Tiger Leaping Gorge Trip Notes

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Last Modified: 18 Feb 2013
Tiger Leaping Gorge
Trip code: CBRM
Validity: 01 Jan 2012 to 31 Dec 2012
Be challenged by this active trip through Yunnan province and the spectacular Tiger Leaping Gorge. This is one of Asia's finest geological wonders and hiking high above the Yangzi River is the best way to experience its awe. Snow-capped peaks, narrow winding trails and sublime views await those who make the trek. While time spent in the chilled-out towns of Dali, Shaxi and Lijiang provide a relaxing contrast and a fantastic chance to meet the local people.
Table of Contents
StyleImportant notesEmergency funds
ThemesGroup sizeVisas
MapYour fellow travellersIssues on your trip
ItinerarySingle travellersWhat to take
We also recommendAccommodationHealth
Itinerary disclaimerMeals introductionSafety
Culture shock rating MealsTravel insurance
Physical ratingTransportResponsible Travel
Physical preparationGroup leaderA couple of rules
Included activitiesJoining point descriptionThe Intrepid Foundation
Optional activitiesJoining point instructionsResponsible Travel projects
Money ExchangeArrival complicationsCarbon offset
Spending moneyFinish point descriptionFeedback
TippingFinish point instructions
Departure taxEmergency contact
Style
Basix
  • The best value journeys on the planet! On a Basix trip you can expect amazing experiences, but none of the inclusions that you may not want. Which means budget (1-2 star) accommodation, plenty of free time, activities that are optional and the freedom to choose meals to suit your budget. On some trips you may be camping and required to set up your own tent. You'll also have access to a group leader to offer advice and help you uncover the region's hidden gems. On a Basix journey, the way you travel is all a part of the adventure. Depending on the destination and the itinerary, you could find yourself travelling on anything from a donkey to a bus or a private safari vehicle. These trips are ideal for first-time travellers seeking fun and independence with the support of a group leader. They're also ideal for independent travellers looking to make the most of their travel time with minimum hassle and maximum experiences.
Themes
Explorer
Map
Tiger Leaping Gorge
Itinerary
Day 1 Kunming
Nimen Hao! Welcome to China.
Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6pm 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.
Known as the 'eternal spring city', Kunming is surrounded by mountain ranges and has a pleasant temperature all year round.
Some things you might like to check out should you arrive early include:
Head to Green Lake Park where you can join the masses for all kinds of traditional activities and games and see how the locals spend their leisure time.
Visit Yuantong Temple at the foot of a a hill the northern part of Kunming. With a history of more than 1,200 years, it's the grandest as well as the most important Buddhist temple in Yunnan Province.
Stop by the fantastic Tang dynasty pagodas.
ALTITUDE SICKNESS:
Parts of your trip go above 2800 metres / 9200 feet where it is common for travellers to experience some adverse health effects due to the altitude - regardless of your age, gender and fitness. It even happened to Sir Edmund Hillary!
Before your trip: Some pre-existing medical conditions are known to severely worsen at high altitude and be difficult to adequately treat on the ground, leading to more serious consequences. It is imperative that you discuss your pre-existing medical condition/s with your doctor. We understand certain medications are reported to aid acclimatising to high altitude. Please discuss these options with your doctor.
During your trip: While our leaders have basic first aid training and are aware of the closest medical facilities, it is very important that you are aware of the cause and effects of travelling at altitude, monitor your health and seek assistance accordingly. Please read the following document carefully and, during your trip, utilise the table on the back daily to record your own perspective of your general health and any symptoms you may experience:
http://d3oxn90f3yphmd.cloudfront.net/sites/default/files/file_attach/52735_product_altitude-sickness.pdf
Included Activities
  • Informal Chinese language lesson
Optional Activities
  • Minority Village Park - CNY90
  • Stone Forest - CNY175
  • Yuantong Temple - CNY6
  • Yunnan Impression cultural show - CNY150
  • Tang Dynasty Pagodas - CNY2
  • Green Lake Park - Free
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Days 2-3 Dali
Take taxis to the bus station for our public bus to Dali (approx 6 hrs).
Dali has long been a favourite destination for foreign travellers and backpackers, the laid back atmosphere is enhanced by the spectacular surroundings - snow capped mountains on one side and the vast Erhai Lake on the other.
While much of the old town is being renovated to improve the living conditions for locals, there are still enough cobblestone streets and original stone buildings lining the alleyways inside the old city walls to make wandering around here a real pleasure. Many have been converted into little shops, cafes and bars so you never have to go far to find a place to chill out with a drink.
Some great things to do in and around Dali include:
Take a boat trip on Erhai ("Ear-Shaped") Lake.
Hire a bike to get out into the countryside or go cycling alongside the lake to a nearby villages like Shaping.
Walk the 2 km from town to the famous Three Pagodas - the symbol of the city that occupy a scenic location at the foot of the mountains facing the lake.
The little nearby town of Xizhou has plenty of history worth exploring, with its well-preserved Bai architecture.
To the west of Dali is Cangshan, the mountain range that looms over the town. A steep cable car ride will take you to the walking trails at the top and a phenomenal view over the town to the lake beyond.
Don't be surprised to find use of interesting ingredients such as flowers and petals, all kinds of mushrooms, Erhai Lake fish and milk products in the local Bai cuisine. Your leader can recommend some good restaurants to try local specialities.
Optional Activities
  • Bike hire - CNY15
  • Erhai Lake boat trip - CNY84
  • Three Pagodas - CNY121
  • Xizhou Bai House - CNY20
  • Cangshan Park & cable car - CNY150
Accommodation
Hostel (2 nts)
Days 4-5 Shaxi
Travel by public transport, including a change of buses, to the tranquil town of Shaxi.
What makes Shaxi so special is that unlike many other ancient towns in Yunnan, it has been restored rather than rebuilt and being off the main highways it hasn't seen the rapid development of the tourist industry as other places like Lijiang and Dali have. Here you can still find the Yi and Bai ethnic minorities living their traditional lives, farmhouses lining the country roads, and the original walled town gates and market square proving that Shaxi was once an important stop on the old Tea Horse Trail.
The local area offers a great chance for hiking. One of the best routes (approx 4-5 hrs depending on weather and fitness) is to the top of Shibao Shan with its tranquil monastery and temple literally carved into the rocky mountain top. A guide will accompany the hike for extra local insight.
In the evening, take the opportunity to mix with the locals on the town square where it's not rare to see impromptu dancing, singing and games happen that we are welcome to join in or observe!
Included Activities
  • Shaxi - guided day trek
Optional Activities
  • Shizong Temple - CNY50
Accommodation
Guesthouse (2 nts)
Days 6-7 Shangri-La
Take a public transport back to Jianchuan and change buses for our next destination -Zhongdian or as it now known, Shangri-La (approx 4 hrs).
The altitude climbs as we get closer - Shangri-La sits at around 3200 m - so make sure you drink plenty of water to help you acclimatise.
Shangri-La with its rugged scenery and remote temples give an excellent taste of Tibetan culture. Being so high also means it can be much cooler here than elsewhere in Yunnan so have some warmer clothes ready!
While in Shangri-La we recommend doing some of the following:
A walk or public bus ride from the town centre is the important Ganden Sumtseling Gompa, a 300-year-old Tibetan Buddhist monastery complex. Over 500 monks live and study here so if you are lucky, you may be able to experience a service or ceremony.
Hire a bike and ride out to the countryside to see Tibetan farmers and their livestock in the fields.
Head out to Bita Lake (32 km to the east), which lies in the heart of a nature preserve surrounded by mountains covered with ancient pines, oaks and rhododendrons. A small wooded island in the centre of the lake is home to many rare species of birds.
For a day trip with a difference and a chance to contribute to preserving the cultural traditions of the area and responsible tourism, Yunnan Mountain Heritage Foundation (www.ymhfshangrila.com) can sometimes arrange trips to see local sustainable projects, such as a beekeeping village, if contacted in advance. Please speak to your leader at the start of the trip if you are interested. You can also buy locally made fair trade handicrafts, as well as organically grown coffee and honey from their centre. Intrepid groups have a chance to join in regular English classes run by the centre and donations of books for their library are always welcome, so why not lighten your backpack at this point of the trip or bring something extra from home to donate.
Optional Activities
  • Tibetan family visit & meal - CNY100
  • Yunnan Mountain Heritage Foundation village visit - CNY200
  • Bike hire - CNY20
  • Bita Lake - CNY190
  • Ganden Sumtseling Gompa Monastery - CNY80
Accommodation
Guesthouse (2 nts)
Days 8-9 Tiger Leaping Gorge
Leaving Shangri-La, travel by public bus to Qiaotou (approx 3 hrs), the starting point for our trek through the magnificent Tiger Leaping Gorge.
Tiger Leaping Gorge is one of the deepest gorges in the world. The entire gorge is 16 km long and rises up to 3,900 m above the waters of the Yangzi, one of the most important rivers in China.
In recent years, Tiger Leaping Gorge has become a very popular tourist attraction for both local and foreign travellers. The area is rapidly developing with more guesthouses and cafes being built every year and major construction of a highway and local roads taking place which will bring more travellers to the area. Tourism here is also strictly controlled by the local tourism authorities which means that tour groups such as ours need to stick to approved routes. So be prepared - you WILL see other tourists here and this is not the remote experience it once was. But with this in mind, Tiger Leaping Gorge is still very much a rewarding travel experience and one our travellers continually list as a highlight of their time in China.
Large backpacks/luggage will be stored for two nights, and it is required to only take the most basic essentials in a day pack, which is to be carried for the whole course of the trek. On the trek, accommodation is in simple, but comfortable guesthouses, stopping regularly at local cafes and restaurants for meals (not included) and to refresh and revive. Please note that the standard of rooms may differ and only some of the rooms may private bathrooms, others will have with shared facilities.
Be warned that trekking in the Gorge area can be serious going for some, but for more experienced hikers it will pose no problem - expect to walk about 4-6 hours the first day, tackling some long steep sections, and about 4 hours the next. The rewards, however, are simply stunning, with awe-inspiring views. We will be accompanied by an experienced local guide for this trek. Please note that the route as well as trekking times will vary depending on the weather and fitness of the group. You definitely need to have good fitness to complete this part of the trip.
The first part of the trek is quite arduous - this is not flat terrain by any means. Some paths along the mountainside are extremely narrow, with a steep drop down and few protective barriers so if you suffer from fear of heights then this walk is not for you. For the brave though, it's an exhilarating walk. After a slow and steady climb, we reach the 24 bends (the most challenging part of the trek), a steep and twisting path where we really gain some altitude. After stopping for a break, we continue along a flatter section of the gorge to our guesthouse.
On our second trekking day, we start out after breakfast (not included but available at the guesthouse) with a nice easy flat section featuring incredibly spectacular views. There are only a few uphill battles and one last long, slippery downhill stretch before we reach our destination for the night at Walnut Grove, where there are more hiking options to lookout points for those who still have the energy. Otherwise, it's a tranquil place to simply sit back, relax and enjoy the scenery and rest your weary legs.
Tiger Leaping Gorge is subject to dramatic and unpredictable weather conditions. We have scheduled departures in the more stable seasons, but the possibility still exists that conditions may make travelling through the gorge dangerous. If we are advised in advance by our local partners that conditions are likely to be unsuitable for trekking in Tiger Leaping Gorge we'll spend an extra night each in Shaxi and Lijiang. Should the weather be deemed by your leader and guide as too rainy or foggy to safely complete the trek once in the gorge area we'll be required to reroute this section of the itinerary or travel between stops by minivan instead of trekking.
Included Activities
  • Tiger Leaping Gorge - guided trek
Accommodation
Guesthouse (2 nts)
Days 10-11 Lijiang
Travel by public transport to Lijiang (approx 4 hours).
The World Heritage-listed town of Lijiang is home to the Naxi people - a matrilineal society descended from Tibetan nomads. You can still see Naxi around town in their distinct blue clothing, especially at the morning markets.
By day Lijiang shows its traditional side - cobbled streets, tiny alleyways and quaint wooden bridges across the canals - which attract literally millions of (mostly Chinese) tourists a year to the Old Town. By night, the contrast with the timelocked surroundings couldn't be more stark as the town becomes party central with karaoke bars and flashing lights!
Whereas Dali has been more popular with foreign travellers in recent years, Lijiang is a favourite of China's domestic tourists. It won't take you long to see why - the old town is a huge labyrinth of canals, streams and charming little wooden buildings. You can get lost here both literally and in time. The best way to escape the crowds is to get up early and head off the beaten track - you'll make your own discoveries and experiences that the majority of tourists will never see.
Some great things to do in Lijiang include:
Try to catch a performance of the Naxi Orchestra, which has become famous around the world for their distinct and unique instruments and sounds.
Take a day trip to Jade Dragon Snow Mountain but be aware that most budget travellers will find the entrance and cable car fees very steep and you may prefer to view it from afar.
Head to the train station to take an overnight hard sleeper train to Kunming (approx 8 hrs).
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.
Optional Activities
  • Bike hire - CNY20
  • Jade Dragon Snow Mountain & cable car - CNY240
  • Naxi Orchestra performance - CNY120
  • Black Dragon Pool - CNY80
  • Mu Family Mansion - CNY45
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt), Overnight sleeper train (1 nt)
Days 12-13 Kunming
Our train arrives in Kunming early in the morning and we take taxis from the station to check back into our hotel. The whole day is free for you to spend as you wish before we meet back in the evening for an optional final night dinner at one of Kunming's great restaurants chosen by your leader.
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.
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
    We also recommend
    If this trip is not quite right for you, cast your eye over these alternatives:
    • Beijing to Kunming (CBRT)
    • China East & West (CBRRC)
    Itinerary disclaimer
    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.
    Culture shock rating

    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.
    Physical rating

    Be prepared for some serious physical activity. The majority of activities included on this trip will be challenging. The fitter you are, the more you'll enjoy your holiday.
    Physical preparation
    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.
    You will need to be fit to complete the Tiger Leaping Gorge trek. The trek requires you to walk up to 6 hours a day through mountainous terrain, carrying your day/overnight pack and at altitudes of about 2500 m.
    Included activities
    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.
    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 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.
    Money Exchange
    The official currency in China is the Yuan or Renminbi (CNY). 1 renminbi (yuan) = 10 jiao (mao).
    We strongly advise against bringing travellers cheques as in China they can be extremely difficult or impossible to change.
    ATMs are widespread, so the easiest way to access cash on your trip is to bring a credit card. Please check with your bank about overseas withdrawal fees before you depart. Some banks will allow a cash advance against a major credit card which will incur a service charge of 5% or more.
    Currency exchange is available at major banks and some hotels. The easiest foreign currencies to exchange are USD and EUR, however please be aware of the security risk of carrying large amounts of cash. In any case, some money should be taken as cash in case of emergencies - we recommend around US$400 per person. Commission is sometimes charged for currency exchange. Check the rate before you exchange and carefully check the amount you are given and ask for a receipt.
    Please note that due to restrictions on currency conversion for foreigners in China it may not be possible to change left over CNY back into foreign currency, so please plan your budget and spending money well by withdrawing/exchanging what you need as you go.
    Spending money
    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.
    Tipping
    CHINA:
    If you're happy with the services provided a tip - though not compulsory - is appropriate. While it may not be customary to you, it's of great significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels, inspires excellent service, and is an entrenched feature of the tourism industry across many Intrepid destinations. We recommend that any tips are given to the intended recipient by a member of your group, rather than collected and passed on by the group leader.
    Tipping in China is not customary, but in the travel industry it is. Many guides and drivers would usually supplement their income by taking tourists to shops and restaurants from which they receive commission. Intrepid does not encourage this practice as we believe it can be detrimental to our travellers' experience. Instead we try to ensure we pay our drivers, guides and leaders fairly for their services. Tips are still very much appreciated for those situations in which you believe you have received excellent service.
    Please don't tip with coins, notes of or less that CNY1, or dirty and ripped notes. This is regarded culturally as an insult.
    The following amounts are based on local considerations and feedback from our past travellers:
    Restaurants: Tipping is not common practice at restaurants in China or Tibet.
    Local guides: Throughout your trip you may at times have a local guide in addition to your leader. We suggest CNY10-15 per person per day for local guides with the amount adjusted accordingly for guides who are with you for less than a full day.
    Porters: In some hotels a porter may offer to carry your bag to your room. We suggest CNY5 per bag for porters.
    Drivers: You may have a range of drivers on your trip. Some may be with you for a short journey while others may be with you for several days. We would suggest that you tip only those more involved with the group (for example those that help you with your bags etc). CNY5-10 per person per day is generally appropriate, with the amount adjusted accordingly for drivers who are with you for less than a full day.
    Your Group Leader: You may also consider tipping your leader for outstanding service throughout your trip. The amount is entirely a personal preference; however as a guideline US$3-5 per person, per day can be used. Of course you are free to tip more or less as you see fit, depending on your perception of service quality and the length of your trip. Remember, a tip isn't compulsory and should only be given when you receive excellent service.
    Departure tax
    All departure taxes should be included in your international flight ticket.
    Important notes
    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.
    TIBETAN AREAS:
    Due to on going issues between the Tibetan region and the Chinese government we may not be able to run this itinerary as planned.
    Re routed itineraries will be advised on trip notes (Important notes) and either directly to you or via your agent.
    At this stage there are no planned re routes in place - but we are expecting some due to the recent closure of the Tibetan region.
    Group size
    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:
    www.intrepidtravel.com/meetup
    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 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.
    Accommodation
    Guesthouse (6 nts), Hotel (3 nts), Hostel (2 nts), Overnight sleeper train (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.
    CHECK-IN TIME
    Throughout the trip we request that our hotels prepare rooms in time for our arrival, especially if we're arriving prior to normal check-in time. However this isn't always possible which means we won't be able to check-in immediately on arrival at some hotels. Instead, we can store our luggage and explore our new destination.
    PRE/POST TRIP ACCOMMODATION
    If you've purchased pre-trip or post-trip accommodation (if available), you may be required to change rooms from your trip accommodation for these extra nights.
    BEDS AND ROOMS:
    Some travellers have reported that hotels/accommodation in this region tend to have harder bed mattresses than those they are used to at home. Passengers that require a soft bed should consider bringing an inflatable camping mattress or sleeping mat.
    Smoking is prevalent in China and hotels generally do not offer specific non smoking rooms. Larger hotels with central air conditioning will sometimes transport the smell of smoke between rooms. While we ask our hotels to ensure our rooms are ventilated well before occupation in some cases this is not possible.
    WIFI, in room, or in public areas of accommodation is not as common as travellers may be used to in other regions.
    HARD SLEEPER TRAINS CHINA:
    We use hard sleeper class trains for most of our overnight train journeys. These are not as rough as they sound - compartments are open-plan, clean, with padded berths (6 to a compartment), sheets, a blanket and hot water available. We recommend bringing your own sleeping sheet as the quality/cleanliness of sheets may not be what you are used to. Most trains have a dining carriage where meals or snacks are available. While we always try to have our groups staying together there may be times where due to ticket availability the group will be staying in different compartments and carriages. While railway services are rapidly being modernised in China, some train journeys in particular between less visited destinations may use older rolling stock and the carriages of a more basic standard.
    Meals introduction
    While travelling with us you'll experience the vast array of wonderful food available in the world. Your group leader will be able to suggest restaurants to try during your trip. On our camping trips we often cook the region's specialities so you don't miss out. To give you the maximum flexibility in deciding where, what and with whom to eat, generally not all meals are included in the trip price. This also gives you more budgeting flexibility. As a rule our groups tend to eat together to enable you to taste a larger variety of dishes and enjoy each other's company. There's no obligation to do this though.
    Meals
    No meals included
    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.
    USD 150.00
    Transport
    Overnight sleeper train, Taxi, Public bus, Minivan, Bus
    Group leader
    All Intrepid group trips are accompanied by one of our group leaders. The aim of the group leader is to take the hassle out of your travels and to help you have the best trip possible. Intrepid endeavours to provide the services of an experienced leader however, due to the seasonality of travel, rare situations may arise where your leader is new to a particular region or training other group leaders.
    Your leader will provide information on the places you are travelling through, offer suggestions for things to do and see, recommend great local eating venues and introduce you to our local friends. While not being guides in the traditional sense you can expect them to have a broad general knowledge of the places visited on the trip, including historical, cultural, religious and social aspects. At Intrepid we aim to support local guides who have specialised knowledge of the regions we visit. If you were interested in delving deeper into the local culture at a specific site or location then your leader can recommend a local guide service in most of the main destinations of your trip.
    Joining point description
    The original Camellia Hotel is being demolished during 2012 so from August onwards the management team have taken over an alternative hotel which has been renamed the Camellia Hotel.
    The Camellia hotel is situated close to the centre of town and the main town square. It has an impressive lobby, though its rooms are relatively simple. They are clean and comfortable with direct dial phones, satellite/cable television, internet access (extra charges apply), 24 hour reception and room service. Other facilities include a business centre with fax and internet, bicycle hire, a lobby piano bar and buffet breakfast.
    Joining point instructions
    Kunming Changshui International Airport is located in the north-eastern outskirts of Kunming, about 25km away from the downtown area.
    On arrival, you can take a normal metered taxi to the Camellia Hotel (also known as the 'Cha Hua Bingwan' by the locals昆明茶花宾馆(原天和大酒店)) for around CNY100. Show the taxi driver the name and address of the hotel in Chinese characters as shown below. Taxis are located outside the airport terminal.
    Alternatively, you can take subway line #6 to East Bus Station (东部公交枢纽站) ,exit A. Then take a taxi to the Camellia Hotel which will cost about 15CNY.
    If you have pre-booked an airport transfer you will be met on arrival - your driver will await you holding a sign with your name on it at the international exit. Kunming airport is not very big and there is only one international exit. If you take a domestic flight, please meet at Domestic Exit #3. If you are delayed at the airport for any reason, or cannot find your transfer, please go to the airport travel agent at Domestic Exit 3(where there's free of charge domestic call centre) and ask them to call our local operator - Mrs. Sophie, (+86) 13608819760
    Hotel Check-in time is 13.00.
    Please note local language name and address for Camellia Hotel below which is useful to show to a taxi driver or to ask for directions.

    Arrival complications
    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.
    Finish point description
    The original Camellia Hotel is being demolished during 2012 so from August onwards the management team have taken over an alternative hotel which has been renamed the Camellia Hotel.
    The Camellia hotel is situated close to the centre of town and the main town square. It has an impressive lobby, though its rooms are relatively simple. They are clean and comfortable with direct dial phones, satellite/cable television, internet access (extra charges apply), 24 hour reception and room service. Other facilities include a business centre with fax and internet, bicycle hire, a lobby piano bar and buffet breakfast.
    Finish point instructions
    The new airport is connected to Kunming city by a new 13 km toll highway, as well as the existing Provincial Road S101.
    There are quite a few different routes between hotel and the airport.
    1- Take taxi to the airport (27km, cost CNY200). Kunming airport only has domestic flights - if you want to leave China you can fly to Beijing, Shanghai or Hong Kong and then change to international flights;
    2- Subway line #6 (5CNY/pp) goes from the Dongbukeyuanzhan Station to the airport every 30 minutes. Taxi to the Dongbukeyuanzhan Station from our hotel costs 10 CNY;
    Kunming subway map
    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/b8/Kunming_metro_map.png
    3- Airport shuttle bus line #2 (25CNY/pp)from Taili Hotel Station to the airport every 30 minutes. Taxi to the Taili Hotel Station from our hotel costs 10 CNY;
    4- Airport shuttle bus line#1 (25CNY/pp)from Xinying xiaoqu Station to the airport every 30 minutes. Taxi to the Xinying xiaoqu Station from our hotel costs 10 CNY;
    Normal checkout time is 12 noon. If you are departing later you can arrange luggage storage at the hotel.
    Emergency contact
    In the case of a genuine crisis or emergency, Intrepid's Beijing Office can be reached on Tel: +861064067328. For further contact details please use the following page:
    Emergency funds
    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
    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.
    CHINA:
    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
    MAINLAND CHINA & HONG KONG:
    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.
    INFORMATION REQUIRED FOR VISA APPLICATION:
    Itinerary:
    Please list the destinations you will visit in China in chronological order on your application form. Do not mention Kashgar, Turpan or Tibet anywhere on your application form. While these areas are not off limits to travellers, they are considered politically sensitive, so including these on your visa application could lead to significant delays or your visa being denied.
    Name of Host/Inviting Organisation:
    Intrepid Travel Beijing Co. Ltd.
    606 InterChina Commercial Building
    33 Dengshikou Street
    Dongcheng District
    Beijing 100006
    +86 10 6406 8022
    DOCUMENTS REQUIRED FOR VISA APPLICATION:
    * Hotel List - this will be sent to you by Intrepid or your travel agent at time of booking. If you do not receive this please email us with your booking number and trip details. Please tick the hotels in all destinations that your trip visits
    * Official invitation from licensed Chinese tourism company - this will be provided together with the Hotel List to all travellers regardless of whether it is required by the embassy or not
    * Itinerary – please print off a copy of your specific trip itinerary from our website www.intrepidtravel.com and include it with your application, marking the dates you will visit each destination if required
    * Photocopy of your passport
    * Passport size photo (up to 4 may be required)
    * Please check with the embassy for any other specific requirements
    DOCUMENTS REQUIRED FOR TRAIN TICKET BOOKINGS
    Intrepid requires you send the following at the time of booking, at least 30 days prior to travel:
    *Clear, colour copy of the personal details page of your passport
    Please make sure that this copy is for the passport that you will be travelling on. If you have to renew your passport after booking please notify us as soon as you have a new passport number and bring your old passport with you on your trip as well.
    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.
    TIGER LEAPING GORGE:
    You will also need a pack for the Tiger Leaping Gorge trek 3-7 days in total. This should be big enough to carry a spare set of clothes and basic necessities (approx. 30 litre/8 gallons capacity).
    CLOTHING:
    The areas we travel are very seasonal; cold in winter (October to April), especially in Yunnan province, and hot in summer (May to September). For this trip it is advisable to bring some warm clothes even in the summer months as you are at 2,500 m in Lijiang and while trekking in the gorge. A light fleece and/or thermal underwear is recommended at all times.
    WATER BOTTLE:
    Consider bringing your own water bottle to refill along the way. The sale of bottled water contributes to an enormous environmental problem around the world. In addition to the water in bottles, the production of a 1 litre plastic bottle takes 2 litres of water and 200ml of oil. A large proportion ends up in limited landfill or discarded in waterways and natural environments. Although it can be difficult to avoid bottled water when travelling, please consider water purification techniques such as iodine or micropur and use the water dispensers which are provided at some of our accommodation. When unable to avoid bottled water it is better to buy the largest available and distribute into your smaller bottle for the day
    In China, clean and safe drinking water is widely available for free in hotels, restaurants and bus and train stations.
    Health
    All Intrepid travellers need to be in good physical health in order to participate fully on this trip. When selecting your trip please make sure you have read through the itinerary carefully and assess your ability to cope with our style of travel. Please note that if, in the opinion of our group leader or local guide, any traveller is unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to themselves and/or the rest of the group, Intrepid reserves the right to exclude them from all or part of a trip without refund.
    You should consult your doctor for up-to-date medical travel information or for any necessary vaccinations and anti-malarial requirements before departure. We recommend that you carry a first aid kit as well as any personal medical requirements (including a spare pair of glasses) as they may not easily be obtained at the locations on this trip. For legal reasons our leaders and guides are prohibited from administering any type of drugs including headache tablets and antibiotics. Please ensure that you are adequately prepared.
    ALTITUDE SICKNESS:
    Parts of your trip go above 2800 metres / 9200 feet where it is common for travellers to experience some adverse health effects due to the altitude - regardless of your age, gender and fitness. It even happened to Sir Edmund Hillary!
    Before your trip.
    Some pre-existing medical conditions are known to severely worsen at high altitude and be difficult to adequately treat on the ground, leading to more serious consequences. It is imperative that you discuss your pre-existing medical condition/s with your doctor
    We understand certain medications are reported to aid acclimatizing to high altitude. Please discuss these options with your doctor.
    During your trip.
    While our leaders have basic first aid training and are aware of the closest medical facilities, it is very important that you are aware of the cause and effects of travelling at altitude, monitor your health and seek assistance accordingly.
    Please read the following document carefully and, during your trip, utilise the table on the back daily to record your own perspective of your general health and any symptoms you may experience:
    http://d3oxn90f3yphmd.cloudfront.net/sites/default/files/file_attach/52735_product_altitude-sickness.pdf
    Safety
    Many national governments provide a regularly updated advice service on safety issues involved with international travel. We recommend that you check your government's advice for their latest travel information before departure. 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:
    FIRE PRECAUTIONS:
    Please be aware that local laws governing tourism facilities in this region differ from those in your home country and not all the accommodation which we use has a fire exit, fire extinguishers or smoke alarms.
    BALCONIES:
    Some hotel balconies don't meet 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!
    Pay attention on all roads, even small streets and alleyways. Vehicles find their ways into impossibly small passages leaving no room for both you and the traffic. Traffic can be very noisy and horns are used to signal turning, overtaking and to announce going through intersections.
    SEAT BELTS:
    Please be aware that local laws governing transportation safety may differ from those in 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.
    Your leader will conduct a brief safety discussion before our trekking activity.
    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 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:
    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.
    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
    Carbon Offset C02-e 953.00 kgs per pax.
    Feedback
    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.