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Shanghai: 4 nights - Longsheng: 1 night - Guilin: 1 night - Yangshuo: 2 nights - Beijing: 4 nights
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Day 1 - Welcome to Shanghai
Day 2 - Highlights of Shanghai
Day 3 - Shanghai at leisure
Day 4 - Shanghai at leisure
Day 1 - Welcome to Shanghai
You will fly overnight to Shanghai and be welcomed upon arrival for transfer to your hotel and a short introduction to the city.
Shanghai is China's most developed mega city, a futuristic metropolis symbolised by its forest of towering skyscrapers. However, if you know which street to turn down, you can still find relics of a bygone era and the occasional oasis of calm.
The Jade Buddha Temple is one such example, rebuilt in 1918 to replace the original one that was destroyed during the revolution and to house two impressive jade Buddhas. The 16th century Yu Yuan is a quintessentially Chinese garden, with many fascinating details throughout the various areas, divided by undulating dragon walls. One of the best spots in Shanghai is the Bund waterfront, lined with historic banks, offices and hotels on one side and on the other, sweeping views across the Huangpu River to the skyscrapers of Pudong - one of the world's most iconic skylines. The most recognisable of these towers is the Oriental Pearl TV Tower, offering fine views from its viewing platforms.
Lunch and a special dim sum dinner is included, plus in the evening you will enjoy a spectacular acrobatics show to complete an unforgettable day.
Day 3-4 - Shanghai at leisure
Enjoy time at leisure in Shanghai to relax, shop or pursue your own interests. Alternatively take optional excursions out of the cities to see the nearby classical Chinese gardens of Suzhou or visit one of the ancient water towns which surround the city and enjoy a tranquil boat ride.
Day 5 - Reed Flute Caves & transfer to Longsheng
Day 6 - Longji Rice Terraces
You will be transferred from your hotel to Shanghai airport for the short flight to Guilin. Here you will be met on arrival and shown around the dramatic rock formations and ancient inscriptions of the nearby Reed Flute Caves. You will then be driven an hour and a half north to Longsheng, where you will stay overnight in a charming lodge. There will be time to walk around the village and enjoy the peaceful countryside, the perfect way to relax after four nights in one of the world's biggest cities.
Lunch and dinner are included in today's activities.
Today we will explore the incredible rice terrace landscape around Longsheng, enjoying the best panoramic vistas of the area, as well as exploring the local minority villages to learn about life here. The landscape changes throughout the year here, depending on the seasons. In spring, the terraces are irrigated and so brim with water, before turning lush green over the summer. The autumn brings beautiful golden hues, before snow falls add to the drama in winter. Lunch is included.
We transfer back to Guilin later, enjoying a local dinner and staying overnight here.
Day 7 - Li River Cruise
Day 8 - Hiking or cycling in Yangshuo
The highlight of a trip to Guilin is the chance to drift down the Li River to Yangshuo, passing through the infinite limestone sugarloaf peaks which rise dramatically out of the ground, so creating one of the most arresting vistas in the country. Bamboo groves and paddy fields line the river's edge, where we can also observe water buffalo and local peasants working the land. In Yangshuo, as the light begins to fade, traditional fishermen emerge on their bamboo rafts, to which cormorants are tethered, to help them locate the best fish, a tradition practiced since ancient times.
Lunch and dinner are again included and in the evening, you will enjoy the spectacular Impression of Liu Sanjie show, which takes place the Li River in Yangshou. It fuses musical, lighting, dance and story telling elements to create a dramatic spectacle. It is performed by local actors from the nearby minority villages and was directed by proclaimed film director Zhang Yimou, who was responsible for the opening ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Stay overnight in Yangshou.
This morning we will take a guided hike or cycle ride to explore the beautiful countryside and karst landscape around Yangshou in more depth. After lunch (included) you will then have the rest of the day free to relax or explore at your leisure, perhaps watching the local cormorant fishermen show in the evening.
Day 9 - Welcome to Beijing
Day 10 - Tiananmen Square, Forbidden City & Temple of Heaven
Following a transfer to Guilin hotel, you will fly north-east to Beijing, the historic capital of the People's Republic of China. This vast city is known for its atmospheric narrow alleyways, lively food markets and elaborate temples. It is dominated by the Tiananmen Square and the 15th century Forbidden Palace complex, though other notable landmarks include the futuristic Birds Nest Olympic Stadium, the sacred Temple of Heaven and the Summer Palace, set within parkland on the outskirts of the city.
You will be greeted by your guide at the airport, who will assist you with your luggage, taking a private transfer to your hotel for a four night stay.
Day 10 - Tiananmen Square, Forbidden City & Temple of Heaven
Today's tour will start from Tiananmen Square, the largest urban space in the world, from where we can orientate ourselves in the city, learn about the square's historical significance and appreciate its communist style architecture and monuments. From here, we walk into the famed Forbidden City, the former imperial palace that was home to 24 Chinese emperors from the Ming and Qing dynasties for nearly 500 years. Large sumptuously decorated palaces, gates and halls are linked by landscaped gardens, traditional pavilions and spacious courtyards, lined with typical architecture and adorned with intricate statues, marble bridges and other fascinating details.
After lunch (included) we will visit the 15th century Temple of Heaven, one of the most important in all of China. The site is a collection of over 90 buildings, the most important being the richly decorated Temple of Good Harvest, to where Ming and Qing dynasty emperors, seen as a child sent from heaven, would come each year to make a sacrifice and pray for a favourable harvest. A visit here teaches you about Dynasty era sacrificial rituals, cosmogony and philosophical beliefs, as well as giving the opportunity to appreciate ancient artwork and see locals going about their everyday lives and taking daily exercise in the surrounding parkland.
In the evening there is a spectacular Kung Fu show.
Day 11 - Great Wall & Ming Tombs
We start the day with a once-in-a-lifetime visit to one of the great wonders of the world and an enduring symbol of Chinese power. Located around 50 miles north of Beijing, Mutianyu is one of the very best preserved sections of the Great Wall, affording picture-postcard views, as the wall gently rolls over the surrounding hills.
On the way back to Beijing, we will stop to visit the impressive Ming Tombs, resting place of 13 Chinese emperors from the Ming dynasty. Surrounded by mountain ridges on three sides, the site shows off some wonderful Ming era artifacts, statues and architectural details. Upon returning to Beijing, we will make a quick stop to admire and photograph the world famous Birds Nest Olympic Stadium. It is one of the finest modern arenas in the world, surprisingly full of hidden symbolism.
Lunch is again included and in the evening you will enjoy a traditional duck dinner at a local restaurant.
Great Wall alternative excursions
Alternatively, there is the option to visit the wilder Jinshanling Great Wall section, which offers hiking opportunities and far fewer crowds. This is a full day tour from Beijing, so does not allow time for the tombs or the stadium, instead offering a more in-depth experience of the wall.
Day 12 - Day at Leisure in Beijing
Enjoy free time to do some shopping, relax or pursue your own interests. We have a range of optional excursions and tours to complete your time. These include:
Day 13 - Return flight to UK
In the morning you will be transferred to Beijing airport for your return flight to the UK.
Price guidelines for travel dates and room arrangement
Tailor this itinerary to match your travel interests and budget.
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