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14 days

Highlights of China

This holiday takes you to the absolute highlights of China: the Forbidden City, the Great Wall, the Terracotta Army and the picturesque landscapes of Yangshuo. You round off the tour in fascinating Shanghai.

Highlights of China Highlights of China
14 days

Highlights of China

This holiday takes you to the absolute highlights of China: the Forbidden City, the Great Wall, the Terracotta Army and the picturesque landscapes of Yangshuo. You round off the tour in fascinating Shanghai.

Why choose this tour

  • China’s classic sights spiced with picturesque nature experiences in Yangshuo, where limestone mountains are reflected in the gentle rivers and cast their shadows on the fabulous rice fields
  • Enjoy the bustling metropolis that is Shanghai, where European architecture meets shiny skyscrapers and Chinese landscaping
  • Come face to face with the impressive Terracotta Army in Xi’an, enjoy the views from the Great Wall and feel the history in the Forbidden City in Beijing – all UNESCO World Heritage Sites
  • Extend your tour with a relaxing beach holiday on the holiday island of Hainan

Our prices always include

  • All international and domestic flights
  • All destination transfers
  • All specified excursions and activities
  • All accommodations

The tour in short

You can’t mention China without mentioning the Great Wall – and we’ll bet that the visit to the impressive line of defence will be one of your favourite highlights.

However, there is so much more to China than the Great Wall! The country has an unusually long and fascinating history. In Beijing, you will walk in the emperors’ footsteps in the Forbidden City, and on a clear day, you will have a formidable view of the Imperial Palace and the bustling metropolis from the man-made Coal Hill.

The tour also takes you to China’s ancient capital, Xi’an, which is an incredibly exciting, multicultural city, where all religious faiths live peacefully side by side. Outside Xi’an, you’ll come face to face with the impressive Terracotta Army, which watches over the tomb of Emperor Qin Shi Huang.

The country’s culture and history take up a lot of space in China, but let’s not forget the country’s truly amazing nature. It goes without saying that you will also experience the picturesque landscapes in Yangshuo. Here, the Li River flows past the huge limestone mountains and the farmers’ green rice fields – such a beautiful sight that it has been immortalised on the 20 yuan banknote.

The tour ends in China’s largest city, Shanghai, which can best be described as a time machine. You will be transported back to the Ming and Qing dynasty, while experiencing the city from the 492 meter tall skyscraper, Shanghai World Financial Center.

What is included in the price?
This package includes the following
  • Flight from the UK to Beijing and home from Shanghai
  • Transfers from and to airports
  • High-speed train ride from Beijing to Xi’an
  • Domestic flight from Xi’an to Guilin and from Guilin to Shanghai
  • 12 nights at 4-star hotels
  • 12 x breakfast (days 3-14)
  • Local English-speaking guide on tours and excursions with a Chinese-speaking driver
  • Excursions are by public transport and by car or minibus with air conditioning
  • All excursions take place in small groups of up to 14 people, and with Asiatours’ own guests only
  • ATOL certificate
  • 24-hour manned emergency telephone throughout the tour
  • Departure guarantee – Tour requires minimum 2 participants

Comprehensive package of excursions:

  • Guided tour of Beijing taking in Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City and Coal Hill
  • The Great Wall
  • The Muslim Quarter in Xi’an
  • The Terracotta Army
  • Guided tour of Shanghai taking in The Bund, Shanghai World Financial Center and Yuyuan Garden
  • Admission fees to the sights and attractions mentioned
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Gallery
Detailed Itinerary
Day 1: Departure from selected airport

You fly from the selected airport to Beijing, with connecting flights along the way.

Day 2: Arrival in Beijing

You arrive at Beijing International Airport, go through immigration and then pick up your luggage. Your driver is waiting for you out in the arrivals hall, holding up a sign with your name on it. He then drives you to your hotel in central Beijing.

After checking in at the hotel, you have time for a rest after the long flight. You can also go out and explore the Chinese capital, which is home to some 22 million inhabitants.

At 6.30 pm there is an information meeting in the hotel lobby, where the guide will tell you more about China, run through your itinerary, explain practical things and answer any questions you may have. After the information meeting, a short walk awaits you in the area around the hotel, and then the rest of the evening is yours to do as you please. Feel free to ask the guide to recommend a good restaurant that serves Peking duck, a traditional old dish from Beijing. Otherwise, the Szechuan dish kung pao chicken is also recommended.

Alternatively, you can just look forward to the coming days when you experience Beijing’s unique and diverse cultural heritage, which has evolved over the course of the city’s long history.

Day 3: Guided tour of Beijing

Today, you’ll be doing a lot of walking, so be sure to wear comfortable shoes.

After a hearty breakfast, you will meet the guide in the lobby, where an exciting tour of Beijing begins.

You walk from the hotel to the 840-metre-long shopping street, Dashilan. Founded during the Ming dynasty more than 600 years ago, Dashilan is one of the oldest shopping streets in the city. One of the attractions of the street is the old-style tram that stands at the northern end of the street.

You continue from here to Tiananmen Square. The square is not only one of the most famous squares in the world, but it is also the largest in the world, measuring 880 metres from north to south and 500 metres from east to west.

It was here that the offices of the Imperial Ministries were located during the Ming and Qing dynasties. These were sadly destroyed during the Boxer Rebellion and the area was cleared, paving the way for the construction of Tiananmen Square. The square was named after the Gate of Heavenly Peace or the Tiananmen, which separates the square from the Forbidden City to the north.

The square covers an area of almost 44 hectares and is surrounded by many important and historic buildings and monuments. To the south you can see Mao’s mausoleum, to the east, the Museum of Chinese History and the Chinese Revolution, and on the west side of the square, you will find the Great Hall of the People, where the National People’s Congress holds its annual meetings. In the middle of the square stands the 38-metre-high Monument to the People’s Heroes.

Many people also know the square from the otherwise peaceful student demonstration in 1989, was forcibly suppressed by the Chinese government.

From the square, you head to the Forbidden City, which is behind the Gate of Heavenly Peace, where Mao proclaimed the People’s Republic of China a communist state on 1 October 1949.

Behind the thick, red walls, the Forbidden City opens up with the magnificent Imperial Palace. The Palace was built in the 15th century by Emperor Zhu Di after moving the capital from Nanjing to Beijing.

In Nanjing, Zhu Di had forced the then emperor to flee so he could take over the throne himself. Zhu Di was not well-liked among the people of Nanjing, so he chose to move the capital to the north to an area he named “Beijing”, which means “northern capital”. Emperor Zhu Di not only wanted to create a new capital, but also to build a lavish palace that would reflect China’s view of itself as the power centre of the world. The construction started in 1406 and was completed 14 years later. Surrounded by a moat and 10-metre-high walls, Zhu Di could live in safety as an all-powerful ruler.

The palace complex comprised 999 buildings with a total of 9,999.5 rooms spread over a whopping 720,000 m2. The 9,999.5 rooms are said to be due to the fact that Heaven has 10,000 rooms, and the Emperor, who is entitled “Heaven’s Son”, must not surpass Heaven.

The palace was named The Forbidden City, as only the Emperor, the Emperor’s officials, servants, guards and other nobles were allowed to enter. It was home to 24 emperors during the Ming and Qing dynasties until Emperor Puyi was deposed in 1924. Just one year later, the Forbidden City became a public museum. The Forbidden City has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1987, and is today one of China’s main attractions.

From the Forbidden City, you head to Coal Hill, a man-made hill north of the Forbidden City. The hill is Beijing’s highest point, and on a clear day, you have a fantastic view of the Forbidden City and the bustling metropolis.

Late afternoon, you take the metro back to the hotel.

Day 4: Beijing

There are no excursions planned for today, so you can explore Beijing on your own and at your own pace.

You might, for example, like to explore Beijing’s food stalls and restaurants, or shop to your heart’s content in Beijing’s wonderful shops selling beautiful craftsmanship, china, calligraphy and silk. There are also Western clothing and sports stores and expensive fashion houses. Xidan Street is a popular and much-visited shopping street near Tiananmen Square offering something for everyone.

If you are ready to experience more of Beijing’s major sights, you can purchase one of our exciting optional excursions.

Day 5: The Great Wall of China

Today, you’ll be heading to the Great Wall, which was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987.

The Great Wall is an extremely impressive line of defence that winds its way from the Gobi Desert in north-western China to the Yellow Sea east of Beijing.

The wall is not one long wall, but several walls, the first of which were built as a line of defence in the 7th century BCE. In 221, Emperor Qin Shi Huang joined and extended the walls as a guard against the Mongolian nomads from the north who were very interested in the arable land and the fields to the south. The Great Wall has since been extended and reinforced several times, most recently in the 16th century during the Ming Dynasty.

It is very difficult to say exactly how long the wall is. It consists of both old and newer walls as well as ruins, making it difficult to measure. In Chinese, the wall is called “Wànli chángchéng”, which means “The 10,000 li-long wall”. “Li” is an ancient unit of measurement in China, and 10,000 li corresponds to around 5,000 km. However, archaeological studies show the wall to be about 6,000 km long.

The wall is divided into several different areas, and you will visit the less touristy area, Mutianyu. You and the guide will be dropped off in the car park close to Mutianyu, and from there you walk up a steep road to the cable car that takes you up to the wall.

From the top of the wall, you are rewarded with a stunning view, and you can see how the wall follows the mountain’s curves right up to the highest peaks.

You have time on your own to walk around on the wall, and there is also time to enjoy your packed lunch.

You will see that both the width and the height of the wall vary a lot. In most places, it is 7-8 metres wide and 3-6 metres high. Parts of the wall are also very steep, and the rise of the steps varies, particularly at the look-out posts, which were not only used as watchtowers, but also to warn of impending danger via smoke signals.

After a couple of hours on the Great Wall, you take the cable car back down and you are driven back to the hotel in Beijing.

After the today’s outing, you can safely cross one thing off your bucket list.

Day 6: High-speed train from Beijing to Xi'an – Half-day excursion in Xi’an

This morning, you will be picked up from the hotel and driven to the train station in Beijing, where you will take the high-speed train to Xi’an, China’s ancient capital.

We recommend that you bring some food, snacks and drinks with you. Otherwise, these can also be purchased from the stewardesses on board.

The high-speed trains in China are ultra modern, and the seats almost resemble aeroplane seats, from which you can enjoy the varying landscapes you pass. The train ride takes you through industrial areas, agricultural areas and across plains and mountains at a speed of up to 350 km per hour, covering the 1,200 km journey in just under 6 hours!

On your arrival at the train station in Xi’an, you will be met by a guide and driver, who will drive you to your hotel, which is located in the city centre, within walking distance of the city’s sights.

Xi’an is a cosy, charming city with around DKK 8 million inhabitants. This is where the Silk Road ended and Xi´an was therefore a melting pot of cultures and religions for many years. Xi’an remains a very multicultural city to this day.

After check-in at the hotel, you will go on an exciting guided tour of the city. The tour is on foot, starting at the hotel. You pass the beautiful, iconic Bell Tower and continue to one of the city’s oldest neighbourhoods, the Muslim Quarter, also known as Huimin Jie. The neighbourhood is the heart of Xi’an’s Muslim community, where more than 30,000 Muslims live.

Arabs and ethnic Chinese have been intermarrying for more than a thousand years, so there are not many Middle Eastern facial features to be seen any more. Only a minority of Muslims here read Arabic, while even fewer speak the language.

The first visit on the walk is to the Great Mosque, where you will experience a wonderful sense of calm. It is the oldest and most famous mosque in China. It was built in 742, before Islamic architecture as we know it had really taken shape, hence the lack of minarets, domes or azure tiles. The mosque is more reminiscent of a Buddhist temple with its fine pavilions, small ponds and well-kept gardens.

You continue to the bustling covered bazaar, where there are stalls selling textiles, souvenirs, bags and crafts. It is OK to haggle here if you come across something you simply must have.

From sublime tranquillity to “haggling”, the tour ends in the bustling, colourful streets lined with street kitchens. Here, you will encounter women wearing head scarves and men wearing the Muslim headgear, “kufi”. Everything in the street is enveloped in the enticing aromas emanating from the many food stalls selling grilled lamb and calamari skewers, spicy soups, fresh fruit, walnuts as big as chicken eggs, as well as dried chilli and other spices.

The guide will point out the good places to eat, and we recommend that you taste the famous dumplings, which are a speciality in Xi’an. Dumplings are small steamed dough parcels with different fillings.

You can choose to stay in the area or return to the hotel with the guide.

For an additional fee, you can fly from Beijing to Xi’an instead of taking the high-speed train.

Day 7: The Terracotta Army

When the capital was moved from Xi’an in 906, the city fell pretty much into oblivion until 1974, when one of China’s most significant cultural treasures emerged from the soil just outside the city. At one stroke, the discovery put Xi’an back on the world map, and today you will see why.

In 1974, farmers found fragments of a man-sized sculpture 45 km outside Xi’an. Archaeologists were summoned and continued the excavations, unearthing the world’s largest-ever find of underground sculptures. More than 7,000 terracotta warriors, horses and carts were discovered. The warriors measure between 175 cm and 190 cm and all have different facial features, hairstyles and costumes. They are lined up ready for battle near the tomb of Emperor Qin Shi Huang. It is said that the warriors were built to protect their rulers in the afterlife.

Three large halls were built over the important finds, which have been restored and put back where they were discovered and excavated. A museum has also been built for some of the beautiful and unique artefacts that were also found, including gold, silver and bronze treasures.

The entire area is extremely impressive, and in 1987 the Terracotta Army became a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Day 8: Xi’an – Guilin – Yangshuo

After breakfast, you will be picked up from your hotel and driven to the airport, from which you will fly to Guilin. Your guide and driver is waiting for you outside Guilin airport, holding up a sign with your name on it. Together, you drive to scenic Yangshuo, which is located around an hour and a half’s drive away.

Yangshuo is a little gem surrounded by an almost poetic landscape that will take your breath away. The Li River runs alongside the high limestone mountains that rise like showy humps from the landscape. Just outside the city, you will see water buffaloes and the industrious local farmers tending their fields of rice, vegetables and flowers.

The Yangshuo landcsape is so highly prized by the Chinese themselves that the Li River, the limestone mountains and the rice fields are depicted on the 20 yuan banknote.

The is more life inside the city itself, with lots of restaurants and bars, and if you’re into shopping, West Street is definitely worth a visit. The street is the oldest street in Yangshuo, dating back more than 1,400 years. It is lined with restaurants, cafés and shops, where you can buy jewellery, clothes, shoes, fans, products made of bamboo and buffalo horn as well as porcelain and much more besides.

There is no set itinerary over the next couple of days, so you get to decide what you want to do and the pace that you do it.

Days 9-10: Yangshuo
Day 11: Yangshuo – Guilin – Shanghai – Half-day excursion in Shanghai

This morning, you will wave goodbye to scenic Yangshuo. You will be picked up from the hotel and driven to Guilin airport, from which you will fly to bustling Shanghai.

With just under 25 million inhabitants, Shanghai is China’s largest city. The Huangpu River, a tributary of the mighty Yangtze, divides the city into two – Shanghai’s new financial district, Pudong, on the east side of the river and the city’s historic centre, Puxi, on the west side.

A city of contrasts, Shanghai is extremely fascinating. Traditional, old buildings and Chinese temples and gardens stand alongside modern shopping centres and shiny glass and steel skyscrapers. It’s like visiting different worlds and eras at once, and that’s precisely what makes Shanghai such an exciting place to visit.

Shanghai is also the Chinese city most reminiscent of cities in the West. The European domination from 1842–1940 really left its mark on the architecture of the old concession areas along the Bund and the French Concession, so you may sometimes wonder whether you’re in London or somewhere in France instead.

In the arrivals hall at Shanghai airport, you will be met by a guide ready to welcome you with a sign bearing your name. You will be driven to the hotel and after check-in, a guided walk around some of Shanghai’s popular attractions awaits you. Together with the guide you will head to the famous Nanjing Road, which at 5.5 km is the longest shopping street in the world. It is also one of the world’s busiest shopping streets, attracting some 1 million visitors a day. Nanjing Road runs from Jing’an Temple to the west to The Bund in the East. Here, you will find shops selling silk and Chinese specialities, traditional shops and brand stores.

From Nanjing Road, you continue to Shanghai’s famous 1.5-km-long waterfront, The Bund, where you find yourself between two worlds – on the one side of the river you have the beautiful, well-maintained buildings of the English Concession, while on the other, you have modern skyscrapers, which are lit up in an array of neon lights when darkness falls. Stroll down the promenade and soak up the lively atmosphere.

You end the tour by seeing it all from high up in the Shanghai World Financial Center skyscraper, which is usually abbreviated to Shanghai WFC. The building is 492 metres high and has 101 floors. You will go up to the 97th and 100th floor, where you can enjoy an outstanding view of the illuminated city.

After this thrilling experience, you can choose to remain in the area and walk around on your own or go back to the hotel with the guide.

Day 12: Half-day excursion in Shanghai

Today, you will be going on an exciting half-day excursion to Shanghai’s most famous attractions.

You will meet the guide at the hotel, where the tour starts. First stop is the old commercial street, Shanghai Old Street, located in the ancient Chinese quarter. While walking here, it’s worth noting the traditional buildings and the architectural development from the Ming dynasty and the Qing dynasty to the 20th century. Shanghai Old Street is one of the few remaining places where you get close to the original Shanghai. It is also where the famous tea house, Chun Feng De Yi, is located. The tea house was built in the latter years of the Qing dynasty, and people come here to enjoy a traditional cup of tea prepared the proper way.

From Shanghai Old Street, the tour continues to Jiuqu Bridge, also known as the Nine-turn Bridge, which winds its way across a small carp lake. This is where Shanghai’s oldest tea house, Huxinting, from 1855, is located. Jiuqu Bridge leads you to the entrance to Yuyuan Garden, Shanghai’s finest garden.

Yuyuan Garden was built during the Ming dynasty by the official Pan Yunduan as a sanctuary for his parents. Yu means peace and well-being in Chinese, and that’s exactly what the garden reflects. The garden covers an area of two hectares and is one of the finest examples of Chinese landscaping. It is like an oasis in the middle of the otherwise hectic city with small ponds, pavilions, gates, streams and stone bridges. The protective dragon wall surrounding the garden keeps Shanghai’s bustling Old Town at bay.

You can then choose to stay in the area or return to the hotel with the guide.

Day 13: Shanghai

Today is yours to do as you please. You can choose to go on our optional excursion to the Venice of China or simply enjoy the metropolis on your own. If you choose to stay in Shanghai, we recommend a visit to People’s Park, People’s Square and the old French Concession area.

People’s Park is located in the heart of Shanghai. The park was built on the same land as the former race course established by the British in 1862. Today, it is a beautiful, green and peaceful oasis, where you can experience how the Chinese spend their everyday lives and weekends. You will see people here reading, playing, dancing and singing. It is also here in the park, at Blind Date Corner, that you will find the Marriage Market. On open umbrellas plastered with dating ads, hopeful parents attempt to find the right spouse for their son or daughter. A really fun experience!

100 metres south of People’s Park is People’s Square, Shanghai’s popular gathering place. Lining the square are buildings such as Shanghai Museum and Shanghai Grand Theatre as well as the Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Center, where you can see how the city has evolved over the past hundred years. Surrounded by tall buildings, the square is close to the Radisson Blu Hotel with its popular Sky Dome Bar on the 47th floor. You can also visit the nearby underground shopping mall.

Another area worth visiting is the French Concession, one of the nicest neighbourhoods in Shanghai, oozing soul and charm. Stroll through the maze of streets with popular cafés and restaurants and down the leafy avenues with their mansions and villas in old French style.

Day 14: Homeward bound

Sadly, the time has come to head back to Europe after an eventful and exciting tour. You will be picked up from your hotel by a driver who will drive you to the airport, from which you will fly to the UK, with connecting flight(s) along the way.

Choose from the options below
Combine with

Beach holiday extension to Hainan, 3 nights

Hainan is China’s largest island, with the Gulf of Tongkin and Vietnam to the west and the South China Sea to the east. Hainan is China’s answer to Hawaii due to its tropical climate and beautiful white beaches made for sunbathing and water sports.

Over the past 10–20 years, a tropical holiday paradise has grown here at record speed. Hotels are shooting up on the southern Chinese island, and it is clear that the island intends to invest heavily in tourism. However, beach holidays in China are still an unknown concept to many people, so you may find that the beaches are not yet overrun by tourists.

On this extension, you will stay by one of the island’s best beaches in the luxurious area of Yalong Bay, located roughly 25 km east of the main town of Sanya, China’s southernmost city. The beach at Yalong Bay is 7 km long, and you can really take things down a notch here and just enjoy the white sandy beaches, the clear, warm waters, the swaying coconut palms and the view of the green mountains surrounding the bay.

You can extend the beach holiday with additional nights, just as you please.

Single room supplement £477
Special offers for groups of 6 or more. Request a quote today for more info.
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