Xtreme China Experience – Guided China Group Tour
- Symphony of Lights in Hong Kong
- Climb Hong Kong´s Victoria Peak
- Bamboo raft in Yangshuo
- See pandas in Chengdu
- Terracotta Army in Xian
- Have a Kung Fu lesson with Shaolin monks
- Wake up to sunrise on the Great Wall
- Visit Chairman Mao´s summer Palace
- Sip Champagne on a skyscraper´s roof
- Stay overnight in a Tulou with the Hakka people
- Worlds Highest bungee jump
- Sample Asian delicacies throughout
Day 1: Arrive in Hong Kong
Arriving into Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) is an exciting and thrilling experience as the airport is virtually an island in its own right. The airport is also known as Chek Lap Kok after the island it was built over and is to the north of Lantau Island just outside of Hong Kong city. It is one of the busiest airports in the world and state-of-the-art automated people-moving systems carry passengers between the different areas. You can catch the Airport Express train which will have you in Hong Kong city in around 30 minutes or take the slower Airport Bus and relax for an hour or so absorbing the sights of this fascinating country.
In the city you can settle into your hotel and then later on head for the waterfront where you will meet your guide and fellow travellers Who will be accompanied you on your China group tour. Down on the waterfront at Tsim Sha Tsui the Avenue of Stars pays tribute to the stars of Hong Kong´s film industry as well as being a huge tourist attraction. From here there are panoramic views of the famous ´Symphony of Lights´ across Victoria Harbour. Every night, providing there are no cyclone warnings, more than 40 buildings dance to a synchronised spectacle of colour and light on both sides of the harbour. If you are not too jet-lagged head to the cobbled lanes of Lan Kwai Fong with your new friends, as this party central in Hong Kong.
Day 2: Hong Kong to Yangshuo
Don´t miss the chance to take the optional tour across to Hong Long Island and up to the top of Victoria Peak. The easiest and cheapest way across the harbour is on the Star Ferry and about 70,000 people a day make the journey!
The island is on very steep and hilly terrain and a complicated system of moving pavements and escalators makes getting up and down much easier. Visitors can get from the bottom to the top in around 25 minutes simply by using these; the same journey by car would involve several zigzagging miles.
Bars Restaurants & Shop Till You Drop
Go up the wok-shaped Peak Tower and from a lofty height of 1,300 feet above sea level the views are great. There are bars, restaurants and shopping centres, including the flagship store of the intriguingly named G.O.D. chain of shops. Thrill-seekers can visit Ocean Park or for a more gentle experience visit Hong Kong´s Botanical Garden, one of the oldest in the world. If you fancy living on the Peak you will need deep pockets as the most expensive house sold for a cool £138 million.
You get a full day to explore all these fascinating places before meeting up with the rest of the group for crossing into mainland China. Relax on the overnight sleeper train as you head off to Yangshuo.
Day 3-6: Yangshuo
Yangshuo is surrounded by stunning karst mountains on three sides and the Li River on the fourth. The river is where you will spend your first afternoon in Yangshuo as you go on a bamboo raft ride. This is a dreamy ride along slow moving water and across a few small weirs as your guide steers you safely down the course of the river. The peaks of the mountains soar hundreds of feet above you and as the sun sets there is a sense of magic in the air as the sky turns from gold to purple.
Afterwards you can return to your hostel and enjoy a drink in the roof-top bar and share some travelling tales with the rest of the group.
The next two days are spent in and around Yangshuo and can be as hectic or as calm as you wish. There is a range of optional activities available or kick back and relax while absorbing the peace and quiet.
- Relaxing in mud baths in underground caves: extra cost of 65RMB (approx. £6.50)
There are a lot of different caves to explore in the Yangshuo area and in some you can bathe in the natural harbour mud. The mud is soft and smooth with no impurities and you will come out looking like you have been dipped in milk chocolate! Don´t worry; there are natural springs and pools to clean up in.
- Bike tour with amazing views and swimming stops: extra cost of 40RMB (approx. £4)
There are countless paths and trails around the beautiful scenery in this part of South China and much of it is paradise for cyclists. There are trails through tiny villages, farmlands and across rivers and bridges with the spectacular karst mountains rising around you. There are some wonderful places to stop for a cooling swim in the river before you head back to Yangshuo.
- Deep water soloing (rock climbing above a river without ropes)
Yangshuo has become a world class climbing destination with around 500 climbs but this is slightly different. Deep water soloing is a new experience that many people will have never heard of, let alone tried. Basically it involves climbing up high rocks or crags over deep water, no ropes allowed, and leaping off into the water. Simple!
- Watching traditional fishing using birds: extra cost of 45RMB (approx. £4.50)
Don´t miss the opportunity to see the fishermen using birds instead of nets or rods in this traditional style of fishing. The cormorants the men use are specially trained and this kind of fishing has been around in China since 960AD. When the bird has caught a fish it comes back to the boat and spits the fish out! The neck of the cormorant is tied with a snare, not as cruel as it sounds, to prevent it swallowing the larger and more desirable fish.
- Try a cupping treatment, where suction cups a placed on your back to withdraw impurities: 45RMB (approx. £4.50)
If you fancy spending a few days with 30 or so dark circles on your back have a Hot Cupping treatment. Originally used by the farmers after a hard day´s work the idea is that the heated cups draw out the toxins and tensions from your body.
The idea is simple. Bamboo or glass cups are heated and then stuck on your back as you lie face down on the table. Once they are all on you have ten minutes or so to relax while the poisons in your body are pulled drawn out. The removal of the cups is rather like having a sticky plaster pulled off but it is certainly an unusual and excellent way of getting rid of tension.
In the evening it is time to say goodbye to Yangshuo and catch the night train towards Chengdu.
Day 7 & 8: Chengdu
Chengdu is home to 14 million people and is also known as the City of Hibiscus or the Brocade City. After arriving from Yangshuo and freshening up it is time to explore the city which is home to many aspects of fascinating culture China and where some of the most important literature in the country comes from.
This area of China is part of the Sichuan province and many of you will be familiar with the spicy flavours of Sichuanese cuisine. Now it is your chance to get together with your companions and try the traditional Sichuan Hotpot. Most of the people on our China group tours Take the opportunity to do this. There is a small additional charge of RMB80 (approx. £8) but the opportunity to dip meat strips in the spicy hot broth is great fun. Some of the meat will be easily recognisable but for the really curious some of the more exciting items to try are brain, eel, duck intestines, tripe and goose.
Another very prominent part of Sichuanese life is the traditional tea house which can be found on every corner. Tea can be priced from a few RMB to several hundred and some of the more extravagant tea houses put on small theatre performances and opera shows.
Day 8 is the day you will get to meet the most well-known of all China´s wildlife, the beautiful and cuddly Giant Panda. There are thought to be only about 1,500 left in the world and 80% of these are in Sichuan Province.
You visit to the Panda Breeding Research Centre is in the morning as this is the best time to see the Panda´s feeding. An adult Panda can eat up to about 20kg of bamboo a day, and the majority of their time is spent searching out food and eating it. Bamboo is relatively low in nutrients so vast quantities need to be eaten, sometimes 500 a stems per day. Luckily for the Panda´s at the Research Centre around 10,000 clumps of various bamboos have been planted so there is not likely to be a food shortage.
A Blind Massage Option
In the afternoon why not try a blind massage? This optional traditional massage costs RMB40 (approx. £4) and there are massage parlours all over Chengdu. Just make sure you don´t go to one that offers a ´happy ending´! Blind people are said to be excellent at massage as their touch is more sensitive; however watch out as not all the masseurs are genuinely blind! Groups of friends can take part in a massage at the same time so ask your tour guide where he recommends.
Another unusual service you could seek out is taoerduo. A rough translation is ear cleaning and the People´s Park is a great place to go for this. For a small fee ´experts´ will use a varied selection of ´tools´ to dig astonishing amounts of gunk out of your ears! Afterwards you will be able to hear the musicians so much better and join in the dancing or sit down at the cafe with a refreshing cup of China tea.
Once you are suitably massaged and maybe had your ears poked and prodded it is time to board your night train and make tracks for Xi´an.
Day 9: Xi´an: The Terracotta Warriors
The Terracotta Warriors depicts the armies of the first Emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang, and it has to be one of the most memorable attractions in China. Discovered in 1974 in Lintong District, Xi’an by farmers digging for water this has become one of the wonders of the ancient world. Thousands of clay soldiers, each one unique, and around 40,000 weapons have been uncovered so far across the 22 square mile site.
Stand in awe and gaze down on row upon row of soldiers, buried in 210 BC to protect their leader in the after-life. Not just the soldiers but their horses and chariots are all on display in this mind-blowing exhibition. Going to China and not seeing the Terracotta Army is like visiting Egypt and not seeing the Pyramids!
In the evening in Xi´an there is a super opportunity for the group to help out in the city and make a difference to the lives of the homeless people. This is more than just a soup kitchen and the volunteer organisations provide steamed buns, noodles and pots of hot tea as well as soup every week without fail.
Day 10: Xi´an
Enjoy a free day in this ancient city. There are optional bike tours at 90 RMB (approx. £9) around the city or team up with some of your new friends and head off to the Muslim Quarter. Wherever you and your friends do in the daytime make sure you are back at Big Wild Goose Pagoda in the evening for Asia´s biggest sound and light show. There is music from the largest-scale acoustic complex in the world and rows of long benches for sitting down and admiring the display of sound, light, colour and over 20 different styles of water fountains.
Afterwards head into the city to somewhere like the Bell Tower right in the centre where you can get a feel for the vibrant night-life. Karaoke is popular in Xi´an and nearly all the night-clubs will have locals and tourists belting out popular eastern and western songs. Xialudi KTV is one of the most popular clubs. If you fancy a meal out as a group go to the night market near the central mosque. Unusual and interesting foods can be sampled and there are loads of goodies with honey and sesame for anyone with a sweet tooth.
Day 11: QinLing Mountains
Up bright and early today and your minibus and guide will be waiting to take you deep into the beautiful QinLing Mountains. The mountains form a natural north and south divide in China and on the lush southern slopes the QinLing Fir and Chinese Yew trees tower over the colourful rhododendrons. Deeper into the forest the giant pandas feed on many types of bamboo.
Your tour into the mountains includes an overnight stay at a smallholding but on the journey there is plenty of time for some exciting river tubing or sunbathing for the less adventurous. There is also a hike up into the mountains and some amazing waterfalls to see before heading back to the farm and dinner. The food is all organic and will have more than likely been caught the same day. Swap notes and stories under the stars with your companions while enjoying some of the local Hans beer.
Day 12: Xi´an to Dengfeng
Hopefully not too many beers last night as you need to be up early to set off back to Xi´an. There is time to have some breakfast and freshen up at the city hostel before it is time to catch the train to Longmen. A local bus ride away from Longmen is the next destination of Dengfeng.
This is the closest town to the home of Kung Fu and the Shaolin Temple. In Dengfeng there is time to explore the local shops and market and stock up with gifts for visiting the orphanage later on that evening. If the entire group donate about 60RMB (approx. £6) each there is sufficient money to get the children some much needed stationary for their lessons as well as rice, oil, sweets and maybe half a pig.
All the children in the orphanage are trained in Kung Fu and they love nothing better than to put on a demonstration and show off their skills. The best reward you can give them is to help them practice their English or play a few ball games with them. For any would be Kung Fu experts there is an optional class for 150RMB (approx. £15) to learn some basic moves from a qualified teacher who trained in a Shaolin Monastery. All the proceeds go to the orphanage and it is a great way of seeing who is the fittest in the group and having a few laughs.
Day 13: Dengfeng
This is your chance to relax and enjoy a day in Dengfeng. There is an optional visit to the Shaolin Temple at a cost of 100RMB (approx. £10). Reputed to be the ´Number One Temple Under Heaven´ not only is the temple the home of Shaolin Kung Fu but it also on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Dengfeng has many historical places to see and it was one of the earliest capitals of China. The area has strong associations with the centre of heaven and earth; and is the only place where astronomical observations are considered to be accurate. As dusk falls the group gather together and make the way to the station and another night train towards Beijing.
Day 14-16: Beijing and the Great Wall of China
There is time through the day to see some of the enchanting sights of Beijing either individually or with friends before meeting up with the rest of the group. Your destination this evening is the spectacular Great Wall of China. This world-famous landmark stretches for many thousands of miles and is actually made up of several walls. This activity is far more than just a few hours hiking along the wall; it is also going to be where your accommodation is for the night. On a deserted stretch of the wall you and your guides will set up camp and as night falls chill out and relax with dinner and a drink and watch the sun setting across the surrounding countryside.
Thousands of years of heroes and history, tales of legends and myths combined with stunning scenery in every direction make a night under canvas here unforgettable. Get up early to watch the sun rise before you break camp and head back to Beijing.
If you want to learn about the history and culture of Beijing the National Museum is a great place to start and entry is free. Afterwards find the food market where some of the delicacies on offer might sound less than appetising but worth a try. Be brave and try scorpion, cat, snake or dog and many other foods you will never find anywhere else in the world. If you are hungry but not daring, there are more ordinary items on the menu.
In Tiananmen Square the embalmed body of Chairman Mao is on display in the Mausoleum of Mao Zedong. Mao died in 1976 and despite his wishes to be cremated he was preserved for all time. The story of the embalming process and the crystal coffin he is cocooned in make for some interesting reading.
Make time to see the Forbidden City. Built in the early 15th century it consists of nearly 1,000 wooden buildings and around 9,000 rooms. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987 it was home to many Emperors and their households as well as being the political centre of the Chinese government.
Over a million workers were used in the construction of this walled city, complete with its impressive moat. Within the walls is the Palace Museum, home to more than one million rare and valuable objects and works of art. The extra cost is RMB60 (approx. £6) and is worth every penny.
From the very old of the Forbidden City to the very new and modern Bird´s Nest Stadium and the Beijing Water Cube. The two structures are next door each other and worth a visit after dark just to see the lighting displays. The Bird´s Nest Stadium is part of the 2008 Olympic Village and if you wish to go inside it costs 50RMB (approx. £5).
Another night time excursion is to the Chaoyang Theatre to watch the Beijing Acrobatic Troupe. This is an optional tour for 140RMB (approx. £14) but the gravity-defying and mind-blowing contortions of the acrobats has to be seen to be believed.
Day 17-19: Beijing – Hangzhou – Shanghai
Hop on the train in Beijing and few hours later arrive in Hangzhou, known as the most beautiful and scenic city in China. Hangzhou is famous for Xihu silk umbrellas, colour-glazed porcelain and Longjing tea among other things. The city was built around West Lake which is freshwater lake divided into various sections with artificial islands, pagodas, temples and causeways.
After some free time around the lake admiring the scenery your guide will take you into the bamboo forests of Moganshan. The afternoon can be spent relaxing surrounded by trees and tall waving bamboo or maybe having a splash around in the clear water of the mountain lagoon. Around 300 varieties of bamboo are grown in China, which is one fifth of the world´s production, and many of these can be seen in and around Moganshan.
Tonight you will be sleeping in a mountain lodge high up in the mountains surrounded by not just bamboo but pine trees and plum trees! All that plum sauce used in cooking has to come from somewhere!
After a good night´s sleep there is time for a hike up to the top of the Moganshan Mountain. On the way you will go past the house that Chairman Mao used as his summer home. He described it as his ´Home of the White Clouds and Yellow Cranes´ where the quiet atmosphere offered relief from his normal hectic life.
Leaving the Moganshan Mountain behind the tour heads onwards a to the north of Hangzhou Bay and into Shanghai. This is one of the most vibrant and cosmopolitan city´s in China and after settling into your accommodation it is time to hit the town!
For the bargain price of RMB100 (approx. £10) you can join in the optional bar crawl around some of the liveliest drinking, dancing and singing hotspots in the city. Your tour guides will take you where the food and drink flow freely, there are free shots and so many drinks specials that make meeting new friends easy and as night descends mayhem ensues!
Day 20 & 21: Shanghai
Hopefully hangovers are few and far between for those of you that went on the bar crawl and you will be ready to see some of the sights. Shanghai has been called the ´new New York´ and is a fast-paced mix of east meets west.
You are free to explore the city on your own or take one or more of the optional tours.
- French Concession Walking Tour: 45RMB (approx. £4.50) including lunch.
The French arrived in Shanghai in in 1846 and quickly established fine residential areas. This guided tour takes you round the corridors of quiet streets to admire the beautiful colonial mansions and historic buildings. Many of these have been restored to their former glory and are home to shops and restaurants.
- Visit a skyscraper roof bar and sip champagne in a hot tub: 100RMB (approx. £10) There are many bars in Shanghai offering amazing views but not all of them offer the chance to sit in Jacuzzi sipping champagne at the same time.. This popular spot offers almost 360 º panoramic vistas of the crowded Shanghai skyline and the historic Bund waterfront.
The Bund nowadays is a far cry from the days when it was just the muddy embankment where it gets its name from. The long promenade is a great place to watch the activity on the busy Huangpu River and see the magnificent old and new buildings standing shoulder to shoulder. It is a lovely place to stroll in the daytime but at night when the lights are on it is pretty spectacular.
Find People´s Square which is home to the Shanghai municipal government and it is from here that all distances are measured from in Shanghai. Originally the Shanghai racecourse it was to eventually become the People´s Square after horse racing and gambling were banned in 1949. Now it is home to various museums, the People´s Park and Shanghai Grand Theatre.
If you have the time and energy for shopping don´t miss Nanjing Road as this is one of the world´s busiest shopping streets. Covering nearly three and a half miles there is a shop for everything you could possibly want; and probably some things you don´t! Like so many major Chinese towns at night Nanjing Road becomes ablaze with a myriad of glowing neon lights, strip lights, fluorescent lights and more in all colours of the rainbow.
Day 22: Nanjing
Today the group heads from Shanghai to Nanjing. The bullet train whizzes along at 257 mph and before you know it you are in Fujian Province. This is one of Asia´s most picturesque areas and tonight you will be spending the night in a traditional roundhouse, known as a Tulou. In the south of the province there still about 30,000 of these houses that are home to the Hakka people.
This is a wonderful way to experience Hakka culture close-up. The locals are very friendly and the infrastructure for tourists is fairly minimal which all adds to this wonderful experience.
Day 23: Fujian Province
The Hakka people will prepare a serve a traditional breakfast before you set off with your guide to see the temples and other roundhouses. The area is famous for Chinese tea so there is time to take part in a traditional tea ceremony before having a refreshing dip in the local river.
Afterwards the tour heads up into the hills where the night is spent camping on a tea plantation. Fujian Province produces five different types of tea as well as 336 varieties of tea plant.
Day 24: Fujian Province to Guangzhou
Waking up on the tea plantation you will mix with the local community and be able to experience tea picking and plenty of tea drinking. Later on the takes a guided cycle ride to a very famous local village where a last dinner can be enjoyed. After dinner it is time to before board the night train to GuangzhoAnd heu.
Day 25: Macau
Leaving the train in Guangzhou you are taken on a drive towards Macau. Your route takes you through Zhuhai and when you arrive in Macau anyone looking for an adrenaline rush can try the world´s highest bungee jump! This is an optional activity and costs RMB2114 (approx. £210) The 750 foot jump takes place at the Macau Tower, which is home to many shops, cinemas and restaurants.
If bungee jumping isn´t for you try the thrilling Skywalk X round the viewing gallery. You can actually walk all the way round the edge of the tower on a platform with no barrier or handrail! Go on, I dare you!!!!!
The former Portuguese colony of Macau is famous for its vibrant nightlife and glamorous casinos. Don´t miss the chance to gamble away some hard-earned cash at the Venetian in Macau. With cupolas covered in 24 carat gold and enough paintings and frescoes to make any museum jealous this impressive building is the size of seven and half football pitches. The slot machines and gaming tables stretch as far as the eye can see and it is bigger than the casino of the same name in Las Vegas.
Day 26: Macau
The following morning there is time to explore the older part of Macau with baroque style buildings and a sense of understated elegance. The downtown area is the busiest and from the main square of Largo de Senado alleyways radiate outwards. In these tiny streets there are dozens of shops to find some last-minute souvenirs of this magical trip to China.
All too soon it will be time to get on the high-speed ferry back to Hong Kong and your epic 3,392 mile trip round China will have nearly come to an end. Have a final night in the hustle and bustle of Hong Kong with friends old and new and join in the farewell pub crawl. For only RMB 100 (approx. £10) you can have a last night to remember before you all collapse into bed.
Day 27: Tour Ends in Hong Kong
Your incredible 27-day tour of China ends today in Hong Kong.
Please note: This itinerary is for guidance only and may vary.
Please note: This tour uses public transport to get to activities and to transfer between hostels and train stations. Most train journeys are accompanied, but occasionally, on longer train journeys, one guide will put you on the train and you will be met at the end by another guide.
Please note the above itinerary as a guide only and can vary.
Trip Frequently Asked Questions
We include all of the accommodation during this China group tour. We usually use hostels based on shared rooms. There is the option to upgrade your own room at a cost of about £25 per night. Please give us a couple of weeks notice if that is your intention.
We regularly do check Hostels to Make Sure They Are Clean and Secure.
The idea of accommodation in China can send a shiver down your spine, but each hostel has modern showers washing facilities and Internet access.
Some of this trip is spent camping on the great Wall of China, you do not need to bring camping equipment it is all included for you. We spend one night on a traditional organic farm and you will also get the opportunity to sleep in a roundhouse as well.
Five of our nights we sleep on sleeper trains, this is a great way to travel because you wake up somewhere new without spending your days on the move. Sleeper trains all have flat beds, and there are a lot of fun. If you wish you can upgrade to first class sleeper cabin on the following routes.
Yangshuo to Chengdu, Chengdu to Xian, Shaolin to Beijing, or Fujian to Macau. Each journey costs £30. Please let us know a couple of weeks prior to departure if you do wish to upgrade.
If you want to go exceptionally cheap, you can always grab a bowl of noodles or fried rice for as little as 10RMB (approx £1).
You can also get Western food and most of the hostels where you stay and this will cost about three pounds, but hey you are in China take full advantage.
If you choose the 27-day option you can arrive anytime. Check in to the accommodation is after 2pm but you can relax in the lounge if you arrive earlier. This trip starts at 7am on the start day so most people arrive one day early. We start with a hike up Victoria Peak to see the view over Hong Kong. Then we return to the hostel to get our bags and leave Hong Kong at 11am. This is the latest you can arrive to join the trip.
If you join the 25-day trip you need to meet the group at 7am.We start with a hike up Victoria Peak to see the view over Hong Kong. Then we return to the hostel to get our bags and leave Hong Kong at 11am. This is the latest you can arrive to join the trip.
The trip finishes on the last day with a trip to Macau. After this you will arrive back in Hong Kong for 10pm. If you wish to leave earlier, you can skip Macau and arrive back in Hong Kong for around 4pm. Most people book the extra nights accommodation and travel the next day.
- Detailed predeparture support
- Fully guided China group tour
- Comprehensive introduction and orientation session
- All accommodation in Guesthouses & camping
- Visit and overnight stay on an organic farm with River tubing
- A ride on the famous bullet train
- One night in a traditional roundhouse
- Transport and beds on night trains
- All local transport
- Mandarin tuition for beginners on the night trains
- A combination of Western and Chinese English-speaking tour guides
- Victoria Peak climb in Hong Kong
- Traditional tea Plantation visit
- Bamboo rafting on the Li River
- Overnight hike on the great wall of China
- A visit to the Terracotta Warriors
- Panda visit in Chengdu
- Orphanage visit in Shaolin With kung fu demonstration
- Climb up Moganshan Mountain
- All taxes and charges
- 24 hour support
- Transfers to and from the airport (although this is very easy)
- Travel insurance
- Spending money
- Optional activities
March 8; 13; 20; 22
April 3; 5; 12; 19; 24
May 3; 10; 17; 22; 24; 29; 31
June 5; 7; 12; 21; 28
July 3; 5; 10; 17; 19; 24; 26
August 7; 9; 16; 23; 30
September 4; 6; 13; 18; 20; 27
October 2; 4; 9; 11; 18; 25
November 1; 7; 12; 14; 19; 21
April 2; 4; 11; 16; 23
May 9; 16; 21; 23; 28; 30
June 4; 6; 11; 20; 27
July 4; 9; 16 18; 23; 25
August 1; 6; 8; 15; 22; 29
September 3; 5; 12; 17; 19; 26
October 1; 3 8; 10; 17; 24; 31