Explore the big cities and small villages of China from Beijing to Hong Kong

China really does have it all: tranquil countryside offering jaw-dropping natural scenery and invigorating hikes, neon cities boasting incredible food and scintillating nightlife and points of historical, artistic and cultural interest at every turn. Get acquainted with this country's complexities and contrasts on this fascinating 23-day adventure that will have you walking the Great Wall, trekking through the Longji Rice Terraces, idling the hours away in serene Hongcun, drifting along the Li River and living it up in Hong Kong. Jam-packed with colour and culture, China will astonish you with the levels of diversity and distinction contained within its borders.

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Terms & Conditions

Start
Beijing, China
Finish
Hong Kong, Hong Kong
Destinations
China, Hong Kong
Style
Basix
Theme
Explorer
Code
CBRKC
Physical rating
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1, Max 16

Why you'll love this trip

  • Overnight at the Great Wall at a family run guesthouse, and see this iconic structure without the crowds

  • With journeys on two sleeper trains, you'll maximise your time in your destinations, get a chance to interact with locals, and see some beautiful countryside

  • Like everything it does, China’s ancient history is on an epic scale – see it when face-to-face with thousands of Terracotta Warriors

  • Venture into the idyllic Huizhou countryside and explore rural villages on foot or by bike

  • Discover the mountain heights of Huangshan, where the stunning rock pinnacles of the Yellow Mountain peek through atmospheric mists

  • In Longi, hike the beautiful rice terraces that snake through the mountains of Longsheng like giant dragons, and visit hill tribe communities while surrounded by incredible views

  • Enjoy time to sit back and relax in the dramatic karst countryside of Yangshuo – immortalised in countless traditional Chinese paintings – and try the local favourite: beerfish

  • Starting and ending in two of the country's largest and most bustling cities – Shanghai and Hong Kong – you’ll also be able to experience the dazzling future of modern China

Is this trip right for you?

  • This trip travels on overnight hard sleeper trains on sections of the journey. 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.

  • We cover 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. As we use plenty of public transport, you will be better off to bring only minimal belongings, or to leave your larger luggage in Beijing/Shanghai and take a smaller bag with you to the Great Wall, Huangshan and Hongcun.

  • We pack a lot in, in a short amount of time, so if you have some time to spare we highly recommend extra time in Shanghai and Beijing.

  • This trip includes a mixture of free time and included activities, giving you choice and flexibility to pursue your own interests in China.

  • This trip includes overnight stays at family-run guesthouses and homestays, with more basic facilities than hotels, such as cold water showers and outdoor squat toilets.

  • With walks on the Great Wall and Huangshan, 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. There are many steps and slopes on the way, so be prepared for a tough climb at times. You'll be rewarded with sensational views!

  • This trip uses a mix of transport – overnight sleeper trains, private buses and public buses. The trip covers a fair amount of ground to maximise experiences, so be prepared for some long journeys.

  • Not a lot a time is spent in Shanghai or Hong Kong (the starting and ending points) so that you can get straight into the highlights of South China, but we highly recommend booking additional nights here as these exciting cities have so much to offer.

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. Following the meeting, settle into your hotel and then perhaps strike out with new friends for an optional dinner together.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Beijing - Acrobat show - CNY290
  • Beijing - Forbidden City - CNY60
  • Beijing - Beijing by Bike Urban Adventure - CNY530
  • Beijing - Kungfu Show - CNY280
  • Beijing - Lama Temple - CNY25
  • Beijing - Summer Palace - CNY50
  • 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.

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.
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 overzealous 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 nearby. 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 accommodation 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 3-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 Beijing Duck in its 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 rail travel in China. It's not luxury, but it's certainly one of the best ways to come face to face with the vastness of this country.
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 our overnight train journeys on this trip. 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 shared 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 sometimes 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. Choose to visit the Bell Tower, which according to legend was built to restrain dragons that were causing earthquakes, or 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 a unique mosque. Another option is to explore the 13-kilometre-long City Walls and attached Gates - you can even ride a bike on top of the walls. Xi’an’s Silk Road history means it has an exciting mixture of cultures, especially found in its food options - muslim dishes are a specialty here. In the evening, 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 Goose Pagoda - CNY80
  • Xi'an - Cycling on City Wall - CNY80
  • Xi'an - Little 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 endeavour – 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 busy subway to your accommodation. Enjoy a full day of exploration, but don't worry if you can't see everything you want to today –  you'll be back at the end of the trip. Get a taste of the city during the roaring 1920s with a walk of the Bund with your leader, 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 - CNY280
  • Shanghai - Oriental Pearl Tower Viewing Deck - CNY150
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Travel into the stunning countryside on a 6-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 6-hour journey back to the big smoke of Shanghai by public transport. Perhaps sit down for a 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)
Optional Activities
  • Shanghai - Huangpu River Night Cruise - CNY120
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Today you'll have another day to explore Shanghai until 6 pm.

This is a combination trip, so your group leader and group composition may change. The briefing for the second part of the trip will be at 6 pm. Please ask your leader for where the meeting will take place.
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Today you have free time to explore this bustling city until this afternoon, when you’ll board your first overnight train from Shanghai to Guilin (approximately 18-20 hours). You could visit the Propaganda Museum for a fascinating look at China's revolutionary past, get a bird's eye view of the city from the Pearl Tower's observation decks, get a taste of 1920s Shanghai along the Bud, wander the Yuyuan Gardens and Bazaar, barter in markets, stroll through modern Pudong or the explore ancient nongtangs. 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 certainly 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.
Accommodation
  • Overnight Hard Sleeper Train (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Disembark from the train and jump on a bus from Guilin to Longji. The Longji region has some of the most extensive rice terraces around. These terraces change with the seasons: filled with water from the mountains before planting, becoming green during the growing season and then golden when the rice is ready for harvest. This evening you’ll overnight in the village of Dazhai, which is home to the Yao minorities. The Yao still preserve some of their traditional lifestyle and unique customs. You'll notice women only cut their hair at 16 years old, symbolising their entrance into adulthood. The hair isn’t thrown away, but is kept by the grandmother. When the woman marries, the hair is made into an ornamental headdress and brought to the husband's home as a souvenir!
Accommodation
  • Guesthouse (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Longji - Guided Rice Terraces trek
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
We will leave our big luggage at the entrance of the scenic zone in LongjI and carry only our overnight pack with us to the guesthouse. Please prepare an overnight pack suitable for 2 nights stay at the local village guesthouses and you'll need to be able to carry it by yourself during trekking too.
Today you’ll hike through the Longji Valley and its rice terraces, constructed over 500 years ago (called the Dragon’s Backbone because the rice terraces resemble a dragon's scales, while the mountain summit looks like the backbone of the dragon). Walk through stunning scenery, with its unique terraces for growing rice, alongside bamboo trees and chestnut forests. Despite some challenging hills, much of the hike is spent walking around over the stones, passing waterfalls and fields. After a day spent admiring the endless vistas, you’ll overnight in the picturesque village of Ping'an.
Accommodation
  • Guesthouse (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
Expect to carry your own overnight pack and walk for up to five hours as your next accommodation may be in a different village. The hike can be tough going for some, with many uphill stretches and some very slippery paths. However, more experienced hikers will have no problems and there are many more optional walks available, uncovering great photo opportunities around every corner.
Take public transport on to Yangshuo (approximately 4 hours). Soak up the charm of this town, popular with the Chinese and Western travellers alike, who come for the beautiful landscape and stay for the great cafes and bars. 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, towering spectacularly over rice paddies and the meandering Li River. The scene is even celebrated on every 20 yuan note!
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Yangshuo - Xianggongshan & Tea Farm Visit (Minimum. 6 Clients) - CNY300
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Today is a free day for you to do as you like. You could begin by focusing your body and mind with a morning tai chi class or kung fu lesson, and then continue the active theme by hiring a bike, gaining insight into rural Chinese life on a cycle through picture-perfect locations. You could climb up to Moon Hill – a limestone pinnacle with a moon-shaped hole penetrating the hill – or simply stroll along the river and be immersed in the natural beauty of the valley. For something a little less energetic, you could simply sit back and relax as you enjoy a relaxing cruise down the Li or Yulong River. Later, perhaps watch an outdoor light show staged by 2008 Beijing Olympics’ Opening Ceremony director Zhang Yimou.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Yangshuo - Tai Chi/Kung Fu class - CNY100
  • Yangshuo - Bike Tour with Lunch & Moon Hill Visit (Minimum. 6 Clients) - CNY300
  • Yangshuo - Impressions Liú Sānjiě show (minimum 4 people) - CNY298
  • Yangshuo - Li River Cruise - CNY200
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Today’s another free day to pursue you interests here in Yangshuo. Freedom and flexibility is the idea today, and your friendly local leader will be on hand to give you suggestions and tips. If you’re still feeling active then up in the limestone hills are a number of caves that can be explored; or if you’d rather see the landscape from a different perspective, then kit up in a rock-climbing harness and tackle one of the 300 rock-climbing routes. For a more laid-back day, 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 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.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Yangshuo - Cooking School & Market Tour - CNY230
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Today you’ll travel by high-speed train to the Chinese border at Shenzhen (approximately 4 hours). 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. Hong Kong made itself known to the world as a British colony and, since the 1997 handover, the city has become a unique and fascinating place to see where the East really does meet the West. Hong Kong's cityscape is spectacular and its modern fast-paced life is only minutes from picturesque islands and beaches. Perhaps spend the last few hours of this trip searching out the best yum cha for a final sumptuous meal with your group.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Hong Kong - Star Ferry - HKD15
  • Hong Kong - Victoria Peak & Tram - HKD40
  • 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 today and you are able to depart the accommodation any time this morning.
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
As your trip finishes today and you only have limited time in Hong Kong, we highly recommend staying a few extra days to enjoy all this incredible city has to offer: Take a scenic journey around the islands of Hong Kong on the famous passenger ferry service, the Star Ferry; venture up to the top of Victoria Peak for a bird's eye view; watch the harbour's spectacular light show or ride the peak tram to Victoria Peak for incredible views of the Hong Kong skyline. See more in our guide to Hong Kong here: https://www.intrepidtravel.com/adventures/what-to-do-in-hong-kong/

Meals

No meals are included on this tour

Transport

Overnight sleeper train, High Speed Train, Private vehicle, Public bus, Taxi, Subway

Accommodation

Hotel (9 nts), Guesthouse/Hostel (7 nts), Overnight Sleeper Train (3 nts)

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
  • Longji - Guided Rice Terraces trek

Dates & availability

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Important notes

1. A Single Supplement to have your own room is available on this trip, excluding overnight trains and guesthouses
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 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.
6. This is a combination tour which will save you the hassle of making multiple bookings. But please note that your tour leader and tour composition may change on Day 12.

Essential trip information

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