Combine the hustle and bustle of China’s booming cities with the tranquility of rural life on this unforgettable adventure. Explore hidden corners of Beijing’s Forbidden City; trek atop the majestic Great Wall; and sample street food in Xi’an, home to the incredible terra-cotta army. Then venture into the countryside, enjoying a paddle on the scenic Li River and learning to cook up regional specialties in Yangshuo. Along the way, discover ancient customs that contrast with rapidly modernizing lifestyles, revealing China’s true allure.

Trip highlights

Great Wall Mutianyu Visit, Climb the rolling hills of Huairou County at Mutianyu, one of the best-preserved sections of the Great Wall. Enjoy scenic views as the wall winds along mountain ridges, and take brag-worthy photos of the wall from any of the 22 towers.

Itinerary - 12 Days

Day 1 Beijing

Arrive at any time. Arrival transfer is included. Enjoy Beijing’s famed Peking duck at our welcome dinner tonight.

Day 2 Beijing

Today, we discover one of the most iconic wonders of the world—the Great Wall of China. This impressive series of fortifications was built between the 3rd century BC and the 17th century AD along China’s northern border, and spans more than 20,000 kilometers. We’ll explore the less-visited Mutianyu section, taking in sweeping views of the countryside from the ancient watchtowers. Opt to ascend a section of the wall by cable car; then hike up to Mutianyu’s highest point and choose to slide back down to the entrance in a toboggan.

Day 3 Beijing

Delve into the fascinating history of Beijing on a full-day tour. Visit the palaces and elegant galleries of the Forbidden City—seat of the Ming and Qing dynasties for more than five centuries—and walk across vast Tiananmen Square, where some of China’s most significant political events have taken place. Venture to the elegant Temple of Heaven, where the emperor would come to pray and perform sacrificial rites, and watch locals practice tai chi in the surrounding gardens. Later, we’ll take a walk through the hutongs or hidden alleyways of Beijing’s old neighbourhoods.

Day 4 Beijing/Xi'an

Continue to explore Beijing today and enjoy some free time on your own. In the evening, catch an overnight train to Xi'an, one of China’s four ancient capitals and the eastern terminus of the Silk Road.

Day 5 Xi'an

Explore Xi'an like a local this morning, hopping on a bike to ride along the city’s well-preserved 14th-century walls. Later, hit the streets of the vibrant Muslim Quarter, known for its mouthwatering street food, and enjoy a visit to Gao’s Grand Courtyard. This beautifully restored mansion belonged to a Ming-era official, and offers an insight into traditional Chinese family life. Round off your visit with a performance of shadow puppetry, an ancient Chinese folk art.

Day 6 Xi'an

Visit the famed terra-cotta army, fashioned more than 2,000 years ago to protect the tomb of Qin Shi Huang, China’s first emperor. We’ll spend half a day learning about this archaeological treasure and admiring the artistic detail of the thousands of life-size sculptures. Afterward, enjoy lunch in a nearby village, where local farmers first discovered the terra-cotta warriors in 1974. Opt for a dumpling banquet this evening, getting a chance to taste traditional northern Chinese cuisine.

Day 7 Yangshuo Countryside

Fly to Yangshuo in China's lush southwestern region, situated at the meeting point of the Li and Yulong Rivers and ringed by dramatic limestone peaks. Float down the Li River on a traditional vessel, winding around karst towers and gliding past terraced rice fields and local fishermen on bamboo boats. Tonight, we’ll enjoy dinner at a G Adventures–supported restaurant, which provides rural women with opportunities to become self-reliant.

Day 8 Yangshuo Countryside

Venture further into the scenic countryside this morning, trekking through peaceful rural villages, fruit orchards, and rice paddies. Later, delve into the region’s cuisine on a visit to a Yangshuo market, where we’ll learn about the ingredients used to prepare typical dishes. Then try your hand at whipping up some of these local specialities at a cooking class, and enjoy your creations for dinner.

Day 9 Yangshuo

Rise early for a private tai chi class with a local expert and learn about the health benefits of this ancient Chinese exercise, practiced by millions around the world. Later, travel to the town of Yangshuo and wander through its quaint, café-lined streets. Spend the afternoon at leisure, and opt to enjoy a stunning theatrical performance over the Li River.

Day 10 Yangshuo/Shanghai

Fly to Shanghai, one of China’s most bustling metropolises. Set off on a stroll of the Bund, the downtown riverfront district, and take in Shanghai’s colonial architecture and futuristic skyline—a mesmerizing mix of old and new. Explore the city on your own time this evening.

Day 11 Shanghai

Spend the day soaking up vibrant Shanghai on your own. Opt to visit the Shanghai Museum, home to a world-class collection of ancient Chinese art; roam the beautiful Yuyuan Garden, a classical Chinese garden dating to the Ming era; enjoy a spectacular acrobatic show; ascend to the top of the iconic Oriental Pearl, one of the tallest TV towers in the world; and much more.

Day 12 Shanghai

Depart at any time.

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