Itinerary & Map
We often have multiple itineraries so please check to see which itinerary is suitable for you, by selecting the relevant tab.
Take an overnight flight to Beijing. Arrive in Beijing and transfer to your hotel. This afternoon you have time to relax and meet the other members of your group before perhaps heading out to enjoy the first of many superb Chinese meals.
Beijing Rainbow Hotel – 2 nights
Although the original terminus of the Silk Route was Xian, the infamous Kublai Khan made Peking (now Beijing) his capital and extended the route. During the Ming dynasty the city’s two great monuments were built – The Forbidden City and the Temple of Heaven. This morning you visit the Forbidden City, which was once home to the Emperor and his family. The maze of buildings within the City became the symbolic and literal heart of the capital and the empire. Symbolism abounds here; dragon and phoenix represent emperor and empress, and construction was in accordance with the principles of Yin and Yang - the balance of negative and positive forces.
This afternoon you will take to public transport and visit Tiananmen Square the largest town square in the world which is big enough to hold one million people! Then visit the Temple of Heaven - a masterpiece of Chinese architecture, set in beautiful surroundings.
This evening you will see an amazing acrobatic troupe performance - please don't try this at home! (B)
This morning you’ll set off for the drive to China’s best-known attraction, the Great Wall (approx 2 hours). Stretching over 5000km from the coast in the east, the wall was built as a defence against invasion from the horsemen of the far north, and has survived in a good condition since then. Surrounded by woodland and streams and around 90km from Beijing, the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall is considered by many to be one of the best preserved parts of the wall. Renowned for its Ming Dynasty guard towers (there are 22 of them over this 2,250 metre-long stretch) and built mainly of granite, the wall is an impressive sight at over 7 metres high and more than 4 metres wide. You hike along a section of the wall, taking in the surrounding scenery and getting a feel for the sheer size of this amazing construction.
In the afternoon you stop at a local hotel (1 room per family provided), where you have the chance to freshen up before you transfer to the station (approx. 3 hours) and board your overnight sleeper train to Luoyang. While there is some free time it is a great chance to take an informal language lesson and learn a few simple works which you can practice during the tour. Train travel in China is a great way to mix with local people. On soft sleeper trains compartments are closed with two tier bunk beds, four to a cabin. Sheets, pillows and blanket are provided, luggage is stored in your cabin. There are basic bathroom facilities at the end of each carraige with a toilet and washbasin. It's a good idea to bring your own toilet roll and some wet wipes. Be prepared that standards of cleanliness will not be what you are used to. Safe hot drinking water is provided for making tea, coffee or instant meals, bring a mug, spoon, knife and fork to prepare your own meals. Most trains have a dining carriage and you can also purchase snacks en route. Please be prepared that you may have to share a carriage with persons outside of the group.
Berth on overnight train - 1 night (B)
On arrival in Luoyang you transfer (approx. 40 minutes) to your hotel. Then head out to the revered Shaolin Temple (approx. 2 hrs), the spiritual home of kung fu. Famous for the legendary monks who could balance on one finger or hang from a tree by their neck, the Shaolin Temple remains one of China’s most famous sights and is usually bustling with visitors and martial arts students. The original Kung Fu was based on the movements of animals (tigers and snakes for instance) and is the basis of many of the martial arts which are practised today. You have the opportunity to see the various styles demonstrated in a professional performance and take a basic lesson. Afterwards there might still be time to wander around the temple watching students practising their skills. Return to your hotel.
Jing'an Peony Plaza – 1 night
Please note that rooms might not be ready upon your early morning arrival.
Longmen Caves - Xian
This morning you drive out to the incredible Longmen Caves, south of Luoyang (approx. 40 min). The site has over 100,000 images of Buddha carved into caves and niches in the rock, which stretches for over a kilometre past the Yi River. The statues of Buddha are carved in a variety of styles that display the influence of northern characteristics. The most impressive sections of the caves are the Ten Thousand Buddha cave and the 17 metre high image of Buddha built for Empress Wu Zetian.
In the afternoon you transfer by high speed bullet train to the Imperial city of Xian (approx. 2 hours). Human activity in this area dates back 6,000 years, but it was the Zhou dynasty which established Xian as its capital on the Fen River. Under the Tang dynasty, a magnificent city was built which was used thereafter as a model for other Chinese cities and also for the Japanese capital at Nara in 710. As terminus of the Silk Road, Xian was the world’s largest, richest and most cosmopolitan city and capital of a powerful nation. Many monuments reveal Xian’s importance over the centuries and reflect the fact that it was the capital of an empire some twelve times in its history.
Union Alliance Atravis Executive Hotel (AA) – 2 nights (B)
Xian; city walk
Xian is one of the few cities in China to have preserved its city walls virtually intact. The city itself has spread beyond these walls, but the centre of the town still retains the original grid formation, making it easy to navigate around the town. This morning you are taken by your Group Leader on a walk around the city. You spend your time wandering the back streets of the Muslim quarter, which is home to one of the largest mosques in China.
This afternoon is free for your own activities. There may be time to visit the Big Wild Goose Pagoda (both optional). Built in about 648 AD, its original purpose was to house Buddhist scriptures brought back from India. Alternatively, you could just wander through the old quarter and soak up the atmosphere. Xian is a fantastic place to do some souvenir shopping! This evening you will have the opportunity to visit the popular Tang Dynasty Show (optional) or to enjoy the bustle, lights and exotic goods at the night market in the Muslim quarter. (B)
Terracotta Warriors - Chengdu
Xian is, of course, famous for the Terracotta Warriors, guarding the tomb of Emperor Qin Shi Huang. Although this vast army was buried some 22 centuries ago, it was only discovered as recently as 1974. This morning you drive to the site (approx. 1 hour) which is spread over several tombs. The sheer size of the assembled terracotta army and the excellent displays really feed the imagination. There is also an interesting museum housing a collection of artefacts from the original digs. This afternoon you transfer to the airport (approx. 1 hour) and fly to Chengdu, capital of Sichuan province.
Wenhan Hotel – 1 night (B)
Pandas - Yangshuo
Chengdu is famous throughout China for many things – the spicy food of the Sichuan province and the endless chatter of the city’s tearooms, but globally it is renowned for the panda research centre, which you will visit this morning. China’s national animal, the giant panda is a rare and increasingly threatened creature. The research centre is home to both giant and red panda bears, and you can marvel at these incredible creatures in a close approximation of their habitat. It’s an early start as the panda only wakes for a few hours of the day to eat and exercise, but the opportunity to get close to this remarkable being is an experience not to be missed.
Take a flight to Guilin (1 1/2 hours), from where you head into the picturesque countryside around Yangshuo (approx. 2 hours) The inspiration for many paintings and literary works, Yangshuo lies on the western bank of the Li River, which meanders languidly through a remarkable landscape of dramatic limestone sugarloaf peaks; one of the most memorable images of classical China. This is your base for the next 2 days.
Yangshou Li River Hotel – 3 nights (B)
Located deep within karst peaks of Guangxi, Yangshuo is a haven for many visitors from the hustle and bustle of the ever-developing Chinese nation. The main peak in Yangshuo is Green Lotus Peak, standing next to the Li River. This morning you head out of Yangshuo on bikes to cycle on farm tracks, meandering through paddy fields and with spectacular limestone karst scenery on all sides. You’ll pause for a cold drink beside one of the most beautiful of the Li River tributaries. Continue on to a local village nestled at the base of Moon Hill. Here you can sample local farmers’ cooking before returning to Yangshuo.
In the afternoon you take a short drive to Chaolong, where you will be able to learn the art of Chinese cooking. This class will allow the whole family to learn the techniques and skills of Chinese cookery from experienced chefs, and after an afternoon trying delicious recipes, you can eat what you have made for dinner!
The following day is free to explore Yangshou as you wish. There are many activities here that you an do, or you may just wish to relax a little. (BD, B)
Please note that helmets are not provided for the cycling - these can be bought in Yangshuo or please feel free to bring one from home.
Today is a free day for your choice of activities, your hotel rooms will be available to you during the day. Then in the evening you transfer to Guilin and board your overnight train to Shenzhen.
Overnight Train - 1 night (B)
Your train arrives at its destination this morning. Crossing the border from China into Hong Kong is a busy and time consuming thing. It takes around 2 hours on each side to clear immigration and customs, your bags will be with you during this time; patience is essential. Once cleared you board the KCR train into central Hong Kong. Hong Kong has been back under Chinese rule since 1997, it is a truely unique place where east and west meet. The vibrant and fast paced city is only minutes away from quiet islands and beaches. There are many optional activites to choose from during your time here in Hong Kong, including a ride on the Star Ferry, a visit to Victoria Peak and see the harbour's light show.
Harbour Plaza 8 Degrees – 2 nights (B)
The tour ends today and those on group flights will transfer to the airport for an overnight flight home. (B)