Classic Itineraries

Imperial Tour (10-16 Days)


A handful of ancient capitals await you on the Imperial Tour. In these bustling cities and quaint towns, you ll be swooned by a collection of ancient palaces, mausoleums, temples and defensive walls, and you can bet that there are even a few royal gardens thrown in for good measure.

Riding the Yangtze (4-6 Weeks)


Riding the Yangtze sweeps you down China s most famous river, beginning at the foot of the Tibetan plateau and flowing through numerous climate zones, geographic landscapes, and regions, all the way to the coast. Apart from the natural beauty of some of China s finest natural wonders, you ll tackle some of the most important and historic sites along the craddle of Chinese civilization. This trip has a wide enough range of attractions to please any kind of traveler.

Silk Road Excursion (3-5 Weeks)


This trip is perfect for the adventurer who wants to kick up dust on the sands of the ancient Silk Road and explore the Uighur homeland of Xinjiang. You'll encounter an exotic land with antique mosques, delicious lamb kebabs, burqa-clad women, and camels roaming the streets; you may even feel like you're in Baghdad! By traveling fast, you can cut back on time, but if you decide to do both the northern and southern sections of the Silk Road in Xinjiang, you'll be pushing the five week mark.

weeks Ethnic Expedition (4-6 Weeks)


For the rugged traveler aching for a taste of southwestern China's village life, the Ethnic Expedition is your cup of tea. Some of the country's most wonderful ethnic minorities are highlighted on this tour, and you should be prepared for some major offroad adventures. Feel free to break from the route at any point and see where China's most engrossing region will take you, and keep in mind that this one is most appealing to the outdoorsman.

The Tibetan Kora (2-3 Weeks)


Chanting burgundy-robed monks, sparkling gold statues of the Buddha, spinning prayer wheels, bitter yak butter tea, smoky incense, soaring mountains and altitude sickness are just some of the many sights, senses and feelings that will grip your soul along the Tibetan Kora. If you can, allot three weeks, but if not you can do a quick trip in two weeks in between Xining and Chengdu for a crash-course in Tibetan Culture. Regardless of how much time you have, you'll return with a new-found sense of (near) enlightenment and spiritualism after this one.

Beaches & Beer (2-4 Weeks)


Moving from north to south along China's eastern coast, this tour is pretty self explanatory; the highlights are some of the nation's best sandy waterfronts and several of its most popular (and biggest) beer festivals. Start out in late July and you should be able to hit each place when the weather is best and the suds are flowing. Apart from living the care-free life, you will also get a shot of modern culture within a few of the country's most metropolitan cities.

Nomad Lands (3-6 Weeks)


The wild lands of Manchuria and Mongolia have a legendary history, and today are still some of China's wildest places. Bold travelers will find this route and its snowy peaks, volcanoes and enormous crater-lakes to be the perfect adventure. For a once-in-a-lifetime spectacle, follow this path up to China's tippy-top and catch the northern lights in North Pole village.

The Southeasterner (2 Weeks)


Get your quick fix of China's Southeast and Taiwan on this short trip. You will cross ancient villages, dig your toes deep into pristine sandy beaches and indulge in fresh seafood straight from the ocean. It's perfect for those who have seen the best of the Mainland and are looking for a new face of China. If there are a few extra days left on your visa, try starting in Shanghai and passing through Suzhou, or spend extra time on Taiwan's aboriginal east coast to round out the end.

Top Travel Sights

Giant Panda Breeding Research Base (Sichuan)

The most famous face in China may sit on the front of its RMB notes, but the close runner up makes its most prolific appearance right here in Chengdu's Giant Panda Breeding Research Base. Far better than any zoo, the enclosures for the pandas – including the fox-looking red panda – are well maintained, the grounds are superbly pleasant and the animals look genuinely happy and well cared for. The name of the game here is romance; getting these apparently prude animals to mate is not an easy task, but March to May is the season of love, and visitors in August have a chance to see the cuddly newborns.


Mt Huangshan (Anhui)

The ethereal slopes of Mt Huangshan, along with its spindly trees and granite precipices, spend nearly two-thirds of the year veiled in mist. Inspiring the reflections of some 20,000 poets throughout history and enough landscape paintings that an entire school was named after the mountain, Mt Huangshan's peaks, rising above preserved Hui villages, are about as mystical as it gets


Atractions by Regions



Inner Mongolia(内蒙古)

Pudong & the Bund (Shanghai)

The money shot of Shanghai and equally one of the most iconic images of New China, Pudong is a glistening symbol of the country's 21st century ambitions: financial dominance, sophistication and peerless feats. The second tallest building in the world (set to be completed in 2014), along with the needle-headed Oriental Pearl Tower and others, give Pudong one of the world s most stunning skylines. Across the river, the Bund's famous boardwalk is a red-hot tourist destination that gives the perfect vantage point to see glimmering Pudong to the east and the fanciful European neoclassical buildings to the west


Yangshuo & the Li River (Guangxi)

This area has stolen the hearts of countless painters and poets for centuries – the limestone karst peaks dipped in a coating of vibrant green forest and splashed with rice paddies and lolling water buffalo are simply indescribable. The best way to experience it all is to hop on a bamboo raft and let theriver be your guide

Fenghuang Ancient Town (Hunan)

We bet you've never seen so many riverside stilted homes basking in a palate of green forests, deep blue canals and fairy-tale orange sunsets all rolled up into one. If you can step away from the seductive Tuo River long enough, a cobweb of back alleys filled with enigmatic medicine and herb shops are ready to pull you into an ancient world; you'll be hard-pressed to ever leave.


West Lake (Zhejiang)

This 1,300-year-old body of water floats a fleet of slow-moving dragon boats and is dotted with pagoda-capped islands, ancient gardens, willow lined boardwalks and mystical temples – turning West Lake into a top-tier portrait of classical China. Though the area has undergone heavy facelifts since its 8th century inception, this is still one of China's elite destinations nestled in one of the country's most liveable cities – Hangzhou.

Jiuzhaigou National Park (Sichuan)

UNESCO sure knows how to pick em, and once again, they have crowned one of China's most spectacular spots with a World Heritage listing. It's not just the enchanting azure lakes, gushing waterfalls, lush green forests or the backdrop of snow-topped mountains; it's the fact that the well-tended trails and boardwalks, as well as eco-friendly camping trips, make Jiuzhaigou an unmissable symbol of China's budding environmental movement.


Mogao Grottoes of Dunhuang (Gansu)

An absolutely extraordinary cache of Buddhist artwork (perhaps the greatest in the world), the Mogao Grottoes are a series of 492 Buddhist temples dug into caves southeast of the Silk Road town of Dunhuang. The first caves are thought to have been dug around 366 CE as a place for Buddhist meditation and prayer, and at its zenith, 18 monasteries, some 1,500 monks and nuns and droves of artists and calligraphers called the grottoes home. Today, the multitude of brilliant murals, frescos, statues, silken paintings and textiles on display here are one of China's greatest treasures.

The Temple of Heaven (Beijing)

Set amongst a series of astonishing halls and altars (all designed to appease the heavens through sound, numerology, sacrifice and relentless beauty), the Temple of Heaven is one of Beijing's dreamiest spots. Everything here is well above par, but save your breath for the awesome might of the blue domed Hall of Prayer for Good Harvest that casts watch over the northern cordon.


Potala Palace (Tibet)

Potala Palace, esteemed all over the world as the sacrosanct symbol of Lamaism, rises 13 stories in white and maroon bastions over a hillside of radiant white staircases. The preeminent landmark of the Mecca of Tibetan Buddhism, Potala Palace is one of the foremost holy places in the world, and the former seat of the Tibetan government is sure to leave you weak in the knees. It's not easy by any means for foreigners to enter Tibet (you'll need to join a tour group), but if you can Potala is an absolute must

Zhangjiajie (Hunan)

When steamy subtropical forests give way to a cropping of 3,000 karst pinnacles and some of the most diverse flora and fauna in China, you know you've found something special. UNESCO knows it too, as do the 20 million annual tourists who visit this spectacular World Heritage Site in northern Hunan Province. The quartzite-sandstone formations are found nowhere else in the world, and you may find that the three days allowed on your entry pass are simply not enough.


Mt Taishan (Shandong)

In 219 BCE, the triumphant Emperor Qin Shihuang stood here at one of the country's holiest of mountains and declared to the world a unified China for the first time ever. However, it wasn't just Qin who made history on the slopes of the mountain that has been worshipped for over 3,000 years: 71 emperors and Mao Zedong have all left their marks, poetry and musings etched in stones and tablets along the road to the top.

The Terracotta Warriors (Shaanxi)

China s first emperor, Qin Shihuang, made his iron fist known in numerous ways, not least with his commission of some 10,000 hand-made clay warriors built to guard his tomb and accommodate his conquest in the afterlife. In fact, the 1974 discovery by farmers digging a well outside of Xi'an was one of the most monumental archeological finds in history. The perfectly-crafted warriors – none of which are alike – each have their own distinct expression, lending credence to the country's deep cultural history and the unimaginable expertise of its artisans over 2,000 years ago.


The Great Wall (Beijing)

It s over thousands of miles long, but the best parts are easily the walks surrounding the capital. Beijing's Great Wall comes in a variety of styles, from immaculately (and recently) crafted to crumbling under a heap of overgrown brush. But no matter which side of this masterpiece you decide to visit, you ll quickly see that the Great Wall is not only a symbol of China, but a testament to the ingenuity and diligence of humanity.

Shaolin Temple & Kung Fu (Henan)

Most martial artists need little introduction to the Shaolin Temple – the birthplace of Chinese kung fu. Since the legendary founding circa 500 CE, the temple has produced thousands of elite fighting monks and some of the most intriguingly spiritual and holistic martial skills on the planet. While here, take lessons and learn the secrets of Shaolin.