Tailor-Made Holiday

Highlights of China including Yangtze Cruise

A great first holiday to China including Beijing, Xian, a Yangtze cruise and Guilin

13 days

from $3,975pp (excluding flights)

This classic holiday encompasses many of the highlights China has to offer, including Beijing & Xian as well as a Yangtze cruise and the beautiful karst limestone peaks of Guilin.

  • Lose yourself within the vast scarlet walls of the Forbidden City, home to two dynasties of imperial rule
  • Glide through hidden Yangtze River tributaries witnessing rural Chinese life, beautiful scenery and 5,000 years of culture
  • Explore dramatic karst landscapes by bicycle or river raft


Arriving into the capital city of Beijing, spend time exploring some of the fascinating and opulent sites including the Imperial Summer Palace and the Forbidden City as well as the Temple of Heaven, a beautiful park where locals gather to exercise every morning. Another iconic site now resident in Beijing is the Olympic Village and Birds Nest Stadium. North of the city and easily visited as a day trip lies the Great Wall of China, the world’s largest military structure. Mutianyu is a quieter section of the wall and is surrounded by beautiful countryside best views from the wall itself.

Yangtze River Cruise

Travel to the shores of Asia’s longest river to board the 5* Yangzi Explorer and begin a three-night cruise. A cruise on the Yangtze River offers a wonderful chance to witness a China unchanged for thousands of years, alongside the incredible modern technology of sites such as the Three Gorges Project.

Guides, Specialists and unique experiences on board Yangzi Explorer

The Yangzi Explorer has the highest staff to passenger ratio on the river plus the highest level of service and personal attention. Guests have access to some fascinating lectures and immersive masterclasses from dumpling making to calligraphy and Chinese history. Days can be spent relaxing with a Tai Chi lesson or spa treatment while off the ship there are visits to remote river communities, dramatic gorges and vast underground caverns, formally a top-secret nuclear base. 

Sustainability and giving back to the community on board Yangzi Explorer

The Yangzi Explorer is continuously striving to implement sustainable practices and give back to local Yangtze River communities.  The ships generators are switched-off at points during the day to reduce fuel emissions, only recycled paper bags are used onboard and waste is collected regularly by the local government.

Yangzi Explorer has ongoing projects in place supporting local villages and have been integral in helping improve sanitation and living conditions in some of the remote tracker villages as well as providing employment opportunities for the locals.


Fly to Xian, once the terminus of the Silk Road and home to the famous Terracotta Warriors. Spend time exploring the museums, temples and iconic sites of this ancient city.

Guilin and Yangshuo

A scenically spectacular part of China, spend three days exploring the beautiful river scenery and karst topography of Guilin and Yangshuo. Cycle through local villages and take to the river by bamboo raft.

How can we make your holiday even more special?

  • Gain exclusive access to Chonghua Gong (Palace of Double Brilliance) where Emperor Qianlong lived as a young man before his accession to the throne. Normally off-limits to the public
  • Join a Kung Fu Lesson in Xian
  • Get privileged access to the Curator’s Restoration Room at the Han Dynasty miniature warriors
  • See the spectacular light show in Yangshuo, the creation of Zhang Yi Mou who choreographed the Beijing Olympic ceremony

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 
$ 5366.25 $ 938.25
  Click here to see what is included/excluded

what is included

  • Bullet train from Guilin to Hong Kong
  • Three night Yangtze River Cruise including all sightseeing and meals
  • All accommodation as detailed on a bed and breakfast basis
  • Internal flights
  • Sightseeing with private guide as per the itinerary
  • Transfers as detailed

what is excluded

  • Gratuities
  • International flights
  • Travel Insurance
  • Visas


Itinerary at a glance

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Day 1

Visit the Summer Palace
The Summer Palace consists of a park and several inter-connected lakes with willows and hump back bridges so often seen in Chinese paintings. It was for a long time an imperial garden but was expanded by the Empress Dowager Cixi who used money earmarked for a new navy for the building project. Of particular interest is a unique marble boat that sits immobile at the edge of the lake.

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.

You will be staying at Novotel Xinqiao Hotel, bed and breakfast

Day 2

Visit Temple of Heaven
The Temple of Heaven, recognised by its circular blue glazed tiled roof, is a remarkable building that is the symbol of Beijing and is where the emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties offered sacrifices to heaven and prayed for good harvests. It is set in an expansive park and famed for its 'whispering wall’.

Visit the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square
After lunch you will visit the Forbidden City (Palace Museum) built between 1406 and 1420 and served as the residence of the 24 emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties. Before entering the Forbidden city complex, visit Tiananmen Square, the scene of many political rallies and the place where Mao’s Mausoleum is located. Lunch included.

Visit Bird’s Nest Stadium
The National Stadium in Beijing, the main stadium for the 2008 Olympic Games, is dubbed the ’bird’s nest’ because of its innovative grid formation. The twig-like structural elements and the bowl-shaped roof are the masterpiece of the project, yet they posed great challenges to technicians and workers.

You will be staying at Novotel Xinqiao Hotel, bed and breakfast

Day 3

The Great Wall at Mutianyu
A full day excursion to visit the Great Wall at Mutianyu, Ming Tombs and a chance to see some of rural China at close hand.
The Ming Tombs are located in a valley and number 13 in all. The valley is approached by the Imperial Way that is lined by larger than life stone figures (animals, soldiers and mythical figures). Only one tomb, Ding Ling, has been excavated and now lies empty but you will visit Changling which houses the impressive treasures from Ding Ling. Return to Beijing in the late afternoon.

The Great Wall was begun in the Warring States period (475 - 221) as a series of earthworks erected by individual kingdoms as a defence against each other as well as from invasions from the north. These walls were reconstructed and linked together much later, during the Han, Sui and Ming empires. The familiar, stone clad, crenellated wall dates from the Ming empire. The Wall is actually not one complete wall, but in fact several, and although many of these sections have been linked, many still remain separate to the others. To this end, it is almost impossible to calculate the actual length, and you may well be told a figure anywhere in between 2,400km to 5,000km.
Return to Beijing in the late afternoon.

You will be staying at Novotel Xinqiao Hotel, bed and breakfast

Day 4

Fly Beijing to Chongqing

Depart Chongqing
This evening board the Sanctuary Yangzi Explorer for the cruise along the Yangtse River to Yichang. After settling into your cabin, the ship will set sail on its downstream course through the Three Gorges region. The total length of this cruise is 660 kilometres (402 miles) and is considered by most Chinese to represent the single most scenic area in all of China. Later in the evening, a documentary about the Three Gorges Dam Project will be shown in the Tang Theatre.

Chongqing is located in the south-eastern part of the Sichuan Basin and the meeting point of the Jialing and Yangtze Rivers. It served as the capital of China during the Japanese occupation during the Second World War.

You will be staying at Sanctuary Yangzi Explorer, full board

Day 5

Start the morning with traditional Chinese exercise and work up an appetite for the buffet breakfast. Discover the authentic method of preparing tea in China and afterwards learn to make dumplings with the chef. In the afternoon there will be a shore excursion to Fengdu, where you can visit the Relocated Village, local Kindergarten or local market. The evening will begin with the Captain's welcome reception, followed by the welcome dinner.

You will be staying at Sanctuary Yangzi Explorer, full board

Day 6

Qutang Gorge - Shennong Stream - Three Gorges
Early this morning the Sanctuary Yangzi Explorer will enter Qutang Gorge and after breakfast, enter Wu Gorge and then cruise Shennong Stream. Disembark from the ship at Badong and board a ferry to a local longboat (sampan) poled by Tujia boatmen. After lunch, there will be a presentation by an expert on the Three Gorges Dam Project. Following afternoon tea, view Xiling Gorge and later, try Chinese brush painting and calligraphy. Tonight is "A Taste of China" dinner and afterwards, an evening of well-prepared entertainment by crew members.

You will be staying at Sanctuary Yangzi Explorer, full board

Day 7

Three Gorges & Disembark in Yichang
After breakfast, arrive at the Three Gorges Project Dam Site and Exhibition Centre. The Three Gorges Dam Project was started in 1992 and building was completed in 2009. The dam is currently the largest dam on Earth, 1.2 miles wide and 600 feet in height. The dam's 26 generators generate enough clean energy to reduce China's reliance on coal but it will also submerge 13 cities, 140 towns, 1,352 villages and over 600 industrial factories, more than 1,200 archeological projects and the 1.2 million people that will be resettled as a result of the flooding. Disembark the Sanctuary Yangzi Explorer at around midday.

Located on the banks of the river Yangtse, Yichang is best known as the location of the three gorges dam project.

Travel overland to Wuhan to check into your hotel for the night.

You will be staying at International Hotel Wuhan, bed and breakfast

Day 8

Fly Wuhan to Xian

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. An ancient trade hub of huge economic importance, Xian 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 adorn the city.

Transfer to your accommodation in Xian, visiting the Miniature Warriors en route.

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.

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 Grand Mercure Hotel, bed and breakfast

Day 9

Terracotta Warriors & Wild Goose Pagoda
Stumbled upon by peasants digging a well in 1974, the 2,000 year old army of the terracotta warriors is a fascinating record of artistic achievement and a grandiose expression of imperial power. Emperor Qin Shihuang was the first emperor of the Chinese people and embarked on a series of huge construction projects including the Great Wall. The best preserved of these undertakings is probably the terracotta warriors, interred within the outer wall of the emperor's mausoleum as his eternal imperial guard. The mound of earth which protects his tomb is believed to be studded with precious stones.

On your return to Xian visit the Wild Goose Pagoda which was built in AD648 by the third emperor of the Tang dynasty, Gao Zong, in memory of his deceased mother. Lunch included.

Sightseeing of Xian Old City
Exploring the Old City will bring to life Xian’s association with the mighty Silk Road. Visit the old City Walls and the Islamic Quarter as well as the Great Mosque, which is a beautiful spot in the midst of peaceful gardens. In addition visit the Large Goose Pagoda as well as Gao Family house, a traditional courtyard style home. A Dim Sum lunch is included at De Fa Chang traditional restaurant.

You will be staying at Grand Mercure Hotel, bed and breakfast

Day 10

Fly Xian to Guilin

Situated in the south, the striking city of Guilin boasts some of China's most stunning natural beauty. The city has served as an inspiration to artists and poets for centuries, its otherworldly beauty marking it apart from other cities.

Set against a backdrop of extraordinary, almost magical limestone peaks, Guilin is as lively as it is beautiful. A vibrant and colourful night market offers a chance to pick up locally-produced goods from handicrafts to snacks. And its man-made lakes, beautifully lit at night, only add to the wow-factor.

You will be staying at The White House Hotel, bed and breakfast

Day 11

Morning at Leisure.

Travel from Guilin Yangshuo

Yangshuo is a small market town and a lovely place to spend a few days. With a laid-back feel and market stalls, bars and restaurants lining the cobbled streets plus the opportunity to explore the surrounding countryside on foot or by bicycle. Located on the Li River it can either be reached by boat or road from the nearby town of Guilin offering the opportunity to view the magical landscape that this region is renowned for.

You will be staying at Alila Yangshuo, bed and breakfast

Day 12

Full Day Bamboo Rafting & Cycling
Drive to Dragon Bridge, which has a history over 1000 years, then take a traditional bamboo raft to Xing Long Zai, which will take approximately one and half-hours and is one of the more scenic stretches of the Yu Long River. On arrival, there is an opportunity for a leisurely bike ride or drive onwards to Xinping Old Town.

You will be staying at Alila Yangshuo, bed and breakfast

Day 13

Morning at Leisure.

Travel from Yangshuo to Guilin

Travel from Guilin to Hong Kong (Rail Journey)

Transfer to the airport for your onward flight.


Below you can see some of the wonderful places we recommend you stay on your journey.

Sanctuary Yangzi Explorer

Sanctuary Yangzi Explorer

The contemporary Yangzi Explorer has been completely refurbished and now offers a truly luxurious cruise option in China....

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

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

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