Tailor-Made Holiday

China - Walled Cities & Buddhist Cave Art

Visit the classic sites as well as less known gems such as Pingyao & Datong

15 days

from £4,550pp (excluding flights)

This fabulous holiday idea to China showcases China at its best. Visit Beijing, Datong, Wutaishan, Pingyao, Xi’an and Shanghai through a series of exceptionally crafted experiences.

  • VIP access and a private Tai Chi class in Beijing
  • Behind the scenes access in Xian to see the terracotta warriors and horses
  • Private cycling tour through the backstreets of Shanghai to see local life up close and personal
  • An audience with a head monk to discuss his ancient traditions and beliefs 

Beijing

On landing in Beijing meet your private guide and transfer directly to the iconic and magnificent Great Wall of China. Spend the first night close to The Great Wall close to a wonderfully restored section, with 23 original-style watchtowers. Over the next few days explore Beijing including VIP access through the Conghua Palace and a private tai chi class with a Master at the Temple of Heaven. 

Datong and Mount Wutaishan

A contrast to Chinas capital city, fly to Datong to visit the incredible collection of shallow caves with statues of Buddha and other icons. The Hanging Monastery will impress and inspire followed by a visit to Mount Wutaishan, a sacred Buddhist mountain. It contains more than 50 monasteries and has been declared a World Heritage Site. During your visit you will have the opportunity to talk to a local monk to learn about their way of life and beliefs. 

Pingyao

During the Qing Dynasty, Pingyao was a financial centre of China. It is now renowned for its well-preserved ancient city wall, and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The city was built in 1400 and still retains its city layout from the Ming and Qing dynasties. Visit the Ancient Government Court, First bank of China and the City Wall.

Xi'an

Xi'an is well-known for the collection of "Terracotta Warriors and Horses". The figures depict the armies of Qin Shi Huang, the first Emperor of China. Xi´an is considered a part of the Silk Road. Visit the Terracotta Warriors Museum from the special access platform. After lunch, visit the Wall of Xi´an, the best preserved in China as well as the largest and among the most ancient military defensive systems in the world. Visit the Muslim Quarter and the Great Mosque, an impressive mixture of Arab and Chinese styles. 

On the way to Xi´an airport visit the Tomb of Hanyangling. This impressive place is rarely visited even though it’s the largest underground museum in China. Emperor Jingdi and his Empress were buried here and the museum combines modern technology, ancient civilization, ancient culture and garden art. We will take you behind the scenes to visit the “clinic” where specialists work on different, recently discovered relics. 

Shanghai

The final leg of the trip is in Shanghai where a special cycling tour is arranged to take you through the hidden alleyways of the city to see local daily life. 

If you want to make your holiday 'Extra Special' ask our specialists about the following:

  • Art expert in Beijing to visit the Art district of the Capital
  • Imperial lunch or dinner at a private Pavillion of the Summer Palace (with local musicians playing )
  • Helicopter tour over the Great Wall
  • Helicopter tour in Hong Kong

Other experiences such as cooking class, calligraphy etc are available upon request.

For a more detailed itinerary with great ideas on what to do and where to stay, please get in touch with our experts.

Price Excluding Flights £Flight cost from 
£ 4550 £ 530
  Click here to see what is included/excluded

what is included

  • All accommodation and meals as stated in the itinerary
  • Voyage gratuities
  • All transfers

PLEASE NOTE THE COST SHOWN INCLUDES INTERNATIONAL FLIGHTS DEPARTING FROM THE UK, BASED ON AN APPROXIMATE AIR FARE. PLEASE ASK YOUR TRAVEL EXPERT FOR AN ACCURATE INTERNATIONAL FLIGHT QUOTE. INTERNATIONAL FLIGHTS DEPARTING FROM THE UK ARE ATOL PROTECTED.

Itinerary at a glance

Collapse all
Day 1

Fly London to Beijing


Beijing is China's capital, and a city of epic proportions. It is a cauldron of history, culture and enterprise. Offering a feast of elaborate and ambitious architecture, world famous landmarks, and culinary delights.

Day 2

Remainder of day at leisure or explore area in your own time


You will be staying at Brickyard Retreat at Mutianyu Great Wall, Bed & Breakfast

Day 3

Great Wall at Mutianyu
Visit the Great Wall of China at the Mutianyu section, where there will be ample opportunity to explore this section of the Wall and take in the stunning views of the surrounding countryside. There is also a fun, but commercial, toboggan ride back down to the bottom.


Explore the Lama Temple
The Lama Temple was originally the residence of Count Yin Zhen but when he became emperor in 1723 it could only be used as a temple according to ancient ritual. It contains an 18 metre high statue carved from a single piece of sandalwood of the Maitreya Buddha in his Tibetan form.


You will be staying at Penta Hotel, Bed & Breakfast

Day 4

Explore Tiananmen Square
Tiananmen Square is the largest square in the world. On the north side lies the Tian an Men (Gate of Heavenly Peace) after which the square is named and the entrance to the 800 year old palace of the emperors (The Forbidden city). On the west lies the Great Hall of the People, the venue for government meetings, and on the east side is the Museum of Chinese History and the Museum of the Revolution. The square is also home to Mao’s mausoleum.


Temple of Heaven
Visit the magnificent Temple of Heaven, where the Emperors came to pray for good harvests and today it's where local residents come for morning exercises such as Tai Chi and Ballroom dancing. Whilst here, take a Tai Chi lesson.


You will be staying at Penta Hotel, Bed & Breakfast

Day 5

Summer Palace and Kite Flying
Full day sightseeing to the Summer Palace and the 798 Art Zone, followed by a picnic lunch at the park. You will also have the opportunity to take part in Kite flying in one of the local parks.


You will be staying at Penta Hotel, Bed & Breakfast

Day 6

Fly Beijing to Datong


Datong is known as the 'City of the Coal' due to its large reserves of coal. It is also famed for sites such as the Hanging Monastery, a temple built halfway up the side of sheer cliffs above the Jinlong Canyon and Yungang Caves with the most spectacular collection of Buddhist stone carvings in China.


Explore the Yungang Caves
Situated 15 kilometres to the west of the city, the Yungang Caves have the most spectacular collection of Buddhist stone carvings in China. Most of them date back to the Northern Wei period, when the capital of this small dynasty was located at Pingcheng, the present-day Datong. There are 55 caves, of which 21 caves may be visited. There are a total of 51,000 bas reliefs and statues, ranging in size from a couple of centimetres to more than 16 metres. They exhibit Indian, Byzantine, Persian, and Greek artistic influences. Over the centuries traders have removed the heads from thousands of the statuettes for sale to collectors. The most impressive caves are numbers 5-13, monumental sculpture. As you walk into cave 5, you are greeted by a 17 metre-high buddha with his gold face in calm contemplation.


Explore the Huayan Monastery
In the west of the old city, the original monastery dates back to the reign of Emperor Tian Ju’an of the Jin Dynasty. The remaining buildings are split into two complexes, the Upper Temple and the Lower Temple. The Mahavira Hall, set on a four-metre-high platform in the Upper Temple, is one the largest Buddhist halls in China. Five guilded Ming Dynasty buddhas are seated in the centre on lotus thrones and surrounded by Bodhisattvas, soldiers and mandarins. The Bojiajiaocang Hall is in the Lower Temple and houses 29 coloured clay figures, made in the Liao Dynasty and representing the Buddha and Bohisattvas.


You will be staying at Holiday Inn, Bed & Breakfast

Day 7

Explore the Hanging Monastery
The Hanging Monastery is 75km southeast of Datong, just outside the town of Hunyuan, was built halfway up the sheer cliffs above the Jinlong Canyon. There has been a temple on this site since the Northern Wei but the temple buildings were often destroyed by the flooding of the Heng River (now no longer there thanks to a dam farther upstream) and each time had to be rebuilt, and always higher and higher. The buildings are connected by corridors, boardwalks and bridges and contain statues of gods and buddhas in stone, bronze and iron. Most notable is the Three Religions Hall where Buddha, Lao Tzu and Confucius sit side by side.

Drive from Datong to Wutaishan (Road Journey)


Mount Wutai, also known as Wutai Mountain or Qingliang Shan, is a Buddhist sacred site located at the headwaters of river Qingshui, in the Chinese northeastern province of Shanxi, surrounded by a cluster of flat-topped peaks


During visit to Wutaishan, talk to a local monk


You will be staying at Friendship Hotel Edificio, Bed & Breakfast

Day 8

Visit most important temples of the central area of Moun Wutaishan

Drive from Wutaishan to Pingyao (Road Journey)


Pingyao city, originally named Pingtao, was built in the early Northern Wei Dynasty and in 424 its name was changed to Pingyao.

Pingyao is extremely well preserved it is the only city in China to be surrounded by completely intact city walls and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The city walls were repaired in the West Zhou Dynasty (827-728 B.C) when General Yin Jipu stationed his troops here to prevent an invasion of barbarians. The original walls were of tamped earth and were located northwest of the present city. Over the centuries its walls have been rebuilt and lengthened and have also undergone frequent repairs and rebuilding during the Ming and Qing Dynasties.


You will be staying at Hong Shanyi, Bed & Breakfast

Day 9

Full day city tour of Pingyao
Pingyao was a former financial centre and is home to China’s earliest banks.The Rishengchang Exchange Shop is one of the earliest exchange shops in China and is located on West Street in Ping Yao City. It was established in 1823 during the Qing Dynasty (1644--1911). At that time it had over 35 branches in China’s major cities. In December 1995, Shanxi Provincial Government listed it as a Provincial Key Cultural Relic under the Reservation and it is now the Chinese Exchange Shop Museum. A visit gives you an insight into the enterprise and ingenuity of the merchants of ancient China. In particular it will illustrate how the Shanxi Merchants made a vital contribution to the development of Chinese trade.

The Confucius Temple of Pingyao is a national relic. There are 87 sculptures of Confucius and his disciples at the site, which is the largest number in any temple. The International Photography Museum of Pingyao in the compound has a collection by revolutionary photographers including Sha Fei, Wu Yinxian as well as photographs by the American Ansel Adams. The Confucius Temple also possesses a Ming Dynasty examination paper with the highest score for that year, as attested by the emperor’s writing on it, the only one remaining from the 1,300 years of the Confucian imperial examinations.


You will be staying at Hong Shanyi, Bed & Breakfast

Day 10

Visit Shuanglin Temple and Taiyuan
6 kms southwest of Pingyao is Shuanglin Temple, originally named Zhongdu Temple. Repaired several times, the existing buildings were constructed in the Ming Dynasty. The compound faces south and occupies 15,000 square metres. On the east were the monks’ quarters and scripture hall, which have been destroyed. On the west are ten temples and halls of various styles, which form three courtyards. Interesting items in the temple compound include a tree planted during the Tang dynasty, a Song dynasty stone tablet, a Ming bell and frescoes painted on interior and exterior walls. Inside are over 1,500 sculptures made of painted clay over a wooden framework. They demonstrate the artistic styles of painted sculptures of the Tang, Song, Jin and Yuan Dynasties. Because Shuanglin Temple contains the most and best-preserved painted sculptures in China, it is called the ’Oriental Treasure House of Painted Sculptures’
Located 25 kms to the southeast of downtown Taiyuan City, Jinci Temple is world-famous because it is an ancient ancestral temple, a rareity in China. The Temple has a long history, which can be traced back to the Western Zhou Dynasty (11th century BC to 711 BC), when King Cheng made his younger brother Yu a leader of one of his states. Yu was an intelligent leader who devoted all his energies to making the state prosperous, so his descendants built a temple for him after his death, in order to honor his achievement. Saint Mother Hall, the oldest building in the temple, is one of the main reasons that so many come to the temple. Together with the Flying Bridge across the Fish Pond, and the Offerings Hall, these exquisite buildings provide evidence of a new era in Chinese architecture.

Fly Pingyao to Xian


You will be staying at Bell Tower Hotel Xian, Bed & Breakfast

Day 11

Terracotta Warriors with Special Access
Without a doubt the highlight of any visit to Xian and possibly even China is to explore the legacy of The Army of Terracotta Warriors and visit the incredible burial site. Your tour is organised so that it passes by the Mausoleum of Emperor Qin Shihuang before visiting the Warriors themselves who stand guard over Emperor Qin's tomb. This afternoon see the Old City of Xian where your guide will bring alive Xian's association with the mighty Silk Road. Here, visit the old City Walls, where a short bike or buggy ride is taken, and the Small Goose Pagoda also the Great Mosque, which is a beautiful spot in the midst of peaceful gardens OR see the main Terracotta Warrior exhibit and the fascinating Warriors of the Han Dynasty (dating from about 100 years after the better known Terracotta Warriors). These are miniature warriors and often a major highlight of client's trips although very few people know they exist, let alone visit them.



XIAN: Special Access at the Warriors

Your visit includes, by special arrangement, a visit to the Lower Viewing Gallery at The Army of Terracotta Warriors whilst at the Han Dynasty Warriors (dating from 80 years later) it includes privileged access into the Curator's Restoration Room.

Having existed for more than three millennia and been the capital city of 13 dynasties, Xian, formerly Chang'an, is often considered as being at the heart of Chinese civilisation. Also an ancient trade hub of huge economic importance, it was the eastern terminus of the legendary Silk Road.

Xian remains an important city, packed with sites worth visiting and laid out in a neat arrangement. Among these sites, the world famous Terracotta Army is the highlight, but numerous other historic locations litter the city.


Explore the city walls of Xian
Xian is one of few cities that has its ancient protective walls intact. Climb or walk, buggy or bicycle ride around its ramparts.


Walk on Muslim Street
For over 1300 years, Muslims have been an integral part of daily life in Xian at the eastern end of the Silk Road. With the Hui community tracing their roots back to Persian and Arabic traders. You will go for a stroll with our guide through the Muslim Quarter, where the way of life derives as much from the ancient cultures of Central Asia as it does from mainland China.


Visit the Great Mosque & Muslim Quarter
Visit the Great Mosque, one of China’s largest and built in the Chinese style. Although founded in 742 the present layout dates from the 14th century and is made up of four courtyards which contain stone stelae, many trees and ornate arches. The backstreets leading to the Mosque have been home to the city’s Hui community for centuries - Muslims, the Hui form one of China’s 56 minority groups. Take a wander around these streets.


You will be staying at Bell Tower Hotel Xian, Bed & Breakfast

Day 12

Visit to the Han Jing Tomb and Museum
Visit the Han Jing Tomb, discovered in the early 1990s by road workers. The museum was opened in 2006 and the tomb is still under excavation.

The terracotta figurines uncovered here are much less imposing than the Terracotta Warriors, but they are just as fascinating and far more varied. They include male and female warriors, eunuchs, servants and various farm animals.

Have the chance to walk around the actual burial chambers (protected by glass) and possibly observe the ongoing excavations of the Miniature Warriors.

Fly Xian to Shanghai


A city of contrasts, Shanghai has two distinctly different faces, one old and one new, and is evolving at a rapid pace. It is a dynamic place with an extremely exhilarating pace and lifestyle where the splendour of merchants' offices, banks and hotels along the famous Bund rub shoulders with glass skyscrapers on the newly reclaimed land of Pudong on the opposite river bank.

Hidden down the many side streets of the old city lie traditional courtyard style gardens and street markets trading fresh produce and handicrafts. A fabulous museum, ancient temples, historic hotels plus boutiques, cafes and bars of an international standard all make Shanghai an exciting and fascinating city to visit.


You will be staying at Courtyard Shanghai Puxi, Breakfast

Day 13

Visit The Longhua Temple and Pagoda
The Longhua Temple and Pagoda were built in the Three Kingdoms Period (220-280) and were later re-built during the Song Dynasty (960-1279). It is an eight-sided, seven staired pagoda. Sometimes monks can be seen chanting in the prayer halls that surround the complex.


Explore the Yu Garden and Bazaar
In the Old Quarter of Shanghai, the Yu Garden, originally built in the Song dynasty, is a classic Chinese enclosed garden complete with halls, bonsai and rocks. Around the garden is the hustle and bustle of the Bazaar where there are many antique and souvenir shops to wander round.


Explore the Bund waterfront
Shanghai was a city divided up by foreign powers and a centre of eastern trade. It is fascinating to see how the architecture varies between each section of the city. Most people immediately think of the Bund, an area along the waterfront famed for its glitzy hotels, banks and trading houses of the 18th and 19th century. Today, the buildings still stand but the ’glamour’ has gone.


Walking tour of the Town Gods temple
Originally built in the Song dynasty, the Temple of the Town Gods fell in to disuse and was used as a warehouse for some time. On leaving the temple you enter a square containing a large pond which has across it a diagonal walkway leading to the Huxingting Teahouse.


You will be staying at Courtyard Shanghai Puxi, Breakfast

Day 14

Visit the Shanghai Museum
The Shanghai Museum is one of the best in the country with well presented and diverse displays.


Afternoon at leisure


You will be staying at Courtyard Shanghai Puxi, Breakfast

Day 15

Fly Shanghai to London

Destination Experts

Our experts have unrivalled firsthand knowledge of China

Paul Craven, Travel Expert

" I spoke to five different companies, but Paul was by far the most knowledgeable and empathetic."

"The service which I received from your Travel Expert Paul Craven was excellent, he was able to answer any queries I put to him."

"Paul must be congratulated on his expertise and great patience in dealing with all my programme changes. He must dread my phone calls!! A big thank-you from both of us to Paul and Carol."

Read More

For a more detailed itinerary with great ideas on what to do and where to stay, please get in touch with our experts.

Enquire about this holiday:
Speak to a China holiday expert:

Tailor-Made Holiday Ideas

Booking a Tailor-made holiday gives you the flexibility to customise your journey, travelling when and where suits you.

Holiday Ideas in China

You are unique, so we believe your holiday should be too.

We listen to what you want and create a personalised itinerary tailored around you.

Your holiday. Your experience. Your way.

Can’t find what you’re looking for?

Call our Travel Experts on +01285 880 980
Start Your Journey

Expertise

  • Established for over 25 years creating journeys across 100 destinations worldwide
  • Exclusive access to the best private guides

PRICING

  • We negotiate the best rates with hotels and expert guides
  • Be protected from fluctuations in exchange rates

RESPONSIBLE STEPPES

  • Each time you travel with us we donate £5 to a local charity in the UK and £10 to an international charity

Fully Protected

  • Your monies are financially protected
  • 24/7 Emergency UK contact whilst abroad
 

Featured in the Press

Financial Times
The Telegraph
Sunday Times logo
CNT
Food and Travel Mag
House and garden
The Week
Wanderlust

Our Partners

Afri Cat
African Parks
Durrell logo
Galapagos Conservation Trsut
Meningitis_Logot
OF_Primary_Logo_Tan
Restless Development
Save The Rhino
Tusk Trust
World Land Trsut
Gorilla Doctors
 

Steppes Travel, 51 Castle St, Cirencester, GL7 1QD, United Kingdom

© Steppes Travel | Legal Niceties | Privacy Policy