Last Modified: 23 May 2016
China Family Holiday
Trip code: CBFA
Validity: 01 Jan 2016 to 31 Dec 2016
Take the family on a memorable adventure through China to see all sides of this colourful, cultural and naturally beautiful nation. The perfect blending of the familiar and the novel, marvel at the incredible Great Wall of China and Terracotta Warriors, get lost in the quiet beauty of Leshan and Yangshuo and be dazzled by the colourful markets and nightlife of the big cities. Boasting some of the grandest urban metropolises, friendliest people and most delicious cuisine in the world, China is an ideal destination for the whole family.
Table of Contents
Is this trip right for you?
- This trip uses a mix of transport for a local experience – overnight sleeper trains, bullet trains, the metro, private vehicles and public buses – some of which give a great chance to interact with locals.
- The trip also covers a fair amount of ground to maximise experiences and enable you to see much of this vast country, so be prepared for some long journeys.
Why we love it
- Though not quite visible from space, the Great Wall of China is still massive! Climb up this iconic sight and learn about its history
- Travel back in time to the era of China’s powerful Emperors in Beijing. Explore the Forbidden City and the Temple of Heaven, see history, and people-watch modern China
- Get the unique experience of whizzing through the Chinese landscape on an overnight train. Meet the locals, understand the culture, and have a fun sleepover too!
- Meet pandas in Chengdu on a once-in-a-lifetime encounter. Watch these adorable creatures at play, get to know the super-cute red ones, and learn about important conservation work
- Uncover the secrets of Chinese food in a cooking class in Yangshuo, then show off your new skills back home
- Wrap up this eye-opening adventure in Hong Kong – a fast-paced explosion for the senses that’s an exciting mix of old and new, East and West
Day 1 Beijing
Nimen Hao! Welcome to China. The capital of the most populous country on earth, Beijing is a place where ancient history and the modern world combine. Although the original terminus of the Silk Route was Xi'an, the infamous Mongolian warlord Kublai Khan made Beijing his capital and extended the route to it. During the Ming dynasty two of the city's great monuments were built – The Forbidden City and the Temple of Heaven – which you'll visit later in the trip. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6pm today. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask reception where it will take place. After arriving in Beijing, there will be plenty of time for relaxing, meeting the other members of your group, and exploring explore the Beijing Streets – with your hotel located centrally, a walk in any direction will unveil all sorts of wonderful surprises. Perhaps head out with the group to enjoy the first of many superb Chinese meals.
Dong Fang Hotel or similar (1 nt)
Day 2 Great Wall
Pull on some comfy shoes and head to perhaps China’s best-known attraction, the Great Wall (approximately 2 hours). As historically significant as it is visually striking, this experience is often said to be one of the most memorable of the trip. Stretching over 5,000 kilometres from the coast in the east, the wall was built as a defence against invasion from the horsemen of the far north. Surrounded by woodland and countryside and around 90 kilometres from Beijing, the 1,500 year old Mutianyu section of the Great Wall is considered one of the best preserved and restored parts of the wall. Renowned for its Ming Dynasty guard towers (there are 22 of them over this 2,250 metre-long stretch) and built mainly of granite, the wall is an impressive sight at over 7 metres high and more than 4 metres wide. You’ll walk along a section of the wall, taking in the surrounding scenery and getting a feel for the sheer size of this amazing construction. Be sure to wear comfortable shoes and be prepared for lots of steps! For those wanting a more relaxing way to get to the top of the wall there is the option of taking a cable car. Return to Beijing by private bus for a free evening. Maybe explore the Beijing street food scene; there are many night markets to visit and hutong (historic narrow streets and alleys) eateries in which to try local delicacies.
- Beijing - Great Wall Excursion
- Beijing - Acrobat show
Dong Fang Hotel or similar (1 nt)
Day 3 Beijing
This morning after breakfast, head out to discover the Chinese capital. Travel by public transport to Tiananmen Square, which is the largest town square in the world and big enough to hold one million people! Just next to the Square is the Forbidden City, once home to the Emperor and his family. The maze of buildings within the City became the symbolic and literal heart of the capital and the kingdom. Symbolism abounds here; dragon and phoenix represent emperor and empress, and construction followed the principles of Yin and Yang – the balance of negative and positive forces. After lunch, drop by the Temple of Heaven Park, a masterpiece of Chinese architecture, set in beautiful surroundings where people of tai chi, fan dancing, diablo, kite flying, water calligraphy and more. Later you’ll enjoy an amazing acrobatic troupe performance – just don't try this at home! In the afternoon stop at a local hotel (1 room per family provided), where there’s the chance to freshen up before transferring to the train station (approximately 3 hours) and boarding an overnight sleeper train to Xi'an (approximately 12 hours).
Notes: Train travel in China is a great way to mix with local people. On soft sleeper trains compartments are closed with two tier bunk beds, four to a cabin. Sheets, pillows and blanket are provided, with luggage is stored in the cabin. There are basic bathroom facilities at the end of each carriage with a toilet and washbasin. It's a good idea to bring your own toilet roll and some wet wipes. Please keep in mind that standards of cleanliness will not be what you are used to. Safe hot drinking water is provided for making tea, coffee or instant meals. You will need to bring a mug, spoon, knife and fork to prepare your own meals. Most trains have a dining carriage and limited snacks can be purchased en route. Please be prepared that you may have to share a carriage with persons outside of the group. Why not use your free time on the train for an informal language lesson from your leader or a local and learn a few simple words to use in your travels?
- Beijing - Temple of Heaven Park
- Beijing - Tiananmen Square
- Beijing - Tian'anmen Square & Forbidden City
- Beijing - Summer Palace - CNY40
- Beijing - Lama Temple - CNY25
- Beijing - Beijing by Bike Urban Adventure - CNY530
Overnight Sleeper Train (1 nt)
Day 4 Xi'an
Arrive in the imperial city of Xi'an. Human activity in this area dates back 6,000 years, but the Zhou dynasty established Xi'an as its capital, and the Tang dynasty built a magnificent city. As the terminus of the Silk Road, Xi'an was the world’s largest, richest and most cosmopolitan city and the capital of a powerful kingdom. Xi'an is one of the few cities in China to have preserved its city walls virtually intact. The city itself has spread beyond these walls, but the centre still retains the original grid formation, making it easy to navigate. When you arrive you’ll take a walk around the city centre with your leader, including spending some time wandering through the back streets of the Muslim quarter, which is home to narrow streets of quaint shops, lively markets, groups of white-bearded men in skull caps sipping tea in cafes, and one of the largest mosques in China. In free time you might like to visit the Big or Small Wild Goose Pagodas (built to house Buddhist scriptures brought back from India), climb to the top of the Drum or Bell Towers (made to restrain the dragons that were causing earthquakes), ride a bike around the city walls, or shop for souvenirs at the night markets.
- Xi'an - Muslim Quarter Walking Tour
- Xi'an - Cycling on City Wall - CNY80
- Xi'an - Bell & Drum Towers - CNY50
- Xi'an - Big Wild Goose Pagoda - CNY80
- Xi'an - Great Mosque - CNY25
- Xi'an - Small Wild Goose Pagoda - CNY50
Union Alliance Atravis Executive Hotel or similar (1 nt)
Day 5 Xian
Today you’ll travel into the countryside surrounding Xi’an (approximately 1 hour) and visit what is undoubtedly one of the man-made wonders of the world – the Terracotta Warriors. You’ll learn all about this incredible archaeological find, discovered in 1976 by farmers digging a well, after being buried for 2,000 years. These clay statues of soldiers, horses and chariots (originally all painted) were commissioned by the emperor Qin Shi Huangdi as part of his mausoleum after he rose to power in 264 BC. Three main pits are open for you to view, where over 6,000 warriors – each individually sculpted from clay, each with a different costume, height, and even facial expressions – stand in battle formation. The sheer size of the assembled terracotta army and the excellent displays really feed the imagination. There is also an interesting museum housing a collection of artefacts from the original digs. Return to Xi’an for you final evening in the city. Xi’an’s Silk Road history means it has an exciting mixture of cultures, an you can taste it in the different types of food, from delicious Muslim fare to great little dumplings in Chinese restaurants. Perhaps visit the night markets and try many of the tantalising local specialties.
- Xi'an - Terracotta Warriors & Guide
Union Alliance Atravis Executive Hotel or similar (1 nt)
Day 6 Chengdu
Wave goodbye to Xi’an and transfer (approximately 1 hour) to the airport, where you’ll catch a 1.5-hour flight to Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province. Chengdu is most famous for two things – the pandas living in the mountains, and the food. Its hot, spicy dishes are considered by the Chinese to be the best food in China. In such a food-loving country, this is no mean feat! Spend the day exploring the Old Town and Tibetan quarters of this quaint provincial area. Maybe visit Tianfu Square, where a giant statue of Chairman Mao stands tall. Relax in one of the most popular parks in Chengdu, Renmin Park (People's Park), where you can experience the amazing Chengdu tea culture, an essential part of people's daily life. This is a relaxing spot to spend a few hours – catch up on gossip in the tea-houses and watch locals exercising, singing, playing Mahjong or relaxing in their bamboo chairs drinking tea. Don't be surprised if somebody comes up to you with an offer to clean your ears! Be sure to tempt your taste buds and test your tongue with some spicy food tonight. Maybe try an authentic hot pot – a big pot of spiced broth where everyone can have fun selecting and cooking their own ingredients.
Garden City Hotel or similar (1 nt)
Day 7 Leshan
Today you’ll get to meet the world’s biggest Buddha as you take a day trip to Leshan (approximately 1.5 hours). The amazing sight of Da Fo is over 71 metres tall and is carved right into the cliff side. This World Heritage site is a very stout monk with a broad smile on his face, sitting solemnly right on the river. He has 8.3-meter-long fingers, and took 90 years to carve. There are two ways of visiting this Buddha – either by walking around the mountain or taking the boat for a complete view. Your leader will advise you of the best way to visit, depending on the time and the season of your visit. If you walk, then you’ll climb stone steps through walls of bamboo, passing temples and people praying and burning joss sticks. You can climb steep stairs down, from being level with his head to standing at his feet, where you can really appreciate the huge size. You’ll then return to Chengdu for the night. Maybe try to beat your spice level from last night!
Garden City Hotel or similar (1 nt)
Day 8 Chengdu
Globally, Chengdu is famous for the panda research centre, which you’ll visit this morning. China’s national pride, the giant panda is a rare and increasingly threatened creature, but here you can witness the conservation efforts being made to save this endearing endangered species. The research centre is home to both giant and red pandas, and you can marvel at these incredible creatures in a close approximation of their habitat. It’s an early start as pandas are only active for a few hours of the day to eat and exercise, but the opportunity to get close to these remarkable animals is an experience not to be missed. Watch them play, eat bamboo and climb the trees. If you’re lucky enough you might even get to see newborns taking their first steps in the nursery (July-September). After the pandas, in the early or mid evening, depending on flight availability, take a flight to Guilin (approximately 1.5 hours). From here, you’ll head into the picturesque countryside to Yangshuo (approximately 2 hours). 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, all of which is celebrated on every 20 Yuan note.
Notes: There will be a very late arrival into Yangshuo due to limited flight options from Chengdu, but there is the opportunity to have a late morning start the next day if you’d like.
- Chengdu - Giant Panda Breeding Research Base
Starway Hotel Xinfuan Yangshuo or similar (1 nt)
Day 9 Yangshuo
Located deep within the karst peaks of Guangxi province, Yangshuo is a haven for many visitors, away from the hustle and bustle of ever-developing China; a place where you can stop and slow down – but not completely. Start this more chilled portion of the trip at an easy pace – the same as the locals. Take a short walking tour with your leader to familiarise yourself with this laid-back town, then test out your moves with a local Kung Fu or Tai Chi teacher. Focus your body and mind, and pick up a few tricks or two. In the afternoon, visit a local farmers' market, where you can get a feel for the regional produce and daily life. Then make a short drive to Chalong, where you can put this new knowledge to use and learn the art of Chinese cooking. This class will allow the whole family to learn the techniques and skills of Chinese cuisine from experienced chefs, and after an afternoon trying out delicious recipes, you can eat what you’ve made for dinner! With recipes that are easy to make and ingredients readily available outside of China, you’ll soon be wowing friends and family back at home.
- Yangshuo - Cooking School & Market Tour
- Yangshuo - Tai Chi/Kung Fu class
Starway Hotel Xinfuan Yangshuo or similar (1 nt)
1 breakfast, 1 dinner
Day 10 Yangshuo
Continue your Yangshuo adventure today, beginning with a chance to explore some more of one of China’s most epic landscapes. Head out of town on bikes to cycle through the surrounding countryside, and gain an insight into Chinese rural life on a ride where each turn in the road brings you to another picture-postcard location. Take farm tracks, meander through paddy fields, and enjoy spectacular limestone karst scenery on all sides. You might pause for a cold drink beside one of the most beautiful of the Li River tributaries, and then continue on to a local village nestled at the base of Moon Hill. Look up to see the almost perfect semi-circle hole in a hilltop limestone arch. Here you can sample local farmers’ cooking (drinks and lunch at your own expense), before cycling back to Yangshuo. The rest of the day is free to explore the town and the surrounding area. There are many activities available here – perhaps try your hand at Chinese calligraphy, simply sit back and relax on a relaxing cruise down the Li or Yulong River, or browse the local shops and cafes.
Starway Hotel Xinfuan Yangshuo or similar (1 nt)
Day 11 Hong Kong
This morning around 9am, head to the train station and board the Bullet train towards Hong Kong. Experience the rush of speeding 300 km/h on the bullet train from Guilin to Shenzhen, before continuing on to Hong Kong. The train journey takes 4-5 hours, and then you’ll take the intercity bus from Shenzhen to Hong Kong. The China-Hong Kong border is busy, so there can often be a bit of a wait to get through, and a lot of patience is required. On average, it takes around 2 hours to clear immigration and customs on both sides. Your bags will be with you during this time. It was as a British colony that Hong Kong made itself known to the world and, 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. Arrive in the city around 5-6pm and take an orientation walk to get you settled in a city full of surprises just waiting to be uncovered. If there’s the time (and energy), end the day with the Symphony of Lights laser show in Victoria Harbour.
Metropark Hotel Kowloon or similar (1 nt)
Day 12 Hong Kong
Hong Kong's cityscape is spectacular and its modern fast-paced life is only minutes away from quiet islands and beaches. This vibrant and fast paced city is full of things to do. Perhaps catch the tram up to the top of Victoria Peak for incredible views of the Hong Kong skyline, or get the kids on the longest outdoor escalator in the world in Sheung Wang and its mix of ancient temples and cool cafes. Hop aboard a ferry to the city's secluded islands and beaches, ride the cable car to the Big Buddha, or hit the local markets to pick up some bargains. Travel on the double decker buses and trams, take a day trip to Macau, or catch the nightly light show on the Harbour. Then spend the final few hours of this family holiday wandering among the other impressive sights around town or searching out the best yum cha for a final night of sumptuous dining.
- Hong Kong - Victoria Peak & Tram - HKD40
Metropark Hotel Kowloon or similar (1 nt)
Day 13 Hong Kong
It’s time to end this enlightening journey into the heart of China – there are no activities planned for the final day and you are able to depart our accommodation at any time. Please check the 'Finishing Point Hotel' section for checkout times and luggage storage possibilities. Perhaps stay longer and uncover the wealth of treasures scattered around Hong Kong.
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. If you have any queries, please contact your travel agent or our staff. We are here to help you! 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. The order and timing of included activities in each location may also vary from time to time.
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 approximate and are for entrance only and don’t include transport to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. All activities are subject to availability and it may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination. Where activities are considered medium or high risk, we work with operators whose safety and credentials we have sighted and assessed. This means that it is possible that you may find the same activity cheaper with another operator on the ground, however we cannot vouch for the safety or quality of that operator. Activities not listed above have not been assessed by us and as such our staff and leaders are unable to assist you with booking these activities. The decision to partake in any activity not listed is at your own discretion and risk.
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, 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 at extra expense paid locally. Please ask your trip leader for help to arrange this if possible but be prepared to manage your own luggage.
Beijing - Great Wall Excursion
Beijing - Acrobat show
Beijing - Temple of Heaven Park
Beijing - Tiananmen Square
Beijing - Tian'anmen Square & Forbidden City
Xi'an - Muslim Quarter Walking Tour
Xi'an - Terracotta Warriors & Guide
Leshan - Giant Buddha
Chengdu - Giant Panda Breeding Research Base
Yangshuo - Cooking School & Market Tour
Yangshuo - Tai Chi/Kung Fu class
1. Please note that these trips are for adults and children travelling together and there must be at least one child under 18 with you.
2. Minimum age for children on this trip is 5 years old.
3.A discount of 10% applies on this trip to children under 15 years of age at time of travel.
4. Please provide Intrepid or your booking agent with a colour scanned copy of the personal details page from your passport at time of booking.
Maximum of 20 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.
A single supplement is available on this trip, please refer to your booking agent for further information.
Hotel (11nt), Overnight sleeper train (1nt)
GENERAL ROOMING CONFIGURATIONS:
Family of two - All family groupings of two will be put into a twin room.
Family of three - Wherever possible we will put you in a triple room. Please be aware that in some places triple rooms are in short supply. This means that, in practice, a triple room will often simply be a twin room with a mattress on the floor or a further bed squashed in. Where it is impossible to provide a triple room, you will have to decide which of your party takes the single room.
Family of four or more - You will most likely stay in two twin rooms. If and wherever possible we will aim put you in a quadruple room. Whilst we will do our very best to ensure that families are roomed close together (in some cases, we can arrange adjoining rooms), we can’t guarantee this. Most family holidays occur during peak season and we sometimes have little to no control over where you will be put. You need to come prepared for this.
Accommodation is clean and simple. You'll mainly stay in small, locally-run, 2-3 star hotels and guesthouses, which reflect the character of the area,generally these will be a twin room with private facilities. Sometimes you'll stay in larger, more comfortable hotels or occasionally rustic accommodation with basic facilities. We use a variety of accommodation on most trips; chosen for their value for money, location and atmosphere. We also try and incorporate unique accommodation experiences, such as a night with a local tribe, or sleeping under the stars in the desert.
We use soft-sleeper class trains for most of our overnight train journeys on this trip. Compartments are clean, with padded berths (four to a room), sheets, pillow, blanket and boiling water available. Most trains have a dining carriage where meals are available three times a day, and there are snacks available on the train along the way. 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.
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.
If you've purchased pre- or post-trip accommodation you may be required to change rooms from your trip accommodation for these extra nights.
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 note that western food, particularly breakfasts, are not always available outside of big cities in China and even when "western" options are provided they may be far from what you are used to at home and definitely with a local twist! In general we find that families enjoy eating local Chinese food as there is plenty of variety and flavours (and so much better and different from Chinese food back home!). Not everything is spicy! When we eat out for included group meals we go to Chinese restaurants. The leader will usually order a variety of dishes for everyone to try and share. If your family has some special dietary requirements please let your leader know at the group meeting and they will do their best to accommodate your needs. For optional meals you are free to join the leader, ask them for recommendations, or choose your own place to eat. Don't worry if you can't use chopsticks - our leader will give you a lesson at the first night dinner and during the trip we also play some games so you can practice your skills. By the end you will be a pro (and if not, there are always spoons available!)
Food is cheap in China and you can avoid the spicier regional food if you wish. The food on this trip is fantastically varied with lots of new flavours and 'things' to try. Gastronomically the trip can be divided into two parts: 'tourist hotels' and 'local hotels'. In tourist hotels the breakfast is normally a buffet, with a huge spread of Chinese and western food, including coffee, juice, breads, cakes, fruit, eggs, bacon and a wide variety of noodle and stir fried dishes. Dinners are normally taken in the hotel or local restaurants, serving rice with assorted vegetables, pork, fish, chicken and duck dishes with flavours roughly approximating those you would find in a Chinese restaurant at home. In the local hotels, breakfast includes rice porridge, dumplings, eggs, noodles, etc, however, we tend to augment this with fruit and cakes where available.
Dinners taken in local restaurants may be heavily flavoured with ginger, garlic bamboo shoots and chilli. Don't be surprised to find river snail, sparrow or even dog appearing on the menu! Lunches are taken in local village restaurants and will normally consist of noodle soup or stir fried vegetable noodles. Expect an audience most lunches as the locals crowd around to watch the 'big noses' trying to master the use of chopsticks!
Vegetarians are well catered for but please inform us before departure of any special dietary requests. Please note that in China the availability of certain specialised products for restricted diets, e.g. gluten-free or dairy-free, is minimal or non-existent and we strongly recommend you bring these specialized dietary items from home. Strict vegetarians may find the diet rather limited to stir fried vegetables and eggs as all the soups are made with meat stock.
12 breakfasts, 1 dinner
The official currency in China is the Yuan or Renminbi (CNY). 1 renminbi (yuan) = 10 jiao (mao).
ATMs are widespread, so the easiest way to access cash on your trip is to bring a credit/debit card. Please check with your bank about overseas withdrawal fees before you depart. Look for ATMs with your card logo.
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.
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.
When it comes to spending money on the trip, every traveller is a little different. You know your spending habits better than we do, so please budget a sensible amount for things like meals not included, drinks, shopping, optional activities and laundry. It's always better to bring a little more than you think you'll need. Also make sure you've read your trip details thoroughly so you know what's included in the trip price and what isn't. This should make budgeting a little easier. You'll find this info in the Inclusions section of your Essential Trip Information (that's this document).
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.
Budget for meals not included: 180.00
Please also make sure you have access to an additional US$500, to be used when unforeseen incidents or circumstances outside our control (e.g. a natural disaster, civil unrest, strike action or an outbreak of bird flu) necessitate a change to our planned route.
All Intrepid Family trips are accompanied by one of our group leaders. The aim of the group leader is to assist your family take the hassle out of your travels and to help you have the best trip possible. Your leader will provide information on the places you are travelling through, offer suggestions for fun things to do and see- for both kids and parents, recommend great local eating venues that will even get the kids trying new things, 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 countries visited on the trip, including historical, cultural, religious and social aspects.
Our leaders are not babysitters on this trip - we leave that to you (the experts), but they will make sure that group members of all ages are able to explore their destination safely and with as much fun as possible. Our group leaders are not responsible for looking after children at any time and children must be accompanied by a parent or guardian at all times throughout this itinerary.
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 and ensure that your travel insurance covers you for all areas your itinerary covers. 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 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 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:
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 or on the floor and wearing a money belt will reduce any chance that your valuables should go missing.
Dongfang Hotel 北京东方饭店
11 Wanming Road 地址：北京市西城区万明路11号
Phone: +86 10 63014466
Joining point instructions
Beijing Capital International airport is located north-east of Beijing, 25 km from the city centre. One of the biggest airports in the world, it is relatively easy to navigate and many signs are written in English. Most international flights arrive at Terminal 3. For more information about Beijing Capital Airport, please go to http://en.bcia.com.cn/
An arrival transfer from the airport is available if arranged at the time of booking. Transfers cannot be arranged on arrival. Please advise your flight arrival details at least 14 days prior to your departure. If you plan to arrive earlier, this arrival transfer can only be offered in conjunction with pre-tour accommodation booked through your booking agent.
If you have pre-arranged an arrival transfer with us, our local operator, Ms Qi (Ms Chee), will have sent a driver to the airport who will be holding a sign with our company logo on it "The Family Adventure Company" and your name.
If you arrive at Terminal 2, please meet your driver at the entrance/exit #7 after you go through the baggage claim area. I
f you arrive at Terminal 3, please meet your driver in front of the white jade screen wall with the dragon pattern, after you walk through Exit B. Exit B is the only international arrival gate in Terminal 3. Please note that Beijing Airport is very crowded so please be patient. If you have any problems finding the driver go to the information desk near your exit and ask them to call Ms Qi at (+86) 13671299816.
In any case, please take a printed copy of your hotel name and address in Chinese as shown in the joining point hotel section with you.
If you are making your own way to the joining hotel:
By taxi (the easiest option): Metered taxis are available outside the airport terminal building. You can follow the airport signs to reach to the official taxi stand. The taxi ride from the airport to our starting point hotels takes about 45 minutes to 1 hour and should cost around CNY120 (include CNY10 for the airport expressway toll). Show the taxi driver the address of the hotel in Chinese characters as shown below. **PLEASE AVOID TAXI DRIVERS WHO DON'T WAIT IN THE TAXI LINE FOR CLIENTS AND APPROACH YOU IN THE QUEUE CLAIMING THEY USE METER**
By airport express and taxi:
You can follow the airport signs to reach to the airport express station. Take the airport express (CNY25, service time: 06:20 to 22:50) to Dongzhimen station. It is suggested to hail a passing by taxi to go to your hotel. It will cost around CNY30 from Dongzhimen Station to your hotel. Show the taxi driver the address of the hotel in Chinese characters as shown in the Joining Point Section. **THERE IS NO TAXI LINE AT THIS STATION. AVOID USING TAXIS THAT ARE WAITING JUST OUTSIDE THE STATION EXITS. THEY DON'T USE METER AND TEND TO OVERCHARGE. **
Metropark Hotel Kowloon 九龍維景酒店
No.75 Waterloo Road 地址 :香港九龍窩打老道七十五號
Phone: +852 27611711
Fax: +852 27611711
Finish point description
Metropark Hotel Kowloon (Hong Kong) is situated at the heart of Kowloon in Hong Kong. This HK hotel provides easy access to Hong Kong's major shopping areas and commercial area, such as the Langham Place and the Grand Century Place, and is ideal for business trips or leisurely breaks. Airport shuttle and free hotel shuttle bus service to and from Mong Kok and Tsimshatsui are provided by this Hong Kong hotel. The hotel is near subway and railway stations within walking distance of around 10 minutes’ walk from Yaumatei/Mongkok MTR stations and 8 minutes’ walk from Mong Kok East station. Metropark Hotel Kowloon, Hong Kong is facilitated with hotel (Chinese & Western) restaurants, a bar, a rooftop swimming pool and Fitness Room for hotel visitors' enjoyment. Free broadband Internet access with unlimited usage is available in all hotel rooms.
Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. Entry requirements can change at any time, so it's important that you check for the latest information. Please visit the relevant consular website of the country or countries you’re visiting for detailed and up-to-date visa information specific to your nationality. Your consultant will also be happy to point you in the right direction with acquiring visas. Visas can take several weeks to process, so familiarise yourself with any requirements as soon as you have booked your trip to allow for processing time.
Most nationalities require a visa for mainland China. You must obtain your Chinese visa in advance. It is not possible to get a visa on arrival and Chinese visas can be difficult to obtain outside your country of residence. You may be able to apply for your visa in Hong Kong If you have time here before your trip departs. You will need a Single Entry Tourist for your trip valid for 30 days.
Hong Kong is not considered part of mainland China for immigration purposes and most nationalities do not require a visa. Please check with an embassy for specific requirements for Hong Kong.
Please make sure if you have a transit anywhere in China before arriving at your destination that you check with your airline to see if the transit will require using your visa.
INFORMATION REQUIRED FOR CHINESE VISA APPLICATION:
List the destinations you will visit in China in chronological order on your application form. Do not mention Tibet anywhere on your application form, even if your tour goes here. You will be given a specific itinerary to use if booking a Tibet trip. While Tibet is not off limits to travellers, you must first obtain a Chinese visa BEFORE we apply for your Tibet permit on your behalf.
Including Tibet on your visa application without being booked on a government arranged tour will lead to your visa being rejected.
Name of Host/Inviting Organisation:
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, email us with your booking number and trip details.
* Official invitation from licensed Chinese tourism company - this will be provided from us together with the Hotel List to all travellers regardless of whether it is required by the consulate or not and will assist with your application.
* Itinerary – print off a copy of your specific trip itinerary from our website www.intrepidtravel.com and include it with your application, marking the dates you will visit each destination if required (exception - Tibet tours)
* Photocopy of your passport
* Passport size photos (up to 4 may be required)
* Check with the consulate for any other specific requirements
DOCUMENTS REQUIRED FOR TRAIN TICKET BOOKINGS:
Intrepid requires you send the following at the time of booking or at least 30 days prior to travel:
*Clear, colour scanned copy of the personal details page of your passport
(Please make sure that this copy is for the passport that you will be travelling on. If you have to renew your passport after booking please notify us as soon as you have a new passport number and bring your old passport with you on your trip in case it is requested)
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, although you won't be required to walk long distances with it (max 30 minutes).
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.
Below we have listed the essentials for this trip:
Consider bringing your own water bottle to refill along the way. We recommend at least a 1.5litre capacity. 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 end up in limited landfill or discarded in waterways and natural environments.
DRINKING WATER IN CHINA:
Tap water is not generally palatable, however in China, clean and safe drinking water is widely available for free in hotels, restaurants, bus and train stations. This is often provided as hot water as Chinese are great tea drinkers. Consider bringing a bottle that you can fill with hot water and allow to cool down. Alternatively, ask your leader for their favourite kind of tea and stay hydrated the local way!
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.
Climate and seasonal information
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.
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 Travel 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.
The diet and hygiene standards of Central Asia may be very different from what you are used to so please take care with washing hands before meals etc and bring some medication/re hydration salts etc should you experience stomach problems.
There have recently been a number of isolated cases of Bird Flu in Asia. While the risk to travellers is very low, we will continue to monitor the situation and follow the advice of local authorities and the World Health Organisation. WHO recommends basic hygiene practices to limit the risk of infection:
• Avoid visiting live animal markets and poultry farms
• Avoid contact with surfaces contaminated with animal faeces
• Do not eat or handle undercooked or raw poultry, egg or duck dishes
• Do not attempt to bring any poultry products back
• Do not pick up or touch dead or dying birds
• Exercise good personal hygiene with frequent hand washing
For further information please visit: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/avian_influenza/en/index.html
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 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.
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.
Everyone has the right to feel safe and secure on their trip. We don’t tolerate any form of sexual harassment at Intrepid, either between passengers or involving our leaders or local operators. Sexual relationships (consensual or otherwise) between a leader and a passenger are unacceptable. If you ever feel another person is behaving inappropriately please inform us immediately by contacting the emergency contact number detailed in these trip notes.
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.
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 by wearing sleeves and long trousers. Loose, lightweight, long clothing is both respectful and cool in areas of predominantly hot climate. In many rural areas women will need to wear modest clothing even to swim. Singlets, tank tops and topless sun bathing are all unacceptable. When visiting religious sites men often need to wear long trousers and women a long skirt or sarong.
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$1,000 per donor and a total of AU$400,000 for all donors in each financial year, excluding emergency appeals). And every cent gets there as Intrepid Travel pays for all the administration costs. Donating is simple and secure. Please ask your leader for information on the projects we support through The Intrepid Foundation or go to our website:
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.
After your travels, we want to hear from you! We rely on your feedback. We read it carefully. Feedback helps us understand what we are doing well and what we could be doing better. It allows us to make improvements for future travellers.