Last Modified: 18 Feb 2013
Trip code: CBSL
Validity: 01 Jan 2012 to 31 Dec 2012
As China leaps into the 21st century it is still possible to meander through peaceful villages and come across local farmers working their fields. This trip offers the richness of past dynasties right alongside up-to-the-second experiences in ultra-modern cities. Historic highlights such as the Great Wall in Beijing and the Terracotta Warriors of Xi'an follow the brilliance of the bright lights of Hong Kong. Delight in the sublime beauty of the Yangshuo countryside and spend the night in a monastery, as these wonderful contradictions offer the true spirit of China.
Table of Contents
- Original trips are classic Intrepid adventures. With a mix of included activities and free time, they offer plenty of opportunities to explore at your own pace and take part in activities that really get beneath the skin of a destination. While the occasional meal may be included, you'll have the freedom to seek out your own culinary adventures. Accommodation is generally budget or tourist class (2-3 star), but you're as likely to find yourself as a guest of a local family as staying in a hotel or camping. Transport will vary as well. Depending on the destination and the itinerary you could find yourself travelling on anything from a camel to a train or a private safari vehicle. It's all part of the adventure! Original travellers have a desire to make the most of their travel time and really get to know a place, its people and cultures.
Days 1-2 Hong Kong
Nimen Hao! Welcome to Hong Kong.
Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6pm on Day 1.
You can arrive at any time as there are no activities planned until this important meeting. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask the hotel reception where it will take place. If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time, 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.
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.
For those who arrive early there are many ways to take in the skyline of Hong Kong:
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.
Cross over into China - it can take about 2 hours to get from Kowloon to the Chinese mainland. Take the efficient metro to the border point, complete the immigration procedures and then walk the short distance from the border to the train station.
Catch an overnight hard sleeper train to Guilin, gateway to Yangshuo (approx 12 hrs).
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.
An optional upgrade from a hard sleeper to a soft sleeper berth (4 travellers per compartment with a lockable door) may be available for some overnight train journeys on this trip. Please contact us for booking and more details.
- Informal Chinese language lesson
- Culture Museum - HKD10
- Disneyland - HKD399
- History Museum - HKD10
- Nightly Light Show - Free
- Ngong Ping 360 cable car round trip - HKD125
- Ocean Park - HKD185
- Peak Tram - HKD30
- Science Museum - HKD25
- Space Museum - HKD10
- Star Ferry - HKD15
- Hong Kong - Victoria Peak & Tram - HKD40
Hotel (1 nt), Overnight sleeper train (1 nt)
Days 3-5 Yangshuo
Arrive in Guilin and transfer by public bus to Yangshuo (approx 1.5 hrs).
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.
Experience the landscape and rural Chinese life on a bike ride through the countryside. Stop at the house of our local friends for a tasty meal made from locally grown and farmed produce. This is an absolutely stunning region to explore, as every turn in the road brings you to another picture-postcard location.
There are so many ways to get the real rural experience of China while in Yangshuo. Some we recommend are:
Get a feel for local produce with a visit to the market, then learn 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.
Try your hand at Chinese calligraphy.
Enjoy a relaxing boat ride along the Li River.
Take an early morning tai chi class by the riverside.
- Yangshuo - Countryside cycling guided tour
- Bike hire - CNY20
- Calligraphy lesson - CNY50
- Chinese language lesson - CNY40
- Zhang Yimou's Impressions Show - CNY198
- Kayaking - CNY150
- Li River cruise - CNY100
- Moon Hill - CNY15
- Yangshuo - Tai Chi class - CNY50
- Watercolour painting lesson - CNY50
- Cooking School & Market Tour - CNY150
Hotel (3 nts)
Days 6-8 Chengyang
It takes some travelling to get to our next destination (approx 6 hrs). Using public transport, there's a number of transfers needed to get to Sanjiang and finally Chengyang.
Home to the Dong people, Chengyang is one of the most special places in China, thanks to its bridges including the exquisite Wind and Rain Bridge.
Chengyang's bridges, or 'fengyu qiao' as they are called locally, once served religious purposes but are now mostly used as a place for the local people to sit around, chat and sell their wares. They were traditionally built entirely in pegged cedar and it's often said that not a single nail was used in their construction.
Explore Chengyang by foot, experience the laidback pace of village life and admire the two- and three-storey wooden houses and the lovely patchwork of farmland surrounding the town.
There may be a chance to attend a cultural performance held in the village and have the opportunity to take part in bamboo dancing, as well as sing along to the 'rice wine' songs.
Our family-run accommodation in Chengyang is a traditional wooden guesthouse. Blankets are provided but it can still be cold in winter so make sure you bring some warm clothes.
Board an overnight train bound for Chengdu (approx 20 hrs). To make the long journey as comfortable as possible, we travel soft sleeper (4 people per compartment with a lockable door) on this leg of our trip.
- Wind and Rain Bridge
- Culture show
Guesthouse (2 nts), Overnight sleeper train (1 nt)
Days 9-10 Chengdu
It might be one of China's biggest cities but Chengdu has preserved plenty of its traditional flavour and visitors can still find famous tea houses, numerous markets and some of the most interesting food in China. If you like it hot then this is the place to be as Sichuan food is known the world over for its spicy flavours. Must tries are huoguo (hot pot) and mapo doufu (spicy tofu).
Visit the Giant Panda Breeding Research Base where you're able to witness the conservation efforts being made to save this endearing endangered species. There are about 50 giant and red pandas at the base, some of which can be viewed by the public and we may even be lucky enough to see newborns taking their first steps in the nursery.
Some ways to spend your free time here include:
Take in a performance of traditional Sichuan Opera, which is characterized by its unique solo singing, refined acting, rich percussion and irresistibly funny comedians.
Spend some time in People's Park watching locals practice tai chi.
Take a cooking class. Not just a demonstration of recipes - the why, how, and timing of each step is explained, along with a detailed description of each ingredient.
- Chengdu - Giant Panda Breeding Research Base
- Bike hire - CNY20
- Cooking class - CNY120
- Sichuan Opera - CNY200
- People's Park - Free
- Sanxingdui - CNY85
- Wenshu Monastery - CNY5
Hotel (2 nts)
Days 11-14 Leshan/Emei Shan
We travel by private bus to the town of Leshan (approx 2.5 hrs).
See the world's largest outdoor seated Buddha. 'Da Fo' - the Buddha - is carved into a cliff face and is 71 m tall!
Continue on to the Baoguo Monastery - the base for our time on Emei Shan, one of the most famous Buddhist sites in China.
Pack an overnight bag for our trip up Emei Shan as we'll leave our main luggage at our guesthouse at Baoguo Monastery.
The views from the 3,099 m peak at Emei Shan are truly spectacular on a clear day. Travel by local bus and cable car to best experience the immense landscape (total travel time approx 3 hrs). The more energetic can join the procession of pilgrims winding their way down the mountain steps and paths on foot (approx 6 hrs), weather permitting, although this can be very tough going so you'll need to have excellent fitness and be prepared to take this trek without your leader accompanying you. As an alternative, we can take the public bus back down the mountain and then a 2 hour walk to our accommodation at one of the mountain's monastery guesthouses. Whichever route you choose, expect plenty of steps and steep paths so make sure you dress appropriately, wear sturdy footwear and be ready for a physical but rewarding day on the mountain.
Our accommodation on Emei Shan is basic but atmospheric with simple rooms and shared bathroom facilities but the setting keeps our travellers raving! Nights are incredibly peaceful and waking up to the sound of monks chanting is truly unforgettable. Please note that during religious festivals or peak travel periods, we may stay at a guesthouse in Emei town as an alternative to the monasteries here.
Explore the beautiful countryside at the base of the mountain, which provides ample opportunity for leisurely paced walks. It may be possible to visit some local hot springs to relax and revive from our hike or take a tour of some nearby villages.
If you are travelling in the months of October-April, while we still visit Emei Shan and the surrounding areas there may be some changes to the activities and accommodation available depending on the weather conditions. We advise you to bring very warm clothes (waterproof shoes, windproof coat, hat, scarf, gloves) as there can be snow and sub-zero temperatures.
Transfer to Emei town by private bus to catch our overnight train to Xi'an (approx 19 hrs), travelling by hard sleeper.
- Leshan - Da Fo
- Emei Shan - Baoguo Monastery
- Emei Mountain - Scenic Area
- Emei Shan - Cable car
- Countryside guided tour - CNY100
- Crouching Tiger Monastery - CNY150
- Hot springs - CNY128
Guesthouse (3 nts), Overnight sleeper train (1 nt)
Days 15-17 Xi'an
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.
Visit Xi'an's most famous site - the Terracotta Warriors. Travel by bus for around 2 hours to reach the site. Once there 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.
Some other great things to try, see and do include:
For a different view of the city, climb to the top of the Bell or Drum Towers. The Bell Tower is in the centre of downtown Xi'an where the city's four main roads - Bei, Nan, Dong and Xi Dajie (North, South, East and West Avenues) - converge. Originally built in 1582 and restored in 1739, the tower was used to announce the time of day and serve as a watchtower. The previous Bell Tower, dating back to the Tang Dynasty (618-907), stood two blocks to the west.
The Drum Tower marks the entrance to the Muslim Quarter. It no longer contains the giant drum once used to signal the closing of the city gates, though it does retain some good views, including one of the Great Mosque.
Try a leisurely cycle on the Xi'an city wall - a total distance of 13.74 km. The wall, an ancient fortification surrounding the heart of Xi'an, was established in 1378 AD.
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.
Leave Xi'an on an overnight hard sleeper train bound for Beijing (approx 12 hrs).
- Xi'an - Terracotta Warriors
- Xi'an - Walking tour
- Bell & Drum Towers - CNY50
- Cycling on City Wall - CNY80
- Big Wild Goose Pagoda - CNY80
- Folk house - CNY15
- Great Mosque - CNY25
- Shaanxi History Museum - Free
- Small Wild Goose Pagoda - CNY50
- Temple of the Eight Immortals - CNY10
Hotel (2 nts), Overnight sleeper train (1 nt)
Days 18-21 Beijing/Great Wall
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.
Explore Tiananmen Square - apparently the largest down town square in the world. Framed by the Gate of Heavenly Peace with its Mao portrait, Mao's Mausoleum, the Great Hall of the People and the National Museum it's a place of pilgrimage for Chinese tourists who consider it the heart of their nation.
Enter the imposing Forbidden City, former home to China's imperial rulers and filled with palaces, gardens and seemingly never-ending grand courtyards.
Visit our friends at Beijing Huiling (meaning 'wise spirit') - a special Intrepid-supported project for people with intellectual disabilities.
An incredible piece of engineering, the Great 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.
On our trek we walk over some steep, remote terrain (approx 5km or 3-4 hrs walking depending on fitness). Some parts of the wall are unrestored so you'll need to concentrate hard to keep your footing. A great idea is to bring a picnic lunch with your from Beijing to enjoy atop the wall during one of our rest breaks. You'll need reasonable fitness and walking shoes with good support and grip for this activity. 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.
Due to the excessive heat in the summer months (Jun-Aug), the Great Wall excursion may be altered to provide a shorter, less strenuous trek. Your leader will advise you of any changes at the group meeting.
In your free time in Beijing may we suggest some of the following:
Catch a performance of the world renown Beijing Acrobats.
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.
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.
There are no activities planned for the final day and you are able to depart the accommodation at any time. Please check the 'Finishing Point Hotel' section for checkout times and luggage storage possibilities.
- Beijing - Forbidden City
- Beijing - Tiananmen Square
- Great Wall - Gubeikou to Jinshanling trek
- Beijing - Huiling Foundation visit
- Beijing - Acrobat show - CNY250
- Beijing Opera - CNY200
- Beijing Zoo (including Aquarium) - CNY130
- Beijing Art & Architecture Urban Adventure - CNY590
- Beijing by Bike Urban Adventure - CNY480
- Kung Fu show - CNY180
- Lama Temple - CNY30
- Summer Palace - CNY40
- Temple of Heaven - CNY40
- Peking duck dinner - CNY80
Hotel (3 nts)
Also available to purchase
For many of our trips we have other services or experiences that are also available to purchase to extend your trip or to make your holiday a little easier. Below is a list of other travel products you can purchase in conjunction with this trip.
- CBSL Single supplement (CBSL)
- CBSL Soft Sleeper Train Upgrade (CBSL)
We also recommend
If this trip is not quite right for you, cast your eye over these alternatives:
- China Experience (CBSE)
- Silk Road Journey (CBSK)
- Silk Road Journey (CBSK)
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.
Expect some culture shock. You'll be exposed to signs of poverty and access to services may be sporadic. The food will be quite different to home and English speakers harder to find. Respecting the local culture will make it easier to fit in and really experience the location.
This trip will raise your heartbeat. Moderate physical activities are included and a good level of fitness is required.
You will be expected to carry your own luggage, including moving about busy public transport hubs, up stairs and escalators and on and off buses and trains. Although you won't be required to walk long distances with your luggage, you are expected to be able to walk and handle your own luggage for up to 30 minutes. Good general fitness and mobility plays a big part in making your trip more enjoyable In some locations it may be possible to hire porters. Please ask your trip leader for help to arrange this if possible but be prepared to manage your own luggage.
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.
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.
The official currency of Hong Kong is the Hong Kong Dollar (HKD).
The exchange rate is pegged to the USD at 7.8:1. ATMs, currency exchange and facilities to change travellers' cheques are widely available in Hong Kong.
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.
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.
If you're happy with the services provided a tip - though not compulsory - is appropriate. While it may not be customary to you, it's 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 in China is not customary, but in the travel industry it is. Many guides and drivers would usually supplement their income by taking tourists to shops and restaurants from which they receive commission. Intrepid does not encourage this practice as we believe it can be detrimental to our travellers' experience. Instead we try to ensure we pay our drivers, guides and leaders fairly for their services. Tips are still very much appreciated for those situations in which you believe you have received excellent service.
Please don't tip with coins, notes of or less that CNY1, or dirty and ripped notes. This is regarded culturally as an insult.
The following amounts are based on local considerations and feedback from our past travellers:
Restaurants: Tipping is not common practice at restaurants in China or Tibet.
Local guides: Throughout your trip you may at times have a local guide in addition to your leader. We suggest CNY10-15 per person per day for local guides with the amount adjusted accordingly for guides who are with you for less than a full day.
Porters: In some hotels a porter may offer to carry your bag to your room. We suggest CNY5 per bag for porters.
Drivers: You may have a range of drivers on your trip. Some may be with you for a short journey while others may be with you for several days. We would suggest that you tip only those more involved with the group (for example those that help you with your bags etc). CNY5-10 per person per day is generally appropriate, with the amount adjusted accordingly for drivers who are with you for less than a full day.
Your Group Leader: You may also consider tipping your leader for outstanding service throughout your trip. The amount is entirely a personal preference; however as a guideline US$3-5 per person, per day can be used. Of course you are free to tip more or less as you see fit, depending on your perception of service quality and the length of your trip. Remember, a tip isn't compulsory and should only be given when you receive excellent service.
All departure taxes should be included in your international flight ticket.
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.
Maximum of 12 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:
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.
A Single Supplement is available on this trip, please refer to your booking agent for further information.
Optional single supplement does not apply to nights on overnight trains.
Hotel (11 nts), Guesthouse (5 nts), Overnight sleeper train (4 nts)
OCCASIONAL ALTERNATIVE ACCOMMODATION
The style of accommodation indicated in the day-to-day itinerary is a guideline. On rare occasions, alternative arrangements may need to be made due to the lack of availability of rooms in our usual accommodation. A similar standard of accommodation will be used in these instances.
TWIN SHARE / MULTI SHARE BASIS
Accommodation on this trip is on a twin/multishare basis. Please note there may be times where facilities will be shared rather than ensuite and rare occasions when you share a room with passengers travelling on different Intrepid trips than your own.
Throughout the trip we request that our hotels prepare rooms in time for our arrival, especially if we're arriving prior to normal check-in time. However this isn't always possible which means we won't be able to check-in immediately on arrival at some hotels. Instead, we can store our luggage and explore our new destination.
PRE/POST TRIP ACCOMMODATION
If you've purchased pre-trip or post-trip accommodation (if available), you may be required to change rooms from your trip accommodation for these extra nights.
BEDS AND ROOMS:
Some travellers have reported that hotels/accommodation in this region tend to have harder bed mattresses than those they are used to at home. Passengers that require a soft bed should consider bringing an inflatable camping mattress or sleeping mat.
Smoking is prevalent in China and hotels generally do not offer specific non smoking rooms. Larger hotels with central air conditioning will sometimes transport the smell of smoke between rooms. While we ask our hotels to ensure our rooms are ventilated well before occupation in some cases this is not possible.
WIFI, in room, or in public areas of accommodation is not as common as travellers may be used to in other regions.
HARD SLEEPER TRAINS CHINA:
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 berths (6 to a compartment), sheets, a blanket and hot water available. We recommend bringing your own sleeping sheet as the quality/cleanliness of sheets may not be what you are used to. Most trains have a dining carriage where meals or snacks are available. While we always try to have our groups staying together there may be times where due to ticket availability the group will be staying in different compartments and carriages. While railway services are rapidly being modernised in China, some train journeys in particular between less visited destinations may use older rolling stock and the carriages of a more basic standard.
SOFT SLEEPER UPGRADE:
An optional upgrade from a hard sleeper to a soft sleeper berth (4 travellers per compartment with a lockable door) may be available for some overnight train journeys on this trip for those who are after a little more comfort. Travellers who are interested in purchasing this upgrade should be aware of the following:
- Soft sleeper carriages are often at the other end of the train from hard sleeper class where those travellers who have not booked the upgrade, along with the group leader, will be staying. If you've purchased the upgrade it's likely that you'll be away from the other members of the group and without the services of your group leader while on the train.
- At many railway stations in China, soft sleeper passengers board the train separately from those in other carriage classes. If you have purchased the upgrade it's likely that you'll need to board the train on your own. Your group leader will give you instructions but may not be able to assist you in boarding and alighting the train.
- Soft sleeper compartments have 4 berths. If you've purchased the upgrade you'll be sharing a compartment with locals or other travellers. Compartments are not segregated by gender so please be aware you could be sharing with members of the opposite sex.
- While we aim to book tickets for all travellers who have purchased the upgrade in the same carriages and compartments, please note that we aren't able to guarantee this due to high demand for tickets on some routes and at peak times.
- We are unable to offer the upgrade during the busy times for train travel in China including New Years, May National holidays, Summer holidays and October national holidays.
- This service is only available for travellers who have purchased the upgrade prior to joining the trip. On rare occasions it may be possible to upgrade to a different carriage class once on the train itself for an additional cost paid to the train conductor but this can't be guaranteed and and shouldn't be relied on as an option. If you would like to ensure you travel soft sleeper class on all train journeys you will need to purchase the upgrade at time of booking your trip.
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.
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.
Bicycle, Train, Private Bus, Cable Car, Bus, Taxi
All Intrepid group trips are accompanied by one of our group leaders. The aim of the group leader is to take the hassle out of your travels and to help you have the best trip possible. Intrepid endeavours to provide the services of an experienced leader however, due to the seasonality of travel, rare situations may arise where your leader is new to a particular region or training other group leaders.
Your leader will provide information on the places you are travelling through, offer suggestions for things to do and see, recommend great local eating venues and introduce you to our local friends. While not being guides in the traditional sense you can expect them to have a broad general knowledge of the places visited on the trip, including historical, cultural, religious and social aspects. At Intrepid we aim to support local guides who have specialised knowledge of the regions we visit. If you were interested in delving deeper into the local culture at a specific site or location then your leader can recommend a local guide service in most of the main destinations of your trip.
West Hotel 伟晴轩
39 Wai Ching Street, Jordan Road, Yaumatei
Phone: +852 27707718
Joining point description
Located off Jordan Road (near Nathan Road) in one of Hong Kong's main shopping precincts, Kowloon. The surrounding area is fantastic and taking a stroll around the area is highly recommended. The Temple Street night market is situated just a few blocks away. The hotel features 24hr reception, 110 rooms, all with AC, en-suite, TV, internet access (extra charge applies), phone, refrigerator, kettle and hair dryer. Short term bag storage is available free of charge.
Joining point instructions
Hong Kong International Airport (or Chek Lap Kok Airport) is situated on Lantau Island, 36km from the centre of Kowloon Peninsula. Even though it is one of the world's busiest airports, it is very easy to navigate and there are several different and convenient ways to get in to the city. All signs and directions are written in English.
Take the Airport Express Train to Kowloon Station (HKD90). Then take a short taxi ride to our hotel (approx. HKD40). The Airport Express trains operate from 05.50 until 01.15.
The Airport Shuttle Bus Transfer is also available (HKD120 per person). From the arrival hall of the airport go to "A16" counter at Exit A or "B16" counter at Exit B to a buy ticket and the staff will let you know the way to the shuttle bus. The schedule will be at half hour intervals from the airport to our hotel directly.
If you take the Airport City Flyer bus, take Bus No. A22 and get off at Shanghai Street Stop on Jordan Road. Walk in the direction that the bus came from till you see Waiching Street (approx. 3 mins) and turn right here. Keep walking for about 100 metres and you'll see West Hotel on your right.
A taxi from Hong Kong International airport into town will cost you approximately HKD350 and are easily available.
A prebooked arrival transfer from the airport may be available depending on date of travel and if arranged at the time of booking. Transfers cannot be arranged on arrival. Please advise your flight details at least 14 days prior to your trips start date.
If you plan to arrive earlier, this arrival transfer can only be offered in conjunction with pre-tour accommodation booked through Intrepid.
Our local representative will be holding a sign with your name when you exit the airport terminal. If for any reason you cannot locate the person please go to Vigor Airport Shuttle Desk at Counter B04 on the arrivals level of Hong Kong International Airport. This counter is open from is open from 5:30am until midnight. Contact phone number: +852 2739 3828.
If for some reason you can not find your transfer, take the airport express train (runs every 15 mins) to Kowloon Station (90 HKD) and take a taxi to the Stanford Hillview Hotel (about 30 HKD).
Check-in time is 2pm.
Please note local language name and address for the West Hotel below which is useful to show to a taxi driver or to ask for directions.
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.
King Parkview Hotel (Huayu Hotel) 北京华育酒店
55 Shatan Back Street
Dong Cheng District
Phone: +86 (010)58757888
Finish point description
King Parkview Hotel (Huayu Hotel) is a 5-minute walk to the famous Forbidden City and is located in Dongcheng District, Beijing City. Tiananmen Square, Jingshan and Beihai Parks are also within walking distance.
Famous for shopping, the 700-year-old Wangfujing Pedestrian Street is a 15-minute walk from the hotel.
Finish point instructions
A departure transfer from our hotel to the airport is available if arranged at the time of booking. Transfers cannot be arranged during the trip. Please advise your flight arrival details at least 14 days prior to your trips start date. If you plan to stay longer, this departure transfer can only be offered in conjunction with post-tour accommodation booked through Intrepid.
Beijing Capital International Airport is located north-east of Beijing 25 km from the centre of Beijing city. One of the biggest airports in the world, it is relatively easy to navigate and many signs are written in English. Most international flights depart from Terminal 3.
There is an airport bus departing every 15 minutes from the West gate of the Beijing International Hotel (Jianguomen Da Jie), the cost is CNY16. The first bus is at 05.30 and the last bus at 21.00. You would need to take a taxi from our hotel to this bus stop.
Taxis to Beijing Airport from our hotel will cost approximately CNY80-100 (plus CNY10 toll fee). Travel time depends largely on time of day and traffic volume, but expect at least 1 hour in transit if departing from the city centre.
If you have booked a post trip airport transfer, please ask your leader to confirm with our local operator the time of departure and meeting place. If you have any problems you can also contact our local operator Ms.Qi (+86) 1367 129 9816.
Check-out time from the hotel is 12 noon. If you are departing later in the day or evening, you can arrange luggage storage at the hotel.
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 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.
Australia: No - Not required
Belgium: No - Not required
Canada: No - Not required
Germany: No - Not required
Ireland: No - Not required
Netherlands: No - Not required
New Zealand: No - Not required
South Africa: No - Not required
Switzerland: No - Not required
United Kingdom: No - Not required
USA: No - Not required
Please note that Hong Kong isn't considered part of China for visa purposes.
Australia: Yes - in advance
Belgium: Yes - in advance
Canada: Yes - in advance
Germany: Yes - in advance
Ireland: Yes - in advance
Netherlands: Yes - in advance
New Zealand: Yes - in advance
South Africa: Yes - in advance
Switzerland: Yes - in advance
United Kingdom: Yes - in advance
USA: Yes - in advance
MAINLAND CHINA & HONG KONG:
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.
INFORMATION REQUIRED FOR VISA APPLICATION:
Please list the destinations you will visit in China in chronological order on your application form. Do not mention Kashgar, Turpan 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:
Intrepid Travel Beijing Co. Ltd.
606 InterChina Commercial Building
33 Dengshikou Street
+86 10 6406 8022
DOCUMENTS REQUIRED FOR VISA APPLICATION:
* Hotel List - this will be sent to you by Intrepid or your travel agent at time of booking. If you do not receive this please email us with your booking number and trip details. Please tick the hotels in all destinations that your trip visits
* Official invitation from licensed Chinese tourism company - this will be provided together with the Hotel List to all travellers regardless of whether it is required by the embassy or not
* Itinerary – please print off a copy of your specific trip itinerary from our website www.intrepidtravel.com and include it with your application, marking the dates you will visit each destination if required
* Photocopy of your passport
* Passport size photo (up to 4 may be required)
* Please check with the embassy for any other specific requirements
DOCUMENTS REQUIRED FOR TRAIN TICKET BOOKINGS
Intrepid requires you send the following at the time of booking, at least 30 days prior to travel:
*Clear, colour 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 as well.
Your visa application form may require you to state the dates on which you enter and exit that country. Please note we suggest you list your date of entry a few days before, and date of exit a few days after, your intended dates in case you encounter any delays or problems en route. The following are the international/administrative border crossings for this trip:
Day 2 - Exit Hong Kong at Lo Wu and enter China at Shenzhen
To help calculate the exact dates of these crossings we have found the following website to be very useful - http://www.timeanddate.com
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.
TRAVELLING ON LOCAL TRANSPORT:
It's important that your bags can be locked, as on local transport it may be necessary to store your luggage separately (and unattended) from the group. The smaller your bag the better for you and other passengers, for when it comes to travelling on local buses and trains it's often only the smaller bags that will fit into the storage areas. If your bag does not fit in these areas then often the only place to put it is on your bed or seat. To ensure maximum comfort, try to pack small and light.
Where Intrepid covers the cost of luggage storage for included day trips, we allow for one bag/backpack only, so it's advisable that you travel lightly and keep luggage to a limit of one item (plus your day pack). Extra luggage storage will be at your own expense.
IMAGES FROM HOME:
During our trip there will be many opportunities for you to meet and talk with locals. One way to start any conversation is with pictures. We recommend that you bring some photos / postcards of your family, home, city or country where you live, animals peculiar to your country etc.
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
In China, clean and safe drinking water is widely available for free in hotels, restaurants and bus and train stations.
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.
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:
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.
Some hotel balconies don't meet UK standards in terms of the width of the balcony fence being narrower than 10cm.
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!
Pay attention on all roads, even small streets and alleyways. Vehicles find their ways into impossibly small passages leaving no room for both you and the traffic. Traffic can be very noisy and horns are used to signal turning, overtaking and to announce going through intersections.
Please be aware that local laws governing transportation safety may differ from those in the western world or from your home country and not all the transport which we use provides seat belts.
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.
Please note that helmets are not always provided for sightseeing on bicycles.
Your leader will conduct a brief safety discussion before our trekking activity.
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:
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:
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:
Responsible Travel projects
Organisations and projects currently supported by The Intrepid Foundation in China include:
* Beijing Huiling offers innovative services to youths and adults with learning disabilities and teaches people to respect what those with disabilities can do, rather than what they can't. Their activities and training facilitate independence and improve daily living and employability skills in a family-like group home environment.
* Xi'an Huiling provides adults with learning disabilities opportunities to develop their personal abilities and life skills, enabling them to achieve independence as a fully integrated member of the community.
Carbon Offset C02-e 1666.00 kgs per pax.
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.