A dizzying mix of ancient cultures, tumultuous history, breathtaking natural beauty and dynamic urban landscapes, China is a feast for all the senses. Magniﬁcent Beijing, the legendary Terracotta Warriors, captivating pandas and a cruise through the Three Gorges combine to offer an unforgettable experience.
We depart London for our overnight flight to Beijing, via Hong Kong, arriving on Day 2. After transferring to the Novotel Peace Hotel, you are free to settle in.
Today we discover the sights and sounds of China's vibrant capital. This morning, we visit the infamous Tiananmen Square, which, at over 4 million square feet, is the largest city square in the world. Stretched out across this space are several vivid reminders of China's political history, including an imposing portrait of Chairman Mao. We also take in the neighbouring Forbidden City, which is now a UNESCO World Heritage site. Boasting almost 1,000 buildings, this magnificently restored complex - with its historic pagodas and traditional Chinese palace buildings - makes a dynamic contrast with the contemporary square. Our final visit of the day is to the breathtaking Summer Palace.
We visit the world-famous Great Wall of China. Listed as one of the modern Seven Wonders of the World, this masterpiece of Chinese workmanship stretches thousands of miles from the Gobi Desert to the Korean border - and is truly an awesome sight to behold. We visit the Mutianyu section, a beautifully preserved stretch which offers incredible views over the seemingly endless mountain scenery. After ascending by chair lift, we have the opportunity to walk along the wall before returning to Beijing. Here we see the 'Water Cube' and the 'Bird's Nest', the main arenas used in the 2008 Olympic Games. Tonight we enjoy a traditional Peking duck dinner together.
We begin our day with a visit to the Temple of Heaven, a beautiful edifice in central Beijing. In the afternoon we leave Beijing behind, and join the rail service to Xi'an. Our journey on the high-speed service takes us through the beautiful landscapes of rural China. In Xi'an we transfer to our hotel, the Grand Mercure Remnin Square, for two nights. On Day 6 we discover the famous Terracotta Warriors - one of the world's greatest archaeological finds. The 6,000 figures - some with horses or chariots, but all with unique features - were buried in 210 BC, yet only discovered 40 years ago.
The life-sized statues were built as part of an elaborate tomb of the Qin Emperor, believed to protect him in death just as his real army had in life. Built on an incredible scale, the soldiers - all grouped in rank order - are a breathtaking sight. Later we discover more of the walled city of Xi'an, taking in the Great Mosque, the city's lively bazaar and the Small Wild Goose Pagoda. Dating back to the 8th century, the towering structure is a leading example of Tang Dynasty architecture.
Today, we travel on the new high-speed rail service from Xi'an to Chengdu, where we spend two nights at the Tibet Hotel.
On Day 8 we travel into rural China to Leshan, and visit the ancient Giant Buddha Statue. Carved into a towering mountain range, it is the world's largest stone statue at 233ft tall. We have time to admire this immense structure before returning to Chengdu. Here we see the Wenshu Monastery, one of China's finest Buddhist structures, as well as the historic teak buildings on Jinli Street.
Today 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.
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 a local luxury 5-Star Century river ship for our three night cruise along the Yangtze River, through the dramatic scenery of the Three Gorges.
This morning there is an optional excursion to Fengdu Ghost City. This afternoon we visit the stunning Shibaozhai Pagoda, rising 12 stories up a sheer cliff face.
Our cruise continues on Day 11 with a shore excursion to Shennong Stream, a stunning natural beauty where the cliff sides soar steeply away from the nearly emerald waters of this beautiful stream.
This evening, enjoy the Captain's Banquet on board.
We disembark at Yichang today, before we visit the colossal Three Gorges Dam, which is now the world's largest hydro power project. After, we travel by highspeed train to Wuhan, for a night at the Marco Polo Hotel.
On Day 13 we visit Wuhan's distinctive Yellow Crane Tower, a stunning example of traditional Chinese architecture and the subject of many local legends, before transferring to the railway station for our eastward journey to Shanghai. We spend two nights at the Pullman Jing'an Hotel.
Today, we begin our explorations of Shanghai. We see the Yu Garden in Shanghai's historic core, where we enjoy a traditional tea ceremony, as well as the bazaar and the Jade Buddha Temple, ahead of visiting the beautiful French Concession and the Bund in the afternoon. This evening, we enjoy a farewell dinner at Xianqiangfang Restaurant, a restaurant renowned for its traditional cuisine. On Day 15, we transfer to Shanghai airport by coach and high speed Maglev train for our return flight back to London, via Hong Kong, where our tour ends on arrival.
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.
Provisional departure and return times, where available, can be found together with our dates and prices by clicking on the 'Prices & Availability' button. We write to all booked customers approximately 10 weeks prior to the start of their tour to advise the exact departure and return time for their particular group.
An escorted experience and all travel arrangements
Comfortable accommodation in your destination
Delicious meals included
Exciting excursions and free time to explore
Enhancing your tour
British Citizens require a visa to enter China. Please see the Visa section of 'Things You Should Know' for further details.
of travellers would recommend this tour
based on 14 verified reviews
It was a wonderful experience. Very tiring, but we saw a lot of China in quite a short space of time, so well worth being tired for a few days.
We had a terrific time, with an excellent group of travellers. The tour was certainly full on and we managed to see all the major sights in China and many more besides. Travelling by bullet train meant no long delays at airports and lots of room to enjoy the relaxation. Most hotels were excellent and when there was a complaint our tour guide John dealt with the problem promptly. As usual a great experience we will certainly be travelling with Great Rail again in the future.
The food could have been better.. very repetitive.
Overall well organised tour , good hotels , good local guides .
Holiday was good. Local guides very good. Overall the tour was a success, although tiring. The journey back was a bit of an ordeal. Due to a hold up in Shanghai. We missed our connection at Hong Kong. This connection would have been very tight if all on time. We had trouble trying to contact our taxi driver due to the time difference of Eight hours behind . This caused some extra concern. A direct flight from Heathrow to Beijing and out of Shanghai to Heathrow would have made the holiday better. Shanghai to Hong Kong then to Heathrow put at least six hours on Our journey home.
Great tour. Great tour manager (Tim Hall) and a great bunch of travelling companions.
An excellent, well organised holiday which was very enjoyable. The Hotels, Transport, food, excursions and travelling arrangements were absolutely superb.
Because it was truly excellent throughout and our tour manager Tim was brilliant from start to finish. Can we book him for our India trip on 28 Jan 2018?
Organised extremely well. Trip was well managed good company
Everything was organised very well. Wonderful hotels, no waiting for transport. Great group of people.
Discover China's highlights on a single tour