An epic tour of China in 27 days!
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Group Size: Avg 10-15, max 25
Trip code: CHAD
Duration: 27 days
Explore China in 27 days on this awesome Asian adventure tour, beginning and ending in Hong Kong. Visit epic locations such as Shanghai, Beijing, Hangzhou and Macau, and see famous sights including the Terracotta Warriors and Victoria Peak. Plus, you’ll enjoy a fantastic range of included activities, such as hiking and camping on the Great Wall, meeting Pandas in Chengdu, learning Kung Fu at a Shaolin children's home, sleeping in a traditional roundhouse and bamboo rafting on the Li River. You’ll see and do it all on this amazing China Adventure!
- Go off the beaten track and explore all China’s best bits in 27 days as you make new friends on this great group tour
- Hang out in Hong Kong, go off the beaten track in Yangshuo, get up close to amazing Pandas in Chengdu and enjoy the city buzz of Beijing
- See the world-famous Terracotta Army, learn Kung Fu and meet the kids in a Shaolin children's home
- Feel the thrill of Shanghai and Macau
- Hike and camp on the iconic Great Wall of China and watch the sun rise in style!
Day 1: Arrival Day – Welcome to Hong Kong!
Once you arrive in Hong Kong, you’ll get settled in to your accommodation and, if you want to get a feel for the city, take yourself out to explore the vibrant, heaving streets. With an endless stream of things to see and do, make sure you allow for a little R&R before your adventure begins – but definitely take time to sample some of the city’s outstanding food – Hong Kong is one of the world’s culinary capitals after all.
Day 2: Depart from Hong Kong
You’ll meet your guide and the rest of the group today bright and early at 7am in the reception area of Yes Inn at Causeway Bay. From here you’ll board a bus (7:30 departure) and head to Victoria Peak where, at over 550 metres high, you’ll get to enjoy incredible views of Hong Kong. You’ll have a briefing to give you a good idea of what to expect over the next few weeks. We’ll jump back on the bus, collecting any late arrivals from the Yes Inn at 10:30, and head to Sheung Shui Metro Station to take the metro to Shenzhen North Railway Station (expected arrival 13:30) before boarding the bullet train to Guilin, where you and the group might fancy stopping off for dinner before the second leg of the journey to Yangshuo. Travel on the bullet train should take roughly 3 hours from Shenzhen North to Guilin North, where you’ll take a private bus for the rest of the journey to Yangshuo.
Day 3-6: Yangshuo
On your first morning in Yangshuo you’ll have the opportunity to take part in an optional traditional Chinese cookery class and kayaking session. The next day, you’ll head out to the Yulong River for a bike ride in the afternoon, followed by an utterly unmissable bamboo raft river cruise. Over the next couple of days, you’ll have the chance to try out optional activities including: Chinese cupping therapies, rock climbing, mud baths and hot springs, cormorant fishing, and kayaking. On day 6 the group will head to Guilin railway station to board the train to Chengdu. This is quite a lengthy journey but it’s a great way to view the country and get to know your group better.
Day 7-9: Chengdu
On your first full day in Chengdu, you’ll meet beautiful pandas at China’s biggest Giant Pandan Breeding and Research Centre. You’ll then enjoy your first Mandarin lesson. You’ll get to learn the basics in this class and later in the programme have two more lessons before trying out what you’ve learnt on the locals! After the lesson, you'll then have the chance to help out at a local charitable programme if you like. The rest of your time here is free to explore and get involved with optional activities. Optional activities include: getting a massage, a trip to Leshan to see the world’s largest stone Buddha, watching the Sichuan opera, visiting the Wenshu Monastery, Mao’s Statue, People’s Park, or a trip to a traditional tea house. This afternoon, you'll hop on a train to Xi'an and arrive in the evening.
Day 10-11: Xi’an
Have a free morning to explore Xi’an properly – take an optional look around the Bell-drum Towers, the Muslim Quarter and Great Mosque, then this evening enjoy some delicious street food before looking around the local silk market. On day 11 we’ll visit the world-renowned Terracotta Warriors before chilling out in the afternoon. You’ll also have the option to join an afternoon bike tour to ride on the Ming Dynasty City Walls.
Day 12: Dengfeng
With a 7am departure, we’ll hop in a minivan to catch our bus to DengFeng, which takes around 7 hours. Arriving in the afternoon, we’ll make our way to a local children’s centre run by the Shaolin Temple, where you’ll be able to take an optional Kung Fu lesson and watch an inspiring performance by the children. After dinner you’ll have your second Mandarin lesson.
Day 13: Shaolin Monastery
Time for a bit of spiritual discovery today if you fancy the optional trip to the Shaolin Temple. With this trip you’ll also hike to Dharma Cave – a spiritual place for Buddhist pilgrims, and witness the stunning views of the shrine and temples in the area. After a late lunch we’ll head to the station, where we’ll grab a bite to eat before catching the train at around 10pm and travel overnight to Beijing (roughly 8 hours).
Day 14-17: Beijing
In Beijing, after a free morning, we’ll make our way to a farm to eat with the locals and hike to an incredible un-restored section of the Great Wall. We’ll set up camp and watch the sunset before bedding down for the night (between the beginning of October and end of April we’ll stay at a guesthouse near the wall instead, as the temperatures will be too low to set up camp). The next day we’ll start with spectacular sunrise views from the Great Wall before returning to Beijing. There are plenty of optional activities to choose from over the next couple of days: watch a Chinese acrobatic performance, walk through Tiananmen Square, or visit the Forbidden City, plus a whole list of other things to do and see. On day 17 we’ll board the train to Hangzhou.
Day 18-19: Hangzhou
After breakfast in Hangzhou, we’ll discover the beautiful West Lake. You can take a boat trip across the lake or visit the National Tea or Silk Museum. Later, we’ll hike up to the summit of Jiuyao Mountain in time for a stunning sunset. On day 19, we’ll explore the atmospheric Misty Forest before travelling to Shanghai, where you’ll have the opportunity to party with the group on our Shanghai pub crawl (Saturdays only).
Day 20-22: Shanghai
Once you’ve recovered from your night out, there’s a lot to see and do in China’s biggest city. Why not take a trip to Zhujiajiao Water Town, walk through the historical and picturesque Yu Gardens, take time to visit the bustling streets around People’s Square, partake in a little karaoke, or sip cocktails from the top of a skyscraper? There’s plenty of culture and history to soak up while you’re in Shanghai – it’s worth making time to visit the fascinating propaganda museum and French concession amid shopping and sight-seeing.
Days 23-24: Nanjing in Fujian Province
Back on the bullet train (travelling for roughly 8 hours), we’ll arrive in Nanjing in the afternoon and make our way deep into the Fujian tea hills. Stopping for dinner on the way, we’ll arrive at our accommodation for the evening – traditional mud roundhouses, and home to the Hakka community. This is a rare opportunity to experience the bare bones of Chinese culture, and during your stay you’ll have a walking tour of the UNESCO World Heritage site, getting to explore the round houses, villages and tea fields in the area. You’ll take part in a traditional tea ceremony and get to visit the plantations, eat dinner with the locals and learn a traditional dance!
Day 25: Fujian Tulou
In the morning we’ll take a bike tour to visit the biggest roundhouse in the region, and you’ll get to have a proper look around both levels. You’ll have free time in the afternoon to chill out and relax before our onward journey, via night train, to Guangzhou East (about 8 hours) and bus ride to the Zhuhai border (takes around 3/4 hours).
Day 26: Macau
Today you can opt to tour the 17th-century ruins of St Paul’s and the old military fortress in the historic centre of Macau. Later, we’ll visit the site of one of the world’s highest bungee jumps at Macau Tower before heading to Cotai Strip – the Las Vegas of China, to try your hand at the Venetian casino, and then take the hydrofoil back to Hong Kong to relax for the evening.
Day 27: Hong Kong
Today you’re free to make your own plans – whether you want to head home or continue your travels elsewhere. If you have a few hours before having to depart, you’ll be able to make the most of being in Hong Kong with a spot of shopping, last-minute sightseeing, or filling up on delicious food before making tracks.
Please note activities and itineraries are subject to change.
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You should arrange your flight to arrive into Hong Kong International Airport on day 1. Airport transfers are not included. Transfer options are:
- Taxi. Approximate travel time to hostel: 45 mins. Approximate cost: £35.
- MTR airport express Metro system. Cheap and easy to use, with signposts in English. One change required but clear directions. Approx travel time to hostel: 45 mins + 2 mins walk from Metro station to hostel. Approx cost: £10.
The tour ends in Hong Kong on day 27, depending on which tour you have booked.
All your accommodation is included for the duration of this tour: Travellers on this tour will have 26 nights' of accommodation included.
Most nights will be spent in hostels, in shared (usually mixed sex) rooms, usually sleeping 4 to 12 people per room. All hostels offer basic accommodation, which are clean, safe and with either air conditioning or fans in each room. All bedding is provided. There are shared bathroom facilities and modern showers in each hostel, plus laundry services (small fee) and free Wi-Fi. If you wish to upgrade to a private room please contact Gap 360 for costs.
You will also spend one night camping at an unrestored and unspoilt section of the Great Wall, right off the beaten tourist track. Camping gear will be provided in packs, including two-man tents, sleeping bags and a rollmat. Pillows will not be provided so you may wish to bring your own travel pillow, although bear in mind you will be carrying all your belongings with you. You will hike to your campsite carrying your camping gear on your back. Once at the camp site you will pitch your own tent and collect firewood to build a campfire. Cooking facilities are not provided at the camp, but you will have a chance to purchase snacks and drinks to take with you before you set out on your hike. There are no bathroom facilities at the camp - it's al fresco in the great outdoors all the way tonight!
Please note: Camping at the Great Wall usually takes place only during the months of May to October, or sometimes outside these times if the weather is unseasonably warm. At other times you will be staying in a guesthouse around 10 minutes walk from the wall, and you will still wake and walk to see the sunrise. If there are adverse weather conditions at any time of year, or any safety concerns, camping may be replaced by the guesthouse stay at any time of the year, so it can never be fully guaranteed that you will camp.
Some nights will be spent travelling by sleeper train with triple-level flat bunks to sleep on. These are not in individual cabins but set out dorm-style in the train carriages, and you will be sharing your space with locals and other travellers alike. Sleeper trains are known as one of the must-do unique experiences and although it may not be your most comfortable night's sleep it will certainly be one of the most memorable you have in China.
We recommend you purchase snacks and drinks to take on the train with you before you board. A drink and snacks cart is usually available on the train, but choices can be limited. Urns of boiling water are provided, so you can make yourself hot drinks, pot noodles or instant soups.
Travelling around China by train is an incredible experience, which offers a unique insight into local life, as well as fantastic views of the countryside. As China is such a vast country, you will often travel long distances by train and your overnight train journeys will vary from 9 hours to 15 hours long. This is a great opportunity to relax, chill out, and chat to your fellow adventurers. We recommend you take packs of cards, travel games, ipods and tablets to keep yourselves amused on the overnight journeys. As there are no charging facilities on the trains, we suggest you fully charge any devices before you board. Trains may also be subject to delays, which may affect your itinerary.
Due to the Chinese rail booking system, we cannot guarantee that all members of the group will be seated or berthed together when travelling on trains, although our guides will make every effort to ensure you are seated as close together as possible.
Food is not included as part of this tour, but your guide will always recommend great local restaurants in which to enjoy a group meal, where you can find cheap and delicious food. An average meal will cost around 50-60RMB per person. Group meals are optional, and you can find your own food options if you prefer. However, group meals tend to work out cheaper per head and are a fun way to get to know your group better!
If you want to eat on a budget, you can always grab a bowl of noodles or fried rice for as little as 10RMB (approx £1). Most of the hostels you stay at en route offer affordable Western dishes like pizza and pasta for a cost of around 30RMB (approx £3) or have facilities for you to make some instant noodles. If you want to eat out at Western restaurants you can expect to pay a similar price as you would at home.
The minimum age to join this trip is 18.
British nationals will need a visa to enter mainland China. Visas will need to be obtained in person from your nearest Chinese visa application centre, which are located in London, Manchester and Edinburgh before you travel.
You will need to apply for the 'L tourist' visa within 3 months of entry into China. You will be issued with a visa invitation letter, counties list and detailed visa instructions to help you when you are applying.
You will need to book an appointment slot online and travel to the visa application centre with your supporting documentation including your passport, completed application form and letter of invitation. You will then be asked to return to the visa application centre at a later date to collect your visa. The normal processing time from submitting your application to collecting your China visa is four working days. As part of the application process, biometric data (scanned fingerprints) will be required.
Please be aware that visa rules and regulations are always subject to change and it is your responsibility to check the current rules with the Chinese Embassy before you travel.
Physical Activity Levels
Please note that there are quite a few scheduled hikes and bike rides as part of the itinerary for this programme. Although many of the activities are optional, if you are taking part in a hike you will need to have a reasonable level of fitness to participate. For many of the hikes/bike rides, alternative means of transport or the choice to opt out are available. However, a reasonable level of fitness is required to take part in the hike to the Great Wall.