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China Holidays

The Emperor Tour

17 Night Itinerary from £4,0483,755$4,667

Private Individual Tour

Be inspired by the stories behind epic Imperial wonders and Shanghai's forest of towers on a tour enriched with cultural insights and magnificent landscapes.

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Be inspired by the stories behind epic Imperial wonders and Shanghai's forest of towers on a tour enriched with cultural insights and magnificent landscapes.

Travel Highlights

  • Beijing's Imperial wonders, ancient temples & timeless hutongs
  • Walk on the Great Wall away from the crowds
  • Come face-to-face with the Terracotta Army
  • Immerse yourself in Xi'an Muslim Quarter
  • Visit Chengdu's pandas and sample the spicy Sichuan cuisine
  • Marvel at glorious rice terraces and karst landscapes
  • Go beyond the skyscrapers to get to know Shanghai
  • Take optional trip to an ancient water town or to see classic Chinese gardens
  • Includes all flights, trains, transfers, hotels, excursions & meals as shown
  • Click to get a tailored quotation based on this tour

Journey Breakdown

The Emperor Tour
Travel Itinerary

Beijing & Great Wall Day 1 - 5

Day 1 - Fly to Beijing

Day 2 - Welcome to Beijing

Day 3 - Special tour: Beijing's Past & Present

Day 4 - Temple of Heaven & Hutong Tour

Day 5 - Hike the Great Wall

Itinerary Description

Day 1-2 - Welcome to Beijing - The private tour departs on a direct overnight flight from London, or via an alternative route at one of the major regional airports in the UK if you prefer. Arrive in Beijing in the morning and be welcomed upon arrival for transfer to your hotel. You will receive a walking orientation tour around your hotel with our guide, familiarising you with the surroundings and answering any questions you may have. The rest of the day is at leisure to relax, or you may prefer to add an afternoon tour.

Day 3 - Special tour: Beijing's Past & Present - Our special tour gives you an in-depth view of the the city's history, culture and modern life. We start amid the Communist-style buildings of Tiananmen Square and walk into the mythical Forbidden City, home to 24 Chinese Emperors. Here you can learn about China's dynastic past, before climbing Coal Hill for an overview of the central Beijing landscape. After lunch in a traditional hutong, enter the Confucius and Buddhist temples to understand China's two most important belief systems and their role in daily life. (B,L)

Day 4 - Temple of Heaven Park & Hutongs - We start at the Temple of Heaven, considered by UNESCO "a masterpiece of architecture and landscape design", to learn about Chinese philosophical beliefs, cosmogony, art, dynastic politics and sacrificial rituals. We visit early to gain wonderful insights into local life, as large groups of elderly Beijingers gather to take communal exercises, sing, socialise and play musical instruments. We take lunch at a family hutong home and then survey the traditional streets from the back of a rickshaw and on foot. Enjoy some cultural activities like calligraphy or paper cutting or perhaps attempt to cook the Chinese way by making some local dumplings. (B,L)

Day 5 - Hike the Great Wall - We drive two hours north of Beijing to access the iconic Great Wall of China to hike a wild section away from the crowds. Here we can truly appreciate its full majesty and savour stunning views of the surrounding mountains, taking the cable cars down from the restored part at Mutianyu, allowing you a look at the Wall in its original state. (B,L)

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Penta Hotel

Beijing & Great Wall - First Hotel

Described as a "neighbourhood lifestyle hotel", the Penta is a distinctive 4 star contemporary hotel, close to the Temple of Heaven and a short walk from the subway. The laid-back hotel offers 307 ensuite rooms in a minimalist style, including family rooms, as well as the use of bikes and maps to explore the local area. The heart of the hotel is the bustling Pentalounge; an all-encompassing café, deli, noodle bar, library and games area that provides a meeting place where guests and locals come and go.

Hotel Cote Cour

Beijing & Great Wall - First Boutique

The Cote Cour is a renowned boutique hotel spread out around a traditional inner courtyard and nestled in an historic centuries-old hutong. Fully refurbished in 2016, the rooms and communal areas are decorated to a high standard with classic paintings, furnishings and details, evoking a timelessness and a deep connection with the long history of the structures. You will find all the modern amenities that you will need during your stay, as well as an attentive service and free internet access and bicycle hire.

Guests can relax on the rooftop space and perhaps choose to dine in the a la carte restaurant. For families, there is both a standard and deluxe family room.


Regent Hotel

Beijing & Great Wall - Deluxe Hotel

A multi-award winning luxury hotel close to Tiananmen Square and shopping streets, providing guests with outstanding service in opulent surrounds. 500 spacious rooms and suites are elegantly finished in traditional Chinese style, whilst floor-to-ceiling windows fill the rooms with natural light and afford panoramic views, including of the Forbidden City from some. Connecting rooms are available for groups and there is a choice of renowned restaurants, as well as an indoor pool and wellness centre.

Xi'an & Terracotta Army Day 6 - 8

Day 6 - Bullet Train to Xi'an

Day 7 - See the 8,000 strong Terracotta Army

Day 8 - Xi'an at leisure or optional tours

Itinerary Description

Day 6 - Bullet Train to Xi'an - Today you will be transported to Beijing West station for your high speed Bullet Train to the ancient city of Xi'an, a journey of around four and a half hours. Upon arrival you will be met by your guide and transferred to your hotel, with time at leisure in the afternoon. Once the starting point of the legendary Silk Road and a capital for eleven dynasties, Xi'an has retained a great deal of its mystique and boasts an impressive array of sights, which we will explore over the next two days. (B)

Day 7 - See the 8,000 strong Terracotta Army - We begin today with a visit to the famous Terracotta Army, just outside Xi'an. 8,000 individually sculptured clay warriors, horses and archers proudly stand shoulder-to-shoulder in three large excavated pits, protecting the tomb of China's first emperor, Qin Shihuang. At first it is the sheer number that overwhelms, but on closer inspection you begin to notice the extraordinary level of detail that went in to them, with each figure seemingly sporting a different expression and hairstyle. It's not hard to imagine this as a real army in waiting, awakening at the slightest hint of danger. Afterwards we can visit the home of the farmer who accidentally discovered the Terracotta Army.

In the afternoon we return to the city and explore the Muslim Quarter. We will visit a traditional courtyard mansion, owned by a former official during the Ming Dynasty. Dating back 400 years, the property shows the wonderful architectural style of the time and offers cultural activities and demonstrations including shadow puppetry and paper cutting. Following this there will be time to explore the temple and the lively food market. (B,L)

Day 8 - Xi'an at leisure or optional tours - Today you will have time at leisure to explore Xi'an and pursue your own interests. (B) Alternatively, you may wish to undertake additional tours, including:

  • Cycle around the ancient city walls
  • Big Goose Pagoda, built to house precious Buddhist scripts
  • Shaanxi Historical Museum - one of China's most renowned museums
  • Han Yangling Museum and Archaeological sites
  • Venture into Huxian County to see the colourful folk art of the Huxian painters. Learn about calligraphy and painting and experience the farmers' way of life in China

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Mercure on Renmin Square

Xian & Terracotta Army - First Hotel

The Mercure hotel has become a fixture of Renmin Square, alongside landscaped gardens and historic buildings. With over 100 well-equipped and tastefully decorated rooms and suites and a wonderful location right in the heart of ancient Xi'an, this 4 star hotel is a popular choice amongst visitors. It is a 15 minute walk from the bustling markets of the Muslim Quarter and the Drum and Bell Towers.

The hotels boasts its own restaurant, serving Western, Chinese, Japanese and Moroccan dishes, as well as a café and bar in which to relax.

Sofitel on Renmin Square

Xian & Terracotta Army - Deluxe Hotel

This modern 5 star hotel curves gracefully along the side of the historic Renmin Square, right in the heart of this ancient city and within easy reach of the Bell Tower and Drum Tower, as well as the Great Mosque and the bustling night markets of the Muslim Quarter. 178 spacious rooms are equipped with modern facilities and special touches, such as the exclusive Sofitel MyBed and a luxurious rainforest shower.

The Sofitel has its own extensive landscaped gardens and its very own grand theatre. There is also a swimming pool, Jacuzzi and fitness centre, as well as a choice of three on-site restaurants, serving Mediterranean, Brazilian Barbecue and Cantonese food.

Chengdu & Leshan Buddha Day 9 - 11

Day 9 - Bullet Train to Chengdu & time at leisure

Day 10 - Pandas & Dujiangyan Irrigation System

Day 11 - Come face-to-face with the 71m Giant Buddha

Itinerary Description

Day 9 - Bullet Train to Chengdu & time at leisure - Today you take the high speed Bullet Train to Chengdu, where you will be met upon arrival by your guide for the next few days and transferred to your hotel. You'll have today at leisure, perhaps to relax in the large People's Square, taking tea at one of the large outside teahouses and observing local life here. South of the river is the lively Jinli Street, lined with traditional buildings and shops and stalls selling locally created artwork, handicrafts, paper cuts and calligraphy. This is a great place to spend the afternoon shopping for gifts and souvenirs. (B)

Day 10 - Pandas & Dujiangyan Irrigation System - No visit to Chengdu would be complete without going to the nearby Panda Research Base - there is simply no better place to see these charming and highly endangered animals up close. Designed to replicate the natural bamboo habitat of the panda to encourage breeding, the centre is respected the world over for its ongoing research and conservation efforts, not just for the giant pandas, but also for red pandas and black swans. We visit early in the morning to see the baby pandas at their most active, returning to the city for midday.

From here we continue on to the Dujiangyan Irrigation System. This extraordinary UNESCO World Heritage site was originally constructed back in 256BC, during the Qin Dynasty. It is the oldest irrigation system in the world and is thought to be the only major system of its kind not to feature a dam.  Another major feat of engineering is the magnificent Anlan Suspension Bridge which crosses the river. Surrounding the irrigation system are a number of impressive temples, halls, towers, statues and gardens. (B,L)

Day 11 - Come face-to-face with the 71m Giant Buddha - Today we will drive around 2 hours south of Chengdu to visit the magnificent Leshan Giant Buddha. Measuring in at 71 metres high, the 1,200 year old Buddha watches over the confluence of three rivers and looks out onto the sacred Mount Emei. We will take a boat ride to enjoy panoramic views of the Buddha and then climb up the steps to come face-to-face with it, for a close up view. We will then return to Chengdu by road. (B,L)

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Buddha Zen

Chengdu & Pandas - First Hotel

Located close to the Wenshu Yuan Monastery, this spiritually themed 4 star hotel aims to give visitors an insight into traditional Buddhist life. It offers 35 tranquil rooms and well-equipped rooms, all thoughtfully and elegantly decorated in a style true to the spirit of the hotel. The courtyard-style building is filled with ancient paintings and statues and small details that are full of hidden meaning.

The Buddha Zen also invites guests to take a traditional 'Zen' afternoon tea in the  Jian Cha Teahouse and unwind in the harmonious Zi Zai spa, havens of peace and tranquillity in one of China's biggest cities.

The Ritz-Carlton

Chengdu & Pandas - Deluxe Hotel

As you might expect from a Ritz-Carlton, this hotel delivers luxury and service on an unparalleled level in Chengdu. Its collection of spacious and stylish rooms all offer fine city views of Chengdu's skyscrapers and offer a host of facilities and features including:

  • Twice-daily housekeeping attention
  • LCD TVs (at least 42 inches)
  • Exclusive Asprey bath amenities
  • Blu-ray disc/DVD player
  • iPod/iPhone/iPad docking station
  • In-bathroom TV
  • Bathtub and separate shower
  • Illuminated cosmetic mirror, hair dryer and scale
  • TOTO intelligent toilet
  • Ritz-Carlton signature linens and feather bedding
  • Plush terry robes
  • Walk-in closet
  • Complimentary overnight shoeshine
  • Fully stocked mini refreshment bar
  • Complimentary high-speed wired- and wireless Internet access
  • Multi-line telephone with voicemail
  • Nespresso coffee machine
  • In-room safe

Guests can enjoy a choice of glamorous bars and four award-winning restaurants, including the renowned Li Xuan, which serves outstanding Cantonese & Sichuan-style cuisine. The large Ritz-Carlton Spa and Fitness Center complex includes an indoor swimming pool with underwater music and offers their signature tea-themed treatments.

Longji Rice Terraces Day 12 - 13

Day 12 - Spectacular caves & drive to Rice Terraces

Day 13 - Magnificent views of Longji Rice Terraces

Itinerary Description

Day 12 - Spectacular caves & drive to Rice Terraces - You will be transferred to the airport for the short flight to Guilin, where you will be met on arrival and shown around the dramatic rock formations and ancient inscriptions of the nearby Reed Flute Caves. We will then take a scenic two hour drive north to Longsheng, where you will stay overnight in a charming lodge. There will be time to have lunch, walk around Ping'an village and enjoy the peaceful countryside. (B,L)

Day 13 - Magnificent views of the Longji Rice Terraces - Today we will explore the incredible Longji Rice Terrace landscape, enjoying the best panoramic vistas of the area and learning about local 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, before transferring back to Guilin by road. (B,L)

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Longji Star Wish

Longji Rice Terraces - First Hotel

The Longji Star Wish hotel is a fantastic base from which to explore the rice terraces of the region, indeed without even leaving the hotel you can enjoy panoramic views from the rooftop terrace. The cosy rooms are attractively furnished with bamboo or wooden panelling and all well-equipped to western standards. There is a choice of two on-site restaurants, serving up both Chinese and western cuisine, as well as a luxurious treatment centre. 

Li-An Lodge

Longji Rice Terraces - Deluxe Lodge

The renowned Li-An Lodge is located in the heart of the Longji region at Ping An village, overlooking gracefully curving rice terraces for as far as the eye can see. Its attraction goes far beyond its spectacular views, with 16 individually and tastefully designed rooms, decorated with beautiful Chinese art, calligraphy and architectural details.

The lodge offers the following terrace view rooms:

MelodyIn this room you will see the very interesting Chinese music melody. An old music instrument is displayed in the specially made furniture.

Calligraphy The objects displayed in the room tell the evolution of Chinese calligraphy since 5000 years ago. 

Rock In the old days, Chinese people rely on stone made carved stamps for signatures to put on official or important documents. Even in the present day, stamps are still used.

Double Happiness The room is decorated with a marvellous collection of different objects bearing happy elements.

Windows - This is a corner room with windows on two walls to view the magnificent of the outside landscape. Another two walls in the room are decorated with built-in windows in the traditional Chinese architectural style. 

Harvest - It is furnished with special hand made furniture and utensils which can be found in local people’s house, such as stone mill, raincoat made of palm tree bark and bamboo hat. 


Guilin & Yangshuo Day 14 - 15

Day 14 - Cruise past the karst peaks along the Li River

Day 15 - Hike or cycle through the wonderful landscapes

Itinerary Description

Day 14 - Cruise past the karst peaks along the Li River - 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. Lunch is included on-board. 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.

In the evening, you might also choose to 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 Yangshuo. (B,L)

Day 15 - Hike or cycle through the wonderful landscapes

This morning we will take a guided hike or cycle ride to explore the beautiful countryside and karst landscape around Yangshou in more depth. There is also the option of undertaking an early morning bamboo raft to enjoy the river at a quieter time. 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. (B,L)

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Guilin Bravo

Guilin & Yangshuo - First Hotel

Located on the edge of Ronghu Lake, a ten minute walk to the city centre, the Guilin Bravo hotel offer 329 spacious and well-appointed ensuite rooms and suites. Of these, 160 have lake views and all enjoy good modern facilities. There is a sauna and outdoor swimming pool, as well as an attractive patio cafe and bar area and two restaurants offering dim sum and other Chinese specialities for those looking to dine in.

There are a large number of shops and restaurants nearby on the popular pedestrianised streets, as well as the night market.

Green Lotus

Guilin & Yangshuo - Deluxe Hotel

The misty karst hills of Yangshuo provide a spectacular backdrop to this luxury 5 star hotel, which takes its name from the nearby Green Lotus Peak. It offers 333 modern and well-equipped rooms and suites, more than 80% of which enjoy river views. A garden restaurants boasts further splendid views and serves western food, alternatively a second restaurant offers local specialities.

Shanghai Days 16 - 19

Day 16 - Welcome to Shanghai

Day 17 - Highlights of Shanghai

Day 18 - Free time or optional tours

Day 19 - Return flight to the UK

Itinerary Description

Day 16 - Welcome to Shanghai - You will now fly east to Shanghai and be welcomed upon arrival for transfer to your hotel and a short introduction to the city. (B)

Day 17 - Highlights of Shanghai - 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.

Our special tour introduces you to Shanghai's rich history and local life, starting at the classic Yu Gardens. We admire the European buildings of the riverside Bund area, once known as the "Paris of the Orient" and enjoy a scenic boat ride on the Huangpu River. Take lunch in the French Concession before discovering the traditional houses of Xintiandi, now converted into upscale shops, restaurants and bars. (B,L)

Day 18 - Free time or optional tours - Enjoy time at leisure in Shanghai to relax, shop or pursue your own interests. Alternatively, venture out of the city to see the nearby classical Chinese gardens and silk industry of Suzhou or visit one of the ancient water towns which surround the city, such as Wuzhen, where traditional houses line sleepy canals, crossed by wooden bridges and disturbed only by small hand rowed boats. Wuzhen offers a slow pace of life, in sharp contrast to Shanghai, and boasts over 6,000 years of history. It links with the Grand Canal, one of the world's most historic and important waterways. (B)

Day 19 - Return flight to the UK - Transfer to the airport for your mid-morning return flight, landing mid-afternoon UK time.

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Shanghai Central

Shanghai -

This popular 4 star hotel is situated close to the Bund and the People's Square in downtown Shanghai. 280 rooms are well-presented and equipped with good modern facilities. Should you wish to dine in, restuarants offer a choice between local Chinese and Cantonese dishes and western food. The hotel also boasts its own  sauna, gym, massage center, bowling alley, tennis court and billiards room.

Yangtze Hotel

Shanghai - Deluxe Hotel

The Yangtze ranks as one of Shanghai's most historic hotels, a former hangout for celebrities in its heyday. Originally built in the 1930s, today the Yangtze is among the city's best boutique hotels, with a great location on the expansive People's Square. Restaurants, pedestrianised shopping streets and the Grand Theatre are all within easy reach, as are the renowned museums and green spaces of the square and the shopping mall in Raffle's City. The Bund waterfront is a 10-15 minute walk away.

96 rooms are classically and thoughtfully decorated, with essences of Art Deco and classic Chinese decor. They feature a number of mod-cons and many have balconies or terraces offering expansive views across the city, some towards the towers of the Pudong district. There are a number of welcoming cocktail or casual bars in which to unwind and three restaurants serving both international and Cantonese cuisine.

The Emperor Tour
Travel Details

Price Breakdown

Prices are per person. Please request a quote for Special Events, Christmas, New Year's Eve & Chinese New Year.

SeasonLow SeasonHigh Season
Travel Dates03/10 - 15/0616/06 - 02/10
Room ArrangementTouristFirstDeluxeTouristFirstDeluxe
Multiple Travellers - Twin Room - £4,048 £4,742 - £4,518 £5,300
Multiple Travellers - Own Room - + £556 + £1,033 - + £747 + £1,311
Single Traveller - Own Room - + £1,731 + £1,897 - + £1,612 + £2,485
SeasonLow SeasonHigh Season
Travel Dates03/10 - 15/0616/06 - 02/10
Room ArrangementTouristFirstDeluxeTouristFirstDeluxe
Multiple Travellers - Twin Room - €3,755 €4,553 - €5,325 €6,420
Multiple Travellers - Own Room - + €640 + €1,188 - + €-170 + €282
Single Traveller - Own Room - + €1,991 + €2,182 - + €824 + €1,633
SeasonLow SeasonHigh Season
Travel Dates03/10 - 15/0616/06 - 02/10
Room ArrangementTouristFirstDeluxeTouristFirstDeluxe
Multiple Travellers - Twin Room - $4,667 $5,638 - $5,325 $5,300
Multiple Travellers - Own Room - + $779 + $1,447 - + $1,046 + $2,955
Single Traveller - Own Room - + $2,424 + $2,657 - + $2,257 + $4,600

Booking Terms & Conditions

What's Included

  • International return flights
  • 2 internal flights as shown
  • Bullet Train tickets as described in itinerary (FIRST = 2nd class, DELUXE = 1st class)
  • 17 nights accommodation as shown on the itinerary
  • Meals as described on the itinerary
  • Transfers to and from airport
  • Excursions listed, all with expert, English-speaking guides and private vehicle
  • Prices are per person based on two sharing a room
  • Guideline price only - please request a bespoke itinerary for an accurate quote

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