Date printed: 30 October 2014
Land of the Dragon - Family Holiday
This exciting trip takes you on a grand journey through the varied landscapes of China. First to the fascinating city of Beijing where you’ll visit Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City and the famous Great Wall. An overnight train to Luoyang takes you to the hallowed Shaolin Temple where you can see a kung fu demonstration, and the spectacular Longmen Caves. See the pandas at Chengdu, and visit Xian, the start of the Silk Route - once the richest city in the world and home of the awe-inspiring Terracotta Army. Next you’ll journey to the heart of rural Guanxi province – to a backdrop of beautiful sugar-loaf peaks. From Yangshuo you’ll explore ethnic villages and the stunning ‘Dragon’s Backbone’ rice terraces, plus enjoy many different activities. Together with your stay in a remote minority village this section of the trip gives you a genuine taste of quintessential China. Your journey ends back in Beijing.
Itinerary (Without Flights)
Beijing; free afternoon
This afternoon you have time to relax and meet the other members of your group before perhaps heading out to enjoy the first of many superb Chinese meals. Hotel (AAA) – 2 nights
Although the original terminus of the Silk Route was Xian, the infamous Kublai Khan made Peking his capital and extended the route. During the Ming dynasty the city’s two great monuments were built – The Forbidden City and the Temple of Heaven. In the morning you visit the Temple of heaven - a masterpiece of Chinese architecture, set in beautiful surrounds. We visit here in the morning because it's likely you'll see people exercising and practising tai chi in the grounds.
The Forbidden City was home to the Emperor and his family, and the maze of buildings within the Forbidden City became the symbolic and literal heart of the capital and the empire. Symbolism abounds; dragon and phoenix represent emperor and empress, and construction was in accordance with the principles of Yin and Yang - the balance of negative and positive forces. This evening there is the opportunity to take an optional excursion to see an acrobatic troupe or to visit the famous Beijing Opera (both optional). (B)
This morning you’ll set off for the drive to China’s best-known attraction, the Great Wall (approx. 1.5-2 hours).Stretching over 5000km from the coast in the east, the wall was built as a defence against invasion from the horsemen of the far north, and has survived ina good condition since then. Surrounded by woodland and streams and around 90km from Beijing, the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall is considered by many to be one of the best preserved parts of the wall. Renowned for its Ming Dynasty guard towers (there are 22 of them over this 2,250 meter-long stretch) and built mainly of granite, the wall is an impressive sight at over 7 meters high and more than 4 meters wide. You hike along a section of the wall, taking in the surrounding scenery and getting a feel for the sheer size of this amazing construction. In the afternoon you stop at a local hotel, where you have the chance to freshen up before you transfer to the station (approx. 3 hours) and board your overnight sleeper train to Luoyang. Berth on overnight train - 1 night (B)
On arrival in Luoyang you transfer to your hotel (approx. 40 minutes) before you head out to the revered Shaolin Temple (approx. 2 hrs), the spiritual home of kung fu. Famous for the legendary monks who could balance on one finger or hang from a tree by their neck, the Shaolin Temple remains one of China’s most famous sights and is usually bustling with visitors and martial arts students. The original kung fu was based on the movements of animals (tigers and snakes for instance) and is the basis of many of the martial arts which are practised today. You have the opportunity to see the various styles demonstrated in a professional performance. Afterwards there might still be time to wander around the temple watching students practising their skills. Hotel (AAA) – 1 night. Please note that rooms might not be ready upon your early morning arrival.
This morning you drive out to the incredible Longmen Caves, south of Luoyang (approx. 40 min). The site has over 100,000 images of Buddha carved into caves and niches in the rock, which stretches for over a kilometre past the Yi River. The statues of Buddha are carved in a variety of styles that display the influence of northern characteristics. The most impressive sections of the caves are the Ten Thousand Buddha cave and the 17 metre high image of Buddha built for Empress Wu Zetian. In the afternoon you transfer by high speed bullet train to the Imperial city of Xian (approx. 2 hours). Human activity in this area dates back 6,000 years, but it was the Zhou dynasty which established Xian as its capital on the Fen River. Under the Tang dynasty, a magnificent city was built which was used thereafter as a model for other Chinese cities and also for the Japanese capital at Nara in 710. As terminus of the Silk Road, Xian was the world’s largest, richest and most cosmopolitan city and capital of a powerful nation. Many monuments reveal Xian’s importance over the centuries and reflect the fact that it was the capital of an empire some twelve times in its history. Hotel (AA) – 2 nights (B)
Xian; city walk
Xian is one of the few cities in China to have preserved its city walls virtually intact. The city itself has spread beyond these walls, but the centre of the town still retains the original grid formation, making it easy to navigate around the town. This morning you are taken by your Group Leader on a walk around the city. You spend your time wandering the back streets of the Muslim quarter, which is home to one of the largest mosques in China.
This afternoon there may be time to visit the Big Wild Goose Pagoda (both optional). Built in about 648 AD, its original purpose was to house Buddhist scriptures brought back from India. Alternatively, you could just wander through the old quarter and soak up the atmosphere. Xian is a fantastic place to do some souvenir shopping! This evening you will have the opportunity to visit the popular Tang Dynasty Show (optional) or to enjoy the bustle, lights and exotic goods at the night market in the Muslim quarter. (B)
Xian is, of course, famous for the Terracotta Warriors, guarding the tomb of Emperor Qin Shi Huang. Although this vast army was buried some 22 centuries ago, it was only discovered as recently as 1974. This morning you drive to the site (approx. 1 hour) which is spread over several tombs. The sheer size of the assembled terracotta army and the excellent displays will really feed the kids’ imagination. There is also an interesting museum housing a collection of artefacts from the original digs. This afternoon you transfer to the airport (approx. 1 hour) and fly to Chengdu, capital of Sichuan province.
Hotel (AAA) – 1 night (B)
Panda Breeding & Research Centre
Chengdu is famous throughout China for many things – the spicy food of the Sichuan province and the endless chatter of the city’s tearooms, but globally it is renowned for the panda research centre, which you will visit this morning. China’s national animal, the giant panda is a rare and increasingly threatened creature. The research centre is home to both giant and red panda bear, and you can marvel at these incredible creatures in a close approximation of their habitat. It’s an early start as the panda only wakes for a few hours of the day to eat and exercise, but the opportunity to get close to this remarkable being is an experience not to be missed. After returning from the research centre, you take a flight to Guilin (1 1/2 hours), from wher you head into the picturesque countryside around Yangshuo (approx. 2 hours) The inspiration for many paintings and literary works, Yangshuo lies on the western bank of the Li River, which meanders languidly through a remarkable landscape of dramatic limestone sugarloaf peaks; one of the most memorable images of classical China. This is your base for the next 2 days. Hotel (AAA) – 3 nights
Located deep within karst peaks of Guangxi, Yangshuo is a haven for many visitors from the hustle and bustle of the ever-developing Chinese nation. The main peak in Yangshuo is Green Lotus Peak, standing next to the Li River. Your first day here is free to relax or explore the area. Yangshuo may be a small town, but there are many optional trips that can be arranged via your Group Leader, from a river cruise to calligraphy or Chinese language lessons; great fun for all the family. In the afternoon why not take a short drive to Chaolong, where you will be able to learn the art of Chinese cooking. This optional excursion will allow the whole family to learn the techniques and skills of Chinese cookery from experienced chefs, and after an afternoon trying delicious recipes, you can eat what you have made for dinner! Next day you head out of Yangshuo on bikes to cycle on farm tracks, meandering through paddy fields and with spectacular limestone karst scenery on all sides. You’ll pause for a cold drink beside one of the most beautiful of the Li River tributaries. You'll continue on to a local village nestled at the base of Moon Hill. Here you can sample local farmers’ cooking before returning to Yangshuo. (L)
Please note that helmets are not provided for the cycling - these can be bought in Yangshuo or please feel free to bring one from home.
Mah An Zhai Village
You travel to Mai An Zhai village (Chengyang) by bus (approx 4hrs). Mai An Zhai is a traditional Dong village, dominated by the beautiful "Wind and Rain Bridge" - a stunning wooden structure build without using a single nail! you have time to soak up the atmosphere of this remote village. The night is spent in a simple guesthouse (A) - 1 night (D)
Today you will drive from Chengyang to the small village of Pingan in Longji – meaning Dragon’s Backbone in Mandarin (a journey of about 3 1/2 hours). At the foot of the mountain you switch to smaller vehicles, leaving your main luggage in the bus, taking only an overnight bag. The village of Pingan is built on steep terraces. Therefore the road stops short of the village and you cover the last bit on foot. It is about a 30 minute walk, along a steep path - make sure you pack light for this overnight stop! Located in a region famed for its amazing rice terraces, the area is also home to many Chinese minorities’ nationalities, each of which has a distinct culture. Here you have the opportunity to enjoy rural China at its best. The afternoon you will visit some of the famous rice terraces, where you can climb to the top of hills for amazing views over the surrounding countryside; hills where dedicated Chinese farmers still work to earn their living. Some have described these terraces as the 8th Wonder of the World. Visits to some of the minority villages in this area will introduce you to some of the many differing peoples that make the area their home and provide a unique insight into their cultures.
Village guesthouse (A) – 1 night (D)
Today you return to China’s capital. Bidding Pingan farewell you walk back down the mountain to pick up a minibus, which will rejoin you with the bus (and your main luggage). You transfer back to Guilin (approx 2 hours), where you have time for a final meal with your Group Leader, before you drive to the airport for an evening flight back to Beijing (3 hours). Hotel (AAA) – 1 night
Trip ends in Beijing for Land Only clients.
Anyone in good health should be able to take part in this trip. Journeys by road can be tiring in hot summers; overnight train travel is undertaken in comfortable ‘soft class’. China is a developing country and some things may not meet Western expectations - all travellers need to be flexible, accepting that standards will be different to those found at home. Minimum age: 5 years.
The decision to partake in any activity not listed as an optional activity is entirely at your own discretion and risk. If you do have any complaint about or problem with, any such optional activity your claim should be directed to the activity provider and not to The Adventure Company.
Family First Accommodation
As the leader in providing Family Adventure holidays, we fully understand the importance to you of clean, comfortable, family friendly accommodation. Our families team hand-pick all of our accommodation to provide you with the best value and best experience possible. We are so confident in our accommodation selections, that we name every property that you will stay in on all our Family Adventures, so that you can be fully confident in your holiday choice.
We use a variety of accommodation around the world. Wherever possible we try to ensure that this is in keeping with the itinerary and the region that you are visiting. To give you a feel for the standard, we have provided an accommodation grading for each night. However please bear in mind that these are intended as a guide and are not based on 'star' ratings, so there will be variations within each grade: AA - Hotels, lodges or guesthouses, usually with en suite facilities. These are generally simple hotels with adequate amenities. Whilst comfort levels are perfectly acceptable, there are generally no added facilities
Rooming in Hotels
When arranging rooming for our trips, we try to meet the needs of all families. As families come in all sizes, we do not offer a set formula regarding rooming arrangements, and we ask you to be as flexible as possible. Our trips are based on a twin share basis, but we try to accommodate families in triple or family rooms if available. Full details of our rooming procedure can be found here. Very occasionally rooming is in communal or dorm style rooms where you'll share with other families. Where relevant this is indicated in the itinerary.
On occasion late hotel changes are unavoidable and you will get final confirmation of the particular hotels for your trip when you receive your joining instructions.
Some or all of the excursions detailed below may be available. Approximate costs are given for guidance only and may depend on the number of participants. Your Group Leader should be able to assist you in arranging them.
- Bicycle hire Xian - 1 CNY per minute
- Beijing Hutong tour - 160 CNY (includes lunch)
- Beijing Opera - 280/380/480 CNY
- Bejing Temple of Heaven & Lama Temple 361 CNY
- Bejing Summer Palace 275 CNY
- Xian Big Wild Goose Pagoda 50 CNY
- Xian Tang Dynasty Show - 328 CNY (with meal)/198 (without meal)
- Xian Dumpling Banquet - 100 CNY
- Sound and light show, Yangshuo - 198/238/328 CNY pp
- Yangshuo Li River Cruise 150 CNY
- Yangshuo Calligraphy Lesson 50 CNY
- Yangshuo Chinese Lesson 40 CNY
Below is a suggestion of what you might find useful to take on this trip. It is not an exhaustive packing list. If you need further advice, please call us or consult your nearest specialist outdoor clothing and equipment store.
- Lightweight cotton clothing
- Warm mid-layer i.e. lightweight fleece
- Wind/waterproof jacket
- Comfortable walking shoes
- Trainers/sandals for relaxing
- Sunglasses, sunscreen and lipsalve
- Insect repellent
- Small torch (and spare batteries)
- Cutlery (if you can’t use chopsticks!)
- Toilet tissue
- Personal first aid kit
- A lightweight umbrella may be useful (available locally)
A laundry service is some hotels, but we recommend you take biodegradable travel detergent so you can wash clothes as you choose.
For your comfort we recommend you travel as light as possible; many airlines impose a maximum weight limit of 20kg – we advise you to take 10kg as you will be on the move a good deal! For in country flights using light aircraft the usual weight limit is 15 kg.
One main piece (a soft bag or rucksack, not a hard suitcase).
A daypack (25-30 litres), large enough to carry what you need for the day including camera, water, etc
For better or worse, tipping is an accepted part of everyday life, and although it is always at your discretion, you will be expected to tip to reward service. Your Group Leader will be able to give you an indication of when and how much is appropriate, and you can use the amounts below for guidance
Group leader: 10-20 CNY per day
Driver: 10 CNY per day
Hotel staff / Hotel porters: 5 CNY per day
Local Guide: 10-15 CNY per day
This can vary, but please allow approx. £25-30 per person for this trip.
China’s cities and sites are huge. When sightseeing, do as the locals do; take water and wear comfortable shoes. A business card with the name of your hotel written in Mandarin is also handy, should you get lost! Also, see below for phrases to help you order food.
SOME INTERESTING READING:
Wild Swans - Three Daughters of China Jung Chang: Mao - The Unknown Story - Jung Chang & Jon Halliday 1421: The Year China Discovered the World - Gavin Menzies Great Wall of China – Thammy Evans: Behind the Wall - A Journey Through China – Colin Thubron: Farewell My Concubine – Lilian Lee: The Joy Luck Club – Amy Tan
SOME USEFUL PHRASES:
Ní hao - Good morning / evening
The rest of these phrases relate to food; the Chinese are notorious for eating all sorts, and we hope the following will help you to find something more familiar!
Mifan – rice
Zhurou – pork
Ji – chicken
Yu – fish Su shijin – stir fry assorted vegetables
Qing búyao tai la – not too spicy, please
Wó zhi yao shucai – I only want vegetables
Wo búhui yong kuaizi – I can’t use chopsticks
For most trips prices are based on sharing a twin room. Therefore, if you’re a solo traveller you’ll be paired with someone from the group of the same sex, unless you decide to pay a single room supplement. Details of this supplement can be found on the Extensions & Extras tab on our website. Occasionally we use multiple-share or dormitory accommodation – particularly when stating in remote places.
Rooming arrangements – Family trips
If you’re a family of 2 you’ll be accommodated in a twin room. If you’re a family of three you will usually be accommodated in a triple room. If you’re a family of four you’ll probably be accommodated in two twin rooms and we’ll do our best to ensure they’re as near as possible. We cannot always guarantee a triple room. If a triple room is not available, an adult from your family will automatically be roomed with a fellow adult member of the group of the same sex. If you prefer to have a room of your own we can sometimes offer a single room for the entire trip or on selected nights within a trip. However a single room supplement applies, ask our Travel Consultants for details.
Currency - China
The Chinese currency is known as the Chinese Yuan Renminbi (CNY): the basic unit of currency being the yuan. While USD are the easiest currency to exchange they are not accepted for payment anywhere in China and you will find it easier to change your money into CNY before your trip departs. ATMs that accept foreign cards are available in all cities, but you will need cash in the more remote areas. It is also advisable to have a small amount of Hong Kong Dollars, for the first couple of days if your trip starts there. Please note: if you are planning to change currency into CNY in banks you will need your passport to do this. Exchange facilities may also be available in hotels in China in some locations, but rates fluctuate and could be lower.
Due to restrictions on foreign currency transactions in China it is extremely difficult to exchange CNY back into another currency so it is advisable to budget well. Any left over CNY can be exchanged back into local currency once back in your home country. There are approximately 10.2752 Chinese yuan renminbi to one British pound and 6.227 Chinese Yuan Renminbi to one US dollar (as at March 2014).
Local Costs - China
Approximate average costs are given for guidance only, and may vary widely according to location and type of establishment.
Coffee/tea 3-10 CNY
Nb. Green tea is the national drink of China; Coffee and other types of tea are difficult to find outside tourist areas. Please bring from home as hot water is readily available.
Soft drink 3-10 CNY
Mineral water 5-10 CNY
Medium beer 5-10 CNY
Bottle of wine 50-200 CNY
Local snack lunch (ie noodles or dumplings) 15-30 CNY per person
Dinner at a local restaurant (banquet style shared with group) 30-100 CNY per person.
Approximate average costs are given for guidance only, and may vary widely according to location and type of establishment.
Visas & Permits - China
Holders of UK & IRL passports do require a visa for China. Nationals of all other countries should contact their local embassy or consulate. Passports must be valid for at least six months after the end date of the trip.
For the most up-to-date information and to purchase a Visa via our partner Visa Machine visit www.adventurecompany.co.uk/visa
This information is given in good faith, but may be subject to change without warning. Please note that, where appropriate, obtaining a valid visa is ultimately your responsibility. Please consult a visa agency or the consular authorities 4-6 weeks before departure for the most up-to-date information.
Vaccinations - China
The following are recommended:
† Hepatitis A † Tetanus † Polio † Typhoid † Malaria
† NB: Yellow Fever vaccination is compulsory if travelling via an infected country.
For detailed information and advice concerning vaccinations go to:www.fitfortravel.scot.nhs.uk
Vaccination requirements change periodically so we advise that you check with your nearest specialist travel clinic 4-6 weeks before departure to get up-to-date information.
International rules for carrying medicines vary. Some countries do not allow certain medicines to be imported, or require official documents, such as a doctor’s letter, to prove drugs have been prescribed by a doctor and obtained legally. It is sensible to contact the relevant embassy or high commission of your destination to check what their drug transportation rules are before you travel.
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