China's economic centre is also close to ancient water towns and the classic gardens of Suzhou.

Situated on the Huangpu River, roughly equidistant from Beijing and Hong Kong, Shaghai is the powerhouse of the Chinese economy. Bold, futuristic and in a continual state of development, it is the country's biggest metropolis, with a collection of skyscrapers in the Pudong district that combine to create one of the world's most recognisable skylines. Nowhere are they better appreciated than from the Bund waterfont, lined with grand historic banks, hotels and offices on one side and with sweeping views across the river to the gleaming forest of towers on the other. It is most spectacular after dark when the dramatic neon lights set the scene ablaze with colour.

Standing in the immense People's Square, it is difficult to visualize how this huge public space was once a thriving oval-shaped racetrack, a social focal point in early 20th century Shanghai. The square today encompasses the immaculately manicured People's Park, the sleek Grand theatre and a collection of world-class museums. In the square alone you can chart the urban development of this mega-city, survey modern and traditional art and journey through over 5,000 years of cultural development.

In its heyday Shanghai enjoyed the nickname "Paris of the East", traces of which remain in the French Concession, a charming area of tree-lined streets filled with pretty European-style villas, fashionable boutiques, antique street markets and local cafes. The wonderful Yu Gardens are equally impressive, with a large rockery, magnificent tea house, temple and traditional bazaar. 

In Shanghai you'll find some of China's best food and nightlife and, although historical attractions are somewhat thin on the ground, the world's most populous city merits a good look around, so that you can fully appreciate the extent of the economic miracle.

From Shanghai you can also easily reach a number of ancient water towns, as well as the classical Chinese gardens of Suzhou on day trips. See below for more.

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" PudongSkyline " by Pjt56 - licensed under CC BY

The Dynasty Tour - Holidays to China

China

Dynasty Tour

13 Nights from £3,777 €3,632 $3,910

Travel back in time from the futuristic skyscrapers of Shanghai, through rural life in the country's most beguiling landscapes to tales of China's dynastic…

The Dynasty Tour
Tours in China

13 Nights from £3,777 €3,632 $3,910

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Itinerary Summary

  1. Day 1 - Welcome to Shanghai

    Day 2 - Highlights of Shanghai

    Day 3 - Shanghai at leisure

    Day 4 - Shanghai at leisure

  2. Day 5 - Reed Flute Caves & transfer to Longsheng

    Day 6 - Longji Rice Terraces

  3. Day 7 - Li River Cruise

    Day 8 - Hiking or cycling in Yangshuo

  4. Day 9 - Welcome to Beijing

    Day 10 - Tiananmen Square, Forbidden City & Temple of Heaven

  5. Day 11 - Great Wall & Ming Tombs

  6. Day 12 - Day at Leisure in Beijing

The Emperor Tour - Holidays to China

China

Emperor Tour

13 Nights from £3,822 €3,686 $3,968

Our classic tour through China's essential highlights. Visit the Great Wall near Beijing, see pandas and the Terracotta Army up close and cruise through su…

The Emperor Tour
Tours in China

13 Nights from £3,822 €3,686 $3,968

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Itinerary Summary

  1. Day 1 - Welcome to Beijing

    Day 2 - Tiananmen Square, Forbidden City & Temple of Heaven

  2. Day 3 - Great Wall & Ming Tombs

  3. Day 4 - Beijing Summer Palace

  4. Day 5 - Xi'an city tour

    Day 6 - Terracotta Army & Big Goose Pagoda 

  5. Day 7 - Transfer to Chengdu & visit Jinli Street

    Day 8 - Panda Research Center & Sanxingdui

  6. Day 9 - Transfer to Guilin & visit the Reed Flute Caves

    Day 10 - Li River Cruise

  7. Day 11 - Transfer to airport for flight to Shanghai 

    Day 12 - Highlights of Shanghai

    Day 13 - Maglev Train to airport

The Yangtze Tour - Holidays to China

China

Yangtze Tour

16 Nights from £4,244 €4,192 $4,517

Cruise down the Yangtze River and see China's most iconic sights; adorable pandas, the Forbidden City and Great Wall, the Terracotta Army, futuristic Shang…

The Yangtze Tour
Tours in China

16 Nights from £4,244 €4,192 $4,517

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Itinerary Summary

  1. Day 1 - Welcome to Beijing

    Day 2 - Tiananmen Square, Forbidden City & Temple of Heaven

  2. Day 3 - Great Wall & Ming Tombs

  3. Day 4 - Beijing Summer Palace

  4. Day 5 - Xi'an city tour

    Day 6 - Terracotta Army & Big Goose Pagoda 

  5. Day 7 - Transfer to Guilin & visit the Reed Flute Caves

    Day 8 - Li River Cruise

  6. Day 9 - Transfer to Chengdu

    Day 10 - Panda Research Center & Sanxingdui

    Day 11 -  Jinli Street & transfer to Chongqing

  7. Day 12 - Ghost City & Shibao Zhai Temple

    Day 13 - Qutang & Wu Gorges

    Day 14 - Three Gorges Dam

  8. Day 15 - Highlights of Shanghai

    Day 16 - Maglev Train to Airport

The Mandarin Tour - Holidays to China

China

Mandarin Tour

22 Nights from £6,939 €7,426 $8,020

Journey across China and back to culturally-rich cities and storybook landscapes. Marvel at the Terracotta Army and Great Wall and see a giant Buddha and a…

The Mandarin Tour
Tours in China

22 Nights from £6,939 €7,426 $8,020

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Itinerary Summary

  1. Day 1 - Welcome to Beijing

    Day 2 - Tiananmen Square, Forbidden City & Temple of Heaven

  2. Day 3 - Great Wall & Ming Tombs

  3. Day 4 - Beijing Summer Palace

  4. Day 5 - Bullet Train to Xi'an

    Day 6 - Xi'an City Tour

    Day 7 - Terracotta Army

  5. Day 8 - Transfer to Tibet

    Day 9 - Jokhang Temple & Drepung Monastery

    Day 10 - Potala Palace, Norbulingka & Sera Monastery

  6. Day 11 - Transfer to Mount Emei

    Day 12 - Mount Emei tour

    Day 13 - Leshan Giant Buddha

  7. Day 14 - Panda Research Center

  8. Day 15 - Transfer to Longsheng

    Day 16 - Longji Rice Terraces

  9. Day 17 - Li River Cruise

    Day 18 - Hiking or cycling in Yangshuo

  10. Day 19 - Transfer to Shanghai

    Day 20 - Highlights of Shanghai

    Day 21 - Shanghai at leisure

  11. Day 22 - Suzhou's Classical Gardens

    Day 23 - Return flight to UK

The Shanghai Classic Tour - Holidays to China

China

Shanghai Classic Tour

11 Nights from £2,875 €2,550 $2,737

Explore Shanghai and admire classical gardens, romantic lakes and ancient water towns, all without internal flights - perfect for a honeymoon, anniversary …

The Shanghai Classic Tour
Tours in China

11 Nights from £2,875 €2,550 $2,737

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Itinerary Summary

  1. Day 1 - Welcome to Shanghai

    Day 2 - Highlights of Shanghai

    Day 3 - At leisure in Shanghai

  2. Day 4 - Transfer to Suzhou

    Day 5 - Suzhou's Classical Gardens

    Day 6 - Suzhou at leisure

  3. Day 7 - Transfer to Hangzhou via Wuzhen

    Day 8-9 - Hangzhou & West Lake

    Day 10 - Transfer to Shanghai

    Day 11 - Return flight to UK

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