Classic China & Japan

26 Days, from AU $16,494

Forbidden City, Beijing, China

Terracotta Warriors, Xian, China

Panda, Chengdu, China

Yangshuo, China

Rainbow Bridge, Tokyo, Japan

Mount Fuji, Hakone, Japan

Shirakawago, near Takayama, Japan

Golden Pavilion, Kyoto, Japan

Great Wall of China

Experience the best that China and Japan have to offer in your Classic China & Japan trip. Starting in 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. Make new friends at Chengdu Panda Research Base. Discover the haunting majesty of Guilin's wilderness scenery and relaxing in Yangshuo. Complete your trip of China in Shanghai with its contrast of colonial-styled buildings and modern skyscrapers.

Fly to Japan, starting in the buzzing capital city, Tokyo, with its Imperial Palace, famous shopping districts and immense cityscape. Visit spectacular Mount Fuji and the volcanic hot springs in Hakone, before heading to historic Takayama. Step back to the time of the samurai in the castle town of Kanazawa, where you partake in a traditional tea ceremony and experience a little Buddhist Zen. Visit the old Geisha district and tour a sake brewery, before wandering the  streets of Japan's former imperial capital Kyoto, with its prominent castle, Kiyomizu Temple and ornamental gardens.

Our Classic itineraries cover the key attractions with carefully selected experiences to ensure you get the most out of your holiday. Classic itineraries include time for relaxation or for adding extra activities. 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 fishing farm.

Day 4: Beijing

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 an afternoon flight to Xian and meet your guide on arrival. Your guide will provide an introduction to Xian and make arrangements for the following day. Enjoy free time for the remainder of 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.

Itinerary Option: For the adventurous, you can save money and catch an overnight sleeper train from Beijing to Xian rather than flying. Discuss itinerary options with our staff.

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 both the Small Wild Goose Pagoda and the Big Wild Goose Pagoda which were 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 Chengdu

Enjoy free time in Xian this morning until your flight to Chengdu in the afternoon.

You will meet your guide on arrival and your guide will provide an introduction to Chengdu. Enjoy free time for the remainder of the first day.

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.

Located amongst the natural habitat for giant pandas Chengdu is the perfect location for the Chengdu Panda Research Base, a favourite amongst GetAboutAsia customers.

Your guide will suggest personal restaurant recommendations for this evening.

Day 8: 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 9: Chengdu

This morning visit the Chengdu Panda Research Base to learn about the Giant Panda and get up close and personal with these cuddly creatures. Relax in the tranquil gardens of Dufu's Cottage, which was the home of a famed Tang Dynasty poet. Later in the afternoon fly to Guilin.

Meet your guide on arrival for an introduction to Guilin and the Li River area. 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 10: 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.

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 11: 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 Yangshuo.

Day 12: Guilin

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.

Lastly, visit Seven Star Park with its seven limestone peaks, waterways and gardens. This is your last chance to enjoy the otherworld like scenery of Guilin before departing on your afternoon flight to Shanghai.

Your guide will provide an introduction to Shanghai, answer any questions you have, and make arrangements for the following day. Enjoy free time for the remainder of the first 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.

Day 13: 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 14: 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 15: Shanghai to Tokyo

Today you fly from Shanghai across the East China Sea to Tokyo Japan. Meet your guide on arrival, transfer and check-in to your hotel. During the drive your guide will provide an introduction to Japan and Tokyo, answer any questions you have, and make arrangements for the following day. Enjoy free time for the remainder of the first day.

Tokyo is Japan's capital city and has a population of 12 million people. Tokyo offers history and culture, cutting edge fashion, loads of entertainment, great shopping, and endless people-watching opportunities.

Tokyo has many great restaurants and bars and it's easy to get around. Ask your guide for personal recommendations.

Day 16: Tokyo

Today you will rub shoulders with the locals of Tokyo as your guide leads you through the city's many highlights, on foot, road and river. Sites include the Imperial Palace which is still home to the Emperor of Japan, beautiful Meiji Jingu Shrine, colourful Nakamise shopping street, and seventh century Asakusa Kannon temple.

You will cruise up the Sumida River, and view the sprawling cityscape of Tokyo from atop one of the city's tallest buildings. Visit the Harajuku area and witness the wacky cutting edge fashions that the Tokyo youths parade through the street here.

The rest of the afternoon is free to explore Tokyo. Your guide can provide you with a long list of personal suggestions for attractions and restaurants.

Day 17: Tokyo

Today is free to explore this amazing city. Perhaps go window shopping in the Ginza district with its glitzy shopping galleries, or consider the other options provided by your guide.

Itinerary Option: Consider a guided tour of the frantic Tsukiji Fish Market, the largest fish market in the world.

Day 18: Hakone

Today you travel with your guide out of Tokyo towards iconic snow capped Mount Fuji. First stop is the Mount Fuji Visitors Centre and then you proceed to fifth station.

After you've finished at Mount Fuji you travel to Hakone and embark on a cruise across Lake Ashinoko followed by a ride in one of the longest gondolas in the world. Your gondola ride ends at Mount Owakudani with its volcanic hot springs, a legacy to the last eruption of the mountain some 3,000 years ago. The Japanese believe that eating a hardboiled egg cooked in the mountains sulphuric hot springs increases longevity. Partake in this ritual and find out for yourself.

For lunch, your guide will accompany you to a traditional Japanese meal and introduce you to some of the many different Japanese cuisines.

Day 19: Takayama

Today you'll embark on an express train journey to the charming mountain town of Takayama. With your guide, step back in time and walk the narrow streets admiring the well preserved seventeenth century merchant houses and traditional wooden Japanese homes, passing shrines and sake stalls.

Day 20: Takayama

Enjoy a free day to further explore the town or take a local train to visit a neighbouring village. Walk through markets, visit local folk and festival museums as you learn more about the traditional Japanese culture. Your guide will provide you with a number of suggestions to ensure you experience the highlights of Takayama.

Day 21: Kanazawa

Visit UNESCO World Heritage listed Shirakawago mountain village with its traditional thatched roof farmhouses, some of which are several hundred years old. Partake in an exercise to make traditional washi, a thick, fibrous paper, from mulberry, cedar, and maple bark.

Later you arrive in Kanazawa, which was a notorious castle town and headquarters to many samurai nobles between the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Today the town is famous for Kenrokuen, the amazing Japanese gardens that were opened to the public in 1875. Partake in a formal and traditional tea ceremony surrounded by the ornamental Japanese gardens.

The ceremony is a traditional art form that exhibits the Buddhist Zen ideals of the beauty of simplicity and mindfulness of movement. An integral part of the ceremony is the appreciation of the aesthetics of your surroundings where the tea is prepared and enjoyed. The ceremony is given special meaning by the deep sincerity with which the host prepares the tea. You will sense the hospitality and warmth emanating from the host’s preparations and choice of elegant decorations.

Day 22: Kanazawa

While exploring the old town's narrow streets, your guide will point out former samurai houses still in use as residences today. Visit the Geisha district with its antique wooden structures, and the very busy three hundred year old market, known locally as Kanazawa’s Kitchen, selling fresh vegetables, fruit, and fish amongst other produce. Your guide will show you the ingredients used in the local cuisine including such things as Kaga lotus root and seaweed.

This afternoon visit a sake brewery and learn how sake is brewed in a similar manner to beer, but results in a much more potent drink. Sample the different sakes in a similar manner to wine, appreciating the subtle differences in styles.

Day 23: Kyoto

UNESCO World Heritage listed Kyoto is Japan’s former imperial capital and today is an important cultural centre. Enjoy sightseeing with the first stop being Kyoto's famous castle. Nijo Castle is over four hundred years old. The castle, which resembles more of a royal estate than a military fortification, houses many temples and shrines, was a meeting place for the military warlords, or Shoguns.

Explore UNESCO World Heritage listed Kiyomizu Temple, known for its “leap of faith” veranda and wooden terraces once used for sacred dances. Resting at the foot of the Higashiyama Mountains, the temple offers a sweeping view of Kyoto.

Visit Kinkakuji, the Golden Pavilion, famed for its gold leaf covered floors and World Heritage listed Ryoanji Temple or the Temple of the Peaceful Dragon.

Day 24: Kyoto

Enjoy a free day to continue your exploration of Kyoto with hundreds of temples and shrines. Walk along the narrow streets and lanes of the Higashiyama district with its many local restaurants, bars and tea houses. With these streets changing little over the last thousand years, it is not hard to imagine that you have stepped back in time

Make your own path or navigate through the streets to visit the attractions suggested by your guide.

Day 25: Kyoto

Take a scenic train ride to Arashiyama and meander through the beautiful Japanese gardens and giant bamboo groves. Visit Tenryuji Temple and the Rinzai school of Zen, originally established in 1339 although most of the current buildings are now less than a hundred years old. Explore the centuries old Zen garden with its ornamental pond, elevated rock groupings, and delicate cherry trees.

In the evening enjoy a traditional Japanese dinner with a cultural show.

Day 26: Kyoto

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: Extend your trip and include more time in Chengdu, including a guided visit to the Sanxingdui archaeological site and special Sichuan dinner and performance.
  • Chengdu: Hiking up beautiful Mount Qingcheng, famed as the most important Taoist religious site in China.
  • Guilin: Day trip to mountainous Longsheng county with its spectacular rice terraces and colourfully attired hilltribe villagers.
  • Shanghai: Travel to one of China's famous water towns on a day trip from Shanghai.
  • Shanghai: Travel to the ancient town of Suzhou, famous for its silk, gardens and canals; and take a short cruise along the Grand Canal, one of the ancient wonders of Chinese engineering.
  • Shanghai: China's most dramatic mountain wilderness scenery, Mount Huangshan (Yellow Mountain) is close to Shanghai.
  • Kyoto: Visit Nara, a former Capital of Japan, with its famed Todaiji, the world's largest wooden building.
  • Extend your trip to visit Hiroshima & Osaka. For details refer to the suggested itinerary, Simply Hiroshima & Osaka.

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 $16,494
Superior:from AU $19,830
Deluxe:from AU $25,582

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 (excluding your departure day). All GetAboutAsia accommodation is handpicked by us. Upgrades are available for this itinerary.

Inclusions:
  • All breakfasts at your hotel or aboard your Halong Bay Junk 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.
  • We do not include lunch or 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 5 internal flight (Beijing - Xian, Xian - Chengdu, Chengdu - Guilin, Guilin - Shanghai and Shanghai - Tokyo) which retail at about 200AUD per flight.

Price Dependent:

Availability of accommodation and season.

Trip Information

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