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Great Wall at sunrise | Beijing | China
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Beijing to Shanghai Express - 9 days map

SEMI INDEPENDENT: This whistle stop tour of China uncovers some of China’s bustling cities and stunning landscapes. From watching the sun rise along the world-renowned Great Wall to the capitals most iconic imperial sites; from the breath-taking scenery in Hangzhou, to the incredible Shanghai skyline.

Prices & Dates

Trip Highlights

Beijing – roam the streets of China’s fascinating capital independently. Tiananmen Square, Forbidden City, Silk Alley markets, Hutong area of Beijing, Chinese Acrobatic Show
Mandarin Challenge – enjoy Mandarin lessons with your guides and a lesson with professional teachers in a local language school
Shanghai – explore China’s biggest city independently. The Bund, People's Square, former French Concession
ZhuJiaJiao - Travel to the Italian Venice of China (optional)
Great Wall of China – hike to unrestored sections of the wall, set up camp on a deserted section and watch the sunrise on one of the Wonders of the World
Hangzhou – enjoy scenic boat trip on the West Lake
KTV – sing your heart out in some of China’s beloved KTV rooms (optional)
Nine Creeks – hike to the spectacular waterscape in Misty Forest


6 nights hostel accommodation, 1-night camping and 1-night sleeper train (6-berth sleeper cabin)
All relevant transfers and transportation using public transport
Local guides for scheduled sightseeing in Beijing, Hangzhou and Shanghai. Unescorted travel between cities
Basic Mandarin lessons with your tour leader and lesson at Mandarin Garden Chinese School
Train ticket: Denqing – Shanghai
Hiking along unrestored parts of The Great Wall of China!

Not Included

International flights and visa.
Tipping - an entirely personal gesture
Laundry, drinks, items of a personal nature


Day 1

The Great Wall

Welcome to China! Our big adventure begins this morning at Spring Time Hostel at 10am. We have some time at leisure to relax and use the shower rooms and common areas. This afternoon we begin making our way to today’s highlight – The 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 for our first basic Mandarin lesson with our trip leader.

(Please note due to cold weather we stay at a local guesthouse near the Wall from before the end of April and after September).
Overnight: Camping on Great Wall

Days 2-3


Rise and shine early this morning to witness the sun rise on the Great Wall, one of the most iconic sun rises of our lives. Return to Beijing where we have the remainder of the afternoon and next day at leisure to explore the capital’s iconic sites. Take a stroll through Tiananmen Square, one of the largest public squares in the world and home to the National Museum of China, Great Hall of the People and Monument to the People’s heroes. Visit the iconic Forbidden City for a close up of the largest palatial complex in the world, boasting over 980 buildings and an insight into the history of the 24 emperors that lived there. For a bird’s eye view of these iconic sites we recommend heading up to Jingshan Park. Head to one of the three fake goods markets to buy souvenirs for your friends and family or stroll along the capital’s hutongs in the Nanluo district. In the evening, we recommend trying the famous Peking Duck dish, once enjoyed exclusively by royalty or perhaps watch a stunning acrobatics performance.
Overnight: Beijing

Day 4

Beijing to Hangzhou

Beijing - Hangzhou. Our final day in Beijing is spent at leisure to visit any last-minute sites. Visit the Temple of Heaven, a temple used by emperors for sacrifices to appease the heavens and grant good crops and prosperity for its worshipers, and the largest sacrificial building in China. This evening we board an overnight train to Hangzhou (approx. 14 hours).
Overnight: Sleeper Train

Day 5

West Lake

Arrive early into scenic Hangzhou, the southern terminus of the Grand Canal and an important centre 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.
Overnight: Hangzhou

Days 6-8

Hangzhou to Shanghai

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 offer (not included).

Day 7 is at leisure to further explore Shanghai. Visit one of the many museums to gain an insight into the city’s unique history, take a stroll down one of the many markets a for an array of collectables to take home for your friends and family, or try some of the local cuisine – we recommend grabbing some of the food from the city’s bustling street food markets.

On the morning of day 8 we have our final Mandarin lesson in the Mandarin Garden Chinese Language School before spending the remainder of the day at leisure. There is an optional visit to the classical Yu Gardens along the Yangtze River, cross the zig zag bridge and mid-lake pavilion and marvel at one of the three famous jade rocks in south of Yangtze. Or perhaps continue to People’s Square in the heart of the city which attracts visitors from all over the world with its many museums, parks, local restaurants and more. Witness the bright neon lights on Nanjing Road, the world's busiest shopping street and marvel at the timeless colonial style buildings and modern skyscrapers at The Bund. We end our walk with a drink on the top floor of one of the skyscrapers, while sitting in hot tubs and admiring the panoramic views of the Paris of the East.
Overnight: Shanghai

Day 9


Today is our final day in bustling Shanghai. There is the optional walk through the former French concession for an insight into the city’s international history. The first stop is to a secretive propaganda history museum, continue onto TianZiFang lane - a local artisan lane filled with stone doored houses and remains of the French style architecture. The final stop is to the ultra-modern financial district on the east side of the Huangpu River, housing dozens of high rise buildings and urban parks. We return to collect our bags and bid farewell to the group. Departure transfers can be arranged upon request. We would be delighted to help you extend your stay in Shanghai and book more nights for you if you’re still not quite ready to head home.

Is this holiday for you?

If you’re the kind of traveller that doesn’t mind time spent travelling independently on public transport and sharing a mixed dorm room with other travellers, 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.

At a Glance

Saturdays & Mondays March - October
Hotel Rating
Simple accommodation and Camping
Tour Guide
Local guides, unescorted between cities
None Provided
Minimum Age
15 yrs, accompanied by an adult
Arr. Transfer
Dep. Transfer
Click to play videoBeijing cityscape with a view of the sprawling Forbidden City palace complex from above
Click to play videoThe view across the Huangpu River to the modern cityscape of Pudong in Shanghai
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