Eat your way through China from Beijing duck to Sichuan pepper, and challenge yourself with authentic local delicacies like silk worms, spicy rabbit head and beer fish.. Walk the walk on the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall, watching the stones snake as far as the eye can see. If you’d like, you can even toboggan back down!. Go local every step of the way. See marquee highlights like the Terracotta Warriors with a local guide and sip tea with residents in People’s Park.. Watch rolly polly baby pandas playing, munching bamboo and generally doing their cute ol’ thing at the Panda Breeding Centre.
You could travel for a lifetime in China and there would still be more to explore, taste and experience… but this 12-day tour does a pretty good job of narrowing it down to the essentials. That means big hitters like the Great Wall, the Terracotta Warriors and baby pandas. But it also means sipping tea in people’s Park, tasting street food in Xi’an and chilling in the misty countryside of Yangshuo. Ni hao baby!
Breakfast Included: Lunches Included: 1 Dinner Included:
Nimen Hao! Welcome to China. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm on Day 1. 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.
Great Wall / Beijing
Head out to the Great Wall at Mutianyu on public transport (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. There’s an opportunity to take a thrilling toboggan ride to the base of the Great Wall (at your own expense), which is a unique way to rest your legs after all the ups and downs on the Wall.
Beijing / Overnight Train
Spend the morning exploring Tiananmen Square and follow your leader through the zigzag lanes that's called hutong locally. Hutong area is one of the most special area in Beijing because these lanes and courtyard houses are the root of old Beijing city and now a special area to peek into the real local life.
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.
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. Begin with a walking tour of the Muslim Quarter, a neighbourhood that is almost 1300 years old. The Muslim Quarter is famous for its food, and along the walk your leader will buy some dishes for you to sample. Some local specialties include persimmon cake, lamb skewers and sticky rice cakes, though exactly what you eat will depend on the season. Enjoy a free afternoon, perhaps paying for bike hire and riding to the top of Xi'an City Wall, the only intact ancient city wall in China. In the evening, your leader will take you to the lively square near the Big Wild Goose Pagoda. Seeing the 600-year-old temple ablaze with lights is pretty amazing and it’s a great place to mingle with locals in the square.
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. Dont miss out on 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.
Xi'an / Chengdu
Hop on the efficient high-speed train from Xi'an to Chengdu (approximately 3 hours). Chengdu has a very casual vibe, and the locals tend to value pleasure more than work, so mahjong and tea are two of the most crucial parts of living. Go on a walking tour with your leader to downtown Tianfu Square, where a giant statue of Chairman Mao stands. Continue to the lively People's Park and sit down in a tea house to sip a brew and take advantage of the other services on offer like ear cleaning and massages. Make the most of your time here and immerse yourself in local life by joining a group dance or martial arts practice. Feeling a little foolish is all part of the fun, and we can almost guarantee you’ll get lots of encouragement from the locals.
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.
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.
Hop on a bike and follow your leader on a cycling tour through the picturesque countryside of Yangshuo. Cycle past karst hills that rise from rice paddies and tiny villages, watching locals working the fields with water buffalo for company. Visiting this stunning region is a trip highlight for lots of travellers, and every turn in the road brings you to another postcard-perfect spot. Ride to Moon Hill and take a short hike on the famous archway for panoramic views of the area. Return to Yangshuo for a free afternoon and evening.
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.
Your adventure comes to an end today and there are no activities planned.