South China Getaway

South China Getaway

From $ 1,360 AUD


How do you get a grasp of China in just over a week? The big cities, misty countryside, sleepy rural villages and varied cuisine may seem overwhelming, but on a nine-day Lonely Planet Experience from Shanghai heading south, you’ll gain a tasteful insight into the tapestries of history and deep-seated traditions that make this region shine. Discover Yangshuo’s literary landscapes, Longji’s terraced rice fields, and the longtangs and tucked-away neighbourhoods that make Shanghai and Hong Kong such thriving centres of cuisine, culture and industry. Plus, with a group of likeminded adventurers joining you each step of the way, you’ll have more than one eager companion to share a plate of dumplings.

Trip Name
South China Getaway
Last Updated
  • The bright city lights of Shanghai are a perfect place to begin – stroll along the Bud, explore the ancient longtangs and get a taste of the renowned cuisine. You’ll definitely need more than a day!
  • In Longji, hike the beautiful rice terraces that snake through the mountains of Longsheng like giant dragons, and visit hill tribe communities to learn of a local way of living.
  • Enjoy time to sit back and relax beside the dramatic karst countryside of Yangshuo. This region, immortalised in countless traditional Chinese paintings, is a haven of exploration.
  • Local knowledge goes a long way when it comes to really discovering the south of China. And with a leader to offer suggestions and tips along the way, you’ll be exploring, eating and drinking the best of the best.
  • Cross the border into cosmopolitan Hong Kong – one of the world’s global cities, and a perfect place to extend your stay. Why not dig a little deeper and explore its up-and-coming neighbourhoods.


ITINERARY CHANGES: Our itineraries are updated regularly throughout the year based on customer feedback and to reflect the current situation in each destination. The information included in this Essential Trip Information may therefore differ from when you first booked your trip. It is important that you print and review a final copy prior to travel so that you have the latest updates. Due to weather, local conditions, transport schedules, public holidays or other factors, further changes may be necessary to your itinerary once in country. The order and timing of included activities in each location may also vary seasonally to ensure our travellers have the best experience. Your tour leader will keep you up to date with any changes once on tour. OPTIONAL ACTIVITIES: A selection of optional activities that have been popular with past travellers are listed in the day-to-day itinerary. This isn't an exhaustive list and should be used as a guide only for some of what might be available. Prices are approximate, are for entrance only, and don’t include transport to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. All activities are subject to availability, and may be on a join-in basis. It may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination, so some pre-planning for what you are most interested in is advised. When it's recommended that travellers pre-book these activities, look for a note in the Special Information section of the day-to-day itinerary. For most, they can either be organised independently on the day, or let your leader know you are interested and they can assist. Where activities are considered medium or high risk, we work with operators whose safety and credentials we have sighted and assessed. Although it is possible that you may find the same activity cheaper with another operator on the ground, we cannot vouch for the safety or quality of that operator. Medium and high risk activities not listed above have not been assessed by us and as such our staff and leaders are unable to assist you with organising these activities. Activities that contravene our Responsible Travel policies are also not listed. Please remember that the decision to partake in any activity not listed is at your own discretion and risk.

Day 1 - Shanghai
Nimen hao! Welcome to China. Blending 21st-century architecture with old-world character, Shanghai pulses with the beat of new China. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm this evening where you'll meet your tour leader and fellow travellers. Settle into your hotel and then get a feel for this vibrant city – Shanghai’s bright lights, fevered trade and frenetic pace provide a glimpse into the dazzling global future of the country. This evening, keep the introductions going with your travel crew – perhaps get a taste of Shanghai’s eclectic food scene, which draws influence from far beyond China’s boundaries.
Day 2 - Shanghai – Overnight Train
This morning, enjoy some free time to get a bigger taste of Shanghai. You could visit the Propaganda Museum for a fascinating look at China's revolutionary past, get a bird's-eye view of the city from the Pearl Tower's observation decks, daydream of a 1920s Shanghai along the Bud, wander the Yuyuan Gardens and Bazaar, barter in markets, stroll through modern Pudong or explore ancient longtangs. So much to do! Keep in mind you’ll be boarding an overnight train from Shanghai to Guilin some time this afternoon (approximately 18–20 hours). Train travel in China may not be entirely luxurious but it's certainly one of the best ways to come face-to-face with the country and its people, as it's the main form of transport for locals.
Day 3 - Longji Rice Terraces
Disembark the train in Guilin and jump on a bus to Longji. The Longji region has some of the most extensive rice terraces around. These terraces change with the seasons – filled with water from the mountains before planting, becoming green during the growing season and then golden when the rice is ready for harvest. This evening you’ll spend the night in the village of Dazhai, which is home to local Yao communities. The Yao still preserve some of their traditional lifestyle and unique customs, for example you may notice that women don't cut their hair until they turn 16, when a haircut symbolises their entrance into adulthood. The hair is kept by the woman's grandmother until it is made into an ornamental headdress and presented to the woman's spouse.
Day 4 - Longji Rice Terraces
Today you’ll hike through the Longji Valley and its rice terraces, constructed over 500 years ago. This region is often referred to as the Dragon’s Backbone because the rice terraces resemble a dragon's scales, and the mountain ridge provides the ‘backbone’ of the dragon. Walk through stunning scenery, with its unique terraces for growing rice, alongside bamboo trees and chestnut forests. Despite some challenging hills, much of the hike is spent walking around over the stones, passing waterfalls and fields. After a day hiking and admiring the scenery, spend the night in the picturesque village of Ping'an.
Day 5 - Yangshuo
This morning, head on public transport towards Yangshuo (approximately 4 hours). Soak up the charm of this town, popular with many domestic and foreign travellers who come for the beautiful landscapes. It's also one of the best places in the country to get a feel for local cultures and traditions. The countryside around Yangshuo is immortalized in many traditional Chinese paintings – artists are drawn to the striking limestone karsts dotting the landscape, towering spectacularly over rice paddies and the meandering Li River. You might be wondering why it all looks so familiar – that’s because it’s pictured on every 20 yuan note.
Day 6 - Yangshuo
Today is a free day in Yangshuo. You could begin by focusing your body and mind with a morning tai chi class or kung fu lesson, and then stay active by hiring a bike and cycling past rural Chinese towns. You could climb up to Moon Hill – a limestone pinnacle with a moon-shaped hole penetrating the hill – or take a stroll along the river for some pretty stunning riverside vistas. For something a little less energetic, you could simply sit back and relax as you enjoy a relaxing cruise down the Li or Yulong River. Later, why not book a ticket to watch an outdoor light show staged by 2008 Beijing Olympics’ Opening Ceremony director Zhang Yimou.
Day 7 - Yangshuo
Another free day to explore at your leisure in Yangshuo. Freedom and flexibility are key today, and your local leader will be on hand to give you all their suggestions and tips. If you’re still feeling active, then up in the limestone hills are a number of caves that can be explored. If you’d rather see things from a different perspective, kit up in a rock-climbing harness and tackle one of the 300 rock-climbing routes. For a more laidback day, why not visit the local markets and get a feel for what’s grown in the region. You can then choose to put this new knowledge to use in a cooking class at the Yangshuo cooking school.
Day 8 - Hong Kong
This morning, travel by high-speed train to the Chinese–Hong Kong border at Shenzhen (approximately 4 hours). Walk a short distance from the train station to the border, go through procedures to exit China, and then enter Hong Kong. Once all that's done, you’ll travel on the KCR train to central Hong Kong. Hong Kong made itself known to the world as a British colony and, since the 1997 handover, the city has become a unique and fascinating place to see where the East really does meet West. Hong Kong's cityscape is spectacular, and its modernity and fast-paced way of doing things means it’s become a popular destination for travellers from around the world. Tonight, why not get together with your travel group and find a dim sum banquet to share – a sumptuous meal around a large table is a perfect way to celebrate your Lonely Planet adventure.
Day 9 - Hong Kong
With no activities planned for today, you are able to depart the accommodation after checkout. As there isn’t heaps of time spent in Hong Kong, we recommend spending a least an extra couple of days to see what this city has to offer. Yes, you’ve got Victoria Peak and the harbour’s light show, but what about the up-and-coming Sham Shui Po neighbourhood – full of boutiques, open-air street markets and Michelin-star hole-in-the-wall diners, or Tai Kwun – an old prison which has now been converted into a contemporary art and performance space. With so much to see and do, if you would like to spend more time here, we’ll be happy to organise additional accommodation (subject to availability).
Day 10 - Xiamen
Today is a free day for you to explore Xiamen. One of the highlights of this coastal city is the island of Gulang Yu, just across the harbour. It’s highly recommended that you jump on a ferry and head over to this island crammed full of historic mansions and villas, which is easily navigable by bike or on foot. The streets are filled with food vendors, handicraft stalls, and lovely cafes and restaurants to sit and relax. The island was declared an international settlement after the First Opium War in the late 19th century, and Europeans, Japanese and wealthy Chinese constructed lavish buildings during Xiamen’s time as an important port. Time in the city can be spent in the landscaped grounds of Xiamen University campus, surrounded by trendy bars and cafes where you might have a chat with some local students. Perhaps climb up the steps to Nanputuo Temple, one of the most important and active Buddhist sites in the region, which has beautiful views across the city and surrounds. Xiamen has many local specialty dishes, so tonight why not try something like Shacha Mian (noodles with peanut soup) for dinner.
Day 11 - Hong Kong
Today you’ll travel by high-speed train to the Chinese border at Shenzhen (approximately 4 hours). The China-Hong Kong border is busy, so there can often be a bit of a wait to get through and a lot of patience is required. On average, it takes around 2 hours to clear immigration and customs on both sides. Your bags will be with you during this time. Then you’ll walk the short distance from the train station to the border, go through procedures to exit China, and then enter Hong Kong. Once all that's done, you’ll travel on the KCR train to central Hong Kong. Hong Kong made itself known to the world as a British colony and, since the 1997 handover, the city has become a unique and fascinating place to see where the East really does meet the West. Hong Kong's cityscape is spectacular and its modern fast-paced life is only minutes from picturesque islands and beaches. Perhaps spend the last few hours of this trip searching out the best yum cha for a final sumptuous meal with your group.
Day 12 - Hong Kong
There are no activities planned for today and you are able to depart the accommodation at any time.

Trip Dates

StartEndPrice FromRoom Type
20-09-202028-09-2020AUD $ 1,360-
17-01-202125-01-2021AUD $ 1,425-
21-03-202129-03-2021AUD $ 1,385-
18-04-202126-04-2021AUD $ 1,385-
16-05-202124-05-2021AUD $ 1,385-
20-06-202128-06-2021AUD $ 1,385-
11-07-202119-07-2021AUD $ 1,385-
08-08-202116-08-2021AUD $ 1,385-
12-09-202120-09-2021AUD $ 1,385-
24-10-202101-11-2021AUD $ 1,385-
21-11-202129-11-2021AUD $ 1,385-


Hotel (5 nights),Guesthouse (2 nights),Overnight Sleeper Train (1 night)


Overnight Sleeper Train,High Speed Train,Subway,Private vehicle,Public Bus,Taxi