Experience the epic scale and 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, especially by mostly travelling on the fast and efficient bullet trains. 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.

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Terms & Conditions

Start
Beijing, China
Finish
Hong Kong, Hong Kong
Destinations
China, Hong Kong
Style
Original
Theme
Explorer
Code
CBSE
Physical rating
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1, Max 12

Why you'll love this trip

  • Like everything it does, China’s ancient history is on an epic scale – see it when face-to-face with thousands of Terracotta Warriors, walking the Great Wall (or encountering thousands of local tourists at the Forbidden City!)

  • Find peace in one of the holiest places in China as you trek around Emei Shan and stay in a monastery, waking to the sound of drums and morning prayers

  • Learn about the endangered (and adorable) giant pandas’ struggle for survival, and get up close to these unique creatures in Chengdu

  • Take a tourist boat trip through the iconic scenery of the Yangzi River and meander through the dramatic Three Gorges in style.

  • Travel on the fast and efficient bullet train (except one overnight train journey) that China is pioneering in its development in the world.

Is this trip right for you?

  • This trip has one overnight sleeper train journey. Overnight 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.

  • The trip covers a fair amount of ground to enable you to see some of China's biggest cities and main highlights, so be prepared for some long travel days.

  • With walks on the Great Wall and up Emei Shan, you'll need a reasonable level of fitness. Comfortable walking shoes with good support and grip are essential.

  • This trip includes stays in a range of accommodation from hotels, guesthouses, monasteries and riverboats to trains. While they might not always be as comfortable as home, they allow you to really encounter local life and experience Chinese hospitality on a true adventure.

Itinerary

This itinerary is valid for departures from 01 January 2019 to 31 December 2019. View the itinerary for departures between 01 January 2018 - 31 December 2018

Ni Hao! Welcome to Beijing, capital of the most populous country on earth, with plenty of places that give an insight into the nation's ancient past, as well as newer sights that showcase China's contemporary culture. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm where you'll meet your tour leader and fellow travellers. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask reception where it will take place. After the meeting maybe head out to explore the Beijing Streets – with your hotel located centrally, a walk in any direction will unveil all sorts of wonderful surprises. Perhaps kick off your China adventure with an iconic dish – Beijing duck.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). We will collect/check your passport, insurance and next of kin information at the group meeting, please have these on hand.
Today you’ll explore two of the most popular sights in Beijing. There will be a lot of walking today as well as using public buses and the subway to get around. Make your way to the centre of the city – Tiananmen Square, the symbolic centre of Chinese power. Framed by the Gate of Heavenly Peace with its Mao portrait, Mao's Mausoleum, the Great Hall of the People, the National Museum, and with elaborate flag raising and lowering ceremonies at dawn and dusk, it's 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, is a truly amazing place. Despite the transformation of the city around it, the Forbidden City looks much like it always has. As you explore the great halls and courtyards you’ll be able appreciate the might and grandeur of the Imperial Chinese court during the height of its power in the Ming and Qing dynasties. This evening is free to explore the Beijing street food scene; the quiet hutongs (historic narrow streets and alleys) come to life with lights and noise in the evening full of eateries to try the local treats.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Beijing - Tian'anmen Square & Forbidden City
  • Beijing - Tiananmen Square
Optional Activities
  • Beijing - Temple of Heaven - CNY40
  • Beijing - Summer Palace - CNY40
  • Beijing - Beijing by Bike Urban Adventure - CNY530
  • Beijing - Kungfu Show - CNY180
  • Beijing - Lama Temple - CNY25
  • Beijing - Beijing Foodie Walk Urban Adventure - CNY360
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
Tian'anmen Square and the Forbidden City are the number one attractions in the whole country for local travellers and as such can get very crowded with tour groups. Be ready!
This morning you’ll take a private bus to visit Mutianyu Great Wall (approx. 2 hours) 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. The walk is generally on the restored section of the wall, but this still means walking on steep, uneven terrain and multiple steps, so reasonable fitness and comfortable shoes are needed. The walk is approximately 5 kilometres (2 to 3 hours depending on your level of fitness). There are different ways to go onto/off the wall. You can choose to take the cable car, chairlift or even toboggan to get off the wall (at your own expense).

A great idea is to bring a picnic lunch with you to enjoy atop the wall during a rest break. Being perched on this incredible engineering feat and surveying the spectacular surrounding countryside is an unforgettable experience. Return to Beijing by private bus, and then enjoy a free evening to either relax or explore Beijing further.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Beijing - Mutianyu Great Wall
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Today you'll travel to Xi'an by high-speed train (approx. 5.5 hours). The capital of Shaanxi Province, Xi’an is the largest city in northwest China. Once the imperial centre of China for nearly 2000 years, Xi'an is now a vibrant, modern city dotted with many interesting historical sites and is a great place to explore. Join your leader on a short walking tour to uncover what was once the start of the ancient trading route of the Silk Road. The city has a wonderful Muslim Quarter, and you’ll wander the narrow streets of shops, lively markets, and groups of white-bearded men in skull caps sipping tea in cafes. See the City Walls and Gates, the most complete in China, running over 13 kilometres (8 miles) around the city. Xi’an’s Silk Road history means it has an exciting mixture of cultures, especially found in its food options, ranging from delicious Muslim fare to great little dumplings in Chinese restaurants. Maybe choose to visit the Bell and Drum Towers, the former built (according to legend) to restrain the dragons that were causing earthquakes, the latter is (unsurprisingly) full of drums, once used to mark time and warn in emergencies. Perhaps visit the night markets and try many of the tantalising local specialties such as pao mo (lamb broth that you break flat bread into), hand pulled noodles, hot pot and barbecue.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Xi'an - Muslim Quarter walking tour
Optional Activities
  • Xi'an - Cycling on City Wall - CNY80
  • Xi'an - Bell & Drum Towers - CNY50
  • Xi'an - Small Wild Goose Pagoda - CNY50
  • Xi'an - Big Wild Goose Pagoda - CNY80
  • Xi'an - Great Mosque - CNY25
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Today we will travel by public transport (approx 2 hours) to 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 2000 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 just under 2000 of the total 6000 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. Return to Xi’an for you final evening in the city.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Xi'an - Terracotta Warriors
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information

Take a 3.5 hour bullet train ride to Chengdu. The capital of Sichuan Province, Chengdu is most famous for two main things – the pandas living in the mountains and the food. Its hot, spicy cuisine is largely regarded as the best within China. In such a food-loving country, this is no mean feat. Maybe sample a spicy Sichuan hotpot this evening. 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. Go on a walking tout with your leader and check out Tianfu Square and People's Park, arguably the most lively park in China, full of locals singing, dancing, doing tai chi or even modelling! Don't miss out on the teahouses - pull up a stool and sample the local favourite green and jasmine tea. Don't be surprised if someone offers to give you a head massage or clean your ears while sipping your tea!
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Chengdu - Walking tour
Optional Activities
  • Chengdu - Sichuan Opera - CNY90
  • Chengdu - Cooking class - CNY120
  • Chengdu - Bike hire - CNY20
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Visit the Giant Panda Breeding Research Base today, 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). Afterwards, return downtown Chengdu for some free time. Perhaps take in a performance of traditional Sichuan Opera, visit the Wenshu Temple, or take a cooking class.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Chengdu - Giant Panda Breeding Research Base
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Travel by private bus to Emei Shan. Along the way, stop in the town of Leshan to visit the World Heritage-listed Leshan Giant Buddha. Facing the river, the 71-metres tall Buddha is carved out of a cliff face and took almost a 100 years to finish. Capture its solemn beauty and stillness taking the boat on the river. Then continue to Emei Shan where we'll spend the next 3 nights.
Accommodation
  • Monastery/Guesthouse (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Leshan - Giant Buddha
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information

Today will be spent exploring the landscape surrounding Emei Shan, one of China’s four sacred Buddhist mountains. In the morning, travel by bus and then cable car (about 3 hours total travel), to the summit. The views from the 3099-metre/10,170-feet peak at Emei Shan are truly spectacular on a clear day. Take a public bus down the mountain, where you’ll start your 3-hour trek with a local guide to your 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. You’ll find the accommodation to be basic, with simple rooms and shared bathroom facilities, though the incredible setting keeps our travellers raving. Nights are incredibly peaceful. Waking to the sound of monks chanting is truly unforgettable.
Accommodation
  • Monastery/Guesthouse (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Emei Shan - Scenic Area Hiking
  • Emei Shan - Cable car & Golden Summit
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
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 in the mountains in March/April or November
Today you’ll continue to 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 your hike, or take a tour of some nearby villages. You can also visit the Crouching Tiger Monastery, hidden deep in the forest, and see its seven-metre copper pagoda inscribed with Buddhist images and texts.
Accommodation
  • Monastery/Guesthouse (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Emei Shan - Crouching Tiger Monastery - CNY6
  • Emei Shan - Hot Springs - CNY128
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Travel by public bus to Chongqing, gateway to Yangzi River. Chongqing is the biggest city in China with a population of over 20 million in the city centre and suburbs sprawling along the river and up the steep hills behind. Board your river boat - your home for the next few nights. Cruise down one of the world’s greatest rivers, with two full days on board a tourist class boat down river to Yichang. 

Our cabins are twin-share with private bathroom facilities. Full board buffet style, including local style breakfast, is provided while on the boat with typical (but often quite plain) Chinese cuisine. There's a chance to visit the supermarket in Chongqing before boarding in order to stock up on some favourite snacks, drinks or fruit for your journey, or to buy what you need if you have specific dietary requirements.

The gorges are spectacular and most travellers enjoy their time on the Yangzi boats but some words of warning are necessary. The Yangzi River region is one of the most industrialised and rapidly developing areas in China. We travel on Chinese tourist boats rather than luxury tourist vessels. We like to call it a river trip, rather than a traditional cruise.
Accommodation
  • Overnight Boat (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
Please note that depending on the composition of the group you may be required to share a cabin with your leader or a traveller from outside of your group on a same gender basis as tour groups are not permitted to book single rooms on the Yangzi boats. The Chinese authorities oversee the travel of all boats on the Yangzi. We do everything we can to ensure standards are maintained for our river trip but some things are outside our control. We use a range of different boats, depending on availability and the date of our departure. All boats are of a standard that complies with our required safety standards, although the size and age of boat varies from trip to trip. As the departure times of the boats are subject to frequent change this can mean that we need to make some changes to our itinerary and at times we've been unable to see all three gorges due to the boat schedule or poor visibility. Any changes made will be done with the aim of giving you the best possible Yangtze experience b
Continue your cruise along the Yangzi River. The Yangzi has inspired numerous poets, writers and travellers over the centuries. You will travel along one of the most picturesque sections, through the renowned Three Gorges. The dramatic 'Sanxia', as they are known in Chinese, stretch for 200 kilometres and vary from 100 metres to 300 metres in width. As well as relaxing and taking in the sights (now much changed since the implementation of the Three Gorges dam), you may have opportunities to visit some riverside attractions and towns on optional group excursions, including leaving the river boat to take a side trip down a tributary of the Yangzi River. If you prefer to stay on-board, perhaps take the chance to learn some Chinese words or how to write characters from your leader, how to play mahjong, sing some Chinese songs, catch up on your travel diary or just relax and chat with your group members and local travellers.
Accommodation
  • Overnight Boat (2 nights)
Optional Activities
  • Yangzi River - Fengdu Temple - CNY40
  • Yangzi River - Fengdu Temple Cable Car - CNY20
Meals Included
  • Breakfast (2)
  • Lunch (2)
  • Dinner (2)
Your Yangzi boat trip will end in the small city (by Chinese standards!) of Yichang. It offers a great chance to see typical everyday Chinese life in the provinces. Here you’ll enjoy a tour of the incredible feat of engineering that is the Three Gorges Dam. The world’s largest hydroelectric project, the dam generates power and prevents the major flooding that had long threatened the people of the area (though the impact on displaced people and archaeological sites should not be ignored). From here you’ll take a private bus to the train station and board your second overnight train to Liuzhou (approximately 15 hours). 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 possible, you will travel by 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 you’ll have to disembark the train very early tomorrow morning.
Accommodation
  • Overnight train (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Yichang - Three Gorges Dam Project
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Special Information
As Yichang is not a terminal station at times the bedding on this train is not always fresh. You may wish to bring your own sleeping bag or sleep sheet.

Occasionally, train tickets from Yichang won't be available for sale to us, in this case, we'll reroute to Wuhan for the night and take a bullet train to Guilin, from where you'll be transferred to Yangshuo. Your tour leader will be able to advise you accordingly if this happens.
Arrive in Liuzhou very early in the morning (approximately 4.30 am) and travel by private transfer direct to your next destination, Yangshuo (approximately 3.5 hours). When you arrive, take the day to rest and soak up the charm of this little town, popular with the Chinese and Western travellers alike, who come for the beautiful landscape and stay for the great cafe and bar culture. It's also one of the best places in the country to get a feel for local culture and traditions, while having plenty of fun at the same time. The countryside around Yangshuo is immortalized in many traditional Chinese paintings – picture immense limestone karsts dotting the rural landscape and towering spectacularly over rice paddies and the meandering Li River, all celebrated on every 20 yuan note.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Yangshuo - Li River Cruise - CNY100
  • Yangshuo - Bike hire - CNY20
  • Yangshuo - Cooking School & Market Tour - CNY150
  • Yangshuo - Zhang Yimou's Impressions Show - CNY198
  • Yangshuo - Tai Chi/Kung Fu class - CNY50
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Today you’ll shake out your train legs and experience the dramatic limestone karst landscape on a bike ride, where you’ll gain a real insight into rural Chinese life. Stop for lunch at the house of our local friends for a tasty meal made from locally grown produce. This is an absolutely stunning region to explore, as every turn in the road brings you to another picture-postcard location. You’ll have a local guide take us on this bike trip, and helmets and bike rental are included. Cycling through some of China’s most epic landscapes is a highlight for many passengers. The evening is free for you to explore Yangshuo's lively cafe and bar scene.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Yangshuo - Cycling tour
Optional Activities
  • Yangshuo - Moon Hill - CNY15
Meals Included
  • Lunch
Today is free day for you to do as you wish, and there are lots of activities on offer. You could begin the day by focusing your body and mind with a morning tai chi class or kung fu lesson. Perhaps try your hand at Chinese calligraphy or simply sit back and relax as you enjoy a relaxing cruise down the Li or Yulong Rivers. Maybe visit the market to shop with the locals and get a feel for the regional produce. You can then put this new knowledge to use in a cooking class at the Yangshuo Cooking School. Learn to cook Chinese dishes with recipes that are easy to make and ingredients readily available outside of China, so that you’ll soon be wowing friends and family back at home. Later, perhaps watch an outdoor light show staged by 2008 Beijing Olympics’ Opening Ceremony director Zhang Yimou.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Take a private bus from your Yangshuo Hotel to Guilin North Station, and then board a bullet train to Shenzhen North Station (approximately 3.5 hours). Then it’s a short metro train from Shenzhen to the Hong Kong border. The China-Hong Kong border is busy, so there can often be a bit of a wait to get through and a lot of patience is required. On average, it takes around 2 hours to clear immigration and customs on both sides. Your bags will be with you during this time. Then you’ll walk the short distance from the train station to the border, go through procedures to exit China, and then enter Hong Kong. Once all that's done, you’ll travel on the KCR train to central Hong Kong. The city is a unique and fascinating place to explore and see, where the East truly does meet the West. Hong Kong's cityscape is spectacular and its modern fast-paced life is only minutes from picturesque islands and beaches. The locals are very proud of their Cantonese culture and history, so step out of the shopping malls and off the main streets to discover another side of the city. This evening, enjoy a optional final farewell dinner to sample some of the best Cantonese dishes.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Hong Kong - Victoria Peak & Tram - HKD40
  • Peak Tram - HKD30
  • Hong Kong - Star Ferry - HKD15
  • Hong Kong - Nightly Light Show - Free
  • Hong Kong - The Story of Hong Kong Urban Adventure - USD49
  • Hong Kong - Old vs New Hong Kong Urban Adventure - USD49
  • Hong Kong - Around Kowloon in 8 Markets Urban Adventure - USD49
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
There are no activities planned for the today. The trip ends this morning. Check out time is 12pm but you'll be able to leave your luggage at the hotel reception. We highly recommend you to spend a couple of extra days here to further explore Hong Kong and we'll be able to help you book additional nights here. Please consult your booking agent if you are interested.
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.

Meals

3 breakfasts, 3 lunches, 2 dinners

Transport

Overnight Soft Sleeper Train, Private Bus, Public Bus, High-Speed Train, Overnight Riverboat, Subway, Taxi, Bicycle

Accommodation

Hotel (11 nights), Guesthouse/Monastery (3 nights), Overnight Riverboat (3 nights), Overnight Soft Sleeper Train (1 night)

Included activities

  • Beijing - Tian'anmen Square & Forbidden City
  • Beijing - Tiananmen Square
  • Beijing - Mutianyu Great Wall
  • Xi'an - Muslim Quarter walking tour
  • Xi'an - Terracotta Warriors
  • Chengdu - Walking tour
  • Chengdu - Giant Panda Breeding Research Base
  • Leshan - Giant Buddha
  • Emei Shan - Scenic Area Hiking
  • Emei Shan - Cable car & Golden Summit
  • Yichang - Three Gorges Dam Project
  • Yangshuo - Cycling tour

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Important notes

1. A Single Supplement to have your own room is available on this trip, excluding the overnight train and Yangzi River boat trip.
2. A scanned copy of the personal details page of your passport needs to be sent to your booking agent no later than 40 days before departure in order for us to purchase your train tickets.
3. Overnight train from Yichang to Liuzhou on this tour is in 4-berth 'soft-sleeper' for one. 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.

Essential trip information

Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Essential Trip Information provides 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.

Reviews

Our China Experience trips score an average of 4.71 out of 5 based on 94 reviews in the last year.

China Experience, June 2018

Carly Rippon

China Experience, June 2018

Paul Madeley