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Pairing the classical sights with a Yangtze cruise, visits to the atmospheric ancient towns and a hike on the Great Wall as it weaves on undulating alien landscapes; this itinerary will bring you closer to the authentic charm of China.
Our China Explorer tour will see you exploring the most iconic sites, delving into deep-rooted culture and dining on delicious cuisine.
Trek the unrestored Jinshanling section of the Great Wall
Come face to face with these lovable creatures at Dujiangyan Panda Reserve
Spend two days cruising one of China's most famous rivers
Become one of the locals with a taste tour of the city's best breakfast cuisine
If you want to experience the natural wonders of this amazing country for yourself - our Dreams of Nature tour will be absolutely perfect for you
This tour is designed for those who wish to further immerse themselves in the authentic charm of China and take part in more cultural and active experiences. This tour is also suitable for those who wish to take a Yangtze River Cruise.
Fly overnight to Beijing, China's historic capital. Depending on your time of arrival, the rest of the day is yours to start soaking up the local culture.
Begin today in Beijing's symbolic heart with a stroll across Tiananmen Square into the sprawling magnificence of the Forbidden City. Entering through the Gate of Supreme Harmony, you will find a complex full of imperial treasures which offers an unsurpassed insight into China's colourful past. Spend the afternoon strolling through the idyllic landscapes of the Summer Palace and admire the Chinese architecture, followed by a walk up Longevity Hill to enjoy the panoramic views. Stop for a photo at the Olympic Stadium.
Arrive early and soak up the harmonious ambience of the Temple of Heaven, an orderly oasis in a bustling urban landscape. Here, mingle with the locals and watch or participate as they start their day practising Tai Chi, dancing and playing cards. Next, visit Yandaixiejie, where you will have some free time to wander around the hutongs. These narrow alleys offer an authentic glimpse of the old Beijing before the emergence of high-rise buildings and modern commerce. Enjoy lunch at the hutongs before driving to the Simatai section of the Great Wall, staying overnight in Gubei Watertown. Ride up to the apex of the Wall by cable car to see the sunset.
Travel to the Great Wall at Jinshanling, a section that is much less frequented by tourists than other parts. The stark yet magnificent surroundings allow you to put yourself in the shoes of those who walked this incredible structure hundreds of years ago. Your trek will last approximately four hours as the wall courses through dramatic landscapes and rugged terrain. Later, head back to Beijing and enjoy the evening at leisure.
Fly to Xian, the former ancient capital and enjoy a walking tour of the narrow and winding streets of the Muslim Quarter. Sample the delicious, freshly cooked snacks and gain an insight into the city’s fascinating culture and significance as the start of the Silk Road. Enjoy the evening at leisure or watch an optional fountain and light show and be dazzled by the city at night.
Housed in three immense hangars, the ranks of the Terracotta Army stand sentinel in their subterranean necropolis, constructed to protect China's first emperor in the afterlife. Spend the morning gazing over the ranks of warriors and horses, each one unique, whilst your guide introduces you to these life-like soldiers' fascinating story. Also visit the workshop of the craftsmen who recreate the Terracotta Warriors in the style of their ancient counterparts. Later, enjoy a gentle cycle ride on the beautifully preserved 14th-century city walls that enclose Xian's old town, then enjoy the evening at leisure.
Jump on the bullet train to Chengdu and drive to Pingle Ancient Town. Dating back to the Han Dynasty, Pingle was a stopping point on the Tea Horse Road. Walk through its maze of teahouse-lined streets before walking through Jinji's dense bamboo forest, then see the forest and gorge from above by crossing Jinji Suspended Rope Bridge.
Drive to Dujiangyan and visit one of the world's finest panda conservation centres. Here, the pandas are kept in conditions very close to their natural habitat. Later, ascend Mount Qingcheng, the most sacred Taoist mountain in China, by cable car. It is a truly beautiful area with numerous lush, green peaks and secluded temples. Take a stroll among the mystic scenery of Yuecheng Lake then return to Chengdu.
Drive to Chongqing and visit the charming old town of Ciqikou – there's time to wander the cobbled alleyways and learn about its colourful history. Later, board your Yangtze Cruise vessel.
As you cruise downstream, nature takes over, revealing some of the world’s most dramatic scenery including the Three Gorges themselves. Over the next two days, prepare for one breathtaking panorama after another. Enjoy various shore excursions as well as a side trip to Goddess or Shennong Stream. This is a chance to get a glimpse of life on the river banks.
Disembark your cruise vessel and visit the Three Gorges Dam. Next, travel to Yichang then fly to the cosmopolitan city of Shanghai, also known as the 'Paris of the East'.
Wake up to the buzz of Shanghai and take a breakfast walking tour through the city's most fascinating districts, marvelling at monuments and rickety buildings before enjoying breakfast as the locals do – sample pancakes, fried bread sticks and tofu. Visit Yu Garden, the old town and a silk factory before taking a stroll along the Bund and enjoying a farewell dinner of authentic Shanghainese cuisine. In the evening, enjoy a cruise along the Huangpu River, serenaded by the neon lights of Pudong.
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.
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.
The 4-star Xinliang Hotel is located in the heart of Chengdu, just a short distance from some of the cities key attractions. The hotel's interior was inspired by Bashu culture and blended with a modern charm. Enjoy the recreational facilities available to you, including a sauna and steamroom designed for escapism and relaxation.
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.
Places Visited: UK - Beijing (3N) - Gubei Watertown (1N) - Xi'an (2N) - Chengdu (1N) - Pingle (1N) - Yangtze River Cruise (3N) - Shanghai (2N) - 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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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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