Experience the magic of China and Tibet in style. Gain exclusive access to famous vestiges, soar above UNESCO Heritage Sites by helicopter and connect with the culture in a way that only a few get to experience. Combined with stylish hotels and indulgent dining, this is THE ultimate China
Escape the crowds and gain a unique perspective on key sites with helicopter flights, VIP access and private touring.
Spend three days in Lhasa connecting with the deeply spiritual people and admiring its incredible natural beauty.
Be a part of Chinese culture through immersive experiences such as a night in a Buddhist monastery.
China in Style - 17 Days / 16 Nights
Begin this comprehensive China tour in Beijing, a capital city where ancient wonders stand proudly alongside modern marvels and life bustles and thrives on every street.
Upon arrival into Beijing, guests will be met by a driver and guide for a transfer into the city and hotel.
Depending on arrival time, there may be an opportunity to stroll through 'The Village' - the chic shopping district surrounding the hotel. Sample the electric atmosphere of the local bars or visit the famous covered Yaxiu market.
Food has always played a central role in Chinese life. As such, there will be an introduction to the many regional cuisines with a lunch at a famous Hunanese cuisine restaurant, located close to the hotel. A favourite of Chairman Mao, who was born in Hunan province, this style of cuisine is famous for its hot spicy flavour, fresh aromas and deep colour.
Afternoon at leisure.
The journey of culinary discovery continues in the evening with a visit to a restaurant serving Beijing's most famous dish, Peking duck. Roast duck became a delicacy in imperial China when it was highly regarded by the ruling elite. The hot roast duck is shredded at the table and served with thin pancakes, plum sauce and slices of spring onion.
Following dinner, retire to the stunning and stylish Opposite House hotel.
The second day of this China tour starts with a morning visit to the Temple of Heaven, a UNESCO World Heritage site. At this time of day, there will be ample opportunity to see local residents enjoying their morning activities in the park, including Tai Chi, Kung Fu, sabre practice, meditation, gymnastics and even tango dancing.
Some Chinese also practice water calligraphy with giant brushes on the park’s flagstones. After a brief introduction by the guide, there will be a chance to try one’s hand at this ancient art, before entering the temple itself.
The culinary adventure continues at lunch with a trip to a restaurant specialising in cuisine from the Shandong Region. Appealingly, Shandong also produces more than 40% of China’s wine and is home to the country’s most famous beer, Tsingtao.
After lunch, head to another UNESCO World Heritage site and arguably China's most famous attraction: The Forbidden City. Built during the reign of the Ming Dynasty, the Forbidden City was the seat of China's emperors for centuries, and completely closed off to the outside world. Legend has it that the complex is comprised of 9999 different rooms.
- Forbidden City access will be limited to 80,000 visitors/day. A passport copy must be provided at least 11 days in advance for personal registration (preferably 2 weeks in order to assure a successful booking); it will not be possible later on to modify its date.
- Visitors are required to bring their passport for security check upon their visit to the monument.
- Forbidden City is closed on Mondays, expect July and Aug.
After a rest at the hotel, guests will spend the evening sampling another regional cuisine, Hui or Wan, from the eastern province of Anhui.
The third day starts with an early morning transfer to the Temple of Earth, where a private class in traditional Chinese medicine will be held with a local expert. A tour of the Temple of Earth will display the core elements of China's Taoist culture, how traditional exercises blend with Chinese medical theory, and how guests can take advantage of cosmic cycles to improve their health.
A short stroll to the Confucius Temple then provides an insight into the theories and beliefs that have come to define modern Chinese culture and social interaction.Completing the morning of bodily and spiritual well-being, an introduction to the key elements of Chinese nutrition will enable guests to learn the timeless wisdom of healthy eating, and how food forms a part of Chinese medicine.
After a food-themed morning, sample some cuisine from eastern China's Jiangsu province. Located in the city's hutongs (or alleyways), this restaurant specialises in seafood.
After lunch, relax and enjoy a two-hour vintage sidecar tour through the maze of hutongs, offering the chance to see everyday life on the backstreets of Beijing. The ride will end with the visit to the Drum Tower, which, in ancient times, marked the hours of the day.
Note: Maximum capacity is 2 passengers / sidecar. Helmets & rain gear are at guests’ disposal.
After a transfer back the hotel, discover the fascinating world of Chinese contemporary film with a private movie screening and discussion with a local filmmaker.
- The movie screening is available only on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays evening. The screening lasts usually two hours and the Q&A is at the time of the dinner. The type of movie will depend on the availability of the directors/producers. Documentaries or feature films by Chinese independent filmmakers explore usually some current social issue.
Overnight at the Opposite House
The fourth day of the China tour begins as the previous evening ended - with an exploration of modern China's art and culture.
Transferring to the 798 art district, the heart of Beijing's art scene. 798 is made up of a number of abandoned factories that were renovated in the 90s by Chinese artists. It now has a thriving contemporary art scene, along with cafés, restaurants and specialist boutiques selling clothes by exciting young designers. Spend a few hours wandering through the narrow alleyways, browsing the shops and stopping to relax and enjoy a coffee.
Lunch is served at a restaurant specializing in Manchurian cuisine. China was ruled by the northern Manchus from 1644 to 1911 and their influence has permeated the local cuisine. A focus on rich and hearty stews, breads and dumplings is testament to the cold Manchurian climate.
After lunch, the tour heads north out of the city to arguably the world's most famous landmark - the Great Wall of China. Pay a visit to Guandi, which is home to the “Great Green Wall” reforestation project. Here, a local official offers an in depth insight into the project, which is designed to hold back the desert sands of the north.
The evening's dinner is served in the Schoolhouse, a former school turned restaurant, and the night is spent at the neighbouring Brickyard hotel, which provides stunning views of the Great Wall.
Night in Brickyard hotel
A short morning transfer heads to the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall, before a final cable car ride up to one of the Wall's many watch towers. This will provide the spectacular setting for breakfast.
Enjoy a 40 minute walk along the Wall. Recently measured at a staggering 21,196km, the Great Wall is actually a series of walls built over the course of many centuries, stretching from China's east coast to the remote deserts of Gansu province in the far west.
After returning by cable car, transport will be provided to another section of the Wall for an unforgettable 25-minute helicopter flight over the Badaling section of this jaw-dropping wonder, and nearby Guanting reservoir- a definite highlight of this China tour.
Note: flight on a AS350B3 Squirrel or EC135 from Eurocopter. Maximum capacity: 5 passengers
Note: Late lunch is not included. Aman Summer Palace Naoki restaurant combines French techniques with Japanese culinary artistry and the Grill features Western cuisine if guests want a break from Chinese food.
After the helicopter ride, there will be a transfer to the Aman Summer Palace- a stunning luxury resort just steps away from the East Gate of Summer Palace.
Once considered one of the world's most beautiful man made wonders, the Summer Palace served as the home of the Imperial Court during the summer months. A mix of ornate temples, pavilions, lakes, pagodas and gardens, the Summer Palace is an exquisite example of Chinese architecture and horticulture. Hotel guests are also offered access to a secret door that allows them to enter the palace garden after all the other tourists have departed.
Dinner is served at the hotel's Chinese restaurant, which serves outstanding Cantonese, or Yue cuisine.
Night at the Aman Summer Palace
The morning of day six is spent with a guided tour of the Summer Palace, before heading back into the city center for lunch in a restaurant specializing in Fujian cuisine. This is the last stop on the Beijing leg of the journey, and will be followed by a transfer to the railway station to experience one of China's 21st Century wonders: the high-speed train.
Train Station: Beijing – Xi’an
Train number: G663
Estimated departure time: 15:45
Estimated arrival time: 21:24
Note: we recommend travelling light on Chinese trains (eg. one piece of hand luggage and a suitcase not exceeding 20kg). Despite being modern, the trains do not boast an abundance of space for passengers. Please also note that some train stations in China do not allow access to people without a ticket (this will apply to guides during transfers from hotel to station to hotel).
Upon arrival in the ancient city of Xian, a guide and driver will be waiting to provide transport to the hotel.
Shaanxi province is often considered to be the cradle of Chinese civilization. The capital of the Chinese empire on three separate occasions, Xi’an marked a key stop on the ancient Silk Road and became a center of trade and commerce.
Note: Late dinner is not included. Sofitel Legend's 1953 Lobby Lounge serves Western and Asian cuisine
Overnight at the Sofitel Legend, a luxury hotel located close to Xi'an's central Bell Tower. This iconic building was a former official state guesthouse and has played host to many visiting dignitaries and diplomats.
After a morning at leisure, there will be a noon transfer to Xi’an's art district. Here, the transport changes to a 1960s jeep, which became an essential part of Chinese rural life in this northern region. Escorted by an “insider driver”, head into the Qinling Mountains to discover the beautiful Loess Plateau and its sweeping canyons. This remote area is also home to large communities of cave-dwelling people, who carved their homes out of the soft rock.
Note: Max capacity passengers: 4 passengers per jeep (+ driver)
Wide range of options: Champagne, video camera rental and editing (GoPro camera)
Lunch is served on the Loess Plateau before continuing on to a local blacksmith who still forges traditional weapons using ancient methods. As the day ends, visit the Wangs, a cave dwelling family who will provide the night's dinner and accommodation - an unforgettable experience to end a magical day.
Note: the house has water and electricity but rooms don’t have modern showers or bathtubs, just a traditional basin with hot and cold water. The house can accommodate 6 pax maximum and 6 pax more in neighbor’s cave.
-Bring the minimum required; main luggage will stay with the Sofitel Legend concierge
On the eighth day of this extraordinary China tour, discover one of China's most breathtaking attractions: the world famous Terracotta Warriors.
In 1974, local farmers stumbled upon this incredible site by accident. We can only imagine their reaction when they first laid eyes on this jaw-dropping collection of thousands of soldiers, all lined up in battle formation. They had just discovered one of the greatest archaeological finds in history!
Qin Shi Huangdi, the first Emperor of China, built the mausoleum to have his immense army of infantrymen, archers, and cavalry riders protect him in the afterlife. The statues are located in three separate pits. Explore this archaeological treasure trove, including access to a VIP area to closely inspect the newly excavated figures.
After the visit, there will be a transfer by jeep to a local vineyard for a late lunch and wine tasting session, and visit a 1400-year-old Buddhist temple.
Transfer back to Xi’an for a street food dinner in a Muslim neighborhood. Islamic culture arrived in China along the Silk Road, as merchants from the Middle East and Central Asia traded in Xi'an. The city is now home to a vibrant Muslim community.
Overnight in Sofitel Legend
The morning of day nine will be spent exploring Xi'an's impressive city ramparts, which were built during the Ming Dynasty. Enjoy a 30 minute walk along the walls from the East Gate to the South Gate, before transferring to the Giant Wild Goose Pagoda, a symbol of Xi’an and one of the most beautiful pagodas in the country.
A transfer will then be provided to the airport, but not before a short visit the tomb of Emperor Jing, which is located close to airport. Opened to the public in 2006, the tomb houses a multitude of figurines representing eunuchs, servers and domestic animals, designed to represent the life under the Han Dynasty.
Board the plane for a business class flight to the UNESCO-listed city of Lijiang, in southwest China's Yunnan province.
Considered by many to be the most beautiful region in China, Yunnan is a patchwork of rice terraces, ancient villages and snow-capped mountains. At the crossroads of Southeast Asia, Tibet and “classical” China, Yunnan is also home to several ethnic minority groups who still practise their own cultural traditions.
Expected departure time: 6:15 pm
Expected arrival time: 8:15 pm
On arrival in Lijiang, a local guide will provide transportation to the Amandayan hotel.
Note: Dinner is not included. The Amandayan Lounge restaurant serves Western and Asian cuisines.
Overnight in Amandayan
Welcome to Lijiang, an enchanting labyrinth of cobbled streets and charming courtyards, lined with traditional houses and criss-crossed by gently rippling streams and stone bridges. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Lijiang is a stunning example of traditional architecture and home to the Naxi ethnic group.
In the morning, head on foot to the Mu Palace alongside the guide, which is named after the Chinese warlords who ruled from this magnificent residence during the 13th Century. The palace is a vivid example of Ming and Qing architecture, based on the same style as the Forbidden City in Beijing.
The tour then heads back to the edge of the ancient town to explore the local market and get a feel for the “real”Lijiang. Continue with a walk to the Black Dragon Pond Park in the north of the town, which offers, on a clear day, panoramic views of the famous Jade Dragon Mountain.
Leaving Lijiang, head onto the Baisha village, one of the earliest Naxi settlements and home to many ancient buildings, including the Dabaoji Palace, Liuli Temple and Wenchang Palace.
Continue onto the Baisha heliport for an incredible 70-minute private helicopter flight over Baisha, the old town of Shuhe, Jade Dragon Mountain and the famous Tiger Leaping Gorge - one of the deepest gorges in the world. This memorable occasion will be marked with an in-flight glass of champagne.
Note: helicopter type: AC311, maximum capacity: 4 passengers
After transferring back to hotel, the evening is spent at the Aman Chinese restaurant (called Man Xi Yuan) which serves traditional Yunnanese food. Using such ingredients as lime juice, coconut and palm sugar, this style of cuisine of often more reflective of Southeast Asian cooking than Chinese cuisine.
Overnight in Amandayan
Day 11 marks the Tibetan portion of this China tour with a transfer to Lijiang Airport; board a business class flight to Lhasa, the capital of Tibet.
Expected departure time: 9:40 am
Expected arrival time: 11:40 am
Set on a high Himalayan plateau, surrounded by desert-like plains, snow-covered sacred mountains and deep blue lakes, Tibet is a region of spectacular natural beauty. It is also an immensely spiritual land, and many Tibetans still dedicate their daily lives to temples and monasteries.
On arrival in Lhasa, settle into the hotel and adjust to the altitude, before having lunch (not included).
Note: This is the “Roof of the World,” and as such it is imperative to bring sun cream, lip balm, and sunglasses, and to stay regularly hydrated. It is also strongly recommended to consult a doctor before the trip to ensure one is physically capable of climbing to altitudes sometimes greater than 5000 meters.
Note: Altitude – the all-day restaurant – features live cooking stations that offer a variety of international cuisine. The extensive buffet serves a wide range of Tibetan, India, Thai, and Japanese dishes.
After lunch, enjoy a full immersion in Tibetan culture with a visit to the Jokhang Temple, which dates from the 8th Century. The most venerated religious site in Tibet, the temple attracts a crowd of pilgrims each day, including nomadic Amdo or Kham people dressed in sheepskins.
Walk with believers on the Barkhor - the pilgrimage routes that encircle sacred sites - while pilgrims spin their prayer wheels and prostrate themselves on the floor in front of the temple doors. Then enter the temple: lit by hundreds of candles, the air is filled with the smell of yak's butter and the chants of monks. There are 3000 icons of Buddha, Buddhist deities, and historical figures throughout the temple, including a giant golden statue brought here by the Chinese Princess Wencheng, the second wife of King Songtsen Gampo, which lies at its heart.
Following this spiritual experience, take a stroll through Lhasa’s old town and shop for souvenirs. Tibet is also well known for its precious stones, fine arts and crafts; a visit to the Lhasa village workshop will offer a unique chance to find many authentic, hand-crafted local products.
Transfer back to the luxury Shangri-La Lhasa Hotel, which is located in the heart of old town.
Start the day with a magical breakfast served on the hotel’s rooftop terrace, overlooking the surrounding landscape and the Potala Palace - the next stop on the journey.
Note: The terrace is usually reserved for groups and events; the breakfast service is therefore subject to availability.
After breakfast, visit the Potala Palace, the one-time residence of the Dalai Lama – the religious head and political leader of Tibet. The palace is a true architectural masterpiece that overlooks the whole of Lhasa from its 130-metre-high vantage point. The site has been home to a palace since the 7th Century, but it was in 1645 that the Potala Palace took its current form. Guests can explore the palace's two main buildings, the Red Palace and White Palace, which feature a labyrinth of staircases, apartments, ceremonial rooms and chapels.
Note: Potala Palace can be closed to the public at short notice for political reasons; therefore the order in which we visit the sites in Lhasa may be rearranged accordingly.
Following the Potala Palace visit, explore one of the most important structures in Tibetan Buddhism’s Gelugpa sect with a trip to the Sera Monastery (located 5km from the city center), which was founded in 1419 and houses 600 monks. Watch along as the monks practice their debates every afternoon between 15:30 to 17:00 (except Sundays).
Dinner will be served on the rooftop of a Tibetan restaurant located in Lhasa's first hotel.
Return to the hotel. Overnight in Shangri-La Lhasa
After breakfast, transport will be provided to the Drepung monastery, the third of the trio of Gelugpa temples (Yellow Hat Sect). The monastery was built in 1416 and was once thought to be the largest in the world, housing a community of 7,000 monks. The second, third, and fourth Dalai Lamas are buried here, and the fifth lived here before taking up residence in the Potala Palace.
Continue on to the Ganden monastery, the original monastery of the Yellow Hat Sect. Established in 1416, this monastery is perched on top of a hill overlooking the Kyi-Chu valley. Innumerable religious texts can be found in its various chapels, and guests may have the chance to see the “printers” at work, conscientiously copying around 500 pages a day. There will also be a chance to mingle with the crowd of pilgrims and soak up the spectacular views before transferring back to Lhasa.
Note: it is advised that this trip is undertaken after an acclimatization period of two or three days. Ganden monastery is located at around 3900m altitude, 200m higher than Lhasa.
Back in Lhasa, pay an evening visit to the Tenzin blind massage center, which is named after its owner, Tenzin, who trained at “Braille without borders”, an organization that empowers blind people from developing countries. Tenzin launched the massage center in 2008. Blind massage has a long history in China, dating back to the 8th Century. After the visit, head back to the hotel.
Overnight in Shangri-La Lhasa
Transfer to Lhasa Airport for a first class flight to Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province. On arrival at Chengdu Airport, a guide and driver will be waiting to provide transport to the hotel.
Expected departure time: 9:50 am
Expected arrival time: 11:50 am
Sichuan province is known for its mountainous landscapes, food, Tibetan culture, giant pandas, and the world's largest Buddha statue at Leshan.
After settling in at the hotel, embark on an afternoon visit to the Panda Breeding Center - the largest such facility in the world, and home to almost 100 pandas.
Transfer back to city centre for dinner in a restaurant specializing in Sichuan cuisine. Long considered to be simple and unsophisticated by many Chinese, Sichuan cuisine has become hugely popular, partly pungent aromas and spicy kick, which comes from the famous Sichuan peppercorns. In 2010 Chengdu became the first city in Asia and only the second in the world to be named a “UNESCO City of Gastronomy”.
Spend the night in the Shangri-La Chengdu, which is located in a vibrant neighbourhood at the convergence of the Jinjiang and Minjiang rivers.
Day 15 of the China tour is spent at the Emeishan Holy Mountain, approximately two hours' drive from Chengdu. One of China's four sacred Buddhist Mountains, Emeishan is a major place of pilgrimage. Most of its temples and monasteries date back to the Ming and Qing Dynasties (1368-1644 and 1644-1911 respectively) and are linked by more than 50km (31 miles) of stairways and mountain pathways. Guests will travel by bus, cable car and on foot to discover the major temples and the pine forests, which are usually shrouded in a magical haze.
Note: It is very likely to see Tibetan macaques along the route, but it is advisable not to feed them or produce anything (such as a plastic bag) that looks like it may contain food.
It’s also recommended to wear good shoes, especially if trekking to the Pavilion of Pure Sound.
Continue on bus to the Baoguo Temple, which is situated in a beautiful garden and best known for its porcelain Buddha. Transfer by bus and cable car to the Wannian Temple - the oldest temple on Emei Mountain.
Option: depending on the climate and guests' walking ability, we recommend the 4km (2.5 mile) walk back from the Wannian temple to the Pavilion of Pure Sound, which is suspended on a promontory encircled by the Black Dragon and White Dragon Rivers. These rivers feed a waterfall whose sound gives its name to the pavilion.
Transfer by bus then cable car to the Jinding Temple, located on the peak of the same name. In addition to this golden palace, appreciate the stunning views of Wanfo peak which, at 3099m (10,167ft), towers over the whole site. The two peaks are nearly always bathed in a stunning sea of cloud that adds an element of magic to the experience.
Spend the night in one of the mountain's monasteries (usually inside Wannian temple, depending on availability). The conditions are somewhat basic, but the experience makes it worthwhile, and includes a vegetarian dinner with the monks.
For those who would prefer to stay in a hotel at the summit or the bottom (including the luxury Anantara Emei Resort & Spa), please consult us directly.
On the journey back from Emeishan to Chengdu, stop in Leshan–the home of the largest Buddha statue in the world. The Giant Buddha, as it is commonly known, was carved into the rock face along the banks of the Min River 1200 years ago. Standing 71m (231ft) tall and 28m (92ft) wide, it even has 7m (23ft) long ears. Guests will be able to take the stairs down the cliffside, which offers a real measure of the scale of this piece of art.
Optionally: It’s also possible to admire the Giant Buddha from a boat on the Min River. Please consult us inf interested.
Continue along the pleasant forest track through the Oriental Buddha Park, dotted with small temples, thousands of small statues and another huge Buddha statue.
Stop at the hotel in Chengdu for a shower and a break before heading out to the Sichuan Opera to experience this classical art form, which features dancers, singers, acrobats, fire-eaters or experts in the art of “face changing”. Before the show there may even be a chance to meet the performers as they put on their make-up.
Overnight in Chengdu
Wrap up this comprehensive China tour with a transfer (provided) to Chengdu airport for the departing flight.
We advise that do not talk sensitive politics topic with guide and locals to avoid any unpleasant experience.
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Our services do not include:
Note : We advise that do not talk sensitive politics topic with guide and locals to avoid any unpleasant experience.
Creating Unique Touring Experiences
All the touring itineraries on this website have been carefully crafted by our in-country management teams and represent a series of experiences we can certainly recommend. However, we understand that every travel experience should be as unique and individual as each traveler. Our consultants are waiting to hear from you so that we can tailor or custom design a China Luxury Tour to your individual specifications.
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