Super Massive Giant China
Big country, big trip. Get the good times underway exploring Beijing and the Great Wall. Meander back in time in Xi’an, the Huizhou region and a Tulou village. Then it’s back to the future in Hong Kong.
In 210BC when the first Emperor of China died, he had every man working on the Terracotta Army buried alive to keep him company. But he also unified China and standardised writing. So, you could argue he's not a total monster.TRIP CHANGE FOR 2015:Some of the destinations visited on this tour are very popular with Chinese domestic tourists including the Great Wall, Hongcun and Huangshan and as such can be extremely crowded on weekends. Based on feedback from our travellers and in order to avoid the crowds and have a much more enjoyable experience of these fantastic places, we have changed the start day of our Super Massive Giant China trips from Friday to Wednesday.
Day 1 - BeijingNimen Hao! Welcome to China.Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting in the evening of Day 1.You can arrive at any time during the day as there are no activities planned until this important meeting; please check with the hotel reception where and when it will take place, or check the reception notice boards. If you can't arrange a flight that will have you arrive at the hotel by early evening, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have all these details to provide to your leader.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 to go that will give you a great insight into the nation's ancient past as well as sights that showcase China's contemporary culture.As we will depart for the Great Wall on Day 2 of this trip we highly recommend arriving a few days earlier in order to have time to see some of what Beijing has to offer. Some suggestions are:Enter the imposing Forbidden City, former home to China's imperial rulers and filled with palaces, gardens and seemingly never-ending grand courtyards.Catch a performance of the world renown Beijing Acrobats.The Temple of Heaven Park is one of the most popular in Beijing and at any time of the day is full of people of all ages taking part in traditional pastimes such as tai chi, fan dancing, diablo, kite flying, water calligraphy and more.A trip to the 798 Art District on a Beijing Art and Architecture tour will give you a taste of where art is heading in today's China as you wander the multitude of galleries housed in this old factory complex.Pick up a bike for the day. You'll need comfortable clothes for cycling. Helmets may not be available for hire - if you wish to have a helmet you'll need to supply your own.A metro ride can take you to the Summer Palace, once an imperial residence and the largest and best-preserved imperial garden in China.Visit beautiful Yonghegong, or Lama Temple, which was built in 1694 and is the largest and best-preserved Tibetan style monastery building in Beijing.Optional ActivitiesBeijing - Acrobat show - CNY250Beijing Art & Architecture Urban Adventure - CNY590Beijing - Forbidden City - CNY60Beijing by Bike Urban Adventure - CNY480Kung Fu show - CNY180Lama Temple - CNY30Summer Palace - CNY40Temple of Heaven - CNY40
Day 2-4 - Great WallToday, you will still have some time to further explore Beijing before we jump on the bullet train in the afternoon to go to Shanhaiguan (approx. 2.5 hours) for our journey to the eastern end of Great Wall. Please note that Forbidden City is closed on Mondays, so if you haven’t been there and wish to visit, you will have the time to go on Day 2 in the morning.The next morning, we will head to an untouched section of Great Wall in Dongjiakou Village. From here, we will do a light trekking (2-3 hrs) on this unrestored section of the Wall to experience the original yet ruined beauty of this great work. You’ll have time to explore the village as well and the option to try some home cooked food in one of the family run restaurants.We will go back to Shanhaiguan town in the afternoon and continue our journey to the eastern end of Great Wall – Old Dragon Head. Spend an hour or two on the Wall, then go to the beach to view the wall rising from the sea, an view nowhere to be found in any other part of China. You'll also have the chance to stroll around the old Shanhaiguan town and try local street food. We will stay 2 nights in the hotel in Shanhaiguan town.After getting back to Beijing. Grab some snacks and get ready for the overnight train to Xi'an (approx 13 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. 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 and clean, with padded three-tiered berths (6 to a compartment). Sheets, pillows and a blanket are provided. We recommend bringing your own sleeping sheet as the quality/cleanliness of sheets may not be what you are used to. Safe, hot drinking water is always available for making coffee, tea or instant meals. 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 are situated at the end of each carriage with toilets and washbasins. As toilet paper isn't always available, it's advised to carry some of your own; keep in mind general train cleanliness may not be to the same standard you are accustomed to. Most trains have a dining carriage where meals are available before the journey to supplement food available on the train.Included Activities
- Great Wall - Shanhaiguan section
- Great Wall - Dongjiakou section
Day 5-6 - Xi'anThe imperial centre of China for 2,000 years, Xi'an is now a vibrant, modern city dotted with many interesting historical sites. A monument pays homage to the fact that this was the start of the famous ancient trading route of the Silk Road and the city is still surrounded by city walls.Your leader will take you on a short walking tour of the city centre, showing you some of the highlights such as the Bell & Drum Towers, Muslim Quarter, the City Walls and Gates.Explore Xi'an's most famous site - the Terracotta Warriors. It takes around an hour to get there and you'll hear all about this incredible archaeological find, discovered by farmers digging a well in 1976 after being 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 view to the public.Visit the impressive Tang Dynasty Small or Big Wild Goose Pagodas. The Small Wild Goose Pagoda is in a newly renovated scenic area which is very popular with locals especially in the evenings when there is a nightly light & music show around the many fountains. The Xi'an Museum and Jianfu Temple are also nearby.One of the oldest mosques in China, the Great Mosque in Xi'an 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.Catch an overnight train to Shanghai (approx 16 hrs).Included ActivitiesXi'an - Walking tourOptional ActivitiesTerracotta Warriors - CNY150Bell & Drum Towers - CNY50Cycling on City Wall - CNY80Big Wild Goose Pagoda - CNY80Great Mosque - CNY25Small Wild Goose Pagoda - CNY50
Day 7 - ShanghaiArrive in Shanghai and take the subway to our accommodation.We have a full day here to explore today. However don't worry if you can't fit everything in as we will be returning to Shanghai on Day 11 & 12. Some things you might like to do during your time in Shanghai include:Join your leader for a walking tour of historical Shanghai including the Bund with its spectacular array of art deco style buildings, the narrow winding lanes of the Nongtang or the European-influenced French Concession.Visit the Propaganda Museum for a fascinating look at China's revolutionary past.Get a bird's eye view of the city from the Pearl Tower's observation decks.The impressive Shanghai Museum houses one of the best collections of Chinese bronze and artwork - you could easily spend the whole day here discovering the various exhibitions.Wander the Yuyuan Gardens. These famous classical gardens were completed in 1577 by Pan Yunduan, a government official of the Ming Dynasty.Included ActivitiesShanghai - Walking tourOptional ActivitiesPropaganda Museum - CNY20Shanghai - Shanghai Museum - FreeYuyuan Gardens - CNY40Urban Planning Exhibition Centre - CNY30
Day 8-10 - Huangshan & HongcunTravel by public bus to Huangshan (approx 6 hours), otherwise known as Yellow Mountain. We will stay here in a local guesthouse for the next two nights.The 72 peaks of Huangshan provide some of China's most stunning scenery. The paths are steep and often slippery, so you will need good fitness and suitable hiking shoes. How you explore the mountain is up to you, and either way can be taken by cable car. The eastern steps are shorter (7.5km, approx 3-4 hours), but with less spectacular views. The western steps take longer (15 km) and is more difficult. We recommend taking the cable car up, exploring the trails at the summit and then descending via the western steps.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.After taking in the iconic beauty of Huangshan, which despite the crowds and unpredictable weather is a rewarding destination, we return to our guesthouse for a well earned rest.On Day 10, head by public transport through the bamboo and pine forests of Anhui provice to the picturesque villages of the Huizhou region.A number of the villages are now UNESCO World Heritage sights and were even the backdrop to scenes in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.We stay overnight in a village guesthouse, giving us plenty of time to wander the maze of cobbled alleys, admiring Ming dynasty architecture and ornate stone carvings, or clambering 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 meander through the little market or along the waterways on foot.Included ActivitiesHongcun - Guided village tour
Day 11-12 - Shanghai
A long travel day by public transport takes us back to the big smoke of Shanghai.
Blending 21st-century architecture with old-world character, Shanghai is the vibrant pulse of new China.
You will have time to further explore this fascinating city and be able to visit the sights you missed out on during Day 7.As this is a combination trip, your group leader and the composition of your group may change at this location. There will be a group meeting to discuss the next stage of your itinerary and you're welcome to attend, as this is a great chance to meet your new fellow travellers.
Day 13-15 - Xiamen & Tulou VillageTravel on a high speed train from Shanghai to the picturesque Fujian countryside to a Tulou Village. This area is home to the Hakka people, who traditionally live in round, walled villages or communal houses ("tulou") with many families and generations of the same clan living together. Shanghai to Yongding (approx 10hrs travelling time, followed by a 1 hour transfer to Tulou village)Accommodation is very basic in local style. It can get quite cold at night in some months so please ensure you bring warm clothes. Washing facilities may be limited, with communal toilets outside of the rooms. We have the option to try some simple local dishes for dinner tonight and breakfast tomorrow which may be quite different from what you are used to, but certainly authentic. The area has been developed for domestic tourism recently and sees lots of day trippers, but few people stay overnight so we will have a true local experience while here.Before we leave the Tolou Village, we will hike with a local guide to viewing points where we can see the structures of the walled villages from above, hear a bit about their history and the unique Hakka culture!In the afternoon of Day 14 we travel to the coastal city of Xiamen which lies just across the strait from Taiwan for a total journey of over 1000km. Formerly known as Amoy, Xiamen is the capital of Fujian province and has a rich colonial history evident in the city's buildings and gardens. It's also home to some of China's best universities and has a vibrant student culture.You will have Day 15 as a free day, we suggest you jump on a ferry and head over to Gulang Yu, an island crammed full of historic mansions and villas easily navigable on bike or foot. Visit the Xiamen University campus with is landscaped grounds and surrounding trendy bars and cafes for a chat with some local students.Or traipse up the steps to Nanputuo Temple, one of the most important and active Buddhist sites in the region. Pop into the Overseas Chinese Museum - many ethnic Chinese in Singapore and further afield were originally from Fujian province.Included ActivitiesTulou Village - Guided hike & village tour
Day 16-18 - YangshuoAn early start today as we travel to Xiamen Airport and catch a flight to Guilin (approx 90 min) and from there transfer to Yangshuo (approx 90 mins).Yangshuo has become very popular with international and domestic tourists in recent years and has a great cafe and bar culture. It's also one of the best places in the country to get a feel for local culture and traditions and have plenty of fun at the same time.The countryside around Yangshuo is immortalized in many traditional Chinese paintings - picture immense limestone karsts dotting the rural landscape and towering spectacularly over rice paddies and the meandering Li River.There are plenty of interesting activities to keep us entertained during our time here! Why not:Take a bike ride to gain an insight into rural Chinese life. This is an absolutely stunning region to explore, as every turn in the road brings you to another picture-postcard location. The spectacular outdoor light show staged by Olympic Opening Ceremony director Zhang Yimou,director of 2008 Beijing Olympic Games Opening Ceronmony, is a definite highlight and highly recommended.Enjoy a relaxing boat ride along the Li River. Take an early morning tai chi class by the riverside. Get a feel for local produce with a visit to the market, then learn to cook some Chinese dishes at the Yangshuo Cooking School. The recipes are easy to make and the ingredients readily available outside of China so you'll be able to recreate them once you get back home.Optional ActivitiesBike hire - CNY20Li River cruise - CNY100Cooking School & Market Tour - CNY150Zhang Yimou's Impressions Show - CNY198Yangshuo - Tai Chi class - CNY50
Day 19-21 - Longji Rice TerracesTravel by public bus to the Longji region via Guilin and Longsheng (approx 4.5 hrs). Pack an overnight bag for our two night stay here as we leave our main luggage at the train station to pick up again on our return.The Longji region has some of the most extensive rice terraces you'll ever see. These terraces change with the seasons: filled with water from the mountains before planting, becoming green during the growing season and then golden when the rice is ready for harvest.Take a day hike through the Longji Valley to visit local hilltribe communities and learn about village life. Expect to carry your own day pack and walk for up to five hours as our next accommodation may be in a different village. The hike can be tough going for some, with many uphill stretches and some very slippery paths. However, more experienced hikers will have no problems and there are many more optional walks available, uncovering great photo opportunities around every corner.In Longji, we stay in local guesthouses.Bus back to Guilin (approx 3 hrs), where you may have some free time to explore.Take an overnight hard sleeper train to Shenzhen - gateway to Hong Kong (approx 13 hrs).Included ActivitiesLongji - Guided Rice Terraces trek
Day 22-23 - Hong KongThe China-Hong Kong border is busy, so there can often be a bit of a wait to get through and a lot of patience required. On average, it takes around 2 hours to clear immigration and customs on both sides. You'll need to carry your bags with you during this time.First you need to walk the short distance from the train station to the border, go through procedures to exit China, then to enter Hong Kong. Once all that's done, travel on the KCR train to central Hong Kong.It was as a British colony that Hong Kong made itself known to the world - now back under Chinese rule since the 1997 handover, the city is still a unique and fascinating place to explore and see where the East really does meet the West. Hong Kong's cityscape is spectacular and its modern fast-paced life is only minutes from picturesque islands and beaches. The locals are very proud of their Cantonese culture and history, so step out of the shopping malls and off the main streets to discover another side of the city.As our tour finishes on day 12 and we only have limited time in Hong Kong, we highly recommend staying a few extra days to enjoy all this incredible city has to offer:Take a scenic journey around the islands of Hong Kong on the famous passenger ferry service, the Star Ferry.Venture up to the top of Victoria Peak for a bird's eye view.Watch the harbour's spectacular light show - a stunning spectacle of coloured lights, laser beams and searchlights synchronised to music and narration that celebrates the energy, spirit and diversity of Hong Kong.Ride the Peak Tram - the only way to truly experience the beauty of Hong Kong's natural wonders. Tens of millions of people from every corner of the globe have taken the ride, which affords a uniquely spectacular perspective of the city.There are no activities planned for the final day and you are able to depart the accommodation at any time. Please check the 'Finishing Point Hotel' section for checkout times and luggage storage possibilities.Optional ActivitiesStar Ferry - HKD15Hong Kong - Victoria Peak & Tram - HKD40Peak Tram - HKD30Nightly Light Show - Free
What to Know
- • Gecko’s expert English-speaking Chinese tour guide throughout the tour and local guides at some sites.• Sightseeing: Great Wall at Shanghaiguan where it meets the sea and the remote Dongjiakou section, Walking tours in Xi'an, Shanghai & Hongcun• Visit the traditional Chinese village of Hongcun, the coastal city of Xiamen and climb mount Huangshan• Free time to explore in Xian and Shanghai.• Overnight trains from Beijing to Xian, Xian to Shanghai and Guilin to Shenzhen.• Stay in a traditional Tulou Hakka roundhouse.• Explore the mystical countryside around Yangshuo.• Hike through the rice terraces of Longji.• Fly from Xiamen to Guilin.
- International flights, departure taxes, visas, insurance, meals unless indicated, drinks, optional additional tours or activities during free time, tips and items of a personal nature.
Past Travellers' Ratings & Comments
At the end of each trip, we ask our travellers to provide feedback. We publish the positive, negative and neutral feedback on this page to give you an overall idea of what to expect on this trip.
Super Massive Giant China
peter - Australia, 14 Apr, 2013
great to have travelled on the road less travelled, got to see china, not the places all the tourists go to,food was great, realised many chinese had never seen people like us, still many areas of old and the new stuff was ok too, bullet train was awesome.
Super Massive Giant China
Jared - Australia, 25 Nov, 2012