About your trip
How do you even begin to tackle a giant bucket list destination like China with just one trip? Trains are the answer. This nation’s incredible high-speed rail network has allowed us to put this extensive itinerary together, so you don’t have to pick and choose between the most iconic sights in China. We’ll start in Beijing, for history and a spot of tai-chi, before heading to the Great Wall of China. Having walked along those famous towers at dusk and at dawn, we’ll hop on the bullet train to the glorious old town of Pingyao. From there it’s onwards to Xi’an to cycle on city walls, try calligraphy and dine on local delicacies, as well as witnessing the spellbinding Terracotta Warriors. Our last stop is the towering city of Shanghai, where we’ll explore epic skyscrapers and cultural gems, either side of a charming day trip to an old water town. Are you ready for the ultimate China adventure?
- See the best of Beijing with an expert Local Insider
- Hike along the Great Wall of China at sunset, and again at sunrise!
- Experience the thrill of China’s high speed bullet train network
- Visit the Unesco-listed town of Pingyao
- Marvel at The Army of Terracotta Warriors
- Explore the ancient trade canals of beautiful Zhujiajiao
- Master Chinese cuisine in an Optional cooking masterclass
- Discover Shanghai, from dizzying skyscrapers to thought-provoking museums
You’ll be greeted at our hotel in Beijing by our friendly Local Insider, your expert guide for the next 10 days. After a group introduction we’ll head out for a welcome dinner together at a nearby local restaurant – there’s no better way to start your Chinese adventure than with Beijing duck, followed by a drink or two at a local craft beer bar.
After breakfast at the hotel we’ll head straight to Tiananmen Square, one of the largest and most historical city squares on the planet – remember the famous image of a man standing bravely in front of military tanks? We won’t have to walk far to our next stop, the iconic imperial palace complex known as the Forbidden City. Having spent some time getting to know the city, you’ll be whisked away for some fresh air in Jingshan Park, which boasts awe-inspiring views over the city. The afternoon will be yours to spend as you wish, either exploring the lake area and shopping districts of Nanluoguxiang, or jumping on the metro to the Bird’s Nest, home of the 2008 Summer & 2022 Winter Olympics. The evening is also free to be spent as you wish.
This morning begins just like the day starts for many Beijing locals, with a spot of exercise in a giant urban park, home to the stunning Temple of Heaven. After a visit to the temple we’ll embrace the local’s morning routine with an hourlong tai-chi class in the park. After an early lunch at the Fake Market, and plenty of time to work on your haggling skills when buying souvenirs, it’s time to leave the city behind. Next stop, the Great Wall of China! It’s about two hours north of the capital, so we’ll strap on our walking boots on the bus to Badaling and go for a mesmerising hike, ending at a dreamy spot to watch the sunset from the Great Wall itself. Still stunned by a moment you’ll never forget, it’s time to digest it all with a rooftop barbecue back at the hotel (or dinner at the restaurant, if the weather doesn’t hold up).
As if the sunset wasn’t enough, the early birds in the group have the option to head back to the Great Wall to watch the sunrise this morning! Then it’s back to the hotel for breakfast before returning to Beijing, stopping for a local lunch en route, and hopping on the bullet train to Pingyao. The train will take around three and a half hours, as you watch the countryside of three provinces whizz by at lightning speed, and we’ll arrive early in the evening. The night is to be spent as you wish – the old town is wonderful and filled with shops, bars and markets – but we recommend joining the group restaurant dinner and trying some Pingyao beef, the local delicacy.
Upon arrival last night you’ll have been given a Pingyao Old Town Entry ticket, which gives you complete access to over 20 museums, temples and other attractions within the ancient city’s walls. You can explore the area for yourself today, perhaps prioritising the first Bank of China and the Confucian Temple, or even going for a walk along the historical city walls. Be sure to grab an early dinner ahead of an evening spent flying past neon-lit cities on a three-hour train journey to Xi’an, the home of the Terracotta Warriors!
If you’re the type who likes to jump out of bed in the morning, then you can start the day with an invigorating 13km bike ride along the historical city walls of Xi’an – a perfect introduction to the city. The inside of the former capital’s walls is brimming with history, but also blending with a flurry of striking modern architectural works. After lunch you’ll have the option to join a calligraphy class at the Small Goose Pagoda, before our evening kicks off with a trip to the Drum and Bell Towers at night. After that you’ll be guided by our Local Insider through the old Muslim Quarter, where you’ll snack away on lamb skewers and dumplings, before an optional night of karaoke at a local bar – will you join in and sing the night away?
The star of today’s show is one of the most incredible sights in all of China – The Army of Terracotta Warriors. This spectacular collection of clay statues depicting the armies of Qin Shi Huang, China’s first emperor, is an iconic Unesco World Heritage Site. A local guide will show you around the massive site, filled with various pits, archeological miracles and endless deftly carved clay soldiers. The tour ends in the museum and cinema, where you’ll get to watch a documentary about this ancient wonder. Then it’s time to head straight to the train station, where we’ll leave ancient history behind in favour of the ultra modern bullet train to Shanghai. We’ll arrive fairly late in the evening, but there are excellent dinner options available onboard the train.
This morning our Local Insider will show you how to start the day like locals do with a local breakfast tour along the old streets of Shanghai. Stuffed with pancakes and sesame bread, it’s time to head right up to the top of Jin Mao Tower, one of the most iconic members of Shanghai’s epic skyline. Thrill seekers will also get to take on the incredible skywalk around the tower – don’t worry, it is optional. After wandering through the financial district and heading to Yu Gardens to discover souvenir shops and lunch spots, you’ll have an afternoon free to explore the city’s many offering, from the shopping paradise of Nanjing Road to the wide collection of incredible museums and galleries, included the Modern Art Museum, the Urban Planning Exhibition Center and the Propaganda Poster Art Museum. In the evening you have the chance to regroup for an optional cooking class, where we’ll tuck into some delicious home-cooked delights.
Today we’ll take a day trip to the charming old water town of Zhujiajiao. It’s a glorious example of the country’s ancient trade traditions, with rows of old trade houses lining the waterways – an entire community built on ease of transportation. You’ll get to explore the town on a small boat and learn about the Great Canal of China, an incredible man made waterway between Hangzhou & Beijing. Back in Shanghai you’ll have more time in the city before we regroup for another cruise, this time on Huangpu River. The tour finishes in style with some bubbles and snacks as the sun goes down over the city, and Shanghai’s epic skyscrapers transform into a neon-lit kaleidoscope of colour. We’ll end the trip with one last group dinner, but there’s plenty more of Shanghai to discover after dark, namely the city’s many amazing rooftop cocktail bars…
It’s time to say goodbye to Shanghai and, indeed, to China as a whole. You’ll have breakfast at the hotel and, depending on flight times, some extra time to enjoy the city before hopping on the high-speed Maglev train to the airport. Until next time, China!
- Nine nights accommodation
- Train tickets
- Nine breakfasts
- One lunch
- Four dinners
- Local Insider
- Welcome meeting
- Visit to Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City & Jingshan Park
- Optional visit to Birds Nest
- Tai-Chi class inside the Temple of Heaven Park
- Visit to Fake Market
- Sunset hike on a remote part of the Great Wall of China
- Optional sunrise hike on Great Wall
- Evening orientation walk of Pingyao
- Pingyao Old Town entry ticket
- Bike ride on Xi’an city walls
- Walking tour in Xi’an Muslim Quarter
- Visit to The Army of Terracotta Warriors
- City-walk in Shanghai
- Visit Jin Mao Tower
- Day trip to Zhujiajiao (including entrance fee & small cruise on local boat)
- Evening river cruise on Huangpu River
- Optional - Calligraphy Class
What's Not Included
- Travel insurance
- Hotel transfers (unless otherwise stated in the Included Activities section above)
China Cultural Holiday Hotel - Nanluoguxiang
This charming, traditionally decorated hotel is perfectly located for any traveller wishing to discover the many sights of Beijing. You won’t need to go far to see Tiananmen Square, Jingshan Park or the Palace Museum, while a warm welcome and comfy beds await at the end of a long day exploring.
Found just a stone’s throw away from the Great Wall of China, this stylish modern hotel is surrounded by luscious forest, which you can enjoy from the comfort of your room, from the pleasant surrounds of the hotel’s garden or, even better, while taking a dip in the pool. Weather permitting, you can even barbecue with a view on the gorgeous rooftop terrace.
Pingyao Harmony Hotel
Embrace the spectacular beauty of traditional Chinese accommodation at this stunning hotel in the heart of Pingyao. Rooms are fit with modern luxuries in the vibrant traditional style, but it's the incredible lantern-lit courtyard that you’ll be posting all over your socials.
Dream Designer Hotel
This funky design hotel in downtown Xi’an will make you feel like you’re dozing off in a contemporary art gallery. The colourful, ultra-modern feel is a perfect contradiction to Xi’an’s rich ancient history.
Campanile Shanghai Bund Hotel
This classic city hotel offers a welcome oasis from the hustle and bustle of Shanghai. You’ll be super close to major sights and key metro lines, but when you’re tucked up in bed you won’t be kept up by the city buzz. After a refreshing night’s sleep, and a delicious French-inspired breakfast, you’ll be more than ready to tackle Shanghai again.
Your safety and wellbeing are our top priority, so we’ve put the following measures in place on all our TRIPS:
- Please check the entry requirements for the destination you are travelling to. Our travel experts can assist you in finding this information.
- We recommend you confirm all guidance on official government sites and check that you are able to travel with your travel insurance issuer. Your travel insurance may be invalidated if you travel against government advice. Our travel experts can assist you in finding this information.
- You must be aged 25 years or over to join this trip.
- Please be sure to check whether or not you need a visa to enter the country you're travelling to. Please refer to our Booking Terms & Conditions for further information.
- If you have any pre-existing medical conditions or accessibility requirements, please notify our Customer Support team as soon as possible.
- We won't charge you extra if you travel alone – you'll be allocated a twin room with another traveller of the same gender.
- To upgrade to a private room, share a room with a friend, or book pre- and post-trip accommodation and/or airport transfers, please contact our Customer Support team.
- Please be aware that travel insurance is compulsory for all travellers.
- Please be aware that the itinerary, activities and hotels are subject to change. While unlikely, these changes can happen due to circumstances beyond our control. We will always do our best to ensure minimal impact on your experience.
- Please be aware images on this page are for illustrative purposes and may not reflect your itinerary exactly.
If you cancel 56 days or more before your scheduled departure date, you will receive a 100% refund. Otherwise, the total cost of your trip is: 100% payable if you cancel 29 days or less before your departure date. 50% payable if you cancel between 30 - 55 days before your departure date. Please note you can only book this trip in advance up to 14 days before the departure date. After this time the trip may be booked on request.
Terms & Conditions
Please refer to our Booking Terms & Conditions.