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History Appreciation & Scenic Guilin

B-108B: 17 Days China Tour from Johannesburg South Africa to Beijing Datong Pingyao    Xian Guilin - Longsheng - Guilin
  • Itinerary
Day 1 Johannesburg - Beijing
How to plan China tours from South Africa? The first thing may be to check the flight information so as to work out the brief itinerary. We suggest you fly from Johannesburg to Beijing, since direct flights CA868 0855/ 0515+1 from Air China and SA7132 0855/0505+1 from South African Airways are available every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Their flying time is 14 hours and 10 minutes. If there is no direct flight between the two cities on your travel date, you can take flight EK764 1915/0815+1 to Dubai first, have a transit stop there for 5.5 hours and then board flight EK308 1050/2220 to Beijing. Travelers from Cape Town and Durban may fly to Johannesburg or Dubai for a flight transfer to Beijing. For those who are from Bloemfontein or Port Elizabeth, Johannesburg is the only connecting city.

When preparing trips abroad, probably one of the most asked questions is "Do I need to buy travel insurance before my trip?" It is highly recommended to do so in case of unforeseen circumstances, such as baggage delay, medical emergencies, and trip cancellation. Anyway, we hope you will have a pleasant journey without any sudden and unexpected incidents.
Day 2 Beijing - Datong
Yungang Grottoes, Datong
You will arrive at Beijing Capital Airport today. If you haven't visited Beijing before, we suggest you book a hotel here for three nights to visit the most popular highlights of the city. You may refer to our B-108A, B-101, B-102 and B-103 to map out your Beijing tour from South Africa.

If you want to travel to Datong directly, you can take the shuttle bus to Beijing Railway Station with a fare of CNY24 or travel by taxi at a cost of about CNY100 to the train station, where you can connect a soft sleeper train to Datong. You can buy the train tickets on your own at any railway station or book the tickets with TravelChinaGuide in advance. When you arrive at Datong Railway Station, we suggest that you check into the first international five-star business hotel in the city, Howard Johnson Jindi Plaza. The cab fare from the railway station to the hotel is about CNY10.

Accommodation Suggestion: Howard Johnson Jindi Plaza
Day 3 Datong
Traveling to Datong, you should not miss the must-see Yungang Grottoes, the large-scale Buddhist grottoes housing 45 caves and more than 51,000 statues. After breakfast in your hotel, walk across the street and stroll east for 130 yards to the Longyuan Bus Stop. There you can take bus No. 60 to the Fourth Bus Company (Gong Jiao Si Gong Si) stop, where you can change to bus No. 3 to Yungang Grottoes. Alternatively, you can take a taxi to the attraction, costing about CNY50 for one way. There is a hustling street in the scenic area, where you can find kinds of souvenirs, such as paper-cuttings, paintings, stone & wood carvings, silk figurines, shadow puppets, stamps and antiques. Local snacks are also worth a try. You may shop and dine there at the end of the tour.

After you backtrack to the hotel, you may have a rest, and then take a taxi with a fare of CNY10 to visit the Drum Tower, and the nearby Nine-Dragon Screen, Chunyang Palace, and Huayan Monastery.
Day 4 Datong - Pingyao
Hanging Monastery
Today's suggested schedule is Hanging Monastery and Wooden Pagoda in Yingxian County. Then, you will take an overnight train to Pingyao. Please check out and store your luggage at the front desk after breakfast.

As Hanging Monastery and Wooden Pagoda are far away from downtown Datong and they are in different counties, we advise you hire a car through the hotel to complete today's tour. It costs around CNY400 to rent a car with a driver for a whole day.

After you return to the hotel, we suggest you have dinner nearby, and then retrieve the luggage. Take a taxi to the railway station for the onward overnight soft sleeper train to Pingyao. We suggest that you take train 2463 which leaves Datong at 22:30 and arrives in Pingyao at about 06:00 the next morning.

Accommodation: Overnight soft sleeper train
Day 5 Pingyao
Upon arrival, you may take a battery car or a taxi to you hotel. TravelChinaGuide recommends the Pingyao Tianyuankui Guesthouse that is located on the Ancient Ming-Qing Street, the busiest street in Pingyao Ancient City. The taxi fare is only CNY 10. It may be early to check in, but you may leave your luggage at the reception desk first. Then find a restaurant nearby to have some food. Spend the remainder of the day wondering around the old town and visiting some nearby sites. You are suggested to buy a through ticket with a fare of CNY150 per person, which is valid for two days and includes the admission fee of 20 scenic spots in the old town.

Accommodation Suggestion: Tianyuankui Guesthouse
Day 6 Pingyao
Wang's Compound
As the ticket is still valid for today, we advise you take the opportunity to explore more about the old town. According to most travelers' experience, it is worthwhile to visit spots including the City Wall, Temple of the City God, Temple of Confucius, Rishengchang Exchange Shop, County Government, Ancient Residency Expo Garden and Weitaihou Draft Bank. You may buy a tourist map of the old town to make a reasonable schedule before setting out.

The old town is not big and the streets inside are mostly very narrow, so rickshaws, bicycles and battery cars are the major transportation tools for touring around.
Day 7 Pingyao - Xian
Vegetable Market in Pingyao Ancient Town
Our suggestion for today is to visit the Wang's Compound in the morning, the Shuanglin Temple in the afternoon, and then take a high speed train to Xian. Please check out in the morning before your departure for Wang's Compound. However, you may leave your luggage at the hotel to travel light. Take a battery car to Pingyao Bus Station with a fare of CNY10, and there are four buses bound for Wang's Compound at 07:10, 08:40, 12:40, and 14:20 daily and come back at 10:50, 12:30, 15:50, and 17:20. The bus ticket is CNY17 per person. It takes about 70 minutes on the way.

On your bus ride back to the old town, you can get off at Shuanglinsi Lukou in the midway, and then trek south along the Shuanglinsi Road for 10 minutes to Shuanglin Temple, where you can have a glimpse of the painted pottery Buddhist statues. After that, take a taxi back to the old town and pick up your luggage at least 1.5 hours before your train's leaving. Take a taxi with a fare of CNY30 to the Pingyao Ancient Town Railway Station to catch your bullet train to Xian. We advise you take the train D2521, leaving at around 17:00. The duration is nearly three hours, so that you will reach Xian by supper time. You can purchase the train tickets by yourself or book with TravelChinaGuide.

Upon arrival at Xian North Railway Station, find the way to your own booked hotel. We recommend the Wenyuan Hotel located on the north of the Bell and Drum Tower Square. You can take subway line 2 from the North Railway Station to Bell Tower (Zhong Lou), leave from Exit B and walk westward for 200 yards to your hotel. Beside the hotel, there are the time-honored brand restaurants like Defachang and Tongshengxiang to pamper your stomach.

Accommodation Suggestion: Wenyuan Hotel
Day 8 Xian
After breakfast, take a taxi to the East Square of Xian Railway Station at a cost of CNY15, and take the Tourist Bus No. 5 (306) to the Terracotta Army Museum. The bus ticket is CNY7 per person and the bus ride is around one hour. After that, have lunch in a nearby fast food restaurant like Subway, KFC, King Coffee or Dicos. It is said that the food sold in other restaurants near the museum is at a very high price but with a low quality. If you want to try some local cuisine, go back to your hotel and have your meal in one of the restaurants nearby.

A saying goes like this: if you've been to the Muslim Quarter, you will have no regret for the snacks of Xian. Our suggestion for the rest of the day is the Muslim Quarter located on the north of the Drum Tower, within 5 minutes' walk from your hotel. Besides delicious snacks, you may also shop exquisite souvenirs and local products on the streets. The night market of the Muslim Quarter is also worth a visit.
Day 9 Xian
Terracotta Warriors, Xian
We advise you start your holiday tour today from the Forest of Stone Steles Museum that is around 20 minutes' walking distance from your hotel. In view of the heavy traffic in the downtown, walking should be the best choice for you. The route is: cross the street in front of the Bell and Drum Tower Square through the underground tunnel to the Kaiyuan Shopping Mall, head south along the South Street until you reach the Shuyuan Gate, walk east along Shuyuan Gate Street and you will find the museum on your left hand side.

Your next destination we recommend for today is Shaanxi History Museum. Walk eastward from Forest of Stone Steles Museum to North Wenyi Road, turn south and stroll for 200 yards to Wenyi Road bus stop, where you can take bus No. 710 to Cuihua Road. Get off the bus, and you will see the Shaanxi History Museum. A taxi ride may cost you CNY15. Shaanxi History Museum issues 4,000 free tickets a day with 2,500 of them available before 14:00 and 1,500 tickets in the afternoon. However, you have to queue up for the free tickets. To save strength and time, you may take a short cut by purchasing a ticket of the special exhibition with a fare of CNY20 to enter the museum. A general visit takes about two hours.

For the lunch, you can walk eastward to north square of the Big Wild Goose Pagoda, where there are both western and local Chinese restaurants for your selection. Then you can enjoy the spectacular music fountain show, and make a visit to the surrounding Grand Garden of Shaanxi Folk-custom and Da Ci'en Temple if time permits. Too much walk on the day, so please take a taxi back to your hotel in the end. The fee is around CNY20.
Day 10 Xian
Small Wild Goose Pagoda
Our recommendation for today is Yangling Mausoleum of Han Dynasty & City Wall. Take subway line 2 from Bell Tower Station to City Library (Shi Tu Shu Guan) and take Exit D. Then connect the Tourist Bus No. 4 to the terminus, Yangling Mausoleum of Han Dynasty. Finishing the visit, you may return to your hotel by reversing the route, and have lunch nearby.

The South Gate, one of the main entrances of the City Wall, is about 10 minutes' walking distance to the Bell Tower. You may just take a walk along the South Street to reach it after lunch. Climb up to the wall, the whole city will come into your eyesight. Riding a bike to tour the wall for a whole circle is very popular among tourists. A bicycle charges CNY 200 for deposit. It costs CNY 45/120 minutes to rent a solo bike and CNY 90/120 minutes for a tandem bike. Descending from the wall, you can have dinner in Xiangzimiao Street inside the South Gate, and relax yourself in the Defu Lane Bar Street to its north. At last, take a taxi back to your hotel with a fare of CNY10.
Day 11 Xian - Guilin
We suggest that you take an afternoon flight to Guilin today. You may check out the hotel after breakfast, and leave your luggage at the front desk. Walk through the Bell and Drum Tower Square to take tourist bus no. 8 (610) to Xiaoyanta Station. Getting off the bus, you should walk eastwards for 150 yards to the North Entrance of the Small Wild Goose Pagoda. You may also stop by the Xian Museum inside the scenic area.

After visiting, you can get back to the hotel by the same bus. Pick up your luggage, and take a taxi at a cost of around CNY120 to Xianyang Airport to catch your flight to Guilin. When you arrive at Guilin Airport, catch a taxi directly to the recommended Fubo Hotel, and the cab fare is around CNY100.

Accommodation Suggestion: Fubo Hotel
Day 12 Guilin
As your hotel is located just beside the Wave-Subduing Hill, we'd like to advise you start your exploration from it. Stroll north along Binjiang Road for a couple of minutes; you will reach the ticket office of the hill. Afterwards, take a taxi at a cost of CNY20 to visit the Reed Flute Cave, where you can witness the karst wonder of stalactites. A taxi ride from the cave to the next stop, Elephant Trunk Hill Park, may cost you about CNY25.

Getting out of the park, please take a taxi back to your hotel with a fare of CNY10. Find a nearby restaurant to have dinner and take a short break so that you can reserve some strength for the night cruise of the Two Rivers and Four Lakes. Walk south along Bingjiang Road until you reach Jiefang Bridge, move southeast across the river, you will find the Jiefangqiao Dock on your right hand side. The cruise ticket is CNY170 per person. A whole trip takes about 80-90 minutes.
Day 13 Guilin
Li River Cruise, Guilin
Our advice for today is taking a cruise from Guilin to Yangshuo along the Li River while enjoying the fascinating hundred-mile picture gallery along the way. You may buy the cruise ticket on arrival at the dock if it's in travel slack season or book it ahead with your hotel or a local travel agency. Please take a taxi from your hotel to Mopanshan Dock, which costs around CNY70 and takes about one hour. The ship departs the dock during 9-10 am, and takes around 4.5-5 hours on the way.

Upon arrival at Yangshuo Dock, you may walk or take a battery car with a fare of CNY10 to the West Street. The street is a galaxy of various tourist souvenirs, snack vendors, restaurants, bars, and coffee houses. You may do shopping and have a thorough relaxation there. It's very popular among backpacking travelers to make a bicycle trip to the picturesque countryside of Yangshuo. There are many bike rental stands on the West Street. The rent is around CNY10-20 per day, with a deposit fee of CNY100-300.

Please take a bus back to Guilin in the evening. Hail a taxi or a battery car to the Yangshuo North Bus Station, where you can connect a direct bus to Guilin General Bus Station. The bus charges CNY25 per person and travels around 1.5 hours. Upon arrival, hail a taxi back to your hotel at a cost of CNY15.
Day 14 Guilin - Longsheng
Dragon's Backbone Rice Terraces
Please get up early, prepare some necessities for two-night stay in Longsheng County, and store the heavy luggage at the hotel when you check out. Take a taxi with a fare of CNY15 to Qintan Bus Station where there are direct buses to Longsheng County. After two hours' bus journey, you can transfer to the special local bus to Ping'an Parking Lot. Getting off the bus, walk towards the 'Seven Stars Accompany by Moon' scenic spot, you will find Ping'an Inn suggested by TravelChinaGuide. From every room of the hotel, you may have a great view of the Dragon's Backbone Rice Terraces. After check-in, you can have some food at the hotel, and then walk to visit the Rice Terraces. The scenes of sunset and the night at the terraces are quite marvelous. Thanks to the good location of your hotel, it's very convenient for you to enjoy them.

Please pay attention that the through ticket for Dragon's Backbone Rice Terraces includes Ping'an Village, the ancient Zhuang Village and Dazhai Village. So keep it well for the next day's use.

Accommodation Suggestion: Ping'an Inn
Day 15 Longsheng
After enjoying the culture of Zhuang Minority at the Dragon's Backbone Rice Terraces, today we suggest you hire a car through your hotel to Jinkeng Rice Terraces (Dazhai Terraces), where you'll enjoy not only the spectacular natural scene, but also the unique culture of Yao ethnic group. It now attracts increasing backpacking travelers and hikers. Get back to Ping'an Inn in the afternoon.
Day 16 Longsheng - Guilin
Before heading back to Guilin, you are advised to take the opportunity to watch the magnificent sunrise on the Dragon's Backbone Rice Terraces if it is a fine day. Then check out, walk to Ping'an Parking Lot to take a bus to Longsheng County, change to another bus back to Guilin. Use taxi to Fubo Hotel and check in again. Spend the remainder of the day resting in the hotel for a good preparation for the following days' long journey home. Alternatively, you can pay a visit to the Seven Stars Park or Solitary Beauty Peak by taxi.

Accommodation Suggestion: Fubo Hotel
Day 17 Guilin - Johannesburg
Your impressive self-exploration China tour from Johannesburg South Africa ends today. Please check out before 12:00, and take a taxi to the airport to board your onward flight on time. There is no direct flight from Guilin to any of the cities in South Africa, but you can fly to Hong Kong by Dragon Air flight KA703 1630/1755, connect the Cathay Pacific flight CX749 2345/0635+1 or South African Airways flight SA287 2355/0705+1 back to Johannesburg. The whole flight journey including stopover in Hong Kong takes 20 to 20.5 hours.

If you want to explore more cities, please have a check at our China Independent Tours. If you want a guided China holiday tour, you can contact our tour operators directly.
Need detailed infomation on train, flight or bus/ metro schedule? Use the search tool below.
If the above route does not meet your requirements, you could DIY an itinerary by choosing daily guided tours, free days, hotels, trains and/or flights freely. Our estimated quotation can be a reference for your independent travel.
Questions & Answers
Asked by Deniz from SWEDEN | May. 04, 2015 14:26Reply
Wondering about costs
Hello! This trip sounds amazing. How much is the estimated cost for the whole time there? Me and my friend have a budget around a bit more than 11 000 CNY each (15 000 swedish kronor). For the actual stay. And some more for the flights to/from china. Would this be enough? We would be able to sacrifice some comfort/cut a few days to make it happen.
Answers (1)
Answered by Dave | May. 04, 2015 19:41
00Reply


As it is an independent itinerary, I cannot estimate the cost, as it depends much on what kind of hotels you are going to stay, where you are going to dine...
Anyway, if you do not live a luxury life in China, 11,000 CNY should be enough for a 16-day stay (excluding flights to/from China).
Have fun~
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