SEMI INDEPENDENT: See the best of Eastern China on this 9-day group tour. Admire the Great Wall at sunrise and walk along a less-visited section of this legendary wonder. Enjoy a mix of guided sightseeing and free time in Beijing and Shanghai, and enjoy a boat cruise on West Lake in Hangzhou. Hike to the summit of Jiuyao Mountain, learn to speak Mandarin and join optional activities including a Chinese acrobatic show and a visit to the iconic Forbidden City.
Beijing - The Great Wall. Welcome to China! Our big adventure begins with a Welcome Meeting at 10am. Then it's time to drop our bags and get to know your fellow travelers before we head for the Great Wall.
First, we enjoy a quick mandarin lesson and gather in teams for a competition around Beijing's ancient streets.
On to the legendary Great Wall! We’ll stop at a local farming village for lunch (at your own expense) and to gain access to the ‘locals only’ section of the wall; deserted sections where we’ll have the place to ourselves to set up camp. Walk along the wall as the sun sets before returning to camp.
(Due to cold weather we stay at a local guesthouse near the Wall on departures at the end of April and after September).
Please note: The pre-departure meeting is at 10am on day 1, so please ensure you arrive in Beijing the night before your tour or in plenty of time before the trip starts. We can arrange pre-tour accommodation for you.
Overnight: Camping on Great Wall
The Great Wall - Beijing. We wake early on day 2 in order to watch the sunrise over the Great Wall. There is a strong possibility this will be the highlight of your trip! Take in your surroundings and appreciate the early morning silence.
At around 9am we transfer back to Beijing. Opt to take a walk-through Tiananmen Square and visit the Forbidden city, the once imperial palace of 24 emperors during the Ming and Qing dynasties. There's also an optional Chinese acrobatics show and a group dinner for those who would like to sample traditional Peking duck, a meal fit for an emperor!
Day 3 is free. You can visit the fake goods markets or the Temple of Heaven, used by emperors for sacrifices to appease the heavens. There is also an optional visit to Nanluo district, one of the best-preserved historical areas in Beijing, famous for its hutongs and siheyan courtyards as well as an array of bars and cafes.
Beijing - Hangzhou. Our final day in Beijing is free for you to tick off any last sights or experiences. Make sure you have enjoyed a rickshaw ride, or you could head to the imperial Summer Palace. This evening at around 18:00 we head to the train station and board an overnight train to Hangzhou (approx. 13 hours).
Overnight: Sleeper Train
Arrive early into scenic Hangzhou, the southern terminus of the Grand Canal and an important center for silk, tea and paper-making. After settling into our accommodation, we embark on a scenic boat trip to Lesser Yingzhou Isle on the West Lake which is dotted with various islands and causeways, whilst the shoreline offers wonderful vistas of green trees, hills, flowers, pavilions, pagodas and boats. We take some time to walk around the island and see the three pools mirroring the moon. Return to dry land for some free time to relax or perhaps visit the National Tea Museum or National Silk Museum.
This afternoon we hike up Jiuyao Mountain to soak up the views of the sunset descending over the lake – a truly breath-taking sight. Return to the city for a group meal and an evening at leisure (not included). Walk along the beautifully lit waterfront or wander through the streets of the Old Town.
Hangzhou - Shanghai. This morning we venture out of the city and head to the luscious Misty Forest to hike along the Nine Creeks trail, passing verdant valleys and undulating hills. We return to the hostel for some time to freshen up before making our way to the station for our onward train to Shanghai. On arrival jump on the metro to our accommodation and have the rest of the evening free to explore this futuristic city. On Saturday nights there is an optional Shanghai bar crawl.
On day 7 we enjoy another Mandarin lesson, this time with professional teachers from the Mandarin Garden Chinese Language School. The rest of the day is at leisure. A highlight for many travelers is a trip to the iconic Disneyland theme park. You may also wish to visit the Shanghai Museum, Moganshan Art Street or the ZhuJiaJiao Water Town.
Day 8 is also free for you to explore Shanghai indepedently. Opt to visit the Yu Gardens, the lavish former home of a Chinese dignitary. Take in People's Square and perhaps head to the top of a skyscraper to enjoy panoramic views over the city with a drink.
This morning, you could stroll through the former French Concession to learn about Shanghai’s international history, visit a secretive propaganda history museum, or take in the sights of the ultra-modern Shanghai financial district. For the daredevils, you can head up to the top of Jinmao Tower and brave the Skywalk! Or, go up just for the stunning panoramic views.
In the evening, you’ll take in the city lights from the water with a cruise down the Huangpu River. The optional activities will finish at around 7pm, at which point you’ll say goodbye to your group. We can arrange post-tour accommodation for you.
Is this holiday for you?
If you’re the kind of traveler that doesn’t mind time spent travelling independently on public transport and sharing a mixed dorm room with other travelers, then this trip will suit you just fine. There’s plenty of free time on this tour so it’s a great option if you like to explore a city at your own leisure.
Prices & Dates
Departure dates noted with a 'G' are guaranteed to operate. All other departure dates are guaranteed with a minimum of 4 persons. Prices shown are per person travelling and the Dorm prices shown are based on mixed dormitory rooms. There is also a Twin / Double Room Upgrade and a Single Room upgrade for solo travellers. Twin / Double room upgrades are based on two people travelling together and are subject to availability.