ESSENTIAL CHINA

Our Essential China tour takes you on an extended highlight-reel trip of China’s best sites to take in the essential must-see wonders of this vast, fantastic nation

TOUR INTRODUCTION

11 Days, 10 Nights     FROM CNY 13,858 PER PERS

When you picture China in your mind, you undoubtedly visualize the Great Wall of China, The Terracotta Warriors, great food and bustling cities. Of course, these are the most common projections of this immense country, but because of its size, China offers so much more than you can possibly imagine.

Our Essential China tour offers you an in-depth investigation into not just the places you know of already, but also so many you’ve yet to discover. We’ll take you to explore the two most spectacular cities in China to bookend your trip, Beijing and Shanghai, removing the hassle of the hustle of these metropolises with stress-free transfers and personal guided tours.As well as touring the big cities, we’ll also take you to see the rural areas of China, blessed with natural beauty and a way of life that contrasts the hectic city life perfectly. You’ll visit two truly fascinating regions, Shaanxi and Guangxi and feel fully immersed in a culture and lifestyle you’ll never forget.

Your tour of China will also take you to experience the Great Wall of China at a lesser-frequented section to avoid the crowds, see the Terracotta Warriors of Xi’an stand guard over the tomb of Emperor Qin Shi Huang and cruise across the Li River to see the aesthetic beauty of the picturesque Guilin and Yangshuo regions

 

Each of our itineraries can be tailored to your requirements, allowing us to create the perfect holiday just for you. Contact us with your holiday ideas, no matter how big or small, and our destination based teams will start planning a unique and personalized trip.

The Backyard Travel Team,

THE BACKYARD TRAVEL DIFFERENCE

Take a trip to a lesser-visited section of The Great Wall of China and enjoy a peaceful picnic perched atop the majestic structure
Visit the Terracotta Warriors in Xi’an, sentries frozen in time, immortalized by stone
Visit UNESCO World Heritage Site The Summer Palace
Get a true glimpse of Chinese society with an overnight sleeper train experience



Daily Itinerary

Daily Itinerary

  • Start
  • Day 1: Beijing

    Welcome to the magical land of China! We’ll make your first moments as blissful as possible as you adapt to the exotic sights, sounds and smells of China with a chauffeur-driven ride in a private car to the hotel which takes you past the Bird’s Nest stadium, a modern-day icon of China where the 2008 Beijing Olympics began and ended. Having taken a short rest at the hotel, and depending on your time of arrival in Beijing, your first day of exploration will continue with a tour of Beijing’s hutongs (alleyways) close to Houhai Lake. From there, you’ll be guided to the Drum Tower, where in ancient times the passing hours were signaled by the banging of drums.

    You will then have the chance to meet a local bicycle repair man - a real character who has his finger on the pulse of Beijing and can offer you an insight into the importance and prominence, as well as the resurgence in popularity, of cycling in the busy city.

    If time permits, you’ll also have the chance to observe one of the most popular ways to spend time - playing the incredibly complicated and strategic game of mahjong. Luckily, your guide will be on hand to explain the rules, as you watch the players skillfully while away the hours playing rounds after rounds of this ancient past time.

    Before heading back to the hotel, you’ll then have the chance to visit the main shopping area of the city, Wangfujing and the neighboring Donghuamen market, which will allow you to get a measure of modern urban China. Wangfujing is mostly a pedestrian area and attracts a blend of both tourists and locals to fulfill their consumer urges, while Donghuamen market will surely attract your attention, if for no other reason than discovering that some of the loudest dumpling salespeople on the planet work there, and compete on a nightly basis to be THE loudest!After absorbing and processing an eventful first day, you’ll then be chauffeured back to your carefully hand-picked hotel.Distance and journey time:
    Beijing airport - Beijing city (approx. 30km): 40 min

  • Day 2: Beijing

    Day two will enable you to get a firm grasp of China’s complicated relationship with religion, which your guide will explain to you as you go on a tour of some of Beijing’s most poignant places of worship. Today you will have the chance to get up-close and personal with China’s wide variety of practiced religion by seeing and learning about some of the key temples in Beijing.

    Firstly, you will pay a visit to the Temple of Heaven Park to see several spectacles that will also enable a better understanding of Chinese society. We recommend an early start today, something that we’re sure will pay-off, but as it’s your trip you’re free to plan as you wish! Every morning, the park welcomes mass sessions of public exercise (including taiji, kung-fu, sword-dancing, meditation, tango, and gymnastics) as well as locals practicing calligraphy on stone with water. In summer it is an intriguing to see - because of the heat, the water evaporates almost as quickly as it is written!After a leisurely bout of people-watching, you will then discover the temple itself. Notable for its architectural simplicity, the temple reflects early Buddhist and Taoist beliefs. The temple experience continues with a visit to the lesser-known White Cloud Temple where Taoist monks still wear their hair in a traditional style and visitors come to rub sculptures representing the 12 signs of the Chinese Zodiac. If time allows, you’ll also be able to visit Beijing Mosque, a symbol of the expansion of Muslin merchants to China from Central Asia.

    Lunch will then be taken in a leading local restaurant.

    After lunch you will have the opportunity to visit Yong He Gong Lama Temple, which proudly boasts an 18-meter-high Buddha statue carved from one block of wood. The last temple visit of the day takes you to the Temple of Confucius - a teacher whose moral codes provide the cornerstone of Chinese culture. A visit here will round off the day of temple tours which, together with your guide’s expert explanations, will give you a valuable knowledge base of China’s religions before being driven back to your hotel to spend the rest of the evening at your leisure.

  • Day 3: Beijing

    Once more, at your discretion, we again recommend an early rise as we go to visit the most iconic structure in China, if not the world.

    The Great Wall of China is prominent in the minds of most when thinking of this vast nation. Backyard Travel will take you to the Mutianyu section of the wall in the early morning light which provides a great opportunity for photos especially as the early morning is quiet with fewer crowds. Sections of the Wall date back to the Qin Dynasty over 2,000 years ago, and were originally built as defensive positions to protect the Chinese from invading barbarian hordes.

    Those who fear that climbing the wall may be beyond them can take a cable car and save their legs for the walk down. Adventurous children can also toboggan ride to the bottom! There will also be a chance to sit down, relax and have a picnic on the 6,000km Great Wall, as you observe and soak in the spectacular views of the rugged lands it was built to protect.

    On the way back to Beijing, our guide will take you to the Summer Palace, a harmonious representation of Chinese culture and architecture. Once a simple imperial garden, the site was redesigned by Emperor Qianlong in the 18th century and because of its beauty, the garden has become one of the capital’s major attractions, and was often used in the summer months by the Imperial Court as an escape from the stifling heat of the Forbidden City. Its 2.9km is three-quarters water with striking natural landscapes and is on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

    After visiting the Summer Palace, your guide will escort you back to central Beijing.Distance and journey time:
    Beijing city- Mutianyu Great Wall (approx. 75km): approx 2 hours
    Mutianyu Great Wall - Summer Palace (approx. 75 km): 1h45

    Summer Palace - Beijing city (approx. 22 km): 40 min

  • Day 4: Beijing - Xi’an

    Day four begins with a morning of leisure and gives you a chance to do some Beijing shopping or venture out and explore the city alone. In the afternoon we’ll take you to visit the awe-inspiring Forbidden City, one of the most majestic sites in the world.

    Formerly a home of emperors, the Forbidden City was the Chinese Imperial Palace in the days of the Ming Dynasty and was lovingly restored in time for the Beijing Olympics in 2008. You’ll have the chance to take in the serene surrounding courtyards and stately rooms of this vast and elegant 720,000-square-meter complex which was completed in 1420 during the reign of Emperor Yongle. The Forbidden City served as the Imperial administrative center until the fall of the Empire in 1911 and according to legend is made up of 9,999 rooms.

    Our guide will take you to climb the hill behind the historic city to get spectacular views of the site and the layout of Beijing, helping you gain a greater understanding of the chaotic city.

    After taking the time to fully absorb the majesty of the 500-year-old City, you’ll then make tracks to catch the six-hour overnight train to Datong. Riding the overnight traditional train is an unforgettable experience and is a unique way to appreciate subtle nuances of Chinese culture. Safely tucked up in your own soft-sleeper cabin, you’ll discover that train travel in China is a cultural experience, not just a means to an end as you share a beer or baijiu (Chinese rice wine) with locals and consume scandalous amounts of sunflower seeds and freshly made noodles before getting some well-deserved sleep on this comfortable sleeper service.

    Day four begins with a morning of leisure and gives you a chance to do some Beijing shopping or venture out and explore the city alone. In the afternoon we’ll take you to visit the awe-inspiring Forbidden City, one of the most majestic sites in the world.

    Formerly a home of emperors, the Forbidden City was the Chinese Imperial Palace in the days of the Ming Dynasty and was lovingly restored in time for the Beijing Olympics in 2008. You’ll have the chance to take in the serene surrounding courtyards and stately rooms of this vast and elegant 720,000-square-meter complex which was completed in 1420 during the reign of Emperor Yongle. The Forbidden City served as the Imperial administrative center until the fall of the Empire in 1911 and according to legend is made up of 9,999 rooms.

    Our guide will take you to climb the hill behind the historic city to get spectacular views of the site and the layout of Beijing, helping you gain a greater understanding of the chaotic city.

    After taking the time to fully absorb the majesty of the 500-year-old City, you’ll then make tracks to catch the six-hour overnight train to Datong. Riding the overnight traditional train is an unforgettable experience and is a unique way to appreciate subtle nuances of Chinese culture. Safely tucked up in your own soft-sleeper cabin, you’ll discover that train travel in China is a cultural experience, not just a means to an end as you share a beer or baijiu (Chinese rice wine) with locals and consume scandalous amounts of sunflower seeds and freshly made noodles before getting some well-deserved sleep on this comfortable sleeper service.

  • Day 5: Xi’an

    Welcome to Shaanxi Province! Shaanxi is considered the birthplace of Chinese civilization and Xi’an has played a definitive role in the nation’s history and has thrice served as the capital of the Middle Empire and was also the starting point of the Silk Road (the trade route along which Chinese silk was exported). The city, previously called Chang’an already had a population size of 1 million during the reign of Emperor Qin Shi, the first emperor to unify the ‘warring states’ in 221BC and under the Tang Dynasty (618-907) became the world’s most populous city.

    On your first morning in Shaanxi you will be taken to see the legendary Terracotta Warriors, which lies just an hour from your hotel in Xi’an. The site was discovered in 1974 by locals digging a small hole who uncovered immense underground caverns full of thousands of warrior statues stood in battle formation. The site is considered one of the largest archaeological discoveries in world history.

    The army was built by Emperor Qin Shi, who wanted to protect himself from the spirits of the underworld. Each warrior, archer and cavalier has a unique face which are said to be the faces of the warriors who served under the Emperor at the time of construction.

    You will have the chance to visit all three ‘pits’ of warriors, starting with Pit 2 (which is still in the process of being evacuated), then Pit 3 (which is now mostly uncovered), and then lastly Pit 1 (the most impressive of the three with around 2,000 soldiers).

    On your return to Xi’an you will then be taken on an hour-long bike ride to visit the impressive city walls that were originally constructed during the Ming Dynasty and are some of the last in China. Afterwards you will visit Xi’an’s main mosque and the Muslim quarter surrounding it, populated by men wearing white skull caps and women wearing colorful headscarves. The trade route between China and the Middle East and the merchants that came with it saw the arrival of Islam to China. Modern China’s Muslim population now numbers approximately 15 million people, a sizable portion of which you will find in Xi’an.

    You may spend the evening at your leisure, however we suggest you dine at the local night market and take your pick from a selection of local delicacies including spiced lamb kebabs, flatbreads and mutton noodle soup before spending the night in one of our hand-picked hotel in Xi’an.

  • Day 6: Xi’an - Guilin

    On the way to the airport you will have the opportunity to visit the Tomb of Emperor Jingdi, who reigned during Han Dynasty (188-141 BC) who was known for his humanitarianism and diplomatic relations. The tomb, which was only opened to public in 2006, houses a number of figurines representing eunuchs, servants and pets giving us an idea of daily life during the Han Dynasty.

    At the tomb, it is possible to view the recently unearthed statues through the glass floors of each pit. The trip also includes a visit to an excellent little museum which allows you to see some of the most well preserved pieces. The excellent layout and quality of the site makes this trip unmissable. After the visit you take a two-hour flight to Guilin, in the Guangxi Autonomous Region, famous for its numerous hill tribes and stunning scenery which includes the rock peaks which border the Li River, an endless number of caves, rice terraces at Longsheng, and the waterfalls of Detian.

    In Guilin you will discover Reed Flute Cave which takes its name from number of reeds growing at the cave entrance which are used to make flutes. After taking in a kitsch lightshow, guests are given torches to admire the stunning stalactites and stalagmites that litter the cave.

    Having explored the cave you may then take a stroll around Shan Lake, known for two marvelous pagodas - one dedicated to the sun and the other for the moon. You will then spend the evening in Guilin, at another of our carefully selected hotels.Distance and journey time:
    Xi’an city - Han Yangling tomb (approx. 27km): 40 min
    Han Yangling tomb - Xi’an airport (approx. 30km) : 25 min

    Guilin airport - Guilin city (approx. 30km): approx 45 min


  • Day 7: Guilin - Yangshuo

    On day 7 you will cross the Li River to Yangshuo, a small town that’s become increasingly popular over the last 15 years due to its spectacular scenery. On your way across the river you’ll cruise past the popular sugar loaf mountains with eccentric names like ‘Nine Horse Fresco Hill’ and ‘Lion Watching the Nine Horses’.

    Instead of stopping at the rather commercialized West Road in Yangshou, our insider tip is to go a little further on your bikes into the surrounding countryside which has many rivers, water buffalo and dozens of tiny villages scattered among the looming karst hills that have inspired poets, painters and photographers and are one of the most popular tourist sites in the country.

    As an optional extra you will also have the opportunity to see the ‘Impression of Liu Sanje’, which is a spectacular show in Yangshuo in the world’s largest natural theatre which utilizes the waters of the Li River. Directed by local Xi’an-born Yimou Zhang (who also directed the 2008 Beijing Olympic opening ceremony as well as films ‘Hero’ and ‘House of Flying Daggers’), the theatrical spectacle involves hundreds of actors who imitate scenes from rural life.

    Overnight you will have the choice of staying in Yangshou or in one of the villages outside the town center to be closer to nature - the choice is yours.Distance and journey time:
    Guilin city - Guilin pier: depends on your hotel location
    Yangshuo pier - Yangshuo hotel: depends on your hotel location

  • Day 8: Yangshuo - Guilin - Shanghai

    At the beginning of your 8th day in China, you’ll be escorted to the airport and take an evening hour-long flight to Shanghai, where you will be met at the airport and whisked away to your hand-picked hotel.

    Shanghai is an important city in Chinese history, from being the first area to be colonized by Western powers in the 18th century, to then becoming the first seat of the Communist Party. Nowadays, Shanghai is the economic powerhouse of China. While some associate Shanghai with cool bars, skyscrapers and an exhilarating nightlife still hugely influenced by the West, others would see it as the result of a fascinating case of cultural fusion.

    The evening will be yours to enjoy an evening meal, a stroll around the city or do a spot of shopping before getting some well-earned rest at your hand-picked hotel.Distance and journey time:
    Yangshuo - Guilin airport (approx. 85km): 1h30
    Shanghai city - Shanghai Pudong airport (approx. 45km): 1h

    OR
    Shanghai city - Shanghai Hongqiao airport (approx. 15km): 30 min

  • Day 9: Shanghai

    Your morning will begin by traveling to People’s Square to visit three museums of very different styles. We will start off with the Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Centre, and more precisely the model layout of Shanghai which covers a large part of the 3rd floor.

    This model city will really let you get your head around the layout of Shanghai, and comprehend its truly astronomical size. A stunning panoramic cinema which shows a short video explaining how the city developed into the metropolis it is today will also help you understand Shanghai’s recent development.

    From here you will head to one of the most famous and prestigious museums in the country: The Shanghai Museum. The collection of bronze statues on the first floor is unrivalled, and is complemented by a number of jade pieces of artwork, as well as Qing Dynasty furniture, Buddhist sculptures and other pieces of Chinese artwork.

    For those interested in art, the day will end with a visit to either the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) or the Shanghai Art Museum, which is famous for the beautiful building in which it is housed.

    Alternatively, you can visit the People’s Park - an enjoyable place to relax at the heart of the People’s Square. The park has a small lake, a number of food stands and countless places to sit and enjoy the atmosphere. The area is surrounded by a number of cafés and restaurants. Another way to spend the evening is to stroll back up Nanjing Road to the Bund, where you can take in the Shanghai skyline at night.

    You are then free to experience your penultimate night in China at your leisure.

  • Day 10: Shanghai

    On day 10, the last full day of your tour, you will head to the French Concession, a symbol of a time when Western powers were accorded many privileges. You will start your trip with a stroll through Fuxing Park where you will have one last chance to watch Chinese locals practicing their ritual of early morning exercise. Especially worth watching are the tango dancers whose music fills every corner of the park. You may even stumble upon a lone dancer, moving to imaginary music - a truly magical moment.

    During colonial times this area was a center of vice and a no-go area for the police during the ‘roaring 30s’. A far cry from what you can see today as stroll around the surrounding roads and admire the local colonial homes that have been transformed into restaurants, bars and boutiques - a reflection of the changing face of Shanghai inspired by increasing commercialism in modern China.

    You will then continue to Xintiandi, a renovated area considered one of the liveliest parts of the city. Here you’ll discover the famous Yu Garden and enjoy taking tea in the Huxinting Teahouse. You will even get the chance to meet a Chinese gardener who will talk to you about his art, in particular penjing (which translates as ‘the countryside in a flowerpot’) also better known as bonsai. Traditionally, Chinese gardens are a miniature reproduction of nature; the presence of rocks represents mountains, ponds symbolize lakes and running water imitates rivers.

    The finale of your day will be a traditional Chinese massage, or ‘acupression’ that concentrates on acupuncture points to stimulate the body’s natural healing process to help restore your vitality so that you return home even more relaxed and refreshed than before you arrived.

    Your final evening after the massage will be free to spend at your leisure in Shanghai, perhaps grabbing some last-minute souvenirs, or taking one last delicious dinner before you wind down and pack for home.

  • Day 11: Shanghai

    Your final day will be spent at your leisure before you’re chauffeured back to Shanghai airport for your onward flight home.Distance and journey time:
    Yangshuo - Guilin airport (approx. 85km): 1h30

    Shanghai city - Shanghai Pudong airport (approx. 45km): 1h
    OR
    Shanghai city - Shanghai Hongqiao airport (approx. 15km): 30 min

All of our Tours can be Tailored, Just Ask!

Local vietnamese woman

Tour Details

All of our itineraries can be tailored to your requirements, allowing us to create the perfect holiday just for you. Contact us with your holiday ideas, no matter how big or small, and we’ll start planning your unique personalized trip!

Tour prices are a guideline only, and are based on two persons travelling together, sharing a double or twin room in luxury accommodation. Each tour price and can be adjusted depending on budget, activities included and standard of accommodation desired.

Tour and airfare prices include all applicable taxes and are subject to change without prior notice until services are booked.

You, your holiday and booking direct: Backyard Travel are on the ground year-round in Asia, which means you are booking direct with a local travel company, allowing you to save on the cost of your holiday. Our tailor-made tours are designed by local Travel Specialists who investigate every aspect of the trip themselves, giving you a unique view of each destination.

icon Included in this Backyard Travel tour:

Accommodation with daily breakfast at selected hotels
Private tours, transfers and all services as mentioned in the itinerary
Services of a private driver and air-conditioned vehicles
Service of English speaking guides in every location
Entrance fees for all mentioned sights visited
Meals as mentioned in the itinerary

icon Not included in this Backyard Travel tour:

Domestic and international flights
Departure taxes if applicable
Meals other than those mentioned in the itinerary
Early check-in and late check-out at hotels
Personal expenses (such as laundry, telephone, drinks, etc.)
Tips for guides and drivers
Personal travel insurance
Visa fees (contact us for further information)

Why Backyard Travel?


Our experienced travel specialists possess years of local insider knowledge, because they live here.

We have offices in all of our destinations in asia, fully staffed and open all year-round.

With backyard travel you are booking direct, allowing you to save and benefit local residents.

Subscribe to our Newsletter



Talk to us about Your Holiday

Our advantage lies in having local expertise to create unique, bespoke tours. Whether you’re looking to cruise down Asia’s tranquil rivers, bike the peaceful rural roads, or eat at bustling night markets, Backyard Travel’s in-country Travel Specialists can plan your ideal trip. Send us a message about your ideas, and we'll send you our best suggestions.


 

 

 

Subscribe for New Tours & Insider Travel Insights
Our regular Newsletters and quarterly web magazine 'Inside Asia', contain the fruits of our explorations around Asia, researching and creating new insider tours in intriguing and spectacular new destinations.
We never share your details
BACKYARD TRAVEL
CONTACT US
Hi there. We have a team of local experts eager and waiting to inspire you about the destinations they call home. Just drop us a line and we'll talk you through where to go and what to do.
Thank You. We will get back to you shortly.
Ask a Travel Specialist
Our local travel specialists are eager to discuss your tour ideas in their destinations. Just drop us a line.
Ask a Travel Specialist
Our local travel specialists are eager to discuss your tour ideas in their destinations. Just drop us a line.