Real Food Adventure - China Trip Notes

Real Food Adventure - China

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

Last Modified: 29 Sep 2016
Real Food Adventure - China
Trip code: CBZF
Validity: 01 Jan 2016 to 31 Oct 2016
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. Stay in a monastery in the lofty heights of Emei Shan, taste the peppery treats of Sichuan in Chengdu and enjoy a visit to a small tea-farming village to discover the secrets of this most famous of Chinese beverages. End the adventure in Shanghai, one of the world’s most vibrant cities.
Table of Contents
ThemesAccommodation NotesWhat to take
Is this trip right for you?Meals introductionClimate and seasonal information
Why we love itMealsCommunications
MapMoney mattersHealth
ItineraryGroup leaderTravel insurance
Itinerary disclaimerSafetyA couple of rules
Physical ratingJoining pointResponsible Travel
Included activitiesJoining point descriptionThe Intrepid Foundation
Important notesJoining point instructionsFeedback
Group sizeFinish point
Your fellow travellersEmergency contact
Is this trip right for you?
- This trip aims to give you an exciting, diverse and well-rounded experience of a country’s cuisine. While we endeavour to cater for specific dietary requirements, some meals and food activities are set in advance and may be difficult to adjust. Please be aware that in many countries dietary restrictions are not common or well understood. If you have dietary requirements, simply contact your agent at the time of booking for further information on how this may impact on your ability to take part in included activities and meals. Come with an open mind and open mouth, and you won’t be disappointed!
- This trip travels on overnight hard sleeper trains on two parts of the journey (Beijing-Xi'an and Xi'an-Chengdu). 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.
- An optional upgrade to a soft sleeper berth (4 travellers per compartment with a lockable door) may be available at additional cost at the time of booking.
Why we love it
- Embrace the tastes of four of China's most important food regions – from the imperial cuisine of Beijing, to the Muslim-influenced food of Xi'An, the spicy Sichuan flavours of Chengdu (a UNESCO City of Gastronomy) and the international melting pot of Shanghai
- The Sichuan province is the literal birthplace of tea – get a truly local and authentic crop-to-cup experience here with a tea grower
- Savour the spicy flavours of Sichuan, like the fiery, tingling, tongue-numbing sensation of the famous Sichuan Pepper at Chengu’s spice market
- Get a hands-on experience with everyone’s favourite Chinese specialties – dumplings – as you learn to make them in Shanghai, China's unofficial dumpling capital

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. After the meeting 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 a Beijing kaoyadian (roast duck restaurant). 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.
Hotel (1 nt)
1 dinner
Day 2 Beijing
Numerous emperors brought accomplished chefs from around China to the Forbidden City in Beijing to prepare elaborate feasts for the imperial family and court officials, and today these regional flavours can still be found in many of Beijing’s celebrated dishes. This morning, head to the narrow alleyways of Beijing’s historic hutong neighbourhoods for a traditional breakfast of congee (rice porridge with pickles and meat) or youtiao (deep-fried dough sticks, dipped into hot soy milk). Then explore one of the Hutong markets and see steaming fresh tofu and freshly made dumplings while learning about the key ingredients and spices used in Northern Chinese cooking. Continue to a hidden hutong courtyard for a hands-on cooking class. Pick up cleaver trick or two as well as some classic recipes, and feast on the dishes for lunch. After, make your way to the centre of the city – Tian'anmen Square. Perhaps most famous outside of the country for the 1989 massacre (and the iconic picture of a single man standing up to a tank), this square is the symbolic centre of Chinese power – a place of pilgrimage for the Chinese tourists who consider it the heart of their nation. From here you will enter the enormous Forbidden City. Built more than 500 years ago and off-limits to commoners for almost all that time, it's a truly amazing place. As you explore the great halls and courtyards you’ll be able to appreciate the might and grandeur of the Imperial Chinese court during the height of its power in the Ming and Qing dynasties. If you're still hungry, perhaps join your leader for a walking tour of Donghuamen Night Market. Occasionally referred to as one of the world's wildest food markets, food here ranges from mouth-watering to a little confronting: from lamb kebabs to chòu dòufu (stinky tofu), and cicadas to lizards. Or perhaps enjoy dinner at Ghost Street, home to over 150 food businesses and where you can try traditional Beijing hotpot or spicy Sichuan and Chongqing flavours with grilled fish, spicy small lobsters and frogs.
Included Activities
  • Beijing - Tiananmen Square
  • Beijing - Tian'anmen Square & Forbidden City
  • Beijing - Cooking Class
    Optional Activities
    • Beijing - Ghost Street Dinner - CNY120
      Hotel (1 nt)
      1 breakfast, 1 lunch
      Day 3 Beijing / Overnight Train
      This morning you’ll drive out to the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall (approximately 2 hours drive from Beijing) and spend some time exploring, taking photos and learning the history of this mighty site (and sight). An incredible piece of engineering, the wall stretches 6,000 km westwards from the mountain ridges north of Beijing. It was originally constructed to protect Chinese empires from the 'barbarians' of the north and even though it failed in this purpose, it's still without a doubt one of the country's most remarkable achievements and an iconic destination. You’ll often feel like you have the whole wall to yourself as you take your time strolling along the wall, which snakes through the hills almost endlessly into the distance. Please note that the wall is quite steep in places so make sure you have some appropriate footwear for this activity, but it's up to you how far you walk once up on the wall. You’ll then return to Beijing (approximately 2 hours), where you’ll board your first overnight sleeper train to Xi'an, (approximately 12 hours)

      Notes: Train travel in China may not be entirely luxurious but it's certainly one of the best ways to come face to face with the country and its people, as it's the main form of transport for locals. We use hard sleeper class trains for most of our overnight train journeys. These are not as rough as they sound – compartments are open-plan, clean, with padded three-tiered berths (6 to a compartment). Wherever possible, we will group our travellers together, but this will depend on group size and ticket availability. Sheets, pillows and a blanket are provided. Some travellers prefer to bring their own sleeping sheet. Safe, hot drinking water is always available. It is a good idea to bring a mug, spoon, knife and fork if you will be preparing your own hot drinks or food on the train (as these are not provided in cabins). Basic bathroom facilities with toilets and washbasins are situated at the end of each carriage. As toilet paper isn't always available, it's best to bring an emergency supply. Keep in mind general train cleanliness may not be to the same standards you are accustomed to. Food is available on the train, but it's a good idea to stock up on snacks for the trip. An optional upgrade from a hard sleeper to a soft sleeper berth (4 travellers per compartment with a lockable door) may be available for some overnight train journeys on this trip. Please contact us for booking and more details.
      Included Activities
      • Beijing - Great Wall Excursion
        Overnight sleeper train (1 nt)
        Day 4 Xi'an
        Arrive in Xi’an, the capital of Shaanxi Province and the largest city in northwest China. Once the imperial centre of China for 2,000 years, Xi'an is now a vibrant, modern city dotted with many interesting historical sites and noted for 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. After you arrive you’ll enjoy local Xi'an breakfast specialties such as ba bao zhou (eight treasure rice porridge) and hula soup (pancakes and pepper soup with meatballs and vegetables). Then, after some free time in the afternoon, for dinner you’ll find yourself in the heart of the Muslim Quarter to discover why Xi'an in considered the 'snack capital' of China. Go on a unique food crawl that will have you tasting some of the city's best: beef or lamb kebabs, cold noodles, pancakes in lamb soup and steamed soupy dumplings.
        Included Activities
        • Xi'an - Muslim Quarter Snack Crawl
          1 breakfast, 1 dinner
          Day 5 Xi'An
          Today you’ll journey out in to the countryside surrounding Xi’an (approximately 2 hours) and visit what is undoubtedly one of the man-made wonders of the world – the Terracotta Warriors. You’ll learn all about this incredible archaeological find, discovered 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. For lunch you will have the opportunity to visit a local farmer-owned restaurant. With free time in Xi'an, maybe walk the city walls (the most complete in China) or explore the Drum and Bell Towers.
          Included Activities
          • Xi'an - Terracotta Warriors & Guide
            Optional Activities
            • Xi-an - Yang Rou Pao Mo Lunch - CNY30
              Day 6 Xi'an/Overnight Train

              Get ready for a truly unique insight into one of China's most revered culinary arts today – noodle-making. With a hands-on demonstration you’ll learn a few tips about dough preparation, noodle making and sauce mixing, while gaining an insight into a modern Chinese life. Afterwards, perhaps head back into the Muslim Quarter to wander the narrow streets of quaint shops, lively markets, and groups of white-bearded men in skull caps sipping tea in cafes, and pick up some snacks for you overnight train tonight. You will travel from Xi’an to Chengdu (approximately 17 hours), arriving at noon the following day.
              Included Activities
              • Xi'an - Noodle-making demonstration
                Overnight sleeper train (1 nt)
                1 lunch
                Day 7 Chengdu
                An officially recognised UNESCO City of Gastronomy, Chengdu is the capital of the Sichuan province located in southwest China. It might be one of China's biggest cities, but Chengdu has preserved plenty of its traditional flavour and visitors can still find famous teahouses, numerous markets and some of the most interesting food in China. Sichuan province is a must-visit 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. Take a walking tour through the centre 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, an essentials part of 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! Sit down to a truly authentic Sichuan hotpot tonight. 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.
                Included Activities
                • Chengdu - Walking tour
                  Optional Activities
                  • Chengdu - Jinli Street Food Sampling - CNY30
                    Hotel (1 nt)
                    1 dinner
                    Day 8 Chengdu

                    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 only around 1,000 pandas left in the world and 80% of them are found in the mountains in Sichuan. The facility was set up 30 years ago to help conserve this animal, and there are more than 80 giant and red pandas living at the base. The pandas have over 600 acres of parkland to live in, and you can get up close and learn more about these majestic creatures. Watch them play, eat bamboo and climb the trees. If you’re lucky enough you might even get to see newborns taking their first steps in the nursery (July-September). On your return to Chendgu, drop past the wholesale spice market. The Sichuan region is celebrated for the tingly Sichuan peppercorn and here you will find it in abundance, along with many other popular Chinese spices. Tonight, why not taste more Chengdu specialities on Jinli Street. This street is famous for its historic atmosphere, bustling businesses and most of all its 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 heads.
                    Included Activities
                    • Chengdu - Spice Market Visit
                    • Chengdu - Giant Panda Breeding Research Base
                      Hotel (1 nt)
                      1 breakfast
                      Day 9 Emei Shan
                      Drive to a family owned tea plantation near Emei mountain this morning (approximately 3 hours). There, one of the skilled workers will teach you how to pick tea leaves (depending on the season). Afterwards, visit the small factory near the house to experience the complete process from picking to drying to drinking. Your host will also use the freshly picked tea leaves to create some delicious dishes for lunch. You will then reach Emei Shan by mid-afternoon. This mountain of thick forest, just over 3,000 metres high, has been a centre of pilgrimage for over 1,800 years, with over a hundred temples and monasteries hidden in its peaks. The area is stunning at any time of year, from the lush greens of the summer, to the golden reds and yellows of autumn, and the clear, mystical whites of winter. Here you will visit and overnight at a peaceful Monastery, where you’ll experience sharing accommodation with monks and waking up to the sounds of drums and prayers.

                      Notes: Your accommodation here is in a monastery on Emei Shan. It is basic but atmospheric, with simple rooms and shared bathroom facilities, and the setting is always a highlight of the trip. Please note that during religious festivals or peak travel periods, you may stay at a guesthouse in Emei town as an alternative to the monasteries here. If you are travelling in the months of October-April, while we still visit Emei Shan and the surrounding areas there may be some changes to the activities and accommodation available depending on the weather conditions. We advise you to bring very warm clothes (waterproof shoes, windproof coat, hat, scarf, gloves) as there can be snow and sub-zero temperatures.
                      Included Activities
                      • Emei - Tea Farm Visit and Lunch
                        Guesthouse (1 nt)
                        1 lunch
                        Day 10 Shanghai
                        This morning take a private transfer from the monastery to Chengdu Airport (approximately 3 hours) for a flight to Shanghai (approximately 2 hours). 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. 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, where tree-lined avenues and Tudor mansions still retain an air of the 'Paris of the East'. To celebrate your arrival, why not join your leader for a drink at a rooftop bar overlooking the bright lights of this exhilarating city (not included). This rest of the evening is free for your own Shanghai food adventure. There are endless options in Shanghai, with a restaurant scene bursting with international flavours 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.
                        Included Activities
                        • Shanghai - Walking Tour
                          Hotel (1 nt)
                          Day 11 Shanghai
                          This morning is free for you to explore. Stop past Shanghai's vibrant wet markets or drop into 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. You could also 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, or stroll through modern Pudong. In the afternoon, try your hand at making Shanghai’s famous dumplings. Chomp on potstickers and slurp up the juice from Shanghai’s famous soup dumplings during a cooking class with a local chef, who will teach you how to create the perfect xiaolongbao, which will be also your early dinner for the night. Tonight, maybe scope out the city’s buzzing nightlife at a local bar for your final night on this Chinese food adventure.
                          Included Activities
                          • Shanghai - Dumpling cooking class
                            Hotel (1 nt)
                            1 lunch
                            Day 12 Shanghai
                            Your Real Food Adventure China comes to an end this morning. There are no activities on the final day and you are free to leave your accommodation at any time.
                            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.
                            Included activities
                            Beijing - Tiananmen Square
                            Beijing - Tian'anmen Square & Forbidden City
                            Beijing - Cooking Class
                            Beijing - Great Wall Excursion
                            Xi'an - Muslim Quarter Snack Crawl
                            Xi'an - Terracotta Warriors & Guide
                            Xi'an - Noodle-making demonstration
                            Chengdu - Walking tour
                            Chengdu - Spice Market Visit
                            Chengdu - Giant Panda Breeding Research Base
                            Emei - Tea Farm Visit and Lunch
                            Shanghai - Walking Tour
                            Shanghai - Dumpling cooking class
                            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.

                            Group size
                            Maximum of 12 travellers per group.
                            Your fellow travellers
                            GROUP TRAVEL
                            As you travel on a group trip you will be exposed to all the pleasures and maybe some of the frustrations of travelling in a group. Your fellow travellers will probably come from all corners of the world and likely a range of age groups too. We ask you to be understanding of the various needs and preferences of your group - patience with your fellow travellers is sometimes required for the benefit of everyone's travel experience. Remember too that you have responsibilities to the group. If you are requested to be at a place at a certain time, ensure that you don't keep the rest of the group waiting. We have found time and time again that the very best trips we operate are those where the dynamics within the group work well - this takes just a little effort on your part. Due to privacy reasons we are unable to provide you with contact details and any personal information about your fellow travellers booked on your trip prior to departure.

                            SINGLE TRAVELLERS:
                            Our group trips are designed for shared accommodation and don't involve a compulsory single supplement. Single travellers share with people of the same gender in accommodation ranging from twin to multishare. Some of our itineraries have accommodation booked on a mixed gender share basis and where applicable this will be specified in our Trip Notes. On a selection of our trips, you have the option to pay a single supplement to ensure that you have your own accommodation (where available). Please note that this only applies to accommodation during the tour - pre-trip and post-trip accommodation will be booked on a single room basis.
                            Guesthouse (1 night), Hotel (8 nights), Overnight sleeper train (2 nights)
                            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.

                            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.

                            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 towels may not be provided. Please note that on occasion the group may be accommodated in separate guest houses or home stays within walking distance of each other.

                            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.

                            MONASTERY STAY:
                            We include an overnight stay in Baoguo Monastery. The standard of the rooms is basic twin share accommodation with a shared bathroom and toilet inside the monastery. Then it's the season for pilgrims, the monastery will accommodation a large number of pilgrims and the stay may not be as tranquil as normal or we may be accommodated at a guesthouse nearby if there is no availability at the monastery over this time.
                            Meals introduction
                            While we will endeavour to cater to dietary requirements where possible, please note that many meals and food activities on Real Food Adventures are set in advance in order to deliver a well-rounded experience of a country’s cuisine. In many countries, dietary restrictions are uncommon and not well understood. If you have dietary requirements and are concerned about whether this may impact on your ability to participate fully in all food-related activities on this trip, please contact your agent at time of booking for further information. If you have dietary requirements and/or food allergies, you must notify your booking agent prior to departure so it can be determined whether your dietary requirements can be met.
                            3 breakfasts, 4 lunches, 3 dinners
                            Money matters
                            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).

                            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.

                            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.

                            EMERGENCY FUNDS:
                            We try to plan for every eventuality, but there are still some things beyond our control. Please make sure you bring an extra USD500 for emergencies (e.g. natural disasters or civil unrest). Sometimes these things necessitate last minute changes to our itineraries, and we can’t guarantee there won’t be some extra costs involved.

                            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.
                            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. 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.
                            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:


                            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.

                            Depending on where you come from please note that drivers in this part of the world may drive on the opposite side of the road from what you are used to. Look both ways before crossing any road. Traffic can be a little more chaotic than you might be used to at home. Be aware!

                            PETTY THEFT AND PERSONAL SAFETY:
                            While travelling there is always the risk of pick-pocketing and petty theft, particularly in the more touristy cities. We recommend that you exercise caution when walking alone at night and encourage you to walk together and only on main, well-lit thoroughfares. Be particularly vigilant on public transport. Simple measures like carrying your day pack on your front, not hanging your bag over the back of your chair or on the floor and wearing a money belt will reduce any chance that your valuables should go missing.

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

                            For more information, please go to
                            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

                            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
                            Greenland Jiu Long Hotel 绿地·九龙宾馆
                            601 Liyang Road 上海市溧阳路601号(海宁路)
                            Phone: +86 2165418228
                            Emergency contact
                            For general enquiries or questions about your booking, please contact your agent or adventure specialist, or visit us at

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

                            For general contact details please use the following page:

                            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.

                            PEAK Beijing: +86 106 406 7328
                            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.

                            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

                            * 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 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

                            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:


                            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!

                            LUGGAGE RESTRICTIONS:
                            Please note domestic airlines allow a maximum of 20kg check in luggage and 5kg hand luggage. Any excess luggage expense will be your own responsibility.
                            Climate and seasonal information
                            CHINESE NATIONAL HOLIDAYS:
                            Please note that China's national holidays are the peak travel season for Chinese nationals. During this time, literally the whole country is on the move - that's over a billion people. Although these are fascinating and exciting times to travel in China, please be aware your group will almost definitely experience transport delays and massive crowds at tourist attractions and train stations. It's common for there to be difficulties in securing train or flight tickets at our preferred times, hotels become overbooked, traffic chaotic and changes to the itinerary are often necessary as a result. If clockwork organisation is important to you we advise you book outside of the weeks of the extended Chinese New Year in January/February, in the first week of May and the first week of October. If you decide to travel during this period please come with an open mind and be prepared for changes on the ground.
                            * CENSORSHIP IN CHINA *

                            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 +
                            Yahoo Hong Kong, Yahoo Taiwan
                            Wikipedia and many more.
                            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:
                            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.

                            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.


                            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:


                            Organisations and projects currently supported by The Intrepid Foundation in China include:

                            * Beijing Huiling offers innovative services to youths and adults with learning disabilities and teaches people to respect what those with disabilities can do, rather than what they can't. Their activities and training facilitate independence and improve daily living and employability skills in a family-like group home environment.

                            * Xi'an Huiling provides adults with learning disabilities opportunities to develop their personal abilities and life skills, enabling them to achieve independence as a fully integrated member of the community.

                            After your travels, we want to hear from you! We rely on your feedback. We read it carefully. Feedback helps us understand what we are doing well and what we could be doing better. It allows us to make improvements for future travellers.