Journey through China | EF Ultimate Break
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Travel Style:

Why Go?

Going to China is that exotic, one-of-a-kind adventure you never knew you needed (like putting on a Snuggie or using pizza scissors). There’s a wall that spans 13,000 miles, an army of ceramic soldiers that stood guard over a dead emperor for 2,000 years, and actual living, breathing—wait for it—pandas. At its core, China is a vibrant mecca of history, culture, and people trying to take your picture. And pandas. Don’t forget about the pandas.

What are the top highlights?

  • Wander through Beijing's Forbidden City—an act that would get you executed a few hundred years ago
  • Watch performers defy physics at a Chinese acrobatics show (don't try this at home)
  • Walk along the Great Wall, and understand why it's not called the Good Wall of China
  • Look out over thousands of sculpted Terracotta Warriors
  • Bike along an ancient wall in Xi'an
  • Watch Kung Fu Panda play out in real life (aka see some pandas)
  • Eat the best street food of your life (look out, New York)

Your trip includes

  • Round-trip flights & airport transfers
  • Multilingual Tour Director & local guides
  • Private motorcoach
  • Internal flights, trains & ferries
  • 14 nights in hand-picked accommodations
  • Welcome Dinner with local family in Beijing
  • Dim Sum lunch in Hong Kong
  • Daily breakfast & three-course Farewell Dinner
  • Metro passes in each major city
  • Entrance to select attractions

Accommodations

You’ll stay at accommodations hand-picked by our team of local experts, in rooms only for EF Ultimate Break travelers. Each property is located in a safe, convenient area. You’ll receive your exact accommodations 30 days before your trip departs.

Click here for examples of where you'll stay.

Flights

Admit it, booking flights is the worst. Here's why you should let us do it for you:

  • Flight costs are included in your monthly payment plan, so you can pay over time
  • Airport transfers are included, so we’ll be waiting, sign in hand
  • Flights are booked with major airlines
  • 24/7 support no matter what time zone you’re in
  • One checked bag included on most flights
  • Option to make changes to your trip up to 99 days before departure

Booking with a friend? Let us know and we’ll do our best to make sure you’re on the same flight. Still want to book your own flights? That’s cool, simply select ‘No flights included’ instead of your departure city in the ‘Flights from’ dropdown.

Itinerary

Day 1: Overnight Flight

Board your overnight flight to China. It’s going to be a long flight, so take some naps, practice your Mandarin, and watch Mulan five or six times.

This tour requires a visa for U.S. citizens. Check entry requirements or call us with questions at 800-766-2645.

Day 2: Arrive in Beijing

Welcome to Beijing, China’s capital and perhaps most historically important city. It’s constantly changing—new buildings, new businesses, and new visitors like you. There are a lot of people in Beijing (about 21 million), so prepare for bigger crowds, longer bathroom lines, and more than a few locals showing off their English skills by yelling “hello!” as you walk by.

Today's Highlights:

  • Meet an EF representative at the airport.
  • Transfer to your accommodations and check in.
  • Receive the latest schedule from your Tour Director.
  • Meet the other travelers as they arrive.

Day 3: Tour Beijing + Welcome Dinner

Today is your day to experience the best of Beijing with a local guide. You’ll get it all—history, culture, and a rickshaw ride. To top it all off, you’ll eat a traditional dinner with a local Chinese family. Get ready to fall in love (with China, not the family…but also the family).

Today's Highlights:

  • See Tiananmen Square, the biggest public square in the world and infamous spot of the Tank Man photograph.
  • Visit the Forbidden City, the Chinese imperial palace from 1420 to 1912. And until very recently, the grounds were actually forbidden.
  • Gawk at the nearly three-story wall and 50-foot-wide moat that surround the complex. It’s like emperors were trying to keep people out or something.
  • Tour the winding streets and alleyways, known as hutongs, with a local guide.
  • Ride through the hutongs on a rickshaw, an authentic, one-of-a-kind experience like no other. Do you feel special? You should feel special.

In the evening, it’s time for our Welcome Dinner. Experience a culturally immersive meal with a local family. Following dinner, enjoy a drink in a bar nearby. Afterwards, take the party elsewhere.

Day 4: Visit the Great Wall of China & Summer Palace + Kung Fu

Head to Mutianyu, where you’ll walk on the iconic Great Wall. The Chinese started building the Wall in the 5th century B.C., as a defense against the Mongols. Today the Wall extends across mountains and valleys for more than 3,000 miles (time to get in those steps!). The belief that you can see the wall from space is actually a myth, but there’s no harm in waving at an astronaut…just in case.

Today's Highlights:

  • Take a bus towards Mutianyu, one of the best preserved sections of the Great Wall of China, built during the Ming Dynasty.
  • Stand atop one of the many watchtowers and imagine being a Chinese guard, on the lookout for invaders.
  • Visit the Summer Palace, a retreat for emperors of the past, and walk around the Qing-style pavilions, bridges, walkways, and gardens.
  • Consider going back in time to be an emperor, exclusively to vacation at the Summer Palace.

Kung Fu Show(extra cost)

Chinese martial arts originated as far back as 5,000 years ago, and tonight you can see them in action. Watch some of the country’s best kung fu artists, as they kick, punch, flip, and dance their way through a traditional Chinese story.

Why wait? Save money by booking this optional excursion before your trip departs.

Day 5: Travel to Xi'an

In the morning, enjoy a tour of the Temple of Heaven. Afterwards, jump on a quick flight to Xi’an, an ancient city with some of the best preserved city walls in the world. Yes, this trip is “wall-heavy” so far, but China has cool walls, okay?

Today's Highlights:

  • Tour the Temple of Heaven, a huge outdoor park full of historical relics and locals doing their morning exercises (no, you’re not seeing life in slow-motion—that’s just Tai Chi).
  • Marvel at the circular Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests, the focal point and most visually striking building in the park. Amazingly, this structure is held up only by wooden columns.
  • Hop on a flight from Beijing to Xi’an, where you will spend the next few days.
  • Bike along Xi’an’s ancient wall and score some amazing views of the city. Don’t worry about falling off—the wall is 50 feet wide!

Free Time Suggestions
Silly Goose: The Giant Wild Goose Pagoda (one of those tiered towers you picture when someone mentions China) is one of many Buddhist pagodas found throughout China. Its original purpose was to hold relics of Buddha, and now it serves locals and tourists a spectacular view of Xi’an. If you’re lucky you can also experience a musical fountain show nearby.
Take to the Streets: No trip to Xi’an would be complete without exploring the abundant variety of intriguing street food. From lamb on a stick to cake on a stick to stewed pork burgers (not on a stick), your taste buds will be endlessly tantalized.

Day 6: Tour Xi'an

Get ready to experience some serious Chinese culture and history with a local guide. First, visit the Terracotta Army, one of the most impressive archeological sites in the world. No, it’s not CGI—there are that many warriors (8,000 in total). When you’re done oohing and ahhing, visit the bustling Muslim Quarter for good eats and great people-watching.

Today's Highlights:

  • Wake up from your street food-induced coma, and get ready for a full day in Xi'an.
  • Explore the Terracotta Warrior museum complex where thousands of individually sculpted, ceramic warriors are located.
  • Look closely at the features of each warrior, and notice that their faces are all slightly different (easy when you're an emperor and have 700,000 people helping).
  • Journey through the Muslim Quarter, and immerse yourself in this bustling local experience.

Day 7: Visit Huashan Mountain

You’re headed to the mountains. Specifically, Mount Huashan. Tourists and locals flock to these mountains for hiking, exploring, and transcendent views of the countryside. Pro tip: take lots of mountain selfies—they’ll crush on Instagram.

Today's Highlights:

  • Travel by bus to the base of Mount Huashan, where the adventure begins.
  • Take the cable car to the summit of the mountain.
  • Look out (past the hordes of sweaty hikers), and take in the stunning, green mountains in the distance.
  • Spread your wings, close your eyes, and fly above the dreamy Chinese landscapes (note: for birds only).

Day 8: Travel to Chengdu

Say zàijiàn to Xi’an, and ni hao to Chengdu. That’s goodbye and hello in Mandarin. And that concludes our Mandarin lesson for the day.

Today's Highlights:

  • Travel by train to the historic city of Chengdu.
  • Get oriented to the city with a bus and walking tour with your Tour Director.
  • Step into historic Chengdu as you meander the Wide and Narrow Alleys, a series of streets that feel wide...and narrow...and then wide again.
  • Settle in, grab some food, and head out from some free time in Chengdu.

Free Time Suggestions
Dot the i's and Cross the Teas: Visit He Ming Teahouse, an authentic spot located in People’s Park. Sit at a bamboo table next to the pond, and enjoy unlimited tea, surrounded by chirping birds and buzzing insects. For a little something extra, consider an ear-cleaning session (you are here to experience culture, right?).
Temple Time: Check out Wénshu Temple, Chengdu’s largest Buddhist temple, and haven for relaxation and solitude. Wander through, smell the incense, appreciate the architecture, and maybe even try the vegetarian restaurant nearby.

Day 9: Tour Chengdu + Optional Sichuan Opera

Chengdu is known for many things, but if there’s one thing that keeps people coming year after year, it’s the pandas. You know, those black and white bears that eat nothing but bamboo (AKA big grass). You’re about to lay eyes on these gentle-looking giants (though don’t try to hug one—they’re not gentle at all).

Today's Highlights:

  • Visit the Chengdu Panda Base, a non-profit research and breeding center, where you'll learn everything there is to know about pandas.
  • Watch pandas do what they do best: eat, climb, sleep, and eat some more.
  • Return to the city center and explore Jinli, an ancient pedestrian street where you can shop and buy as many stuffed animal pandas as you want.
  • Fulfill your tea quota by stopping at one of the many teahouses that line the streets.

Sichuan Opera(extra cost)

Go to a tea house and enjoy a traditional Sichuan opera. Unlike a Western opera, a Chinese opera has no obvious start and finish. Rather, it’s a somewhat random combination of fire spitting, hand shadows, puppet shows, and acrobatics. Plus, the most impressive part of the evening, face changing, in which performers change between several colorful masks so quickly, you’ll swear it’s magic. Have a cup of tea and enjoy a music-filled, whimsical night. Then take your experience to the next level by partaking in one of the following: shoulder massages, ear cleaning, make-up lessons, or opera costume dressing.

Why wait? Save money by booking this optional excursion before your trip departs.

Day 10: Travel to Shanghai

Fly to Shanghai, China’s biggest and most cosmopolitan city. Shanghai is changing even faster than Beijing. There’s development everywhere you look, and the people are always up on the latest trends, fashions and technology. Also, locals speak Shanghainese, a dialect so different from other Chinese dialects, hardly anyone outside of Shanghai can understand it. Exclusive much?

Today's Highlights:

  • Fly from Chengdu to Shanghai, followed by a ride into the city on the Maglev train, one of the fastest in the world. Blink and you could miss it.
  • Orient yourself to one of the most populous cities in the world.
  • Gape at people on stilts, giant puppets, and colorful costumes at a traditional Chinese acrobatics show.

Day 11: Tour Shanghai + Optional Dumpling Cooking Class

See the city of Shanghai with a local guide. From a giant Buddha to a giant garden to a giant skyscraper, it’s safe to say that today is going to be a big day.

Today's Highlights:

  • Go on a walking tour of Shanghai with a local guide.
  • Marvel at the carved Buddha made entirely of jade sitting high up in a chair.
  • Walk through Yuyuan Garden and admire the trees, flowers, and giant jade rock, originally meant for the imperial palace of Beijing.
  • Ride the elevator to the top of the city's tallest building, the Shanghai World Financial Center.
  • Wander along the Bund, once considered the "Wall Street of the East." Take in the great views of the city as you make your way along the landscaped promenade overlooking the water.

Dumpling Cooking Class(extra cost)

Put on your chef’s hat and head to a local restaurant or cooking school. The chef will first demonstrate how to make the dumpling, and then you will have a chance to try it yourself. When you’re finished, dig in. Hopefully you did a good job, but if not (or if you’re still hungry), there will be side dishes provided.

Why wait? Save money by booking this optional excursion before your trip departs.

Day 12: Visit Zhujiajiao

Just outside of Shanghai is a village known as Zhujiajiao. And what makes this village special is the way in which most people get around town: boats. Zhujiajiao is a water village, which means most of its “roads” are actually made of water.

Today's Highlights:

  • Travel by bus to Zhujiajiao where you'll encounter a one-of-a-kind Chinese experience: an ancient water village.
  • See if you can spot all 36 bridges as you tour the old town on foot and by boat with your Tour Director.
  • Relax as you walk through the Kezhi Gardens, a quaint, green oasis with plants, traditional Chinese architecture, and—you guessed it—water!
  • Visit the old Qing dynasty post office, now a museum, and learn about the history of sending and receiving mail. (Fun fact: China was one of the first countries to have a postal service system—circa 200 BC).
  • Head back to the cosmopolitan mecca of Shanghai and enjoy the rest of the afternoon and evening free to do as you please.

Free Time Suggestions
M50: Spend a few hours wandering the galleries of M50, an industrial art complex located in old factories, showcasing all kinds of Chinese art. If you want to be cool, hip, and edgy, this is your spot.
Alley-way to go: Tiánzifáng is a maze-like series of streets that house some of the most interesting design studios, cafes, and shops in Shanghai. If a shop intrigues you, go inside; you will not be disappointed.

Day 13: Travel to Hong Kong

Take the short flight to Hong Kong. This city is modern, stunning (both in the natural and man-made sense), and home to some of the best food in the world. Combine this with the overabundance of neon, and prepare for sensory overload.

Today's Highlights:

  • Fly from Shanghai to Hong Kong.
  • Orient yourself to the city; walk around, admire the water, the skyline, and start readying your taste buds.
  • Take in spectacular views of the city as you float across the Harbor on the double-decker Star Ferry cruise. This used to be the main mode of transport, but now it serves as a fun, throwback experience (talk about #tbt, amirite?).
  • Follow the lights as they jump from building to building during the Symphony of Lights. It’s like that Pink Floyd laser show you never went to (but way cooler).

Day 14: Tour Hong Kong

The city can be a bit dizzying, with so much going on around you. Not to worry—a local will bring Hong Kong into focus. By the end of the day, you’ll be wishing you could stay a few extra days. Or weeks. Or months—yeah, you’ll want to stay forever.

Today's Highlights:

  • Ride the tram up to Victoria Peak for great views of the city, harbor, and neighboring islands.
  • See Repulse Bay, Hong Kong's popular beach (not repulsive at all, contrary to its name), and Aberdeen Harbor, world famous for its floating restaurants.
  • Put on your bargaining shoes, and walk through Stanley Market, a traditional street market on Hong Kong Island.
  • Finish up at Man Mo Temple—this old and famous incense-filled temple is dedicated to two gods (one civil and one military).
  • Enjoy an included dim sum lunch in the Tsim Sha Tsui neighborhood. Dim sum is a traditional style of Chinese cuisine consisting of small bites, usually served in a basket. It’s like your grocery basket, but everything is already cooked and there are more dumplings.

Free Time Suggestions
Drive a Hard Bargain: Head to the Temple Street Night Market for a taste (literally and figuratively) of Hong Kong. It’s a bustling atmosphere of locals and tourists alike, and for good reason; eat any (or all) of the street food, and try your hand at bargaining with store owners for clothes, watches, and ancient Chinese secrets.
Kowloon Walled City Park: You wouldn’t know it, but this park used to be a walled city, home to 30,000 people. In 1993, the city was demolished, and the government put a park in its place. Now you can relax among the ponds, turtles, goldfish, and beautiful flora.

Day 15: Free Day in Hong Kong + Lantau Island (Optional)

It’s your last day in China. Don’t cry—just get out there and see some stuff! Head back to some of your favorite spots, or explore something new, like an excursion to Lantau Island.

Today's Highlights:

  • See the sites and the city at your own pace.
  • Take advantage of your last day in China by eating as much Chinese food as possible. Then rest, and repeat.
  • Brush up on your Chinese culture and history—visit one of the many museums the city has to offer.
  • Try your hand at some more bargaining as you shop your way through Hong Kong.

Free Time Suggestions
For your Amusement: Ocean Park is a large amusement park with roller coasters, rides, and a marine park with dolphins and killer whales. It’s the largest park of its kind in Asia. Move over Disneyland (which is also in Hong Kong btw).
Shop 'Til You Drop: Shopping is practically a national pastime here; Tsim Sha Tsui is a very popular area to browse and buy. When you’re tired from shopping, stop for Yum cha, unlimited dim sum and bottomless tea (Hong Kong’s version of a bottomless mimosa brunch).

Farewell Dinner
Share some last laughs (and maybe shed a few tears) at an included farewell dinner with the group.

Lantau Island(extra cost)

Lantau Island, the largest of Hong Kong’s 230 islands, is yours to explore! Begin with a 25-minute cable car ride that offers panoramic views of the South China Sea. Visit the Po Lin Precious Lotus monastery and then climb stairs to the island’s main attraction: the world’s tallest, outdoor, seated bronze Buddha. How tall, you ask? 111 feet to be exact. And it weighs over 250 tons (that’s more than the Statue of Liberty).

Why wait? Save money by booking this optional excursion before your trip departs.

Day 16: Fly Home

Zàijiàn, péngyoumen!
Translation: Goodbye, friends. Your next destination awaits—home. Before you head to the airport, enjoy your last few moments together. Take one more group photo. Grab that final drink. (Fine, maybe a couple of drinks.) But this isn’t goodbye. It’s “See you later.” The only question is, where?

–OR–

EXTEND YOUR TRIP 2 WAYS

1. Double the fun
A lot of our trips line up back to back! Give us a call—we can help you add another and save big while you're at it.

2. Go ahead or stay behind
Extending your trip is easy! During checkout, you'll have the option to fly to (or from) the gateway of your choice for an additional fee. We'll adjust your flights accordingly, but you'll be responsible to take care of your transportation, hotels, and other logistics outside of tour.

Note: Depending on your desired gateways, additional fees may apply.

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