Don't waste a moment of precious holiday time: lengthen your stay in China with an overnight flight from the UK to to Beijing.
No other city in China is more drenched in history, yet more stridently modern, as its capital city of Beijing. You’ll have your own private guide to show you around, taking in everything from the magnificent 15th-century Temple of Heaven to the secretive Forbidden City. End your day amid the heaving stalls of Hongqiao Market, where you might like to buy a precious pearl for someone special.
Just north of Beijing lies one of the world’s most impressive feats of human engineering. The Great Wall of China once stretched for over 5,000km. Climb the well-preserved ramparts at Mutianyu, or glide up to admire the spectacular countryside views by cable car. Then delve back into old Beijing, with a pedicab ride around the hutongs. Negotiating these narrow alleyways evokes how Beijing once must have been.
It's only a short flight from Beijing to Xi'an, the former terminus of that great cultural exchange route, the Silk Road. The city is still still peppered with reminders of its past, from the priceless relics of the Han Yang Ling Museum to the lively Muslim Quarter. Don't miss the Shaanxi Provincial Museum, one of the finest in China – and enjoy your promenade atop the ancient City Wall, 12m high and 14km long.
Not far from the city the iconic Terracotta Warriors lie in wait. This 7,000-strong army dates back to 200BC. It’s hard to say which is more incredible: the scale and detail of the soldiers, horses and chariots or the fact that they were discovered by accident as recently as the 1970s. The Xi'an Museum offers further fascinating context, while a trip to the Small Wild Goose Pagoda affords wonderful city views.
Flying into Guilin, you’ll be heading straight to the historic town of Yangshuo. Your arrival here is like stepping into a Chinese watercolour, with emerald rice paddies rising up from the banks of the Li River, framed perfectly by a backdrop of lush limestone peaks. The opulent Banyan Tree Yangshuo will be your home: and all of the Oriental-inspired rooms boast balconies overlooking the scenic splendour.
Today you’ll take a drive deep into the rugged mountains of Guangxi, with Longsheng your final destination. This spectacular region is dominated by the Zhuang and Yao minority tribes, and you’ll have the chance to visit their village, to meet the local people and stroll through the surrounding rice terraces where they work.
It’s time to fly from romantic Guilin to cosmopolitan Shanghai. Here, karst mountains are replaced by gleaming skyscrapers, and you can experience 21st-century China at full throttle: strap yourself in because it’s a wonderfully wild ride. Of course we’ve booked you in to the Peninsula Shanghai, located right on The Bund waterfront at the heart of the action.
Get to know the Paris of the East with the help of a private guide. You’ll learn about the city's heady past at the Shanghai Museum, and visit the Urban Planning Exhibition Hall for an insight into its future. Delve into the atmospheric Old Town, stroll the peaceful Yu Gardens and the historic Bund. Finally, take your table at The Peninsula's Michelin-starred Chinese restaurant, for a lavish farewell meal.
Head to the airport for your homeward flight. Or, if you’re yearning for more after experiencing the very highlights of China, it’s easy to extend your stay with another tour.