CT1 China By Rail Tour

Beijing, Pingyao, Xi'an, Luoyang, Shanghai, Hangzhou, Guilin, & Hong Kong


Accessing major sites and special, off-the-beaten path gems using China's efficient high-speed rail network; Three major urban centres (Beijing, Shanghai, & Hong Kong) well-spaced with lesser known, fascinating locations, many of them Unesco sites; delicious authentic meals; charming & comfortable accommodations; expert guiding and leadership


Dates & Prices

To book this tour, please refer to the sidebar ►

Prices below are per person, twin-sharing costs in US Dollars (USD). Pricing does not include airfare to/from the tour and any applicable taxes. For single supplement rates and taxes (if any), please refer to the entries under the blue box below.

Start DateEnd DatePriceMore Info
Wed 18 Mar 2020Sun 05 Apr 2020 $3990 USD
Fri 15 May 2020Tue 02 Jun 2020 $3990 USD
Wed 14 Oct 2020Sun 01 Nov 2020 $3990 USD

CANADIAN PASSPORT HOLDERS PLEASE NOTE: As of January 2019, Canadians between ages 14 & 70 applying of a tourist visa must be prepared to present their application IN PERSON in order to be fingerprinted. Residents of Canada can apply IN PERSON at the Chinese Embassy in Ottawa and the Chinese Consulates-General in Toronto, Vancouver, and Calgary. If you are over 70 you can apply through our preferred visa service without being fingerprinted.

Optional Single Supplement: $1062 USD (number of singles limited).

Tour Overview

Our China By Rail Tour is a fresh take on an old favourite, made possible by China's ever expanding, ultra-modern network of high-speed rail links.

We use this to tie together an extremely varied milieu of well-known places and urban centres, interspersed with several lesser-knowns to enhance the overall, authentic, fascinating appeal.

Forget about long lines and major frustrations that air travel can be in China, and sit back, enjoy the scenery, and make new friends along the way.

Regions visited: Central Asia And Far East
Countries visited: China and Hong Kong


(Thornhill, ON, CA)

So many amazing sights. Every day brought breath taking views. The Bullet train was great. Hotels were very good. Our tour leader was excellent. A great trip to celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary !

(Toronto, ON, CA)

We liked the itinerary getting into some smaller, less touristy areas of China and we like traveling by train. Of course I enjoyed the classic China sights but I liked the balance with some of the smaller more unusual places. I particularly enjoyed Pingyao and Denfeng and Yangshou. The trains were great. The big buses were good, allowing the group to spread out. The Adventures Abroad emphasis on hotel location is great. The ability to wander outside the hotel is half the experience. The food was better than I expected. Our tour leader did a good job of providing us with a variety of different Chinese dishes. I quite enjoyed the trip. The itinerary provided a good range of experiences that went beyond the standard China classics. As one of our fellow travelers said, traveling makes us better people.

Full Itinerary

To book this tour, please refer to the sidebar ►

Day 1 Arrival in Beijing
Welcome to Beijing, the capital of the People's Republic of China. While many of its elements are common to other Chinese cities, the sum of this city -- its scope and presence in history -- has no equivalent in China or anywhere else in the world.

Beijing is not only the political and administrative centre of the People's Republic of China, it is also China's single greatest repository of monuments and treasures from the imperial era. This is the second-largest and fastest growing municipality in today's China, the home and workplace of 20-25 million people.

Overnight in Beijing.

Included Meal(s): Dinner

Day 2 Beijing: Forbidden City & Hutong Tour
We begin today with a visit to Tian'anmen Square, the place where one million students rallied for democracy in 1989. This is the largest public square in the world. Originally built in 1651, the square was quadrupled in size in 1958 to its present 40.5 hectares (100 acres) during a massive city-wide reconstruction program. Each flagstone is numbered so that parade units can line up in their assigned places.

From here we walk to the Forbidden City, a huge complex of palaces, pavilions, courtyards and gardens, which was off-limits to commoners for 500 years. This is where the emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties carried out their administration and lived, now open as a Palace Museum.

Later we have a historical tour of Beijing's narrow streets, known as hutongs, on a traditional rickshaw (a type of tricycle designed to carry passengers in addition to the driver). We then visit a local home to learn about Chinese life from a family.

Today we include lunch and free up your evening for optional activities. Your Tour Leader can assist with these arrangements.

Overnight in Beijing.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Lunch

Day 3 Beijing: Great Wall & Summer Palace
This morning we travel north of Beijing to the Great Wall of China. A walk along the enormous undulating towered and turreted wall is spectacular. Rising and falling in concert with the ridges of the northern hills and undulating far off into the distance, the Great Wall consistently exceeds visitors' expectations and remains one of humankind's most remarkable accomplishments.

The wall's construction began during the Warring States Period (403-221 BC), when separate sections were built in scattered strategic areas. Following China's unification under the first Qin Emperor, 300,000 men -- many of them political prisoners whose bodies are buried in the wall -- were put to work connecting the segments into one huge rampart of stone and earth.

We will have plenty of free time to explore the wall before returning to Beijing early this afternoon.

After lunch we will have a tour of the Summer Palace, located in the northwest area of the city. During the late Qing Dynasty this was the summer retreat from Beijing's heat for the imperial family and court. In 1888 the notorious Empress Cixi used the money intended for the Chinese Navy to build this opulent summer retreat for herself. A marvel of design, the palace -- with its huge lake and hilltop views -- offers a pastoral escape into the landscapes of traditional Chinese painting.

Overnight in Beijing.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner

Day 4 Beijing - Train to Pingyao
This morning we travel by high-speed train to Pingyao (+/- 4 hours).* On arrival we'll transfer to our hotel.

Pingyao's old town is typically considered the best ancient walled city in China, and is on many lists of the best walled cities in the world. The old walled city is inhabited, mostly off-limits to cars, and constructed of cobbled streets and buildings almost entirely from the Ming and Qing dynasties. Picture a period film showing ancient China and you won't be far off. Perfect for atmospheric wandering, this city is still off the radar of most foreigners. As such, the tourist traffic tends to be over 99% mainland Chinese on any given day.

Early this afternoon we embark on our sightseeing program in Pingyao. During the Ming and Qing Dynasties, Shanxi merchants developed extensive trade routes throughout China and overseas, with Pingyao at the centre of this trade. Named Rishengchang, or "Sunrise Prosperity," this first exchange house established branches in different cities in China and abroad and used bank drafts to move money from one city to another. Subsequently, Pingyao became the center of the nation's banking industry.

Our tour begins with Ming-Qing Street, also called Nanda Jie (South Avenue), which used to be the commercial center of Pingyao. Today, many traditional-style shops line the street and sell food, snacks, specialities, paintings, furniture, calligraphy, and souvenirs. We then visit the old city wall itself, with a perimeter of 6.4 kilometers and and height over 12 meters.

We continue to the Rishengchang Exchange Shop, the earliest bank in China first opened in the 18th century. While in Pingyao, we'll also visit the Armed Escort Company Museum, which offers a glimpse into how commerce was protected and how cash was moved and kept from thieving hands. In those days, traders paid for their goods with silver coins, and in those dangerous times it was unsafe for a merchant to carry large sums in silver from one city to another.

* Please note that porters are likely NOT available train stations. You must be able to manage your bags on/off trains and at train stations.

Overnight in Pingyao.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner

Day 5 Pingyao - Train to Xi'an
This morning we'll have an interesting walk-through of the Confucian temple, first built during the reign of Emperor Taizong, considered as one of the greatest, if not the greatest, Chinese emperor. The original, modest temple was not built as a memorial temple, but rather, was the family temple of Confucius himself.

Depending on ever-changing train schedules, we may have some free time for independent exploration -- it's a nice place to stroll, especially early in the morning before day-trippers arrive from Beijing. In the early afternoon (usually) we travel by high-speed train to Xi'an (+/- 3 hours).

Xi'an is often called the birthplace of Chinese civilization. Capital of Shaanxi Province and eastern end to the Silk Road, the history and cultural significance of Xi'an stretches through China's ancient past and into its bright future. Xi'an was the capital city of 13 imperial dynasties, the most for any city, and many ancient structures are preserved. "The First Emperor" united China from his base in the Xi'an area, and he has left a mighty legacy.

Overnight in Xi'an.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner

Day 6 Xi'an: Terracotta Warriors & City Touring
Today we view the Terracotta Warriors, an impressive legion of thousands of life-size clay warriors that has been guarding the emperor's burial site for over 2,000 years. In 1974, a group of peasants digging a well in Lintong County, about 30 km east of Xi'an, accidentally made one of the century's greatest archeological discoveries. What they stumbled upon were thousands of life-size terracotta warriors; an estimated 8,000 figures have thus far been identified.

We also visit the Big Wild Goose Pagoda, a Buddhist temple complex on the way back to Xi'an from the Terracotta Warrior Museum. Afterwards we continue to the Great Mosque, a five minute walk from the Drum Tower in the center of Xi'an. Inscriptions from the stone tablets indicate that the Great Mosque, located at Huajue Lane, was established in AD 742 during the Tang Dynasty. After restorations in the Song, Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties, the present complex proudly ranks among the largest mosques in China. Unlike Arabic mosques which have splendid domes, minarets reaching into the clouds, and colourful engraved sketches with dazzling patterns, the mosque is built in a Chinese traditional style with the grounds taken up by platforms, pavilions and halls.

Time permitting, we will also drive to the City Walls of Xi’an where we can climb up to get more views of this remarkable city.

Overnight in Xi'an.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner

Day 7 Xi'an - Train to Luoyang
This morning in Xi'an we visit the museum dedicated to the tomb known as Han Yangling. Built in 2005 and regarded as one of the best of its kind in the world, the museum showcases not only the resting place of the occupant, Jing Di, but also how he and others lived during his time, the second century BC. The displays are exquisitely and sensitively done; the piles of hundreds of artifacts, in situ, are like a modern work of "found" art.

Mid-afternoon we travel by high-speed train to Luoyang (+/- 1.5 hours).

Luoyang was one of China’s true dynastic citadels. The city was the prosperous capital of 13 dynasties, until the Northern Song dynasty shifted its capital east along the Yellow River to Kaifeng in the 10th century. The mighty Sui- and Tang-dynasty walls formed an imposing rectangle north and south of the Luo River, while worshippers flocked to 1,300 Buddhist temples through the city.

Overnight in Luoyang.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner

Day 8 Luoyang: Area Touring
Luoyang was once the very centre of the Chinese universe and the eastern capital of the resplendent Tang dynasty. Tragically, little remains of this glorious past: the heart of the magnificent Sui dynasty palace complex was centred on the point where today’s Zhongzhou Zhonglu and Dingding Lu intersect in a frenzy of traffic.

After breakfast, we enjoy a scenic 2-hour drive through gorgeous valleys, bringing you to the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Shaolin Temple, a famous martial arts monastery and the birthplace of both kung fu and Zen Buddhism. Take a guided tour of the temple to see its impressive design, visiting Guanyin Hall, containing frescoes of fighting Shaolin monks. Visit the Hall of Heavenly Kings, the Pagoda Forest, the Dharma Cave and the Martial Arts Training Center. We watch a live kung fu performance and witness an incredible display of concentration and skill, with stunts such as breaking a metal bar with bare hands.

Nearby we take a cable car up San Huang Zhai Mountain, where we have amazing views and the ability to visit a village at the top.

Overnight in Luoyang.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner

Day 9 Luoyang - Longmen Grottoes - Train to Shanghai
Today we visit the incredible Longmen Grottoes, which comprise some of the finest examples of Chinese Buddhist art. Housing tens of thousands of statues of Buddha and his disciples, they are located 12 kilometres south of Luoyang. The images, many once painted, were carved as outside rock reliefs and inside artificial caves excavated from the limestone cliffs of the Xiangshan and Longmenshan mountains. The alternative name of "Dragon's Gate Grottoes" derives from the resemblance of the two hills that check the flow of the Yi River to the typical "Chinese gate towers" that once marked the entrance to Luoyang from the south.

There are as many as 100,000 statues within the 2,345 caves, ranging from one inch to 57 feet (17 m) in height. The area also contains nearly 2,500 stelae and inscriptions, whence the name "Forest of Ancient Stelae", as well as over sixty Buddhist pagodas. Situated in a scenic natural environment, the caves were dug from a one kilometre stretch of cliff running along both banks of the river.

Later this afternoon we take the high-speed train to Shanghai (+/- 6 hours). As this journey may take place over the dinner hour, your Tour Leader will make arrangements and advise.

Shanghai, among the two or three largest cities in the world, is China's most populous as well as its most "urban" city. Despite the profound changes in social and economic structure brought on since 1949, Shanghai retains the look and feel of a great Western metropolis, with a population that seems quite at home amidst the press of crowds and the throbbing energy and diversity of city life. In many ways, Shanghai's ambiance is more like that of New York or Rome than that of Beijing or Guangzhou.

Overnight in Shanghai.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner

Day 10 Shanghai: City Touring
Our first stop today is the Shanghai World Financial Center, an astonishingly high building reaching 492-metres. We will go by elevator to the 94th floor observatory deck for fantastic views over the city below. It is located in the Pudong district of Shanghai, an area that swiftly sprung up in the huge economic growth enjoyed in the new millennium.

Afterwards we will continue by bus to the famed Bund where we will enjoy a stroll along the Huangpu River, soaking in the atmosphere of one of the most recognizable architectural symbols of Shanghai. The word 'bund' derives from an Anglo-Indian word for an embankment along a muddy waterfront, and that is what it was in the beginning when the first British company opened an office there in 1846. It became the epitome of elegance during Shanghai's history as a city of trade.

Time permitting, this afternoon we take a leisurely stroll in the beautiful Yu Garden, established in 1559 and considered one of the most lavish and finest Chinese gardens in the region. At nearby Yuyuan Market, we discover a bustling bazaar selling traditional Chinese arts and crafts, as well as a mish-mash of items including chopsticks, Chinese medicine, walking sticks, fans, silk umbrellas, bamboo and rattan furniture, goldfish, pottery, plus much more. Food is also a great temptation in Yuyuan Market with local delicacies such as xiao long bao, pigeon egg dumplings, and spicy cold noodles from the street stalls or numerous restaurants.

This evening we'll enjoy a scenic river cruise for a spectacular view of the city.

Overnight in Shanghai.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner

Day 11 Shanghai: Leisure Time - Hangzhou
We have the better part of this morning free in Shanghai before continuing our journey by road to Hangzhou.

Famed for its natural scenery, Hangzhou and its West Lake have been immortalized by countless poets and artists. The city was the capital of the Southern Song Dynasty from 1127 until the Mongol invasion of 1276. The city's population is estimated to have been as high as one million in those days, making it the largest city in the world at the time. Even Marco Polo claimed to have passed through, calling it "beyond dispute the finest and the noblest in the world." Since June 2011, the West Lake Cultural Landscape has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Time-permitting we may have an introductory look around Hangzhou upon arrival.

Overnight in Hangzhou.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner

Day 12 Hangzhou Area Touring
This morning we have a scenic cruise on West Lake, visiting, among other things, Flower Harbour, where we can do some "fish viewing." The history of viewing fish at Flower Harbour can be dated Southern Song Dynasty when a private garden was built. The Red Carp Pond is the highlight, where you can enjoy the spectacular scenery of swarms of lively red carp while standing on the bridge.

We also visit Lingyin Temple, the largest of several temples in the Wulin Mountains, which also features a large number of grottoes and religious rock carvings.

Overnight in Hangzhou.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner

Day 13 Hangzhou - Train to Guilin
Today we transfer to train station for our high-speed train to Guilin. This is our longest rail journey of the trip - approx 7-8 hours. Granted this is a bit long, but to fly this distance with traffic, security, waiting to board, waiting for luggage etc, most travellers still believe the train to be be a superior experience.

The city of Guilin was founded in the Qin Dynasty in 314 BC as a small settlement on the Lijiang River. It became increasingly important following the construction of a canal joining the river with another further north, providing a transport link with the Yangtze. The town became the provincial capital in the Ming Dynasty and remained so until 1914 when the capital was moved to Nanning. According to a popular Chinese saying, "Guilin's scenery bests all others in the world." Its shapely-rising limestone towers and crystal-clear waters are often portrayed in Chinese artworks.

This evening we visit Zhengyang Pedestrian Street.

Overnight in Guilin.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner

Day 14 Guilin & Longsheng
This morning in the Guilin area we visit Reed Flute Cave, and Fobo Hill (if time does not permit today, this sightseeing may be accomplished on the morning of Day 17).

We also visit Longsheng, an area famous for the excessively large number of terraced rice paddy fields on its mountain, which have created an intricate pattern on the hillsides. With the help of some golf carts, we'll view the terraces from a vantage point as well as visit a Yao minority village. The Yao are one of the 55 officially recognized ethnic minorities in China and reside in the mountainous terrain of the southwest and south. The origins of the Yao can be traced back 2,000 years starting in Hunan. The Yao and Hmong were among the rebels during the Miao Rebellions against the Ming dynasty. During our time in the area, we hope to visit an informative tea plantation.

We transfer back to Guilin.

Overnight in Guilin.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner

Day 15 Guilin - Li River Cruise to Yangshuo
Today we enjoy a spectacular cruise down the meandering Li River to Yangshuo. The scenery is breathtaking as mist-covered jagged mountains loom before you and quaint villages dot the riverbanks. We pass humped limestone peaks, fishermen astride bamboo rafts, and grazing water buffaloes. The boat passes through the Luogu Rapids where the sound of the rushing water is said to resemble gongs and drums.

Legend tells us that every sailor drowned in the Li is transformed into a demon, clutching at the boats which navigate the rapids. As the launch floats past valleys, bamboo groves, and mist-shrouded crags, one has the sensation of being carried backward in time through a traditional Chinese painting. Local river craft are still physically towed upstream in convoys; a few are still towed by men and women in harness.

There is a saying that "the landscape of Guilin is the most beautiful in the world, but the landscape of Yangshuo is the most beautiful in Guilin". Yangshuo County has a good portion of the world's most impressive karst landscapes combining hills, rivers, and caves. Indeed the scenery around Yangshuo features on the 20 yuan bill, along with the Great Helmsman himself, Mao Zedong. The town itself is a lively place with plenty of cafes and shops and lots of interesting local foods to sample.

This afternoon we will visit the town and its lively market.

Overnight in Yangshuo.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner

Day 16 Yangshuo Area
This morning we visit a local farmer's house and observe the lifestyle of a typical familiy. You'll then have free time to enjoy the town and surrounds.

Tonight we will attend the "Yin Xiang Liu San Jie," an exciting local minority show performed on the banks of the Li River. The Ying Xiang Liu San Jie is a spectacular light and dance performance directed by Zhang Yimou, a famous Chinese filmmaker. This is a breathtaking show, using the beautiful mountains and river as the backdrop for the performance.

Overnight in Yangshuo.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner

Day 17 Yangshuo - Guilin - Train to Hong Kong
Today we transfer by road back to Guilin from where we catch our last high-speed train to Hong Kong (+/- 3 hours).

Hong Kong is a place with multiple personalities, as a result of being both Cantonese Chinese and under a long-time British influence. It is a unique destination that has absorbed people and cultural influences from places as diverse as Vietnam and Vancouver and proudly proclaims itself to be Asia's "World City."

Overnight in Hong Kong.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner

Day 18 Hong Kong: City Touring
Hong Kong Island is what gives the territory its name; although it is not the largest part of the territory, it is the place that many visitors regard as the main focus.

As such, we begin our day at Victoria Peak for a panoramic view of the city and its spectacular harbour. We continue to Repulse Bay and the colourful fishermen's village at Aberdeen, named after Lord Aberdeen, Secretary of State for the Colonies in the mid 19th century. Aberdeen is situated at the southwestern corner of Hong Kong Island and is one of the earliest settlements on the island. Once said to have been a hideout for pirates dealing in "Heung Kong" (perfumed water), it is now the largest fishing "village" in the former colony. We will enjoy a short sampan tour around the Aberdeen typhoon shelter before continuing to Stanley.

This afternoon your Tour Leader will take you on a stroll through Kowloon; the promenade here is a great place for a stroll and provides wonderful views of Victoria Harbour.

Overnight in Hong Kong.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner

Day 19 Departure
Departure from Hong Kong.


Included Meal(s): Breakfast

Tour Map

To book this tour, please refer to the sidebar ►

*The red tour trail on the map does not represent the actual travel path.

Hotel List

The following is a list of sample hotels at some locations included on this tour. The hotels shown here are meant to provide a general sense of the standard of hotel we usually aim for; they are not necessarily confirmed for your chosen departure.

Jianguo Garden Hotel

Rating: 4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation
Location: Beijing
Country: China

Set in a modern, glass building in the busy Dongcheng District, this chic hotel is 6 minutes' walk from Dongdan
... station and 4 km from the historic Forbidden City. Refined rooms have free Wi-Fi, flat-screen TVs, minifridges, and tea and coffeemakers.
Read More.

Click here to visit hotel website

Grand New World Hotel

Rating: 4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation
Location: Xian
Country: China

The Grand New World Hotel is ideally located in the city center near several major Xi'an attractions. All 476 guestrooms
... this Xi' an hotel feature modern amenities including large screen T.V's, mini-bars and 24-hour room service.
Read More.

Click here to visit hotel website

Shaolin International Hotel

Rating: 4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation
Location: Dengfeng
Country: China

The Shaolin International Hotel is located in the heart of downtown Dengfeng. Free Wi-Fi in public areas are accessible to
... of this hotel. An on-site restaurant serves Chinese and Western cuisine.
Read More.

Click here to visit hotel website

Holiday Inn Vista

Rating: 4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation
Location: Shanghai
Country: China

The hotel offers 290 thoughtfully appointed guest rooms and suites, all featuring modern amenities and high-tech equipment.

Click here to visit hotel website

Ztg Lakeview Hotel Hangzhou

Rating: 4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation
Location: Hangzhou
Country: China

The Lakeview Hotelis a four-star hotel located on the shore of Hangzhou's premier attraction, West Lake. As the name suggests,
... this hotel offers excellent views of the lake, also a convenient and practical hotel for tourists.
Read More.

Click here to visit hotel website

Guilin Bravo Hotel

Rating: 4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation
Location: Guilin
Country: China

Overlooking Ronghu Lake, this polished hotel with 480 rooms is a 4-minute walk from the Guilin Rongshanhu Scenic Area park
... 3 km from Seven Star Cave, a lighted limestone cave system.

Read More.

Click here to visit hotel website

Eaton Hong Kong

Rating: 4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation
Location: Hong Kong
Country: Hong Kong

A 5-minute walk from a metro station, this relaxed, contemporary hotel is also 2 km from the iconic Victoria Harbour
... 4 km from the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre.

Read More.

Click here to visit hotel website

Trip Information

To book this tour, please refer to the sidebar ►


Hotel breakfast daily and most dinners, one lunch (at local restaurants and hotels) are included (see tour itinerary). All transport, accommodation, sightseeing and entrance fees for sites noted as 'visited' in the detailed itinerary. Gratuities for drivers, restaurant staff, porters, local guides. Airport transfers for "land & air" customers and for early arriving/late departing land & air customers who book their extra hotel nights through us.


International airfare to/from the tour. Tour Leader gratuities, most lunches, drinks, personal items (phone, laundry, etc), and international (if applicable) air taxes, visa fees, and any excursions referenced as 'optional'. Airport transfers for "Land Only" customers. Optional trip cancellation insurance. Our post-reservation trip notes offer further guidance on shopping, not included meals, visas, and locally paid departure taxes.

Seasonality and Weather

Our tour dates are carefully-selected based on average weather conditions throughout our program. Avoiding the cold and dull grey skies of winter and the heat and humidity of summer, we choose spring and fall when conditions are mild, landscapes green, and skies blue (we hope!). We are also careful to avoid major national holiday periods, which can make travel onerous, accommodations expensive, and crowds daunting.

In March/April we would expect cool-warm conditions, with highs in the range of 14-18C (58-66 F) warming as we move north to south. Our May date is still pre-heat/humidity of summer, but temperatures will be edging up to around 27C as a high in Beijing, about the same in Shanghai, and possibly warmer in Hong Kong given its more southerly location. Our fall date might be a degree or two warmer than March/April.

Spring is attractive for green landscapes and spring blossoms; fall is also a nice time for locally-grown fruits and vegetables.

Transport and Travel Conditions

As the title of this tour suggests, a major component of our program is the multiple journeys by rail. China now has an ever-expanding network of rail routes, many of which feature high-speed, highly-modern rolling stock, including the famed "Bullet Train."

The benefits of this are multifaceted, but the most apparent advantage comes in time-saving. In a large country like China, tours often rely on internal flights to shrink the distances, but Chinese airports are notoriously busy, requiring many tedious hours of check-in, security, boarding, baggage claim etc. Trains usually connect at central locations and don't require so much sitting around and waiting and getting to/from airports in horrible traffic. Though traffic is difficult to avoid entirely in China, train travel allows for a more leisurely, comfortable, and scenic overall travel experience as we efficiently make our way from place to place. Please note that none of our train journeys are overnight (please refer to the tour itinerary for approximate journey durations).

Our seats on all trains are "2nd class", which features five seats across a centre aisle. The seats recline and feature a folding table and power source. By comparison, it's much like flying in economy class, though you'll have more space between you and the seat ahead of you. There is, of course, a first class car (which is often permanently reserved for government officials), but the only real benefit - despite the considerably higher price - is a wider seat. Given the relatively short duration of our train journeys, our travellers are always satisfied with the level of comfort in second class.

An obvious corollary of this, of course, is the need to pack light and to be prepared to be independent with one's baggage. Porters may be available at stations but we cannot 100% guaranteed this. Porters are, however, available at hotels and these services are included in your tour.

Locally, we rely on comfortable air-conditioned private coaches for our explorations by road. We may accomplish some short city hops by local taxi.

Our activities are varied and involve leisurely walking tours of towns and cities, museums and historical sites, some of which are large and may feature uneven/cobbled surfaces and stairs. This is a an ambitious tour with a LOT of walking, moving around, and full days of sightseeing and travel.

Am I suitable for this tour? Please refer to our self-assessment form.


Hotels used on tour are modern, comfortable, well-located, air-conditioned, 4-star properties with en suite bath/toilet. Single rooms are limited in number and possibly smaller than twins. Porters are generally available (see 'Inclusions').

Please click on the "Map & Hotels" tab on this page for more information.

Staff and Support

Tour Leader throughout, local drivers, local guide/s at various locations.

Group Size

Maximum 18 plus Tour Leader





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