Yangtze River - Three Gorges Cruise, China

Imperial China & Yangtze River Cruise

19 days
Activity level:
Activity Level: Leisurely
Trip code: 
Ways to Travel:
Guided Group, Private Group Adventures, Small Ship Cruises
Group size:

A comprehensive China holiday 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.


  • See the Terracotta Warriors in Xi'an
  • Visit a quieter section of The Great Wall
  • Cruise down the Yangtze River past the Three Gorges Dam
  • Visit the Giant Panda Breeding Research Centre near Chengdu
  • Discover rural Yangshuo and its limestone karst scenery

Key information

  • Travel by train/overnight train, private minibus, public bus, cruise boat and 1 internal flight
  • Group normally 5 to 18, plus leader. Min age 16 yrs
  • 13 nights comfortable hotels, 3 nights comfortable 4-star cruise boat with outward facing twin berth air-conditioned cabins, all en suite, and 2 nights 1st class sleeper train, soft-bed berths
  • Fast paced itinerary
  • Countries visited: China

What's included

  • 18 breakfasts, 9 lunches, 3 dinners
  • All accommodation (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
Call for general departures:
020 8772 3936
Call for private group trips:
020 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Responsible Travel

Tourism can be a real help to local communities, providing income, positive cultural exchanges and a financial incentive to protect their natural environment. Ours is a 'total approach' to responsible tourism, covering everything from the way we plan and operate our trips to the practices of Exodus as a company. 

On this trip, all of the accommodation used – including the cruise company, are locally owned and staffed, which is a way of boosting employment levels in the areas we visit. Where meals are not supplied, tour leaders will recommend and encourage clients to visit locally owned restaurants and cafés where food is authentic and either locally grown or sourced. In addition, clients will have the opportunity to spend lunch with a local family to sample some homemade dishes and foster friendship over food.

There is so much to offer in terms of culture on this trip and our local guides are always keen to help clients understand the culture better and to connect more genuinely with local communities. In Yangshuo, there are a variety of crafts and traditionally made souvenirs available as well as several optional activities that clients can engage in. Leaders will be able to advise where the best places to shop are and what should be avoided e.g. traditional medicine made from endangered animals.

In March 2019, Exodus Travels launched the Exodus Travels Foundation where we support initiatives all around the world. But it cannot exist without travellers who care. Get involved or learn more about what Responsible Travel means to Exodus here


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  • Day 1

    Arrive Beijing

    After a transfer to our hotel in the centre of Beijing, a welcome briefing will be held in the evening, to give us an opportunity to meet our leader and the rest of our group. During dinner we will have the chance to try some authentic Chinese cuisine, which is quite different to the British take on Chinese food! During most meals a variety of dishes will be served for the group to share (frequently utilising the ingenious 'Lazy Susan' rotating table-piece) and our leader will help us select dishes depending on the groups' tastes.

    Dong Fang Hotel or similar

  • Day 2

    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. This afternoon is free to explore.

    Dong Fang Hotel or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 3

    Visit the 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. We will spend a few hours exploring the wall - please note that there are some steep steps to navigate and clients who suffer from vertigo may find it difficult, (there is an optional cable car). Lunch will be taken at a local restaurant on the way back to Beijing; we should expect some traditional northern Chinese cuisine involving vegetables (aubergine, lotus roots, mushrooms etc.), tofu, chicken and pork - and much more! 

    There is the option of seeing an acrobatic or Kung Fu show or a trip to the opera this evening in Beijing.

    Dong Fang Hotel or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 4

    Beijing; overnight train to Xi'an

    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 (approx. 12 hours) 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 (bunks) and bedding is provided.

    Overnight train

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 5

    Morning walking tour of the Muslim quarter 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 embark on a walking tour, passing the Bell and Drum Plaza to the Muslim quarter, where we visit the Great Mosque. The Muslim quarter is a fascinating place to visit, especially in the evening when it comes alive with bustling bazaars and food stalls. This afternoon is free; it is possible to appreciate the sheer scale of the city walls; you can hire bikes and cycle along them.

    Skytel Hotel / Bell Tower Hotel Xi'an, or similar 

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 6

    Day trip to visit the Terracotta Warriors

    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. After our visit we will take our lunch at a local farmer's restaurant nearby with the opportunity to taste some fresh seasonal produce, home-made noodles and bread. 

    The evening is free for further exploration in Xi'an. Perhaps your leader will take you to the Giant Wild Goose Pagoda Square to witness a water and light show (free of charge).

    Skytel Hotel / Bell Tower Hotel Xi'an, or similar 

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 7

    Bullet train to Chengdu; afternoon sightseeing tour

    We transfer to the train station and catch a morning bullet train (duration approx. 4 hrs 15 mins) to Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province, arriving around lunch time / early afternoon. This area is recognised throughout China as being 'the spicy province', and it certainly lives up to its name! Major flavour combinations include garlic, star anise, chili peppers, and the ever-present Sichuanese peppercorn (hua jiao) which is used in many recipes. In the afternoon, your 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 a cuppa.

    Garden City Hotel or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 8

    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.

    Garden City Hotel or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast Dinner
  • Day 9

    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. We will stay in air-conditioned twin-berth cabins with en suite bathrooms.

    Cruise boat (4-star international rating/ 5-star local rating)

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Days 10-11

    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 can not be guaranteed as it depends on the weather and river traffic. 

    Cruise boat (4-star international rating/ 5-star local rating)

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 12

    Disembark cruise; 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 (approx. 16 hours).

    Overnight Train

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 13

    Arrive Liuzhou; transfer to Yangshuo; afternoon cookery class

    We arrive in Liuzhou early this morning (4:30/5:00am) and then transfer by road for 3.5 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 good tourist infrastructure due to its large transient population of backpackers and domestic tourists. In the afternoon we have a cookery class, led by a local host, to discover how to make some of China's most iconic dishes, before enjoying our home-made culinary creations for lunch.

    New West Street Hotel or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 14

    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. Expect delicious dishes such as clay-pot taro, stir-fried chicken and veggies, and traditional fried eggs. Please note that for anyone unable to or not wanting to cycle, your leader can arrange a taxi or minivan to take you on a scenic drive through the countryside to meet the group at the lunch stop (at your own expense). The afternoon is free to relax or enjoy one of the many optional activities Yangshuo has to offer.

    New West Street Hotel or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 15

    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 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.

    New West Street Hotel or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 16

    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.

    Greenland Jiulong Hotel or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 17

    Visit Xitang water town

    An early start (around 7am) to avoid the crowds at 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.

    Greenland Jiulong Hotel or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 18

    Full day in Shanghai

    With a population of around twelve million, Shanghai is yours to explore today. This morning we enjoy a visit to firstly the Shanghai museum, followed by 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 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.

    Optional activities this evening include the Shanghai Acrobatic show, which comes highly recommended!

    Greenland Jiulong Hotel 

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 19

    End Shanghai

    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
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Essential Info



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 here. 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.

IMPORTANT: Please note that all visa applicants aged between 14 and 70 will need to visit one of the Chinese Visa Application Service Centres in person (appointment required) where biometric data will be taken as part of the visa application process.



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.

If your trip visits Hong Kong, dengue fever is a known risk - this is a tropical viral disease spread by daytime biting mosquitoes. There is currently no vaccine or prophylaxis available, and therefore the best form of prevention is to avoid being bitten: apply insect repellent and wear long-sleeved shirts and trousers.

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.


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. November is starting to get cooler (3-13ºC) and can therefore sometimes feel chilly. The Great Wall region will be colder than the cities due to the mountainous terrain.

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 40ºC and in Spring/Autumn will be 22-26ºC. November is the shoulder season and is more prone to overcast days and you can expect it to be quite cool (Yichang, 9-17ºC / Chongqing 3-13ºC).

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, and we try to incorporate these into the itinerary at regular intervals. 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.

Following a review of all our trips we have categorised this trip as generally not suitable for persons of reduced mobility. However if you are a regular traveller on such trips, please contact customer services to discuss the trip and your personal condition.

Call for general departures:
020 8772 3936
Call for private group trips:
020 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.


Hotels, Boat & Train

On this trip, you will spend 13 nights in comfortable hotels, 3 nights on a 4-star cruise boat with 2 berth air-conditioned cabins, all en suite, and 2 nights on a 1st class sleeper train.

Nearly all the hotels are locally rated as at least 3-star and wherever possible located as near to local attractions as possible. The overnight train is in the 'soft sleeper' cabins, which are 4-berth (bunk beds) private cabins. 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 - there is one Western-style toilet and one Asian style squat toilet per carriage, plus a washroom for brushing your teeth, and a water heater for making tea/coffee or pot noodles. Bedding is provided but we recommend you consider taking a thin sleep sheet. Whilst we make every attempt to place passengers together in cabins, sometimes this is impossible, however, we will never place a solo traveller in a cabin by themselves (they will always be either with another passenger on the trip or with the leader). If you are travelling in a pair, it may be possible to upgrade to 'deluxe soft sleeper' 2-berth private cabins on the overnight train, please request this with Exodus in advance. This is subject to availability and only possible for clients travelling in pairs due to new regulations.

For the Yangtze River cruise, we work with a couple of different cruise boats, each offering comfortable 4-star (5-star local rating) accommodation and service and following the same programme. The well-appointed rooms are equipped with air-conditioning and all have en suite bathrooms. There is ample deck space to relax on as you watch the magnificent scenery drift by as well as a fitness centre, spa, bar, lounge, and restaurant. The ships carry between 200 and 400 passengers. 

If you prefer to have your own room, it is possible to book single supplement subject to availability - please request this at the time of booking. The single supplement does not apply to the overnight trains.  

Call for general departures:
020 8772 3936
Call for private group trips:
020 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Expert Blog Entries

  • Reviewed August 2019
    Phil Watson

    Impressive and full of variety whilst still feeling welcoming & friendly

    This trip ticks all the boxes to immerse yourself in Chinese culture and history.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Seeing the Terracotta army in all its glory was a lifelong ambition and didn’t disappoint

    What did you think of your group leader?

    From the first minute to the last, Avan was a perfect ambassador for his wonderful Country - full of knowledge, always resourceful and flexible to our needs as well as having a great sense of humour which made the trip swing along - we had lots of fun along the way.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Whilst the advice was to prepare for steps and long platforms, in reality wheeled suitcases were absolutely fine and negotiating the train stations was easy even in the busy summer holiday period.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The trip is quite demanding with the heat in the summer and large crowds, but the variety of options are huge and the sights keep rolling along for the whole trip - a total immersion in China which was unforgettable!
  • Reviewed May 2019
    Lynn Simpson

    Captivating China

    Superb trip with plenty to see and do. The Great Wall is amazing, the Terracotta Warriors fascinating as was the Han Yangling Mausoleum. The Shanghai Museum should really be included and not optional. The visit to the Giant Panda breeding research base was great. Plenty of exercise to work off the effects of the delicious food with walking the Wall, dancing in the park, cycling the walls at Xi’an and cycling through the stunning scenery of Yangshuo.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Walking the Great Wall Giant Panda breeding research base

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Peter was very knowledgable and organised. He always had a smile on his face. He organised a cake and celebrations for my husband’s birthday. Alan still talks about the longevity noodles. Thanks Peter.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Well worth the effort and hassle of getting a visa.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Probably the most disappointing part of the trip was the visit to the Three Gorges Dam. Leave it out and add in the Shanghai Museum.
  • Reviewed May 2019
    Geraldine Kevill

    imperial china and yangsie river cruise

    Peter Wong was a very good guide. He explained in detail the history of China from the early ages until the present day. I found the trip very educational. The fastness of landscapes, with high rise flats, went on forever. The train stations were enormous and larger than most airports. The motorways didn't seem to have any traffic jams because they were gigantic, and they were numerous in number. The culture was interesting, and I enjoyed the operas and dance, and there belief in Buddha. The great wall was very impressive, and I really enjoyed walking it, for me it was the highlight of the trip. The terracotta worriers were amazing, and I also was captivated by the Pandas. The overall experience was mind blowing, but I would not like to live there. I would like to mention the cooking class. Would this class be better held later in the day, as most of us were very full up so soon after breakfast. I would like to thank all of those involved with the planning and organisation of this trip.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The great Wall

    What did you think of your group leader?

    very informative, he certainly knows his history.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    to have the cooking class later than so soon after breakfast.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    As I have already explained in the first section of the questionnaire. The group as a whole got along well, any problems that we encountered were soon solved by Peter.
  • Reviewed May 2019
    Nigel Brereton

    A great trip, who have interest and energy

    Kris was an excellent guide with detailed knowledge on the Nation and people of China. Answered questions with a easily to understand words. There is little rest save for travelling, trains, river cruise and Flight all went well. The trip notes mentioned long Station Platforms, this was true however due to Station location a walk of 700 to 900 meters was often required, many with large bags required help. The use of ATMs to obtain cash in Cities is available, however not in rural areas as much. Very few Business take European Cards, as cash is widely used.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    A number, the River Cruise, cycling in villages, seeing the old part which will soon be gone, with an excellent guide in all ways.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    An excellent guide in all ways.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Travel light, you may have to carry you bag up 2 flights of stairs and walk 900 meters to the Bus. Draw out cash in large centres. Listen to you guide and perhaps take notes. My bag was 14 kg, so not difficult, able to help others.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    If you want to see some of old China go soon.
  • Reviewed May 2019
    Holly Creevy

    So much included

    This was my first trip outside of Europe, and I recommend it to anyone who wants to step outside their travel comfort-zone and immerse themselves in a completely different culture. This particular itinerary is excellent, as you visit a wide array of landscapes and landmarks. An important consideration is that China is changing so fast. If you go now you can still see both the old and the new side-by-side, which is really interesting. It is also the sort of place where for all but the most intrepid I think it's necessary to go on an organised tour with a guide to translate/explain/direct everything and drivers to navigate the road system.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    It's so hard to choose. I think it would have to be visiting the Forbidden City in Beijing. This was the very heart of a civilization, and I was amazed by the size of the complex and the richness of meaning behind all of its structures and components.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Leon was incredible. He was exceptionally well organised and knowledgeable. He never seemed to tire and always had the energy to answer extra questions and arrange extra trips out. He made each person in the group feel valued as an individual, and always acted in a calm and professional manner.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    1. In the words of a local guide, China is having a 'toilet revolution'! There are a surprisingly large number of public toilets available at frequent intervals, though bring your own loo roll and hand sanitiser. 2. Don't underestimate the VISA process. It is far more involved than for most countries, and UK travellers will have to visit a national centre to get their fingerprints taken. (From word of mouth in our group, the Edinburgh and Manchester centres were easier to deal with than the London centre, which is busier. I'm not sure about the Belfast centre). 3. Pack a range of clothing (in layers). As the distances travelled are huge, the climate will change a lot through the trip. 4. All the hotels we stayed in had both American-style and Australian-style plug sockets in the rooms, so either of those travel adaptors would be fine. 5. ATMs are available at frequent intervals throughout the trip, so although you will be expected to pay for most things in cash, you don't need to bring all of it in advance.
  • Reviewed May 2019
    Fiona Galazin

    Hints and tips

    This is not a restful trip. It is full on from the start but it gave us everything we wanted to see in China and our guide Kris made it very easy for us. She had a good sense of humour and warned us if there was anything she thought might be difficult for us. Be prepared for crowds. Most of the tourist sights are busy with Chinese tourists, especially the Terracotta Warriors and the Pandas at Chengdu.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    It was a great holiday. The Wall, the Terracotta Warriors, the pandas, the Three Gorges, Jangshuo and the Three Kingdoms show. Couldn’t pick one out. A possible improvement might be to take another overnight train rather than have the overnight stop in Wuhan. After visiting the dam we travelled for one and a half days on a series of trains and coaches whereas getting an overnight train would have been more restful.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Kris was a great group leader - funny, patient, informative and took care of everybody. She is one of the best guides we have had and we have done quite a few Exodus holidays.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Travel light. I would suggest not more than 15KG and wheeled luggage. You will be moving around a lot. Take toilet roll and hand gel with you when outside the hotel. Pack a mug, spoon , tea bags and coffee as hot water is available on trains and at airports. Don't expect cold milk though, take powdered if you like your tea white - it wasn't always available except in better hotels. Laundry is cheap to do in Jangshuo. The Three Kingdoms show was fantastic. Can't comment on the others but the rest of the group thought all shows were good, especially the acrobatic show in Shanghai. Carry money and passport at all times. Take cash as credit cards can't be used when the group leader is organising meals etc. The trip notes were about right in terms of what you need for money. China is not as cheap as you might think. Shanghai was the only place we used credit cards and even then not everywhere. Luggage is X- rayed before you get on trains and flammables and sharp objects ( even scissors) may be confiscated. We got away with a penknife but one of our group had their aerosol deodorant confiscated. Keep power packs and camera batteries in hand luggage, even leaving Shanghai. They will get you to open your luggage even after you have handed it over at check in. You will need sunscreen and insect repellent. Trainers were fine, walking boots not needed, but you will be walking quite a lot. If you upgrade to first on the overnight train you will get your own loo and 2 in a cabin (£70 each). Some of the group thought this was definitely a plus. Accommodation on the boat was better than I expected ( not necessary to upgrade) but it is worth upgrading for the food as it means you will eating with a group of 30-40, rather than 300.
  • Reviewed November 2018
    Emma Sayer

    A great way to see all the great things in China

    Have low expectations and be positive was the motto of our guide. My own expectations were exceeded! We got to see so many great things

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Pandas! I booked this trip over any other because we go to visit the panda breeding centre. They are the most cuddliest and most adorable creatures. Whilst we were there we watched one get a bucket stuck on its head to one falling out of a tree. Yangshou with its Karst mountains! I love the countryside and this place was just stunning. We had rain most days we were there but the mist rolling across the mountains is just beautiful. A nice break from the busy crowds of the city too. The great Wall - Just wow! Even more breath taking in real life.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Dragon was very efficient and organised. He told us what we needed to know and what was happening a few days before it happened. He made us aware of optional extras that we could partake it. The motto of the trip was to have low expectations and to be positive. Dragon would often give us the worst case scenario and prepare us for the worst which meant we were never disappointed or surprised. And most things actually proved to be okay or to exceed our new expectations. Dragon was very helpful and supportive. My luggage got misplaced on a different coach and after a few phone calls managed to get it back quickly and without fuss. There was also a problem with my passport number. The office had pre booked my train tickets with my old passport number and so wouldn't pass the security check but after the first incident, Dragon managed to sort extra tickets so this wasn't a problem further along the road. Although not forth coming with information, Dragon knew alot and would give you all the information that he could give. No problems with translation.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Don't drink the water. You don't need to cover your legs for temples and things. We were supplied with bike helmets for our bike ride and had the option to hire some at other places. So no need to take your own. Don't flush the loo roll. Walk the steps up to the great wall. It's tough but if only a few of you do it you get that section of the wall to yourself for a good hour before you see everyone else that comes via the cable cars. Great opportunity for solo photos too. Practise with chopsticks before you come - its great fun to learn before you come and sometimes forks can be hard to find. Good trainers will get you through this trip! Lots of walking. Don't upgrade on the boat. We saved £50 and got to eat with the locals. We couldn't speak to them directly but I enjoyed watching how they used their chopsticks. If you only pay for one extra activity, do the night show at the Li River, Worlds largest natural theatre. Breathtakingly beautiful! Make sure exodus send you the exodus luggage tags - helps porters know that your luggage is all the same. Take an extra SD card, your going to need it!! One your packed, take half the clothes and double your spending money!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    If you want to go to China just once and see as much as possible, this is the trip to do it. If your a solo person this is the trip for you. A large group of 16 means you never feel lonely but you can still do things on your own if you want too.
  • Reviewed October 2018
    David Sarsiat


    We enjoyed our experience in China and came home with a better understanding of the Chinese people and culture. Unfortunately, when we continued our trip to Hong Kong we discovered that someone had taken most of our Hong Kong money (equivalent to $500 Canadian). We keep these funds locked in safe deposit boxes, so not sure how this could have happened. We would like others who go on this trip to keep any cash with them at all times.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Biking in the countryside.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Very organized and factual.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Keep your valuables with you. Do not trust the safe deposit boxes.
  • Reviewed October 2018
    Sandra Woodward

    Imperial China and Yangtze River Cruise

    We have just returned from this busy and full on trip. As other reviews have said 'China is big!' We saw and experienced so much - from the different styles of food, transport and sites. Our guide was informative and shared lots of information regarding Chinese culture and history as well as the amazing development that has occurred during the last 20 years.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Realising just how far China has come and how far it plans to go. This is awe inspiring rather than inspirational. The infrastructure projects, buildings, size of cities, numbers of travellers/ tourists/people. Reading about it can't really prepare you for the reality.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Dragon was extremely good at managing expectations and ensuring the whole group navigated the busy schedule. He was professional, funnyGo patient and very good at helping us make the most of the opportunities available. This included where to stand on the boat to get the best view, upgrading our dining option on the Yangtze cruise to avoid the scrum in the dining room. We enjoyed hearing his anecdotes of growing up and life in China.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Be prepared for the crowds but don't let them put you off as the Chinese were always friendly, helpful and good natured. Take mosquito repellent and wear comfortable shoes as there is a lot of walking but it is all manageable. Use the 'farmers' to carry your bag on to the cruise boat there are a lot of steep steps down to the river. Have an open mind and be willing to go with the flow. Foot massages were great (especially the ones on the cruise). Enjoy!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    We met lots of interesting travlleling companions and the group size of 16 worked well with a mix of couples and singles, so there were always people to hang out with if you wanted to. Go for it - you won't be disappointed
  • Reviewed September 2018
    Sue Shaw

    China and Yangtze

    Great trip ,great guide.so much going on!!! One of the best of 10 trips I have been on with exodus.Thank you Chris .

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Just loved the cycling 🚴‍♀️ trip to moon 🌒 Hill ,paddy fields,, noodles drying in the sun ,watching the river and rafts going by ,what’s not to love.So relaxing 😌 xx

    What did you think of your group leader?

    just really spot on ,thanks Chris.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Be prepared for early starts and quick turn round but it’s a fabulous trip!!!! .

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    This should be on everyone’s bucket list !!!! 😘

Dates & Prices

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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]


Private Adventures 

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