Grand Tour Of China with Great Rail Journeys

Overview

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

What's Included:

  • The services of a professional UK Tour Manager from start to finish
  • Scheduled flights from London to Beijing and Shanghai to London
  • First-Class (one journey in second class), high-speed rail travel throughout
  • 10 nights hotel accommodation
  • 3-night cruise on the Yangtze River
  • 32 meals, including 13 breakfasts, 10 lunches and 9 dinners, including an authentic Peking duck dinner in Beijing
  • Tours of Beijing, Xi'an and Shanghai
  • Excursions to the Terracotta Warriors and the Great Wall of China
  • Tour of Xi'an
  • Visit to the Chengdu Giant Panda Breeding Research Institute
  • Excursion to Wuhan's Yellow Crane Tower

Full Itinerary

Day 1 - 2: To Beijing

We depart London for our overnight flight to Beijing, arriving on Day 2. After transferring to the Novotel Peace Hotel, you are free to settle in.

Day 3: Exploring Beijing

Today we discover the sights and sounds of China's vibrant capital. This morning, we visit the infamous Tiananmen Square, which, at over 4 million square feet, is the largest city square in the world. Stretched out across this space are several vivid reminders of China's political history, including an imposing portrait of Chairman Mao. We also take in the neighbouring Forbidden City, which is now a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Boasting almost 1,000 buildings, this magnificently restored complex - with its historic pagodas and traditional Chinese palace buildings - makes a dynamic contrast with the contemporary square.

Day 4: The Great Wall of China

We visit the world-famous Great Wall of China. Listed as one of the modern Seven Wonders of the World, this masterpiece of Chinese workmanship stretches thousands of miles from the Gobi Desert to the Korean border - and is truly an awesome sight to behold. We visit the Mutianyu section, a beautifully preserved stretch which offers incredible views over the seemingly endless mountain scenery.

After ascending by chair lift, we have the opportunity to walk along the wall before returning to Beijing. Here we see the 'Water Cube' and the 'Bird's Nest', the main arenas used in the 2008 Olympic Games.

Tonight we enjoy a traditional Peking duck dinner together. Our final visit of the day is to the breathtaking Summer Palace.

Day 5 - 6: To Xi’an and the Terracotta Warriors

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. 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 and the Small Wild Goose Pagoda.

Dating back to the 8th century, the towering structure is a leading example of Tang Dynasty architecture. Tonight, there is a delicious and traditional dumpling banquet.

Day 7 - 8: Chengdu & Giant Panda Breeding Research Institute

Today, we travel on the new high-speed rail service from Xi'an to Chengdu, where we spend two nights at the Tibet Hotel.

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: Chengdu and the Yangtze River

Head to Remnin Park this morning. Known in English as People's Park, the site is known as a Major Historical and Cultural Site of China. After, we enjoy a traditional aspect of China with a tasting in a local tea house.

Later we transfer to the station for the high-speed bullet train service to Chongqing, situated in the upper reaches of the Yangtze River. Here we board a local luxury 5-Star Century river ship for our three-night cruise along the Yangtze River and through the dramatic scenery of the Three Gorges.

Day 10 - 11: The Yangtze

This morning enjoy the scenery as you cruise onwards. This afternoon we visit the stunning Shibaozhai Pagoda, rising 12 stories up a sheer cliff face. This evening, we sit down to enjoy the Captain's Banquet on board.

Our cruise continues on Day 11 with a shore excursion to Shennong Stream, a stunning beauty spot where the cliff sides soar steeply away from the nearly emerald waters of this beautiful stream.

Day 12 - 13: To Wuhan and Shanghai

We disembark at Yichang today, before we visit the colossal Three Gorges Dam, which is now the world's largest hydro power project. After, we travel by highspeed train to Wuhan, for a night at the Marco Polo Hotel.

On Day 13 we visit Wuhan's distinctive Yellow Crane Tower, a stunning example of traditional Chinese architecture and the subject of many local legends, before transferring to the railway station for our eastward journey to Shanghai. We spend two nights at the Pullman Jing'an Hotel.

Day 14 - 15: Shanghai and London

Today, we begin our explorations of Shanghai. We see the Yu Garden in Shanghai's historic core, where we enjoy a traditional tea ceremony, as well as the bazaar and the Jade Buddha Temple, ahead of visiting the beautiful French Concession and the Bund in the afternoon. This evening, we enjoy a farewell dinner at Xianqiangfang Restaurant, a restaurant renowned for its traditional cuisine.

On Day 15, we transfer to Shanghai airport by coach and high speed Maglev train for our return flight back to London, where our tour ends on arrival.

Hand Picked By

Heather Muir

With over 40 years of experience, a Great Rail Holiday never fails to satisfy; the one thing my customers always tell me on their return is that the Tour Managers are amazing.

Heather Muir

Additional Information

  • Date: Various departure dates from June 2020 - November 2020
  • Board Basis: Mixed meal plan
  • Duration: 14 nights
  • Departure Airport: London Heathrow
  • Guide Price: From £2,995pp
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