From dizzying, steel and glass cities to temples, teahouses and ancient towns, China’s vast borders surround scenic rivers, karst hills and towering mountains; the setting for legendary landmarks, tantalising culture and fabulous food.
Crossing this huge country by air and high-speed train is the only way to explore its far-flung reaches, from the northeastern capital to the south-central mountain peaks and ‘heavenly plain’ of Sichuan.
Beijing is a massive city of mesmerising contrasts; the formidable Forbidden City and futuristic ‘bird’s nest’ stadium, hútòng alleys of single-storey houses and airy avenues of soaring glass towers, perfect symmetry in the spirit-level flat Temple of Heaven Park, and the rises and falls of the Great Wall.
With a population of around 29 million, Shanghai is set on the Yangtze River delta, and spreading at an astonishing pace. An East-meets-West amalgam, it has colonial buildings, Parisian-style streets, pagodas, churches, teahouses, and roof-top restaurants, and a modern skyline to rival Manhattan.
Within easy reach of Shanghai, but centuries apart in tempo, Suzhou is cut through by the Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal. Straddling streams, peppered with ponds, and famed for its fabulous silks, its lovely layout sees streets and rivers run side by side, and a downtown dotted with water gardens.
At the eastern end of the ancient Silk Road, Xian today has all the mayhem of modern commerce and Middle Eastern character within its Ming Dynasty walls. Its star attraction is the ranks of 8,000 life-size Terracotta Warriors, sculpted and buried in the vast tomb of China’s first emperor in 210BC.
Chengdu is a big and busy commercial hub, with a paradoxically laid-back lifestyle, superb Sichuan restaurants, and a timeless teahouse culture. Within its huge boundaries are the fantastic Giant Panda project, artisan workshops in old Jinli Street, and Shu Kingdom relics in the Jinsha Museum.
The city of Guilin is contemporary, convenient and unremarkable, but no-one comes here for the city. They’re here for the legendary landscape, described as “the best under heaven”, with its photogenic cluster of sculpted hills, lakes, karst caves, and the lazy Li River, known for the ‘cormorant fishermen’.
Nearby Yangshuo is a well-honed tourism town, set amid ethereal scenery of tropical greenery and misty mountains. Hawkers’ handcarts bring a buzz to the riverbank, and two streets of shops and restaurants run up from the river, flanking a little creek, which is overlooked by balcony bars.
The mighty Yangtze River created the awe-inspiring landscapes of the Three Gorges. The Qutang is the shortest but most magnificent, a narrow cut between precipitous mountains; the Wu zigzags through 46km of serenity; and Xiling is the last and longest, flowing to the huge hydro-electric dam.
This extremely large country has huge variations of regional and seasonal climates. In brief, the north is warm and humid from the rains in summer, averaging 26°, with very cold winters dipping to -10°. Central China is hot and wet in summer, frequently reaching 33°, with mild winters around 12°; and the south’s subtropical climate is similar in summer, but with very mild winters hovering at 20°.
The best times to travel are in spring (March, April, May), and autumn (September to November), when rainfall is rarer and temperate climes make for comfortable touring. Jules Verne journeys are timed for these seasons.
China will more than meet the expectations of travellers with a sense of adventure, an interest in history, an appreciation of Nature, a thirst for exotic culture, and a desire for delicious local cuisines.
On a Jules Verne tour, you will be travelling with like-minded people, in a sociably small group, generally comprising a mix of singles, couples, friends and families.
With 45 years’ experience and a passion for creating extraordinary adventures, Jules Verne takes you to iconic landmarks and lesser-known sites, with expert tour guides who share their local knowledge, and show you hidden gems. Special experiences on our journeys in China could include a traditional dumpling dinner in Xian, a traditional ‘Sichuan opera’ music and dance performance in Chengdu, a Kung Fu show at Beijing’s Red Theatre, and a Yangtze River cruise.
Our guided tours to China are ABTA and ATOL protected, and we offer a 100% price guarantee, so you can book with complete confidence.
Spectacular sights, sumptuous scenery and four very varied cities are the hallmarks of this splendid journey, visiting China’s highlights from Beijing to Shanghai, from the Great Wall to the Terracotta Warriors, and including a cruise through Yangtze River gorges