Explore ancient temples and dazzling cities in the diverse northeast

Capture the spirit of China on this 12-day tour from Shanghai to Beijing. From fast-paced modern cities to the well-preserved remnants of a long and storied history, this adventure reveals the many sides of one of the world’s great cradles of civilisation. We think it’s important to contrast the big and the bold with quiet moments and real connections. That’s why our tour of the Terracotta Warriors finishes with lunch at a local family home, and why we spend a few days in the Tibetan Buddhist town of Xiahe before tackling boisterous Beijing. Whether you’re scaling the Great Wall or sharing crispy Beijing (Peking) duck with your fellow travellers, this tour is packed with unforgettable moments.


Start
Shanghai, China
Finish
Beijing, China
Destination
China
Style
Comfort
Theme
Explorer
Code
CBKS
Physical rating
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1, Max 12

Why you'll love this trip

  • Explore the Longmen Grottoes and wonder at the thousands of Buddha statues carved directly from the limestone cliffs, including the 17-metre-high Vairocana.

  • Take a spectacular hike along the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall and see towers that date back to the Ming dynasty about 600 years ago.

  • Fall in love with Chinese food during a vegetarian feast at a Buddhist temple, a home-cooked lunch with a family in rural Xi’an, a Beijing (Peking) duck dinner, and more.

  • Check out the mind-blowing Terracotta Army, then head to a local’s house for lunch and some insight into how life has changed since farmers discovered the vast mausoleum.

  • Immerse yourself in Tibetan culture with a two-day stay in Xiahe, an autonomous Tibetan region with a deeply ingrained Buddhist tradition centred around the legendary Labrang Monastery, without having to apply for a permit for Tibet.

Is this trip right for you?

  • The best way to experience a place is by doing as the locals do – and in this case that means using public transport such as trams, buses or metro at some locations. It’s better for the environment and you’ll get an authentic look at daily life, just be aware you may find yourself sharing a busy bus ride with local commuters (for example). 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.

  • This trip travels to altitudes of up to 3100 metres above sea level and as a result, some travellers can feel the effects of altitude sickness, regardless of age or physical health.

  • In order to see as much as possible, this tour includes some long journeys. Please read the itinerary carefully for travel time estimates.

  • You'll need a reasonable level of fitness for the Great Wall walk. Shoes with good support and grip are essential. There are many steps and slopes on the way, so be prepared for a tough climb in sections. You are free to walk as far as you want, and it is possible to reach the section we visit via cable car.

Itinerary

Nimen Hao! Welcome to Shanghai. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm where you'll meet your tour leader and fellow travellers. If you arrive with time to spare, maybe head to the newest crown jewel of Shanghai skyscrapers - Shanghai Tower, for a birdview of the city, or visit the Shanghai Propaganda Poster Art Center or Shanghai Urban Exhibition Hall (both closed on Monday) for different tastes of the city's past and future. Your evening is free after the welcome meeting but consider heading out with your group afterwards for a dinner on your leader’s recommendation.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Complimentary Airport Arrival Transfer
Optional Activities
  • Shanghai - Shanghai Propaganda Poster Art Centre (entrance fee) - CNY25
  • Shanghai - Shanghai Tower Observation Deck (entrance fee) - CNY180
  • Shanghai - Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Halll (entrance fee) - CNY30
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
It’s very important that you attend the welcome meeting as we will be collecting insurance details and next of kin information at this time. If you are going to be late please let your travel agent or hotel reception know. Ask reception or look for a note in the lobby for more information on where the meeting will take place.

The arrival transfer is only valid if arriving on Day 1 or if you have booked pre-trip accommodation through Intrepid. Please provide your flight details at the time of booking, or at a minimum 14 days prior to travel, as we may not be able to confirm a request made within 14 days of travel.
Today join your leader for a walking tour to historical Shanghai. Get a taste of 1920s Shanghai at the Bund, a spectacular array of art-deco style buildings lining what was once the most important financial street in Asia. Using the efficient subway, continue to Yuyuan Gardens, a classic example of traditional Chinese landscape gardening. The afternoon is free for you to explore at your own pace. Maybe hit Luwan's Huaihai Road is a busy shopping street and is home to both Xintiandi and Tianzifang, the popular shopping and dining spots for visitors, plus the area's tree-lined avenues and their many Tudor mansions still retain an air of the 'Paris of the East'. Join back with your group tonight for an included dinner of local specialties.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Shanghai - Leader-led walking tour
  • Shanghai - Yuyuan Gardens
Optional Activities
  • Shanghai - Acrobat show - CNY280
  • Shanghai - Huangpu River Night Cruise (ticket) - CNY120
  • Shanghai - Jing'an Temple (entrance fee) - CNY50
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Dinner
Take advantage of free time in the morning to delve further into Shanghai's sights and sounds. Perhaps get another taste of the city's eclectic food scene before boarding a westbound bullet train this around midday. Travel for about 6 hours to Luoyang, arriving in the early evening. Ancient China’s prosperous capital for many dynasties, archaeological digs of the surrounding countryside have unearthed some fascinating ancient treasures. After settling into your hotel, perhaps venture to the Old Town for dinner with the group.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Today, travel to the legendary birthplace of kung fu – the Shaolin Monastery (approximately 3 hours). The monastery remains the primary source of Shaolin Buddhist training to this day. Learn about the warrior monks of Shaolin and how the martial art has changed over the centuries. Watch an athletic kung fu performance and then wander through the Pagoda Forest, where respected monks have been laid to rest in towering tombs since AD791. For lunch enjoy a vegetarian feast at nearby Yongtai Temple. Head back to Luoyang after lunch in the afternoon and enjoy a free evening in Luoyang. As night falls, you’ll see thousands of colourful lamps light the streets and squares across the city, creating a lovely ambiance.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Shaolin - Temple, Pagoda Forest & Kung Fu show (entrace fee and transport included, leader-led)
  • Shaolin - Buddhist vegetarian lunch
Optional Activities
  • Luoyang - Luoyang Museum (entrance fee) - CNY40
  • Luoyang - Ancient Tombs Museum (entrace fee) - CNY20
  • Luoyang - White Horse Temple (entrance fee) - CNY35
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
This morning you'll drive to the Longmen Grottoes (approximately 40 mins). These 2100 caves, filled with more than 100,000 statues of Buddha dating back as far as the fourth century, are rare examples of exquisite Buddhist rock carving. Learn more about this UNESCO World Heritage-listed site as you explore some of the masterpieces with a local guide. In the afternoon, take a bullet train from Luoyang to Xi'an (approximately 2 hours), arriving in the early evening.
Xi'an, capital for 13 dynasties and kingdoms over the last 2500 years, is not only rich in ancient history but also full of life. Muslim quarter is a local favorite for great food experiences. Join your leader for a sizzling local dinner here in the evening.
In your free time, don't miss out on a bike ride on the ancient city wall, or a visit to the Big Wild Goose pagoda
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Luoyang - Longmen Grottoes (entrance fee, transport included)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Dinner
Visit Xi'an's most famous site today, the Terracotta Warriors. You'll travel by bus (approximately 2 hours) to reach the site. Once there, you will hear all about this incredible archaeological find, which was uncovered by farmers digging a well in 1976. Until then, the site had been 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 display to the public. Enjoy a local lunch nearby and return to Xi'an in the afternoon.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Xi'an - Terracotta Warriors Tour (entrace fee, transport, local guide included)
  • Xi'an - Home-cooked lunch
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
This morning you’ll get another taste of China’s efficient bullet trains as you travel about 3-hours west to Lanzhou. From there, transfer to the enchanting Tibetan town of Xiahe (another 3 hours). A place of pilgrimage for many Tibetans, Xiahe is as scenic as it is tranquil. Get acquainted with the town on a short walking tour with your leader. The rest of the day is yours to spend how you please.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Xiahe - Leader-led orientation walk
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Special Information
Xiahe sits at an altitude of about 2900 metres above sea level. Some travellers can suffer from altitude sickness at this height, regardless of age or physical health. Please make sure you familiarise yourself with the signs and symptoms before your travels.
Visit the fascinating Labrang Monastery today and see Tibetan monks going about their daily rituals. The rest of the day will change depending on the season. From June to August, the group will head to the Sangke grasslands to visit nomadic Tibetans to learn about their life over some yak butter tea. If you’re travelling during the other months of the year, pay a visit to a Tibetan family in town and enjoy a deliciously home-cooked lunch. The evening is free for you to do as you please.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Xiahe - Labrang Monastery (entrance fee, local guide)
  • Xiahe - Tibetan family visit & lunch
  • Xiahe - Sangke Grassland (transport included)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
Today is largely made up of travel. Head back to Lanzhou (about 4 hours), then catch an afternoon flight to Beijing, arriving in China’s capital in the late afternoon. After settling into your hotel, you will have the rest of the day free to explore bustling Beijing. Depending on the time of your arrival, you can choose to visit one of the many historical sites in the city or check out one of the shows that are on in the evening. Your leader is a wealth of suggestions for optional activities and places to eat, to be sure to ask them for advice.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Beijing - Acrobat show (ticket) - CNY290
  • Beijing - Kungfu Show (ticket) - CNY280
  • Beijing - Beijing Opera show (ticket) - CNY300
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Today, explore the legendary Great Wall. Take a private bus to the Mutianyu section of the wall. (approximately 1.5–2 hours). Spend some time exploring the wall, including guard towers that date back to the Ming dynasty-era. You can either walk to the wall or take a cable car (at your own expense). When returning, you can walk, take a cable car or take a toboggan ride. The latter is highly recommended!
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Beijing - Mutianyu Great Wall (entransce fee, transfer included)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
Today visit Tiananmen Square, one of the world's largest downtown squares then you’llenter the Forbidden City, former home of China’s imperial rulers. Discover its many palaces, gardens, and courtyards. Then head to an area known for its hutongs (narrow streets and alleys) and explore the historic streets. Although Beijing is modernising rapidly (its contemporary culture is a huge source of fascination in itself), there are still some pockets in which to discover the nation's ancient roots. Enjoy a classic dinner tonight with the perhaps the most well known of all the capital's dishes – Beijing (or Peking) Duck.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Beijing - Leader-led Hutong walking tour
  • Beijing - Forbidden City (entrance fee included)
  • Beijing - Beijing duck dinner
Optional Activities
  • Beijing - Temple of Heaven (entrance fee) - CNY40
  • Beijing - Lama Temple (entrance fee) - CNY25
  • Beijing - Summer Palace (entrance fee) - CNY60
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Dinner
Your trip comes to an end this morning after breakfast. Staying an extra few days in Beijing is highly recommended, as there is so much to see and do. Check out our Urban Adventure day tours for some ideas at urbanadventures.com/destination/Beijing-tours.
Optional Activities
  • Beijing - Beijing Foodie Walk Urban Adventure - CNY360
  • Beijing - Beijing by Bike Urban Adventure - CNY530
  • Beijing - Beijing Wine, Beer & BBQ Urban Adventure - CNY530
Meals Included
  • Breakfast

Meals

11 breakfasts, 4 lunches, 3 dinners

Transport

Plane, Private vehicle, High Speed Train, Subway, Taxi

Accommodation

Hotel (11 nights)

Included activities

  • Complimentary Airport Arrival Transfer
  • Shanghai - Leader-led walking tour
  • Shanghai - Yuyuan Gardens
  • Shaolin - Temple, Pagoda Forest & Kung Fu show (entrace fee and transport included, leader-led)
  • Shaolin - Buddhist vegetarian lunch
  • Luoyang - Longmen Grottoes (entrance fee, transport included)
  • Xi'an - Terracotta Warriors Tour (entrace fee, transport, local guide included)
  • Xi'an - Home-cooked lunch
  • Xiahe - Leader-led orientation walk
  • Xiahe - Labrang Monastery (entrance fee, local guide)
  • Xiahe - Tibetan family visit & lunch
  • Xiahe - Sangke Grassland (transport included)
  • Beijing - Mutianyu Great Wall (entransce fee, transfer included)
  • Beijing - Leader-led Hutong walking tour
  • Beijing - Forbidden City (entrance fee included)
  • Beijing - Beijing duck dinner

Dates & availability

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Important notes

1. A Single Supplement is available on all nights. Please speak to your booking agent for more information.
2. A scanned copy of the personal details page of your passport is required no later than 40 days before departure in order for us to purchase your train and flight tickets.
3. 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. If you have concerns, discuss this with your doctor before leaving. 
4. Please note while traveling through mainland China you will not be able to access some popular internet websites like google, facebook, instagram etc. You can consider getting a VPN for access to these websites before leaving if necessary.
5. A complimentary airport arrival transfer is included; valid if you are arriving on Day 1 or if you have booked pre-tour accommodation through us. You must provide your flight details to your booking agent at least 14 days prior to travel.

Essential trip information

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