26 days Hong Kong Loop
26-day China Loop
Explore the tropical south, rural west, historic north and the flourishing east, in the biggest, most comprehensive, best-value backpacking China tour on the market!
Our best selling 26-day China backpacking tour goes through the major regions, top destinations, famous sites and countless hidden gems in off-the-beaten-track locations. In our humble opinion, it’s the best, most budget-friendly and enjoyable way to see everything that China has to offer. From temples to skyscrapers, rivers to mountains – this tour has it all!
What's included on the China tour
Including hostels, guesthouses & 1 night camping
Bilingual Adventure Leaders in each city
Transport within China
Itinerary & map
Day 1: Welcome to Hong Kong!
Your China backpacking tour starts today! After arriving in bustling Hong Kong, make your way to your hostel where you can drop your things. Today, explore the area under your own steam, ready to meet your group and your Adventure Leader bright and early tomorrow!
Day 2: Hong Kong & Yangshuo
You’ll meet your group and Adventure Leader early this morning for a trip briefing, where you’ll find out everything the next few weeks have to offer you. But not content with a meeting on land – we’ll take you to the top of Victoria Peak by tram instead!
After that, you’ll head back to the hostel, grab your things, and head to the train station. We’ll be taking a train to Shenzen, ready to switch to board the bullet train to Guilin. From there, it’s a bus to your hostel and then time to rest up after a long day.
Day 3: Yangshuo
Today is a free day in Yangshuo, for you to make the most out of your time here. Why not try some of these exciting optional activities?
- Try your hand at cooking up some traditional Chinese foods, at a friendly culinary institute.
- Enjoy kayaking among the mountains along the Li River!
- Experience some relaxing Chinese traditional therapies – like Hot Cupping!
Day 4: Yangshuo
Today starts with an unmissable bike ride around the local area, along with a cruise down the Yulong River on bamboo rafts. If you’re bringing your camera (which you’ll want to) – make sure it’s waterproof!
Later, you have the option of heading to the Moon Hill complex to get mucky! In this cave complex, you’ll find mud baths and hot springs galore. In the evening, you have the option of joining your fellow travellers for a spot of fun out in the local area.
Day 5: Yangshuo
This morning, you’ve got the option of heading rock climbing. The region is a feast for the eyes thanks to its beautiful limestone peaks, so why not seize the chance to scale them?
Later, you can join your Adventure Leader and get a real glimpse into rural life in China. Head to a local village, where you’ll learn what life is like on a farm in the Yangshuo region.
Day 6: Yangshuo to Chengdu
Bid adieu to your Adventure Leader in Yangshuo, because you’re off to your next destination – Chengdu! You’ll travel by train across the country, where you’ll be greeted by your new Adventure Leader and taken to your hostel to check in.
Day 7: Chengdu
This morning, you’ll be treated to a truly once-in-a-lifetime experience. You’re off to visit pandas! Head to the Giant Panda Breeding and Research Center, where you can learn all about the Center’s mission to breed and reintroduce pandas. While you can’t hold the pandas, you’ll get a chance to both get up close and learn about this amazing species.
After this, it’s time to brush up your Chinese skills! Your Adventure Leader will give you a Mandarin lesson, where you’ll learn all the key phrases you’ll need to make the most of your time in China.
If you’d like to learn more about China’s historical culture, this evening you can opt to attend a traditional Sichuan opera show.
Day 8: Chengdu
You can spend your day independently today, but if you’d like – why not join us on some optional activities? You can opt to join us on a trip to Leshan, where you’ll 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 the famous Sichuan Hot Pot (if you dare!). After that – Chengdu is yours to explore!
Day 9: Chengdu to Xi’an
If you’re keen to have a lie in, you can start your morning lazily under your own steam. However, if you want to get out and about in the local community, pay a visit to a local rehabilitation center, which works specifically with children with autism.
In the early afternoon, get a final look at Chengdu with a visit to Jinli & 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.
This evening, it’s time to transfer to Xi’an! You’ll arrive in Xi’an tonight – the next stop on your China backpacking tour! Meet your new Adventure Leader upon arrival, and head to your hostel for some well-earned rest.
Day 10: Xi’an
Spend your morning as you see fit today. If you’d like some suggestions, ask your Adventure Leader! You might want to explore nearby museums, temples, or indulge in a spot of retail therapy. This afternoon, you have the option to bike ride on the city walls, which date back to the Ming Dynasty.
Later, you can explore the Bell-Drum Towers and the Muslim Quarter to learn about the history of the Silk Road. Make sure to enjoy some local street food while you’re there!
Day 11: Xi’an
This morning, you’re paying a visit to one of the most unmissable sights in China – the Terracotta Warriors! The Terracotta Army in Xian is a large collection of life-size terracotta 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 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 12: Xi’an to Shaolin
Today, you’ll transfer to your next destination – Dengfeng, just outside Shaolin! Once there, you’ve got the option of joining your group for a kung-fu lesson and demonstration in the very region it began!
After dinner, it’s time for Mandarin lesson number 2 – how much have you learned so far?
Day 13: Shaolin
If you’re a keen riser, you might want to join us on a trip to the world-famous Shaolin Temple – the birthplace of kung-fu. From there, you can take a hike up to the Dharma Cave, a spiritual spot for Buddhist pilgrims. Your climb will be rewarded with beautiful views of the local shrines and temples, and incredible vistas across the region.
Alternatively, if you’re not a fan of martial arts, you might opt to head out to the Longmen Grottoes. This UNESCO World Heritage Site features 100,000 carved Buddhas!
You’ll then have the option of returning for a late lunch at the guesthouse, before your evening is yours to explore. But use it wisely – there’s an early start ahead!
Day 14: Shaolin to Beijing
This morning, we’re up before the birds to grab a bullet train to our next destination – Beijing! We’ll arrive in the late morning, ready to transfer straight to one of the tour’s most incredible experiences – the Great Wall! Before we lace up, we’ll stop for lunch at a local farm to fuel up for our hike. Then, in the mid-afternoon, we’ll take to the Wall to hike on totally secluded, unrestored parts of the Wall. It’s here that we’ll set up camp to watch the sunset from atop one of the Wonders of the World.
[Please note: Due to cold weather before the end of April and after the end of September, we stay in a guesthouse near the Wall, instead of camping.]
Day 15: Beijing
Wake up early to watch the magnificent sunrise across the Great Wall of China. Once you’ve picked your jaw off the floor, we’ll pack up and head back into Beijing, ready to explore this mammoth city. If you’d like, you can join us with a walk through Tiananmen Square, a visit to the Forbidden City, and a look around Jingshan Park.
This evening, why not get an entertainment fill with an acrobatics show? These amazing circus-like performances feature young talents recruited from all over China.
If you’ve worked up an appetite, now is your chance to make like ancient royalty and try Beijing’s signature dish – Peking duck!
Day 16: Beijing
Today is a free day! You’ll have the option to visit the fake good markets for a spot of shopping, as well as the nearby Temple of Heaven.
In the afternoon, you can visit the Nanluo district. Nanluo is one of the best-preserved historical areas in Beijing that’s famous for its hutongs and siheyuan courtyards, as well as the bars, cafes and handicraft shops.
Day 17: Beijing to Hangzhou
Enjoy another free morning and afternoon 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. Be sure to ask your Adventure Leader for recommendations!
In the late afternoon/early evening, we’ll transfer to Beijing station, where we’ll board a night train bound for Hangzhou.
Day 18: Hangzhou
After arriving in Hangzhou this morning, transfer to your hostel for a late breakfast. We hope you slept on the train! Next, we’re off to the famous West Lake, ready to take a stunning boat tour to one of the Lake’s beautiful islands.
Once you’ve checked in this afternoon, you’ve got time for an optional activity if you’d like – or you can take a couple of hours respite! If you’re keen to stay vertical, why not check out China’s National Tea Museum, or the Lingyin Temple?
This evening, it’s an unmissable hike up Jiuyao Mountain to see the stunning sunset from there. Before you head back down to street level for dinner and a free evening to explore. Make sure you check out Hefang Road – the most famous ancient street in town!
Day 19: Hangzhou to Shanghai
This morning, kick your day off with a beautiful hike to the Nine Creeks. On your way, meander through the Misty Woods – a truly magical place. Once you’re back at the hostel, you’ve got time to freshen up and grab some lunch before your check out, ready to travel onwards!
This afternoon, we’re off to our next stop on the China backpacking tour: Shanghai! You’ll arrive in the early evening – just in time to check in and explore the local area!
Day 20: Shanghai
After a lazy-ish morning, you’ll get another Mandarin lesson – this time, with a twist! This extra special class will be held by professional teachers, all the way from the Mandarin Garden Chinese Language School!
Later, you’ll have the option to walk to the Yu Gardens, a bustling historical site of a former dignitary’s lavish family quarters. You can also see People’s Square, before heading on to the world’s busiest shopping street, Nanjing Road.
Afterwards, you can go for a walk along the Bund, a hub of global architecture. To finish off, head to the top floor of a skyscraper to admire Shanghai’s skyline from a rooftop bar. Enjoy your free evening!
Day 21: Shanghai
Shanghai is a bustling, melting-pot of history, culture, and modernity – so it’s only fair we give you a day off to explore it! Your Adventure Leader will be the best person to ask for tips, but here’s a taste of what you might get up to today:
- Disneyland Shanghai!
- The Shanghai Museum
- Moganshan Art Street
- Zhujiajiao Watertown
This evening, why not venture out for a night on the town with your fellow Dragons?
Day 22: Shanghai
In the morning, you have the option to stroll through the former French Concession to learn about Shanghai’s international history, visit the Propaganda History Museum, and take in the sights of the ultra-modern Shanghai financial district. You can also visit TianZiFang – a local artisan’s lane that blends the chic and the traditional.
For the daredevils, you can head up to the top of Jinmao Tower and brave the Skywalk! Or, you can just go up and take in the stunning panoramic views.
In the evening, you’ll take in the bright city lights from the water with a night cruise down the Huangpu River
Day 23: Shanghai to Fujian
Rise and shine! It’s time to head to your new final new destination – Fujian. You’ll grab the bullet train to Longyan, where you’ll bid farewell to your Shanghai Adventure Leader. After around 6 hours on the train, you’ll arrive and transfer deep into the verdant tea-growing hills. On the way, visit a mud roundhouse – these are the traditional homes of the local Hakka peoples.
This evening, you’ll arrive at your guesthouse, ready for a relaxing night in after a long day of travel.
Day 24: Fujian
After a tasty breakfast at your guesthouse, it’s time for an unmissable experience! You’ll take a walking tour around the Fujian Tulou UNESCO World Heritage Site. You’ll explore the Hakka Minority Roundhouses, picturesque villages, tea fields, traditional tea ceremony and tea tasting. You’ll head up the mountain and visit the tea plantations, so take some cash if you’d like to purchase some tea!
This evening, there will be a movie night if you want to chill out. But if you’re not tired of it yet – headout for karaoke!
Day 25: Fujian
Grab your bike for a tour of the local area, and visit the world’s biggest roundhouse along the way! If you get tired, don’t worry – there’ll be a support vehicle with you if you feel like taking a load off. You’ll end up at a neighbouring local village, where you’ll have some time to explore.
This afternoon is yours to relax, and prepare yourself for an early transfer tomorrow morning. One of our top tips today is to get your breakfast ready for tomorrow. Future You will thank you!
Day 26: Farewell
This morning, we’ll transfer by minibus back to Zhangzhou Station, ready to transfer by train back to Hong Kong. It’s here that your China backpacking tour comes to the end, and you’ll bid farewell to your fellow travellers.
Check out our included activities for your China group tour below:
- Visit to Victoria Peak (Hong Kong)
- Bike ride on the Yulong River (Yangshuo)
- Bamboo raft river cruise (Yangshuo)
- Visit the Giant Panda Breeding and Research Center (Chengdu)
- Visit to the Terracotta Warriors (Xi’an)
- Great Wall of China experience (Beijing)
- Visit to the West Lake & boat tour (Hangzhou)
- Jiuyao Mountain hike (Hangzhou)
- Hike to the Nine Creeks (Hangzhou)
- Visit to the tea-growing hills (Fujian)
- Explore the UNESCO Fujian Tulou site (Fujian)
- Tea plantations visit (Fujian)
- Roundhouse visit & bike tour (Fujian)
- Mandarin lessons
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 this China group tour 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.
Please note that due to seasonal weather conditions, the camping and sunrise Great Wall experience only takes place between May and September. For all tours departing in this time, wherever possible we aim to include this experience. However, in the event of adverse weather conditions, travellers will stay in a nearby hostel.
Activities that aren’t included on your China group tour:
- Hot cupping (Yangshuo)
- Rock climbing (Yangshuo)
- Cooking class (Yangshuo)
- Kayaking (Yangshuo)
- Moon Hill & mud baths (Yangshuo)
- Day trip to Sally’s village (Yangshuo)
- Day trip to Leshan Buddha (Chengdu)
- Hotpot dinner (Chengdu)
- Sichuan Opera (Chengdu)
- Children’s Autism Rehabilitation Center (Chengdu)
- Cycling the city walls (Xi’an)
- School visit (Dengfeng)
- Shaolin Temple visit (Dengfeng)
- Extra kung-fu show (Dengfeng)
- Longmen Caves (Dengfeng)
- Forbidden City (Beijing)
- Temple of Heaven (Beijing)
- Jingshan Park (Beijing)
- Acrobatics & circus show (Beijing)
- National Tea Museum (Hangzhou)
- National Silk Museum (Hangzhou)
- Lingyin Temple (Hangzhou)
- Zhujiajiao Watertown (Shanghai)
- Vue Bar (Shanghai)
- Yu Garden (Shanghai)
- Propaganda Art Museum (Shanghai)
- Karaoke (Shanghai)
- Viewing platform on Jinmao Tower (Shanghai)
- Skywalk on Jinmao Tower (Shanghai)
- Huangpu River Cruise (Shanghai)
Room & Train Upgrades
Room upgrade requests must be communicated to the Dragon Trip before the start of the trip, as customers wishing to upgrade their China tour once the trip has started must do so independently. Room upgrades for our 26-day China backpacking tour start at £550 per person for a double room upgrade. In Beijing, all rooms are twin as standard, so those who have paid for an upgrade will receive a superior room.
Train upgrades are unavailable once train tickets have been booked, so please let us know with plenty of time if you wish to upgrade. Please note that train upgrades only apply to the Zhengzhou to Beijing & Beijing to Hangzhou trains. Train upgrades cost around £35.
The Yes Inn @ YMT has a luggage storage service that is available to use for Dragon Trip travellers. It is $50 HKD per day, per bag. Please make sure to receive your receipt from the Yes Inn at time of luggage storage. Please note that any theft, loss or damage caused to your luggage while in storage is not the responsibility of The Dragon Trip and any queries or issues with the service should be brought directly to the attention of the Yes Inn @ YMT.
Airport transfers in Hong Kong are not available.
We can arrange additional nights accommodation in Hong Kong for a fee if you plan on arriving early or staying on at the end of your trip. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
A deposit is required to make a reservation on our China group tour, 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 group tour 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.