Black Dragon Pool, Lijiang
Metropolises to Mountains
This is it! You wanted to explore China fully and you will certainly be doing that. You will have time on this 28-day Grand Tour to travel to the heart of the country and experience true local life, ancient villages and stunning scenery.
You’ll start by exploring the main cities of Shanghai and Beijing and will experience a walk along the Great Wall before heading to the ancient town of Pingyao. Then it’s on to the see the Terracotta Army in Xi’an before heading to Zhangjiajie National Park, home to the mountains that inspired James Cameron’s blockbuster movie, Avatar. You’re only at the halfway point! You’ve still got Yangshuo and the Li River to explore, as well as the rice terraces at Longji. Visit the Green Lake at Kunming then it’s on to China’s southwestern Yunnan Province, where you’ll see historic Dali old town and the market town of Shaxi. Spend a few days exploring Lijiang, home to the Naxi and to a number of other ethnic minority groups, then it’s on to the spiritual Zhongdian and the untouched Napa Lake. Round off your Grand Tour of China in Chengdu, where you will join the privileged few who have seen the rare Giant Panda.
Watch buffalo graze as you sail down the spectacular Li River at Yangshuo
Explore lakes, mountains, temples and ancient market towns in China’s southwestern Yunnan Province
Fall in love with the rare Giant Panda in Chengdu
Visit the untouched Napa Lake, with views out to the edge of the Himalayas
Catch incredible views of the cascading Longsheng Rice Terraces
See what inspired James Cameron’s fictional world of Pandora at the Avatar Mountains…and cross the glass bridge if you dare!
Marvel at the Terracotta Army of warriors, site of an estimated 8,000 concrete soldiers
Enjoy a picnic lunch during your hike along the Great Wall
Visit the vibrant cities of Shanghai and Beijing
This exciting trip to China includes transfers, selected excursions, accommodation, and some breakfasts.
From the first conversation until you arrive home from your vacation, you’ll be looked after by one of our Travel Designers who has traveled extensively in the region and will give advice from their personal experience on how to make the most out of your trip.
All of our trips are entirely custom-made and we will continually refine your itinerary until it’s perfect.
Welcome to China, your home for the next month! Your adventure begins in Shanghai, where you’ll see the famous waterfront area of The Bund, the exquisite Yu Gardens and the French Concession. Seize the opportunity to head out of Shanghai and visit the ancient water town of Zhujiajiao, famous for its canals and traditional gardens.
You'll also experience the maglev train, which travels at speeds of up to 420 kilometers per hour! In your free time you may wish to venture to the top of the newly built Shanghai Tower for phenomenal views of the dwarfed skyscrapers below.
It’s on to Hongqiao station for your high-speed bullet train to Beijing. Here you will stroll around the gardens of the Imperial Summer Palace, participate in a Tai Chi lesson alongside the locals in the tranquil Temple of Heaven, and see the historic Tiananmen Square and dynastic Forbidden City.
While in Beijing, you’ll be feasting on a traditional Peking Duck Dinner – this is the best place in the country for the famous delicacy and it’s far superior to anything you’ll have had back home!
Places to Stay
The Great Wall of China
Activity and Adventure
You can’t possibly go on a Grand Tour of China and not walk along the Great Wall - this is what you’ll be doing on days 7 and 8, when you head to Gubeikou. This section of the Great Wall is exceptional, owed to the fact that you can still see some of its original construction. Because of this, some sections are missing their famous crenellations, but Gubeikou is one of the most authentic and original sections to visit and walk on. The views from Gubeikou stretch right over to Jinshanling and in the distance you can even get a glimpse of Simatai - three sections for the price of one!
Spend the afternoon walking before stopping for a picnic lunch on the Wall itself. In the evening, you’ll watch the sunset over the wall from a nearby village and then you’ll continue exploring the Great Wall in the morning before hopping aboard a high-speed train to Pingyao in the afternoon.
Discover the ancient town of Pingyao. See China's oldest bank, the city walls, and a traditional Confucian temple. Wander the cobbled streets and enjoy local food before getting a good night’s rest.
Places to Stay
City + Tour
On day 10 you’ll continue on the bullet train to Xi'an. As the terminus of the Silk Road, Xian is famous for its Muslim population; visit the Muslim Quarter where you can sample specialist breads, hand-stretched noodles and hearty dumpling soups.
The following morning you’re off to see the world-famous Terracotta Army of warriors, where there are an estimated 8,000 soldiers within 3 pits, buried with China’s first Emperor to protect him in the afterlife – this is not to mention the hundreds of concrete horses and chariots.
Places to Stay
It’s time to fly to Zhangjiajie. You'll be staying overnight in this spectacular National Park, unofficially named the Avatar Mountains after the area served as the backdrop to James Cameron's blockbusting film.
You’ll spend a full day exploring the Zhangjiajie National Park on Day 13, where you can brave a walk over the Glass Bridge if you dare; if you can muster the courage, the views of these towering, finger-like massifs alone make for an unforgettable experience.
On day 14 you’ll head to Changsha station to catch the high-speed train to Guilin, the gateway to the beautiful Guangxi province.
Cruise + Tour
You’ll spend your first day in Yangshuo on the water as you journey down the spectacular Li River. During a 5-6 hour cruise, you'll float by mountainous limestone peaks, traditional villages and grazing water buffalo. In the evening, return to the river once again to watch the Liu Sanjie performance. This spectacular show is set on the surface of the Li River itself, with Karst Mountains as the backdrop. Directed by the same man who produced the Olympics opening ceremony in 2008, this performance is a truly unforgettable display of light, movement, and epic Chinese showmanship.
The following day you'll stretch your legs on a morning cycling tour though Yangshuo's stunning countryside, then spend the afternoon at your leisure, just soaking up the fresh air and enjoying these natural surroundings.
You’re off to Longji today, a scenic drive through Guangxi province that rises through the rolling mountainous rice fields of the famous Dragon’s Backbone. You’ll have a 20-30 minute walk to the authentic village of Pingan, which is the perfect place to soak up the views from your hotel balcony. You’ll head to the viewing platforms, gifting you with beautiful panoramas of the surrounding rice fields, and the chance to walk through the terraces and watch the local farmers at work.
The village of Pingan gives you a brilliant insight into local life and is the perfect base for longer walks through the rising and falling rice terraces.
It’s time to head to China’s southwestern Yunnan Province. You’ll stay in the small town of Xizhou, just outside the city of Dali. With its mountain backdrop and peaceful lakeside ambience, this is the perfect place to relax and experience local life. You’ll spend a full day exploring Xizhou, before wandering around historic Dali old town and the Cangshan Mountains with their snow-capped peaks.
Don't miss the Old Town at night where you can enjoy a sociable dinner of beer and skewered BBQ meat, and if you're lucky make some friends with the locals!
Places to Stay
The Linden Centre
Experience the fascinating heritage of ethnic Chinese cultures in this elegant, award-winning hotel
- Free Wifi
- Free Bike Hire
- Children's Activities
- Laundry Service
- Air Conditioning
Activity + Adventure
Continue on the road to the historic market town of Shaxi, one of the few untouched villages in Yunnan. Heading off the beaten track you will stop along the way to see old temples and ancient ruins at Shibaoshan.
You’ll immerse yourself further into historic China and getting a real sense of its diversity over these next few days as you explore Lijang, home to the Naxi and to a number of other ethnic minority groups.
You'll catch a glimpse of the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain and will get to explore Shuhe Village and Lijiang Old Town, as well as some of the minority villages, where you'll learn about these unique ethnicities and have the chance to meet the local people.
On your final day in Lijang you’ll see Wenhai Lake, a beautiful, unspoiled nature reserve with spectacular panoramic mountain views.
Activity + Adventure
Drive to Zhongdian today, (also known as Shangri-La), stopping at the Tiger Leaping Gorge scenic canyon. With a strong Tibetan influence, Zhongdian sits at a higher altitude and has a unique spiritual feel. You’ll experience this first-hand when you visit the Songzanlin Monastery in the morning, before hiking to untouched Napa Lake, with its captivating lake views out to the edge of the Himalayas.
Your Grand Tour of China is drawing to a close, but there’s still one final stop and one lifelong memory to make. For this, you’re off to Chengdu to see the rare Giant Panda. Afterwards, visit the peaceful Wangjiang Park where you can sip tea while you watch the locals gathering to play mah-jong.
Then it’s back home to sort through your thousands of photographs and bore everyone silly about how incredible your trip was!