Essential China

Encounter the essence of China in all its wonderful diversity — climb the Great Wall and stare down the Terracotta Warriors before heading down south on this three-week tour of China's cultural and natural highlights. Rest your gaze on the giant Buddha of Leshan and explore ancient mountainside monasteries at Emei Shan, then float down the world-famous Three Gorges of the Yangtze River before stepping out to experience the vibrant rural life and stunning scenery of Yangshuo. With your accommodation and transport arranged by our expert Chief Experience Officers, this adventure offers up a great combination of must-see highlights and free time to explore on your own.

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Map for Essential China


Destination & Sightseeing

ITINERARY

Day 1 Beijing
Arrive at any time.Included Activities: Arrival Day and Welcome Meeting

Day 2 Beijing
Travel north to the Great Wall. One of the most iconic sights in all of China, spend the better part of the day exploring and taking photos, soaking in the atmopshere.Included Activities: Great Wall Mutianyu VisitTransport: Drive through the city and countryside to reach the Great Wall's Mutianyu section. Take the same transportation back. Private Vehicle

Day 3 Beijing
Explore the vast expanses of Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City. Use free time to shop in the various markets scattered throughout the city, take a tour of the ancient hutongs (alleyways) in Beijing's old city or visit the Tibetan Monastery.Opt to pre-book the Beijing Kung Fu Show on the checkout page to include this optional activity on your tour or ask your GCO or travel agent for assistance.Included Activities: Tiananmen Square Forbidden City Tour

Day 4 Beijing/Shanghai
Enjoy a free morning before catching a bullet train to vibrant Shanghai.Transport: Relax an enjoy smooth ride at 300km per hour and scenery along the way. Bullet train (5.00-6.00 hours)

Day 5 Shanghai
Opt to see a show, pre-book the Shanghai Acrobatic Performance on the checkout page to include this optional activity on your tour or ask your GCO or travel agent for assistance.Included Activities: Orientation Walk of the Bund Shanghai Museum

Day 6 Shanghai/Xi'an
Temples, markets, gardens and colonial enclaves are around every corner. Spend some time exploring the Yuyuan Gardens or the old alleyways.Transport: Basic overnight train (beds) (18.00 hour(s))

Day 7 Xi'an
Arrive in Xi'an in the morning and, after checking into the hotel, opt to visit one of Xi’an’s most fascinating areas – the Muslim Quarter. Tour the lovely and unusual Great Mosque, a wonderfully serene place to escape the hustle and bustle of the city, bargain at souvenir stalls and enjoy some of the best street food in China. The remaining city walls are a great place to watch the sunset or join the locals for ballroom dancing or tai chi in the early morning.

Day 8 Xi'an
Included Activities: Terracotta Warriors Guided TourTransport: Private Vehicle

Day 9 Xi'an/Chengdu (1D)
Hotpot is a very local way to have a meal. We sit around a table with a pot built in the middle – the pot is divided into 2 halves (spicy vs. non-spicy usually). The restaurants flavoured soup is added and brought to a boil, then we can start adding our food in the pot to cook ( including vegetable, meat or fish). The table also offers various sorts of herbs, spices, oil etc so you can make your own soup to taste.Transport: Bullet train (3.50-4.00 hours)

Day 10 Chengdu
Want to immerse yourself fully into the culture of Chengdu or feeling hungry for some local delicacies? Pre-book both the Chengdu City Culture tour and/or Evening Foodie tour by Tuk-Tuk on the checkout page to include this optional activity on your tour or ask your GCO or travel agent for assistance.

Day 11 Chengdu/Emei Shan
Enjoy a morning visit to see the Pandas before catching the train to Emei Shan. Continue to the monastery, home for the next 2 nights.Included Activities: Giant Panda Breeding CenterTransport: Local train (1.00-1.50 hours)

Day 12 Emei Shan
Spend a full day exploring the monasteries, and hiking around the stunning sites of Mt Emei – one of China's sacred Buddhist peaks.Included Activities: Emei Shan Hike

Day 13 Emei Shan/Yangtze River
Visit the Giant Buddha in the morning. Take the bullet train from Leshan to Chongqing. In the evening embark on the Chinese-style boat to cruise down the mighty Yangtze River through the Three Gorges.Included Activities: Leshan Giant Buddha VisitTransport: Private Vehicle (0.75 hour(s)) Bullet train (2.50 hour(s)) Chinese-style boat

Days 14-15 Yangtze River
Spend two days on board a basic boat traversing through the Three Gorges en route to Yichang. Along the way take the opportunity to visit some of the many attractions and towns.There is the opportunity to leave the boat to take an early morning trip down a tributary of the Yangtze River.Additional Notes: The cabins are clean, twin-share with private toilet and shower facilities, but not luxurious. There is basic Chinese food available in the restaurant on board.Included Activities: Yangtze River CruiseTransport: Chinese-style boat

Day 15 Yangtze River
Spend two days on board a basic boat traversing through the Three Gorges en route to Yichang. Along the way take the opportunity to visit some of the many attractions and towns.There is the opportunity to leave the boat to take an early morning trip down a tributary of the Yangtze River.Additional Notes: The cabins are clean, twin-share with private toilet and shower facilities, but not luxurious. There is basic Chinese food available in the restaurant on board.Included Activities: Yangtze River CruiseTransport: Chinese-style boat

Day 16 Yangtze River/Liujiang
Disembark in the morning and transfer to Yichang Train Station for an overnight train to Liujiang.Transport: Chinese-style boat Overnight train (beds) (15.00-16.00 hours)

Day 17 Liujiang/Yangshuo
Arrive in Liujiang and transfer to Yangshuo.Transport: Private Vehicle

Day 18 Yangshuo (1L)
Try your hand at cooking local fare at a boutique cooking school and pre-book the Central Chinese Cooking Class by adding it to your checkout page, or ask your GCO or travel agent for assistance.Included Activities: Orientation Walk Xing Ping Li River Bamboo Raft Jia Community Restaurant

Day 19 Yangshuo
Enjoy free time for more activities and to explore this beautiful area.

Day 20 Yangshuo/Hong Kong
Arrive by train to West Kowloon, cross the border and catch the metro into the heart of Hong Kong, arriving late afternoon.Prepare for the change of pace as you enjoy your last night's dinner in the most dynamic city in Asia. Explore Stanley Market, shop, eat, go to the top of Victoria Peak or take a harbour cruise.Included Activities: Border Crossing (China - Hong Kong)Transport: Private Vehicle (1.50-2.00 hours) Bullet train Metro (1.00-1.50 hours)

Day 21 Hong Kong
Depart at any time.Additional Notes: We highly recommend you book post-accommodation to fully experience this vibrant city.