At Imaginative Traveller we always aim to provide accurate information for our travellers. Unfortunately information such as the price of optional activities is occasionally subject to change, and this means that we are constantly revising our trip notes. In order to ensure that you have the most up to date information for your trip we suggest that you check the trip notes for your tour around one month before departure.
Kick of the fun times in sparkly Hong Kong, bike and hike in Yangshuo, see the Terracotta Warriors in Xi’an, experience modern China in Shanghai and finish up with the Great Wall and all the other cool stuff in Beijing. Tiananmen Square can hold one million people. Its the brithplace of Peking Duck. There are 800 buildings inside the Forbidden City. Yeah, we guess you could say Beijing’s pretty interesting.
Accommodation: Godrich Hotel or similar, Hong Kong
Nimen Hao! Welcome to Hong Kong.
Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6:00pm on Day 1. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask the hotel reception where it will take place. If you can’t arrange a flight that will arrive in time, you may wish to arrive a day early so you’re able to attend. We’ll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). If you’re going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. 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.
It was as a British colony that Hong Kong made itself known to the world – now back under Chinese rule since the 1997 handover, the city is still a unique and fascinating place to explore and see where the East really does meet the West. Hong Kong’s cityscape is spectacular and its modern fast-paced life is only minutes from picturesque islands and beaches. The locals are very proud of their Cantonese culture and history, so step out of the shopping malls and off the main streets to discover another side of the city.
As there’s no time to explore Hong Kong on this itinerary we strongly recommend that you spend a few extra days here to take full advantage of all there is to see and do such as:
Take a scenic journey around the islands of Hong Kong on the famous passenger ferry service, the Star Ferry.
Venture up to the top of Victoria Peak for a bird’s eye view.
Watch the harbour’s spectacular light show – a stunning spectacle of coloured lights, laser beams and searchlights synchronised to music and narration that celebrates the energy, spirit and diversity of Hong Kong.
On Day 2 we board the efficient KCR/MTR train to the border between Hong Kong and mainland China. After crossing the border, we board our first overnight train journey to Guilin (approx 14 hours).
Please note that it’ll be a travelling day today which may require you to change trains carry your luggage so packing compact and light will definitely help you with your journey.
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.
Accommodation: Yangshuo Baoquan Hotel or similar, Yangshuo
Arrive in Guilin and take the public bus to Yangshuo (approx 2 hours).
Yangshuo has become very popular with international and domestic tourists in recent years and has a great cafe and bar culture. It’s also one of the best places in the country to get a feel for local culture and traditions and have plenty of fun at the same time.
The countryside around Yangshuo is immortalized in many traditional Chinese paintings – picture immense limestone karsts dotting the rural landscape and towering spectacularly over rice paddies and the meandering Li River.
Take a bike ride to gain an insight into rural Chinese life. This is an absolutely stunning region to explore, as every turn in the road brings you to another picture-postcard location. Hike up the famous Moon Hill and view the surrounding countryside.
There are plenty of interesting optional activities to keep us entertained during our time here too. Why not:
Buy tickets to the spectacular outdoor light show staged by Olympic Opening Ceremony director Zhang Yimou,director of 2008 Beijing Olympic Games Opening Ceremony.
Enjoy a relaxing boat ride along the Li River.
Take an early morning tai chi class by the riverside.
Get a feel for local produce with a visit to the market, then learn to cook some Chinese dishes at the Yangshuo Cooking School.
We stay for our nights here in a basic, central hotel.
On Day 6 we return to Guilin by public bus (approx 2 hours) to board an overnight train from Guilin to Wuchang (approx 12 hours) and then transfer to Yichang by super fast D or G class train (approx 2 hours). Phew!
Stay overnight in a sinple hotel on Day 7.
On Day 8 hop on board a boat for a tour of the Xiling Gorge and then visit the impressive Three Gorges Dam. The Three Gorges Dam cost $37 billion to build and generates 11 times as much power as the Hoover Dam in the United States.
On the evening of Day 8 board your next overnight train journey bound for Xi’an (approx 12 hours).
Accommodation: Home Inn Hotel Xi’an Juhuayuan or similar, Xi’an
The imperial centre of China for 2,000 years, Xi’an is now a vibrant, modern city dotted with many interesting historical sites. A monument pays homage to the fact that this was the start of the famous ancient trading route of the Silk Road and the city is still surrounded by city walls.
Your leader will take you on a short walking tour of the city centre, showing you some of the highlights such as the Bell & Drum Towers, Muslim Quarter, the City Walls and Gates.
Perhaps explore Xi’an’s most famous site – the Terracotta Warriors (optional). It takes around an hour to get there and you can hear all about this incredible archaeological find from a local guide, discovered by farmers digging a well in 1976 after being buried for thousands of years. 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.
Some other options in your free time are:
Visit the impressive Tang Dynasty Small or Big Wild Goose Pagodas. The Small Wild Goose Pagoda is in a newly renovated scenic area which is very popular with locals especially in the evenings when there is a nightly light & music show around the many fountains. The Xi’an Museum and Jianfu Temple are also nearby.
One of the oldest mosques in China, the Great Mosque in Xi’an features an unusual blend of Chinese and Islamic architecture. Still in use today, the mosque serves as a place of worship for Xi’an’s large muslim population, made up predominantly of the Hui minority. Although non-Muslims are not allowed within the main hall itself, a visit during one of the five daily prayer times adds another dimension of spirituality, no matter what your religion.
Catch an overnight train to Shanghai (approx 16 hrs).
Arrive in Shanghai and take the subway to our accommodation.
Some things you might like to do during your time here include:
Join your leader for a walking tour of historical Shanghai including the Bund with its spectacular array of art deco style buildings, the narrow winding lanes of the Nongtang or the European-influenced French Concession.
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.
The impressive Shanghai Museum houses one of the best collections of Chinese bronze and artwork – you could easily spend the whole day here discovering the various exhibitions.
Wander the Yuyuan Gardens. These famous classical gardens were completed in 1577 by Pan Yunduan, a government official of the Ming Dynasty.
On day 14 take a final overnight train journey from Shanghai to Beijing (approx 12 hours).
Accommodation: King’s Joy Hotel or similar, Beijing
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.
As we will head to the Great Wall on Day 16 and have limited time here as a group we really recommend staying an extra few days at the end of the trip.
Some suggestions for free time are:
Catch a performance of the world renown Beijing Acrobats.
The Temple of Heaven Park is one of the most popular in Beijing and at any time of the day is full of people of all ages taking part in traditional pastimes such as tai chi, fan dancing, diablo, kite flying, water calligraphy and more.
A trip to the 798 Art District on a Beijing Art and Architecture tour will give you a taste of where art is heading in today’s China as you wander the multitude of galleries housed in this old factory complex.
Pick up a bike for the day. You’ll need comfortable clothes for cycling. Helmets may not be available for hire – if you wish to have a helmet you’ll need to supply your own.
A metro ride can take you to the Summer Palace, once an imperial residence and the largest and best-preserved imperial garden in China.
Visit beautiful Yonghegong, or Lama Temple, which was built in 1694 and is the largest and best-preserved Tibetan style monastery building in Beijing.
We take an early morning trip to the Mutianyu Great Wall (approx 2 hrs drive from Beijing) on Day 16. 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. We’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.
Our trip finishes after breakfast on Day 17. There are no included activities on this day and you are free to depart at any time.
- Gecko’s expert English-speaking Chinese tour guide throughout the tour, and local site guides at some sites. – Authentic Accommodation: 9 nights Hotel, 2 nights Hostel, 5 nights Overnight Sleeper Train – Sightseeing (including entrance fees where applicable): Terracotta Warriors, Beijing Forbidden City & Great Wall. – Free time to explore Hong Kong, Yangshuo, Xi’an and Beijing. – Overnight trains – accommodation in six-berth, air-conditioned cabins. – Chinese Visa Support
International flights, arrival and departure transfers, departure and airport taxes, visas, meals, all optional tours or activities during free time, transfers outside of the tour program, travel insurance, tips and items of a personal nature.
Our Raw tours are best suited for those with a sense of adventure, are willing to step outside their comfort zone and don’t mind being thrown in at the deep end. For independent travellers who want to travel with others. Just the ticket for those aged between 18-35 or anyone young at heart who has an open mind, an eye on the budget and a nose for adventure. Authentic experiences that expand the mind rather than hold the hand.
Our Basic tours offer superb value and are ideal for those who are happy to forgo some creature comforts in favour of an authentic and fun experience. Under the leadership of a fully trained tour leader, you will enjoy all the highlights and freedom of independent travel with the convenience, security and companionship of a small group.
This tour is operated by our partners Geckos Adventures
A necessary bugbear of adventure travel, visas can appear complicated, costly and confusing to apply for. Imaginative Traveller recommend applying for visas with a professional visa service who can guide you though the process and take care of lodging and collecting your passport with multiple embassies, so we have teamed up with The Visa Machine.
The Visa Machine ‘live and breathe’ visas and have the expertise to provide current and accurate information and arrange the correct visas for your trip, quickly and at a good price.
Please click here for more information.
We strongly recommend you visit your doctor to discuss health requirements for your trip. They will advise you regarding the appropriate inoculations. In some places anti-malaria medication may also be required. Some vaccines need to be administered a few weeks before departure so allow yourself plenty of time. Obtain a certificate of vaccination and carry this with you on this trip. A dental check up is also highly recommended.
Every traveller is different and therefore spending money requirements will vary. Some travellers may drink more than others while other travellers like to purchase more souvenirs than most. Please consider your own spending habits when it comes to allowing for drinks, shopping, participating in optional activities, and tipping. Please also remember the following specific recommendations when planning your trip.
You will need to take cash to cover all additional expenses not included in your tour cost. These include food, drinks, optional sightseeing, tips, laundry, souvenirs and possible delays. If in doubt, bring more than you think you will need. It is always useful to carry an additional amount for emergencies. If there is a medical emergency you are sometimes required to pay at the time; providing your claim falls within the scope of your policy, your insurance company will make reimbursement later.
You must have extensive travel insurance as a condition of booking with us, and without evidence of a valid policy you won’t be allowed to start your trip. Please click here for more information
Responsible tourism is at the heart of Imaginative Traveller. For 20 years we have taken customers to places around the world in social and environmentally responsible manner, ensuring everyone involved respects and maintains the natural and often delicate balance of the destination.As travellers ourselves we are well aware of the impact that tourism can have and whilst economic gain from tourism is often fundamental to a country, it should never be at the expense of its culture or the environment. It is our aim to provide journeys that have minimal negative and maximum positive impact on the places we visit. We do not believe that, as visitors, we should impose our own cultures on others; rather that we should experience foreign cultures and appreciate them for what they are.We believe giving something back is essential. We therefore work with our customers and the people we visit to ensure the benefits go directly to contribute to local cultures and environmental conservation. This is not only good the communities we visit but it also gives our travellers more enriched adventures.For further information about responsible travel please click here.
While the information presented here details our planned itinerary, including routes taken, activities included, accommodation and meeting times, please accept that unforseen changes may occur. We are constantly on the lookout to improve our program and further enhance your experience. Naturally, we will keep you up to date with any last minute amendments to your tour.
Most of our travellers like the thought of travelling with a few like-minded souls. There are NO compulsory single supplements on most tours as we simply arrange twin shared accommodation for you and another tour member of the same sex. But don’t worry if that doesn’t appeal. We do understand there are times when you just want a bit of privacy and ‘me’ time so we are more than happy to arrange a private room upon request when you book.
The local payment is the final part of your overall tour cost. It MUST be paid in cash, in the currency indicated, to your tour leader at the start of your trip. Having a local payment helps us to pass cost savings on to you. Please note that the Local Payment is non-refundable.
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