China feels like a hundred different moods, landscapes and countries rolled into one.
Neon cities, remote villages, deserts, smoky markets and ancient artefacts - there are new adventures around every corner. Even after a lifetime in China, there would still be more to see, taste, admire and experience.
Top China travel deals
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Our China trips
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China tour reviews
Our China trips score an average of 4.79 out of 5 based on 193 reviews in the last year.
China Highlights, December 2016
I am happy to recommend the China Highlights tour- we were busy everyday seeing ancient artifacts and the local people. It was all that we expected and much more.
Review submitted 28 Mar 2017
China Experience, March 2017
Intrepid takes more environmental and social responsibility than the other three tour companies that I have travelled with. Communication and support from intrepid is also better than other tour companies. I feel safe booking with them.
Review submitted 27 Mar 2017
Articles on China
China travel highlights
See stately pagodas in Kunming
Enjoy a cruise down the Yangzi River
Discover the gastronomic delights of vibrant Hong Kong
Sample sizzling Sichuan cuisine in Chengdu
The Great Wall of China
Walk a section of the iconic Great Wall of China
Visit the Terracotta Warriors in Xi'an
Cycle slowly through rural Yangshuo
Shop up a storm in sophisticated Shanghai
Sip tea by a canal in charming Xitang
Transport in China
Intrepid believes half the fun of experiencing a new country is getting there, and getting around once there! Where possible, Intrepid uses local transport options and traditional modes of transport - which usually carry less of an environmental impact, support small local operators and are heaps more fun.
Depending on which trip you're on while in China, you may find yourself travelling by:
Cycling through China is a great way to see the country from ground level. Whether you're pedalling through the hutongs or the countryside, you'll see the sights and get to meet locals along the way.
Speed across China in a super fast bullet train. It's one of the most effective ways to cover long distances in a short time.
Cruising down the Yangzi River is a quintessential China travel moment. Take in the scenery and bask in the epic glory of the dramatic Three Gorges.
Accommodation in China
Travelling with Intrepid is a little bit different. We endeavour to provide travellers with an authentic experience to remember, so we try to keep accommodation as unique and traditional as possible.
When travelling with us in China you may find yourself staying in a:
Overnight Sleeper Train
Sleeping on an overnight train may not be the most comfortable experience but you'll get the chance to mingle with locals, play cards with other travellers or simply sit back and watch the scenery whiz by.
For an authentic experience, enjoy staying with local families in the hilltribe villages of the Sapa region where hospitality, fun and traditional food await.
China holiday information
At a glance
Best time to visit China
Culture and customs
Eating and drinking
Geography and environment
History and government
Top 10 Must-See Icons of China
Festivals and Events in China
Health and safety
China travel FAQs
Most nationalities require a visa for mainland China. You must obtain your Chinese visa in advance. It is not possible to get a visa on arrival and Chinese visas can be difficult to obtain outside your country of residence. You may be able to apply for your visa in Hong Kong If you have time here before your trip departs. You will need a Single Entry Tourist for your trip valid for 30 days.
Hong Kong is not considered part of mainland China for immigration purposes and most nationalities do not require a visa. Please check with an embassy for specific requirements for Hong Kong.
Please make sure if you have a transit anywhere in China before arriving at your destination that you check with your airline to see if the transit will require using your visa.
INFORMATION REQUIRED FOR CHINESE VISA APPLICATION:
List the destinations you will visit in China in chronological order on your application form. Do not mention Tibet anywhere on your application form, even if your tour goes here. You will be given a specific itinerary to use if booking a Tibet trip. While Tibet is not off limits to travellers, you must first obtain a Chinese visa BEFORE we apply for your Tibet permit on your behalf.
Including Tibet on your visa application without being booked on a government arranged tour will lead to your visa being rejected.
Name of Host/Inviting Organisation:
This will be supplied at time of booking
DOCUMENTS REQUIRED FOR VISA APPLICATION:
* Hotel List - this will be sent to you at time of booking. If you do not receive this, email us with your booking number and trip details.
* Official invitation from licensed Chinese tourism company - this will be provided from us together with the Hotel List to all travellers regardless of whether it is required by the consulate or not and will assist with your application.
* Itinerary – print off a copy of your specific trip itinerary from our website and include it with your application, marking the dates you will visit each destination if required (exception - Tibet tours)
* Photocopy of your passport
* Passport size photos (up to 4 may be required)
* Check with the consulate for any other specific requirements
DOCUMENTS REQUIRED FOR TRAIN TICKET BOOKINGS:
We require you send the following at the time of booking or at least 30 days prior to travel:
*Clear, colour scanned copy of the personal details page of your passport
(Please make sure that this copy is for the passport that you will be travelling on. If you have to renew your passport after booking please notify us as soon as you have a new passport number and bring your old passport with you on your trip in case it is requested)
Generally, tipping is not expected on mainland China, although leaving spare change at restaurants and giving a small amount to porters or bar staff is becoming more commonplace (although not mandatory). Some large hotels and restaurants may already include a 10%-15% surcharge within the bill. The culture of tipping is different in Hong Kong, where taxi drivers and restaurants will usually round up the bill, and service staff like porters will generally expect a tip.
Travellers can access the internet via internet cafes and Wi-Fi hot spots in China's cities. Internet access is less available in rural and remote areas. Please note that some web sites are censored in China.
Mobile phone coverage is generally very good in China's cities, but less so in remote and rural areas. Ensure global roaming is activated before leaving home if you want to use your phone.
Most of China's toilets are squat toilets, although flushable toilets can sometimes be found in modern hotels and restaurants. Be sure to carry your own supply of toilet paper and soap, as these are rarely provided.
Metro ride = 3 RMB
Can of soft drink = 3-5 RMB
Bottle of beer = 7-10 RMB
Basic lunch = 15 RMB
Basic rice or noodle dinner 25 RMB
Three-course dinner = 80 RMB
Drinking tap water isn't recommended in China. For environmental reasons, try to avoid buying bottled water. Fill a reusable water bottle or canteen with filtered water. Ask your leader where filtered water can be found; some hotels we stay in may have drinking water available. It's also advisable to avoid ice in drinks and peel fruit and vegetables before eating.
Credit cards are accepted by China's large stores, hotels and restaurants, but less so by smaller vendors and market stalls where cash is usually the only payment option. Carry both modes of payment to be sure.
Travellers will be able to access ATMs in China's large cities and regional centres. Rural and remote areas will have less ATM access so ensure you have other payment modes before venturing out of the city.
Absolutely. All passengers travelling with Intrepid are required to purchase travel insurance before the start of their trip. Your travel insurance details will be recorded by your leader on the first day of the trip. Due to the varying nature, availability and cost of health care around the world, travel insurance is very much an essential and necessary part of every journey.
For more information on insurance, please go to: Travel Insurance
- 1 Jan New Year's Day
- 2 Jan New Year Holiday
- 3 Jan New Year Holiday
- 27 Jan Chinese New Year's Eve
- 28 Jan Spring Festival
- 29 Jan Spring Festival
- 30 Jan Spring Festival
- 31 Jan Spring Festival
- 1 Feb Spring Festival
- 2 Feb Spring Festival
- 3 Apr Ching Ming Festival
- 4 Apr Ching Ming Festival
- 5 Apr Ching Ming Festival
- 1 May Labour Day
- 28 May Tuen Ng Festival / Dragon Boat Festival
- 29 May Tuen Ng Festival / Dragon Boat Festival Holiday
- 30 May Tuen Ng Festival / Dragon Boat Festival Holiday
- 1 Oct National Day
- 2 Oct National Day
- 3 Oct National Day
- 4 Oct National Day
- 4 Oct Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival
- 5 Oct National Day
- 6 Oct National Day
- 7 Oct National Day
Please note these dates are for 2017. For a current list of public holidays in China go to: http://www.worldtravelguide.net/china/public-holidays
Intrepid is committed to travelling in a way that is respectful of local people, their culture, local economies and the environment. It's important to remember that what may be acceptable behaviour, dress and language in your own country, may not be appropriate in another. Please keep this in mind while travelling.
Top responsible travel tips for China
- Be considerate of China’s customs, traditions, religion and culture.
- For environmental reasons, try to avoid buying bottled water. Fill a reusable water bottle or canteen with filtered water instead.
- Always dispose of litter thoughtfully, including cigarette butts.
- When bargaining at markets, stay calm, be reasonable and keep a smile on your face. It's meant to be fun!
- Learn some local language and don't be afraid to use it - simple greetings will help break the ice.
- Shop for locally made products. Supporting local artisans helps keep traditional crafts alive.
- Refrain from supporting businesses that exploit or abuse endangered animals.
- Please ask and receive permission before taking photos of people, including children.
- When on community visits or homestays, refrain from giving gifts or money to locals.
The Intrepid Foundation
The Intrepid Foundation provides travellers with an opportunity to give something back to the many wonderful communities we travel to. By donating to The Intrepid Foundation you can make a difference in local communities - in health care, education, human rights, child welfare and the protection of wildlife and the environment.
In China, The Intrepid Foundation proudly supports:
Braille Without Borders
This organisation aims to facilitate the integration and acceptance of the blind in Tibetan society by providing rehabilitation and education for blind children. In Lhasa, they have a preparatory school, medical massage training and a Braille printing press. At the vocational training centre and farm in Shigatse they teach skills including animal husbandry, market gardening, agriculture, cheese production, bread baking and kitchen management.
This proactive not-for-profit organisation helps the disadvantaged local community to live more independent lives. Art and craft workshops teach skills and foster employment options while public education projects enlighten the community about the ways in which people with disabilities can contribute to society.
Image supplied by Kim Bowden and Jane Crouch.
Providing skills, training, employment services and housing assistance, this organisation works to better the lives of disabled people in Xi'an by increasing the amount of opportunities available to this marginalised section of the population.
Image supplied by Xi'an Huiling.
To learn more or donate, go to: www.theintrepidfoundation.org