Heritages to Cosmopolitan

14 Days Beijing, Pingyao, Xi'an, Guilin and Hong Kong Tour

If you want to indulge in Chinese cultural heritages, this is the perfect one for you. Visiting the imperial Forbidden City, walking the remote section of the Great Wall, strolling the ancient Pingyao and exploring the unparalleled Terracotta Warriors will let you learn the diversified Chinese cultures since ancient times. You will feel the farmer’s atmosphere and relax in beautiful countryside Yangshuo. The trip will end in Hong Kong, the most dynamic and cosmopolitan city in Asia.

Tour Summary

  • Start: Beijing, China
  • Finish: Hong Kong, China
  • Group size: Your private group
  • Accommodations: Hotels (13 nts)
  • Transport: Speed train, flight, private vehicle
  • Meals: 13 breakfasts, 8 lunches, 1 dinner
  • Trip highlights: • In-depth visit to the Forbidden City
    • Walking on remote section of the Great Wall at Simatai West & Jinshanling
    • Strolling along streets of ancient Pingyao
    • On-site photo opportunity at Terracotta Warriors
    • Tang Dynasty murals exhibition at Shaanxi History Museum
    • Visit to Panda-supported project at Huiling for intellectually-disables
    • Cycling the countryside Yangshuo
    • Cooking class
    • Stay Ferry & Victoria Peak Tram
    • A La Carte local special food at each destination

TOUR ITINERARY

Day 1 Beijing

Nihao! Welcome to China!

Our guide will meet you at the airport, and escort you to the centrally-located Hilton Beijing Wangfujing. A Beijing duck welcome dinner awaits you at an upscale courtyard restaurant where you will savor your first taste of authentic Chinese food.  At this renowned traditional courtyard-style restaurant nestled in a hutong area, the truffle beef is also a must-have!

Meals: dinner
Accommodation: Hilton Beijing Wangfujing

Day 2 Beijing

Forbidden City Forbidden City

Today we will trace the theme of the forbidden throughout Beijing, a city well-known for its rich cultural and historical heritage. The massive Forbidden City far outstrips the imagination, the elegant and exquisite buildings designed for and exclusively occupied by 24 emperors and their royal families for over 500 years. Setting foot in these palaces and pavilions will transport you back thousands of years, as every building, fraught with love affairs, murders, plots and coups, tells the story of an emperor, empress, concubine or high-ranking minister, through the whispers of an ancient past wanting to be told. The notorious Tian’anmen Square, one of the largest city squares in the world, has born witness to important events in the nation’s history, the darkest of which was the student protest over 30 years ago.

Nearby Forbidden City, you will enjoy lunch at Little Yunnan, a courtyard restaurant named after the southwestern region in China famous for its delectable cuisine. Travelers rave about this particular hutong restaurant as they enjoy the fresh and flavorful dishes native to Yunnan province.

The Temple of Heaven is another formerly forbidden place for citizens, reserved instead as a holy place for the royal families to pray to the God of Heaven for good harvest for their people. Today, the Temple of Heaven is a cultural haven of entertainment and leisure, its grounds frequented by locals to dance, perform Beijing Opera, practice water calligraphy and do Taichi in the open spaces.

Wander through the stalls of “Snack Street”, the night market next to the hotel in your free time to sample some curious bites, like scorpions and silk worms, as well as some slightly more standard fare for the less prone to culinary adventure. You might be surprised by what you like.

Meals: breakfast/lunch
Accommodation: Hilton Beijing Wangfujing

Day 3 The Great Wall

Mutianyu Great Wall Mutianyu Great Wall

We will leave for the Great Wall at 8am, avoiding the crowds at the oft-touristed Badaling and Mutianyu, bound instead for a less-visited and more remote section ranging from Simatai West to Jinshanling, a two and a half hour drive from the city. As you traverse this winding route, you will see sections of the wall restored to its initial splendor, and ruins that have crumbled from the original, true to the passage of time.

The Great Wall, one of the most majestic human constructions of ancient times, extends over 6,000 km from the east near the ocean to the west in the Gobi desert, built by soldiers and artisans  carving through valleys, mountains, and deserts based on local terrain. Watchtowers, beacon towers, barrier wall, arrow windows, military passes and turrets complete the complicated defense project. Few battles were ever fought on the Wall, as it achieved its purpose as a deterrent against nomadic tribes in northern China, namely the Huns in the Han Dynasty and the Mongols in the Ming Dynasty.

For those of average or better fitness, your six-kilometer trek will start by a 40-minute summit of modern concrete steps that lead up to the Wall, followed by two hours of walking on the Wall. Be prepared for uneven terrain, as some of the steps are huge and steep; it is the way the Wall tumbles and soars over the crests of the hills that gives it the beauty that will astound you. You can pause to take in the splendor at your own pace, or use an additional 30 minutes to meander a bit further, before enjoying an authentic countryside lunch at a local farmer’s restaurant just 20 minutes off the Wall. You will receive a certificate celebrating your hiking accomplishment of the Great Wall of China.

For those who are concerned about finishing the whole hiking route, the driver can take you directly to the restored end at Jinshanling, where you can meet the rest of the group after they complete the ups and downs of the winding Wall.

Meals: breakfast/lunch
Accommodation: Hilton Beijing Wangfujing

Day 4 Beijing to Pingyao

Pingyao Ancient Town Pingyao Ancient Town

In the morning at 9am, we will leave to take the bullet train to Pingyao via China’s world-class speed train network.

The four hours spent in the first class speed train will convenient and comfortable, and allow you to see the landscape unfurl out your window. Our local guide will meet you at train station in Pingyao to bring you to your downtown boutique hotel, an artistic compound transformed from a traditional local residence in North China. You will explore the city wall in the afternoon.

Dating back to some 2,700 years, Pingyao is renowned for it’s well-preserved city walls, as well as numerous cultural heritages. Originally settled by people during the reign of King Xuan (827 B.C.-782 B.C.) in the Zhou Dynasty, the city wall was constructed in 1370 of Emperor Hongwu in the Ming Dynasty. It is 6-km in perimeter and 10-metre high plus 72 watchtowers along the wall, which ensures the town was defended in long history. Pingyao prospered under the Ming Dynasty and developed into incredible financial centre with 22 banks during the Qing Dynasty. A collection of paved alleyways, lined with traditional courtyard houses lit with red lanterns, it is a perfect example of traditional China that most Chinese have in their minds. Preserved Ming and Qing residences number close to 4,000. The streets and storefronts still largely retain their historical appearance.

Note: all transfers inside of Pingyao old town are done by electric car or on foot, all visits outside will be run by private vehicles.

Meals: breakfast
Accommodation: Jing’s Residence

Day 5 Pingyao

Wang's Family Courtyard Wang's Family Courtyard

Today’s exploration covers local merchant residence and cave dwellings. Local smart merchants achieved immense fortunes during the Ming and Qing dynasties and constructed huge and massive residence compounds. Wang Family Residence is one of the architecture masterpieces combing labyrinth of courtyards, squares, gardens, temples and stairways. Sculptures of stone, wood and bricks can be found very corner in the compound. The complex faces a river with mountain as backdrop, and was built on a truly magnificent scale, on a series of hills. Though it is less known, compared with Qiao family compound used in Zhang Yimou’s film Raise the Red Lanterns, it is just as fascinating.

On the way back to Pingyao you will stop at a small village famous for its incredible underground military tunnels. The defence network runs about 30 meters underground and extends for 1500 meters. The village above surface offers mix sights of cobblestone alleys and ancient houses. Please remember the compound was completed 1,400 years ago! You have to stay close to your guide when zigzagging the tunnels. There’s also an opportunity to take a glance of local cave dwelling houses in this area. Lacking of running water and electricity, it provides a shelter from rigorous winter and hot summer.

Our last stop will be Shuanglin Temple, a collection of Buddhist wood and clay sculptures, statues and carvings. The temple was founded 1500 years ago and contains over 2000 colorful sculptures of various gods, warriors, Buddha, and other characters. Looking at the remnants of colour on the statues, one can imagine how resplendent and magnificent it once was.

Meals: breakfast/lunch
Accommodation: Jing’s Residence

Day 6 Pingyao to Xi’an

Pingyao attracts a number of visitors and large roads can get very crowded. Alleyways provide a wonderful way to escape the crowds and walkways. We encourage you to take a morning stroll to really soak up the atmosphere of this old town at its best. Bikes, vendors, kids and smells go alive in the morning.

After breakfast you will discover the Ancient Local County Office, a big compound with gardens, offices, prison and temples. If lucky you will see an reenactment on a civil dispute. The next stop will be at Rishengchang (literally Sunrise Prosperity), the first modern bank, which made Pingyao the financial center of China for years. Well preserved and a warren of rooms and passages, with a good selection of old furniture and articles to help you understand how the banks worked.

We will take an afternoon speed train to Xi’an. Our local guide will meet you in Xi’an to bring you downtown to the Hilton Xi’an. The evening is yours to roam the surrounding area.

Meals: breakfast/lunch
Accommodation: Hilton Xi’an

Day 7 Terracotta Warriors

Terracotta Warriors Terracotta Warriors

The root of Chinese civilization, Xi’an, was the nation’s capital city for 13 dynasties, four of which played important roles in Chinese history: the Zhou, the Qin, the Han and the Tang. Xi’an is home to one of the most renowned 20th-century archaeological discoveries, the Terracotta Warriors. To avoid the crowds, we will leave at 7:30am to take in the battalion of more than 6,000 pottery soldiers. Accidentally discovered by local farmers in 1974, there are now three pits opened to the public, while excavation continues in other pits. You will have opportunity to take photos from your VIP perch above where the first shard of the warriors was unearthed.

The warriors standing at attention facing eastward indicates the emperor’s ambition to conquer the other ducal states 2,000 years ago, and with a distinct facial expression unique to each soldier, the Terracotta Warriors are believed to have been modeled after real soldiers. Statues of infantry, archers, calvary, horses and chariots placed in battle formation were commissioned by the emperor as part of his massive mausoleum.

We will drive back to the city to enjoy a local Shaanxi-style lunch inside a Tang Dynasty imperial garden, where both the interior and exterior reflect the local style.

In the afternoon, we’re coming to Shaanxi History Museum, one of the top 3 museum in the country. We will escape from the crowds and research the underneath treasure house for Tang Dynasty murals, a period which China once reached its climax of economy, politics and culture diversity.

Afterward we will try our hand at Chinese calligraphy, the art of the brush having been widely used in ancient China for over 2000 years. We will learn some basic skills and can even try to write our Chinese name with the brush and ink in this one and a half hour class.

Meals: breakfast/lunch
Accommodation: Hilton Xi’an

Day 8 Xi’an

Ancient City Wall Ancient City Wall

Xi’an features the best-preserved city wall in China; originally built in the Ming Dynasty, this 600-year old city defense project is so flat and broad (5-8 meters wide) you can ride a bike along the top of the wall. The 1.5 hour ride of 13 km along the perimeter will offer a contrasted view along the two sides of the Wall, with a few old houses huddled inside and many modern buildings outside.

Next, we will visit Huiling, a charity for intellectually-disabled children that Panda Adventure supports. We will enjoy an interactive performance of singing and dancing by the students (don’t be surprised if you’re asked to join in) as well as view their artwork and handicrafts, which you will have the option to purchase if you would like to support their cause.

After leaving the school, we will walk to the nearby Muslim Quarter, set up by Arabic traders who settled there in the Tang Dynasty. Today there are still over 60,000 practicing Muslims in this quarter. While they have kept their religious beliefs and practices intact, they speak the same dialect as the local Han Chinese, and the Great Mosque combines Arabic and Chinese architecture style. The Muslim Quarter will be a great place to hunt for curios and souvenirs, and check out the local Muslim snacks and food.

Meals: breakfast/lunch
Accommodation: Hilton Xi’an

Day 9 Xi’an to Guilin/Yangshuo

In the morning we will fly to Guilin. Our guide will meet you at airport and take you to Yangshuo, a small town nestled among the imposing limestone karst formations that have inspired poets and painters for centuries. Yangshuo is a haven for travelers who desire an authentic and refreshing experience of rural China.

Meals: breakfast
Accommodation: Moondance Resort Yangshuo

Day 10 Yangshuo

Yangshuo Countryside Cycling Yangshuo Countryside Cycling

In the morning we will bike upstream along Yulong River, the most beautiful tributary of Li River, for one and a half hours. Our scenic countryside trail along the riverbank will take us through villages, rice fields and orchards, all framed by the majestic karst mountains. The landscape will compel you to take photos, and in the warmer months, you might even find buffalos wandering into your frame.

We will then pair up to drift along the Yulong River on bamboo rafts, offering more scenic moments you will want to capture by camera. Rafting on the river always proves to be a traveler favorite as you record the beautiful views.

After your relaxing cruise downriver, we will cycle to West Street to enjoy beer-battered fish for lunch.

The afternoon is yours to discover the myriad delights of this small town gem on your own.

Meals: breakfast/lunch
Accommodation: Moondance Resort Yangshuo

Day 11 Yangshuo

Yangshuo Cooking Class Yangshuo Cooking Class

Relax for a late breakfast, as you surrender into the relaxing rhythms of small town life. We will take a cooking class in a traditional farming village just five km outside of Yangshuo. Your class starts by visiting a local market where you will learn about the ingredients used in the dishes. Back at the school, which is housed in a renovated mud brick farmer’s house, you will learn to make five dishes. The class will be a fun way to meet and interact with other travelers and swap China stories.

There will be no need to rush, as you will have the afternoon free to continue to enjoy the countryside pace of life. You may want to explore Moon Hill on your own, as it’s located nearby the hotel. A 40-minute hike to the top will reward you with a splendid panoramic view of the surrounding area. Keen photographers, take note: this is your spot!

Meals: breakfast/lunch
Accommodation: Moondance Resort Yangshuo

Day 12 Yangshuo - Hong Kong

Prepare to tear yourself away from the idyllic charms of Yangshuo, as we will take speed train to Shenzhen and then Hong Kong, a beautifully-bustling cosmopolitan city offering sharp contrasts between the modern and traditional. You will be picked up at Shenzhen train station and go through a privilege pass to clear the immigration. You even don’t have to get off the van, and our driver will do this on your behalf. You will stay just next to Victoria Harbour. Enjoy your leisure stroll along the Avenue of Stars where you can try to find the handprints preserved on commemorative plaques of your favourite Hong Kong movie actor! And don’t miss the lights show there at 8pm when all high risings are lit up.

Meals: breakfast
Accommodation: InterContinental Hong Kong

Day 13 Hong Kong

Victoria Peak Victoria Peak

You will go on foot to the neighbouring pier from where you will take the Star Ferry for the famous bay crossing, a real institution for the locals and a mythical voyage. You can appreciate one of the most beautiful skylines in the world on boat, where skyscrapers are against the highest hill in the city, a completely different harbour view compared with the lights show the night before. Ascending Victoria Peak by century-old Peak Tram, you will reach the highest point (552m) in Hong Kong, where you will have a panoramic view of this fascinating cosmopolitan. Picking up a refreshing drink and having lunch at one of the restaurants at Sky Terrace, you will be fascinated by this amazing place.

Meals: breakfast/breakfast
Accommodation: InterContinental Hong Kong

Day 14 Hong Kong

We will escort you to airport after breakfast and our service ends at airport. You may extend your duration and please ask PANDA.

Meals: breakfast

TRIP NOTES

About PANDA Adventures

Based in Guilin, China, PANDA Adventures (www.pandaadventures.com) is the leading operator of luxury adventure tours in China. PANDA can help you discover all corners of China, from ancient capitals, Beijing and Xi’an to modern metropolis, Shanghai; from the mother river, Yellow River to almighty Yangtze River; from dynamic minority Yunnan to mysterious Tibet. We offer high-quality, excellent-value, private trips to interesting areas of the country, in harmony with the local people and the environment.

Physical Rating: 2

Each trip is given a Physical Rating, which indicates how much physical activity is required to participate in it. This rating helps you choose a trip that is suitable to your level of fitness and abilities, and one that you will enjoy taking part in. Physical activity on a PANDA adventures falls into the following categories.

Rating of 1 - Getting around on your own, up and down hotel steps and carrying your own backpack.

Rating of 2 – Light walking and hiking that is suitable for most fitness levels.

Rating of 3 – May include moderate hiking, biking, rafting, kayaking and other activities that require only an average/moderate level of fitness to enjoy.

Rating of 4 – May include high altitude hiking of up to 8 hours per day or other activities that require a moderately high level of fitness.

Rating of 5 - High altitude trekking suitable only for those with a higher level of fitness and endurance.

Culture Shock Rating: 2

Each trip is given a Culture Shock Rating, designed to help you choose a trip that is suitable to your travel tastes and preferences. The Culture Shock Rating lets you know how much “difference” you can expect from the experience - whether there's any familiar food available, if you'll need to adapt a little or a lot to the surroundings and the kind of home comforts (if any) you can expect. Culture Shock is rated according to the following scale:

Rating of 1 – Little or no adjustment at all is required. The comforts of home are here for the most part.

Rating of 2 – A generally easy trip but there may be the occasional language barrier.

Rating of 3 – Expect an occasional local food and limited availability of western food...Remember though, this is all part of your PANDA authentic travel experience!

Rating of 4 – Expect to rough it here and there. This may mean traveling in remote rural areas and experiencing different cultures and religions, and no access to western food.

Rating of 5 – You are totally off the beaten path are exposed to a totally foreign culture to what you are accustomed ... Sounds fantastic doesn’t it!

Accommodation: Hotel (13 nts)

Service Included:

  • Hotel accommodations on twin-shared basis
  • Local economy class flights
  • First class seat on speed train (similar to business class on air)
  • Experienced English-speaking local guides throughout the tour
  • Quality private air-con vehicles & experienced drivers for all transfers and sightseeings
  • Entrance fees for all listed attractions
  • Meals as listed per itinerary
  • Service of a fully-escorted tour leader for group with 8 or more participants

Not Included:

  • International flights
  • Passport and visa charges
  • Travel insurance
  • Gratuities to various service providers (please budget 15 US dollars per day)
  • Optional tours or activities during free time
  • Any items or service not specified as included per itinerary
  • Items of a personal nature

Activities Included

Beijing:

  • Tian’anmen Square & Forbidden City
  • Temple of Heaven
  • Untouched and remote section of the Great Wall

Pingyao:

  • Walking the ancient street
  • Family Wang Compound & Garden
  • Cave dwelling
  • Shuanglin Temple

Xi’an:

  • Terracotta Warriors
  • Tang Dynasty murals exhibition at Shaanxi History Museum
  • Calligraphy class
  • Huiling charity
  • Cycling on the City Wall
  • Walking the Muslim Quarter

Yangshuo:

  • Cycling the countryside
  • Bamboo rafting along Yulong River
  • Cooking class

Hong Kong:

  • Star Ferry
  • Victoria Peak Tram & harbour view lunch

If you choose not to participate in the included activities on this itinerary, the cost will not be refunded.

Additional Accommodation:

Extend your holiday by booking some pre or post tour accommodation - ask PANDA.

Transport:

Plane, speed train, private air-con car/van, walking

Meals Included:

13 breakfasts, 8 lunches, 1 dinner

Local Guides & Group Tour Leader:

For a group of 5 people or less, PANDA local guides will serve the group in different destinations. For a group with 6 people or more, a PANDA group tour leader will accompany the trip from beginning to end. The aim of the local guides and group tour leader is to take the hassle out of your travels and to help you have the best trip possible. They will provide information on the places you are traveling through, offer suggestions for things to do and see, recommend great local eating venues and introduce you to our local friends.

Emergency Contact

Mobile: 86-139-1136-1359 - Gary (local manager)

What to Take:

What you need to bring depends on the trip you have chosen. We suggest that you pack as lightly as possible. As a rule we try not to have to walk more than 10 minutes with your bag which is why we recommend keeping the weight of your bags between 10-15kg/22-30lb. You will also need a day pack/bag to carry water, cameras and other electronics like ipods and mobile phones. If your trip involves overnights in homestays, villages or camping then you usually have the opportunity to rent sleeping bags if need be instead of bringing them with you.

Checklist:

Passport (with photocopies)
Travel insurance (with photocopies)
Airline tickets (with photocopies)
USD cash and travelers cheques
Credit or debit card (see personal spending money)
PANDA vouchers and trip notes
Any entry visas or vaccination certificates required
Day pack for daily personal items
Wet wipes / Moist towelettes
Alarm clock
Flashlight
Sun hat, Sun block, Sunglasses
Insect Repellent
Water bottle and plastic mug for train journeys
Ear plugs for train journeys or light sleepers
Small towel and swim wear
Toiletries (biodegradable)
Sturdy walking shoes/Sport sandals
Money belt
Shorts for summer months (June – September)
Long trousers
Shirts/T-shirts
Warm clothes for Nov-April
Fleece, jacket, hat and gloves
Umbrella or waterproof jacket
Cover for backpack or plastic bags to keep clothes dry
Camera, film and memory chip
Reading/writing material
First-aid kit (should contain lip salve, Aspirin, Band Aids, anti-histamine, Imodium or similar tablets for mild cases of diarrhea, re-hydration powder, extra prescription drugs you may be taking).

Local Dress:

In China the dress standard is more conservative than it is in western countries. Things also changes quickly, nowadays the young Chinese share the same hobbies with their western counterparts. When packing try to pick loose, lightweight, long clothing that will keep you cool in the usually hot and humid climate of summers. In predominately Buddhist and Muslim regions we ask that you dress respectfully and avoid very short shorts/skirts and singlets/tanktops when visiting temples or mosques or other holy sites.

Spending Money:

Every traveler is different and therefore spending money requirements will vary. Some travelers may drink more than others while other travelers like to purchase more souvenirs than most. Please consider your own spending habits when it comes to allowing for drinks, shopping and tipping. Please also remember the following specific recommendations when planning your trip.

Money Exchange:

As currency exchange rates in Asia fluctuate often we ask that you refer to the following website for daily exchange rates: www.xe.com As of March 2015 the exchange rate for HONG KONG was 1 USD = 7.90 HKD (Hong Kong Dollar) and CHINA was 1 USD = 6.15 CNY (Chinese Yuan RMB). There are many ATM machines that accept both Visa and Mastercard but these are limited to major cities. We also recommend the use of cash and travelers cheques in USD currency. Major credit cards are accepted in most shops but they may charge a 2-4% transaction fee.

Activities Included:

Included activities are listed in the day-to-day itinerary, all other activities are optional and at your own expense. If you choose not to participate in the included activities on this itinerary, the cost will not be refunded.

Optional Activities:

A selection of optional activities are listed in the day-to-day itinerary. This isn't an exhaustive list and should be used as a guide only. Prices are for entrance only and don't include transport costs to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. It may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination. Optional activities aren't necessarily endorsed or recommended by PANDA nor included in price of this trip. If you do any optional activities, you do so at your own risk and it must be clearly understood that your participation is your own decision and doesn't form part of your contract with PANDA.

Beijing
Legend of Kungfu Show CNY280

Xi’an
Tang Dynasty Cultural Show CNY200
Dumpling Banquet CNY120
Tang Dynasty Cultural Show plus Dumpling Banquet CNY300

Yangshuo
Impression Sanjie Liu Lights Show by Zhang Yimou (2008 Olympic Director) CNY280

Local Flights:

All local flights are included in the cost of your tour unless otherwise noted. It is important that we have your passport information at the time of booking in order to process these tickets. Internal flight tickets are issued electronically and you only need to show your passports when checking in at airport. Both passport and boarding pass are required when getting through security checks.

Departure tax & fuel surcharge:

Departure tax and fuel surcharge are included in all domestic tickets.

Meals:

Eating is a big part of your traveling in China. Traveling with PANDA Adventures you experience the vast array of wonderful food that is available out in the world. Generally breakfasts are included, as well as some local specialties, other lunches and dinners are left to you the flexibility in deciding where, what to eat. Your local guides will be able to suggest favorite restaurants during your trip.

Emergency Fund:

Please also make sure you have access to at least an additional USD500 (or equivalent) cash as an “emergency” fund, to be used when circumstances outside our control (e.g. a natural disaster) necessitate a change to our planned route. This is a rare occurrence!

Tipping:

It is customary to tip service providers in travel industry in Asia, at approximately 10%, depending on the service. Tipping is expected - though not compulsory - and shows an expression of satisfaction with the people who have assisted you on your tour. Although it may not be customary to you, it is of considerable significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels. When only local guides are employed in the trip (group size less than 5), you may do this at the end of each destination. Recommendations for tipping drivers (3USD per person per day as guideline) and local guides (8 USD per person per day as guideline) would depend on the quality and length of the service. If there’s a PANDA Tour Leader (for group over 6) and you felt your PANDA Tour Leader did an outstanding job, tipping is appreciated. The amount is entirely a personal preference; however as a guideline 8 USD per person per day can be used.

Laundry:

Generally laundry facilities are offered by our hotels for a charge. Please put it in the laundry bag and the hotel staff will collect it.

Safety and Security:

We strongly recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt while traveling, for the safe keeping of your passport, air tickets, travelers' cheques, cash and other valuable items. Many of the hotels we use have safety deposit box which is the most secure way of storing your valuables. A lock is recommended for securing your luggage.

Many national governments provide a regularly updated advice service on safety issues involved with international travel. We recommend that you check your government's advice for their latest travel information before departure. When traveling on a trip, please note that your group leader or local guides have the authority to amend or cancel any part of the trip itinerary if it is deemed necessary due to safety concerns. Your leader or local guides will accompany you on all included activities. During your trip you will have some free time to pursue your own interests, relax and take it easy or explore at your leisure. While your group leader or local guides will assist you with options available in a given location please note that any optional activities you undertake are not part of your itinerary, and we offer no representations about the safety of the activity or the standard of the operators running them. Please use your own good judgment when selecting an activity in your free time.

A Couple of Rules:

Illegal drugs will not be tolerated on any trips. Possessing or using drugs not only contravenes the laws of the land but also puts the rest of the group at risk. Smoking marijuana and opium is not acceptable for PANDA travelers. Our philosophy of travel is one of respect towards everyone we encounter, and in particular the local people who make the world the special place it is. The exploitation of prostitutes is completely contrary to this philosophy and local law. Our group leader or local guides has the right to expel any member of the group if drugs are found in their possession or they use prostitutes.

Health:

You should consult your doctor for up-to-date medical travel information well before departure. We recommend that you carry a First Aid kit as well as any personal medical requirements. Please be aware that sometimes we are in remote areas and away from medical facilities, and for legal reasons our leaders or local guides are prohibited from administering any type of drug including headache tablets, antibiotics, etc. In China pharmacies tend to stock the same western drugs as you get at home but they are usually produced locally so please bring the full drug name with you when trying to purchase a prescription drug. When selecting your trip please carefully read the brochure and itinerary and assess your ability to cope with our style of travel. Please refer to the Physical and Culture Shock ratings in this notes for trip specific information. For travelers over 70 years a completed Medical Form is required. PANDA reserves the right to exclude any traveler from all or part of a trip without refund if in the reasonable opinion of our group leader or local guides they are unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to themselves and/or the rest of the group.

Medical Form:

It is very important you are aware that, as a minimum, an “average level of fitness and mobility” is required to undertake our easiest programs. Travelers must be able to walk without the aid of another person, climb 3-4 flights of stairs, step on and off small boats, and carry their own luggage at a minimum. Travelers over the age of 70, or travelers with a pre-existing medical condition, are required to complete a short medical questionnaire, which must be signed by their physician. This is to ensure that senior travelers have the necessary fitness and mobility to comfortably complete their chosen trip. While our leaders or local guides work hard to ensure that all our travelers are catered for equally, it is not their responsibility to help individuals who cannot complete the day's activities unaided. Please refer to the physical and culture shock ratings in this notes for more information.

Travel Insurance:

Travel insurance is compulsory in order to participate on any of our trips. You must have comprehensive travel insurance that covers you for medical costs associated with hospitalisation, emergency travel and repatriation back to your home country. Please take your insurance policy with you when you travel. You may take other cover, of course, but we require you to be adequately insured before we can allow you to participate in our programs. Your PANDA leader or local guides will need to see and record your policy details at the pre-tour briefing at the starting city, so please bring a copy along to the meeting. If you arrive without travel insurance your tour leader or local guide will require you to purchase a policy before you continue your journey with us.

If you are covered by a policy arranged through your credit card company you will be asked to provide evidence of this cover, as well as a 24-hour emergency contact number. Many credit card companies do not provide an insurance policy number. In this instance, the tour leader or local guides will need to record your credit card number, as this is required to activate any request for emergency assistance. You should also bring along the travel insurance information booklet provided by your credit card company. It is your responsibility to ensure that you meet the requirements set out by your credit card company in order to be effectively covered and that the cover offered is of a suitable standard.

Passport & Visas:

Well before traveling, please ensure that you have a current passport, with an accurate photo, that is valid for at least six months after your scheduled return home. Also check that your airline tickets are in exactly the same name as your passport.

Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. The visa requirements for your trip vary depending on where you are from and where you are going.

We keep the following information up to date as much as possible, but rules do change - it's important that you check for yourself. Residents from other countries must consult the relevant embassies or consulates.

HONG KONG:
Australia: No - Not required
Belgium: No - Not required
Canada: No - Not required
Germany: No - Not required
Ireland: No - Not required
Netherlands: No - Not required
New Zealand: No - Not required
South Africa: No - Not required
Switzerland: No - Not required
United Kingdom: No - Not required
USA: No - Not required

Please note that Hong Kong isn't considered part of China for visa purposes.

CHINA:
Australia: Yes - in advance
Belgium: Yes - in advance
Canada: Yes - in advance
Germany: Yes - in advance
Ireland: Yes - in advance
Netherlands: Yes - in advance
New Zealand: Yes - in advance
South Africa: Yes - in advance
Switzerland: Yes - in advance
United Kingdom: Yes - in advance
USA: Yes - in advance

MAINLAND CHINA & HONG KONG:
Most nationalities require a visa for mainland China. You must obtain your Chinese visa in advance. It is not possible to get a visa on arrival and Chinese visas can be difficult to obtain outside your country of residence. You may be able to apply for your visa in Hong Kong if you have time here before your trip departs. You will need a Single Entry Tourist for your trip valid for 30 days. Hong Kong is not considered part of mainland China for immigration purposes and most nationalities do not require a visa. Please check with an embassy for specific requirements.

Please note if you are traveling from China, into Hong Kong then back into China, you will need a double entry Chinese visa. Note that on some occasions people transiting through China on way to Hong Kong have been made to go through immigration and had their single entry visa stamped making this invalid. Do not allow your visa to be stamped if you are only going through transit.

INFORMATION REQUIRED FOR VISA APPLICATION:

Itinerary:
Please list the destinations you will visit in China in chronological order on your application form. Do not mention Kashgar or Tibet anywhere on your application form. While these areas are not off limits to travellers, they are considered politically sensitive, so including these on your visa application could lead to significant delays or your visa being denied.

Name of Host/Inviting Organisation:
China International Travel Service (Guilin) Co., Ltd.
4F, Building 6, Chuangyi Business Park
70 Qilidian Road
Guilin
Guangxi
P.R. China 541004

DOCUMENTS REQUIRED FOR VISA APPLICATION:

  1. Hotel List - this will be sent to you by PANDA at the time of booking. If you do not receive this please email us with your booking number and trip details. Please tick the hotels in all destinations that your trip visits
  2. Official invitation from licensed Chinese tourism company - this will be provided together with the Hotel List to all travellers regardless of whether it is required by the embassy or not
  3. Itinerary – please print off a copy of your specific trip itinerary sent by us and include it with your application, marking the dates you will visit each destination if required
  4. Photocopy of your passport
  5. Passport size photo (up to 4 may be required)
  6. Please check with the embassy for any other specific requirements

DOCUMENTS REQUIRED FOR TRAIN TICKET BOOKINGS

PANDA requires you send the following at the time of booking, at least 30 days prior to travel:

Clear, colour copy of the personal details page of your passport

Please make sure that this copy is for the passport that you will be travelling on. If you have to renew your passport after booking please notify us as soon as you have a new passport number and bring your old passport with you on your trip as well.

Responsible Travel Projects:

Organizations and projects currently supported by PANDA:

Xi'an Huiling provides adults with learning disabilities opportunities to develop their personal abilities and life skills, enabling them to achieve independence as a fully integrated member of the community.

Keeping in Touch:

If you need to be contacted while traveling we recommend that you set up an email address that can be accessed on the road, rather than relying on postal mail. WIFI cafes are becoming increasingly commonplace throughout the country, and have quickly become the preferred way for our leaders and travelers to stay in touch. If someone wishes to contact you in an emergency while you are on one of our trips we recommend that they contact our Emergency Contact.

Feedback:

After your travels, we want to hear from you! Your feedback information is so important to us and we'll give you 5% off the price of your next PANDA trip if your feedback is completed of finishing your trip.

Itinerary Disclaimer:

The information in this notes has been compiled with care and is provided in good faith. However it is subject to change, and does not form part of the contract between the client and PANDA. The itinerary featured is correct at time of printing. It may differ slightly to the one in the brochure. Occasionally our itineraries change as we make improvements that stem from past travelers, comments and our own research. The group leader or local guides will advise you of any changes at the pre-tour meeting, so please be prepared for modifications to the route. Please note that our brochure is usually released in November each year. If you have booked from the previous brochure you may find there have been some changes to improve the itinerary.

VERY IMPORTANT: Please ensure that you print a final copy of your notes to review a couple of days prior to travel, in case there have been changes that affect your plans.For the latest updated Trip Notes please visit our website: www.pandaadventures.com

ACCOMMODATIONS

Hilton Beijing Wangfujing

Stay at the Hilton Beijing Wangfujing hotel in the heart of bustling Wangfujing Street, and enjoy an array of world-class amenities - perfect for discerning leisure travelers.

Recently voted ‘World’s Leading Lifestyle Hotel’ once again at the prestigious World Travel Awards, this luxury Beijing hotel is situated just a ten-minute walk from iconic Tiananmen Square and within easy reach of major Beijing attractions including the Forbidden City, Jingshan Park, and the Drum & Bell Towers, making it easy to explore the city on your own.

The deluxe rooms are among the largest in the city, and feature a stylish, modern design with a king-sized bed and a separate working and seating area. Room amenities include a 42-inch LCD TV, DVD player, iPod docking station, and even a television in the plush marble bathroom – which features a separate rain shower and bathtub for the ultimate in relaxation.

Room size: 50 m²

Jing’s Residence

Nestled amongst dusty curio shops and bustling restaurants in the old walled city of Pingyao is the 19-room Jing's Residence, a small boutique hotel that is located in a nicely-renovated old mansion. The design of the hotel fits in harmoniously with the traditional surroundings of this ancient city. The Residence is ideally located in the heart of the old town and encompasses a series of grey-brick pavilions built around a set of four courtyards in the authentic architectural style of northern China. In addition to the luxurious accommodations, the Residence also features a dining room where guests can enjoy an extensive menu of international and local favorites. The dramatic lighting at night enhances the courtyard's almost palpable sense of time and history.

Room size: 24 m²

Hilton Xi’an

Set within the ancient city wall, The Hilton Xi’an is within walking distance to shops, restaurants, and entertainment venues. Many of the city’s landmarks, including the Bell Tower, are steps from the hotel, and making exploration on your own easy and a delight. You may wish to meander the expansive outdoor roof garden at the hotel, or simply enjoy the luxurious guest rooms, beautifully decorated in a unique style combining Tang Dynasty artwork with contemporary touches. Refresh in the elegant marble bathroom, stay connected with high-speed internet access, or watch a movie on the 42-inch LCD TV.

Unwind after a dynamic day, with the delicious cuisine offered right in the hotel. Refresh with a pot of Chinese tea and light snack at the T Lounge. Dine on Huaiyang cuisine and Shaanxi specialties in an elegant setting at China Club. Indulge in Cantonese delicacies and fresh seafood at Red followed by after-dinner cocktails in the lounge. Enjoy a buffet of tempting international dishes and a selection of premium beers and wines at Café Xi’an.

Room size: 43 m²

Moondance Hotel Yangshuo

The Moondance is listed as TripAdvisor Traveler’s Choice 2015 winner in the small hotel category. As a small boutique accommodation in a village, it will not be the cookie-cutter experience of an international brand. Situated right along the Jinbao River, a comfortable eight kilometers outside Yangshuo proper, Moondance offers stunning views of the surrounding Karst mountains. The serenity and tranquillity of the Guangxi countryside combined with all modern day comforts and amenities in and around the hotel will turn your stay into an experience of paradise. Enjoy your coffee on the wooden balcony, take a bath with tremendous views of the surroundings, read a book in your lounge corner and rest like sleeping beauty in the king-sized bed in your custom room (each of the 21 rooms is unique).

Explore the quiet backroads on bicycle; hike the lush buffalo trails on foot; plunge into the Moondance Resort’s natural swimming pool to cool down; enjoy the tastiest self-grown vegetables in the cozy restaurant and let your muscles relax during a well deserved traditional Chinese massage. Moondance Resort invites you to experience its genuine hospitality brought to you directly from the warm hearts of the local Chinese people.

Room size: 28-35 m²

InterContinental Hong Kong

The InterContinental Hong Kong is located by the waterfront in Tsim Sha Tsui, very downtown at Kwollon area. Every floor commands spectacular views of Victoria Harbour and Hong Kong Island, and with everything from the Star Ferry to the Hong Kong Museum of Art nearby, this is an ideal location for any Hong Kong stay. Whether you’re gazing over the skyline from the Club InterContinental Lounge or landmark-spotting from your suite, all of Hong Kong is literally at your feet. But the views are not the only draw, it is also renowned for its impeccable service, luxurious accommodation and world-class restaurants, which include SPOON by Alain Ducasse and NOBU InterContinental Hong Kong. All rooms have high-speed broadband internet access, SHARP LCD televisions, BOSE DVD/CD home entertainment sound systems with iPod docking stations and 24-hour butler service and in-room dining. Other "around-the-clock" services include 24-hour Concierge and business services.

Room size: 33 m², Harbour View Room

Prices

Group size 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 single supplement

Prices are in US dollars per person on twin-shared basis. Please note that if the group size is in odd number, then it’s compulsory to book a single supplement.

Group size over 8 please send us an email for a better rate request.

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