Experience authentic Chinese cuisine during a homecooked lunch with a local family in Huizhou, a tea plantation tour and cooking class in Yangshuo and a dinner of regional specialties in Xi’an.. With karst hills dotted along Li River, the scenery in Yangshuo is spectacular – here you’ll enjoy a feature stay in a splendid hotel offering old-fashioned charm, modern comforts and awe-inspiring mountain views.. Get a sense of the scale of China’s epic history when you come face to face with the Terracotta warriors and visit a lesser-known section of the Great Wall – the only section that winds along mountains and cuts through lakes.. Journey to the peaceful Huizhou villages, home to the quintessential image of white walled, black tiled traditional houses, and enjoy a night in a heritage hotel converted from the mansion home of a famous Ming Dynasty poet.
Embark on a 12-day Premium journey that weaves together China’s layered history, famous icons, cultural heritage and celebrated cuisine. Be dazzled by modern China in Shanghai, then step back in time to the charming villages of Huizhou. See the magnificent karst hills of Yangshuo and come face to face with the Terracotta Warriors in Xi’an. Walk an original section of the Great Wall and revel in the big show of Beijing. Of all China’s assets, its greatest is its people – visit traditional family homes and travel with an expert local leader to uncover a lesser-known side of the country.
Breakfast Included: 11 Lunches Included: 3 Dinner Included: 4
Ni Hao! Welcome to China. Your adventure begins in Shanghai – blending 21st-century architecture with old-world character, this city pulses with the beat of new China. You will be met at the airport and transferred to your hotel, where you will meet your fellow travellers and leader for a 6pm welcome. If you arrive with time to spare, head out to get a feel for this vibrant city and its bright lights, fevered trade and frenetic pace. Perhaps make a visit to the Yuyuan Gardens where you can explore gorgeous sculptures, gardens and pagodas from the Ming Dynasty. After your meeting, it’s time for a foray into Shanghai’s unbeatable food scene. Head with your group and leader to a delightful local restaurant converted from an old French Concession era mansion and sample some of the city’s regional favourites like fried dumplings, braised pork and crystal shrimp.
Start your day with a walking tour with your leader who will introduce you to the sights and sounds of this animated city. Explore old residential neighbourhoods, known as nongtang, then head to the tree lined Wukang Road in the former French Concession part of the city, home to 37 protected historic buildings. Stop by a market and watch the locals go about their daily life, then hop on the metro and head to the People’s Park. Here your leader will show you the ‘Blind Date Corner’ – this in person dating app sees parents of single children meet to discuss finding their children a suitable partner. Continue to the Bund, an iconic promenade along the Huangpu River which divided Shanghai into Puxi and Pudong. The spectacular art deco buildings that line the street will give you a glimpse into 1920s Shanghai against the modern backdrop of Pudong’s metropolitan skyline. Your tour ends here and the rest of the afternoon is yours – perhaps head to the Shanghai Museum or Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition centre to uncover stories of the city’s past, present and future.
Depart Shanghai this morning and board a high-speed train to Huizhou. The beautiful villages of Huizhou and their unique Hui-style architecture have inspired poets and painters for generations. On arrival, head to the home of a local family for a very special home cooked Hui lunch. Chat to your hosts about their way of life and find out what makes Hui cuisine so delicious. In the afternoon, take a tour of the ancient village of Tangmo – founded during the Tang dynasty, this lesser-known village offers a fascinating display of history and architecture. Visit some local families who have been weaving bamboo for decades and learn about the ancient art form, then head to the village ancestral temple to meet a local artisan famous for his stone inscription printing skills. Speak to him about his trade and gain insight into the world of Chinese calligraphy. This evening will be spent at your feature stay accommodation, a gorgeous hotel converted from the mansion of a famous Ming Dynasty poet. Traditional 17th-century Hui design is paired with 21st-century conveniences, and the hotel’s tranquil gardens will make you feel as though you’ve stepped back in time.
Enjoy some free time in Huizhou – perhaps take some time to wander the village’s narrow lanes and admire the local gardens. In the afternoon, return to Shanghai by high-speed train. This evening, head to a fabulous rooftop bar and see the city’s cloud-piercing buildings and glittering neon lights from a different point of view.
Enjoy a final morning to soak up the magic of Shanghai, then catch a midday flight to Guilin, followed by a transfer to Yangshuo, where lush karst mountains sprout like verdant domes around the meandering waters of the Li River. The countryside around Yangshuo is immortalized in many traditional Chinese paintings and it’s easy to see why. On arrival, check in to your feature stay accommodation for the next two evenings, a magnificent hotel tucked away among the karst hills and rivers of Yangshuo. Here you’ll experience a stunning fusion of modern design, old-fashioned charm and serene natural surroundings, complimented by an expansive turquoise swimming pool and remarkable mountain views. Enjoy a free evening to take in your spectacular setting – you may like to go for a walk in the surrounding area or spend some time relaxing by the pool.
After breakfast, head out to one of the largest tea plantations in Yangshuo, where you’ll learn about China’s most beloved beverage, from picking the leaves, to processing and brewing the perfect cup. Enjoy a cup of fragrant green tea to energise you for a short but steep climb up Xianggong Hill. From here you’ll see a amazing birds-eye view of the Li River and the otherworldly karst landscape. Take a wander through the local villages, where if you’re lucky, you may be invited into some old houses to get a glimpse at countryside life in China. Take some time out for lunch (optional) in a local village, then head into Yangshuo town where your leader will regale you with the history of the area as you explore. Wander up the busy West shopping street, then enjoy some time to browse the stores or relax in a cafe. Later in the afternoon, return to the countryside and visit a local cooking school where you’ll learn how to craft some wonderful traditional Chinese dishes using ingredients you’ll be able to pick up back home. Tonight’s dinner will be the tasty dishes you’ve whipped up during the class.
Enjoy a peaceful morning at your accommodation then catch a midday flight to Xi’an. Once the imperial centre of China for 2,000 years, Xi'an is now a vibrant, modern city dotted with many interesting historical sites to explore. Arrive in the late afternoon and settle into your hotel before setting off for a walking tour. Your leader will unpack the layers of Xi’an’s rich history as you walk past the Bell and Drum tower, continuing to the buzzing Muslim quarter. Wander the narrow streets and find quaint shops, lively markets and groups of white-bearded men in skull caps sipping tea in cafes. Xi’an is a food lovers paradise, and tonight you’ll get a chance to sample the flavoursome regional cuisine during an included dinner at a local restaurant. Specialities include Yang Rou Pao Mo (mutton and bread soup) Liangpi (cold noodles in sesame sauce) and plenty of delicious dumplings.
Today you’ll journey out into the countryside surrounding Xi’an and visit what is undoubtedly one of the man-made wonders of the world – the Terracotta Warriors. Your local guide will share the unbelievable history of this incredible archaeological find, discovered by farmers digging a well in 1974 after being buried for 2,000 years. These clay statues of soldiers, horses and chariots were commissioned by the emperor Qin Shi Huangdi as part of his mausoleum after he ascended to the throne in 264 BC. Three pits of warriors are open for viewing, where thousands of uniquely sculpted soldiers stand in battle formation. For lunch you’ll visit a local family restaurant, the owner of which has experienced firsthand of the changes brought about by the excavation of Terracotta Warriors. Listen to their stories while enjoying simple yet delicious home cooked food. Return to Xi’an and enjoy a free afternoon – you may like to cycle across the ancient city wall, or check out the Big Wild Goose pagoda and its incredible musical fountain.
Say goodbye to Xi’an and board a high-speed train bound for Beijing. The capital of the most populous country on earth, Beijing has mostly shed its historical face in favour of modernity. However, there are still plenty of places that give an insight into the nation's ancient past. Settle in to your hotel then head to Jingshan Park for a first glimpse of the forbidden city. Enjoy a free evening in Beijing – you may like to attend an exciting Chinese opera performance. Restaurants across the city span all styles and countless cuisines, so be sure to ask your leader for the perfect place to suit your tastes.
Make your way to Tiananmen Square in the centre of the city that remains the symbolic centre of Chinese power. Framed by many imposing and iconic buildings such as the Gate of Heavenly Peace, 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. Lunch today will be at the home of a retired chef from a prestigious restaurant in Beijing who will cook an authentic homemade meal for the group. After lunch, join a local expert for a walk around Beijing’s hutongs, residential alleyways that zigzag across the old Beijing. Learn about the history of hutongs, dating back 800 years and discover the significance of the architecture and variations in door design. Stop in to a hutong household where your expert guide will explain the ancient building technique of mortise and tenon. The rest of the afternoon is yours for further explorations.
No trip to China would be complete without a visit to the Great Wall. Today you’ll visit one of the best-preserved areas, the Hanghuacheng section, also known as the Water Great Wall. It used to serve as the northern barrier defending the capital and the imperial tombs, and features guard towers dating back to the Ming dynasty. Take your time strolling along the wall, which snakes through the hills and seemingly endlessly into the distance, as your leader fills you in on the its amazing history. From here you can see parts of the wall submerged beneath the lake water. Being perched on this incredible engineering feat and surveying the spectacular surrounding countryside is an unforgettable experience. A great idea is to bring a picnic lunch with you from Beijing to enjoy during one of the rest breaks. In the afternoon, head back to Beijing and take some time to relax before heading to a traditional courtyard restaurant where you’ll enjoy a marvellous Beijing duck feast for a final dinner with your group.
The tour will come to an end today after breakfast. If you have time, there's plenty more to see in Beijing. Why not check out the Urban Adventure tours in Beijing? If you would like to extend your stay here, please consult your booking agent for additional nights in the hotel.