China Explorer

Pairing China's classic sights with a Yangtze cruise, this itinerary brings you closer to the authentic charms of China. Revel in atmospheric ancient towns and hike along the incredible, undulating Great Wall.

Places Visited

New Zealand - Beijing (2N) - Gubei (1N) - Beijing (1N) - Xian (2N) - Pingle (1N) - Chengdu (1N) - Yangtze River Cruise (3N) - Shanghai (2N) - New Zealand

Days 1-2: Fly to Beijing
Fly to Beijing, China's historical capital.
Days 1-2: Fly to Beijing
Day 3: Forbidden City and Summer Palace Walk
Stroll across Tiananmen Square and into the sprawling magnificence of the Forbidden City. Walking through this ornately designed complex offers an unsurpassed insight into China’s colourful past. Continue to the idyllic Summer Palace and explore the magnificent grounds, before taking a short walk up Longevity Hill to enjoy panoramic views. Later, stop for a photo opportunity at Olympic Park. (B,L,D)
Day 3: Forbidden City and Summer Palace Walk
Day 4: Beijing's Hutongs
Arrive early for a visit to the Temple of Heaven and mingle with the locals as they start their day with Tai Chi, dancing and card playing in a flurry of sociable activity you would never see in a park at home. Next, you’ll visit Yandaixiejie, where you’ll have some free time to wander the hutongs; these narrow alleys offer an authentic glimpse of the old Beijing, before the emergence of high-rise buildings and modern commerce. Sit down for lunch with one of the families who call the hutongs home before driving to Simatai Great Wall. Sail up to the apex of the Wall by cable car to witness the sunset. (B,L,D)
Day 4: Beijing's Hutongs
Day 5: Hike the Great Wall
Travel to the Great Wall at Jinshanling, a section that is much less frequented by tourists than other parts. The stark yet magnificent surroundings allow you to put yourself in the shoes of those who walked this incredible edifice hundreds of years ago. Your trek will last approximately five hours as the wall improbably courses through dramatic landscapes and rugged terrain. Later, head back to Beijing, where you will have free time. Buzzing Sunlitun or lakeside Houhai are a great choice for the evening. (B,L)
Day 5: Hike the Great Wall
Day 6: Muslim Quarter walking Tour
Fly to Xian and enjoy a walking tour of the narrow and twisting streets of the Muslim Quarter. Sample the delicious, freshly cooked snacks (at your own expense). Take in an optional fountain and light show (at your own expense) and be dazzled by the city at night. (B,L,D)
Day 6: Muslim Quarter walking Tour
Day 7: Terracotta Warriors and Muslim Quarter walking tour
Housed in three immense hangars, the ranks of the Terracotta Army stand sentinel in their subterranean necropolis, constructed to protect China’s first Emperor in the afterlife. Gaze over the ranks of warriors and horses, each one unique, whilst your guide introduces you to these life-like soldiers’ fascinating story. Visit the Xian Art Ceramics and Lacquer Exhibition. Return to Xian, the ancient former capital is surrounded by an imposing wall, which is used as a city thoroughfare. You will enjoy a gentle cycle ride that will take you the 14km around the wall. The evening is at leisure. (B,L)
Day 7: Terracotta Warriors and Muslim Quarter walking tour
Day 8: Pingle Ancient Town
Jump on the bullet train to Chengdu and drive to Pingle Ancient Town. Dating back to the Han Dynasty, Pingle was a stopping point on the Tea Horse Road. Take time to walk through its maze of teahouse lined streets before walking through Jinji's dense bamboo forest, then see the forest and gorge from above by crossing Jinji Suspended Rope Bridge. (B,L,D)
Day 8: Pingle Ancient Town
Day 9: Dujiangyan Panda Base
Return to Chengdu and visit one of the world's finest panda conservation centres. Here, the pandas are kept in conditions very close to their natural habitat. Later, ascend Mt Qingcheng, the most sacred Taoist mountain in China, by cable car. It is a truly beautiful area with numerous lush, green peaks and secluded temples. Take a stroll among the mystic scenery of Yuecheng Lake. (L,D)
Day 9: Dujiangyan Panda Base
Day 10: Ancient Ciqikou
Drive to Chongqing and visit the charming old town of Ciqikou – there's time to wander the cobbled alleyways and learn about its colourful history. Later, board your Yangtze Cruise vessel. (B,D)
Day 11-12: Yangtze River Cruise
During your Yangtze cruise, nature takes over, revealing some of the world’s most dramatic scenery including the Three Gorges themselves. Over the next two days prepare for one breathtaking panorama after another. A voyage along China’s riverine treasure is a chance to relax and enjoy a slower pace, whilst absorbing extraordinary countryside. (B,L,D)
Day 11-12: Yangtze River Cruise
Day 13: Fly to Shanghai
Visit the Three Gorges Dam. Disembark your cruise, transfer to Wuhan and fly to Shanghai. The evening is at leisure. (B,L)
Day 13: Fly to Shanghai
Day 14: Shanghainese Shanghai
Wake to the buzz of Shanghai, and take a breakfast walking tour between modern skyscrapers and traditional streets. Walk through the city’s most fascinating districts, marvelling at monuments and rickety buildings before enjoying breakfast as the locals do – sample pancakes, fried bread sticks and tofu. Visit the Yu Gardens, the old town and the Silk Museum before taking an evening stroll along the Bund and a farewell dinner of authentic Shanghainese cuisine. Your final farewell will be a cruise down the Huangpu River. (B,L,D)
Day 14: Shanghainese Shanghai
Day 15: Depart Shanghai
The morning is at leisure before boarding the overnight flight to New Zealand. (B)
Day 15: Depart Shanghai
Day 16: Arrive New Zealand
Arrive home today.

Also Available

Tailor Your Tour

If you like most of the itinerary which we have suggested but you'd like to change the route and the accommodation, speak to our specialist Tailormade team, who can build your perfect itinerary based around where you would like to go, what you would like to see and how much you'd like to spend. Just call us on 0800 936 3998 and we'll help plan your dream holiday.

Tour prices are per person, twin share departing Auckland. Regional departures available on request. Additional charges: Tipping is payable on arrival in destination (see Additional Price Information below).

Additional Price Information:

Single Supplement from $1,200
Land Only (Beijing to Shanghai) 14 days from $4,580 per person
Additional charges: Customary tipping - RMB900 per person (subject to change) payable on arrival.
06 Oct 2019 & 04 Oct 2020 departures coincides with Golden Week celebrations
and sightseeing may be affected
Tour availability is updated each Monday. While every effort is made to ensure availability status is current, it is advisable to contact our reservations department on 0800 936 3998. Limited seats denotes 4 seats or less available.

A visa is required by all nationalities. A single entry visa should be arranged in advance of travel.
Unlike many other tour operators, we include your entry visas in the price of our tour. We handle the entire visa process – all you need to do is fill out the form and send your passport to us. We are always on hand to help you with any questions or queries you might have when completing the form. 

Phone Calls
International and domestic calls can be made from your hotel room. It’s a good idea to check call costs with hotel staff or your local guide before making calls, as this can be expensive. A service charge may also be involved. To call New Zealand – the international access code is 00, followed by the country code 64, then the local area code (omitting the first 0), then the number.
Mobile Phones
Mobile phones are quite popular in China and you will find high quality coverage. China has active roaming agreements with most of the service providers. Please make sure you are aware of associated costs and have activated your international roaming prior to departure.

Internet & Email
Internet cafes can be found in all major cities and even in some small towns. This is often the easiest and cheapest way to stay in touch. Most hotels have a business centre with internet access, but at a slightly higher rate. Some hotels may have wifi which usually comes at an additional cost and may only be available in hotel lobbies. 

Tipping is an expected element in the tourism industry today and China is no exception. Many passengers are often uncertain of how much to tip so we have established a tipping system whereby every passenger gives a set amount (in US Dollars) to the National Escort who will distribute the amount appropriately. On multi-country tips, this amount will be paid in stages on arrival in each country. If there is no National Escort, you will need to give your money to your Local Guides and tipping amounts for each city will be shown in your final itinerary. The amount for the kitty is calculated for each tour depending on the length, group size and services used during the trip.
For independent passengers, or group passengers with pre/post tour arrangements, you should allow USD5-10 per person per day.
We will indicate the tipping amounts in your final documents for guidance.

Shopping can be a fun and entertaining component to any travel adventure, and China has a vast array of shopping opportunities for those who love to seek out a bargain. From hand carved jade to local silk products or pearls from the South China Sea – the variety and choice can seem endless.
In keeping with most people’s interests whilst on holiday, your tour will include a reasonable number of opportunities to shop for local goods and souvenirs.
We have included visits to establishments that not only provide an opportunity to purchase a locally produced, great-value souvenir; but you’ll witness first-hand how these local products are made, their history and how they support the local economy. We are aware that people like to take home souvenirs, so we endeavour to ensure the shops you visit have a reputation for quality, honesty, and authenticity – we do our best to ensure that you don’t get ripped off. 

Breakfast is served in the hotel and usually includes western dishes. As is traditional in China, lunch and dinner consists of small dishes of local cuisine which is then placed on a ‘Lazy Susan’ so you can experience the variety of speciality dishes. In China all the dishes are served in various styles and brought out to the table for everyone to share. The amount served is more than ample for the whole group. We aim to cater to the tastes of the majority of people and so the food is not too spicy or unusual in taste.
Each individual place setting will consist of a bowl of fan (rice), a pair of chopsticks (you may request western cutlery if you prefer), a flat bottomed soup spoon and a saucer. Chinese food is usually served in courses where a typical meal will consist of rice, one to four meat or fish dishes, two vegetable dishes, and one soup dish. Almost all food is cut into bite sized pieces. The centre of the meal is the fan or rice. The meats and vegetables that we think of as the focus of the meal are known as ts’ai, which roughly translates as ‘side dishes’. Fish is not always available, particularly outside of the bigger cities.
The Chinese are also not big on desserts with meals normally complemented with fruit to clean and refresh the palate.
Sichuan cuisine is distinguished by its use of ginger, chilli and the ‘Sichuan peppercorn’ called the fagara. Each meal will usually have some mild dishes but many of the local speciality dishes will be hot. If your group find there are not enough mild dishes served, please inform your National Escort/Local Guide so that they may resolve the problem for the next meal.
If you would like to drink beer, soft drink or bottled water with your meals, payment is to be made directly to the restaurant staff. Beer is traditionally consumed in small glasses; not the larger pints glasses that you may be used to.
Green tea is sometimes provided complimentary. All other drinks will be at your own expense.
If you have booked a tour that does not include all meals, your local guides will be able to recommend a variety of restaurants to meet your taste and budget.
It is possible to buy snacks in supermarkets within major towns or cities. Alternatively, you may also like to bring comforts like cereal, biscuits, muesli bars, and tea/coffee from home.
Any food/diet requests MUST be specified at the time of booking and you should mention it again to the National Escort/ Local Guides when you meet them – they will do their utmost to cater for any special requests, such as vegetarian meals or food to be avoided in case of allergies.

Why Book This Tour?

On this trip you'll experience the classic sights of China in an active and immersive way. Hike on the Great Wall at Jinshanling, discover ancient towns and meet the pandas in Dujiangyan. There's also time for a relaxing Yangtze River cruise.