- Walk the walk on the Great Wall of China. There's even the option of taking a toboggan back down!
- Travel how the locals do: make some friends on an overnight train, as well as go high-tech courtesy of China's high-speed rail network.
- See the historic Terracotta Warriors in Xi'an - a must do sight for any visitor to China.
- Spice up your life in delicious Chengdu, then watch pandas doing their cute ol' thing at the Panda Breeding Centre.
- Contrast cycling among farms and karsts in Yangshuo’s picturesque countryside before a jaunt through Hong Kong’s famous neon lights and sensory overload.
- Eat your way through China from Beijing duck to Cantonese yum cha, and challenge yourself with real local delicacies, what will you dare eat? Silk worm, spicy rabbit head, or beer fish, anyone?
This is pretty much the China highlights tour: you’ve got the Great Wall just outside of Beijing, the Terracotta Warriors in Xi’an, epic outdoorsyness in Yangshuo and the neon lights in Hong Kong, oh, and who could say no to pandas! Just remember, Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan and that giant panda all descend from China and were all awesome at kung fu. So take this trip, pay close attention and you could be too. Maybe.
Day 1: Beijing
Nimen Hao! Welcome to China. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm on Day 1. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask the hotel reception where it will take place. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have all these details to provide to your leader. If arriving early there is loads to do in this amazing city. Get acquainted with Beijing on your own before joining your group and leader for the welcome meeting, then head out for an optional first night dinner. Go nuts and order your Peking duck for your first meal in the country. First the skin is carved and served in pancakes, next the carcass is chopped and cooked up into a soup. Don't forget to grab your doggy bag (ducky bag?) of leftovers.
Day 2: Great Wall - Beijing
Head out to the Great Wall at Mutianyu (approximately 2 hours) – one of the best-preserved and easily accessed sections from Beijing. Take in the surrounding amazing views (provided that it is a clear day!). A truly epic piece of engineering, the wall stretches 6000 km westwards from the mountain ridges north of Beijing. It was originally constructed to protect Chinese empires from invaders the north and even though it failed in this purpose, it's still without a doubt one of the country's most amazing achievements.
Day 3: Beijing - Overnight Train
Spend the morning exploring Tiananmen Square. In the afternoon, enjoy free time to explore as you wish, maybe visiting the Forbidden City, the 798 Art District, jumping on a bike and riding through the hutongs, hanging out in the Temple of Heaven park or visiting the Lama Temple. This evening we board the first overnight train from Beijing to Xi'an in a six-berth, air-conditioned cabins (hard sleeper class). 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 not as rough as they sound - compartments are open-plan and clean with padded three-tiered berths (6 to a compartment). Sheets, pillows and a blanket are provided. We recommend bringing your own sleeping sheet as the quality/cleanliness of sheets may not be what you are used to. Safe hot drinking water is always available for making coffee, tea or instant meals. 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 are situated at the end of each carriage with toilets and washbasins. As toilet paper isn't always available it's advised to carry some of your own, keep in mind general train cleanliness may not be to the same standards you are accustomed to. Most trains have a dining carriage where meals are available three times a day, and there are often snacks available on the train along the way. You may wish to purchase extra snacks of your choice before the journey to supplement food available on the train.
Day 4: Xi'an
In the morning arrive in Xi'an. The imperial centre of China for 2000 years, Xi'an is now a vibrant, modern city dotted with loads of interesting historical sites. A monument pays homage to the fact that this was the start of the famous ancient trading route of the Silk Road and the city is still surrounded by city walls. In your free time today we highly recommend visiting the Muslim Quarter with its great market and peaceful Great Mosque, climbing the Bell or Drum Towers or feasting on tasty street food.
Day 5: Xi'an
Visit Xi'an's most famous site, the Terracotta Warriors, with a local guide. Travel by public bus (approximately 2 hours) to reach the site, and spend a few hours exploring. Hear all about this incredible archaeological find (it was discovered by farmers digging a well in 1976 after being buried for thousands of years). These clay statues of soldiers, horses and chariots all standing in battle formation were commissioned by the emperor of the Qin dynasty as part of his mausoleum and a number of pits are now on view to the public. The rest of the afternoon and evening is free time. Maybe check out the night markets and try some of the many tantalising local specialities such as pao mo (lamb broth that you break flat bread into), hand-pulled noodles, hot pot or barbecued meat skewers.
Day 6: Xi'an - Chengdu
Hop on the efficient high-speed train from Xi'an to Chengdu (approximately. 3 hours). Chengdu has a very casual vibe. Here is where locals value life more than work (that's how it should be, right?), so mahjong and tea are two of the most crucial elements in their life. Go on a walking tour with your leader to downtown Tianfu Square where a giant statue of Chairman Mao overlooks his people. Continue to the lively People's Park and sit down in a tea house for a sip of tea, taking advantage of the other services on offer like ear cleaning and massages. Chengdu was listed in 2010 as a gourmet capital by UNESCO, so why not give the local delicacies a go? Spicy rabbit head, anyone?
Day 7: Chengdu
Prepare for the fuzzies this morning as you get up close with the adorable pandas at the Panda Breeding Centre in Chengdu. Learn about the conservation efforts being made to repopulate this ancient species. And of course you'll see them being fed, playing, sleeping or just being plain cute in their playgrounds. Enjoy some more downtime in the afternoon, maybe checking out the hip Kuanzhai Lane or searhcing for some spicy Chengdu snacks on Jinli Street.
Day 8: Yangshuo
Embrace a full day of travelling from Chengdu to Yangshuo today. You'll hop on the bullet train from Chengdu to Guilin (approx. 7hrs), then transfer to the hotel in Yangshuo. Surrounded by limestone karsts, Yangshuo is super popular with both international and domestic tourists, which isn't a bad thing if you're into your cafes and bars. It's 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. Take a walk through the town with your leader on arrival and head down to the Li River to get a feel for a landscape immortalised in plenty of Chinese paintings.
Day 9-10: Yangshuo
The next two days in Yangshuo are free time for you to explore. This is an absolutely stunning region, and every turn in the road brings you to another postcard-perfect spot. The spectacular outdoor light show staged by Zhang Yimou, director of Beijing's Olympic Games Opening Ceremony, is a definite highlight and highly recommended. There are plenty of things to do: hire a bike and pedal through the countryside, enjoy a relaxing boat ride along the Li River, take an early morning tai chi class or just eat and drink your way around town tasting beer fish, the local speciality. Alternatively, why not get a feel for the local produce with a visit to the market, then learn to cook some Chinese dishes at the Yangshuo Cooking School. The recipes are easy to make and the ingredients are readily available outside of China, so you'll be able to recreate them like a pro once you're back home.
Day 11: Hong Kong
Leave Yangshuo and continue your journey to the final stop, Hong Kong. You'll be transferred to Guilin and then hop on the high-speed train (approximately three hours) to Shenzhen. From there, cross the border into Hong Kong and head to your centrally located hotel. Go on a walking tour with your leader, then maybe check out the Temple Street night market or the light show at Victoria Harbour. Take the chance to celebrate your final night with the group in this awesome city.
Day 12: Hong Kong
Your adventure comes to an end today and there are no activities planned.
- Hotel (10 nights)
- Overnight Hard Sleeper Train (1 night)
- Tang Dynasty Show & Dumpling Taste
- Yangshuo - Bike Tour with Lunch & Moon Hill Visit (Minimum. 6 Clients)
- Xi'an - Cycling on City Wall
- Xi'an - Little Goose Pagoda
- Xi'an - Karaoke
- Xi'an - Big Wild Pagoda Fountain Light Show - Free
- Chengdu - Sichuan Opera
- Beijing - Beijing by Bike Urban Adventure
- Beijing - Temple of Heaven
- Beijing - Beijing Foodie Walk Urban Adventure
- Yangshuo - Tai Chi/Kung Fu class
- Xi'an - Great Mosque
- Yangshuo - Li River Cruise
- Yangshuo - Cooking School & Market Tour
- Yangshuo - Impressions Liú Sānjiě show (minimum 4 people)
- Yangshuo - Xianggongshan & Tea Farm Visit (Minimum. 6 Clients)
- Xi'an - Bell & Drum Towers
- Beijing - Lama Temple
- Hong Kong
- Great Wall - Beijing
- Xi'an - Chengdu
- Beijing - Overnight Train
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.