Essence of China
11 Days / 10 Nights
Beijing - Xian - Guilin - Shanghai
Visit some of the most important sights of China and take part in some authentic experiences such as a calligraphy lesson, bamboo rafting on the Yulong river, and a cooking class in a traditional farming village.
Our itineraries are suggestions and are fully customisable according to your needs, interests and budget.
Treat these itineraries as inspiration and one of our experts will create your uniquely tailored holiday with your requests in mind so that you can truly experience China with Seven Senses.
Day 1. Arrive Beijing (-/-/D)
Our guide will meet you at the airport, and escort you to your hotel. A Beijing duck welcome dinner awaits you at an upscale courtyard restaurant where you will savor your first taste of authentic Chinese food.
Day 2. Beijing (B/L/D)
Visit: After breakfast, you will trace the theme of the Forbidden throughout Beijing, a city well-known for its rich culture and historical heritage. Our guide will meet you at the hotel lobby and you will start to explore the historical city of Beijing. Your first stop is Tian’anmen Square, the largest public square in the world. Walk through the square and visit today’s highlight: The Forbidden City, the largest and most complete ancient imperial palace in the world.
Experience: In the afternoon, Hutong tour by Rickshaw, The Beijing Hutongs (old narrow lanes) have a very special place in the rich history and culture of Beijing. The alleys give a wonderful glimpse into yesterday’s world, the old way of life and traditional Beijing culture, and highlight the dramatic changes the rest of Beijing has undergone.
Night show: Golden Mask.
Day 3. Great Wall Hiking (B/L/D)
Experience: We will leave for the Great Wall at 8am, avoiding the crowds at the touristy Badaling and Mutianyu sections of the wall, bound instead for a less-visited and more remote section ranging from Simatai West to Jinshanling, a two and a half hour drive from the city. As you traverse this winding route, you will see sections of the wall restored to its initial splendour, and ruins that have crumbled from the original, true to the passage of time. For those of average or better fitness, your six-kilometer trek will start by a 40-minute ascent of modern concrete steps that lead up to the Wall, followed by two hours of walking on the Wall. Be prepared for uneven terrain, as some of the steps are huge and steep; it is the way the Wall tumbles and soars over the crests of the hills that gives it the beauty that will astound you. You can pause to take in the splendor at your own pace, or use an additional 30 minutes to meander a bit further, before enjoying an authentic countryside lunch at a local farmer’s restaurant just 20 minutes off the Wall. You will receive a certificate celebrating your hiking accomplishment of the Great Wall of China. For those who are concerned about finishing the whole hiking route, the driver can take you directly to the restored end at Jinshanling, and you can wander around there at your leisure.
Day 4. Beijing - Xian (B/L/D)
In the morning, you are free to explore the city and have lunch on your own before we leave at 12:30 to take the bullet train to Xi’an via China’s world-class speed train network.
The four and a half hours spent in the second class speed train will not only be more convenient and comfortable than flying, but will also allow you to see the landscape unfurl out your window. Our local guide will meet you in Xi’an to bring you downtown to the Xi’an hotel. The evening is yours to roam the surrounding area.
Day 5. Xian (B/L/D)
Visit: The root of Chinese civilization, Xi’an, was the nation’s capital city for 13 dynasties, four of which played important roles in Chinese history: the Zhou, the Qin, the Han and the Tang. Xi’an is home to one of the most renowned 20th-century archaeological discoveries, the Terracotta Warriors. To avoid the crowds, we will leave at 7:30am to take in the battalion of more than 6,000 pottery soldiers. Accidentally discovered by local farmers in 1974, there are now three pits opened to the public, while excavation continues in other pits. You will have opportunity to take photos from your VIP perch above where the first shard of the warriors was unearthed.
Experience: In the afternoon, we are visiting Tang Bo Art Museum, which gives you a brief history and examples of Chinese art. A calligraphy lesson will be arranged and we will try our hand at Chinese calligraphy, the art of the brush having been widely used in ancient China for over 2000 years. We will learn some basic skills and can even try to write our Chinese name with the brush and ink in this one and a half hour class.
Evening: Tang Dynasty Show with Dumpling Bouquet.
Day 6. Xian (B/L/D)
Visit: Xi’an features the best-preserved City Wall in China; originally built in the Ming Dynasty more than 600 years ago.
Experience: You can ride a bike along the top of the wall. The leisurely 1.5 hour ride of 13 km along the perimeter will offer a contrasted view along the two sides of the Wall, with a few old houses huddled inside and many modern buildings outside. After leaving the City Wall, we will walk to the nearby Muslim Quarter, set up by Arabic traders who settled there in the Tang Dynasty. Today there are still over 60,000 practicing Muslims in this quarter. While they have kept their religious beliefs and practices intact, they speak the same dialect as the local Han Chinese, and the Great Mosque combines Arabic and Chinese architecture style. The Muslim Quarter will be a great place to hunt for souvenirs, and check out the local Muslim snacks and food.
Day 7. Xian - Guilin - Yangshuo (B/L/D)
In the morning, we will fly to Guilin, and then transfer to Yangshuo, a small town nestled among the imposing limestone karst formations that have inspired poets and painters for centuries. Yangshuo is a haven for travelers who desire an authentic and refreshing experience of rural China.
Day 8. Bamboo Rafting on the Yulong River (B/L/D)
Experience: In the morning we will bike upstream along Yulong River, the most beautiful tributary of Li River, for one and a half hours. Our scenic countryside trail along the riverbank will take us through picturesque villages, rice fields and orchards, all framed by the majestic karst mountains. The landscape will compel you to take photos, and in the warmer months, you might even find buffalos wandering into your frame. We will then pair up to drift along the Yulong River on bamboo rafts, offering more scenic moments you will want to capture by camera. Rafting on the river always proves to be a traveler favorite as you record the beautiful views. After that, you will visit Moon Hill. A 40-minute hike to the top will reward you with a splendid panoramic view of the surrounding area. Keen photographers, take note: this is your spot!
Day 9. Yangshuo Cooking Class (B/L/D)
Experience: Relax for a late breakfast, as you surrender into the relaxing rhythms of small town life. We will take a cooking class in a traditional farming village. Your class starts by visiting a local market where you will learn about the ingredients used in the dishes. You will learn to make five dishes. The class will be a fun way to meet and interact with other travelers and swap China stories.
There will be no need to rush, as you will have the afternoon free to continue to enjoy the countryside pace of life.
Day 10. Yangshuo - Guilin - Shanghai (B/L/D)
Prepare to tear yourself away from the idyllic charms of Yangshuo, as we will fly to Shanghai after breakfast, a beautifully-bustling cosmopolitan city offering sharp contrasts between the modern and traditional.
Visit: Upon arrival in Shanghai, we will start our day by rising above the city to the 100th floor of the Shanghai World Financial Center, the second tallest building in China, where we will take in a panoramic city view from the Sky Walk observatory, a perch 474 meters above ground. The observatory features a glass floor that you can walk along if you’re feeling brave and want to see the city beneath your feet. Next we’re going to visit Yuyuan Garden, representative of private gardens in southern China: small but elegant and exquisite, the landscaping featuring water, pavilions and bridges amidst the gardens. The surrounding bazaar, popular for souvenir-hunters, is a beehive of activity. Here you can try your hand at bargaining. Afterward, we will explore the surrounding Xintiandi, a typical Shikumen area with modern renovation, where the local residences are modeled in traditional Shanghainese architecture. Unfortunately, most Shikumen disappeared quickly due the city’s rapid economic development, but in the old quarter of the city you can still find the historic structures.The afternoon is yours to adventure and explore or rest and relax, as you prefer.
Evening: Shanghai Acrobatic Show
Day 11. Shanghai - Departure (B/-/-)
After breakfast, transfer to Shanghai airport for your flight home.
The itinerary may be subject to change depending on circumstances.
11 DAYS / 10 NIGHTS FROM £1,999 per person + international flights
based on 2 people travelling together
The price includes:
Meals daily as listed in the itinerary, picnic lunches in remote area if required
Hotel accommodation in standard boutique hotels on a twin-shared basis.
Local economy class flight from Xi’an/Guilin/Shanghai with tax.
High-speed train ticket form Beijing –Xi’an (2nd class seat)
Quality private air-con vehicles & experienced drivers for all transfers and sightseeing.
Experienced English-speaking local guides throughout the tour.
Entrance fees for all listed attractions.
The price does not include:
Return flights from the UK to Beijing
Anything not specifically mentioned above
Visa fee for China
Tips to the guide and driver
Personal costs such as drinks, laundry, etc.
Photography charges at monasteries/palaces/sites.
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