Essence of China – 9 Day Tour

Capture China’s essence over 9-days in Beijing, Xi’an and Shanghai.

Discover the ancient highlights of Beijing; be dazzled by the bright lights of Shanghai; and marvel at one of the world’s great archaeological discoveries – the Terracotta Warriors.

Tour Highlights

Beginning in China’s capital Beijing, this historic city hosts many of China’s most famous sites such as the Forbidden City, the Great Wall of China, Tiananmen Square, the ‘Bird’s Nest’ Olympic Stadium, Summer Palace and so much more.

Xi’an is home to one of the world’s greatest archaeological finds – the Terracotta Warriors. Entombed beneath the earth for centuries, the warriors depict the armies of Qin Shi Huang, buried with the emperor for protection in the afterlife.

In Shanghai, take in the Colonial architecture that site alongside futuristic skyscrapers, explore ancient gardens and take a walk through the cobblestone alleys of Xintiandi.


  • Accommodation listed in the itinerary (or equivalent)
  • 8 Breakfast (B), 3 Lunch (L) 2 Dinner (D)
  • Private transfers from airport
  • Economy class airfare from Xi’an to Shanghai (ask us about business class upgrades)
  • Second Class train ticket Beijing West to Xi’an North
  • Tour and transfers as per itinerary to train station, hotels and sightseeing spots
  • One private English-speaking local guide and one private driver will accompany you on the guided sightseeing tours in each city
  • Entrance fees for mentioned sights
  • Some tours may be part of a larger tour group on the day.


  • SMALL GROUP travel – no giant tourist buses
  • MAXIMUM 16 passengers
  • NO forced stopping at souvenir factories
  • EXCLUSIVE experiences you won’t find elsewhere
  • INCLUDED English speaking tour guide/concierge throughout
  • PRIVATE transportation and transfers
  • FREE TIME to explore on your own.


Day 1: Arrival in Beijing

Upon landing, your guide will join you to ensure a comfortable transfer from the airport to your hotel in Beijing.

Hotel: Novotel Beijing Xinqiao – 4 Stars

Day 2: Beijing City Highlights

Your day starts with a tour to Tiananmen Square is one of the oldest and largest city squares in the world, first built in 1651, and large enough to fit 500,000 people into its 100 acres of open space.

Adjacent to the square is the world famous Forbidden City (Closed on Monday, copy of passport required to make reservation), is superbly elegant and in close to pristine condition.

UNESCO declared the Forbidden City as the largest collection of ancient wooden structures in the world. Go on a journey back in time as you walk down its red-walled alleys, through its magnificent courtyards and intricate interiors, and along the serene moat that rings the city with green.

The dirt dug out to build the moat was turned into an artificial hill, called Jingshan Park. The top of the park provides stunning views over the Forbidden City and Beijing, but also a great look into the lives of locals who go to the park every day to socialise.

In the afternoon, we will take you to the spectacular Summer Palace, which sprouts above the lush forest canopy and sits along the serene Kunming Lake. The colourful palace holds China’s largest royal garden, a beautiful promenade along the lake’s shores, and dragon boats you can rent for a leisurely cruise.

We finish the day with a welcome dinner.

Meals: (B, D)
Hotel: Novotel Beijing Xinqiao

Day 3: A Day Tour to the Great Wall

Visit the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall, which is among the best-preserved and most scenic sections of the Great Wall. Built more than 2,300 years ago, the Mutianyu Great Wall’s pristine parapets line the ridges of soft, sloping hillsides that are blanketed with verdant forests and lined with deep blue streams.

Take it all in, along with a delicious lunch, during a picnic atop one of the wall’s highest watchtowers. A true highlight for any visitor to China.

Meals: (B, L)
Hotel: Novotel Beijing Xinqiao – 4 Stars

Day 4: Train Beijing to Xi’an

The Temple of Heaven, constructed in the early 15th Century, is a masterfully landscaped and designed structure that combines imperial Chinese décor with spiritual grandiosity. Spend the morning exploring its opulent, bright and colorful Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests, where emperors would pray for healthy harvests.

Then, take an easygoing jaunt through Beijing’s historical hutongs. In these old neighbourhoods, traditional courtyard houses connected by narrow stone-paved alleyways have been transformed from residences, to hubs of culture for visitors and locals alike. Enjoy traditional gourmet snacks, people watch from a cafe, relax on stone benches under willow trees, or search for handicrafts to take home as keepsakes.

After lunch in an authentic hutong family home, ride in a traditional rickshaw to Houhai Lake.

Later in the afternoon, catch your high speed train to Xi’an. Upon arrival, you will be transferred to your selected hotel.

Train: G663 Beijing West 15:45-21:25 Xi’an North in Second Class. There are basic Chinese dinner options onboard the train, or you can take your own food onboard.
Meals: (B, L)
Hotel: Grand Noble Hotel 4-Stars

Day 5: Xi’an Clay Legion & Walled City

After an early pickup from your hotel, we drive 60-minutes for a guided tour through one of the world’s greatest archaeological finds – the Terracotta Warriors.

An entire army, from foot soldiers to cavalry and generals, were entombed here 2,200 years ago to protect emperor Qin Shi Huangas in the afterlife.

The Terracotta Warriors were once destroyed by a rival emperor, but today 8,000 lifelike and life-sized clay statues have been painstakingly restored to their original formation and on display in four different pits.

Lunch will be at Daqinxiaoyan (included), a restaurant specialising in cuisine from the Qin dynasty period.

After lunch, we return to Xi’an city centre to walk atop Xi’an’s ancient city wall, with its stone parapets providing wide views over the city and above the wall’s lush park and moat. Instead of walking, you can rent a single or tandem bicycle and ride the circumference around the top of the city wall. Your guide can assist with renting a bike (at own expense).

Next, we visit the Great Mosque, China’s oldest and largest mosque which combines Chinese and Middle Eastern aesthetics into a series of serene gardens, scenic courtyards and elegant structures.

Finish your packed day of touring by exploring the city’s Muslim Quarter, a grid of tree-shaded walking streets lined with aromatic street food booths and unique souvenir markets. Try some haggling with the local vendors to purchase authentic local cuisine made to order (dinner at own expense), or dine in one of the many restaurants in the walled city centre.

Meals: (B, L)
Hotel: Grand Noble Hotel 4-Stars

Day 6: Xi’an Clay Legion & Walled City

The morning is free to rest or explore the local neighborhood around your hotel.

In the afternoon, we will be visiting the Big Wild Goose Pagoda, one of the most famous Buddhist pagodas in China and an architectural marvel of cement-less brick construction that soars to 64 meters, and a holy place for Buddhists. Dating back to year-652, it holds a great number of religious artifacts originally taken from India.

This evenings included dinner is a fun lesson in the art of Chinese dumplings, a delicacy that is famous in the Xi’an region. After mastering the skills required of dough making and rolling, filling preparation and then the assembly, enjoy the fruits of your labour with a traditional dumpling feast for dinner.

Meals: (B, D)
Hotel: Grand Noble Hotel 4-Stars

Day 7: Xi’an to Shanghai

Before your included afternoon flight to Shanghai, we take in one final Xi’an stop – the Han Yang Lin Mausoleum. The lesser known tomb of Emperor Liu Qi of the Han Dynasty is spread over 10 square kilometres, with an underground exhibition hall to get up close to the archaeological digs.

This afternoon, a short flight brings you to Shanghai, where you will be met at the airport by your new local representative who will be looking after you for the remainder of the tour.

After your airport transfer, check into your hotel and enjoy free time. Dinner is at own expense with recommendations provided by your local Shanghai Representative.

Meals: (B)
Hotel: SSAW Boutique Hotel Shanghai Bund (4-stars)

Day 8: Shanghai

In the morning, we walk along the Bund to Yu Garden and the surrounding Old Town area. Yu Garden, dating back to 1559, is one of the restored features of Shanghai’s Old Town.

The Garden, heavily influenced by classical Suzhou garden design, holds more than 40 traditional halls, towers, pagodas, and pavilions. Many are surrounded by jade ponds and lush trees, all connected by stone walkways that stray through rock gardens and rise above koi ponds.

Afterwards, enjoy free time for the rest of the day, including lunch and early dinner/snack (both at your own expense). Then take a walk through the cobblestone alleys of Xintiandi, where the old architecture and culture from Shanghai’s past meets modern, fashionable lifestyle trends and taste.

OPTIONAL ACTIVITY: Enjoy the wonder of the Shanghai Circus, a spectacular show of acrobatics that will simply amaze you. A bus will return you to your hotel after the show if you decide to buy a ticket.

Meals: (B)
Hotel: SSAW Boutique Hotel Shanghai Bund (4-stars)

Day 9: Depart Shanghai

Enjoy your free day in Shanghai before your flight home, or book one of these optional activities at time of tour booking.

OPTIONAL ACTIVITY 1: China Art Palace (From $102pp twin share)
Explore the China Art Palace, a unique structure built for the 2010 Shanghai World Expo now repurposed as an art museum. The inverted pyramid structure houses more than 1,400 art works, including the show piece of the expo – an electronic rendering of the Qingming Scroll.

The Qingming Scroll is a stunningly detailed panoramic painting that captures the daily lives of hundreds of people living in an old imperial city. The scroll dates back to 1085, so it is quite delicate, but his digital rendition at the China Palace of Art allows you to step in for a close look at a moment in the life of someone living about a thousand years ago. (Tour is approximately 2 hours long)

OPTIONAL ACTIVITY 2: French Concession Cycling Tour (From $280pp twin share)
The French Concession is a historical, trendy, and cultural neighbourhood. Its easygoing streets are lined with trees imported from France 100 years ago and dotted with boutique shops, gourmet restaurants, historic European villas and art deco buildings from Shanghai’s jazz age.

Old China still resides in the neighbourhood’s classic lane houses, like Tianzifang, a cluster of lane houses which have been restored and turned into an arts and culture hub. The best way to see it all is from the seat of a bike. (Tour is approximately 3.5 hours long)

OPTIONAL ACTIVITY 3: Wet Market Tours & La Mian Cooking Class (From $228pp twin share)
Meet with a local chef for a tour through one of Shanghai’s quintessentially Chinese wet markets. After, the chef will lead a cooking class on how to prepare a staple: hand-pulled noodles.

As the chef leads you through the market, they will introduce you to all the trademark ingredients and flavours of Chinese cuisine, show you how to pick out the spices and produce you need, and then teach you to combine them with the traditional technique of hand-pulling noodles. (Tour is approximately 2.5 hours long)


Novotel Beijing Xinqiao (4-Stars)

Novotel Beijing Xinqiao is a 5-minute walk from Beijing Train Station and a 10-minute walk from New World Shopping Mall.

There are a variety of amenities at Novotel Beijing Xinqiao including free Wi-Fi and a spa and wellness centre. The air-conditioned rooms at the hotel are modern and each have a mini bar and bath robes.

Grand Noble Hotel (4-Stars)

Located in the central business area of Xi’an, Grand Noble Hotel is only a 10-minute walk from the Bell and Drum Tower, as well as the famed Muslim Food Street. It features a spa and wellness centre, and guest rooms offer iPod and MP3 stations and free WiFi access in all areas.

All guest rooms have a minibar and a safety deposit box. Guests can work out at the well-equipped fitness centre, or make use of the bicycle rental facilities

SSAW Boutique Hotel Shanghai Bund (4-Stars)

Rooms at SSAW Boutique Hotel Shanghai Bund come with modern interiors and a seating area by the large window. Each is equipped with a minibar with free drinks and private bathroom with shower facilities.

The hotel has a 24-hour front desk, with laundry and ironing services available upon request. There is a fridge in the lobby where guests can help themselves to free mineral water and soft drinks.


If you cancel some or all portions of your booking, cancellation fees apply. For a cancellation notice to be effective it must be received in writing. Unless otherwise indicated to you by your respective travel consultant, after confirmation, if you cancel a portion or all of your travel, the terms and conditions in the confirmation documents will apply. Some general aspects that apply to all confirmed bookings include if you leave a trip for any reason after it has commenced, the supplier is not obliged to make any refunds for unused services. If you fail to join a tour, join it after departure, or leave it prior to its completion, no refund i part or whole can be made. We strongly recommend that you take out appropriate travel insurances at the time of booking. The cancellation fees, in addition to any supplier fees, may also be levied by accommodation providers, or third party tour, transport operator fees or other service providers. Your consultant will confirm the terms at time of booking.



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