Embrace the diversity of China's cities, coast and countryside on this journey from Beijing to Shanghai

Discover the breathtaking countryside of China's north on this 12-day journey bookended by bright city lights. From the dizzying heights of Huangshan and the Great Wall, to the underground pits that hold thousands of Terracotta Soldiers and the waterfront Shanghai, this trip reveals myriad sides of China. Go beyond the tourist trail and immerse yourself in local life with stays in small guesthouses and travel on public transport.


Start
Beijing, China
Finish
Shanghai, China
Destination
China
Style
Basix
Theme
Explorer
Code
CBRF
Physical rating
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1, Max 16

Why you'll love this trip

  • Start with a bang in Beijing, hike the heights of Huangshan, explore the Great Wall, soak up the glow of Shanghai’s city lights and step back in time in the idyllic rural villages of Huizhou

  • Spend two night at the base of the Great Wall, and follow in the footsteps of soldiers hundreds of years ago when you trek the Gubeikou to Jinshanling section

  • Forget seeing the sights from the window of a packed tour bus, this tour offers plenty of opportunity to get active among the wonders of China. Explore cities laneways on walking tours, climb the steps of Yellow Mountain, trek the Great Wall and cycle countryside lanes in Hongcun

  • Two overnight trains means you'll maximise your time in each destination, get to know your fellow travellers, and get a real sense of the vast size of the country

  • Go local every step of the way with an experienced local leader, public transport, and family-run guesthouses and local hostels where possible – this trip is all about authentic local experiences 

Is this trip right for you?

  • As this is a Basix trip our days aren’t packed full of inclusions and compulsory sightseeing. Instead, your leader will take you on city walks in each destination and give you plenty of options and ideas of how to spend the rest of your free time.

  • This trip pack packs a lot into a short amount of time, so we highly recommend spending extra time in Beijing and Shanghai before and after your trip if you are able.

  • This trip has some overnight stays at family-run guesthouses and hostels, which tend to have more basic facilities than hotels (but often a lot more character). You’ll encounter some cold water showers, might need to rug up inside in the colder months and need to use a few squat toilets. The local experience is worth it, trust us!

  • With treks on the Great Wall and Huangshan, both of which can be tough going with many steps, uneven surfaces and steep terrain, you'll need a good level of fitness to get the most out of this trip. Walking shoes with good support and grip are essential as is being prepared to sweat it out a bit.

  • The overnight train travel included on this trip is in 'hard sleeper' class – carriages sectioned off into 3 tier/6 berth compartments. It’s not luxury, but it’s efficient and a great local experience. If you would prefer more comfort, upgrades to 'soft sleeper' (2 tier/4 berth compartments with lockable doors) can be requested, subject to availability, through your booking agent. If you would prefer a trip without overnight train travel, check out our Explore China (CBKS – 2019 only), China: Great Wall Hike, Bike & Kung Fu (CBXG – 2019 only) or South China: Hike, Bike & Kayak (CBXA – 2019 only) trips.

Itinerary

This itinerary is valid for departures from 01 Jan 2019 to 31 Dec 2019.
View the 2018 itinerary
Nimen Hao! Welcome to China. The capital of the most populous country on earth, Beijing is a food-centric city with both ancient and modern architectural charm. 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. We’ll be collecting your insurance and next of kin details at this meeting, so it’s important you attend. Make sure you book a flight that will deliver you with enough time to transfer to the hotel, or perhaps arrive with a few days to spare to make the most of Beijing. We can assist with booking any extra accommodation, and there are plenty of suggested optional activities listed below to give you an idea of how to spend your time. Following the meeting, settle into your hotel and then perhaps strike out with new friends or alone and watch an acrobatic performance at the famous Chaoyang Theatre.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Beijing - Acrobat show - CNY250
  • Beijing - Tian'anmen Square & Forbidden City - CNY60
  • Beijing - Beijing by Bike Urban Adventure - CNY530
  • Beijing - Kungfu Show - CNY180
  • Beijing - Lama Temple - CNY25
  • Beijing - Summer Palace - CNY40
  • Beijing - Temple of Heaven - CNY40
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
As we will depart for the Great Wall on Day 2 of this trip we highly recommend arriving a few days earlier to make the most of your time here.
Enjoy a few hours of free time in the morning to explore Beijing before taking a three-hour private bus to a section of the Great Wall unmarred by reconstruction – Gubeikou. Built as a northern defensive line for Beijing (then called Youzhou), this section of the Great Wall was first constructed between AD550 and AD557 and then fortified during the early years of the Ming Dynasty. Spend the night in a family-run guesthouse. While the facilities are more basic than some of the other accommodation on this trip, the homegrown hospitality more than makes up for it. Most of our travellers choose to eat at the guesthouse for dinner as it's a great chance to sample local produce and delicious home cooking.
Accommodation
  • Guesthouse (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
TRANSPORT:
As we use plenty of public transport on this trip including subway, buses and trains, you will be best off to pack light for your main luggage and bring a good day pack/small overnight bag. We leave our larger bags in storage in Beijing and Shanghai when travelling to the Great Wall, Huangshan and Hongcun.

WEATHER:
Please note that during winter months (Nov-Feb) we may stay in alternate guesthouses near other sections of the Great Wall where there is better heating.
Embrace an early start and make the trek from the Gubeikou section of the Great Wall to the Jinshanling section. Hike over steep, remote terrain for around 5—6 hours, taking in incredible views along this comparitively quiet trail. Some parts of the wall are unrestored, so you'll need to concentrate hard to keep your footing, while other stretches will take you off the wall to walk alongside it through the countryside. The trek will be challenging, but the sight of the wall snaking through the hills as far as the eye can see and the feeling of being immersed in ancient history will be ample reward for your efforts. After the hike, check-in to a guesthouse by the foot of the Great Wall and put your feet up, have a few beers or maybe learn how to play Mahjong in the evening.
Accommodation
  • Guesthouse (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Beijing - Great Wall trekking
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
HEALTH:
This is one of the most well-rated Great Wall trekking routes. Parts of the section of wall here are not well maintained and the trek can be challenging. You'll need good fitness and walking shoes with good support and grip for the walk – a walking pole may be handy as well. There are many steps and slopes (some very steep) on the way so be prepared for a tough climb in sections. The views make it more than worth the while though – this is a real highlight of the trip.
If you do not believe you are fit enough for the trek, you can go on the bus with the driver to the part of the Great Wall where we finish the trek to still have a chance to explore.

ACCOMMODATION:
Please note that in winter months (Nov-Feb) when we may stay in alternate guesthouses, our trekking route along the Great Wall may also be altered.
Make the three-hour drive back to Beijing before midday and make use of your last free afternoon in the capital. Consider checking out the Temple of Heaven while you're in the city, or making the most of your last chance to eat Peking duck in it's place of origin. Speaking of food, the train journey to Xi'an will take around 13 hours so even if you plan on sleeping for most of it, stocking up on snacks and having a good book on hand is a great idea. Board the train in the evening and get your first taste of high-speed rail travel in China. Train travel here is far from 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.
Accommodation
  • Overnight Hard Sleeper Train (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
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.
Good morning and welcome to Xi’an, the capital of Shaanxi Province and the largest city in northwest China. Head to the hotel to freshen up and then join your leader on a short walking tour to uncover what was once the start of the ancient trading route known as the Silk Road. Visit the Bell Tower, which according to legend was built to restrain dragons that were causing earthquakes, and then the Drum Tower, which is full of instruments once used to mark time and warn the population in emergencies. Your leader will also introduce you to the Muslim Quarter, which features narrow streets of quaint shops, lively markets, and the largest mosque in China. FInally, explore the 13-kilometre-long City Walls and attached Gates. Xi’an’s Silk Road history means it has an exciting mixture of cultures, especially found in its food options, with everything from Halal fare to great little dumplings in Chinese restaurants. In the eveining, perhaps visit the night markets and try local specialties such as pao mo (lamb broth that you break flat bread into), hand pulled noodles, hot pot or barbecue.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Xi'an - Muslim Quarter walking tour
Optional Activities
  • Xi'an - Great Mosque - CNY25
  • Xi'an - Big Wild Goose Pagoda - CNY80
  • Xi'an - Cycling on City Wall - CNY80
  • Xi'an - Small Wild Goose Pagoda - CNY50
  • Xi'an - Bell & Drum Towers - CNY50
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
As we arrive early in the morning, we may not be able to check in right away if rooms are still occupied or have not yet been cleaned. Your leader will try to secure one room for early check in if possible where the group can leave their luggage and freshen up, however this is subject to availability.
Make the two-hour journey by public transport to an iconic monument to ego and human endavour – the Terracotta Warriors. Spend a few hours at this incredible archaeological find, discovered in 1974 by farmers digging a well after being buried for 2000 years. These clay statues of soldiers, horses and chariots 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 viewing, where just under 2000 of the total 6000 warriors – each an individual with a different costume, height, and even facial expression – are on display. Later, return to Xi'an and board your second overnight train bound for Shanghai (approximately 16 hours).
Accommodation
  • Overnight Hard Sleeper Train (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Xi'an - Terracotta Warriors
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Blending 21st-century architecture with old-world character, Shanghai pulses with the beat of contemporary China. Arrive and take the subway to your accommodation. Enjoy a full day of guided and unguided exploration, but don't worry if you can't see everything you want to –  you'll be back at the end of the trip. First up is a leader-led walking tour that will take you to historical Shanghai. Get a taste of the city during the roaring 1920s with a tour of the Bund, a strip of spectacular art deco-style buildings. Wander the narrow winding lanes (nongtangs) of Old Shanghai, where you can get a glimpse of local life. Explore the European-influenced French Concession, then pound the pavement along Luwan's Huaihai Road, a busy shopping street. The area's tree-lined avenues and their many Tudor mansions earned it the nickname 'Paris of the East'. When night falls, perhaps get a taste of Shanghai’s eclectic food scene.
Accommodation
  • Hostel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Shanghai - Walking tour
Optional Activities
  • Shanghai - Propaganda Museum - CNY20
  • Shanghai - Shanghai Museum - Free
  • Shanghai - Yuyuan Gardens - CNY40
  • Shanghai - Urban Planning Exhibition Centre - CNY30
  • Shanghai - Acrobat Show - CNY180
  • Shanghai - Oriental Pearl Tower Viewing Deck - CNY150
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Travel into the stunning countryside on a six-hour public bus journey to Huangshan, otherwise known as Yellow Mountain. The 72 sharp peaks of Huangshan provide some of China's most breathtaking scenery, as well as a respite from the bustle of the city. Spend the next two days in a guesthouse with free time to explore the area as you wish. Two beloved trails are the Eastern Steps (7.5 kilometre, approximately 3-4 hours) and the Western Steps (15 kilometre). We recommend taking the cable car to the summit, exploring the area and then descending via the Western Steps. Whatever you choose, the dramatic limestone peaks populating this beautiful area make for some breathtaking vistas. After taking in the iconic beauty of Huangshan during the day, return to the guesthouse for a well-earned rest in the evening.
Accommodation
  • Guesthouse (2 nights)
Included Activities
  • Huangshan - National Park Trek
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
HEALTH & SAFETY:
The paths here are steep and often slippery, so you will need good fitness and suitable hiking shoes. Please note that Huangshan is subject to dramatic changes in weather.

WEATHER:
You will need to be prepared for mist, fog, rain and cool temperatures. September & October are considered the best months to visit Huangshan weather wise. In any season you should ensure that you take enough clothing, food and water supplies as well as extra money in case the weather changes and you need to take the cable car instead of hiking.

NOTES:
As one of China's premier sights, you should also be prepared for crowds of domestic tourists during public holidays, although at any time of the year there can be long waits for the cable car.
Hit the road again on public transport and travel through Anhui province to the picturesque villages of the Huizhou region (approximately 2 hours). A number of these villages are now World Heritage-listed, and you may recognise the ramshackle, ornate buildings from the film ‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon’. Arrive in Hongcun, check in to your village guesthouse and then set out on a guided tour of cobbled alleys and Ming Dynasty architecture. Following this short tour, you have the rest of the afternoon and evening free to spend as you wish. Maybe clamber up into the hillsides for panoramic views over the traditional settlements. Or maybe you'd prefer to explore the surrounding villages on two wheels? Ask you leader for information on bicycle hire and other optional activities. 
Accommodation
  • Guesthouse (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Hongcun - Guided Village Tour
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Bid farewell to the glorious countryside and make the six-hour journey back to the big smoke of Shanghai by public transport. Perhaps celebrate the end of your adventure with the group at a traditional tea ceremony, or grab a couple of travel buddies and sit down for a final Chinese meal in one of Shanghai's great restaurants. Hairy crab is the city's most notable delicacy, though it’s only available in winter between the months of September and November. If you haven't already, tonight is the perfect chance to try the city's famous xiao long bao (steamed soup dumplings). 

Accommodation
  • Hostel (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Your tour finishes after breakfast today and you are free to depart at any time following check-out. If you're planning to stay on in Shanghai for a little longer, take a look at the Urban Adventures on offer in this groovy,graceful city here: urbanadventures.com/destination/Shanghai-tours.
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.

Meals

No meals are included on this tour

Transport

Overnight Hard Sleeper Train, Public Bus, Private vehicle, Subway

Accommodation

Guesthouse/Hostel (6 nights), Hotel (3 nights), Overnight Hard Sleeper Train (2 nights)

Included activities

  • Beijing - Great Wall trekking
  • Xi'an - Muslim Quarter walking tour
  • Xi'an - Terracotta Warriors
  • Shanghai - Walking tour
  • Huangshan - National Park Trek
  • Hongcun - Guided Village Tour

Dates & availability

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Important notes

1. A Single Supplement is available on this trip, excluding overnight trains and guesthouses
2. A scanned copy of the personal details page of your passport is required at time of booking in order for us to purchase your train tickets.
3. Overnight train accommodation on this tour is in 6-berth ‘hard-sleeper’ class. Bedding is provided and wash basins and toilets (squat/western) are available in each carriage, but there are no shower facilities.
4. Please note while traveling through mainland China you will not be able to access some popular internet websites.
5. In winter months (Nov-Feb), we may stay in alternative guesthouses near the Great Wall due to the cold weather. This may also alter our trekking route along the Great Wall.

Essential trip information

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