China Tailor-made Holidays
Bespoke journeys to China in 2017
A complete checker board of history, culture, sights and experiences, where old meets new literally around every corner, China has something for everyone and is a fascinating place to explore. Tell us where you want to go and what you want to see and we’ll recommend activities that perfectly complement your chosen itinerary on a tailor-made holiday whether it’s spending a night by the Great Wall, visiting the pandas in Chengdu, cruising down the Yangtze River or heading to the summit of Emei Shan Mountain. See the very best of China in 2017 on a bespoke journey with On The Go Tours.
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When planning your holiday we go a step beyond and include some special and unique experiences.Read more about our approach to designing your tailormade holiday.
The best places to visit on a tailormade holiday to China
China is a place you can return to time and again and impossible to see all of in just one visit. Most first time visits to China start in Beijing and generally head south ending in Shanghai. However there is so much more to see and do. Harbin in the north holds the annual Ice Festival spectacular, the east is home to the beautiful canals of Suzhou and the west home to some stunning natural wonders plus so much more inbetween! Below are some of our top picks on what to do with your time in China.
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Useful tips for planning your tailor-made trip to China
HOW LONG DO YOU HAVE TO SPEND IN CHINA?
China is a vast country spread across a wide range of topography and getting from one place to another can eat into your travel time. If you only have a week to spend in China it's best to concentrate on a smaller region whereas if you have two weeks or more you will have more time to move around the country and explore different regions. You can visit the major attractions of Beijing and Xi'an in a week and with an extra 7-10 days cover the highlights of the south including Guilin and the Yangtze alongside the pulsating city of Shanghai on the eastern coast.
WHAT SORT OF ACCOMMODATION WOULD YOU PREFER?
The majority of hotels in China tend to be of the large, non-descript variety built in the plain yet functional architectural style of Communism. This suits domestic Chinese tourists just fine but for foreign travellers can be rather uninspiring so consider including a few nights' stay at boutique properties such as courtyard hotels in the hutongs of Beijing or Tibetan-inspired guesthouses in the southwest of the country. These boutique properties are often more expensive than regular hotels but will have bundles of character and offer something a little special. A growing range of international brand hotels operate in China so accommodation offerings improve year on year with great choices across 3, 4 and 5 star standard hotels.
WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE ACCOMPANIED BY A GUIDE THROUGHOUT YOUR TRIP?
So that you can get the most out of the sites you visit we include the services of local English-speaking guides at your chosen destinations as well as private transfers to get you from your hotel to these sites. For any train journeys or flights the guide or driver will assist you through boarding or check in and you will then be met at the other end by a new local guide or driver. If you would prefer to be accompanied throughout then this is possible but will greatly increase the cost of your holiday as you will be paying for another person's transport alongside your own and accommodation at the other end.
TRAVELLING AROUND CHINA - KNOWING YOUR OPTIONS
The vast distances in China often require domestic flights especially if you're looking to cover different areas of the country. Domestic flights in China are reasonably priced but will add to your budget, however, this is often the quickest means of travel. The train system in China is superb with cities all over the country linked by rail. Trains are a safe, comfortable and civilised way to travel around China with four classes of train - hard seat and soft seat, suitable for short distances, and hard sleeper and soft sleeper for longer, overnight journeys. We only use soft sleeper class (where available) for overnight train journeys as these are far superior with 4-berth compartments, a lockable door and bedding provided.
WHAT SORT OF PACE WOULD YOU LIKE TO TRAVEL AT?
This will depend on how long you have to spend in China and how many destinations you wish to include but if you prefer a slower pace then it's best to include fewer destinations and spend more time in each. This will also allow you to include a mix of touring and free time to explore at leisure. If you are happy with a fast pace seeing as much as possible then you can forgo some free time for touring and the obligatory check-in and check-out time that comes with moving between destinations.
ARE THERE ASPECTS OF CHINA THAT YOU ARE PARTICULARLY INTERESTED IN?
With such a long and colourful history influenced by a host of cultures and religions China offers a wealth of unique experiences. Nature lovers may want to include visits to wildlife reserves, keen hikers may want to include trekking in the mountainous regions while foodies may be interested in cooking classes and culture vultures looking to see Peking opera and theatre. If there's any aspect of Chinese culture that interests you, let us know so we can work it into your holiday.
MAKING THE MOST OF YOUR BUDGET
As most of China's population spend their holidays travelling around their home country, services in China are very much affected by public holidays so it's worth avoiding events such as Chinese New Year and National Week when prices sky rocket and availability plummets. Travelling outside of peak tourist seasons can make your budget go further so consider visiting in the shoulder seasons when the weather is still decent yet crowds not at their peak. The standard of accommodation will also greatly affect the cost of your holiday as will the number of domestic flights required. It's always a good idea to have a budget in mind when planning a tailor-made holiday so that we can deliver the best value for your money and make adjustments where best suited.
Inspirations for a holiday in China
Get off the beaten track and do something different in China. China is full of unique and wonderful things to do. Here are a selection of our favourites to feed your imagination!
Kung Fu Show - Beijing
In the centre of Beijing the Red Theatre puts on a daily show tipped ‘the most exciting kung fu show in the world’. Take your seats for a spellbinding spectacle that follows the story of a young boy through his life becoming a kung fu master!
Mutianyu Great Wall
Everyone goes to Badaling but few seek out parts of the wall further afield. Mutianyu just 70km from Beijing is a great easy and less crowded way of seeing the wall. Head up by cable car, explore great swathes of the wall pretty much to yourself and return by exciting toboggan. For more information on the various sections, have a read of our guide to visiting the Great Wall.
Cycling in Yangshuo
Get on your bike and cycle through quaint local towns, over ornate ancient bridges, past stunning karst hills and beautiful poppy and sunflower fields with the iconic karst hills all around as you travel from Yangshuo to Moon Hill. Finish off with a delicious local lunch of Chinese food at its best!
Mount Tai Shan
Take a journey to the holiest of the five Taoist mountains – Mount Taishan. Just outside Jinan in Shandong you can bravely take the 6000 step pilgrimage to the top to be rewarded with stunning views of the surrounding mountains – or you can take the slightly easier cable car which gets you there in minutes!
Hong Kong shopping
No trip abroad is complete without a bit of retail therapy and Hong Kong, China’s most westernised city is the perfect place to shop until you drop. Spend a few days here and explore massive retail malls, quirky market stalls and hawker bazaars.
Head to northern Sichuan and marvel at the spectacular Jiuzhaigou Nature Reserve. It s a great place to wander around, see the reflective lakes which frequently appear to change colour and take lots of pictures – it’s China’s nature at its best!
Suggested tailormade holiday itineraries for China
Such a vast and varied country like China has plenty to offer though for a first-time visit there's a few classic itineraries that tick off the major sites including Chengdu to see the pandas, the beautiful south for the stunning scenery of Guilin and Yangshuo, and a journey between Beijing and Shanghai for China's historic cities. Here's a selection of our favourite China itineraries but you can find plenty more inspiration by using our interactive map below.
In search of Shangri-La
To the west of China lies the Tibet Autonomous Region. Sitting majestically amongst the lofty Himalayas the ‘roof top of the world’ has been drawing in visitors for both its religious significance as well as its elemental beauty sitting on the highest plateau on the planet! The capital, Lhasa – the ‘traditional’ seat of the Dalai Lama is where most trips to Tibet will start and is the home to the magnificent Potala Palace. The north of Tibet offers vast areas of grassland and steppe, desert and mountain plateau as well as part of the famed Silk Road.