Map of China Real Food Adventure including China

Eat your way through Chengdu, Xi’an, Beijing and Shanghai

Embrace the tastes of China's most important food regions on a food adventure with a side order of culture, history and more. Taste the peppery cuisine of Sichuan in Chengdu, then enjoy a visit to a small tea-farming village to discover the secrets of this famous Chinese beverage. Stay in a monastery in the lofty heights of Emei Shan, and travel to Xi’an to marvel at the magnificent Terracotta Warriors and learn the art of noodle-making. Explore Beijing’s ancient hutongs to search out some of the city’s best street food, discover Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City and stroll along the Great Wall of China, then board a train to Shanghai, one of the world’s most vibrant cities.


Start
Chengdu, China
Finish
Shanghai, China
Destination
China
Style
Original
Theme
Food
Code
CBZF
Physical rating
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1, Max 12

Why you'll love this trip

  • Get your hands floury and gain a unique insight into one of China's most revered culinary arts – noodle-making – at a local couple’s apartment.

  • Dine on classic Chinese dishes like kung pao chicken and dumplings and learn how to make them during cooking classes with local chefs.

  • Meet producers and locals at spice markets, a family-owned tea plantation in Leshan, and along the Muslim Quarter tasting trail in the heart of Xi’an.

  • Explore many of China’s most famous sites such as the Terracotta Warriors, Tiananmen Square and Great Wall and see Giant Pandas at a breeding and research centre.

  • Embrace the tastes of China's most important food regions – from Peking duck in Beijing, to the Muslim-influenced food of Xi'an, the spicy flavours of Sichuan hotpot and dumplings in Shanghai.

Is this trip right for you?

  • The cuisine of China includes a lot of meat and seafood. For vegetarians and vegans we recommend reviewing the itinerary and inclusions to ensure that you will be able to fully participate and enjoy this trip. We also have many other trips to China which can accommodate a range of dietary requirements.

  • We suggest packing relatively lightly for this trip, as you’ll need to be able to comfortably carry your own luggage for the duration of the trip. This includes to and from accommodation, and on and off trains.

Itinerary

This itinerary is valid for departures from 01 Jan 2023 to 31 Dec 2023.
View the 2020 itinerary
Nimen Hao! Welcome to China. Chengdu, an officially recognised UNESCO City of Gastronomy, is the capital of the Sichuan province and where you’ll begin this Real Food Adventure. 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, markets and some interesting food. Your adventure begins with an important welcome meeting at 6 pm. After the meeting, enjoy your first dinner in China with one of the country's most renowned dishes – an authentic Sichuan hotpot. Known in Sichuan as 'huo guo' (which roughly translates to 'fire pot'), huo guo is thought to date back more than 1000 years, originating from a meal enjoyed by boatmen working on the Yangtze River in the nearby city of Chongqing. Consisting of a communal pot of spiced broth, everyone can select their own ingredients to be cooked up in this delicious hot liquid.
Included Activities
  • Chengdu - Welcome Dinner
Meals Included
  • Dinner
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.
Start your day with an authentic breakfast featuring noodles and dumplings at a local restaurant. Then surround yourself with the spicy scent of Sichuan pepper at a local market, a fiery spice which produces a tingling, tongue-numbing sensation. Although only introduced to the region in the past few centuries, Sichuan pepper quickly gained a stronghold in local dishes. See how to use it for yourself at a cooking class with a local chef in his apartment, where you’ll learn how to make classic dishes like kung pao chicken. After feasting on your creations over lunch, take a walking tour through the centre of Chengdu. Visit Tianfu Square, where a giant statue of Chairman Mao stands tall. Stroll through one of the most popular parks in Chengdu, People's Park, where locals will be relaxing, drinking tea and exercising. If you’re lucky, they might invite you to join them in an outdoor dance class! In the evening, if you're still hungry, why not taste more Chengdu specialities on Jinli Street? This street is famous for its historic atmosphere, bustling shops and most of all its local snacks. You could be snacking on sticky rice cakes with sesame sauce, spicy chicken on a stick, sweet rice jelly, fried beef pancakes and, for the more adventurous, spicy rabbit heads.
Included Activities
  • Chengdu - Leader-led market tour
  • Chengdu - Sichuan Cooking class
  • Chengdu - Spice market tour
  • Chengdu - Tianfu Square and People's Park
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
Visit the Giant Panda Breeding Research Base, where you're able to witness the conservation efforts being made to save this endearing endangered species. There are only around 1000 pandas left in the world and 80% of them are found in the mountains in Sichuan. Watch the pandas play, eat bamboo, climb the trees and perhaps even see newborns taking their first steps in the nursery (July-September). Then, drive to a family-owned tea plantation in Leshan. There, one of the skilled workers will teach you how to pick tea leaves (depending on the season). For lunch, your host will create some delicious plant-based dishes. Depending on the season this may include Chinese cabbage, beans, potatoes, hand-made tofu and the tea leaves you just picked. Late in the afternoon, travel to Emeishan. This mountain of thick forest, just over 3000 metres high, has been a centre of pilgrimage for over 1800 years, with over a hundred temples and monasteries hidden in its peaks. Here you will visit and overnight at a peaceful monastery and wake up to the sounds of drums and prayers. Take a walk with your leader on arrival to explore the monastery before settling in for the evening.
Included Activities
  • Emeishan - Baoguo Temple
  • Chengdu - Giant Panda Breeding Research Base (entrance fee & transport included)
  • Emeishan - Tea Farm Visit
Meals Included
  • Lunch
Special Information
Today’s total travel time is approximately 3 hours.

Your accommodation tonight is in a monastery on Emei Shan. It is basic but atmospheric, with simple rooms and shared bathroom facilities, and the setting is always a highlight of the trip.

During religious festivals or peak travel periods, you may stay at a guesthouse in Emei town as an alternative.

If you are travelling between October and April, while we still visit Emei Shan and the surrounding areas, there may be some changes to the activities and accommodation 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 morning, you may like to visit the nearby Leshan Buddha, a 71-metre tall stone statue carved from the cliff-face, built during the Tang Dynasty. Return to Chengdu, then board a high speed train to Xi'an. Xi’an, the capital of Shaanxi Province, is the largest city in northwest China. Once the imperial centre of China for 2000 years, it is now a vibrant, city dotted with many interesting historical sites and noted for its distinctive food culture. After you arrive, your leader will take you on a brief orientation walk then you’ll have free time to explore. If you’re hungry, ask your leader about the best spots to sample Xi'an’s famous flat noodles.
Optional Activities
  • Leshan - Giant Buddha (boat ticket & transport included) - CNY90
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
Today’s total travel time is approximately 7 hours.
Wake early to try local Xi'an breakfast specialties such as ba bao zhou (eight treasure rice porridge) and hulatang (pancakes and pepper soup with meatballs and vegetables). Then, journey out into the countryside surrounding Xi’an (approximately 2 hours) and visit what is arguably one of the man-made wonders of the world, the Terracotta Warriors. The incredible site was discovered in 1976 by farmers digging a well, after being buried for 2000 years. Three main pits are open for you to view, where over 6000 warriors – each individually sculpted from clay, with a different costume, height, and even facial expression – stand in battle formation. For lunch, you will have the opportunity to visit a local farmer-owned restaurant (optional). For dinner you’ll find yourself back in Xi’an in the heart of the Muslim Quarter to discover why this city is considered the 'snack capital' of China. Go on a unique food crawl with your leader that will have you tasting some of the city's best: beef or lamb kebabs, cold noodles, a sumptuous lamb soup and steaming dumplings.
Included Activities
  • Xi'an - Terracotta Warriors Tour (entrance fee, transport, local guide included)
  • Xi'an - Muslim Quarter tasting trail
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Dinner
Special Information
Today’s total travel time is approximately 2 hours.
After an authentic breakfast of spicy hulatang (pancakes and pepper soup with meatballs and vegetables), gain a unique insight into one of China's most revered culinary arts today – noodle-making – at a local couple’s apartment. Get your hands floury during a fun hands-on demonstration and learn a few tips about dough preparation and noodle cutting, while gaining an insight into a modern Chinese life. Relax with tea and fruit while your hosts head into the kitchen to make soup, using your handmade noodles, stir fried meat and vegetable dishes and rice. You’ll be amazed by the amount of delicious food they produce in their cosy kitchen. Afterwards, perhaps head back into the Muslim Quarter to wander the narrow streets of quaint shops or stroll along the city walls (the most complete in China) or explore the Drum and Bell Towers.
Included Activities
  • Xi'an - Noodle-making demonstration in a local home
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
It’s an early start today for the high speed train trip to Beijing. Don’t forget to grab some instant noodles to have for breakfast on the train, like the locals do. If you feel sleepy later, the smooth train ride is the ideal time for an extra nap. We’ll take your bags to the hotel so you can get straight into immersing yourself in Beijing, an intriguing modern city with an ancient heart. Make your way to the centre of the city – Tiananmen Square – then enter the nearby Forbidden City. Built more than 500 years ago and off-limits to commoners for most of that period, it's an amazing place. As you explore the great halls and courtyards, you’ll be able to appreciate the grandeur of the Imperial Chinese court during the height of its power in the Ming and Qing dynasties. After checking into your hotel, head out for a traditional dinner of Beijing’s most famous dish – Peking duck! You haven’t tasted real Peking duck until you’ve eaten it in a Beijing kaoyadian (roast duck restaurant). Often referred to as ‘capital city cuisine’, the food of Beijing has been strongly influenced by its imperial heritage and Peking duck has been a dish on the royal menu since the 1300s.
Included Activities
  • Beijing - Beijing duck dinner
  • Beijing - Forbidden City
  • Beijing - Tiananmen Square
Meals Included
  • Dinner
Special Information
Today’s total travel time is approximately 5 hours.
This morning you’ll drive out to the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall and spend some time exploring, taking photos and learning about the history of the 6000km wall which snakes through the hills almost endlessly into the distance. It's up to you how far you walk once up on the wall. On your return to Beijing, join your leader for a tour of the hutong markets and see steaming fresh tofu and freshly made dumplings while learning about the key ingredients and spices used in northern Chinese cooking. Later, head to a traditional tea house and learn the ancient art of China’s tea ceremony.
Included Activities
  • Beijing - Mutianyu Great Wall
  • Beijing - Hutong Tour
Optional Activities
  • Beijing - Mutianyu Great Wall Cable Car (return ticket) - CNY140
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
Today’s total travel time is approximately 4 hours.

To ascend the Great Wall, you can choose to take a cable car or walk. To walk takes approximately one hour from our arrival point. The walk is quite steep in places so ensure you have appropriate footwear if you choose this option.
This morning, take a fast train from Beijing to Shanghai. As a cutting-edge global city, the food of Shanghai is an exciting blend of traditional and international flavours. Given Shanghai's location on the East China Sea, as well as the region's extensive network of rivers, lakes and canals, both seafood and freshwater produce are also common. Join your leader for a walking tour that will take you to historical Shanghai. At the Bund you can get a taste of 1920s Shanghai; its spectacular array of art deco style buildings, formerly belonging to Western banks, line what was once the most important financial street in Asia. Tonight, join your group for an included dinner where you may get to try hong shao rou (red braised pork), or the seafood that the city is famous for.
Included Activities
  • Shanghai - Leader-led orientation walk
Meals Included
  • Dinner
Special Information
Today’s total travel time is approximately 5 hours.
After breakfast at your hotel, the morning is free to explore Shanghai your way. Perhaps drop into Shanghai First Food which was established in 1952 and is the world’s largest comprehensive food store. Alternatively, 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, wander the Yuyuan Gardens and Bazaar, barter in markets, or stroll through modern Pudong. In the afternoon, try your hand at making Shanghai’s famous dumplings during a cooking class. Chomp on potstickers and slurp up the juice from Shanghai’s famous soup dumplings with a local chef, who will teach you how to create the perfect xiao long bao, a delicious early dinner for everyone. Tonight, maybe scope out the city’s buzzing nightlife at a local bar or enjoy one more delicious meal.
Included Activities
  • Shanghai - Dumpling cooking class
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
Your China Real Food Adventure comes to an end this morning. There are no activities today, and you are free to leave your accommodation at any time.
Meals Included
  • Breakfast

Meals

5 breakfasts, 4 lunches, 4 dinners

Transport

Train, Private vehicle, Public bus, Subway

Accommodation

Lodge (1 night), Hotel (9 nights)

Included activities

  • Chengdu - Welcome Dinner
  • Chengdu - Leader-led market tour
  • Chengdu - Sichuan Cooking class
  • Chengdu - Spice market tour
  • Chengdu - Tianfu Square and People's Park
  • Emeishan - Baoguo Temple
  • Chengdu - Giant Panda Breeding Research Base (entrance fee & transport included)
  • Emeishan - Tea Farm Visit
  • Xi'an - Terracotta Warriors Tour (entrance fee, transport, local guide included)
  • Xi'an - Muslim Quarter tasting trail
  • Xi'an - Noodle-making demonstration in a local home
  • Beijing - Beijing duck dinner
  • Beijing - Forbidden City
  • Beijing - Tiananmen Square
  • Beijing - Mutianyu Great Wall
  • Beijing - Hutong Tour
  • Shanghai - Leader-led orientation walk
  • Shanghai - Dumpling cooking class

Dates & availability

Trip departures are unavailable.

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

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Important notes

Travellers on Intrepid trips that start on or before 31 December 2022 are required to produce proof of full vaccination against COVID-19. Learn more about Intrepid’s COVID-19 policy.

1. A single supplement is available if you’d prefer not to share a room on this trip. The single supplement applies to all nights of your trip and is subject to availability. Please speak to your booking agent for further information.
2. While we endeavour to cater for specific dietary requirements, some meals and food activities are set in advance and may be difficult to adjust. Please advise us of any dietary requirements at the time of booking so that we can ensure you’ll enjoy this trip.
3. Please provide a scanned colour copy of your passport at time of booking to secure flight and train tickets. Ticketing fees may apply for amendments to details within 45 days of departure, and in some cases, you will be required to cover the cost of issuing a new ticket if an amendment occurs.

Essential trip information

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