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Real Food Adventure - China

Trip type: 
Food & Cultural
Adventure level: 
2. Gentle
Max group size: 
Avg user rating: 
Awaiting reviews
Asia, China | 11 days
Trip code: 
What's included: 

Transport - Metro, Private Bus, train

Accommodation - Hotel (8 nts), Overnight sleeper train (1 nt)

Meals - 4 Breakfasts, 5 Lunches, 5 Dinners


Trip Highlights: 
Discovering China's culinary delights
The Great Wall
The Terracotta Army
Giant Panadas
see full itinerary >>

Holidays in China
You'll follow an itinerary which has been researched and planned by our experts, saving you all the hassle of organising the trip. The itineraries are designed to minimise the time spent travelling and maximise the variety of experiences.
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Itinerary for Real Food Adventure - China

(Departures in 2014-15)
  • Day 1-4 - Beijing
  • Day 5-6 - Xi'an
  • Day 7-8 - Chengdu
  • Day 9 - Jinbo Village
  • Day 10 - Shanghai
  • Day 11 - Tour ends
Extensions and Extras: Extend your holiday and see more of the world. View additional tours for this trip »


Take an overnight flight - on arrival you will be met and transferred to your hotel.

Nimen Hao! Welcome to China.

Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6:00pm on Day 2. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have all these details to provide to your leader.

The capital of the most populous country on earth, Beijing is quickly shedding its historical face in favour of modernity. However, there are still plenty of places to go that will give you a great insight into the nation's ancient past as well as sights that showcase China's contemporary culture.

Enjoy your first dinner in China with one of Beijing’s most globally renowned dishes. You haven’t tasted real Peking duck until you’ve eaten it in Beijing! 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.

Enter the narrow alleyways of Beijing’s historic hutong neighbourhoods and partake in a traditional Beijing breakfast. This could consist of a bowl of congee – rice porridge with the addition of pickles, peanuts or meat. The locals also love yóutiáo – deep-fried dough sticks dipped in huge bowls of steaming soya milk. For the more adventurous, you can even try dòufu rŭ – pickled, fermented tofu. It has a very strong flavour, so just a scraping is needed to season congee or rice.

Discover one of the biggest hutong markets in the Old Beijing area, Sihuan Market. With over 500 stalls, you'll have a chance to see steaming fresh tofu and freshly made dumplings while learning about the key ingredients and spices used in Northern Chinese cooking. Continue on to a traditional hutong courtyard for a hands-on cooking class. Learn the basics of Chinese cooking, a cleaver trick or two and recipes for some classic Chinese dishes. Lunch will be your dishes from the cooking class.

Explore Tiananmen Square - apparently the largest down town square in the world. Framed by the Gate of Heavenly Peace with its Mao portrait, Mao's Mausoleum, the Great Hall of the People and the National Museum it's a place of pilgrimage for Chinese tourists who consider it the heart of their nation.

The Forbidden City is the former home to China's imperial rulers. Take a guided tour of the palaces, buildings and seemingly never-ending grand courtyards.

Join your tour leader for a walking tour of Donghuamen Night Market. Considered by some to be one of the world's wildest food markets, food here ranges from mouth-watering to a little confronting: lamb kebabs, beef and chicken skewers, chòu dòufu (stinky tofu), cicadas, grasshoppers, kidneys, quails' eggs, squid, deep fried crickets, lizards and an array of insects are all on the menu.

Tonight is free for your own Beijing food adventure. 
Perhaps enjoy dinner at Ghost Street. In the Qing dynasty it was believed that this street was used to transport coffins in and out of the city. Home to more than 200 restaurants, today Ghost Street is a 24-hour celebration of Chinese cuisine, with hungry patrons arriving anytime from noon to 4am to chow down on some of Beijing's best loved specialties. 

Take an early morning trip to the Mutianyu Great Wall (approx 2 hrs drive from Beijing). An incredible piece of engineering, it 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 is still without a doubt one of the country's most remarkable achievements, and an iconic destination. It's a 30 minute climb up some steep steps to the wall itself but well worth the effort! There is also the option of taking a chair lift or cable car to the top and back if you are after a more leisurely experience and great views. You'll have a few hours to explore the winding wall before heading back to the city for the afternoon. Please note that the wall is quite steep in places so make sure you have some appropriate footwear for this activity.

The villages around this section of the wall are known for their locally farmed produce - from chestnuts to honey. This area is also known in particular for its cold-water aquaculture and sustainable production of fish. You will visit a village nearby to this section of the wall, surrounded by the Foshan Mountains, where you will enjoy lunch straight from the clear spring water of a local trout farm. 

Board an overnight train to Xi'an (approx 13 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. We use hard sleeper class trains for most of our overnight train journeys. These are not as rough as they sound – compartments are open-plan and clean, with padded three-tiered berths (6 to a compartment). Sheets, pillows and a blanket are provided. We recommend bringing your own sleeping sheet as the quality/cleanliness of sheets may not be what you are used to. Safe, hot drinking water is always available for making coffee, tea or instant meals. 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 are situated at the end of each carriage with toilets and washbasins. As toilet paper isn't always available, it's advised to carry some of your own; keep in mind general train cleanliness may not be to the same standard you are accustomed to. Most trains have a dining carriage where meals are available before the journey to supplement food available on the train.

An optional upgrade from a hard sleeper to a soft sleeper berth (4 travellers per compartment with a lockable door) may be available for some overnight train journeys on this trip. Please contact us for booking and more details.

Included Activities

  • Donghuamen Night Market walking tour
  • Beijing - Tiananmen Square
  • Beijing - Forbidden City
  • Market Tour and Cooking Class
  • Great Wall - Mutianyu section
  • Rainbow Trout Farm Lunch

Optional Activities

  • Ghost Street Dinner - CNY120


Hotel (3 nts)



The walled city of Xi'an, capital of Shaanxi province, was once the start of the famous ancient trading route, the Silk Road. Today it is a vibrant modern city, notable both for its remarkable historical treasures as well as its distinctive food culture.

The food in Xi'an is marked by the strong salty flavours of Shaanxi cuisine, and has been influenced by the significant Muslim population, which is evident in the city's nut and pastry shops and the prevalence of snacks such as kebabs and flatbreads. Serving portions are notably generous and every dish has a story – from 'Old Ma Family's mutton' to 'Old Liu Family's Hulutou'. Other hallmarks of Xi'an cuisine are the prominence of noodles and dumplings as accompaniments to many classic dishes, as well as snacks and soups served at numerous food stalls that line the city streets. One thing is certain about any trip to Xi'an: you won't leave hungry. 

Enjoy local Xi'an breakfast specialties such as ba ba zhou (eight treasure rice porridge) and hula soup (pancakes and pepper soup with meatballs and vegetables).

Visit Xi'an's most famous site – the Terracotta Warriors. Travel by bus for around 2 hours to reach the site. Once there, hear all about this incredible archaeological find, discovered – after being buried for thousands of years – by farmers digging a well in 1976. 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 view to the public.

For dinner, find yourself in the heart of the Muslim Quarter and discover why Xi'an in considered the 'snack capital' of China. Go on a unique food crawl will have you tasting some of the city's best: beef or lamb kebabs, cold noodles, pancakes in lamb soup and steamed soupy dumplings.

This morning you are free to explore.

Try a leisurely cycle on the Xi'an city wall – a distance of 13.74 km. The wall, an ancient fortification situated in the heart of Xi'an, was built in 1378 AD.

Before you leave the city, sit down to try Xi'an's signature dish, yang rou pau mo - a mutton soup served with wheat flour flat bread and eaten with chilli paste, caraway seeds and pickled garlic cloves.

Catch an overnight hard sleeper train to Chengdu (approx 17 hrs).

Included Activities

  • Muslim Quarter Snack Crawl
  • Terracotta Warriors

Optional Activities

  • Lunch at a local farmer restaurant - CNY40
  • Yang Rou Pao Mo Lunch - CNY30


Hotel (1 nt), Overnight sleeper train (1 nt)




An officially recognised UNESCO City of Gastronomy, Chengdu is the capital of the Sichuan province located in southwest China. Although one of China's biggest cities, Chengdu has preserved plenty of its traditional character. Visitors can still find famous teahouses, numerous markets and the distinctive flavours that have made a visit to Sichuan province a must for those interested in getting to the heart of Chinese cuisine.

The food of Sichuan province is perhaps best recognised for its fiery quality and the tingling, tongue-numbing sensation produced by its most famous ingredient, Sichuan pepper. Although only introduced to the region in the past few centuries, Sichuan pepper quickly gained a stronghold in local dishes and is a must-try for those travelling in this part of the world.

Start the day Sichuan style with a spicy bowl of Dan Dan noodles for your first tongue-tingling Sichuan pepper experience

Take a walking tour through the center of Chengdu. Visit Tianfu Square, where a giant statue of Chairman Mao stands tall. Relax in one of the most popular parks in Chengdu, People's Park, where you can experience the amazing Chengdu tea culture. Tea is definitely one of the essentials for Chengdu people's daily life. Sit on a bamboo chair in the park, sip some tea and enjoy casual chitchat alongside the locals. Also try your hand at mahjong, badminton, or even join in singing and dancing. Don't be surprised if somebody comes up to you with an offer of cleaning your ears!

For more Chengdu specialities, Jinli Street is the place to go. This street is famous for its historic atmosphere, bustling businesses and most of all – local snacks. Enjoy sticky rice cakes with sesame sauce, spicy chicken on a stick, sweet rice jelly, fried beef pancakes and, for the more adventurous, spicy rabbits head. Explore the local markets on your own where you can find an array of fresh local produce, from commonly recognised fruit, vegetables and protein, to regional delicacies and (to our western sensibility) the utterly bizarre.

You will have the opportunity to 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 about 50 giant and red pandas at the base, some of which can be viewed by the public and you may even be lucky enough to see newborns taking their first steps in the nursery.

Sit down to a truly authentic Sichuan hotpot. Known in Sichuan as 'huo guo' (which roughly translates to 'fire pot'), huo guo is thought to date back more than 1,000 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 Walking Tour
  • Sichuan Hotpot Dinner

Optional Activities

  • Jinli Street Food Sampling - CNY30


Hotel (2 nts)



Jinbo Village

You travel by private bus to Jinbo Village (approx 3 hours)

Jinbo Village is located in a picturesque mountain valley and populated by Tibetan and Qiang minority families. The village cultivates organic produce for the fledgling Chinese organic food markets and is one of only a few places in China actively attempting to develop ecotourism. This area was severely damaged during the 2008 Sichuan earthquake and you will see much restoration work is still taking place. While here you have to opportunity to get involved in the different procedures of traditional farming including picking wild vegetables, tofu-making and local wine-making. Activities will vary depending on the season.

Our accommodation here is very basic and you will live how the local villagers do during our overnight stay. Facilities are limited, with no running water and simple multi-share accommodation in village houses. Very few foreign visitors make the journey here, so you are in for an authentic experience of village life.

All meals will be home-cooked by the local family you are staying with and use seasonal fresh vegetables and home smoked meat. Feel free to pitch in and practice the cooking skills you've learnt so far!


Homestay (1 nt)




Board a flight to Shanghai (Approx 2.5 hours)

Blending 21st-century architecture with old-world character, Shanghai is the vibrant pulse of new China.

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. Hairy crab is the city's most notable delicacy, though it’s only available in winter between the months of September and November.

Spend your final evening with a drink overlooking the glittering lights of the Pudong Financial District. Then join your leader and fellow travellers for a final Shanghai-inspired dinner to say farewell to China and all of the wonderful cuisine that you have encountered.

After dinner, if you’re still up for some fun, join a bar crawl around the French Concession area to enjoy Shanghai's famed nightlife.

Included Activities

  • Shanghai - Walking tour


Hotel (1 nt)



Tour ends

Your adventure ends today and you will be transferred to the airport for your flight home.