With thousands of years of fascinatingly diverse history, China is one of the world's oldest and most monumental civilisations. Encounter millennia-old culture and religion with visits to some of China's greatest and most intriguing ancient sights.
Visit the beautiful Shaolin Temple, a 5th century building, home to Buddhist teachings, as seen on BBC One's Sacred Wonders.
Our Ancient China tour will see you exploring the most iconic sites, delving into deep-rooted culture and dining on delicious cuisine.
Take a rickshaw ride through the intricate network of Hutongs in China's capital city
Explore one of China's four sacred Buddhist mountains
Explore the Hanging Temples and Yungang Caves in historic Datong
Admire the 1920s shikumen architecture of Xintiandi
This tour is ideal for those who are interested in gaining an understanding of China's ancient and religious history and who have an interest in learning about a specific region of the country. We have designed this tour to take in key historical and religious areas of Shanxi Province, as well as visit the popular destinations of Beijing, Xian and Shanghai.
Arrive in Beijing, China's fascinating capital. Depending on your time of arrival, the rest of the day is yours to start soaking up the local culture.
This morning, head to Beijing's symbolic heart, Tiananmen Square and stroll into the sprawling magnificence of the Forbidden City where you will find a complex full of imperial treasures. Take a leisurely stroll through the narrow alleys of the warren-like hutongs and learn more about living in this traditional area. In the evening, sit down to enjoy the local delicacy, Peking duck.
This morning is dedicated to China's most iconic sight – the Great Wall. Taking a walk on this incredible structure is the best way to appreciate both the sheer magnificence of the wall itself and the dramatic scenery that surrounds it. Visit a jade factory, where you will be able to buy a small handcrafted piece. Jade is revered throughout China and is said to bring fortune and prosperity to those who wear it. Spend the afternoon at the idyllic Summer Palace, wandering through traditional Chinese gardens and seeing the exquisite architecture.
Soak up the harmonious ambience of the Temple of Heaven, an orderly oasis in a bustling urban landscape and mingle with the locals as they practice Tai Chi, dance or play cards. Later, browse your way through Panjiayuan, Beijing’s most extensive arts, crafts and antiques market.
Travel by bullet train to Datong, watching the rural splendour of China pass by your window. Known for its abundant historical relics and natural beauty, upon arrival visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Yungang Caves where you will see the well-preserved rock carvings from the surrounding sandstone cliffs. Today, it is one of the three most famous ancient Buddhist cultural sites of China.
Visit the 1,400-year-old, gravity-defying Hanging Temple that seemingly floats 50 metres up the face of Jinxia Gorge before travelling on to Wutaishan.
The day starts with a visit to one of China's four sacred Buddhist mountains, Wutaishan (Five Terrace Mountain) and a place of scenic magnificence. In Wutaishan's shadow, an alpine valley shelters many important monasteries, temples and sculptures, some dating back over 1,000 years. Here, visit the Bodhisattva Summit Temple and Xiantong Buddhist Temple. Continue to Taiyuan, the capital and largest city in Shanxi Province and visit the Twin Pagoda Temple, constructed during the Ming Dynasty.
Enjoy the beauty and tranquillity of Jinci Temple before travelling to the old town of Pingyao. Pingyao is a living museum and home to China's best preserved ancient city walls. Here, take part in a traditional Chinese paper cutting experience, an art dating back to the 6th century.
Explore the characterful old town of Pingyao, strolling along the cobbled streets to view the old city walls and the Rishengchang Financial House Museum. There will also be time to see the Yamen, a government building during the Qing Dynasty, before taking the bullet train to the former imperial capital of Xian.
After their fortuitous discovery in the 1970s, the Terracotta Army of China's first emperor, Qin Shi Huang, has intrigued visitors ever since. Spend the morning viewing the enigmatic ranks of these life-size warriors and visit the Xian Art Ceramics and Lacquer Workshop. Later, take a stroll on the beautifully preserved ancient city walls that enclose Xian’s old town. This evening, enjoy a delicious feast of Shui Jiao dumplings and a performance of Tang Dynasty dancing.
Admire the relics at the Xian Museum before visiting the Little Wild Goose Pagoda and watching a calligraphy demonstration. There will also be time to explore the atmospheric alleys of the Muslim Quarter.
Board a bullet train from Xian to Luoyang, a city that was the capital for more than 13 dynasties. This afternoon, visit the Longmen Grottoes which houses tens of thousands of age-old statues and sculptures depicting Buddha and his disciples carved from the limestone cliffs of Xiangshan and Longmenshan.
Travel to Dengfeng and visit the famous Shaolin Temple, best known for its association with martial arts, and walk through the Pagoda Forest, a collection of 228 pagodas of various styles built from the Tang through to the Qing dynasties. Later, witness a kung fu demonstration by the famous Shaolin Monks. Continue to Zhengzhou.
Fly to the exuberant and cosmopolitan city of Shanghai, also known as the 'Paris of the East'. In the evening, view the city from the Huangpu River on a scenic cruise.
Shanghai is China's great metropolis, east and west colliding on streets lined with skyscrapers and old temples. Visit the classical Yu Garden and stop in the old town before admiring the colonial architecture on the Bund. This evening, take your seats to see the fascinating ERA acrobatic show.
Wander through the Xintiandi area to admire the 1920s architectural style, view the artefacts at the Shanghai Museum and explore the Silk Factory. Taste delicious, traditional Shanghainese cuisine for dinner.
Fly to the UK, arriving home the same or following day.
We draw from a wide range of hotels on our holidays, each one is chosen to suit the tour you are travelling on meaning your accommodation can range from a smart business hotel in one city to a family run guesthouse in a smaller town. Here are some examples of the type of hotel you can expect to find on this tour.
The 4-star Mercure Beijing Downtown is very well connected across the city, with easy access to the city centre and multiple transport links. The elegant and spacious guests rooms offer free internet access and satelite TV.
Featuring 221 spacious rooms, the Datong Hotel is situated in a lively area of the city centre. All of its chic and spacious air conditioned rooms come with flat screen satellite television, and en-suite and a safety deposit box. The onsite restaurant offers Sichuan and Cantonese cuisine. The hotel also has an indoor swimming pool and a fitness centre.
Wutaishan Friendship Hotel features modern accommodation in the Wutaishan Scenic Area. Rooms are elegantly furnished and include satellite television, tea making facilities, free Wifi and an en-suite bathroom. The hotel also has an onsite fitness centre, supermarket and restaurant, which serves local Chinese dishes.
The centrally located Shanxi Grand Hotel in Taiyuan has modern en-suite rooms which include satellite television, free Wifi, air conditioning, tea making facilities and a safety deposit box. The hotel’s onsite restaurant serves local and international cuisine. There is also a fitness centre and an indoor swimming pool for your use.
Well-placed in the culture, sightseeing area of Pingyao city, Xing Long Yi Hotel has comfortable en-suite rooms with modern amenities, including air conditioning, free Wi-Fi in all rooms and a 24-hour room service. The hotel also features a coffee shop and superb onsite restaurant.
A short distance from Xian's historic old town, the 4-star Lanxi International hotel features a terrace for you to enjoy, as well as an indoor pool and hot tub. The modern guest rooms offer a private bathroom, desk and flat screen TV.
Right in the heart of Luoyang, the Peony Hotel has well-appointed en-suite rooms with modern amenities, including a flat-screen TV, electric kettle and a minibar. The hotel also features a restaurant serving Cantonese, Sichuan, and Western flavours, a massage parlour and a fitness centre.
Xinhuajianguo Hotel is located in downtown Zhengzhou and offers guests comfortably furnished en-suite rooms. Facilities include satellite TV, free internet access, a mini bar and other amenities. The onsite restaurant boasts superb Chinese cuisine. Other services and facilities include a sauna, beauty salon, fitness room and laundry service.
A short distance from Shanghai's major tourist attractions, the 5-star Jinjiang Huating hotel offers elegant guest rooms with large windows providing views of Shanghai. This beautiful hotel is home to the rooftop Moon View Restaurant, offering breathtaking city views and exquisite Chinese dishes.
The best times to visit China are in spring (April to May) and autumn, (September to October) when temperatures are warm and humidity low.
Places Visited: UK - Beijing (4N) - Datong (1N) - Wutaishan (1N) - Taiyuan (1N) - Pingyao (1N) - Xi'an (3N) - Luoyang (1N) - Zhengzhou (1N) - Shanghai (3N) - UK
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There are no dedicated Solo departures for this year. You can enjoy any of our tours with no Single Supplement on our Happy to Share option or explore the solo departures in other years.
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