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Explore China

12 days with Intrepid Travel   Rating: Budget

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  • Save 20% when you book a group of 11 or more people on the same trip. Other savings amounts are available for groups of nine or more. Click here for eligible departures.

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Itinerary
Click for Dates and Prices Day 1 Shanghai
Nimen Hao! Welcome to Shanghai. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm where you'll meet your tour leader and fellow travellers. If you arrive with time to spare, maybe get a feel for this vibrant city via a trip to Shanghai Tower. Your evening is free but consider heading out with your group after the welcome meeting for a dinner on your leader’s recommendation.

Day 2 Shanghai 
Today join your leader for a walking tour to historical Shanghai. Get a taste of 1920s Shanghai at the Bund, a spectacular array of art-deco style buildings lining what was once the most important financial street in Asia. Using the efficient subway, continue to Yuyuan Gardens, a classic example of traditional Chinese landscape gardening. The afternoon is free for you to explore at your own pace. Maybe hit Luwan's Huaihai Road is a busy shopping street and is home to both Xintiandi and Tianzifang, popular shopping and dining spots for visitors, plus the area's tree-lined avenues and their many Tudor mansions still retain an air of the 'Paris of the East'. Join back with your group tonight for an included dinner of local specialties.

Day 3 Luoyang
Take advantage of free time to delve further into Shanghai's sights and sounds. Perhaps get another taste of the city's eclectic food scene before boarding a westbound bullet train this afternoon. Travel for about 6 hours to Luoyang, arriving in the early evening. Ancient China’s prosperous capital for many dynasties, archaeological digs of surrounding countryside have unearthed some fascinating ancient treasures. After settling into your hotel, perhaps venture to the Old Town for dinner with the group.

Day 4 Shaolin – Luoyang
Today, travel to the legendary birthplace of kung fu – the Shaolin Monastery (approximately 3 hours). The monastery remains the primary source of Shaolin Buddhist training to this day. Learn about the warrior monks of Shaolin and how the martial art has changed over centuries. Watch an athletic kung fu performance and then wander through the Pagoda Forest, where respected monks have been laid to rest in towering tombs since AD791. For lunch enjoy a vegetarian feast at nearby Yongtai Temple. Enjoy a free afternoon and evening in Luoyang. As night falls, you’ll see thousands of colourful lamps light the streets and squares across the city, creating a lovely ambiance.

Day 5 Longmen – Xi'an
This morning you'll drive to the Longmen Grottoes (approximately 40 mins). These 2100 caves, filled with more than 100,000 statues of Buddha dating back as far as the fourth century, are rare examples of exquisite Buddhist rock carving. Learn more about this UNESCO World Heritage-listed site as you explore some of the masterpieces with a local guide. In the afternoon, take a bullet train from Luoyang to Xi'an (approximately 2 hours), arriving in the early evening. Dine out with the group tonight at the Muslim Quarter.

Day 6 Xi'an
Visit Xi'an's most famous site today, the Terracotta Warriors. You'll travel by bus (approximately 2 hours) to reach the site. Once there, you will hear all about this incredible archaeological find, which was uncovered by farmers digging a well in 1976. Until then, the site had been 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 display to the public. Enjoy a local lunch nearby and return to Xi'an for the night.

Day 7 Xiahe
This morning you’ll get another taste of China’s efficient bullet trains as you travel about 3-hours west to Lanzhou. From there, transfer to the enchanting Tibetan town of Xiahe (another 3 hours). A place of pilgrimage for many Tibetans, Xiahe is as scenic as it is tranquil. Get acquainted with the town on a short walking tour with your leader. The rest of the day is yours to spend how you please.

Day 8 Xiahe
Visit the fascinating Labrang Monastery today and see Tibetan monks going about their daily rituals. The rest of the day will change depending on the season. From June to August, the group will head to the Sangke grasslands to visit nomadic Tibetans learn about their life over some yak butter tea. If you’re travelling during the other months of the year, pay a visit to a Tibetan family in town and enjoy a deliciously home-cooked lunch. The evening is free for you to do as you please.

Day 9 Lanzhou – Beijing
Today is largely made up of travel. Head back to Lanzhou (about 4 hours), then catch an afternoon flight to Beijing, arriving in China’s capital in the late afternoon. After settling into your hotel, you will have free time to explore bustling Beijing. Your leader is a wealth of suggestions for optional activities and places to eat, to be sure to ask them for advice.

Day 10 Beijing
Today, explore the legendary Great Wall. Take a private bus to the Mutianyu section of the wall. (approximately 1.5–2 hours). Spend some time exploring the wall, including guard towers that date back to the Ming dynasty-era. You can either walk to the wall or take a cable car. When returning, you can walk, take a cable car or take a toboggan ride. The latter is highly recommended!

Day 11 Beijing
Today you’ll enter the Forbidden City, former home of China’s imperial rulers. Discover its many palaces, gardens and courtyards. Later, visit Tiananmen Square, one of the world's largest downtown squares. Then head to an area known for its hutongs (narrow streets and alleys) and explore the historic streets. Although Beijing is modernising rapidly (its contemporary culture is a huge source of fascination in itself), there are still some pockets in which to discover the nation's ancient roots. Enjoy a classic dinner tonight with the perhaps the most well known of all the capital's dishes – Beijing (or Peking) Duck.

Day 12 Beijing
Your trip comes to an end this morning after breakfast. Staying an extra few days in Beijing is highly recommended, as there is so much to see and do. Check out our Urban Adventure day tours for some ideas!
Map
All This Included
Capture the spirit of China on this 12-day tour from Shanghai to Beijing. From fast-paced modern cities to the well-preserved remnants of a long and storied history, this adventure reveals the many sides of one of the world’s great cradles of civilisation. We think it’s important to contrast the big and the bold with quiet moments and real connections. That’s why our tour of the Terracotta Warriors finishes with lunch at a local family home, and why we spend a few days in the Tibetan Buddhist town of Xiahe before tackling boisterous Beijing. Whether you’re scaling the Great Wall or sharing crispy Beijing (Peking) duck with your fellow travellers, this tour is packed with unforgettable moments.
  • Meals - 11 breakfasts, 4 lunches, 3 dinners
  • Transport - Plane, Private vehicle, High Speed Train, Subway, Taxi
  • Shanghai - Walking tour
  • Shanghai - Yuyuan Gardens
  • Shaolin - Temple, Pagoda Forest & Kung Fu show
  • Shaolin - Buddhist vegetarian lunch
  • Luoyang - Longmen Grottoes
  • Xi'an - Terracotta Warriors
  • Xi'an - Home-cooked lunch
  • Xiahe - Labrang Monastery
  • Xiahe - Tibetan family visit & lunch
  • Beijing - Mutianyu Great Wall
  • Beijing - Hutong Walking Tour
  • Beijing - Forbidden City
  • Beijing - Beijing duck dinner
Highlights
  • Explore the Longmen Grottoes with a local guide and wonder at the thousands of Buddha statues carved directly from the limestone cliffs, including the 17-metre-high Vairocana.
  • Take a spectacular hike along the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall and see towers that date back to the Ming dynasty period.
  • Fall in love with Chinese food during a vegetarian feast at a Buddhist temple, a home-cooked lunch with a family in rural Xi’an, a Beijing (Peking) duck dinner and more.
  • Check out the mind-blowing Terracotta Army, then head to a local’s house for lunch and some insight into how life has changed since farmers discovered the vast mausoleum.
  • Immerse yourself in Tibetan culture with a two-day stay in Xiahe, an autonomous Tibetan region with a deeply ingrained Buddhist tradition centred around the legendary Labrang Monastery.
Accommodations
Hotel (11 nights)
Notes
  • Ages: Min 15
  • Group size: Min 1, Max 12
  • The best way to experience a place is by doing as the locals do – and in this case that means using public transport such as trams, buses or metro at some locations. It’s better for the environment and you’ll get an authentic look at daily life, just be aware you may find yourself sharing a busy bus ride with local commuters (for example). 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.
  • This trip travels to altitudes of up to 2900 metres above sea level and as a result some travellers can feel affects of altitude sickness, regardless of age or physical health.
  • In order to see as much as possible, this tour includes some long journeys. Please read the itinerary carefully for travel time estimates.
  • You'll need a reasonable level of fitness for the Great Wall walk. Shoes with good support and grip are essential. There are many steps and slopes on the way, so be prepared for a tough climb in sections. You are free to walk as far as you want, and it is possible to reach the section we visit via cable car.
  • A single supplement is available on this trip.
  • Please ask your Vacations To Go travel counselor for more information.
Terms and Conditions
For Intrepid Travel terms and conditions, please click here.

* The prices shown are U.S. dollars per person, based on double occupancy, and subject to availability. Prices quoted for land/cruise arrangements are subject to increase without notice. Once we have received your deposit, land/cruise prices are guaranteed. Air prices quoted via phone or email are subject to increase and are guaranteed only from the time that full payment is received. Also, air prices or air promotions mentioned on this site or on the phone do not include baggage fees imposed by airlines.