Essential China

  • Detailed Itinerary
  • Dates & Prices
  • Trip Notes

China, top to bottom, ancient and modern. Discover the engineering marvels of the Great Wall and the Three Gorges Dam; the vastly different cities of old Shanghai and Xi’an; the archaeological wonder of the Terracotta warriors. Sacred mountains and temples, Giant pandas and the incredible beauty of the Yangtse River Gorges and the Yangshou countryside. The essence that is China.

Day 1: Beijing Arrival
Nihao! Welcome to Beijing, the Capital of China. Your tour begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm in your hotel lobby. Your guide will go over more details about your trip including meeting up with your guides in each city. After that, you will enjoy an orientation walk, followed by a Peking Duck dinner.

Accommodation:
•Chongwenmen Hotel or similar (3 nights)
Meals Included:
• Peking Duck dinner

Day 2: Beijing – Summer Palace, Great Wall at Mutianyu
This morning we will visit the Summer Palace, the largest imperial garden in China. Your guide will take you through the political center, living quarters and garden area designed in classic Chinese style. Walk through the longest corridor in the world and enjoy the beautiful scenery of Kunming Lake.
From here a private vehicle will take you out to the Great Wall at Mutianyu (approx. 2hrs), one of the best-preserved sections of the Wall, with 22 towers winding along the mountain ridges. Spend quality time exploring and learning the history of Great Wall as well as enjoying the views of Huairou county, a suburban area of Beijing. Bring a picnic lunch with you to enjoy at the top the wall. We will back to downtown Beijing in late afternoon.

Accommodation:
• Chongwenmen Hotel or similar
Meals Included:
• Breakfast

Day 3: Beijing – Explore the Forbidden City and Hutongs
There will be a lot of walking today as well as using the subway to get around some of Beijing’s most famous sights. Tiananmen Square, one of the world's largest public squares, is home to the Monument of the People's Heroes and the Great hall of the People. From here enter the Forbidden City (built 1406-1420), the ceremonial and political center of the Chinese government for more than 500 years. It was declared a World Heritage Site in 1987 and is listed by UNESCO as the most extensive collection of preserved ancient wooden structures in the world. After the Forbidden City, we will stroll through the alleys formed by lines of traditional courtyards known by Hutong and experience the local lifestyle of Old Beijing.

Accommodation:
• Chongwenmen Hotel or similar
Meals Included:
• Breakfast

Day 4: Beijing – Shanghai train, explore Shanghai
It is 5 hours to Shanghai by high-speed train. Upon arrival, you will be met and be transferred to your hotel. After a short break, take a walking tour through old Shanghai - we’ll stroll along the narrow winding lanes (longtangs) for a real glimpse into the locals’ daily life. Later, we will explore the Bund. This spectacular array of Art Deco buildings line what was once the most important financial street in Asia.

Accommodation:
• Metropolo Jinjiang Classiq Shanghai Nanjing Road or similar (1 night)
Meals Included:
Breakfast

Day 5: Shanghai temples & gardens, train to Xi’an
Today we will visit the City God’s Temple area, a folk temple neighboring Yuyuan Garden. The City God Temple in Shanghai originated as the Jinshan God Temple, dedicated to the spirit of Jinshan or "Gold Mountain", an island off the coast of Shanghai. It was converted into a City God Temple in 1403, during the Yongle era of the Ming dynasty. Its popularity turns the surroundings into a large pedestrian area that hosts an array of shops, restaurants and teahouses, as well as annual temple fair events. In the late afternoon, private transfer to Shanghai railway station and board the overnight train to Xian.

Accommodation:
• Overnight on soft sleeper train Shanghai/Xi’an (1 night)
Meals Included:
Breakfast

Day 6: Xi'an – Terracotta Warriors, Muslim Quarter
Upon arrival meet your local guide and transfer to your hotel for breakfast. Later head out to the Terracotta Warriors and learn much about this incredible archaeological find. After being buried for 2,000 years it was discovered in 1976 by farmers digging a well. Three main pits are open for you to view. Here just under 2,000 of the total 6,000 warriors – each individually sculpted from clay, each having a different costume, height and even facial expressions – stand in battle formation along with horses and chariots. The scale is incredible.
After lunch in a local village return to central Xi’an to explore the Muslim quarter and stroll through the narrow streets dotted with small shops, markets and restaurants.

Accommodation:
• Manxin Hotel Bell Tower or similar ( 1 night)
Meals Included:
• Breakfast, Lunch

Day 7: Xi'an-Chengdu Train to Chengdu, Jinli historic Street, Heming Teahouse
It is about 4 hours by fast train to Chengdu. On arrival transfer to the hotel then head out to explore Jinli Street. This street is famous for its historic atmosphere, bustling business and, most of all, for its local snacks. Enjoy sticky rice cakes with sesame sauce, spicy chicken on a stick, sweet rice jelly, fried beef pancakes and, for the more adventurous, seasoned rabbits’ heads. In late afternoon, we will have a walk in the people's park and relax with a cup of tea in the century-old Heming Teahouse.

Accommodation:
•Joha Forstar Hotel or similar ( 1 night)
Meals Included:
• Breakfast

Day 8: Chengdu Panda Breeding Center, Lehsan Great Buddha, Emei Shan
A morning visit to the Panda Breeding Center, where you witness the conservation efforts being made to save this endangered species. Pandas look adorable with amazing body movements. You can get quite close to them, watching them at play, eating, napping and munching bamboo.
After lunch we will continue to one of the region's most famous sites -- the Leshan Buddha.
This giant 71-meter-tall stone statue carved from the hillside dates from 713 (Tang Dynasty) when China was ruled by the Lee’s imperial family. The carving took 90 years to complete and has an amazing, well-designed drainage system at the back of the Buddha’s head and ears.
We will then continue on to Mount Emei where you will spend the night in a peaceful inn at the base of this incredibly beautiful mountain.

Accommodation:
•Chanlin Inn or similar ( 2 nights)
Meals Included:
• Breakfast

Day 9 :  Mt. Emei – Bus & hike to the Golden Summit
Your first stop on Emei Shan is Baoguo temple. This beautiful 16th century temple features a 3.5m porcelain Buddha dating from 1415 and is noted for its gardens of rare plants. From here take the eco-bus up to the 2nd highest parking lot at Leidongping (1.5hrs). From here hike up a staired path to the Golden Summit (3077m) – or there is a cable car if you prefer.
Enjoy the summit including Huazang Temple, Jinding Temple and a 48-meter-high golden Buddha statue. On some days, you may be lucky enough to enjoy the magnificent wonder of the Cloud Sea. Return to the base of the mountain by eco-bus.
 
Accommodation:
•Chanlin Inn or similar
Meals Included:
• Breakfast

Day 10: Mt. Emei temples & monkeys – Chongqing - Yangtze River boat
This morning take a short walk around Emei town before a trek up to Fuhu Temple and on to Hongchunping, where you will hopefully meet some wild monkeys. Later head to the station for the bullet train to Chongqing.
Your deluxe Yangtze River Cruise is amazing way to see the beautiful passing scenery as well as keep a lookout for wildlife. Don’t miss being on deck for sunset.

Accommodation:
•Overnight on Yangtze River Cruise ( 3 nights)
Meals Included:
• Breakfast

Day 11: Yangtze River Cruise, Fengdu Ghost City
Wake up and look out of your window to watch the stunning scenery. Take a short excursion to Fengdu which earned its reputation as a “Ghost City” during the Eastern Han Dynasty. Visit the temples and get a taste of Chinese Ghost Culture. In the evening, enjoy a dynasties culture show by Chinese minorities. This performance will entertain as well as teach you a lot about some of the lesser-known ethnic groups of China.

Accommodation:
•Overnight on Yangtze River Cruise
Meals Included:
• Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 12    Yangtze River Cruise  –Qutang and Wu Gorges, Shennv Valley
Today pass through two of the Three Gorges of the Yangtze, the Qutang and Wu Gorges.
There will also be an excursion to the Shennv Valley (the Goddess Stream) where you will have a breathtaking view of thousands of cliffs hanging in the sky. The water of the narrow stream is colored green by the hundreds of meters of cliffs which almost completely block the sky.
In the evening, the captain’s farewell banquet. Say a toast to the wonderful crew and take in the river views for one last time.

Accommodation:
•Overnight on Yangtze River Cruise
Meals Included:
• Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 13: Three Gorges Dam - Yichang – train to Liuzhou
Early morning arrive at Huang Ling Miao and visit the Three Gorges Dam. This is the most significant hydro-electric project in the world, completed in 2009 and brings benefits of flood control, power generation, tourism, ecological protection, South-North water transfer and irrigation. It also achieved a world record in 2014 for the enormous amount of power generated.
Reaching Yichang we disembark and transfer to the station for an overnight train to Liuzhou.

Accommodation:
• Overnight soft sleeper train Yichang/Liuzhou (1 night)
Meals Included:
• Breakfast

Day 14: Liuzhou - Yangshuo
After arriving in Liuzhou it is a three hour journey to Yangshuo, a rural resort town in southern China’s Guangxi region.
The area is known for its dramatic karst mountain landscape and outdoor recreation opportunities. Take an orientation walk around West Street and have your guide show you his/her favorite parts of the town.
Later enjoy a delicious local meal at one of the best restaurants in town where you can taste some of the most famous regional delicacies.

Accommodation:
• Floral Hotel Qinghui Villa or similar (2 nights)
Meals Included:
• Breakfast

Day 15: Yangshuo – Bicycle tour through Yangshuo countryside
Yangshuo offers excellent opportunities for biking and hiking. After breakfast we head out of town on bikes to cycle through the surrounding countryside to gain insight into China’s rural life and marvel at the surroundings. Each turn in the road reveals another picture-postcard view. Stop at Moon Hill, one of the most popular attractions in Yangshuo, easily recognizable by its crescent-moon-shaped natural arch. If you like the challenge, you can ascend to the summit via a steep and rough path, for which you will be rewarded with spectacular vistas.
Lunch at the house of our local friends and savor a tasty meal made from locally grown produce. Then, ride back to town and enjoy an evening at your leisure.

Accommodation:
• Floral Hotel Qinghui Villa or similar
Meals Included:
• Breakfast, Lunch

Day 16: Yangshuo – Li River Trip - Fast train from Guilin to Hong Kong and end tour
This morning we will enjoy a relaxing Li River Cruise, drifting through the karst landscape and crystal-clear waters.
Later transfer to Guilin train station for a fast train to Hongkong where the tour ends.

Meals Included:
• Breakfast

Visas - A visa is required for entry into China for all nationalities except Japan, Singapore and Brunei who are allowed visa free stays under 14 days. Travellers holding APEC cards are allowed entrance visa free if their card has already been approved for China.

Under the current guidelines to get a visa you will need to provide the following:

- Letter of Invitation from a Chinese agency

- Copy of Flight tickets

- Hotel booking confirmation

- Travel Insurance (some embassies ask for this document) 

In some cases, you may be required to provide further information or documentation and if this is the case we will notify you as soon as possible.

Booking a Single Room - On this particular tour we are pleased to be able to offer travellers the option of pre-booking a guaranteed single room. Due to the variety of accommodation used on this tour, single rooms are available for a majority of the nightstops, however it would still mean sharing on any overnight trains. All of our tours are planned and operated on a twin-share basis, meaning that the standard cost is based either on individual travellers sharing accommodation with another group member of the same sex, or people who book together sharing accommodation.

Vaccinations and Your Health - We recommend that you contact your primary care physician or a travel doctor for advice on vaccinations and travel health and we advise that you check to see if your tetanus-diphtheria booster is still valid every 10 years. 

Insurance - Travel insurance is compulsory for all our customers. At the start of the trip you must provide us with: the name of your insurance company, your policy number, a 24 hour medical emergency contact number, and the expiry date of the policy. You should ensure that your policy covers you for medical expenses and repatriation. If you are unable to provide all this information at the start of the trip you will not be allowed to join the trip. You can purchase insurance easily online by checking our Travel Insurance page.

Luggage - One main piece of lockable baggage and a shoulder bag. Total allowance: 44lbs/20kgs. Remember, you are expected to carry your own baggage – so don’t overload yourself. It is essential that your baggage is lockable; the airline/train authorities insist on this. Please be aware, before boarding a flight in China that the Chinese authorities will only allow bottles onto aircraft if they have been checked in as main luggage. Any bottles in the hand luggage may be confiscated.

Itinerary Disclaimer – The information in this trip details has been compiled with care and is provided in good faith. However it is subject to change, and does not form part of the contract between the client and the operator. The itinerary featured is correct at time of printing. Occasionally our itineraries change as we make improvements that stem from past travellers, comments and our own research. Sometimes it can be a small change like adding an extra meal along the itinerary. Sometimes the change may result in us altering the tour for the coming year. Ultimately, our goal is to provide you with the most rewarding experience. 

Accommodation -Your accommodation is selected for convenient.




16 Days