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SG-03 Ultimate China


28 nights from UK £ 4,635 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. Trips run from March to December.
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 ultimate Self Guided Adventure trip through China covering a huge variety of destinations and experiences including the unmissable highlights and a range of less visited destinations.

By the end of this trip you will truly have experienced China and have a superb idea of what this ancient country can offer the traveller and memories that will last a lifetime.

China Trip Guidebook
This trip includes our exclusive 200+ page guidebook personalised to your trip - an invaluable resource!
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SG03 Ultimate China 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

Explore More of Beijing’s Sights Independently

A free day to explore the wealth of sights Beijing offers. Besides the must sees the city offers ample opportunity to shop in markets such as Hongqiao, the Silk Market or our favourite, the vast Panjiayuan antique market. For something a bit more sedate we recommend Ho Hai lake and its ancient residential Hutongs which offer a great opportunity to absorb local culture combined with many small cafes, bars and restaurants.

For a more contemporary experience the 798 district to the east of the city offers an impressive array of galleries, cafes and restaurants.

Meals Included: Hotel Breakfast.

Day 4 - Beijing to Pingyao

Free Time Before a Bullet Train on to Pingyao

Free time this morning before making your own way to the station to catch a bullet train on to Pingyao. 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.

Afternoon arrival in Pingyao, an intact Ming Dynasty city and once a centre of banking in China with the only complete city wall of that era left in China. Pingyao also holds an International Photography Festival every September which draws in entries from all over the world providing stark contrast to the ancient architecture.

Transfer to your hotel with the rest of today is free to start exploring this ancient and easily navigated city with the help of your trip Guidebook. Alternatively, this characterful traditional style courtyard hotel is an ideal place to relax.

Meals Included: Hotel Breakfast.

Day 5 - Pingyao

Free Day to Explore Fascinating Pingyao City

A free day to explore the ancient streets of the city which are easy to navigate. If you wish to enter any of the old banking houses or temples you will need to buy a ticket which covers most of the sights within the city walls as well as the walls themselves. Your hotel will be able to assist with the purchase of this.

A free evening to continue to explore the city, the centre of which is beautifully lit by traditional Chinese lanterns.

Meals Included: Hotel Breakfast.

Day 6 - Pingyao to Xian

A Bullet Train on Xian & a Visit to the Terra Cotta Warriors

After breakfast make your own way to the station for the bullet train to Xian, the once golden city of Emperors, soldiers, arts, culture and the capital of the prosperous Tang Dynasty.

On arrival your guide and driver will meet you for a visit to 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.

Return to Xian city to check-in to your hotel with the rest of today is free to start exploring this giant of Chinese history with the help of your trip Guidebook.

Meals Included: Hotel Breakfast.

Day 7 - Xian

Free Day to Explore More of Xian’s Many Sights Independently

Free time today, perhaps to explore 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 and the top of the Wall is perhaps the safest place in China to ride a bicycle!

We also recommend 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.

Meals Included: Hotel Breakfast.

Day 8 - Xian to Chengdu

Bullet Train on to Chengdu in Sichuan Province

This morning make your own way to the station for a bullet train to Chengdu. Early afternoon arrival 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 & Restaurant Lunch.

Day 9 - Chengdu

The World Famous Research Base for Giant Panda Breeding Before & Free Afternoon

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.

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

Meals Included: Hotel Breakfast.

Day 10 - Chengdu to Lijiang

Very Early Flight to Lijiang & Half Day Orientation Tour

A very early start today making your own way to the airport for a flight to Lijiang, a UNESCO World Heritage city of cobbled streets and tiled roofs set against the magnificent backdrop of the 5,596 meter high, 13 peaked Jade Dragon Snow Mountain.

Transfer to your hotel in the residential district of Shuhe to the north of the old town, a lovely spot reminiscent of a Lijiang before the the current level of tourism.

This morning you have an half day tour of the Lijiang’s Old City including the fabulous palace of the Mu Clan who ruled over this area for 400 years. This large complex is a superb example of local Naxi architecture. You also visit the Black Dragon Pool, a beautiful park containing traditional architecture and one of the most famous views in China of the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain – stunning if the weather cooperates!

Return to your hotel with the rest of the day free.

Meals Included: None Today.

Day 11 - Lijiang

Free Day to Explore Lijiang & the Surrounding Villages & Landscape

Today is free to continue to explore the labyrinth of the Old City which throws up surprises at almost every turn. It can also be an opportunity to get into the countryside, perhaps to visit the looming Jade Dragon snow Mountain 15 km from the city or make a day trip to stunning Tiger Leaping Gorge 60 km outside of Lijiang.

Renting bicycles and exploring the surrounding countryside is another option perhaps making the ride to Baisha Village about 40 minutes away. There is plenty to do around Lijiang including settling in one of the numerous cafes and watching the world go by!

Meals Included: Hotel Breakfast.

Day 12 - Lijiang to Dali

Private Vehicle the Scenic Journey to Dali With an Half Day Orientation Tour on Arrival

After breakfast depart Lijiang by car or minibus for the picturesque 3 to 4 hour journey to Dali with opportunities to stop for photos along the way. Dali is the ancient capital of both the Bai Kingdom during the 8th and 9th centuries, and the Kingdom of Dali, which reigned from 937-1253.

This relaxed town has a backdrop of the beautiful Cangshan Mountains that peak 4,200 meters and is situated close to the shores of lovely Erhai Lake.

After checking in to your hotel begin an half day tour of Dali including the Old City and Three Pagodas. The relaxed Old City is well preserved and known for its architecture and being the cultural centre of the local Bai people. The Tang Dynasty Three Pagodas are some of the best preserved Buddhist structures in China and are set in a beautiful location reflecting in a lake with a mountain backdrop.

Free time for the rest of the day to relax at your hotel or in the restaurants or cafes of the Old City.

Meals Included: Hotel Breakfast.

Day 13 - Dali

Free Day to Explore the Sights of Dali or Relax

A free day to further explore the Old City and countryside and lake side villages that surround Dali. We recommend heading up into the Cangshan mountains, an area of stunning beauty.

The most common way to visit the mountains is to take the chairlift up and then walk the 3 to 5 hours to a different chairlift to return to Dali. The walk between lifts is easy to follow on a good path wonderfully named the “Cloud Traveller’s Path.”

Alternatively one of our favourite ways to spend time here is to hire a bicycle and head to nearby Erhai Lake and visit some of the 17 villages along the western shore. This is one of the best and most relaxed and friendly areas to see village life and architecture in China.

Meals Included: Hotel Breakfast.

Day 14 - Dali to Kunming

Bullet Train on to Kunming With & Tour to the West Mountain Golden Palace on Arrival

After breakfast make your own way to the station for a bullet train on to Kunming. Late morning arrival in Yunnan Province’s capital with its pleasant year round climate and a gateway to the highlights of popular south west China. Your guide and driver will meet and transfer you to your hotel.

This afternoon’s tour visits the West Mountain Golden Palace located in a vibrant and lush forest 8 km from Kunming city centre. The palace gets its name from the brass roof which, in the sunlight, looks golden. Note that some of the paths are steep here and a head for heights is necessary.

Meals Included: Hotel Breakfast.

Day 15 - Kunming to Yangtze

Bullet Train to Chongqing to Join Your Yangtze Cruise

Mid-morning transfer 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.

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 16 - 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 17 - 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 18 - Yangtze to Shanghai

Tour to the Vast Three Gorges Dam Before Continuing a Bullet Train 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 transfer directly from the Dam to the train station for a bullet train to Shanghai.

Evening 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 19 - Shanghai

Soak Up the City & Explore More of Shanghai’s Sights Independently

Today is free to explore Shanghai. The city is China’s shopping capital and a good place to stock up on souvenirs. Another option is to wander the French Concession, Xintiandi or Tianzifang stopping at cafes and restaurants – perhaps our favourite activity!

Alternatively we can arrange a trip out to one of the nearby water towns such as Suzhou, Hangzhou or Zhouzhuang all offering a more traditional experience from China’s past.

Meals Included: Hotel Breakfast.

Day 20 - Shanghai to Huangshan

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

After breakfast make your own way 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 21 - 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 22 - Huangshan to Hangzhou

A Second Chance to See the Sunrise on Huangshan Before Descent & Bullet Train 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.

A transfer guide will meet you at the hotel from where you take the cable car down the mountain and collect any stored luggage. Continue by bullet train 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 23 - Hangzhou

Free Day to Explore the West Lake’s Sights at Your Leisure

A free day to explore Hangzhou’s sublime and beautiful West Lake with it multitude of temples and classical gardens. The lakeshore can be explored either on foot or by rented bicycle.

It is difficult to get lost as you just follow the lake with most sights located close to it and there are plenty of options to stop for food and drink, perhaps sampling some of the tea this area of China is so famous for.

Meals Included: None Today – this hotel does not offer breakfast.

Day 24 - Hangzhou to Guilin & Yangshuo

Flight on to Guilin Transferring Directly to Yangshuo

Make your own way to the airport for a 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: None Today – this hotel does not offer breakfast.

Day 25 - 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: None Today – this hotel does not offer breakfast.

Day 26 - Yangshuo

Continue to Explore the Delights of This Special Part of China

Today is free to discover more of Yangshuo and enjoy this very special part of China or just relax and recharge the your battery before your continuing on your China travels.

Meals Included: None Today – this hotel does not offer breakfast.

Day 27 - Yangshuo to Guangzhou

Bullet Train on to Guangzhou & Capital of Cantonese China

A free morning in Yangshuo before making your own way to the bullet train station in Guilin leaving plenty of time to catch your onward train. Your hotel will be able to arrange a taxi and in almost all cases the guide who initially met you on arrival in Guilin will have given you the tickets and guidance on getting tot he station.

Late afternoon arrival in Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong province and one of China’s most prosperous cities with more in common with Hong Kong than Beijing. Your guide and driver will meet and transfer you to your hotel.

Meals Included: None Today – this hotel does not offer breakfast.

Day 20 - Guangzhou

Six Banyan Tree Temple, Sun Yat-sen & Ancestral Temple of the Chen Family

Today’s tour covers the Six Banyan Tree Temple (also known as Liurong Temple) whose centre piece is the impressive 17 story Flowering Pagoda dating back to the 3rd Century AD. A more modern construction is the Memorial Hall of Dr. Sun Yat-sen, the founder of the Republic of China who was from Guangzhou. Perhaps the architectural highlight of Guangzhou is the beautifully ornate Ancestral Temple of the Chen Family built in the 19th century and quite unlike other temples you will have seen on your China travels.

Return to your hotel with the rest of the evening, perhaps to take a Pearl River Cruise or wander the newly restored Shamian Island, the former British and French concession which still has much of its colonial architecture preserved.

Meals Included: Hotel Breakfast & Restaurant Lunch.

Day 29 - Guangzhou to Hong Kong

The Hydrofoil to Bustling & Cosmopolitan Hong Kong Where This Trip Ends

After an early breakfast take a taxi to the port at Nansha, about 1 hour outside of the city, for the Jetfoil ferry to Hong Kong. At the port you pass through immigration and exit China before boarding the ferry to Hong Kong. The trip takes about two hours through the Pearl River Delta arriving in Hong Kong at the China Ferry Terminal in the heart of Kowloon’s Tsim Sha Tsui tourist district instantly throwing you into the buzz and bustle of this fabulous city and surely the best way to arrive in Hong Kong!

End of services on arrival in Hong Kong or we can book you nights at the Salisbury YMCA Hotel 4* in the heart of Tsim Sha Tsui.

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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