China Discovery and Service
$4,695 + Airfare + $450 Intra Trip Flights
Jun 27 – Jul 13
9, 10, 11, 12
|Who can go on this trip?||
Students from around the world!
Shanghai, Shaolin, Luoyang, Xi’an, Chengdu, Sichuan, Beijing
|Optional group flight there:||
Los Angeles to Shanghai
|Optional group flight back:||
Beijing to Los Angeles
Ancient civilization fuses with high-tech modernity in today’s China and the time to experience this incredible transformation is right now! You will earn up to 20 hours of community service credit at a Giant Panda rehabilitation center, an irrigation system, and a rural Chinese village. At the center we will assist with the conservation efforts being made to save 50 endearing Giant and Red Pandas. You may even be lucky enough to see newborns taking their first steps in the nursery! At the rural Chinese village we will spend a day working directly with the villagers and learning about their efforts with sustainable farming. Our educational service projects in China will enhance global awareness and help us identify more with Chinese culture. In addition to our service work we will go on an interactive tour of China while covering the important cities and lesser known countryside.
On this trip you will:
- Become a Kung Fu expert as you learn from the best Shaolin masters
- Take an authentic Sichuan cooking lesson
- Stare into the eyes of 10,000 Terracotta Warriors as you explore the spectacular 3rd century BC tomb in Xi’an
- Earn up to 20 hours of community service at a Giant Panda rehabilitation center, an irrigation system and a rural Chinese village
- Prowl the grounds of the Forbidden City to see the largest collection of preserved ancient wooden structures in the world
- Savour a delicious hot pot dinner and traditional hand-made dumplings
- Hike a scenic section of the Great Wall
- Take a spin atop the ancient city walls of Xi’an on an incredible bike tour
- Shop until you drop at Beijing’s Silk Street and Pearl markets
- Explore Tiananmen Square
- Roam the sprawling Summer Palace, Temple of Heaven and Lama Temple
- Take a boat ride on Kunming and Houhai lakes
- Feast on a traditional Peking duck dinner
- Master Chinese water color tapestry and tour a jade factory
- Get a bird’s eye view of Shanghai from the World Financial Center
- Experience Chinese public transportation, from an overnight coach to a high-speed bullet train
DAY 1: GROUP FLIGHT DEPARTS FROM LOS ANGELES, CA
DAYS 2-4: SHANGHAI
Your adventure begins in Shanghai, a cutting-edge vibrant city that retains its old-world character. We will explore the Bund with its spectacular array of art-deco style buildings and the magnificent skyscrapers just across the Huangpu River. Venture into the shops and eateries along the Nanjing Road and in the Yu Gardens to get a true feel of Chinese culture and cuisine. Learn about the layout of this incredible city in the Shanghai Urban Planning Museum and then see it for yourself from the top of the World Financial Center in the Pudong Financial District. At night, catch a performance of the world renowned Shanghai Acrobats. Then, hop on board an overnight train for your next destination: Luoyang.
DAYS 4-6: LUOYANG AND SHAOLIN
From Luoyang, we will journey to the legendary Shaolin Temple, home of Kung Fu. Watch a spectacular show put on by some of the students and their masters at the Shaolin Temple Wushu Training Centre and even have the chance to take part in a Kung Fu lesson. Along with its beautifully painted halls, adorned with deities and smoky with incense, see the Shaolin Temple’s Pagoda Forest, one of the largest in China. Upon returning to Luoyang, we will visit the Longmen Grottoes UNESCO World Heritage Site to view more than 100,000 Buddha images that were carved into the side of a mountain some 1,500 years ago.
DAYS 6-9: XI’AN
Catching a high-speed bullet train brings us to Xi’an, the imperial center of China for 2,000 years and the start of the famous trading route of the Silk Road. Bike atop the city walls, bargain in the markets and climb to the top of the Bell and Drum towers. Visit Xi’an’s most famous site – the Terracotta Warriors – to stare in awe at the 10,000 clay statues of soldiers, horses and chariots all arranged in a battle formation and commissioned by the emperor of the Qin Dynasty. Finish up your time in this city with an art lesson taught by local artisans.
DAYS 9-13: CHENGDU AND THE SICHUAN COUNTRYSIDE
After the bustling city life of Xi’an, we will begin our transition into the pristine Sichuan countryside. We will spend two days earning up to 20 hours of community service credit at a Giant Panda rehabilitation center, an irrigation system and a rural Chinese village. At the Giant Panda rehabilitation center, we will witness and assist with the conservation efforts being made to save this endearing endangered species. There are about 50 Giant and Red Pandas at the base, and we may even be lucky enough to see newborns taking their first steps in the nursery! In the afternoon, we will have a hands-on Sichuan cooking lesson and explore Chengdu’s beautiful Le Shan Big Buddha – the tallest stone buddha statue in the world. On our last day in the Sichuan province, we will travel to the countryside of Chengdu and get to experience the slower pace of life in an authentic sustainable village.
DAYS 13-17: BEIJING
Our final destination will be the massive capital of Beijing. With over 20 million people, it’s still not the biggest city in the country but it sure does feel like it. Beijing is quickly shedding its historical face in favor of modernity. However, there are still plenty of places to go that will give you a great insight into the nation’s ancient past as well as sights which showcase China’s contemporary culture. Explore Tiananmen Square – the largest public square in the world. The Forbidden City, which is the former home to China’s imperial rulers. Take a guided tour of the palaces, buildings and seemingly never-ending grand courtyards. In Beijing, we will also visit the extraordinarily fascinating Lama Temple, Temple of Heaven and Summer Palace. And don’t forget about the bustling colorful markets where you’ll be able to practice your bargaining skills. Our last day in the capital will bring us outside the city to trek along a breathtaking section of the Great Wall. The experience of walking this ancient fortification is a real highlight for all. To wrap up an incredible journey, we will enjoy a sumptuous feast of Peking duck and other specialties before we bid this beautiful country farewell.
Who can go on this trip? What kind of teen typically goes on this trip?
We have teens join this program from all over the world! They are typically culturally curious teens who are excited about making new friends, stepping out of their comfort zone, expanding their horizons, and trying something new. The community service part of this trip attracts teens who are interested in gaining a deeper level of cultural exploration by giving back to the local communities we engage with. Service on this trip includes volunteer work at a local Giant Panda rehabilitation center, a visit to learn about the oldest and only surviving no-dam irrigation system, as well as a day with a local sustainable farming family in a countryside village.
Where do we stay?
Our hotels are specifically chosen to be in safe areas and well-suited to facilitating group supervision. We stay in centrally located accommodations, usually within walking distance of the main attractions. This means we do not use large, impersonal chain hotels on the outskirts of cities. We prefer to select smaller, family run hotels where we establish personal relationships with the owners.
In Shanghai, we stay just a short walk away from the Bund which borders the river across from the city’s Pudong Financial District. In Shaolin, we stay at an elegant hotel near the base on Songshan Mountain. In Xi’an, our accommodation is situated within the ancient city walls. In Chengdu, we stay near the city’s main square. Finally, in Beijing, our hotel is along the main transportation route, centrally located among the city’s highlights.
For safety reasons, we do not publish the names of the accommodations we use. We do not feel is safe to publish the name of a hotel where a group of teenagers is staying abroad. After registering, participants and parents are given access to our secure parent website where you will be able to see the names of all of the accommodations for a trip.
Do most travelers go by themselves?
Yes, in fact over 75% of students who travel with us choose to come independently. This encourages teens to step further outside their comfort zone and make new friends. We believe that one of the most rewarding and exciting elements of travel is the new friendships that are formed along the way. If you travel by yourself, you are bound to make new friends from all over the country and even the world. The best part is, you can travel again with your new BFFs on another TFT trip the next summer!
Can I bring a friend?
Absolutely! We just ask that if you come with a friend, you and your friend(s) are still open to meeting new people and sharing this special experience with the entire group.
What do students generally like most on this program?
Students love that they are able to explore five different Chinese cities, their main attractions and the surrounding countryside. This program allows them to discover the similarities and differences between ancient and modern China, the culture, the food, as well as the people and animals.
What is unique about this program?
From earning service credit at a Giant Panda rehabilitation center to hands-on lessons in Kung Fu, Sichuan cooking and Chinese watercolor lessons, and of course hiking along the Great Wall, this program provides unique insider access to all facets of China’s culture.
What is included?
Ground transportation, accommodations, all breakfasts and dinners, chaperones and guides, trip related activities, trip related activity admissions, taxes and tips.
Not Included: (not intended to be an exhaustive list) Airfare, intra-trip flights, visas & visa application fees, beverages other than tap water, activities and admissions not referenced in the itinerary or deemed not trip related such as movies, clubs and the like, expenses incurred by the participant that are outside the trip description such as damage to hotels, excess baggage fees and the like, expenses related to unforeseen circumstances such as transportation strikes, natural disasters and the like, personal and medical expenses.
How do the optional group flights work?
Upon registration, you will be contacted by our International Logistics Team to discuss this trip’s flight details. You are not required to take the group flight, although there are several advantages to doing so. The group flight is chaperoned by TFT staff, it offers an opportunity for the students to get to know each other before the trip starts, and we get preferred group flight prices on trips that have group contracts (ask for details). Parents are responsible for arranging for participants to get to the group flight airport. Travel For Teens staff are at the airport, greet arriving participants, and help them get to where the rest of the group has assembled. For more information about Flights, visit our Flights page.
Who are the counselors on the trip?
The Trip Director for every trip is a seasoned teen travel professional with extensive TFT experience. Trip Directors often live or have lived and worked in the destination country. Extensive knowledge of the language and culture of the destination is crucial. Our Senior Counselors are experienced, responsible and fun-loving individuals who our participants can share experiences with and look to for guidance and support. At Travel for Teens we pride ourselves on our rigorous staff application process and the professionalism of our full time and summer staff.
It is the job of the counselors to keep the trip fun and exciting, the learning and the laughter in good balance, and to oversee the safety of the participants. Minimum ratios are on average one staff member to every seven participants. Trips may also include one or two Junior Counselors, who are college students with a history of TFT travel, and one or more Counselors in Training (CIT’s) with limited responsibility. CIT’s are not counted in staff-participant ratios.
What are the safety qualifications for our staff?
All of our staff members attend a week long training session every May to prepare for the upcoming summer and go over safety precautions and protocols. Likewise, every counselor is CPR/First Aid certified and Trip Directors are Lifeguard certified. All staff undergo a rigorous interview process and thorough background check.
What is the average group size?
At Travel for Teens, our trips typically fall into 3 different size categories.
Small: 7-14 students where 14 is the maximum.
Medium: Average is between 14-21 students with 21 as the maximum.
Large: Trips 21-35 students. These are our largest trips.
Typically China Discovery and Service falls into the medium range, but trip sizes differ from year to year.
How does this program connect to other programs?
Most of our Asia programs are designed specifically so that participants can combine them with other trips. If you are connecting to another program, your counselor will escort you to the airport on the last day of the trip and help you get to your next destination where you will meet up with your new counselors and group.
What is the food like on this trip?
In a word – Delicious! At TFT, we believe food should be an integral part of the travel experience and always make an effort to eat at authentic establishments when we can. What better way to immerse yourself in the culture of a place than by sampling the local delicacies, and we encourage students to do so whenever possible! Just as we stay away from Americanized hotel chains, we try to avoid restaurants with menus that cater only to tourists because every good traveler knows the best food is found wherever the locals are eating!
In China, we’ll enjoy traditional Chinese dishes in a family-style setting, always with plenty of rice and variety. Some of the dishes include the world-famous steamed buns, soup dumplings, Peking duck, hot pot, and Kung Pao chicken.
As always, we are willing and able to accommodate vegetarians, vegans, gluten allergies, and other dietary restrictions.
Do I need any vaccinations for this trip?
We recommend that you check with your family doctor regarding vaccinations and medical advice for the areas you will be visiting. For more information, please check out the World Health Organization’s website www.who.int/en/.
How much free time do we get?
Our counselors are with the group nearly always. Everyday we will break up into smaller groups to give our participants some choices and flexibility in their itinerary. We do offer some free time to do some shopping, for example, in defined areas that we are very familiar with. If participants are ever shopping by themselves within these defined areas they go in groups and for no more than an hour. On this trip, the group will have some free time to explore some of the safe pedestrian areas of Shanghai, Xi’an and Beijing. A counselor will always be nearby when participants have free time in each city.
What kind of Visa do you need for this trip?
Any foreigner that enters China is automatically required a Chinese visa. Please be sure to check the specific visa requirements on our site: http://www.travelforteens.com/passports-visas-vaccinations/.
Do I need to speak the language?
No, our skilled staff members will help you get around and even teach you a few fun phrases!