Call to book01904 734 939
Tour Search

Highlights of China

4.2 stars(15 reviews)

Take a whirlwind adventure through China’s ancient and modern wonders

You are viewing the 2022 itinerary. Select your departure year
13 days From £2,595 per person
Operated by our sister company Great Rail Journeys

2022 Tour code: CVS22

About the tour

Travel from bustling Beijing, with its Great Wall, to ancient Xi'an and its Terracotta Warriors, cruising the Yangtze River en-route, on this adventure through China's ancient and modern wonders.


What’s included


Day 1 - London and Beijing

Our holiday begins with a flight from London Heathrow to Beijing.

Day 2 - Beijing

Arriving into Beijing on Day 2. We spend the day exploring Beijing on a guided tour. We visit Tiananmen Square, the location of the now infamous 1989 uprising and, at over 4 million square feet, the largest city square in the world.

We continue to the Forbidden City - a palace and garden complex once inhabited by the Chinese royal family, and now preserved as a testament to China's long history. The incredible complex was built on a grand scale, with 980 buildings spread over 180 acres. The rest of the day is free, ahead of a delicious dinner of authentic Peking duck tonight.

Day 3 - The Great Wall of China

This morning begins with a rickshaw tour of Beijing's hutongs, or backstreets, known for their association with the city's history. Each narrow, maze-like street shows the real community between neighbours, as each home is connected with the other.

Later, we enjoy a highlight of our holiday, with a visit to the iconic Great Wall of China. We visit the Mutianyu section of the wall, one of the best-preserved, oldest, and most visited parts of this world-famous structure. After time to explore this magnificent piece of ancient engineering at our own pace, we return to Beijing, pausing en-route at the Bird's Nest and the Water Cube - examples of Beijing's modern architecture - for a photo opportunity.

Day 4 - To Shanghai

Leaving the capital behind this afternoon, we board the high-speed train to Shanghai. On arrival, we're met by a local guide who takes us on a sightseeing tour. We discover the iconic Bund waterfront, part of the city's famously futuristic architecture. Afterwards, dinner is served at a local restaurant.

Day 5 - Shanghai’s secrets

We continue our tour of Shanghai with a visit to some of the city's hidden attractions. Yu Garden is an oasis of peace amidst Shanghai's lively streets, situated in the older quarters of the city. The gardens feature ornate pavilions and tranquil pools filled with brightly-coloured fish, as well as decadent halls with traditional winged roofs. We also visit the Old City of Shanghai and the Yuyuan Bazaar, a busy shopping quarter adjacent to the city's oldest street.

After lunch at a local restaurant, we stop by the former French Concession, a beautiful neighbourhood with a distinctive European character.

Day 6 - Cruising the Yangtze

This morning, we transfer to Maoping, enjoying China's excellent high-speed rail service from Shanghai to Yichang. This evening, we board the Century Sun or Glory cruise ship for a journey through some of China's most dramatic and beautiful scenery, on the Yangtze River. The longest river in Asia, the shores are lined with soaring peaks, craggy cliff faces, and verdant, tree-covered slopes.

Day 7 - Cruising the Yangtze

On Day 7, our scenic Yangtze River cruise continues with a shore excursion to the Three Gorges Dam. This hydroelectric gravity dam is not only a fantastic renewable resource for the people of China, it is the largest of its kind in the world and produces record-breaking amounts of electricity. Later, our ship passes through the striking Xiling Gorge, a place of incredible natural beauty.

Day 8 - Cruising the Yangtze

On Day 8 the ship continues through the Wu Mountains today, passing the Qutang and Wu Gorges, two of the famous Three Gorges, both renowned for their scenery.

Day 9 - Cruising the Yangtze

On Day 9 we visit Shibaozhao Pagoda, atop which sits a spectacular ancient Buddhist temple, surrounded by lush greenery. For the rest of the day, enjoy free time to relax and soak up the scenery on board. This evening we celebrate the end of our cruise as we attend a Captain's farewell dinner.

Day 10 - Chengdu

Our cruise comes to an end today and we disembark in Chongqing, where we board the high-speed train to Chengdu. On arrival, we take in the city's highlights on a guided tour, seeing the Wenshu Monastery and lively Jinli Street.

Day 11 - Pandas

On the morning of Day 11, we enjoy a visit to the Panda Research Centre, where more than 120 giant panda cubs have been born over the years. We continue with lunch at a local restaurant. Following this, we transfer to Xi'an, the ancient former capital of China, by rail.

Day 12 - The Terracotta Warriors

Today we visit the incredible Terracotta Warriors, discovered on the outskirts of Xi'an in the 1970s. Later, we return to the city for a guided tour, taking in a wealth of ancient sites including the Small Wild Goose Pagoda and the Great Mosque. Tonight, sample some local specialities at a dumpling banquet, the perfect way to end our explorations of this wonderful country.

Day 13 - Xi’an and London

Today we board our flight from Xi'an to London Heathrow, travelling via Beijing

Additional information

Departure times

Provisional departure and return times, where available, can be found together with dates and prices by clicking on the 'Prices & Availability' button. We will write to you around 10 weeks before your departure date with the precise meeting times for your tour group.

Mobility information

Due to the nature of our tours they are generally unsuitable for those with restricted mobility. If you’d like to discuss any particular holiday with us in this respect, then please don’t hesitate to call us.


The Presidential Hotel

The Presidential Hotel, Beijing

View hotel

Xinliang Hotel

Xinliang Hotel, Chengdu

View hotel

Metro Park Jichen Hotel, Shanghai

Metro Park Jichen Hotel, Shanghai

View hotel

Titan Jincheng Art Hotel

Titan Jincheng Art Hotel, Xian

View hotel


Chinese Railways

Enhance your holiday


Flight upgrades
UK rail connections
London hotels


4.2 stars4.2 / 5 · 15 reviews

  1. 5 stars
  2. 4 stars
  3. 3 stars
  4. 2 stars
  5. 1 star

Mr C Blunt

4 stars

Submitted 19 Nov 2019

Well organised, hotels good & tours good.

Collected by Rail Discoveries

Graham Clarkson

5 stars

Submitted 16 Nov 2019

Excellent tour, good local guides and a very helpful,patient and knowledgeable tout manager Jos Royle

Collected by Rail Discoveries

Mr P Benstead

4 stars

Submitted 16 Nov 2019

A great experience and very well organised. Only let down by an awful restaurant (night 1 in Chengdu) - dreadful fare and food poisoning, the Art Hotel in Xian (very rude staff & and a breakfast box that went straight in the bin) and the Xian tour guide (Helen). On the 5 a.m. coach to the airport she talked continually in a load voice when everybody wanted to doze. She insisted on pressing us with the 'party line' on human rights in western China - not requested or welcome especially at 5 a.m.

Collected by Rail Discoveries

Ms C Heinzerling

5 stars

Submitted 12 Oct 2019

Great experience for the price with so much included - use of local guides enhanced the experience - use of trains instead of planes for intercity travel made a big difference

Collected by Rail Discoveries

Mr R Pyner

5 stars

Submitted 17 Nov 2018

Great organisation and very knowledgeable local guides and tour manager

Collected by Rail Discoveries

Mrs S Johnson

4 stars

Submitted 11 Nov 2018

Great itinerary, really friendly group, excellent tour and local guides. Would happily recommend Rail Discoveries. Meals a bit of a let down, always the same evening meal and so much time wasted taking us to restaurants 40 mins from the hotel. Long days would have concluded better if we'd had a little time to relax and then dine in at the hotels. Also we'd have had more time to get to know one another.

Collected by Rail Discoveries

Show 6 more reviews
Highlights of China

Take a whirlwind adventure through China’s ancient and modern wonders


Rhianna Coote
Lynne Broadley
Luke Simpson
Related inspiration from our journey blog