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Holiday - Special Offers

North China Getaway

From €1840pp including flights
Depart From
Fly from Dublin
Departure Date
12 Jun 2019 - 23 Jun 2019
Alternative dates available on request
12 Days
From €1840pp including flights
Enquire Now

Fly from Dublin and journey through northern China from Beijing to Shanghai.

Discover the ancient sights and modern delights of China's north. Journey from Beijing to Shanghai and travel through the ancient city of Xi'an, to the heights of Huangshan, the base of the Great Wall and deep into the Huizhou countryside.

Encounter friendly people, bustling markets and amazing historical landmarks as you take in the crazy contrasts and profound experiences that render China such a remarkable country.

Why we love this trip:

  • Overnight at the Great Wall at a family run guesthouse, and see this iconic structure without the crowds
  • With journeys on two sleeper trains, you'll maximise your time in your destinations, get a chance to interact with locals, and see some beautiful countryside
  • Like everything it does, China’s ancient history is on an epic scale – see it when face-to-face with thousands of Terracotta Warriors
  • Venture into the idyllic Huizhou countryside and explore rural villages on foot or by bike
  • Discover the mountain heights of Huangshan, where the stunning rock pinnacles of the Yellow Mountain peek through atmospheric mists


Is this trip right for you?

  • This trip travels on overnight hard sleeper trains on sections of the journey. 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. It's the main form of transport for locals, so take the chance to interact.
  • We cover a fair amount of ground to enable you to see some of China's biggest cities and main highlights, so be prepared for some long travel days. As we use plenty of public transport, you will be better off to bring only minimal belongings, or to leave your larger luggage in Beijing/Shanghai and take a smaller bag with you to the Great Wall, Huangshan and Hongcun.
  • We pack a lot in, in a short amount of time, so if you have some time to spare we highly recommend extra time in Shanghai and Beijing.
  • This trip includes a mixture of free time and included activities, giving you choice and flexibility to pursue your own interests in China.
  • This trip includes overnight stays at family-run guesthouses and homestays, with more basic facilities than hotels, such as cold water showers and outdoor squat toilets.
  • With walks on the Great Wall and Huangshan, you'll need a good level of fitness to get the most out of this trip. Walking shoes with good support and grip are essential. There are many steps and slopes on the way, so be prepared for a tough climb at times. You'll be rewarded with sensational views!

Day 1: Beijing

Nimen Hao! Welcome to China. 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 that give an insight into the nation's ancient past, as well as sights that showcase China's contemporary culture.

Your adventure begins with a Welcome Meeting at 6 pm this evening. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask reception where it will take place.

Settle into your hotel and then maybe head out to explore the Beijing Streets – with your hotel located centrally, a walk in any direction will unveil all sorts of wonderful surprises.

Optional Activities:

  • Beijing - Acrobat show - CNY250
  • Beijing - Tian'anmen Square & Forbidden City - CNY60
  • Beijing - Beijing by Bike Urban Adventure - CNY530
  • Beijing - Kungfu Show - CNY180
  • Beijing - Lama Temple - CNY25
  • Beijing - Summer Palace - CNY40
  • Beijing - Temple of Heaven - CNY40

Special Information:

As we will depart for the Great Wall on Day 2 of this trip we highly recommend arriving a few days earlier to make the most of your time here.

Day 2: Great Wall

Today you’ll have some free time in the morning to further explore Beijing before taking take a private bus to a lesser-known section of the Great Wall – Gubeikou (approximately 3 hours drive) in the afternoon.

An incredible piece of engineering, the wall stretches 6,000 km westwards from the mountain ridges north of Beijing. It was originally constructed to protect Chinese empires from the 'barbarians' of the north and even though it failed in this purpose, it's still without a doubt one of the country's most remarkable achievements and an iconic destination.

You’ll spend the night in a family run village guesthouse. The facilities are more basic than some of our accommodation on this trip but you can be assured of great local hospitality. Most travellers will choose to eat at the guesthouse for dinner as it's a great chance to sample local produce and delicious home style cooking.

Special Information:

As we use plenty of public transport on this trip, you will be better off to bring only minimal belongings, or to leave your larger luggage in Beijing/Shanghai and take a smaller bag with you to the Great Wall, Huangshan and Hongcun.

Please note that during winter months (Nov-Feb) we may stay in alternate guesthouses near other sections of the Great Wall where there is better heating.

Day 3: Great Wall

Today you’ll rise early and trek from the Gubeikou to Jinshanling section of the Great Wall. You will walk over some steep, remote terrain for approximately 5 - 6 hours. Some parts of the wall are un-restored so you'll need to concentrate hard to keep your footing, while in other parts the trail takes you off the wall to walk alongside it through the countryside.

You’ll often feel like you have the whole wall to yourself as you take your time strolling along the wall, which snakes through the hills almost endlessly into the distance. Being perched on this incredible engineering feat and surveying the spectacular surrounding countryside is an unforgettable experience.

After the trekking, you'll stay at a different guesthouse by the foot of the Wall. Put your feet up, have a few beers or maybe learn how to play Mahjong in the evening.

Special Information:

This is one of the most well rated Great Wall trekking routes. Parts of the section of wall here are not well maintained and the trek can be challenging. You'll need good fitness and walking shoes with good support and grip for the walk – a walking pole may be handy as well.

There are many steps and slopes (some very steep) on the way so be prepared for a tough climb in sections. The views make it more than worth the while though – this is a real highlight of the trip. 

Please note that in winter months (Nov-Feb) when we may stay in alternate guesthouses, our trekking route along the Great Wall may also be altered.

If you do not believe you are fit enough for the trek, you can go on the bus with the driver to the part of the Great Wall where we finish the trek to still have a chance to explore.

Day 4: Overnight Train

Rise early if you are interested in watching the sunrise on the Wall. Otherwise, relax until your time to depart from the guesthouse. Today is a long travelling day – you’ll travel back to Beijing by bus (approximately 3 hours), maybe grab some snacks for the journey, and then board an overnight hard sleeper train bound for Xi'an (approximately 15 hours).

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, as it's the main form of transport for locals.

Special Information:

We use hard sleeper class trains for most of our overnight train journeys. These are not as rough as they sound – compartments are open-plan, clean, with padded three-tiered berths (6 to a compartment). 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. Keep in mind general train cleanliness may not be to the same standards you are accustomed to. Food is available on the train, but it's a good idea to stock up on snacks for the trip.

Day 5: Xi'an

Arrive in Xi’an, the capital of Shaanxi Province and the largest city in northwest China. Once the imperial centre of China for 2,000 years, Xi'an is now a vibrant, modern city dotted with many interesting historical sites and is a great place to explore. Head to the hotel to freshen up then join your leader on a short walking tour to uncover what was once the start of the ancient trading route of the Silk Road.

Visit the Bell and Drum Towers, the former built (according to legend) to restrain the dragons that were causing earthquakes, the latter is (unsurprisingly) full of drums, once used to mark time and warn in emergencies.

The city also has a wonderful Muslim Quarter, and you’ll wander the narrow streets of quaint shops, lively markets, groups of white-bearded men in skull caps sipping tea in cafes, and the Great Mosque, one of the most important in China.

See the City Walls and Gates, the most complete in China, running over 13 kilometres around the city. Xi’an’s Silk Road history means it has an exciting mixture of cultures, especially found in its food options, ranging from delicious Muslim fare to great little dumplings in Chinese restaurants.

Perhaps visit the night markets and try many of the tantalising local specialties such as pao mo (lamb broth that you break flat bread into), hand pulled noodles, hot pot and barbecue.

Included Activities:

  • Xi'an - Muslim Quarter walking tour

Optional Activities:

  • Xi'an - Great Mosque - CNY25
  • Xi'an - Big Wild Goose Pagoda - CNY80
  • Xi'an - Cycling on City Wall - CNY80
  • Xi'an - Small Wild Goose Pagoda - CNY50
  • Xi'an - Bell & Drum Towers - CNY50

Special Information:

As we arrive early in the morning, we may not be able to check in right away if rooms are still occupied or have not yet been cleaned. Your leader will try to secure one room for early check in if possible where the group can leave their luggage and freshen up, however this is subject to availability.

Day 6: Xi'an - Overnight Train

Today we will travel by public transport (approx 2 hours) to visit what is undoubtedly one of the man-made wonders of the world – the Terracotta Warriors. You’ll learn all about this incredible archaeological find, discovered in 1976 by farmers digging a well, after being buried for 2,000 years.

These clay statues of soldiers, horses and chariots (originally all painted) were commissioned by the emperor Qin Shi Huangdi as part of his mausoleum after he ascended to the throne in 264 BC.

Three main pits are open for you to view, where just under 2,000 of the total 6,000 warriors – each individually sculpted from clay, each having a different costume, height, and even facial expressions – stand in battle formation. The scale is incredibly impressive.

Afterwards you'll return to Xi'an and then the train station to board your second overnight train to Shanghai (approximately 16 hours).

Included Activities:

  • Xi'an - Terracotta Warriors

Day 7: Shanghai

Blending 21st-century architecture with old-world character, Shanghai pulses with the beat of new China. Arrive and take the subway to your accommodation. You’ll have a full day to explore here, but don't worry if you don't fit everything in, as you will return here for the end of the trip.

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 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'. This evening perhaps get a taste of Shanghai’s eclectic food scene, which draws influence from far beyond China’s walls.

Included Activities:

  • Shanghai - Walking tour

Optional Activities:

  • Shanghai - Propaganda Museum - CNY20
  • Shanghai - Shanghai Museum - Free
  • Shanghai - Yuyuan Gardens - CNY40
  • Shanghai - Urban Planning Exhibition Centre - CNY30
  • Shanghai - Acrobat Show - CNY180
  • Shanghai - Oriental Pearl Tower Viewing Deck - CNY150

Days 8-9: Huangshan

Travel by public bus to Huangshan (approximately 6 hours), otherwise known as Yellow Mountain, where you’ll stay in a local guesthouse for the next two nights. The 72 peaks of Huangshan provide some of China's most stunning scenery, and you have the next two days to explore the mountain however you’d like.

The eastern steps are shorter (7.5 kilometre, approximately 3-4 hours), but with less spectacular views. The western steps take longer (15 kilometres) and are more difficult. We recommend taking the cable car up, exploring the trails at the summit and then descending via the western steps.

Either way, the dramatic limestone peaks populating this superbly beautiful area make for some breathtaking vistas. After taking in the iconic beauty of Huangshan (which, despite the crowds and unpredictable weather, is a rewarding destination) you’ll return to your guesthouse for a well-earned rest.

Included Activities:

  • Huangshan - National Park Trek

Special Information:

The paths here are steep and often slippery, so you will need good fitness and suitable hiking shoes. 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.

Day 10: Hongcun

Climb aboard public transport to travel through Anhui province to the picturesque villages of the Huizhou region (approximately 2 hours). A number of these villages are now World Heritage sights, and were even the backdrop to scenes in ‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon’.

You will stay overnight in a village guesthouse, giving you plenty of time to wander the maze of cobbled alleys, admire Ming dynasty architecture and ornate stone carvings, or clamber 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 on foot.

Included Activities:

  • Hongcun - Guided Village Tour

Day 11: Shanghai

A long travel day by public transport (approximately 6 hours) takes you back to the big smoke of Shanghai.

Perhaps celebrate the end of your time in China with a night out with the group at a traditional tea ceremony, visit the city's hippest bars, or toast to the conclusion of this memorable Chinese journey in one of Shanghai's great restaurants.

Day 12: Shanghai

Your tour finishes after breakfast today and you are free to depart at any time. If you would like to extend your stay or continue to explore another Asian country, please ask our travel agents for advice and assistance.

Price is per person sharing and includes:

  • Return flights & charges from Dublin
  • 12 Day Northern China Tour
  • Transport:
    • Overnight Hard Sleeper Train
    • Public Bus
    • Private Vehicle
    • High Speed Train
    • Subway
    • Taxi
  • Accommodation:
    • Guesthouse/Hostel (6 nights)
    • Hotel (3 nights)
    • Overnight Hard Sleeper Train (2 nights)
  • Included activities:
    • Beijing - Great Wall trekking
    • Xi'an - Muslim Quarter walking tour
    • Xi'an - Terracotta Warriors
    • Shanghai - Walking tour
    • Huangshan - National Park Trek
    • Hongcun - Guided Village Tour

Please ask us about adding great value: 

  • Travel insurance
Subject to availability. Terms & conditions apply. 

For more information please call us on 021 427 7094 or 01 696 5135, email info@shandontravel.ie, request a call back using the red button or submit an enquiry through the form below.

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