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Discover China

4.8 stars(20 reviews)

Discover China's highlights on a single tour

You are viewing the 2021 itinerary. Select your departure year
15 days Sold out

2021 Tour code: CYG21

About the tour

A dizzying mix of ancient culture, tumultuous history, stunning natural beauty, and dynamic urban landscapes, China is a feast for the senses. Magnificent Beijing, the Terracotta Warriors, captivating pandas, and a cruise through the Three Gorges offer an unforgettable experience.


What’s included


Day 1 - London to Beijing

We depart London Heathrow on our overnight flight to Beijing.

Day 2 - Arrive in Beijing

We arrive in the Chinese capital on Day 2. After transferring to the Novotel Peace Hotel, you are free to settle in. 

Day 3 - Beijing

On Day 3, we discover the sights and sounds of China's vibrant capital. We begin by visiting the Tiananmen Square, which, at over 4 million square feet, is the largest city square in the world. Built by Mao Tse Tung to flaunt the power of Communism, the area houses his mausoleum where his embalmed body is kept. Most important state offices, including the Parliament House, are situated around the square. We also take in the neighbouring Forbidden City, a palace complex which is now a UNESCO World Heritage site. A visit to a local tea house gives us the chance to experience one of China's oldest traditions in authentic surroundings, before we explore the sprawling Summer Palace.

Day 4 - The Great Wall of China

We visit the world-famous Great Wall of China today. Listed as one of the new Seven Wonders of the World, this masterpiece of Chinese workmanship stretches thousands of miles from the Gobi Desert to the Korean border. We visit the Mutianyu section, a beautifully preserved stretch which offers incredible views over the seemingly endless mountain scenery.After ascending by cable car, we have the opportunity to walk along the wall.

In a guided tour of a cloisonne factory, we learn about the intricate art of Chinese enamel cloisonne made by embedding gold or powdered minerals on ceramics. We also see the 'Water Cube' and the 'Bird's Nest', the main arenas used in the 2008 Olympic Games. We end the day with a traditional Peking duck dinner.

Day 5- To Xi’an

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. 

Day 6 - Terracotta Warriors

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 44 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. We enjoy a dumpling making lesson this afternoon.

Tonight, there is a delicious and traditional dumpling banquet.

Day 7 - Chengdu

We begin our day with a visit to the Small Wild Goose pagoda, before we travel on the new high-speed rail service from Xi'an to Chengdu, where we spend two nights at the Tibet Hotel.

Day 8 - Giant Pandas

On Day 8 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. We then return 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.

Day 9 - Tea tasting

We head to Renmin Park, or the People's Park, this morning. Boasting artful landscaping, bonsais, and 2 tea houses, this park is the venue for various local cultural activities. Afterwards, we enjoy a traditional aspect of China with a tasting in one of the local tea houses. Later, we transfer to the station for the high-speed bullet train service to Chongqing, situated in the upper reaches of the Yangtze River.

Day 10 - Yangtze River Cruise

Here, we board the luxurious 5-Star Century Glory river ship for our 3-night cruise along the Yangtze River. On the morning of Day 10, we rejuvenate ourselves with an early morning Tai Chi session onboard. After the ship moors, there's an option to visit the Fengdu ghost town (payable locally), a temple complex dedicated to afterlife. This afternoon we visit the stunning Shibaozhai Pagoda, rising 12 stories up a sheer cliff face. This evening, we attend the Captain's Banquet on board and enjoy cabaret performance by the crew.

Day 11 - Yangtze River Cruise

On the morning of Day 11 there's an option of visiting the temples of the White Emperor City (payable locally). Our cruise then continues through the scenic locales of Qutang Gorge and Wu Gorge, before we make a shore excursion to Shennong Stream. Here, the cliff sides soar steeply away from the near-emerald waters of this beautiful waterway.

Day 12 - To Shanghai

We disembark at Yichang today and take a flight to Shanghai, where we spend three nights. One of China's most exciting and contemporary cities, Shanghai is a city in which old collides with new; the Bund region harks back to the emergence of the city in the 1920s, while the east of the city boasts an ultra-modern vibe with a booming financial district.

Day 13 - Shanghai

On Day 13, a guided tour of Shanghai takes us to the city's historic Yu Gardens, where we enjoy a traditional tea ceremony. We also visit the bazaar, where we stroll amongst traditional shops selling a host of enticing goods, and vibrant street performers. After lunch at a local restaurant, this afternoon we visit the Jade Buddha Temple, a beautiful, tranquil temple and active Buddhist monastery.

Day 14 - Shanghai to London

Today takes us to the Shanghai Museum to admire the fascinating Chinese artefacts found in the collections here, including ancient coins from the Silk Road. Next, we head out to explore the Bund, seeing the waterfront that's bordered by some of the iconic buildings that define futuristic Shanghai.

We have a little free time on Nanjing Road, one of the world's most famous shopping streets, to look around and grab lunch. Afterwards, we visit the beautiful French Concession, a former foreign settlement full of leafy boulevards and European-style buildings. This evening we round off our stay in lively Shanghai with a cruise along the Huangpu River, taking in the brightly-lit cityscape while we enjoy dinner onboard.

Day 15 - London

On Day 15, we transfer to Shanghai airport for our return flight to London Heathrow.

Additional information

Please note

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.

Departure times

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.

Mobility information

Please note: This may be suitable for reduced mobility passengers, please call for further information.


Novotel Peace Hotel, Beijing

Novotel Peace Hotel, Beijing

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Tibet Hotel, Chengdu

Tibet Hotel, Chengdu

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Pullman Shanghai Jing'an, Shanghai

Pullman Shanghai Jing'an, Shanghai

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Grand Mercure Renmin Square, Xian

Grand Mercure Renmin Square, Xian

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4.8 stars4.8 / 5 · 20 reviews

  1. 5 stars
  2. 4 stars
  3. 3 stars
  4. 2 stars
  5. 1 star

Mr M Robinson

4 stars

Submitted 12 Oct 2019

Excellent well organised tour with minimal hassle at terminals as porterage very effective. Excellent tour guide throughout and very informative local guides. Highly recommended. Only disappointing feature was the Yangtse river trip where vessel was a bir dated and shabby and service quality - particularly in restaurant - rather patchy..

Collected by Great Rail Journeys

Mr C Bell

5 stars

Submitted 05 Oct 2019

Great itinerary, fantastic tour manager.

Collected by Great Rail Journeys

Mrs P Battman

5 stars

Submitted 01 Oct 2018

Full on but ticked all the 'China boxes'

Collected by Great Rail Journeys

Mr P Moore

5 stars

Submitted 19 Jun 2018

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.

Collected by Great Rail Journeys

Mrs S Leach

5 stars

Submitted 27 Nov 2017

Overall well organised tour , good hotels , good local guides .

Collected by Great Rail Journeys

Mrs H Brackpool

4 stars

Submitted 20 Nov 2017

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.

Collected by Great Rail Journeys

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Discover China

Discover China's highlights on a single tour


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