City Tour Extreme: Day One, Nanjing

Our holidays in China are over but I still feel exhausted from the crazy city tour we had. As mentioned before I have a lot to write about this trip, in fact too much so I will have few posts about the different days. The first day of the tour was in Nanjing where we met the rest of the tour group. We had actually arrived in Nanjing the night before but we pretty much didn’t see anything except the airport and our luxury hotel.

View from our luxury hotel

I know that Nanjing has so many things to visit and I was worried that we would only rush to the different locations as we had only one day there. Oh silly me, I shouldn’t have worried about rushing to all the different spots as we visited only two! Yes two locations we visited before going back to the hotel for the night. No we did not visit the old city fortifications, nor the Nanjing Massacre Memorial Hall, nor Yuejiang Lou, nor any former Nationalist time governmental buildings and and and. I think you can see that we did not visit many places and that I was kind of disappointed. This was not only in Nanjing the case but any other place we visited during those five days.

In the beginning of the tour we basically went to our tour meeting spot by the lake and then drove by bus to the Sun Yat-sen Mausoleum 中山陵. The construction of the tomb started in 1926 and was finished in 1929. In case you don’t know about Dr. Sun, he was the first President, founding father of the Republic of China and posthumously named “Father of the Nation”. The mausoleum is located at the Purple Mountain and the area is just huge.  As it is located at the mountain slope there are more than just a few steps leading up. The vault is located more than 700m away from the entrance to the mausoleum and the main stairway has 392 steps leading up. During our visit it wasn’t too crowded so we didn’t have to line up anywhere. Once reaching the top of the view is just incredible.  In the vault you can not actually see the tomb as that room has been locked up due to vandalism few years back.

Top of the stairs of the Mausoleum

After the trip to the Sun Yat-sen Mausoleum we had another wonderful trip with the bus to our next location: Nanjing Fuzimiao 南京夫子廟.  Back in the years (many years back!) the Nanking Imperial University was placed there as well as a Temple of Confucius. Over the years the place has been destroyed multiple times and most of the current buildings are from the 19th century or even younger. In 1985 it has been restored and you can find now many cultural attraction there but also various places for shopping and last but not least there is a huge variety of different food. Now I was myself not too happy there as it dawned on me that the whole city tour would be like this leaving too many wonderful places out.

Going around Nanjing Fuzimiao

I wish we could have visited all the other places as well but I know that is never really the purpose of those Chinese tour groups. Thing is we faced many problems with this tour group. For one it was not cheap at all but most annoying the whole schedule was changed. Okay not for all of us as only we had the wrong schedule and the entire rest of the group had the correct schedule. Our original schedule was more relaxing as times for driving between the different cities was better planned and we would have seen more in the cities than just one or two places. Needless to say we were not pleased at all with the whole situation and we wanted to quit the trip more than just once. To make matters worse is that it started to rain after the first day for the rest of the trip and temperatures plummeted down from 30 degrees Celsius to 15-18 degrees Celsius.

Have you ever travelled with a tour group?

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49 thoughts on “City Tour Extreme: Day One, Nanjing”

  1. Oh, that just sucks! All that money and you didn’t get to go where you wanted? Very depressing. It seems like you handled it well, though. Did Nathan like the bus?

    1. It was really annoying trip and at least we could roughly 1/3 of the money back in the end from the agency. With Nathan it always depended how loud the other travellers were/ on the tour guide screaming into her microphone

  2. That’s why I haven’t been on a tour group since I was in high school… I would rather plan out my own itinerary, because I am picky about where I want to visit.

    Was the tour group Chinese? I have many Chinese American friends who taken Chinese tours abroad because they don’t want to plan it out. They’ve never mentioned having bad tours, but maybe they are used to it. Were the other tourists unhappy too?

    1. It was a Chinese tour group. The other travellers were all happy but they are also all used to this and dont expect anything more than that.
      I have always been warned about these tour groups but once again we tried it and it was a failure. I mean I have been on groups through Germany and other countries again and they were really nice. This one however was more like a nightmare!

  3. Well, that just sucks, plain and simple. It must be hard to think you are going to see this and this and then, you see just two of the things on the itinerary. At least the two places you went to were nice though.

    My husband and I joined a tour group once with most former softball team members and their families. It was actually pretty good and I was very impressed. We went to a group of islands off the coast of Taiwan and it was great that everything was organized.

  4. So of all the places you could’ve gone to, the tour brought you to a mausoleum, and a shopping area. That… sucks. I mean, no disrespect to Dr Sun, but he has memorials all over China and even in Taiwan and Malaysia and Singapore! His tomb (where the tomb is locked away) is hardly the “must visit” if you can only pick 2 places…

  5. Omg, do I ever hate going with tour groups…and honestly the Asian ones are the worst. There is entirely too much stops for shopping involved. :p And it feels like you rush around a lot, but never really see too much after it all. But that view from the mausoleum is pretty incredible at least! 🙂

  6. The Sun Yat-sen Mausoleum looks like an interesting place to visit. But climbing all those steps must be tiring, and when going back down I’m sure you must also have watched your steps.

    I’ve never done a tour group, and probably never will. Very sorry to hear that you only got to visit a couple of places and it sounded quite rushed towards the end. Now, that Chinese guy is really tall…

    1. All those steps weren’t even so bad but when we suddenly had to rush back to the bus, now that was exhausting.
      The tomb was really nice but that mountain had so much to offer which we missed due to this weird schedule change

  7. I tend to avoid tour groups because I’d rather go at my own pace. A pity you couldn’t get to everything you wanted to, but at least you have some great pics from the places you did see.

  8. Nice photos!
    Sorry to hear that the tour group was so disappointing :/ Isn’t it better/easier to independently travel in China maybe? Of course tour groups have their advantages but in cases like these..
    I have never been a part of tour group and don’t think I will anytime soon.

    1. Ofc it is better to plan the own trips in China but my wife/ her mother thought that a “luxury tour group” would be actually something better. Well, the only thing better was that we stayed one night in a 4 1/2 star hotel and another night in Wuzhen in a traditional inn…

  9. How disappointing for you. I did enjoy the Mausoleum; not so walking up those many steps but worth it as you say for the view at the top. Sorry to say too that the visit to the Nanjing Massacre Museum was definitely worth the visit and a shame your tour didn’t go there. Nice photos you have taken in Nanjing. Look forward to reading more about your China travels.

    1. I actually liked the walk up to the mausoleum as I was hoping to have a great view from there.
      Indeed it was pretty upsetting to miss so much during that trip, it was even worse when I googled the cities to see that I would need at least several days in each one to get only a glimpse of them

  10. What a pretty city. I just associate Nanjing with, you know, the Rape of Nanjing and for some reason I just think of it stuck in time like that. So it was nice to see what a lush city it is. Sorry the tour sucked.

    We backed out of one when they couldn’t figure out how to get to our hotel which was located smack in the center of the city, as in very central. They were so late and we kept going back and forth on the phone and finally told them to forget it. I was actually doing a favor for a friend as it was her tour group, but they obviously over-booked and asked a separate company to help out – unfortunate + incompetent.

    1. Nanjing has really much to offer. Before I only knew about the city wall, the mausoleum and ofc the rape of Nanking. During this trip we were several times so much on the edge that we wanted to fly back to xi’an …

  11. I have never been on a package tour.

    It appears that Chinese tour companies are not only the one with a bad reputation.

    I was talking to a young Turkish male this morning regarding his visit to Italy. He was in Rome and Florence with his family on a tour. He didn’t have a positive experience. They were in Rome for an hour and they didn’t see much in Florence either.

  12. Last time I travelled with a group by choice was study abroad trips – 1990 had one in former Yugoslavia & then India.

    Since then, I’ve organised a few company annual off-site meets, including one where budget was tight, bringing 400 people together so did crazy things like book several train bogies for overnight travel from Mumbai to Goa, with activities starting at the resort all hours as people staggered from around the country to our destination.

    Back the 90s, I was quite adaptable so could just go with the flow. Then when organising, was too insanely busy to pay attention to anything but the details needed to make everything work as best as possible! Since then, all travel has been solo or with my partner. We travel well together… not balancing others needs and ours are in synch. Sounds about right!

    Can’t imagine doing a whole family group tour thing. Shudder!

    1. what you managed to orgsnize sounds incredible!
      Never ever try a family group tour, it is insane. From now on I hope my wife learned that these tours aint good and that we travel on our own schedule

  13. Hmmm, China-organized groups seem to want to….make money unless one has an art lover, etc. leading the pack.

    I’m sorry to hear! I have been on a group tour….yea, 8 different European countries in 2 wks. Kinda nuts. Thankfully before and after a sister and I spend about 10 days in London, England and then Paris, Amsterdam, Gouda, Brussels and Brugges on our own.

    1. Great that you could spend so much time on your own. We were kind of rushed from place to place and had tops 1h time on our own each time.
      We visited too many of those money grabbing places eg musuems which are full of shops

  14. I have almost said no to your question, but then I have suddenly remembered my first group trip thing. It happened when I was a first grader. Bad experience. ><

    Oh, the rain… I got plenty of rainy days here too. And the weather keeps having mood swings, which sucks. 😐

    Did you enjoy that trip, overall? I hope you did. ;-;

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