- 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
Enter a world of both natural wonder and big city glamour. Discover friendly people, a passionate food culture, historic sites and deep-seated traditions on this all-encompassing southern China expedition. Meet locals in the countryside and big cities, chow down on traditional delicacies and world-class fare and explore the wealth of history and modern developments of this mighty nation.
Day 1: Shanghai
Nimen Hao! Welcome to China. Blending 21st-century architecture with old-world character, Shanghai pulses with the beat of new China. Your adventure begins with a Welcome Meeting at 6 pm this evening where you'll meet your tour leader and fellow travellers. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask reception where it will take place. Settle into your hotel and then get a feel for this vibrant city – Shanghai’s bright lights, fevered trade and frenetic pace provide a glimpse into the dazzling global future of the country. Your evening is free for your first exploration of the city – perhaps get a taste of Shanghai’s eclectic food scene, which draws influence from far beyond China’s walls.
Day 2: 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.
Day 3: 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!
Day 4: 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.
Day 5: 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!
Day 6: 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.
Day 7: 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.
Day 8: 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.
Day 9: Hong Kong
There are no activities planned for today and you are able to depart the accommodation any time this morning.
- Hotel (5 nights)
- Guesthouse (2 nights)
- Overnight Sleeper Train (1 night)
- Yangshuo - Bike Tour with Lunch & Moon Hill Visit (Minimum. 6 Clients)
- 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 - Xianggongshan & Tea Farm Visit (Minimum. 6 Clients)
- Yangshuo - Impressions Liú Sānjiě show (minimum 4 people)
- Yangshuo - Li River Cruise
- Yangshuo - Cooking School & Market Tour
- Longji Rice Terraces
- Hong Kong
- Shanghai - 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.