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The perfect family adventure through historic cities and beautiful countryside

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Itinerary Highlights

  • Step inside Beijing's historic Forbidden City
  • Stroll through the capital's ancient neighborhoods for a glimpse into a very traditional way of life
  • Discover thousands of years of history at The Great Wall of China
  • Visit the 2,000 unique Terracotta Warriors
  • Try your hand at making authentic Chinese dumplings
  • See giant pandas up close at Dujiangyan Panda Base
  • Drift along the Yulong River on a bamboo raft
  • Learn how Yangshuo fishermen make their catch with the help of their feathered friends

What's Included

  • Luxury accommodation throughout
  • Full support from your travel designer and concierge before, during and after your trip
  • Private transfers and trains
  • All the privately guided tours and experiences mentioned in the itinerary
  • Advice and insight from travel designers who have travelled extensively in the region
  • Expert guides in each destination
  • Our help with restaurant recommendations and reservations
Use this itinerary to inspire your bespoke journey

At a glance

China is a wonderful destination for families – it has vibrant cities, sprawling palaces, jaw-dropping countryside, a fascinating history and, of course, those adorable pandas that call this place home.

Your discovery starts in Beijing where you’ll head to the Forbidden City, a huge imperial palace once home to China’s emperors, before heading to more humble abodes along Beijing’s ancient hutong alleyways. You’ll also head out to visit a section of the unmissable Great Wall of China, where you can walk along over 2,000 years of history.

Your next stop is Xi’an where you’ll find the awe-inspiring Terracotta Army. The grand mausoleum of Qin Shi Huangdi houses this immense army of infantry men, archers and cavalry riders to protect him in the afterlife, and every one of these statues is unique. The food is one of the highlights of a trip to China and the whole family can try their hand at making traditional Chinese dumplings.

You are never too young or old to marvel at nature, and both children and adults alike will be sure to enjoy the next treat: a visit to the Dujiangyan Panda Base, where you’ll spot the adorable and rare Giant Panda.

Next up is the beautiful Yangshuo region, characterised by towering karst peaks and lush green rice paddies. The best way to appreciate this scenery is to get out and about, and you’ll hike along the Yulong River and take to the water on a bamboo raft. Sit and dine with a welcoming local family to really get an insight into the rural way of life here before learning all about the fascinating fishing techniques of the local fishermen, who harness the help of their feathered friends to ensure a catch.

Your final stop on this epic adventure is Shanghai. Although this is a fast paced and cosmopolitan city, there are plenty of traditional districts and historic landmarks to discover. It’s the perfect place to end your trip before flying home with a mind full of memories and photo album bursting at the seams.

Example Trip Itinerary

Days 1-4

Beijing

Flights & Transfers

Transfer

Private transfer to your hotel

Accommodation in Beijing

The Forbidden City The Forbidden City

Step inside the Forbidden City, a massive imperial palace once home to China’s emperors and the geographic center of this endless metropolis. The gates were shut to all but the royal household and their entourage of eunuchs and concubines for 600 years until, in 1924, a powerful warlord gave the last emperor just three hours to leave. Beyond the imposing red walls to the south lies Tiananmen Square, where, Chairman Mao, China’s most powerful ruler lies embalmed in a glass coffin within his own giant mausoleum.

Beijing's ancient neighborhoods Beijing's ancient neighborhoods

Ask the residents of Beijing’s hutong alleyways, the crisscrossing mazes of courtyards and alleyways which make up the heart of the city, and they’ll tell you that anyone who lives further out isn’t really a Beijinger. You’ll see elders whiling away the night with a game of Chinese chess or mahjong, shopkeepers selling traditional snacks like jianbing (pancakes) and baozi (steamed buns), and hear calls announcing the arrival of the knife sharpener or cardboard collector. It is in these ancient neighborhoods where the capital’s distinct culture was generated and where it continues to thrive today. In the evening, savour a Peking duck dinner in one of Beijing’s oldest kaoya restaurants

china-great-wall
The Great Wall of China The Great Wall of China

Visit one of the great wonders of the world, the Great Wall. You will be brought to the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall, which is located in Huairou County a short way outside of Beijing. This section of the wall enjoys a special significance as it connects Juyongguan Pass in the west with the Gubeikou Great Wall in the east and was first built in the Northern Qi Dynasty between approximately 550 to 557 AD. You'll be accompanied by a historian who will give you insight into the fascinating creation of the Wall and bring to life the sheer scale and human effort that went into creating it. Free from the crowds of its closer, neighboring sections, more remote Jinshan Ling’s 10.5km stretch of both restored and wild wall is steeped in centuries of history. A short gondola-ride up the mountain followed by a three-hour hike offers an unbelievable view of countless watchtowers stacked against endless mountain silhouettes, and a window into the mind of those ancient soldiers who once shared this view many hundreds of years before.

Temple of Heaven Temple of Heaven

Today you'll be brought to see the Temple of Heaven, a fascinating complex of temples and altars set in a park. During the Imperial Period the emperor and a magnificent procession of some 1,000 eunuchs, courtiers, and ministers would visit the temple twice a year. At the winter solstice the emperor would express thanks for the previous harvest, and then on the 15th day of the first month of the lunar year he would ask the gods of sun and moon, clouds and rain, and thunder and lightening to bless the coming harvest. After the tour, you will be transferred back to your hotel.

Flights & Transfers

Transfer

Private transfer to Beijing train station

Transfer

Bullet train from Beijing to Xi'an

Transfer

Private transfer to your hotel

Days 4-6

Xi’an

Accommodation in Xi’an

Xi'an city wall Xi'an city wall

Ascending to an imperious height of 12 metres, the only way in or out of downtown Xi'an is to pass through cavernous openings in the oldest, largest, and best-preserved city wall in China. But the best way to experience the fortifications is by walking on top of them. The circuit is the best way to soak in views of the ancient city within and the modern metropolis outside.

terracotta-army-xi-an-china
The Terracotta Warriors The Terracotta Warriors

Shaanxi Province is often considered the birthplace of Chinese civilisation. The capital of the empire three times, Xi'an played a major role in the history of the country. Today you will visit the Terracotta Warriors with your expert guide.

In 1974, a few farmers stumbled upon the warriors by accident, a mistaken discovery that ended up being one of the greatest archeological finds in history. Inspired into creation thanks to Qin Shi Huangdi's fear of malevolent spirits, this grand mausoleum houses the emperor's immense army of infantry men, archers and cavalry riders to protect him in the afterlife. Each of the warriors has a different face from a soldier during the Emperor's life.

The statues are viewable in three separate areas. Begin with pit number two (that is still being excavated) and three (that shelters the majority of items). You'll end with pit number one, the most impressive with about 2,000 warriors. There is also a small museum on site that houses two splendid bronze chariots found in 1980 west of the mausoleum.

Muslim Quarter and the Great Mosque Muslim Quarter and the Great Mosque

As Islam flowed along the Silk Road into China 1,300 years ago, its followers, both local and foreign alike, settled in a busy commercial area of the capital, Chang’an. After centuries of prosperity, the very same Muslim Quarter is still one of the most bustling areas of modern-day Xi’an, and a sensory feast of neon signs, exotic spices, and barbecued fare. Islam flourished around the Great Mosque in the heart of the Xi’an’s thriving Muslim Quarter. Entering the elegant grounds at sunset, you might mistake the undulating roofs and colonnaded halls for a Chinese temple until the evening call to prayer confirms that this is instead a potent fusion of Chinese and Islamic culture.

Chinese dumpling tasting Chinese dumpling tasting

Xi'an claims to be the birthplace of Chinese dumplings, and whether or not that’s true, local chefs have elevated the humble staple to the most sophisticated culinary heights. Head to Xi'an’s most popular dumpling joint where these little hand-pinched dough parcels of ground meat and vegetables are crafted into all shapes and sizes, and have a go yourself at making everybody's favorite Chinese snack.

Flights & Transfers

Transfer

Private transfer to the train station

Transfer

Train to Chengdu

Transfer

Private transfer to your hotel

Day 6-9

Chengdu

Accommodation in Chengdu

Kuan Zhai alleyways Kuan Zhai alleyways

The Kuan Zhai alleyways are a dynamic collision of traditional architecture and modern culture, where Qing Dynasty buildings play host to some of Chengdu's best coffee shops, bars, galleries and boutiques. Rub shoulders with locals who love to roam these quirky lanes on their day off and tuck into some of the city's traditional snacks, and keep your eyes peeled for some of the more exotic local delicacies.

Dujiangyan Panda Base Dujiangyan Panda Base

Located about 1.5hrs outside Chengdu, the Dujiangyan Panda Base is the perfect place to get up close to giant pandas. The first wild pandas were first spotted in this area in 1953 and the bamboo-covered hills of the conservation centre replicate the iconic animal's natural habitat. The ultimate goal of the Dujiangyan Panda Base is to boost the population and prepare the pandas for life in the wild. Be sure to look out for the keepers, who may well be hanging out with China's national animal dressed as pandas themselves.

Sichuan Culinary Museum Sichuan Culinary Museum

The mere mention of Sichuan to people from any other province is enough to see them quiver at the thought of their country’s fieriest food, but there is more to Sichuan cuisine than just heat. At the Sichuan Culinary Museum, you’ll learn to differentiate the peppery ma from the spicy la, and have a go yourself at cooking and serving some of the region’s favorite dishes, all under the guidance of a professional chef.

Flights & Transfers

Transfer

Private transfer to the train station

Transfer

Train to Yangshuo

Transfer

Private transfer to your hotel

Days 9-11

Yangshuo

Accommodation in Yangshuo

Hike along the Yulong River Hike along the Yulong River

A walk through Yangshuo's beautiful scenery will give you an intimate impression of the most widely romanticized landscape in China, immortalized in countless cultural references and ink-brush paintings. On this relaxing hike, you'll stroll along the Yulong River, a quieter tributary which offers a nice contrast from the more crowded and famous Li River. Hike through primarily flat, but very picturesque forested paths, open fields, and isolated villages.

Bamboo raft down the Yulong Bamboo raft down the Yulong

To slip down the Yulong, a calmer tributary of the Li River, on a bamboo raft is to enter the canvas of an ancient Chinese painting where crystal waters meander through a surreal landscape of karst peaks and lush foliage, water buffalo periodically ploughing the fields beside the riverbank. You won’t be the first to feel inspired by this restorative, 1.5-hour ride as your very own gondolier punts you downstream - the surrounding hills having been the muse for generations of poets and landscape painters.

Visit to a local family home Visit to a local family home

Surrounded by rolling green mountains, fruit trees, and rice fields, you’ll share a cup of tea with a family and learn about their lives as farmers in Yangshuo’s rural surrounds. In their redbrick home, under their tiled roof, just for the afternoon, you will become a part of the family.

Yangshuo fishermen excursion Yangshuo fishermen excursion

With its rural population and traditional ways of life, Guangxi province abounds with examples of humans existing harmoniously with nature, but there is no better illustration than the Yangshuo fishermen who enlist the help of their feathered friends to make ends meet. At dusk head out onto the river for a two-hour excursion in the boat of one of these ancient masters and get hands on as they use cormorants to pull fish from the inky waters below.

Pomelo forest hike Pomelo forest hike

Hiking is the best way to access the dream-like landscape of Guangxi, a world of karst peaks and ponderous rivers immortalized in centuries of poems and ink brush paintings. So lace up your walking shoes and step into the Pomelo forest, a delightful one-hour trail that cuts through a rich vein of Yangshuo countryside. The path is mostly flat so you can focus on the sights rather than the strain, or push on for another hour to reach the shores of a nearby reservoir.

Yangshuo's city market Yangshuo's city market

Snake through the makeshift maze of shops in Yangshuo's bustling city market. The market is split into two main rooms: in the first, you'll see vendors selling fresh produce and some dry goods from tarps or newspaper spread out on the ground. In the second, stroll down rows of vendors selling meat, prepared and semi-prepared food, and produce from stalls and carts.

Chinese landscape painting class with a local artist Chinese landscape painting class with a local artist

The ancient art of Chinese landscape painting has long focused on man’s insignificance in nature, and countless scrolls depict tiny human figures dwarfed by the sublime scenery of mountains and rivers. For an hour and a half, put brush to canvas and study the underlying philosophy of landscape painting with a local artist.

Fuli village Fuli village

Embedded in the glorious Guangxi countryside and surrounded by karst hills, the village of Fuli offers more than just traditional rural charm. Fuli is the ancient hometown of the paper fan, and even today many of the locals still make their living with this time-honoured craft, so peruse their exquisite wares and have a go at crafting one yourself in this atmospheric and historical setting.

Flights & Transfers

Transfer

Private transfer to Guilin airport

Flight

Flight to Shanghai

Transfer

Private transfer to your hotel

Days 11-13

Shanghai

Accommodation in Shanghai

Fuxing Park Fuxing Park

A vestige of the French colonial era, Fuxing was once a private Ming Dynasty park that is now the beating heart of Shanghai’s local life. Boasting some of China’s best people watching opportunities, keep an eye out for ensembles of locals singing songs en masse (of varying talent), ballroom dancing, or even the occasional saxophone quartet.

The French Concession The French Concession

Shanghai’s former French concession represents every aspect of the city’s short but tumultuous history. This guided walk is your chance to dip in and out of its modern boutiques and chic cafes, and witness the local bike fixers, propaganda art, street tailors and dumpling hawkers that have been there much longer. The area was governed by France but was populated by a cosmopolitan mix of the city's wealthy political elites. Your local guide will lead you through the old lanes still lined with Russian churches, British townhouses and even French châteaux.

Xintiandi Xintiandi

Xintiandi still bears the traces of an older Shanghai, hidden amidst an infusion of upscale, modern developments. Housed behind its restored facades are international restaurants, boutiques, cafes, and bars. The neighbourhood brings together the heady, glamorous atmosphere of decades gone by and the comforts of a modern city. You'll explore the area on foot, strolling through sights new and old.

Yuyuan Garden Yuyuan Garden

Manufacturing and mega-cities may be the name card of today’s China, but Yuyuan Garden is a postcard example of a more traditional side to the country, one of beautifully manicured gardens, punctuated with rocks and trees, interspersed with green ponds and framed by white walls with circular doorways. Built in what is now downtown Shanghai by a Ming Dynasty official, Yuyuan Garden’s pavilions and bridges, rockeries and teahouse, will transport you to a world far away from skyscrapers and bullet trains.

Flights & Transfers

Transfer

Private transfer to the airport

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