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Chengdu, home of the Giant Panda and capital of Sichuan province is famed for its outstanding natural beauty, fiery cuisine and China’s first, largest and best known Panda research and breeding centre. Arrive Chengdu airport and transfer to your hotel. The remainder of the day is free for you to spend at leisure. Overnight - Chengdu
This morning fly to Jiuzhaigou - a region that for centuries has been inhabited by various Tibetan and Qiang people. Tour the Huanglong Monastery - built during the reign of Ming Emperor Hongwu, it is now a place of worship for the local Tibetan, Han, Qiang and Hui people, all of which have different religious beliefs. Afterwards enjoy a relaxing stroll by the region’s famed calcium travertines. Resembling a terraced field, the travertines flow gently into a series of multi-coloured, mineral rich ponds beneath. Onward travel to Jiuzhaigou. Overnight - Jiuzhaigou.
Today is spent exploring the Jiuzhaigou Scenic Reserve. Located in the high Min Shan mountain range, the Jiuzhaigou reserve is renowned for its outstanding natural beauty. It’s home to densely growing conifers, broadleaf trees and of rare and endangered animal species such as takins, golden monkeys, Giant Pandas and white-lip deer. Ancient Chinese legend has it that the goddess Semo accidentally smashed her mirror here and the pieces that fell down the mountain formed beautiful lakes, streams and waterfalls. Afterwards, visits will be made to Pearl Beach Falls, Nuorilong Falls and Long Lake. The ever flowing cascade of Nuorilong spans an impressive 320 metres. Overnight - Jiuzhaigou
Morning flight returning to Chengdu. An hour’s drive to the north west leads you to the ancient city of Dujiangyan. It was here, in 256 BC that provincial governer Li Bing set up the Dujiangyan Irrigation Scheme. The three part engineering project using a central dam and artificial islands to split the Min River into an inner flow for irrigation and an outer channel for flood control. A spillway directed and regulated the water while an opening carved through the hillside controlled to flow rate. The project was maintained until 2006 when a new dam was created 9km upstream. Tour the dam site, view the Anlan Suspension Bridge and the Dragon Taming Temple. Overnight - Chengdu
Today we tour Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding a short drive out of town. China’s Giant Pandas are considered the most endangered mammal on the planet. Covering an area of over 92 acres, there is plenty of space for the Giant Pandas and several species of rare and endangered animals to freely roam. Visiting the Panda nursery is a must, here you can get relatively close to the centre’s infant population. The Breeding Center has achieved breakthroughs in captive breeding. Afterwards, visit the Wuhou Memorial Temple, the Tomb of Wang Jian and Jinli Lu street - part of the old city where open air theatre and Sichuan Opera are performed in the evening. Overnight - Chengdu
Driving to Leshan our morning is spent exploring the UNESCO World Heritage Listed Dafo (Great Buddha), which is carved into the red sandstone face of Lingyun Hill overlooking the treacherous confluence of the Min, Qingyi and Dadu rivers below it. Afterwards take in the views from Emei Shan (Mt Emei). Rising some 300 metres its thick forested slopes set a backdrop for spectacular waterfalls, pristine brooks and numerous Buddhist temples. Arriving at Baoguo, located at the foot of the Mountain, we visit the Temple of Baoguo. Large and serene this impressive temple structure. Spend the remainder of the day exploring this delightful village, easily navigated by foot. Overnight - Baoguo
This morning we travel by cable car to the top of Mt Emei to tour the magnificent Wannian temple. The oldest structure on the mountain, its contents are stunning: three thousand tiny iron Buddhas surround a life sized enamelled bronze sculpture of Bodhisattva Puxian (the protector of the mountain) riding a gilt lotus flower astride his great six tusked white elephant. Weighing over 62 tonnes and standing over 7 metres in height the masterpiece had to be bought to the mountain top in pieces. Returning to Chengdu the remainder of the day is free. Overnight - Chengdu
If your flight is not until later in the day, consider a visit to the Tibetan quarter, south of the city, frequented by very few tourists. The district teems with shops stocked to their roofs with heavy clothes, turquoise jewellery, prayer wheels, conches and other temple accessories, much being purchased by Tibetan monks, cowboys and Khampa women (a minority group, similar though distinct with their own culture and dialect to Tibetans) all looking decidedly tall and robust next to the city’s local residence. Hotel check out and departure transfer to the airport. To Guilin Welcome to Guilin, Guangxi Province! Airport arrival and transfer to your hotel. Overnight - Guilin
This morning drive onwards (approx 1.5hrs) to Yangshuo. Renowned for its striking, if bizarre scenery, vast areas of karst limestone outcrops which rise up from flat rice paddy fields. From Yangshuo it is possible to take a relaxing cruise by simple bamboo raft or motorised long boat along the River Li passing an endless procession of peaks and remote villages. The local fishermen use trained cormorants to catch fish and local village boys paddle out to the river boats with all manner of curios. Overnight - Yangshuo
Choose to go boating along the Li or Yu Long rivers, cycling, hiking, rafting or rock climbing or simply spend the day exploring this charming village laden with quirky shops, tea shops, antiques, art t-shirt designers and souvenir curios. Maybe take a calligraphers or beginners art class with a local painter or enjoy a morning class at the ‘Cloud 9’ cooking school. Overnight - Yangshuo
Yangshou - Guilin - Kunming. Returning to Guilin we tour the enormous Reed Flute Caves. Take an afternoon stroll along the picturesque riverside foot bridges and paths before our overnight train journey to Kunming. Overnight - Sleeper Train
Capital of Yunnan Province, Kunming lies 2000m above sea level. Its gentle weather and abundance of flowers have earned it the name ‘City of Eternal Spring’. Arriving mid morning, hotel check in and free time. Visit the stunning Western Hills or the Dragon Gate Grotto if you choose. Overnight – Kunming
Excursion to Stone Forest. Celebrated as a natural wonder, it’s Yunnan’s most visited sight. As you stroll along the winding paths and lookout points, you’ll be in awe of the bizaare, tightly packed formations of almost ‘petrified’ stone that forms this unusual attraction 120 km from Kunming. Tonight catch the overnight (hard) sleeper train to Dali. Overnight - Sleeper Train
Much of Dali is contained by the remains of its Ming dynasty walls. Sightseeing in Dali and surrounds includes a cruise on Lake Erhai, some orientation stops at some ancient temples and villages, a visit to Butterfly Spring - a popular spot surrounded by a marble ballustrade and overhung by an ancient tree that produces butterfly-like flowers and the famous Three Pagodas. The largest of them - Qianxun tower dates back to 824 AD, is embellished with Buddha’s made from local richly veined marble on each of its 16 levels. Whilst sealed (preventing entrance inside), the pagodas are best seen from a distance. Back in Dali, enjoy some free time exploring the old section of the town. Overnight - Dali
Leaving Dali, you’ll travel north to UNESCO-listed Lijiang - a Naxi stronghold, enjoy free time in the labyrinthine streets of Dayan Old Town. Evening Naxi music show. Overnight - Lijiang
Seeing the reflection of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain on the surface of a picturesque lake, is the highlight of the 3 - 4 hour hike toward Wenhai Eco lodge. Upon arrival explore the village and drink tea with a local family. Overnight - Wenhai Eco Lodge
This morning you visit Yi Village before embarking on a 4 hour hike to visit the Lashishai community. Here, you’ll meet and stay overnight with a traditional Naxi indigenous family. Overnight - Lashishai homestay
Lashishai - Liming. En route to Liming (approx 3 hour drive) visit the town of Shigu, located on the first bend of the Yangtze River. Here you undertake a 3 hour hike (or pony ride if you choose) to the 3000m summit of the Thousand Tortoise Mountain. After enjoying the spectacular panoramic views continue your walk (downhill) to Liming. Overnight - Liming Guesthouse
Liming – Tiger Leaping Gorge - Shaghai. After breakfast head to the excitingly named Tiger leaping gorge on the Yangtze River. Some 16km long and up to 3000m deep, it is the world’s deepest canyon. The gorge is so narrow at various points that legend has it a tiger once escaped pursuit by leaping across. Visiting the gorge, you’ll have a chance to walk a section and take in the dramatic, yet stark scenery. After lunch return to Lijiang for your onward flight to Shanghai. Enjoy an arrival transfer to our hotel. Overnight - Shanghai
Just the mere mention of ‘Shanghai’ conjures up mystery, romance and general decadence. Our sightseeing of Shanghai takes in the awesome Oriental Pearl TV tower, the Jade Buddha Temple, charming Yuyuan Gardens and the Bund and Old City. This evening, enjoy a cruise on the Huangpu River. Overnight - Shanghai
Today we take a high speed train journey to ancient Suzhou. A sort of oriental Venice, ancient Suzhou is interwoven by a series of canals and pretty waterways which feed a series of classical gardens, laid out here since the Song dynasty, a thousand years ago. They are justly famous across China. Suzhou sits very close to the Grand Canal. We enjoy a cruise on the Grand Canal, tour the Humble Administrator’s Garden and visit a silk workshop Overnight - Shanghai
Two whole days to enjoy Shanghai your way. Perhaps head to Nanjing Road, just off the Bund or Huaihai Lu; the main street of the French Concession for amazing shopping, explore the Old City or drop into the historic Peace Hotel for a drink and a spot of jazz. Overnight - Shanghai
Sadly your time with us comes to an end as you are transferred to the airport in time for your departure flight.
Neatly dividing China into north and south, the 6340km-long Yangtze River is the third longest river in the world, winding ...