China’s Captivating Visions & Timeless Horizons

Experience life in southern China on this journey, one of National Geographic Traveler's 2011 “50 Tours of a Lifetime,” and discover the China of centuries past as well as the vibrant, modern culture of Shanghai. Travel well off the beaten path to see and experience the everyday life of rural southern China, its folk traditions, incredible landscapes and welcoming people.

Country Information

China including Hong Kong & Taiwan

China's Captivating Visions & Timeless Horizons Enrichment Series

(Countries Visited)

China including Hong Kong & Taiwan

(Interest Type(s))

Adventure Travel

(Tour Length)

15 Days

Tour Highlights

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  • Relish a pleasant Li River cruise through exceptional scenery – valleys, bamboo groves, misty limestone pinnacles and ancient rock formations
  • Discover Yungang Grottos, some 53 caves completed during the Northern Wei Dynasty dating between 460 and 494 AD
  • Immerse yourself in the vibrant culture of Shanghai, as much a city of the present and future as Hongcun is a village of the past
  • See the amazing Hanging Temples, dating back 1,400 years, that seem to hang mid-air
  • Experience beautiful Mt. Huangshan, Yellow Mountain, a UNESCO World Cultural and Natural Heritage Site, known for magnificent sunrises



Day 1: Shanghai, China
Welcome to China. Upon arrival in Shanghai, you will be met and privately transferred to your hotel where the rest of the evening is at leisure.  Originally a fishing and textiles town, Shanghai became an important enter due to its favorable port location.  The city flourished as a commercial crossroads between East and West, and became a multinational hub of finance and business.  The city is renowned for its historical landmarks such as the Bund waterfront with its striking Art Deco buildings, City God Temple, and its modern and ever-expanding Pudong skyline including the Oriental Pearl Tower.  Jinjiang Hotel Cathay Building  –  Classic Room

Day 2:  Shanghai / Guilin
Today you are transferred to the airport for your afternoon flight to Guilin in the northern Guangxi region.  Upon arrival, you will be met and privately escorted to your hotel where the rest of the day is at leisure.  Guilin, China’s great scenic city, is surrounded by two rivers and four lakes and studded with sheer karst mountains.  There are many scenic places within short distance of Guilin such as Longsheng with its famous Longji rice terraces; the Li jiang River, which is printed on the back of Yuan 20 bank notes, and Yangshuo, a small county downstream from Guilin.  Sheraton Daewoo Hotel – Superior Room (B)

Day 3:  Guilin / Longsheng / Guilin
Depart this morning for Longsheng and some of the most breathtaking landscapes, including the immense ‘Dragon's Backbone’ rice terraces, where, local communities have grown rice for centuries.  They developed a simple yet very efficient terracing and watering system.  Of particular interest are the people themselves.  This region has a large number of Chinese ethnic minorities such as Miao, Zhuang, Yao and Dong.  They retain many traditional ways of life.  End the visit with an unusual hair show by local minority women along the riverbank.  Their village is famed for its residents’ longevity as well as the women’s extraordinarily beautiful long hair.  Following your tour, you visit a local farmer’s home before you drive back to Guilin and check into your hotel.  Sheraton Daewoo Hotel – Premium Room (B,L)

Day 4:  Guilin / Li River / Yangshuo
Cruise the pleasant Li River through unique scenery, source of many folk tales and legends.  Glide past valleys, bamboo groves, misty limestone pinnacles and ancient rock formations.  Disembark in Yangshuo, and set out on a bicycle tour of this charming town.  Pedal leisurely to Moon Hill where you have the chance to pause for tea and a chat with a local farmer.  Yangshuo Green Lotus Hotel – Deluxe Room (B,L)

Day 5:  Guilin / Taiyuan
Today you are transferred to the airport for your flight to Taiyuan.  You are met on arrival and escorted to your hotel.  Located in the central part of Shanxi Province, Taiyuan is an old city formerly called Jinyang.  The city was originally built at the end of the Spring and Autumn Period and has a history stretching back some 2,400 years.  Because of its long history, there are cultural relics and places of interest throughout the Yaiyuan area.  Later this afternoon, you visit the Shanxi Provincial Museum.  This museum is housed in a Ming-era Daoist temple.  Within the halls are relics, bronzes and statuary found in Shanxi.  The second section resides in the Ming-era buildings of the former Confucius Temple, which houses relics of Shanxi’s recent history and a collection of Buddhist sutras.  Taiyuan Wanda Vista Hotel – Superior Room (B,L)

Day 6:  Taiyuan / Datong
Today you are transferred from Taiyuan to Datong to visit the Hanging Temples, which date back 1,400 years.  These unique structures seem to hang in midair from the cliffs.   Next, see the wooden pagoda at Yinxian, a 70-meter/229-foot structure and the first wooden tower building in China.  Travel on to Datong and your hotel.  As one of the 24 historic cities in China, Datong is known for its abundant ancient relics and natural beauty.  Datong Yungang Jianguo Hotel - Business Room (B,L)

Day 7:  Datong
Explore  the Yungang Grottos, a series of 53 caves that were completed during the Northern Wei Dynasty (460-494 AD).  In 2001, the site became a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site.  The Nine Dragon Wall in central Datong within the old city ramparts is one of four in China.  It was built in 1392 to conceal the palace of a Ming dynasty (1368-1644) prince.  The palace burned down in the 15th century but the 45-meter/148-foot screen wall survived.  The wall is decorated with brightly colored glazed tiles and carved dragons and animals.  It is the largest of its kind in China. You will also visit the Shanhua Temple.  Erected during the Tang Era, the main hall has five Buddhist statues, flanked by 24 divine generals.  Datong Yungang Jianguo Hotel – Business Room (B,L)

Day 8:  Datong / Pingyao
Drive from Datong to Pingyao.  Along the way, pause at the Jinci Temple in a jewel of a setting surrounded by water, mountains, ancient timber and clear springs.  The temple features hundreds of palace halls, pavilions, booths, platforms and bridges.  Your hotel is nestled amongst dusty curio shops and bustling restaurants in the old walled city of Pingyao. The 19-room Jing's Residence is a small boutique hotel in the former mansion of a wealthy Qing dynasty silk merchant, and was built some 260 years ago.  It is ideally located in the heart of the old town and encompasses a series of grey-brick pavilions built around a set of four courtyards in the authentic architectural style of northern China.  Jing’s Residence -  Courtyard Suite (B,L)

Day 9:  Pingyao / Taiyuan
Set out on a four-hour drive from Pingyao to Taiyuan.  En route, visit the Chang Courtyard.  Taiyuan World Trade Hotel – Deluxe Room (B)

Day 10:  Taiyuan / Shanghai / Tunxi
Fly from Taiyuan to Shanghai, and connect with your onward flight to the Tunxi District of Huangshan City.  You are greeted by your guide and transferred to your hotel.  The remainder of the evening is at leisure.  Huangshan International Hotel – Standard Room (B)

Day 11:  Tunxi / Mt Huangshan
This morning you will be met by your guide and driven to beautiful Mt. Huangshan, Yellow Mountain, a UNESCO World Cultural and Natural Heritage Site.  The Yungu cable-car carries you up to the mountain for spectacular views at Beginning-To-Believe Peak, Flower-Scattering Valley, Lion Peak, and Cloud-Dispelling Pavilion.  Yellow Mountain Bei Hai Hotel – Standard Room (B,L,D)

Day 12:  Huangshan / Hongcun / Tunxi / Shanghai
You will not want to miss one of the mountain’s famous sunrises this morning, weather permitting.  Enjoy the cable ride down the mountain, and set out for Yixian County, praised as the ‘Garden of Eden’ on earth.  Here, you discover the famous village of Hongcun, which was one of the locations for the Oscar-awarded movie “Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon”; and the village of Nanping.  These villages preserve old Huizhou-style houses built in the Ming and Qing Dynasties, and are characterized by white-washed walls, gray-tiles, horse-head gables and stunning carvings.  After the tour, you are driven back to Tunxi, to visit the beautifully preserved commercial street, the Ancient Street of Tunxi, built in the Ming- and Qing Dynasties.  Late this evening, you depart Tunxi for Shanghai after dinner.  In Shanghai, you are met and transferred to your hotel.  Jinjiang Hotel Cathay Garden – Executive Room (B,L,D)

Day 13:  Shanghai
Today’s focus is dynamic Shanghai.  Immerse yourself in the culture of this city that is both cosmopolitan and old world at once.  Stroll along the lovely paths and pavilions of the Yu Garden, the Old City, visit the Shanghai Museum, which maintains fascinating exhibits of painting, bronze, sculpture, ceramics, calligraphy, jade, Ming and Qing Dynasty furniture, coins, seals, and ethnic artwork.  Continue touring Shanghai’s Urban Planning Exhibition Centre to see what a city of the future is going to look like.  Enjoy shopping on busy Nanjing Road, known as the number one shopping paradise in China.  Jinjiang Hotel Cathay Garden – Executive Room (B,L)

Day 14:  Shanghai / Suzhou / Shanghai
This morning you are driven from Shanghai to Suzhou to see the elegant classical Suzhou garden and tour the Master of Nets Garden and Lingering Garden.  See the exquisite art of Chinese aesthetics in every rock, waterway, plant and flower.  Visit the New Suzhou Museum, designed by world famous architect I.M. Pei, and completed in October 2006.  It covers over 10,700 square meters.  The massive museum houses over 30,000 cultural relics - most notably excavated artifacts from the Ming and Qing Dynasty such as paintings and calligraphy, and ancient arts and crafts.  Suzhou has been the silk trade center of China for centuries.  No visit is complete without a tour of the Silk Embroidery Research Institute and silk factory to see how silk is produced and dyed.  Drive back to Shanghai later in the afternoon.  Jinjiang Hotel Cathay Garden – Executive Room (B,L)

Day 15:  Shanghai / Depart
Today you are transferred to the Shanghai for your departure flight. (B)

Land price, per person, double occupancy:  From US$500 per person per day


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