China vacation and Yangtze river cruise

“An epic trip across the length and breadth of the country by road, rail, river and flight, this is a brilliantly organised and varied journey of China's most iconic sights and sounds.”

Highlights

Beijing | The Great Wall of China | Forbidden City | Temple of Heaven Park | Mutianyu | Xi'an | Drum Plaza and Great Mosque | Terracotta Warriors | Chengdu | Leshan Giant Buddha | Chengdu Giant Panda Research Centre | Yangtze River cruise | Liuzhou | Yangshuo | Guilin | Shanghai | Suzhou

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30 Mar 2018
US $ 3405
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06 Apr 2018
US $ 3485
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20 Apr 2018
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04 May 2018
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25 May 2018
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27 Jul 2018
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10 Aug 2018
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24 Aug 2018
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31 Aug 2018
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07 Sep 2018
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21 Sep 2018
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19 Oct 2018
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29 Mar 2019
US $ 3535
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05 Apr 2019
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19 Apr 2019
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24 May 2019
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26 Jul 2019
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09 Aug 2019
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23 Aug 2019
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30 Aug 2019
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06 Sep 2019
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20 Sep 2019
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18 Oct 2019
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Our top tip:
Pack light - it'll help with getting on and off trains.
Trip type:
Small group, 5-16 adults (min. age 16).
Activity level:
Leisurely.
Accomm:
12 nights good hotel, 3 nights 4* cruise boat, 3 nights first class sleeper train.
Solos:
Solo travelers welcome. Single rooms available for a surcharge.
Meals:
18 breakfasts, 7 lunches, 2 dinners.
Included:
Accommodation, transport, transfers, listed activities, guide.
Vouchers
Accepted
Vacation type

Small group vacation

Small group travel is not large group travel scaled down. It is modelled on independent travel – but with the advantage of a group leader to take care of the itinerary, accommodation and tickets, and dealing with the language. It’s easy to tick off the big sights independently – but finding those one-off experiences, local festivals, traveling markets and secret viewpoints is almost impossible for someone without the insider knowledge gained from years in the field. If you’re heading off on a gap year your, perhaps – but for those with a two-week vacation, a small group tour will save valuable planning time.

The leaders are not guides – they’re not there to shepherd you around. Instead, they’ll let you know which local restaurant serves great value food – without running the risk of travelers’ tummy. They’ll allow you to avoid hour-long queues at train stations and attractions.

We like to think of small group travel as the Goldilocks option. It is independent travel without the fuss, worry and bunk beds – and organised travel without the coaches. And it’s cheaper than a tailor made tour. It’s sits somewhere in the middle – and we think it’s just about right.

What are the main benefits?
Big experiences
Have big, life-enriching experiences that would be impossible to organise without lots of time and insider knowledge.

Simplicity
Make the most of your vacation time by letting someone else do the hard work and boring logistics!

Peace of mind
Small group tours take care of the security aspects – and provide a safety net should anything unexpected happen.
Who is it ideal for?
Travelers who are short of time
If you don’t have three months to spend exploring, small groups trips let you cover more ground in less time. Your days are not spent queuing for tickets or finding hotels – so you can squeeze more into your vacation.

Solo travelers who’d like company
Likeminded travel companions plus peace of mind for those traveling alone. Single supplements are usually available – providing privacy if you want it.

Less confident travelers
Stray from the tourist trail without worrying about getting lost, and meet local people without dealing with the language barrier.
Mythbuster
“I won’t get any privacy!”
Couples and friends have private rooms, and you can choose to eat alone or not. Single supplements give solo travelers their own room.

“There won’t be any free time”
Free mornings or afternoons let you explore on your own, or just relax.

“The accommodation will be basic”
Trips are as high or low end as you like. Though off the beaten track destinations won’t have luxury hotels, this is all part of the adventure.

“I won’t like the other travelers!”
Tour operators try to create groups with a similar demographic – age, families, activity levels... Chances are, you’ll even make new friends.

“Will we be following an umbrella?”
No.
Valerie Parkinson
Meet a group Leader
Name: Valerie Parkinson

Story: The first British woman to climb Manaslu, Valerie climbed Everest for her 50th birthday. She’s spent fourteen Christmas Days trekking to Everest Base Camp, and is involved insetting up Responsible Tourism initiatives in the Himalayas.
Roshan Fernando
Meet a local guide
Name: Roshan Fernando

Story: Roshan has led over 130 trips – he adores showing travelers around Sri Lanka. He won the company Leader Award in 2010, but his career highlight was working on their Tsunami Project – which earned him a responsible tourism award.

Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: China vacation and Yangtze river cruise

Accommodation and Meals:
On this trip we spend 12 nights in hotels, 3 nights on a cruise boat and 3 nights on a first class sleeper train. All of the hotels and the cruise company we use are locally owned and locally staffed, which is way of boosting employment levels in the areas we visit. We also try to select accommodation for environmental awareness, which is still in its infancy in China. For example, the hotel in Beijing encourages clients switch off lights with signs, has optional daily linen changing and air-con is only turned on when temperatures hit 26 degrees outside. Where meals are not supplied, tour leaders will take clients to locally owned restaurants where food is authentic and either locally grown or sourced.

Community:
Often people can experience quite a culture shock when traveling in China, so our local guides are always keen to help clients understand the culture better and to connect more genuinely with local communities. Part of this cultural exchange and support of community is made by visiting small businesses throughout the trip. There are several occasions where guests are encouraged to do this- for example, in the Muslim Quarter in Xi’an, there are bazaars and food markets where it is possible to support local producers and even see crafts and food made (dumplings, pancakes, fruit drinks etc.).

Local Craft and Culture:
There is so much on offer in terms of culture on this trip. Just to name a few activities, we see the Great Wall and Forbidden City in Beijing, the Great Mosque and Terracotta Warriors in Xi’an and the Leshan Buddha. We even offer optional activities where you can see the opera, an acrobat show or take a kung fu lesson! Crafts are available throughout the trip and there are some wonderful, traditionally made souvenirs available- especially in Yangshuo. Leaders will be able to advise where the best places to shop are and what should be avoided e.g. traditional medicine made from endangered animals.

UK Office:
It all starts at home so we have first worked at reducing our carbon footprint in our UK Offices. Through energy conservation measures and recycling policies, we are proud to be actively reducing the waste produced and our impact on the environment. We support various projects all over the world to try and give something back to the places we visit.

Group Size:
This small group tour has a maximum of 16 participants, meaning that we have a low impact on the environments and communities we visit and are able to ensure that we do not disrupt or lead to the displacement of local people. The small number also allows us to stay in unique, family-run hotels that cannot benefit from coach tours and other mass tourism due to their limited sizes.

2 Reviews of China vacation and Yangtze river cruise

4 out of 5 stars
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Reviewed on 28 Oct 2016 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


Walk on the Great Wall in near perfect weather and early in the morning before it was too crowded or too warm.
Terracotta Warriors exceeded expectations despite seeing hundreds of photographs and reading articles. Its still mind blowing in scale and detail.
Seeing six baby pandas being fed, burped and put outside to play in Chengdu. Again early morning before the park was too crowded.
Water show in Yangshou - world class and unique setting.


2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


Take Yuan with you. Almost impossible to use credit cards except in Western style shops (which I avoided like the plague).
Optional trips are really good.
Be prepared to push and shove. Culturally it's what they do. Nothing will prepare you for the number of people at the tourist attractions and in the cities. If
you can't cope with crowds and noise don't go.
Food is great

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


In as much as possible. There was good use of local hotels, transport, guides and restaurants. Trains were used whenever possible.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


It was excellent. We were particularly impressed with the local guide- his organisation local knowledge etc was tremendous and really made the vacation. We were recommended to use you to select a vacation and I have already fed back that this really worked for us.

Reviewed on 14 May 2015 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


The walk along part of the Great Wall of China

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


Make sure you are fit enough to carry your own bags as some railways don't have lifts or escalator . Wheels on your luggage is a must!

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Yes we helped and bought from local traders

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


9 out of ten

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