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Highlights of China

4.2 stars(15 reviews)

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

You are viewing the 2021 itinerary. Select your departure year
13 days From £2,195 per person
Operated by our sister company Great Rail Journeys
Flexible Booking

Book your 2021 holiday before 31st May and you can transfer your holiday for free - no questions asked. T&C's apply

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2021 Tour code: CVS21

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


Days 1-2 - London & Beijing

Your tour begins as you meet your Tour Manager at London Heathrow and fly to Beijing, arriving into this bustling city on Day 2. Spend the day exploring Beijing on a guided tour. 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.

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 housing the family, their staff, and the royal guard from 1406 to the abdication of the last Chinese Emperor in 1912. Constructed to reflect the Purple Palace, where it was thought god resided in heaven, the Forbidden City's opulence is testament to the Emperor's vision as a divine ruler. The rest of the day is at leisure, 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. Today, this area is a home to a mixture of different communities.

Next, enjoy a highlight of your holiday with a visit to the iconic Great Wall of China. You visit the Mutianyu section of the wall, one of the best preserved stretches of this world-famous structure. This particular section is one of the oldest, and it was first built in the 6th century. After time to explore this magnificent piece of ancient engineering at your own pace, return to Beijing, pausing en-route at the Bird's Nest and the Water Cube stadiums - examples of Beijing's modern architecture - for a photo opportunity. This evening you are at leisure in lively Beijing.

The Great Wall of China
Day 4 - To Shanghai

Leave the capital behind this afternoon as you board the high-speed train to Shanghai. On arrival, you are met by a local guide who takes you on a sightseeing tour. Discover the iconic Bund waterfront, part of the city's famously futuristic architecture. Afterwards, dinner is served at a local restaurant.

Bund waterfront, Shanghai
Day 5 - Shanghai’s secrets

Continue exploring Shanghai with a visit to some of the city's hidden attractions, including Yu Garden. This oasis of peace amidst Shanghai's lively streets is situated in the older quarters of the city, spread out over 5 acres. You also visit the Old City of Shanghai, the Chinese enclave that resisted the influences of the foreign concessions in the aftermath of the Opium Wars, and the Yuyuan Bazaar, a busy shopping quarter adjacent to the city's oldest street.

After lunch at a local restaurant, stop by the former French Concession, a beautiful neighbourhood with a distinctive European character. This evening, you are treated to a night of entertainment at a fantastic acrobatic show.

Yuyuan Gardens, Shanghai
Days 6-9 - Cruising the Yangtze

This morning, transfer to Maoping, enjoying China's excellent high-speed rail service from Shanghai to Yichang. This evening, board the Century Sun or Glory cruise ship for a journey through some of China's most dramatic and beautiful scenery.

Your scenic Yangtze River cruise continues with a shore excursion to the Three Gorges Dam on Day 7, before your ship passes through the striking Xiling Gorge. On Day 8, the ship makes its way through the Qutang and Wu Gorges, both renowned for their beauty.

On Day 9 you visit Shibaozhao Pagoda before free time to relax and soak up the scenery on board. This evening attend a Captain's farewell dinner.

Yangtze River
Days 10-11 - Chengdu & pandas

Disembark in Chongqing, where you board the high-speed train to Chengdu. On arrival, take in the city's highlights, including the Wenshu Monastery and lively Jinli Street.

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

Panda, Chengdu
Day 12 - The Terracotta Warriors

Today you visit the incredible Terracotta Warriors, discovered on the outskirts of Xi'an in the 1970s. Later, 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 your explorations of this wonderful country.

The Terracotta Warriors
Day 13 - Xi’an & London

Board your flight from Xi'an to London Heathrow, travelling via Beijing, today. Your tour concludes on arrival in the UK.


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

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Xinliang Hotel

Xinliang Hotel, Chengdu

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Ambassador Hotel, Shanghai

Ambassador Hotel, Shanghai

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Titan Jincheng Art Hotel

Titan Jincheng Art Hotel, Xian

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Chinese Railways

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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


Luke Simpson
Lynne Broadley
Helen Laverack
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