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China Experience

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Adventure level: 
3. Moderate
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Asia, China | 22 days
Trip code: 
What's included: 

Transport - Metro, Bus, Overnight sleeper train, Private Bus, Bicycle, Boat

Accommodation - Hotel (10 nts), Overnight sleeper train (4 nts), Guesthouse (3 nts), Overnight boat (3 nts)

Meals - 3 breakfasts, 2 lunches, 2 dinners

Trip Highlights: 
The Great Wall
The Terracotta Warriors
Panda Research Centre
River trip & Three Gorges
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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2013 Itinerary

(Departures in 2013)
  • Day 1-5 - Beijing
  • Day 6-8 - Xi'an
  • Day 9 - Chengdu
  • Day 10 - Leshan
  • Day 11-12 - Emei Shan
  • Day 13-17 - Yangzi River
  • Day 17-20 - Yangshou
  • Day 21-22 - Hong Kong
Extensions and Extras: Extend your holiday and see more of the world. View additional tours for this trip »


An overnight flight takes you to Beijing. On arrival you will be met and transferred to your hotel. On the evening of day 2 there is a welcome meeting at 6pm in the hotel where you will meet your group leader and the rest of the group.

Beijing is the capital of the biggest populated country in the world and it is quickly loosing its historical face in exchange for a modern one. There are still some wonderful historic places to visit which you will experience during your stay here. Tiananmen Square is the world's largest city square, measuring 880 metres. Visit the Museum of Chinese history in the east of the square and the Great Hall of the People in it's west. At the Forbidden City, former home of imperial rulers, you will take a guided tour of the palaces, buildings and grand courtyards, it's a huge complex. You also will visit a project for people with learning disabilities called Beijing Huiling or "wise spirit". 

The Great Wall of China is an amazing feat of engineering, stretching a total of 6000km from Beijing to the west, it was originally constructed to protect the country from invasion from the north and remains a magnificent structure. You will take a bus to a lesser known section of the wall (3 hours driving) from Jinshanling to Gubeikou. Once you arrive you will explore the wall on foot, walking approx 8km or 5 hours. It's a great idea to bring a picnic with you and of course sturdy, comfortable walking shoes. There are many steps and slopes so the walk can be challenging but the views, and the experience itself, are a great reward for your efforts. The trail mainly follows the wall but at times takes you into the countryside. (NB walk will be shorter in Jun-Aug due to excessive heat). Hotel - 3 nights

On day 5 you board an overnight hard sleeper train (approx 12 hours) which takes you to Xi'an. Travelling by train is quite basic in China but affords a great way to meet some local people. Expect an open plan compartment with 6 berths set in two tiers of 3. Sheets, pillows and blankets are provided. Bring your own sleeping sheet for comfort. Hot water (safe) is available for making drinks or instant meals on the train. Bring a mug, spoon, knife and fork with you if you plan to make your own meals. Most trains have a dining carriage and snacks can be purchased along the way. It is also a good idea to take some snacks with you. Each carriage has a toilet and washbasin, bring your own toilet roll and be prepared for lower standards of cleanliness than you are used to. Sleeper train - 1 night



You will arrive early to Xi'an, please note that hotel rooms may not be ready until noon.

Now a vibrant and modern city, Xi'an was the imperial centre of China for 2,000 years and there are many historical sights to be discovered including its city walls on which you can walk or cycle. Xi'an was the starting point for the Silk Road, an ancient trading route and a monument celebrates this. You will take a walking tour to discover the city.

Of course no visit to Xi'an is complete without seeing the Terracotta Warriors, it takes a 2 hour journey by bus to reach this famous site. The Warriors were discovered by farmers digging a well in 1976 after being burried for thousands of years, you can image how excited they were with their discovery! The statues are made of clay and were commissioned by the emperor of the Qin dynasty as part of his mausoleum. Soldiers, horses and chariots all stand in battle formation ready to protect their emperor.

Back in the city you can enjoy great views by climbing either the Drum or Bell towers. The Bell tower built in 1582, and restored in 1739, is at the meeting point of Bei, Nan, Dong and Xi Dajie (or N,S,E,W Avenues). The tower was used to announce the time of day and serve as a watchtower. The Drum tower marks the entrance to the Muslim Quarter. It once held a giant drum which was used to signal the closing of the city gates. From here you can see a great view of the Great Mosque. You can also visit (additional cost) the Small Wild Goose Pagoda 2km south of the city.

Later on Day 8 you will board an overnight sleeper train to Chendu in Sichuan Province (approx 17 hours journey).



Chengdu is one of China's largest cities but retains a traditional flavour with its many tea houses, markets and of course its food. Sichuan food is spicy so if you like it hot you will love huoguo (hot pot) or mapo doufu (spicy tofu).

A visit to the Giant Panada Breeding Research Base is a huge highlight of your trip. The base has 50 giant and red panadas to view, if you are really lucky you may be able to see newborn pandas as they take their first steps in the nursery. These adorable animals are quite a special sight.

Take a visit to People's Park and watch the locals as they practice tai chi or take a cooking class where you learn precisely how to make great Chinese dishes or hire a bike to explore the city. Hotel - 1 night



Drive to Leshan (2.5 hours approx) today and see the world's largest outdoor seated Buddha. Da Fo - the Buddha - is a 71m tall icon carved into a solid cliff face. Continue to Baoguo Monastery which will be your base for the Emei Shan section of the tour, it is one of the most famous sites in China.  Guesthouse - 1 night


Emei Shan

Emei Shan is one of the holiest places in China, at just over 3000m high it has been a centre of pilgrimage for over 1800 years. Today you will pack an overnight back for your trip up Emei Shan, leaving your main luggage behind at the guesthouse - make sure that your footwear is suitable and sturdy for your day on the mountain. You travel by bus and then cable car to experience this immense landscape (3 hours travelling), at the top you are rewarded with spectacular views. You can choose between walking down amidst the pilgrims, winding down moutain paths and steps for approx 6 hours (please note even downhill this is a tough trek and your leader will not accompany you so you need to be fit enough to cope) - or you can take a bus down the moutain and then make a 2 hour walk to your mountain monastery guesthouse. Here the accommodation is simple with shared facilities, the location is amazing and waking up to the sound of monks chanting is just unforgettable. (NB it may be necessary to stay at a guesthouse in Emei town during festivals and peak times). There may be itinerary changes during October to April due to weather conditions and warm clothes are essential at this time as you may experience sub zero temperatures.

At the base of the mountain there are optional choices to explore the countryside on foot and visit some local hot springs or villages. Hidden deep in the forest you can discover the Crouching Tiger Monastery with its seven-metre copper pagoda inscribed with Buddhist images and texts. Guesthouse - 2 nights

Yangzi River

Yangzi River

Boaring a local bus today you travel to the industrial city of Chongging (approx 6 hours) to reach the gateway to the Yangzi River. The biggest city in China, Chongging has a population of over 20 million in the city centre and its suburbs which sprawl along the river and up the hills. The streets are so steep you won't see the usual bicyles here!

More spicy Sichuan cooking is found here, if you like it hot you'll be in heaven here. Boarding your basic tourist class boat, you depart on a 3 night cruise through the Three Gorges to Yichang. Cabins onboard are clean and simple twin share with private facilities. It may be possible that you are required to share a cabin with your group leader, or a non group traveller of the same sex as single cabins are not permitted. You will find a full board buffet on board with quite plain local food. You are advised to stock up on some snacks before you board.  During the trip you can take the chance to learn some Chinese, play mahjong, or just chat and relax with your group and other travellers. The views are also spectacular. 

Please note - the Yangzi River region is a very fast developing industrial region. Your boat is a Chinese tourist boat, not a luxury tourist vessel - the voyage is best described as a river trip and not a cruise. Standards of service and food do vary. All boats are safety checked. Sometimes unexpected changes may need to be made and in rare cases all three gorges may not be seen. 

Along the way visit Fendu Temple a curious blend of Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism. There may be opportunities for other excursions ashore consult with your leader for advice.

In the small city of Yichang you can explore local markets, visit a park, try reflexology or visit a local barber. In the evening try some karaoke or visit the cinema. 

On Day 16 an overnight train takes you to Liuzhou (approx 15 hours). You travel in soft sleeper class - 4 to a compartment. (As Yichang is not a terminal station you may find the bedding is not fresh, bring a sleeping bag if you wish. It is important that you sleep well as you disembark the train very early tomorrow).

Boat - 3 nights, Hotel - 1 night, Sleeper Train - 1 night



This morning arrive at approx 4.30 am and take a private transfer (approx 3.5 hrs) to Yangshuo. Yangshuo is a fun town with lots of cafes and bars it is a popular place with local and international tourists. Limestone karst scereny, rice paddies and the winding River Li make this region distinctive. You explore by bike, stopping for lunch with a local family to get a taste of country life here. There is free time to choose your own activities including, a Chinese Calligraphy lesson, a boat ride or a cookery lesson. 

On day 20 you board the public bus to Guillin (approx 2 hours). Take an overnight sleeper train tongiht to Shenzhen the gateway to Hong Kong (approx 13 hours). Hotel - 2 nights, Sleeper Train - 1 night


Hong Kong

Crossing the border from China into Hong Kong is a busy and time consuming thing. It takes around 2 hours on each side to clear immigration and customs, your bags will be with you during this time; patience is essential. Once cleared you board the KCR train into central Hong Kong. Hong Kong has been back under Chinese rule since 1997, it is a truely unique place where east and west meet. The vibrant and fast paced city is only minutes away from quiet islands and beaches. There are many optional activites to choose from during your time here in Hong Kong, including a ride on the Star Ferry, a visit to Victoria Peak and see the harbour's light show. Enjoy a final farewell dinner with Cantonese dishes. 

On day 22 you take a late transfer to the airport for your flight home, arriving in London the following morning.