On this fantastic Classic China Panorama tour you spend 15 memorable days travelling around this fascinating country seeing all the famous sights. Beginning in mind blowing Shanghai and ending in the capital Bejing, you travel by road, river, air and high speed train seeing something new every day. You will visit the Great Wall, the incredible Terracotta Warriors, Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City as well as enjoying a relaxing cruise along the beautiful Li River and meeting the lovely Giant Pandas at Chengdu.
On arrival at Shanghai you will be met by your experienced local guide and taken to your hotel in the city for a three night stay. Shanghai is located in the east of China and sits at the mouth of the Yangtse River and is the largest, most prosperous and populous city in the country. Shanghai is also a hot tourist destination renowned for its many historical landmarks and modern buildings. Tonight meet the rest of your group in the hotel's reception area for welcome drinks and a tour briefing.
Once known as the Pearl of the Orient, Shanghai today has emerged as one of Asia’s most important cities and is a buzzing contemporary metropolis. Your city tour will take you to the historical riverfront area known as the Bund - home to an impressive collection of 1920s neoclassical buildings. Next visit a silk factory before veering off the tourist trail to one of the oldest neighbourhoods near the serene Confucius Temple. Later head to the Old Chinese Quarter to take a relaxing walk through the peaceful Yu Garden and the surrounding bazaar.
Head out of Shanghai to the charming old world atmosphere of nearby Zhujiajiao, a traditional water canal town dating back to the Ming and Qing dynasties. Browse through small stores along Great North Street and see the great Qing Post Office. Zhujiajiao's network of waterways, old wooden waterside houses and arch stone bridges are the perfect setting for a short canal cruise. Then back in Shanghai, visit the Propaganda Poster Art Centre and in the evening go to the theatre to see the world famous Chinese acrobats in a mind-bending show.
Shanghai to Guilin
Today you are taken to the airport for your flight to Guilin, a city on the banks of the Li River and famous for its unique limestone hill landscape. Climb the stone steps up Fubo Hill to enjoy 360 degree views over the rooftops and the mountains that encircle the city. Then stop at a riverside village, stroll through the laneways and feel the rhythm of local life before visiting a tea plantation. This evening take a walking tour of the Central Square and lake area near the hotel which comes alive after dark with fountain shows, light displays and a bustling market.
Eat breakfast as the locals do at one of your guide's favourite spots. Then have a wonderful day trip to Longsheng to explore some of China’s beautiful countryside. Drive past spectacular scenery of towering karst cliffs and climb the winding road that snakes up to an area that is home to various ethnic minority groups. Wander through the maze of stone pathways and traditional wooden houses on stilts of the White Yao village, and see some of China’s most spectacular rice terrace scenery in an area known as the Dragon’s Backbone.
Li River Cruise & Yangshuo
This morning transfer to the pier to board your boat for a journey along the Li River which takes you past tranquil farming and fishing scenes and picturesque villages. The stunning limestone karsts that tower above the river create a magical landscape. The small town of Yangshuo - set in the lush green rice paddies of southern China - provides an interesting contrast to the big Chinese cities you have just visited. Spend the afternoon walking the cobblestone streets, relax in a cafe, and enjoy the colourful atmosphere of this enchanting town.
On the peaceful banks of the Li River, get a hands-on Tai Chi lesson from a professional instructor and learn about the complexities of this ancient martial arts form. Then pick up a bike for a ride around Yangshuo’s beautiful countryside, exploring villages, rice paddies, lotus fields and fish farms. Back in town, there's time for a visit to the markets.
Yangshuo to Chengdu
An early transfer to Guilin for your flight to Chengdu, which takes around two hours. Chengdu is capital of Sichuan province, the largest in South West China and renowned for its stunning mountain scenery, natural and historic sites and fabulous spicy cuisine. Chengdu is a Chinese city with a difference and, despite rapid development, there are delightful pockets of backstreet life, teahouses and riverside parks to explore. On arrival visit Dufu’s Cottage and wander through the gardens then stop at an outdoor teahouse in the bustling People’s Park.
Chengdu to Xian
Rise early this morning to visit the Giant Panda Research and Breeding Base, just a short drive out of Chengdu and one of the highlights of this region. The base is a fascinating place to observe Giant Pandas and learn about these endangered animals. Take time to watch the younger ones at play which is always a source of much entertainment. You may even be lucky enough to see newborn pandas only a few months old who are usually kept in incubators. This afternoon, take a flight to the fascinating city of Xian, home of the Terracotta Army.
Start the day with a stroll through Xian’s City Park which is alive with people exercising and enjoying a range of activities like tai chi, ping-pong, badminton and even ballroom dancing. Continue with a tour of this culturally diverse and exotic Chinese city. Xian is located close to the banks of the Yellow River and has a history dating back to 1000BC. Walk around the stunning Old City Walls and visit the Big Wild Goose Pagoda and the Great Mosque. Enjoy the lively street markets and this evening try Xian’s famous local dumplings at a restaurant.
Xian to Beijing
One of the highlights of the tour today when you take a short drive to the remarkable Army of Terracotta Warriors - one of the most important archaeological discoveries of the 20th century. Still under excavation, these thousands of life sized warriors and horses were only unearthed in 1974 after being buried for 2,000 years. After lunch visit a Terracotta Warrior Factory to learn about the complex production process of these fascinating artworks. Late this afternoon you are taken to the railway station to board the high-speed train to Beijing.
Begin your exploration of this impressive capital city with a walk through Tiananmen Square which was built on the orders of Chairman Mao and can hold more than a million people. Continue on foot passing through the Gate of Heavenly Peace to enter the splendid Forbidden City. After exploring here leave via the North Gate and head into one of Beijing’s few remaining ‘hutongs’ or traditional lanes in the backstreets and have lunch at a family home. Later see the famous Drum Tower and this evening you can explore the Wangfujing night markets.
See one of China’s most iconic temples, the sacred and architecturally unique Temple of Heaven. Also known as Tiantan, this is a perfection of Ming architecture. The temple is located within a vast park and in the early mornings the area is alive with tai chi enthusiasts, elderly men practicing calligraphy, dancers and performers reciting Beijing opera. From here head to the Beijing Planning Exhibition Hall before driving to the north-west of the city to visit the magnificent Summer Palace, filled with temples, pavilions, gardens and decorated corridors.
Another big day today when you travel to Mutianyu, 56 miles north-east of Beijing, to visit the country's most famous attraction - the Great Wall of China. It was built more than 2,000 years ago and extends 3,107 miles from the east coast to the Gobi Desert in the west. Take the cable car up to the Wall from where you can walk or climb sections admiring the panoramic views. This evening join your group for a special Peking Duck dinner to celebrate the end of a fascinating journey through China’s culture and people.
Today your wonderful 15 day Classic China Panorama tour comes to an end. Possibly time for some more sightseeing and shopping in the city before you are picked up from your hotel and driven to the airport to catch an onward flight or begin your journey home. This comprehensive tour packs in all of China's iconic sights and will leave you with lots of great memories.