Highlights of China

tours / Adventure

Highlights of China information and booking

  • Duration
    19 days
  • Group size
  • Difficulty
    Adventure touring
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Schedule Details

  • 19 day trip
  • 15 nights hotel
  • 2 nights Yangtze cruise
  • 2 nights train
Equipment Required
Specialist gear required include walking boots and day pack (a comprehensive gear list is provided in the pre-departure information provided on booking).


  • Visit to the Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square and the Temple of Heaven in Beijing
  • Walk an impressive section of the Great Wall at Mutianyu
  • View the Terracotta Warriors and explore Xian
  • See Pandas at Chengdu
  • Cruise the Yangtse river and the Three Gorges
  • Be immersed in the vibrancy of Shanghai
  • Walk amongst the granite peaks of Huangshan
  • Marvel at the sublime limestone scenery at Yangshuo

Tour description provided by World Expeditions

From the bustle of Beijing to the awe inspiring scenery of Guilin and Yangshou, this itinerary traverses China from north to south. Our journey begins in the majestic city of Beijing and takes us to the Great Wall where we explore the vastness of this manmade wonder away from the main tourist route.  We board our overnight train to the historic city of Xian where we will see China’s famous terracotta warriors.  Another overnight train journey takes us into the Sichuan Province where the city of Chengdu allows us to sample this region’s architecture, art and spicy cuisine. We then enjoy a cruise down the Yangtze River and the site of the largest construction project in China since the building of the Great Wall – the Three Gorges Dam. This spectacular $24 billion dam is the world’s largest manmade water reservoir and an unforgettable sight. After our cruise we have a few days to explore Shanghai, set on the picturesque Bund where modern skyscrapers coexist alongside fabulous colonial style architecture. Travelling further south to Huangshan we marvel at the soaring peaks and picturebook landscapes and soak up the atmosphere amidst the quaint cobblestoned streets of Yangshou. Our exploration of China's highlights comes to an end alongside the natural beauty of the Li River in the picturesque city of Guilin.

What's included

  • 18 breakfasts, 10 lunches and 4 dinners
  • Comfortable hotels throughout china on a twin-share basis
  • Internal flights yichang/shanghai and hangzhou/guilin valued at usd$383
  • Soft sleeper train travel between beijing/xian/chengdu and shanghai/huangshan
  • Boat cruise through the three gorges
  • Private air conditioned transport
  • Sightseeing and entry fees as listed in itinerary
  • Expert bilingual guides throughout. for smaller groups of 2 or 5 passengers we employ expert local guides in each location.
  • Medical kit


Day 1 Arrive Beijing
On arrival you will need to make your own way to the group hotel. The remainder of the day is at leisure to explore Beijing. There will be a group meeting in the hotel foyer at approximately 6.30pm. Following this we will head out to a local restaurant for our first taste of Chinese cuisine. Our hotel will be our base as we explore this fascinating city for the next four days. Beijing has been the dynastic capital since the 13th century and visiting the iconic sights located in this orderly city is like meandering through the pages of a history book.
Day 2 Beijing Sightseeing
After breakfast we visit Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City and the Temple of Heaven. After relaxing in the late afternoon we will make our way to the famous Chinese Acrobat show. Set in an old theatre, the Acrobat show is something to see as very talented young men and women enthrall the crowd with daring feats involving bicycles, dragons, swords and double-jointed body parts!
Day 3 Great Wall Visit
Today is a real treat as we travel to a beautiful section of the Great Wall of China. The Mutianyu section is approximately a 1.5 hours drive from Beijing, slightly further than the popular and very busy Badaling Gate section. The Mutianyu section is renowned for its Ming Dynasty Guard Towers and stirring views. The Great Wall of China is one of the Seven Wonders of the World and is one of the worlds most unusual and awesome sites. Construction commenced over 2000 years ago, around 221 B.C, as a defence line to keep out invaders, along the course of several thousand kilometres. The Emperor Qin Shihuang unified the various northern walls into the Great Wall we see today. We have the opportunity to walk along this section, quite often with no one else in sight, and appreciate the many watchtowers as well as the surrounding rolling hills. This evening we are treated to delicious Beijing duck dinner!
Day 4 In Beijing. Overnight train to Xian
For those who are keen, we rise early this morning and travel to the Summer Palace. This huge area is punctuated by the picturesque Kunming Lake. Once a secluded resting place for the imperial court this collection of temples, gardens, pavilions and lakes is now one of the most visited places in all of Beijing. This afternoon we transfer to the train station for our overnight train journey to Xian in comfortable air-conditioned sleeper cabins.
Day 5 Arrive Xian visit Terracotta Warriors
This morning we arrive in Xian, the traditional starting point of the Silk Road. The old walled city of Xian, the capital of Shaanxi Province, is a vivid example of old and new China. The modernised new city bustles around the quaint, winding lanes of the Old Quarter, where old men can be seen smoking pipes and watching the world go by, as butchers pull their carcass-laden carts and hawkers sell their wares. Today we visit the famous Terracotta Warriors. These warriors stand in their thousands outside the tomb of Qin Shihuang where they were uncovered in 1974 by peasants digging a well. Each warrior stands over 6 feet tall and has different features and characteristics. Some stand in a vanguard with crossbow and longbow bearers; others hold spears, daggers and axes at the ready. They are accompanied by dozens of horse-drawn carriages and enormous terracotta horses. The sight of the warriors arising from their muddy grave, some intact, others still submerged in the ground, is an extraordinary one.
Day 6 In Xian. Afternoon train to Chengdu
After breakfast we embark upon a walking tour of the exotic Muslim quarter with its sesame oil factories, hidden mosques and delicious hand made noodle stalls. The afternoon is free to explore Xian before meeting in the early afternoon for our transfer to the station for our overnight train to Chengdu.
Day 7 In Chengdu
We arrive in Chengdu at approximately 9am and are met and transferred straight to our hotel. After freshening up we begin our sightseeing of town. Chengdu is the capitol of Sichuan province and is famous for its spicy, pepper based foods and healing medicine markets. It is a green city and is one of the more laid back cities in China. We travel to the Tang Dynasties Wenshu temple. Originally built in the 7th century, The Wenshu Temple is one of Chinas oldest and best preserved Buddhist temples. This afternoon is free to relax and spend time in one of the many local teahouses in Chengdu. NB* If you would like to visit the Giant Buddha at Leshan, this can be arranged for you today at an additional cost. Please ask your reservations consultant for details.
Day 8 Chengdu. Transfer to Chongqing for Three Gorges Cruise
An early start with a visit to the Panda research center where we have the chance to see 40 or so of these gentle giants wandering around the grounds. We then transfer my private vehicle to Chongqing stopping enroute at Dazu Grotto with its cliff carvings and statues of Taoist, Buddhist and Confucian influence. Later in the afternoon we will board our boat for the start of our Three Gorges Cruise.
Day 9 to 10 Three Gorges River Cruise.
The Yangtze River is the longest river in China and the third longest waterway in the world. We travel along one of the most picturesque sections of the river where over millions of years it has carved its way through the surrounding mountains creating these uniquely beautiful gorges now named the Three Gorges. Over the next three days we will have the opportunity to view the dramatic scenery from both sides of our comfortable 4-star boat. Along the banks of the Yangtze River high peaks tower above us from both sides, in some sections, exposing huge cliffs and dramatically perched temples. Waterfalls spray mist over the river creating a mystical feeling as we meander along an area that soon will be forever changed. During the cruise we have the chance to get off the boat for three onshore excursions to; the Ghost city in Fengdu, a tributary visit to Shengnong stream and a dam tour. Accommodation aboard our boat is in private twin share cabins. All meals on board are included.
Day 11 Three Gorges Cruise to Yichang. Fly to Shanghai
We arrive into Yichang mid morning and visit the Yichang three gorges dam project and marvel at this huge undertaking before transferring to the airport to catch our flight to the cosmopolitan city of Shanghai. Upon arrival in Shanghai we are met by our driver and transfer to our well-located hotel. The rest of the day is at leisure. Shanghai is known as the “Paris of the Orient” and it is easy to see why. Long the place of quick fortune, opium and teahouses Shanghai has a vibrant feel that seduces all travellers that pass through her gates. The vibrant Bund is an awesome place to congregate and has been the setting for countless classic paintings over the years. It is wonderful to walk along the ocean side and observe life here.
Day 12 In Shanghai
This morning after a leisurely breakfast we will meet our guide and embark on a full day walking tour of this cosmopolitan and vibrant city. We will visit the Shanghai Museum, the famous and spectacular Yu Garden. We have the opportunity to wander through the old Frenchtown to view some of the wonderful architecture including the old art-deco apartments and the neo-classical mansions. Our day will be interspersed with tasting the delicious snacks such as steamed dumplings with vinegar dipping sauce that can be found in the many teahouses, bazaars and markets throughout town. Late afternoon we will go on a river cruise to see the city from a different perspective.
Day 13 Shanghai. Overnight train to Huangshan.
This morning we will pay a short visit the Jade Buddha Temple, one of the few Buddhist Temples in Shanghai. Built in 1911 the temples centre point is a 2 meter high white jade Buddha encrusted with jewels. This afternoon is free to wander around Shanghai and explore. You may wish to visit the high end of town, Nanjing road, where the Gucci and Prada stores dominate the high-end shopping malls. Late afternoon we transfer to the train station for our evening train to Huangshan.
Day 14 In Huangshan
Arrive into Tuxi in the morning where we enjoy breakfast in the down town old street. We then have a 1.5 hour drive to Huangshan, stopping en-route to visit two local villages. We arrive at foothills of Huangshan in the late afternoon where we will stay the night on the backhill of the mountain. The 2200 meter granite peaks are considered a sacred mountain area to the Chinese. We spend the afternoon leisurely walking in the area to an elevation of approximately 1800 meters. The scenery surrounding us here is nothing short of spectacular.
Day 15 Day walk in Huangshan
Today we catch a cable car to the summit of the mountain where we spend the day walking the surrounding area to take in the staggering views over the valley and otherworldly site of granite rock formations shrouded in misty clouds. In the late afternoon we catch the cable car back down the mountain to our hotel.
Day 16 Fly to Guilin. Transfer to Yangshou
After breakfast we take a leisurely walk to the base of the mountain and transfer back to Huangshan city and further onto Shanghai. From here we fly to Guilin and transfer directly to the charismatic, colourful town of Yangshou set amongst limestone karsts.
Day 17 In Yangshou visit Moon Hill
Yangshou is an idyllic town set amidst soaring limestone pinnacles on the banks of the Li River. The surrounding region is very beautiful, spotted with small villages and imposing karst rock formations. This area has long been the inspiration for generations of artists and poets. It is classed by many as the most spectacular area in the whole of China. The village itself has fantastic shopping and restaurants, and an extremely laid-back ambience. This morning we have an easy optional bike ride around the countryside followed by a visit to the stunning Moon Hill which is set alongside the Li River. Moon Hill is a strange limestone pinnacle with a crescent moon-shaped hole at the top. From the top of the hill there is a magnificent view of the layers of mountains and jigsaw landscape of rice paddies for which this region is famous. Make sure you have plenty of film as the view is incredible.
Day 18 Cooking School and Li River Cruise in Yangshuo
We start the day with a visit to the local market to buy fresh ingredients for our mornings cooking lesson. Set in a charming rural village about 25 minutes drive from town, the class is hands on and will help unlock some of the secrets of Chinese cuisine. Relax, sit back and eat what you have cooked! After lunch we take a river cruise on the Li River and soak in the incredible surrounding landscapes. We will visit an ancient village before returning to Yangshuo. The more active of our group have the opportunity to walk the last 5km through small villages and huge rice fields.
Day 19 Trip concludes
After breakfast your trip concludes.