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China Discovery

Shanghai - Suzhou - Wuzhen - Hangzhou - Guilin - Xi'an - Beijing - Yangtze River cruise - Chengdu

Suzhou garden

Guaranteed departure dates with minimum of 2 passengers

A classic tour combining the very best of China and giving you a panoramic view of this diverse and exciting country in the time available, but in the comfort of 4- and 5-star hotels and a 5-star Yangtze River cruise boat. The tour not only includes the highlights of any visit to China, such as the Great Wall, Forbidden City, Terracotta Army and Shanghai, but also lesser-known sights such as the 'water town' of Wuzhen. Add the pandas at Chengdu and the scenery of Guilin and Yangshuo and you have an ideal introduction to China.

All cabins on board the boat have private balconies.

Hotels awarded TripAdvisor's Certificate of Excellence.

Day 1  Depart London Heathrow or regional airports.

Day 2  Arrive in Shanghai. Transfer to 5-star Sunrise on the Bund Hotel or similar. Rest of the day free.

Day 3  Full day city sightseeing tour of Shanghai, to include the Yu Garden - a traditional house and garden in old China town district; the famous Bund or waterfront with its European-style former banks and trading houses; and the Shanghai Museum with its rich collection of art and antiques. Then take a boat trip on the Huangpu River that flows through Shanghai, giving you the best view of the city's modern striking skyline. (B, L)

Day 4  Travel to the nearby city of Suzhou. Suzhou is famous for its classic Chinese gardens and silk industry. Visit one of the best gardens: the Garden of the Master of the Nets, before visiting the silk spinning factory to discover the processes of ancient and modern silk production. Then take a short cruise on Suzhou's picturesque canals. Stay at the Holiday Inn Youlian Hotel (4 star). (B, L)

Day 5  Excursion to the small 'water town' of Tongli, in the countryside of the Yangtze River basin. Explore this beautiful town, with its old buildings, canals and elegant bridges. Visit the Tuisi Garden, a classic Chinese garden created by a retired official in the late 19th century. (B, L)

Day 6   Travel by road to the city of Hangzhou, stopping en route at the atmospheric 'water town' of Wuzhen, with its wooden houses, canals and elegant bridges. The town exudes a traditional feel, and efforts have been made to preserve old traditions and crafts. On arrival at Hangzhou transfer to the Red Star Culture Hotel (4 star). (B, L)

Day 7  Take a boat trip on Hangzhou's scenic West Lake, followed by a visit to a tea plantation on the slopes overlooking the lake that produce famous green tea. Then visit the Huqingyutang ancient pharmacy, a fascinating look at Chinese traditional medicine housed in an original 19th-century pharmacy, and the ancient cultural street. (B, L)

Day 8  Transfer to airport for flight to Guilin in the south-east of the country, famous for its unique limestone scenery. Stay at Grand Lijiang Waterfall Hotel (4 star plus). (B)

Day 9  Travel by road into the hills north-west of Guilin to Longsheng county. Visit villages of the local Zhuang and Yao ethnic minority hilltribes, and the spectacular terraced rice fields of Longji. (B, L)

Day 10  Cruise on the Li River to the small riverside town of Yangshuo, past beautiful scenery of limestone peaks and flat rice paddy fields. Browse Yangshuo's shops and market before transfer back to Guilin by road in the afternoon. (B, L)

Day 11  Half day city tour of Guilin to include the Reed Flute Cave, a huge underground cavern full of stalagmites and stalagtites. Also visit the Tea Research Institute for an insight into the cultivation, processing and consumption of this quintessentially Chinese product. Transfer to airport for flight to Xi'an, the former capital for many centuries. Transfer to 4- to 5-star Holiday Inn Big Wild Goose Pagoda Hotel or similar. (B)

Day 12  Full day excursion to the Terracotta Army, created by China's first emperor over 2,000 years ago to guard his tomb for eternity. Return to Xi'an city to see the Grand Mosque and the atmospheric streets of the surrounding Muslim Quarter, originally settled by Arab and Persian traders over 1,000 years ago. Also visit a workshop creating replica warriors using traditional techniques. (B, L)

Day 13  Transfer to railway station for high-speed bullet train to Beijing (about 5.5 hour journey). Travel at speeds of over 200 miles/hour as you are whisked through the Chinese countryside. Met on arrival and transfer to the Holiday Inn Express Dongzhimen, or similar. (B)

Day 14  Start the day with a visit to Tiananmen Square, followed by the Forbidden City - the complex of buildings in the heart of Beijing that was the centre of power for China's rulers for over 400 years. Explore both the grand halls and some of the smaller rooms and courtyards that housed the imperial family. Then visit the imposing Temple of Heaven where emperors prayed for good harvests. Also visit a shop selling freshwater pearls. (B, L)

Day 15 Full day excursion to the Great Wall at Mutianyu, about 1.5 hours drive north of Beijing. The wall here is not so busy at some other sections and is very scenic as its winds its way down the mountainside. Includes cable car up to the wall. Walk along part of the wall and explore the many fascinating aspects of this iconic symbol of China's past. En route to the wall pass the 2008 Olympic stadium, known as the 'Bird's Nest' and the 'Water Cube' - the national aquatic centre. Also visit a workshop carving items from jade, a stone of special significance to the Chinese. (B, L)

Day 16  Visit to the Summer Palace on the outskirts of Beijing, before transfer to airport for flight to the central city of Yichang. Transfer to join your 5-star Yangtze cruise boat from American Victoria Cruises for departure later that day. (B, L)

Day 17 to 19  Voyage upstream through the famous Three Gorges. There will opportunities for stops and sightseeing en route including the Three Gorges Dam, one of the Yangtze's tributary streams, and Shibaozhai. (B, L, D)

Day 20  Arrive in Chongqing at the end of your cruise. Travel by 'bullet train' on the two-hour journey to Chengdu, capital of Sichuan province. On arrival, transfer to Yinhe Dynasty Hotel (4 star). (B)

Day 21  Full day excursion to the Giant Buddha at Leshan, one of the world's largest Buddha statues carved from a cliff overlooking the Min River in the 8th century AD. On the return journey to Chengdu stop at Huanglongxi, a well-preserved old town with cobbled streets, wooden houses and shops giving an authentic taste of history. (B, L)

Day 22 Visit to the world famous Panda Research Base on the outskirts of Chengdu, where many giant pandas are kept and which runs a breeding programme dedicated to preserving the species. See numerous pandas, including the chance to see the babies in the nursery. In the afternoon enjoy a city tour of Chengdu including the traditional Jinli Street and the People's Park bustling with activity. (B, L)

Day 23  Transfer to airport for flight(s) back to UK. (B)

For those who want to stay in Hong Kong, we can arrange an extension for as long as you wish at a range of hotels in Kowloon or Hong Kong Island, with or without transfers and half day Hong Kong island tour.


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