China & Spiritual Tibet

Experience the inherent spirituality and natural grandeur of Tibet alongside China's most renowned and awe-inspiring sights on an itinerary that perfectly blends unique culture, majestic landscapes and modern wonders.

Places Visited

New Zealand - Beijing (3N) - Xian (2N) - Lhasa (4N) - Chengdu (2N) - Yangtze River Cruise (3N) - Shanghai (2N) - New Zealand

Days 1-2: Fly to Beijing
Depart late evening on day one for your overnight flight with Cathay Pacific Airways to the imperial capital of Beijing. On arrival you will be accompanied by one of our experienced National Escorts to the hotel.
Day 3: Explore imperial Beijing
Begin the day like many locals with gentle exercise, as you partake in a private Tai Chi lesson with a master in the Temple of Heaven park. Cross vast Tiananmen Square to the Forbidden City – a monument to a dynastic past. Your visit includes entrance to the intimate Treasure Hall, a glittering showcase of royal life. Dine on Peking Duck at the excellent Quanjude restaurant and enjoy an optional Kung Fu show (at your own expense). (B,L,D)
Day 4: Champagne on the Great Wall
From the Gobi Desert to the Bohai Sea the Great Wall stretches thousands of miles. Ride the cable car up the beautiful Mutianyu section, stopping at the ideal spot to enjoy a glass of champagne whilst admiring the views of the wall as it snakes over craggy peaks. Return to Beijing via a jade factory, then take a rickshaw ride through the hutongs where you'll stop for a lesson in calligraphy with a learned scholar. Enjoy a free evening at lively Houhai Lake. (B,L)
Day 5: Ancient City Walls
Fly to Xian. Walk on the 14th-century walls. Take the rest of the afternoon at leisure. This evening you will watch a Tang Dynasty dance performance. (B,L)
Day 6: Terracotta Warriors
View the enigmatic ranks of the Terracotta Warriors in the company of an expert who works at the site. Next we have exclusively arranged for you to meet the discoverer of the warriors – learn about the moment they were uncovered by talking to one of the farmers who stumbled upon them in 1974. Visit the Xian Art Ceramics and Lacquer Exhibition before returning to the city. Later study with local dumpling chefs to learn the art of creating these cultural delicacies, before an option (at your own expense) to take a city night tour which includes a dazzling fountain display. (B,L,D)
Day 7: Into Tibet
Transfer to the airport and fly to Tibet's capital city, Lhasa. This mystical city still manages to feel a million miles from the modern world. Spend the rest of the day acclimatising to the higher altitude. (B)
Day 8: Lhasa's monasteries
Today visit one of Lhasa's 'great three' Gelukpa university monasteries, Sera Monastery. Sera is famous for its debating monks – witness them in action in the debating courtyard. Stop en route to admire the exquisite artistry of Tibetan 'thangkas' at a workshop. (B,L)
Day 9: Potala Palace
The Potala Palace was built as a palace for the Dalai Lama in 1645 – wander through the series of impressive chapels, stupas and prayer halls. Follow the Barkhor circuit around the ancient Jokhang Temple, Tibet's most sacred, before entering the yak butter candlelit interior. Later, learn how to create the traditional Tibetan delicacy 'momos' before dinner at the excellent Snowland. (B,L,D)
Day 10: Visit a local family
Head out of the city to Yamdrok Lake. One of three of Tibet's sacred lakes, the brilliant blue water reflects myriad snow-capped peaks - a breathtaking sight. On the return journey to Lhasa, pay a visit to a local family to learn more about the daily life, culture and heritage of the Tibetan people. This evening is at your leisure. (B,L)
Day 11: Fly to Chengdu
Transfer to the airport and fly to Chengdu. This afternoon is at leisure. (B,L)
Day 12: Pandas with an expert
Visit Chengdu's Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding and observe these peaceful bears whilst talking with an expert. Stroll through the vibrant People's Park and visit Matchmaker's Corner to see parents searching through reams of notices for worthy suitors for their sons and daughters, before sipping tea in a traditional teahouse. This evening enjoy a traditional hot pot dinner with the option to puzzle over the face-changing art of Bian Lian (at your own expense) at the Sichuan Opera. (B,L,D)
Day 13: Cruise the Yangtze River
Transfer to Chongqing and make a relaxed exploration of Cikiqou, a historic district full of traditional architecture with time for a leisurely lunch (at your own expense). Board your Century cruise ship. (B,D)
Day 14: Captain's welcome
The Yangtze has played a pivotal role in the history, culture and economy of China – this voyage is the perfect way to get an insight into its importance. The first excursion will be to Shibaozhai, a hilltop pagoda beside the river. This evening the captain will host a welcome reception before a lavish dinner is served. (B,L,D)
Day 15: Dramatic Yangtze Gorges
Prepare for breathtaking vistas as we sail through the Wu and Qutang gorges before cruising along the scenic Shennong Stream on a sampan to further explore. (B,L,D)
Day 16: Three Gorges Dam Project
The Three Gorges Dam is a massive feat of engineering that saw the century-old dreams of Chinese luminaries come to fruition. Created to harness the power of the Yangtze, it is difficult not to be awestruck as you stand on the viewing platform. Disembark, drive to Wuhan and fly to Shanghai. (B,L)
Day 17: Stylish Shanghai
Walk in the Yu Gardens, a classic example of traditional Chinese horticulture. Visit the colonial Bund, the Silk Museum and the Old Town, before admiring the collections of the Shanghai Museum. Enjoy a farewell dinner at Meiyuancun and toast the end of the tour with a cocktail at Cloud 9 in Jin Mao Tower with views of the Pudong skyline. (B,L,D)
Day 18: Depart Shanghai
This morning is at leisure before you are transferred to Shanghai airport to board your overnight flight to New Zealand. (B)
Day 19: 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 Hotel Room Option from $2,900
Single Cruise Cabin Option from $760
Land Only (Beijing - Shanghai) 16 days from $9,980 per person
Additional charges: Tipping - RMB1340 per person (subject to change) payable on arrival.
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. 

The cost of all meals is included in your group tour cost.
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.