- Hike along unrestored sections of the Great Wall, with magnificent views of the Wall winding along mountain ridges, maybe even all to ourselves!
- Find your Zen while learning kung fu from a local master. Learn the basic principles and common misconceptions of the martial art while being guided through moves and practices.
- Cycle through Hutong lanes and past landmarks on an adventure to Beijing’s Forbidden City, and continue your ride later on with a scenic trip through Kaiping, revealing the hidden history and clan culture of its many abandoned fortified tower houses.
- Spend time hiking the rice terrace-carved landscape of Longji, learning a few things about tea picking and perhaps sampling a cuppa at a tea plantation in Yangshuo.
- Discover the coast of Hong Kong by kayak, as you paddle through giant stone arches and to uninhabited islands and beaches for some sun and surf time.
Enter a world of both natural delights and big city lights on this 16-day active adventure through the heart of China. Spend three days hiking sections of the Great Wall of China, including time spent walking an unrestored trail. Keep the activity coming and unearth your inner zen with a lesson in kung fu from a local master, then change gears and swap your walking shoes for a bike for city cycling tour in Beijing. Admire the majestic beauty of Longji rice terraces, appreciate limestone karsts dotted around rice paddies in Yangshuo, discover the abandoned towers of Kaiping and hit the water in Hong Kong. This energetic small-group journey takes you straight to some of China’s most enduring symbols and keeps you on your toes in the process. Hike, bike, kayak, kung fu – this trip has got it all.
Day 1: Beijing
Nimen Hao! Welcome to China. The capital of the most populous country on earth, Beijing has quickly shed its historical face in favour of modernity. However, there are still plenty of places that give an insight into the nation's ancient past, as well as sights that showcase China's contemporary culture. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm where you’ll meet your tour guide and travel pals. If you arrive early, good for you! Settle into your hotel and then maybe head out to explore the Beijing streets – with your hotel located centrally, a walk in any direction will unveil all sorts of wonderful surprises.
Day 2: Great Wall (Hiking)
This morning, make tracks for the first section of the Great Wall – Huanghuacheng (approximately 2 hours’ drive). An incredible piece of engineering, the wall stretches 6000 km (3730 miles) westwards from the mountain ridges north of Beijing. Originally constructed to protect empires from invaders from the north, it is still without a doubt one of the country's most remarkable achievements. Take your first steps along the renowned structure today at Huanghuacheng. This section features a unique part of the Great Wall submerged under water when a dam was built. Spend a couple of hours here hiking along the wall and have lunch in the nearby village before continuing to Gubeikou village tonight. You will stay at a family-run guesthouse for the next two nights. Tonight, learn the art of dumpling making with a demonstration from your hospitable hosts – the best part is tasting the fruits of your own labour!
Day 3: Great Wall (Hiking)
Rise and shine early and trek from the Gubeikou to Jinshanling section of the Great Wall. You will walk over some steep, remote terrain for approximately 5-6 hours. Some parts of the wall have not been restored so you'll need to concentrate hard to keep your footing, while in other parts the trail takes you off the wall to walk alongside it through the countryside. You’ll often feel like you have the whole wall to yourself as you take your time, snaking through the hills almost endlessly into the distance. Being perched on this incredible engineering feat and surveying the spectacular surrounding countryside is an unforgettable experience. In the evening, put your feet up, have a few beers or maybe learn how to play mahjong at your guesthouse – a few of your travel crew will definitely be keen to play.
Day 4: Beijing (Biking)
This morning, get ready for a full day exploration of Beijing on bike. Pick up the bikes and cycle to Temple of Earth Park where you’ll see the local’s morning exercise routine – why not join them to stretch your legs and practise your new kung fu moves? Then, hop back on the bike and cycle through hutongs, along Beijing’s old city moat, stopping at markets and landmarks along the way. You’ll see the National Theatre and a couple of temples, before finishing at the magnificent Forbidden City. Your guides have a rough itinerary in mind, but it has been kept flexible so you can see the best hutongs and most interesting streets and parks along the way. For today’s lunch, you’ll join a local family in one of the hutongs for a traditional meal – it’s a perfect opportunity to learn about the daily life and culture of Beijing residents. After an active day, maybe get out with your new travel friends for an optional dinner to celebrate a great journey together.
Day 5: Jinshanling Great Wall (Hiking) – Changping
This morning, drive back to your finish point yesterday to continue the trek along the Great Wall. This portion of Jinshanling winds through stark hills and mountain ridges. Steep stretches make parts of today's 3-hour trek challenging, but also largely without any of the tourist hordes. This stage is also known for its unusual Barrier Walls, or walls within the Wall, and inscribed watchtowers. Today will be your last day walking the Great Wall, so make the most of it. Once off the wall, you'll be transferred to Changping county to meet your master Shifu for kung fu tomorrow.
Day 6: Changping (Kung Fu) – Beijing
Start the day with a lesson in kung fu. Learn basic principles, common misconceptions and how this ancient practice relates to Zen tradition as an expert instructor guides you through simple moves. Wrap up an enlightening morning with a vegetarian lunch, just like a Shaolin monk, then leave your meditative retreat to return to the vibrance chaos of Beijing later in the afternoon. Tonight is free for you do choose your own adventure. Perhaps you’d like to head to a kung fu show tonight to see if you recognise some of the moves, or why not head to Beijing’s Olympic Park to see it all lit up at night.
Day 7: Beijing
Today is a day to choose your own adventure in Beijing, however energetic or relaxing that may be! Perhaps it’s all about taking a walk in Beihai Park or discovering more hutongs in the old sections of the city, like Nanluoguxiang. Better yet, why not embark on an Urban Adventure, like Beijing Foodie Walk – a best-of-the-best when it comes to snackable eats in Beijing. Head to urbanadventures.com/destination/Beijing-tours for more information.
Day 8: Guangzhou
Today, transfer from your hotel to Beijing Airport for an included flight bound for Guangzhou. Once touched down, meet your representative at the arrivals hall and be transferred to your centrally-located hotel. Please note that you will be unaccompanied for this flight. There are no activities planned for today until another important meeting, usually at 6 pm, where you will be briefed of the next stage of your active adventure, plus meet some new travellers joining you. Afterwards, why not get acquainted (or reacquainted) with your travel pals over an optional dinner. Guangzhou is the capital of Canton province, and as its name suggests, is one of the major hubs of Cantonese cuisine – so be sure to get your dim sum fix tonight!
Day 9: Kaiping cycling - Guangzhou
In the morning, drive about 2 hours south-west to the region of Kaiping for a day of sightseeing. The landcape here is particularly unique - dotted with more than 1800 diaolou, multistorey fortified watchtowers. Build by individual clans largely with money from emigres to South East Asia, Australia and North America in the late 19th and 20th centuries, they are now largely abandoned but still fascinating to explore. The best way of course, is by bike. We spend around 4 hours exploring some of the most picturesque villages and best known diaolou clusters. Return to Guangzhou in the late afternoon for a free evening.
Day 10: Longji Rice Terraces
This morning, you will zip inland on a bullet train to Guilin (about 3 hours). From there, transfer to a private bus for the 3-hour journey to the rice terraces of Longji. This part of the country has some of the most extensive rice terraces around, which change dramatically with the season. This evening, you’ll spend the night in the village of Ping’an, home to the Zhuang community. Get a glimpse into Zhuang culture and traditions at your guesthouse this evening.
Day 11: Longji Rice Terrace hiking - Yangshuo
Today you’ll hike through the Longji Valley and its rice terraces. Constructed over 500 years ago, this region is commonly called the Dragon’s Backbone because the rice terraces are said to resemble a dragon's scales, while the mountain looks like the backbone of the dragon. Walk through stunning scenery, 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. On your way, you might chance upon locals from 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. In the afternoon, drive about 4 hours to Yangshuo.
Day 12: Yangshuo cycling
Soak up the charm of this little 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. Gain an insight into rural Chinese life on a bike tour through the picture-perfect surrounds. Climb moon hill before indulging in a delicious local lunch. Use free time this afternoon to further explore this beautiful region. Perhaps take a scenic boat cruise along the Li River. Alternatively, choose to find your inner Zen with a tai chi class.
Day 13: Yangshuo
Drive out to the countryside to gain an insight into an important element of Chinese culture; learn how tea leaves are grown and picked with a visit to a local tea farm. Follow this up with a short walk up the Xianggong Hill for a stunning view of the Li River winding through rice paddies and limestone hills. Perhaps cap off this scenic excursion with a lovely cup of tea before returning to Yangshuo. If you have free time today, a cooking class of local specialties is a perfect choice.
Day 14: Hong Kong
A bullet train speeds things up, but prepare for a long day of travel today. Hop an eastbound train, arriving in Hong Kong around 5 pm. 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 enter Hong Kong. Once all that's done, you’ll travel on the KCR train to central Hong Kong. After settling into your hotel, why not delve into the city’s renowned food scene for dinner. You tour leader offer suggestions on where to eat if you’re feeling overwhelmed by choice.
Day 15: Hong Kong kayaking
While Hong Kong is largely known for its neon lights, towering skyscrapers and relentless energy, this destination is also ripe with lush green space, quaint fishing villages and unspoiled marshes – if you know where to look. Today we head to Sai Kung for a day of kayaking through some of Hong Kong’s more tranquil parts. Paddle through dramatic caves, uninhabited islands and untouched beaches on a 3-hour adventure. Return to Kowloon tonight for an optional final night dinner with your group.
Day 16: Hong Kong
Your active adventure comes to an end today. There are no planned activities and you are free to depart at any time.
- Hotel (10 nights)
- Guesthouse (5 night)
- Hong Kong - Victoria Peak & Tram
- Hong Kong - The Story of Hong Kong Urban Adventure
- Hong Kong - Nightly Light Show - Free
- Hong Kong - Star Ferry
- Hong Kong - Old vs New Hong Kong Urban Adventure
- Hong Kong - Around Kowloon in 8 Markets Urban Adventure
- Yangshuo - Tai Chi/Kung Fu class
- Yangshuo - Impressions Liú Sānjiě show (minimum 4 people)
- Yangshuo - Li River Cruise
- Yangshuo - Cooking School & Market Tour
- Longji Rice Terrace hiking - Yangshuo
- Hong Kong
- Beijing (Biking)
- Yangshuo cycling
- Jinshanling Great Wall (Hiking) – Changping
- Longji Rice Terraces
- Great Wall (Hiking)
- Kaiping cycling - Guangzhou
- Changping (Kung Fu) – Beijing
- Hong Kong kayaking
Intrepid Travel is the world's largest small group adventure travel company. Intrepid trips are of the grassroots type and include travel via public transport, local food, and locally-owned accommodation Intrepid Travel has come a long way since its humble beginnings in 1989. A company that began with two bearded backpackers, a typewriter and a kitchen table now leads 100,000 travellers across the globe each year. And although we’re a bit larger these days – with 1,000 local staff based around the world and over 800 different trips across every continent (not to mention multiple kitchen tables) – our mission remains the same. We still get a kick out of responsible travel, small groups and very (very) big adventures.