Experience the essence of China from Beijing to Hong Kong

This in-depth tour has proven to be one of the most popular we offer in China. Experience the Middle Kingdom as you take in the major tourist attractions in China and visit some of its lesser-known sites. See the majestic splendour of Beijing, visit the Great Wall of China and discover the Terracotta Warriors before travelling to Hong Kong to soak up the electric vibe. From sizzling Sichuan dishes in Chengdu and a cruise along the Yangzi River to the tranquillity of the Buddhist temples in Emei Shan, experience the true essence of China - you won't be disappointed.

Beijing, China
Hong Kong, China
Physical rating
Cultural rating
Min 15
Group size
Min 1 Max 12
Carbon offset
855kg pp per trip


  • Cruise along the Yangzi River
  • Join the pilgrims at Emei Shan
  • Admire the Three Gorges
  • Experience electric Hong Kong
  • Cycle through China's stunning countryside
  • Scale the Great Wall of China
  • Tour Beijing's architectural wonders
  • See the Terracotta Warriors in Xi'an
  • Sample sizzling Sichuan cuisine in Chengdu
  • Fall in love with giant pandas


Walk a stretch of the Great Wall of China, check out Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City and stop by Beijing Huiling, an Intrepid Foundation-supported organisation that supports intellectually disabled members of the community.
Today we will explore two of the most popular sights in Beijing. We will be doing a lot of walking today so please ensure you wear comfortable shoes.

Marvel at Tiananmen Square - apparently the largest down town square in the world. Framed by the Gate of Heavenly Peace with its Mao portrait, Mao's Mausoleum, the Great Hall of the People and the National Museum it's a place of pilgrimage for Chinese tourists who consider it the heart of their nation.

Then we will enter the imposing Forbidden City, former home to China's imperial rulers and filled with palaces, gardens and seemingly never-ending grand courtyards.
This morning we will take a private bus to a lesser-known section of the Great Wall (approx 3 hrs).

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.

Walk over some steep, remote terrain, however the walk is generally on the restored section of the wall. so reasonable fitness and comfortable shoes are suggested.
The walk is approx 5 km or 3 hrs depending on your level of fitness. A great idea is to bring a picnic lunch with your from Beijing to enjoy atop the wall during one of our rest breaks. The views and experience are a real highlight for all our travellers.

Due to the excessive heat in the summer months (Jun-Aug), the Great Wall excursion may be altered to provide a shorter, less strenuous trek.
Your leader will advise you of any changes at the group meeting.

Return to Beijing in our private bus, enjoy a free evening to either relax or explore Beijing further.
Before we depart Beijing we will visit our friends at Beijing Huiling (meaning 'wise spirit') - a special Intrepid-supported project for people with intellectual disabilities.

We will then transfer to Beijing West train station and board our first overnight sleeper train to Xi'an.
The imperial centre of China for 2,000 years, Xi'an is now a vibrant, modern city dotted with many interesting historical sites. A monument pays homage to the fact that this was the start of the famous ancient trading route of the Silk Road and the city is still surrounded by city walls.

Your leader will take you on a short walking tour of the city centre, showing you some of the highlights such as the Bell & Drum Towers, Muslim Quarter, the City Walls and Gates. The rest of the day is free time.
Today we will visit Xi'an's most famous site - the Terracotta Warriors. Travel by bus for around 2 hours to reach the site. Once there hear all about this incredible archaeological find, discovered by farmers digging a well in 1976 after being buried for thousands of years. These clay statues of soldiers, horses and chariots all standing in battle formation were commissioned by the emperor of the Qin dynasty as part of his mausoleum and a number of pits are now on view to the public.

Return to Xi'an and enjoy a free evening.
Today we have free time in Xi'an until we board our overnight sleeper train to Emei Shan (approx 18 hours/1000km). This train departs at 22:18 so we have most of the day free to further explore Xi'an.
Arrive into Emei Shan today from our overnight train journey.

Emei Shan is one of the holiest places in China. At just over 3000 m high, this mountain has been a centre of pilgrimage for over 1800 years.

Here we visit and overnight at the Baoguo Monastery, we will pack an overnight bag for our trip up Emei Shan as we'll leave our main luggage at our guesthouse at Baoguo Monastery. (Please ensure you bring a small day pack for this reason).
Day 9 and 10 are spent trekking the beautiful surrounding region.

We travel by local bus and then take a cable car to best experience the immense landscape (total travel time approx 3 hrs).
The views from the 3,099m peak at Emei Shan are truly spectacular on a clear day!

We will then take the public bus back down the mountain where we start our 3 hour trek with our local guide, to our accommodation at one of the mountain's monastery guesthouses. Expect plenty of steps and steep paths so make sure you dress appropriately, wear sturdy footwear and be ready for a physical but rewarding day on the mountain.

On Day 10 we explore the beautiful countryside at the base of the mountain, which provides ample opportunity for leisurely paced walks. It may be possible to visit some local hot springs to relax and revive from our hike or take a tour of some nearby villages.
Visit the Crouching Tiger Monastery. Hidden deep in the forest, its seven-metre copper pagoda is inscribed with Buddhist images and texts.
While Emei Shan is without a doubt a beautiful place, it is not remote wilderness and is very popular with local travellers. You may well find moments of peace when the day trippers go home, but please be prepared for the fact that during the day (and especially during public holidays) Emei Shan will be a very busy tourist site.

Our accommodation here is in a monastery on Emei Shan. It is basic but atmospheric with simple rooms and shared bathroom facilities but the setting keeps our travellers raving! Nights are incredibly peaceful and waking up to the sound of monks chanting is truly unforgettable. Please note that during religious festivals or peak travel periods, we 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.
Today we travel by private bus to the town of Leshan (approx 2.5 hrs/80km) for a stopover on our way to Chengdu, and visit the amazing Leshan Giant Buddha.

A UNESCO world heritage site, the Leshan Giant Buddha is a statue of Maitreya (a Bodhisattva usually represented as a very stout monk with a broad smile on his face and with his naked breast and paunch exposed to view) in sitting posture.
Facing the river, the Buddha is beautifully captured in its solemn stillness. It is 71 meters (about 233 feet) high, and has 8.3-meter-long (about 27 feet) fingers!
It might be one of China's biggest cities but Chengdu has preserved plenty of its traditional flavour and visitors can still find famous tea houses, numerous markets and some of the most interesting food in China. If you like it hot then this is the place to be as Sichuan food is known the world over for its spicy flavours. Must tries are huoguo (hot pot) and mapo doufu (spicy tofu).

Today we visit the Giant Panda Breeding Research Base where you're able to witness the conservation efforts being made to save this endearing endangered species. There are about 50 giant and red pandas at the base, some of which can be viewed by the public and we may even be lucky enough to see newborns taking their first steps in the nursery (July-September).
Travel to Chongqing, gateway to the majestic Yangzi River. Cruise the river and witness the dramatic scenery of the Three Gorges. Relax onboard or perhaps enjoy a side trip down a tributary of the river.
Today we arrive in Yichang, a relatively small city by Chinese standards that offers a great chance to see typical everyday Chinese life and to really get inside the urban culture.
This is the site of the massive and controversial Three Gorges hydroelectric project and you'll have the chance to visit this incredible feat of engineering - by far the largest hydroelectric power station in the world.

From here we take a private bus to the train station and board our overnight train to Liuzhou (approx 15 hrs/1000km). As Yichang is not a major railway hub there's only one train heading south passing through here. To make the long journey as comfortable as we can, we travel soft sleeper (4 people per compartment with a lockable door) on this leg of our trip. It's important to get a good night's sleep as we'll have to disembark the train very early tomorrow morning. As Yichang is not a terminal station the bedding on this train is not always fresh. You may wish to bring your own sleeping bag or sleep sheet.
With limestone mountains towering over rice paddies and the meandering Li River, Yangshuo is a traveller's delight. Cycle through the idyllic countryside past villages, rivers and farms.
Today we experience the landscape on a bike ride to gain an insight into rural Chinese life, stopping for lunch at the house of our local friends for a tasty meal made from locally grown and farmed produce. This is an absolutely stunning region to explore, as every turn in the road brings you to another picture-postcard location.

We will have a local guide take us on this bike trip, helmets and bike rental are all included. A wonderful day and a real highlight for many of our past passengers!

The evening is free to explore Yangshuo's lively cafe and bar scene.
Today is a free day to explore picturesque Yangshuo.
Perhaps try your hand at Chinese calligraphy or enjoy a relaxing boat ride along the Li River.

Get a feel for local produce with a visit to the market, then learn to cook some Chinese dishes at the Yangshuo Cooking School. The recipes are easy to make and the ingredients readily available outside of China so you'll be able to recreate them once you get back home.

The spectacular outdoor light show staged by Olympic Opening Ceremony director Zhang Yimou,director of 2008 Beijing Olympic Games Opening Ceremony, is a definite highlight and highly recommended.
Experience the dynamic atmosphere of Hong Kong, where skyscrapers nestle alongside ancient temples and modern city life is only minutes from picturesque islands and beaches. Perhaps stay longer to go shopping, sample street food or venture up Victoria Peak for fabulous views over the harbour and city skyline.
There are no activities planned for the final day and you are able to depart the accommodation at any time.
View trip notes to read full itinerary


3 breakfasts, 3 lunches, 2 dinners
Bicycle, Boat, Bus, Metro, Private Bus, Public bus, Train
Guesthouse (3 nights), Hotel (11 nights), Overnight boat (3 nights), Overnight sleeper train (3 nights)
Included activities
  • Beijing - Forbidden City
  • Beijing - Huiling Foundation visit
  • Beijing - Tiananmen Square
  • Chengdu - Giant Panda Breeding Research Base
  • Chengdu - Walking tour
  • Emei Mountain - Scenic Area
  • Emei Shan - Cable car
  • Great Wall - Jinshanling
  • Leshan - Giant Buddha
  • Xi'an - Terracotta Warriors & Guide
  • Xi'an - Walking Tour
  • Yangshuo - Countryside cycling guided tour


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Important notes

1. A Single Supplement is available on this trip. See under the Single Traveller section of your Trip Notes for more information.
2. A scanned copy of the personal details page of your passport is required at time of booking in order for us to purchase your train tickets.
3. An upgrade to Soft Sleeper trains is available on this trip. Please see Trip Notes for full details.

Trip notes

Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Your trip notes provide a detailed itinerary, visa info, how to get to your hotel, what’s included - pretty much everything you need to know about this adventure and more.

View trip notes


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China Experience , August 2015

China Experience , August 2015