The perfect introduction to China, this superb value tour will take you to some of this vast country’s true highlights, starting off in the capital, Beijing. Here you will explore the opulent Forbidden City, once the official residence of Chinese emperors, and head out to visit the Great Wall of China, a monumental marvel that features on so many world travellers’ wish-lists. In Xi’an you will see the awe-inspiring Terracotta Army, made up of thousands of individually designed life-size model soldiers, while in Chengdu you will get close to one of the world’s most characterful, and most endangered, animals at the Panda Breeding Centre. Throughout the trip there will be a variety of optional excursions and visits, too, including traditional music and dance performances.
7 nights in hotels and 1 in flight (accommodation as specified or similar)
Make your own way to London Heathrow Airport for a direct, scheduled British Airways flight to Beijing (or fly from Manchester Airport with KLM via Amsterdam).
Day 2 Beijing
Upon arrival in Beijing this morning, we will transfer to our hotel for the next three nights, the Plaza Hotel (4T) or similar. This afternoon there will be an optional excursion, visiting the Temple of Heaven, a remarkable complex of altars and prayer halls built in the 15th century, where Chinese emperors once led religious ceremonies. It is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Day 3 Beijing
This morning we take a guided tour of two of Beijing’s most famous landmarks, the vast Tian’anmen Square and the Forbidden City, formerly the palatial imperial residence and now a museum displaying the emperors’ collections of ceramics, bronzes, paintings and some 30,000 pieces of jade. An optional excursion this afternoon will introduce you to a different side of Chinese life, in Beijing’s ‘hutongs’, the traditional residential areas of narrow alleyways and courtyards, while tonight there will be an opportunity to experience the Gongfu tea ceremony, a complex and ritualised performance, preparing and presenting high quality Chinese tea.
Day 4 Beijing
No visit to China is complete without seeing the Great Wall, and today we visit this architectural marvel, stretching for an incredible 8,100km across the country, on an included tour. We will also visit the Summer Palace, originally built in the 18th century, and surrounded by extensive formal gardens. This evening, you might like to join us for an optional Peking duck dinner, a Beijing speciality, at a local restaurant.
Day 5 Beijing - Xi’an
We head to Beijing railway station this morning to board a train to Xi’an, one of China’s oldest cities. On arrival, we will transfer to the Grand Metro Park Hotel (4T), where we will be staying for the next two nights. Later, there will be an optional excursion offering the chance to see a demonstration of traditional dumpling making, followed by a walking tour on the remarkable North Square of the Giant Wild Goose Pagoda, which has stood here since the seventh century, although damaged by earthquake and rebuilt over the years. The square holds the largest musical fountain in Asia.
Day 6 Xi’an
Today we discover one of the great archaeological treasures of the world, Xi’an’s famous Terracotta Army. More than 2,000 years old, it is composed of thousands of incredibly detailed life-size soldiers, no two of which are alike. They were buried here along with terracotta horses and chariots to protect the tomb of China’s first emperor, Qin Shi Huang, who died in 210 BC, and were only discovered by chance in 1974. We will also visit the Tangbo Art Museum, which houses displays of Chinese folk art, paintings and calligraphy. Tonight you have the option of experiencing the Tang Dynasty Show, a colourful spectacle of traditional Chinese music and dance.
Day 7 Xi’an - Chengdu
After breakfast we transfer to Xi’an Airport for a flight to Chengdu, the capital city of Sichuan province. We will be spending our last two nights in China at the Lhasa Grand Hotel (4T). On today’s included excursion, we will visit Jinli Street, one of Chengdu’s best preserved medieval thoroughfares, lined with buildings dating from the Ming and Qing dynasties, now operating as shops and food outlets. We will stop for tea in a traditional Chinese tea house. This evening’s entertainment option is a ‘Changing Face’ show, a fascinating quick-change act with music.
Day 8 Chengdu
This morning we will visit the Panda Breeding Centre, home to more than 80 captive giant pandas. These charismatic and endangered animals are being reared in surroundings recreated to resemble their natural habitat and as well as being a popular tourist attraction, this is also an important scientific research facility and education centre aiming to save pandas from extinction. We will also pay a visit to the Taoist Qing Yang Gong, or Bronze Goat Temple, which is one of the biggest in China.
Day 9 Chengdu - London
This morning we transfer to Chengdu Airport for a direct, scheduled British Airways flight to London Heathrow (or fly to Manchester Airport with KLM via Amsterdam). Upon arrival, you are free to make your own way home.