Exploring China by Food, Bike, Raft and Rail

For outdoor types craving a physical adventure off the beaten path in China, a 15-day trip with G Adventures will uncover parts of the country that few travelers ever see while at times testing your physical endurance.

It starts in Beijing and treats explorers to a big dose of the country’s history, culture and geography as they hike, bike, raft and trek through tiny villages and the palaces of the walled city of Xi’an, travel past seemingly endless rice fields and tour imperial tombs. It’s a small group experience for about 10 adventurers and their guide. 

Your group will first tour by bike through Beijing’s ancient hutongs and discover the fascinating story of the Forbidden City. Explore one of the world’s largest public squares – Tiananmen Square, home to the Monument to the People’s Heroes and the National Museum of China, packed with exhibits from the First Opium War of 1840. 

Leaving the city behind, you’ll move out to the Great Wall of China for several days of trekking and head for the village of Xizhazi and a homestay with the rural farmers who live there. The host families welcome their guests with a typical meal of country dumplings and modest but comfortable accommodations.

Your trek continues along the wall to the well-preserved Mutianyu section originally built in the 6th century and you’ll pass 22 watchtowers. Exploration continues as you make the ascents and descents on the final stretch to Jiankou, where you’ll board the overnight train and can stretch out on beds to rest on route to the next stop.

Off to Luoyang/Song Shan, trekkers transfer for a night to the holy mountain Song Shan and a visit to the Shaolin Monastery and Temple, founded in the 5th century and the birthplace of the martial art Kung Fu. This fascinating area has beautiful natural scenery – forests, grottos, and a charming village.

A high-speed train brings an evening arrival in Xi’an, China’s former capital where the Silk Road culminates. The inner city is surrounded by ancient walls and offers some vibrant evening activity in shopping lanes and dozens of food stalls, plus iconic sites to explore. It’s home to the Terracotta Warriors, an archaeological treasure where 8000 soldiers and horses stand eternally on guard. These underground warriors were accidentally discovered in 1974 and were commissioned by the emperor to serve as his army in the afterlife. 

There’s a stop in Yangshuo, a backpacker town full of interesting things to see and do. Yangshuo is known for its nightlife and variety of cultural opportunities: take a cooking class to learn preparation of regional dishes, join a Tai Chi class and practice at sunset in a park alongside the locals, or catch the 1-hour evening light show that celebrates the ethnic diversity of the area. Still ahead: more adventures in Longsheng and the fast-train ride to Hong Kong.

This tour includes light hiking, biking, walking and rafting, so is appropriate for those prepared for moderate physical activity. Service level us standard for China, with comfortable tourist-class accommodations of local character, and a mix of public and private transport. Excluding flights and most meals, the cost is approximately $2000.

To view the complete itinerary and book your trip today click here.

Photo credit: Sacred taoist Songshan mountains in Henan province, China — Dreamstime.com