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Embark on an extraordinary rail voyage through China's ever-changing landscapes, charming ancient towns, and iconic sights that unfold beyond your window. Stop along the way to meander along the cobbled lanes of the historic towns of Tunxi, Dali and Lijiang, stand in awe before the breathtaking Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, and venture to the Yellow Mountain to admire the beauty of its scenery, acclaimed in Chinese art and literature for centuries.
Our China by Rail tour will see you exploring the most iconic sites, delving into deep-rooted culture and dining on delicious cuisine.
Spend the night atop Huangshan, the Yellow Mountain
Cruise the gentle waters from Guilin to Yangshuo on the stunning Li River
Climb the heights of this magnificent mountain by cable car enjoying high meadows and amazing vistas
Walk along this incredible ancient wonder of the world
Painted during the Ming Dynasty (1368 and 1644) the incredible Baisha Frescoes tell fascinating stories of the daily life, religion and politics of their time and have retained their bright colours and vivid patterns.
A speciality dish of Yunnan province, tuck into a delicious bowl of Across the Bridge noodles in provincial capital Kunming, a famous and flavourful noodle soup with a touching story behind it.
Glide through China's diverse landscapes aboard bullet trains, experiencing speed, comfort, and modernity. Connect with locals and witness the country's dynamic transformation from the window.
This tour is perfect for rail travel enthusiasts seeking an all-encompassing exploration of China's major attractions, with delightful detours to the hidden gems of Yunnan and the Yellow Mountain.
Fly overnight to the cosmopolitan city of Shanghai, also known as the 'Paris of the East'. Depending on your time of arrival, the rest of the day is yours to start soaking up the local culture.
Shanghai is China's great metropolis, where east and west collide on streets lined with futuristic skyscrapers and 10th-century temples. Today's explorations include the Yu Garden, the old town and a silk factory. Admire the magnificent colonial architecture with a stroll along the Bund, before a trip on the super-fast Maglev train, which reaches top speeds of 431 km/h. This evening, view the city from the Huangpu River on a panoramic cruise and dine on delicious Shanghainese cuisine.
Embark on a journey aboard the bullet train to Tunxi, and then ascend to the summit of Mt. Huang, commonly known as Yellow Mountain, via cable car for an overnight stay atop the mountain. Enjoy the spectacular views of the oddly shaped peaks, rock formations, thousand year-old pine trees and ever-changing mist, all of which have inspired local artists for centuries. Spend the afternoon exploring the scenic area including Begin-to-Believe Peak and Lion Peak.
Rise early to watch the sunrise over Yellow Mountain. Continue exploring more notable attractions such as Dispelling Cloud Pavilion and Flying-over Rock. Take the cable car down to the base of the mountain and explore this ancient town of Tunxi. The narrow cobbled streets are lined with pretty little shops selling anything from local snacks and tea, to paintbrushes, cultural relics and intricate wood carvings.
Journey by bullet train to Changsha, a vibrant metropolis steeped in history and surrounded by natural beauty. Explore the bamboo and sculpture gardens of Orange Island, where a towering 32-meter statue of Chairman Mao Zedong stands. As dusk falls, indulge in the lively night market's local delicacies, a taste of Changsha's culture.
Step into history at the Yuelu Academy, the historical hub of learning where ancient wisdom thrives. Then embark on a scenic journey as you traverse magnificent landscapes to reach Guilin's natural wonders.
Embark on a tour to Elephant Trunk Hill, the iconic rock formation resembling an elephant drinking from the Li River. Visit the South China Pearl Factory where you will have the opportunity to buy these precious stones. Later, visit the Sun and Moon Pagodas and the ancient South City Gate then set sail on a serene cruise, navigating the network of canals and walkways of the Two Rivers and Four Lakes.
Take a relaxed cruise along the Li River to charming Yangshuo. Around every river bend is a view to take your breath away as jagged karst peaks loom over rural scenes of lush greenery, grazing buffalo and local fishermen. Disembark and wander Yangshuo's cobbled streets and vibrant markets. This evening, you have the option of enjoying the magical Sanjie Liu night show.
Board the bullet train to Kunming, capital of Yunnan province. This journey is a treat with the iconic karst formations of Guilin's limestone peaks, the tranquil beauty of terraced fields and villages, and the rugged grandeur of Yunnan's mountainous landscapes all unfolding in a mesmerising display through your train window.
Meander through the formations of the UNESCO-listed Stone Forest, where towering limestone pillars stand tree-like in a fascinating illusion of woodland. Return to Kunming and in the evening, sample the local delicacy, Across the Bridge noodles.
Board the bullet train to Dali, a charming town that offers a peek at bygone China. As the train snakes its way from Kunming to Dali, you'll witness a breathtaking transformation of scenery, from the lush greenery of Yunnan's lowlands to the serene beauty of Erhai Lake and the distant majesty of the Cangshan Mountains. Discover Dali's ancient quarter and magnificent, age-old Three Pagodas before an evening stroll through the vibrant Foreigners' Street.
Today, explore the village of Xizhou to browse its local market, visit the Yan family home and watch a tie-dying demonstration. Enjoy a relaxing cruise on the mirror-like waters of Erhai Lake, admiring the spectacular scenery provided by the Cang Mountains.
Board the bullet train to Lijiang. Discover the old quarter; the quintessential Chinese 'old town' and wander the jumble of cobbled streets, traditional wooden buildings and rustic stone bridges.
A magnificent mountain, the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain comprises several peaks, the tallest of which soars 5,500 metres. Taking a cable car, explore one of the gorgeous high meadows and enjoy the amazing vistas. Later, visit Baisha old town to view its spectacular Ming Dynasty frescoes and Baisha village, a settlement of the Naxi minority people.
Fly to Chengdu, capital of Sichuan Province. Chengdu is a harmonious blend of modernity and tradition, where teahouses, spicy cuisine, and a relaxed pace of life create an inviting and culturally rich urban landscape.
Visit Chengdu's Panda Centre, where an expert will talk to you about the centre's work and the pandas themselves as you observe these peaceful bears. After, board the bullet train to 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 life-sized warriors and horses. Also visit the workshop to see where the warriors are intricately recreated in the style of their ancient counterparts and stroll on the beautifully preserved 14th-century city walls that enclose Xian's old town. In the evening, enjoy a dumpling feast and Tang Dynasty dancing show.
Board the bullet train to Beijing, China's historical capital. Watch the landscape unfold in a succession of terraced fields, distant mountains, glimpses of rural life, and bustling urban landscapes.
Head to Beijing's symbolic heart, Tiananmen Square, and stroll into the sprawling magnificence of the Forbidden City. Entering through the Gate of Supreme Harmony, you will find a complex full of imperial riches. Later, soak up the harmonious ambience of the Temple of Heaven, before learning about evolution of China's railway systems at the China Railway Museum. This evening, sit down to a traditional dinner of 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 then spend the afternoon at the idyllic Summer Palace, wandering through traditional Chinese gardens and seeing the exquisite architecture.
Transfer to the airport for your flight back 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 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 – Shanghai (2N) – Mt. Huang (1N) – Tunxi (1N) – Changsha (1N) – Guilin (2N) – Yangshuo (1N) – Kunming (2N) – Lijiang (2N) – Dali (2N) – Chengdu (1N) – Xian (2N) – Beijing (3N) – UK
All of our tour departures include international flights and taxes in the price. If the dates we have available for this tour don't suit your needs, or you are not sure travelling as part of a group is for you, maybe a Private Tour would be more ideal. If your tour departs in less than 30 days, please call our travel experts to book.
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Departures for Solo travellers only are available for this tour on selected
In addition to being for solos only these departures feature smaller group sizes, free airport lounge access and complimentary cocktails on arrival.
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.
Extend your holiday or break up your journey with one of our extensions and stopovers. Choose from city breaks or some beach time, or spend more time in your chosen destination.
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