|1||USA - Beijing||Flight to from US to Beijing. ||In flight
|2||Beijing||Welcome to Beijing! We'll take a bus into the city center and get settled in our quaint, family-run hostel in one of the oldest parts of the city. We will have an orientation meeting and discuss our plans for the coming days. Then we'll stretch our legs and go for a stroll through the historic hutong neighborhoods surrounding our hostel. Most of the homes in this area include traditional courtyards dating to the Ming-Qing dynasties. We'll enjoy our first group dinner nearby and then head to bed to rest up for a big day tomorrow!||Drum Tower Hostel or Sleepy Inn
|3||Beijing||After breakfast, we'll be on the lookout for local sights and sounds as we complete a hutong photo scavenger hunt, making our way to the historic Drum and Bell Towers via twisting, historical alleyways. We'll ascend the Drum tower, to enjoy the sweeping views of the district and the Forbidden City directly to the south. We'll then hop on the metro and make our way to Tiananmen square, the largest public square on earth. After pausing for photos strolling north through the square and reflecting on the significance of the events that took place here, we’ll arrive at the iconic Forbidden City, home to generations of emperors and located at the center point of Beijing. We'll exit the complex at Jinshan Park, where we'll witness local culture at its finest, including kite flying, group ballroom dancing, Tai Chi and more. After a full day, we'll enjoy a Beijing specialty: Peking Duck!||Drum Tower Hostel or Sleepy Inn
|4||Beijing||Today we'll visit one of the most important cultural sites on the planet: the Great Wall of China! We'll start our climb on the Wild Wall in Lotus Pond Village (taking time to get a sense of life in a rural village outside the city) and eventually connect to the restored Mutianyu section of the Great Wall. After taking as many photos as we can stand, we'll have our choice of ways to descend, either via cable car or toboggan ride . We'll enjoy lunch in smaller, family-run restaurants to get a sense of rural home-style Chinese cooking. In the evening, we'll make our way to the Hutong, a neighborhood cultural space, to enjoy a traditional Chinese cooking class. ||Drum Tower Hostel or Sleepy Inn
|5||Beijing - Diqing, Yunnan||Today is a busy day of travel! We'll fly from Beijing to Kunming, the capital of Yunnan Province. We'll then take a quick flight to Diqing/Shangri La.||Shangri La Hotel
|6||Zhongdian, Yunnan||Today our Yunnan Trekking tour officially begins! We'll be joined by a local guide who will lead us through some of the most pristine and remote countryside in the Tibetan Plateau. We'll spend today in Shangri La, getting further accustomed to the altitude and enjoying a slower pace of life than the hustle and bustle of Beijing. We'll visit Songzanlin Monastery, home to over 700 monks, and go bike riding to the Napa Lake Watershed visiting Hamagou, Xiao Zhongdian and other villages on the way. In the evening, we'll join with the local Tibetans in the town square for some spirited dancing. ||Shangri La Hotel
|7||Zhongdian - Deqin||Today we'll travel from Shangri La (Zhongdian) to Deqin, traversing several mountain ranges. We'll pass by Benzaclin, a small Tibetan town built by the river and wander around the streets. Further up the road, we will pass what is commonly referred to as the “Omega”, the first bend of the Jinsha River. As we near Deqin, we will enjoy our first views of the Meili Snow Mountains. ||Guesthouse
|8||Deqin - Upper Yubeng||We will wake up early to see the sun rise over the Meili Snow Mountains and then drive to Xidang Village where we will begin our hike to Upper Yubeng Village. Today’s hike will be strenuous as we gain about 1000m of elevation by the time we reach the pass, traversing through a beautiful, pristine alpine forest. (Total distance for the day: 17 km, 6 hours).||Guesthouse
|9||Upper Yubeng - Lower Yubeng||Today we'll break up the day as we first hike to Upper Yubeng Village, then onward to the Ice Lake. After taking in all the natural beauty, we'll hike back down to Lower Yubeng Village. ||Guesthouse
|10||Lower Yubeng||Assuming the weather cooperates, we’ll wake up to a clear view of the Mt. Kawagebo glacier. After breakfast we will hike to the Holy Waterfall (7 km, 2-3 hours), from which Yubeng’s name originated. Buddhist pilgrims circumambulate the waterfall 13 times with the belief that this act will set them free from all sins from this life. In the early afternoon we’ll walk back to Lower Yubeng Village (2 hours) where we’ll rest up for the long hike the next day.||Guesthouse
|11||Yubeng - Feilaisi||Today will be our most rigorous but rewarding day. We'll set off very early for the long (approx. 10 hours), but amazing walk along the least traveled path of Yubeng , from Lower Yubeng Village back to Xidang, via Ninong. After the day’s trek, we will drive back to Feilaisi for a good night's rest!||Guesthouse
|12||Feilaisi - Zhongdian||We'll set out very early for the five-hour drive back to Shangri La (Zhongdian). On the return journey we will visit the Dong Zhu Lin Monastery, built in the same era as the Songzanlin Monastery, which houses a treasure trove of ancient artifacts.||Zhongdian Hostel
|13||Zhongdian - Dali||We'll say farewell to our trekking guide and hop on the bus from Shangri La to Dali. We'll get settled in to our hotel and unwind a bit from our adventure.||Jim's Tibetan hotel
|14||Dali||Today we'll check out the Yi Market, a traveling market frequented by the Yi minority, who live in the mountains and come down to attend the market and buy supplies. We'll also visit a muslim village and a Buddhist temple hidden in the rice fields. ||Jim's Tibetan hotel
|15||Dali - Kunming - USA||We will depart for Kunming and prepare for our international flight back to the U.S. 再见中国！||Airplane
Philosophy Of Travel
Our mission is to inspire the next generation to become global leaders by taking an active interest in the world around them. With a dedication to learning, along with an enduring passion for exploring the world, Smithsonian Student Adventures designs transformative and meaningful travel programs that uncover the authentic culture of each destination and inspire students to take action in their local and global community.
Smithsonian Student Adventures stands for a more open, curious, and compassionate approach to travel. We partner with select schools around the world to provide memorable small-group experiences, and invest in cultivating and maintaining longterm relationships with our partner communities. If you are interested in our organization and philosophy of travel, click here to learn more about us.
In order to provide a safe and memorable experience for our participants, teachers, and staff ; Program Leaders and Country Directors follow strict guidelines when deciding on lodging, working with partner vendors, making reservations, and assigning program participants to rooms.
Student participants will always be grouped in rooms and/or sleeping areas by gender, and will never share rooms with people who are not associated with SmithsonianSA. Group Organizers and Program Leaders will be roomed separately from each other and from student participants. SSA partners with locally-operated, three star or equivalent hotels that are centrally located, clean, safe and wifi-enabled.
Below are a few examples of our partner hotels. Although these are our preferred providers, they are subject to change based on availability. Your final itinerary will provide complete information on your accommodations in the cities you will be visiting.
Yangshuo, Guangxi: www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g303712-d1143715-Reviews-Fawlty_Towers_Hotel-Yangshuo_County_Guangxi.html
Longji, Guangxi: www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g1159371-d2690690-Reviews-Dragon_s_Den_Hostel-Longsheng_County_Guangxi.html
Dali, Yunnan: www.jims-tibetan-hotel.com/
Kunming, Yunnan: www.hostelworld.com/hosteldetails.php/Kunming-Upland-International-Youth-Hostel/Kunming/57778
Standards of Behavior
SSA provides fun, safe, and meaningful programs for our travelers. In order to achieve this goal, it is important that we create an environment of trust, security and respect. All individuals participating in our programs are required to take responsibility for their actions and adhere to a high standard of behavioral conduct. Any of the following are grounds for early dismissal or in-country consequences at our discretion.
- Possessing, consuming or distributing alcohol or illegal drugs
- Associating with participants while they are in possession of or are consuming or distributing alcohol or illegal drugs
- Behaving in a way that consistently damages the group dynamic or jeopardizes personal or group safety. This includes consistently displaying a negative attitude, intimidating or excluding other participants, sneaking out, disobeying group leaders, and any other behavior that is not conducive to an atmosphere of trust and mutual respect.
GROUNDS FOR DISMISSAL OR IN-COUNTRY CONSEQUENCE
- Getting a piercing or tattoo
- Stealing, or deliberately damaging or defacing any personal property, buildings or materials
- Threatening with or using weapons such as firearms, knives, explosives, etc.
- Riding mopeds, motorcycles, or any other type of unauthorized vehicle
- Being out of designated area or accommodations after curfew
- Breaking group rules
These standards of behavior are essential for the successful completion of a travel program. Please take the time to review these rules as a family and make sure everyone understands and agrees to them before choosing to travel with SSA.
Tuition & Fundraising
Program Tuition Includes
Program Tuition Excludes: Baggages fees, airline minor fees, personal shopping, passport or visa fees, and activities not listed in the itinerary.*
*NOTE: If you are traveling on a program that is completed before September 1, 2018 your basic travel insurance is included. If you are traveling on a program that departs after September 1, 2018 you must purchase travel insurance if you want to have any supplemental coverage beyond what your family’s package may provide. This change is due to new federal regulations.
International Airfare: In order to give our travelers the best possible price, we break out airfare from the Program Tuition. We will still handle all booking and ticketing via our flight partner who has access to special fares not available to the general public. We will provide full transparency in cost so that families pay what the flight costs and nothing more. You will be invoiced for the flight once we are able to secure the group’s airline contract.
Passport & Visa Check
Passport must be valid for six months after the final day of your travel program, including one open visa page.
A visa is required of all US visitors to China. In order to obtain your Chinese tourist visa, we recommend that you employ an agency to expedite the process. We’ve had success in the past with Flychina.com. A single-entry tourist visa will cost around $200 and this is a process we suggest you begin immediately. A valid US Passport, which will not expire for at least 6 months after your trip date, is required to obtain the visa.
NON US CITIZENS OR THOSE TRAVELING FROM A COUNTRY OTHER THAN THE USA
Non US citizens should check with their country’s embassy abroad to verify vaccination and visa requirements.
US citizens traveling from a country other than the United States should check the State Department website (www.travel.state.gov) for more information regarding additional visa or vaccine requirements.
Please contact us for further information regarding vaccination and visa requirements.
Health and Safety
We strongly recommend visiting the CDC China website to get the most updated information on health and vaccination considerations in your destination country. In addition, we encourage you to consult with your personal family physician so you can be as informed as possible when making important decisions about vaccinations and other necessary health-related preparations before travel.
Our in-country staff prepare meticulously for all programs. SSA will register our programs and travelers with the U.S. Department of State Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) in case of emergency. In country staff also verify the safety records of our partner organizations, vendors, and transportation providers, thoroughly vet homestay families via in depth interviews and home visits, and keep up on important current events in the region.
Program Leaders are seasoned travelers who are CPR and First Aid certified, undergo thorough training in crisis management, and participate in a multi-day leadership training retreat. We do our best to prepare for any eventuality and have detailed emergency protocols for our leaders, in-country staff and U.S.-based staff.
We receive medical disclosures from all participants to ensure we are able to meet every students’ needs during the program. Please inform us immediately of any additional health issues that you did not list during your initial registration process. Program Leaders will also hold an online information session before your departure, as well as an arrival orientation in-country, in order to give participants important instructions on food safety, hygiene and preventing injury and illness. Leaders and in-country staff always respond immediately to any mental, physical or emotional health issues and follow comprehensive emergency protocols.
If you are traveling on a program which departs before September 1, 2018 the following travel insurance is included in your tuition:
$500 Return Airfare for Trip Interruption
$750 ($150 per day) Trip Delay of six hours or more
$500 (Three or more hours) Missed Connection
$1500 ($250 per article) Baggage/Personal Effects
$300 Baggage Delay – 24 hours
$25,000 Accident & Sickness Medical Expense
$100,000 Emergency Evacuation and Repatriation
Emergency Assistance Non-insurance Worldwide Emergency Assistance Services Included
If you are traveling on a program that departs after September 1, 2018 you must purchase travel insurance if you want to have coverage beyond what your family’s package may already provide. This change is due to new federal regulations.
While we work hard to ensure the safest experience possible for our travelers while on program, experience has taught us that travel is never without risk. For this reason, we strongly encourage families to purchase travel insurance which would cover you in the event your student needs to withdrawal before travel due to a covered reason, loses baggage in route or encounters an emergency while traveling, among other unforeseen circumstances. Please see a summary of a recommended plan below and follow the link for a more detailed explanation or to purchase the plan for your traveler.
Classic with Trip Plus*
Trip Cancellation Up to 100% of Trip Cost
Reimburses your prepaid, non-refundable expenses if you must cancel your trip due to a covered reason.
Maximum coverage: $100,000.
Trip Interruption Up to 150% of Trip Cost
Reimburses for the unused, non-refundable portion of your trip and for the increased transportation costs it takes for you to return home or to continue your trip due to a covered reason. Maximum coverage: $150,000.
Missed Connection $1,600
Reimburses for covered expenses resulting from a covered delay that causes you to miss your scheduled flight or cruise.
Travel Delay $1,600
Receive up to $200 per day per person to cover additional accommodation/travel expenses and lost prepaid expenses due to a departure delay of six or more hours.
Emergency Medical and Dental $50,000
-This primary coverage provides reimbursement for expenses incurred during your trip due to covered medical and dental emergencies. No deductible.
-$750 maximum for emergency dental care.
Baggage Loss/Damage $2,000
Covers loss, damage or theft of baggage and personal effects.
Baggage Delay $600
Covers the reasonable additional purchase of essential items during your trip if your baggage is delayed or misdirected by a common carrier for 24 hours or more. Receipts for emergency purchases are required.
Emergency Medical Transportation $1,000,000
Provides medically necessary transportation to the nearest appropriate facility following a covered injury or illness. Also covers the cost of your transportation back home following a covered injury or illness.
24-Hour Hotline Help Included
Help is just a phone call away with Allianz Global Assistance. Our staff of multilingual problem solvers is available to help you with any medical, legal or travel-related emergency.
*Terms, conditions, and exclusions apply. Insurance benefits underwritten by BCS Insurance Company (OH, Administrative Office: Oakbrook Terrace, IL), rated “A” (Excellent) by A.M. Best Co., under BCS Form No. 52.201 series or 52.401 series, or Jefferson Insurance Company (NY, Administrative Office: Richmond, VA), rated “A+” (Superior) by A.M. Best Co., under Jefferson Form No. 101C series or 101P series, depending on your state of residence. Plan(s) may not be available in all jurisdictions. Allianz Global Assistance and Allianz Travel Insurance are marks of AGA Service Company or its affiliates. AGA Service Company is the licensed producer and administrator of this plan and an affiliate of Jefferson Insurance Company. The insured shall not receive any special benefit or advantage due to the affiliation between AGA Service Company and Jefferson InsuranceCompany. NonInsurance benefits/products are provided and serviced by AGA Service Company. Consumer may be responsible for charges incurred from outside vendors for assistance or concierge services. Contact AGA Service Company at 8002848300 or 9950 Mayland Drive, Richmond, VA 23233 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Global Leadership Curriculum
Walking Tree Travel has developed a curriculum that helps SSA travelers mature as global leaders before, during, and after their travel program. These simple, engaging tools are meant to spark discussion, frame the experience, and prepare participants to travel ethically and effectively both on our programs and in the future.
For more information about student learning objectives and format of the curriculum, click on the ‘learn more’ button below.
Learn More About the GLC
To view and complete the Pre-Program Activities, visit Walking Tree’s online portal at the button below.
Pre-Program Activity Portal
Want to learn a new language and be better prepared for your travel program? Duolingo is the easiest, most entertaining way to start learning and using a new language right away! The more you practice, the more you’ll be able to communicate with locals in your host country and help your fellow travelers navigate a foreign environment.
Tap the Duolingo owl to get started, or download the app to your mobile phone.
Group Flight Information
Program participants will meet the group organizer at the below airline check-in counter three hours before the departure flight. If you have trouble locating the group, please notify your group organizer or contact SSA.
DEPARTURE FROM USA
RETURN TO USA
A NOTE ON FLIGHTS
Air travel is unpredictable. Although we can ensure that our groups arrive to the airport with ample time and follow all airline instructions, there may still be instances when a flight is delayed or cancelled due to weather, mechanical problems, labor strikes, etc. Please note that in such an event SSA is not financially responsible for unexpected costs incurred by travelers. Our programs officially begin and end in our host countries. That being said, our travelers’ well-being and safety is our number one priority, so please know that should flight delays/cancellations occur we will do everything we can to get travelers home in a timely manner and will do our best to keep family members updated on developments.
SSA is not responsible for fees associated with checked baggage. Please also make sure your passport is valid for at least six months beyond the final day in country.
Please confirm with your air travel provider as some airlines may require that travelers under a certain age have completed an unaccompanied minor parental consent form. Please consult the airline website to confirm if this is required on your flight.
SSA will send a minimum of one experienced Program Leader on every program. In addition to this Program Leader, we also have support staff in our host countries and 24/7 support from our headquarters in Denver, Colorado that are available to the group for additional help when necessary. Below you’ll find a list of the Smithsonian Student Adventures staff involved in the planning, organizing, and leadership of your program. Meet your support team!
China Country Director, Program Leader
Columbia University – B.A. in Art History and Asian Studies
Columbia University – M.A. Art History
Jillian hails from Chicago and recently relocated to Los Angeles after five years in Beijing. She studied art history and Asian studies as an undergrad and received her M.A. in Art History from Columbia University. Before relocating to China, she spent five years working in the Asian Art Department of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. While in Beijing, she served as the Director of International Programs at Three Shadows Photography Art Centre. She has curated and produced exhibitions and educational programing in China, the U.K., Europe, and most recently, Ethiopia. Jillian is an avid yogi and completed a 200 hour intensive teacher training in Bali. Jillian loves seeing live music, biking, being in/near the ocean, and making the people around her laugh. She never feels more alive than when she’s navigating the streets of China, sampling local delicacies and seeking out the best bargains she can find.
Please have all travelers check below to ensure their name is spelled exactly how it appears on your passport. For edits, email lacey@SmithsonianSA.com.
Community & Project Details
This is where your host community information will appear, along with your community project, if applicable to your program.
Communication & Blog
Travelers will be able to keep in touch with family and friends at home by using Wifi (when available at hotels and restaurants) via Whatsapp, Skype, and Wechat for free.
During the program we keep families and friends updated on the group’s adventures as frequently as possible with text and photo blogs. If parents would like updates regarding the group beyond these blog posts and email updates, please direct all general inquiries to email@example.com. We are always checking this email inbox and will respond promptly to inquiries. You can also reach us by dialing 303-242-8541 from the U.S. In case of an emergency, please dial 303-997-0310.
The group’s blog link is – coming soon –
Photos which appear in the blog will become available after the program ends. We will send out a link to the photo gallery, where you will have access to view and download as many of the photos as you like!
What follows is a sample packing list, which will be updated for each program. We recommend you bring a larger piece of luggage like a roller, duffel bag, or backpack, as well as a smaller backpack that you can bring on hikes, weekend excursions and shorter activities.
Most importantly, be sure to remember your PASSPORT and STUDENT ID.
China Packing List
7-10 pairs of underwear
5 pairs of socks
1 set pajamas
3 short-sleeved T-shirts
2 long-sleeved T-shirts, preferably light-weight
1 sweater or sweatshirt
2 pair of shorts
2 pair of light-weight pants/hiking pants
1 nice outfit to be worn at community gatherings and final dinner (sundress, skirt, polo, khaki shorts, etc.)
1 rain jacket
1 pair of sneakers (appropriate for hiking/athletic activity)
1 pair of sports sandals or 1 pair flip flops
1 hat or visor
Sunscreen SPF 30+ (You will use a lot!)
Tampons/maxi pads (if applicable)
Any necessary medication (TSA requires that pills be properly labeled and in the original container.)
Band aids and neosporin
REQUIRED ADDITIONAL ITEMS
Bath towel (quick-dry recommended)
Plastic bag for dirty laundry
Alarm clock or watch
$100-200 US dollars in perfect condition (for souvenirs, snacks, optional excursions, etc.)
Visa/MasterCard ATM card We do NOT recommend traveler’s checks, gift cards or credit cards.
Durable water bottle
RECOMMENDED ADDITIONAL ITEMS
Small luggage lock
Portable charger (for long train ride)
Journal & writing utensils
Journal and pen
Flashlight or headlamp
Cards/games/etc (small and easy to carry)
Electrical converter and adapter
**China runs 220V, 50Hz AC electricity. A converter is only necessary if your device does not have 120-220V range.