaper tourist items that I would actually like to get as souvenirs for the kiddies. It was obvious though that our guide didn’t get a kick back from the stores there because he basically ran through the crowd leaving us in his dust. The 4 of us did everything we could to keep up with him as he was quick and wiley in a crowd.
In the museum, he left us alone, so we went at our own pace. Unfortunately, he told us to start and the top floor and work our way down. It wasn’t until the last 5 min, that we realized that the best items were all on the main floor. We wasted an hour looking at silk samples and watercolors when the ground floor had 2000 year old Buddha’s and stone relics.
The Jade Buddha was amazing and that temple is a must-see for anyone’s visit. The ancient garden was also nice and when we did catch up to the guide to ask a question, he did know a lot. The other 3 people on the tour were absolutely great though and we had our own fun and actually continued on with each other after the tour for a while. If they hadn’t been there, I would have been much more disappointed in the tour.
Honestly, I couldn’t expect more for that price, but I really didn’t like the feel of being ambushed at the pearl and jade market and being run through old town trying to catch the guide like he was a 8 year old at the Neverland Ranch. (Too soon?) He really didn’t wait or look back. Lunch was just ok, but again, for the cost, what does one expect? There wasn’t the entertainment during lunch that was described on the site either, but again, I’m splitting hairs.
I think if I hadn’t had the 5 star experience in Rome, this probably would have met expectations for the price. The Shanghai tour had big shoes to fill and it didn’t really do it. Shanghai itself and the other members of the tour did, however. So for bringing us all together and the wicked-cheap price, I’ll give this tour 3 stars.


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