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China 'on a Shoestring'

A chance to use your old b&w film for the pandas! - Trip for singles

Book From   € 1,499,-
GROUP SIZE: 6-24 | 20 DAYS

China 'on a Shoestring'

Here you can find the day-to-day description for China 'on a Shoestring'

Any extensions for this tour can be found at the bottom of this page.


There's plenty to do in this beautiful region. Select below or on the map opposite, the highlight you want to read more information about. Read through carefully and then go directly to the tour description.
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Beijing, a city with an unbelievable amount of monuments like the Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden city, the Temple of Heaven und the many beautiful city parks. Not far from Beijing, you'll find the Great Wall of China. | China



Chengdu is the capital of the province Sichuan. Eat some good food in the 'snack street', drink tea in a tea house an visit the Panda Research Centre where you can get close to the pandas.|China



Biking in Dali is good fun. Stop at the market Xizhou and have a look around!




A unique experience is a boat tour with a bamboo float on the Li-river! |China

Hong Kong

Hong Kong

The city of Hong Kong; big, hectic and diverse. There's always something to discover!

Mount Yuntaishan

Luoyang en Longmen grotten

Luoyang en Longmen grotten

13 km away from Luoyang the Buddhist caves of Longmen can be found. In the steep rock wall along the Yi-river lots of Buddhist statues are carved out of the rock! |China



Xi’an was the first imperial capital of China and the beginning of the Silk Trail. Go biking on the city walls an visit the mosque, the market and the pagoda of the Great Wild Goose. A sight you surely don't want to miss, is the splendid terracotta army. | China



The old Lijiang is a beautiful area of this city. No cars are allowed here. Don't forget to visit the Tiger Leaping Gorge.| China

Day to Day description

Transport Route Overnight stay
1 Beijing Beijing
2 Beijing Beijing
3 Beijing Beijing
4 Bus, Train Beijing - Zhengzhou - Mount Yuntaishan Mount Yuntaishan
5 Mount Yuntaishan Mount Yuntaishan
6 Bus Mount Yuntaishan - Shaolin Monastery - Longmen - Luoyang Luoyang
7 Train Luoyang - Xi’an Xi’an
8 Xi'an Xi'an
9 Train Xi'an - Chengdu Chengdu
10 Chengdu Chengdu
11 Plane Chengdu - Lijiang Lijiang
12 Lijiang Lijiang
13 Bus Lijiang - Dali Dali
14 Dali Dali
15 Bus, Train Dali - Stone Forest - Shilin - Guilin Night train Shilin - Guilin
16 Bus Guilin - Yangshuo Yangshuo
17 Yangshuo Yangshuo
18 Yangshuo Yangshuo
19 Bus, Train Yangshuo - Gongcheng - Guangzhou - Hong Kong Hong Kong
20 Hong Kong End of tour


Day 1: Beijing

Welcome to China!

Your journey begins in Beijing where you can use your hotel room from check in time (12.00 hrs at noon) on day 1. Your travel companions will also arrive this first day, the exact time will be depending on their flight schedule. You will meet your English speaking tour leader at 12.00 hrs noon on day 1 in the lobby of your hotel in Beijing.

You will have plenty of time to explore this incredible city. Beijing has stood as capital of one of the greatest realms in the world for centuries. The tragic memories of Tiananmen Square contrast sharply with its present tranquility, but a visit to this iconic square is a must. Around it is the Great Hall of the People, the National Museum of China, the Mao Zedong memorial Hall and most importantly, the beautiful Forbidden City.

Day 2: Beijing

Beijing is also home to the stunningly ornate summer palace on the outskirts of the city and a large marble boat, which was commissioned by the Empress Dowager Cixi for her dinner parties. Another must-see is the Temple of Heaven, which was built entirely without nails in the middle of a park . If you come early enough in the park, you'll often see people who practice tai chi and other martial arts. In the evening a visit to the Peking Opera and its beautiful costumes is a real highlight .

Day 3: Beijing

It is of course self-evident, that no trip to Beijing would be complete without visiting the Great Wall of China. The wall winds its way through the mountains to the north of Beijing and there are some places where you can climb the wall and admire this massive building. 

New Day Foster Home

The New Day Foster Home is located in Qingyundian Town, a suburb of Beijing. In addition to taking in orphaned children, the home also takes care of children whose lives are in danger. The project relies largely on the help of volunteers. Shoestring and our local agent support this project with a financial contribution.

Read More

Day 4: Beijing - Zhengzhou - Mount Yuntaishan

How green can you go? TIP

Why not start the day with a bike tour around the Hutongs, the old and popular districts of Beijing. People live in communities that are close to each other. You'll see grandparents playing with their grandchildren and you will find small shops that sell the essentials. If you still have time, you should also visit the Lama Temple and the Confucian Temple.

In the afternoon a high-speed train takes you from Beijing to Zhengzhou. The journey is comfortable and you have reserved seats. After arriving, the bus is waiting to take you to Mount Yuntaishan.

Day 5: Mount Yuntaishan

Have you ever seen the movie "Avatar"? Today you can experience a similar landscape (if it is a clear day). The Yuntaishan Global Geopark is a beautiful hiking area with spectacular karst cliffs, rivers and waterfalls.

The 400 meter long, glass bridge that runs in a U-shape along the Fenghuangling Mountain is an architectural masterpiece. The floor of the bridge consists of a steel construction with three layers of glass plates. A ticket will be provided.

Day 6: Mount Yuntaishan - Shaolin Monastery - Longmen - Luoyang

We leave Mount Yuntaishan for our bus trip to Luoyang. We stop first at the Shaolin Monastery for an optional excursion. Located in Dengfeng City, it is long famous for its association with the Chinese martial arts. The complex consists of a number of buildings such as temples and an attractive garden with stupas. The entrance fee for the Shaolin Monastery is included.

The UNESCO listed Longmen Caves (entrance fee included) are also on the program. The complex includes 2,100 grottoes and niches and over 100,000 Buddhist images and statues and it stretches for one km along the west bank of the Yi River.

Day 7: Luoyang - Xi’an

The high-speed train will take you to Xi'an in an hour and a half. From the 7th to the 9th century, when the Tang Dynasty ruled China, Xi'an was flourishing. It grew to become the largest city in the world, with an estimated two million inhabitants.

The 14 km long city wall from this period is still largely intact. Standing 12 meters in both height and in width, it is an impressive sight. To get a good impression of the history of Xi'an and Shaanxi Province, visit the Historical Museum. The art exhibitions here will show you much about the different periods of history and the explanations are in English so everyone can enjoy it.

Day 8: Xi'an

The historic city of Xi'an is famous for the Terracotta Army, thousands of man-sized clay soldiers were created to protect the grave of the Emperor Qin Shihuang, who unified China during his reign and also standardized weights, measures and written language. Xi'an is the start of the Silk Road that connected China and the Roman Empire. Cars transported silk, lacquer ware and spices to the West and earthenware, glass and textiles to the East.

The Giant Wild Goose Pagoda is the most famous temple in Xi'an. It took about 100 years to build  and was completed in 652. There are various temples and gardens within the walls with hundreds of small fountains. Once it is dark, the fountains are lit up and there is often a (free) sound and light show!

Day 9: Xi'an - Chengdu

Today you will travel by high-speed train to Chengdu, capital of Sichuan. Wander down the old streets filled with traditional wooden dwellings before entering the new district, home to towering skyscrapers and busy streets. In the old city centre you can find the Wenshu Monastery, the largest and most important Buddhist monastery of Chengdu, take part in a local pastime sipping tea in one of the many teahouses or try your hand at Chinese Checker’s, Chess and Xi’angqui.

Day 10: Chengdu

How green can you go? TIP

Sichuan is the home province of the giant Panda and the Panda Breeding Center on the outskirts of town is well worth a visit. Other rare/endangered species are also cared for at the center. You can watch pandas play in a panda playground, you may see newborn panda babies being bottle-fed but you will certainly see many pandas eating. It remains a fascinating sight to watch them chomp through kilos and kilos of thick bamboo. The center is only about 10kms away from downtown Chengdu.

Day 11: Chengdu - Lijiang

You fly from Chengdu to Lijiang, an ancient city that is home to the Nakhi minority (also known as Naxi). Relax in the hometown of the Naxi people and explore the old centre with its maze of alleyways and traditional wooden houses. Many Naxi people still wear traditional clothes and in the centre of the old part of the town is the beautiful Chief Mu’s Mansion, an extensive palace that seemingly clings to the hillside.

How green can you go? TIP

Another nice relaxing activity is to attend a traditional Naxi music performance in Lijiang this evening. Gaze in awe at the performers, looking stunning in their traditional attire. By attending the performance, you help to keep this special part of their heritage alive!

Day 12: Lijiang

Lijiang is also a good place to rent a bicycle for a day and explore the rural surroundings. The photogenic Baisha, for example, is a nice quiet village with its typical Naxi houses and the Naxi people with their blue-black costume.

The nearby Jade Dragon Snow Mountain is situated about 30 kilometres from Lijiang and towers high above the town at 5500 metres. An excursion is certainly worth your while. Here you will find the world’s highest cable lift. It takes you, at a swift pace, up to 4500 metres (Lijiang itself is situated at 2400 metres). From this high point you can climb another 150 metres to a plateau, which will offer you a magnificent view of the mountain, the glacier and the valley at the bottom. It is wise to drink a lot in order to avoid altitude sickness and take along warm clothes (if necessary you can rent a warm coat and moon boots at the base of the cableway).

Day 13: Lijiang - Dali

Continue your tour of China by travelling by bus to Dali. Again, you can enjoy the beautiful mountain scenery. You are now in the residential area of the Bai, a minority who has lived here for more than 3,000 years. The town of Dali is partly walled, and to the north and south, the impressive city gates remain. There is a nice, car-free area in the city, which caters to Chinese tourists, with restaurants and shops.

A visit to the three pagodas, known as San Ta Si, is a must. The oldest of the three, built around 850, is the square Qianxum pagoda. This 69-meter tall tower is hundreds of years older than the two smaller octagonal pagodas. A little behind the pagodas is a square-shaped reflection pond in which you can see the reflection of the three towers (when standing in the right place).

Day 14: Dali

Free day. This is perfect hiking and cycling territory. In the villages around Dali, regular morning markets are held. Here you can meet with the colourful Bai people and watch as they attempt to sell their various merchandise. You could also take an optional boat trip on the Erhai Lake and a massage at the end of the day is a great way to expel the fatigue from the muscles.

Day 15: Dali - Stone Forest - Shilin - Guilin

Today we drive by bus to Shilin and stop on the way to visit the Stone Forest, a geological wonder of jagged, oddly-shaped limestone rocks. The entrance fee for the Stone Forest is included in the tour price.

After our visit to the Stone Forest we continue on to Shilin and board the night train to Guilin, a journey of about 16 hours.

Day 16: Guilin - Yangshuo

We take the bus to Yangshuo, a town in the world famous karst landscape of southern China.

After the vigours of the journey, you can start the day in a relaxed way. Stroll through the streets, look at the shops or you can ask your tour leader if it is possible to join the sound and light show tonight, which takes place in front of the beautiful karst mountains.

Day 17: Yangshuo

The mountains here rise almost vertically from the rice fields and the view is interrupted only by bamboo forests and small villages. Depending on the season you can see the peasants with their buffaloes plowing the fields, planting the rice by hand or maintaining the field with a sickle.

How green can you go? TIP

Today you can explore the unique landscape. Take a nice bike ride through the surrounding area of ​​Yangshuo where, for a small fee, farmers will show you their village, quarters and houses and will invite you to a meal.

You can also view the karst landscape from a boat on the river Li and watch the local fishermen attract the fish with bright gas lamps and catch them with trained cormorants.

Day 18: Yangshuo

Free Day. You can participate in a cooking class, where you will visit a local market first to learn about the different ingredients and finally you can taste the delicious traditional Chinese dishes that you have prepared.

If you want to see the landscape again, there is the possibility to arrange a trip to a tea plantation on a mountain. There you can enjoy the wonderful view and a tea ceremony in a tea house.

What can I do?

Sustainable travel means taking into account the people, nature and culture so that travel remains possible in the future. The negative effects of tourism are increasingly palpable. 'So what can I do?', you may ask. Shoestring gives you 10 tips. Read More

Day 19: Yangshuo - Gongcheng - Guangzhou - Hong Kong

Early in the morning we drive to the railway station of Gongcheng, where we take the high speed train to Guangzhou. In Guangzhou we will take the connecting train to Hong Kong, where we will arrive in the late afternoon.

Hong Kong is an exciting, vibrant city. You can go with the funicular to the Victoria Peak for an unbeatable view or take a harbour cruise in the famous Star Ferry to see the bright lights of the city from a different perspective. Buy something at the Stanley Market and visit the Wan Chai district for a wide range of delicious dishes.

Day 20: Hong Kong

The last day of your trip. You can use your hotel room in Hong Kong up to the check-out time (12.00 clock). We wish you a pleasant journey back home and we are sure that you will take some fond memories of your journey through China, with you.

Visit your personal ‘my.shoestring’ page on our website. ‘my.shoestring’ is the perfect way to make contact with other travellers before and after your trip. You can read and create journals from trips and upload your photos onto the photo gallery. Visit my shoestring today.

When booking your tour, please check to see whether you need any post-tour nights, bearing in mind that accommodation for the night of the final day of the tour (day 20) is not included.

Extend your trip

  • Chinese lessons in Beijing
    Chinese is one of the major languages ​​in the world and certainly not the easiest language for us to learn! With its' many characters and different meanings you can quickly lose track. Before your trip, we offer you the chance to learn the first principles of the Chinese language. Its a good start: with a little vocabulary you will get to know the country and the people that little bit better .

    Duration: 6 days / 5 nights

    Day-to-day description

    Day 1
    Beijing, arrival

    Classes begin on a Monday, so you can fly to Beijing on Sunday. You will be met by our local representative on arrival in Beijing. They then bring you to your accommodation (This transfer is at extra cost).

    Day 2-5
    Beijing, Chinese lessons

    During your stay in Beijing for 5 days you will receive individual instruction in the Chinese language. The course is tailored to your needs and interests (in consultation with your teacher), and is the quickest and most intensive way to learn the language in a short period. Every day you get 4 x 45 minute lessons, the lesson times are set in consultation with your teacher. The rest of the day you are free to explore Beijing.

    You stay in a comfortable studio, located on the same grounds as the school. You can use the bar and restaurant. You can book half-board, which includes breakfast at the apartment and lunch at the school restaurant. Bed linen is provided, though you have to bring your own towels. The school is 10-15 minutes walking distance from the studio.

    After and between lessons, you are free to explore Beijing. Beijing is hip and hot '! Visit the Olympic stadiums or dine in Barstreet at the Houhai Lake. There are plenty of trendy restaurants. A culinary specialty that is best sampled in Beijing is of course Peking Duck! The array of dishes in China seems almost inexhaustible. Above the entrance gate of the Forbidden City is still the huge portrait of Mao Zedong, it overlooks the immense Square of Heavenly Peace. Of course you'll visit The Great Wall: a tangible remnant of powerful ancient China.

    Day 6
    Beijing, end of extension

    Today your extension ends. The group will arrive and you will join them after your final lesson. You can make a good first impression with what you've learnt this first week!

    Cost: From £619 per person (based on double occupancy)
    Single Supplement: £115
    High season surcharge: 12/18/11 to 03/24/12 and 07/01/12 to 08/25/12 and 12/16/12 to 03/23/13: from £ 110 pp
    Mid season surcharge: 07/15/12 to 08/18/12: from £ 40 pp

    - 5 nights in Beijing in a comfortable studio with half board (breakfast and lunch)
    - 4 x 45 minute private lessons in Chinese for 5 days
    - Qualified Chinese language teacher
    - Course certificate

    Other meals, excursions, entrance fees, personal expenses and tips

    - Surcharge return transfer (to and from the airport): £100 pp (one way: £55 pp)
    - Extra night studio, based on double room: £35 pp
    - Extra night studio, single room supplement: £22 pp
    - Painting Course: from £185 per person per week
    - Tai Chi course: from £185 per person per week

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