Meet your group at the hostel and travel together up Victoria Peak, where you'll be able to enjoy incredible views of the bustling metropolis below! After listening to a short welcome and safety briefing, travel down Victoria Peak back to the hostel. Later, the group will cross the border into Mainland China, going by bullet train and bus to Yangshuo.
Days 2 - 5
Wake up to the unbelievable karst scenery of Yangshuo. This landscape of rivers, rice paddies and limestone peaks is your playground for the next three days. On your first afternoon, participate in the first of many free and un-missable attractions: bamboo rafting down the Li River. Put your feet up and relax as you meander downstream. At night, kick back at Monkey Jane’s Hostel where you can sit quietly atop the rooftop bar with a cool beer.
There are many optional activities in Yangshuo. Those wanting to keep busy can try their hand at kayaking (150RMB), deep water soloing (rock climbing above a river with no ropes; 150RMB) and rock climbing (170RMB), or watch a Cormorant fishing demonstration (45RMB). Once the river has run its course, you can take mud-baths in underground caves (85RMB), attend a Chinese cooking lesson (120RMB), or try cupping (suction cups on the back that help circulation; 35RMB). There’s also a chance to visit your adventure leader's home village (80RMB). At the beginning of day 5 board your bus to Guilin and afterwards take the night train to Chengdu.
Days 6 - 8
Arrive in Chengdu and meet your new adventure leader – a fun-loving Sichuanese local. Ease out the strains of your overnight journey with a massage from a blind physical therapist (40RMB). In the afternoon learn some useful Chinese phrases in a free Mandarin lesson! Then, check out an authentic Sichuan opera performance! (140 RMB)
The next morning you will visit the Panda Breeding and Research Centre, arriving just in time to watch these national treasures dig into breakfast (bamboo shoots, of course). In the afternoon you’ve got time to visit the world's largest stone Buddha (it’s 70m tall!) in Leshan (transportation + 90RMB entrance fee) or you can walk through Chengdu’s Tibetan quarter with its Tibetan shops and cafes (yak dumplings anyone?). In the evening try a traditional Sichuan Hotpot - a meal where you cook meats and veggies by dipping them into a boiling pot of spicy broth (around 80 RMB). Next morning is your last in Chengdu. Visit Wenshu Monastery, Sichuan province Museum and a traditional Chinese teahouse then board the night train to your next destination: Xi'an.
Days 9 - 10
Today, you can explore Xi’an’s fascinating Muslim Quarter, where you’ll see unique Chinese mosques and sample the delights of the Hui Muslim street food carts. The lamb skewers are a must! Afterwards you've got the opportunity to visit the Silk Road market nearby. In the evening, you'll have the chance to volunteer at the Star Sun Home. Next morning, we visit the jewel in Xi’an’s crown: the Terracotta Warriors, a full-sized stone army designed to protect Emperor Qin in the afterlife (unmissable). Late afternoon, join the group for an optional bike tour around the ancient city walls of the former dynastic capital (100RMB). A great way to get your bearings. Then it’s time for a change of gear with a Chinese-style night of fun, which needless to say involves drinking and/or singing your heart out.
Days 11 - 12
In the morning, board a minivan to Deng-Feng, the closest village to the Shaolin Temple. After your arrival, you’ll have the chance to put your strength and flexibility to the test in a Kung Fu lesson and then watch a show at a local children’s home run by the Shaolin temple (150RMB - all proceeds go directly to the home). In the evening your second mandarin lesson starts - good luck/Yiqiè shùnlì!
Rise early if you wish to visit the flagship of Kung Fu - the Shaolin Temple (120RMB)! In the beautiful temple courtyards you’ll see masterful displays and physically impossible feats from these Kung Fu masters. Afterwards the group hikes together to Dharma Cave, a spiritual spot for Buddhist pilgrims. You will be rewarded with beautiful views of both the shrines and the surrounding landscapes. In the evening you depart to Zhengzhou to board your night train to Beijing
Days 13 - 16
After a morning spent relaxing in the hostel in Beijing and our third Mandarin lesson, it’s off to do the Mandarin Challenge! You will need your freshly learned Mandarin to complete challenges all around Beijing’s ancient streets and alleyways. In the afternoon we head off to our next unmissable attraction, The Great Wall of China! We go to a deserted section of the Wall, where we will have the place to ourselves! Hike along this wonder of the world as the sun sets, before pitching up your tent for a night camping.
Wake up the next morning for what will be one of the most memorable sunrises of your life. Afterwards return to Beijing where you can visit the Olympic Bird's Nest Stadium or in the afternoon enjoy the incredible Beijing Acrobatics Show (140RMB). For dinner you’ve got the opportunity to taste one of Beijing's signature dishes: famous Peking Roast Duck (around 70RMB).
The next two days in Beijing are spent seeing the Tiananmen Square (free), the Forbidden City (60RMB), the Temple of Heaven (40RMB) and a night market where you can try snake, scorpion, and a host of other “mouth-watering” delicacies. In the late afternoon of day 16 you board your night train to Hangzhou, fames as China’s most beautiful city.
Day 17 - 18
After arriving in Hangzhou we head to the countryside, this time to a bamboo nature reserve called Moganshan, which was a favoured summer time retreat of Chairman Mao! In the afternoon you’ll have the opportunity to take part in another un-missable activity: the Bicycle Trek. Cycle local villages, stunningly lush scenery and breath in the fresh mountain air!
The next morning, hike to the peak of Mogan Mountain (‘shan’ = mountain), enjoy the stunning views and become one with nature. Afterwards the group goes back to Hangzhou to catch the bullet train for our next destination: Glamorous Shanghai!
Days 19 - 21
Shanghai is the world’s biggest city by population, and does not disappoint in what it has to offer. Learn about China’s modern history on a walk around the former French Concession, which includes a visit to the Propaganda History Museum, the only one of its kind! Take a local ferry cross the famous Huangpu river from East to the West of The Bund and discover Tianzifang (40RMB), a local artisan’s lane set in an old-style residential area in the heart of Shanghai.
Explore the more futuristic side of the city when you embark on a walking tour down Nanjing Road (the world’s busiest shopping street) and take a walking tour down the Bund (your un-missable activity!), where you will get the best view of Shanghai’s stunning skyline.
In the evenings, take advantage of Shanghai’s hedonistic bar scene when you experience the largest bar crawl in China - the Drunken Dragon Pub Crawl (approx 180-200RMB). Or, spend your evening in a more sophisticated manner, sipping champagne in a hot tub on the rooftop of a skyscraper, overlooking Shanghai’s dazzling nightlife below (100 RMB).
Today we take the bullet train to Nanjing in Fujian province, arguably the most picturesque area in the whole of Asia. You spend the night in a Tulou (the Hakka people's roundhouse). There are over 30,000 Tulous in Fujian which still host the Hakka minority people today. This provides an opportunity to not just observe, but also actively experience their fascinating way of life.
In the morning participate in another un-missable activity: a walking tour around the UNESCO World Heritage Site exploring the neighbouring round-houses and the beautiful countryside. Later we will head to a tea plantations to sample some fresh oolong tea. Take some cash if you’d like to purchase some! In the afternoon you can cycle to a neighbouring village that is famous for its beautiful rivers and mountains. After arriving back, you’ve got some free time to relax with the locals before dinner. In the evening take the night train to Guangzhou.
Visit Macao's Historic Centre and tour the Ruins of St Paul's and the Old Fortress. Take a short drive to the Macau Tower and try the world's highest bungee jump (£300 for a jump)! Next we'll visit the Venetian Macao Resort Hotel, take a stroll alongside the canals and marvel at the gondolas and gondoliers- bellissimo!! In the evening, we’re taking the high-speed ferry back to Hong Kong and to the hostel we started our adventure.
The Hong Kong Loop ends here.
Congratulations, you’ve just completed an epic 3,392 mile journey around China!