North China Getaway Trip Notes

North China Getaway

These trip notes are valid for departures from 23 December 2015 to 31 December 2016. View the trip notes for departures between 01 January 2017 - 31 December 2017


Last Modified: 25 May 2016
North China Getaway
Trip code: CBRF
Validity: 23 Dec 2015 to 31 Dec 2016
Discover the ancient sights and modern delights of China's north. Journey from Beijing to Shanghai and travel through the ancient city of Xi'an, to the heights of Huangshan, the base of the Great Wall and deep into the Huizhou countryside. Encounter friendly people, bustling markets and amazing historical landmarks as you take in the crazy contrasts and profound experiences that render China such a remarkable country.
Table of Contents
StyleAccommodationFinishing point instructions
ThemesAccommodation NotesEmergency contact
Is this trip right for you?Meals introductionVisas
Why we love itMealsWhat to take
MapMoney mattersCommunications
ItineraryGroup leaderHealth
Itinerary disclaimerSafetyTravel insurance
Physical ratingJoining pointA couple of rules
Included activitiesJoining point descriptionResponsible Travel
Important notesJoining point instructionsThe Intrepid Foundation
Group sizeFinish pointFeedback
Your fellow travellersFinish point description
Style
Basix
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.
- Travel like the locals in a variety of different ways – local transport including overnight trains, public buses and the metro, as well as private buses.
- This trip includes a mixture of free time and included activities, giving you choice and flexibility to pursue your own interests in China.
- This trip includes overnight stays at family-run guesthouses and homestays. While facilities may be more basic, the hospitality is always a high level.
- With walks on different sections of the Great Wall, you'll need a reasonable level of fitness. Walking shoes with good support and grip are essential. There are many steps and slopes on the way, so be prepared for a tough climb in sections. The views and overall experience are a real highlight for many travellers.
Why we love it
- Overnight at the Great Wall at a family run Guesthouse, and see this iconic structure without the crowds
- With journeys on two sleeper trains, you'll maximise your time in your destinations, get a chance to interact with locals, and see some beautiful countryside
- 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
- Discover the mountain heights of China in Huangshan, where the stunning rock pinnacles of the Yellow Mountain peek through atmospheric mists
Map

Itinerary
Day 1 Beijing
Nimen Hao! Welcome to China. 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 that give an insight into the nation's ancient past, as well as sights that showcase China's contemporary culture. 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 maybe head out to explore the Beijing Streets – with your hotel located centrally, a walk in any direction will unveil all sorts of wonderful surprises.

Notes: As we will depart for the Great Wall on Day 2 of this trip we highly recommend arriving a few days earlier to make the most of your time here. Those who arrive early could enter the imposing former home of the China’s imperial rulers – the Forbidden City; take a trip to the 798 Art District on a Beijing Art and Architecture tour; cycle round the city; visit the park surrounding the Temple of Heaven; explore the of beautiful Tibetan-style monastery of Yonghegong (the Lama Temple) or the Summer Palace outside of the city, or catch a performance by the world renowned Beijing Acrobats.
Optional Activities
  • Beijing - Acrobat show - CNY250
  • Beijing - Tian'anmen Square & Forbidden City - CNY60
  • Beijing - Beijing by Bike Urban Adventure - CNY530
  • Beijing - Kungfu Show - CNY180
  • Beijing - Lama Temple - CNY25
  • Beijing - Summer Palace - CNY40
  • Beijing - Temple of Heaven - CNY40
    Accommodation
    King's Joy Hotel or similar (1 nt)
    Day 2 Great Wall
    Today you’ll have some free time in the morning to further explore Beijing before taking take a private bus to a lesser-known section of the Great Wall – Gubeikou (approximately 3 hours drive). 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 spend the night in a family run village guesthouse. The facilities are more basic than some of our accommodation on this trip but you can be assured of great local hospitality. Most passengers will choose to eat at the Guesthouse for dinner, it's a great chance to sample local produce and delicious home style cooking.

    Notes: We recommend you bring walking poles with you or purchase these in Beijing for our Great Wall walk on Day 3. You'll need reasonable fitness and walking shoes with good support and grip for the walk. There are many steps and slopes on the way so be prepared for a tough climb in sections. The views make it more than worth the while though – this is a real highlight of the trip. Because you will generally stay at two local guesthouses while at the Wall, you see the Great Wall at sunset or sunrise, an experience that should not be missed.
    Accommodation
    Gubeikou Homestay or similar (1 nt)
    Day 3 Great Wall
    Today you’ll rise early and trek from the Gubeikou section to the Jinshanling section of the Great Wall. You will walk over some steep, remote terrain for approximately 5 kilometres or 3 hours, depending on fitness. Some parts of the wall are un-restored so you'll need to concentrate hard to keep your footing, while in other parts the trail takes you off the wall to walk alongside it through the countryside. 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 spend tonight in accommodation in Jinshanling.

    Notes: If you do not believe you are fit enough for the trek, you can go on the bus with the driver to Jinshanling and still have a chance to walk around this section of the Wall. Please note for CBRF departures during Chinese Winter (Nov, Dec, Jan, Feb) we may not stay overnight near the Great Wall as the Guesthouses we use do not have adequate heating for the winter months. During these months, depending on the weather, you might stay in Beijing on these nights to ensure your comfort.
    Included Activities
    • Great Wall - Gubeikou section
    • Great Wall - Jinshanling
      Accommodation
      Great Wall Jinshanling Hotel or similar (1 nt)
      Day 4 Great Wall - Beijing - Xi'an
      Today is a long travelling day – you’ll travel back to Beijing by bus (approximately 3 hours), maybe grab some snacks for the journey, and then board an overnight hard sleeper train bound for Xi'an (approximately 15 hours). Train travel in China may not be entirely luxurious but it's certainly one of the best ways to come face to face with the country and its people, as it's the main form of transport for locals.

      Notes: 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.
      Accommodation
      Overnight Sleeper Train (1 nt)
      Day 5 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. Head to the hotel to freshen up - in most cases you may not be able to check in early due to availability. The Leader will try to secure one room for early check in, so the group to leave their luggage and freshen up, however this is always subject to availability. Then 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 and 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 - Great Mosque - CNY25
        • Xi'an - Big Wild Goose Pagoda - CNY80
        • Xi'an - Cycling on City Wall - CNY80
          Accommodation
          Nanfang Hotel or similar (1 nt)
          Day 6 Xi'an - Shanghai
          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 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 ascended to the throne in 264 BC. Three main pits are open for you to view, where over 6,000 warriors – 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 return to Xi'an train station and board your second overnight train to Shanghai (approximately 16 hours).
          Included Activities
          • Xi'an - Terracotta Warriors & Guide
            Optional Activities
            • Xi'an - Bell & Drum Towers - CNY50
            • Xi'an - Small Wild Goose Pagoda - CNY50
            • Xi'an - Cycling on City Wall - CNY80
              Accommodation
              Overnight Sleeper Train (1 nt)
              Day 7 Shanghai
              Blending 21st-century architecture with old-world character, Shanghai pulses with the beat of new China. Arrive and take the subway to your accommodation. You’ll have a full day to explore here, but don't worry if you don't fit everything in, as you will return here for the end of the trip. 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 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 perhaps get a taste of Shanghai’s eclectic food scene, which draws influence from far beyond China’s walls.
              Included Activities
              • Shanghai - Walking Tour
                Optional Activities
                • Shanghai - Propaganda Museum - CNY20
                • Shanghai - Shanghai Museum - Free
                • Shanghai - Yuyuan Gardens - CNY40
                • Shanghai - Urban Planning Exhibition Centre - CNY30
                • Acrobat show - CNY180
                • Shanghai - Oriental Pearl Tower Viewing Deck - CNY150
                  Accommodation
                  Shanghai City Central Youth Hostel or similar (1 nt)
                  Day 8-9 Huangshan
                  Travel by public bus to Huangshan (approximately 6 hours), otherwise known as Yellow Mountain, where you’ll stay in a local guesthouse for the next two nights. The 72 peaks of Huangshan provide some of China's most stunning scenery, and you have the next two days to explore the mountain however you’d like. The eastern steps are shorter (7.5 kilometre, approximately 3-4 hours), but with less spectacular views. The western steps take longer (15 kilometres) and are more difficult. We recommend taking the cable car up, exploring the trails at the summit and then descending via the western steps. Either way, the dramatic limestone peaks populating this superbly beautiful area make for some breathtaking vistas. After taking in the iconic beauty of Huangshan (which, despite the crowds and unpredictable weather, is a rewarding destination) you’ll return to your guesthouse for a well-earned rest.

                  Notes: The paths are steep and often slippery, so you will need good fitness and suitable hiking shoes. Please note that Huangshan is subject to dramatic changes in weather. You will need to be prepared for mist, fog, rain and cool temperatures. September & October are considered the best months to visit Huangshan weather wise. In any season you should ensure that you take enough clothing, food and water supplies as well as extra money in case the weather changes and you need to take the cable car instead of hiking. As one of China's premier sights, you should also be prepared for crowds of domestic tourists during public holidays, although at any time of the year there can be long waits for the cable car.
                  Included Activities
                  • Huangshan National Park Trek
                    Accommodation
                    Mr Hu's Guesthouse or similar (2 nt)
                    Day 10 Hongcun
                    Climb aboard public transport to travel through the bamboo and pine forests of Anhui province to the picturesque villages of the Huizhou region (approximately 2 hours). A number of these villages are now World Heritage sights, and were even the backdrop to scenes in ‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon’. You will stay overnight in a village guesthouse, giving you plenty of time to wander the maze of cobbled alleys, admire Ming dynasty architecture and ornate stone carvings, or clamber up into the hillsides for panoramic views of the pretty-as-a-picture traditional settlements. You might like to explore more villages on your own by bike or public transport, or just meander through the little market or along the waterways on foot.
                    Included Activities
                    • Hongcun - Guided village tour
                      Accommodation
                      Linhu Guesthouse or similar (1 nt)
                      Day 11-12 Shanghai
                      A long travel day by public transport (approximately 6 hours) takes you back to the big smoke of Shanghai. Perhaps celebrate the end of your time in China with a night out with the group at a traditional tea ceremony, visit the Bund's hippest bars, or toast to the conclusion of this memorable Chinese journey in one of Shanghai's restaurants.

                      Notes: If you choose to spend more time in Shanghai you 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.
                      Accommodation
                      Shanghai City Central Youth Hostel or similar (1 nt)
                      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, 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.

                      You'll need to have a good level of fitness to get the most out of this trip. The days at the Great Wall and Huangshan involve some steep climbs and plenty of steps and require sturdy footwear and a good set of lungs!
                      Included activities
                      Great Wall - Gubeikou section
                      Great Wall - Jinshanling
                      Xi'an - Muslim Quarter Walking Tour
                      Xi'an - Terracotta Warriors & Guide
                      Shanghai - Walking Tour
                      Huangshan National Park Trek
                      Hongcun - Guided village tour
                      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. 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.
                      4. 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.
                      5. 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.
                      6. In the case of a genuine crisis or emergency, Intrepid's Beijing Office can be reached on Tel: +861064067328.

                      Group size
                      Maximum of 16 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 overnight train journeys, home stays or some village accommodation.
                      Accommodation
                      Guesthouse (3 nights), Hostel (3 nights), Hotel (3 nights), Overnight sleeper train (2 nights)
                      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.

                      HARD SLEEPER TRAINS CHINA:
                      We use hard sleeper class trains for most of our overnight train journeys in China. These are not as rough as they sound - compartments are open-plan, clean, with padded berths (6 to a compartment) and sheets, a blanket/quilt & pillow provided. We recommend bringing your own sleeping sheet if you are concerned about the quality/cleanliness of sheets being not what you are used to. Most trains have a dining carriage where meals or snacks are available and all have hot water in each carriage for tea and instant noodles. While we aim 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. Those travellers opting for a Soft Sleeper Upgrade (where available) may need to board the train from a separate waiting area and be in another carriage from the rest of the group. While railway services are rapidly being modernised in China, some train journeys on less frequented routes may use older rolling stock and the carriages of a more basic standard.

                      HOTEL ROOMS IN CHINA:
                      Some travellers have reported that hotels/accommodation in this region tend to have harder bed mattresses than those they are used to at home. You may like to request an extra quilt or bedding from the hotels if you find this an issue/

                      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 well cleaned and ventilated well before occupation in some cases this is not possible, and the smell of smoke may linger. Please speak to your leader about the possibility of changing rooms if you encounter this.

                      WiFi is often available in hotel reception areas and sometimes in rooms. Your leader will be able to advise on the best places to get connected.


                      GUESTHOUSES
                      In smaller, rural locations in China we often stay in guesthouses, which are mostly small family run establishments. Facilities are basic compared to hotels and the towels provided are small.

                      Please note that on occasion the group may be accommodated in separate guest houses or home stays within walking distance of each other.
                      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
                      No meals included
                      Money matters
                      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.

                      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).

                      CHINA:
                      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.

                      DEPARTURE TAX
                      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.

                      Your leader will conduct a brief safety discussion before our trekking activity.

                      SCAMS IN CHINA:
                      While China is generally very safe to travel around, there are a couple of common 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
                      King's Joy Hotel 北京西华京兆酒店
                      81, Meishi Street 地址:北京市西城区煤市街81号
                      Xicheng district
                      Beijing
                      CHINA
                      Phone: +86 10 52171900
                      Joining point description
                      Located almost right in the heart of Beijing, King’s joy hotel offers great convenience for your stay in Beijing, close to Qianmen hutong area, Tian’anmen Square and Forbidden City. Metro station is only 5 minute walk which gives you easy access to the all the major sites in Beijing. Rooms are equipped with en-suite bathroom, A/C, and other basic facilities. Other services like bike hire, internet, and laundry are also available.

                      For more information, please go to http://www.xihuahotel.com/yg/jz/5.html


                      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 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. **
                      Finish point
                      Shanghai City Central Youth Hostel 万里路青年旅馆
                      300 Wuning Road, Caoyang Road Station 地址:上海市普陀区武宁路300弄50号
                      Putuo district
                      Shanghai
                      CHINA
                      Phone: +86 2152905577
                      Finish point description
                      Located in the downtown of Shanghai close to metro station, City Central Youth Hostel has a friendly atmosphere, English speaking staff, clean en-suite rooms with TV and A/C.

                      For more information, please go to http://www.hostelshanghai.cn/En/index.html

                      Finishing point instructions
                      There are 2 airports in Shanghai - Hongqiao Airport and Pudong Airport. Most international flights now are at Pudong International airport. It is relatively easy to navigate and many signs are written in English.

                      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 your booking agent.

                      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 Hongqiao Airport or Pudong Airport.
                      Alternatively, you can take metro/light rail to either airport. Your tour leader can advise you about the exchange of lines and time frames.
                      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: +86 106 406 7328
                      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 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
                      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, 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:

                      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.

                      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!
                      Communications
                      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.
                      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 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.

                      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

                      AIR POLLUTION IN CHINA:
                      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.
                      www.theintrepidfoundation.org/projects/beijing-huiling/

                      * 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.
                      www.theintrepidfoundation.org/projects/xian-huiling/


                      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