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Spend an action-packed week visiting the best sights of China! Begin in Xi’an getting to see the Terracotta Army. Then take an overnight train back  Beijing where you will visit Tiananmen Square and tour the Forbidden City. The end of the trip will be marked by an amazing accomplishment as you hike a remote section of the world-famous Great Wall.

With our No Anxiety Escrow Policy, you cancel for any reason up until the day of travel, and escrow 100% of the program fees for up to two years from the cancellation date.

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2017 Departures

Departs (USA) Returns (USA) Availability
July 5 July 12 Available

Program Profile

Community Service Component
Get to Know
The Sights
Relax at Hotels
Travel Component
On the Go!

Connecting Programs

Schedule two or more programs in a row to create your ideal Rustic Pathways experience.

This program connects especially well with:

  • Day 1

    Los Angeles

    After meeting and greeting your flight leader and the other students joining the programs in China, you’re off to Beijing! This is an easy, non-stop ride across the Pacific – and most students find that after dinner and a movie, they’re able to manage dozing off to sleep for a while. So sit back, have a chat with your new friends, and enjoy the flight!

  • Day 2


    Arrive at Beijing Capital International Airport, where you will meet up with your program managers. Catch a chartered bus through downtown. 
Take in your first glimpses of China as you’re carried through the streets, especially Beijing’s distinctive old-meets-new architectural character. This multicultural metropolis is home to some 20 million people – one of the largest cities in the world. While Mandarin Chinese is the official national language here, nearly 300 other distinct languages are also spoken throughout the country’s 23 provinces. Welcome to China!


  • Day 3


    Take an early morning flight west to Xi’an, home of the famed Terracotta Warriors! These individual produced statues were made to protect the village with an army of clay and are still being uncovered even today. Catch a glimpse of the active archaeological dig site here, learn about the unique history of the community, and marvel at how incredible it is that these statues have been able to survive.

  • Day 4


    This morning, we will get to explore the history and culture of Xi’an. After breakfast, we will bicycle on the Ancient Xi’an City wall. After lunch, check out the Muslim quarter, a truly unique cultural spot in the city selling a variety of different wares and gifts. Be sure to sample some of the delicious foods and delicacies available from street vendors! After a full day in Xi’an, we will board our overnight train back to Beijing.

  • Day 5


    Getting off the train, we will head to the Temple of Heaven. Temple of Heaven is not only a temple, but also a place to watch people gather to play mahjong, sing Chinese Opera, or practice kung fu. Don’t be afraid to join in on a square dance! After lunch, we drop our bags at the hotel before we take a Rickshaw Hutong tour through the various neighborhoods in Beijing. After a delicious dinner on the town, feast your eyes on an acrobatics show. Marvel as these masters flip, juggle, and dance the night away.

  • Day 6


    After breakfast, start your action-packed day in the capital city of China! First, head to the biggest square in China, Tiananmen Square, followed by a visit to the Forbidden City, which was home to a royal family from the Qing Dynasty. Enjoy a taste of the famous dish of the region, Peking duck. Get ready to practice your bargaining skills at one of Beijing’s most famous shopping centers, where you can look for souvenirs to bring home! 

  • Day 7

    Great Wall

    Get up early and head to a remote section of the Great Wall- away from the tourists and the cities. Enjoy hiking along this picturesque section of the Great Wall and your final evening in a local guesthouse.

  • Day 8

    Beijing to Home

    Today is your final day in China, and your last opportunity to say goodbye to this amazing country.  Grab your bags and head to the airport for final goodbyes and sharing of memories of this incredible journey to see the Marvels of China.

An Important Note About Schedule Changes

Rustic Pathways reserves the right to change, alter, or amend the daily itinerary for this trip at any time. Changes can be made for various reasons including changes in flight or program schedules, changes in the schedules of various external tours incorporated in our trips, the addition of new activities into a trip, or the substitution of an old activity for a new activity.

The itinerary shown here provides a good outline of the anticipated daily schedule for this program. As with any travel program, some changes may occur.

“Optional Activities” are fully included in the cost of your program, but you can choose to not do these activities.

“Add-On Activities” are not included in the cost of your program and must be paid for separately. Add-on activities are rare, but include things like skydiving, bungee jumping, or weekend side-trips. Not every program has add-on activities.

For more information, email china@rusticpathways.com

Program-Specific FAQs

  • The direct flight from Los Angeles to Beijing is approximately 13 hours. The return flight to Los Angeles is a bit faster, taking 12 hours.

  • Yes. All flights between Beijing and the USA will have a flight leader starting when the students meet their flight leader in the LAX (Los Angeles) airport.

  • YES. China requires a visa for all US citizens which students must obtain themselves before departure. Rustic Pathways will provide you with Information about obtaining your visa along with your acceptance letter, but cannot apply for your visa for you. If your stay in China is longer than 30 days, please contact our office for information regarding additional visa requirements. Students who are not traveling on a US passport should check online for their visa requirements.

  • This trip passes through Beijing and Xi’an.

  • Rustic Pathways does not make recommendations regarding immunizations. We strongly suggest that you consult with a travel doctor or your family physician for medical recommendations based on the area where the student will be traveling (as listed above). You can also check the Center for Disease Control website athttp://www.cdc.gov for more information.

  • Throughout Mainland Asia, Thursdays are our travel days. This allows you to connect to other programs in China as well as our programs in Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Burma, India, and Mongolia. While their flights to the starting destinations of connecting programs are often unescorted, they will be dropped off at the airport by their previous program leader and met at the arrival airport by their new program leader. While the countries are close together, depending on connection times and which program you would like to connect to, it can often take a half of day of travel to arrive at your next destination.

  • Days on the program will mostly be warm and a bit muggy, so we recommend light weight cotton clothing to protect you from the sun, but also to keep you cool. Depending on which session you travel, evenings can be cool, so we also recommend at least some type of sweatshirt and long pants to wear on chilly nights. It is also known to rain quite a bit at this time of year, so bringing an umbrella and a rain coat are an absolute must! Lastly, make sure you have athletic shoes that are well-worn in as there will be a fair amount of walking during this trip.

  • Marvels of China does not include formal Chinese language instruction; however students will have multiple opportunities to practice Chinese with the locals and are often encouraged to learn on-the-go by a Rustic Pathways staff member who speaks the language.

  • There are no formal service projects on this program.

  • This trip is physically exerting only in the fact that there are so many places to see. We have arranged this program so that you have ample rest time and we are confident you will go through this trip without significant physical exertion but do be prepared to walk 2-4 hours a day. The hardest days require you to hike up a well-trodden mountain or walking the steps of the Great Wall. We strongly encourage drinking a lot of water during this program to stay hydrated, but anyone with a moderate physical ability level will be able to participate on this trip.

  • The majority of costs associated with the program are included on this trip. Students should have extra spending money if they want to buy souvenirs, artwork, and handicrafts from local artisans. They can also spend their money additional snacks and sodas from the local markets.

  • Most meals on this program are served family style with 6-8 dishes per table that all students and staff members will share. This allows students the opportunity to try many different dishes and local flavors while still selecting foods they are comfortable eating. While there are “odd” food choices in China, we typically stick with foods that are comfortable for all students, including basic chicken, beef, and pork dishes, and a variety of local fruits and vegetables in season.

  • Contrary to belief, China is not just about rice. In fact, Chinese people often ask you “Do you prefer noodles or rice”? Better yet, the Chinese cuisine is one of the most suitable for vegetarians. China’s vegetable dishes are plentiful and savory and spiciness can be increased or left out all together at a simple request. One thing we do ask is that students are forthright about their food allergies, often China will use a lot of cooking oil and home spices, thus it’s important for us to know what you can and cannot eat.

  • Yes! We will be providing bottled water for the entirety of the program.

    Tap water will not be consumed on the program, but it is suitable for brushing your teeth and showering.

  • You will be staying in Western style accommodations throughout the duration of this trip. That means that each room will have (2) comfortable twin beds, air conditioning and western style toilets.

  • We will tell you straight up, public toilets in China can be frightening. If you can avoid going to bathrooms at gas stations or in heavily trafficked locations, there are often no problems. At your guesthouses all toilets will be Western-style and when eating in restaurants, the “squatters” are often clean and well-maintained. The bathroom issue is a sensitive one in China since most Chinese people prefer the squatters, believing less contact offers cleaner situations.

  • We expect a good mix between genders, and in previous years we’ve seen about 60% female and 40% males on this program.

  • Rustic Pathways maintains a maximum ratio of 1 guide for every 7 students. There will be a mixture of staff on the program ensuring that we have at least one male and one female staff member as well as local Chinese staff members and non-local Chinese staff members. We also look for staff members with a background in biology, previous medical certifications, staff fluent in Mandarin and/or local Chinese knowledge, and previous experience working with high school students. Our guides go through a rigorous selection process including interviews with our program managers and a full background check before we determining the best candidates for the position.

  • Because the safety of our students is of critical importance, all of our non-local staff members are at the very least certified with First Aid and CPR training. Many of our guides are also qualified Wilderness First Responders, EMTs, Wilderness EMTs, or Life Guards. All programs also have a medical kit carried by staff members at all times to deal with basic medical needs and situations that arise on program.

  • Students should pack reasonably for this program and as long as you are wearing one outfit a day then laundry is available at all hostels or at a nearby shop (with about a 24 hour turnaround) and usually costs less than $10 for a full load. Please keep in mind that even many places where you pay to do laundry, they will still line-dry all of your clothing and then iron it, fold it, and return to you. Thus, if there are heavy rains for several days in a row in a city where we only spend one or two nights, we may recommend you not washing your clothes as they will not dry in the damp climates outdoors. Students should plan on packing enough clothes to make it through the duration of the one week program.

  • Since this program travels through the major cities of China, there will be daily opportunities to access the Internet and there will be side-street phones everywhere in China (most small, road-side shops have an International-ready line) to call home.

    Various international phone providers will work in China, however, there is not consistent service or a reliable network that you can utilize in the mountains. Additionally, social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube are blocked in China and you should not expect to use any of these sites for communication during with the students while they are in China.

    Staff members are always equipped with local phones to call student’s parents as well as receive phone calls from our office in cases of emergency or medical issue.

    Also, parents please remember that we will always send a safe arrival when they land in China and they’ve checked into their hotel for the night. Should any medical or behavior issue occur during the program, we will reconnect with you immediately, but we encourage each and every parent/student to have a discussion before their trip about expectations for how often you anticipate to hear from your child. Set reasonable expectations of how often you’d like to hear from your child without interfering with their ability to have an immersive experience on the ground. Staff members do not have a requirement to send updates throughout the program, but should you have any further questions or want to ask a staff member to remind your child to send an update, please contact the China Country Management at China@rusticpathways.com to pass along a friendly reminder to your child.

  • For questions specifically related to travel within China, including itineraries, dates, prices, optional activities, or flights, please contact the China Country Management at China@rusticpathways.com .

    For questions related to Rustic Pathways, paperwork, forms, signing up for a program, or any logistics before and after our programs, please email rustic@rusticpathways.com or call our office at 1-800-321-4353.

    For emergencies and situations while your student is on program, you will be provided with a 24-hour emergency contact phone number in your acceptance letter to utilize while your student it on program within China.

Carry-On Luggage

A small backpack is ideal as it will be used for day trips.

  • Passport
  • Chinese Visa
  • 2 Photocopies of passport
  • Wallet/money
  • Book and/or journal
  • Pen
  • Phone
  • Chargers
  • Camera
  • Ear buds
  • Change of clothes
  • Reusable water bottle
  • Medication
  • Snacks
  • Additional community service forms
  • Outlet power converter
  • Consent to Travel form
  • Rustic Pathways emergency contacts

Checked Luggage

A 50-70 Liter duffel bag or backpack is ideal. A wheeled bag is suitable if it can be carried like a duffel bag over rough terrain.

Clothing Items

  • Underwear (7-8)
  • Socks (7)
  • T-Shirts with sleeves (5-7)
  • Long Shorts (3-4)
  • Lightweight pants/capris (1-2)
  • Jeans (1)
  • Lightweight rain jacket
  • Pajamas (1)
  • Sneakers
  • Strappy sandals (Chacos or Tevas)
  • Sunglasses
  • Hat
  • Quick dry towel


(Travel size bottles in Ziploc bags)

  • Shampoo
  • Conditioner
  • Body wash
  • Face wash
  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Sunscreen
  • Lip balm w/sunscreen
  • Bug spray
  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Contacts
  • Contact solution
  • Foam earplugs
  • Personal med kit
  • Deodorant
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Wet wipes
  • Small packs of tissues
  • Razor/shaving cream


  • Flashlight/Headlamp w/ Extra Batteries
  • Watch or Clock with an Alarm
  • Bag for dirty clothes

Optional Items

  • Chinese phrasebook
  • Portable games (Bananagrams, cards, etc.)
  • Pictures of friends and family
  • Frisbee, Aerobee, football, etc.

Important Reminders

  • Domestic airlines in China have a checked bag weight limit of 20 kilos (about 44 lbs). If your bags weigh more than this, the airline may charge you an excess baggage fee for every kilo over the allowed limit. In past years, we have had students incur SIGNIFICANT charges for excess baggage.
  1. a

    Here is where you’ll start and finish your adventure in China!

  2. b

    Marvel at the Terracotta Warriors and visit the Muslim Quarter.