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China Holidays

Mandarin Tour

22 Night Itinerary from £5,2715,162$6,380

Private Individual Tour

 

Palaces of the Dalai Lama and Chinese emperors, baby pandas, the Terracotta Army and Hong Kong beyond the skyscrapers

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Tour Route>

Travel Highlights>

  • 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

This itinerary can be modified and adapted to your preference with a specialst advisor, who can provide a guaranteed price, based on hotels, transport, excursions and flights.

Mandarin Tour
Tour Itinerary

Beijing & Great Wall - 4 Nights

Day 1 - Fly to Beijing

Day 2 - Welcome to Beijing

Day 3 - Beijing's past and present tour

Day 4 - Temple of Heaven and Hutongs

Day 5 - Hike the Great Wall of China

Day 1

Fly to Beijing

Depart on a direct overnight flight from London or a choice of UK regional airports to Beijing.


Day 2

Welcome to Beijing

Arrive in Beijing in the morning where our guide will transfer you to your hotel chosen hotel for a 4 night stay. You will receive a walking orientation tour with our guide, familiarising you with the surroundings. The rest of the day is at leisure to relax, or you may prefer to add an afternoon tour.


Day 3

Beijing's past and present tour

Our special tour gives an authentic insight into Beijing's history, culture and modern life. We start at Tiananmen Square and explore the mythical Forbidden City, home to 24 Chinese Emperors. Here you can learn about China's dynastic past, before climbing Coal Hill for a view of the central Beijing landscape. After an included lunch, visit Confucius and Buddhist temples to understand China's two most important belief systems and their role in daily life. 


Day 4

Temple of Heaven Park and Hutongs 

Visit 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 start early to gain insights into local life, as groups of elderly Beijing residents gather to take communal exercises, sing, socialise and play musical instruments. We take an included lunch at a family hutong home and explore the traditional narrow streets by rickshaw and on foot. Enjoy cultural activities such as calligraphy or paper cutting or perhaps attempt to cook the Chinese way by making some local dumplings. 

 


Day 5

Hike the Great Wall of China

Travel two hours north of Beijing to join the iconic Great Wall of China in a remote area. Here, we hike a wild section away from the crowds. It is a unique experience where you will truly appreciate the full majesty of the Great Wall and savour stunning views of the surrounding mountains. We also visit the restored part of the wall at Mutianyu, allowing you a look at the Wall in its original state. Lunch is included.

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 - 3 Nights

Day 6 - Bullet Train to Xi'an

Day 7 - The Terracotta Army

Day 8 - At leisure in Xi'an

Day 6

Bullet Train to Xi'an 

Transfer to Beijing West station for a high speed Bullet Train to the ancient city of Xi'an, a journey of around four and a half hours. On arrival you will be met by your guide and transferred to your hotel for a 3 night stay, 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. 


Day 7

The Terracotta Army

Today we visit 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, 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.

After an included lunch, 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. 


Day 8

At leisure in Xi'an or optional tours

Today you will have time at leisure to explore Xi'an and pursue your own interests. 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.

 

 

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.

Lhasa - 3 Nights

Day 9 - Welcome to Tibet and the Summer Palace

Day 10 - Potala Palace, Pilgrims and Jokhang Temple

Day 11 - Sacred Lake and monks debate

Day 9

Welcome to Tibet and the Summer Palace  

Morning transfer to the airport for flight to Lhasa in Tibet. Our local guide and driver will welcome you on arrival and transfer you to your chosen hotel for a 3 night stay. 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 an included lunch at a local restaurant you will have the afternoon free to relax and wander around the charming old town. 


Day 10

Potala Palace, Pilgrims and Jokhang Temple 

We start today 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 an included 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. 


Day 11

Sacred Lake and monks debate 

This morning we drive out of Lhasa and through the mountains to the sacred Yamdrok Lake. On 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. After an included lunch, we return to Lhasa and visit Sera Monastery, arriving in time to watch the monks in their fascinating afternoon debating sessions. 

House of Shambhala

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.

St Regis

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.

Chengdu & Leshan Buddha - 3 Nights

Day 12 - Bullet Train to Chengdu

Day 13 - Pandas and Dujiangyan Irrigation System

Day 14 - Leshan Giant Buddha

Day 12

Fly to Chengdu 

Fly to Chengdu, where you will be met upon arrival by your guide for the next few days and transferred to your hotel for a 3 night stay. 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. 


Day 13

Pandas and Dujiangyan Irrigation System

No visit to Chengdu would be complete without going to the nearby Panda Research Base 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.

After an included lunch, we continue 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. 


Day 14

Leshan Giant Buddha

Today we 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. Lunch is included today.

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 - 2 Nights

Day 15 - Caves and drive to Longji rice terraces

Day 16 - Explore the Longji Rice Terraces

Day 15

Spectacular caves & drive to Rice Terraces

Transfer to the airport for 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 and included lunch, walk around Ping'an village and enjoy the peaceful countryside. 

 


Day 16

Explore 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, where we overnight.

 

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 - 2 Nights

Day 17 - Cruise the Li River

Day 18 - Hike or cycle through beautiful landscapes

Day 17

Cruise the Li River

The highlight of a trip to Guilin is the chance to gently cruise 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 in Yangshuo for 2 nights.


Day 18

Hike or cycle through beautiful 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. 

 

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.

Hong Kong - 3 Nights

Day 19 - Bullet train to Hong Kong

Day 20 - Special 'local life' Hong Kong tour

Day 21 - At leisure in Hong Kong or optional excursions

Day 22 - At leisure and return flight to UK

Day 19

Bullet train to Hong Kong

Morning transfer to the station to take the 300km/h Bullet Train to Hong Kong to your chosen hotel for a 3 night stay. Hong Kong offers a great mix of exoticism and familiarity. It is perhaps the easiest city for western travellers to navigate, with 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 Victoria 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. 

 


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. We continue to 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 and fruit markets, followed by a visit to Tin Hau Temple, dedicated to the Goddess of the Sea, revered by fishermen 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 ancient Man Mo Temple, where giant incense coils hang from the ceiling, imparting a fragrant, smoky haze. The temple is dedicated to the Gods of Literature and War. Lunch is included today.


Day 21

At leisure in Hong Kong or optional excursions 

A day to explore Hong Kong at your own pace. Or take one of our optional excursions, bookable locally through your guide. Perhaps take the ferry across the water to Macau, a bastion of Portuguese heritage, an excellent day trip, as is a visit to the tropical and tranquil 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. 


Day 22

At leisure and return flight to UK 

Your final day to enjoy Hong Kong. You will be picked up late afternoon and transferred to the airport in plenty of time for your return overnight flight to the UK. 

 

Hotel Stage

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.

InterContinental Grand Stanford

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.

Price Guidelines

Season Low Season High Season
Travel Dates 03/10 - 15/06 16/06 - 02/10
Travel Dates First Deluxe First Deluxe
Multiple Travellers - Twin Room £5,271 £6,062 £5,699 £6,618
Multiple Travellers - Own Room £6,043 £7,439 £6,657 £8,422
Single Traveller - Own Room £7,508 £9,218 £8,311 £9,782

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


What's Included

  • 23 days / 20 nights 
  • International return flights (2 overnight)
  • 3 internal flights 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

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