Imperial China & Yangtze River Cruise

20 days
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£2,849
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4.6 / 5 from 55 reviews >
Leisurely
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Trip code: 
ACE
Way to Travel:
Guided Group
Activity:
Culture & Discovery Holidays
Min age:
16
Group size:
5–16

A comprehensive China itinerary covering the country's length and breadth

The Great Wall, the Forbidden City, Terracotta Warriors and Giant Pandas - China's iconic sights need little introduction and we visit them all on this comprehensive and varied journey. Equally inspiring are China's great scenic attractions including the breathtaking Three Gorges on the Yangtze River and the serene limestone mountains around Yangshuo. China remains one of the world's 'must-see' destinations; from ultra-modern Shanghai to the wizened faces of ancient Chinese villagers, this trip reveals a country as fascinating and beguiling as ever.

Highlights

  • See the Terracotta Warriors in Xi'an
  • Visit a quieter section of the Great Wall
  • Cruise down the Yangtze River
  • Discover ancient and modern China

Key information

  • Travel by train, private minibus, public bus, cruise boat and 1 internal flight
  • Group normally 5 to 16, plus leader. Min age 16 yrs
  • 12 nights comfortable hotels, 3 nights comfortable 4-star cruise boat with outward facing twin berth air-conditioned cabins, all en suite, and 3 nights 1st class sleeper train, soft-bed berths
  • Fast paced itinerary

What's included

  • 18 breakfasts, 9 lunches, 3 dinners
  • All accomodation (see below)
  • All transport and listed activities
  • Tour leader throughout
  • Flights from London (if booking incl. flights)
  • Arrival and departure transfers

What's not included

  • Travel insurance
  • Single accommodation (available on request) (excludes sleeper train)
  • Vaccinations
  • Chinese Visa - GBP201 with Travcour or GBP151 plus GBP18 special delivery direct with Embassy
Great Wall at Sunset, Sunset

Responsible Travel

At Exodus we believe in the power of Responsible Travel.

Every time we travel, we are part of a global movement that creates jobs, builds more sustainable societies, encourages cultural understanding and safeguards common natural and cultural heritage. To learn more about what Responsible Travel means to Exodus click here… 

Itinerary

  • Day 1

    Depart London.

  • Day 2

    Arrive Beijing.

    After a transfer to your hotel in the centre of Beijing, a welcome briefing will be held in the evening, to give you an opportunity to meet your leader and the rest of your group. During dinner you will have the chance to try some authentic Chinese cuisine, which is quite different to the British take on Chinese food! Your leader will help choose a selection of dishes depending on the group's preferences.
    Comfortable Hotel

  • Day 3

    Sightseeing in Beijing

    The sightseeing in Beijing today will include the Forbidden City with its innumerable courtyards and temples as well as Tiananmen square, the largest square in the world and able to hold over a million people. We will take a walking tour of the cities hutongs (narrow alleys) to see what is left of old Beijing and its traditions. There will be some time in the afternoon for some independent exploration.
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 4

    Great Wall

    We leave the capital and head into the countryside to the Great Wall, an approx 2 hour journey to the north of the city. We go to one of the best-preserved parts of the Great Wall at Mutianyu which is an impressive sight, snaking across mountains and valleys into the distance. This section of the Great Wall used to serve as the northern barrier defending the capital and the imperial tombs. The wall here is up to 8.5 metres high and 5 metres wide, and has 22 watchtowers on its 2,250-metre-long stretch. There are some steep steps to navigate and clients who suffer from vertigo may find it difficult, (there is an optional cable car). There is the option of seeing an acrobatic or Kung Fu show or a trip to the opera this evening in Beijing.
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 5

    Three full days sightseeing, including the Forbidden City, Hutongs, Temple of Heaven and Summer Palace, plus the Great Wall; overnight train to Xi'an on day 5.

    This morning we visit the Temple of Heaven followed by the Summer Palace where you can witness first hand how vast the exclusive playground of China's emperors and their concubines once was. In the evening we board an overnight train to the ancient city of Xi'an. It is recommended to purchase food before the train as there is a limited selection on board. The train itself is of a good standard, although please note that facilities such as washrooms and toilets are shared with other passengers and the cleanliness can never be guaranteed. Sleepers are four berth and bedding is provided.

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 6

    Morning walking tour of the Muslim area and mosque; free afternoon or optional cycle ride.

    Xi'an is one of China's former capitals and one of the few cities in China to have retained its city walls, probably because they are so massive that no revolutionary was willing to tackle the huge task of removing them. Today, after an opportunity to try some local Chinese breakfast, we will visit the city and the Bell and Drum Plaza at its heart, along with the Great Mosque. The Muslim quarter is a fascinating place to visit, especially in the evening as it comes alive with the bustle of the bazaars and food stalls. This afternoon is free; it is possible to appreciate the sheer scale of the City Wall, you can hire bikes and cycle along them.
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 7

    Visit the Terracotta Warriors; overnight train to Chengdu.

    Today we visit the famous Terracotta Warriors of Emperor Qin. Originally four armies were planned, at each point of the compass, life-size and lifelike. Three have been found and it is assumed the Emperor's successors decided enough was enough before the fourth was begun. The first pit excavated had an estimated 6,000 figures in its one army. The third pit has been opened to the public, which contains the 'command post' for the entire operation. This is one of China's great tourist attractions, and some people may find the sheer numbers of visitors rather overpowering.

    In the evening we will leave Xi'an and board an overnight train to Chengdu.

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 8

    Morning transfer to hotel; afternoon sightseeing tour of Chengdu.

    We arrive in Chengdu around midday, the capital of Sichuan province. This area is known throughout China to be the 'spicy province'; due to the amount of chillies used in much of the cuisine. We then transfer to the hotel. In the afternoon, your group leader will take you on a walking tour (using public buses) through the lively parks and city centre square where you will get a taste of local life. Don't miss the options to join the locals in the atmospheric outdoor tea houses for some tea.
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 9

    Sightseeing trip to Leshan Giant Buddha; return to Chengdu.

    Today, we will visit one of the iconic UNESCO sites near Chengdu - the Leshan Giant Buddha. About 2-3 hours drive from Chengdu, this 71m tall Buddha carved out of the cliff face of the mountain is the biggest sitting Buddha in the world and took almost 100 years of hard work to finish about 1300 years ago. You will have 2 options of visiting the Buddha, either by boat on the river or by walking around it in the mountain. Be prepared for the crowds and long queues who come to worship this Giant Buddha if you walk. Your group leader can advise you on the best way to visit depending on the season. We return to Chengdu in the late afternoon.

    In the evening there is the opportunity to taste some of the legendary Sichuanese cuisine in the form of a Chengdu hotpot dinner. The typical flavours of this iconic dish are created with Sichuan pepper (hua jiao) and involve a certain amount of interaction as the food is cooked in a large hot pot by the diners themselves! For those not a fan of spice there are options to omit the peppers from the hot broth in which the food items are cooked.
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Dinner
  • Day 10

    Visit the Giant Panda Breeding Research Centre; to Chongqing, board cruise boat.

    With an early start today we will visit the Giant Panda Breeding Research Base. Hopefully these intriguing and rare animals will be feeding, as this is when they're most active; otherwise we will have the opportunity to watch the Pandas indulge in their most common form of entertainment, sleeping! We then travel by train to Chongqing City (approx 3 hours), the embarkation point for our Yangtze River Cruise (after a 30 minute transfer to the dock). On arrival we will board our 4-star cruise boat and settle into our cabins. The boat accommodates approx 330 passengers. We will stay in twin berth cabin with en suite bathrooms.
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Days 11-12

    Two full days cruising the Yangtze River including the Three Gorges and the dam.

    These two days are spent cruising on one of the world's great rivers as we head downstream through stunning scenery of towering cliffs and gorges. En route we pass many towns and villages that have sprung up along the banks of the river that supplies the lifeblood to the heart of China.To try to limit the impact of flooding, the Chinese government has undertaken a huge construction project with a massive dam being built. This has flooded the famous Three Gorges of Qutang, Wu and Xiling. A journey amidst these natural wonders is a must see for any visitor to China. The nights are spent on the boat and there is time for shore excursions on the way as the boat docks at some of smaller towns and villages, and the lesser gorges by smaller boats, depending upon water levels.

    The day-to-day schedule for the cruise and timings can change due to adverse weather conditions, river conditions and permission of navigation authorities. The details of onboard and shore activities will be explained in the briefing and the river guide will be able to give you more information after boarding. The cruise will cover what is commonly considered as the essence of the Three Gorges, but some parts of the gorge will be passed through the night. If water levels are ok we will cruise through a series of locks through the dam itself, but this cannnot be guaranteed as it depends on the weather and river traffic. As we leave the cruise to catch the overnight train from Yichang to Liuzhou, we will not completely finish the Third Gorge.
    Yangzte River Cruise

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 13

    Disembark; overnight sleeper train to Liuzhou.

    We complete our cruise this morning and disembark and will take a look at the dam and learn about the massive engineering project that took place. We then drive to Yichang where we catch the afternoon train to Liuzhou.

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 14

    Arrive Liuzhou; transfer to Yangshuo; free afternoon.

    We arrive in Liuzhou early this morning (4:30/5:00am) and then transfer by road for 3 ½ hours through the stunning towering limestone scenery to Yangshuo. The surrounding region is famous for the steep-sided Karst Mountains that pierce the otherwise flat landscape of paddy fields. A view of a rural landscape that has changed little in centuries. Despite its small size, Yangshuo has quite a tourist infrastructure due to its large transient population of backpackers and domestic tourists. In the afternoon there is the opportunity to discover how to make some of China's most iconic dishes as we take a cooking class lead by a local host.
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 15

    Explore the local countryside by bike; meal with a local family

    This morning gives us the opportunity to appreciate the spectacular landscape on two wheels; as we take a bike and ride towards Moon Hill, one of the most famous in the area. The biking is at a leisurely pace, and there are plenty of stops to hydrate and appreciate the glorious scenery! Lunch is spent with a local family, giving us the opportunity to sample some new dishes and create friendships over food. The afternoon is free to relax or enjoy one of the many optional activities Yangshuo has to offer.
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 16

    Free day in Yangshuo, surrounded by towering limestone scenery.

    Today is free to relax and enjoy the laid-back atmosphere and iconic scenery around Yangshuo. There are many optional activities available; cruise on the Li River, visit the Black Buddha caves or enjoy a Chinese massage or a kung fu or Chinese cooking class, or watch the Liu Sanjie Show: an outdoor performance set on a natural stage formed by the Li River and 12 peaks. Even if you choose just to relax this is an ideal place, you can take a stroll around the market and examine the local produce or enjoy one of the cafes and watch the world go by.
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 17

    To Guilin for flight to Shanghai; evening tour along the Bund

    In the morning we transfer to the airport at Guilin to fly to Shanghai; a city with a real international feel to it which will seem a world away from the countryside you have come from. In the evening we take a walking tour of the famous Bund area, to see the iconic buildings along the riverside lit up in all their glory. There will be the opportunity to visit the Jin Mao Tower (optional), which is the 18th tallest building in the world and boasts a spectacular view of Shanghai from the observation deck.
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 18

    Visit Xitang water town

    Today we will spend the day visiting the ancient water town of Xitang; famous for its cobbled streets and bridges arching over the many canals. There are several well-preserved buildings from the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) Dynasties, and the town is a delightful place to explore on foot. We will take lunch here before the journey back to Shanghai (around 2 hours) where the evening will be free. (Please note that the 2016 itinerary will visit the water town of Tongli).
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 19

    Shanghai

    With a population of around twelve million Shanghai is yours to explore today. This morning we enjoy a visit to the Yu Yuan garden; the rest of the day is free to explore. Though it no longer warrants the title 'Paris of the East', many of the vestiges of its colonial past are still apparent. It is worth strolling along Nanjing Road (Shanghai's 'Oxford Street') or visiting the newly opened Shanghai tower, (currently the tallest building in China and second tallest in the world, standing at 632m high) or Shanghai's smaller television tower to see some of the city's stunning architecture.
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 20

    Fly to London.

    For those on the group flight to London the flight is in the morning, with a same day arrival into London in the evening.

    Meals included: Breakfast

Essential Info

Visas

China

Nearly all nationalities require a visa to enter China, which must be obtained prior to departure. The Chinese authorities now require a letter from Exodus, confirming all your accommodation details. Along with this, you need to supply a copy of your flight details, which are on your invoice if you have booked directly through Exodus. For further information see http://www.exodus.co.uk/assets/travelink/China.pdf
It is also essential that we have a clear copy of the details page of your passport. This is required to book certain ground services in China and we cannot confirm your details with our local partners until it has been received. This must be emailed as an electronic scan to [email protected] a minimum of 8 weeks prior to your trip.

Vaccinations

China

There are no mandatory vaccination requirements. Recommended vaccinations are: Polio, Tetanus, Diphtheria, Typhoid, Hepatitis A. The risk of malaria is slight but you may wish to consult your GP or travel health clinic for further advice.

Eating and Drinking

18 breakfasts, 9 lunches and 3 dinners included

One of the major draws of China is its exciting and varied cuisine. On this trip you will be able to try many different dishes that will be carefully selected with your leaders help and based on the group's dietary requirements and preferences. Meals generally consist of shared dishes, which is the best way to experience as many different ingredients as possible and try things you might not usually choose. Examples of popular dishes include Ma Po Tofu, a delicious tofu dish made with beef, chillies and onion, Gong Bao chicken, a very popular dish with chilli and peanuts, the iconic Peking Duck, served with hoisin sauce and pancakes, and dumplings in many shapes and sizes. A very popular dish in Sichuan Province is Hot Pot (Huoguo) which can be served as spicy as you wish and consists of a simmering metal pot of stock in the middle of a table which is served with ingredients ranging from quails eggs, local vegetables and many different types of meat. There are many different dishes to try and the leader will always try and accommodate tastes, but if you tire of Chinese food there are always opportunities to eat Western-style dishes. For vegetarians or those with dietary requirements, many of the traditional dishes can be amended to omit the meat products.

Weather

Beijing and Xi'an: The north of China has warm (25ºC+), quite humid summers, and cold dry winters. If you travel between June and August, it will be hot more or less everywhere, except in the mountains. Some rain must be expected, possibly heavy. If you travel in September/October, you will probably get less rain and the temperatures will be fairly warm (around 20ºC) everywhere. Yangtze River Gorge: The central region of China has very warm humid summers and cold winters. Rainfall should be expected during the summer months. In July/August temperatures along the Yangtze River can reach 40 C and in Spring/Autumn will be 22-26 ºC. Yangshuo/Shanghai: The south of China is sub-tropical with hot (30ºC), wet summers (May to September), and warm, relatively dry (November to March) winters, though rain is possible at almost any time of year. The winter months in China are cold (+3ºC), so if travelling in November/March be prepared for temperatures to drop to below freezing at night in the North, but with almost guaranteed dry sightseeing. The weather is milder in the south.

Beijing Weather

Beijing Weather

Is this trip for you?

This holiday is designed so that you can see the best parts of China in a relatively short period of time. There is a lot to see and do, and the distances covered are large, but everything is scheduled so that it doesn't feel too rushed. You should come armed for an experience: China can be hard work and the summer heat and the bustle of some of the cities can be a little overwhelming. That said, there are places where you can find peace and quiet. Although the temperatures in the summer can frequently top 30 degrees celsius there are many places that offer air conditioning (hotels, transportation and restaurants/shops) so you will find many places to cool down.

You should be aware that there are several occasions where you will need to carry your own luggage on this trip, mainly when journeying to and from the train stations and along the long platforms; sometimes there will only be stairs for access. Trolleys and porters are often available but these should not be depended upon as some stations do not offer these facilities. Many passengers find it useful to bring luggage with wheels.

Accommodation

Hotels, Boat & Train

On this trip you will spend 12 nights in comfortable hotels, 3 nights on a 4-star cruise boat with 2 berth air-conditioned cabins, all en suite, and 3 nights on a 1st class sleeper train. Nearly all the hotels are locally rated as 3-star and wherever possible located as near to local attractions as possible.

Expert Blog Entries

The mountains will always draw us back to this majestic country: and now, with the return of a very special trip, the

  • Reviewed June 2017
    Sandra & John Maundrell
    Everything about the trip was amazing if a little challenging at times. It included all of the 'Must see' sights of China, many of which were mind blowing - how did they manage to build a wall that long and high so high up in difficult terrain?! We travelled on flights arranged by Exodus from a regional airport and the transfers were part of the package and worked well. The optional trips in Beijing were good and the Acrobatic and Kung foo shows were both worth doing and entertaining. The overnight sleeper trains were interesting!! Some stations had escalators which was great but some only had staircases which were challenging and stowing our large bags in the sleeper compartments often involved lifting them onto the area above the door as there was limited space under the beds, the men in the party found themselves lifting several bags each. The optional excursion to the Han Yang Ling Mausoleum, which we did before the Terra Cotta Warriors was on a very different scale and very interesting. Most days involved leaving the hotels between 7.30am and 8.30am in order to travel to the place of interest for that day and arrive in good time before the crowds got too big. In Chengdu we did an optional visit to an ancient Chinese town en route to the Giant Buddha in Leshan which was interesting in spite of the 'touristy' nature of the place. We went to the optional Chinese Cultural Show which was amazing - so many unusual brilliant acts, the 'Face Changers' were fantastic. The bullet train was very smooth and seeing the porters carry our heavy bags to the China Goddess 2 for the Yangtze river cruise was humbling, they are so strong!! The cruise ship was much nicer than we had expected and the accommodation was very nice, we even got a lesson in playing Mahjong which was quite complicated but very interesting. The scenery in Yangshuo was amazing and the optional trip to the tea plantation was great fun even in the rain! The trip to the Ancient water town of Xitang was lovely and fortunately as we were not there at the weekend, it wasn't too busy. One evening in Shanghai our guide suggested going to the Global Financial Centre to the Observatory on the 100th floor as the weather was good, to hopefully see the sunset over the city - we were lucky and it was beautiful. Our last day in Shanghai was wet but it didn't stop any of the activities and we had time to see some of the city before we left the following morning.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    It was an amazing trip with so many highlights it is hard to name just one. The Great Wall is exactly as named - Great, the Panda breeding and conservation centre was lovely, the scenery in many places was completely unique. The sheer size and complexity of the Terra Cotta Warriors site was incredible, the story about how they were discovered and the work that had to be done to produce what is visible today is amazing.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our group leader - Jenny was lovely. She went the extra mile to make sure everything ran as smoothly as possible for us working tirelessly to make sure all the arrangements for all the excursions were made in order for us to have a brilliant trip. She always had a smile and was very patient and understanding when dealing with any problems or requests members of the group might have.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    The beds on the sleeper trains appeared clean but if you got on the train part way through it's journey bedding was not changed so silk sleeping bag liners made us feel more comfortable!! Public toilets are everywhere and free to use but are mostly 'squat' style and having your own toilet paper accessible at all times is essential! Before we arrived at the port our tour guide told us that there was an option to upgrade to the VIP dining restaurant which was limited to about 30 people for each cruise, she explained that the extra cost gave us assigned tables and free wine and beer with meals but the main advantage was that it was away from the 'free for all' nature of the main dining room. After consideration the whole group opted for the upgrade and we were very pleased that we had done as it gave us a much more relaxed dining experience - it was money well spent!! Before we left we were unsure what to do about money for the trip so we took a reasonable amount of Yuen plus credit and debit cards. It turned out that most of the time we needed cash, all of the optional excursions were paid for in cash as were the group meals that were not included as well as drinks for all the meals. There were plenty of ATM's available in all of our destinations and the guide was happy to take whoever needed cash when necessary. Credit and debit cards were acceptable in larger shops but cash was used most of the time. Be prepared to barter for your purchases! We did a lot of the optional excursions on the basis that we may never be in China again and every one was worth the extra cost.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    This is an amazing trip but there is a lot of walking and there are stairs at many of the places of interest. The stairs at the stations were hard work, it is rated as leisurely but that is not a word I would use to describe it, great but 'full on'!!
  • Reviewed May 2017
    Patricia Pick
    this holiday exceeded all of my expectations

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    there were too many to name just one .

    What did you think of your group leader?

    our group leader jenny lu was top class she never failed us and with a group of fifteen treated everyone with respect ,and went above and beyond her duties i cannot speak highly enough of her.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    if you are hesitating about this holiday go for it ,but be prepared as it is full on.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    we were a group of mixed ages and abilities ,but if you go with an open mind you will enjoy every minute of it and will go home home with some wonderful memories and hopefully a few new friends.
  • Reviewed May 2017
    Marja Ramos
    What a great trip that was! It was relentlessly busy and heaving with people, but so enjoyable. We were constantly on the go, spending no more than three nights in any one location. Three slightly uncomfortable nights on a 'soft sleeper' train, and three very comfortable nights on the Yangtze river boat, except the last noisy one when we travelled through the five locks at the Three Gorges Dam. But any discomfort paled into insignificance at each destination. I saw far more of the country than I had expected, both urban and rural, and now have a much better understanding of China, its culture and people - and the food, glorious food!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The limestone mountains, thousands of them, covered in greenery in the Yangshou region were a revelation, breathtaking! We climbed up one of them, the Xianggong mountain - via a staircase! Also sailing through the lesser gorges on a smaller boat was one of those 'I can't believe I'm here' moments. On a lighter note, we enjoyed learning to play PROPER Mahjong on the boat, on a proper mechanical table.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Jenny Lu was a breath of fresh air and a ray of sunshine, always full of smiles and energy and enthusiasm. She led us through the included and optional excursions and meals, and through the complicated travel arrangements and crowded stations with confidence and authority, and always readily pointed out a western toilet where available! We learned so much about living and working in China as well as the history and culture.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    The trip notes mention about the need to be able to climb stairs, sometimes with luggage. This is true! If you take part in all the optional activities, there are even more stairs! Also getting your luggage on and off the train at some stations can be difficult, but help was usually at hand within the group or from porters. The temperature was unusually high for May, up to 31 degrees and extremely humid. My advice is, ignore the discomfort and embrace everything with an open mind and open heart!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The recommended amount of currency is very much on the low side. If you wish to enjoy everything on offer and if you are not strong willed when it comes to shopping, then you will need more, although it is easy to get some from the ATM. In larger shops e.g. the silk shop in Shanghai you can pay with a card.
  • Reviewed October 2016
    Michael Casey
    This was our first group holiday having previously travelled around various Asian countries on our own. The holiday exceeded our expectations and we really enjoyed the experience of modern China. The organisation was good with a great balance of varied experiences. The food was excellent too.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    It is difficult to nominate one inspirational experience but walking on the Great Wall in the early morning before it was too crowded and with clear visibility has to be up there. Also seeing six baby pandas (pre-walking stage) fed, burped, washed and put out to play at the Chengdu Breeding Centre was just wonderful. Again an early start to avoid the crowds but so worthwhile.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    He really made the holiday. Very well organised, knowledgeable with a great sense of humour. He also fully understood where western and Chinese cultures would clash and pre explained situations to the group which helped enormously. We had a great group too who were up for the trip and wanted to enjoy themselves - no moaners here.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Nothing can prepare you for the sheer size of this country and the numbers of people. It is an amazing power house of a country. with sights that I will remember for ever and a rate of development which is almost unbelievable. However, if you cannot cope with crowds and noise and want peace and quiet don't do this trip. Modern China isn't for you.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    This is a cash economy. Apart from the modern chain stores in the big cities credit cards are rarely accepted. Think carefully about how many optional trips you may want to do - by enlarge they are very good and worth doing but you will need cash. It's cheaper to buy Yuan in UK than use in country ATMs.2F
  • Reviewed October 2016
    Angela Cureton
    This trip was far better than I expected. We saw and experienced so much of the people and culture of China and it was truly an adventure.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Its difficult to choose just one inspirational moment because there were many. Although my first sight of The Great Wall was awesome and will last in my memory for a long time. The Terracotta Army, The Pandas, beautiful scenery, beautiful river cruise, exciting overnight train journey, good food etc etc.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our group leader Dragon was absolutely brilliant and was very knowledgeable. We all agreed that he made a great contribution to our tour. He looked after all of us so well. Thanks Dragon

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Don't pack too many clothes. Limit yourselves to the minimum weight because you have to carry your own cases (up flights of stairs in some situations). Read the notes !!!!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Bicycle ride through the countryside. Be aware that the countryside is so beautiful but part of the route is on the main road which can be a bit nerve racking.
  • Reviewed October 2016
    Edmund Ronayne
    One of the best holidays I have been on, wish we could have stay longer.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    There was so many it is hard to pick which one to go for but if I had to pick one, it would be The Great Wall. Experience I will never forget.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Dragon was one of the best group leaders I have had, helpful, always there when you needed him, friendly, and very knowledgeable.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Just to say Thank Exodus for a great Holiday
  • Reviewed September 2016
    Marilyn Bremner
    This trip was all that was described to a "T". For only one exception and that was the stairs at some of the rail stations that did not have elevators, my expectation was much lower than what actually existed, so my advice would be pack very lightly and ensure that you can carry your luggage up and down those many stairs. Yes they prepared us for stairs, .....but not how many !! I was a solo female over 60 so did struggle sometimes and I am reasonably fit. Nevertheless the trip overall was excellent, and the experience on the sleeper trains was lets say "different", but at the very least, you are seeing life as the Chinese people live it and after all, isn't that what we travel for.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    No doubt for me, the 3 Gorges on the Yangtze River Cruise, this was a fascinating part of China, and I likened it to my experience of Milford Sound in South Island of New Zealand, (breathtaking) but this was unique to China, and I would describe it as a "moving" experience. When one considers how mighty the Yangtze is and how so many people lost their lives there in the floods, you really experience one of the great rivers in the world up close.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    The group leader was a fine, very knowledgeable, and very personable young man. His guidance of us and acting as an translator when needed was exceptional, and unquestionable. Our group presented some challenges from time to time, however he handled himself with grace and diplomacy. And he had a wonderful sense of humour!! He certainly made my trip experience a memorable one.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Make sure you read up on what is expected on this tour. Although it is described as "Leisurely", there is a lot of activity and adventure (depending on your limitations). Our leader gracefully explained from the outset that Exodus tours are "different" from the run of the mill, and that was certainly what we got. So make sure you are fit and healthy, and ready for adventure, when you want it !! Personally I very much appreciated and enjoyed the level of walking and "other" activities, like climbing up into temples and walking on the Great Wall. And I am over 60.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    This tour encompasses some of the most popular tourist attractions, so be prepared for crowds and crowds. However, I think any trip to China must see these things to truly appreciate China. (The Great Wall, The Pandas, The Terracotta Warriors and the regional cuisines, and the regional differences. I would have liked more time in Shanghai, but hey, thats a good reason to return to China one day in the future ! Also Just to say how appreciative I was of our Tour Leader, (Dragon) he was exceptional.
  • Reviewed September 2016
    Keith Williams
    The whole trip from start to finish was an experience well worth taking. Of course there were a few things which perhaps in hindsight could have been improved upon, particularly the overnight sleeper train journeys. We would have much preferred to have paid a little extra to have used the bullet train or even an extra flight wherever possible in order to have had more time to carry out sightseeing and avoid the arduous journeys. However, apart from that the holiday which was well organised by Exodus and superbly led by our tour guide, Alan Liu, (Hongbin Liu), who was absolutely brilliant. When you are on holiday, no matter who you go with, the face of the company is represented by the Tour Leader and in our instance this was Alan Liu. If we were to go back to China we would go on the understanding that the tour would again be led by Alan. He was extremely informative, funny, very well organised and knew his subject matter well. He ensured that we were at a particular venue or place at the right time so as to avoid the crowds and get the best views and this was particularly the case when we visited the Panda sanctuary at Chengdu where he timed it to perfection and we saw the Pandas at their liveliest and just before the main crowds arrived. Exodus would be so much poorer without the services of that man.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    There was so much and, of course, the obvious things were naturally going to be The Great Wall, The Pandas, The Terracotta Army etc. Then there were the marvellous views in the countryside which were breathtaking However, the trip we took opened our eyes to the way the Chinese people now have far more freedoms than we had previously imagined and for us this was a good thing although we were not so naive to think that it was like this everywhere. The three day cruise along the Yangtze river was wonderful and allowed us a brief respite to relax and then the vistis to Yangshuo, Tongli and Shanghai were fantastic.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Without a doubt the trip was made for us by our Tour Leader Alan Liu, (Hongbin Liu). His knowledge about the places we visited was astounding and this, coupled with his brilliant nature, great sense of humour and organisational capabilities made our trip that much more enjoyable. This man is such an asset to Exodus and if he were to ever stop working for the company he would be very sorely missed.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    If you are going to China with Exodus on the Imperial China and Yangtze River cruise trip then make sure you go on the one led by Alan Liu, you will not be disappointed. Be prepared for crowds of people in city centres, railway stations and popular tourist sites and be aware of the traffic. One assumes they must have road laws in China but absolutely no one appears to bother about them. Motor scooters, motor bikes and pedal cycles, of which there are many, come at you from all angles and don't for one minute think that the pavement is your sanctuary as they ride on them as well. Do be prepared to be blown away by the sights and sounds of this country, it has so much to offer and we would strongly recommend that you try and visit China at some stage in your life as you will not be disappointed. However, one other word of caution, the trip is rated as leisurely in the Exodus ratings and whilst it was not extremely strenuous, it was full on with some early starts and a lot of walking so be prepared.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The overall trip was excellent and if you are thinking of making a trip to far off places I would strongly recommend Exodus as a holiday tour company to book up with.
  • Reviewed September 2016
    Anthony Child
    If you want to see as much of China as possible in a relatively short period then this trip ticks all the boxes. Get used to early starts, a lot of walking although not to arduous, hectic and overcrowded railway stations, but it is absolutely worth it! You get to see all the major attractions China is well known for but it also exposes you to the rural side of China where things are so different.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Every day we did something different, The Great Wall was amazing, The Pandas so adorable, The cruise had dramatic scenery, Yangshuo had us cycling through paddy fields and scaling the fantastic limestone peaks. Then of course the Terracotta warriors and the Forbidden City are also a must. Shanghai is as western as you get but has some breathtaking photo opportunities.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Alan (Hongbin Liu) was an amazing guide with excellent English, and keeping 10 westerners all together was no mean feat when you try to traverse what the call railways stations! Alan had a marvellous sense of humour and referred to us as his 'sleeping pandas' as we all tried to catch up on our sleep during the hectic schedule. He would share the history as was pertinent on each part of the trip and his powers of recollection were a joy to behold. He always accompanied us on the trips even if they were optional and was always ready with help and advice. He planned ahead always so that the weary travellers always had a coach waiting or a restaurant booked. Alan was at the top of his game and should be commended.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    The trip can be a little exhausting and be prepared for early starts. You are on the go nearly all the time and adhere to a hectic schedule. Pack lightly as possible as you will need to hump suitcases up and down stairs at the stations or walk a way to meet the coach. The sleeper trains are a little dirty and uncomfortable so take a pillow case and possibly a silk sleeping bag liner. Also don't forget toilet tissue for anywhere. When out and about just be aware of what's around you as the traffic and driving is something you will not experience anywhere else. Electric (silent) scooters are a potential hazard as they drive in any direction anywhere including pavements. The rules of the road don't apply in China. You won't get much western food aside from toast or eggs for breakfast so embrace all the different variations of Chinese food available. Most hotels have Wi-Fi but it can be hit and miss and often Gmail doesn't work. We were able to barter with the staff on the cruise to get an upgrade on the cabin which was worthwhile. Out of the main city the Chinese don't see many westerners and often want a photo with you which they don't ask to do, so it can appear to be a little rude but generally we felt completely safe wherever we went, just be careful with belongings in crowded places.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    An excellent fun packed trip and for our party just made all that better when we were struck lucky with Alan. If you are only ever going to visit China once then this is the trip you should do. It has opened our eyes to the diverse culture and the distorted view that we westerners have of China. My wife and I loved visiting the rural areas away from the cities and should we return then that's where we would like to do more exploring. Exodus should consider reviewing the overnight sleeper trains as there are bullet train options available. The train to Yangshuo was horrendous and very delayed, with the net effect we almost lost a day of our trip. In all we had 3 overnight sleepers and all were memorable for the wrong reasons.
  • Reviewed September 2016
    Keith Williams
    This is the first time my wife and I had visited China and felt that it was important to make the trip with a company who knew their way around the country. Exodus excelled at that and our tour guide, Alan Liu, (Hongbin Liu), played such a vital part in making the trip enjoyable.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    There were so many things. There were the most famous iconic things such as the Great Wall, the Terracotta Soldiers, the Pandas at Chengdhu etc but the scenery in the countryside is breathtaking and outstanding.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our tour guide, Alan Liu, (Hongbin Liu), was inspirational. Without a doubt, all members of our group were in one voice when we say that without Alan the trip would not have had the same impact on us. He was so knowledgeable, nothing phased him, he was well organised and his sense of humour was second to none. Most importantly, he cared for the people he was responsible for on the trip If I were to make another journey to China I simply would not want to go with any other Tour Leader than Alan.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    The rating for this trip is "Leisurely". Most in the group thought it a little more strenuous than leisurely. There is so much travelling due to the vast size of China and there were three overnight sleeper train journeys which sometimes required a very early morning start that left you feeling somewhat tired on arrival at your next destination. Be prepared for lots of crowds in towns and market areas, and also be aware of the traffic. It is manic. Don't for one minute think you are safe using a zebra crossing as cars and motor bikes assume that it is a target area for aiming at tourists.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    This trip is an experience of a lifetime and one I am so glad that my wife and I did. The culture, the sights, the scenery, the food and the people all contributed to making this a memorable experience and one not to be missed. However, it is also important to have the right tour guide leading you and our tour guide, Alan Liu, (Hongbin Liu), was absolutely outstanding. He was so knowledgeable, informative, organised and unflappable and, most importantly, he cared for those members of the trip he was leading and advised us of the right places to eat and those to avoid, knowing what time and when to visit certain locations to avoid the crowds to get the best out of the trip. Without doubt, one of the best Tour Leaders around.

Dates & Prices

An overview of flight options

Exodus is committed to making joining our tours as easy as possible, wherever you live. We generally only block book seats from London, but this certainly does not mean that you need to fly from there. Depending on the route and airlines available, there will usually be various options available for those who want to fly from their local airport.

This page aims to provide a useful overview of the options available to our clients. However, the best flight arrangements should be tailored to your personal requirements, so please contact our Sales team for expert advice.

 

What kind of options do I have ?

1. We can book for you: Flights from anywhere in the world - not via London  

Depending on the route, this may be direct or via an overseas hub like Amsterdam, the Middle East or elsewhere. On short haul routes there may be direct flights with low cost airlines, charter flights or scheduled airlines. Exodus can book most, but not all, of these for you. The most appropriate airline may be different to that which we use for the group flight from London, but many people now travel on different airlines and meet up with their fellow passengers at the destination.

Pros Cons
  • May be the most direct route
  • Often the extra fare compared to the London flight is minimal.
  • As you will be in the hands a single airline for your entire journey, the airline will be responsible for your bags and your connections.
  • You may not be able to join the group transfers. However, we can usually arrange private transfers, or book your flights to try and coincide with the group transfers. See notes on transfer arrangements below.

 

2. We can book for you: Connecting flights from your local airport to London

Exodus can book connecting flights to London so you can join the group flight there. Connecting times will be followed according to airline advice, or as requested by clients. There are two types of fares we can use for this option: a 'through-fare' or a 'published fare'.
 
a) A 'through-fare' is where you will be in the main airline's care throughout. You change planes, but your bags are checked all the way through to your final destination. 

b) A 'published fare' ticket is completely seperate from your onward ticket from London. It is usually cheaper than a through-fare but will need to be paid for and issued as soon as it is booked. This can be a problem if your tour has not yet reached minimum numbers. On 'published fares' neither airline is aware that you have connecting flights, so Exodus is responsible for timing your connection, not the airlines involved. The tickets are also usually non changeable and non refundable.

Pros Cons
  • Depending on the fare type, Exodus or the airline is responsible for flight connections.
  • Through fare tickets can be expensive.
  • On a published fare, tickets must be issued immediately; tickets on published fares can be very difficult to change if onward flight times change; bags are not checked though to your final destination.
  • Published fares are non-refundable.

 

3. Booking some or all of the flights yourself

You can also book connecting air travel yourself, either to London, or all the way to the start point. There may be certain airlines or routes we don't have access to, so this is always an option. However, if you make your own travel arrangements you become liable for any delays, cancellations or missed connections, and Exodus is not required to offer refunds if you have trouble reaching the start of your trip.

Pros Cons
  • You might find cheaper fares, or routes not available to Exodus.
  • You are responsible for any delays or missed connections, and the cost of the tour is not protected should you miss your flight be cancelled.

 

 Notes on transfer arrangements

Sometimes it is possible to travel on a different airline to the group flight from London. Where this is the case, we need to think about ensuring you meet up with the group with minimum extra cost and hassle.

  • On certain trips, it is easy to arrive on a different flight and still meet the group at the hotel with time in hand. We can usually arrange private transfers (at extra cost) or offer advice on taking a taxi to the start hotel.
  • On other trips (especially in Europe), the transfer meets the group flight and then travels some distance to the first night's accommodation. Where this is the case, our Sales team will try to arrange flights that arrive before (and depart after) the group. However, we do have to make it clear in your final documentation that if your flights are delayed, the transfer cannot wait for you. While Exodus or our local operators will do what we can to help you reach the start point of the tour, any additional costs must be paid by the client. 

 

Next steps? 

Call our Sales team on: 0203 733 0698

Email your query: [email protected]

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Call us on 0208 772 3936