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
Flight - 1 night
Beijing - 3 nights
Xian - 2 nights
Guilin - 2 nights
Chengdu - 2 nights
Yangtze Cruise - 3 nights
Shanghai - 3 nights
This awe-inspiring tour of discovery begins in Beijing. With the Forbidden City and futuristic Bird’s Nest stadium, the Great Wall and gleaming glass towers, and a feast of food from every region, the capital may seem to be China in microcosm, but actually, it is undilutedly just Beijing. We take the train south-west to Xian, renowned for its glory days as the root of Chinese culture, for strolls atop the city ramparts to see the scale of its Ming layout, and for the astonishing Terracotta Army, the thousands of statues about six feet tall, each with unique facial features. Guilin is a contemporary city, encompassing lakes at its centre, and encircled by ethereal scenery which makes the stuff of dreams; where we sail on the crystal-clear Li River, between its karst crags, bamboo groves, and misted mountains, and visit the small town of Yangshuo. Within the huge boundaries of busy Chengdu are Shu Kingdom relics, the fantastic Giant Panda project, and a timeless teahouse culture; and a cruise on Asia’s longest river, the dramatic Yangtze, is the perfect punctuation between here and Shanghai. China’s largest city is a startling East-meets-West amalgam, its unbounded energy tempered with pockets of calm in temples and gardens.
Cultural & Natural Wonders
Jules Verne Sightseeing
6 UNESCO Heritage Sites
Yangtze Gorges Cruise
High Speed Train Incl.
Local Expert Guides
Day 1 Fly overnight from London Heathrow to Beijing.
Day 2 A massive city of mesmerising contrasts, Beijing blends ancient ‘hútòng’ alleys of single storey houses with airy avenues of soaring glass structures. On arrival, transfer to the 4-star Park Plaza Wangfujing Hotel, close to major city landmarks, for a three-night stay. (D)
Day 3 Beijing discovery begins at the formidable, 15th-century, Forbidden City, a monumental palace complex at the heart of the city; and visits Tian An Men Square, its recent history rather belying its name, which translates as ‘Gate of Heavenly Peace’; and the vast expanse of the Summer Palace, a complex of Qing dynasty gardens, lakes, bridges and palaces; enjoying a short cruise on the lake. (B, L)
Day 4 Visit the perfectly symmetrical and spirit-level flat Temple of Heaven Park, with its Echo Wall and 360m Red Stairway Bridge, leading to the park’s focal point, the namesake temple; continue to the Great Wall of China at Mutianyu, where three watchtowers oversee the structure as it undulates over the northern hills, taking the cable car for the ascent to the level of the wall (and descent to its foot. This evening, enjoy a Peking Duck dinner. (B, L, D)
Day 5 Travel by high-speed train (5hrs) to Xian, the oldest of the four Great Ancient Capitals, at the eastern end of the old Silk Road. Smaller now than in Tang times, the city today has all the mayhem of modern commerce within its Ming Dynasty walls. Two nights at the 4-star Holiday Inn Big Wild Goose Pagoda Hotel. (B, D)
Day 6 Visit the 8,000-strong ranks of the life-size Terracotta Warriors, discovered in 1974, dating from 210BC, when they were sculpted and buried in the vast tomb of China’s first emperor, Qin Shi Huangdi, and all facing east, the direction from which his enemies came. Explore Xian’s ancient city wall, and visit the Small Wild Goose Pagoda, the Tang Dynasty Buddhist tower less famous, but more tranquil, than its ‘Giant’ counterpart. Enjoy a traditional Dumpling dinner this evening. (B, L, D)
Day 7 Visit the Shaanxi Provincial History Museum, revered as “the pearl of the ancient city, and the treasury of the Huaxia civilisation”; and the ancient Great Mosque, its courtyards, pavilions and pagodas looking less ‘mosque’, more temple-like. Fly to Guilin, its scenic surrounds described by the Chinese as ‘the best under heaven.’ Two nights at the 4-star Bravo Hotel. (B, L)
Day 8 Enjoy a half-day cruise on the lazy Li River. Running between fantastically photogenic scenes of sculpted hills and karst caves, this is where the ‘cormorant fishermen’ famously continued an age-old tradition of landing their catch with just a bird and a bamboo raft, sadly, now seen only in displays. An afternoon tour takes you to Yangshuo, set amid the legendary landscapes but bringing a buzz to the riverbank with shops and stalls, and lining the sides of a little creek with two vibrant main streets. (B, L)
Day 9 Visit Reed Flute Cave, named for the reeds at its entrance, readily crafted into flutes, and known as ‘The Palace of Natural Arts’ for the cave’s fantastic ‘gallery’ of limestone rock formations, sculpted by nature over thousands of years, and now dramatically lit in bright colours. Fly to Chengdu, where it’s said that “the young shouldn’t come, and the old shouldn’t leave”, as the young will be too contented to chase an ideal, and the old will have found it. Two nights at the 5-star Tibet Hotel. (B)
Day 10 Visit the Panda Breeding Research Centre, begun in the 1980s with the rescue of six starving pandas, and now, without taking a single animal from the wild, housing a population of over 200 of the Giant and Red pandas, in 66 hectares of rivers and forested slopes. Later, walk along ancient Jinli Street, the narrow pedestrian lane lined with artisan workshops and street-food stalls. Enjoy a performance of traditional ‘Sichuan opera’ music and dance. (B, L, D)
Day 11 Travel (2½ hrs) by high-speed train to Chongqing (‘Double-Blessed’), set at the confluence of the Yangtse and Jialing Rivers, for a tour of the very modern metropolis with its formerly fortified Old City core. Embark on the elegant MV Century Legend, your vessel for a three-night cruise. (B, L, D)
Day 12 Enjoy an excursion to Shibaozhai, a 200m-high hill, hugged by a pyramid-shaped pagoda, with a Taoist temple at its top, its red façade and golden gate a sharp contrast against the rocks and greenery of the hill. (B, L, D)
Day 13 Sail into the 8km Qutang Gorge, the shortest of the Three Gorges, but the most magnificent and most precipitous, with mountains up to 1,500m high, and the river narrowing to just tens of metres wide, adding to the drama. Serene scenery lines the route of the 46km Wu gorge, zig-zagging past time-sculpted rocks and the Twelve Peaks of Wushan. Enjoy an excursion to the Shennv (‘beauty’) Stream or tranquil Lesser Gorges. (B, L, D)
Day 14 The river runs toward the entry of the last and longest of the gorges, Xiling, where its flow is constricted into the Three Gorges Dam. Disembark the vessel at Maoping, just upstream of the reservoir, and visit the massive, hydro-electric dam. Transfer to Wuhan or Yichang for the flight to Shanghai, hemming the Yangtze River delta with colonial buildings in The Bund area, Parisian-style shopping streets, and a Pudong skyline to rival Manhattan. Three nights at the 4-star Juss Hengshan Hotel. (B, L)
Day 15 Visit the ornate pagodas in Yu Yuan Garden; the atmospheric Old City area, perhaps the most Chinese part of Shanghai; the Jade Buddha Temple, built in 1882 to house two white-jade statues, the Sitting and Recumbent Buddhas, brought from Burma; and the Shanghai Museum of ancient Chinese art. Later, enjoy an acrobatic show. (B, L, D)
Day 16 Your final day is at leisure for independent exploration, or perhaps to take the optional full-day excursion by rail to Souzhou, geographically close to Shanghai but, in character, a world and several centuries apart. Straddling streams, peppered with ponds, cut through by the Grand Canal, and set in the centre of the Yangtze Delta, its lovely layout sees streets and rivers running side by side, and a downtown area luxuriant with classical water gardens (£95, pre-bookable). (B)
Day 17 Transfer to Shanghai airport for the flight to London Heathrow. (B)
Tour involves carrying luggage on and off trains and some uneven surfaces and inclines.
The programme may be altered due to navigational factors with locks, water levels or congestion at certain sites.
Travel in China
Hotel facilities include restaurant/s, English speaking reception, WiFi (free) and air-conditioned rooms with hairdryer, mini-bar, complimentary mineral water, tea/coffee making facilities and satellite TV. Included meals, often around large tables, are in the hotel or local restaurants, generally with a selection of Chinese dishes with a drink. Local expert guides accompany tours (except flights and rail journeys). Yangtze cruises may be altered due to navigational factors, water levels and congestion at sites.
A modern 4-star hotel, close to Tian An Men Square and the Forbidden Square. Restaurant, bar, gym and WiFi (free). 216 air-conditioned rooms with hairdryer, safe, mini-bar, tea/coffee making facilities and satellite TV.
A modern 4-star hotel, close to Drum Tower and the Bell Tower. Restaurant, bar, gym and WiFi (free). 325 air-conditioned rooms with hairdryer, safe, mini-bar, tea/coffee making facilities and satellite TV.
This 4-star hotel is close to the centre of Guilin. Restaurants, bar, pool, spa, gym and WiFi (free). 481 air-conditioned rooms with hairdryer, safe, mini-bar, tea/coffee making facilities and satellite TV.
This 5-star hotel features a Tibetan theme with modern art decor and it is a 15-minute walk from Chengdu train station. Restaurants, bar, gym, WiFi (free) and 275 air-conditioned rooms with hairdryer, safe, mini-bar, tea/coffee making facilities and satellite TV.
A stylish 4-star hotel, close to the former French concession. Restaurant, bar, gym, pool, sauna and WiFi (free). 320 air-conditioned rooms with hairdryer, safe, mini-bar, tea/coffee making facilities and satellite TV.
Built in 2013 and part of the Century Cruises fleet, this elegant ship boasts a seven-storey atrium, restaurant, bars, indoor pool, lounge, fitness and beauty centre, shops, library, cinema and sundeck with loungers. Lectures, entertainment and other activities are offered on board. 199 outside cabins, over six decks, with private facilities, hairdryer, mini-bar, safe, satellite TV and balcony.
per person in a twin room/cabin
British Airways from Heathrow
per person in a twin room/cabin
British Airways from Heathrow
Supplements per person
Single supplement £1065
British Airways World Traveller Plus - On request
British Airways Club World - On request
Suzhou by Rail £95
Extra Nights - Beijing
Park Plaza Wangfujing Hotel
(per night) £90
Single supplement £85
Extra Nights - Shanghai
Juss Hengshan Hotel (formerly Regal International East Asia)
(per night) £70
Single supplement £65
Add £795 per person
Arrival transfer (Capital Airport) add £30
Arrival transfer (Daxing Airport) add £70
Departure transfer add £50
Air travel and taxes, transfers, 15 nights’ hotel and cruise accommodation, breakfast daily, 11 lunches and 9 dinners, itinerary as described, services of guides and local representatives. If our specially negotiated airfares are unavailable at the time of booking, a supplement may apply.
Travel insurance, visa procurement, tipping, any government taxes or compulsory charges introduced after publication.
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