Explore the big cities and quaint villages of China from Beijing to Hong Kong

China really does have it all: tranquil countrysides offering jaw-dropping natural scenery and invigorating hikes, neon cities boasting incredible food and scintillating nightlife and points of historical, artistic and cultural interest at every turn. Get acquainted with this country's complexities and contrasts on this fascinating 23-day adventure that will have you walking the Great Wall, trekking through the Longji rice terraces, idling the hours away in serene Hongcun, drifting along the Li River and living it up in Hong Kong. Jam-packed with colour, culture and zeal, China will astonish you with the levels of diversity and distinction contained within its borders.

To constantly improve our itineraries we take on all feedback from our previous passengers and from our local team.
From 1st January 2017 this trip will change. We will reverse the order of the Yangshuo and Longji Rice Terrace days to reduce travel times.

Beijing, China
Hong Kong, China
Physical rating
Cultural rating
Min 15
Group size
Min 1 Max 16
Carbon offset
763kg pp per trip


  • See the amazing contrasts between North & South China
  • Visit the famous Terracotta Warriors
  • Stay overnight in a unique Hakka village roundhouse
  • Trek alongside rice terraces to the villages of Longji
  • Walk along the Great Wall of China


This itinerary is valid for departures from 23 December 2015 to 09 November 2016. View the itinerary for departures between 01 January 2017 - 31 December 2017

Nimen Hao! Welcome to China.
Your adventure begins with a Welcome Meeting at 6pm on Day 1.

You can arrive at any time during the day as there are no activities planned until this important meeting; please check with the hotel reception where and when it will take place, or check the reception notice boards. If you can't arrange a flight that will have you arrive at the hotel by early evening, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. 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.
The capital of the most populous country on earth, Beijing is quickly shedding its historical face in favour of modernity. However, there are still plenty of places to go that will give you a great insight into the nation's ancient past as well as sights that showcase China's contemporary culture.
As we will depart for the Great Wall on Day 2 of this trip we highly recommend arriving a few days earlier in order to have time to see some of what Beijing has to offer. Some suggestions are:
Enter the imposing Forbidden City, former home to China's imperial rulers and filled with palaces, gardens and seemingly never-ending grand courtyards.
Catch a performance of the world renown Beijing Acrobats.
The Temple of Heaven Park is one of the most popular in Beijing and at any time of the day is full of people of all ages taking part in traditional pastimes such as tai chi, fan dancing, diablo, kite flying, water calligraphy and more.
A trip to the 798 Art District on a Beijing Art and Architecture tour will give you a taste of where art is heading in today's China as you wander the multitude of galleries housed in this old factory complex.
Pick up a bike for the day. You'll need comfortable clothes for cycling. Helmets may not be available for hire - if you wish to have a helmet you'll need to supply your own.
A metro ride can take you to the Summer Palace, once an imperial residence and the largest and best-preserved imperial garden in China.
Visit beautiful Yonghegong, or Lama Temple, which was built in 1694 and is the largest and best-preserved Tibetan style monastery building in Beijing.
Today you will have some free time in the morning to further explore Beijing before we take a private bus to a lesser-known section of the Great Wall (approx 3 hrs drive).

We recommend you bring walking poles with you or purchase these in Beijing for our Great Wall walk on Day 3. You'll need reasonable fitness and walking shoes with good support and grip for our walk. There are many steps and slopes on the way so be prepared for a tough climb in sections. The views and experience though are a real highlight for all our travellers. Because we generally stay at 2 local guesthouses while at the Wall, you will be able to see the Great Wall at sunset or sunrise, an experience that should not be missed!

An incredible piece of engineering, the wall stretches 6,000 km westwards from the mountain ridges north of Beijing. It was originally constructed to protect Chinese empires from the 'barbarians' of the north and even though it failed in this purpose, it's still without a doubt one of the country's most remarkable achievements, and an iconic destination.
Today we rise early and we will trek from the Gubeikou section to the Jinshanling section of the Great Wall.
We will walk over some steep, remote terrain for (approx 5 km or 3 hrs walking depending on fitness). Some parts of the wall are un-restored so you'll need to concentrate hard to keep your footing and in other parts the trail takes us off the wall to walk alongside it through the countryside.

The trek will take around 5-6 hours along the Great Wall. If you do not believe you are fit enough to trek for 6 hours, you can go on the bus with the driver to Jinshanling and still have a chance to walk around this section of the Wall.

Please note for CBRF departures during Chinese Winter (Nov, Dec, Jan, Feb) we may not stay overnight near the Great Wall as the Guesthouses we use do not have adequate heating for the winter months. During these months depending on the weather you might stay in Beijing on these nights to ensure our passengers comfort.
Today is a long travelling day for the group. We travel back to Beijing by bus (approx 3 hours) and here we board our first overnight train in Beijing to Xi'an.

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 standard you are accustomed to. Most trains have a dining carriage where meals are available before the journey to supplement food available on the train.
Arrive into Xi'an in the early morning from our overnight train journey and head to our hotel to freshen up. In most cases we may not be able to check in early due to availability. The Leader will try to secure one room for early check in, so the group to leave their luggage and freshen up, however this is always subject to availability.

The imperial centre of China for 2,000 years, Xi'an is now a vibrant, modern city dotted with many 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.

Your leader will take you on a short walking tour of the city centre, showing you some of the highlights such as the Bell & Drum Towers, Muslim Quarter, the City Walls and Gates.

The rest of the day and evening is free for you to explore Xi'an:

Here are some recommendations for your free time in Xi'an:
Visit the impressive Tang Dynasty Small or Big Wild Goose Pagodas. The Big Wild Goose Pagoda is in a scenic area which also includes the Shaanxi History Museum and Da Cien Temple and is very popular with locals especially in the evenings when there is a nightly light & music show around the many fountains. The Small Wild Goose Pagoda is inside the Jianfu Temple and Xi'an Museum is also nearby.

One of the oldest mosques in China, the Great Mosque in Xi'an features an unusual blend of Chinese and Islamic architecture. Still in use today, the mosque serves as a place of worship for Xi'an's large Muslim population, made up predominantly of the Hui minority. Although non-Muslims are not allowed within the main hall itself, a visit during one of the five daily prayer times adds another dimension of spirituality, no matter what your religion.
Today we explore Xi'an's most famous site - the Terracotta Warriors. It takes around an hour to get there and you'll hear all about this incredible archaeological find, 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.

After visiting the amazing Terracotta Warriors we head to Xi'an train station and board our second overnight train to Shanghai (approx 16 hrs).
Arrive in Shanghai and take the subway to our accommodation.
We have a full day here to explore. Don't worry if you don't fit everything in as we will be returning to Shanghai to conclude our tour and highly recommend adding on a few extra days. Some things you might like to do during your time here include:
Join your leader for a walking tour of historical Shanghai including the Bund with its spectacular array of art deco style buildings, the narrow winding lanes of the Nongtang or the European-influenced French Concession.
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.
The impressive Shanghai Museum houses one of the best collections of Chinese bronze and artwork - you could easily spend the whole day here discovering the various exhibitions.
Wander the Yuyuan Gardens and Bazaar. These famous classical gardens were completed in 1577 by Pan Yunduan, a government official of the Ming Dynasty.
Travel by public bus to Huangshan (approx 6 hours), otherwise known as Yellow Mountain. We will stay here in a local guesthouse for the next two nights.

The 72 peaks of Huangshan provide some of China's most stunning scenery. The paths are steep and often slippery, so you will need good fitness and suitable hiking shoes. How you explore the mountain is up to you, and either way can be taken by cable car. The eastern steps are shorter (7.5km, approx 3-4 hours), but with less spectacular views. The western steps take longer (15 km) and is more difficult. We recommend taking the cable car up, exploring the trails at the summit and then descending via the western steps.

Please note that Huangshan is subject to dramatic changes in weather. You will need to be prepared for mist, fog, rain and cool temperatures. September & October are considered the best months to visit Huangshan weather wise. In any season you should ensure that you take enough clothing, food and water supplies as well as extra money in case the weather changes and you need to take the cable car instead of hiking. As one of China's premier sights, you should also be prepared for crowds of domestic tourists during public holidays, although at any time of the year there can be long waits for the cable car.

After taking in the iconic beauty of Huangshan, which despite the crowds and unpredictable weather is a rewarding destination, we return to our guesthouse for a well earned rest.
Head by public transport through the bamboo and pine forests of Anhui provice to the picturesque villages of the Huizhou region.

A number of the villages are now UNESCO World Heritage sights and were even the backdrop to scenes in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.

We stay overnight in a village guesthouse, giving us plenty of time to wander the maze of cobbled alleys, admiring Ming dynasty architecture and ornate stone carvings, or clambering up into the hillsides for panoramic views of the pretty as a picture traditional settlements.

You might like to explore more villages on your own by bike or public transport, or just meander through the little market or along the waterways on foot.
A long travel day by public transport takes us back to the big smoke of Shanghai.

Celebrate your arrival into Shanghai with a night out in one of Shanghai's chic bars or restaurants along the bund.
Today is a free day to further explore Shanghai.
As this is a combination trip, your group leader and the composition of your group may change at this location. There will be a group meeting to discuss the next stage of your itinerary and you're welcome to attend, as this is a great chance to meet your new fellow travellers.
Free time to further explore this bustling city until this afternoon, when we board our first overnight train Shanghai to Guilin (approx 1500km/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. 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, 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.
This morning our train arrives into Guilin.

We then take a public bus from Guilin Station to Yangshuo (approx.80km/2 hours) and walk the short distance to our hotel.

Yangshuo has become very popular with international and domestic tourists in recent years and has a great cafe and bar culture. It's also one of the best places in the country to get a feel for local culture and traditions and have 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 and towering spectacularly over rice paddies and the meandering Li River.
Today is a free day to explore Yangshuo.
There are plenty of interesting activities to keep us entertained during our time here! Why not:
Take a bike ride to gain an insight into rural Chinese life. This is an absolutely stunning region to explore, as every turn in the road brings you to another picture-postcard location.
The spectacular outdoor light show staged by Olympic Opening Ceremony director Zhang Yimou,director of 2008 Beijing Olympic Games Opening Ceronmony, is a definite highlight and highly recommended.
Enjoy a relaxing boat ride along the Li River.
Take an early morning tai chi class by the riverside.
More free time for you today to see and do what you want. Freedom and flexibility is the name of the game, but your friendly local leader will be on hand to give you suggestions and tips!
A favourite thing to do for many of our passengers, is getting a feel for local produce with a visit to the local markets, then learning to cook some Chinese dishes at the Yangshuo Cooking School. The recipes are easy to make and the ingredients readily available outside of China so you'll be able to recreate them once you get back home.
Today we depart the picturesque Yangshuo and make our way to the the Longji Rice Terrace region of southern China. Today is a long travelling day, we will take 3 public buses before arriving at our destination (approx 200 km)
This evening we overnight in the minority village of Dazhai which is home to the Yao minorities.
The Longji region has some of the most extensive rice terraces you'll ever see. 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.
Take a day hike through the Longji Valley to visit local hilltribe communities and learn about village life. Expect to carry your own day pack and walk for up to five hours as our next accommodation may be in a different village. The hike can be tough going for some, with many uphill stretches and some very slippery paths. However, more experienced hikers will have no problems and there are many more optional walks available, uncovering great photo opportunities around every corner.
We overnight in the village of Ping'an this evening.
This morning travel by private bus from Ping'an to Guilin Airport (approx 150km) in order for us to board our flight to Xiamen.
We then transfer by private bus from Xiamen Airport to the Tulou Village (approx 150km/3 hours).
This area is home to the Hakka people, who traditionally live in round, walled villages or communal houses ("tulou") with many families and generations of the same clan living together.
Accommodation is very basic in local style. It can get quite cold at night in some months so please ensure you bring warm clothes. Washing facilities may be limited, with communal toilets outside of the rooms. We have the option to try some simple local dishes for dinner tonight and breakfast tomorrow which may be quite different from what you are used to, but certainly authentic. The area has been developed for domestic tourism recently and sees lots of day trippers, but few people stay overnight so we will have a great local experience while here.
We will take a walk around the villages with a local guide, including a hike to a view point and nearby waterfall and between some of the clusters of Tulou houses. The length and distance we hike will depend on the weather, local conditions and fitness of the group, however most groups will spend a few hours exploring.
Transfer to by private bus to Xiamen for the evening (approx. 150km/3 hours).
Today is a free day to explore Xiamen.
We suggest you jump on a ferry and head over to Gulang Yu, an island crammed full of historic mansions and villas easily navigable on bike or foot.
Visit the Xiamen University campus with is landscaped grounds and surrounding trendy bars and cafes for a chat with some local students.
Or traipse up the steps to Nanputuo Temple, one of the most important and active Buddhist sites in the region.
Pop into the Overseas Chinese Museum - many ethnic Chinese in Singapore and further afield were originally from Fujian province.
Travel by high speed train to the Chinese border at Shenzhen (approx 500km/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 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.

First you need to walk the short distance from the train station to the border, go through procedures to exit China, then to enter Hong Kong. Once all that's done, travel on the KCR train to central Hong Kong.
It was as a British colony that Hong Kong made itself known to the world - now back under Chinese rule since the 1997 handover, the city is still a unique and fascinating place to explore and 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. The locals are very proud of their Cantonese culture and history, so step out of the shopping malls and off the main streets to discover another side of the city.
As our tour finishes on day 12 and we only have limited time in Hong Kong, we highly recommend staying a few extra days to enjoy all this incredible city has to offer:
Take a scenic journey around the islands of Hong Kong on the famous passenger ferry service, the Star Ferry.
Venture up to the top of Victoria Peak for a bird's eye view.
Watch the harbour's spectacular light show - a stunning spectacle of coloured lights, laser beams and searchlights synchronised to music and narration that celebrates the energy, spirit and diversity of Hong Kong.
Ride the Peak Tram - the only way to truly experience the beauty of Hong Kong's natural wonders. Tens of millions of people from every corner of the globe have taken the ride, which affords a uniquely spectacular perspective of the city.
There are no activities planned for the today and you are able to depart the accommodation at any time.
View trip notes to read full itinerary


Cable car, Metro, Overnight sleeper train, Plane, Private Bus, Public bus, Taxi, Train
Guesthouse (6 nights), Hostel (4 nights), Hotel (9 nights), Overnight sleeper train (3 nights)
Included activities
  • Great Wall - Gubeikou section
  • Great Wall - Jinshanling section
  • Xi'an - Muslim Quarter Walking Tour
  • Xi'an - Terracotta Warriors & Guide
  • Shanghai - Walking Tour
  • Huangshan - National Park Trek
  • Hongcun - Guided Village Tour
  • Longji - Guided Rice Terraces trek
  • Tulou Village - Guided hike & village tour


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Important notes

1. A Single Supplement is available on this trip. See under the Single Traveller section of your Trip Notes for more information.
2. A scanned copy of the personal details page of your passport is required at time of booking in order for us to purchase your train tickets.
3. Please make sure you have access to an additional US$500, to be used when unforeseen incidents or circumstances outside our control (eg. a natural disaster, civil unrest or an outbreak of bird flu) necessitate a change to our planned route.
4. Overnight train accommodation on this tour is in 6-berth ‘hard-sleeper’ class. Bedding is provided and wash basins and toilet facilities (usually one with a toilet seat and one squat-style in each compartment) are available on all trains, but there are no showers or baths.
5. Please note while traveling through mainland China you will not be able to access some popular internet websites.
It’s important to let your family and friends know that you might not be able to stay in touch over your usual methods, be it – social media or email. Or let them know if you have set up a new email address in which you can access in mainland China.
The Chinese Government control and restrict certain websites. Websites on the blocked list could change at any time, any site could be restricted at any moment. Here are some of the most popular websites around the world that are blocked in China: Google, Dropbox, Gmail, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google +, WordPress, LinkedIn,Yahoo Hong Kong, Yahoo Taiwan, Wikipedia and many more.

Trip notes

Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Your trip notes provide a detailed itinerary, visa info, how to get to your hotel, what’s included - pretty much everything you need to know about this adventure and more.

View trip notes


Our Beijing to Hong Kong trips score an average of 4.6 out of 5 based on 15 reviews in the last year.

Beijing to Hong Kong , September 2016

Beijing to Hong Kong , September 2016