Maybe go with more people. While having just a few meant we essentially got private tutoring, it would have been great to be with a good bunch of people.
Also, if I had time, I would have liked to do 2 months, as 1 month is not really enough to get more than an introduction into Chinese.
Cellan, our erstwhile guide and tutor, was probably the main reason for the success of the trip. In terms of the actual teaching he was brilliant, taking us from scratch to a reasonably high standard in just a month.
However, we never felt really like we were working at school: on non-travel days we would probably only spend 3 hours in a classroom, and most of the rest of the teaching would occur out-and-about.
This was so much more useful, as it meant the first Chinese we learnt was not just learning declensions but how to actually order food and drink, or how to introduce oneself.
However, it was not all work. Cellan was a great lad, and we went out to a bar with him and Jimmy most evenings. He introduced us to some of the hidden gems of Chinese food, which we definitely would not have gone for without his encouragement.
Even better was that he was totally flexible to what we wanted to do. For example, at the top of the snow mountain, when we asked if we could go horse riding, he found some locals who were willing to give us a ride on their horses.
Both Jimmy and Mark were seriously good fun as well – Jimmy teaching us some of the more ‘practical’ Chinese, for example, and Mark getting us along to play with him in the local expat football team.
There was never a dull moment throughout my trip!
Don’t be worried about the locals: they are all absolutely lovely and really want to help. Compared to some others (eg. In Vietnam) you also don’t feel they are always trying to rip you off as well.
Don’t pack too much stuff as there is quite a lot of moving between places. Sturdy trainers would probably be a good idea as well!
Any Chinese you can learn before will be a help, as the they can really work around your ability: I had done a course in London for about a month and this made it all much easier.
Main advice is definitely do it.