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Discover the unique highlights of China

You are viewing the 2023 itinerary. Select your departure year
20222023
15 days From £2,995 per person
Operated by our sister company Great Rail Journeys

2023 Tour code: CYG23

About the tour

A dizzying mix of ancient cultures, tumultuous history, breathtaking natural beauty, and dynamic landscapes, China is a feast for all the senses. Magnificent Beijing, the legendary Terracotta Warriors, captivating pandas, and a cruise through the Three Gorges offers an unforgettable experience.

Highlights

What’s included

Itinerary

Day 1 - To Beijing

Our holiday begins as we board our overnight flight to China, travelling to the capital of Beijing.

Day 2 - Beijing

Our flight arrives in the dynamic Chinese capital of Beijing today. We transfer to our hotel, after which you have some free time to settle in before dinner. One of the world's truly great cities, Beijing offers up an amazing blend of ancient and brand new, with vast towering skyscrapers and futuristic structures built only yards away from breathtaking ancient wonders. There's also a wonderful culinary experience to be had, with the smaller backstreets offering an incredible assault on the senses, as the smells of traditional Chinese cooking fill the air and golden crispy Beijing ducks glow in restaurant windows.

Day 3 - Beijing

We discover the sights and sounds of Beijing today. We begin by visiting the impressive Tiananmen Square. An enormous, vast emptiness, bordered by some of the most iconic buildings in China, the square is the largest in the world. 'Tiananmen' means 'Gate of the Heavenly Peace', and the incredible public space also acts as the gateway to the Forbidden City, which we visit next. The palace complex was built in the 15th century and is now a fascinating UNESCO World Heritage site. Our final visit is to the sprawling Summer Palace, set in a beautiful spot surrounded by lakes and gardens.

Day 4 - The Great Wall of China

We visit the world-famous Great Wall of China. One of the new Seven Wonders of the World, the wall stretches thousands of miles through deserts and mountain passes. We visit the beautifully preserved Mutianyu section, ascending by cable car before walking along the wall, admiring one of the greatest human-made wonders of all time. We continue to a cloisonne factory for a guided tour, learning about the art of Chinese enamel cloisonne. We also see the 'Water Cube' and 'Bird's Nest', the arenas used in the 2008 Olympic Games. We end the day with a delicious Peking duck dinner.

Day 5 - To Xi’an

We pay a visit the Temple of Heaven in central Beijing before we join the rail service to Xi'an, experiencing the fast, sleek trains that China is known for as we speed through the beautiful landscapes of rural China. In Xi'an, we transfer to our hotel for two nights. This evening you're free to begin exploring. Perhaps walk a section of the city's walls, or visit the Muslim Quarter, where you can mix with locals while sampling delicious traditional snacks. The street is famous for its cuisine, and bursts with life on an evening, with its bustling street food stalls surrounded by traditional red lanterns and bright neon lights.

Day 6 - Terracotta Warriors

We visit the Terracotta Warriors - one of the world's most fantastic archaeological finds. The 6,000 figures were buried in 210BC, yet only discovered in 1974 by local farmers. The statues were built as part of an elaborate tomb of the Qin Emperor, believed to protect him in death. Built on an incredible scale, the soldiers - all grouped in rank order - are a breathtaking sight. Next, we discover more of Xi'an, seeing the Great Mosque, the largest mosque in China, as well as the lively bazaar. Later, we sample a local speciality, sitting down to a traditional dumpling banquet dinner.

Day 7 - Chengdu

We pay a visit to the Small Wild Goose Pagoda before lunch at a local restaurant. This afternoon, we travel on the new high-speed rail service from Xi'an to Chengdu, where we spend two nights. A modern and thriving Chinese city, Chengdu is the capital of the Sichuan province, and is perhaps most famous for being the home of China's unique giant pandas. The city also boasts a laid-back culture. China's tea culture originated in Chengdu; the city boasts more teahouses than any other in the world, and relaxing and drinking tea plays a big part in many locals' day to day lives.

Day 8 - Giant Pandas

We're introduced to the local wildlife today as we visit the Giant Panda Breeding Research Institute, which is spread out over 200 acres and is now home to more than 100 of these magnificent creatures. The project allows us to see the giant panda, an enchanting and rare creature, at close quarters in a near-natural habitat setting. We then return to Chengdu, where we get to know the charming city with some sightseeing. We see the Wenshu Monastery, one of China's finest Buddhist structures, as well as the historic teak buildings on Jinli Street.

Day 9 - Tea tasting and the Yangtze River

We head to Renmin Park, or the People's Park, this morning. Boasting artful landscaping, bonsais, and two tea houses, this park is the venue for various local cultural activities. Afterwards, we discover a traditional aspect of China as we enjoy a tasting in one of the local tea houses. Later, we transfer to the station for the high-speed bullet train service to Chongqing, situated in the upper reaches of the Yangtze River. Here, we board the luxurious 5-Star Century Victory ship for our three-night cruise along the Yangtze River.

Day 10 - Yangtze River Cruise

After enjoying some morning tea, coffee and pastries, we have the opportunity to rejuvenate ourselves with a Tai Chi session on board the ship. After the ship moors, we visit the Fengdu ghost town, a complex dedicated to the afterlife and made up of many different shrines, temples and monasteries. This evening, we attend the Captain's Banquet on board.

Day 11 - Yangtze River Cruise

This morning there's the option to visit the White Emperor City (payable locally). Also known as the 'City of Poems', White Emperor City is found at the entrance to Qutang Gorge and boasts some stunning temples. Our cruise then continues through the scenic locales of Qutang Gorge and Wu Gorge, before we make a shore excursion to Shennv Stream. Here, the cliff sides soar steeply away from the near-emerald waters of this beautiful waterway, a truly breathtaking sight. This evening, we celebrate our cruise as we enjoy a cabaret performance by the crew.

Day 12 - Shanghai

We disembark at Yichang today, where there's an optional tour of the Three Gorges Dam, the largest dam in the worst and a striking sight to see. After lunch, we take a flight to Shanghai, where we spend three nights. One of China's most exciting and contemporary cities, Shanghai is a city in which old collides with new; the Bund region harks back to the emergence of the city in the 1920s, while the east of the city boasts an ultra-modern vibe with a booming financial district.

Day 13 - Suzhou

We transfer to Suzhou, a city famous for its labyrinth of canals and bridges, as well as its exquisite gardens. We visit the Master of the Nets Garden, one of the finest classical gardens in China. The garden has a long and rich history and shares UNESCO World Heritage status with others in the area due to its beautiful design. After lunch, we visit the city's 100-year-old Silk Mill and Garden of Cultivation, a wonderfully preserved example of a Ming Dynasty classical garden. We end our explorations with a transfer to Pingjiang Road for a scenic canal cruise before returning to Shanghai.

Day 14 - Shanghai

A guided tour of Shanghai takes us to the city's historic Yu Gardens, where we enjoy a traditional tea ceremony. We also visit the bazaar, where we stroll amongst traditional shops selling a host of enticing goods, and through streets where vibrant street performers play. After lunch in a local restaurant, this afternoon we visit the Jade Buddha Temple, a beautiful, tranquil temple and active Buddhist monastery. This evening we round off our stay in lively Shanghai with a cruise along the Huangpu River, taking in the brightly-lit cityscape while we enjoy dinner onboard.

Day 15 - Home

Bidding farewell to China, we transfer to Shanghai airport for our return flight to the UK.

Additional information

Please note

Please note that throughout your tour you will need to be able to transfer your own luggage on and off each train we travel on as porterage is not included.

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.

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Luke Simpson
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Lynne Broadley
Lynne
Helen Laverack
Helen