Join us for two weeks as we ride the Chinese rail system over 1,200 miles across the world’s most populous nation.
China’s impressive network of rail-lines has been the backbone of human transit for generations in this expansive nation. Travelling in the luxury of private, ‘soft-sleeper’ cabins we will work north to south visiting the biggest cities and the most charming countryside along the way.
With our journey beginning in the north, our first stop will be the ancient capital, and cultural and political center, Beijing. Take in the awe-inspiring beauty of the Great Wall, stroll through the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square, and sample world-famous Peking duck. Hop in a pedicab to explore the city streets and visit the 2008 Olympic stadiums before stopping into Asia’s most promising new home for up and coming artists: the burgeoning art district, 798. After four days we will begin our journey south. Heading to the train station immediately after dinner, we will catch an overnight train and arrive into Shanghai around 8:00 AM.
In the luxury of our ‘soft sleeper’ cars (equivalent to first class seats) from Beijing, getting a great night’s sleep will not be a problem. Currently one of the fastest developing cities on the planet, Shanghai has long been an important commerce hub and was frequented by European traders, explorers, and diplomats for centuries. Savor the classic architecture of the Bund, and then gaze across the vast Huangpu River at the city’s futuristic skyline. Shop for antique handicrafts and souvenirs in the Old City and feel the buzz of modern-day China on Nanjing Street. While staying in Shanghai, we will take one day to depart on a high-speed commuter train to Hangzhou for a day. Natives of this region recognize Hangzhou as the perfect place to retire due to its cooler climate, peaceful scenery, and delicious tea. After travelling on one of China’s ultra-modern commuter trains, we will disembark for a visit the famed West Lake and a teahouse to try this city’s most famous product at its source.
In the heart of China’s vast rural countryside, Yangshuo is renowned for the sublime panoramas of Limestone Karsts rising between sleepy rivers and bamboo rafts. Our train Journey from Shanghai will be the longest of our trip, and will give us a first-hand look at thousands of miles of China’s interior from our train seats. Those that have spent time in China will recognize these iconic vistas of Yangshuo from the back of China’s 20 Renminbi note. Yangshuo will provide a welcome break as we trade in steamy sidewalks for winding rivers and glassy towers for mossy, sun-soaked, limestone cliffs. We will enjoy three active days as we explore these natural features by boat, bike and foot.
On our way out of Yangshuo, we will catch a bus to Guilin for our final train ride to Shenzhen – a booming city adjacent to Hong Kong - where we will disembark our train to pass customs before catching a commuter train into downtown Hong Kong. After unloading our luggage at the hotel, we will take the remainder of the day to get our bearings in one of Asia’s most illustrious cities.
We will take one day in Hong Kong to travel across the channel to Macau where signs posted in Portuguese and Chinese are a testament to the region’s fascinating colonial history. Here you will have the chance to test your courage with an optional bungee jump from over 700 feet at the Macau Sky Tower. Back in Hong Kong try your hand at bargaining on Nathan Road and, as the sun sets, immerse yourself in the buzz of the Temple Street Bazaar. You will spend your last night overlooking the breathtaking landscapes and dazzling city lights that stretch out below world-famous Victoria’s Peak.
This trip easily connects with our other China programs, as well as with our programs in Southeast Asia, India and Mongolia.
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HKG-PEK. Meet your trip leaders at the Beijing airport where we will take a private bus tour in the city. After checking into our hotel to freshen up and take a quick shower after a long day of travel, we will meet back up for orientation to discuss all the great details about our trip. We will then head out for a walk in the alley locals call "Hutong" where we will have our first real Chinese meal. We’ll head back to our hotel for a good night’s rest for the wonderful days to come.
Today we will have a late morning to get proper rest before an action-packed day in China’s Capital city. First we will go to the biggest square in China, Tiananmen Square followed by the royal family’s palace from the Qing Dynasty inside the Forbidden City. After that we will have the most famous dish of the city, Peking Duck. Then we will head to one of Beijing’s most famous shopping centers where you can practice your bargaining skills. And after another delicious dinner on the town we will go to an acrobatics show watching flip, juggling, and dancing masters in a truly beautiful and exciting performance.
After a quick breakfast, we will be heading outside of town to visit one of the 7 Wonders of the World – The Great Wall of China. Nothing can truly prepare you for an in-person look and this often photographed site of human and construction achievement. You will learn a bit about the history of this monument while walking a top the wall itself before taking a toboggan ride down to the bottom. On our way back into the city we will stop by the Olympic Stadiums that hosted the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games to see the marvelous modern architecture of “the Bird’s Nest” and “the Cube”.
We will enjoy our last breakfast in Beijing before we check out of our hotel and head to the beautiful Summer Palace. We will enjoy some classic Chinese architecture at the Summer Palace before seeing some of modern Chinese art at the 798 Art Zone. Walk amongst artist’s creations of sculpture, painting, and visual artistry in this unique corner of Beijing. Tonight we will take an overnight train on our journey onwards to the incredible metropolis of Shanghai.
After arriving into Shanghai and checking into our new hotel, we will visit the most shopping district of the city on Nanjing Road. Look for unique Chinese trinkets, pick up a new piece of big-city fashion, and sample some of the delicious, and unique, foods throughout our exploration of the area. Then, in the evening we will take a beautiful and serene cruise along the Huangpu River. Capture the bright lights of the city as the buildings come alive and truly light up the night.
Today we will take the High Speed train to Hangzhou. In this incredible city, we will cruise around the West Lake by boat for a relaxing afternoon on the water followed by a visit to a large tea garden. We will learn all about the staple drink of China and sample all of the different kinds of tea while learning how it is grown, processed, and enjoyed by the locals all over China. After our visit to the city, we will take the train back to Shanghai to cap off our day of relaxation with a massage to soothe our weary muscles from many packed days of adventure.
This morning we will wake up and venture out to explore the Royal Family’s Garden. We will compare the difference between the North and South of China’s Garden and compare some of the unique differences in this very distinct land. In the afternoon we will walk to the Bund River and take the tunnel under the Huangpu River. The tunnel itself is only a few minute ride under the River, but it is like a modern-day Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory-type experience. On the other side of the river we will go inside one of the most iconic buildings of the Shanghai skyline- the Oriental TV Tower. We’ll ride all the way to the top and get a view of Shanghai from above in one of the most spectacular views on the planet.
After looking at Shanghai from above on the previous day, we will spend the first part of the day exploring the Urban Planning Exhibition where we will discover just how this remarkable city was built from the ground up. We’ll take a peek at the yesterday, today, and tomorrow of Shanghai in miniature models and exhibitions that describe the construction and creation of this World city. After lunch, we will take a train to Yangshuo via Guilin, where you’ll be able to catch the Chinese countryside by day and see some of the scenic landscapes that dot this land.
After settling into Yangshuo, we will be able to walk down West Street to discover a truly vibrant part of China completely unlike many of the other big cities in our itinerary. The city is a stark contrast to metropolitan China, with streets free from traffic binds and quaint alleyways of little shops, restaurants, and cafes where locals and tourists alike love to explore every nook and cranny. We will also be able to gather in the fresh air and rolling hills of this lush countryside town as a perfect comparison to see just how unique and diverse this country can be.
Today we will wake up and geared up for a bike ride along the Li River. We will be able to capture the beautiful countryside on one of the most popular modes of transportation of the country, with plenty of opportunities to stop and take photos of the beautiful landscape, and just soak in everything the city has to offer. We will stop by a lake where we will watch master fisherman use Cormorants for fishing, following traditional techniques from many generations past. The cormorants will dive into the water, scooping up fish for the fisherman to gather. It’s a truly incredible way to watch one of just the many ways that humans have adapted to use tools all around them.
After waking up again in peaceful Yangshuo, we will travel as a group on an incredible bamboo raft down the river. This is one of those special opportunities in your life where you can feel part of traditional life on such a simple mode of transportation in the largest country on the planet. We will then continue our afternoon by exploring the Mud Caves. We will have the chance to look at these spectacular environmental pieces up close and personal on a day where we look at some of the stunning geographical wonders of China.
Today is our last day in Yangshuo and we’ll spend the morning picking up last minute souvenirs and trinkets for your friends and family back home. We will jump on our last train of the trip, looking one more time at the wonderful Chinese country side as we make our journey to another Chinese world city, Hong Kong.
After arriving into Hong Kong, we will check into our hotel, freshen up in our rooms, and then head out into this incredibly diverse city. Unlike the other large cities that we’ve visited, Hong Kong has a much more prevalent use of Cantonese over Mandarin, and that’s just one of many differences you’ll find in the city. Hong Kong is known for it’s melting pot qualities, with peoples, cuisines, and neighborhoods mixed from different locations all over the world. We will trek up Victoria’s Peak and get some wonderful views and photo opportunities of the metropolitan city among sprawling green hills nestled right on the shores of China.
After breakfast, we will take the ferry across the water to Macau, another special district city of China, with its own set of currency and special administrative branches of government. Macau is also known as “the Las Vegas of the East” with roughly four times the amount of revenue coming through the city annually. While we will pass the big, light-covered casinos of Macau, the true gem of the city that we’re after is the Macau Sky Tower. We’ll all trek up the tower where individuals have the opportunity for a few optional activities at the tower. Perhaps you want to do the skywalk, strapping in and strolling outside to do a 360degree walk around the observation deck in this exhilarating “stroll”. Or, maybe you’re looking for an even more extreme activity bungee jumping over 700feet on the World’s Highest Commercial Bungee Jump. Why live on the edge when you could jump off?
Today is our final day in China, and our last opportunity to say goodbye to this amazing country. After waking early in the morning, we’ll visit Lantou Island with a beautiful gondola ride across the bay. We’ll take the ride all the way to the World’s Largest Buddha made out of copper for some great group photos of our last day in China. After coming back from Lantou Island, we’ll grab our bags and head to the airport for final goodbyes and sharing of memories of this incredible journey to see the Wonders of China.
Rustic Pathways reserves the right to change, alter, or amend the daily itinerary for this trip at any time. Changes can be made for various reasons including changes in flight or program schedules, changes in the schedules of various external tours incorporated in our trips, the addition of new activities into a trip, or the substitution of an old activity for a new activity. The itinerary shown here provides a good outline of the anticipated daily schedule for this program. As with any travel program, some changes may occur.
The Most Important thing you can bring is an open mind and big heart. The Chinese people are incredible hosts; with the right attitude you will have the chance to experience this firsthand, sharing endless stories and cups of tea.
Domestic airlines in China have a check-in baggage weight limit of 20 kilos (about 44 lbs). If your bags weigh more than this, the airline may charge you an excess baggage fee for every kilo over the allowed limit. In past years, we have had students incur SIGNIFICANT charges for excess baggage.
Running Shoes - 1 pair (This is a must have and they should be well-worn in before you come here to avoid blisters.) There will be significant walking on this trip so please heed this advice.
-A small backpack is the best carry-on bag
(TIP: BRING ALL OF YOUR FILM IN YOUR CARRY-ON, AND ASK THE STAFF AT EVERY X-RAY STATION TO WALK THE FILM AND YOUR CAMERA AROUND THE MACHINE. DO NOT PACK YOUR FILM IN YOUR CHECKED LUGGAGE!)
-We reccomend a hiker’s-style backpack. • T-Shirts with sleeves (6 t-shirts), remember that you will be working hard so don’t bring any shirts that you aren’t prepared to get dirty.
*(Please pack all items that could leak in a PLASTIC or ZIPLOCK bag and remember only a limited amount of them can come on the plan with you, so unless you really need them, throw them into your checked luggage.)
The direct flight from San Francisco to Hong Kong takes approximately 14 hours. The return flight to San Francisco is a bit quicker, taking 12 hours.
Yes. All flights between Hong Kong and the USA will have a flight leader starting when the fight leader meets the students at the airport in San Francisco. Since you are traveling on the Wonders of China each of your Mainland Asian flights will be escorted.
China requires a visa for US citizens which students must obtain themselves before departure. Information about obtaining your visa is provided with your acceptance letter. If your stay in China is longer than 30 days, please contact our office for information regarding additional visa requirements. Students who are not traveling on a US passport should check online for their visa requirements.
This trip will covers the most ground, including passes through two Special Administration Regions (Hong Kong and Macau), two cities that serve as their own provinces (Beijing, surrounded by Hebei Province, and Shanghai, surrounded by Jiangsu and Zhejiang Province), Sha’anxi Province and Yunnan Province.
Rustic Pathways does not make recommendations regarding immunizations. We strongly suggest that you consult with a travel doctor or your family physician for medical recommendations based on the area where the student will be traveling (as listed above). You can also check the Center for Disease Control website at http://www.cdc.gov for more information.
Throughout Mainland Asia, Thursdays are our travel days. This allows you to connect to other programs in China or other countries in mainland Asia easily, quickly and safely. While their flights to the starting destinations of connecting programs are often unescorted, they will be dropped off at the airport by their previous program leader and met at the arrival airport by their new program leader.
The first leg of this trip goes from Hong Kong to Shanghai, which lasts about 2 hours. The rest of the flights in this program are usually short, quick flights lasting less than an hour.
Wonders goes through every type of Chinese climate except the desert. Thus, although we stress that you pack light, do be prepared to face cold (but not frigid) nights and hot days. Lastly, make sure you have athletic shoes that are well-worn in as there will be a fair amount of walking during this trip.
Wonders of China does not include formal Chinese language instruction; however students will have multiple opportunities to practice Chinese with the locals and are often encouraged to learn on-the-go by a Rustic Pathways staff member who speaks the language.
There are no formal service projects on this program.
This trip is physically exerting only in the fact that there are so many places to see. We have arranged this program so that you have ample rest time and we are confident you will go through this trip without significant physical exertion but do be prepared to walk 2-4 hours a day. The hardest days require you to hike up a well-trodden mountain or bike riding excursion. We strongly encourage drinking a lot of water during this program and we will be happy to find you some if you request it.
The majority of costs associated with the program are included on this trip. Students should have extra allowance money if they wish: to buy souvenirs, artwork and handicrafts from local artisans or additional snacks or sodas from the local grocery stores. Students should bring extra money if they choose to participate in optional activities that are not included in the trip costs.
There are several options at the Macau Sky Tower, including Bungee Jumping, Sky Walking and Mast Climbing. See below for pricing information.
Bungee Jump (Highest In the World): about 180 USD.
SkyWalk (While tethered to the building, walk around the age of the Macau Sky Tower): about 80 USD.
Mast Climb (Climb to the very top of the Macau Sky Tower): 200 USD
SkyJump (Like Bungee Jump but a controlled descent): about 110 USD
Please note that these optional activities are subject to change. Occasionally Rustic Pathways staff identify new opportunities throughout the summer that we feel will enhance the students overall experience. Optional activities may also be canceled.
Since Rustic Pathways program costs include all meals, we prefer to stay with a strictly Chinese food diet. This is often not a hard compromise since it offers some of the best food in the world and each province offer amazing diversity for flavors and cooking methods. In addition, by sticking with the local diet, your body becomes adapted to traveling in a foreign country much easier; however, should a student really crave McDonald’s or some sweets, we allow ample time for students to use their own allowance to quench this hunger.
Contrary to belief, China is not just about rice. In fact, often Chinese people will ask you “Do you prefer noodles or rice?” Better yet, the Chinese cuisine is one of the most suitable for vegetarians. China’s vegetable dishes are plentiful and savory and spiciness can be increased or left out all together at a simple request. One thing we do ask is that students are forthright about their food allergies, often China will use a lot of cooking oil and home spices, thus it’s important for us to know what you can and can not eat. This will not mean you go a day without food; rather the simple ingredient is aksed to be left off.
With all your meals and activities in China, Rustic Pathways buys bottled water and soda for the students. Drinking tea made with boiled water presents no problems and students can use tap water for brushing their teeth; however, all other times it is imperative to buy bottled water or soda, which are easily purchased at side stalls and supermarkets.
You will be staying in Western style accommodations throughout the duration of this trip. That means that each room will have (2) comfortable twin beds, air conditioning and western style toilets. Sometimes the showers will have no tub but always have a drain and are not hard to operate.
We will tell you straight up, public toilets in China can be frightening. If you can avoid going to bathrooms at gas stations or in heavily trafficked locations, there are often no problems. At your guesthouses all toilets will be Western-style and when eating in restaurants, the “squatters” are often clean and well-maintained. The bathroom issue is a sensitive one in China since most Chinese people prefer the squatters, believing less contact offers cleaner situations; however, we understand your concerns and often can recommend the best place to go when you really have to go.
We expect a good mix between genders, however the exact numbers vary from week to week and usually lean to the side of more girls than boys.
Rustic Pathways generally strives to maintain a ratio of approximately 1 guide for every 6 students. There will be a maximum of 4 guides on this program and may vary due to group size; however, there will always be one Mainland Chiense bi-lingual staff and one Western staff with CPR/First Aid Training supervising (In addition, each group will have at least one male and one female leader.) Lastly, our guides go through a rigorous selection process including interviews with our program managers and a full background check.
Because safety is our number one priority, all of our programs have staff that is certified with First Aid and CPR training. Many of our guides are also qualified Wilderness First Responders, EMTs, Wilderness EMTs, or Life Guards.
Students should pack reasonably for this program and as long as you are wearing one outfit a day then laundry is available at all hostels or at a nearby shop(less than 24 hour turnaround) and usually costs less than $10 for a full load.
Since Wodners travels through the most major cities of China, tehre will be daily opportunities to access the Internet and there will be side-street phones everywhere in China (most small, road-side shops have an International-ready line) to call home.
Also, parents please remember that we will always send you safe arrival e-mails and should you have any further questions or ask that your child sends an update, please let us know and we’ll be happy to pass on a friendly reminder.
Contact Us: For more information about The Wonders of China you can email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ages: 14 to 18 years old
Length: 17 days from the USA
Cost: $4,995 + $400 Internal Airfare
International airfare is not included in the above cost. Please check our Travel Desk for airfare pricing and specifics.
|Departs Tue||Returns Thu||Availability|
|18 Jun||4 Jul||Limited|
Dates shown are inclusive of travel time from the United States. Most Rustic Pathways trips interconnect, allowing you to design your own perfect summer program.Apply Now