Winding Waterways and Chinese Beaches

Route: Beijing - Great Wall of China - Shanghai - Watertowns of Luzhi, Tongli and Suzhou - Putuoshan Island - Yangshuo - Hainan Island

This China holiday is perfect if you are looking to unwind and take things easy during your visit to China. This itinerary will take you across China starting in Beijing where you will visit Tian'anmen Square, the Forbidden City and the Great Wall of China before heading to the cosmopolitan city of Shanghai. You'll travel into the water towns of Luzhi, Tongli and Suzhou and get to see a more traditional China. Your next stop will be the Buddhist beach island of Putuoshan where you can visit the impressive Guan Yin statue. Your holiday to China will then continue towards the Chinese countryside where you'll stay in an idyllic area amidst karst mountains and rivers. The last stop in your itinerary will be Hainan Island where you'll be able to rest and relax on one of the long, sandy beaches - the perfect way to end your China trip.

If you'd like to build your very own China holiday, you can choose from our range of bite-sized China trips. Or alternatively, take a look at our wider range of holidays in China or give one of our friendly China Travel Specialists a call on 01273 322 048.

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  • visit China - Lijiang waterwheel
  • visit China - on the Rickshaw
  • visit China - Putuoshan kettle
  • visit China - breakfast in Pingan
  • visit China - Hainan views

Duration:             18 days / 17 nights             
                            begins daily

Price:                   £1895 per person - based on 2 people sharing                                                         

Accommodation:  17 nights in category 3 accommodation  
                            (see accommodation for category details).

Transport:            As described below

Includes:              Accommodation, transport and all transfers and                                      excursions as mentioned below. 

Excludes:              International flights, meals and drinks, entrance fees

visit China - Rickshaw rides

Day 1: Arrival in Beijing

On day one of your visit to China, you'll be met by one of our local representatives in the arrival hall where they'll be holding a sign with your name on it. You'll then be taken to your hotel. There is an ATM in the arrival hall where you can secure your first Yuans and the airport is about an hour drive away from the centre of Beijing.

In keeping with local style, you'll stay in a traditional courtyard hotel with fruit trees, magnolias and flowers during this part of your visit to China. The small scale architecture of these hotels is quite charming.  The rest of the day is yours to spend as you wish; recuperate from your flight, get used to the time difference or explore the area surrounding your hotel. If you'd prefer a bit more luxury, for instance in the more luxurious 4 star Peace Hotel, please let our China travel specialists know in the comments area of the My Travel Plan Form

Day 2: Tour of Beijing

On the second day of your visit to China, you'll explore Beijing with your driver and English-speaking guide. You'll be picked up at your hotel around 8:30 in the morning. The first stop is the famous Tian'anmen Square: the gateway to heavenly peace. After a stop you'll visit the Temple of Heavenly Peace (entrance fee 35 Yuan) and the colourful Lama Temple (entrance fee 25 Yuan). 

You'll walk among red pagodas, monks and prayer houses with the scent of incense and sandalwood all around you. Since you will have a guide accompanying you, not only can you ask them everything you want to know about the sites, you can also ask them any practical questions you may have; for example where the best spot for lunch is!

visit China - Beijing city
visit China - eating out

During the afternoon, you and your guide will visit the Forbidden City where you'll take a peek at the emperors residence during the 18th century (open until 16:00, entrance fee approx. £6). After you've seen all you want to see your guide will help you catch a taxi back to your hotel (approximately £1.50). Be sure to always bring along one of the hotel's business cards while your visit China, as your taxi driver may not be able to understand English.  

As its name indicates, Peking Duck comes from Peking (now Beijing). If you wish, we can reserve a table for you at the restaurant that prepares the best Peking duck recipe in town. Your guide will take you to the restaurant and for £20 per person the chef will personally place the duck on your plate. A delicious Chinese delicacy!

Day 3: Beijing - Great Wall of China

Most travellers will agree that the Great Wall of China is one of the highlights of any China holiday. You'll leave Beijing early in the morning and head towards a quiet part of the wall, about three hours from Beijing. Here you'll walk over the wall for about 10km; it's quite a vigorous walk and not appropriate for people with a fear of heights! It should take you about four hours to complete the entire course. Many parts of the wall are still the original wall segments, completely unrestored and dating back to around 1570. At the end of the route you'll encounter the busy Beijing streets once again; arriving back at around 18:30.

Recently, the Simatai section of the Great Wall has been closed for renovation and is unavailable for clients to hike. The hike that we offer will still depart from Jinshanling and continue onto the point of closure at Simatai and then continue back to Jinshanling. Even with the closure of the Simatai section we still feel that the Jinshanling segment is the best place to experience the stunning landscapes in the mountainous area of the Luanping County.

visit China - Great Wall trek
visit China - on the Great Wall

Beijing - Alternative Great Wall of China tour

If this 10km hike is a bit more than you would like to take on during your trip to China, you could also go on our trip to the Great Wall at Mutianyu instead. This Mutianyu trip takes you to the mighty Great Wall and the 2008 Olympic Park (the birds-nest stadium) which is now a centre for cultural sporting activities. During this trip you will also visit the fascinating Ming Dynasty Tombs and mausoleum. At the Great Wall at Mutianyu, you can go on a cable car up to the top taking in the fantastic views that surround you, before taking the toboggan down - it's great fun! Please ask your travel specialist for more information on our Mutianyu trip.

Day 4: Beijing - Shanghai - Luzhi - Tongli

This morning you'll check out of your Beijing hotel and be taken to the train station where you will board the high-speed bullet train. You'll then continue your visit to China to an entirely different type of China; the futuristic harbour city of Shanghai. On arrival, a private transfer will be ready to take you to the quiet aquatic town of Luzhi (a 1 hour drive). Luzhi has more bridges per square kilometre than Venice and you'll have plenty of time while you visit China to explore this city by foot or by boat.

Your mini bus will then take you to your hotel in Tongli, only 30 minutes further down the road, before sunset. This aquatic town is also quite idyllic and charming. The red Chinese lanterns in the entrance gates and in the courtyard of your hotel will be lit, providing a lovely atmosphere for your arrival.

visit China - waterways

visit China - Shanghai lights

Day 5: Tongli - Suzhou - TGV train to Shanghai

We suggest waking up early this morning. Around 11am the Chinese tourists start to flock to the city, so the early morning hours are the best time to visit Tongli in peace and quiet. This area is best explored by water, and you can rent a boat for 70 Yuan. The boat resembles the Venetian gondolas and comes complete with a helmsman to steer you through the canals of Tongli. 

At 3pm you'll head out on a scheduled line bus to Suzhou and take a taxi to the train station. From here you'll continue your visit to China by high-speed train to Shanghai. You'll see the countryside race by and before long the apartment complexes and factories will start appearing. Eventually as it turns dark, you'll see the lights of Shanghai's skyscrapers (there are more here than in New York). On arrival at the Shanghai train station, a transfer will be waiting to take you to your hotel, centrally located right on the bund.  

Day 6: Shanghai

The next day of your visit to China is yours to spend as you please. If you just feel like relaxing and unwinding, you may want to visit the famous Yu-garden, not far from the Bund. Try to visit the garden close to closing time, the quietest time of the day. 

While strolling along the Bund, past the large classic colonial buildings, you'll feel like you're walking through ancient 18th and 19th century China. Much like during the golden days, business is still booming here. International fashion boutiques, yuppie bars and beautifully renovated buildings, such as the famous Peace Hotel, all stand side by side. On the other side of the Bund you'll see Pudong's skyscrapers shooting into the heavens.

visit China - Shanghai buildings

visit China - Putuoshan beach

Day 7: Shanghai - Putuoshan Island

Today you'll need to grab an early breakfast, as you'll be picked up at 7:00am for your transfer to the bus station. A public bus will drive you for three hours to Luchao, where you’ll catch a boat to Putuoshan Island. Bring along a snack for the journey as the boat only has a simple bar. 
During your time on Putuoshan Island, you’ll stay in a comfortable hotel with all the necessary facilities. Have some lunch at your hotel, rest up for a bit and then head out to explore the island. We recommend visiting the 33m tall Buddhist statue of Guan Yin in the late afternoon. At this time of day it will be beautifully lit by the setting sun. 
The best way to explore the island is by foot; the island has been cultivated for pedestrians and there are signs everywhere to lead you in the right direction. Putuoshan is small (approximately 6km in circumference) and you can easily walk around it in a day.

Day 8: Putuoshan Island

After breakfast this morning, your day is free to enjoy the island.  Delight in the many delicately carved rooftops and arches mirrored in the ponds of the Puji temple. Stroll through the temples, and along the pagodas and well-kept gardens. 
If you want to visit China's beaches, then head down to the “100 steps” beach. Around noon you’ll start to see people carrying buckets filled with the catches of the day for the Putuo fish restaurants. In true Putuo style just point out what you’d like to eat and enjoy a delicious meal at an affordable price. 
In the afternoon, you can visit Fayuchan temple. The temple lies on top of a mountain and pilgrims climb hundreds of stairs to reach it. Every three steps they kneel and bow down with their hands on the ground.
visit China - at the temple

visit China - beautiful temples

Day 9: Putuoshan Island - Shanghai

At 13:30 today the boat from Putuoshan Island will head back to the mainland, so you’ll have some time in the morning to take another dive into the sea or to visit one of the temples. You’ll be back at the Shanghai bus station at around 18:00. You can catch a taxi at the pier to your Shanghai hotel in the city where you will spend another night. 

If you plan on going out in the evening while you visit China, you'll want to visit Xintiandee, a district made up of pedestrian walkways, tea houses, restaurants and renovated Shikumen houses, and even a French district. Staying 'in' for the evening in your hotel is not an option; a night on the town is part of the Shanghai experience!

Day 10: Shanghai - Guilin - Yangshuo

Today you'll travel to the next destination of your visit to China. You'll make your own way to the airport in Shanghai where you will catch your flight to Guilin. On arrival into Guilin you will be met at the airport and transferred to Yangshuo; a two hour drive. There's a very relaxed, laid-back atmosphere here and it's easy to meet people.

During this part of your visit to China in Yangshuo, you'll stay in a retreat in the countryside by the Yulong River where you can truly rest up and relax. The rooms have a partial view of the river and there are bikes for rent and you can ride a bamboo raft down the river. 
visit China - Yangshuo scenery

visit China - bike ride

Day 11: Yangshuo - bike, bamboo raft excursion Yulong River

You'll start off the day with a bike ride along the Yulong River. The scenery here is every bit as beautiful as it is at the Li River and features a dramatic array of karst mountains on the banks of the river. During your cycling trip you'll leave the main roads and peddle over paths along the river, through farmland and rice paddies with the karst mountains as constant companions during your ride; this is sure to be a truly memorable part of your visit to China. You'll be able to stop for drinks or snacks in the small villages that you'll pass during your ride. 

After cycling for a while, the bamboo raft will be waiting to take you down the river. Eventually, when you return to your hotel you can unwind with a beer or glass of wine on the terrace; a blissful way to end an active day of your visit to China.

Day 12: Yangshuo

On day twelve of your visit to China, you’ll have the entire day to spend as you please; there's plenty to do in this area. You can rent a kayak from the hotel, spend another day on a bicycle to explore the area on your own, or you can even take Kung Fu lesson for an hour.

In the evening, how about going to the 'Zhang Yimou light show' set along the Li and Yulong rivers. Zhang Yimou is China’s most famous theatre director and is best known for producing the 2008 Olympic Games opening ceremony. He’s created a stunning show complete with illuminated karst formations, gigantic decor and hundreds of actors. This show is truly enjoyable, set against a backdrop of Karst Mountains and we would recommend adding it to your travel plan. Just ask one of our friendly travel specialists for more information.
visit China - light show

visit China - into the countryside

Day 13: Yangshuo - Ping'an

At around 9:00 you'll be picked up from your hotel and a transfer will take you north through Guilin to the next destination while you visit China; the Longji rice terraces. The village of Ping'an is located in the middle of this area and is only accessible by foot. You'll be met at the end of the drive where someone will join you on the 20 minute walk to the village. If you prefer not to carry your luggage during the walk, you can have your bags carried for your for about 30 Yuan. 

You'll stay in a basic guest house in the village during this part of your visit to China. Electricity and warm water are available in the mornings and evenings. Your room will have its own private bathroom, and the guest house has a large veranda where you can enjoy the view of the rice fields and mountains. In the afternoon you can walk through the village and visit the two view points.

Day 14: Ping'an - Hike with a guide

It's the fourteenth day of your visit to China and at 9am you’ll set off with your guide on a walk through the rice paddies, known as The Dragon's Back Bone or Long Ji. You’ll trek past rivers, through wooded areas and rice paddies where the Zhuang push their oxen. Around lunch time you’ll have a bite to eat and rest up for a bit in the village before continuing on another two hour walk. At around 15.00 a van will take you back towards Ping'an village limits and you'll walk back to your guesthouse. 

In the evening, the Zhuang will show you their singing and dancing traditions at your request. The Zhuag perform a type of folk dancing for Chinese country women in traditional dress. Afterwards travellers usually gather on the veranda to sit, talk, drink or play a game until late in the evening. 

visit China - local people

visit China - Hainan Island

Day 15: Ping'an - Guiling - Canton - Hainan Island

You'll have an early start this morning as you journey towards the next destination while you visit China. Your transfer will be waiting for you and after an hour and a half you'll be at Guilin airport. 

You'll fly to the city of Canton (Guangzhou) where you'll change planes and after another hour of flying, you'll arrive at Sanya airport at the southern part of Hainan Island. On arrival, your transfer will be waiting to take you on a short drive to your hotel by the beach. There's a restaurant, swimming pool and your room has air conditioning, a tv and a modern bathroom. When you exit your hotel you'll walk straight onto the beach and into the warm sea, a perfect way to relax while you visit China.

Day 16 -17: Hainan Island

Spend these next two days of your visit to China as you wish; rest and relaxation are your only priorities on this island. The atmosphere here is one of 'sun, sea and surf'. There are several diving shops at the beach where you can rent snorkelling equipment or arrange an introductory dive.

If you would like to see a little more of the island while you visit China, 5km south of Sanya lies a hilly peninsula which offers great hiking opportunities and beautiful views. Further inland lies a reserve with 1000 Guanxi monkeys. Yalong Bay lies about 20km further down the coast and is the most popular centre for tourism on the island. It has a yacht harbour, horse track and golf course. You can reach the bay by bus, taxi or by bicycle. You can head into Sanya or stay in the area around your hotel for dinner in the evenings and try some of the catch of the day, this area is well known for its fresh fish dishes.

visit China - friendly locals

visit China - time to go home

Day 18: Departure from Hainan Island

Unfortunately all good things must come to an end and today your visit to China must draw to a close. You'll return to the airport (you can arrange a transfer at your hotel reception for just a few pounds) and catch your flight back to the UK. 
If this China holiday sounds like the trip for you, just click the "Add to My Travel Plan" button below. Complete the form and we'll send you a detailed, no-obligation China travel plan quote.

A Peek at our Standard Accommodation (click to enlarge)

  • visit China - Yangshuo room
  • visit China - Pingan view
  • visit China - Pingan bedroom
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