Yangtze River - Three Gorges Cruise, China

Imperial China & Yangtze River Cruise Trip Notes

Ways to Travel:
Guided Group, Tailor Made Adventures
Destinations:
China
Programmes:
Culture
Trip Code:
ACE
Activity Level: Leisurely
Leisurely

You are healthy, enjoy the outdoors and want a relaxing trip. No experience is required.

20 Days Flight Inclusive
19 Days Land only
Min age: 16

Trip Overview

The Great Wall, the Forbidden City, Terracotta Warriors and Giant Pandas - China's iconic sights need little introduction and we visit them all on this comprehensive and varied journey. Equally inspiring are China's great scenic attractions including the breathtaking Three Gorges on the Yangtze River and the serene limestone mountains around Yangshuo. China remains one of the world's 'must-see' destinations; from ultra-modern Shanghai to the wizened faces of ancient Chinese villagers, this trip reveals a country as fascinating and beguiling as ever.

At a Glance

  • Travel by train/overnight train, private minibus, public bus, cruise boat and 1 internal flight
  • Group normally 5 to 18, plus leader. Min age 16 yrs
  • 14 nights comfortable hotels, 3 nights comfortable 4-star cruise boat with outward facing twin berth air-conditioned cabins, all en suite, and 1 night 1st class sleeper train, soft-bed berths
  • Fast paced itinerary
  • Countries visited: China

Trip Highlights

  • See the Terracotta Warriors in Xi'an
  • Visit a quieter section of The Great Wall
  • Cruise down the Yangtze River past the Three Gorges Dam
  • Visit the Giant Panda Breeding Research Centre near Chengdu
  • Discover rural Yangshuo and its limestone karst scenery

Is This Trip for You?

This holiday is designed so that you can see the best parts of China in a relatively short period of time. There is a lot to see and do, and the distances covered are large, but everything is scheduled so that it doesn't feel too rushed. You should come armed for an experience: China can be hard work and the summer heat and the bustle of some of the cities can be a little overwhelming. That said, there are places where you can find peace and quiet, and we try to incorporate these into the itinerary at regular intervals. Although the temperatures in the summer can frequently top 30 degrees celsius there are many places that offer air conditioning (hotels, transportation and restaurants/shops) so you will find many places to cool down.

You should be aware that there are several occasions where you will need to carry your own luggage on this trip, mainly when journeying to and from the train stations and along the long platforms; sometimes there will only be stairs for access. Trolleys and porters are often available but these should not be depended upon as some stations do not offer these facilities. Many passengers find it useful to bring luggage with wheels.

Following a review of all our trips we have categorised this trip as generally not suitable for persons of reduced mobility. However if you are a regular traveller on such trips, please contact customer services to discuss the trip and your personal condition.

Adult min age:
16
Min group size:
5
Max group size:
18

Itinerary

ACE Trip Map

Land Only

Start City:
Beijing
End City:
Shanghai

Land Only Itinerary

  • Day 1

    Arrive Beijing

    After a transfer to our hotel in the centre of Beijing, a welcome briefing will be held in the evening, to give us an opportunity to meet our leader and the rest of our group. During dinner we will have the chance to try some authentic Chinese cuisine, which is quite different to the British take on Chinese food! During most meals a variety of dishes will be served for the group to share (frequently utilising the ingenious 'Lazy Susan' rotating table-piece) and our leader will help us select dishes depending on the groups' tastes.

    Dong Fang Hotel or similar

  • Day 2

    Sightseeing in Beijing

    The sightseeing in Beijing today will include the Forbidden City with its innumerable courtyards and temples as well as Tiananmen square, the largest square in the world and able to hold over a million people. We will take a walking tour of the cities hutongs (narrow alleys) to see what is left of old Beijing and its traditions. This afternoon is free to explore.

    Dong Fang Hotel or similar

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
  • Day 3

    Visit the Great Wall

    We leave the capital and head into the countryside to the Great Wall, an approx 2 hour journey to the north of the city. We go to one of the best-preserved parts of the Great Wall at Mutianyu which is an impressive sight, snaking across mountains and valleys into the distance. This section of the Great Wall used to serve as the northern barrier defending the capital and the imperial tombs. The wall here is up to 8.5 metres high and 5 metres wide, and has 22 watchtowers on its 2,250-metre-long stretch. We will spend a few hours exploring the wall - please note that there are some steep steps to navigate and clients who suffer from vertigo may find it difficult, (there is an optional cable car). Lunch will be taken at a local restaurant on the way back to Beijing; we should expect some traditional northern Chinese cuisine involving vegetables (aubergine, lotus roots, mushrooms etc.), tofu, chicken and pork - and much more! 

    There is the option of seeing an acrobatic or Kung Fu show or a trip to the opera this evening in Beijing.

    Dong Fang Hotel or similar

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Lunch
  • Day 4

    Beijing; overnight train to Xi'an

    This morning we visit the Temple of Heaven followed by the Summer Palace where you can witness first hand how vast the exclusive playground of China's emperors and their concubines once was.

    In the evening we board an overnight train (approx. 12 hours) to the ancient city of Xi'an. It is recommended to purchase food before the train as there is a limited selection on board. The train itself is of a good standard, although please note that facilities such as washrooms and toilets are shared with other passengers and the cleanliness can never be guaranteed. Sleepers are four berth (bunks) and bedding is provided.

    Overnight train

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
  • Day 5

    Morning walking tour of the Muslim quarter and mosque; free afternoon or optional cycle ride

    Xi'an is one of China's former capitals and one of the few cities in China to have retained its city walls, probably because they are so massive that no revolutionary was willing to tackle the huge task of removing them. Today, after an opportunity to try some local Chinese breakfast, we will embark on a walking tour, passing the Bell and Drum Plaza to the Muslim quarter, where we visit the Great Mosque. The Muslim quarter is a fascinating place to visit, especially in the evening when it comes alive with bustling bazaars and food stalls. This afternoon is free; it is possible to appreciate the sheer scale of the city walls; you can hire bikes and cycle along them.

    Skytel Hotel / Bell Tower Hotel Xi'an, or similar 

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
  • Day 6

    Day trip to visit the Terracotta Warriors

    Today we visit the famous Terracotta Warriors of Emperor Qin. Originally four armies were planned, at each point of the compass, life-size and lifelike. Three have been found and it is assumed the Emperor's successors decided enough was enough before the fourth was begun. The first pit excavated had an estimated 6,000 figures in its one army. The third pit has been opened to the public, which contains the 'command post' for the entire operation. This is one of China's great tourist attractions, and some people may find the sheer numbers of visitors rather overpowering. After our visit we will take our lunch at a local farmer's restaurant nearby with the opportunity to taste some fresh seasonal produce, home-made noodles and bread. 

    The evening is free for further exploration in Xi'an. Perhaps your leader will take you to the Giant Wild Goose Pagoda Square to witness a water and light show (free of charge).

    Skytel Hotel / Bell Tower Hotel Xi'an, or similar 

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Lunch
  • Day 7

    Bullet train to Chengdu; afternoon sightseeing tour

    We transfer to the train station and catch a morning bullet train (duration approx. 4 hrs 15 mins) to Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province, arriving around lunch time / early afternoon. This area is recognised throughout China as being 'the spicy province', and it certainly lives up to its name! Major flavour combinations include garlic, star anise, chili peppers, and the ever-present Sichuanese peppercorn (hua jiao) which is used in many recipes. In the afternoon, your leader will take you on a walking tour (using public buses) through the lively parks and city centre square where you will get a taste of local life. Don't miss the options to join the locals in the atmospheric outdoor tea houses for a cuppa.

    Garden City Hotel or similar

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Lunch
  • Day 8

    Sightseeing trip to Leshan Giant Buddha; return to Chengdu

    Today, we will visit one of the iconic UNESCO sites near Chengdu - the Leshan Giant Buddha. About 2-3 hours drive from Chengdu, this 71m tall Buddha carved out of the cliff face of the mountain is the biggest sitting Buddha in the world and took almost 100 years of hard work to finish about 1300 years ago. You will have 2 options of visiting the Buddha, either by boat on the river or by walking around it in the mountain. Be prepared for the crowds and long queues who come to worship this Giant Buddha if you walk. Your group leader can advise you on the best way to visit depending on the season. We return to Chengdu in the late afternoon.

    In the evening there is the opportunity to taste some of the legendary Sichuanese cuisine in the form of a Chengdu hotpot dinner. The typical flavours of this iconic dish are created with Sichuan pepper (hua jiao) and involve a certain amount of interaction as the food is cooked in a large hot pot by the diners themselves! For those not a fan of spice there are options to omit the peppers from the hot broth in which the food items are cooked.

    Garden City Hotel or similar

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Dinner
  • Day 9

    Visit the Giant Panda Breeding Research Centre; to Chongqing, board cruise boat

    With an early start today we will visit the Giant Panda Breeding Research Base. Hopefully these intriguing and rare animals will be feeding, as this is when they're most active; otherwise, we will have the opportunity to watch the Pandas indulge in their most common form of entertainment, sleeping!

    We then travel by train to Chongqing City (approx 3 hours), the embarkation point for our Yangtze River Cruise (after a 30-minute transfer to the dock). On arrival, we will board our 4-star cruise boat and settle into our cabins. We will stay in air-conditioned twin-berth cabins with en suite bathrooms.

    Cruise boat (4-star international rating/ 5-star local rating)

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
  • Days 10-11

    Two full days cruising the Yangtze River including the Three Gorges and the dam

    These two days are spent cruising on one of the world's great rivers as we head downstream through stunning scenery of towering cliffs and gorges. En route we pass many towns and villages that have sprung up along the banks of the river that supplies the lifeblood to the heart of China. To try to limit the impact of flooding, the Chinese government has undertaken a huge construction project with a massive dam being built. This has flooded the famous Three Gorges of Qutang, Wu and Xiling. A journey amidst these natural wonders is a must-see for any visitor to China. The nights are spent on the boat and there is time for shore excursions on the way as the boat docks at some of smaller towns and villages, and the lesser gorges by smaller boats, depending upon water levels.

    The day-to-day schedule for the cruise and timings can change due to adverse weather conditions, river conditions and permission of navigation authorities. The details of onboard and shore activities will be explained in the briefing and the river guide will be able to give you more information after boarding. The cruise will cover what is commonly considered as the essence of the Three Gorges, but some parts of the gorge will be passed through the night. If water levels are ok we will cruise through a series of locks through the dam itself, but this can not be guaranteed as it depends on the weather and river traffic. 

    Cruise boat (4-star international rating/ 5-star local rating)

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Lunch,
    Dinner
  • Day 12

    Disembark the cruise; high speed train to Wuhan

    Our cruise comes to an end this morning. We will be catching a bullet train after the cruise, so depending on train schedules we may not have time to completely finish the Third Gorge. After disembarking, we will take a look at the Three Gorges Dam and learn about the massive engineering project that took place here. We then drive to Yichang, have lunch and catch an afternoon bullet train (duration 2.5-3hrs) to Wuhan, the province's capital, where we spend the night.  

    Wuhan Huatian Hotel or similar

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Lunch
  • Day 13

    Bullet train to Guilin; drive to Yangshuo

    For those who wish to explore Wuhan, there's time for a quick orientation tour this morning before taking a short transfer back to the train station in time to catch a mid/late-morning high speed train to Guilin (duration approx. 5hrs). We travel the remainder of the way to Yangshuo by road, passing through stunning limestone scenery, to arrive in the evening. The surrounding countryside has changed little in centuries and is famous for its steep-sided karst mountains, which protrude upwards out of an otherwise flat landscape of paddy fields. Despite its small size, Yangshuo has quite a good tourist infrastructure due to its large transient population of backpackers and domestic tourists. 

    Starway Hotel Xinfuan or similar

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
  • Day 14

    Explore the local countryside by bike; meal with a local family

    This morning gives us the opportunity to appreciate the spectacular landscape on two wheels; as we take a bike and ride towards Moon Hill, one of the most famous in the area. The biking is at a leisurely pace, and there are plenty of stops to hydrate and appreciate the glorious scenery! Lunch is spent with a local family, giving us the opportunity to sample some new dishes and create friendships over food. Expect delicious dishes such as clay-pot taro, stir fried chicken and veggies, and traditional fried eggs. Please note that for anyone unable to or not wanting to cycle, your leader can arrange a taxi or minivan to take you on a scenic drive through the countryside to meet the group at the lunch stop (at your own expense). 

    The afternoon is free to relax or enjoy one of the many optional activities Yangshuo has to offer.

    Starway Hotel Xinfuan or similar

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Lunch
  • Day 15

    Yangshuo cookery class; free time to enjoy this laid back town and beautiful limestone scenery

    A leisurely day today: discover how to make some of China's most iconic dishes as we take a cooking class lead by a local host, before enjoying our home-made dishes for lunch. There will be some free time today as well, with optional excursions available for those who wish; enjoy a Chinese massage, or watch the Liu Sanjie Show (an outdoor performance set on a natural stage formed by the Li River and 12 peaks). If you prefer to just relax then this is the ideal setting - perhaps take a stroll around the market or just watch the world go by.

    Starway Hotel Xinfuan or similar

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Lunch
  • Day 16

    To Guilin for flight to Shanghai; evening tour along the Bund

    In the morning we transfer to the airport at Guilin to fly to Shanghai; a city with a real international feel to it which will seem a world away from the countryside you have come from. In the evening we take a walking tour of the famous Bund area, to see the iconic buildings along the riverside lit up in all their glory. There will be the opportunity to visit the Jin Mao Tower (optional), which is the 18th tallest building in the world and boasts a spectacular view of Shanghai from the observation deck.

    Kingtown Hotel Plaza or similar

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
  • Day 17

    Visit Xitang water town

    An early start (around 7am) to avoid the crowds at the ancient water town of Xitang; famous for its cobbled streets and bridges arching over the many canals. There are several well-preserved buildings from the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) Dynasties, and the town is a delightful place to explore on foot. We will take lunch here before the journey back to Shanghai (around 2 hours) where the evening will be free.

    Kingtown Hotel Plaza or similar

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Lunch
  • Day 18

    Full day in Shanghai

    With a population of around twelve million Shanghai is yours to explore today. This morning we enjoy a visit to firstly the Shanghai museum, followed by the Yu Yuan garden; the rest of the day is free to explore. Though it no longer warrants the title 'Paris of the East', many of the vestiges of its colonial past are still apparent. It is worth strolling along Nanjing Road (Shanghai's 'Oxford Street') or visiting the Shanghai tower, (currently the tallest building in China and second tallest in the world, standing at 632m high) or Shanghai's smaller television tower to see some of the city's stunning architecture.

    Optional activities this evening include the Shanghai Acrobatic show, which comes highly recommended!

    Kingtown Hotel Plaza or similar

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
  • Day 19

    End Shanghai

    For those on the group flight to London the flight is in the morning, with a same day arrival into London in the evening.

    Meals included:
    Breakfast

Accommodation

Hotels, Boat & Train

Twin cabin, China Goddess 2 Yangtze cruise boat, China

On this trip, you will spend 14 nights in comfortable hotels, 3 nights on a 4-star cruise boat with 2 berth air-conditioned cabins, all en suite, and 1 night on a 1st class sleeper train.

Nearly all the hotels are locally rated as at least 3-star and wherever possible located as near to local attractions as possible. The overnight train is in the 'soft sleeper' cabins, which are 4-berth (bunk beds) private cabins. The train itself is of a good standard, although please note that facilities such as washrooms and toilets are shared with other passengers and the cleanliness can never be guaranteed - there is one Western-style toilet and one Asian style squat toilet per carriage, plus a washroom for brushing your teeth, and a water heater for making tea/coffee or pot noodles. Bedding is provided but we recommend you consider taking a thin sleep sheet. Whilst we make every attempt to place passengers together in cabins, sometimes this is impossible, however, we will never place a solo traveller in a cabin by themselves (they will always be either with another passenger on the trip or with the leader). If you are travelling in a pair, it may be possible to upgrade to 'deluxe soft sleeper' 2-berth private cabins on the overnight train, please request this with Exodus in advance. This is subject to availability and only possible for clients travelling in pairs due to new regulations.

For the Yangtze River cruise, we work with a couple of different cruise boats, each offering comfortable 4-star (5-star local rating) accommodation and service and following the same programme. The well-appointed rooms are equipped with air-conditioning and all have en suite bathrooms. There is ample deck space to relax on as you watch the magnificent scenery drift by as well as a fitness centre, spa, bar, lounge, and restaurant. The ships carry between 200 and 400 passengers. 

If you prefer to have your own room, it is possible to book single supplement subject to availability - please request this at the time of booking. The single supplement does not apply to the overnight trains.  

Where a single supplement is available, paying for a single only guarantees a room for single use. It does not always mean a twin or double room will be provided for sole occupancy.

Single supplement from CHF 832.00

Food & Transport

Eating & Drinking

18 breakfasts, 9 lunches and 3 dinners included

One of the major draws of China is its exciting and varied cuisine. On this trip you will be able to try many different dishes that will be carefully selected with your leaders help and based on the group's dietary requirements and preferences. Meals generally consist of shared dishes, which is the best way to experience as many different ingredients as possible and try things you might not usually choose. Examples of popular dishes include Ma Po Tofu, a delicious tofu dish made with beef, chillies and onion, Gong Bao chicken, a very popular dish with chilli and peanuts, the iconic Peking Duck, served with hoisin sauce and pancakes, and dumplings in many shapes and sizes. A very popular dish in Sichuan Province is Hot Pot (Huoguo) which can be served as spicy as you wish and consists of a simmering metal pot of stock in the middle of a table which is served with ingredients ranging from quails eggs, local vegetables and many different types of meat. There are many different dishes to try and the leader will always try and accommodate tastes, but if you tire of Chinese food there are always opportunities to eat Western-style dishes. For vegetarians or those with dietary requirements, many of the traditional dishes can be amended to omit the meat products.

Transportation

Road travel will be by private minibus and taxis, public buses and metro in some cities. The short drive (approx. 30 minutes) at the Three Gorges Dam is operated by the Three Gorges Dam Company (they are the only supplier permitted to operate this route) and as such Exodus cannot guarantee that all seats will have operational seatbelts. On the sleeper trains we use First Class 'soft-seat' or 'soft-sleeper', which although not quite up to Western First Class standards are comfortable and clean. Usually these are 4-berth (bunk beds, and mixed genders). On the bullet trains (Xi'an - Chengdu, Chengdu - Chongqing, Yichang - Wuhan and Wuhan - Guilin) we use Second Class seats. All flights will be in economy class. Most of the driving days are not long, usually no more than four hours. The boat used is tourist class as detailed in the accommodation section.

Weather & Seasonality

Weather Information

Beijing and Xi'an: The north of China has warm (25ºC+), quite humid summers, and cold dry winters. If you travel between June and August, it will be hot more or less everywhere, except in the mountains. Some rain must be expected, possibly heavy. If you travel in September/October, you will probably get less rain and the temperatures will be fairly warm (around 20ºC) everywhere. November is starting to get cooler (3-13ºC) and can therefore sometimes feel chilly. The Great Wall region will be colder than the cities due to the mountainous terrain.

Yangtze River Gorge: The central region of China has very warm humid summers and cold winters. Rainfall should be expected during the summer months. In July/August temperatures along the Yangtze River can reach 40ºC and in Spring/Autumn will be 22-26ºC. November is the shoulder season and is more prone to overcast days and you can expect it to be quite cool (Yichang, 9-17ºC / Chongqing 3-13ºC).

Yangshuo/Shanghai: The south of China is sub-tropical with hot (30ºC), wet summers (May to September), and warm, relatively dry (November to March) winters, though rain is possible at almost any time of year.

The winter months in China are cold (+3ºC), so if travelling in November/March be prepared for temperatures to drop to below freezing at night in the North, but with almost guaranteed dry sightseeing. The weather is milder in the south.

Weather Charts

Beijing Weather

Beijing Weather

Joining Instructions

Travelling flight inclusive from London: 20 days

The group flight from London is an overnight flight departing the day before Day 1 of the itinerary.

Flights from London

We normally use the scheduled services of Air China or British Airways (depending on availability). As flight timings and schedules change regularly we recommend you call one of our specialist sales staff or your agent to confirm up‐to‐date timings. Please note timings may change at a later date and cannot be confirmed until approximately two weeks before departure.

Travelling land only: 19 days starting in Beijing and ending in Shanghai

Your trip normally starts at our accommodation in Beijing in the evening of Day 1 of the itinerary. Details of how to reach the start point are provided in the Final Joining Instructions ‐ sent approximately two weeks before departure.

Free Transfers

Exodus offers FREE airport arrival transfers for any flight arriving into Beijing Capital International Airport (PEK) and departure transfers for any flight departing from Shanghai for this trip, for both Land Only and Flight Inclusive clients. Please note that free transfers are not offered from/to the new Beijing Daxing International Airport (PKX). Unless specified otherwise, the transfer will be to the Exodus start (or pre-tour) hotel and from the end (or post-tour) hotel, and will be on the date on which the tour starts/ends; transfers to other hotels in the same city and/or on different dates may attract an extra charge. Transfers may be shared with other Exodus customers on the same flight, or on a flight with similar arrival times. All those taking advantage of the free airport transfers must provide full flight details for both arrival and departure in advance.

In the unlikely event of any of your luggage being misplaced or damaged, a Property Irregularity Report (PIR) must be filed with the appropriate airline if you subsequently wish to make a claim against the airline or on your travel insurance. This must be done at the airport where your baggage arrived, or should have arrived.

Regional Flights

The Flight Inclusive price is based on a London departure, but we are happy to tailor this to your local or regional airport. Please ask about flights from local or regional airports.

If booking regional flights other than with Exodus, you must allow a minimum connecting time (in addition to the international check-in time) of 1 hour at Gatwick, and 1.5 hours at Heathrow; this is longer than the official minimum, but baggage handling is known to be subject to delays.

Free Transfers

Exodus offers FREE airport arrival and departure transfers on any flight for this trip, for both Land Only and Flight Inclusive clients. Unless specified otherwise, the transfer will be to the Exodus start (or pre-tour) hotel and from the end (or post-tour) hotel, and will be on the date on which the tour starts/ends; transfers to other hotels in the same city and/or on different dates may attract an extra charge. Transfers may be shared with other Exodus customers on the same flight, or on a flight with similar arrival times. All those taking advantage of the free airport transfers must provide full flight details for both arrival and departure in advance. 

Full joining instructions including local emergency numbers will be sent to you as part of our Final Joining Instructions. If you do not receive these at least a week before departure, or require them earlier please contact our office or your travel agent.

Location start:
Beijing
Location end:
Shanghai

What to Take

Essential Equipment

In addition to your 'normal' daily clothes: Light casual cotton clothing is recommended. Please remember that you will be expected to cover your legs and arms (to the elbow) during visits to some temples and palaces. Sandals are useful as they are cooler and are easier to take off when visiting temples. A light pair of long underwear, a fleece, hat, gloves and a wind-proof or down jacket if visiting from November to March/April is advised. Lightweight walking boots or strong trainers that give proper ankle support are recommended for the walk on the Wall. Cycling helmets are unlikely to be available for hire and if they are, the quality cannot be guaranteed, we therefore strongly suggest you bring your own helmet with you for this trip if you want to cycle during the free days.

At time of writing the standard weight limit for hold baggage on the recommended international carrier for this trip is 20kg. We recommend packing only one piece of checked baggage.

Water Included

Plastic bottles are a big issue in many countries where recycling isn’t yet widely available; they often end up in landfill sites or get burnt, both processes are harmful to the environment and we would like to reduce our impact here. For your trip we provide an alternative to single-use plastic bottles in order to reduce the amount of plastic used. This means that safe drinking water will be available throughout so all you need to do is bring a bottle to re-fill along the way. Please add this to your packing list!

Optional Equipment

Lightweight waterproof jacket or an umbrella. The overnight trains are generally very clean, but as standards vary, you may feel more comfortable bringing a sleeping bag liner or similar to sleep in. You may also wish to take earplugs just in case there are louder sleepers in the berth! Most people want to carry certain items with them during the day while cycling, for this we recommend a large bum-bag or small close-fitting daysack. Shoes with relatively stiff soles are better for biking, and eye-protection (sunglasses) and a waterbottle or hydration system (e.g. camelbak) are also useful.

Karsts in Yangshuo, China

Practical Information

Passport

China

All nationalities require a full passport that must be valid for 6 months beyond the intended length of stay. It is your responsibility to have the correct personal documents and to obtain your own visa, if one is necessary, in accordance with the regulations of the country you are to visit. The information below is primarily for UK passport holders, and other nationalities should check with their travel agent or the relevant embassies. We are not responsible for the actions of local immigration and customs officials, whether at points of entry or otherwise, and any subsequent effects.

Visa

China

Nearly all nationalities require a visa to enter China, which must be obtained prior to departure. The Chinese authorities now require a letter from Exodus, confirming all your accommodation details. Along with this, you need to supply a copy of your flight details, which are on your invoice if you have booked directly through Exodus. For further information see here. It is also essential that we have a clear copy of the details page of your passport. This is required to book certain ground services in China and we cannot confirm your details with our local partners until it has been received. This must be emailed as an electronic scan to [email protected] a minimum of 8 weeks prior to your trip.

IMPORTANT: Please note that all visa applicants aged between 14 and 70 will need to visit one of the Chinese Visa Application Service Centres in person (appointment required) where biometric data will be taken as part of the visa application process.

Visa regulations can change without notice: please check the current regulations in good time to obtain a visa if one is required.

For assistance with obtaining visas please call Travcour on 020 8543 1846 or visit their website: http://www.travcour.com/page/tour-packs/exodus.php

Vaccination

China

There are no mandatory vaccination requirements. Recommended vaccinations are: Polio, Tetanus, Diphtheria, Typhoid, Hepatitis A. The risk of malaria is slight but you may wish to consult your GP or travel health clinic for further advice.

If your trip visits Hong Kong, dengue fever is a known risk - this is a tropical viral disease spread by daytime biting mosquitoes. There is currently no vaccine or prophylaxis available, and therefore the best form of prevention is to avoid being bitten: apply insect repellent and wear long-sleeved shirts and trousers.

Travel health can often be something people forget about before going away, but a little preparation and knowledge can go a long way to help you stay fit and healthy while abroad.

The above information can change at short notice; as we are not qualified to answer all your questions about travel health we strongly recommend you contact your Medical Professional or a Travel Health Clinic at least 8 weeks prior to departure for up-to-date information. Please note: vaccinations that are routinely recommended to residents of the UK, North America or Australasia are not considered to form part of the travel health advice, and you should ensure these are kept up to date where necessary.

For additional information please visit: https://travelhealthpro.org.uk/countries

Insurance - are you adequately covered?

It is a condition of joining any of our holidays that you must be fully insured against medical and personal accident risks (to include repatriation costs and air ambulance or helicopter rescue services where appropriate). On arrival in destination for your trip, you will be asked to present details to your leader or local representative of your policy.

If you are resident in the UK we strongly recommend the Exodus travel insurance policy, this is specifically designed to cover all activities on your trip. If arranging your own policy please ensure that you are covered for all activities that are part of the trip, optional activities that you intend to take part in and/or on high altitude itineraries, that you are covered up to the maximum altitude of the trip.

Local Time

China's Timezone:
Asia/Shanghai CST (GMT +08:00)

Electricity

China's Electricity:

China uses non‐grounded twin flat plugs, similar to the nongrounded US version. The voltage provided at sockets is 220V ‐ 240V in China. In China, they also sometimes use Australian style 3‐pronged sockets. Sockets are widely available in the hotels that we use for charging camera equipment.

WiFi, Apps and Websites in China

In China, certain websites and phone apps are blocked, including Google (and therefore Gmail accounts), Facebook and Whatsapp. You may get coverage of these from time to time but for the most part, they will not work during your stay. Alternative web search engines such as Bing are, however, available. The locals commonly use an all-in-one app called 'WeChat' for messaging, voice and video-calls, photo-sharing and language support. If staying connected while you are away is important to you then you may want to download WeChat before you go (and ask those who you want to stay in touch with to do the same).

Money

China's Currency

The national currency of China is the Chinese Yuan (Renminbi) (CNY), with an exchange rate at the time of publication of approximately 8.9 to the UK£ and 6.8 to the US$.

Money exchange facilities are readily available in all of the big cities but may be limited in smaller towns. You will need to have your passport handy in order to exchange money at a bank. We generally advise against taking travellers cheques as very few banks can cash them. Please note that if you wish to change RMB back into hard currency when you leave China, you may have to produce your exchange certificates to do this.

ATM Availability

China is well serviced by ATMs which are available in all of the major towns and cities. Most but not all ATMs will take British/ European style cards, but your leader will be able to advise you. Credit cards are accepted in hotels and large establishments such as shopping malls but are not recommended for day to day spending. Many restaurants throughout China use WeChat Pay, an electronic payment made through the application on your mobile phone/device.

Extra Expenses & Spending Money

Allow about £400-500/$525-660 for the optional activities mentioned and meals not included, more if you include options given to you locally by your leader not mentioned here. Please note this does not include tips, please see the box below for more details.

Optional Excursions

There are a number of optional activities, which if you wish, your leader can arrange for you. They are subject to schedules and availability; your leader will let you know what is available and the local costs. Preferably payment should be given in CNY. Below is an indication of the optional activities and their approximate costs but these may vary throughout the season or depending on the number of participants and are given in good faith as a guideline only.

Beijing
Opera: CNY265 (approx. £30/US$39)
Kungfu Show: CNY265 (approx. £30/US$39)
Cable car at Great Wall: CNY91 (approx. £10/US$14) one way; CNY116 return (approx. £13/US$17)

Xi'an
Bell and Drum Tower entry CNY50 (£6/US$8)
Bike rental on the city walls in Xian (90min) CNY45 (£5/US$7)

Tang Dynasty Show and dumpling banquet CNY275 (£30/US$40)

Yangtze Cruise

Evening show 'War of the Three Kingdoms' CNY290 (£32/US$42)
White Emperor City CNY290 (£32/US$42)

Upgrade to VIP restaurant on cruise CNY398 (£45/US$58) (depending which boat is used on your departure)

Yangshuo

Liu Sanjie show CNY275 (£30/US$40)
Li River Cruise is CNY190 (£21/US$28)
Bike rental CNY25 (£3/US$4) per day, bike guide CNY250 (£28/US$36) per group
Taiji/calligraphy/Chinese painting lesson CNY100 (£11/US$15)

Shanghai
Acrobatic performance CNY275 (£30/US$40)
River cruise CNY150 (£17/US$22)

Chengdu
Sichuan Opera CNY166 (£18/US$24)

It is not compulsory to join any of these optional activities and your leader can recommend many more options. It is also possible to arrange many of these activities independently if you prefer. The prices quoted above generally do not include transportation to get to these activities, which will cost extra, and there are more expensive tickets available for better seats at various performances.

Tipping

This is entirely at your own discretion however; we suggest that you allow a few pounds for tips for the local guides and staff. In China, with the increase in tourism, tipping has become customary. The local staff will probably expect some gratuity and we suggest you allow for this. The leader will suggest to the group that they donate a sum of approx. CNY280 (£30/$40) per person towards a kitty on arrival (which includes the time on the Yangtze river cruise). This money is then used for tipping of local guides, hotel porters, drivers etc. It is basically to ensure that the hassle is taken out of various tipping activities for you. If you do not wish to contribute to a central pool for tips you are of course free to do so.

You will also be expected to tip the crew on the Yangtze boat, which is not covered in the tips kitty, please allow about CNY180-200 (£20/$26).

If you feel that your tour leader has performed well over the course of your trip, you may want to show your appreciation of their services. The sum you choose to give is entirely personal, but as a guide, CNY30-35 (£3-4/US$4-5) per person per day would be a reasonable starting point. The 'tipping kitty' explained above is entirely separate from any contribution to the tour leader. Our local staff are paid fairly for their work with Exodus.

Giant pandas, Chengdu, China

Responsible Tourism

 

Tourism can be a real help to local communities, providing income, positive cultural exchanges and a financial incentive to protect their natural environment. Ours is a 'total approach' to responsible tourism, covering everything from the way we plan and operate our trips to the practices of Exodus as a company. 

On this trip, all of the accommodation used – including the cruise company, are locally owned and staffed, which is a way of boosting employment levels in the areas we visit. Where meals are not supplied, tour leaders will recommend and encourage clients to visit locally owned restaurants and cafés where food is authentic and either locally grown or sourced. In addition, clients will have the opportunity to spend lunch with a local family to sample some homemade dishes and foster friendship over food.

There is so much to offer in terms of culture on this trip and our local guides are always keen to help clients understand the culture better and to connect more genuinely with local communities. In Yangshuo, there are a variety of crafts and traditionally made souvenirs available as well as several optional activities that clients can engage in. 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.

In March 2019, Exodus Travels launched the Exodus Travels Foundation where we support initiatives all around the world. But it cannot exist without travellers who care. Get involved or learn more about what Responsible Travel means to Exodus here

Exodus Community

Join the Exodus online community

Don't forget to visit the Community area on our website. You can view the range of Exodus videos and podcasts, read trip write-ups which have featured in the national media and take advantage of some special deals on travel gear and equipment.

In the Community Travel Forum you'll find the Departure Lounge where you can discuss your trip with fellow travellers before you depart. When you get back from your holiday remember to upload your images to the relevant trip page on our website. This helps other people see what our holidays are really like and you'll be entered automatically into our monthly photo competition.

To make full use of the Community you'll need to join My Exodus. It's free, registration is simple and easy, so what are you waiting for?

Important Information

On all guided trips

Although our leaders are well trained to deal with different capabilities, if they have any concerns about someone’s ability to safely partake in an activity, or their impact on other people’s enjoyment, we authorise them to take necessary action which, in some circumstances, may involve asking someone to miss that activity.

Although rarely enforced, by booking this trip you agree to section 14 of our Booking Conditions which clearly states that our leaders have the authority to do this. In these circumstances we will ensure anyone sitting out is safely provided for and offered alternative options where possible. Refunds will not be provided for activities missed and customers may be liable for additional costs incurred.

On all trips

In booking this trip you should be confident in your ability to participate in all activities described in these Trip Notes. If you have any doubt about your suitability you should call the Exodus office and ask to speak to one of the experts on this itinerary.

In an emergency, please contact our 24 hour out of hours service on +44 (0) 844 326 7041.

Every time that you travel abroad you should take the time to read the warnings in the essential information in the brochure.

Full joining instructions including local emergency numbers, and details of how to reach the start point, will be sent to you approximately 2 to 3 weeks prior to departure. If you do not receive these at least a week before departure, or require them earlier please contact our office or your travel agent.

The information in these Trip Notes is given in good faith. Where differences exist between the Trip Notes and our current brochure or website, the Trip Notes supersede the brochure and website. All holidays can be subject to unexpected changes; in order to enjoy them you should be prepared to be flexible where necessary. Occasionally, as stated in our brochure, it may not be possible to follow the itinerary as planned. This may be for a variety of reasons - climatic, political, physical or other. In these circumstances we will make the best possible alternative arrangements that maintain the integrity of the original itinerary.

As fuel prices, airport taxes and exchange rates fluctuate, and airlines manage their rates to match demand, it is proving harder than ever to guarantee our Flight Inclusive prices. Although we endeavour to keep our website as accurate as possible, daily fluctuations mean that our Flight Inclusive price may be out of date. For accurate prices we recommend that you contact one of our Travel Experts, or your Travel Agent.

TRAVEL AWARE –STAY SAFE & HEALTHY ABROAD

 

The Foreign & Commonwealth Office and the NHS have up-to-date advice on staying safe and healthy abroad. For more on security, local laws, plus passport and visa information, see https://travelaware.campaign.gov.uk/

Keep informed of current travel health news by visiting https://travelhealthpro.org.uk/

Advice can change so check regularly for updates.

For all latest travel information about your holiday, please visit our Travel Safety Advice page.

How to Book

1. Check availability

Go online to check availability, or contact us by phone or email.

2. Secure your place

You can provisionally hold a place on this trip, usually for between three and seven days.

3. Complete your booking and payment

When you're ready to book, go to www.exodus.co.uk for online booking, book over the phone or you can complete a booking form (available online or on request by calling us). We accept all major credit and debit cards, or you can pay be cheque. Book with confidence: Exodus is fully licensed and bonded as a tour operator. We hold Air Traffic Organisers Licence (ATOL) number 2582 issued and bonded with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). We are also bonded to the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and we are members of the Federation of Tour Operators (FTO) and ABTA ‐ The Travel Association. This means you can book your Exodus holiday with confidence, as all monies paid to us for your trip are fully protected.

TRIP NOTE VALIDITY

These Trip Notes are valid from the "Current as" date on page one. They will occasionally be updated post booking and pre-departure; if there are any updates that significantly impact the inclusions or itinerary bookers will be written to separately. All customers will also receive a link to the most up-to-date version of the Trip Notes with their Final Joining Instructions pre-travel.