Explore the highlights of ancient China, from the Shaolin Monastery and Longmen Grottoes to the Terracotta Army of Xi’an and finally the Great Wall.. Tour Shanghai’s imminently photogenic Bund, where historic buildings display a variety of architectural styles along a waterfront promenade.. Taste your way through the delectable halal dishes in the sizzling Muslim Quarter of Xi’an.. Enjoy a peaceful night in a traditional courtyard guesthouse near the Great Wall and visit a section of the Wall.
Take a ten-day journey into China’s rich and fascinating history on this tour from the busy streets of Shanghai to majestic Great Wall near Beijing. Jewels of the many dynasties are found among breathtaking scenery, and this trip showcases wonders both natural and man-made. See how ancient traditions have been adapted for the modern world in Shanghai and the Shaolin Monastery, and witness the formidable power of imperial China with visits to the Terracotta Army and the Great Wall.
Breakfast Included: 9 Lunches Included: 2 Dinner Included: 1
Nimen Hao! Welcome to China. Shanghai’s bright lights, fevered trade and frenetic pace provide a glimpse into the dazzling global future of China. On arrival in the city you’ll receive a private transfer to your hotel, located within walking distance of the famous Bund, where dozens of imposing European colonial buildings line the promenade. It’s crucial you attend a welcome meeting at your hotel at 6 pm to meet your leader and provide them with insurance and next of kin details. After the meeting, your evening is free and so are you. Perhaps get a taste of Shanghai’s eclectic food scene, which draws influences from far beyond China’s walls. Ask your leader for suggestions on where to begin.
Shanghai by morning is bustling with street vendors and workers making their morning commute, and today you’ll weave among them in an early walking tour of the city. Begin with the pride of Shanghai – the Bund. On one side of this waterfront strip you’ll see gothic, baroque and neoclassical architecture dating as far back as 1897. These historic buildings sit in wonderful contrast to the uber modern high rises and sleek office buildings that lie across the water. Then, zig zag through the back lanes off of East Nanjing Road, the oldest (and busiest!) shopping street in Shanghai. Then continue to the famous French Concession where the French settled in Shanghai in mid 19th century, now a hip area in Shanghai full of trendy cafes and bars, so it's a great area to wander, explore or rest. The afternoon and evening are free for you to do as you please. Those feeling a little overwhelmed by the chaos may wish to visit the classical garden of Yuyuan - on of the must-see sights of Shanghai.
Shanghai – Luoyang
A traditional Shanghai breakfast is salty, savoury and rich. As you have a free morning in in the city, why not ask your leader for the best place to get a bowl of congee (savoury rice porridge) or jian bing (egg crepe)? At midday, board a high-speed train bound for Luoyang. Once the capital of Imperial China, Luoyang boasts plenty of historic sights. It’s also the gateway to Shaolin Monastery. The journey will take about 6 hours, so it’s a good idea to have a book or podcast on hand to keep you occupied as the scenery rushes past you outside the window.
Today, visit the legendary birthplace of kung fu - the Shaolin Monastery. A private bus journey of around 3 hours will take you to the monastery, which remains the primary source of Shaolin Buddhist training and learning to this day. Learn about the warrior monks of Shaolin and how the martial art has changed over centuries. Watch an athletic kung fu performance and then wander through the Pagoda Forest, where respected monks have been laid to rest in towering tombs since AD791. For lunch enjoy a vegetarian feast at nearby Yongtai Temple where you will sample innovative Buddhist cuisine. Enjoy a free afternoon and evening in Luoyang. As night falls, you’ll see thousands of colourful lamps light the streets and squares across the city, creating a lovely ambiance.
Longmen – Xi'an
Embrace an early start to visit the nearby honeycomb caves and stone-carved Buddha statues of the Longmen Grottoes. This UNESCO World Heritage site features more than 100,000 statues and carvings of the Buddha that date back to the 4th century. You’ll explore them with a local guide. Return to Luoyang and board a bullet train bound for Xi’an. The 2-hour journey will deliver you to the city widely regarded as the birthplace of Chinese civilisation, and you’ll dive in with a late afternoon walking tour of the historic Muslim Quarter. This buzzing commercial quarter is the best place to sample some unique regional halal dishes. One local favourite is yang rou pao mo, a clear broth soup filled with tender mutton and crumbed flatbread.
The most famous archaeological site in Xi’an, if not all of China, awaits today. The Terracotta Army was hidden for thousands of years until farmers accidentally uncovered the archaeological wonder in 1976. This immense clay militia – including soldiers, horses and chariots – was commissioned by First Emperor Qin as part of his mausoleum, designed both to protect him in the afterlife and commemorate his victory over the Warring States during his reign. Explore the pits that are on display to the public and marvel at this impressive display of ancient power. Sit down for a local lunch and then return to Xi’an for the evening. If you have the energy to venture out, the South Square is lit beautifully in the evening and is home to ancient Big Goose Pagoda and numerous contemporary sculptures.
Travel to Beijing this morning by bullet train (approximately 5.5 hours). Arrive in the afternoon and follow your leader on an orientation walk to familiarize with the neighborhood. The evening is yours with plenty options from watching a Kungfu show to exploring the hutong areas in the old Beijing.
Beijing – Great Wall
Check out in the morning and visit Tiananmen Square in the centre of the city. Framed by many imposing and iconic buildings such as the Gate of Heavenly Peace with its Mao portrait, Mao's Mausoleum, the Great Hall of the People and the National Museum, it's a place of pilgrimage for many Chinese tourists who consider it the heart of their nation. From here you will enter the enormous scarlet walls of the Forbidden City. Built more than 500 years ago and until recently off limits to commoners, explore the great halls and courtyards of this palace complex. In the afternoon, make your way to the lovely courtyard guesthouse tonight by private transfer (about 3 hours), located in the countryside near the Wall. Enjoy a barbecue dinner and relax in preparation for a full day of sightseeing tomorrow.
An early start is necessary today to get the most out of the spectacular Great Wall. A feat of engineering that began construction around 2700 years ago, the section of the Wall most are familiar with stretches 6000 kilometres west from the mountain ridges north of Beijing. Although unsuccessful in protecting the Chinese empires from ancient enemies, it's without a doubt one of the country's most remarkable achievements and an iconic destination. Follow the serpentine fortifications through green mountains in a cable car, then spend a few hours exploring a section of the wall that is further from the city (and therefore less crowded). Later, return to the guesthouse and learn the fine art of paper cutting from a master of the tradition. Finally, make the 3-hour journey back to Beijing and spend the evening relaxing in the capital. Maybe choose to have an optional farewell dinner with your leader and fellow travellers and don't miss out on the delicious Peking Duck!
The tour will come to an end today after breakfast. There's still lots to see and do in Beijing, so perhaps consider staying a few days longer. If you would like to spend more time here, we'll be happy to organise additional accommodation (subject to availability).