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Comfort Adventure Tours

Explore China

From €2495pp
Departure Date
Regular departures throughout the year
Duration
13 days
Price
From €2495pp
Enquire Now

Journey from Shanghai to China’s vibrant capital

Capture the spirit of China on this 13-day tour from Shanghai to Beijing. Stroll along the narrow lanes of Shanghai’s nongtang, be entranced by ancient Buddhist art at the Longmen Grottoes, see the incredible Terracotta Warriors in Xi'an, get a sense of Tibetan life in the town of Xiahe and walk on the Great Wall of China. This is a journey abounding with bustling cities, natural beauty, incredible culture and history stretching through the ages.

Highlights

  • See the best known sights in Beijing, Shanghai and Xi'an, as well as visiting towns that may not be quite as iconic but perhaps even more intriguing because of it
  • The Longmen Grottoes are the most stunning remnants of Northern Wei and Tang-era Buddhist art in existence, and you'll have plenty of insight into their history with a local guide
  • Visit Shaolin Temple, the birthplace of Kung Fu
  • By taking two sleeper trains, you'll maximise your time in your destinations, get a chance to interact with locals and see some fascinating landscapes
  • Experience the enchanting ambience and mountain scenery of Xiahe. This Tibetan pilgrimage town and its Labrang Monastery is the stuff of legend
  • Perhaps no trip to China is complete without seeing the iconic Great Wall. Take an invigorating hike along the Mutianyu section

Day 1 Shanghai

Nimen Hao! Welcome to China. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6pm on Day 1. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask reception where it will take place. Settle into your hotel and then get a feel for this vibrant city – Shanghai’s bright lights, fevered trade and frenetic pace provide a glimpse into the dazzling global future of the country. Your evening is free for your first exploration of the city.

Day 2 Shanghai

Today join your leader for a walking tour that will take you to historical Shanghai. At the Bund you can get a taste of 1920s Shanghai; its spectacular array of art deco style buildings, formerly belonging to Western banks, line what was once the most important financial street in Asia.

Wander the narrow winding lanes (nongtangs) of old Shanghai, where you can get a real glimpse into the locals’ daily life. Explore the European-influenced French Concession, the area of Shanghai once designated for the French, consisting of today's Luwan and Xuhui Districts. Luwan's Huaihai Road is a busy shopping street and is home to both Xintiandi and Tian Zi Fang, extremely popular shopping and dining spots for visitors.

The area's tree-lined avenues and their many Tudor mansions still retain an air of the 'Paris of the East'.

Day 3 Shanghai - Overnight Train

Enjoy a free day in Shanghai. Perhaps take a Urban Adventure when a local will help you get under the skin of this fascinating city. In free time, perhaps catch a performance by the famous Shanghai Acrobats or ride the Maglev Train – this mechanical masterpiece can travel upwards of 400km/h.

Make sure to get a taste of Shanghai’s eclectic food scene, which draws influence from far beyond China’s walls. In the evening the group will board the first overnight sleeper train of the journey to Luoyang.

Notes: You'll travel on a soft sleeper class train for this trip. These are four berth compartments with a lockable door. Note that compartments are not segregated by gender, so you could be sharing with members of the opposite sex.

Wherever possible, we will group our travellers together, but this will depend on group size and ticket availability. Sheets, pillows and a blanket are provided. Some travellers prefer to bring their own sleeping sheet. Safe, hot drinking water is always available.

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 with toilets and washbasins are situated at the end of each carriage.

As toilet paper isn't always available, it's best to bring an emergency supply. Food is available on the train, but it's a good idea to stock up on snacks for the trip.

Day 4 Luoyang – Shaolin

Arrive at Luoyang at around 7 am. Then travel to Shaolin (approximately 3 hours), check into your hotel and freshen up for the day ahead. This afternoon you will visit Shaolin Temple, the legendary birthplace of kung fu.

This is a great opportunity to live out your martial arts fantasies as optional kung fu classes are available. While you're here, you'll also visit the vast and amazing Pagoda Forest.

Day 5 Xi'an

This morning you'll drive to the Longmen Grottoes (approximately 3 hours). These 2,100 caves, filled with more than 100,000 statues of Buddha dating back as far as the 4th 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.

Day 6 Xi'an

Enjoy a short walking tour of lovely Xi'an. A monument pays homage to the fact that this was the start of the famous ancient trading route of the Silk Road and is still surrounded by city walls. On your walk you'll see highlights such as the Bell and Drum Towers, the Muslim Quarter, and the City Walls and Gates (entry fees to the latter are not included).

Visit Xi'an's most famous site, 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 happened when farmers were 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.

Day 7 Xi'an – Overnight Train

A great optional activity while you're in town is to visit Xi'an Huiling, a special Intrepid-supported project for young people with intellectual and learning disabilities. There you can enjoy a performance of singing and dancing by the students (don't be surprised if you're asked to join in) and have a chance to see their artwork and handicrafts. Another excellent choice is to visit the impressive Tang-era Small or Big Wild Goose Pagodas.

Try a leisurely cycle along the Xi'an city wall – a total distance of 13.74 km. You may also like to see the Great Mosque in Xi'an which 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. Get ready to leave the big cities and head towards China's Tibetan fringe. Board your overnight train to Lanzhou (approximately 9 hours).

Day 8 Lanzhou - Xiahe

Arrive in Gansu’s capital, Lanzhou, at around 7am. Travel onwards by private bus to the enchanting Tibetan town of Xiahe (approximately 4 hours), your base for the next two nights. Many Tibetans come here on pilgrimage, and the combination of the many monasteries, saffron-robed monks, fluttering prayer flags and spectacular scenery make this small town feel very much like Tibet.

Indeed, in all but name, you are in Tibet; Xiahe is right up on the edge of the Tibetan Plateau and the population here is over 45% Tibetan. Take a small walk up a local trail and take in a view of the town and monastery.

Visit the Labrang Monastery where Tibetan monks can be seen doing their daily rituals and chants.

Special Information
Xiahe sits at an altitude of 2,800–2,900 metres above sea level. Some travellers can suffer from altitude sickness, regardless of age or physical health.

Day 9 Xiahe

Enjoy further free time in Xiahe. Visit a Tibetan family and learn about their local way of life. When the road is passable, you may like to venture further afield to the Grasslands.

Day 10 Beijing

Return to Lanzhou and catch a flight to Beijing, arriving in China's sprawling capital at around midday or early afternoon. After settling into your hotel, you'll take short public bus ride to an area known for its hutongs (narrow streets and alleys). Enjoy a guided walking tour of these historic streets. You'll get a unique and fascinating insight into how the locals live.

Although Beijing is modernising rapidly (its contemporary culture is a huge source of fascination in itself), there are many pockets in which to discover the nation's ancient roots.

Day 11 Beijing (Great Wall)

It's time to visit the legendary Great Wall. Take a private bus there (approximately 1.5–2 hours). Spend some time exploring the Mutianyu Section (approximately 3–4 hours) which features guard towers dating back to the Ming dynasty. On your trek (around 5 kilometres long) you'll walk over some steep, remote terrain. Some parts of the wall are unrestored, so you'll need to concentrate hard to keep your footing. A great idea is to bring a picnic lunch with you from Beijing to enjoy during one of the rest breaks.

You can either walk or catch a cable car up to the wall. On the way back down, you can walk or take a toboggan. The latter is highly recommended, though it may involve a surcharge.

Also, due to the excessive heat in the summer months (Jun-Aug), the Great Wall excursion may be altered to provide a shorter, less strenuous trek. Your leader will advise you of any changes at the group meeting.

Day 12 Beijing

Today you'll enter the amazing Forbidden City, former home of China's imperial rulers. Discover its many palaces, gardens and courtyards. You will also explore the historic Tiananmen Square, one of the world's largest downtown squares. Staying an extra few days in Beijing is highly recommended, as there is so much to see and do. A trip to the 798 Art District on a Beijing Art and Architecture tour will give you a glimpse of where art is heading in today's China.

Another great option is to hire a bike and see the city as so many locals do (you'll need to organise your own helmet, if you want one, as they're not commonly supplied with rental). Alternatively, the Summer Palace is a simple metro ride away, and this former imperial residence boasts the best-preserved imperial garden in the country.

Day 13 Beijing

Your trip comes to an end this morning and you are free to depart at any time.

Itinerary is subject to change and the most up to date itinerary will be provided at time of enquiry.

Price is based on 2 adults sharing and includes the following:

Meals

0 breakfasts, 4 lunches, 3 dinners

Transport

Overnight sleeper train, Plane, Private Bus, Public bus, High Speed Train, Subway, Taxi

Accommodation

Hotel (10 nights), Overnight sleeper train (2 nights)

Included activities

  • Shanghai - Walking Tour
  • Shanghai - Yuyuan Gardens
  • Shaolin - Temple & Kung Fu show
  • Luoyang - Longmen Caves
  • Xi'an - Terracotta Warriors & Guide
  • Xiahe - Labrang Monastery & Family Visit
  • Beijing - Great Wall Mutianyu
  • Beijing - Hutong Walking Tour
  • Beijing - Tian'anmen Square & Forbidden City

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