18 days Shanghai Loop
18-day Shanghai Loop
Start in Shanghai to go straight to Yangshuo, then join one of our trips all the way back to Shanghai.
This includes most of the highlights of our big (25 day) China tour, including the pandas in Chengdu, the Terracotta Warriors in Xi’an, bamboo rafting in Yangshuo and camping under the stars on the Great Wall.
Including hostels, guesthouses & 1 night camping
Bilingual Adventure Leaders in each city
Transport within China
Itinerary & map
This itinerary does not include a full day in Shanghai. If you would like to spend time exploring the city, we would recommend booking a pre or post trip night.
Day 1 – Shanghai & Guilin:
Kickstart your Shanghai to Shanghai backpacking tour on the rooftop bar at the Phoenix Hostel at 1:30pm. This is where you will meet your Adventure Leader, have a trip briefing and meet your fellow travellers.
Then, you will transfer to Shanghai South Station to board a night train to Guilin. One guide will put you on the train and another will collect you in Guilin.
Day 2 – Yangshuo:
Today is a free day!
You have the option to join a traditional cooking class, kayak along the Li River or experience traditional Chinese therapy such as hot cupping.
Day 3 – Yangshuo:
Get ready for adventure! You’ll start the day at 9.30am with a morning bike ride along with a cruise down the Yulong River on bamboo rafts. If you have a waterproof camera, definitely bring it along for this activity!
Later on, you have the option to continue the fun and visit local mud baths and hot springs. In the evening, why not participate in some karaoke with the rest of the group?
Day 4 – Yangshuo:
Another free day!
There is a tonne to see and do in Yangshuo and it’s beautiful surroundings are a feast on the eyes. To gain a new perspective, we recommend rock climbing to the top of one of the regions limestone peaks. The views are unforgettable from the top!
In the afternoon, you will have the opportunity to experience life on a farm by visiting your local Adventure Leader’s home village and learning about rural life in Yangshuo.
Day 5 – Chengdu:
On to the next destination! You will board a bus back to Guilin and take a bullet train to Chengdu, arriving in the evening. Then, you will take the metro to the hostel and meet your new Adventure Leader.
Day 6 – Chengdu:
The day starts early as you will be off to the Giant Panda Breeding & Research Centre. You can’t hold or touch the pandas but you will see them up close and learn about the centres efforts to breed them and release them into the wild.
Later in the day, you will also be taught some mandarin thanks to your Adventure Leader and after lunch will visit an Autism Children Rehabilitation Centre.
In the evening, you have the option to enjoy a traditional Sichuan show.
Day 7 – Chengdu:
Today is a free day!
In the morning, you have the option to go to Leshan to see the world’s largest stone Buddha. Carved into the side of Mt. Lingyun, the colossal statue is over 1,300-years-old and is considered to the tallest pre-modern statue. The site attracts millions of people every year, including Buddhist pilgrims, making it something of a sacred destination and an ancient wonder of the world.
In the evening you can sample to famous Sichuan Hot Pot (if you dare). You can also have a night out in Chengdu and enjoy your freedom!
Day 8 – Chengdu & Xian:
This morning you can enjoy a lazy lie in to recover from the night before or get up early and explore the sights of Chengdu – perhaps enjoy a spot of shopping.
After lunch, you have the option to visit the Chengdu People’s Park. There are many scenic spots in this park, including the Gold Water Stream, the Goldfish Island and the Potted Landscape Garden. Besides appreciating the charming landscape, tourists can sail on the artificial lake, drink tea in the teahouse by the lake and watch all kinds of exhibitions and performances on the Rockery Square.
Around 5pm you will say goodbye to the Adventure Leader and board your train to Xian, where you will meet your new leader and go to your hostel.
Day 9 – Xian:
You have the morning free to visit temples, museums or go shopping in your own time.
In the afternoon, you have the option to bike ride on Ming Dynasty City Walls and later, to explore the Bell-Drum Towers and Muslim quarter to learn about the history of the Silk Road. Make sure to enjoy some local street food!
Day 10 – Xian:
Today’s unmissable attraction is the tour of the world famous Terracotta Warriors!
The Terracotta Army in Xian, is a large collection of life-size terra cotta sculptures in battle formations, reproducing the mega imperial guard troops of Emperor Qin Shi Huang (259 – 210BC), the first emperor of the first unified dynasty of Imperial China. As a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Terracotta Army is no doubt a must-see for every visitor to Xian.
In the evening, you can enjoy the music and light fountain show that takes place on the North Square of the Big Wild Goose Pagoda in the Qujiang District.
Day 11 – Shaolin:
The next morning, you will be off on a long journey to Shaolin.
This afternoon, you can visit a local Kung Fu Children’s Home and join in on a lesson and show run by a master from the Shaolin Temple.. After dinner, you can have another Mandarin lesson to top up what you have learned so far!
Day 12 – Shaolin:
You have two options today:
– You can visit the home of Kung Fu, The Shaolin Temple, and hike to Dharma Cave, a spiritual spot for Buddhist pilgrims. Here, you will be rewarded by beautiful views of both the shrines and temples in the area.
– Or if you’ve had enough of temples and Kung Fu isn’t your combat style, you can visit the Longmen Grottoes, a UNESCO world heritage site with over 100,000 carved Buddha’s.
Later, you can have a late lunch at the guesthouse then check out and depart to Zhengzhou to board your night train to Beijing.
Day 13 – Beijing:
When you arrive in Beijing, you will meet your next Adventure Leader and go to a hostel for a rest. You won’t be staying the night here, but can use the showers and common areas to relax before heading to the Great Wall of China in the afternoon.
After a couple of hours, you can take another mandarin lesson and you can use your freshly learned language skills to complete challenges around Beijing’s ancient streets and alleyways on a scavenger hunt. The winning team earns a prize!
After a late lunch at a local farm we will gain access to a section of the Great Wall that only the locals get to see and then we will hike on the unrestored sections of the Wall before setting up camp on a deserted section
Day 14 – Beijing:
The sunrise on the Great Wall of China will be the most unforgettable part of your trip. Today you will wake up early, enjoy the silence and watch the sun rise over the Great Wall.
Around 9am, you’ll return to Beijing and have the option to visit fake good markets and the nearby Temple of Heaven.
You can also watch a stunning Chinese Acrobatics Performance performed by young talents recruited from around China.
Additionally, enjoyed exclusively by royalty in ancient times, you can taste Beijing’s signature dish Peking Roast Duck.
Day 15 – Beijing:
Today is a free day!
You’ll have the option to take a walk through the infamous, Tiananmen Square, or visit the Forbidden City. The Forbidden City is the largest palatial complex in the world, with 980 buildings and a history of housing 2 different Chinese emperors.
You can also go to Jingshan Park for a bird’s eye view of the three palaces: Forbidden City, Temple of Heaven, Summer Palace and Tiananmen Square.
In the afternoon, you can visit the Nanluo district, a historical area in Beijing, famous for its hutongs and siheyuan courtyards as well as the bars, cafes and craft shops.
Day 16 – Beijing:
Enjoy another free morning to pack in the last few of Beijing’s sights before heading to your next destination. You can visit the 798 art district, the Summer Palace, or any other highlights of Beijing.
In the evening, you will board the night train to Hangzhou.
Day 17 – Hangzhou:
You’ll arrive in Hangzhou in the morning where you’ll go to your hostel for a late breakfast. Then, you will visit the famous West Lake and take a relaxing boat tour to one of the islands.
You will also have the option to learn about China’s trade history with visits to the China National Tea Museum or the National Silk Museum and then around 5pm, you will hike up Jiuyao Mountain to catch the stunning sunset over West Lake.
Day 18 – Hangzhou & Shanghai:
An early start today, to hike up to the Nine Creeks meandering through the Misty Woods. This is where you will witness a peaceful and charming setting in the hills of Hangzhou, with paved paths winding along streams and trails that lead to beautiful waterfalls and breathtaking landscapes.
Then you will return to the hostel, check out and have lunch before heading to Shanghai by train – this marks the end of the trip! Say goodbye to your fellow travellers and enjoy the onwards journey.
Our included activities:
• Bamboo rafting (Yangshuo)
• Yulong River bike ride (Yangshuo)
• Giant Panda Breeding and Research Centre (Chengdu)
• Jinli Street and Tibetan district (Chengdu)
• Wenshu Monastery, Mao’s Statue, People’s Park and traditional tree house (Chengdu)
• Volunteer at a local Autism Rehabilitation Centre (Chengdu)
• Terracotta Warriors (Xi’an)
• Hike to Dharma Cave (Shaolin)
• Tiananmen Square (Beijing)
• Fake market (Beijing)
• Great Wall of China (Beijing)
• Visit the 2009 Olympic Park (Beijing)
• National Tea or National Silk Museums (Hangzhou)
• Explore the Old Town (Hangzhou)
• People’s Square (Shanghai)
*Unmissable activities are listed in bold and included in the trip price. All other activities are free but you may have to pay to get there. Find our extra optional activities here.
There is always a small chance a group member’s ticket may not be sat with the rest of the group on one of the trains. Not to worry, in this situation the Adventure Leader will help you switch with a local so that the Dragon Trippers can sit together.
The use of Drones and other unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) is prohibited during activities organized by The Dragon Trip. If you are in possession of a drone when entering the country it is your responsibility to be informed of and follow all local laws. This may include registering your drone with authorities. If you violate this policy or operate a drone illegally you are subject to removal from the tour as per our terms & conditions.
You will receive a wristband which will have a phone number on it for you to call in emergencies.
Please note: Accommodation is in dorm rooms as a standard on our China tours.
Upgrade options (to single, twin, or double rooms) are available, please contact us for more information.
Need hostels booked for after your trip ends? We are more than happy to help – just let us know what you need!
Room and train upgrades for the entirety of this route are available. Room upgrade requests must be communicated to the Dragon Trip before the start of the trip. Customers wishing to upgrade once the trip has started must do so independently. Train upgrades are unavailable once train tickets have been booked, train upgrades only apply to over-night trains.
Room upgrades for our 18-day Shanghai Loop are £200 for a single room upgrade, or £100 per person for a double room upgrade. In Beijing everyone will get twin rooms, those who have paid for an upgrade will receive a superior room. Train upgrades are £100.
The Dragon Trip provides, upon request, airport transfers. In Beijing and Shanghai, the price is £40 for a pick up or drop-off. This will be in private transportation (up to 3 customers). If you’d like a bilingual guide to meet you and ride with you from the airport to your destination, or vice versa, it is £40 extra for a pick up or drop off (up to 3 customers). In Guilin, Xi’an and Chengdu, the price is £30 for a pick up or drop-off. This will be in private transportation (up to 3 customers). If you’d like a bilingual guide, it is £30 for a pick up or drop off (up to 3 customers). This service is not available in Hong Kong.
A deposit is required to make a reservation on our China tours, with the balance due 40 days prior to departure (unless booking with one of our promotions, for which specific balance due dates may apply).
The deposit is 10% of the group tour price (unless stated otherwise). If you book on to our China tours less than 40 days prior to departure, the full balance will be due within 3 days of booking.
No bookings can be accepted within 18 days of a trip departure date.