|Beijing, China||Beijing, China|
In China there is an old saying that goes “... you are not a man until you have been to the Great Wall!” This famous icon stretches 8,851.8 kilometres from the Shanhaiguan Pass on the eastern coast to the Jiayuguan Pass in the Gobi Desert. The first emperor to unify all of China in 221 BC, Qin Shihuang, had a workforce of up to a million people link previously existing walls from smaller kingdoms and build new sections, in order to keep out northern invaders. Subsequent dynasties continued to strengthen and further extend the wall; however this was not enough to prevent the Mongols from invading China in 1271 AD and forming the Yuan Dynasty.
This trip is designed for those who are fit, energetic and enjoy trekking. We travel through the mountainous areas northeast and east of Beijing. A fascinating journey on the backroads allows you to observe closely the everyday life of villagers and offers perfect opportunities to interact with the locals. We visit the Eastern Qing Tombs, and explore the Forbidden City and the Temple of Heaven. A highlight of this tour is hiking in remote areas, away from the crowded tourist spots.
Accommodation: Dong Fang Hotel or similar, Beijing
On arrival in Beijing you will be transferred to your hotel. In the evening you will meet your tour leader and the other group members for a pre-tour briefing. This is generally followed by an optional group dinner at a local restaurant - Peking Duck is often a popular choice.
Meals included: 1 breakfast
Accommodation: Dong Fang Hotel or similar, Beijing
Beijing offers endless opportunities for exploration. You will visit the enormous Forbidden City, built more than 500 years ago, and off-limits to commoners for almost all that time, is a truly amazing place. Its size might surprise you (it is huge!), but what makes it truly fascinating is that every square metre is interesting, from the intricately carved walkways to the colourful painted ceilings. You will also visit the Temple of Heaven - a fine example of extraordinary workmanship. Your hotel is centrally located, and a short walk in any direction will unveil all sorts of wonderful surprises, such as fascinating small lane ways, known as hutongs. You will have a chance to enjoy the Beijing Opera or the spectacular acrobat show in the evening.
Meals included: 1 breakfast, 1 lunch, 1 dinner
Accommodation: Huangyaguan Great Wall Guesthouse or similar, Huangyaguan
You will have an early departure today, as you will be driving to Taipingzhai, which is a three to four hour journey. Along the way you will stop at Eastern Qing Tombs, the largest and most complete of their kind in China. These tombs, located in Hebei province 125 kilometres from Beijing, are the final resting-places for five Qing emperors, their empresses, concubines and daughters. The infamous Empress Dowager Cixi is one of those buried here. Time permitting; you may stop at a trout farm for lunch before hiking for three to four hours on the Great Wall from Taipingzhai to Huangyaguan. The wall is completely unreconstructed at the Huangyaguan section, so requires good negotiation and careful attention. It is quite solid and rough scrambling though various scrubs, berry plants and on the wall's rubble. Originally built in 557 AD, the Huangyanguan Great Wall was repaired for the first time in the Ming Dynasty with bricks and then restored again in 1985. It is 41 kilometres in length, with its walls and towers built on a mountain ridge with an average altitude of 738 metres. The name Huangyaguan translates to 'Yellow Cliff Pass' and is named after the yellowish hills and rocks nearby. It is unique in that it has various different-shaped watchtowers. There are not many tourists in this area, as it is a remote and seldom visited location. The most unique feature here is the Street of the Eight Diagrams, an architectural wonder of the Ming Dynasty lying just below the pass. A labyrinth set up to confuse and entrap invading armies, this fortification design is based on the ancient trigrams of the Book of Changes. UNESCO placed Huangyaguan Great Wall on the UN list of the World Heritage. In May each year, marathon runners from around the world come here to participate in one of the worlds most demanding courses, with exhausting ascents, steep descents and more than 3,700 steps. You will only walk this section once, rather than completing the circuit twice as is required of the marathon runners. You will spend the night in the Huangyaguan Guesthouse, located at the base of the wall.
Meals included: 1 breakfast, 1 lunch, 1 dinner
Accommodation: Jinshanling Hotel or similar, Jinshanling
Jinshanling was the name given to an eleven-kilometre section of the wall situated on the Jinshan Mountains. The earliest part of this structure was built in the 6th Century AD, but most of what you see now dates from the Ming Dynasty. This section of the wall has 67 watchtowers, each built in a different style of architecture. The walkway along the top is paved with square bricks providing a level surface wide enough to construct or erect batteries. Poems and tablet writings can be found on the Jinshanling Great Wall, these are from the era when General Qi Jiguang directed the building of this section of the wall. Some of the towers were storerooms for food, hay and weapons. Jinshanling to Erchu is a moderate to difficult trek of approximately 5 kilometres (2-3 hours) along a largely un-restored section of the wall that goes all the way to Simatai. Unfortunately you can only walk as far as Erchu as the area around Simatai has been closed for restoration. This area has earned the reputation of being one of the most beautiful sections of the Great Wall. 500 years old, it was built during the Ming Dynasty and towers over the nearby villages and farmland, as it winds its way like the spiny back of a dragon over the sharply clipped peaks of the mountains. Because this section has retained many of its original features, it is quite precarious in parts for trekkers and special care must be taken. Towards the end of your walk, you will descend from the wall and walk along a path for one kilometre, in order to bypass a military area. You will spend the night in the Jinshanling Hotel.
Meals included: 1 breakfast, 1 lunch, 1 dinner
Accommodation: Gubeikou Guesthouse (Ye Shu Fang Homestay) or similar, Gubeikou
From Jinshanling you will trek to your next section of the wall, Gubeikou (5–6 hrs). Gubeikou is located 146 kilometres north of Beijing. It has the Panlong (Coiling Dragon) and Wohu (Crouching Tiger) mountains in the background and is linked to the Qingfeng (Green Wind) and Dicui (Piled Verdure) peaks. The Chaohe River runs across the foot of the wall from north to south. In 1378 (the 11th year of Emperor Hongwu's reign in the Ming Dynasty), General Xu Da ordered this section of the Great Wall to be rebuilt. Gubeikou has probably seen more battles than any other part of the Great Wall, including some of the most famous in Chinese history. On the southern slope of Gubeikou stands a temple dedicated to Yang Ye, a famous Great Wall garrison general of the Song Dynasty. There are quite a few temples in China dedicated to this general, but this one is perhaps the oldest. Your walk takes you westward along the old city wall, passing numerous watchtowers and other parts of the wall that have not yet been restored. You will spend the night in a simple home stay in Gubeikou.
Meals included: 2 breakfasts, 2 lunches, 1 dinner
Accommodation: Great Wall Mutianyu Hotel or similar, Mutianyu
You will say goodbye to your village hosts and drive to Mutianyu Great Wall. You will trek around here and also around the Jiankou Great Wall. Situated in the northern part of Huairou County, some 70 kilometres north-east of Beijing, the restored 2250 metre-long Mutianyu section of the wall has 22 watchtowers built at regular intervals, which vary from being complex structures of more than one storey to simple beacons. The most famous is Zheng Bei Tai, a castle complex that consists of three inner-connected watchtowers. These combined towers ensured the defending forces could control any attempt at an invasion. Most parts of the Great Wall have outer defensive parapets to provide cover for the soldiers and a low parapet on the inner side (called Nu Qiang) to prevent soldiers or horses from falling. The construction of these sections was started in the mid-6th century during China's Northern Dynasties (386-581) and the main restoration took place during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). The panoramic sweeping views are most impressive. The Jiankou Great Wall is located 10 kilometres west of Mutianyu, with the Huanghuacheng Great Wall situated much further west. Jiankou was built in 1368 during the period of the Ming Dynasty. Constructed out of large white hill rocks, it is very noticeable from a distance. The major section of this Great Wall was built along a mountain ridge with large cliffs on each side, and due to the lack of repairs, it is now one of the most dangerous sections of the entire Great Wall. Trekking in Jiankou is an optional activity due the degree of difficulty, but if you are up for it, there is time to undertake this one last challenge before meeting the minibus and heading back to Beijing. As this is a walking tour, we will give all those who wish to trek in Jiankou every opportunity to do so, so we may not arrive back in Beijing until late afternoon or early evening.
Meals included: 1 breakfast
Your tour will come to an end after breakfast. A transfer to the airport is not included, however, your tour leader will be on hand to advise you as to the options available.
You will need an excellent level of fitness to get the most out of this trip. Expect to walk from 2 to 5 hours per day over 4 days of walking, plus other optional walks. Many sections of the wall are extremely steep, with many steps and unrestored sections.
Some meals are included on your trip (except for North America trips - please refer to your day-to-day itinerary). However, sometimes we think you'll benefit from getting out and discovering the local cuisine. So when a meal is not included, it's a great opportunity to try something new. For group trips, ask your leader for tips on where to get the best meal, or you might decide to dine out as a group and experience the fun together.
You will need an excellent level of fitness to get the most out of this trip. Expect to walk from 2 to 5 hours per day over 4 days of walking, plus other optional walks. Many sections of the wall are extremely steep, with many steps and unrestored sections.Vaccinations
Vaccinations may be required for this trip. Please talk to your doctor about the up-to-date information for this region. We're travel experts, not doctors and defer to the medicos when it comes to inoculations.Visas and Permits
Please ensure that you have all required visas for your trip – this is your responsibility. Rules and regulations governing the issuance of visas are constantly changing, and vary for different nationalities and you should check visa requirements with your travel agent or relevant consular authority well before travel.
Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. The visa requirements for your trip vary depending on where you are from and where you are going. As a general rule most countries expect that you will have at least 6 months' validity on your passport. On arrival visitors may be asked to present return tickets and evidence of means to cover your intended stay.
We keep the following information up to date as much as possible, but rules do change - it's important that you check for yourself. Residents from other countries must consult the relevant embassies or your travel agent.
Australia: Yes - in advance Belgium: Yes - in advance Canada: Yes - in advance Germany: Yes - in advance Ireland: Yes - in advance Netherlands: Yes - in advance New Zealand: Yes - in advance South Africa: Yes - in advance Switzerland: Yes - in advance United Kingdom: Yes - in advance USA: Yes - in advance
MAINLAND CHINA & HONG KONG:
Most nationalities require a visa for mainland China. You must obtain your Chinese visa in advance. It is not possible to get a visa on arrival and Chinese visas can be difficult to obtain outside your country of residence. You may be able to apply for your visa in Hong Kong If you have time here before your trip departs. You will need a Single Entry Tourist for your trip valid for 30 days. Hong Kong is not considered part of mainland China for immigration purposes and most nationalities do not require a visa. Please check with an embassy for specific requirements.
INFORMATION REQUIRED FOR VISA APPLICATION:
Please list the destinations you will visit in China in chronological order on your application form. Do not mention Tibet anywhere on your application form. While these areas are not off limits to travellers, they are considered politically sensitive, so including these on your visa application could lead to significant delays or your visa being denied.
Name of Host/Inviting Organisation:
Intrepid Travel Beijing Co. Ltd.
606 InterChina Commercial Building
33 Dengshikou Street
+86 10 6406 7328
DOCUMENTS REQUIRED FOR VISA APPLICATION:
* Hotel List - this will be sent to you by your booking agent. If you do not receive this please email us with your booking number and trip details. Please tick the hotels in all destinations that your trip visits.
* Official invitation from licensed Chinese tourism company - this will be provided together with the Hotel List to all travellers regardless of whether it is required by the embassy or not.
* Itinerary – please print off a copy of your specific trip itinerary from our website and include it with your application, listing the dates you will visit each destination.
* Photocopy of your passport.
* Passport size photo (up to 4 may be required).
* Please check with the embassy for any other specific requirements.
DOCUMENTS REQUIRED FOR TRAIN TICKET BOOKINGS
We require you to send the following at the time of booking, or no later than 60 days prior to travel:
Clear, colour copy of the personal details page of your passport
Please make sure that this copy is for the passport that you will be travelling on. If you have to renew your passport after booking please notify us as soon as you have a new passport number and bring your old passport with you on your trip as well.
You are required to have travel insurance before heading off on a Peregrine trip. Insurance can be organised by your Peregrine representative or your travel agent.Responsible Travel
Our Responsible Travel ethos is at the heart of everything we do, from getting the basics right like respecting local cultures and the environment, to initiating projects that make positive contributions to communities, to our staff’s fundraising efforts and offsetting our carbon emissions.
Please visit our Responsible Travel (http://www.peregrineadventures.com/rt) page for more information.
Our Pre Departure Information or Travel Dossier (provided upon booking a trip) provides tips on how you can show respect for the local customs and culture in the country you are travelling in. Your leader will also help steer you though the complexities of local cultural norms.
Pre Departure Information
The information listed above is a brief description of some things you may need to consider when booking a trip. Once a tour is booked you will be provided with a link to your Travel Dossier which will contain detailed Pre Departure information.
There are a number of books which make interesting reading and provide insight in the history, politics and culture of the country. Suggestions are: Wild Swans-Jung Chang The Good Women of China: Hidden Voices-Xinran Riding the Iron Rooster-Paul Theroux From Heaven Lake-Vikram Seth One’s Company-Peter Fleming Red China Blues-Jan Wong Mr China’s Son: A Villager’s Life-He Liuyi China, Renaissance of the Middle Kingdom-Odyssey Guide China-Lonely Planet Mandarin Phrase Book-Lonely Planet. The following are recommended for travellers on the Silk Road: The Great Game-Peter Hopkirk Foreign Devils on the Silk Road-Peter Hopkirk.
Local Emergency Contacts
In the case of a genuine crisis or emergency, our Beijing Office can be reached on Tel: +861064067328
China is a rapidly developing country whose infrastructure, values, customs and standards differ from what you are used to at home. Please bear this in mind as you are travelling in this exciting country and respect the fact that you should not impose your standards and expectations on the culture there. Occasionally it may be necessary to amend this itinerary for reasons beyond our control, such as bad weather and poor road conditions. Changes to flight and train schedules do sometimes occur, which may also lead to changes to this itinerary.
Travelling During Holiday Periods
Major holidays in China are Spring Festival (Lunar New Year), first week of May and National Week (first week of October). These are not ideal times to travel in China as literally the entire country is on the move and we schedule less or no tours during these times. There is a major burden on all forms of transport, and despite booking in advance, tickets for planes and trains especially are extremely difficult to obtain. If your tour does travel during this time, plenty of patience and flexibility will be required.
In 2014 Chinese New Year day fall on Friday 31st January, ushering in the Year of the Horse. All days from 30th January to 5th February 2014 are designated as public holidays. In 2015 Chinese New Year will be on 19th February (Year of the Sheep) and in 2016 it will be on 8th February (Year of the Monkey).
Please note that outside of Beijing the accommodation is of a very basic nature. You will need to bring a towel, toilet paper and soap (all can be purchased in Beijing). Facilities are multishare, usually with Asian-style squat toilets.
The information provided here is given in good faith and has been compiled with all reasonable care. However, things change and some of the information may become out of date. Please keep this in mind when you read it and check with us if you want to be sure about something. The document was correct at time of printing, but you can check online for the most up to date version. If you have any queries, please contact your travel agent or our staff in Australia. We are here to help you!
23 April 2014