Discovery of China

21 Days, from AU $6,256

Yangshuo

Rice Terraces,  Longsheng

Giant Panda at the Panda Research Base, Chengdu

Terracotta Warriors, Xian

Discover China in this twenty one day adventure showcasing the best that China has to offer. Starting with Beijing, explore Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden Palace and the Great Wall. Then to historic Xian with its army of Terracotta Warriors and its ancient city walls. Discover the haunting majesty of Guilin's wilderness scenery, Yangshuo and the Dragons Backbone in Longsheng. Make new friends at Chengdu Panda Research Base before cruising the mighty Yangtze River with its dramatic scenery and the Three Gorges Dam. End your trip in Shanghai with its contrast of colonial-styled buildings and modern skyscrapers.

Our Discovery itineraries explore a destination in depth, with carefully selected experiences, and ample free time for relaxation. Like all GetAboutAsia trips, Discovery itineraries can be customised to create your perfect holiday. Discuss itinerary options and extensions with our Asia Travel Experts.

Suggested Itinerary

Day 1: Beijing

You will meet your guide on arrival, transfer and check-in to your hotel. During the drive your guide will provide an introduction to Beijing, answer any questions you have, and make arrangements for the following day. Enjoy free time for the remainder of the first day.

Beijing has served as the capital of China for over 800 years and is the second largest city by population. Home to the sprawling Forbidden City, the Temple of Heaven and the Summer Palace, as well as the most popular spot to visit the world famous Great Wall.

Beijing has many great restaurants and bars. Ask your guide for personal recommendations.

Itinerary Option: If you’re arriving to Beijing in the morning, discuss additional Day 1 activities with our staff.

Day 2: Beijing

Today you'll visit historic Tiananmen Square, the largest public square in the world. Followed by a visit to the sprawling Forbidden City that dominates central Beijing, as it has done since it was it was completed in 1420 AD. This amazing complex is divided into political, living and entertainment areas, and is a highlight of any trip to China.

In the afternoon visit the Summer Palace, with its lush gardens and lakes it is easy to understand why it was a favoured place for emperors to relax.

Tonight you are treated to Beijing's world famous dish, Peking Duck.

Interesting Forbidden City Trivia:

  • The Forbidden City consists of 980 buildings with 8,886 rooms.
  • The city is built on the site of the former Mongol Yuan Dynasty Imperial City that was destroyed following the founding of the Ming Dynasty.
  • In the Second Opium War of 1860 the British and French forces forcefully occupied the city temporarily.
  • From its overall layout to the smallest detail, the Forbidden City was meticulously planned to reflect philosophical and religious principles, and to symbolise the majesty of Imperial power.
  • Your guide will explain why particular colours were chosen, why particular statuettes line the sloping roof ridges, and how numbers influenced the layout and design of the complex.

Day 3: Beijing

Head out to visit the Ming Tombs built for thirteen emperors of the Ming Dynasty (1368 - 1644 AD) and its Sacred Way, also known as the Way of Spirit. From there travel northeast to the Great Wall built to protect China from invasions from the north, namely the Mongolians and Manchurians. Climb the wall at the Mutianyu section followed by a barbecue lunch at a local restaurant.

Day 4: Beijing - Xian

This morning visit China’s largest temple and altar complex as well as the city’s symbol, the Temple of Heaven, built in the Ming Dynasty and surrounded by purpose designed parklands. Afterwards grab a bargain or simply window shop at the famous Hongqiao Pearl Market or Silk Alley.

In the afternoon explore Beijing's hutongs, or old residential laneways, that are slowly disappearing to redevelopment. Visit a family's hutong residence to see how Beijing locals have lived for centuries. Visit Prince Gong’s Palace, followed by the Bell or Drum Tower, which once formed a section of Beijing's city walls, and were used to announce the time of day to residents.

Take the afternoon express train to Xian where you will meet your guide on arrival. Your guide will provide an introduction to Xian, answer any questions you have, and make arrangements for the following day. Enjoy free time for the remainder for the first day

Well established two centuries before the founding of Rome, Xian was the capital of China throughout a number of important dynasties. When trade via the Silk Road began in the Han Dynasty (206 BC - 220 AD) Xian was the capital and at the eastern junction of the route. The introduction of exotic Chinese goods to the rest of the world started at Xian.

Having grown progressively through several ruling dynasties, Xian, known as Chang'an in the mid seventh century, was the largest city in the world before it was devastated at the end of the Tang Dynasty. However, the city was rebuilt during the Ming Dynasty with the new city wall completed in 1370 based on the inner palace walls of the Tang Dynasty city. The Ming Dynasty walls are well preserved and can be circumnavigated on foot or bicycle.

Xian has plenty of restaurants serving cuisines from all around the world, and the city centre can be explored on foot. Ask your guide for advice and personal recommendations.

Day 5: Xian

Today you will visit Xian's Muslim quarter to see the Chinese styled Great Mosque which was founded in 742 AD, when Xian was the largest city in the world and home to many thousands of foreigners. In this fascinating area you'll notice that many of the residents come from mixed ethnic backgrounds possibly dating back to the early days of the Silk Road traders. Some of the Islamic-Chinese food you'll see in the market and on restaurant menus is unique to this region.

Explore Xian's ancient city walls. At 12 metres high and 12-18 metres thick they are the best preserved in China.

Each warrior, horse and chariot of the famed Terracotta Warriors is unique, having been intricately created by hand in 209 BC, over two thousand years ago, and rediscovered by accident in 1974. We've all seen them on television, but nothing can prepare you for the awesome scale of over 8,000 life-sized models, complete with armour, weapons, and individual facial features. Truly something that has to be seen to be appreciated.

To complete your introduction to Xian, enjoy the Tang Dynasty Dinner Show in the evening.

Day 6: Xian

Visit the Provincial Museum to learn the history of Xian and the ancient Silk Road. Visit the Big Wild Goose Pagoda which was initially built in the seventh century to house Buddhist scriptures brought back from India by pilgrims.

Enjoy free time for the rest of the day.

Day 7: Xian to Guilin

Enjoy free time in Xian this morning until your flight to Guilin in the afternoon where you meet your guide on arrival. You guide will provide you with an introduction to Guilin and the Li River area, answer any questions you have, and make arrangements for the following day. Enjoy free time for the remainder of the first day.

Guilin is one of the most picturesque areas in China, famous for majestic karts of limestone towering above the crystal clear waters of the Li River. With its inspirational natural beauty, this is a must-see region of China.

Your guide will suggest personal restaurant recommendations for this evening.

Day 8: Guilin to Yangshuo

Head off early on your 83 kilometre Li River cruise, gliding majestically through the most picturesque section of river. As you wind through the rising and falling hills, an impossibly rich tapestry of natural beauty unfolds before your eyes. Terraced rice fields, green bamboo shoots, grazing water buffalo and cormorant fisherman working from bamboo rafts. Make sure your camera is fully charged!

At the end of the cruise you arrive at the ancient river town of Yangshuo. Your guide will introduce you to Yangshuo, including the waterfront and markets on the way to your hotel.

Accommodation: Yangshuo.

Itinerary Option: Attend the Yangshuo Impression of Miss Liusanjie light and sound show with the Li River as the backdrop. Discuss itinerary options with our staff.

Day 9: Yangshuo

Enjoy a sleep in today and relax to the beautiful scenery of Yangshuo. Mid morning, enjoy a short cycle through Yangshuo’s laneways and into the lush countryside.

Enjoy the rest of the day free in picturesque Yangshuo until your afternoon transfer back to Guilin. 

Day 10: Longsheng

Travel by road to the county of Longsheng and walk along the ridges of the most striking rice terraced valleys in the world - seeing is believing. The main ridge is known locally as the Dragons Backbone for the way it resembles the armoured ridges of this mythical creatures back.

Longsheng is also home to ethnic minorities such as Zhuang people whose colourful dress and hair style is unique to their culture. In the afternoon you will return back to Guilin for your overnight stay.
 

Day 11: Guilin- Chengdu

Today visit the interesting limestone formation of Elephant Trunk Hill, followed by Reed Flute Cave enhanced with multicoloured lighting. Graffiti in the cave has been dated back to 792 AD indicating that the complex has been an attraction for over 1,200 years.

A short climb up the solitary Fubo Hill provides a panoramic view of Guilin and another chance to frame the perfect photo.
End the day with a visit to Seven Star Park with its seven limestone peaks, waterways and gardens.

Fly to Chengdu after city tour and meet guide on arrival to transfer to hotel.

Day 12: Chengdu

Chengdu is located in the fertile plains of China’s Sichuan Province. This central city has a history exceeding two thousand years, including being the capital city of six separatist feudal reigns. In fact, the name Chengdu literally means "becoming capital". Chengdu is the only city in China to have kept the same name for over two thousand years.

Visit the Marquis Wu Shrine with relics that date back to the old kingdoms, followed by a walking tour of Jinli Street with its old residences, traditional shops and houses.

Your guide will suggest personal restaurant recommendations for this evening.

Optional Activities: Visit Leshan for its famous Giant Buddha Statue. With approximately 71 meters it is the largest Buddha in the world. It is a statue of Maitreya in sitting posture, carved in 713 A.D and finished 90 years later. Take a boat cruise on the Min River to view the mighty Grand Buddha from a floating perspective. In the surroundings of Leshan are also wonderful mountain ranges worth exploring! 

Day 13: Chengdu

This morning we travel to see the Sanxingdui Museum, where two sacrificial pits were found in 1986 unearthing a previously unknown bronze age culture established around 1600 BC. The ongoing archaeological work has uncovered amazing artefacts that are displayed in the museum.

Afterwards travel to the Chengdu Panda Research Base to learn about the Giant Panda and get up close and personal with these cuddly creatures. In the evening enjoy the famed Sichuan cuisine in a special dinner accompanied by a Sichuan opera showcasing the entertaining Bian Lian mask changing performance.

Day 14: Chongqing

After breakfast this morning catch the bullet train to Chongqing and your guide will meet you at the station. Chongqing is the most important city in China’s southwest region with the Chongqing province having a modest population by Chinese standards of 28 million people. Chongqing has been known by many names throughout its two thousand year history, with the current name being eight hundred years old.

Perched beside the Yangtze River which has always been the lifeblood of the city, modern day Chongqing is a large industrialised city and the gateway to Yangtze River tourism.

With your guide, climb Liangjiang Pavilion in Eling Park to view the panoramic vista of the city, planned to be one of the world's biggest in the future. Stroll through the old town of Ciqikou, formally a busy port on the Jialing River before it flows into the mighty Yangtze at Chongqing. Ciqikou, also known as Little Chongqing, grew famous for its fine porcelain production from the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) onwards.

Learn about the Three Gorges Dam project at the modern Three Gorges Museum, a must before your cruise. In the evening board your Victoria Cruise ship to start your three night cruise.

Perhaps start your cruise with cocktails on deck, or maybe knocking out a few reps in the gym or a foot massage to unwind.

Day 15: Yangtze River Cruise

Wake up to dramatic scenery of the mighty Yangtze River, and meander to your buffet breakfast with its ever changing view outside.

The Yangtze River is the lifeblood of central China and grows in volume as it travels down from the snowy Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau. The river has been the inspiration of poets and painters, and the centre of interior Chinese commerce for several millennia. Your luxury river cruise ship sails through the most dramatic scenery that the river has to offer with the imposing cliffs of the Three Gorges and the backdrop of snow capped mountain ranges.

Today make a land excursion to Fengdu, also known as the 'Ghost City' with its two thousand years of history on the north bank of the river. The site combines the cultures of Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism with the mystique of ghosts, as portrayed by the sculptures of demons and devils.

Take time to watch the changing scenery from the deck, the cosy lounge or your private cabin balcony. In the evening attend the Captain’s welcome cocktail party.

Day 16: Yangtze River Cruise

This morning you'll sail through the Qutang Gorge, the first of the three Yangtze gorges and famous for dramatic scenery. Your ship docks at Wushan for an excursion to the Lesser Three Gorges and later continues through Wu Gorge where the ship is dwarfed by the imposing cliffs. Last of the three gorges is Xiling Gorge, the longest and most beautiful of the three.

A highlight of the trip is watching these huge ships go through the five level ship lock, several ships at a time.

Enjoy the farewell banquet for your last evening aboard.

Day 17: Yangtze River Cruise

This morning your ship arrives at the monstrous and highly controversial Three Gorges Dam, which required relocating 1.5 million people, and submerging 13 cities. Whatever your views, one can only marvel at the scale of this engineering feat.

You will be met on shore around noon and fly to Shanghai. Your guide will provide an introduction to Shanghai, answer any questions you have, and make arrangements for the following day.

Shanghai is China's largest and most prosperous city, consuming countryside and ancient villages in its relentless growth outwards and upwards. Coming to prosperity as a trading concession for European and North American merchants, today the city is one of the world's greatest trading hubs and financial centres. If Beijing and Xian are China's living museums, then Shanghai is an insight into the future of this amazing country.

Shanghai has a multitude of restaurants and bars and some of the world's best shopping. The centre of Shanghai is accessible, safe and fun to walk around, if not a little crowded during the day. Ask your guide for advice and personal recommendations.

Interesting Three Gorges Dam Trivia:

  • The last of the 32 generators went live at the Three Gorges Dam Hydroelectric power station in July 2012.
  • Full capacity is 22,500 Megawatts, which is almost double the second largest power station in the world (Itaipu hydroelectric in Brazil and Paraguay), which is five times the largest power station in Western Europe (Drax, in North Yorkshire), over eight times Australia's largest (Eraring in Lake Macquarie, north of Sydney), and over double New Zealand's combined power generation.
  • However, this is only a small fraction of the power produced by China's 620 coal fired power stations. (Statistics as at 03-2013).

Day 18: Shanghai

Following breakfast, accompany your guide for a visit to China's premier museum, the Shanghai Museum, which covers the history of China from ancient times to the modern age. Afterwards visit to the Jade Buddha Temple, and the Yu Garden and Bazaar.

Walk the streets of the former British and French concessions established under the Treaty of Nanking, following the first opium war in 1842. The settlement was established north of the original Shanghai city walls and today makes up part of the riverfront referred to as the Shanghai Bund, or embankment, still home to many grand buildings from that period.

Directly across the river is Pudong, the contrasting new Shanghai which serves as the modern financial and commercial centre. The CBD in Pudong sprang up in the 1990s where agricultural villages once stood. Growing at a stagging pace, Shanghai is the largest city centre in the world and is still the fastest growing city in the world too.

Leaving the former British and French concessions, travel to Pudong and ascend China's tallest building, the Shanghai World Financial Centre. Enjoy the panoramic views of Shanghai and the Bund back across the river.

To complete your introduction to Shanghai, in the evening, enjoy the world famous Acrobatic Show at the Centre Theater.

Day 19: Shanghai

Enjoy free time in Shanghai to walk the riverside, explore the old concession streets or do some shopping.

Itinerary Option: If you'd prefer that your guide accompanied you around Shanghai or additional guided activities are included, please discuss options with our staff.

Day 20: Shanghai

After breakfast travel west of Shanghai to the ancient town of Suzhou famous for its silk, gardens and canals. Explore the famed Garden of Humble Administration and the Master of Nets Garden. Enjoy a short cruise on the Grand Canal, an ancient engineering marvel that enabled waterborne transportation between Beijing and Shanghai. Later visit a silk factory to understand more about this remarkable fabric that featured prominently in the history of relations between the east and west.

Day 21: Shanghai

On your last day enjoy free time until your departure transfer.

Personalise Your Trip

Phone now to discuss options to personalise your itinerary.

Ideas to upgrade and extend your itinerary:

  • Beijing: Attend a martial arts show at the Red Theatre.
  • Chengdu: Hiking up beautiful Mount Qingcheng, famed as the most important Taoist religious site in China.
  • Yangtze Cruise: Love the idea of cruising? Why not extend your cruise all the way through to Mount Huangshan (Yellow Mountain) and Shanghai. You also have the option of upgrading your cabin to add additional luxuries for this once in a lifetime experience. Discuss options with our staff.
  • Shanghai: Travel to one of China's famous water towns on a day trip from Shanghai.
  • Shanghai: China's most dramatic mountain wilderness scenery, Mount Huangshan (Yellow Mountain) is close to Shanghai.

Victoria Cruise Ships

GetAboutAsia uses Victoria Cruises for our Yangtze River Cruises. Victoria's modern fleet of ships are some of the best on the Yangtze and represent good value for our customers. Feature highlights:

  • American owned and geared toward western tourism.
  • Modern ships, superior level accommodation, and great facilities.
  • Cabins have fantastic views, private balconies, private bathrooms with bathtub and shower.
  • Buffet breakfast, lunch and dinner with western and Asian cuisines.
  • Ships include a beauty salon, gym, laundry, internet and business facilities.
  • Entertainment including movies, lectures, cabaret shows and tai chi.

The actual ship depends on the date of departure. Cabin upgrades are available. Our staff can provide more additional information.

Victoria Cruises, as used by GetAboutAsia for Yangtze River cruising.

Travel Styles

All Get About Asia trips have been designed to make sure you have an unforgettable travel experience. We have developed several trip styles to cater for our diverse range of travellers. Read what your ideal Get About Asia experience might look like here.

Standard:from AU $6,256
Superior:from AU $6,614
Deluxe:from AU $7,450

All GetAboutAsia prices are based on twin share and depend on availability and season. All our itineraries can be customised including international flights and extra nights. For questions or further information, Enquire Now!

Important Information

Accommodation:

Hotels each night of the itinerary except for 3 nights aboard your Victoria Cruise Ship. All GetAboutAsia accommodation is handpicked by us. Upgrades are available for this itinerary.

Inclusions:
  • All breakfasts at your hotel each morning.
  • All airport transfers.
  • All Internal airfares and transport on tour.
  • All itinerary attractions including fees or permits.
  • Professional tour guides for all airport pickups, day tours and activities.
  • Dinner as indicated on trip notes. We do not include dinner where it is practical for you to make your own choices, as we find that GetAboutAsia customers prefer the freedom of eating what they want, which is one the of joys of travelling.
Notes:

This trip package includes 4 internal flights (Beijing-Xian, Xian-Guilin, Guilin-Chengdu, Chongqing-Shanghai) which retail at about 300 AUD per flight.

Visas for China
Almost all nationalities require a visa for mainland China. You must obtain your Chinese visa in advance. Give yourself at least 3-4 weeks. It is not possible to get a visa on arrival and Chinese visas can be very difficult to obtain outside your country of residence.

Hong Kong and Macau are not considered part of mainland China for immigration purposes and most nationalities (please check) do not require a visa.

Price Dependent:

Availability of accommodation and season.

Trip Information

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"We really enjoyed GuiLin and Ning was a wonderful guide. Everything was good from accommodation close to the lake, dinner at McFound, wine from the supermarket that we took to the restaurant each night. Then there was the Li River cruise and light show and the rice terraces - all so memorable. Ning suggested an evening cruise in the lake which we did and really enjoyed. Very colourful. The city tour day (Reed Flute Cave, etc) was good and welcome after two rather longish days. GuiLin is a place we could have spent an extra day wandering around by ourselves. Great adventure!" — Mr and Mrs Cumming, Sydney, October 2017

"Our favourite moment was walking on the unrestored section of The Great wall. To be able to experience the history and magnitude of this amazing construction whilst being the only people in sight." — Mr and Mrs Mortiss, Wyong NSW , October 2015

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