Beijing to Kashgar Trip Notes

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    • CDOT
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Last Modified: 30 Oct 2012
Beijing to Kashgar
Trip code: CDOT
Validity: 01 Jan 2011 to 31 Dec 2011
Discover a land of vast open landscapes and ancient treasures on this adventure from Beijing to Kashgar. The ever-breathtaking Great Wall, imposing Terracotta Army, beautiful Buddhist artwork in the Mogao Caves and a mixing pot of people, culture and cuisines all await, as we journey along the legendary Silk Road through the Taklamakan Desert to the fascinating market town of Kashgar.
This trip is operated by our experienced local partners Dragoman Overland. Dragoman shares Intrepid's ethos for adventure travel and has many years' expertise in overlanding.
Table of Contents
StyleDeparture taxFinish point
ThemesImportant notesEmergency contact
ItineraryGroup sizeEmergency funds
We also recommendYour fellow travellersVisas
Itinerary disclaimerSingle travellersIssues on your trip
Culture shock rating AccommodationWhat to take
Physical ratingMeals introductionHealth
Physical preparationMealsSafety
Included activitiesTransportTravel insurance
KittyGroup leaderResponsible Travel
Optional activitiesJoining point A couple of rules
Money ExchangeJoining point descriptionThe Intrepid Foundation
Spending moneyJoining point instructionsFeedback
TippingArrival complications
To save you money and the hassle of booking multiple trips, this journey is a combination of some of our most popular adventures so your leader and the composition of your group may change.
Style
Basix
  • The best value journeys on the planet! On a Basix trip you can expect amazing experiences, but none of the inclusions that you may not want. Which means budget (1-2 star) accommodation, plenty of free time, activities that are optional and the freedom to choose meals to suit your budget. On some trips you may be camping and required to set up your own tent. You'll also have access to a group leader to offer advice and help you uncover the region's hidden gems. On a Basix journey, the way you travel is all a part of the adventure. Depending on the destination and the itinerary, you could find yourself travelling on anything from a donkey to a bus or a private safari vehicle. These trips are ideal for first-time travellers seeking fun and independence with the support of a group leader. They're also ideal for independent travellers looking to make the most of their travel time with minimum hassle and maximum experiences.
Themes
Overland
Itinerary
Days 1-2 Beijing
Nimen Hao! Welcome to China.
There will be an important group meeting at 6pm.
You can arrive at any time as there are no activities planned until this important meeting; please ask the hotel reception where it will take place. If your flight arrives too late, we recommend that you consider arriving a day early and book a night's accommodation prior to the trip so you are able to attend. If you are going to be late please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your kitty, insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting so please ensure you have all details on hand 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.
The next morning we take a guided tour of the Forbidden City. The afternoon is free to explore the many sights, sounds and flavours of Beijing.
Included Activities
  • Beijing - Forbidden City
  • Ming Tombs, entrance, Beijing
Accommodation
Hotel (2 nts)
Day 3 Qing Dongling
Today we set off early in the morning for the 90 km drive to the Qingdongling where we will explore the famous Ming tombs. Overnight in a local hotel.
The tombs of Qing Dongling are some of the most fascinating sites in China. In the heart of the Eastern Tombs is a tomb called Xiaoling. All in all there are total of five emperors, fifteen empresses, and 136 concubines are buried at the Eastern Tombs. All of these with one exception are arrayed to the east and west of this centrally located Xiaoling. Towards the north are the mountains which create the backdrop to a sensational city.
Included Activities
  • Quingdongling Tombs, entrance, Beijing
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 4 Huairou
A 110 km drive northeast to the Great Wall with time to explore and the option of a short trek. Overnight in local hotel.
Huairou is a typical Chinese town. Sit back and enjoy the scenery, listen to the local folk music and try the homemade tea and Huairou rainbow trout. Escape from the tourist locations and find your own haven in one of China's most tranquil towns.
Included Activities
  • Jinshanling - Great Wall
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Days 5-6 Chengde
Set off on a drive to Chengde. The evening is free to explore this ancient and magnificent town.
Chengde is located in Hubei Province, the heavily populated region that surrounds Beijing. Once a royal city, this 18th century imperial resort town has plenty of historic monuments to boast about. The imperial family would have moved here during the hot summer months, because of the cool and refreshing mountain air. There are many historical sites to explore, including the regal gardens (the largest in China), the Imperial Summer Villa and a profusion of temples. Many of the temples and monasteries have a Mongolian and Tibetan feel, this is largely because of the legacy of Emperor Qinlong, who wanted to assimilate both regions into his empire. In recent years, mirroring the city's history, Chengde has become a very popular weekend retreat for the wealthy of Beijing - and so it's home to some excellent restaurants.
The next day visit Bishu Shanzhuang and the Puning Temple.
Included Activities
  • Imperial City, entrance, Chengde
Accommodation
Hotel (2 nts)
Days 7-8 Datong
Drive to the city of Datong in China's Shanxi province.
The next day we visit the Hanging Monastery and Yungang Caves.
The Yungang Grottoes, are a UNESCO World Heritage complex of 21 caves containing over 50000 statues, some of which are the oldest of this type in China. Looking at the rock art you will be able to pick out influences from an amazing variety of different cultures, including Greek, Persian and Indian.
Visit the Hanging Monastery, which dates back over 1400 years, beautifully located right on the edge of a cliff. The monastery consists of over 40 different halls and is home to an impressive array of bronze, stone, clay and iron statues.
Included Activities
  • Datong - Hanging Monastery
  • Datong - Yungang Grottoes
Accommodation
Hotel (2 nts)
Days 9-10 Hohhot
Set off in the early morning to drive approximately 250 km to Hohhot. Wander around town and experience the diversity of the city.
Hohhot is the provincial Capital of Inner Mongolia, but is largely a Chinese city inhabited in the main by Han Chinese. It is a good stopover point while crossing Inner Mongolia. It has an interesting museum (Inner Mongolia Museum), a few good temples (Five Pagoda, Xiletuzhao and the Dazhao temples) and a lively street life.
The next day drive 90 km to a Mongolian ger camp in the grasslands north of Hohhot. There may be an opportunity to go horse riding or try some yak butter tea. We spend the night in a Mongolian ger, sharing with others in the group.
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt), Yurt (1 nt)
Day 11 Yinchuan
Drive approximately 600 km towards Yinchuan. If time permits we will stop at the Zhongwei Gao Miou Temple complex for a tour before continuing to Yinchuan for the night.
Yinchuan is a very relaxed city with a lively market and a friendly atmosphere. It's a good place to kick-back and soak up the atmosphere of everyday life in a provincial Chinese city. Wandering around the streets and experiencing the hustle and bustle as the locals go about their daily business is a good way to see the "real" China for yourself.
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 12 Shapotou
Drive to Shapotou, arriving early evening.
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Days 13-14 Gansu Province/Mount Kongtong
The morning is free for activities in Shapotou. In the afternoon set off towards either Pingliang in Gansu province, or Guyuan in Ningxia province. If the group visits Guyuan, a tour of the ancient Xumi Shan grottoes is included. If the group visits Pingliang, a stunning walk around Mount Kong Tong is possible.
Guyuan is well off all the tourist trails. This is the China of the ancient Silk Route and oozes history and intrigue. Today its lively markets come alive in the afternoon, when neighbouring villages come to do their shopping.
Gansu Province is in north-western China, between Inner Mongolia and the Huangtu Plateau, bordering Mongolia and Xinjiang. Caravans passed through Gansu on the infamous Silk Road, travelling to and from Europe - so the region has a rich and interesting history.
Close to the city of Pingliang is Mount Kongtong, an important sacred site for believers in Taoism. It's usually possible to climb the mountain and you'll be rewarded with magnificent views from the top as you emerge from the rich and verdant vegetation that cover the surrounding hillsides. As you climb, you will ascend through five different "terraces", passing many temples and shrines along the way. The highest peak is known as "The Emerald Screen Peak", rising to 2100 metres above sea level.
The following day we visit either Xumi Shan in Guyuan or Mount Kong Tong in Pingliang, depending on which we went to the day before.
Please note that occasionally some trips will visit Pingliang twice, although we try to avoid this where possible.
Included Activities
  • Pingliang - Kongtong Mountain
  • Xumi Shan Grottoes, entrance, guyuan
Accommodation
Hotel (2 nts)
Days 15-18 Xi'an
In the early morning set off on a drive to Xi'an (approx. 350 km). Arrive late in the afternoon and after checking in to the hotel, the evening is free to explore this diverse and multi-cultural city. A good option is a walk around the night market to buy some last minute souvenirs or catch a cultural show over a dumpling banquet.
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.
There is plenty of free time over the next few days to explore Xi'an. Perhaps cycle around the ancient wall or visit the Bell and Drum towers. We will also take a guided tour of the famous Terracotta Warriors.
The most popular attraction in Xi'an, and the place that has made the city most famous around the world, is the Terracotta Warriors. The Warriors are certainly an 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. More pits were recently opened so you may even be lucky enough to see archaeologists at work, carefully unearthing and restoring these ancient relics.
Included Activities
  • Xi'an - Terracotta Warriors guided tour
Optional Activities
  • Bell & Drum Towers - CNY50
  • Cycling on City Wall - CNY80
Accommodation
Hotel (4 nts)
Day 19 Pingliang, Gansu Province & Mount Kongtong
In the morning we set off towards either Pingliang in Gansu Province or Guyuan in Ningxia province. If you visit Guyuan a tour of the ancient Xumi Shan grottoes is included. If the group visits Pingliang, a stunning walk up Mount Kong Tong may be possible. Accommodation is in a comfortable hotel.
NB: Please note that some Beijing to Kashgar trips will visit Pingliang twice although we will try and avoid this where possible.
Guyuan is well off all the tourist trails. This is the China of the ancient Silk Route and oozes history and intrigue. Today its lively markets come alive in the afternoon, when neighbouring villages come to do their shopping.
Guyuan makes a good base to explore the nearby Xumi shan Grottoes. These dramatic grottoes lie about 50 km north of Guyaun and makes a worth while day trip. There are more than one hundred caves that have been carved out from the cliff faces on five adjoining hillsides, and a large number of statues survive, primarily from the Northern Wei, Sui and Tang
dynasties. The natural backdrop is beautiful and secluded. The grottoes occupy a huge site of rusty red sandstone cliffs and shining green tree-covered slopes commanding panoramic views.
Gansu Province is in north-western China, between Inner Mongolia and the Huangtu Plateau, bordering Mongolia and Xinjiang. Caravans passed through Gansu on the infamous Silk Road, travelling to and from Europe - so the region has a rich and interesting history.
The streets of Pingliang are lined with wonderful shops and you can spend hours exploring them, but the main attraction of this city is the mountain range, which contains the Kongtong mountains, which has been used as a mythical meeting point in the past. If you have the opportunity to climb this mountain, do so, as the views from the top are beautifully rewarding.
Close to the city of Pingliang is Mount Kongtong, an important sacred site for believers in Taoism. It's usually possible to climb the mountain and you'll be rewarded with magnificent views from the top as you emerge from the rich and verdant vegetation that cover the surrounding hillsides. As you climb, you will ascend through five different "terraces", passing many temples and shrines along the way. The highest peak is known as "The Emerald Screen Peak", rising to 2100 metres above sea level.
Included Activities
  • Pingliang - Kongtong Mountain
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 20 Lanzhou
Today we drive 240 km to Gansu’s capital, Lanzhou. Accommodation is in a comfortable hotel.
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Days 21-22 Xiahe
In the early morning we head to the enchanting Tibetan town of Xiahe. We will arrive in the early evening and settle in to our rustic guesthouse.
Xiahe has been described as "one of the most enchanting places to visit in China". Certainly it has a wonderful tranquil
atmosphere and a beautiful setting. Many Tibetans come here on pilgrimage - and the combination of the many monasteries, saffron-robed monks, fluttering prayer flags and spectacular scenery make this small town feel very like Tibet as well. Indeed, in all but name, you are in Tibet; Xiahe is right up on the edge of the Tibetan Plateau and the population here is over 45% Tibetan.
The second day here is free to explore this beautiful town and surrounding grasslands.
Options include a guided visit to the Labrang Monastery where Tibetan monks can be seen doing their daily rituals and chants. There may also be a chance to go horse riding in the surrounding grasslands visiting Tibetan families and perhaps trying the local Yak butter tea.
Optional Activities
  • Labrang Monastery, Xiahe - USD6
Accommodation
Guesthouse (2 nts)
Day 23 Liujiaxia
Today we continue our journey to Liujiaxia. Overnight in a comfortable hotel.
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 24 Bingling Si/Zhangye Bush Camp
This morning we will visit the Bingling Si Caves.
While Bingling Si is one of numerous thousand Buddha caves that can be found in China, these ones are very special. They contain 694 statues and 82 clay sculptures. The highlight of the cave is the 27 metre high seated statue of Maitreya Buddha. Indeed this cave complex is one of the best in China and yet because of its relative isolation, it is less visited than the main Chinese sites.
The caves are a set of Buddhist grottoes are carved into the cliff of a 60 metre high gorge. They are most impressive especially because they are surrounded on one side by the waters of the Liujiaxia Reservoir.
In the afternoon we will drive to towards Jiayuguan, bushcamping en route.
Included Activities
  • Liujiaxia - Bingling Si Caves
Accommodation
Bush camp (no facilities) (1 nt)
Day 25 Jiayuguan/Great Wall
Full day drive to Jiayuguan (approximately 400 km). Jiayuguan is the location for the western end of the Great Wall. Tonight will be spent bushcamping at the Great Wall of China.
Accommodation
Bush camp (no facilities) (1 nt)
Days 26-27 Dunhuang
In the morning we will visit the Great Wall and the old fort.
The town's impressive fort remains a remarkable sight with 17 m-high towers flanking the main gates. We explore it, as well as see some of the remnants of the wall.
Once our visit to the wall is complete we will then head off in the truck towards Dunhuang. This is the perfect base to explore the amazing Maogao Caves tomorrow. Accommodation is in a comfortable hotel.
Dunhuang is one of the largest and historically most important of Gansu's oasis trading towns. Surrounded by fertile agricultural fields, an oasis in an otherwise barren desert, offset by distant sand dunes and mountains, the setting is spectacular and a good enough reason to travel here alone. However most visitors make the long journey to the city to see the
fantastic Buddhist art in the nearby Mogao Caves. This is an extraordinary site even by Chinese standards and yet it's visited by very few tour groups.
We begin our day with a visit to the Maogao Caves. The afternoon is free to explore this amazing town and its surroundings. Options include a camel ride along the sand dunes or perhaps a bicycle ride out to the White Goose Pagoda.
Included Activities
  • Entrance Jiayuguan fort
  • Dunhuang - Mogao Caves
Optional Activities
  • Bike hire - USD5
  • Crescent Moon Lake camel ride - USD20
Accommodation
Hotel (2 nts)
Day 28 Bush Camp
We set off in the truck in the early morning and drive approximately 7 hours towards the oasis town of Turpan. We will bush camp en route.
Accommodation
Bush camp (no facilities) (1 nt)
Days 29-30 Turpan
We arrive into the oasis town of Turpan in the early evening. The rest of your evening is free. Accommodation is in a comfortable hotel.
Once an important staging post on the Silk Road, Turpan is an attractive oasis town famous for its vineyards, stone fruits, melons and the nearby Flaming Mountains. The country roads on the outskirts are lined with poplars and lovely old mud brick dwellings of the Uyghur people, while the modern 'inner' town has shiny new buildings, spacious streets and public squares.
We spend the next day exploring the surrounding sites including the famous Jiaohe ruins. Accommodation is in a comfortable hotel.
Included Activities
  • Turpan - Jiaohe riuns
Accommodation
Hotel (2 nts)
Days 31-32 Urumqi & The Heavenly Lake
In the morning we drive towards the Tian Shan mountain range, and on to Heavenly Lake. Accommodation at the lake is in yurts for 2 nights. This is a great opportunity for some relaxation time and there may be an opportunity for horse riding around the lake.
Heavenly Lake is a picturesque location consisting of a deep blue lake set on a mountain in a desert. We will stay with the local Kazakh herders in their yurts.
Accommodation
Yurt (2 nts)
Days 33-34 Bush Camp
We leave Heavenly Lake and begin our two day overland journey skirting the edge of the Taklamakan Desert towards Kashgar. We bush camp en route.
Accommodation
Bush camp (no facilities) (2 nts)
Days 35-38 Kashgar
We arrive into Kashgar early in the morning. There is free time to explore, and we visit the animal market just outside of town, and then the famous Kashgar Sunday Market.
Kashgar is very much a frontier town, quickly developing to take advantage of its geographical location right in the heart of Central Asia. From Kashgar, roads lead into Pakistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and beyond. There are few signs that you are still in China - other than the the country's largest Chairman Mao statue, that is. This once ancient city is quickly modernising. In 2011, the Chinese government started rapid demolishing of the Old Town of Kashgar due to being overcrowded, with poor drainage and vulnerable to earthquakes thus relocating Uighur families to newly built apartments. It’s hard to predict what will be left in this area in the coming years.
Kashgar's main attraction is undoubtedly the Sunday Bazaar. 50,000 people migrate for the day into the town. The Chinese have split the market in two and moved the animal market out of town. This is a must for the visitor, as it exemplifies the daily life of the indigenous people. The noise, smells, the animals, the traders, the junk, toot, cloths, rugs, jewellery, tapes and ghetto blasters. Horses, cows, donkeys, sheep and goats all awaiting the inevitable sale.
You will have plenty of free time to explore the town over the next couple of days, perhaps heading off to the main landmark of the town, the Id Kah Mosque and its surrounding square.
Accommodation is in a comfortable hotel.
The last day here is departure day. There are no activities planned and you may depart at any time.
Included Activities
  • Kashgar - Sunday & Animal Bazaars
Optional Activities
  • Id Kah Mosque - CNY20
Accommodation
Hotel (3 nts)
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      Itinerary disclaimer
      Occasionally our itineraries are updated during the year to incorporate improvements stemming from past travellers' comments and our own research. The information given in this itinerary may be slightly different to that in the brochure. It's very important that you print and review a final copy of your Trip Notes a couple of days prior to travel, in case there have been changes that affect your plans. For the latest updated Trip Notes please visit our website: www.intrepidtravel.com
      Please note that while we operate successful trips in this region throughout the year, some changes may occur in our itineraries due to inclement weather and common seasonal changes to timetables and transport routes. This can happen with little notice so please be prepared for modifications to the route.
      We must emphasise that the routes, activities and places visited described in these trip notes are intentions and are meant as a rough guide only. We intend following the route detailed but exact night stops cannot be guaranteed. It sometimes happens that we decide to make a change to our basic planned itinerary. This may be for a variety of reasons - climatic, road or bureaucratic conditions may demand it. Or it may be because we find a better, more interesting route. While actually en route, unexpected hospitality, a local festival or a great place to chill out can determine our exact route and itinerary on any given trip.
      Overnight stops and driving distances each day may vary to best suit the needs of the group.
      Culture shock rating

      The comforts of home are more of a rarity. English isn't common and the food will be quite different to home. It's important to observe some of the local customs to not cause offence. Many of the locals’ standard of living may be confronting.
      Physical rating

      This trip will raise your heartbeat. Moderate physical activities are included and a good level of fitness is required.
      Physical preparation
      In Asia you will need to be healthy enough to cope with extremes of climate, from hot deserts through to cold of the high mountains. Overland travelling can be demanding - long, rough travel days and dusty conditions can be challenging to some. You will need to be fit enough to help every day with the camp chores (cooking, washing up, general camp set up) as well as putting up, and taking down your own tent. There are some long driving days and some early morning starts. The step-up into the overland vehicle, while not overly high can become tiring. You need to judge if you are physically fit enough to haul yourself up and down the step at least 8-10 times a day. By and large, our Asia trips have a good range of hotel accommodation mixed up with camping, so that life is not too rough.
      Included activities
      Included activities are listed in the day-to-day itinerary, all other activities are optional and at your own expense. If you choose not to participate in the included activities on this itinerary, the cost will not be refunded.
      Kitty
      On this trip it's compulsory to contribute to a kitty. The kitty is an on-ground payment put into a central fund and overseen by travellers and the crew. It helps fund accommodation, camp meals and some included activities. Kitty amounts are subject to change to reflect local price increases. Please check our website for the up-to-date amount 48 hours prior to your trip commencement.
      Your kitty will be collected when you arrive for your trip, either on day 1 or, if on a combination trip, in stages throughout your trip.
      Rather than bringing the full amount of your kitty in cash, it is possible to pay half in US$ traveller's cheques. These must be issued by either American Express or Barclays Bank. Please note, it is important that you are aware that if you decide on this option you are prepared to go with your leader to the bank sometime during the trip for the countersigning necessary to cash the cheques. You will also be asked to cover any exchange or commission fees - for example: if you cash a cheque for US$500 your leader needs to receive exactly US$500 (not US$500 minus the commission or charges).
      Please note the option for travellers cheques is not applicable for our West Africa departures.
      In North and West Africa (Morocco, Mauritania, Senegal, Mali, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Togo, Benin, Nigeria and Cameroon) we generally use Euros and not US$. Please note that although we do quote kitties, personal spending and other items in US$ (because we operate globally), for trips passing through these countries, you will want to use Euros and NOT dollars for the kitty, tipping and for personal spending. As the exchange rate is variable, the trip leader will confirm the exact exchange rate between US$ and Euros to be used for the kitty at the pre departure meeting.
      Kitty does not cover food while staying in hotels and hostels.
      As our kitty is flexible the indicated amount is indicative only. Follow the link below to view the kitty amount for your departure date.
      Optional activities
      A selection of optional activities are listed in the day-to-day itinerary. This isn't an exhaustive list and should be used as a guide only. Prices are for entrance only and don't include transport costs to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. It may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination. Optional activities aren't necessarily endorsed or recommended by Intrepid nor included in price of this trip. If you do any optional activities, you do so at your own risk and it must be clearly understood that your participation is your own decision and doesn't form part of your contract with Intrepid. You may be required to sign/complete a waiver form or a receipt for some optional activities.
      Money Exchange
      The official currency in China is the Yuan or Renminbi (CNY). 1 renminbi (yuan) = 10 jiao (mao).
      We strongly advise against bringing travellers cheques as in China they can be extremely difficult or impossible to change.
      ATMs are widespread, so the easiest way to access cash on your trip is to bring a credit card. Please check with your bank about overseas withdrawal fees before you depart. Some banks will allow a cash advance against a major credit card which will incur a service charge of 5% or more.
      Currency exchange is available at major banks and some hotels. The easiest foreign currencies to exchange are USD and EUR, however please be aware of the security risk of carrying large amounts of cash. In any case, some money should be taken as cash in case of emergencies - we recommend around US$400 per person. Commission is sometimes charged for currency exchange. Check the rate before you exchange and carefully check the amount you are given and ask for a receipt.
      Please note that due to restrictions on currency conversion for foreigners in China it may not be possible to change left over CNY back into foreign currency, so please plan your budget and spending money well by withdrawing/exchanging what you need as you go.
      Spending money
      Every traveller is different and therefore spending money requirements will vary. Some travellers may drink more than others while other travellers like to purchase more souvenirs than most. Please consider your own spending habits when it comes to allowing for drinks, shopping, participating in optional activities, and tipping. Please also remember the following specific recommendations when planning your trip.
      Tipping
      If you are happy with the services provided a tip - though not compulsory - is appropriate. While it may not be customary to you, it is of great significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels, inspires excellent service, and is an entrenched feature of the tourism industry across many Intrepid destinations. We recommend that any tips are given to the intended recipient by a member of your group, rather than collected and passed on by the group leader.
      Tipping is entirely voluntary. The crew may be travelling with you for many weeks and usually they become good friends with most members of the group. It is sometimes easy to forget that they do work hard to ensure that you do have a great trip. If you feel you would like to tip them, they certainly would appreciate it. On a number of our trips, we also use a local guide as well as our own crew. These guides live and travel with you through their home country and it is usual to tip them when they leave. We recommend USD10 to USD15 per person
      Departure tax
      All departure taxes should be included in your international flight ticket.
      Important notes
      CHINESE NATIONAL HOLIDAYS:
      Please note that China's national holidays are the peak travel season for Chinese nationals. During this time, literally the whole country is on the move - that's over a billion people. Although these are fascinating and exciting times to travel in China, please be aware your group will almost definitely experience transport delays and massive crowds at tourist attractions and train stations. It's common for there to be difficulties in securing train or flight tickets at our preferred times, hotels become overbooked, traffic chaotic and changes to the itinerary are often necessary as a result. If clockwork organisation is important to you we advise you book outside of the weeks of the extended Chinese New Year in January/February, in the first week of May and the first week of October. If you decide to travel during this period please come with an open mind and be prepared for changes on the ground.
      MINIMUM AGE:
      The minimum age for this trip is 18 years old and bookings for minors, even if accompanied by a parent, cannot be accepted.
      Group size
      Maximum of 21 travellers per group.
      Your fellow travellers
      As you travel on a group trip you will be exposed to all the pleasures and maybe some of the frustrations of travelling in a group. Your fellow travellers will probably come from all corners of the world and likely a range of age groups too. We ask you to be understanding of the various needs and preferences of your group - patience with your fellow travellers is sometimes required for the benefit of everyone's travel experience. Remember too that you have responsibilities to the group. If you are requested to be at a place at a certain time, ensure that you don't keep the rest of the group waiting. We have found time and time again that the very best trips we operate are those where the dynamics within the group work well - this takes just a little effort on your part.
      Due to privacy reasons we are unable to provide you with contact details and any personal information about your fellow travellers booked on your trip prior to departure. However you can download Intrepid's FREE Meet Up app to chat with your fellow travellers before your trip. Meet up, discuss your upcoming trip and share the excitement of planning for your adventure. For more information visit:
      www.intrepidtravel.com/meetup
      Single travellers
      Our group trips are designed for shared accommodation and don't involve a compulsory single supplement. Single travellers share with people of the same gender in accommodation ranging from twin to multishare. Some of our itineraries have accommodation booked on a mixed gender share basis and where applicable this will be specified in our Trip Notes. On a selection of our trips, you have the option to pay a single supplement to ensure that you have your own room (where available). Please note that this only applies to accommodation during the tour - pre-trip and post-trip accommodation will be booked on a single room basis.
      Accommodation
      Hotel (27 nts), Bush camp (no facilities) (5 nts), Yurt (3 nts), Guesthouse (2 nts)
      Dragoman overland trips are designed for shared accommodation, whether camping or staying in hotels, ranging from twin to multishare. The type and variety of accommodation is determined by conditions on each of our routes. Each route is different - on some we use a mixture of campsites and wild camps; on others we also use hotels.
      In Asia it is often not practical to camp when staying in towns and cities, so we use hotel accommodation and eat out in local restaurants. The frequency and regularity of hotel stops depends on the route and area.
      Campsites will range from rather basic to those with excellent facilities, including swimming pools, restaurants and bars. In some cases it may also be possible to upgrade locally to bungalows, lodges or even tree-houses. One of the highlights of overlanding is that in more remote areas we will wild camp. This allows us to get far away from the tourist crowds to some beautiful, secluded spots. We will also arrange as many village or local homestays as possible, allowing us to get close to indigenous populations and ensures our money stays within local communities.
      Meals introduction
      While travelling with us you'll experience the vast array of wonderful food available in the world. Your group leader will be able to suggest restaurants to try during your trip. On our camping trips we often cook the region's specialities so you don't miss out. To give you the maximum flexibility in deciding where, what and with whom to eat, generally not all meals are included in the trip price. This also gives you more budgeting flexibility. As a rule our groups tend to eat together to enable you to taste a larger variety of dishes and enjoy each other's company. There's no obligation to do this though.
      Meals
      All meals when camping
      Please budget for additional meals and expenses while on your trip. Our suggestion is based on past traveller feedback but you may choose to spend more or less.
      USD 950.00
      On an Overland journey you are more than just a passenger, you’re part of the crew - pitching in to set up camp, shopping for food, cooking and generally helping out. We operate a rota system, dividing the group into smaller units of 5 or 6 people, so that these duties are shared equally amongst the group. These jobs will include things like collecting water and firewood, loading the back locker, supervising the kitty and food stores etc. While camping on overland journeys, all meals will be included in the kitty and this means that you will be working as a group to prepare meals and cook for your group. If you have any dietary requirements please tell us at the time of booking and also remind your crew at your welcome meeting.
      A typical camp breakfast might be toast with spreads, cereal and something hot such as eggs or pancakes as well as tea and coffee. Lunch is almost always a sandwich heaped high with healthy salad and assorted fillings, with fruit to follow. Dinner might be a BBQ, risotto, pasta dish and there is always the chance to try some local cooking. Generally our passengers find the more they put into a trip, the more they benefit from it.
      Transport
      Overland vehicle
      Roads in Asia can be very rough which makes for long, slow travel days. It is however all worth it for the spectacular scenery and novelty of truck travel!
      The step up into the overland truck, while not overly high can become tiring and you need to judge yourself to be physically fit enough to haul yourself up and down at least 8-10 times a day, as can the constant setting and packing up of camp.
      Group leader
      On all of our Dragoman-operated Overlanding trips you will be accompanied by two Western crew members who are responsible for the group and the overall organisation of the trip.
      While not being guides in the traditional sense you can expect them to have a broad knowledge of the places visited and to offer suggestions of things to do and see. In East and Southern Africa we will also have an African camp master/cook who is in charge of running the camp and organising all of the meals. Their knowledge of the local produce makes shopping at the markets great fun and you will learn how to prepare and cook some unusual dishes. In the rest of Africa, South America and the majority of Central Asia and China we use local guides who may stay with us for just a few hours or will actually travel with us for some or all of the journey. In these cases they become a third crew member and are able to offer their local knowledge as well as a real insight into the lives of the local people. Our crew are chosen for their leadership skills, and most importantly have a passion for the region and its people.
      We endeavour to provide the services of an experienced leader and crew; however, situations may arise where your leader is new to a particular region or training other group leaders
      On any Overland trip, there are a number of tasks that need to be done. Our overland trip leaders will organise the group into smaller groups of two or three who will take turns in the daily shopping and cooking, vehicle cleaning, disposing of rubbish, etc. There are also a number of other jobs that need doing e.g. collecting water and firewood, luggage loading, supervising the kitty and food stores, which may be assigned to particular people or on a rota system according to group size, make-up, and so on. You must come prepared to 'pull your weight' and share in these duties; you will become very unpopular with other group members if they have to do your share. The more you put into a trip, the more you'll benefit.
      Joining point
      Hu Guo Si Hotel
      125 Huguosi Street
      Beijing
      CHINA
      Phone: +86 10 6618 1113
      Joining point description
      In the ancient part of the city close to Gong Wang Fu prince garden, Bei Hai Park and the Forbidden City.
      All rooms have private bathroom, air-conditioning and TV. There is also a restaurant on site.
      Joining point instructions
      From the airport you can take the shuttle bus to Xidan. The full route takes about 10 minutes and costs CNY16. From the stop you can walk approximately 2km north to the hotel, or take a taxi.
      Alternatively you can take a taxi. It is recommended that you take an authorised taxi from a taxi station, which are located outside terminals 1 and 2. A taxi should cost up to CNY100.
      Arrival complications
      We don't expect any problems (and nor should you) but if for any reason you are unable to commence your group trip as scheduled, please contact your starting point hotel, requesting that you speak to or leave a message for your group leader.
      If you have pre-booked an airport transfer (where available) and have not made contact with our representative within 30 minutes of clearing customs and immigration, we recommend that you make your own way to the starting point hotel, following the Joining Instructions in these Trip Notes. Should this occur, please apply to your travel agent for a refund of the transfer cost on your return.
      No refund is available on missed transfers or portions of your trip owing to a different flight arrival or delayed flight arrival. Any additional cost incurred in order to meet up with your group is at your own expense.
      Finish point
      Seman Hotel 色满宾馆
      337 Seman Road 新疆维吾尔自治区喀什市色满路337号
      Kashgar
      CHINA
      Phone: +86 09982552129
      Emergency contact
      Dragoman 24 HOUR EMERGENCY NUMBER Tel: +44 (0) 1728 862 222 This is an answer-phone. If calling outside UK office hours for non urgent questions, please leave a message. There is a number provided to call for a 24 hour manned mobile, in case of genuine emergency. For further emergency contact details go to:
      Emergency funds
      Please also make sure you have access to an additional US$400, 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.
      Visas
      Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. The visa requirements for your trip vary depending on where you are from and where you are going. As a general rule most countries expect that you will have at least 6 months' validity on your passport. On arrival visitors may be asked to present return tickets and evidence of means to cover your intended stay.
      We keep the following information up to date as much as possible, but rules do change - it's important that you check for yourself. Residents from other countries must consult the relevant embassies or your travel agent.
      CHINA (DRAGOMAN OVERLAND):
      Most nationalities require a visa for China. You must obtain your Chinese visa in advance. It is not possible to get a visa on arrival or en-route. You will need a Single Entry Tourist Visa valid for 30, 60 or 90 days depending on the duration of your trip.
      INFORMATION REQUIRED FOR VISA APPLICATION:
      Itinerary:
      Please list the destinations you will visit in China in chronological order on your application form. Do not mention Kashgar, Turpan, Urumqi or Tibet anywhere on your application form. While these areas are not off limits to travellers, they are considered politically sensitive, so including these on your visa application could lead to significant delays or your visa being denied.
      Name of Host/Inviting Organisation:
      Jason Tours
      Sichuan China YTS, 2nd Floor
      19 Dongchenggeng Street
      Chengdu 610031
      +86 28 8907 5414
      DOCUMENTS REQUIRED FOR VISA APPLICATION:
      * Most embassies request a Hotel List be submitted with your application. A few nationalities may require a Letter of Invitation (LOI). These can be requested from Dragoman by emailing centralasiavisas@dragoman.co.uk
      * Photocopy of your passport
      * Passport size photo (up to 4)
      * Please check with the embassy for any other specific requirements
      DOCUMENTS REQUIRED FOR TIBET PERMIT APPLICATION:
      Tibet permits are be arranged en-route with the help of our local partners. If you are travelling on an itinerary that visits Tibet you will need to email the following documents to centralasiavisas@dragoman.co.uk as soon as possible after booking and no later than 2 months before your departure:
      * Clear, colour scanned copy of the personal details page your passport
      * Clear, colour scanned copy of your Chinese visa
      WARNING – TRAVEL TO TIBET & XINJIANG:
      Please be aware that these are politically sensitive areas of China which have in the past been closed to foreign travellers without warning. A change in the political situation can also lead to unforseen delays in issuing visas and permits. We aim to keep our travellers as up to date as possible with any changes, however these are often made without any official announcement by authorities and as such are out of our control.
      Issues on your trip
      While we always endeavour to provide the best possible holiday experience, due to the nature of travel and the areas we visit sometimes things can and do go wrong. Should any issue occur while you are on your trip, it is imperative that you discuss this with your group leader or our local representative straight away so that they can do their best to rectify the problem and save any potential negative impact on the rest of your trip.
      We recognise that there may be times when your group leader/local partner may not be able to resolve a situation to your satisfaction - if this is the case, please ask the leader to speak to their direct manager.
      You may also choose to provide details in your online feedback, which we ask you to complete within 30 days of the end of your trip. But we do ask you to be aware that it is very difficult for us to provide any practical help after the trip is complete.
      What to take
      What you need to bring will vary according to the trip style you have chosen, the countries you are visiting and when you are travelling. Generally speaking you should pack as lightly as possible. On the vast majority of our trips you are expected to carry your own luggage and although you won't be required to walk long distances with your luggage (max 30 minutes), we recommend keeping the weight under 10kg / 22lb.
      Most travellers carry their luggage in a backpack, although an overnight bag with a shoulder strap would suffice if you travel lightly. Smaller bags or backpacks with wheels are convenient although we recommend your bag has carry straps. You'll also need a day pack/bag to carry water and a camera etc for day trips.
      You can find Intrepid's Ultimate Packing List on our website. It should be used as a guide only and isn't intended to be a complete packing list.
      Your clothes and equipment should be appropriate for the conditions you are travelling in. On overland trips Dragoman will provide all camping equipment apart from sleeping bags and ground mats (except on routes between Nairobi and Cape Town where ground mats are provided).
      PERSONAL MEDICAL KIT:
      All of our trucks have a fully stocked medical kit onboard for use in emergency situations only. Therefore in addition to this we recommend that you purchase your own personal medical kit.
      ELECTRICAL EQUIPMENT
      Your vehicle will be equipped with a 12 volt socket so to charge your iPod, MP3 player, camera, laptop and mobile phone you will need a DC 12 volt adapter - the type that can be used from a cigarette lighter in your car. Please be aware that only one piece of equipment can be charged at a time and it will not be allowed if there is a risk of running the vehicle´s batteries low. Batteries may also be recharged from hotel room wall sockets and the majority of the campsites we stay at have electricity points, so please bring along your normal charging adapters as well. You will need to ensure that you have the correct country adaptor for your specific charger.
      SLEEPING BAG:
      Please bring a sleeping bag (4-season is recommended - check what the weather will be like over the dates you are travelling), sleeping mat and a pillow as these items are not provided.
      WATER BOTTLE:
      Consider bringing your own water bottle to refill along the way. The sale of bottled water contributes to an enormous environmental problem around the world. In addition to the water in bottles, the production of a 1 litre plastic bottle takes 2 litres of water and 200ml of oil. A large proportion ends up in limited landfill or discarded in waterways and natural environments. Although it can be difficult to avoid bottled water when travelling, please consider water purification techniques such as iodine or micropur and use the water dispensers which are provided at some of our accommodation. When unable to avoid bottled water it is better to buy the largest available and distribute into your smaller bottle for the day
      Health
      All Intrepid travellers need to be in good physical health in order to participate fully on this trip. When selecting your trip please make sure you have read through the itinerary carefully and assess your ability to cope with our style of travel. Please note that if, in the opinion of our group leader or local guide, any traveller is unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to themselves and/or the rest of the group, Intrepid reserves the right to exclude them from all or part of a trip without refund.
      You should consult your doctor for up-to-date medical travel information or for any necessary vaccinations and anti-malarial requirements before departure. We recommend that you carry a first aid kit as well as any personal medical requirements (including a spare pair of glasses) as they may not easily be obtained at the locations on this trip. For legal reasons our leaders and guides are prohibited from administering any type of drugs including headache tablets and antibiotics. Please ensure that you are adequately prepared.
      Safety
      Many national governments provide a regularly updated advice service on safety issues involved with international travel. We recommend that you check your government's advice for their latest travel information before departure. Please refer to our website's safety page for links to major travel advisories and updates on safety issues affecting our trip.
      We strongly recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt while travelling, for the safe-keeping of your passport, air tickets, cash and other valuable items. Leave your valuable jewellery at home - you won't need it while travelling. Many of our hotels have safety deposit boxes, which is the most secure way of storing your valuables. A lock is recommended for securing your luggage.
      Your leader will accompany you on all included activities, however during your trip you'll have some free time to pursue your own interests, relax and take it easy or explore at your leisure. While your group leader will assist you with the available options in a given location, please note that any optional activities you undertake are not part of your Intrepid itinerary, and Intrepid makes no representations about the safety of the activity or the standard of the operators running them. Please use your own good judgement when selecting an activity in your free time. Please also note that your group leader has the authority to amend or cancel any part of the trip itinerary if it's deemed necessary due to safety concerns.
      For more details on the type of conditions and safety standards you can expect on your trip, please refer to Intrepid's operational safety policy on our website. We recommend that you take a moment to read through this information before travelling, and would appreciate any feedback on how well it's being implemented in the field:
      FIRE PRECAUTIONS:
      Please be aware that local laws governing tourism facilities in this region differ from those in your home country and not all the accommodation which we use has a fire exit, fire extinguishers or smoke alarms.
      BALCONIES:
      Some hotel balconies don't meet UK standards in terms of the width of the balcony fence being narrower than 10cm.
      UNFENCED CAMP SITES:
      On some trips you will at times stay in unfenced camp sites within national parks. While this is a fantastic experience, there are a few safety rules to follow. While staying in national parks it's important that you listen to any advice given by your tour leader and the park rangers regarding responsible and safe behaviour.
      TRAFFIC AND DRIVING ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE ROAD:
      Depending on where you come from please note that drivers in this part of the world may drive on the opposite side of the road from what you are used to. Look both ways before crossing any road. Traffic can be a little more chaotic than you might be used to at home. Be aware!
      PETTY THEFT AND PERSONAL SAFETY:
      While travelling there is always the risk of pick-pocketing and petty theft, particularly in the more touristy cities. We recommend that you exercise caution when walking alone at night and encourage you to walk together and only on main, well-lit thoroughfares. Be particularly vigilant on public transport. Simple measures like carrying your day pack on your front, not hanging your bag over the back of your chair and wearing a money belt will reduce any chance that your valuables should go missing.
      TRAVEL ADVISORY:
      Where we use a local partner to fully operate one of our itineraries, we use the travel advisory of the country where that operator is based rather than the Australian DFAT advisory. This itinerary is operated by our local partners Dragoman, and as such will follow the British Government (FCO) Travel Advice. To view these travel advisories please log on to:
      Travel insurance
      Travel insurance is compulsory for all our trips. We require that, at a minimum, you are covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. We strongly recommend that the policy also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects.
      When travelling on a group trip, you won't be permitted to join the group until evidence of travel insurance and the insurance company's 24 hour emergency contact number has been seen by your leader.
      If you have credit card insurance your group leader will require details of the participating insurer/underwriter, the level of coverage, policy number and emergency contact number rather than the bank's name and credit card details. Please contact your bank for these details prior to arriving in-country.
      Please go to our website for links to various travel insurance providers:
      Responsible Travel
      We believe strongly in low impact or rather positive impact tourism. Broadly speaking this means that we try to minimise the negative aspects of tourism on the local cultures and environments that we visit and highlight the positive aspects. Please visit our website for further details and suggestions on how you can be a responsible traveller:
      LOCAL DRESS:
      When packing be aware that dress standards are conservative throughout Asia, especially outside major cities. To respect this and for your own comfort, we strongly recommend modest clothing. This means clothing that covers your shoulders and knees for men and women.
      A couple of rules
      Illegal drugs will not be tolerated on our trips. Possessing or using drugs not only contravenes the laws of the land, but also puts the rest of the group at risk. Smoking marijuana and opium is a part of local culture in some parts of the world but is not acceptable for Intrepid travellers. Intrepid's philosophy of travel is one of respect towards everyone we encounter and in particular, the local people who make our destinations such special places. The exploitation of prostitutes is completely contrary to this philosophy. Our group leader has the right to expel any member of the group if drugs are found in their possession or if they use prostitutes.
      The Intrepid Foundation
      Since Intrepid Travel commenced operating in 1989 we've been committed to giving something back to the communities we visit. One way has been through our support for local humanitarian, development and conservation projects. Many of our travellers want to contribute something too. Whilst it is often tempting to give hand-outs to those less fortunate, this has the potential to promote a culture of begging and dependency. Handouts are not a sustainable way for individuals or communities to live. That’s why we established The Intrepid Foundation – to make it easier for travellers wishing to give back to communities in an effective and meaningful way.
      The Intrepid Foundation is a not-for-profit fund offering a selection of excellent grassroots organisations which you can contribute to. All donations to The Intrepid Foundation will be matched by Intrepid Travel dollar for dollar (up to AU$5,000 per donor and a total of AU$400,000 for all donors in each financial year). And every cent gets there as Intrepid Travel pays for all the administration costs. Donating is simple and secure. Please ask your group leader for information on the projects we support through The Intrepid Foundation or go to our website:
      Feedback
      After your travels, we want to hear from you! This is so important to us that we'll give you 5% off the price of your next trip if your feedback is completed online within 4 weeks of finishing your trip.