Land of the Dragon - Family Holiday Trip Notes

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.

Trip code : FCBFA
Trip length : 13


  • Walk on the famous Great Wall of China
  • See endangered giant pandas at Chengdu
  • Experience the colossal scale of the Terracotta Army
  • Cycle through traditional villages

This exciting family holiday 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 and have a go at Kung Fu. Explore the spectacular Longmen Caves filled with carved Buddhas. 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 Yangshuo in the heart of rural Guanxi province. To a backdrop of beautiful sugar-loaf peaks bike through local villages and learn to rustle up a delicious Chinese meal.  Finally explore vibrant Hong Kong.




Arrive in Beijing and make your way to your joining hotel. 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.

Beijing Rainbow Hotel – 2 nights



Although the original terminus of the Silk Route was Xian, the infamous Kublai Khan made Peking (now Beijing) 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. This morning you visit the Forbidden City, which was once home to the Emperor and his family. The maze of buildings within the City became the symbolic and literal heart of the capital and the empire. Symbolism abounds here; 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 afternoon you will take to public transport and visit Tiananmen Square the largest town square in the world which is big enough to hold one million people! Then visit the Temple of Heaven - a masterpiece of Chinese architecture, set in beautiful surroundings.

This evening you will see an amazing acrobatic troupe performance - please don't try this at home! (B)


Great Wall

This morning you’ll set off for the drive to China’s best-known attraction, the Great Wall (approx 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 in a 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'll stop at a local hotel (1 room per family provided), where you have the chance to freshen up before you transfer to the station (approx. 3 hours) and board your overnight sleeper train to Xi'an (approx. 12 hours).Train travel in China is a great way to mix with local people. On soft sleeper trains compartments are closed with two tier bunk beds, four to a cabin. Sheets, pillows and blanket are provided, luggage is stored in the cabin. There are basic bathroom facilities at the end of each carriage with a toilet and washbasin. It's a good idea to bring your own toilet roll and some wet wipes. Please keep in mind that standards of cleanliness will not be what you are used to. Safe hot drinking water is provided for making tea, coffee or instant meals. You will need to bring a mug, spoon, knife and fork to prepare your own meals. Most trains have a dining carriage and limited snacks can be purchased en route. Please be prepared that you may have to share a carriage with persons outside of the group. Why not use your free time on the train for an informal language lesson from your leader or a local and learn a few simple words to use in your travels?

Berth on overnight train - 1 night (B)

4 - 5


Arrive in the imperial city of Xi'an. Human activity in this area dates back 6,000 years, but it was the Zhou dynasty which established Xi'an as its capital. Then 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. As terminus of the Silk Road, Xi'an was the world’s largest, richest and most cosmopolitan city and capital of a powerful kingdom. Many monuments reveal Xi'an’s importance over the centuries and reflect the fact that it was the capital of an empire some twelve times in its history.Xi'an 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 still retains the original grid formation, making it easy to navigate. We'll be taken by our Group Leader on a walk around the city centre, including spending some time wandering through the back streets of the Muslim quarter, which is home to one of the largest mosques in China.We'll have free time for optional activities too. You might like to visit the Big or Small Wild Goose Pagodas, built to house Buddhist scriptures brought back from India. Climb to the top of the Drum or Bell Towers, ride a bike around the city walls, or shop for souvenirs at the Night Markets.Xi'an 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. On day 5 we 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 really feed the imagination. There is also an interesting museum housing a collection of artefacts from the original digs.

Union Alliance Atravis Executive Hotel (AA) – 2 nights (B)


Chengdu & Leshan

Today we transfer to the airport (approx. 1 hour) and fly to Chengdu (approx. 75 min), capital of Sichuan province.Chengdu is famous throughout China for many things including spicy Sichuan food and the endless chatter of the city’s tea houses. We'll have free time tonight to tempt our tastebuds and explore the interesting old town streets or Tibetan quarter.On day 7 we have a day trip to Leshan (approx. 90 mins) to see the world's biggest Buddha - Da Fo. He is over 71m tall and carved into the cliff side. An amazing sight!

Wehan hotel – 2 nights (Bx2)


Pandas - Yangshuo

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 bears, 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.

Take a flight to Guilin (1 1/2 hours), from where 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.

Yangshou Li River Hotel – 3 nights (B)



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. This morning 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. Continue on to a local village nestled at the base of Moon Hill. Here you can sample local farmers’ cooking before returning to Yangshuo.

In the afternoon you take a short drive to Chaolong, where you will be able to learn the art of Chinese cooking. This class 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!

The following days are free to explore Yangshou. There are many activities available here including calligraphy classes and boat trips on the river or many shops and cafes to browse and relax in. You'll also have a chance for an included kung fu lesson! On your final day here hotel rooms will be available during the day.

(Bx2 Dx1)

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.


Overnight train

Today is a free day for your choice of activities in Chengdu, your hotel rooms will be available to you during the day. Then in the evening you transfer to Guilin (2hrs) and board your overnight train to Shenzhen (approx 14 hours).

Overnight Train - 1 night (B)


Hong Kong

Your train arrives at its destination this morning. 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.

Harbour Plaza 8 Degrees – 1 night


Tour ends

The tour ends today. (B)



Ideal for those that enjoy the quirkier side of a destination without roughing it. Join inquisitive travellers of all ages for a fun, informative experience.

  • A number of included activities
  • Tourist class, family-run hotels
  • Various meals included throughout
  • Public & private transportation

This tour is operated by our partners The Adventure Company


Transport - Minibus, overnight train, bullet train, in country flight, bicycle.

Accommodation - Hotels (11nts), sleeper train (2nts)

Meals - 11 breakfasts & 1 dinner.


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.


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.



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

Travel tips

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.

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

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

Rooming Arrangements

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, look on the Extensions & Extras tab on our website or ask our Travel Consultants for details.


Local Costs

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. Information can also be found here . 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.

Important information for customers travelling on our ICB trip: When entering China via Hong Kong you will need a double entry visa if your flight is scheduled to touchdown on Chinese mainland before arriving at your final destination. If you are not touching down in mainland China before reaching Hong Kong, you only require a single entry visa, however, you MUST get the hexagon-shaped stamp, NOT the oval-shaped stamp in order to be able to enter China again later in the trip. If in any doubt, please ask the airport staff.



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
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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