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The Very Best of China Tour

Home Icon 23-day The Very Best of China from £4,695 £4,495pp

It’s not surprising China is considered one of the world’s most fascinating and exciting touring destinations. Ancient palaces and modern skyscrapers sit side by side, and peaceful river cruises are combined with high-speed journeys on bullet trains.

Those with a love of history and food will be in their element, and when we visit the giant pandas of Chengdu, scale the Great Wall or explore the renowned gardens of Suzhou, we will see first-hand what makes China so special.

Our leisurely 23-day itinerary explores China’s fascinating landscapes by rail, road and sail and captures all that makes it so special. We cover all the country’s major attractions with a perfect blend of included sightseeing tours and Freedom Days to spend as you please. What’s more, you will discover less-visited cultural gems such as Pingyao, with its superbly preserved architecture and town walls. A true highlight is our unforgettable three-night cruise along the spectacular Yangtze River, with plenty of time to sit back and view ever-changing vistas or to explore a selection of the river’s ancient waterside towns and the remarkable engineering feat of the Three Gorges Dam.

With quality accommodation, all breakfasts and many other meals included, the Very Best of China tour really does offer exceptional value for money.

We also offer the option of Private Touring on our Very Best of China tour, offering the same expertly crafted itinerary and hand-picked hotels, with the exclusivity and convenience of your own friendly and knowledgeable guides, private vehicle and choice of departure date.

Save £200 per person on your Very Best of China 2025 tour when you book by 1st July 2024. 

Day 1

Depart UK

The Very Best of China Day 1

Depart from the UK airport most convenient for you with Emirates at no extra cost. Choose from London Heathrow, London Gatwick, London Stansted, Manchester, Birmingham, Newcastle or Glasgow, all via Dubai.

Included meals:

In-flight meals and drinks

Day 2

Beijing, 4 nights

The Very Best of China Day 2

Arrive into the wonderful city of Beijing and transfer to the Park Plaza Wangfujing Hotel, conveniently located in central Beijing. Previously known as Peking, China’s capital city is a historical treasure trove, boasting over 3,000 years of tumultuous history. However, it’s not only this city’s ancient monuments that attracts visitors. Its imposing socialist monuments of the 1950s along with the explosive growth of modern buildings and infrastructure, make Beijing an unmissable showcase of China old and new. This evening, enjoy a welcome drink with your Tour Manager and fellow travellers, to become acquainted and learn more about our adventure ahead.

Included meals:

In-flight meals and drinks

Day 3

Beijing

The Very Best of China Day 3

Today, our sightseeing tour of Beijing begins in Tiananmen Square. Measuring around 440,000m2, it was here that Chairman Mao declared the founding of the People’s Republic of China. We continue to the nearby Forbidden City, the world’s largest palace complex and home to China’s best-preserved collection of ancient and ornate buildings. We have plenty of time to explore the Forbidden City, prior to lunch in a nearby restaurant. In the afternoon, we explore the Temple of Heaven Park, which is the site where, during the Ming and Qing dynasties emperors prayed for a good harvest.

Included meals:

Breakfast and lunch

Day 4

The Great Wall

The Very Best of China Day 4

Tour Highlight

China’s most iconic sight and greatest engineering triumph, the Great Wall weaves its way through 4,000 miles of northern China’s landscapes. This morning, we travel northeast from the city to the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall, famous for its Ming-era guard towers and the fantastic views of the surrounding mountains. We take a short cable car ride to the wall, and have ample time to stroll along part of it, and take in the spectacular landscapes. Following our memorable visit and lunch we return to our hotel in the afternoon to relax. This evening, we will enjoy a classic imperial dish from Beijing: Peking Duck, served with plum or garlic sauce, scallions and pancakes.

Included meals:

Breakfast, lunch and dinner

Day 5

Beijing

The Very Best of China Day 5

Following breakfast, we spend the morning exploring the halls, pavilions, temples, gardens, corridors and bridges of the Summer Palace. The Palace was the playground for the royal family as they escaped the suffocating heat of the summer. We marvel at this masterpiece of traditional Chinese landscaping, which has been designed according to the principles of feng shui. We return to our hotel around midday where the remainder of our day is free to spend as we please. In the evening, there is a chance to experience an exciting Acrobatic show.

Included meals:

Breakfast

Day 6

Pingyao, 2 nights

The Very Best of China Day 6

This morning we experience the benefits of China’s huge investment in its infrastructure, as we board our bullet train to Taiyuan. On arrival, we enjoy lunch at a local restaurant, which specialises in Jin cuisine and a multitude of noodle dishes. En route to Pingyao, we stop to visit the Chang family mansion, the former home of one of the richest merchants in the Shanxi Province. Covering a total area of more than 600,000m2, the compound has over 4,000 rooms, 50 buildings and 13 gardens. Its courtyards feature some of the country’s most elaborate examples of Qing Dynasty decorative architectural features. Later in the afternoon, we make our way to Yun Jin Cheng Mansion, a charming boutique hotel in the centre of Pingyao, whose courtyards and rooms have been lovingly decorated to reflect the history of its surroundings. This evening enjoy an authentic dinner in a local restaurant.

Included meals:

Breakfast, lunch and dinner

Day 7

Pingyao

The Very Best of China Day 7

Tour Highlight

Not many UK visitors can lay claim to having visited Pingyao, which is surprising because this UNESCO World Heritage Site is China’s best preserved ancient walled town and is a true highlight. The city was at its peak during the Ming dynasty (1368 – 1644) and, incredibly, Pingyao has managed to keep its imposing town walls and watchtowers, elegant courtyards and ancient temples largely intact. What’s more, 30,000 locals still reside in the old town, which creates the vibrancy of this living and breathing community. This morning we explore the streets of Pingyao, including visits to its fine temples, government buildings and the Rishengchang Financial House Museum, which began life as a humble dye shop before transforming into China’s first bank and pioneering the use of paper cheques as a form of payment.

With a visitor pass allowing free entry to many more of Pingyao’s delights, your afternoon could be easily spent further exploring the town. Alternatively, you may wish to make the short journey to the Shuanglin Temple for an optional tour of this astonishing Buddhist temple, with its impressive complex of ancient halls and intricately carved statues.

Included meals:

Breakfast

Day 8

Xi’an, 2 nights

The Very Best of China Day 8

We say farewell to Pingyao and board our ‘bullet train’ to Xi’an, one of China’s most famous cities with a long and fascinating history. A considerable amount of its ancient city has managed to survive alongside its modern developments. We make a stop to explore the magnificent city walls, which date back to the Ming dynasty around 1370, to enjoy incredible views of Xi’an old and new from our vantage point on top of the 12m-high wall. We reach the Holiday Inn Big Goose Pagoda Hotel later in the afternoon, where we stay for the next two nights. One of the delicacies in Xi’an is its fantastic dumplings, which are similar to dim sum. This evening, enjoy sampling a selection of dumplings – each are handmade into a variety of shapes and with a selection of delicious fillings.

Included meals:

Breakfast, boxed lunch and dinner

Day 9

The Terracotta Warriors

The Very Best of China Day 9

Tour Highlight

Discovered in 1974 by a group of farmers drilling a well, the Terracotta Army is one of the most famous and spectacular archaeological discoveries in the world. Today we explore the pits containing the terracotta soldiers, which have stood guard since 246 BC when Emperor Qin Shi Huang commissioned the work for his mausoleum. Each life-sized warrior has been crafted with individual facial features and clothing and are arranged in battle formations alongside their horses and chariots.

We also visit the equally fascinating Qin Shi Huang Emperor Tomb Artefact Exhibition Hall, which contains many artefacts including a pair of bronze chariots and horses, which are displayed with some of the original weaponry. After lunch, we visit the Small Wild Goose Pagoda, before returning to our hotel. Later, perhaps enjoy an evening of traditional music and dance at the Tang Dynasty show including dinner.

Included meals:

Breakfast and lunch

Day 10

Chengdu, 2 nights

The Very Best of China Day 10

After breakfast, we make our way to the train station before boarding our high-speed train to Chengdu, in the Sichuan Province, renowned for its teahouse culture and its most famous inhabitants – the Giant Pandas. On arrival early afternoon, we transfer to our hotel, the charming Tibet Hotel and our home for the next two nights.

Later, we take a gentle stroll through Wangjianglou Park which is often filled with dancing, song and tai chi. The park is also home to some of the city’s favourite local teahouses, where we stop to sample the local brews and perhaps mix with the locals over a game of Mahjong.

Included meals:

Breakfast and boxed lunch

Day 11

Chengdu and Giant Pandas

The Very Best of China Day 11

Tour Highlight

With over 80% of the world’s Giant Panda population found in Sichuan Province, it’s little surprise to find the area taking the lead in conservation projects to save these endangered species. The panda is the national symbol of China, and today we visit the Giant Panda Breeding Research Institute, which is home to around 120 giant and 76 red pandas. The project allows us to see these loveable and rare creatures, at close quarters in a near-natural habitat setting. Following lunch at the Breeding Centre we return to our hotel to relax and freshen up.

Later in the afternoon, we explore the bustling stalls and shops of the Wide and Narrow Alleys, two ancient streets restored in Ming and Qing architectural styles. We enjoy dinner in one of the local restaurants, serving traditional dishes, cooked with distinctive Sichuan flavours. Later, we recommend venturing to the Sichuan Opera for a one of a kind cultural performance, including acrobats, dancers, puppets and the amazing ‘face-changing’ mask spectacle.

Included meals:

Breakfast, lunch and dinner

Day 12

Guilin, Overnight

The Very Best of China Day 12

Following breakfast, we travel to Guilin by train. Upon arrival our waiting coach will take us to the Sheraton Hotel, ideally situated in central Guilin and overlooking the Li River. In the evening, there is an opportunity to take an optional Lakes and Rivers cruise

Included meals:

Breakfast and boxed lunch

Day 13

Li River & Yangshuo, 2 nights

The Very Best of China Day 13

Tour Highlight

The countryside through which the Li River flows is a photographer’s dream. During our morning cruise including lunch onboard, we glide serenely between verdant hills, enjoying iconic scenes of wallowing water buffalo and farmers tending their crops against a backdrop of limestone peaks. Our cruise terminates in Yangshuo, where we meet our waiting coach and head to Yangshuo Resort. Our home for the next two nights enjoys an idyllic and peaceful location on the banks of the Yulong River and is a perfect place to relax and unwind.

Included meals:

Breakfast, lunch and dinner

Day 14

Yangshuo Freedom Day

The Very Best of China Day 14

Although our day has been left at leisure to soak up the wonderful surroundings, we have the opportunity to enjoy a selection of fantastic optional activities. Why not take a gentle bike ride along the banks of the Yulong River? Alternatively, you may prefer to float downstream on a bamboo raft or join a small cookery class, where you will visit a local market to choose ingredients, before creating a selection of local dishes.

In the evening, there’s also a chance to experience the enchanting Impression Liu Sanjie show, where six hundred performers take to the Li River to deliver a spectacular light show with illuminated karst peaks as a backdrop. Whatever you choose to do – enjoy!

Included meals:

Breakfast

Day 15

Yangtze River Cruise, 3 nights

The Very Best of China Day 15

Following a leisurely breakfast, we transfer to the train station to embark on the next stage of our exciting adventure around this fascinating country. Our bullet train whisks us to Chongqing later in the afternoon where we board either the MV Century Victory or MV Century Oasis to begin our fabulous three-night cruise along the Yangtze River.

Our accommodation is in well-proportioned Deluxe Cabins, all with private en-suite facilities and balcony. Whilst on board, all our meals are included along with a modest selection of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks during lunch and dinner. Following dinner and our safety briefing, enjoy a drink at the Captain’s welcome party, as the cruise sets sail.

Included meals:

Breakfast, boxed lunch and dinner

Day 16

Yangtze River Cruise

The Very Best of China Day 16

For early risers you may have the opportunity to practise the art of Tai Chi with a professional trainer on the sunshine deck. Alternatively, enjoy a leisurely breakfast before our visit to the ‘ghost city’ of Fengdu. It is known for its diverse Chinese traditions, ghost culture and integration of Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism. In the afternoon you are free to enjoy the various onboard activities and lectures available or simply relax on the sundeck and watch the world glide by!

Included meals:

Breakfast, lunch and dinner

Day 17

Yangtze River Cruise

The Very Best of China Day 17

The Three Gorges comprise arguably the most spectacular landscapes of the magnificent Yangtze River. In the morning, we sail through the first of these gorges – Qutang Gorge, arguably the most majestic before continuing through Wu Gorge to admire its breathtaking natural beauty. Following lunch, we join smaller boats and visit Shennv Stream to experience the natural charm and serenity of the area up close. Later we return to the ship in time to freshen up prior to our Captain’s Farewell dinner.

Included meals:

Breakfast, lunch and dinner

Day 18

Shanghai, 4 nights

The Very Best of China Day 18

All good things must come to an end and after breakfast we disembark the ship in Maoping and board our coach for a morning excursion to the remarkable Three Gorges Dam – the largest hydroelectric dam in the world. During our visit, we will truly appreciate the immense scale of this hydroelectric project which cost an estimated $37 billion to complete.

We continue to Yichang for lunch and afterwards enjoy a stroll through the riverside gardens and visit the city’s museum, prior to our flight to Shanghai later in the evening. Upon arrival, we transfer to the Jin Jiang Tower Hotel, where we spend our final four nights in China.

Included meals:

Breakfast and lunch

Day 19

Shanghai

The Very Best of China Day 19

Shanghai is China’s most glamourous and prosperous city, where Chinese and Western cultures run side by side. This morning our sightseeing tour begins with a walk along the Bund, on the banks of the Huangpu River. The Bund perfectly encapsulates the diversity of Shanghai, with the grandiose Art Deco architecture of the city’s former banks and trading houses on one side of the river, and the futuristic skyline of Pudong on the other.

We continue to the charming Old Town, which is the original centre of the city and retains many of its original temples, alleyways and buildings. Our morning ends in Yuyuan Gardens. Taking 18 years to build during the Ming dynasty, the gardens survived wars and rebellions, and today are a fine example of classically styled Chinese Gardens. Following lunch in one of the city’s amazing restaurants we explore the impressive collection of Chinese artefacts housed in the Shanghai Museum.

Included meals:

Breakfast and lunch

Day 20

Suzhou

The Very Best of China Day 20

Tour Highlight

We embark on a full-day tour to Suzhou, a city famed for its culture and elegance, and home to many artists and scholars, drawn to the city by its UNESCO-listed classical gardens. Our first stop is to explore one of China’s most famous gardens – the Humble Administrator’s Garden, with its bamboo islands, many ponds, humpback bridges and beautiful pavilions. Enjoy a relaxing cruise along the ancient canals of the old city before lunch.

In the afternoon, visit the Master of the Nets Garden, which is relatively small, but gives the impression of being much larger thanks to its ingenious use of space. Suzhou embroidery is considered to be one of the four major regional styles of Chinese embroidery, and our final stop of the day is a visit to a silk factory to see how incredible images are brought to life with fine, highly detailed stitching.

Included meals:

Breakfast and lunch

Day 21

Shanghai Freedom Day

The Very Best of China Day 21

Tour Highlight

A Freedom Day in Shanghai to spend as you please. Take an optional cruise on the Huangpu River, or explore the former French Concession area on a walking tour. Whatever you wish to do, our Tour Manager will be very happy to help. This evening, we bid farewell to China and our new-found friends in style, with a dinner of authentic Shanghainese cuisine at the opulent Qijia Garden Restaurant.

Included meals:

Breakfast and dinner

Day 22

Depart Shanghai

The Very Best of China Day 22

The day is ours until it’s time to depart for the airport in the late evening. For convenience, all our rooms have been reserved until 6pm. Our flights to our chosen UK airport operate via Dubai.

Included meals:

Breakfast, and in-flight meals and drinks

Day 23

Arrive UK

The Very Best of China Day 23

Today we arrive into our chosen airport bringing an end to our incredible adventure.

Included meals:

In-flight meals and drinks

Departure dates & prices

SAVE £200 per person on your Very Best of China 2025 tour when you book by 1st July 2024. 

If you really want to get to know China in-depth you can also enjoy a Private Tour where you will travel exclusively as your own group, allowing for a more personal experience and greater flexibility.

Click here to view supplements to the main tour price for private group tours.

Departure date Price (pp) Availability Offer
2025
09 April£4,695 £4,495JUST LAUNCHEDSAVE £200 per person
07 May£4,695 £4,495JUST LAUNCHEDSAVE £200 per person
10 September£4,695 £4,495JUST LAUNCHEDSAVE £200 per person
08 October£4,695 £4,495JUST LAUNCHEDSAVE £200 per person

Prices
Prices are per person based on two people sharing a twin or double room.

Single occupancy supplement
£1,195

Yangtze River Cruise Cabin Upgrades
Upgrade your cabin to a Superior Cabin for £295 per person, an Executive Suite for £695 per person or a Victory, Oasis or Presidential Suite for £1,725 per person. Single supplements will apply.

Deposit
£1,000 per person if travelling Economy Class, £1,950 per person if travelling Premium Economy and £3,750 per person for Business Class.

Flight upgrades
Emirates upgrade to Premium Economy* from £1,195 per person return, or Business Class from £4,145 per person return.
*Only available on certain flights.

Visa information
A valid China Tourist visa is required to travel to China. For more information on applying for your visa and the associated costs, please refer to our FAQ’s page.

Important information
Our holiday prices are subject to fuel surcharges and the availability of flights in the lowest fare booking class. The correct price will always be confirmed to you before you book, and once you have booked, our Price Promise will guarantee there will be no further increases.

For full terms and conditions see our booking conditions page.

Private Touring Supplements

Should you prefer to take the Very Best of China tour as a Private Tour, please add the relevant supplement below to the main tour price.

Guests choosing a Private Tour may select their own departure date.

Number of Guests Tour Supplement (pp)
All Dates
2 guests £1,495
3-5 guests£995
6-9 guests£495
10-15 guests£195
16+ guestsno additional charge

Prices
Prices are per person based on two people sharing a twin or double room.

Single occupancy supplement £95.

Please note, alternative airlines may be considered or further supplements may apply in certain periods when international flight prices are higher.

So much included

Our escorted holidays to China are designed to offer superb value for money and our Very Best of China tour is no exception. So much of what you will do and see is already included in the price. That’s all your scheduled international flights, overseas transfers, expertly chosen hotels, daily breakfast and many more meals, experienced Tour Managers, and many amazing excursions, already paid for.

Flights with leading scheduled airlines

  • Return economy flights with Emirates via Dubai from London Heathrow, London Gatwick, London Stansted, Manchester, Birmingham, Newcastle or Glasgow
  • All airport charges, security charges and any applicable fuel surcharges
  • UK Air Passenger Duty

Carefully selected hotels

  • Carefully selected hotels in great locations
  • All hotel porterage
  • Applicable hotel taxes

Many meals worth £584

  • Daily breakfast
  • Fifteen lunches
  • Nine dinners

Unforgettable experiences

  • Sightseeing tours in Beijing, Pingyao, Xi’an, Chengdu, Shanghai and Suzhou
  • The Great Wall
  • Visit the Forbidden City and Summer Palace
  • Stay in the UNESCO World Heritage site of Pingyao
  • View the Terracotta Warriors
  • Cruise on the Li River
  • Visit the Giant Panda Breeding Research Institute
  • Three-night cruise on the Yangtze River

On the ground

  • Services of an experienced Tour Manager and local guides
  • All overseas transfers
  • Modern, air-conditioned coaches throughout
  • All domestic rail travel in Standard Class carriages

100% confidence

  • Your holiday is covered by our Price Promise
  • Your holiday is fully ATOL protected

Park Plaza Beijing Wangfujing Hotel, Beijing

Offering 4-star comfort and a peaceful escape from the bustling city of Beijing, the Park Plaza Hotel Beijing boasts modern rooms, excellent facilities and a brilliant location. Set in the city’s Wangfujing district, the hotel has the district’s famous shopping… Find out more >
  • Star-Rating-4
  •   Official rating
  • Star-Rating-4
  •   Distant Journeys rating

Yun Jin Cheng Mansion, Pingyao

A particularly unique and exciting accommodation, The Pingyao Yun Jin Cheng Mansion boasts an enviable location on West Avenue. Here, your hotel sits near the Ancient City Wall and the entrance to many Mingqing Street attractions. Your fantastic location puts… Find out more >
  • Star-Rating-5
  •   Official rating
  • Star-Rating-3
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Holiday Inn Xi’an Big Goose Pagoda Hotel, Xi’an

Unique, vibrant and modern, Holiday Inn Xi’an Big Goose Pagoda is the perfect place to stay in Xi’an, situated close to Xiaozhai shopping district and within exploring distance of many more of the region’s top attractions. During your stay, why… Find out more >
  • Star-Rating-4
  •   Official rating
  • Star-Rating-4
  •   Distant Journeys rating

Tibet Hotel, Chengdu

The stylish Chengdu Tibet Hotel bears remarkable resemblances to Lhasa’s Potala Palace, making your stay here a truly enchanting experience. In fact, look beyond the hotel, and you can see towering mountains and the sacred Potala Palace itself in the… Find out more >
  • Star-Rating-5
  •   Official rating
  • Star-Rating-4
  •   Distant Journeys rating

Sheraton Guilin Hotel, Guilin

Located on the beautiful banks of the Li River in the city centre of Guilin, is your accommodation, Guilin Sheraton Hotel. Its fantastic riverbank setting is made even more impressive by its close proximity to many of the region’s attractions.… Find out more >
  • Star-Rating-5
  •   Official rating
  • Star-Rating-4
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Yangshuo Resort, Yangshuo

Look forward to beautiful mountain and river views at The Yangshuo Resort Hotel. Located by the Yulong River, Yangshuo Resort Hotel boasts a tranquil and scenic setting. From your base, you can easily explore all of the region’s surrounding beauty… Find out more >
  • Star-Rating-5
  •   Official rating
  • Star-Rating-4
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Century River Cruise, Yangtze River

The Yangtze River is the third longest river in the world. Begining its journey high on the Tibetan plateau it flows some 3,900 miles through China to Shanghai and the East China and Yellow seas. It is known by the… Find out more >

Jin Jiang Tower Hotel, Shanghai

Towering at 153 meters high, with 360° unobstructed panoramic views, the luxurious Shanghai Jin Jiang Hotel is the ideal base to explore Shanghai. Many consider Shanghai Jin Jiang Tower one of the most beautiful hotels in the city, thanks to… Find out more >
  • Star-Rating-5
  •   Official rating
  • Star-Rating-4
  •   Distant Journeys rating

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These reviews are from Distant Journeys guests, and have been verified by the independent reviews company Feefo.

The Very Best of China

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