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PG-12 China Top Ten


23 nights from UK £ 6,155 per person

Price based on 2 people travelling. This price is to give guidance and final quotes vary by date, exchange rates and are subject to availability. Trip runs from April to November.
Please note: 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. An altitude of over 4,000 meters (13,100 feet) is reached on this trip. Whilst the vast majority of people experience little more than shortness of breath there is a very small risk of more severe complications such as acute mountain sickness (AMS). Note that level of fitness and age are no indication as to whether you are more susceptible or not to AMS.

BEIJING’s Great Wall and Forbidden City, XIAN’s Terra Cotta Warriors, LHASA’s Potala Palace, CHENGDU’s Giant Pandas and the Three Gorges along the YANGTZE RIVER cover the first part of this journey.

Continue on to HANGZHOU’s sublime West Lake, stunning Mount HUANGSHAN and SHANGHAI’s Bund and skyline before travelling south to GUILIN & YANGSHUO’s scenery, some of China’s best, finishing with HONG KONG’s amazing cityscape.

China Trip Guidebook
This trip includes our exclusive 200+ page guidebook personalised to your trip - an invaluable resource!
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PG12 China Top Ten 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

Trekking Along a Wild & Spectacular Section of the Great Wall

For the active and energetic, one of the best ways to see the Great Wall is to walk it and with nearly 4,000 miles of actual wall we need to be selective! The most scenic section to trek within reach of Beijing is at Jinshanling. The trek involves about 6km of walking along the wall itself which averages 4 hours. This is the best way to see and absorb yourself in China’s best known sight, get some superb photos and avoid the tourist crowds.

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 Square, Forbidden City & Summer Palace

Today you will see the main highlights of Beijing starting with the Temple of Heaven, considered by many to be the most beautiful building in China. On to 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. We’ll walk up the middle axis from South to North taking in the splendour of the most important central buildings before finishing in a small and ancient garden by the north gate.

The last stop today is at 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.

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 4 - Beijing to Xian

Bullet Train on to Xian Home of the Terra Cotta Warriors

After breakfast a transfer to the station to catch a bullet train. Reaching speeds of over 300 km/hour the overall trip is on a par with flying with the added bonuses of views from the window and being able to stretch your legs.

Late afternoon arrival in Xian, China’s Tang Dynasty Capital and terminus of the Silk Road with a transfer to your hotel to overnight.

Meals Included: Hotel Breakfast.

Day 5 - Xian

The Terra Cotta Army, Big Wild Goose Pagoda, City Walls & Muslim Quarter

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.

We also visit a relic of the Tang Dynasty, the Big Wild Goose Pagoda, home to some of the most famous Buddhist scriptures in China. It is possible to climb the pagoda – you will need to buy a ticket locally if you wish to do this – for views over Xian. Continue to the 14 km Ming Dynasty City Walls which are up to 18 meters thick at the base and 12 meters in height. It is possible to hire bicycles and ride some sections of the wall – local rental payment required.

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.

Return to your hotel to overnight or ask us about cultural shows we can book.

Meals Included: Hotel Breakfast & Restaurant Lunch.

Day 6 - Xian to Lhasa

Flight on to Lhasa and Your First Taste of This Extraordinary City

Transfer to the airport for your flight to Lhasa (note most flights are very early in the morning). Your guide will have your Tibet Travel Permit and plane ticket. Arrival at Lhasa’s Gonggar airport after what has, cloud cover permitting, been a spectacular flight. Your guide will be meeting you at the airport for the 1 hour drive to Lhasa. Tibet’s capital, at a quite manageable altitude of 3,650 meters (12,000 feet) is a unique city and a real highlight or any trip. The setting, history, architecture, people and contrasts all make for a very special travel experience.

Free time to relax and adjust to the altitude or start exploring the city.

Meals Included: Hotel Breakfast if time & Snack on the Plane.

Day 7 - Lhasa

Drepung Monastery, Nechung Residence, Sacred Jokhang Temple & Kora

Today first head 5 km out of Lhasa to Drepung Monastery, the largest in Tibet located on Gambo Utse mountain. Founded in 1416, it was the principal seat of learning for the Gelugpa school and at its height was thought to contain up to 10,000 monks (now there are 300). About 10 minutes walk from Drepung is Nechung Chok which was the residence of the State Oracle of Tibet. This small monastery was also evocatively known as the ”Demon Fortress of the Oracle King.”

After lunch (own arrangement) visit the Jokhang Temple constructed in 642 AD and considered the most sacred and important temple in all Tibet. It is located at one end of Barkhor Square, a fascinating meeting point for pilgrims from all over the region making for an intense atmosphere infused with incense and devotion. Surrounding the temple is the Barkhor Kora, a 1 km circular walk for pilgrims and locals as well as a fascinating market selling all the goods a pilgrim might need on their travels.

Meals Included: Hotel Breakfast

Day 8 - Lhasa

The Truly Spectacular Potala Palace & Ancient Sera Monastery

Today you visit one of the architectural highlights of China – if not the world – the vast Potala Palace, former residence of Dalai Lamas. Building started in 1645 and has been added to over the centuries. It is 13 stories high and contains over 1,000 rooms, 10,000 shrines and 200,000 statues. You will see some of the meeting rooms as well as the extraordinary chapels with their vast gold and jewel encrusted shrines to previous Dalai Lamas – the chapel of the 5th Dalai Lama has a stupa coated in 3,727kg of gold and 18,680 precious stones. The Potala dominates Lhasa and the views from the palace stretch out across the city to the surrounding mountains.

Continue to Sera Monastery, spread over 28 acres at the base of Pubuchok mountain and built in 1419. The highlights are the great assembly hall and some of the colleges located within the complex with their wealth of architectural features and shrines.

Meals Included: Hotel Breakfast.

Day 9 - Lhasa

Day Trip to Ganden Monastery With Time to Walk in the Hills

Today you leave the city into the often dramatic countryside to the huge Ganden Monastery approached by a spectacular winding road. Ganden is one of the ‘great three’ Gelukpa university monasteries of Tibet, located at the top of Wangbur Mountain 36 km from Lhasa at an altitude of 4,300m. Founded in 1409 it used to be home to up to 6,000 monks. After touring the monastery you will have time to hike in the surrounding hills with their amazing views across the valleys and mountain ranges returning to Lhasa with a free evening.

Meals Included: Hotel Breakfast & Picnic Lunch.

Day 10 - Lhasa to Chengdu

Flight Out of Lhasa to Chengdu

Free time until a transfer to the airport for your flight out of Lhasa to Chengdu. We believe, like so many, you will have come under Tibet’s magical spell!

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 11 - Chengdu to Yangtze

The World Famous Research Base for Giant Panda Breeding & Bullet Train to Chongqing to Join Your Yangtze Cruise

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. In addition to the many pandas you can see here (including Red Pandas) there is an opportunity to hold a panda cub although note that this is not guaranteed and requires a local payment direct to the the Research base of RMB 2,000 per person in the photo (not per photo) and must be booked in advance which we can do for you.

Transfer on to the station to catch a bullet train to a vast city on the banks of the Yangtze River and start point for Cruises downriver. Transfer on arrival to your cruise ship which departs early evening with dinner once underway. Note that some cruise ships do not offer dinner the first night in which case we will take you to a local restaurant before boarding.

Settle in to your cabin and start to explore the boat before heading to an observation deck as the ship departs later in the evening to watch the city of Chongqing recede into the distance.

Meals Included: Hotel Breakfast and Restaurant / boat Dinner.

Day 12 - Yangtze River

Cruise Through Qutang Gorge & Take a Side Trip to Shibaozhai

Your first full day on board navigating the 8 km long Qutang Gorge, the Yangtze’s third gorge. The ship also stops for a shore excursion to Shibaozhai, a complex perched on cliffs above the river with commanding views. In the evening the crew put on a show or other entertainment in the ship’s lounge.

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner on the ship.

Day 13 - Yangtze River

Tributary Side Trip & Cruise the Wu & Xiling Gorges to the Three Gorges Dam

Today the ship stops for a side trip up on of the Yangtze tributaries switching passengers to much smaller boats to do so. The ship also cruises through the impressive Wu Gorge as well as the West section of Xiling Gorge both of which offer some of the best scenery along the river. During the evening a complete change of scene as the Giant Three Gorges Dam is approached.

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner on the ship.

Day 14 - Yangtze to Shanghai

Tour to the Vast Three Gorges Dam Before Continuing to Shanghai

This morning you need to pack and check out of your room before a final shore excursion to the gigantic and controversial Three Gorges Dam, the world’s largest in terms of its ability to generate electricity through its 32 turbines. After this tour a coach will take you to the Yichang Cruise Terminal where you meet your transfer guide. Transfer on to the airport for your flight 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: Breakfast on the ship.

Day 15 - 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 16 - Shanghai to Huangshan

Bullet Train to Huangshan With an Exhilarating Cable Car Ride to Your Hotel

After breakfast a transfer to the station for a bullet train out of the big city to the more tranquil environment of Huangshan – China’s famed “Yellow Mountain” and a scenic wonder.

Transfer on arrival to Mount Huangshan’s cable car station that takes you to the Northern Summit area and your hotel. Note that there is about a 30 minute walk from the top of the cable car to the hotel. You will be able to leave unneeded luggage at a hotel before taking the cable car. It will be late afternoon by the time you have checked-in to your hotel but this is an excellent time to take a short walk in the area around the hotel itself to get a feel for this mountain.

Meals Included: Hotel Breakfast.

Day 17 - Huangshan

The Famous Sunrise on the Mountain & a Free Day to Explore Its Many Paths

Make sure you are up very early this morning to see the sunrise Huangshan is famous for. One of the best view points is only a few hundred meters away. Much of the year it can be very cold at dawn but you should find down jackets in your hotel room’s wardrobe. If the weather Gods’ are on your side the sunrise is spectacular and the “cloud sea” often plays a part in this with a layer of cloud well below your view point. Return to the hotel for breakfast before a free day exploring the multitude of well signed and maintained paths that stretch out across the mountains.There is no set itinerary to follow but the time you have is long enough to see the highlights.

Meals Included: Hotel Breakfast.

Day 18 - Huangshan to Hangzhou

A Second Chance to See the Sunrise on Huangshan Before Descent, a Visit to Hongcun Village & Car to Hangzhou

Another chance to see the sunrise (and these can be very different from day to day so resist the temptation to stay in bed!) before breakfast and some more time for further walks.

A transfer guide will meet you at the hotel from where you take the cable car down the mountain and collect any stored luggage. On the way back to Huangshan City stop at the architecturally stunning village of Hongcun. If Hongcun looks familiar to you it may be because scenes from the Chinese film “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” were filmed here.

Continue by car the 3 hours to Hangzhou, famed throughout China for its culture and the beauty of its West Lake, praised and written about for centuries. Check-in to your hotel with free time for the remainder of the day.

Meals Included: Hotel Breakfast.

Day 19 - Hangzhou

Enjoy a Boat Ride on the West Lake & the Stunning Residence of Hu Xueyan

Hangzhou is famed throughout the country for its beautiful West Lake, one of China’s most important cultural centers for the last 1,000 years and represents the Chinese ideal of man in perfect harmony with nature. The many temples and gardens surrounding the West lake are designed to personify this relationship and this style has been exported to Japan and Korea. Today’s half day tour includes a boat ride on the lake itself as well as visiting the architecturally important residence of Hu Xueyan.

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 20 - Hangzhou to Guilin & Yangshuo

Flight on to Guilin Transferring Directly to Yangshuo

Morning flight on to Guilin in Southern China’s Guangxi province. Arrival in Guilin with a transfer direct to your hotel in Yangshuo, a relaxed town about 1 hour from Guilin and surrounded by some of China’s best scenery.

Free time to start exploring the area, a firm favourite of many for it’s blend of stunning countryside, relaxed atmosphere and plenty of superb activities to do all of which are easy to arrange locally through your hotel as the whim takes you.

Meals Included: Hotel Breakfast.

Day 21 - 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 22 - Yangshuo to Hong Kong

Visit the Spectacular Reed Flute Cave Before Departing Guilin

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 Hong Kong. Arrival in Hong Kong. This former British colony is still very distinct from Mainland China with one of the world’s most impressive skylines, superb food, world class shopping and tranquil islands dotted with timeless temples and fishing harbours. Your guide and driver will meet and transfer you to your hotel.

Meals Included: Hotel Breakfast.

Day 23 - Hong Kong

Free Day to Explore Hong Kong’s Many & Varied Attractions

A full day in Hong Kong to explore this fabulous city, famous Victoria harbour, the Peak, outlying islands such as Lamma and Lantau, vibrant markets and fantastic entertainment scene.

Shopping and food are world class and if you still have any energy left by the end of the day the nightlife is some of the most varied and vibrant in Asia. In short you will have plenty to keep you occupied!

Meals Included: Hotel Breakfast.

Day 24 - Depart Hong Kong

Free Time Before Departing China With a Wealth of Memories of This Unique Destination

Free time to today to further explore the city (most flights back to Europe depart late at night). If you are looking for something a bit quieter and you didn’t make it to one of the outlying islands yesterday this could be an ideal way to spend today. All of them have good hiking options and delicious seafood with frequent ferry services departing from the piers on Hong Kong Island’s Central district.

Make your own way from your hotel to the airport for your flight out of the city. The easiest way to get to the airport is by taxi which your hotel can arrange. There is also an efficient airport bus service or you can use the Airport Express trains. See our Trip guidebook or ask your hotel for full details.

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

Tibet Travel Permit

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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