Beijing to Hong Kong Getaway

20 Days from $2,465

START: Beijing

FINISH: Hong Kong

AGES: 15 - 99

THEME: Explorer

Overviewicon readmoreicon minus

Description

China really does have it all: tranquil countryside offering jaw-dropping natural scenery and invigorating hikes, neon cities boasting incredible food and scintillating nightlife and points of historical, artistic and cultural interest at every turn. Get acquainted with this country's complexities and contrasts on this fascinating 23-day adventure that will have you walking the Great Wall, trekking through the Longji Rice Terraces, idling the hours away in serene Hongcun, drifting along the Li River and living it up in Hong Kong. Jam-packed with colour and culture, China will astonish you with the levels of diversity and distinction contained within its borders.

Start: Beijing

Finish: Hong Kong

Ages: 15 - 99

Theme: Explorer

Accommodation: Hotel (9 nts), Guesthouse/Hostel (7 nts), Overnight Sleeper Train (3 nts)

Destination: Hong Kong

Highlights

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Overnight at the Great Wall at a family run guesthouse, and see this iconic structure without the crowds
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With journeys on two sleeper trains, you'll maximise your time in your destinations, get a chance to interact with locals, and see some beautiful countryside
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Like everything it does, China’s ancient history is on an epic scale – see it when face-to-face with thousands of Terracotta Warriors
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Venture into the idyllic Huizhou countryside and explore rural villages on foot or by bike
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Discover the mountain heights of Huangshan, where the stunning rock pinnacles of the Yellow Mountain peek through atmospheric mists
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In Longi, hike the beautiful rice terraces that snake through the mountains of Longsheng like giant dragons, and visit hill tribe communities while surrounded by incredible views
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Enjoy time to sit back and relax in the dramatic karst countryside of Yangshuo – immortalised in countless traditional Chinese paintings – and try the local favourite: beerfish
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Starting and ending in two of the country's largest and most bustling cities – Shanghai and Hong Kong – you’ll also be able to experience the dazzling future of modern China

Itineraryicon readmoreicon minus

icon check Day 1 : Beijing

Nimen Hao! Welcome to China. The capital of the most populous country on earth, Beijing is a food-centric city with both ancient and modern architectural charm. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm this evening. Following the meeting, settle into your hotel and then perhaps strike out with new friends for an optional dinner together.

icon check Day 2 : Great Wall

Enjoy a few hours of free time in the morning to explore Beijing before taking a three-hour private bus to a section of the Great Wall unmarred by overzealous reconstruction – Gubeikou. Built as a northern defensive line for Beijing (then called Youzhou), this section of the Great Wall was first constructed between AD550 and AD557 and then fortified during the early years of the Ming Dynasty. Spend the night in a family-run guesthouse nearby. While the facilities are more basic than some of the other accommodation on this trip, the homegrown hospitality more than makes up for it. Most of our travellers choose to eat at the guesthouse for dinner as it's a great chance to sample local produce and delicious home cooking.

icon check Day 3 : Great Wall

Embrace an early start and make the trek from the Gubeikou section of the Great Wall to the Jinshanling section. Hike over steep, remote terrain for around 5-6 hours, taking in incredible views along this comparitively quiet trail. Some parts of the wall are unrestored, so you'll need to concentrate hard to keep your footing, while other stretches will take you off the wall to walk alongside it through the countryside. The trek will be challenging, but the sight of the wall snaking through the hills as far as the eye can see and the feeling of being immersed in ancient history will be ample reward for your efforts. After the hike, check in to a guesthouse by the foot of the Great Wall and put your feet up, have a few beers or maybe learn how to play mahjong in the evening.

icon check Day 4 : Beijing - Overnight Train

Make the 3-hour drive back to Beijing before midday and make use of your last free afternoon in the capital. Consider checking out the Temple of Heaven while you're in the city, or making the most of your last chance to eat Beijing Duck in its place of origin. Speaking of food, the train journey to Xi'an will take around 13 hours so even if you plan on sleeping for most of it, stocking up on snacks and having a good book on hand is a great idea. Board the train in the evening and get your first taste of rail travel in China. It's not luxury, but it's certainly one of the best ways to come face to face with the vastness of this country.

icon check Day 5 : Xi'an

Good morning and welcome to Xi’an, the capital of Shaanxi Province and the largest city in northwest China. Head to the hotel to freshen up and then join your leader on a short walking tour to uncover what was once the start of the ancient trading route known as the Silk Road. Choose to visit the Bell Tower, which according to legend was built to restrain dragons that were causing earthquakes, or the Drum Tower, which is full of instruments once used to mark time and warn the population in emergencies. Your leader will also introduce you to the Muslim Quarter, which features narrow streets of quaint shops, lively markets, and a unique mosque. Another option is to explore the 13-kilometre-long City Walls and attached Gates - you can even ride a bike on top of the walls. Xi’an’s Silk Road history means it has an exciting mixture of cultures, especially found in its food options - muslim dishes are a specialty here. In the evening, perhaps visit the night markets and try local specialties such as pao mo (lamb broth that you break flat bread into), hand pulled noodles, hot pot or barbecue.

icon check Day 6 : Xi'an - Overnight Train

Make the two-hour journey by public transport to an iconic monument to ego and human endeavour – the Terracotta Warriors. Spend a few hours at this incredible archaeological find, discovered in 1974 by farmers digging a well after being buried for 2000 years. These clay statues of soldiers, horses and chariots were commissioned by the Emperor Qin Shi Huangdi as part of his mausoleum after he ascended to the throne in 264 BC. Three main pits are open for viewing, where just under 2000 of the total 6000 warriors – each an individual with a different costume, height, and even facial expression – are on display. Later, return to Xi'an and board your second overnight train bound for Shanghai (approximately 16 hours).

icon check Day 7 : Shanghai

Blending 21st-century architecture with old-world character, Shanghai pulses with the beat of contemporary China. Arrive and take the busy subway to your accommodation. Enjoy a full day of exploration, but don't worry if you can't see everything you want to today –  you'll be back at the end of the trip. Get a taste of the city during the roaring 1920s with a walk of the Bund with your leader, a strip of spectacular art deco-style buildings. Wander the narrow winding lanes (nongtangs) of Old Shanghai, where you can get a glimpse of local life. Explore the European-influenced French Concession, then pound the pavement along Luwan's Huaihai Road, a busy shopping street. The area's tree-lined avenues and their many Tudor mansions earned it the nickname 'Paris of the East'. When night falls, perhaps get a taste of Shanghai’s eclectic food scene.

icon check Day 8-9 : Huangshan

Travel into the stunning countryside on a 6-hour public bus journey to Huangshan, otherwise known as Yellow Mountain. The 72 sharp peaks of Huangshan provide some of China's most breathtaking scenery, as well as a respite from the bustle of the city. Spend the next two days in a guesthouse with free time to explore the area as you wish. Two beloved trails are the Eastern Steps (7.5 kilometre, approximately 3-4 hours) and the Western Steps (15 kilometre). We recommend taking the cable car to the summit, exploring the area and then descending via the Western Steps. Whatever you choose, the dramatic limestone peaks populating this beautiful area make for some breathtaking vistas. After taking in the iconic beauty of Huangshan during the day, return to the guesthouse for a well-earned rest in the evening.

icon check Day 10 : Hongcun

Hit the road again on public transport and travel through Anhui province to the picturesque villages of the Huizhou region (approximately 2 hours). A number of these villages are now World Heritage-listed, and you may recognise the ramshackle, ornate buildings from the film ‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon’. Arrive in Hongcun, check in to your village guesthouse and then set out on a guided tour of cobbled alleys and Ming Dynasty architecture. Following this short tour, you have the rest of the afternoon and evening free to spend as you wish. Maybe clamber up into the hillsides for panoramic views over the traditional settlements. Or maybe you'd prefer to explore the surrounding villages on two wheels? Ask you leader for information on bicycle hire and other optional activities. 

icon check Day 11 : Shanghai

Bid farewell to the glorious countryside and make the 6-hour journey back to the big smoke of Shanghai by public transport. Perhaps sit down for a meal in one of Shanghai's great restaurants. Hairy crab is the city's most notable delicacy, though it’s only available in winter between the months of September and November. If you haven't already, tonight is the perfect chance to try the city's famous xiao long bao (steamed soup dumplings). 

icon check Day 12 : Shanghai

Today you'll have another day to explore Shanghai until 6 pm. This is a combination trip, so your group leader and group composition may change. The briefing for the second part of the trip will be at 6 pm. Please ask your leader for where the meeting will take place.

icon check Day 13 : Shanghai - Overnight Train

Today you have free time to explore this bustling city until this afternoon, when you’ll board your first overnight train from Shanghai to Guilin (approximately 18-20 hours). You could visit the Propaganda Museum for a fascinating look at China's revolutionary past, get a bird's eye view of the city from the Pearl Tower's observation decks, get a taste of 1920s Shanghai along the Bud, wander the Yuyuan Gardens and Bazaar, barter in markets, stroll through modern Pudong or the explore ancient nongtangs. Train travel in China may not be entirely luxurious but it's certainly one of the best ways to come face to face with the country and its people, as it's the main form of transport for locals. We use hard sleeper class trains for most of our overnight train journeys. These are certainly not as rough as they sound – compartments are open-plan, clean, with padded three-tiered berths (6 to a compartment). Wherever possible, we will group our travellers together, but this will depend on group size and ticket availability. Sheets, pillows and a blanket are provided. Some travellers prefer to bring their own sleeping sheet. Safe, hot drinking water is always available. It is a good idea to bring a mug, spoon, knife and fork if you will be preparing your own hot drinks or food on the train (as these are not provided in cabins). Basic bathroom facilities with toilets and washbasins are situated at the end of each carriage. As toilet paper isn't always available, it's best to bring an emergency supply. Keep in mind general train cleanliness may not be to the same standards you are accustomed to. Food is available on the train, but it's a good idea to stock up on snacks for the trip.

icon check Day 14 : Longji Rice Terraces

Disembark from the train and jump on a bus from Guilin to Longji. The Longji region has some of the most extensive rice terraces around. These terraces change with the seasons: filled with water from the mountains before planting, becoming green during the growing season and then golden when the rice is ready for harvest. This evening you’ll overnight in the village of Dazhai, which is home to the Yao minorities. The Yao still preserve some of their traditional lifestyle and unique customs. You'll notice women only cut their hair at 16 years old, symbolising their entrance into adulthood. The hair isn’t thrown away, but is kept by the grandmother. When the woman marries, the hair is made into an ornamental headdress and brought to the husband's home as a souvenir!

icon check Day 15 : Longji Rice Terraces

Today you’ll hike through the Longji Valley and its rice terraces, constructed over 500 years ago (called the Dragon’s Backbone because the rice terraces resemble a dragon's scales, while the mountain summit looks like the backbone of the dragon). Walk through stunning scenery, with its unique terraces for growing rice, alongside bamboo trees and chestnut forests. Despite some challenging hills, much of the hike is spent walking around over the stones, passing waterfalls and fields. After a day spent admiring the endless vistas, you’ll overnight in the picturesque village of Ping'an.

icon check Day 16 : Yangshuo

Take public transport on to Yangshuo (approximately 4 hours). Soak up the charm of this town, popular with the Chinese and Western travellers alike, who come for the beautiful landscape and stay for the great cafes and bars. It's also one of the best places in the country to get a feel for local culture and traditions while having plenty of fun at the same time. The countryside around Yangshuo is immortalized in many traditional Chinese paintings – picture immense limestone karsts dotting the rural landscape, towering spectacularly over rice paddies and the meandering Li River. The scene is even celebrated on every 20 yuan note!

icon check Day 17 : Yangshuo

Today is a free day for you to do as you like. You could begin by focusing your body and mind with a morning tai chi class or kung fu lesson, and then continue the active theme by hiring a bike, gaining insight into rural Chinese life on a cycle through picture-perfect locations. You could climb up to Moon Hill – a limestone pinnacle with a moon-shaped hole penetrating the hill – or simply stroll along the river and be immersed in the natural beauty of the valley. For something a little less energetic, you could simply sit back and relax as you enjoy a relaxing cruise down the Li or Yulong River. Later, perhaps watch an outdoor light show staged by 2008 Beijing Olympics’ Opening Ceremony director Zhang Yimou.

icon check Day 18 : Yangshuo

Today’s another free day to pursue you interests here in Yangshuo. Freedom and flexibility is the idea today, and your friendly local leader will be on hand to give you suggestions and tips. If you’re still feeling active then up in the limestone hills are a number of caves that can be explored; or if you’d rather see the landscape from a different perspective, then kit up in a rock-climbing harness and tackle one of the 300 rock-climbing routes. For a more laid-back day, maybe visit the market to shop with the locals and get a feel for the regional produce. You can then put this new knowledge to use in a cooking class at the Yangshuo Cooking School. Learn to cook dishes with recipes that are easy to make and ingredients readily available outside of China, so that you’ll soon be wowing friends and family back at home.

icon check Day 19 : Hong Kong

Today you’ll travel by high-speed train to the Chinese border at Shenzhen (approximately 4 hours). The China-Hong Kong border is busy, so there can often be a bit of a wait to get through and a lot of patience is required. On average, it takes around 2 hours to clear immigration and customs on both sides. Your bags will be with you during this time. Then you’ll walk the short distance from the train station to the border, go through procedures to exit China, and then enter Hong Kong. Once all that's done, you’ll travel on the KCR train to central Hong Kong. Hong Kong made itself known to the world as a British colony and, since the 1997 handover, the city has become a unique and fascinating place to see where the East really does meet the West. Hong Kong's cityscape is spectacular and its modern fast-paced life is only minutes from picturesque islands and beaches. Perhaps spend the last few hours of this trip searching out the best yum cha for a final sumptuous meal with your group.

icon check Day 20 : Hong Kong

There are no activities planned for today and you are able to depart the accommodation any time this morning.

What's Included?icon readmoreicon minus

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Transport

Overnight Sleeper Train, High Speed Train, Private vehicle, Public Bus, Taxi, Subway
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Accommodation

Hotel (9 nts), Guesthouse/Hostel (7 nts), Overnight Sleeper Train (3 nts)
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Included Activities

  • Longji - Guided Rice Terraces trek

Important Detailsicon readmoreicon minus

icon readmoreicon minusJoining Point

Beijing King's Joy Hotel 北京西华京兆酒店

81, Meishi Street 地址:北京市西城区煤市街81号

Xicheng district

Beijing

CHINA

Phone: +86 1052171900

icon readmoreicon minusFinishing Point

West Hotel 偉晴軒

No.39 Wai Ching Street,Kowloon 地址 : 香港九龍佐敦偉晴街39至47

Kowloon

Hong Kong

CHINA

Phone: +852 27707718

Fax: 85227707718

icon readmoreicon minusPhysical preparation

You will be expected to carry your own luggage, including moving about busy public transport hubs, up stairs and escalators and on and off buses and trains. Although you won't be required to walk long distances, you are expected to be able to walk and handle your own luggage for up to 30 minutes. Good general fitness and mobility plays a big part in making your trip more enjoyable. In some locations it may be possible to hire porters at extra expense paid locally. Please ask your trip leader for help to arrange this if possible but be prepared to manage your own luggage.

icon readmoreicon minusImportant information

1. A Single Supplement to have your own room is available on this trip, excluding overnight trains and guesthouses

2. A scanned copy of the personal details page of your passport needs to be sent to your booking agent no later than 40 days before departure in order for us to purchase your train tickets.

3. Overnight train accommodation on this tour is in 6-berth ‘hard-sleeper’ class. Bedding is provided and wash basins and toilets (squat/western) are available in each carriage, but there are no shower facilities.

4. Please note while traveling through mainland China you will not be able to access some popular internet websites.

5. In winter months (Nov-Feb), we may stay in alternative guesthouses near the Great Wall due to the cold weather. This may also alter our trekking route along the Great Wall.

6. This is a combination tour which will save you the hassle of making multiple bookings. But please note that your tour leader and tour composition may change on Day 12.

icon readmoreicon minusGroup leader

All Intrepid group trips are accompanied by one of our group leaders. The aim of the group leader is to take the hassle out of your travels and to help you have the best trip possible. Intrepid endeavours to provide the services of an experienced leader however, due to the seasonality of travel, rare situations may arise where your leader is new to a particular region or training other group leaders.

Your leader will provide information on the places you are travelling through, offer suggestions for things to do and see, recommend great local eating venues and introduce you to our local friends. While not being guides in the traditional sense, you can expect them to have a broad general knowledge of the places visited on the trip, including historical, cultural, religious and social aspects. At Intrepid we aim to support local guides who have specialised knowledge of the regions we visit. If you were interested in delving deeper into the local culture at a specific site or location then your leader can recommend a local guide service in most of the main destinations of your trip.

icon readmoreicon minusSafety

Many national governments provide a regularly updated advice service on safety issues involved with international travel. We recommend that you check your government's advice for their latest travel information before departure and ensure that your travel insurance covers you for all areas your itinerary covers. Please refer to our website's safety page for links to major travel advisories and updates on safety issues affecting our trips. We strongly recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt while travelling, for the safe-keeping of your passport, flight tickets, cash and other valuable items. Leave your valuable jewellery at home - you won't need it while travelling. Many of our hotels have safety deposit boxes, which is the most secure way of storing your valuables. A lock is recommended for securing your luggage. Your leader will accompany you on all included activities, however during your trip you'll have some free time to pursue your own interests or relax and take it easy. While your leader will assist you with the available options in a given location, please note that any optional activities you undertake are not part of your Intrepid itinerary, and Intrepid makes no representations about the safety of the activity or the standard of the operators running them. Please use your own good judgement when selecting an activity in your free time. Please also note that your Leader has the authority to amend or cancel any part of the trip itinerary if it's deemed necessary due to safety concerns. For more details on the type of conditions and safety standards you can expect on your trip, please refer to Intrepid's operational safety policy on our website. We recommend that you take a moment to read through this information before travelling, and would appreciate any feedback on how well it's being implemented in the field:

https://www.intrepidtravel.com/safety-field

CHINA China is a safe country to travel in and very few travellers will experience any safety concerns. Serious crime against foreigners is relatively rare, but incidents do occur. Foreigners can be targeted for passports, electronic devices, mobile phones, purses and handbags. Major tourist sites and areas frequented by foreigners attract thieves and pickpockets. Take extra care at major tourist sites, street markets, Beijing International Airport, major international events and conferences and popular bar areas after dark. There are occasional incidents with taxi and pedicab drivers who insist the passenger misunderstood the fare. Avoid travelling in unmarked or unmetered ‘taxis’ and insist on paying only the meter fare. Ask the driver for a receipt (fapiao), on which the taxi number should be printed. You can take this to the police to lodge a complaint. Counterfeit bank notes (especially RMB100) are increasingly common. They are generally crumpled to avoid detection. Unscrupulous traders may try to switch your genuine bank notes for counterfeits. A common scam when paying a taxi fare with a RMB100 note occurs when the taxi driver swaps the note for a fake note, and returns the fake note to the passenger, refusing to accept it for payment as it’s counterfeit. Check carefully before accepting notes. It is quite normal to do so. Beware of scams particularly in popular tourist areas. A regular example is the ‘tea tasting’ scam. Scams usually involve a foreign national being invited to visit a bar, shop or cafe – for example to practice English or meet a girl - but results in demands for an exorbitant fee, often payable by credit card. This can result in threats of violence or credit card fraud.

icon readmoreicon minusCommunications

Please note while traveling through mainland China you will not be able to access some popular internet websites. It’s important to let your family and friends know that you might not be able to stay in touch over your usual methods, be it – social media or email. The Chinese Government control and restrict certain websites. Here are some of the most popular websites around the world that are blocked in China: Google, Dropbox, Gmail, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google +, WordPress. It may be possible to still access some of these websites using a VPN. If you wish to stay in touch with your friends and family through the above blocked sites, we suggest you research using a VPN on your device prior to travel.

icon readmoreicon minusVisas

Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. Entry requirements can change at any time, so it's important that you check for the latest information. Please visit the relevant consular website of the country or countries you’re visiting for detailed and up-to-date visa information specific to your nationality. Your consultant will also be happy to point you in the right direction with acquiring visas. Visas can take several weeks to process, so familiarise yourself with any requirements as soon as you have booked your trip to allow for processing time.

CHINA:

Most nationalities require a visa for mainland China. You must obtain your Chinese visa in advance. It is not possible to get a visa on arrival and Chinese visas can be difficult to obtain outside your country of residence. You may be able to apply for your visa in Hong Kong if you have time there before joining your trip. You will need a Single Entry Tourist for this trip valid for 30 days.

Please make sure if you have a transit anywhere in China before arriving at your destination that you check with your airline to see if the transit will require using your visa.

INFORMATION & DOCUMENTS REQUIRED FOR CHINESE VISA APPLICATION:

You will be provided with a Hotel List and Letter of Invitation to assist you in applying for your visa. These are the primary documents you should use to apply for your visa as they are issued by our local office in China.

Name of Host/Inviting Organisation:

Intrepid Travel Beijing Co. Ltd.

606 InterChina Commercial Building

33 Dengshikou Street

Dongcheng District

Beijing 100006

+86 10 6406 8022

* Hotel List - this will be sent to you by Intrepid or your travel agent at time of booking. If you do not receive this, email us with your booking number and trip details.

* Official invitation from licensed Chinese tourism company - this will be provided from us together with the Hotel List to all travellers regardless of whether it is required by the consulate or not and will assist with your application.

* Itinerary – print off a copy of your specific trip itinerary from our website www.intrepidtravel.com and include it with your application, marking the dates you will visit each destination if required (exception - Tibet tours)

* Photocopy of your passport

* Passport size photos (up to 4 may be required)

* Check with the consulate for any other specific requirements

* Please note that if you are not applying for Chinese visa from your passport country, you may be required to submit further documents, ie. employment letter, immigration card, etc. Please check with your local embassy or consulate for specific requirements.

TIBET:

You will be given a specific itinerary to use if booking a Tibet trip. While Tibet is not off limits to travellers, you must first obtain a Chinese visa BEFORE we apply for your Tibet permit on your behalf. Do not mention Tibet anywhere on your application form, even if your tour goes here. Including Tibet on your visa application without being booked on a government arranged tour will lead to your visa being rejected.

HONG KONG:

Hong Kong is not considered part of mainland China for immigration purposes and most nationalities do not require a visa. Please check with an embassy for specific requirements for Hong Kong.

DOCUMENTS REQUIRED FOR CHINESE TRAIN TICKET BOOKINGS:

Intrepid requires you send the following at the time of booking or at least 30 days prior to travel:

*Clear, colour scanned copy of the personal details page of your passport. Please make sure that this copy is for the passport that you will be travelling on. If you have to renew your passport after booking please notify us as soon as you have a new passport number and bring your old passport with you on your trip in case it is also requested.

HONG KONG VISAS

Although Hong Kong is now part of the People’s Republic of China it remains a Special Administrative Region with its own immigration controls. Most nationalities can visit Hong Kong for up to 6 months without a visa.

If you are travelling to mainland China via Hong Kong you must get a Chinese visa before arrival at the border. If you are entering Hong Kong via mainland China and leaving again via the mainland you will need a double or multiple entry visa for mainland China.

icon readmoreicon minusWhy we love it

Overnight at the Great Wall at a family run guesthouse, and see this iconic structure without the crowds

With journeys on two sleeper trains, you'll maximise your time in your destinations, get a chance to interact with locals, and see some beautiful countryside

Like everything it does, China’s ancient history is on an epic scale – see it when face-to-face with thousands of Terracotta Warriors

Venture into the idyllic Huizhou countryside and explore rural villages on foot or by bike

Discover the mountain heights of Huangshan, where the stunning rock pinnacles of the Yellow Mountain peek through atmospheric mists

In Longi, hike the beautiful rice terraces that snake through the mountains of Longsheng like giant dragons, and visit hill tribe communities while surrounded by incredible views

Enjoy time to sit back and relax in the dramatic karst countryside of Yangshuo – immortalised in countless traditional Chinese paintings – and try the local favourite: beerfish

Starting and ending in two of the country's largest and most bustling cities – Shanghai and Hong Kong – you’ll also be able to experience the dazzling future of modern China

icon readmoreicon minusIs this trip right for you

This trip travels on overnight hard sleeper trains on sections of the journey. Train travel in China may not be entirely luxurious, but it's certainly one of the best ways to come face-to-face with the country and its people. It's the main form of transport for locals, so take the chance to interact.

We cover a fair amount of ground to enable you to see some of China's biggest cities and main highlights, so be prepared for some long travel days. As we use plenty of public transport, you will be better off to bring only minimal belongings, or to leave your larger luggage in Beijing/Shanghai and take a smaller bag with you to the Great Wall, Huangshan and Hongcun.

We pack a lot in, in a short amount of time, so if you have some time to spare we highly recommend extra time in Shanghai and Beijing.

This trip includes a mixture of free time and included activities, giving you choice and flexibility to pursue your own interests in China.

This trip includes overnight stays at family-run guesthouses and homestays, with more basic facilities than hotels, such as cold water showers and outdoor squat toilets.

With walks on the Great Wall and Huangshan, you'll need a good level of fitness to get the most out of this trip. Walking shoes with good support and grip are essential. There are many steps and slopes on the way, so be prepared for a tough climb at times. You'll be rewarded with sensational views!

This trip uses a mix of transport – overnight sleeper trains, private buses and public buses. The trip covers a fair amount of ground to maximise experiences, so be prepared for some long journeys.

Not a lot a time is spent in Shanghai or Hong Kong (the starting and ending points) so that you can get straight into the highlights of South China, but we highly recommend booking additional nights here as these exciting cities have so much to offer.

icon readmoreicon minusHealth

All travellers need to be in good physical health in order to participate fully on this trip. When selecting your trip please make sure you have read through the itinerary carefully and assess your ability to cope with our style of travel. Please note that if, in the opinion of our group leader or local guide, any traveller is unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to themselves and/or the rest of the group, Intrepid Travel reserves the right to exclude them from all or part of a trip without refund.

You should consult your doctor for up-to-date medical travel information or for any necessary vaccinations before departure. We recommend that you carry a first aid kit as well as any personal medical requirements as they may not easily be obtained at the locations on this trip. Please ensure that you are adequately prepared.

AIR POLLUTION IN CHINA:

Air pollution is a recognized issue for travelers in China, particularly in Beijing where the geographical location of the city exacerbates its effects. We provide travellers with certified PM (particulate matter) face masks as an option to be worn as protection during times of high levels of pollution. On days where the Air Quality Index (AQI) is above 101, some activities may be altered for the health and safety of our travellers and leaders. The US Embassy in Beijing provides a hourly updated AQI reading and explanation of the levels here: http://beijing.usembassy-china.org.cn/aqirecent3.html

The high levels of air pollution in major urban and industrialised areas in China may aggravate bronchial, sinus or asthma conditions. Children, the elderly and those with pre-existing medical conditions may be especially affected. Please ensure you bring the required medication with you if you have any of these type of medical conditions.

You can check the pollution index levels for many cities in China on the following website: http://aqicn.org/city/beijing/

icon readmoreicon minusFood and dietary requirements

FOOD IN CHINA:

What IS authentic Chinese food like? Check out these articles to get a taste:

https://www.intrepidtravel.com/adventures/china-food-trip-blog/

https://www.intrepidtravel.com/adventures/china-food-stereotypes/

https://www.intrepidtravel.com/adventures/a-guide-to-traditional-chinese-street-food/

VEGETARIANS & VEGANS:

Vegetarians in China certainly won't go hungry as there are always plenty of meat free options on menus including vegetable, tofu and egg dishes. Your leader can advise on some local favourites. Dairy is uncommon in Chinese cooking, although in some regions like Tibet, Xinjiang and Yunnan you will find milk products as part of the local cuisine. Vegans should also have few problems finding tasty meals in most locations. Nearly all cities will have vegetarian restaurants, often near to temples or monasteries that specialise in Buddhist cuisine. Check out this blog for a guide to eating vegetarian in Beijing: https://www.intrepidtravel.com/adventures/a-vegetarians-guide-to-beijing/

DIETARY NEEDS:

Wherever possible we will cater for dietary needs for included meals, but there may be times when those with special requirements may wish to supplement inclusions with their own supplies from markets or supermarkets. Please note that some dietary requirements, such as Gluten Free, will be uncommon in China and you may need to explain to your leader what you can and can't eat as well as research common dishes before you travel.

ALLERGIES:

For those suffering from particular food allergies, your group leader will endeavor to disclose to their fullest knowledge the main ingredients in dishes being consumed. It is, however, your personal responsibility to ensure that you do not ingest any foods to which you are allergic and research suitable local foods before travelling.

icon readmoreicon minusMoney matters

SPENDING MONEY:

When it comes to spending money on the trip, every traveller is a little different. You know your spending habits better than we do, so please budget a sensible amount for things like meals not included, drinks, shopping, optional activities and laundry. It's always better to bring a little more than you think you'll need. Also make sure you've read your trip details thoroughly so you know what's included in the trip price and what isn't. This should make budgeting a little easier. You'll find this info in the Inclusions section of your Essential Trip Information (that's this document).

SPENDING MONEY:

When it comes to spending money on the trip, every traveller is a little different. You know your spending habits better than we do, so please budget a sensible amount for things like meals not included, drinks, shopping, optional activities and laundry. It's always better to bring a little more than you think you'll need. Also make sure you've read your trip details thoroughly so you know what's included in the trip price and what isn't. This should make budgeting a little easier. You'll find this info in the Inclusions section of your Essential Trip Information (that's this document).

CHINA

The official currency in China is the Yuan or Renminbi (CNY). 1 renminbi (yuan) = 10 jiao (mao). ATMs are widespread, so the easiest way to access cash on your trip is to bring a credit/debit card. Please check with your bank about overseas withdrawal fees before you depart and look for ATMs with your card logo. You may find that your card does not work in certain ATMs, so we recommend purchasing some CNY in your home country so you have some cash for your first day.

Currency exchange is available at major banks and some hotels. The easiest foreign currencies to exchange are USD and EUR, however please be aware of the security risk of carrying large amounts of cash. Commission is sometimes charged for currency exchange. Check the rate before you exchange and carefully check the amount you are given and ask for a receipt.

Please note that due to restrictions on currency conversion for foreigners in China it may not be possible to change left over CNY back into foreign currency, so please plan your budget and spending money well by withdrawing/exchanging what you need as you go.

TIPPING IN CHINA:

If you're happy with the services provided a tip - though not compulsory - is appropriate. While it may not be customary to you, it's of great significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels, inspires excellent service, and is an entrenched feature of the tourism industry across many of our destinations. Although can be difficult to source we advise you to carry small notes of local currency each day to make tipping easier.

In China tipping is not compulsory, but has become expected in the travel industry and is considered a way of showing appreciation for great service.

The following amounts are per person suggestions based on local considerations and feedback from our past travellers:

- Restaurants, markets, and taxi drivers - tipping is not customary and is not expected by the locals.

- Local guides: Throughout your trip you may at times have a local guide in addition to your tour leader. We suggest US$2-US$5 per day for local guides depending on their service and their involvement with the group.

- Drivers: You may have a range of drivers on your trip. Some may be with you for a short journey while others may be with you for several days. We would suggest a higher tip for those more involved with the group, however we suggest US$2-US$4 per day for drivers.

- Your Tour Leader: You may also consider tipping your tour leader for outstanding service throughout your trip. The amount is entirely a personal preference, however as a guideline US$4-US$6 per person, per day can be used. Of course you are free to tip more or less as you see fit, depending on your perception of service quality and the length of your trip. Remember, a tip is not compulsory and should only be given when you receive excellent service.

Please don't tip with coins, very small denomination notes, or dirty and ripped notes. This is regarded culturally as an insult.

Depending on the type of trip you are doing and the number of local staff involved, your tour leader may discuss with you the idea of running a group tipping kitty, whereby everybody contributes an equal amount and then your group leader pays the tips while keeping a running record of all monies spent. The record can then be checked at any time and any money remaining at the end of the tour returned to group members. This is often the easiest way to avoid the hassles of needing small change and knowing when and what is an appropriate amount to tip.

CONTINGENCY FUNDS:

We try to plan for every eventuality, but there are still some things beyond our control. Please make sure you have access to an extra US$500 for emergencies (e.g. severe weather, natural disasters, civil unrest) or other events that result in unavoidable changes to the itinerary (e.g. transport strikes or cancellations, airport closures). Sometimes these things necessitate last minute changes to enable our trips to continue to run, and as a result there may be some extra costs involved.

The recommended amounts are listed in USD for the relatability of universal travellers, however the local currency is needed in the countries you are visiting.

TIPPING IN CHINA:

If you're happy with the services provided a tip - though not compulsory - is appropriate. While it may not be customary to you, it's of great significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels, inspires excellent service, and is an entrenched feature of the tourism industry across many of our destinations. Although can be difficult to source we advise you to carry small notes of local currency each day to make tipping easier.

In China tipping is not compulsory, but has become expected in the travel industry and is considered a way of showing appreciation for great service.

The following amounts are per person suggestions based on local considerations and feedback from our past travellers:

- Restaurants, markets, and taxi drivers - tipping is not customary and is not expected by the locals.

- Local guides: Throughout your trip you may at times have a local guide in addition to your tour leader. We suggest US$2-US$5 per day for local guides depending on their service and their involvement with the group.

- Drivers: You may have a range of drivers on your trip. Some may be with you for a short journey while others may be with you for several days. We would suggest a higher tip for those more involved with the group, however we suggest US$2-US$4 per day for drivers.

- Your Tour Leader: You may also consider tipping your tour leader for outstanding service throughout your trip. The amount is entirely a personal preference, however as a guideline US$4-US$6 per person, per day can be used. Of course you are free to tip more or less as you see fit, depending on your perception of service quality and the length of your trip. Remember, a tip is not compulsory and should only be given when you receive excellent service.

Please don't tip with coins, very small denomination notes, or dirty and ripped notes. This is regarded culturally as an insult.

Depending on the type of trip you are doing and the number of local staff involved, your tour leader may discuss with you the idea of running a group tipping kitty, whereby everybody contributes an equal amount and then your group leader pays the tips while keeping a running record of all monies spent. The record can then be checked at any time and any money remaining at the end of the tour returned to group members. This is often the easiest way to avoid the hassles of needing small change and knowing when and what is an appropriate amount to tip.

icon readmoreicon minusWhat to take

What you need to bring will vary according to the trip style you have chosen, the countries you are visiting and when you are travelling. Generally speaking, we recommend you pack as lightly as possible and make sure that you are able to carry and lift your own luggage, and walk with it for short distances or up or down a flight of stairs. Our travellers usually find the smaller their luggage is, the more they enjoy the trip not having to worry about carrying heavy bags! Aim to keep your main luggage under 15kg.

Many travellers carry their luggage in a backpack, although an overnight bag with a shoulder strap would suffice if you travel lightly. Smaller suitcases or backpacks with wheels are convenient although we recommend your bag has carry straps or handles.

If you are taking overnight trains, or primarily using public transport then the smaller your luggage the easier it will be to store under or above bunks.

A lockable bag or small padlock will be useful especially when travelling on public transportation as well.

You'll also need a day pack/bag to carry water, camera, and jacket etc. when you’re exploring during the day.

Below are some ideas and helpful tips on what you specifically need for this trip.

Essential:

- Clothing: a mixture of lightweight and dry fast clothing and warm layers are recommended essential for travelling in this region. Long shirts, pants, scarves are useful for covering shoulders & knees when visiting religious sites.

- Shoes: sturdy and comfortable shoes for walking long distances are essential.

- Personal travel documents inc. your passport (visa), travel insurance, fight tickets and trip notes. Photo copies of your passport and visa, passport size photos and travel insurance will be handy. While not valid, a photocopy makes it very much easier to obtain replacements if necessary.

- small first aid kit including items such as mild pain killers, electrolytes, Band-Aids and insect repellent, and essential medicine depending on your doctors advice.

- Money: cash/credit card/EFTPOS card and money belt

- Sun protection like hat, sunscreen, and sunglasses.

Recommended:

- Refillable water bottle (1.5 litre capacity suggested): The sale of bottled water contributes to an enormous environmental problem around the world. In addition to the water in bottles, the production of a 1 litre plastic bottle takes 2 litres of water and 200ml of oil. A large proportion end up in limited landfill or discarded in waterways and natural environments.

- Cell phone, camera with spare batteries, charger, and adapter plug

- Hand wash, travel wipes, toiletries and small towel

- Watch/alarm clock and torch/flashlight (and spare batteries)

- Torch or flash light esp. for stay at local guesthouses or home stays

Optional:

- Sleeping bag. Useful for camping, overnight trains and poorly heated hotels, particularly during the winter months of Dec - Feb when temperatures are low.

- Sleep sheet. If you are travelling during the hot season you may wish to pack a sleep sheet so you will be comfortable no matter what the weather.

- Ear plugs to guard against street noise and snorers.

- A good book, a journal and music player for overnight train rides and longer drives.

Other things to consider:

- Check weather in destinations you are travelling to online a few days before you go to make sure you pack appropriate clothing

- Laundry facilities may not be available in all destinations, so make sure you have a few cycles of clothes to tide you over until your next chance to wash

icon readmoreicon minusClimate and seasonal

CHINESE NATIONAL HOLIDAYS:

Please note that China's national holidays are the peak travel season for Chinese nationals. During this time, literally the whole country is on the move - that's over a billion people. Although these are fascinating and exciting times to travel in China, please be aware your group will almost definitely experience transport delays and massive crowds at tourist attractions and train stations. It's common for there to be difficulties in securing train or flight tickets at our preferred times, hotels become overbooked, traffic chaotic and changes to the itinerary are often necessary as a result. If clockwork organisation is important to you we advise you book outside of the weeks of the extended Chinese New Year in January/February, in the first week of May and the first week of October. If you decide to travel during this period please come with an open mind and be prepared for changes on the ground.

Here are the major holiday periods in China:

Chinese New Year: Feb 4-10 2019, Jan 24-30 2020

Qingming Festival: Apr 5-7 2019, Apr 4-6 2020

May Day: May 1 2019, May 1-3 2020

Dragon Boat Festival: Jun 7-9 2019, Jun 25-27 2020

Mid Autumn Day: Sep 13-15 2019, falls within National Day holidays 2020

National Day: Oct 1-7 2019, Oct 1-8 2020

icon readmoreicon minusA couple of rules

Everyone has the right to feel safe when they travel. We don’t tolerate any form of violence (verbal or physical) or sexual harassment, either between customers or involving our leaders, partners or local people. Sexual relationships between a tour leader and a customer are strictly forbidden.

Use or possession of illegal drugs will not be tolerated on our trips. If you choose to consume alcohol while travelling, we encourage responsible drinking, and expect that you’ll abide by the local laws regarding alcohol consumption.

The sex tourism industry is known to exploit vulnerable people and have negative consequences on communities, including undermining the development of sustainable tourism. For this reason, patronising sex workers will not be tolerated on our trips.

By travelling with us you are agreeing to adhere to these rules. Your group leader has the right to remove any member of the group for breaking any of these rules, with no right of refund.

If you feel that someone is behaving inappropriately while travelling with us, please inform your tour leader or local guide immediately. Alternatively, contact us on the emergency contact number detailed in the Problems and Emergency Contact section of this Essential Trip Information.

icon readmoreicon minusFeedback

After your travels, we want to hear from you! We rely on your feedback. We read it carefully. Feedback helps us understand what we are doing well and what we could be doing better. It allows us to make improvements for future travellers.

http://www.intrepidtravel.com/feedback/

icon readmoreicon minusEmergency contact

GENERAL ISSUES ON YOUR TRIP

While we always endeavour to provide the best possible holiday experience, due to the nature of travel and the areas we visit sometimes things can and do go wrong. Should any issue occur while you are on your trip, it is imperative that you discuss this with your group leader or our local representative straight away so that they can do their best to rectify the problem and save any potential negative impact on the rest of your trip.

We recognise that there may be times when your group leader/local partner may not be able to resolve a situation to your satisfaction - if this is the case, please ask the leader to speak to their direct manager.

You may also choose to provide details in your online feedback, which we ask you to complete within 30 days of the end of your trip. But we do ask you to be aware that it is very difficult for us to provide any practical help after the trip is complete.

For general contact details please use the following page: http://www.intrepidtravel.com/ourtrips/contact/

In the case of a genuine crisis or emergency, please contact our local office:

Intrepid’s Local Operator: +86 106 406 7328

Intrepid’s Local Operator: +861064067328

icon readmoreicon minusResponsible travel

Our Responsible Travel Policy outlines our commitment to preserving the environment, supporting local communities, protecting the vulnerable and giving back to the places we travel. All our trip leaders, suppliers and staff are trained on these principles, and are core to us delivering sustainable, experience-rich travel.

Explore the different parts of our Responsible Travel Policy by visiting:

https://www.intrepidtravel.com/responsible-travel

http://www.intrepidtravel.com/ourtrips/rt/responsibletraveller

icon readmoreicon minusAccommodation notes

OCCASIONAL ALTERNATIVE ACCOMMODATION

The style of accommodation indicated in the day-to-day itinerary is a guideline. On rare occasions, alternative arrangements may need to be made due to the lack of availability of rooms in our usual accommodation. A similar standard of accommodation will be used in these instances.

TWIN SHARE / MULTI SHARE BASIS

Accommodation on this trip is on a twin/multishare basis. Please note there may be times where facilities will be shared rather than ensuite and rare occasions when you share a room with passengers travelling on a different Intrepid trip than your own.

CHECK-IN TIME

Throughout the trip we request that our hotels prepare rooms in time for our arrival, especially if we're arriving prior to normal check-in time. However this isn't always possible which means we won't be able to check-in immediately on arrival at some hotels. Instead, we can store our luggage and explore our new destination.

PRE/POST TRIP ACCOMMODATION

If you've purchased pre-trip or post-trip accommodation (subject to availability), you may be required to change rooms from your trip accommodation for these extra nights.

CHINA

HOTEL ROOMS:

Some travellers have reported that hotels/accommodation in this region tend to have harder bed mattresses than those they are used to at home. You may like to request an extra quilt or bedding from the hotels if you find this an issue.

SMOKING ROOMS:

Smoking is prevalent in China and hotels generally do not offer specific non smoking rooms. Larger hotels with central air conditioning will sometimes transport the smell of smoke between rooms. While we ask our hotels to ensure our rooms are well cleaned and ventilated well before occupation in some cases this is not possible, and the smell of smoke may linger. Please speak to your leader about the possibility of changing rooms if you encounter this.

WIFI:

WiFi is often available in hotel reception areas and sometimes in rooms. Your leader will be able to advise on the best places to get connected.

GUESTHOUSES

In smaller, rural locations in China we may stay in guesthouses, which are mostly small family run establishments. Facilities are basic compared to hotels and towels may not be provided. Please note that on occasion the group may be accommodated in separate guest houses within walking distance of each other.

HARD SLEEPER TRAINS CHINA:

We use hard sleeper class trains for most of our overnight train journeys in China. These are not as rough as they sound - compartments are open-plan, clean, with padded berths (6 to a compartment) and sheets, a blanket/quilt & pillow provided. We recommend bringing your own sleeping sheet if you are concerned about the quality/cleanliness of sheets being not what you are used to. Most trains have a dining carriage where meals or snacks are available and all have hot water in each carriage for tea and instant noodles. While we aim to have our groups staying together there may be times where due to ticket availability the group will be staying in different compartments and carriages. Those travellers opting for a Soft Sleeper Upgrade (where available) may need to board the train from a separate waiting area and be in another carriage from the rest of the group. While railway services are rapidly being modernised in China, some train journeys on less frequented routes may use older rolling stock and the carriages of a more basic standard.

icon readmoreicon minusTravel insurance

Travel insurance is compulsory for all our trips. We require that, at a minimum, you are covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. We strongly recommend that the policy also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects.

When travelling on a trip, you won't be permitted to join the group until evidence of travel insurance and the insurance company's 24 hour emergency contact number has been seen by your leader.

If you have credit card insurance your group leader will require details of the participating insurer/underwriter, the level of coverage, policy number and emergency contact number rather than the bank's name and credit card details. Please contact your bank for these details prior to arriving in-country.

http://www.intrepidtravel.com/insurance.php

icon readmoreicon minusYour fellow travellers

As you travel on a group trip you will be exposed to all the pleasures and maybe some of the frustrations of travelling in a group. Your fellow travellers will probably come from all corners of the world and likely a range of age groups too. We ask you to be understanding of the various needs and preferences of your group - patience with your fellow travellers is sometimes required for the benefit of everyone's travel experience. Remember too that you have responsibilities to the group. If you are requested to be at a place at a certain time, ensure that you don't keep the rest of the group waiting. We have found time and time again that the very best trips we operate are those where the dynamics within the group work well - this takes just a little effort on your part. Due to privacy reasons we are unable to provide you with contact details and any personal information about your fellow travellers booked on your trip prior to departure.

SINGLE TRAVELLERS:

Our group trips are designed for shared accommodation and don't involve a compulsory single supplement. Single travellers share with people of the same gender in accommodation ranging from twin to multishare. Some of our itineraries have accommodation booked on a mixed gender share basis and where applicable this will be specified in our Essential Trip Information. On a selection of our trips, you have the option to pay a single supplement to ensure that you have your own accommodation (where available). Please note that this only applies to accommodation during the tour - pre-trip and post-trip accommodation will be booked on a single room basis.

icon readmoreicon minusItinerary disclaimer

ITINERARY CHANGES:

Our itineraries are updated regularly throughout the year based on customer feedback and to reflect the current situation in each destination. The information included in this Essential Trip Information may therefore differ from when you first booked your trip. It is important that you print and review a final copy prior to travel so that you have the latest updates. Due to weather, local conditions, transport schedules, public holidays or other factors, further changes may be necessary to your itinerary once in country. The order and timing of included activities in each location may also vary seasonally to ensure our travellers have the best experience. Your tour leader will keep you up to date with any changes once on tour.

OPTIONAL ACTIVITIES:

A selection of optional activities that have been popular with past travellers are listed in the day-to-day itinerary. This isn't an exhaustive list and should be used as a guide only for some of what might be available. Prices are approximate, are for entrance only, and don’t include transport to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. All activities are subject to availability, and may be on a join-in basis. It may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination, so some pre-planning for what you are most interested in is advised. When it's recommended that travellers pre-book these activities, look for a note in the Special Information section of the day-to-day itinerary. For most, they can either be organised independently on the day, or let your leader know you are interested and they can assist.

Where activities are considered medium or high risk, we work with operators whose safety and credentials we have sighted and assessed. Although it is possible that you may find the same activity cheaper with another operator on the ground, we cannot vouch for the safety or quality of that operator. Medium and high risk activities not listed above have not been assessed by us and as such our staff and leaders are unable to assist you with organising these activities. Activities that contravene our Responsible Travel policies are also not listed. Please remember that the decision to partake in any activity not listed is at your own discretion and risk.

icon readmoreicon minusAccommodation

Hotel (9 nts),Guesthouse/Hostel (7 nts),Overnight Sleeper Train (3 nts)

Kenya Safari!

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