Last Modified: 09 May 2013
Real Food Adventure - China
Trip code: CBZF
Validity: 01 Jan 2013 to 31 Dec 2013
Welcome to enigmatic China, where culture, history and cuisine all combine to create a truly mesmerising travel experience. Explore Beijing’s ancient hutongs to search out some of the city’s best street food. Discover Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City before seeing another side of China's gastronomy at the Donghuamen Night Market. Wander along the Great Wall of China and then travel to Xi’an to be awed by the magnificent Terracotta Warriors and the city’s excellent snack-food scene. Taste the peppery treats of Sichuan cuisine in Chengdu and enjoy a homestay in a beautiful farming village learning about the food grown and what life is like for people out of the cities. End the adventure in Shanghai, where fresh food markets, an excellent bar culture and a range of amazing architecture await.
Table of Contents
- Original trips are classic Intrepid adventures. With a mix of included activities and free time, they offer plenty of opportunities to explore at your own pace and take part in activities that really get beneath the skin of a destination. While the occasional meal may be included, you'll have the freedom to seek out your own culinary adventures. Accommodation is generally budget or tourist class (2-3 star), but you're as likely to find yourself as a guest of a local family as staying in a hotel or camping. Transport will vary as well. Depending on the destination and the itinerary you could find yourself travelling on anything from a camel to a train or a private safari vehicle. It's all part of the adventure! Original travellers have a desire to make the most of their travel time and really get to know a place, its people and cultures.
Days 1-3 Beijing
Nimen Hao! Welcome to China.
Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6:00pm on Day 1.
You can arrive at any time as there are no activities planned until this important meeting. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask the hotel reception where it will take place. If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have all these details to provide to your leader.
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.
Enjoy your first dinner in China with one of Beijing’s most globally renowned dishes. You haven’t tasted real Peking duck until you’ve eaten it in Beijing! Often referred to as ‘capital city cuisine’, the food of Beijing has been strongly influenced by its imperial heritage and Peking Duck has been a dish on the royal menu since the 1300s.
Enter the narrow alleyways of Beijing’s historic hutong neighbourhoods and partake in a traditional Beijing breakfast. This could consist of a bowl of congee – rice porridge with the addition of pickles, peanuts or meat. The locals also love yóutiáo – deep-fried dough sticks dipped in huge bowls of steaming soya milk. For the more adventurous, you can even try dòufu rŭ – pickled, fermented tofu. It has a very strong flavour, so just a scraping is needed to season congee or rice.
Discover one of the biggest hutong markets in the Old Beijing area, Sihuan Market. With over 500 stalls, you'll have a chance to see steaming fresh tofu and freshly made dumplings while learning about the key ingredients and spices used in Northern Chinese cooking. Continue on to a traditional hutong courtyard for a hands-on cooking class. Learn the basics of Chinese cooking, a cleaver trick or two and recipes for some classic Chinese dishes. Lunch will be your dishes from the cooking class.
Explore Tiananmen Square - apparently the largest down town square in the world. Framed by the Gate of Heavenly Peace with its Mao portrait, Mao's Mausoleum, the Great Hall of the People and the National Museum it's a place of pilgrimage for Chinese tourists who consider it the heart of their nation.
The Forbidden City is the former home to China's imperial rulers. Take a guided tour of the palaces, buildings and seemingly never-ending grand courtyards.
Join your tour leader for a walking tour of Donghuamen Night Market. Considered by some to be one of the world's wildest food markets, food here ranges from mouth-watering to a little confronting: lamb kebabs, beef and chicken skewers, chòu dòufu (stinky tofu), cicadas, grasshoppers, kidneys, quails' eggs, squid, deep fried crickets, lizards and an array of insects are all on the menu.
Tonight is free for your own Beijing food adventure.
Perhaps enjoy dinner at Ghost Street. In the Qing dynasty it was believed that this street was used to transport coffins in and out of the city. Home to more than 200 restaurants, today Ghost Street is a 24-hour celebration of Chinese cuisine, with hungry patrons arriving anytime from noon to 4am to chow down on some of Beijing's best loved specialties.
We take an early morning trip to the Mutianyu Great Wall (approx 2 hrs drive from Beijing). An incredible piece of engineering, it 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 is still without a doubt one of the country's most remarkable achievements, and an iconic destination. It's a 30 minute climb up some steep steps to the wall itself but well worth the effort! There is also the option of taking a chair lift or cable car to the top and back if you are after a more leisurely experience and great views. We'll have a few hours to explore the winding wall before heading back to the city for the afternoon. Please note that the wall is quite steep in places so make sure you have some appropriate footwear for this activity.
The villages around this section of the wall are known for their locally farmed produce - from chestnuts to honey. This area is also known in particular for its cold-water aquaculture and sustainable production of fish. We will visit a village nearby to this section of the wall, surrounded by the Foshan Mountains, where we will enjoy lunch straight from the clear spring water of a local trout farm.
Board an overnight train to Xi'an (approx 13 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. We use hard sleeper class trains for most of our overnight train journeys. These are not as rough as they sound – compartments are open-plan and clean, with padded three-tiered berths (6 to a compartment). Sheets, pillows and a blanket are provided. We recommend bringing your own sleeping sheet as the quality/cleanliness of sheets may not be what you are used to. Safe, hot drinking water is always available for making coffee, tea or instant meals. It is a good idea to bring a mug, spoon, knife and fork if you will be preparing your own hot drinks or food on the train (as these are not provided in cabins). Basic bathroom facilities are situated at the end of each carriage with toilets and washbasins. As toilet paper isn't always available, it's advised to carry some of your own; keep in mind general train cleanliness may not be to the same standard you are accustomed to. Most trains have a dining carriage where meals are available before the journey to supplement food available on the train.
An optional upgrade from a hard sleeper to a soft sleeper berth (4 travellers per compartment with a lockable door) may be available for some overnight train journeys on this trip. Please contact us for booking and more details.
- Donghuamen Night Market walking tour
- Beijing - Tiananmen Square
- Forbidden City, Entrance
- Market Tour and Cooking Class
- Great Wall - Mutianyu section
- Rainbow Trout Farm Lunch
- Ghost Street Dinner - CNY120.00
Hotel (2 nts), Overnight sleeper train (1 nt)
Days 4-5 Xi'an
The walled city of Xi'an, capital of Shaanxi province, was once the start of the famous ancient trading route, the Silk Road. Today it is a vibrant modern city, notable both for its remarkable historical treasures as well as its distinctive food culture.
The food in Xi'an is marked by the strong salty flavours of Shaanxi cuisine, and has been influenced by the significant Muslim population, which is evident in the city's nut and pastry shops and the prevalence of snacks such as kebabs and flatbreads. Serving portions are notably generous and every dish has a story – from 'Old Ma Family's mutton' to 'Old Liu Family's Hulutou'. Other hallmarks of Xi'an cuisine are the prominence of noodles and dumplings as accompaniments to many classic dishes, as well as snacks and soups served at numerous food stalls that line the city streets. One thing is certain about any trip to Xi'an: you won't leave hungry.
Enjoy local Xi'an breakfast specialties such as ba ba zhou (eight treasure rice porridge) and hula soup (pancakes and pepper soup with meatballs and vegetables).
Visit Xi'an's most famous site – the Terracotta Warriors. Travel by bus for around 2 hours to reach the site. Once there, hear all about this incredible archaeological find, discovered – after being buried for thousands of years – by farmers digging a well in 1976. These clay statues of soldiers, horses and chariots all standing in battle formation were commissioned by the emperor of the Qin dynasty as part of his mausoleum and a number of pits are now on view to the public.
For dinner, find yourself in the heart of the Muslim Quarter and discover why Xi'an in considered the 'snack capital' of China. Go on a unique food crawl will have you tasting some of the city's best: beef or lamb kebabs, cold noodles, pancakes in lamb soup and steamed soupy dumplings.
This morning you are free to explore.
Try a leisurely cycle on the Xi'an city wall – a distance of 13.74 km. The wall, an ancient fortification situated in the heart of Xi'an, was built in 1378 AD.
Before we leave the city, we sit down to try Xi'an's signature dish, yang rou pau mo - a mutton soup served with wheat flour flat bread and eaten with chilli paste, caraway seeds and pickled garlic cloves.
Catch an overnight hard sleeper train to Chengdu (approx 17 hrs).
- Terracotta Warriors
- Muslim Quarter Snack Crawl
- Bicycle rental on city wall (deposit CNY100-200), Xi'an - CNY80.00
- Lunch at a local farmer restaurant - CNY40.00
- Yang Rou Pao Mo Lunch - CNY30.00
Hotel (1 nt), Overnight sleeper train (1 nt)
Day 6 Chengdu
An officially recognised UNESCO City of Gastronomy, Chengdu is the capital of the Sichuan province located in southwest China. Although one of China's biggest cities, Chengdu has preserved plenty of its traditional character and visitors can still find famous teahouses, numerous markets and the distinctive flavours that have made a visit to Sichuan province a must for those interested in getting to the heart of Chinese cuisine.
The food of Sichuan province is perhaps best recognised for its fiery quality and the tingling, tongue-numbing sensation produced by its most famous ingredient, Sichuan pepper. Although only introduced to the region in the past few centuries, Sichuan pepper quickly gained a stronghold in local dishes and is a must-try for those travelling in this part of the world.
Start the day Sichuan style with a spicy bowl of Dan Dan noodles for your first tongue-tingling Sichuan pepper experience
Take a walking tour through the center of Chengdu. Visit Tianfu Square, where a giant statue of Chairman Mao stands tall. Relax in one of the most popular parks in Chengdu, People's Park, where you can experience the amazing Chengdu tea culture. Tea is definitely one of the essentials for Chengdu people's daily life. Sit on a bamboo chair in the park, sip some tea and enjoy casual chitchat alongside the locals. Also try your hand at mahjong, badminton, or even join in singing and dancing. Don't be surprised if somebody comes up to you with an offer of cleaning your ears!
For more Chengdu specialities, Jinli Street is the place to go. This street is famous for its historic atmosphere, bustling businesses and most of all – local snacks. Enjoy sticky rice cakes with sesame sauce, spicy chicken on a stick, sweet rice jelly, fried beef pancakes and, for the more adventurous, spicy rabbits head. Explore the local markets on your own where you can find an array of fresh local produce, from commonly recognised fruit, vegetables and protein, to regional delicacies and (to our western sensibility) the utterly bizarre.
You will have the opportunity to visit the Giant Panda Breeding Research Base where you're able to witness the conservation efforts being made to save this endearing endangered species. There are about 50 giant and red pandas at the base, some of which can be viewed by the public and we may even be lucky enough to see newborns taking their first steps in the nursery.
Sit down to a truly authentic Sichuan hotpot. Known in Sichuan as 'huo guo' (which roughly translates to 'fire pot'), huo guo is thought to date back more than 1,000 years, originating from a meal enjoyed by boatmen working on the Yangtze River in the nearby city of Chongqing. Consisting of a communal pot of spiced broth, everyone can select their own ingredients to be cooked up in this delicious hot liquid.
- Chengdu Walking Tour
- Sichuan Hotpot Dinner
- Panda Breeding Centre, Chengdu - CNY278.00
- Jinli Street Food Sampling, Chengdu - CNY30.00
- Sichuan-style breakfast - CNY30.00
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 7 Jinbo Village
We travel by private bus to Jinbo Village (approx 3 hours)
Jinbo Village is located in a picturesque mountain valley and populated by Tibetan and Qiang minority families. The village cultivates organic produce for the fledgling Chinese organic food markets and is one of only a few places in China actively attempting to develop ecotourism. This area was severely damaged during the 2008 Sichuan earthquake and you will see much restoration work is still taking place. While here we have to opportunity to get involved in the different procedures of traditional farming including picking wild vegetables, tofu-making and local wine-making. Activities will vary depending on the season.
Our accommodation here is very basic and we will live how the local villagers do during our overnight stay. Facilities are limited, with no running water and simple multi-share accommodation in village houses. Very few foreign visitors make the journey here, so we are in for an authentic experience of village life.
All meals will be home-cooked by the local family you are staying with and use seasonal fresh vegetables and home smoked meat. Feel free to pitch in and practice the cooking skills you've learnt so far!
Homestay (1 nt)
Days 8-10 Shanghai
Board a flight to Shanghai (Approx 2.5 hours)
Blending 21st-century architecture with old-world character, Shanghai is the vibrant pulse of new China.
As a cutting-edge global city, the food of Shanghai is an exciting blend of traditional and international flavours. Given Shanghai's location on the East China Sea, as well as the region's extensive network of rivers, lakes and canals, both seafood and freshwater produce are also common. Hairy crab is the city's most notable delicacy, though it’s only available in winter between the months of September and November.
Head out on a walking tour of the city's historical areas such as the Bund, with its spectacular array of art deco buildings, and the busy Yuyuan Bazaar and Yuyuan Garden.
On the way, we will stop by Shanghai First Food. Established in 1952 this is the largest comprehensive food store in the world and sells more than ten thousand brands of fresh and dried foods from all over the country and the world.
This evening is free for your own Shanghai food adventure.
There are endless options in Shanghai, with a restaurant scene bursting with international flavors as well as one of the most vibrant street food scenes in China. Your tour leader will have plenty of suggestions for the best places to suit any taste or budget.
One thing you shouldn't miss in Shanghai is xiaolongbao (fried pork dumplings). This morning we discover why this much-loved Shanghai breakfast staple is cherished for it's juicy stuffing and thin crispy wrapping. The key ingredient is pork skin jelly which melts into juice when fried. The trick to eating xiaolongbao like an expert is to take a small bite or poke a hole on the wrapping and drink the juice first before popping the whole dumpling into your mouth. Delicious!
Visit the Tongchuanlu Wet Market. One of the largest wet markets in Shanghai, Tongchuanlu has great bargains for the locals. Marvel at the endless stalls of seafood ranging from lobsters, crabs, abalones and all kinds of fish. Hone your bargaining skills as retailers will charge different prices for the same products. You'll have the option to take your fresh purchase to one of the nearby restaurants to have your seafood cooked before your eyes.
This afternoon is free for you to enjoy unrivalled views of the city from the modern financial centre with its amazing sky scrapers, including the iconic Pearl Tower. There will also be time for sightseeing and last minute shopping.
Spend your final evening with a drink overlooking the glittering lights of the Pudong Financial District. Then join your leader and fellow travellers for a final Shanghai-inspired dinner to say farewell to China and all of the wonderful cuisine that you have encountered.
After dinner, if you’re still up for some fun, join a bar crawl around the French Concession area to enjoy Shanghai's famed nightlife.
There are no activities planned for the final day and you are able to depart the accommodation at any time. Please check the 'Finishing Point Hotel' section for checkout times and luggage storage possibilities.
- Shanghai - Walking tour
- Tongchuanlu Wet Market
- Xiaolongbao Breakfast
- Final Night Dinner
- Tongchuanlu Seafood Lunch - CNY150.00
- French Concession Bar Crawl (Drinks at own expense - price is a guide only) - CNY200.00
Hotel (2 nts)
Also available to purchase
For many of our trips we have other services or experiences that are also available to purchase to extend your trip or to make your holiday a little easier. Below is a list of other travel products you can purchase in conjunction with this trip.
- CBZF Soft Sleeper Train Upgrade (CBZF )
- Single Supplement (CBZF)
We also recommend
If this trip is not quite right for you, cast your eye over these alternatives:
- China Express (CBSB)
- China Highlights (CBSD)
Occasionally our itineraries are updated during the year to incorporate improvements stemming from past travellers' comments and our own research. The information given in this itinerary may be slightly different to that in the brochure. It's very important that you print and review a final copy of your Trip Notes a couple of days prior to travel, in case there have been changes that affect your plans. For the latest updated Trip Notes please visit our website: www.intrepidtravel.com
Please note that while we operate successful trips in this region throughout the year, some changes may occur in our itineraries due to inclement weather and common seasonal changes to timetables and transport routes. This can happen with little notice so please be prepared for modifications to the route.
Expect some culture shock. You'll be exposed to signs of poverty and access to services may be sporadic. The food will be quite different to home and English speakers harder to find. Respecting the local culture will make it easier to fit in and really experience the location.
Some easy physical activities included in your trip. No physical preparation is required to make the most of the journey.
You will be expected to carry your own luggage, including moving about busy public transport hubs, up stairs and escalators and on and off buses and trains. Although you won't be required to walk long distances with your luggage, you are expected to be able to walk and handle your own luggage for up to 30 minutes. Good general fitness and mobility plays a big part in making your trip more enjoyable In some locations it may be possible to hire porters. Please ask your trip leader for help to arrange this if possible but be prepared to manage your own luggage.
Included activities are listed in the day-to-day itinerary, all other activities are optional and at your own expense. If you choose not to participate in the included activities on this itinerary, the cost will not be refunded.
A number of activities on this itinerary may have an alcohol component. Relevant local laws governing the legal age for consumption of alcohol apply to this trip. If you are below the local drinking legal age, you will not be able to participate in any trip activities involving alcohol. No refund will be offered for those activities.
A selection of optional activities are listed in the day-to-day itinerary. This isn't an exhaustive list and should be used as a guide only. Prices are for entrance only and don't include transport costs to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. It may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination. Optional activities aren't necessarily endorsed or recommended by Intrepid nor included in price of this trip. If you do any optional activities, you do so at your own risk and it must be clearly understood that your participation is your own decision and doesn't form part of your contract with Intrepid. You may be required to sign/complete a waiver form or a receipt for some optional activities.
The official currency in China is the Yuan or Renminbi (CNY). 1 renminbi (yuan) = 10 jiao (mao).
We strongly advise against bringing travellers cheques as in China they can be extremely difficult or impossible to change.
ATMs are widespread, so the easiest way to access cash on your trip is to bring a credit card. Please check with your bank about overseas withdrawal fees before you depart. Some banks will allow a cash advance against a major credit card which will incur a service charge of 5% or more.
Currency exchange is available at major banks and some hotels. The easiest foreign currencies to exchange are USD and EUR, however please be aware of the security risk of carrying large amounts of cash. In any case, some money should be taken as cash in case of emergencies - we recommend around US$400 per person. Commission is sometimes charged for currency exchange. Check the rate before you exchange and carefully check the amount you are given and ask for a receipt.
Please note that due to restrictions on currency conversion for foreigners in China it may not be possible to change left over CNY back into foreign currency, so please plan your budget and spending money well by withdrawing/exchanging what you need as you go.
Every traveller is different and therefore spending money requirements will vary. Some travellers may drink more than others while other travellers like to purchase more souvenirs than most. Please consider your own spending habits when it comes to allowing for drinks, shopping, participating in optional activities, and tipping. Please also remember the following specific recommendations when planning your trip.
If you're happy with the services provided a tip - though not compulsory - is appropriate. While it may not be customary to you, it's of great significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels, inspires excellent service, and is an entrenched feature of the tourism industry across many Intrepid destinations. We recommend that any tips are given to the intended recipient by a member of your group, rather than collected and passed on by the group leader.
Tipping in China is not customary, but in the travel industry it is. Many guides and drivers would usually supplement their income by taking tourists to shops and restaurants from which they receive commission. Intrepid does not encourage this practice as we believe it can be detrimental to our travellers' experience. Instead we try to ensure we pay our drivers, guides and leaders fairly for their services. Tips are still very much appreciated for those situations in which you believe you have received excellent service.
Please don't tip with coins, notes of or less that CNY1, or dirty and ripped notes. This is regarded culturally as an insult.
The following amounts are based on local considerations and feedback from our past travellers:
Restaurants: Tipping is not common practice at restaurants in China or Tibet.
Local guides: Throughout your trip you may at times have a local guide in addition to your leader. We suggest CNY10-15 per person per day for local guides with the amount adjusted accordingly for guides who are with you for less than a full day.
Porters: In some hotels a porter may offer to carry your bag to your room. We suggest CNY5 per bag for porters.
Drivers: You may have a range of drivers on your trip. Some may be with you for a short journey while others may be with you for several days. We would suggest that you tip only those more involved with the group (for example those that help you with your bags etc). CNY5-10 per person per day is generally appropriate, with the amount adjusted accordingly for drivers who are with you for less than a full day.
Your Group Leader: You may also consider tipping your leader for outstanding service throughout your trip. The amount is entirely a personal preference; however as a guideline US$3-5 per person, per day can be used. Of course you are free to tip more or less as you see fit, depending on your perception of service quality and the length of your trip. Remember, a tip isn't compulsory and should only be given when you receive excellent service.
All departure taxes should be included in your international flight ticket.
CHINESE NATIONAL HOLIDAYS:
Please note that China's national holidays are the peak travel season for Chinese nationals. During this time, literally the whole country is on the move - that's over a billion people. Although these are fascinating and exciting times to travel in China, please be aware your group will almost definitely experience transport delays and massive crowds at tourist attractions and train stations. It's common for there to be difficulties in securing train or flight tickets at our preferred times, hotels become overbooked, traffic chaotic and changes to the itinerary are often necessary as a result. If clockwork organisation is important to you we advise you book outside of the weeks of the extended Chinese New Year in January/February, in the first week of May and the first week of October. If you decide to travel during this period please come with an open mind and be prepared for changes on the ground.
Single Supplements: does not apply to nights on overnight trains.
Maximum of 12 travellers per group.
Your fellow travellers
As you travel on a group trip you will be exposed to all the pleasures and maybe some of the frustrations of travelling in a group. Your fellow travellers will probably come from all corners of the world and likely a range of age groups too. We ask you to be understanding of the various needs and preferences of your group - patience with your fellow travellers is sometimes required for the benefit of everyone's travel experience. Remember too that you have responsibilities to the group. If you are requested to be at a place at a certain time, ensure that you don't keep the rest of the group waiting. We have found time and time again that the very best trips we operate are those where the dynamics within the group work well - this takes just a little effort on your part.
Due to privacy reasons we are unable to provide you with contact details and any personal information about your fellow travellers booked on your trip prior to departure. However you can download Intrepid's FREE Meet Up app to chat with your fellow travellers before your trip. Meet up, discuss your upcoming trip and share the excitement of planning for your adventure. For more information visit:
Our group trips are designed for shared accommodation and don't involve a compulsory single supplement. Single travellers share with people of the same gender in accommodation ranging from twin to multishare. Some of our itineraries have accommodation booked on a mixed gender share basis and where applicable this will be specified in our Trip Notes. On a selection of our trips, you have the option to pay a single supplement to ensure that you have your own room (where available). Please note that this only applies to accommodation during the tour - pre-trip and post-trip accommodation will be booked on a single room basis.
A Single Supplement is available on this trip, please refer to your booking agent for further information. The Single Supplement is NOT available on overnight trains or in Jinbo Village.
Hotel (6 nts), Overnight sleeper train (2 nts), Homestay (1 nt)
OCCASIONAL ALTERNATIVE ACCOMMODATION
The style of accommodation indicated in the day-to-day itinerary is a guideline. On rare occasions, alternative arrangements may need to be made due to the lack of availability of rooms in our usual accommodation. A similar standard of accommodation will be used in these instances.
TWIN SHARE / MULTI SHARE BASIS
Accommodation on this trip is on a twin/multishare basis. Please note there may be times where facilities will be shared rather than ensuite and rare occasions when you share a room with passengers travelling on different Intrepid trips than your own.
Throughout the trip we request that our hotels prepare rooms in time for our arrival, especially if we're arriving prior to normal check-in time. However this isn't always possible which means we won't be able to check-in immediately on arrival at some hotels. Instead, we can store our luggage and explore our new destination.
PRE/POST TRIP ACCOMMODATION
If you've purchased pre-trip or post-trip accommodation (if available), you may be required to change rooms from your trip accommodation for these extra nights.
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.
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.
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.
While travelling with us you'll experience a vast array of dishes, beverages, dining experiences, ingredients and produce.
To give you the maximum flexibility in deciding where, what and with whom to eat, the trip price does not include all meals. This also gives you more budgeting flexibility – whether you wish to partake in budget, mid-range or high-end dining options. Your group leader will be able to suggest restaurants to try during your trip. Generally, our groups tend to eat together to enable you to taste a larger variety of dishes and enjoy each other's company, however there's no obligation to do this.
For travellers wanting to eat at a particular high profile and/or ‘fine dining’ restaurant, there will be specified free nights in certain locations where you can make your own restaurant reservations. It is recommended you make reservations for high profile and/or ‘fine dining’ restaurants well in advance of your departure, as there can be long lead times for booking in some instances.
4 Breakfasts, 3 Lunches, 5 Dinners
Budget for meals not included:
Your group leader will endeavor to cater for specific dietary requirements where possible, and vegetarianism and gluten intolerance will be catered for in most instances. There are, however some meals and activities that are fixed in advance and therefore cannot be modified to suit dietary requirements. These instances will be indicated in the ‘trip notes’ itinerary. Please notify your group leader of any dietary requirements in your group meeting at the start of the trip.
For those suffering from particular food allergies, your group leader will endeavor to disclose to their fullest knowledge the main ingredients in dishes being consumed. It is, however, your personal responsibility to ensure that you do not ingest any foods to which you are allergic.
Train, Private Bus, Metro
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. You can expect your Intrepid Food Adventures group leader to be passionate about the local food scene and keen to share their insider knowledge on the best authentic local food and drink experiences throughout your trip.
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.
KaiChuang Golden Street Business Hotel 北京凯创金街商务酒店
32 Baishu Lane
Joining point description
Centrally located in downtown Beijing's Wangfujing District, the Kaichuang Golden Street Business Hotel is close to many historical and cultural landmarks, including the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square. The hotel is also within easy reach of the CBD and Financial Street and a few minutes walk to the nearest subway stations. The hotel offers comfortable rooms including ensuite, 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.
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.
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 Intrepid.
If you have pre-purchased an arrival transfer, our local operator, Ms Qi (Ms Chee), will have sent a driver to the airport who will be holding a sign with the Intrepid logo and your name on it. If you arrive at Terminal 2, please meet your driver at the entrance/exit #7 after you go through the baggage claim area. 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 at door #7 and ask them to call Ms Qi on her mobile. If 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. If you have any problems finding the driver go to the information desk on the right side of Exit B and ask them to call Ms Qi on her mobile (+86) 13671299816.
If making your own way to the hotel:
By bus, take airport bus route 2 (CNY16) to Dongzhimen or route 3 to Beijing Railway Station, then it's a short taxi ride to our joining point hotel (CNY 15, approx 10 minutes.
By subway, Take the Airport Express to Dong Zhi Men Station. Change to Line 2 at this station, then to Line 5 at Lama Temple. From Lama Temple station, take the train to the direction of Songjiazhuang, and get off at Dengshikou Station. Turn left from Exit A, and take the first left at Baishu Hutong, which is a narrow lane. Walk down this lane for about 200m, you'll see the Kaichuang Golden Street Business Hotel on your left (Hotel name is on the top of the building in Yellow )
Metered taxis are available outside the airport terminal building. The taxi ride from the airport to our starting point hotels takes about 45 minutes and should cost around CNY80-100 (plus CNY10 for the airport expressway toll). Show the taxi driver the address of the hotel in Chinese characters as shown below. **PLEASE AVOID TAXI TOURS THAT TELL YOU THEY HAVE A METERED TAXI PARKED OUTSIDE THE AIRPORT**
Check-in time is 2pm.
Please note local language address for Kaichuang Golden Street Business Hotel below which is useful to show to a taxi driver or to ask for directions:
We don't expect any problems (and nor should you) but if for any reason you are unable to commence your group trip as scheduled, please contact your starting point hotel, requesting that you speak to or leave a message for your group leader.
If you have pre-booked an airport transfer (where available) and have not made contact with our representative within 30 minutes of clearing customs and immigration, we recommend that you make your own way to the starting point hotel, following the Joining Instructions in these Trip Notes. Should this occur, please apply to your travel agent for a refund of the transfer cost on your return.
No refund is available on missed transfers or portions of your trip owing to a different flight arrival or delayed flight arrival. Any additional cost incurred in order to meet up with your group is at your own expense.
Nanjing Hotel 上海南京饭店
200 Shanxi South Road
Finish point description
Located in the heart of downtown Shanghai just off of Shanghai's shopping Mecca, Nanjing Road. From here you can easily walk to the Bund and Huangpu River or catch the subway to anywhere in Shanghai including the airport. The hotel features 24hr reception, all rooms have ensuite, in-room safe, AC, TV, phone, internet access (extra charges apply) and kettle.
Finish point instructions
Shanghai has two main airports, Pudong and Hongqiao. Most international flights depart from Pudong International airport, located 30 km east of down town Shanghai. Most domestic flights depart from Hongqiao airport, located 13 km south-west of the city centre. Please check which airport your flight departs from for correct transfer information.
A short taxi ride from our hotel are airport buses that you can take to both Pudong and Hongqiao airports, which are frequent and inexpensive. The best place to catch the airport bus is from the CAAC office on Nanjing Xi Lu, beside Jing'an Temple (CNY19, operating hours 07:20 - 23:00). The fastest way to Pudong Airport from our hotel is on the Maglev train. An attraction in itself, this train reaches up to 431 km/h (268 mph) and operates from 07:00 to 21:00 (CNY50, 20% discount is available if you show your flight ticket). Take the subway or taxi to Longyang Road Metro Station and take the Maglev from here.
A metered taxi ride from our hotel to either airport should cost approx. CNY200.
A departure transfer from our hotel to the airport is available if arranged at the time of booking. Transfers cannot be arranged during the trip. Please advise your flight arrival details at least 14 days prior to your trips start date to book a transfer. If you plan to stay longer, this departure transfer can only be offered in conjunction with post-tour accommodation booked through Intrepid.
If you have booked a post-trip airport transfer, please ask your leader to confirm with our local operator the time of departure and meeting place. If you have any problems you can also contact our local operator - Mr Steven (+86) 1391 618 6181.
Check-out time from the hotel is 12 noon. If you are departing later, you can arrange for luggage storage at the hotel.
Please also make sure you have access to an additional US$400, to be used when unforeseen incidents or circumstances outside our control (eg. a natural disaster, civil unrest or an outbreak of bird flu) necessitate a change to our planned route.
Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. The visa requirements for your trip vary depending on where you are from and where you are going. As a general rule most countries expect that you will have at least 6 months' validity on your passport. On arrival visitors may be asked to present return tickets and evidence of means to cover your intended stay.
We keep the following information up to date as much as possible, but rules do change - it's important that you check for yourself. Residents from other countries must consult the relevant embassies or your travel agent.
Australia: Yes - in advance
Belgium: Yes - in advance
Canada: Yes - in advance
Germany: Yes - in advance
Ireland: Yes - in advance
Netherlands: Yes - in advance
New Zealand: Yes - in advance
South Africa: Yes - in advance
Switzerland: Yes - in advance
United Kingdom: Yes - in advance
USA: Yes - in advance
When filling out the visa application form you will be asked to complete a section "company or person to visit in China" or "Residence(s) and phone number(s) during your stay in China" (in a time sequence). It's only necessary to enter one hotel in China, and use the hotel details specified in the start, continuing or finishing point hotel information listed in the Trip Notes. You require a single entry visa to complete this trip.
You will be required provide a copy of the trip notes and flight itinerary. Some consulates may ask for a hotel booking confirmations, please contact us if this is required. Should you be asked to provide a personal statement of your daily itinerary you will need to use the hotel booking confirmation document that we can provide for you.
If submitting your visa form in person with your local consulate, please check beforehand whether you need to make an appointment.
Intrepid also requires you to provide a clear scanned copy of the front page of your passport (photo page) at the time of booking for relevant train journey bookings. Intrepid must receive the passport copy at least 30 days prior to travel. Please make sure that this copy is for the passport that you will be travelling on. If you have to renew your passport please bring your old passport with you as well.
Issues on your trip
While we always endeavour to provide the best possible holiday experience, due to the nature of travel and the areas we visit sometimes things can and do go wrong. Should any issue occur while you are on your trip, it is imperative that you discuss this with your group leader or our local representative straight away so that they can do their best to rectify the problem and save any potential negative impact on the rest of your trip.
We recognise that there may be times when your group leader/local partner may not be able to resolve a situation to your satisfaction - if this is the case, please ask the leader to speak to their direct manager.
You may also choose to provide details in your online feedback, which we ask you to complete within 30 days of the end of your trip. But we do ask you to be aware that it is very difficult for us to provide any practical help after the trip is complete.
What to take
What you need to bring will vary according to the trip style you have chosen, the countries you are visiting and when you are travelling. Generally speaking you should pack as lightly as possible. On the vast majority of our trips you are expected to carry your own luggage and although you won't be required to walk long distances with your luggage (max 30 minutes), we recommend keeping the weight under 10kg / 22lb.
Most travellers carry their luggage in a backpack, although an overnight bag with a shoulder strap would suffice if you travel lightly. Smaller bags or backpacks with wheels are convenient although we recommend your bag has carry straps. You'll also need a day pack/bag to carry water and a camera etc for day trips.
You can find Intrepid's Ultimate Packing List on our website. It should be used as a guide only and isn't intended to be a complete packing list.
TRAVELLING ON LOCAL TRANSPORT:
It's important that your bags can be locked, as on local transport it may be necessary to store your luggage separately (and unattended) from the group. The smaller your bag the better for you and other passengers, for when it comes to travelling on local buses and trains it's often only the smaller bags that will fit into the storage areas. If your bag does not fit in these areas then often the only place to put it is on your bed or seat. To ensure maximum comfort, try to pack small and light.
Where Intrepid covers the cost of luggage storage for included day trips, we allow for one bag/backpack only, so it's advisable that you travel lightly and keep luggage to a limit of one item (plus your day pack). Extra luggage storage will be at your own expense.
IMAGES FROM HOME:
During our trip there will be many opportunities for you to meet and talk with locals. One way to start any conversation is with pictures. We recommend that you bring some photos / postcards of your family, home, city or country where you live, animals peculiar to your country etc.
Consider bringing your own water bottle to refill along the way. The sale of bottled water contributes to an enormous environmental problem around the world. In addition to the water in bottles, the production of a 1 litre plastic bottle takes 2 litres of water and 200ml of oil. A large proportion ends up in limited landfill or discarded in waterways and natural environments. Although it can be difficult to avoid bottled water when travelling, please consider water purification techniques such as iodine or micropur and use the water dispensers which are provided at some of our accommodation. When unable to avoid bottled water it is better to buy the largest available and distribute into your smaller bottle for the day
In China, clean and safe drinking water is widely available for free in hotels, restaurants and bus and train stations.
All Intrepid travellers need to be in good physical health in order to participate fully on this trip. When selecting your trip please make sure you have read through the itinerary carefully and assess your ability to cope with our style of travel. Please note that if, in the opinion of our group leader or local guide, any traveller is unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to themselves and/or the rest of the group, Intrepid reserves the right to exclude them from all or part of a trip without refund.
You should consult your doctor for up-to-date medical travel information or for any necessary vaccinations and anti-malarial requirements before departure. We recommend that you carry a first aid kit as well as any personal medical requirements (including a spare pair of glasses) as they may not easily be obtained at the locations on this trip. For legal reasons our leaders and guides are prohibited from administering any type of drugs including headache tablets and antibiotics. Please ensure that you are adequately prepared.
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
Many national governments provide a regularly updated advice service on safety issues involved with international travel. We recommend that you check your government's advice for their latest travel information before departure. Please refer to our website's safety page for links to major travel advisories and updates on safety issues affecting our trip.
We strongly recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt while travelling, for the safe-keeping of your passport, air tickets, cash and other valuable items. Leave your valuable jewellery at home - you won't need it while travelling. Many of our hotels have safety deposit boxes, which is the most secure way of storing your valuables. A lock is recommended for securing your luggage.
Your leader will accompany you on all included activities, however during your trip you'll have some free time to pursue your own interests, relax and take it easy or explore at your leisure. While your group leader will assist you with the available options in a given location, please note that any optional activities you undertake are not part of your Intrepid itinerary, and Intrepid makes no representations about the safety of the activity or the standard of the operators running them. Please use your own good judgement when selecting an activity in your free time. Please also note that your group leader has the authority to amend or cancel any part of the trip itinerary if it's deemed necessary due to safety concerns.
For more details on the type of conditions and safety standards you can expect on your trip, please refer to Intrepid's operational safety policy on our website. We recommend that you take a moment to read through this information before travelling, and would appreciate any feedback on how well it's being implemented in the field:
Please be aware that local laws governing tourism facilities in this region differ from those in your home country and not all the accommodation which we use has a fire exit, fire extinguishers or smoke alarms.
Some hotel balconies don't meet UK standards in terms of the width of the balcony fence being narrower than 10cm.
TRAFFIC AND DRIVING ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE ROAD:
Depending on where you come from please note that drivers in this part of the world may drive on the opposite side of the road from what you are used to. Look both ways before crossing any road. Traffic can be a little more chaotic than you might be used to at home. Be aware!
Please be aware that local laws governing transportation safety may differ from those in the western world or from your home country and not all the transport which we use provides seat belts.
PETTY THEFT AND PERSONAL SAFETY:
While travelling there is always the risk of pick-pocketing and petty theft, particularly in the more touristy cities. We recommend that you exercise caution when walking alone at night and encourage you to walk together and only on main, well-lit thoroughfares. Be particularly vigilant on public transport. Simple measures like carrying your day pack on your front, not hanging your bag over the back of your chair and wearing a money belt will reduce any chance that your valuables should go missing.
Please note that helmets are not always provided for sightseeing on bicycles.
SCAMS IN CHINA
While China is generally a very safe city 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 quickly walk away.
Travel insurance is compulsory for all our trips. We require that, at a minimum, you are covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. We strongly recommend that the policy also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects.
When travelling on a group trip, you won't be permitted to join the group until evidence of travel insurance and the insurance company's 24 hour emergency contact number has been seen by your leader.
If you have credit card insurance your group leader will require details of the participating insurer/underwriter, the level of coverage, policy number and emergency contact number rather than the bank's name and credit card details. Please contact your bank for these details prior to arriving in-country.
Please go to our website for links to various travel insurance providers:
We believe strongly in low impact or rather positive impact tourism. Broadly speaking this means that we try to minimise the negative aspects of tourism on the local cultures and environments that we visit and highlight the positive aspects. Please visit our website for further details and suggestions on how you can be a responsible traveller:
When packing be aware that dress standards are conservative throughout Asia, especially outside major cities. To respect this and for your own comfort, we strongly recommend modest clothing. This means clothing that covers your shoulders and knees for men and women.
A couple of rules
Illegal drugs will not be tolerated on our trips. Possessing or using drugs not only contravenes the laws of the land, but also puts the rest of the group at risk. Smoking marijuana and opium is a part of local culture in some parts of the world but is not acceptable for Intrepid travellers. Intrepid's philosophy of travel is one of respect towards everyone we encounter and in particular, the local people who make our destinations such special places. The exploitation of prostitutes is completely contrary to this philosophy. Our group leader has the right to expel any member of the group if drugs are found in their possession or if they use prostitutes.
The Intrepid Foundation
Since Intrepid Travel commenced operating in 1989 we've been committed to giving something back to the communities we visit. One way has been through our support for local humanitarian, development and conservation projects. Many of our travellers want to contribute something too. Whilst it is often tempting to give hand-outs to those less fortunate, this has the potential to promote a culture of begging and dependency. Handouts are not a sustainable way for individuals or communities to live. That’s why we established The Intrepid Foundation – to make it easier for travellers wishing to give back to communities in an effective and meaningful way.
The Intrepid Foundation is a not-for-profit fund offering a selection of excellent grassroots organisations which you can contribute to. All donations to The Intrepid Foundation will be matched by Intrepid Travel dollar for dollar (up to AU$5,000 per donor and a total of AU$400,000 for all donors in each financial year). And every cent gets there as Intrepid Travel pays for all the administration costs. Donating is simple and secure. Please ask your group leader for information on the projects we support through The Intrepid Foundation or go to our website:
Responsible Travel projects
Organisations and projects currently supported by The Intrepid Foundation in China include:
* Beijing Huiling offers innovative services to youths and adults with learning disabilities and teaches people to respect what those with disabilities can do, rather than what they can't. Their activities and training facilitate independence and improve daily living and employability skills in a family-like group home environment.
* Xi'an Huiling provides adults with learning disabilities opportunities to develop their personal abilities and life skills, enabling them to achieve independence as a fully integrated member of the community.
Carbon Offset C02-e 724.00 kgs per pax.
After your travels, we want to hear from you! This is so important to us that we'll give you 5% off the price of your next trip if your feedback is completed online within 4 weeks of finishing your trip.