The Essence of China vacation

Hello. If you'd like to chat about this holiday or need help finding one we're very happy to help. Rosy & team.

01273 823 700

Map

Check dates, prices & availability

Date
Price
Basis
04 Mar 2017
£ 2330
excluding flights
2 spaces left
Click here to enquire about or book the 04 Mar 2017 departure
08 Apr 2017
£ 2330
excluding flights
5 spaces left
Click here to enquire about or book the 08 Apr 2017 departure
15 Apr 2017
£ 2355
excluding flights
Departure Guaranteed
Click here to enquire about or book the 15 Apr 2017 departure
22 Apr 2017
£ 2355
excluding flights
Departure Guaranteed
Click here to enquire about or book the 22 Apr 2017 departure
06 May 2017
£ 2470
excluding flights
7 spaces left
Click here to enquire about or book the 06 May 2017 departure
20 May 2017
£ 2445
excluding flights
Departure Guaranteed
Click here to enquire about or book the 20 May 2017 departure
17 Jun 2017
£ 2445
excluding flights
Departure Guaranteed
Click here to enquire about or book the 17 Jun 2017 departure
01 Jul 2017
£ 2355
excluding flights
Departure Guaranteed
Click here to enquire about or book the 01 Jul 2017 departure
22 Jul 2017
£ 2265
excluding flights
Departure Guaranteed
Click here to enquire about or book the 22 Jul 2017 departure
05 Aug 2017
£ 2355
excluding flights
Departure Guaranteed
Click here to enquire about or book the 05 Aug 2017 departure
19 Aug 2017
£ 2355
excluding flights
Departure Guaranteed
Click here to enquire about or book the 19 Aug 2017 departure
26 Aug 2017
£ 2445
excluding flights
Departure Guaranteed
Click here to enquire about or book the 26 Aug 2017 departure
02 Sep 2017
£ 2445
excluding flights
Departure Guaranteed
Click here to enquire about or book the 02 Sep 2017 departure
09 Sep 2017
£ 2495
excluding flights
4 spaces left
Click here to enquire about or book the 09 Sep 2017 departure
07 Oct 2017
£ 2355
excluding flights
Departure Guaranteed
Click here to enquire about or book the 07 Oct 2017 departure
14 Oct 2017
£ 2265
excluding flights
Departure Guaranteed
Click here to enquire about or book the 14 Oct 2017 departure
21 Oct 2017
£ 2265
excluding flights
Departure Guaranteed
Click here to enquire about or book the 21 Oct 2017 departure
28 Oct 2017
£ 2265
excluding flights
Departure Guaranteed
Click here to enquire about or book the 28 Oct 2017 departure
10 Mar 2018
£ 2380
excluding flights
Available
Click here to enquire about or book the 10 Mar 2018 departure
14 Apr 2018
£ 2470
excluding flights
Available
Click here to enquire about or book the 14 Apr 2018 departure
21 Apr 2018
£ 2470
excluding flights
Available
Click here to enquire about or book the 21 Apr 2018 departure
05 May 2018
£ 2565
excluding flights
Available
Click here to enquire about or book the 05 May 2018 departure
19 May 2018
£ 2565
excluding flights
Available
Click here to enquire about or book the 19 May 2018 departure
23 Jun 2018
£ 2565
excluding flights
Available
Click here to enquire about or book the 23 Jun 2018 departure
30 Jun 2018
£ 2470
excluding flights
Available
Click here to enquire about or book the 30 Jun 2018 departure
21 Jul 2018
£ 2380
excluding flights
Available
Click here to enquire about or book the 21 Jul 2018 departure
04 Aug 2018
£ 2470
excluding flights
Available
Click here to enquire about or book the 04 Aug 2018 departure
18 Aug 2018
£ 2470
excluding flights
Available
Click here to enquire about or book the 18 Aug 2018 departure
25 Aug 2018
£ 2565
excluding flights
Available
Click here to enquire about or book the 25 Aug 2018 departure
01 Sep 2018
£ 2565
excluding flights
Available
Click here to enquire about or book the 01 Sep 2018 departure
08 Sep 2018
£ 2565
excluding flights
Available
Click here to enquire about or book the 08 Sep 2018 departure
13 Oct 2018
£ 2470
excluding flights
Available
Click here to enquire about or book the 13 Oct 2018 departure
20 Oct 2018
£ 2380
excluding flights
Available
Click here to enquire about or book the 20 Oct 2018 departure
27 Oct 2018
£ 2380
excluding flights
Available
Click here to enquire about or book the 27 Oct 2018 departure
Vouchers
Accepted
Holiday type

Small group adventure

What is a small group adventure?
It's a great way to travel! Whether you are travelling on your own, with a partner or with friends, a small group trip is a fantastic way to see the world. You'll travel on a fixed itinerary that has been designed to help you discover the best of region. From the known highlights, the hidden gems that you won't find in the guidebooks.

Itineraries run on set departure dates, accompanied every step of the way by an English speaking local group leader. You chose the itinerary and the date that suits you best and you book on.

Why travel on a small group adventure?
Small groups allow us to explore where larger tour groups can't. Our maximum group size of 16 travellers allows us to use local transport to get from A to B, to visit rural villages, spend time with the locals and even stay at a local home overnight, and it allows us to give our travellers genuine, real life experiences of the countries we are visiting; what you'll be doing and how you'll travel depends entirely on your chosen itinerary.

Is an adventure right for me?
The word adventure means something different to everyone, and our range of trips reflects that. Whether you want to explore local markets, visit out of the way temples and meet local people or go on an early morning safari drive searching for the 'big five', we'll have a trip for you. If you are looking for a physical challenge such trekking the Kokoda Track or summiting Kilimanjaro, we can help with that too.

So what can I expect on this trip?
This is a classic style of small group adventure. You'll find your trip combines a good mix of included activities and free time, with some meals included as per your itinerary. We don't want you to feel chaperoned, it's your holiday not ours. Your group leader will be on hand to assist with organising anything you might wish to do in your free time, but how you spend it is up to you. Anything listed as included in your itinerary will be included in trip price; whereas anything listed as optional will be at an additional cost should you wish to take part.

These trips are great value, including things that you would struggle to organise independently, such as a night at a homestay in a remote village, or local guides around a remote place of interest. Transport will be a combination of private vehicle and public transport, whichever is the most appropriate for the route we are travelling; this might include train, plane, camel, tuk tuk, bicycle, boat…

On a majority of these trips you'll stay in 2-3 star accommodation, locally owned and reflective of the region you are travelling through. All solo travellers will be automatically roomed on a twin share basis with another group member of the same sex, unless you opt to pay for your own room at time of booking. There are no compulsory single supplements for solo travellers willing to share. Single rooms aren't available on camping trips, and you will be expected to help out with camp tasks such as setting up and breaking down your camp.

Can I book my flights with you?
Yes! We are a fully ATOL bonded tour operator meaning that we can book flights from the UK as part of your holiday package. Just ask us for a quote including flights when you make your enquiry.
“They find out it’s very different to what they expected. There are so many people here who are so happy with their lives.”

Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: The Essence of China vacation

Environment

- We provide all travellers with reusable bags and chopsticks in order to avoid waste.
- We encourage the use of “tea flasks” for drinking water (or tea, like the locals do!) so as not to purchase multiple plastic bottles. Safe drinking water is available in all our accommodation and transport. Any bottles that are purchased are given to the community of waste collectors who rely on this for an income.
- Wherever possible we take local transport. This can mean anything from public bus, trolley bus, tram or subway. We also have the opportunity to explore on bikes and on foot and travel overland on all our basic trips.

Community

- Food left over after group meals is collected and boxed up to be left where homeless/street people might easily find it and take it without them having to go through garbage for a meal.
- All suppliers are issued with RT recommendations in their local language and leaders and groups act as “ambassadors” for spreading the RT message not just to travellers but also trying to involve the local tourism industry.
- Informal local language lessons are included to give travellers a head start into understanding the culture and communicating with the people we meet along the way.
- When taking trains we travel 2nd or 3rd class (hard sleeper in China) which is the way the majority of locals travel - this gives us maximum chance to meet and share stories, food, games and the journey with local travellers.
- At the end of out journey we encourage our travellers to donate unwanted clothes, toiletries or other goods which we then distribute to local organisations. - Our tour leaders are all Chinese locals.
Join your leader for a walking tour through Old Beijing along the ancient network of alleyways and lanes known as hutong to see how important it is to protect cultural heritage in the face of rapid development.

While in Yangshuo we have the opportunity to participate in the Volunteer English Teaching program for rural kids in one of the villages around or attend a conversation class for teenagers in the city. On the way back from the Terracotta Warriors, there is a chance to stop in for lunch with a village family. Also in Xi’an we can meet with our friends at Xi'an Huiling (meaning "wise spirit") - a special project for people with intellectual disabilities.

Reviews of The Essence of China vacation

You can trust Responsible Travel reviews because, unlike many other schemes, reviews can ONLY be written by people who we have verified have been on the holidays.

I am reborn! Simply the best holiday I have ever been on
Some great stories to tell the grandchildren. Would recommend to a friend
Very enjoyable
It was OK
A bit disappointing really

Reviewed on 21 Oct 2010 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Great Wall walk

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Pack for all eventualities especially weather related. The travelling is tough but the reality is never as bad as expected.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


Yes for the first and no for the second

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Excellent

Reviewed on 04 Sep 2010 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


There are several memorable parts of our holiday including the thrill of seeing the Terracotta soldiers, the interesting landscape around Yangshuo and the boat trip on the Yangzi. We enjoyed the interactions with the local people, and the opportunity to learn the culture and language.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


We are Brits, so taking our own tea bags proved to be very beneficial. It is important to be flexible about some of the bathroom arrangements in some of the locations we stayed at. We were disappointed with the Monastery at Baoguo, due to the very poor sanitary arrangements. This unfortunately put a barrier to enjoying the tranquility of the setting. Our main guide spoke good English, some of the local guides need some more training and practice to enhance their skills. We encourage travellers to help the guides develop their language skills.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


We tried hard to be friendly and engage with the local people, we believe that our friendship was very well received and the cash contributions helped the incomes of the people. We always try to economise with consumption and the operator’s travel tips such as travelling with trains and to use your own water bottles were good ideas too.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


We found our guide Sunny was very helpful and his attitude to helping us was great. The overall holiday was excellent, and the group we travelled with were very nice. We thought that the trip itinerary was well designed and we thank the operator management and staff for the opportunity to have this wonderful experience.

Reviewed on 28 Sep 2009 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Hiking the wall. Yangshao, particularly the hot air balloon ride and the day spent cycling, shame we can't squeeze in another night here. The mountain hike especially the golden summit and never has a restaurant been a more welcome sight than the Hard Wok Cafe.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Be prepared for the sleeper trains, there is no privacy on them and if you end up with an end compartment the smoke can really impact you. Provide travellers with the option to upgrade to a soft sleeper but outline the pros and cons (you might not be with the rest of the group, if you are sharing still odd sleeping with a stranger a metre away from you etc. Be prepared for the squat toilets, they really take some getting used to! A water bag like Camelbak is really useful for the hikes, particularly in the hot weather as it encourages you to drink more on those long, sweaty walks. The hot air balloon in Yangshao is really worth the money, excellent views in such a beautiful place. When in Beijing check out the Olympic stadium, it really is a surreal experience.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


Seeing the Hui Ling charity was an excellent way of seeing how some of the money goes to help people, wasn't sure before we got there whether it might be a weird outing as other tour companies sometimes do these trips to "see the locals" and it feels like outright exploitation. This visit was really fun, was nice to spend some time playing games in the courtyard afterwards. I didn't really notice the minimised impact to the environment beyond the operator’s bags (very useful) and the chopsticks.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


I had a brilliant time, the tour was amazing, I got to see some really different parts of China and loved every day of it. Our tour leader Tracy really made the trip enjoyable, she was so caring and considerate towards the group and to all we encountered, she really was great.

Reviewed on 15 Sep 2009 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


The Li River and surrounding area - the bamboo boat ride, cookery school, bike ride and cormorant fishing were all great, and set against some of the most beautiful scenery in the world.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Be prepared for hard beds - on the trains and in hotels!

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


Not particularly, we ate in smaller local restaurants and had cotton bags to use as an alternative to carrier bags. We chose to drink bottled water, but water purification tablets could be used if desired.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Fantastic, wonderful, amazing. China is an extremely diverse country, and this trip encompases a wide cross-section of it. From big cities to mountain walks, we have seen and done so much in our 3 short weeks.

Read the operator's response here:

Hi Victoria. Thank you for your feedback, we are pleased to hear that you a great trip with us and I just wanted to clarify how our trips benefit the local community and minimise impacts to the environment.

There are a number of basic ways in which we try to minimise our impact such as implementing waste reduction practices. Reusing plastic bags, water bottles and using our own set of chopsticks (instead of disposable ones). We stay in monasteries at Emeishan and a smaller locally owned guesthouse in Yangshou. In most places we use guides from the local areas we visit. In Yangshou many of our guides are from farming families in the surrounding areas and our business creates many benefits for people of the area.

Since 1999 we have been supporting a local charity in the Yangshou area called Project Hope. Money raised through passenger donations has been used to assist over 30 local children from poor families to continue their schooling through to completion. Without this type of assistance these children would have to drop out of school, severely limiting their future opportunities. Some money raised has also been used to provide teaching and sporting equipment for some of the most disadvantaged schools in the area. At the end of this trip, in Hong Kong or Beijing, we are happy to collect unwanted clothing to distribute through local charities.

Reviewed on 19 Jun 2008 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Cycling through the Yangshou countryside in the pouring rain and getting caked in mud, what great fun we had and such beautiful scenery around us. The great wall had to be the highlight but such hard work, definitely make sure you take plenty of water and a good comfortable pair of trainers or walking shoes, you’ll need them !!!!

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Make sure you pack light, you wont need half as much as you think you do and it may be a good idea to take a small pac'a'mac.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


I do feel that local people/charities benefited from our trip, especially in Beijing when we visited the Hulin Charity, we had such a great time there. I also liked the fact that we traveled by train and local transport rather than using planes, it was much more enjoyable looking out the window seeing the amazing scenery of rural china passing us by.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


It really was a holiday of a life time, we had such a great group of people and we couldn’t have asked for a better guide than Jennifer. We saw so many amazing things and even though we went out so close to the earthquake and our itinerary had to be changed it was re-routed so we saw other great things instead, Shanghai and then to the Shaolin Temple so we didn’t feel that we had missed out. I would recommend this trip a hundred times over to anyone, we’ve had such a great time and I can’t wait to plan my next adventure.

Reviewed on 29 Sep 2008 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


This "Best of China" tour (14-27 September 2008) was a joy. I liked best the city of Xi'an, the cruise on the Yangtzee River and tributaries, and the climb on the Great Wall (Simatai section). It's hard to pinpoint ONE memorable part, but eating Chinese dishes was a major highlight for me as well!

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


One slight drawback is that if there is the odd person (in numbers) on the trip, that he/she gets a single room. I would have preferred to be given a choice of whether I wanted to share or have that single room. Only because there was another woman was I assigned to share a room with her. The guy got the single because there were no guys to share with. I feel this discriminates (putting sexes together), without at least giving a choice to those others. I would have been willing to share with the guy!/ Nor should he feel exclusive to have a single room, just because he has no other guy to room with. Also, bring ear plugs for snoring roommates, trains, and boats!

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


No. We should have stayed in small hotels or guesthouses which were well equipped and owned by families. Instead, we stayed in 3 star + hotels when in the cities. Why not book rooms in Hostels, for instance, which have lots of amenities for small groups?

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Our guide, Jenny, made the tour very smooth and efficient in use of time. Out of 1-10 (ten being superb), I would rate this tour at 7 (seven).

Read the operator's response here:

Hi Carol, Thank you for your detailed feedback on your trip. With regard to the accommodation, it has always been our ethos to stay in small locally owned and run hotels or guesthouse. Unfortunately our choices in China are a little restricted by local government legislation which defines the standard of hotels we must use. We always ensure that we choose hotels that are centrally located to local amenities and attractions so that you can maximise you time in each location.

It is very pleasing to hear that overall you enjoyed your time in China with us and thank you for taking the time to pass on your comments.

Reviewed on 11 May 2008 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


The big draws like the Great Wall and Terracotta Warriors didn't disappoint, but my favourite part was the three days we spent in and around Mount Emei and staying in monasteries.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


I enjoyed the amount of free time involved which allowed for some independent wandering around particular towns and cities, but it does mean you need to have a bit of self-motivation to get the best out of the trip.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


We certainly ate in very locally run restaurants and used local tour guides and bus operators. We were given our own chopsticks to avoid using wasteful, disposable ones and fabric bags to use for shopping.

The town of Yangshuo in Guilin is very westernised and tourist-orientated, to the extent some villagers we encountered on a bike ride were deliberately setting up "cute" photo opportunities in the hope we'd pay to take their picture. That was quite disconcerting... and made me think less tourism to that area could be a good thing.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Extremely good. A great combination of old and new, city and countryside, organised activities and free time to do things independently.

Reviewed on 27 Jun 2007 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Our cruise along the Li River - the scenery was just amazing and after all the trekking it was a really rewarding rest...even more so than the monasteries!

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Make sure you have a copy of the trip notes with you so that you know where you're going but be prepared for them not to be up-to-date or to be changed by things (e.g. staying an extra night due to bad boats &c). Don't leave your chopsticks anywhere either...they're so useful.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


Well that's where our chopsticks came in so we didn't have to use disposable ones. We visited and therefore supported the Hulin centre in Beijing which is a centre for mentally disabled trainees to learn life skills like cooking and running their own business. We also didn't do any internal flights - all sleeper trains - and bike riding reducing our carbon footprint. The change left over from meals went into the Spring Bud plan helping unwanted girls in orphanages. So I think we did quite well really!

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Marvellous. Gorgeous scenery, amazing food and we got a real chance to meet and talk to the local people. Would recommend it to anyone as long as you've got a good state of health and can stand some spicy food.

Reviewed on 16 Nov 2007 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Difficult to say as there is so much to see but one of the most memorable for me was visiting the Huiling near the Forbidden City in Beijing. The people were so welcoming & entertaining. Of course I could mention the pandas, staying at the monastery on a mountain guarded by monkeys, the three lesser gorges, cycling through the Yangshuo countryside...

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Travel light & allow space for purchases! Of the optional activities I definitely recommend going to the spa near the Baguo monastery (Emei Shan), Sichuan cultural show and the Summer Palace in Beijing. You can get a tailor-made Mandarin Dress in the Muslim Quarter, Xian (costs about £20).

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


Yes the company used local tour guides, recycling was encouraged and we visited a Huiling (a community group/charity for local people with learning disabilities).

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


It was very good and I would choose this type of holiday again. Our group of 12 bonded really well, the local guides were very informative & we saw so much in a short space of time. There is a lot of travelling involved including overnight trains but the standard of accommodation is very high.

Reviewed on 09 Nov 2007 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


The food and also how well the group got on together. We had some great nights out.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Take a phrase book. The rules of the road are very different in China to the UK so every road crossing involves dicing with death; however towards the end of the trip we were crossing roads like a local. "Walking" the Great Wall involves a lot of scrambling and climbing of steep steps, but is great fun and the views are amazing.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


Local guides were used where necessary. We had to obtain most of our meals ourselves so we generally chose street stalls and local restaurants. We were given chopsticks at the beginning of the trip so minimising the use of disposable bamboo ones. As we travelled extensively and stayed in standard hotels I am not sure that our impact on the environment was minimised.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Had a great time but feel there is still a lot of China to explore.

Reviewed on 21 Sep 2007 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


I loved going on a day trip on the river in Chengdu and watching the cormorant fishing at night. Having a very large bird sitting on your arm is definitely a memorable experience!

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Make sure you try as many local specialities as possible. We even braved scorpion and snake in Beijing. I would take a pillow case with me next time, as some of the pillows on the trains and boat aren't always completely clean.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


We did lots of activities led by local people, who were able to share their knowledge and experiences with us. It was amazing going to the Huton in Beijing and meeting all the people living there. It was a pleasure to buy the things they had made and support them.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


I had a fantastic time. We had a great guide and a really fun group of people, who made the whole trip so special. I would definitely recommend this trip for anyone.

Reviewed on 16 Aug 2007 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Cycling through the fairytale scenery of Yangshao and lunching with the amazing Farmer Tang. Surreal monastery stays. Everything about Chengdu including the pandas. Terracotta warriors despite the tourist madness. Walking the wall. The Chinese people.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Pack and then throw out half! You can buy anything you need in China, let's face it, most of your stuff is probably made there. Carrying your pack in the heat is a bore.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


Yes.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Excellent, exceeded expectations.

Reviewed on 06 Aug 2007 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


The Shanghai Acrobats
The Forbidden City
The Yangzi River trip
and The Temple of Heaven

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


No matter what age you are - make sure you are physically fit. Don't kid yourself - it could affect the rest of your group.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


I don't think the local economy was greatly benefited by our visit. However, I feel the company do their best to ensure that the impact ion the environment is kept to as low as possible.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Our leader was first rate - very knowledgeable on not only her own culture and country but also very au fait with Western culture and thought. Overall I had a very enjoyable holiday.

Popular similar holidays

Exciting family holiday in China

Exciting family holiday in China

An exciting family holiday taking in the highlights of China

From £1650 - £2000 16 days excluding flights

China and Japan holiday, Beijing to Tokyo

China and Japan holiday, Beijing to Tokyo

Incredible journey showcasing the best of two ancient cultures

From £3199 - £3459 18 days excluding flights

South East China holiday, culture & nature

South East China holiday, culture & nature

Discover ethnic minorities and natural wonders of China

From €1950 10 days excluding flights

Trans-Mongolian Express, Eastbound

Trans-Mongolian Express, Eastbound

Russia to China on the Trans-Siberian Railway

From £2555 - £2885 20 days excluding flights

Convert currencies