China Highlights Trip Notes

China Highlights

These trip notes are valid for departures from 01 January 2016 to 31 December 2016. View the trip notes for departures between 01 January 2017 - 31 December 2017


Last Modified: 15 Jun 2016
China Highlights
Trip code: CBSD
Validity: 01 Jan 2016 to 31 Dec 2016
Get a taste of China on this short but culture-filled adventure. Travel from modern Shanghai to old Beijing and explore busy Xi'an, taking in iconic attractions such as the Great Wall of China and Terracotta Warriors along the way. Of course, there is time to delve beneath the surface, discovering gourmet delights and learning about Chinese lifestyles and traditions.
Table of Contents
StyleYour fellow travellersFinishing point instructions
ThemesAccommodationEmergency contact
Is this trip right for you?Accommodation NotesVisas
Why we love itMeals introductionWhat to take
MapMealsHealth
ItineraryMoney mattersTravel insurance
Itinerary disclaimerGroup leaderA couple of rules
Physical ratingSafetyResponsible Travel
Included activitiesJoining pointThe Intrepid Foundation
Important notesFinish pointFeedback
Group sizeFinish point description
Style
Original
Themes
Explorer
Is this trip right for you?
- This trip travels on overnight hard sleeper trains on sections of the journey. 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. It's the main form of transport for locals, so take the chance to interact.
- There is an overnight stay at a family-run Guesthouse at the Great Wall.
- Experience travelling like the locals in a variety of different ways, using local transport including overnight trains, public buses and the metro, as well as private buses.
- The trip covers a fair amount of ground to enable you to see much of the country, so be prepared for some long journeys.
Why we love it
- Overnight at the Great Wall at a family run Guesthouse, and see this iconic structure without the crowds
- Like everything it does, China’s ancient history is on an epic scale – see it when face-to-face with thousands of Terracotta Warriors with a local guide
- Zen out while exploring the narrow alleyways of Shanghai's nearby water town of Xitang
- Feel the might of China’s imperial power while exploring Beijing's Forbidden City, filled with palaces, gardens and seemingly never-ending grand courtyards
Map

Itinerary
Day 1 Shanghai
Nimen Hao! Welcome to China. Blending 21st-century architecture with old-world character, Shanghai pulses with the beat of new China. Your adventure begins with a Welcome Meeting at 6 pm this evening. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask reception where it will take place. Settle into your hotel and then get a feel for this vibrant city – Shanghai’s bright lights, fevered trade and frenetic pace provide a glimpse into the dazzling global future of the country. Your evening is free for your first exploration of the city – perhaps get a taste of Shanghai’s eclectic food scene, which draws influence from far beyond China’s walls.

Notes: As we only have one full day in Shanghai as part of the trip, we highly recommend arriving a few days earlier to make the most of your time here. Those who arrive early could visit the Propaganda Museum for a fascinating look at China's revolutionary past, get a bird's eye view of the city from the Pearl Tower's observation decks, wander the Yuyuan Gardens and Bazaar, barter in markets, stroll through modern Pudong or scope out the city’s buzzing nightlife at a local bar. Check out our range of Urban Adventures for the insider's take on exploring the city.
Included Activities
  • Informal Chinese language lesson
    Optional Activities
    • Shanghai - Propaganda Museum - CNY20
    • Shanghai - Yuyuan Gardens - CNY40
    • Shanghai - Oriental Pearl Tower Viewing Deck - CNY150
      Accommodation
      Hotel (1 nt)
      Day 2 Shanghai
      Today join your leader for a walking tour that will take you to historical Shanghai. At the Bund you can get a taste of 1920s Shanghai; its spectacular array of art deco style buildings, formerly belonging to Western banks, line what was once the most important financial street in Asia. Wander the narrow winding lanes (nongtangs) of old Shanghai, where you can get a real glimpse into the locals’ daily life. Explore the European-influenced French Concession, the area of Shanghai once designated for the French, consisting of today's Luwan and Xuhui Districts. Luwan's Huaihai Road is a busy shopping street and is home to both Xintiandi and Tian Zi Fang, extremely popular shopping and dining spots for visitors. The area's tree-lined avenues and their many Tudor mansions still retain an air of the 'Paris of the East'. This evening you’ll witness the impressive feats of the famous Shanghai acrobats.
      Included Activities
      • Shanghai - Walking Tour
      • Shanghai - Acrobat Show
        Optional Activities
        • Shanghai - Shanghai Museum - Free
        • Shanghai - Yuyuan Gardens - CNY40
        • Shanghai - Oriental Pearl Tower Viewing Deck - CNY150
          Accommodation
          Hotel (1 nt)
          Day 3 Xitang
          Get a taste of traditional China on a day trip to an ornate water town. Drive approximately 2 hours by private transport out to Xitang, a town full of picturesque architecture and views. Wander through the small streets and across the bridges that criss-cross the town. Chill out by the canals, sip steaming cups of tea at a local teahouse or learn about local history at one of the many museums. Get lost among the maze of peaceful cobblestone streets lined with village buildings – it’s a welcome break from the bustle of modern Shanghai. While here, gliding along the waterways in a gondola is the ideal way to enjoy a real water town experience. Return to Shanghai and then board an overnight hard sleeper train bound to Xi'an (approximately 15 hours).

          Notes: Train travel in China may not be entirely luxurious but it's certainly one of the best ways to come face to face with the country and its people, as it's the main form of transport for locals. We use hard sleeper class trains for most of our overnight train journeys. These are not as rough as they sound – compartments are open-plan, clean, with padded three-tiered berths (6 to a compartment). Wherever possible, we will group our travellers together, but this will depend on group size and ticket availability. Sheets, pillows and a blanket are provided. Some travellers prefer to bring their own sleeping sheet. Safe, hot drinking water is always available. 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 with toilets and washbasins are situated at the end of each carriage. As toilet paper isn't always available, it's best to bring an emergency supply. Keep in mind general train cleanliness may not be to the same standards you are accustomed to. Food is available on the train, but it's a good idea to stock up on snacks for the trip. 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.
          Included Activities
          • Xitang - Walking tour
            Optional Activities
            • Xitang - Gondola ride - CNY120
              Accommodation
              Overnight Sleeper Train (1 nt)
              Day 4 Xi'an
              Arrive in Xi’an, the capital of Shaanxi Province and the largest city in northwest China. Once the imperial centre of China for 2,000 years, Xi'an is now a vibrant, modern city dotted with many interesting historical sites and is a great place to explore. Today you’ll join your leader on a short walking tour to uncover what was once the start of the ancient trading route of the Silk Road. Visit the Bell & Drum Towers, the former built (according to legend) to restrain the dragons that were causing earthquakes, the latter is (unsurprisingly) full of drums, once used to mark time and warn in emergencies. The city also has a wonderful Muslim Quarter, and you’ll wander the narrow streets of quaint shops, lively markets, groups of white-bearded men in skull caps sipping tea in cafes, and the Great Mosque, one of the most important in China. See the City Walls and Gates, the most complete in China, running over 13 kilometres around the city. Xi’an’s Silk Road history means it has an exciting mixture of cultures, especially found in its food options, ranging from delicious Muslim fare to great little dumplings in Chinese restaurants. Perhaps visit the night markets and try many of the tantalising local specialties such as pao mo (lamb broth that you break flat bread into), hand pulled noodles, hot pot and barbecue.
              Included Activities
              • Xi'an - Muslim Quarter Walking Tour
                Optional Activities
                • Xi'an - Small Wild Goose Pagoda - CNY50
                • Xi'an - Cycling on City Wall - CNY80
                • Xi'an - Great Mosque - CNY25
                • Xi'an - Bell & Drum Towers - CNY50
                • Xi'an - Big Wild Goose Pagoda - CNY80
                  Accommodation
                  Hotel (1 nt)
                  Day 5 Xi'an
                  Today you’ll journey out in to the countryside surrounding Xi’an (approximately 2 hours) 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 after being buried for 2,000 years by farmers digging a well in 1976. These clay statues of soldiers, horses and chariots (and originally individually painted) were commissioned by the emperor Qin Shi Huangdi as part of his mausoleum after he ascended to the throne in 264 BC. Three main pits are open for you to view, where over 1,000 warriors are displayed – each individually sculpted from clay, each having a different costume, height, and even facial expressions – stand in battle formation. The scale is incredibly impressive. Afterwards you'll enjoy lunch with a local family, before visiting our friends at Xi'an Huiling (meaning 'wise spirit') – a special Intrepid-supported project for young people with intellectual and learning disabilities. Here you'll enjoy a performance of singing and dancing by the students (don't be surprised if you're asked to join in) and have a chance to see their artwork and handicrafts. Return to Xi’an for you final evening in the city.
                  Included Activities
                  • Xi'an - Terracotta Warriors & Guide
                  • Xi'an - Huiling visit
                  • Xi'an - Local-style lunch
                    Accommodation
                    Hotel (1 nt)
                    Meals
                    1 lunch
                    Day 6 Great Wall
                    Today is a big day of travelling so grab some snacks for the journey. Transfer to the railway station and then board the high-speed train (approximately 6 hours) to Beijing. Watch the landscape change from farmland and villages to industrialised cities and urban sprawl. On arrival in Beijing meet your private vehicle to drive out into the countryside to the Jinshanling section of the Great Wall (approximately 2 hours) where you’ll spend the night in a family run village guesthouse.
                    All rooms have ensuites with hot water, bathroom toiletries and wifi is available. Please note there is no air conditioning here.

                    Dinner is included here - a great chance to sample local produce and delicious home style cooking.
                    Accommodation
                    Guesthouse (1 nt)
                    Meals
                    1 dinner
                    Day 7 Beijing
                    This morning you’ll visit a section of the Great Wall and spend some time exploring, taking photos and learning the history of this mighty site (and sight). An incredible piece of engineering, the wall stretches 6,000 km westwards from the mountain ridges north of Beijing. It was originally constructed to protect Chinese empires from the 'barbarians' of the north and even though it failed in this purpose, it's still without a doubt one of the country's most remarkable achievements and an iconic destination. You’ll often feel like you have the whole wall to yourself as you take your time strolling along the wall, which snakes through the hills almost endlessly into the distance. Being perched on this incredible engineering feat and surveying the spectacular surrounding countryside is an unforgettable experience. You’ll then journey back to Beijing (approximately 3 hours) – your last stop on your journey. 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.

                    Notes: Some parts of the wall are unrestored so you'll need to concentrate hard to keep your footing. In other parts the trail might take us off the wall to walk alongside it through the countryside. 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.
                    Included Activities
                    • Great Wall - Gubeikou section
                      Optional Activities
                      • Beijing - Beijing by Bike Urban Adventure - CNY530
                        Accommodation
                        Hotel (1 nt)
                        Meals
                        1 breakfast
                        Day 8 Beijing
                        Today you will make our way to the centre of the city – Tian'anmen Square (travelling by metro and local bus). Perhaps most famous outside of the country for the 1989 massacre (and the iconic picture of a single man standing up to a tank), this square – supposedly the largest down town square in the world – is the symbolic centre of Chinese power. Framed by the Gate of Heavenly Peace with its Mao portrait, Mao's Mausoleum, the Great Hall of the People, the National Museum, and with elaborate flag raising and lowering ceremonies at dawn and dusk, it's a place of pilgrimage for the Chinese tourists who consider it the heart of their nation. From here you will enter the enormous Forbidden City. Built more than 500 years ago and off limits to commoners for almost all that time, its a truly amazing place. Despite the transformation of the city around it, the Forbidden City thankfully looks much like it always has. As you explore the great halls and courtyards you’ll be able appreciate the might and grandeur of the Imperial Chinese court during the height of its power in the Ming and Qing dynasties. Beijing is vast and overflowing with sights – with your hotel located centrally, a walk in any direction will unveil all sorts of wonderful surprises.
                        Included Activities
                        • Beijing - Forbidden City
                        • Tiananmen Square
                          Accommodation
                          Hotel (1 nt)
                          Day 9 Beijing
                          There are no activities planned for the final day and you are able to depart the accommodation at any time. There's so much to see and do in Beijing that we highly recommend staying an extra few days. Some activities for your free time might be: a trip to the 798 Art District on a Beijing Art and Architecture tour, cycling round the city, visiting the park surrounding the Temple of Heaven, or an exploration of beautiful Tibetan-style monastery of Yonghegong (the Lama Temple).
                          Optional Activities
                          • Beijing - Beijing by Bike Urban Adventure - CNY530
                            Itinerary disclaimer
                            ITINERARY CHANGES 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.

                            OPTIONAL ACTIVITIES: A selection of optional activities are listed in the day-to-day itinerary. This isn't an exhaustive list and should be used as a guide only. Prices are 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.
                            Physical rating

                            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
                            Informal Chinese language lesson
                            Shanghai - Walking Tour
                            Shanghai - Acrobat Show
                            Xitang - Walking tour
                            Xi'an - Muslim Quarter Walking Tour
                            Xi'an - Terracotta Warriors & Guide
                            Xi'an - Huiling visit
                            Xi'an - Local-style lunch
                            Great Wall - Gubeikou section
                            Beijing - Forbidden City
                            Tiananmen Square
                            Important notes
                            1. A Single Supplement is available on this trip. See under the Single Traveller section of your Trip Notes for more information.
                            2. A scanned copy of the personal details page of your passport is required at time of booking in order for us to purchase your train tickets.
                            3. An upgrade to Soft Sleeper trains is available on this trip. Please see Trip Notes for full details.
                            4. Please make sure you have access to an additional US$500, to be used when unforeseen incidents or circumstances outside our control (eg. a natural disaster, civil unrest or an outbreak of bird flu) necessitate a change to our planned route.
                            5. Overnight train accommodation on this tour is in 6-berth ‘hard-sleeper’ class. Bedding is provided and wash basins and toilet facilities (usually one with a toilet seat and one squat-style in each compartment) are available on all trains, but there are no showers or baths.
                            6. Please note while traveling through mainland China you will not be able to access some popular internet websites.
                            It’s important to let your family and friends know that you might not be able to stay in touch over your usual methods, be it – social media or email. Or let them know if you have set up a new email address in which you can access in mainland China.
                            The Chinese Government control and restrict certain websites. Websites on the blocked list could change at any time, any site could be restricted at any moment. Here are some of the most popular websites around the world that are blocked in China: Google, Dropbox, Gmail, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google +, WordPress, LinkedIn,Yahoo Hong Kong, Yahoo Taiwan, Wikipedia and many more.
                            7. In the case of a genuine crisis or emergency, Intrepid's Beijing Office can be reached on Tel: +861064067328

                            Group size
                            Maximum of 12 travellers per group.
                            Your fellow travellers
                            GROUP TRAVEL
                            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.

                            SINGLE TRAVELLERS:
                            Our group trips are designed for shared accommodation and don't involve a compulsory single supplement. Single travellers share with people of the same gender in accommodation ranging from twin to multishare. Some of our itineraries have accommodation booked on a mixed gender share basis and where applicable this will be specified in our Trip Notes. On a selection of our trips, you have the option to pay a single supplement to ensure that you have your own accommodation (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. Please note that the Single Supplement will not include the following:
                            - Great Wall village stay on day 6
                            - Overnight train journey on day 3
                            Accommodation
                            Hotel (6 nights), Overnight Sleeper Train (1 night), Guesthouse (1 night)
                            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.

                            CHECK-IN TIME
                            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.
                            Meals introduction
                            While travelling with us you'll experience the vast array of wonderful food available in the world. Your group leader will be able to suggest restaurants to try during your trip. On our camping trips we often cook the region's specialities so you don't miss out. To give you the maximum flexibility in deciding where, what and with whom to eat, generally not all meals are included in the trip price. This also gives you more budgeting flexibility. As a rule our groups tend to eat together to enable you to taste a larger variety of dishes and enjoy each other's company. There's no obligation to do this though.
                            Meals
                            1 breakfast, 1 lunch, 1 dinner
                            Money matters
                            The official currency in China is the Yuan or Renminbi (CNY). 1 renminbi (yuan) = 10 jiao (mao).

                            We strongly advise against bringing travellers cheques as in China they can be extremely difficult or impossible to change.

                            ATMs are widespread, so the easiest way to access cash on your trip is to bring a credit card. Please check with your bank about overseas withdrawal fees before you depart. Some banks will allow a cash advance against a major credit card which will incur a service charge of 5% or more.

                            Currency exchange is available at major banks and some hotels. The easiest foreign currencies to exchange are USD and EUR, however please be aware of the security risk of carrying large amounts of cash. In any case, some money should be taken as cash in case of emergencies - we recommend around US$400 per person. Commission is sometimes charged for currency exchange. Check the rate before you exchange and carefully check the amount you are given and ask for a receipt.

                            Please note that due to restrictions on currency conversion for foreigners in China it may not be possible to change left over CNY back into foreign currency, so please plan your budget and spending money well by withdrawing/exchanging what you need as you go.

                            SPENDING MONEY
                            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. Although can be difficult to source we advise you to carry small notes of local currency each day to make tipping easier. Please note we recommend that any tips are given directly to the intended recipient by a member of your group as our group leaders are prohibited from collecting cash for tips.

                            In China specifically, tipping is not compulsory, but is expected in the travel industry and is considered a way of showing appreciation for great service.

                            The following amounts are per person suggestions based on local considerations and feedback from our past travellers:
                            Restaurants, markets, and taxi drivers - tipping is not customary and is not expected by the locals.
                            Local guides: Throughout your trip you may at times have a local guide in addition to your tour leader. We suggest US$2-US$5 per day for local guides depending on their service and their involvement with the group.

                            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 a higher tip for those more involved with the group, however we suggest US$2-US$4 per day for drivers.

                            Your Tour Leader: You may also consider tipping your tour leader for outstanding service throughout your trip. The amount is entirely a personal preference, however as a guideline US$4-US$6 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 is not compulsory and should only be given when you receive excellent service.

                            At your group meeting on Day 1, your tour leader will discuss with you the idea of running a group tipping kitty, whereby everybody contributes an equal amount and then your group leader pays the tips while keeping a running record of all monies spent (except restaurant tips). The record can be checked at any time and any money remaining at the end of the tour returned to group members. This is often the easiest way to avoid the hassles of needing small change and knowing when and what is an appropriate amount to tip. Please don't tip with coins, very small denomination notes, or dirty and ripped notes. This is regarded culturally as an insult.

                            All departure taxes should be included in your international flight ticket.

                            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.

                            EMERGENCY FUNDS
                            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.
                            Group leader
                            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.
                            Safety
                            Many national governments provide a regularly updated advice service on safety issues involved with international travel. We recommend that you check your government's advice for their latest travel information before departure 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:

                            http://www.intrepidtravel.com/contact-us/safety

                            FIRE PRECAUTIONS:
                            Please be aware that local laws governing tourism facilities in this region differ from those in your home country and not all the accommodation which we use has a fire exit, fire extinguishers or smoke alarms.

                            BALCONIES:
                            Some hotel balconies don't meet western 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.

                            SEAT BELTS:
                            Please be aware that local laws governing transportation safety may differ from those in your home country and not all the transport which we use is able to provide 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 or on the floor and wearing a money belt will reduce any chance that your valuables should go missing.

                            SCAMS IN CHINA
                            While China is generally very safe to travel around, there are a couple of scams to avoid, especially in major tourist cities. If any young people (usually in couples) around tourist sites claim to be Art Students and want to take you to their "special exhibition", they may end up aggressively selling overpriced prints in their 'showroom'. Also, if you find you are approached by young people who say they want to practice their English, be wary if they suggest going to a Chinese tea ceremony or go for a drink, where a few small cups of tea/coffee/beer may end up costing you several hundred US$. Always ask the prices before agreeing to any service. And if you are to refuse, just say no gently and firmly, avoid eye contact and walk away.

                            There are problems with counterfeit notes, especially ¥50 and ¥100 bills in China. Try to take smaller denominations with you or give exact change to avoid the possibility of getting fake money in return. Does the note feel thin or slippery? Does the watermark look kosher? If it feels or looks wrong, don’t be shy about rejecting it (a common practice in China). If necessary, cancel the transaction and demand your money back.

                            Joining point
                            Greenland Jiu Long Hotel 绿地·九龙宾馆
                            601 Liyang Road 上海市溧阳路601号(海宁路)
                            Shanghai
                            CHINA
                            Phone: +86 2165418228
                            Finish point
                            King Parkview Hotel (Huayu Hotel) 北京华育宾馆
                            55 Shatan Hou Street 地址:北京东城区沙滩后街 55号 (近五四 大街,在景山公园东门对面的胡同里)
                            Dong Cheng District
                            Beijing
                            100009
                            CHINA
                            Phone: +86 (010)58757888
                            Finish point description
                            King Parkview Hotel is centrally located in Beijing, close to many historical and cultural landmarks, including Jinshan Park, the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square and the National Art Museum, and the hutong areaThe hotel offers comfortable rooms including en-suite bathroom, TV & AC. Hotel rooms may include a vanity pack which are not complimentary. You will be charged at checkout if you open or use the vanity pack.

                            For more information, please go to http://pephotel.com/en
                            Finishing 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 take off from Terminal 3.

                            For more information about Beijing Capital Airport, please go to http://en.bcia.com.cn/
                            A departure transfer from the airport is available if arranged at the time of booking. Please advise your departure flight details at least 14 days prior to your departure. If you plan to stay longer, this departure transfer can only be offered in conjunction with post-tour accommodation booked through Intrepid/Peregrine/Geckos.
                            If you plan to make your own way to the airport:
                            Your tour leader can advise you when is the best time to leave for your flight depending on local traffic condition. It is suggested to leave from your hotel at least 3 hours before your flight time. Taxi is the easiest way to go to the airport. It should take around 45 minutes to 1 hour to Beijing Capital Airport at about CNY120 under normal condition.
                            Alternatively, you can take metro or taxi to Dongzhimen airport express station, which should cost around CNY30 (taxi). Then take the airport express from Dongzhimen (CNY25, service time: 06:00 – 22:30) to Beijing Capital Airport.
                            Emergency contact
                            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.

                            For general enquiries or questions about your booking, please contact your agent or adventure specialist, or visit us at www.intrepidtravel.com/contact-us

                            In case of a genuine crisis or emergency, you can reach our local operator on the number below.

                            Intrepid's Local Beijing Office: +861064067328
                            Visas
                            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.

                            China Visa

                            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.

                            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 use your Chinese Visa. You need to make sure your China visa will cover you for any transits made.

                            INFORMATION REQUIRED FOR VISA APPLICATION:
                            Itinerary:
                            Please list the destinations you will visit in China in chronological order on your application form. Do not mention 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
                            Dongcheng District
                            Beijing 100006
                            +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.
                            * 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.
                            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:

                            http://www.intrepidtravel.com/pdf/trips/packinglist.pdf

                            TRAVELLING ON LOCAL TRANSPORT
                            It's important that your bags can be locked, as on local transport it may be necessary that your luggage gets stowed separately (and unattended). 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 inside the bus or your cabin. To ensure maximum comfort, try to pack small and light.

                            LUGGAGE STORAGE
                            Where Intrepid covers the cost of luggage storage during 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.

                            WATER BOTTLE:
                            Consider bringing your own water bottle to refill along the way. The sale of bottled water contributes to an enormous environmental problem around the world. In addition to the water in bottles, the production of a 1 litre plastic bottle takes 2 litres of water and 200ml of oil. A large proportion ends up in limited landfill or discarded in waterways and natural environments. Although it can be difficult to avoid bottled water when travelling, please consider water purification techniques such as iodine or micropur and use the water dispensers which are provided at some of our accommodation. When unable to avoid bottled water it is better to buy the largest available and distribute into your smaller bottle for the day.

                            In China, clean and safe drinking water is widely available for free in hotels, restaurants and bus and train stations.
                            Health
                            All Intrepid travellers need to be in good physical health in order to participate fully on this trip. When selecting your trip please make sure you have read through the itinerary carefully and assess your ability to cope with our style of travel. Please note that if, in the opinion of our group leader or local guide, any traveller is unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to themselves and/or the rest of the group, Intrepid reserves the right to exclude them from all or part of a trip without refund.

                            You should consult your doctor for up-to-date medical travel information or for any necessary vaccinations and anti-malarial requirements before departure. We recommend that you carry a first aid kit as well as any personal medical requirements (including a spare pair of glasses) as they may not easily be obtained at the locations on this trip. For legal reasons our leaders and guides are prohibited from administering any type of drugs including headache tablets and antibiotics. Please ensure that you are adequately prepared.

                            BIRD FLU:
                            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

                            CHINA POLLUTION
                            The high levels of air pollution in major urban and industrialised areas in China may aggravate bronchial, sinus or asthma conditions. Children, the elderly and those with pre-existing medical conditions may be especially affected. Please ensure you bring the required medication with you if you have any of these type of medical conditions.
                            You can check the pollution index levels for many cities on the following website: http://aqicn.org/city/beijing
                            Travel insurance
                            Travel insurance is compulsory for all our trips. We require that, at a minimum, you are covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. We strongly recommend that the policy also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects.

                            When travelling on a 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.

                            http://www.intrepidtravel.com/insurance.php
                            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.
                            Responsible Travel
                            We believe strongly in low impact or rather positive impact tourism. Broadly speaking this means that we try to minimise the negative aspects of tourism on the local cultures and environments that we visit and highlight the positive aspects. Please visit our website for further details and suggestions on how you can be a responsible traveller.

                            http://www.intrepidtravel.com/ourtrips/rt/responsibletraveller

                            LOCAL DRESS:
                            When packing be aware that dress standards are conservative throughout Asia, especially outside major cities. To respect this and for your own comfort, we strongly recommend modest clothing. This means clothing that covers your shoulders and knees for men and women.

                            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:

                            http://www.theintrepidfoundation.org/

                            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.

                            Feedback
                            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.

                            http://www.intrepidtravel.com/feedback