Your day-by-day itinerary
Temples and Hutongs of Beijing
You’ll spend three nights soaking up the sights, sounds and smells of Beijing, an intoxicating clutter of history and modern-day ambition. Wander through the atmospheric hutongs, visit the Forbidden City and take a breather from the madness of the city at the Temple of Heavenly Peace. Top off your time in Beijing with a trip along the twisting Great Wall, one of the world’s most staggering sights.
Terracotta Army and Drum Towers
Marvel at the soldiers of the ancient Terracotta Army and wander around the Bell Tower in Xi’an. A modern city with an imperial past, it’s an eye-opening window into Chinese culture. Drenched in history and jam-packed with fascinating places to explore. You’ll spend two nights in China’s past Imperial Capital, soaking up the atmosphere and visiting the impressive Terracotta army.
Monks on the Grassy Plains
Take a deep breath of fresh mountain air in the valleys of China’s peaceful ‘Little Tibet’. You’ll spend three days exploring the Tibetan outpost of Xiahe and the rolling Ganjia Grasslands, criss-crossed by rivers and wandering sheep. Meet the semi-nomadic monks, soak up the spiritual atmosphere of the Lebrang Monastery and get a true glimpse of the unchanging lifestyle in remote ‘Little Tibet’.
Yak Herders and Nomadic Villages
Explore a remote world of semi-nomadic villages, Tibetan monasteries and grazing yaks. Beginning in Xiahe, you’ll travel through the hills of secluded Sichuan to the beautiful temple of Langmusi. From there you’ll head to Songpan, an inspiring ancient town home to a mix of Tibetans, Hui Muslims and Han Chinese.
Crystal Lakes of Jiuzhaigou
Watch clouds float across sapphire mountain lakes circled by snowy peaks and hike to hidden waterfalls in Jiuzhaigou, a gorgeous natural playground tucked between the hills. One of China’s most beautiful sites, it’s criss-crossed with prayer flags and scattered with multi-coloured terraced pools.
During the trip you will be taken to the Huanglong pool where you can take a cable car to the hilltop and hike downhill between the rainbow-coloured terraced pools. The following day you are free to explore the emerald lakes and green forests backed by snow-topped mountains at your own pace, arranging your own transport.
Teddy Bears and Tea Houses
With mouth-watering food and teahouse culture, Chengdu is a winner. You’ll spend 2 nights here, ambling amongst old shops, sampling Sichuan dishes and slowing to the relaxed pace of life. On the second day, you’ll visit the giant pandas that have roamed these parts for 2 million years. Now residents of the ethically run Breeding Research Centre, you’ll be bowled over by their quiet beauty and sheer size.
At the Foot of the Himalayas
Explore China’s answer to Shangri-La, a peaceful Tibetan nook in the snow-capped mountains. Visit remote monasteries and soak up the spirit of the Himalayas. Wander through cobbled backstreets, meet friendly monks and gaze down upon green valleys. It’s a tiny taste of isolated Tibetan life. You’ll spend two nights just outside Zhongdian, and have free time to soak up the atmosphere.
Lanterns in Lijiang
Amble amongst the stone bridges and cobbles of timeless Lijiang, packed with lanterns and teahouses. You’ll spend two nights in Lijiang in a modern hotel and cycle to visit the legendary Dr Ho. Lijiang is certainly no longer a secret, drawing millions of tourists to its maze of cobbled streets every year, however if you get up early to beat the crowds, you could have the place to yourself.