18 Day China loop starting in Shanghai. An awesome round trip in the best part of China in 18 days. Join our groups to discover the real China. Loads of inclusions and plenty of optional extras. Bamboo rafting, panders, Kung Fu temples, ancient Chinese temples and some of the world’s largest and most modern cities.
Xtreme China Xplorer – Guided China Group TourBook Now
- Visit Shanghai, the biggest city in the world, with a population larger than that of Australia
- Experience the largest bar crawl in China – the Drunken Dragon Pub Crawl
- Explore beautiful karst scenery in Yangshuo
- Visit Amazing sights like Tianfu Square to see the colossal statue of Chairman Mao, and visit the world’s largest statue of Buddha
- Take an exhilarating bike ride atop the ancient city walls
- Bamboo Rafting the Li River
- See pandas at the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding
- See the Terracotta Army and stay on a mountain farm in Xi’an
- Watch Kung Fu at its highest level at the Shaolin Temple
- Hike the Great Wall then Camp on the Wall, watch the sunrise the next morning
- Destinations connected by night train with fully flat beds, so no time is wasted travelling
China Xplorer Itinerary
Day 1: Shanghai
Welcome to China! The tour begins in Shanghai one of the most exciting modern cities in the world. On arrival day you will meet group at the rooftop bar of the Pheonix Hostel. You have one day to explore Shanghai at your leisure, prior to heading on an overnight train to the stunning Guilin.
Transfer to Shanghai South Station to board a night train to Guilin.
One guide will put you on the train and another will collect you in Guilin.
Please note, the China Xplorer is a variation of the more popular Xtreme China Experience. Very Occasionally, you may have a journey from Shanghai to Yangzhou on your own on the first evening aboard an over night train before meeting the larger group. We will let you know if this is the case.
If you do not wish to do this you have the option of flying into Guilin Liangjiang International Airport and you can meet the group on day 2.
A note about sightseeing in Shanghai. The 1st day is a connection day to get you to the group in Guilin. If you want to spend more time exploring Shanghai, and we recommend do so, you may want to book additional nights at the end of the trip becasue you will be finishing up back in Shanghai.
Day 2-5: Yangshuo
Enjoy the ride through the ever-changing scenery until the karst mountains appearing in the distance mean you are nearly at your destination. This is a back-packing and climber´s paradise and some of the crags have some interesting names; Wine Bottle Cliff, Twin Gates, The Egg, Baby Frog, Low Mountain and Moon Hill. If you have a 20 yuan note handy the picture on the back was taken in Yangshuo.
Your first free activity in the afternoon is a ride down the River Li on a bamboo raft. As you drift down the river with the soaring mountains above you and the sun setting what could be a better introduction this beautiful place. Yangshuo is famous for its stunning scenery and there are some exciting optional activities.
Accommodation in Yangshou is at Monkey Jane´s Hostel which has a super terrace with great views of the surrounding mountains and river. It is the highest roof-top bar around so definitely the place to go for a few beers while the sun goes down. If you are feeling brave the bar sells snake liquor at 10RMB a shot.
The Li River is where some of the optional activities take place. Kayaking is something everyone knows about but what about deep water soloing. All you have to do is climb up a really high crag, no ropes, and jump off into deep water!
For more relaxing classes try learning Chinese or taking instruction in calligraphy. For a fun group activity the Golden Water caves are great. Cover each other in oozing river mud until you all resemble chocolate biscuits and then jump in the hot springs to rinse it off. This is great fun and great for your skin at the same time.
Forget fishing with rods or nets. Fishing in Yangshuo is done is a slightly different way as the men use birds to catch the fish. Specially trained cormorants dive from boats and catch the fish and come back and spit them out. A snare is placed round their necks so they can only swallow the smaller ones!
For a more unusual activity but relaxing at the same time opt for some Hot Cupping treatment. Heated bamboo or glass cups are placed on your back and as they tighten the impurities and tensions are drawn out of the skin. The Yangshuo farmers love it after a day at fields and who cares if you have up to 30 dark circles on your back for few days!
There is plenty of free time in Yangshuo right up until it is time to board the night train to Chengdu.
Day 6 – 8: Chengdu
Around 14 million people live in the City of Brocade or City of Hibiscus as Chengdu is also known. Today there is time to get to know the city and maybe try the famous Sichuan Hot Pot. Pots of bubbling and spicy oil surrounded by a selection of meats and vegetables mean you can select your own and then cook them in the boiling pot. Beware the Sichuan Peppercorns, they can be mind-numbingly hot!
On the second day in Chengdu it is an early start and a ride out to the Panda Breeding Research Centre. Panda´s don´t do much but look adorable and search for food. Panda breakfast time is the best time to catch these black and white cuddly creatures tucking into their daily ration of about 20kg of bamboo.
When you get back to Chengdu there is the chance to try out a massage. The masseurs here are blind, or supposed to be, and as their touch is more sensitive than a sighted person they give some great massages. It might be better to avoid anywhere that offers you a ´happy ending´ though.
Once you are suitably relaxed it is time to get on the overnight train to Xi´an. The train ride is 500 miles and takes about 15 hours.
Day 9-10: Xi´an
In the morning you will be taken on a guided tour to see the number one attraction in Xi’an which has to be the Terracotta Warriors. Discovered by farmers in 1974 this is one of the most unforgettable sights of any trip to China. Only a few of the many thousands of the buried soldiers have been completely recovered so far along with 40,000 weapons. Each soldier has unique features and buried alongside them were their horses and chariots. The First Emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang, died in 210 BCE and the soldiers were to protect him in the after-life.
It takes a lot a top off the sight of all the Terracotta Warriors but if you fancy some exercise there is an optional bike ride round the city walls.
The Muslim Quarter in Xi´an is a lively bustling place where you can find the Beiyuanmen Muslim Market which is a great place for some lunch and to find some souvenirs of Shanghai. There are ten mosques in the area but the most famous is the Great Mosque with intricate carvings, colourful decorations, courtyards and gardens. The main Prayer Hall of the mosque can hold up to 1.000 people and is lavishly and ornately decorated. The grounds are open all day to people of all beliefs but non-Muslims are not allowed in the Prayer Hall.
For some night time entertainment check out Big Wild Goose Pagoda and sit and watch Asia´s biggest sound and light show. Afterwards, find one of the many karaoke bars and maybe have a group singsong. Karaoke or KTV as it is known is incredibly popular in China and even more so in Xi´an with nearly all the venues being night clubs combined with karaoke bars.
There are many homeless people in Xi´an and tonight there is the chance to give something back to this amazing country by helping out at a soup kitchen. Not just soup but pots of tea, noodles and steamed buns are provided by the volunteer organisations come rain or shine.
Day 11 – 12 Shaolin
Another early start as we head northwest of Dengfeng out into the thickly wooded mountains. Reputed to be the ´Number One Temple Under Heaven´ not only is the temple the home of Shaolin Kung Fu but it also on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Established in 495AD the temple takes its name from the nearby Shaoshi Mountain and as well as Kung Fu it is where Chan Buddhism originated. The complex of the Shaolin Temple has 7 main halls and there are many interesting photo opportunities.
Day 13 – 16 : Beijing
The morning is for relaxing before heading off to the Great Wall for an overnight camping experience and to see one of the world´s most impressive feats of engineering. The journey out to the Great Wall of China is by bus and this takes about two hours, depending on the traffic out of Beijing. Once the bus is clear of the suburbs the scenery changes to mainly forests and mountains stretching as far as the eye can see.
Nothing can prepare you for the reality of the Great Wall of China. The sheer scale of this iconic structure snaking off into the distance will take your breath away as you stroll along the fortifications and wonder just how it was constructed. The locals call it the Wild Wall and after hiking a short distance you will find a deserted place to set up camp. Watching the sun go down over the Great Wall is a magical experience and one you will never forget.
Up early in time to catch the sun rise across the Great Wall and after some memorable photos it is time to return to Beijing. The rest of today and tomorrow are at leisure in Beijing to get to know the city better.
For dinner Beijing style find the Night Market. There are food stalls with many recognisable dishes to try and some not quite so! Many of the offerings are on skewers and while strawberry-on-a-stick sounds delicious some of the more exotic ones might have the odd beetle, silk worm or scorpion on! The signs are in Mandarin Chinese and English so if you are not sure if it is a lizard or lamb kebab hopefully the signs will help. The skewers are displayed raw and then deep fried in large woks to order. This is a great fun activity in a group and will certainly sort out who has the strongest stomach!
If you are not feeling too queasy after all the weird and wonderful foods you have seen, and maybe eaten, there is an amazing acrobatic display at the Chaoyang Theatre. The award winning Beijing Acrobatic Troupe will astound you with their contortions, twists, turns and balancing acts.
Tiananmen Square is a must-see. Chairman Mao died in 1976 and has lain in state in his crystal coffin in the Mausoleum here ever since. He wanted to be cremated but his final wishes were ignored and he is visited every day by thousands of people. On the eastern side of Tiananmen Square is the National Museum for anyone that wants a whistle stop tour of Beijing history.
A few streets from Tiananmen Square is the Forbidden City which was home to many Emperors and their retinues from the 15th century onwards. Surrounded by a high wall and a deep moat the city is a fascinating place with about 9,000 rooms spread across 1,000 or so wooden buildings. The Palace Museum is also here with stunning treasures and works of art on display.
To see how the other half live, escape from Beijing city to the edge of the beautiful Kunming Lake to visit the Summer Palace. Spread over acres and acres of beautiful gardens there are pavilions, towers, bridges and other man-made ancient structures numbering well over 3,000. Two of the most interesting are the Marble Boat and the Seventeen-Arch Bridge.
Other notable places in Beijing are the Bird´s Nest Stadium from the 2008 Olympics and the Water Cube. They are both interesting to look at through the day by probably better viewed at night when they are lit up.
Day 17-18: Hangzhou & Moganshan
“In heaven there is paradise, on earth there is Hangzhou”. Once an ancient capital of China and rumored to have been visited by Macro Polo, Hangzhou is an eclectic mix of old and new, built on the stunning banks of West Lake. Famous throughout China for its beauty and culture, Hangzhou has become one of the most visited tourist cities in the world.
At the end of day 18 you will have covered Thousands of miles together and shared many experiences which will stay with you for a lifetime. But it is time start saying goodbyes as your group departs for home or maybe onto other exciting countries.
Optional Activities & Consise Itinerary
This tour is designed to allow you lots of freedom to explore and see the sights, and there are plenty of exciting optional activities on offer in each location along the route. Here is a breakdown of what happens each day with optional activities:
Day 1: Shanghai
- Meet group at the rooftop bar of the Pheonix Hostel. leave luggage at the hostel if necessary.
- Transfer to Shanghai South Station to board a night train to Guilin.
- One guide will put you on the train and another will collect you in Guilin.
Day 2-5: Yangshuo
- Try your hand at cooking up some traditional Chinese foods at this friendly and practical local cuisine institute
- Group Lunch
- Unmissable Activity: Cruise down the Yulong River on these Chinese style Gondolas.
- – Bamboo Rafts! Bikes included riding around! (please make sure you wear a helmet at all times when you are riding your bike!)
- Optional: Cormorant Fishing
- Optional: Bike Ride to Moon Hill and a cave complex including mudbaths and hot springs
- Optional: Enjoy Deep Water soloing or Rock- Climbing, both highly recommended!
- Optional: Experience Chinese traditional therapies such as Hot Cupping
- Optional: Enjoy kayaking on the Li River (must be back by 13.00!)
- Optional: A true treat, experience what life is like on a farm by visiting your Adventure Leader’s home village
- Board minibus to North Bus Station and then board your bus to Guilin
Say goodbye to your second Adventure Leader and board train to Chengdu
Day 6-8: Chengdu
- Arrive in Chengdu and meet your next Adventure Leader, before transferring by metro to your hostel.
- Optional: Massage from blind Masseuse.
- Mandarin Lesson 1: Have a Mandarin Lesson with your Adventure Leader
- Optional: Watch a traditional Sichuan opera performance
- Unmissable Activity: Gather up to go see the Pandas at the world’s main, and biggest, Giant Panda Breeding & Research Center.
- Optional: Leave to Leshan to see the world’s largest stone Buddha.
- Optional: Wander Jinli street and the Tibetan districts independently. (Chengdu is right next to Tibet, or Xizang in Mandarin, so there is a large ethnic community here).
- Optional: Sample the famous Sichuan Hot Pot if you dare!(Legendary Spice!)
- Have a night out in Chengdu
- Optional:Visit Wenshu Monastery, Sichuan Province Museum, People’s Park and a traditional Tea House
- Take bus or metro to Chengdu North Railway Station
- Say goodbye to your Adventure Leader and board your train to Xian
Day 9-10: Xi’an
- Arrive in Xi’an and meet your next Adventure Leader
- Check-in to your hostel
- Optional: Explore the Bell Drum towers, Muslim Quarter and Great Mosque to learn about the history of the Silk Road, towers , mosque and some local legends.
- Enjoy a dinner of local street foods at the Muslim Quarter. Relax after dinner by visiting the local Silk Road market nearby.
- Optional: Volunteer at a the Star Sun Home
- Un-missable Attraction – Terracotta Warriors – Free
- Optional: Bike Ride on Ming Dynasty City Walls. Please make sure you wear a helmet!
Day 11-12: Shaolin
- Board a private minivan then a bus to DengFeng, the closest village to the Shaolin Temple
- Arrive in DengFeng
- Optional: Kungfu Lesson & Show at a local Children’s Home run by the Shaolin
- Temple where the monks teach these children to be Kungfu masters. All proceeds go directly to the Children’s Home.
- Dinner in the Guesthouse
- Mandarin lesson: Have your second Mandarin lesson
- Optional: Visit the flagship of Kung Fu, The Shaolin Temple
- Optional: Hike to Dharma Cave, a spiritual spot for Buddhist pilgrims, and be rewarded by beautiful views of both the shrines/temples in the area and the views of the area
- Have a late lunch at the guesthouse then pack and check out
- Depart to Zhengzhou to board your train to Beijing
- Arrive at the train station and have some food before your train leaves
Day 13-16: Beijing
Arrive Beijing and meet your next Adventure Leader. Transfer by minibus to hostel. ou won’t be staying the night here, so you won’t be able to get into rooms, but can use the shower rooms, and common areas to relax before heading to the Wall in the afternoon
- Mandarin lesson: Have your 3rd Mandarin Lesson
- It’s time for the Mandarin Challenge! Use your freshly learned Mandarin to complete challenges around Beijing’s ancient streets and alleyways. The winning team earns a prize.
- Mandatory meal at a local farm to obtain permission to access the locals only sections of the unrestored Great Wall
- Unmissable Attraction – Hike on totally unrestored sections of the Wall before setting up camp on a deserted section of the wall to watch the sunset on one of the Wonders of the World (Please note, due to cold weather before end of April and after September, we stay in a guest house near the Wall instead of camping, but still return to the Wall to watch sunrise in the morning)
- Unmissable Attraction – Sunrise on the Wall
- Return to Beijing
- Optional: Visit the Olympic Bird’s Nest stadium designed by one of the most controversial figures in modern China
- Optional:A stunning Chinese Acrobatics Performance performed by young talents recruited from around China
- Enjoyed exclusively by royalty in ancient times, taste Beijing’s signature dish Peking Roast Duck
- Optional: Take a walk through the globally recognized, Tiananmen Square
- Optional: Visit the Forbidden City. The largest palatial complex in the world, the grounds boast 980 buildings, and a history of housing 24 different Chinese royalty
- Optional: Go to Jingshan park for a bird’s eye view of the three palaces: Forbidden City, Temple of Heaven, Summer Palace and Tiananmen Square.
- Test your bargaining skills in the Fake Goods Market!
- Push your taste buds to the limit at the WangFuJing night market where you can sample most foods you’ve never tried, like scorpion, dog, cat, bugs and more
Optional: Go to the Temple of Heaven, the largest complex dedicated to heaven worship in the world and where ancient sacrifices were made to bring bountiful harvests
- Board night train to Hangzhou
Day 17-18: Hangzhou & Moganshan
After breakfast the group will take a minivan from Hangzhou railway station to Moganshan, famed for it’s bamboo forests.
- Optional: Hike to Moganshan PeakDinner
- Have breakfast then check-out, but you can leave your bags at the hostel
- Unmissable Activity: Bike Trek
- Lunch at the hostel
Travel to Hangzhou East Train Station to take your bullet train to Shanghai
- Arrive in Shanghai and transfer via metro to your hostel
- Optional: Set off for the Shanghai Drunken Dragon Pub Crawl – a big favourite with our fun-loving travellers!
We often get asked how much extra activities cost. Below we have listed some of the additional activities you can do on this trip. Please note prices do change, and currencies do fluctuate so this is really just a guide it may not be hundred percent accurate, but it will give you a good indication of how much extra to allow for spending money.
- Entrance to the Great Wall: 45CNY (approx £4.40)
- Cable car at Great Wall: 55CNY each way (approx £5.35)
- Toboggan at Great Wall: 45CNY (approx £4.40)
- Beijing: Forbidden City: 60CNY (approx £5.85)
- Beijing: Temple of Heaven: 35CNY (approx £3.40)
- Beijing: Summer Palace: 50CNY (approx £4.85)
- Beijing: Legend of Gongfu performance: 100CNY (approx £9.70)
- Beijing or Shanghai: Acrobatic Performance: 100CNY (approx £9.70)
- Beijing: Opera Performance: 180CNY (approx £17.50)
- Beijing: Hutong Cycle Tour: 100 CNY (approx £9.70)
- Shanghai: Yuyuan Garden: 40CNY (approx £3.90)
- Shanghai: Jinmao Tower: 100CNY (approx £9.70)
- Shanghai: Huangpu River night cruise: 70CNY (approx £6.80)
- Shanghai: Oriental Pearl View deck 100 CNY (approx £9.70)
- Xi’an: Terra Cotta Warriors Museum: 150CNY (approx £14.60)
- Xi´an: Bell & Drum Towers: 40CNY (approx £3.90)
- Xi´an: Great Mosque: 25CNY (approx £2.45)
- Xi´an: City Wall South Gate: 40CNY (approx £3.90)
- Xi´an: Big Wild Goose Pagoda: 50CNY (approx £4.85)
- Xi´an: Dumpling Banquet: 80CNY (approx £7.80)
- Yangtze River: Three Lesser Gorges: 220 CNY (approx £21.50)
- Yangtze River: Three Gorges Dam: 120 CNY (approx £11.70)
- Yangshuo: 40 min Calligraphy class: 30 CNY (approx £2.90)
- Yangshuo: Chinese Language lesson: 40 CNY (approx £3.90)
- Yangshuo: Impression Light Show: 188 CNY (approx £18.30)
- Yangshuo: 1 hour Gongfu Lesson: 50 CNY (approx £4.85)
- Yangshuo: Cooking School & market tour: 150CNY (approx £14.60)
- Yangshuo: Bike rental: 20CNY (approx £1.95)
- Yangshuo: Kayaking: 130CNY (approx £12.65)
- Yangshuo: Li River Cruise: 80CNY (approx £7.80)
Trip Frequently Asked Questions
We include all of the accommodation during this China group tour. We usually use hostels based on shared rooms. There is the option to upgrade your own room at a cost of about £25 per night. Please give us a couple of weeks notice if that is your intention.
We regularly do check Hostels to Make Sure They Are Clean and Secure.
The idea of accommodation in China can send a shiver down your spine, but each hostel has modern showers washing facilities and Internet access.
Some of this trip is spent camping on the great Wall of China, you do not need to bring camping equipment it is all included for you. We spend one night on a traditional organic farm and you will also get the opportunity to sleep in a roundhouse as well.
We sleep on sleeper trains during some sections, this is a great way to travel because you wake up somewhere new without spending your days on the move. Sleeper trains all have flat beds, and there are a lot of fun. If you wish you can upgrade to first class sleeper cabin on some routes.
If you want to go exceptionally cheap, you can always grab a bowl of noodles or fried rice for as little as 10RMB (approx £1).
You can also get Western food and most of the hostels where you stay and this will cost about three pounds, but hey you are in China take full advantage.
The trip finishes at 10pm on the last day and most people spend an extra night before flying home. You will be in Beijing for the last two days so it is possible to fly out earlier but you will miss out on some activities.
- All transport
- Detailed predeparture pack
- Services of English-speaking local coordinators & guides
- All accommodation
- Fully guided group tour
- bamboo rafting the Li River
- Overnight trains
- Propaganda Museum in Shanghai
- Shop till you drop in the Nanjing Road
- Stroll through the Bund checking out Shanghai skyline
- Wallow in Chinese mud baths
- Entry to the Panda breeding research centre
- Entry to the terracotta Warriors
- Qin ling Mountains excursion
- A visit to the Shaolin Temple
- Camping out on the great Wall of China
- Tiananmen Square and the forbidden city
- Transfers to and from the airport (although this is very easy)
- Travel insurance
- Spending money
- Optional activities
2020 Start Dates
March 09/03/2020 – 26/03/2020
March 11/03/2020 – 28/03/2020
March 18/03/2020 – 04/04/2020
March 25/03/2020 – 11/04/2020
April 01/04/2020 – 18/04/2020
April 06/04/2020 – 23/04/2020
April 08/04/2020 – 25/04/2020
April 15/04/2020 – 02/05/2020
April 22/04/2020 – 06/05/2020
April 29/04/2020 – 16/05/2020
May 06/05/2020 – 23/05/2020
May 11/05/2020 – 28/05/2020
May 13/05/2020 – 30/05/2020
May 20/05/2020 – 06/06/2020
May 25/05/2020 – 11/06/2020
May 27/05/2020 – 13/06/2020
June 03/06/2020 – 20/06/2020
June 08/06/2020 – 25/06/2020
June 10/06/2020 – 27/06/2020
June 17/06/2020 – 04/07/2020
June 24/06/2020 – 11/07/2020
July 01/07/2020 – 18/07/2020
July 06/07/2020 – 23/07/2020
July 08/07/2020 – 25/07/2020
July 15/07/2020 – 01/08/2020
July 22/07/2020 – 08/08/2020
July 27/07/2020 – 13/08/2020
July 29/07/2020 – 15/08/2020
August 05/08/2020 – 22/08/2020
August 10/08/2020 – 27/08/2020
August 12/08/2020 – 29/08/2020
August 19/08/2020 – 05/09/2020
August 26/08/2020 – 12/09/2020
September 02/09/2020 – 19/09/2020
September 07/09/2020 – 24/09/2020
September 14/09/2020 – 01/10/2020
September 16/09/2020 – 03/10/2020
September 23/09/2020 – 10/10/2020
September 30/09/2020 – 17/10/2020
October 07/10/2020 – 24/10/2020
October 14/10/2020 – 31/10/2020
October 19/10/2020 – 05/11/2020
October 21/10/2020 – 07/11/2020
October 28/10/2020 – 14/11/2020
November 04/11/2020 – 21/11/2020
2021 Start Dates:
March 10/03/2021 27/03/2021
March 17/03/2021 03/04/2021
March 24/03/2021 10/04/2021
April 05/04/2021 22/04/2021
April 07/04/2021 24/04/2021
April 14/04/2021 01/05/2021
April 26/04/2021 13/05/2021
May 05/05/2021 22/05/2021
May 12/05/2021 29/05/2021
May 19/05/2021 05/06/2021
May 24/05/2021 10/06/2021
June 02/06/2021 19/06/2021
June 09/06/2021 26/06/2021
June 16/06/2021 03/07/2021
June 23/06/2021 10/07/2021
June 30/06/2021 17/07/2021
July 05/07/2021 22/07/2021
July 14/07/2021 31/07/2021
July 21/07/2021 07/08/2021
July 28/07/2021 14/08/2021
August 04/08/2021 21/08/2021
August 11/08/2021 28/08/2021
August 18/08/2021 04/09/2021
August 25/08/2021 11/09/2021
September 01/09/2021 18/09/2021
September 06/09/2021 23/09/2021
September 15/09/2021 02/10/2021
September 22/09/2021 09/10/2021
October 06/10/2021 23/10/2021
October 13/10/2021 30/10/2021
October 27/10/2021 13/11/2021
November 03/11/2021 20/11/2021