This was a great day. The tour description promises fully customized and that is what we got. We communicated in advance that we were interested in history and art, and wanted no tea plantations. I did some preparation reading, sent a list of potential sites, took feedback and arrived at a full day. Alana, our guide, had excellent English and managed both the logistics and the pace of the visit very well, we were always moving but never felt rushed. Picked up by private car at hotel and taken to train station where Alana managed the transit. Second class train seats quite comfortable and acceptable, as we sped past golden rice fields nearly ready to harvest. In Hangzhou we had the same private car and driver all day. Went to West Lake in morning, and had a boat ride. Then for lunch Alana had to do some quick regrouping since clients usually taken to restaurant near tea plantations. She found a wonderful place and ordered an abundant meal with soup and 4 dishes. This was the best Chinese meal we had on our week-long trip in Shanghai area. Then in afternoon, to Feilai to see the wonderful Buddhas carved into the mountain, followed by the adjacent Lingying Temple, with golden Buddha and Song era pagodas. We ended the day with a reversed perspective – in the morning we saw the Leifeng Pagoda in the distance from West Lake, now we went to Leifeng Pagoda and saw the panoramic views of West Lake. If only all pagodas would retrofit and elevator in the exterior stairs and an interior elevator! Then off to the train station for our return to Shanghai, where another car and driver met us and Alana dropped us back at our Hotel. The tour is a bit pricy but it was exactly what we asked for and very well done.
Our guide, Berlin, was exceptional in enthusiasm and responsiveness to us. Her English was very good and we had some great fun with her on English idioms!!! She tailored the tour to our interests and never failed to provide us with more than we had hoped for. The day we spent in Hangzhou was toward the end of our month long holiday and we had seen a lot of Asia.....but Lingyin Temple was magical, the tea plantations were lovely, our stroll around West Lake and walk along the streets of Hangzhou were lively and very entertaining. All of this exceeded our expectations. Berlin was so engaging that she made our trip to Hangzhou very, very special!! We highly recommend this trip - and especially Berlin - to anyone!