North China Getaway

Trip Code: CBRF

Why we love it

China is a land of contrasts. From soaking up the bright city lights of Shanghai’s waterfront to exploring the unearthed Terracotta Warriors outside of Xi’an, you’ll get to see it all for yourself!, Spend two nights at the base of the Great Wall in a locally run guesthouse, and follow in the footsteps of soldiers from hundreds of years ago when you trek the lesser-visited Gubeikou to Jinshanling section., This adventure offers plenty of opportunity to get active among the wonders of China. Explore city laneways on walking tours, climb the steps of the Yellow Mountain, trek the Great Wall and cycle countryside lanes in Hongcun., Two overnight trains means you'll maximise your time in each destination, get to know your fellow travellers over a game of mahjong, and have a real sense of the vast size of the country., We’re all about authentic experiences, so go local every step of the way with an experienced local leader, public transport, and family-run guesthouses and lodgings wherever possible.

Is this trip right for me?

This trip is made for travellers who value their independence but also want the benefit of a local leader and a group of like-minded travellers. The itinerary has a mix of included activities and free time when your leader will offer suggestions. Please budget spending money for optional activities you want to partake in.

This trip pack packs a lot into a short amount of time, so we highly recommend spending extra time in Beijing and Shanghai before and after your trip.

This trip has some overnight stays at family-run guesthouses and hostels, which tend to have more basic facilities than hotels (but offer a lot more character). You’ll encounter some cold-water showers, might need to rug up inside in the colder months and need to use a few squat toilets. The local experience is worth it – trust us!

With treks on the Great Wall and Huangshan, both of which can be tough going with many steps, uneven surfaces and steep terrain, 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, as is being prepared to sweat it out a bit.

The overnight train travel included on this trip is in 'hard sleeper' class – carriages sectioned off into 3 tier (6 berth) compartments. It’s not luxury, but it’s efficient and a great local experience. If you would prefer more comfort, upgrades to 'soft sleeper' (2 tier (4 berth) compartments with lockable doors) can be requested, subject to availability, through your booking agent. For more information about the overnight train condition, please check out the Essential Trip Information.

Important information

1.A single supplement is available if you’d prefer not to share a room on this trip. The single supplement excludes Day 4 and Day 6 (Overnight train) and Days 2,3,7,8,9,10,11 (Guesthouses) where you will be in shared accommodation and is subject to availability. Please speak to your booking agent for further information.
2. A scanned copy of the personal details page of your passport is required no later than 40 days before departure in order for us to purchase your train tickets.
3. Overnight train accommodation on this tour is in 3-tier 6-berth ‘hard-sleeper’ class. An upgrade to a 'soft-sleeper' train compartment ( 2-tier 4-berth compartment) is available to book on this trip.
4. Please note while traveling through mainland China you will not be able to access some popular internet websites.
5. In winter months (Nov-Feb), we may stay in alternative guesthouses near the Great Wall due to the cold weather. This may also alter our trekking route along the Great Wall.

What to bring/pack

What you need to bring will vary according to the trip style you have chosen, the countries you are visiting and when you are travelling. Generally speaking, we recommend you pack as lightly as possible and make sure that you are able to carry and lift your own luggage, and walk with it for short distances or up or down a flight of stairs. Our travellers usually find the smaller their luggage is, the more they enjoy the trip not having to worry about carrying heavy bags! Aim to keep your main luggage under 15kg.
Many travellers carry their luggage in a backpack, although an overnight bag with a shoulder strap would suffice if you travel lightly. Smaller suitcases or backpacks with wheels are convenient although we recommend your bag has carry straps or handles.
If you are taking overnight trains, or primarily using public transport then the smaller your luggage the easier it will be to store under or above bunks.
A lockable bag or small padlock will be useful especially when travelling on public transportation as well.
You'll also need a day pack/bag to carry water, camera, and jacket etc. when you’re exploring during the day.

Below are some ideas and helpful tips on what you specifically need for this trip.

Essential:
- Clothing: a mixture of lightweight and dry fast clothing and warm layers are recommended essential for travelling in this region. Long shirts, pants, scarves are useful for covering shoulders & knees when visiting religious sites.
- Shoes: sturdy and comfortable shoes for walking long distances are essential.
- Personal travel documents inc. your passport (visa), travel insurance, flight tickets and trip notes. Photocopies of your passport and visa, passport size photos and travel insurance will be handy. While not valid, a photocopy makes it very much easier to obtain replacements if necessary.
- small first aid kit including items such as mild pain killers, electrolytes, Band-Aids and insect repellent, and essential medicine depending on your doctors advice.
- Money: cash/credit card/EFTPOS card and money belt
- Sun protection like a hat, sunscreen, and sunglasses.

Recommended:
- Refillable water bottle (1.5-litre capacity suggested): The sale of bottled water contributes to an enormous environmental problem around the world. In addition to the water in bottles, the production of a 1-litre plastic bottle takes 2 litres of water and 200ml of oil. A large proportion end up in limited landfill or discarded in waterways and natural environments.
- Cell phone, camera with spare batteries, charger, and adapter plug
- Hand wash, travel wipes, toiletries and a small towel
- Watch/alarm clock and torch/flashlight (and spare batteries)
- Torch or flashlight esp. for stay at local guesthouses or homestays

Optional:
- Sleeping bag. Useful for camping, overnight trains and poorly heated hotels, particularly during the winter months of Dec - Feb when temperatures are low.
- Sleep sheet. If you are travelling during the hot season you may wish to pack a sleep sheet so you will be comfortable no matter what the weather.
- Earplugs to guard against street noise and snorers.
- A good book, a journal and music player for overnight train rides and longer drives.

Other things to consider:

- Check weather in destinations you are travelling to online a few days before you go to make sure you pack appropriate clothing
- Laundry facilities may not be available in all destinations, so make sure you have a few cycles of clothes to tide you over until your next chance to wash, As we use plenty of public transport on this trip including subway, buses and trains, you will be best off to pack light for your main luggage and bring a good day pack/small overnight bag. We leave our larger bags in storage in Beijing and Shanghai when travelling to the Great Wall, Huangshan and Hongcun.

Physical rating

3

You will be expected to carry your own luggage, including moving about busy public transport hubs, up stairs and escalators and on and off buses and trains. Although you won't be required to walk long distances, you are expected to be able to walk and handle your own luggage for up to 30 minutes. Good general fitness and mobility plays a big part in making your trip more enjoyable. In some locations it may be possible to hire porters at extra expense paid locally. Please ask your trip leader for help to arrange this if possible but be prepared to manage your own luggage.

You'll need to have a good level of fitness to get the most out of this trip. The days at the Great Wall and Huangshan involve some steep climbs, plenty of steps and long hours of hiking and require sturdy footwear and a good set of lungs!

Joining your group

Beijing King's Joy Hotel 北京西华京兆酒店, 81, Meishi Street 地址:北京市西城区煤市街81号, Xicheng district, Beijing, CHINA, Phone: +86 1052171900

Located almost right in the heart of Beijing, King’s joy hotel offers great convenience for your stay in Beijing. Hotel is closed to Qianmen Hutong Area with 2 min walk, only 1km away from Tian’anmen Square & Forbidden City, 2km to Temple of Heaven.
Metro is also nearby, Qianmen Station (前门站) for Line 2 is only 5 minute walk which gives you easy access to all the major sites in Beijing.

Free WIFI and no-smoking room are available. 24 hours front desk service is provided. Rooms are equipped with en-suite bathroom, A/C, and other basic facilities. In the private bathroom basic show facilities are available. Other services like internet and laundry are also available. A fine selection of Chinese food and local Beijing cuisine can be enjoyed at the restaurant on site.

Joining instructions

Beijing Capital International airport is located north-east of Beijing, 25 km from the city centre. One of the biggest airports in the world, it is relatively easy to navigate and many signs are written in English. Most international flights arrive at Terminal 3. For more information about Beijing Capital Airport, please go to http://en.bcia.com.cn/

An arrival transfer from the airport is available if arranged at the time of booking. Transfers cannot be arranged on arrival. Please advise your flight arrival details at least 14 days prior to your departure. If you plan to arrive earlier, this arrival transfer can only be offered in conjunction with pre-tour accommodation booked through your booking agent.

If you have pre-arranged an arrival transfer with us, our local operator, Ms Qi (Ms Chee), will have sent a driver to the airport who will be holding a sign with our company logo on it and your name.

If you arrive at Terminal 2, please meet your driver at the entrance/exit #7 after you go through the baggage claim area. If you arrive at Terminal 3, please meet your driver in front of the white jade screen wall with the dragon pattern, after you walk through Exit B. Exit B is the only international arrival gate in Terminal 3. Please note that Beijing Airport is very crowded so please be patient. If you have any problems finding the driver go to the information desk near your exit and ask them to call Ms Qi at (+86) 13671299816.

In any case, please take a printed copy of your hotel name and address in Chinese as shown in the joining point hotel section with you. Below are hotel information in both English and Chinese:

Hotel name: Beijing King's Joy Hotel 北京西华京兆饭店
Hotel address: No. 81 Meishijie, Xicheng District 北京市西城区煤市街81号
Hotel contact number: +86 10 5217 1900

If you are making your own way to the joining hotel:
By taxi (the easiest option): Metered taxis are available outside the airport terminal building. You can follow the airport signs to reach to the official taxi stand. The taxi ride from the airport to our starting point hotels takes about 45 minutes to 1 hour and should cost around CNY120 (include CNY10 for the airport expressway toll). Show the taxi driver the address of the hotel in Chinese characters as shown below. **PLEASE AVOID TAXI DRIVERS WHO DON'T WAIT IN THE TAXI LINE FOR CLIENTS AND APPROACH YOU IN THE QUEUE CLAIMING THEY USE METER**

By airport express and taxi:
You can follow the airport signs to reach to the airport express station. Take the airport express (CNY25, service time: 06:20 to 22:50) to Dongzhimen station. It is suggested to hail a passing by taxi to go to your hotel. It will cost around CNY30 from Dongzhimen Station to your hotel. Show the taxi driver the address of the hotel in Chinese characters as shown in the Joining Point Section. **THERE IS NO TAXI LINE AT THIS STATION. AVOID USING TAXIS THAT ARE WAITING JUST OUTSIDE THE STATION EXITS. THEY DON'T USE METER AND TEND TO OVERCHARGE. **

Finishing your trip

Shanghai Jitai Hotel (Shanghai Railway Station South Square) 上海吉泰酒店 (上海火车站南广场店), No. 1088 Changan Road, Jingan District 上海市静安区长安路1088号, Shanghai, CHINA, Phone: +86 2151001998

Jitai Hotel (Shanghai Train Station South Square) is a 5-minute walk from the Shanghai Train Station. It offers affordable accommodations with a breakfast restaurant, free parking on site and rooms with free WiFi. Air-conditioned guest rooms are fitted with an electric kettle, a work desk and a flat-screen TV with cable channels. The private bathroom comes with free toiletries and shower facilities.Baggage storage is available at the 24-hour front desk.

Meals & dietary information

Breakfasts included: 

Lunches included: 

Dinners included: 

FOOD IN CHINA:
What IS authentic Chinese food like? Check out these articles to get a taste:
https://www.intrepidtravel.com/adventures/china-food-trip-blog/
https://www.intrepidtravel.com/adventures/china-food-stereotypes/
https://www.intrepidtravel.com/adventures/a-guide-to-traditional-chinese-street-food/

VEGETARIANS & VEGANS:
Vegetarians in China certainly won't go hungry as there are always plenty of meat-free options on menus including vegetable, tofu, and egg dishes. Your leader can advise on some local favourites. Dairy is uncommon in Chinese cooking, although in some regions like Tibet, Xinjiang, and Yunnan you will find milk products as part of the local cuisine. Vegans should also have few problems finding tasty meals in most locations. Nearly all cities will have vegetarian restaurants, often near to temples or monasteries that specialise in Buddhist cuisine. Check out this blog for a guide to eating vegetarian in Beijing: https://www.intrepidtravel.com/adventures/a-vegetarians-guide-to-beijing/

DIETARY NEEDS:
Wherever possible we will cater for dietary needs for included meals, but there may be times when those with special requirements may wish to supplement inclusions with their own supplies from markets or supermarkets. Please note that some dietary requirements, such as Gluten-Free, will be uncommon in China and you may need to explain to your leader what you can and can't eat as well as research common dishes before you travel.

ALLERGIES:
For those suffering from particular food allergies, your group leader will endeavor to disclose to their fullest knowledge the main ingredients in dishes being consumed. It is, however, your personal responsibility to ensure that you do not ingest any foods to which you are allergic and research suitable local foods before travelling.

Climate & seasonal information

CHINESE NATIONAL HOLIDAYS:
Please note that China's national holidays are the peak travel season for Chinese nationals. During this time, literally the whole country is on the move - that's over a billion people. Although these are fascinating and exciting times to travel in China, please be aware your group will almost definitely experience transport delays and massive crowds at tourist attractions and train stations. It's common for there to be difficulties in securing train or flight tickets at our preferred times, hotels become overbooked, traffic chaotic and changes to the itinerary are often necessary as a result. If clockwork organisation is important to you we advise you book outside of the weeks of the extended Chinese New Year in January/February, in the first week of May and the first week of October. If you decide to travel during this period please come with an open mind and be prepared for changes on the ground.

Here are the major holiday periods in China:
Chinese New Year: Feb 11-17 2021, Jan 31- Feb 6 2022
Qingming Festival: Apr 3-5 2021, Apr 3-5 2022
Labour Day Holiday: Apr 30- May 2 2021/2022
Dragon Boat Festival: Jun 12-14 2021, Jun 3-5 2022
Mid-Autumn Day: Sep 19-21 2021, Sep 9-11 2022
National Day: Oct 1-7 2021, Oct 1-8 2022

In case of emergency

While we always endeavour to provide the best possible holiday experience, due to the nature of travel and the areas we visit sometimes things can and do go wrong. Should any issue occur while you are on your trip, it is imperative that you discuss this with your group leader or our local representative straight away so that they can do their best to rectify the problem and save any potential negative impact on the rest of your trip.

We recognise that there may be times when your group leader/local partner may not be able to resolve a situation to your satisfaction - if this is the case, please ask the leader to speak to their direct manager.

You may also choose to provide details in your online feedback, which we ask you to complete within 30 days of the end of your trip. Please do be aware that it is very difficult for us to provide any practical help after the trip is completed, so informing us while still travelling will give us the opportunity to resolve the issue in real-time.

For general contact details please use the following page: http://www.intrepidtravel.com/ourtrips/contact/

In case of a genuine crisis or emergency, you can reach our local office on the number below.

Intrepid’s Local Operator: +86 106 406 7328

Accommodations

HOTEL ROOMS:
Some travellers have reported that hotels/accommodation in this region tend to have harder bed mattresses than those they are used to at home. You may like to request an extra quilt or bedding from the hotels if you find this an issue.

SMOKING ROOMS:
Smoking is prevalent in China and hotels generally do not offer specific non-smoking rooms. Larger hotels with central air conditioning will sometimes transport the smell of smoke between rooms. While we ask our hotels to ensure our rooms are well cleaned and ventilated well before occupation in some cases this is not possible, and the smell of smoke may linger. Please speak to your leader about the possibility of changing rooms if you encounter this.

WIFI:
WiFi is often available in hotel reception areas and sometimes in rooms. Your leader will be able to advise on the best places to get connected.

GUESTHOUSES
In smaller, rural locations in China we may stay in guesthouses, which are mostly small family run establishments. Facilities are basic compared to hotels and towels may not be provided. Please note that on occasion the group may be accommodated in separate guest houses within walking distance of each other.

HARD SLEEPER TRAINS CHINA:
We use hard sleeper class trains for most of our overnight train journeys in China unless otherwise specified. These are not as rough as they sound - compartments are open-plan, clean, with padded berths (6 to a compartment) and sheets, a blanket/quilt & pillow provided. We recommend bringing your own sleeping sheet if you are concerned about the quality/cleanliness of sheets being not what you are used to. 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.Most trains have a dining carriage where meals or snacks are available and all have hot water in each carriage for tea and instant noodles.
While we aim to have our groups staying together there may be times where due to ticket availability the group will be staying in different compartments and carriages. The compartments are not segregated by gender and you may share with locals or other travelers instead of your own group members. Your leader will help you settle in once on board and it’s a great opportunity to experience first-hand how Chinese travel in the country. While railway services are rapidly being modernised in China, some train journeys on less frequented routes may use older rolling stock and the carriages of a more basic standard.

SOFT SLEEPER UPGRADE:
An optional upgrade from a hard sleeper to a soft sleeper berth (4 travellers per compartment with a lockable door) may be available for some overnight train journeys on this trip for those who are after a little more comfort. Travellers who are interested in purchasing this upgrade should be aware of the following:
- Soft sleeper carriages are often at the other end of the train from hard sleeper class where those travellers who have not booked the upgrade, along with the group leader, will be staying. If you've purchased the upgrade it's likely that you'll be away from the other members of the group and without the services of your group leader while on the train.
- At many railway stations in China, soft sleeper passengers board the train separately from those in other carriage classes. If you have purchased the upgrade it's likely that you'll need to board the train on your own. Your group leader will give you instructions but may not be able to assist you in boarding and alighting the train.
- Same as the ‘hard sleeper’ compartments, ‘soft sleeper’ compartments are not segregated by gender so please be aware you could be sharing with members of the opposite sex.
- While we aim to book tickets for all travellers who have purchased the upgrade in the same carriages and compartments, please note that we aren't able to guarantee this due to high demand for tickets on some routes and at peak times or holiday seasons in China.
- This service is only available for travellers who have purchased the upgrade prior to joining the trip. On rare occasions it may be possible to upgrade to a different carriage class once on the train itself for an additional cost paid to the train conductor but this can't be guaranteed and shouldn't be relied on as an option. If you would like to ensure you travel soft sleeper class on all train journeys you will need to purchase the upgrade at time of booking your trip.

Transportation

CHINA TRAIN TRAVEL SECURITY
When travelling by train in China you will need to pass through security checkpoints similar to those at airports. Please be aware that items that may be classified as ‘weapons’ might be confiscated (even from your suitcase), as all luggage travels in the compartment with you. We recommend leaving items that fall into this category (eg. pocket knives or scissors) at home.


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