Break away from the city for the natural charms of China

How do you get a grasp of China in just over a week? The big cities, misty countryside, sleepy rural villages and varied cuisine may seem overwhelming, but on a nine-day Lonely Planet Experience from Shanghai heading south, you’ll gain a tasteful insight into the tapestries of history and deep-seated traditions that make this region shine. Discover Yangshuo’s literary landscapes, Longji’s terraced rice fields, and the longtangs and tucked-away neighbourhoods that make Shanghai and Hong Kong such thriving centres of cuisine, culture and industry. Plus, with a group of likeminded adventurers joining you each step of the way, you’ll have more than one eager companion to share a plate of dumplings.

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Terms & Conditions

Start
Shanghai, China
Finish
Hong Kong, Hong Kong
Destinations
China, Hong Kong
Style
Basix
Theme
Lonely Planet Experience
Code
CBRS
Physical rating
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1, Max 16

A powerful partnership

Lonely Planet and Intrepid Travel share the same philosophy: we help curious people explore the world.

Why you'll love this trip

  • The bright city lights of Shanghai are a perfect place to begin – stroll along the Bud, explore the ancient longtangs and get a taste of the renowned cuisine. You’ll definitely need more than a day!

  • In Longji, hike the beautiful rice terraces that snake through the mountains of Longsheng like giant dragons, and visit hill tribe communities to learn of a local way of living.

  • Enjoy time to sit back and relax beside the dramatic karst countryside of Yangshuo. This region, immortalised in countless traditional Chinese paintings, is a haven of exploration.

  • Local knowledge goes a long way when it comes to really discovering the south of China. And with a leader to offer suggestions and tips along the way, you’ll be exploring, eating and drinking the best of the best.

  • Cross the border into cosmopolitan Hong Kong – one of the world’s global cities, and a perfect place to extend your stay. Why not dig a little deeper and explore its up-and-coming neighbourhoods.

Is this trip right for you?

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

  • 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.

  • This trip includes a mixture of free time and included activities, giving you choice and flexibility to explore what really excites you in China.

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

Itinerary

Nimen hao! Welcome to China. Blending 21st-century architecture with old-world character, Shanghai pulses with the beat of new China. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm this evening where you'll meet your tour leader and fellow travellers. Settle into your hotel and then get a feel for this vibrant city – Shanghai’s bright lights, fevered trade and frenetic pace provide a glimpse into the dazzling global future of the country. This evening, keep the introductions going with your travel crew – perhaps get a taste of Shanghai’s eclectic food scene, which draws influence from far beyond China’s boundaries.
Accommodation
  • Hostel (1 night)
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.

As you leave Shanghai tomorrow afternoon, we highly recommend arriving a few days early to fully experience this dynamic city. If you’d like to spend more time in Shanghai, we’ll be happy to organise additional accommodation (subject to availability).
This morning, enjoy some free time to get a bigger taste of Shanghai. 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, daydream of a 1920s Shanghai along the Bud, wander the Yuyuan Gardens and Bazaar, barter in markets, stroll through modern Pudong or explore ancient longtangs. So much to do! Keep in mind you’ll be boarding an overnight train from Shanghai to Guilin some time this afternoon (approximately 18–20 hours). 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.
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 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.
Disembark the train in Guilin and jump on a bus 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 spend the night in the village of Dazhai, which is home to local Yao communities. The Yao still preserve some of their traditional lifestyle and unique customs, for example you may notice that women don't cut their hair until they turn 16, when a haircut symbolises their entrance into adulthood. The hair is kept by the woman's grandmother until it is made into an ornamental headdress and presented to the woman's spouse.
Accommodation
  • Guesthouse (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Longji - Guided Rice Terraces trek
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
Today, you will leave big luggage at the entrance to the scenic zone in Longji and carry only our overnight pack with us to the guesthouse. Please prepare an overnight pack suitable for a two-night stay at the local village guesthouses. You'll also need to be able to carry it by yourself during tomorrow’s trekking activity.
Today you’ll hike through the Longji Valley and its rice terraces, constructed over 500 years ago. This region is often referred to as the Dragon’s Backbone because the rice terraces resemble a dragon's scales, and the mountain ridge provides 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 hiking and admiring the scenery, spend the night in the picturesque village of Ping'an.
Accommodation
  • Guesthouse (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
Today, 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.
This morning, head on public transport towards Yangshuo (approximately 4 hours). Soak up the charm of this town, popular with many domestic and foreign travellers who come for the beautiful landscapes. It's also one of the best places in the country to get a feel for local cultures and traditions. The countryside around Yangshuo is immortalized in many traditional Chinese paintings – artists are drawn to the striking limestone karsts dotting the landscape, towering spectacularly over rice paddies and the meandering Li River. You might be wondering why it all looks so familiar – that’s because it’s pictured on every 20 yuan note.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Yangshuo - Xianggongshan & Tea Farm Visit (Minimum 6, transport and entrance fee) - CNY300
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Today is a free day in Yangshuo. You could begin by focusing your body and mind with a morning tai chi class or kung fu lesson, and then stay active by hiring a bike and cycling past rural Chinese towns. You could climb up to Moon Hill – a limestone pinnacle with a moon-shaped hole penetrating the hill – or take a stroll along the river for some pretty stunning riverside vistas. 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, why not book a ticket to 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 light show (minimum 4 people) - CNY298
  • Yangshuo - Li River Cruise - CNY200
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Another free day to explore at your leisure in Yangshuo. Freedom and flexibility are key today, and your local leader will be on hand to give you all their suggestions and tips. If you’re still feeling active, then up in the limestone hills are a number of caves that can be explored. If you’d rather see things from a different perspective, kit up in a rock-climbing harness and tackle one of the 300 rock-climbing routes. For a more laidback day, why not visit the local markets and get a feel for what’s grown in the region. You can then choose to put this new knowledge to use in a cooking class at the Yangshuo cooking school.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Yangshuo - Cooking School & Market Tour - CNY230
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
This morning, travel by high-speed train to the Chinese–Hong Kong border at Shenzhen (approximately 4 hours). Walk a 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 West. Hong Kong's cityscape is spectacular, and its modernity and fast-paced way of doing things means it’s become a popular destination for travellers from around the world. Tonight, why not get together with your travel group and find a dim sum banquet to share – a sumptuous meal around a large table is a perfect way to celebrate your Lonely Planet adventure.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Hong Kong - Star Ferry - HKD15
  • Hong Kong - Victoria Peak & Tram - HKD90
  • 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.
Special Information
The China–Hong Kong border is often super busy, so there can be a bit of a wait to get through, so some patience is required. On average, it takes around two hours to clear immigration and customs on both sides. Your bags will be with you during this time.
With no activities planned for today, you are able to depart the accommodation after checkout. As there isn’t heaps of time spent in Hong Kong, we recommend spending a least an extra couple of days to see what this city has to offer. Yes, you’ve got Victoria Peak and the harbour’s light show, but what about the up-and-coming Sham Shui Po neighbourhood – full of boutiques, open-air street markets and Michelin-star hole-in-the-wall diners, or Tai Kwun – an old prison which has now been converted into a contemporary art and performance space. With so much to see and do, if you would like to spend more time here, we’ll be happy to organise additional accommodation (subject to availability).
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
This trip is a Lonely Planet Experience
Our Lonely Planet Experiences include plenty of free time so you can do the things that suit your budget and interests. Between your Intrepid Travel leader’s local knowledge and Lonely Planet’s trusted travel tips and recommendations, your trip will be more epic than ever.

Meals

No meals are included on this tour

Transport

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

Accommodation

Hotel (5 nights), Guesthouse (2 nights), Overnight Sleeper Train (1 night)

Included activities

  • Longji - Guided Rice Terraces trek

Lonely Planet extras

  • Free access to the Lonely Planet mobile app for one year
  • 25% discount on all items in the Lonely Planet Shop

Dates & availability

Trip departures are unavailable.

There are currently no scheduled departures on our South China Getaway trip. If you are interested in other trips in the region visit one of the links below.

Prices may go up, so secure your trip today!
Jump to a departure month

Important notes

1. A Single Supplement to have your own room is available on this trip, except on the overnight train.
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 tickets.
3. Overnight train accommodation on this tour is in 6-berth ‘hard-sleeper’ class. Bedding is provided and wash basins and toilet facilities (usually one with a toilet seat and one squat-style in each compartment) are available on all trains, but there are no showers or baths.
4. Please note while travelling through mainland China you will not be able to access some popular 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.

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