Discovering China’s Hidden Treasures - 14th to 29th May 2016

Yao Women, Ping'an, Zhuang Village

Join us in exploring China behind the scenes as we walk along the Great Wall, discover the rich history of Xi’an, and trek amongst the beautiful remote villages and picturesque natural scenery of southern China.

  • Exploring the Forbidden City
  • Watching a Peking Opera
  • Travelling by Rickshaw through Beijing’s Hutongs
  • Trekking along the Great Wall
  • Visiting the Qin Terracotta Army
  • Walking up Mount Hua Shan
  • Discovering the Longji Rice Terraces
  • Visiting remote villages in the Guilin region
  • Rafting down the Yulong River
Jinsuoguan, Mount Hua Shan

Our adventure in China begins with a trip to see a spectacular Peking Opera performance in one of China’s oldest wooden theatres. Before moving on to discover the delights of Beijing; the magnificent Forbidden City – home to China’s emperors and their households for almost 500 years - and their Summer Palace, a masterpiece of Chinese landscape garden design, with vast lakes and an elaborate collection of traditional pavilions, bridges and pagodas.

An early start on our second morning gives us a chance to join the locals in their early morning Tai Chi class in The Temple of Heaven, a masterpiece of Ming and Qing architectural art. After discovering the legacy of China’s Royal Families our tour takes us into the Hutongs to discover how the rest of Beijing’s population lived. Jumping on our rickshaws we journey through the Houhai area’s Hutongs with its distinctive narrow alleyways, to the vibrant Lotus Market and then the Drum Tower for a traditional drumming performance.

As no visit to China would be complete without experiencing a walk along a remote part of the Great Wall, our next stop is the small village of Jiankou, renowned for having one of the most beautiful and wild sections of the Great Wall. From here we’ll make our way through the woods to discover a deserted and untouched part of the Great Wall before walking along the wall to Mutianyu, popular for its restored section of wall. The difference between the ‘tourist’ section and the original ‘wild’ wall is striking.

To the West Peak, Mount Hua Shan

A quick flight takes us Xi’an where we’ll discover its rich history with visits to the magnificent Qin Terracotta Army and the Forest of Stone Steles with its displays of epigraphs and stone sculptures from past dynasties. There’s time to watch a traditional shadow puppet show before a Chinese dumpling banquet accompanied by the fabulous Tang Dynasty music and dance show.

Just east of Xi’an stands Mount Hua Shan, one of China’s five sacred mountains and a popular hiking destination. As we hike amongst its soaring granite peaks and explore ancient Taoist temples we’ll follow in the footsteps of the Emperors who made their pilgrimages here. This exhilarating hike is not for the faint hearted.

Then it’s onto the remote villages of the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region of southern China, to walk amongst an area that has long enjoyed a reputation of having some of the most beautiful and picturesque natural scenery in China - with its stunning mountainous terrain and historic treasures.

Yao Mountain, Guilin

The famous Longji rice terraces are mesmerising and on our walks here we’ll be sharing paths with the local farmers and their water buffalo as we make our way from Longji to Dazhai Yao village where the diverse ethnic minority groups of Zhuang and Yao still dress in their distinctive dazzling red embroidered costumes, all adding to the appeal of this remarkable area.

A cable car ride takes us to the top of Yao Mountain; one of Guilin city’s highest peaks, famous for its natural beauty and ancient tombs, offers stunning 360-degree views of the area from the summit.

One of Guilin’s, highlights are its strangely shaped karsts, which surround us as we walk along the Li River passing through remote villages to Xingping, and again on our leisurely cycle along the more remote Yulong River on our way to enjoy rafting down the river on traditional bamboo rafts.

After enjoying the remote beauty of the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, we fly onto Shanghai - taking in The Bund, its famous waterfront - before visiting, Yu Gardens, one of the most famous gardens in China. Our final destination of this holiday is the ancient ‘water town’ of Wuzhen with its series of waterways. It is the perfect place to enjoy a cruise on a Chinese Gondola and a fitting end to a fabulous voyage of discovery.

The Tropic of Cancer lies across the middle of the region we visit and it enjoys a subtropical humid climate, the spring weather is likely to be at its very best in May to coincide with our visit.

Day 1 - Saturday 14th May - Fly to Beijing, China (Meals in-flight)

Arrive at the airport under your own arrangements for the flight to Beijing. Check-in at least two hours before departure time.

Day 2 - Sunday 15th May - Arrive Beijing - Peking Opera (D)

On arrival, transfer by private coach to our hotel in central Beijing. There is free time for you to rest after the flight or to enjoy a visit to the famous Wangfujing snack street and night market before our early evening welcome reception.

In the evening we’ll visit the Zhengyici Peking Opera Theatre to watch a Chinese operatic performance. Before the start of the show we’ll visit the backstage area to watch the actors put on their makeup.

Tonight we dine in a local restaurant on delicious Peking Duck - the capital's most famous dish.

Overnight The Regent, Beijing

Summer Palace, Beijing

Day 3 - Monday 16th May - Tiananmen Square - Forbidden City - Summer Palace (BLD)

Following in the footsteps of emperors, court ministers and eunuchs we head south to the magnificent and colourful Forbidden City, in the very heart of Beijing. It remained the residence of emperors for nearly five hundred years, from the 15th to the early 20th Century, and was the actual and symbolic seat of Chinese imperial power. Many of the buildings have since been repaired and rebuilt, but their basic form and layout remain in their original state.

After lunch we visit the Summer Palace located in a northwestern suburb of Beijing, an immense park containing examples of traditional Chinese architecture and art. Built as a royal garden during the Qing Dynasty, it is the quintessence of Chinese classical landscape gardening. The halls, pavilions, corridors, pagodas, bridges and water features are all elaborately arranged. One of the most exquisite structures in the garden, the Long Corridor, is over 700 meters in length and decorated with thousands of traditional Chinese paintings.

Dinner in local restaurant. Overnight The Regent, Beijing

Day 4 - Tuesday 17th May - Temple of Heaven - Hutong Rickshaw Tour (BL)

This morning we join the locals for a morning exercise class in the Temple of Heaven, to learn Taiji quan (Tai Chi) from the master. This is an outstanding gem of traditional Chinese culture, valued for its health promoting properties, development of combat and self-defence skills and ability to improve concentration.

The Temple of Heaven is where the Ming and Qing emperors offered sacrifices to heaven and prayed for an abundant harvest. It was built in the 18th year during the reign of the Ming Emperor Yongle in 1420.

Then it's time for a rickshaw tour of the Hutongs and their alleys. As the Forbidden City is the symbol of China's royal family, the Hutongs in Beijing reveal the real life of the common people and visiting the Hutongs by rickshaw, gives a true insight into the life of its inhabitants. The Lotus Market, in the Houhai area is a famous old Hutong street now popular for its modern bars and nightlife. After the tour there’s time to watch a traditional form of Chinese performing arts - the Beijing drum performance.

The Great Wall near Jiankou

Free time in the afternoon.

Dinner under your own arrangements this evening. Overnight The Regent, Beijing

Day 5 - Wednesday 18th May - Hiking on The Great Wall - Fly to Xi'an (BL)

After checking out of the hotel our last day in Beijing is spent walking along the Great Wall. A 2-hour drive takes us to the small village of Jiankou, renowned for having one of most beautiful parts of the ‘Wild’ Wall near Beijing, and one of the best places to capture a photograph of this iconic structure. A short half-hour climb, through a gentle wooded area, takes us to a section of the Wall not usually visited by tourists. From here the hike is quiet and beautiful, passing as we walk, deserted sections of the Wall in its original state, before arriving at Mutianyu.

Walking: Moderate - Distance: 10km, time: 4.5 hours

Transfer to the airport for the flight to Xi’an, Shaanxi Province.

Transfer and overnight Shangri-La, Xi’an

Qin Terracotta Army

Day 6 - Thursday 19th May - Qin Terracotta Army, Xi'an (BLD)

Today we’ll visit the magnificent Qin Terracotta Army. Built around 2,500 years ago it contains more than 6,000 terracotta warriors, soldiers and horses. In 1987 it was listed as a UNESCO world cultural heritage site.

After driving back to Xi’an City we visit the Forest of Stone Steles Museum, Gao's Grand Courtyard, the Great Mosque and then one of the old streets to watch the ancient Chinese art form that is the shadow puppet show.

Tonight’s meal is a Chinese Dumpling feast accompanied by the Tang Dynasty music and dance show.

Overnight Shangri-La, Xi’an

Nanfeng to Xifeng, Mount Hua Shan

Day 7 - Friday 20th May - Hiking around Mount Hua Shan (BLD)

Mount Hua Shan near Huayin City is 120 kilometres east of Xi'an, and is one of five sacred mountains in China. From a distance the captivating sight of its five peaks appear to form the shape of a flower.

As we walk up one of China’s most beautiful mountains we’ll explore ancient Taoist temples, to which the emperors of past dynasties made pilgrimages, all the while surrounded by the areas magnificent soaring granite peaks.

This is a challenging hike with lots of steps to climb up and down. Although the route is well maintained, in some parts there are sheer drops either side of the path. (Please note: we are NOT using the Changkong Wooden Trestle)

Dinner in a local restaurant. Overnight Shangri-La, Xi’an

Walking: Hard - Distance: 8km, time: 4.5 - 5hours

Longji Rice Terraces

Day 8 - Saturday 21st May - Fly to Guilin - Longji Rice Terraces (BD)

After breakfast we transfer to Xi’an Xianyang Airport for the flight to Guilin.

After an optional lunch we’ll visit the Longji Rice Terraces, it’s about a 1.5-hour drive to get there, before taking the local shuttle bus up the mountain to start the climb to Ping’an Zhuang Village where we’ll stay tonight.

The walk from the bus to Ping’an Zhuang village and onto our hotel is on uneven flagstone steps, it takes about 40 minutes and the ascent is 250 meters. Porters will carry our luggage, as the hotel is only accessible on foot. You will however be asked to only take what you need for the two nights here. Leaving your larger baggage on the coach.

Dinner and overnight Star Wish Resort, Longji

Day 9 - Sunday 22nd May - Walk to Dazhai Yao Village - Rice Terraces (BLD)

Today we’ll walk through the mountains from Longji to Dazhai Yao Village, where the Yao people still wear their traditional dress of eye dazzling red embroidered costumes, visiting minority villages and exploring the picturesque rice terraces as we go.

The Flagstone trekking paths here are undulating and are shared by the local minority farmers and water buffalo so be prepared to move out of the way!

Dinner and overnight Star Wish Resort, Longji

Walking: Moderate - Distance: 11km, time: 4-5 hours

Day 10 - Monday 23rd May - Yao Mountain - Guilin (BLD)

After a 1.5-hour walk to Ping’an Old Zhuang Village we’ll take the local shuttle bus down to meet our driver for the journey to Guilin. Our destination is Yao Mountain, the highest in Guilin, where we’ll take the chair lift for a great bird’s eye view from the summit. In the evening a leisurely-guided walk takes us along the city’s ancient water system, built 800 years ago.

Dinner in local restaurant, overnight Lijiang Waterfall Hotel, Guilin

Walking: Moderate - Distance: 6-7km, time: Two walks of 1.5 hours each

Day 11 - Tuesday 24th May - Li River Walk (BLD)

We start the day with a visit to the Reed Flute Cave - the most famous limestone cave in the area filled with stalactites, stalagmites and wonderful rock formations. Then after a 1-hour drive to Yangdi we begin our walk along the beautiful Li River to Xingping.

The Li River is famous for its breathtaking scenery and this section between Yangdi to Xingping has some of the best. As we walk through the fields we’ll be surrounded by beautiful mountain views, passing farms and villages with their water buffalo and cows wandering along the riverbank. To get to Xingping we’ll need to use the local ferry to cross the meandering river three times.

Walking: Moderate - Distance: 12km, Time: 3hours (including the 3 ferry boat crossings)

Dinner in local restaurant, overnight Green Lotus Hotel, Yangshuo

Day 12 - Wednesday 25th May - Exploring Fuli to Suoshi Village (BLD)

A short drive takes us to Fuli, the starting point of today’s walk. We’ll follow an old trade path through small villages and away from the tourist crowds. The first half of the walk is a bit hilly with lots of old stone steps; the second half take us along a dirt road climbing over two more small hills to reach the village of Suoshi. Along the way, there’s time to linger in the villages and talk to the locals with our guide as interpreter. From Suoshi we’ll transfer back to Yangshuo, to visit Moon Hill for a panoramic view of the surrounding countryside (there are about 800 flagstone steps from the foot to the top of the hill - walking time around 40 minutes). Return to the hotel in Yangshuo late afternoon.

Walking: Moderate - Distance: 12km, time: 4-5 hours

Dinner in local restaurant, overnight Green Lotus Hotel, Yangshuo

Cycling along Yulong River

Day 13 - Thursday 26th May - Cycling and Bamboo Rafting - Yulong River (BL)

Our morning starts with a leisurely cycle along the Yulong River passing through picturesque villages and onto the Bamboo Rafting pier. Here we’ll leave our bikes to enjoy a relaxing 1.5-hour trip down river on traditional bamboo rafts. With just two to a raft and your own boatman this promises to be a highlight of the holiday. After lunch we transfer back to the hotel and the rest of the day is free for your own exploration

Cycling: Moderate - Distance: 12km, time: 1.5-2 hours

Dinner under your arrangements this evening. Green Lotus Hotel, Yangshuo

Wuzhen

Day 14 - Friday 27th May - Fly to Shanghai - The Bund (BD)

Transfer to Guilin Airport for the flight to Shanghai. On arrival transfer to the hotel.

After dinner we’ll visit The Bund (also known as Zhongshan Road), Shanghai’s famous waterfront. Historically the centre of Shanghai’s politics, economy and culture - consulates, banks and newspaper offices from around the world were located here.

Time permitting, we will also visit the Oriental Pearl TV Tower to take in its great night view of Shanghai. The tower is unquestionably an icon of Pudong’s renaissance - looming through the mist, like a classical Chinese ink landscape painting - its soaring height of 468m boldly characterizes the Lujiazui city landscape.

Dinner in local restaurant, overnight Pudi Boutique Hotel, Shanghai

Day 15 - Saturday 28th May - Yu Garden - Wuzhen (BLD)

Our first stop of the day, Yu Garden, is one of the most famous gardens in China - and is national heritage listed. Built in 1559, each section of the garden is separated by curved white walls crowned with the head and body of a dragon.

Then it’s a 2-hour drive to the ancient “water town” of Wuzhen, to see antiques from the Ming & Qing Dynasties and explore the local folk culture museum, followed by a cruise on a Chinese gondola.

Dinner in local restaurant, overnight Pudi Boutique Hotel, Shanghai

Day 16 - Sunday 29th May - Fly to UK (B Meals in-flight)

Transfer to the international airport for the return flight to UK. Arrive UK

B = breakfast, L = lunch, D = dinner

Longji and its rice terraces

The Regent, Beijing 5*

A tranquil and luxurious retreat located close to the Wanfujing shopping street and 1.2 miles from Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City. Rooms are spacious with modern artwork, floor-to ceiling windows and marble bathrooms. The hotel has an excellent leisure centre. More details can be found on the hotel's website.

Shangri-La Hotel, Xi’an 4.5*

Sets a new standard for deluxe accommodation in the new city. Floor-to-ceiling windows offer picturesque views of the city (and the hotel’s landscaped gardens), while the rooms include all the modern conveniences expected of a 5* hotel. More details can be found on the hotel's website.

Star Wish Resort, Longji 3*

A cosy village hotel only accessible by foot on steep steps for 40 mins - with traditional, characterful en-suite rooms decorated with local motifs. It boasts fabulous views of the rice terraces.

Lijiang Waterfall Hotel, Guilin 4.5*

Elegantly appointed en-suite rooms equipped with all the modern comforts and facilities you would expect from a 5-star hotel and its very own waterfall which is listed in the Guinness Book of Records. More details can be found on the hotel's website.

Green Lotus Hotel, Yangshuo 5*

Located at the foot of the Green Lotus Peak in Yangshuo on the bank of the Li River, Yangshuo, Green Lotus Hotel is a luxury hotel that combines the natural beauty of the areas mountains and rivers with the local architectural style. More details can be found on the hotel's website.

Pudi Boutique Hotel, Shanghai 4.5*

A luxury boutique hotel with an intriguing mix of contemporary European and Chinese styling. Located right next to Fuxing Park and just a five-minute walk to Huaihai Road. More details can be found on the hotel's website.

Walking The Great Wall from Jiankou to Mutianyu

Flights are with British Airways.

Please note that the following flight details are the latest known and are subject to confirmation. All times are local.

Connecting flights from other UK airports can be arranged on request.

Mist over the Rice Terraces
Outbound Manchester - Saturday 14thMay 2016
Depart Manchester, UK
Arrive Heathrow, UK
BA1391 12:00
13:00
Outbound Heathrow - Saturday 14thMay 2016
Depart Heathrow, UK
Arrive Beijing, CN
BA39 16:35
09:30 (15 May)
Transfer Beijing to Xi'an - Wednesday 18thMay 2016
Depart Beijing, CN
Arrive Xi'an, CN
MU2116 18:10
20:10
Transfer Xi'an to Guilin - Saturday 21st May 2016
Depart Xi'an, CN
Arrive Guilin, CN
CZ6376 10:45
12:40
Transfer Guilin to Shanghai - Friday 27th May 2016
Depart Guilin, CN
Arrive Shanghai, CN
FM9380 12:10
14:20
Inbound Heathrow - Sunday 29th May 2016
Depart Shanghai, CN
Arrive Heathrow, UK
BA168 11:00
16:35
Inbound Manchester - Sunday 29th May 2016
Depart Heathrow, UK
Arrive Manchester, UK
BA1404 20:20
21:15

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