The bright city lights of Shanghai are a perfect place to begin – stroll along the Bud, explore the ancient longtangs and get a taste of the renowned cuisine. You’ll definitely need more than a day!. In Longji, hike the beautiful rice terraces that snake through the mountains of Longsheng like giant dragons, and visit hill tribe communities to learn of a local way of living.. Enjoy time to sit back and relax beside the dramatic karst countryside of Yangshuo. This region, immortalised in countless traditional Chinese paintings, is a haven of exploration.. Local knowledge goes a long way when it comes to really discovering the south of China. And with a leader to offer suggestions and tips along the way, you’ll be exploring, eating and drinking the best of the best.
How do you get a grasp of China in just over a week? The big cities, misty countryside, sleepy rural villages and varied cuisine may seem overwhelming, but on a nine-day Lonely Planet Experience from Shanghai heading south, you’ll gain a tasteful insight into the tapestries of history and deep-seated traditions that make this region shine. Discover Yangshuo’s literary landscapes, Longji’s terraced rice fields, and the longtangs and tucked-away neighbourhoods that make Shanghai and Hong Kong such thriving centres of cuisine, culture and industry. Plus, with a group of likeminded adventurers joining you each step of the way, you’ll have more than one eager companion to share a plate of dumplings.
Breakfast Included: Lunches Included: Dinner Included:
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. 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. This evening, keep the introductions going with your travel crew – perhaps get a taste of Shanghai’s eclectic food scene, which draws influence from far beyond China’s boundaries.
Shanghai – Overnight Train
This morning, enjoy some free time to get a bigger taste of Shanghai. 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, daydream of a 1920s Shanghai along the Bud, wander the Yuyuan Gardens and Bazaar, barter in markets, stroll through modern Pudong or explore ancient longtangs. So much to do! Keep in mind you’ll be boarding an overnight train from Shanghai to Guilin some time this afternoon (approximately 18–20 hours). 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.
Longji Rice Terraces
Disembark the train in Guilin and jump on a bus 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 spend the night in the village of Dazhai, which is home to local Yao communities. The Yao still preserve some of their traditional lifestyle and unique customs, for example you may notice that women don't cut their hair until they turn 16, when a haircut symbolises their entrance into adulthood. The hair is kept by the woman's grandmother until it is made into an ornamental headdress and presented to the woman's spouse.
Longji Rice Terraces
Today you’ll hike through the Longji Valley and its rice terraces, constructed over 500 years ago. This region is often referred to as the Dragon’s Backbone because the rice terraces resemble a dragon's scales, and the mountain ridge provides 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 hiking and admiring the scenery, spend the night in the picturesque village of Ping'an.
This morning, head on public transport towards Yangshuo (approximately 4 hours). Soak up the charm of this town, popular with many domestic and foreign travellers who come for the beautiful landscapes. It's also one of the best places in the country to get a feel for local cultures and traditions. The countryside around Yangshuo is immortalized in many traditional Chinese paintings – artists are drawn to the striking limestone karsts dotting the landscape, towering spectacularly over rice paddies and the meandering Li River. You might be wondering why it all looks so familiar – that’s because it’s pictured on every 20 yuan note.
Today is a free day in Yangshuo. You could begin by focusing your body and mind with a morning tai chi class or kung fu lesson, and then stay active by hiring a bike and cycling past rural Chinese towns. You could climb up to Moon Hill – a limestone pinnacle with a moon-shaped hole penetrating the hill – or take a stroll along the river for some pretty stunning riverside vistas. 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, why not book a ticket to watch an outdoor light show staged by 2008 Beijing Olympics’ Opening Ceremony director Zhang Yimou.
Another free day to explore at your leisure in Yangshuo. Freedom and flexibility are key today, and your local leader will be on hand to give you all their suggestions and tips. If you’re still feeling active, then up in the limestone hills are a number of caves that can be explored. If you’d rather see things from a different perspective, kit up in a rock-climbing harness and tackle one of the 300 rock-climbing routes. For a more laidback day, why not visit the local markets and get a feel for what’s grown in the region. You can then choose to put this new knowledge to use in a cooking class at the Yangshuo cooking school.
This morning, travel by high-speed train to the Chinese–Hong Kong border at Shenzhen (approximately 4 hours). Walk a 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 West. Hong Kong's cityscape is spectacular, and its modernity and fast-paced way of doing things means it’s become a popular destination for travellers from around the world. Tonight, why not get together with your travel group and find a dim sum banquet to share – a sumptuous meal around a large table is a perfect way to celebrate your Lonely Planet adventure.
With no activities planned for today, you are able to depart the accommodation after checkout. As there isn’t heaps of time spent in Hong Kong, we recommend spending a least an extra couple of days to see what this city has to offer. Yes, you’ve got Victoria Peak and the harbour’s light show, but what about the up-and-coming Sham Shui Po neighbourhood – full of boutiques, open-air street markets and Michelin-star hole-in-the-wall diners, or Tai Kwun – an old prison which has now been converted into a contemporary art and performance space. With so much to see and do, if you would like to spend more time here, we’ll be happy to organise additional accommodation (subject to availability).