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The Very Best of China Tour

Home Icon The Very Best of China Tour

It’s not surprising China is considered one of the world’s most fascinating and exciting touring destinations. The country offers ancient history and archaeological discoveries, vibrant and colourful cities, stunning and diverse landscapes, peaceful gardens, giant pandas, and warm and friendly people.

Our leisurely 23-day tour covers 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, and experience an unforgettable three night cruise along the spectacular Yangtze River. With quality accommodation, all breakfasts and many other delightful meals included, along with an opportunity to stopover in Hong Kong or Dubai on your way home, the Very Best of China tour really does offer exceptional value for money.

The Very Best of China

Day 1: Depart UK

Depart with Emirates from the UK airport most convenient for you. Choose from; London Heathrow, London Gatwick, Manchester, Birmingham, Newcastle or Glasgow. Alternatively, fly via Hong Kong with Cathay Pacific from London Heathrow, London Gatwick or Manchester. No matter which airport or airline you choose there will be no additional cost.
In-flight meals and drinks included

Alternative airline – British Airways

If you prefer, you can fly direct from London Heathrow to Beijing with British Airways. Prices from £195pp.


Day 2: Beijing, 4 nights

All flights with Emirates to Beijing will travel via Dubai, and those travelling with Cathay Pacific will travel via Hong Kong. Arrive into the wonderful city of Beijing and transfer to the Park Plaza Beijing Wangfujing, 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.
In-flight meals and drinks included

Day 3: Beijing

Today, our sightseeing tour of Beijing begins in Tiananmen Square. Measuring around 440,000m2, and surrounded by soviet-style buildings, 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.
Breakfast and lunch included

Day 4: The Great Wall

China’s most iconic sight and greatest engineering triumph, the Great Wall wriggles 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, and take in the spectacular landscapes. Following our memorable visit, we take lunch nearby and return to our hotel in the afternoon to relax. Food is an obsession in China and during the course of our journey, we will encounter an incredible array of different dishes and cuisines. This evening, we will enjoy a classic imperial dish from Beijing: Peking Duck, served with plum or garlic sauce, scallions and pancakes.
Breakfast, lunch and dinner included

Day 5: Beijing

Following breakfast, we spend the morning exploring the halls, pavilions, palaces, 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. As we explore the palace, we marvel at this masterpiece of traditional Chinese landscaping, which has been designed according to the principles of feng shui. We return to the hotel, and our afternoon has been left free to spend as we please. This evening, why not experience a Kung Fu show, featuring dynamic displays of this country’s most famous martial art?
Breakfast included

Day 6: Pingyao, 2 nights

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 in the Shanxi Hui Guan 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 Yunjincheng Hotel, a charming boutique hotel in the centre of Pingyao, whose courtyards and rooms have been lovingly decorated to reflect the history of its surroundings.
Breakfast, lunch and dinner included

Day 7: Pingyao

Not many UK visitors can lay claim to have 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.
Breakfast included

Day 8: Xi’an, 2 nights

We say farewell to Pingyao and board our ‘bullet train’ to Xi’an. Xi’an is 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 Wild 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.
Breakfast, boxed lunch and dinner included

Day 9: The Terracotta Warriors

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, why not enjoy an evening of traditional music and dance at the Tang Dynasty show?
Breakfast and lunch included

Day 10: Guilin, overnight

Following breakfast, we head to the airport in time for our flight to Guilin. 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, or you may prefer to enjoy a traditional cormorant fishing display.
Breakfast included

Day 11: Li River & Yangshuo, 2 nights

The countryside through which the Li River flows is a photographer’s dream. During our four hour cruise, 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 finishes in Yangshuo, where we meet our waiting coach and leave the hustle and bustle of the town behind as we 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.
Breakfast and lunch included

Day 12: Yangshuo Freedom Day

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!
Breakfast included

Day 13: Chengdu, 2 nights

After breakfast, we make our way to the airport for our flight to Chengdu, in the Sichuan Province, renowned for its teahouse culture and its most famous inhabitants – the Giant Pandas. Enjoy lunch at the charming Tibet Hotel, where we spend our next two nights. Later, we take a gentle stroll through The People’s 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.
Breakfast and lunch included

Day 14: Chengdu & pandas

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. 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.
Breakfast, lunch and dinner included

Day 15: Yangtze River Cruise

Our morning is free to spend as we please. In the afternoon, our ‘bullet train’ whisks us from Chengdu to Chongqing, where we board either the MV Century Legend or MV Century Paragon, for a fabulous three-night cruise along the Yangtze River. Our accommodation is in well-proportioned Deluxe Balcony Cabins, with private en-suite facilities and balcony. Whilst on board, all our meals are included. Following dinner and our safety briefing, enjoy a drink at the Captain’s welcome party, as the cruise sets sail.
Breakfast and dinner included

Day 16: Yangtze River Cruise

Following breakfast, there is an optional tour of the ‘ghost city’ of Fengdu. Alternatively, you may prefer to relax on board or enjoy a presentation on traditional Chinese medicine. This afternoon, we cruise along scenic waters prior to our arrival into Shibaozhai, where we can climb up to a nine-storey red pavilion and hilltop temple, affording spectacular views over the Yangtze. We return to the ship and freshen up for dinner with our fellow travellers.
Breakfast, lunch and dinner included

Day 17: Yangtze River Cruise

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. We disembark and board a smaller vessel for an excursion along the Goddess Stream. The smaller ship allows us to get much closer to the soaring mountains, which rise up from the Yangtze tributary. Returning to the ship, we journey through the awe-inspiring Witches Gorge, before arriving at Maoping.
Breakfast, lunch and dinner included

Day 18: Shanghai, 4 nights

We disembark the ship after breakfast 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, and enjoy a stroll through the riverside gardens and visit the city’s museum, prior to our flight to Shanghai. Upon arrival, we transfer to the Jin Jiang Tower Hotel, where we spend our final four nights in China.
Breakfast and lunch included

Day 19: Shanghai

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. This afternoon we explore the impressive collection of Chinese artefacts housed in Shanghai Museum. In the evening, witness a spectacular performance of skill and grace as we experience the worldclass Shanghai Acrobatic Show.
Breakfast, lunch and dinner included

Day 20: Suzhou

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 Grand Canal 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.
Breakfast and lunch included

Day 21: Shanghai Freedom Day

A Freedom Day in Shanghai to spend as you please. Take an optional cruise on the Huangpu River, visit a local community project and enjoy lunch with a local family, or possibly explore the 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, served in the elegant Xian Qiang Fang Restaurant.
Breakfast and dinner included

Day 22: Depart Shanghai

The day is ours until it’s time to depart for the airport in the late afternoon / early evening. Our flights to our chosen UK airport operate via either Dubai or Hong Kong, if flying with Emirates or Cathay Pacific. If choosing British Airways, your flight will be direct into London Heathrow.
Breakfast, and in-flight meals and drinks included

Day 23: Arrive UK

Today we arrive into our chosen airport; London Heathrow, London Gatwick, Manchester, Birmingham, Newcastle or Glasgow, bringing an end to our incredible adventure.
In-flight meals and drinks included

Departure dates & prices

We believe in offering great value for money, so on the Very Best of China tour, so much of what you do and see is already included in the price. That’s all your scheduled international flights, overseas transfers, expertly chosen hotels, daily breakfast, experienced Tour Mangers, and many amazing excursions, already paid for.



Very Best of China departures

Departure datePrice (pp)AvailabilityOffer
7 September£3,695ON REQUESTCall for details
15 October£3,695ONLY 9 ROOMS LEFTCall for details
17 March£3,495ONLY 7 ROOMS LEFTCall for details
28 April£3,695NEW DATECall for details


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

Single supplement: £1,195

Deposit: £1,000 per person if travelling in economy class, £1,950 per person if travelling in premium economy, and £3,750 per person for business class.

Terms and conditions: Holiday prices are subject to the availability of flights in the lowest fare booking class and may change, however the correct price will always be confirmed before you book. For full terms and conditions see our terms and conditions page.

What’s included

Flights with leading scheduled airlines

  • Return economy class flights
  • Choose to fly with Emirates via Dubai from London Heathrow, London Gatwick, Manchester, Birmingham, Newcastle or Glasgow. Or fly with Cathay Pacific via Hong Kong from London Heathrow, London Gatwick or Manchester
  • Alternatively, travel direct with British Airways from London Heathrow. Supplement from £195 per person
  • All airport charges, security charges and any applicable fuel surcharges
  • UK Air Passenger Duty


Carefully selected hotels

  • Superior hotels in great locations
  • All hotel porterage
  • Applicable hotel taxes


Many meals

  • Daily breakfast, worth £343 per person
  • Thirteen 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


100% confidence

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

Hand-picked hotels

At Distant Journeys, we take great care in selecting the accommodation you will be using throughout your Very Best of China tour. Our Directors personally visit the destination to search out the hotels that have a great location and are of a high quality too – which we beleive are tow of the most important factors when choosing any touring holiday to China. These are the hotels we’ve chosen for you…

Century Paragon

Century Legend or Paragon River Cruise Ship

What better way to experience the beauty of the longest river in Asia and the third longest river in the world, than on a floating hotel on The Yangtze. Flowing from the Tibetan Plateau in the west, to the east… Find out more >
  • Star-Rating-5
  •   Official rating
  • Star-Rating-4
  •   Distant Journeys rating

Xi'an Holiday Inn Big Wild Goose Pagoda

Holiday Inn Big Wild Goose Pagoda Xi'an Hotel

Unique, vibrant and modern, Holiday Inn Xi’an Big Wild 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,… Find out more >
  • Star-Rating-4
  •   Official rating
  • Star-Rating-4
  •   Distant Journeys rating

Jinjiang Tower, Shanghai

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

Yunjincheng Hotel, Pingyao

Pingyao Yunjincheng Hotel

A particularly unique and exciting accommodation, The Pingyao Yunjincheng Hotel 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 you close… Find out more >
  • Star-Rating-5
  •   Official rating
  • Star-Rating-3-5
  •   Distant Journeys rating

Guilin Sheraton Hotel

Sheraton Guilin Hotel, China

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
  •   Distant Journeys rating

Chengdu Tibet Hotel

Tibet Hotel Chengdu, China

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

Yangshuo Resort

Yangshuo Resort Hotel, China

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
  •   Distant Journeys rating


Park Plaza Hotel, Beijing

Park Plaza Wangfujing Hotel is a modern oasis, ideal for making the most of your time in China's capital. Centrally located in the heart of Beijing's bustling and developing cultural, commercial, business and entertainment district, the hotel is within walking… Find out more >
  • Star-Rating-4
  •   Official rating
  • Star-Rating-4
  •   Distant Journeys rating

Freedom Days

Throughout your China holiday, we want you to enjoy destinations in a way that suits you. Included in your tour are a good mix of visits to must-see landmarks and time to experience this wonderful country, yet thanks to our Freedom Days you have even more options to follow your interests. For example, you might like to try your hand at a cookery class, to master the art of Chinese cooking, or take in an action-packed Kungfu show. Alternatively you could opt for a rickshaw ride through the old streets of Beijing, or experience a traditional bamboo raft river cruise.




Price pp in Chinese Yen (CYN)Approx. price pp in British Pounds (GBP)
Rickshaw Ride¥210£24
Kungfu show¥280£33
Shuanglin Temple¥150£17
Tang Dynasty dinner and show¥440£51
Evening river cruise¥280£33
Cormorant fishing show¥150£17
Cookery Class¥230£27
Countryside cycle¥150£17
Bamboo raft along the river¥200£23
Impression Liusanjie show¥320£37
Sichuan Opera¥200£37
Community visit with lunch in local family¥370£43
Evening cruise on Huangpu River¥270£31
Walk in the former French Concession area¥180£21


Optional excursions for stopover destinations

If you’ve taken advantage of one of our three night stopovers on your journey home from China you may want to make the most of your short stay in these exciting destinations by taking an optional excursion or two.


Click on any of the descriptions below to find out more about any of the optional excursions in Dubai and Hong Kong.

Price pp in US Dollars (US)Approx. price pp in British Pounds (GBP)
Traditional Dubai City Tour$51£41
New Dubai City Tour*$101£81
Sundowner (Dune dinner safari)$133£106
An Evening of Elegance – dinner cruise$172£137
Helicopter tour of Dubai (12 minutes)$194£155
Price pp in Hong Kong Dollars (HKD)Approx. price pp in British Pounds (GBP)
Hong Kong
Hong Kong Island Tour*$400£42
Lantau Island tour with lunch*$850£89
Macau Tour with lunch*$995£104
Lamma Island Dinner & Symphony of Lights*$750£78

Enjoy a homebound stopover after the Very Best of China tour. Spend three nights in Hong Kong if travelling with Cathay Pacific, or Dubai if travelling with Emirates. Your stopover offer includes return airport to hotel transfers, accommodation in a four or five star hotel for three nights, and a full daily breakfast.

Alternatively, you may choose to fly directly in and out of China with British Airways, with prices from £195


Customer reviews

The Very Best of China is a new tour with departures in late 2019 and early 2020. This page will be updated with reviews as soon as our customers are contacted by the independent reviews company Feefo. In the meantime, please feel free to look at the reviews for our other tours to Australia, New Zealand and South Africa – we’re sure you will be impressed with the service our guests receive.

The Very Best of China tour map 2019_20


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