IMPERIAL PALACES, TIBETAN MONASTERIES & INSPIRING LANDSCAPES
Palaces of the Dalai Lama and Chinese emperors, baby pandas, the Terracotta Army and Hong Kong beyond the skyscrapers.
- Explore Beijing's iconic sights to learn about its Imperial and Communist past
- Hike on the Great Wall of China at one of the most atmospheric sections
- Take the Bullet Train to historic Xi'an to discover its beguiling Muslim Quarter
- Get a closer look at the 8,000 members of the famous Terracotta Army
- Visit the former residences of the Dalai Lama in the Tibetan capital Lhasa
- See baby pandas up close in Chengdu and the 71m high Giant Buddha
- Be awed by the spectacular rice terraces and karst landscape near Guilin
- Delve into exotic Hong Kong, discovering local markets and tranquil islands
- Includes all flights, trains, transfers, hotels, excursions & meals as shown
- Click to get a tailored quotation based on this tour
The Mandarin Tour
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)
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
Day 9 - Welcome to Tibet & Summer Palace - This morning you will be transferred to the airport for your flight to Lhasa in Tibet. Here you will be met on arrival by your local guide and driver who will welcome you to the city and get you settled in to your hotel. You will now be at high altitude so it is best to take it easy and drink plenty of water to help your body acclimatise. As a gentle introduction to Lhasa, we will visit the Norbulingka, the former summer residence of the Dalai Lama, set within relaxing landscaped parkland on the outskirts of Lhasa. Following lunch at a local restaurant you will have the afternoon free to relax and wander around the charming old town. (B,L)
Day 10 - Potala Palace, Pilgrims & Jokhang Temple - We start the following day with a tour of the Potala Palace, the defining symbol of Lhasa and Tibet. The winter home to ten Dalai Lama's, the huge 17th century structure is one of the most poignant on the planet, telling the story of life here before the Dali Lama was forced to flee to India. The roof terraces house the former residences of the Dalai Lama and afford sweeping views of the city.
We then drive into the very heart of the old town, stopping to take lunch. The colourful Jokhang Temple is the most sacred place in Tibet, a destination for pilgrims from across the Buddhist world. It is encircled by the lively Barkor Street, around which pilgrims walk in a clockwise directions, spinning prayer wheels as they go or prostrating themselves fully along the ground. Watching their incredible devotion is a privileged experience for any visitor. We tour the Jokhang Temple and enjoy the sweeping views from the rooftop. (B,L)
Day 11 - Sacred Lake & Monks Debate - This morning we drive out of Lhasa and through the mountains to the sacred Yamdrok Lake. Upon arrival there will be plenty of time to enjoy the sumptuous views from the lookout point and see the yaks up close on the shore. We then return to Lhasa and visit Sera Monastery, arriving in time to watch the monks in their fascinating afternoon debate sessions. (B,L)
Lhasa - First Hotel
Full of endearing Tibetan charm and located in the very heart of the charming Lhasa old town, this 4* courtyard hotel is a wonderfully authentic base from which to explore the city. The 13 rooms are decorated in traditional Tibetan style, creating a warm and welcoming environment, with a good range of facilities and room sizes.
A simple breakfast, including eggs made to order, is served in the restaurant, which itself is rated as one of the best local eateries in Lhasa.
Head up to the rooftop area and find a quiet spot to relax and enjoy the view across the rooftops of the old town, adorned with prayer flags in every direction.
Lhasa - Deluxe Hotel
Starwood hotels follow their legacy of luxury accommodation with this fabulous 5 star hotel in Lhasa. 162 large sumptuous rooms and suites provide exquisite spaces in which to relax and unwind after a day exploring the high altitude city. These feature welcoming sofas, walk-in closets, powder room, study area and balconies, affording views over the city or landscaped gardens. Spacious bathrooms include a traditional Victorian bathtub, twin vanity counter and separate walk-in shower.
The hotels gold energy pool is the perfect place to refresh yourself, whilst guests can also join regular yoga classes.
Day 12 - Bullet Train to Chengdu & time at leisure - Today you be fly 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 13 - 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 14 - 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)
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.
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.
Day 15 - 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 16 - 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)
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.
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:
Melody - In 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.
Day 17 - 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 18 - 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)
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.
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.
Day 19 - Ride the Bullet train to Hong Kong - This morning you will be transferred to the station to take the 300km/h Bullet Train from Guilin. The train will take around three hours to arrive in Shenzhen, from where you will have a private transfer into Hong Kong, passing through immigration on the way.
Hong Kong offers a great mix of exoticism and familiarity. It is perhaps the easiest city for western travellers to get about it, travelling on the efficient MTR underground system, which reaches as far as some of the outlying islands. You will enjoy the rest of the day at leisure to perhaps take the iconic Star Ferry across the water to Hong Kong Island. Here you can ride the tram to The Peak, for one of the world's great urban vistas, especially as the sun goes down and the light's begin to twinkle at dusk. (B)
Day 20 - Special 'local life' Hong Kong tour - We start in the thriving markets of Mong Kok; the bird market, where locals often gather to socialise with their birds sat next to them in cages, then the goldfish market to admire the amazing colour and detail of the tropical fish on sale here, often at extremely high prices. Next is the Chinese Jade Market and the fruit market, followed by a visit to the Tin Hau Temple, dedicated to the Goddess of the Sea, revered by fishermen and those who spend their working lives at sea.
We then drive to the south of Hong Kong Island to the Aberdeen fishermen community, where fishing junks are juxtaposed against the skyscrapers. We take a short sampan boat ride to learn more about their ways of life and enjoy a dim sum lunch aboard the famous Aberdeen Jumbo Kingdom. Next up is the Central business district and the world's longest continuous escalator system. Hollywood Road in westernised district of SoHo is next, known for its antique shops. Finally, we finish at the Man Mo Temple, one of Hong Kong's oldest and most important and where giant incense coils hang from the ceiling, imparting a fragrant, smoky haze. The temple is dedicated to the God of Literature and the God of War. (B,L)
Day 21 - Hong Kong at leisure - tranquil islands or Portuguese heritage - Taking the ferry across the water to Macau, a bastion of Portuguese heritage, is an excellent day trip, as is a visit to the tropical and tranquil Lamma Island, reached by boat from Aberdeen fishing harbour in the south. Closer yet is Lantau Island, famed for its large seated Buddha and temple, reached by a panoramic cable car. At the far end of the island, Tai O is an immensely charming and timeless fishing village, whilst one of the region's best beaches can be enjoyed a short bus ride away at Cheung Sha. (B)
Day 22 - Time at leisure & return flight to UK - Your return flight will likely be at around 11pm, giving you another full day of sightseeing or shopping. You will be picked up and transfered to the airport in plenty of time for your overnight return flight to the UK. (B)
Hong Kong & Macau - First Hotel
Hotel Stage exudes contemporary and creative charm, a welcoming haven from the busy streets of Kowloon. Spacious and minimalist rooms offer a range of modern facilities, including a complimentary smart phone which you can carry about the city to browse the internet, consult maps, make international calls and even supply WIFI for your own devices.
The hotel is a few minutes walk from the Jordan MTR station, allowing easy access to Hong Kong Island, and is also close to the vibrant night market and the many other fascinating markets of Mong Kok.
Freshly cooked breakfasts are prepared to order and the hotel also offers a renowned kitchen and stylish wine bar, gallery and book area.
Hong Kong & Macau - Deluxe Hotel
Conveniently situated in the south of Kowloon, overlooking the iconic Victoria Harbour and close to an MTR station, the InterContinental is a renowned 5 star hotel. 572 luxurious rooms and suites afford harbour, courtyard or city views and come equipped with all the necessary amenities you'll need, including a handy smart phone. Guests can relax on the outdoor rooftop pool, indulge in the beauty and health facilities and dine on Cantonese or Italian cuisine.
The Mandarin Tour
Prices are per person. Please request a quote for Special Events, Christmas, New Year's Eve & Chinese New Year.
|Season||Low Season||High Season|
|Travel Dates||03/10 - 15/06||16/06 - 02/10|
|Multiple Travellers - Twin Room||-||£5,271||£6,062||-||£5,699||£6,618|
|Multiple Travellers - Own Room||-||+ £772||+ £1,377||-||+ £958||+ £1,804|
|Single Traveller - Own Room||-||+ £2,237||+ £3,156||-||+ £2,612||+ £3,164|
|Season||Low Season||High Season|
|Travel Dates||03/10 - 15/06||16/06 - 02/10|
|Multiple Travellers - Twin Room||-||€5,161||€6,071||-||€6,978||€8,265|
|Multiple Travellers - Own Room||-||+ €888||+ €1,584||-||+ €-223||+ €521|
|Single Traveller - Own Room||-||+ €2,573||+ €3,629||-||+ €1,680||+ €2,084|
|Season||Low Season||High Season|
|Travel Dates||03/10 - 15/06||16/06 - 02/10|
|Multiple Travellers - Twin Room||-||$6,379||$7,486||-||$6,978||$6,618|
|Multiple Travellers - Own Room||-||+ $1,081||+ $1,929||-||+ $1,342||+ $4,173|
|Single Traveller - Own Room||-||+ $3,133||+ $4,419||-||+ $3,658||+ $6,077|
- International return flights
- 3 internal flight as shown
- Bullet Train tickets as described in itinerary (First = 2nd class, Deluxe = 1st class)
- 20 nights accommodation as shown on the itinerary
- Meals as described in 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
Upon completion an travel consultant will be in contact to secure a deposit and confirm your place on this tour.
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