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FT-01 Palaces & Pandas


12 nights from UK £ 10,040

Price based on 2 Adults and 2 Children under 11 travelling. This price is to give guidance and final quotes vary by date, exchange rates and are subject to availability. Trip runs year round.
Please note that this is a private tour (not a group tour). It can be tailored to your requirements and we can also book your international flights if required.

✔︎  The chance to Toboggan down the Great Wall!
✔︎  Kite flying or martial arts at the Temple of Heaven!
✔︎  Ride Beijing’s ancient Hutongs by cycle rickshaw!
✔︎  Calligraphy and the chance to cycle Xian’s city walls!
✔︎  Giant Pandas & exciting Sichuan Opera in Chengdu!
✔︎  Li River Cruise from Guilin to Yangshuo!
✔︎  Skyscrapers, Acrobats & the Maglev train in Shanghai!

China Trip Guidebook
This trip includes our exclusive 200+ page guidebook personalised to your trip - an invaluable resource!
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FT01 Palaces and Pandas map


Day 1 - Arrival Beijing

Arrival Beijing With Time to Relax at the Hotel

Welcome to Beijing, China’s cultural and political capital and a real highlight with it’s extraordinary blend of ancient and modern sights. Your guide will greet you at the airport with a transfer by private car to your hotel. The rest of the day is free to relax from the long flight or start to explore the city with the help of your personalised and exclusive Trip Guidebook we send you before the trip. The area around your centrally located hotel is perfect for an introductory walk.

Meals Included: None today.

Day 2 - Beijing

The Great Wall at Stunning Mutianyu & the 2008 Olympic Venues

Today we will be showing you one of China’s most famous sights – the Great Wall. We visit the dramatic and less crowded Mutianyu section 70 km from Beijing set amongst spectacular mountain scenery. Dating back to the 6th Century and largely rebuilt in the 16th century during the Ming Dynasty, it is one of the best preserved sections of the wall largely due to the high standard of construction. You can also opt to descend from the Wall the exhilarating way by toboggan (small local payment required).

On the way back to the city we stop at the 2008 Olympic sites of the spectacular Bird’s Nest Stadium and the aquatics centre known as the Water Cube – external viewing only.

Return to your hotel with the rest of the evening free or just ask us for suggestions of shows or cultural activities.

Meals Included: Hotel Breakfast & Restaurant Lunch.

Day 3 - Beijing

Temple of Heaven, Tiananmen, Forbidden City, Jingshan Park & Lao She Teahouse

Today see some of the highlights of Beijing starting with the Temple of Heaven, considered by many to be the most beautiful building in China. What makes the Temple of Heaven really special is that it is set inside a vast park which is a centre for a wide range of cultural activities. Here you will see – and be able to participate in if you wish – kite flying, Tai Chi, various styles of dancing, all manner of martial arts, water calligraphy and a range of sports peculiar to China. In short, there is something for everyone.

On to the vast Tiananmen Square, home to the Mao Mausoleum (it may be possible to visit if open) and Monument to the People’s Heroes before walking to the huge palace complex of the Forbidden City with its 980 buildings with 8,707 rooms (you can keep the kids busy by asking them to check this figure!) We walk up the middle axis from South to North taking in the splendour of the most important buildings before finishing the ancient garden by the north gate. Directly north of the Forbidden city is Jingshan park where we climb beautifully landscaped “Coal Hill” for one of Beijing’s best views.

A fun evening of entertainment awaits you at the Lao She Teahouse to experience a variety of traditional performances including Peking Opera, Acrobatics, Martial Arts, Cross Talk, Music and Shadow Puppetry. Transfers from and back to your hotel are included.

Meals Included: Hotel Breakfast & Restaurant Lunch.

Day 4 - Beijing to Xian

Explore Old Beijing by Cycle Rickshaw & Visit the Relaxing Summer Palace Before a Bullet Train to Xian

Step back in time with a trip by cycle rickshaw through some of Beijing’s ancient residential Hutongs – the heart and soul of the city. The Hutongs surround the Forbidden city and the closer you lived to the Emperor the more important you were socially. Today the Hutongs are preserved in the centre of Beijing and provide a fascinating insight into traditional Chinese city life. There is also luxury in the Hutongs and we visit Prince Gong’s Mansion, an extravagant residential complex of gardens and pavilions built in 1777.

Continue to the Summer Palace to the west of Beijing. Dominated by Kunming lake it is as popular an escape from the city for todays Beijingers as it was for the Imperial court over the centuries. Your tour here will include a boat trip on the lake.

Transfer on to the station for the bullet train with an evening arrival in Xian, China’s Tang Dynasty Capital and terminus of the Silk Road. Transfer to your hotel to overnight.

Meals Included: Hotel Breakfast.

Day 5 - Xian

The Terra Cotta Army, Calligraphy Lesson, City Walls, Muslim Quarter & Tang Dynasty Show

Today visit one of China’s most extraordinary sights, the Terra Cotta Army built by China’s first Emperor Qin Shi Huang in 246 BC. Several thousand of the life-sized soldiers are on display and, with no two soldiers looking alike, make for a truly impressive spectacle. After lunch it is time for a calligraphy lesson. There is more the the Chinese script than just writing as characters often have stories and deeper meaning attached to them. You will have an opportunity to learn the brush technique and keep the results of your efforts. After this we finish on Xian’s largest construction, the 13.7 km City Walls which are up to 18 meters thick at the base and 12 meters in height. The walls were constructed during the Ming Dynasty from 1370 AD and replaced an even larger wall. It is possible to hire bicycles and ride some sections of the wall (a decision that can be made and paid for locally) and the top of the Wall is perhaps the safest place in China to ride a bicycle!Finish the day with a wander through Xian’s vibrant Muslim quarter, including a visit to the Great Mosque, unusually built entirely in the Chinese architectural style. This area is an excellent place to souvenir shop and eat – just ask your guide for recommendations.

This evening a trip to the lavish Tang Dynasty show performed in a beautiful theatre. The show itself highlights Chinese culture from this Dynasty, considered a golden age in China’s long history. Music, singing and dance with a traditional orchestra and colourful costumes makes this a visual feast for all ages! Tickets include return transfers.

Meals Included: Hotel Breakfast & Restaurant Lunch.

Day 6 - Xian to Chengdu

The Underground Hanyangling Mausoleum & Onward Flight to Chengdu

On the way to the airport we visit the unique Hanyangling Mausoleum, the burial place of the Emperor Jing of Han who ruled from 188 BC to 141 BC. The Mausoleum is China’s first underground museum where you can actually walk over the burial pits along glass paths. Much less crowded and more intimate than the Terra Cotta Army, the experience allows you to get up closer to the ancient artifacts which are well presented.

Arrival in Chengdu, capital of mountainous and spicy Sichuan province and the place to come and see Giant Pandas. Your guide and driver will meet and transfer you to your hotel. The rest of today is free to start exploring Chengdu with the area around your hotel being full of interest. Alternatively, this characterful hotel’s courtyard is an ideal place to relax.

Meals Included: Hotel Breakfast.

Day 7 - Chengdu

The World Famous Research Base for Giant Panda Breeding & Sichuan Opera

This morning we visit Chengdu’s famous Research Base for Giant Panda Breeding which has over 60 pandas and is considered the best place in the world to see these endangered icons of China.

Return to your hotel with the rest of the day free. In the evening trip to the colourful, loud and exciting Sichuan Opera. Not sure if opera is for you? Well this opera is like no other including it’s cousin – Peking opera. In spicy Sichuan the show combines stunts such as face-changing, sword play and fire spitting with the plot. The tickets include transfers from and back to your hotel.

Meals Included: Hotel Breakfast & Restaurant Lunch.

Day 8 - Chengdu to Guilin

Travel on to Guilin in Southern China With a Tour of the City’s Highlights in the Afternoon

Early morning flight on to Guilin in Southern China’s Guangxi province. Arrival in Guilin with a transfer direct to your hotel.

This afternoon a tour of the the city’s highlights including Fubo Hill which offers some stunning views of the Li River climbing Elephant Trunk Hill and it’s extensive and well kept park that takes its name from the story that the seven peaks of the Seven Star Mountains were the seven stars in the north sky falling down to the earth.

Return to your hotel to overnight.

Meals Included: Hotel Breakfast.

Day 9 - Guilin to Yangshuo

A Classic Boat Cruise Along the Beautiful Li River to Lovely Yangshuo

After breakfast your guide meets you for a transfer to the wharf to begin your cruise down the Li River to the relaxed town of Yangshuo. This trip is a real highlight and takes you through the stunning limestone karst scenery that has made this part of China so famous. Lunch is served on the boat and depending on the river conditions the trip usually takes from 5 to 7 hours. Early afternoon disembark in Yangshuo with a transfer to your hotel. Settle in and then free time to explore the wonderfully laid back town and its beautiful surrounding countryside.

Meals Included: Hotel Breakfast & Lunch on the Boat.

Day 10 - Yangshuo

Free Day to Explore the Town & Beautiful Surrounding Countryside

A free day in Yangshuo to continue to explore the town and it’s beautiful surrounding countryside. A wide range of local tours and activities can easily be booked locally through the hotel. Such activities include cycle tours, rafting trips, cookery, Tai Chi or calligraphy classes or you can do as so many do here – just relax and take in all the scenery from the terrace of your hotel or the many cafes and restaurants in the town itself.

Meals Included: Hotel Breakfast.

Day 11 - Yangshuo to Shanghai

Visit the Spectacular Reed Flute Cave Before Departing Guilin for Shanghai

Free time today before a transfer back to Guilin for your onward transport. On the way we stop at Guilin’s beautiful Reed Flute Cave, an extensive and colourful subterranean experience over 180 million years old and full of stalactites, stalagmites and 70 inscriptions which can be dated back as far as 792 AD in the Tang Dynasty and has been a tourist attraction for nearly 1,200 years!

Continue to the airport for your flight on to Shanghai. Arrival in Shanghai, China’s exciting and futuristic financial capital and living testament to China’s phenomenal growth. Your guide and driver will meet and transfer you to your hotel.

Meals Included: Hotel Breakfast.

Day 12 - Shanghai

Yuyuan Gardens, Old Shanghai, Antique Market, the Bund, Skyscraper & Acrobats

you will have a full day private tour of some of Shanghai’s highlights starting with the classical Yuyuan Garden that dates back to 1577. Surrounding the garden is Old Shanghai, an area that has been a vibrant commercial centre for over a century. Here we visit Fuyou Road antique market, one of the best places for souvenir hunting and a fascinating experience even if not shopping. The tour continues with a walk down the Bund along which the Huangpu River runs and where some of Asia’s finest colonial architecture is located. From here we cross the River by ferry to Shanghai’s ultra modern Pudong Financial district for a bird’s eye view of the city from the top of one of the stunning skyscrapers.

There is no better way to round off this Shanghai experience than with a visit to the world famous Chinese Acrobats for a show filled with colour and excitement.

Return to your hotel or head out to sample Shanghai’s vibrant nightlife.

Meals Included: Hotel Breakfast & Restaurant Lunch.

Day 13 - Depart Shanghai

Take the Ultra Fast Maglev to the Airport for Your Flight Out of China

Free time until a transfer to the Maglev station for the world’s fastest train to Pudong Airport to catch your flight out of China. Your transfer guide will buy a standard class Maglev ticket for you and make sure you get on the train which takes just 8 minutes to cover the 30km to the airport reaching a top speed of 430 km / hour (300 km / hour before 9am).

We sincerely hope that you have had a fantastic China experience with us full of all the memories which make this country such a fascinating destination that continues to inspire us!

Meals Included: Hotel Breakfast.


The hotels & accommodation used for this trip are from our hand picked selection and all are excellent for their class. We also offer upgraded hotels in most locations. Click here to explore additional hotel options and let us know of any changes you wish to make.


What is included?

Transport between destinations as described.

All accommodation as specified under the accommodation tab

All private transfers and any other transportation as described

All meals as specified in the itinerary

All tours as specified in the itinerary

All entrance fees to sights toured in the itinerary

24 hour emergency assistance

Visa Paperwork required in order to obtain the visas

Financial Peace of Mind as your trip is protected

What is not included?

International Airfare to / from the start / finish of your trip – we can book these flights on request

The Chinese visa – we can advise and partner with VisaCentral

Travel insurance to cover any medical treatment – we recommend Citybond Suretravel (UK residents only)

Discretionary gratuities to drivers and guides

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