Super Massive Giant China 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 : GCCO
Trip valid from : 06/01/2014
Trip valid until : 30/06/2015
Trip length : 23
Trip starts in : Beijing
Trip ends in : Hong Kong, Hong Kong
Maximum group size : maximum 16

highlights

  • Shanghai
  • Terracotta Warriors of Xian
  • You can't see the Great Wall of CHina from space. It's a myth. But you will see it with us.
  • Find your favourite Chinglish menu item
  • Yellow Mountain
  • Yangshuo's limestone karsts
  • Chopstick etiquette. It exists. Learn it.
  • Go off with a bang in China

In 210BC when the first Emperor of China died, he had every man working on the Terracotta Army buried alive to keep him company. But he also unified China and standardised writing. So, you could argue he's not a total monster.(Was China Odyssey)

itin

Day
1-4

Beijing & Great Wall

Day 1 BeijingNimen Hao! Welcome to China.Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting in the evening of Day 1.You can arrive at any time during the day as there are no activities planned until this important meeting; please check with the hotel reception where and when it will take place, or check the reception notice boards. If you can't arrange a flight that will have you arrive at the hotel by early evening, 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.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 depart for the Great Wall on Day 2 of this trip we highly recommend arriving a few days earlier in order to have time to see some of what Beijing has to offer. Some suggestions are:Enter the imposing Forbidden City, former home to China's imperial rulers and filled with palaces, gardens and seemingly never-ending grand courtyards.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.Optional ActivitiesBeijing - Acrobat show - CNY250Beijing Art & Architecture Urban Adventure - CNY590Beijing - Forbidden City - CNY60Beijing by Bike Urban Adventure - CNY480Kung Fu show - CNY180Lama Temple - CNY30Summer Palace - CNY40Temple of Heaven - CNY40Days 2-4 Great WallThis morning, we'll take the bullet train from Beijing to Shanhaiguan to start our journey to the eastern end of Great Wall. Arriving around noon, you'll have the afternoon to explore the Old Dragon Head (Shanhaiguan Great Wall) from different angles. Spend an hour or two on the wall, then go to the beach to view the wall rising from the sea, an angle nowhere to be found in any other part of China. You'll also have the chance to stroll around the old Shanhaiguan town and try out the local snacks on the street. Tonight, we'll stay in a local guesthouse in Shanhaiguan town.The following day we travel to a more rural area in Shanhaiguan - Dongjiakou village, and stay with the local families there. In this quieter section of the wall, you'll have the time to take in the beauty of the wall, and talk to the locals to find out what Great Wall means to them. This section of the wall has not been renovated, and there are some sections that you'll need to walk through the forest - better to wear long sleeve clothes and pants to cover yourself in summer time. You'll need reasonable fitness and walking shoes with good support and grip for this activity (approx. 4-5 hrs). There are many steps and slopes on the way so be prepared for a tough climb in sections. The views and experience though are a real highlight for all our travellers. Tonight we'll stay with the local families, so the standard will be very basic - shared bathroom & multi-shared accommodation. Also if the group size is large, the group will be split into different homestays.Transfer back to Shanhaiguan and then take the D train back to Beijing and our hostel. Here, you can use the hostel's common bathroom to refresh yourself, and do a bit of last sightseeing or shopping before the overnight train to Xi'an (Approx 13 hours)Included ActivitiesGreat Wall - Shanhaiguan sectionGreat Wall - Dongjiakou section

Day
5-6

Xian

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.Explore Xi'an's most famous site - the Terracotta Warriors. It takes around an hour to get there and you'll hear all about this incredible archaeological find, 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.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).Included ActivitiesXi'an - Walking tourOptional ActivitiesTerracotta Warriors - CNY150Bell & Drum Towers - CNY50Cycling on City Wall - CNY80Big Wild Goose Pagoda - CNY80Great Mosque - CNY25Small Wild Goose Pagoda - CNY50

Day
7

Shanghai

Arrive in Shanghai and take the subway to our accommodation.

We have a full day here to explore today. However don't worry if you can't fit everything in as we will be returning to Shanghai on Day 11 & 12. Some things you might like to do during your time in Shanghai 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.

Included Activities:

Shanghai - Walking tour

Optional Activities:

Propaganda Museum - CNY20

Shanghai - Shanghai Museum - Free

Yuyuan Gardens - CNY40

Urban Planning Exhibition Centre - CNY30

Day
8-10

Huangshan & Hongcun

Days 8-9 HuangshanTravel by public bus to Huangshan (approx 6 hours), otherwise known as Yellow Mountain. We will stay here in a local guesthouse for the next two nights.The 72 peaks of Huangshan provide some of China's most stunning scenery. The paths are steep and often slippery, so you will need good fitness and suitable hiking shoes. How you explore the mountain is up to you, and either way can be taken by cable car. The eastern steps are shorter (7.5km, approx 3-4 hours), but with less spectacular views. The western steps take longer (15 km) and is more difficult. We recommend taking the cable car up, exploring the trails at the summit and then descending via the western steps.Please note that Huangshan is subject to dramatic changes in weather. You will need to be prepared for mist, fog, rain and cool temperatures. September & October are considered the best months to visit Huangshan weather wise. In any season you should ensure that you take enough clothing, food and water supplies as well as extra money in case the weather changes and you need to take the cable car instead of hiking. As one of China's premier sights, you should also be prepared for crowds of domestic tourists during public holidays, although at any time of the year there can be long waits for the cable car.After taking in the iconic beauty of Huangshan, which despite the crowds and unpredictable weather is a rewarding destination, we return to our guesthouse for a well earned rest.Day 10 HongcunHead by public transport through the bamboo and pine forests of Anhui provice to the picturesque villages of the Huizhou region.A number of the villages are now UNESCO World Heritage sights and were even the backdrop to scenes in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.We stay overnight in a village guesthouse, giving us plenty of time to wander the maze of cobbled alleys, admiring Ming dynasty architecture and ornate stone carvings, or clambering up into the hillsides for panoramic views of the pretty as a picture traditional settlements.You might like to explore more villages on your own by bike or public transport, or just meander through the little market or along the waterways on foot.Included ActivitiesHongcun - Guided village tour

Day
11-12

Shanghai

A long travel day by public transport takes us back to the big smoke of Shanghai.
Blending 21st-century architecture with old-world character, Shanghai is the vibrant pulse of new China.

You will have time to further explore this fascinating city and be able to visit the sights you missed out on during Day 7.As this is a combination trip, your group leader and the composition of your group may change at this location. There will be a group meeting to discuss the next stage of your itinerary and you're welcome to attend, as this is a great chance to meet your new fellow travellers.

Day
13-15

Xiamen & Tulou Village

Day 13 Tulou VillageTravel on a high speed train from Shanghai to the picturesque Fujian countryside to a Tulou Village. This area is home to the Hakka people, who traditionally live in round, walled villages or communal houses ("tulou") with many families and generations of the same clan living together. Shanghai to Yongding (approx 10hrs travelling time, followed by a 1 hour transfer to Tulou village)Accommodation is very basic in local style. It can get quite cold at night in some months so please ensure you bring warm clothes. Washing facilities may be limited, with communal toilets outside of the rooms. We have the option to try some simple local dishes for dinner tonight and breakfast tomorrow which may be quite different from what you are used to, but certainly authentic. The area has been developed for domestic tourism recently and sees lots of day trippers, but few people stay overnight so we will have a true local experience while here. Days 14-15 XiamenBefore we leave the Tolou Village, we will hike with a local guide to viewing points where we can see the structures of the walled villages from above, hear a bit about their history and the unique Hakka culture!In the afternoon of Day 3 we travel to the coastal city of Xiamen which lies just across the strait from Taiwan for a total journey of over 1000km. Formerly known as Amoy, Xiamen is the capital of Fujian province and has a rich colonial history evident in the city's buildings and gardens. It's also home to some of China's best universities and has a vibrant student culture.You will have Day 4 as a free day, we suggest you jump on a ferry and head over to Gulang Yu, an island crammed full of historic mansions and villas easily navigable on bike or foot. Visit the Xiamen University campus with is landscaped grounds and surrounding trendy bars and cafes for a chat with some local students.Or traipse up the steps to Nanputuo Temple, one of the most important and active Buddhist sites in the region. Pop into the Overseas Chinese Museum - many ethnic Chinese in Singapore and further afield were originally from Fujian province.Included ActivitiesTulou Village - Guided hike & village tour

Day
16-18

Yangshuo

An early start today as we travel to Xiamen Airport and catch a flight to Guilin (approx 90 min) and from there transfer to Yangshuo (approx 90 mins).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.There are plenty of interesting activities to keep us entertained during our time here! Why not: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. The spectacular outdoor light show staged by Olympic Opening Ceremony director Zhang Yimou,director of 2008 Beijing Olympic Games Opening Ceronmony, is a definite highlight and highly recommended.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. The recipes are easy to make and the ingredients readily available outside of China so you'll be able to recreate them once you get back home.Optional ActivitiesBike hire - CNY20Li River cruise - CNY100Cooking School & Market Tour - CNY150Zhang Yimou's Impressions Show - CNY198Yangshuo - Tai Chi class - CNY50

Day
19-21

Longji Rice Terraces

Travel by public bus to the Longji region via Guilin and Longsheng (approx 4.5 hrs). Pack an overnight bag for our two night stay here as we leave our main luggage at the train station to pick up again on our return.The Longji region has some of the most extensive rice terraces you'll ever see. These terraces change with the seasons: filled with water from the mountains before planting, becoming green during the growing season and then golden when the rice is ready for harvest.Take a day hike through the Longji Valley to visit local hilltribe communities and learn about village life. Expect to carry your own day pack and walk for up to five hours as our next accommodation may be in a different village. The hike can be tough going for some, with many uphill stretches and some very slippery paths. However, more experienced hikers will have no problems and there are many more optional walks available, uncovering great photo opportunities around every corner.In Longji, we stay in local guesthouses.Bus back to Guilin (approx 3 hrs), where you may have some free time to explore.Take an overnight hard sleeper train to Shenzhen - gateway to Hong Kong (approx 13 hrs).Included ActivitiesLongji - Guided Rice Terraces trek

Day
22-23

Hong Kong

Days 22-23 Hong KongThe China-Hong Kong border is busy, so there can often be a bit of a wait to get through and a lot of patience required. On average, it takes around 2 hours to clear immigration and customs on both sides. You'll need to carry your bags with you during this time.First you need to walk the short distance from the train station to the border, go through procedures to exit China, then to enter Hong Kong. Once all that's done, travel on the KCR train to central Hong Kong.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 our tour finishes on day 12 and we only have limited time in Hong Kong, we highly recommend staying a few extra days to enjoy all this incredible city has to offer: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.Ride the Peak Tram - the only way to truly experience the beauty of Hong Kong's natural wonders. Tens of millions of people from every corner of the globe have taken the ride, which affords a uniquely spectacular perspective of the city.There are no activities planned for the final day and you are able to depart the accommodation at any time. Please check the 'Finishing Point Hotel' section for checkout times and luggage storage possibilities.Optional ActivitiesStar Ferry - HKD15Hong Kong - Victoria Peak & Tram - HKD40Peak Tram - HKD30Nightly Light Show - Free

itin-variation

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.

trip-grade

RAW

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.

Style Facts

  • The freedom to explore without breaking the bank
  • Time to do your own thing – or join in optional group activities
  • YOU choose where YOU want to eat
  • Basic accommodation
  • A variety of public transportation
  • Fully trained and experienced leader

Basic

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.

Style Facts

  • Plenty of free time to explore independently
  • Optional activities to suit your budget
  • Freedom to choose your own meals
  • Simple famliy run hotels
  • Mostly public transportation
  • Fully trained and experienced leader

 This tour is operated by our partners Geckos Adventures

included

  • Expert English-speaking Chinese tour guide throughout the tour and local guides at some sites.
  • Sightseeing: Great Wall at Shanghaiguan where it meets the sea and the remote Dongjiakou section, Walking tours in Xi'an, Shanghai & Hongcun
  • Visit the traditional Chinese village of Hongcun, the coastal city of Xiamen and climb mount Huangshan
  • Free time to explore in Xian and Shanghai.
  • Overnight trains from Beijing to Xian, Xian to Shanghai and Guilin to Shenzhen.
  • Stay in a traditional Tulou Hakka roundhouse.
  • Explore the mystical countryside around Yangshuo.
  • Hike through the rice terraces of Longji.
  • Fly from Xiamen to Guilin.

not-included

International flights, departure taxes, visas, insurance, meals unless indicated, drinks, optional additional tours or activities during free time, tips and items of a personal nature.

single-room-sup

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.

local-payment

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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