Skip to content
Skip to content
Trains

The Golden Eagle

View More Journeys

Moving journeys designed for you

Whether you want action-packed adventure or in-depth discovery, something leisurely or world-class luxury, Sundowners Overland has a Travelstyle that’s right for you. Our carefully crafted adventures have been designed with different types of traveller in mind.

Accommodations

Highlights

We had an absolute ball with the whole experience far exceeding our expectations. The itinerary was a masterful blend of contrasting cultures, superbly arranged and executed.

Michael & Mary McCloskey, Australia

My journey was a stress-free pleasure from start to finish because of the meticulous attention to detail that Sundowners Overland staff adhere to.

Tracey Smith, Australia

A wonderful tour with excellent service from the operators. We had a great tour leader and really good local guides. Don't think about it anymore. Go. You'll not regret it! 

Hedley Clifford Horsler, United Kingdom

FAQ

Capital city: Beijing
Population:  1.371 billion
Language:  Mandarin
Currency:   Yuan
Time zones: GMT+08:00 (Beijing, Hong Kong, Urumqi)
Electricity: Standard voltage is 220V, 50Hz AC. The Chinese standard socket is the same as used in Australia & New Zealand.
Dialing code: +86

Most nationalities require a visa for China and you must apply for it in advance. Visas are not available on arrival and can be difficult to obtain outside your country of residence.

Sundowners Overland will provide the necessary documentation including your Cover Letter and Proof of Travel Arrangements from our Local Partner in China, which are required to support your visa application. Please note that we can only include the travel arrangements that Sundowners Overland has booked on your behalf. If you have organized any independent travel outside of your Sundowners Overland arrangements, you will need to provide your own proof of these arrangements.

Your Chinese visa is valid for entry within 90 days from the date of issue; you cannot apply for your visa outside of 90 days prior to your intended date of entry into China.

Please check the appropriate consulate website for specific information on the cost and method of payment. Cash is generally not accepted and often payment will need to be arranged before you apply with the embassy/consulate. The actual application process will vary depending on your nationality and the consulate/embassy at which you will be applying. Please check the appropriate consulate website for specific information.

Travel Insurance is mandatory for all group journeys and Sundowners Overland strongly recommends travel insurance for all other journeys. You must ensure that your insurance policy covers you for the entire duration of your journey, for all activities you will be participating in and that you have purchased the highest level of cover available to you for medical emergencies (including repatriation/evacuation cover) which are relevant to ALL the destinations that you will be visiting. Contact us for further information and quotes.

If you are taking special medication, it is a good idea to carry a letter from your doctor to show authorities if necessary. Since some medications can also be affected by changes in temperature or require special care, we recommend you discuss this with your doctor before departure.

Being that China is such a vast country the climate is extremely varied. Cooler temperatures mean fewer tourists (apart from Chinese New Year) allowing ample, crowd-free time to explore the phenomenal sights on offer in each of the regions. December to February also offers the world’s largest and most famous ice festival in Harbin, showcasing spectacular sculptures of ice and snow, some large enough to walk through.

Spring (March –May) and autumn (September-October) after often regarded as the most comfortable time to visit China. Autumn brings a vibrant amber and golden colour palette to the trees and mountains surrounding China’s Great Wall, while spring produces an explosion of colourful blooms and blossom trees. The summer months can be extremely hot and sometimes a bit wet. Depending on the regions you are visiting. However the days are long and the nights are warm making it a great time to soak in Chinese culture.

Chinese currency is the Renminbi also known as the Yuan, and more colloquially as ‘Quai’. Access to 24 hour ATM’s in larger cities and tourist hubs is common and convenient. China is still very much a cash based society, although large establishments such as hotels, restaurants and department stores will usually accept credit cards. When you are purchasing from street vendors and markets and travelling to remote/rural areas it is best to be prepared and carry cash.

In Beijing…

  • 2 course meal & a drink in a decent restaurant USD$10-$20
  • Bottle of local beer USD$0.50
  • A Coke USD$1.00
  • Short taxi ride USD$2.00
  • Litre bottle of water USD$0.70
  • Peking Duck dinner USD$15.00 – $35.00

*Prices are approximate average costs based on prices s at 11/03/17 and are based on the equivalent amount of local currency.

Borders are an integral part of our journey – patience, a sense of humour and a positive outlook will ensure you enjoy this experience. Border crossings take a long time due to customs and immigration searching trains – often full of traders – bogey changes (an amazing sight at the China/Mongolia border), and train schedules. Most formalities take place on the train, you should not have to remove your luggage or leave the train.

After collecting all the paperwork both customs and immigration officials can conduct a search of the compartment and baggage. You may be asked to open your bags/money belts for custom officials – although this is rare. Immigration officials will search the wagon and all storage areas for stowaways.

The train’s toilets are locked for the duration of the border crossing. Occasionally there is a 20-minute opening when crossing from one border to the next, however as general rule this is not allowed so it is totally up to the good nature of your train attendant.

On arrival into China you will need to complete a Chinese Customs Declaration Form regardless of whether or not you have anything to declare. Although China is opening up, there are still a number of items considered to be culturally, politically or religiously sensitive and therefore are prohibited in Mainland China. Please check with the nearest Chinese embassy before bringing items of this nature into China. Some items that officials have questioned in the past include pictures and books by the Dalai Lama, anything associated with the Falun Gong movement and literature critical of the Chinese government etc.

Chinese officials are especially wary of travellers taking items of cultural significance out of the country. Anything antique should have a certificate allowing you to export the item or it will be confiscated. Likewise, customs officials are on the lookout for any religious items (Buddhist flags, scriptures, etc.).

  • Respect and manners go a long way in Chinese culture, as they do in any culture.  Learning a little of the language, reading as much about the history and culture of the region and observing local gatherings is a great way to start.
  • Various other forms of behavior perceived as anti-social in the western world are considered perfectly normal in China. The widespread habit of spitting can be observed in public places. A powerful spit can even be delivered while in conversation with a stranger. Smoking is almost common practice among men. As in many countries an offer of a cigarette is an gesture of goodwill, non-smokers should be respectful when declining the offer.
  • Being such a crowed culture, the Chinese comfort zone of personal space is much tighter than that perceived in the western world. Go with it!
  • Whilst your mum has always told you not to slurp your soup, in China this is common practice. Feel free to bring your bowl up to your mouth and slurp away! The biggest food faux-par you can make while here is to stick your chopsticks upright in your rice – it’s considered bad luck. Also don't lick your chopstick, point them at another person or use them to spear food.
  • Like most western countries, a handshake is the typical form of greeting in China, but a slight bow (from the shoulders) won’t go astray. Always stand when you are meeting someone new and refer to them by their full name unless they have told you otherwise.
  • Pointing with your index finger is considered rude in China, gesture with an open hand instead.
  • When all else fails, smile in China. It shows you have no ill intentions and can work wonders in getting better service.
  • When haggling at markets, establish a rapport with the vendor, be reasonable and keep a smile on your face. It's not a price war… it’s meant to be fun!
  • Please ask for permission before taking photos of people and their way of life, including children.

Most toilets in China are traditional squat toilets, although western style toilets can sometimes be found in modern hotels and restaurants. We suggest you carry your own supply of toilet paper and hand wash, as these are rarely provided.

Mobile phone coverage is generally pretty good in large cities (even in the metro), when venturing to more remote and rural areas it can be a bit hit and miss. Some cities in China offer free citywide Wi-Fi, while others offer free Wi-Fi in many public places.

We recommend you activate your global roaming with your mobile phone service provider or purchase a local Chinese SIM card on your arrival, however you must have an unlocked phone for a Chinese SIM card to work. The three main retailers are China Unicom, China Mobile and China Telecom.

One thing to be aware of is that many of the social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter are not accessible in China.