Take in the highlights of Japan and China on this 15 day tour from Tokyo to Beijing. See the impressive Nijo Castle and the Geisha district of Kyoto, stroll through the bamboo forest in Kamakura, climb the Great Wall, encounter Emperor Qin's incredible Terracotta Warriors in Xi'an, sample Japanese and Chinese cuisine and much more.
Toyko Sightseeing - Sensoji Temple district, Harajuki & Shibuya
Taking the subway to Asakusa, today we explore the capital. Our first stop is the lively Sensoji Temple district, home to Tokyo’s first temple and scores of craft stalls and interesting souvenirs. After lunch, we head to Harajuku, a magnet for the young and fashionable Tokyoites with its hip shops and cafes. Whilst here we will explore the impressive Meiji Shrine where the emperor Meiji and his wife are enshrined. We then head to Yoyogi Park where we can see bands playing, drum circles, dancers and busking – this is a popular hangout for locals especially on Sundays.
Our final stop for today is one of the busiest intersections in the world, Shibuya crossing. The famed junction has no less than 7 pedestrian crossings and when the traffic lights turn red a wave of pedestrians, up to a 1000, converge onto the intersection from every direction. Known as 'the scramble', it's a well-practised art to duck and weave with sportsman like agility to avoid collision, which we'll watch from the second floor of Starbucks. Total walking distance today: Approx 8 - 10km. Tonight, is at leisure, though if travelling in January, May and September you might like spend the evening watching a Sumo tournament (bookings must be made in advance) Please see our trip notes for more info.
Tokyo - Kamakura - Tokyo. After breakfast, we board a train for our hours journey to Kamakura, Japan’s first feudal capital and a popular seaside location, with a quaint village life feel and some stunning Zen temples. Here we’ll visit the iconic bronze Big Buddha and the Zen Temple of Hokokuji with its beautiful bamboo garden. Here you can drink tea and learn about the tea ceremony before walking the cobbled shopping district - adorned with lovely locally made items and returning to Japan’s bustling capital for the night.
Tokyo Edo Museum - today we enjoy a guided tour of this museum that houses some of the city’s best original artefacts and replicas of Edo-era buildings and landmarks, along with several large-scale models. Focusing on the lifestyle and culture experienced by Tokyoites over the city’s 400-year history. The rest of today is free for you to further explore independently.
Tokyo - Lake Kawaguchi. This morning we travel by highway bus (with luggage forwarding) to Lake Kawaguchi, located at the foot of Mt Fuji in the Fuji Hakone Izu National Park. The scenery is stunning with panoramic views of a snow-capped Fuji most of the year. Upon arrival, we’ll travel along the Kachikachi-yama Ropeway and visit the observatory. For tours staying at Lake Kawaguchi between 15 Apr – 28 May each year we'll visit the Springtime Fuji Shibazakura (Phlox Moss) Festival, held at Motosu Lake, where the landscape is covered in a vibrant, hot pink moss with Fuji as the backdrop.
No trip to Japan would be complete without sampling authentic Japanese hospitality at a traditional ryokan (a Japanese inn), which is where we’ll bed down tonight. At the ryokan, sample tasty local cuisine and take a relaxing dip in the natural hot spring baths.
Note: As of June 2019 the Hakone Ropeway has been temporarily suspended – please see the Trip Notes for further details.
Overnight: Lake Kawaguchi | Dinner
Lake Kawaguchi – Kyoto. This morning offers the opportunity to hike along the foreshores of the beautiful lake, before traveling by bus to Mishima, on wards to Japan’s ancient and cultural capital, by bullet train to Kyoto.
Kyoto is home to an abundance of UNESCO World Heritage sites, Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines and one of the most culturally rich cities in Asia. Here we enjoy a guided tour of the famous statues of Kannon, the goddess of mercy at Sanjusagen-do Temple, where one thousand life-size statues of Kannon are made of Japanese cypress clad in gold leaf. Standing in 10 rows of 50, each hand crafted and slightly different from the next. Our next stop is Gion, for a walking tour of this famous Geisha district. After you may wish to watch a cultural performance at Gion Corner Theatre where you'll have the opportunity to watch a Maiko (apprentice Geisha) performing.
Overnight: Kyoto | Breakfast
Kyoto - Nijo Castle, Golden Pavilion & free time
Morning visit to the famous Nijo Castle, one of the city’s most impressive UNESCO sites. Built by the first Tokugawa shogun in 1603, the exquisite Nijo Castle is a wonderful example of Momoyama architecture. Next, we visit one Japan's most visited temples, the stunning Zen Buddhist temple of Kinkakuji (Golden Pavilion) which is part of the Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto World Heritage Site. Set upon a small lake with landscaped gardens the large completely gilt structure is impressive as it is beautiful Temple and the top two floors of the monument are completely covered in gold leaf.
This afternoon offers free time for you to relax or to further discover the many sights of Kyoto independently. You might wish to hire a Kimono and walk the streets as many Japanese do or take part in a cooking lesson. Or opt to visit Fushimi Inari Shrine, famous for its winding path which is lined by thousands of bright red torii gates, just a short train ride away from the main Kyoto station, this must-see sight is free to visit and is open 24 hours a day.
Overnight: Kyoto | Breakfast
Saturday. Take the train (unescorted) from Kyoto Station to Osaka Airport for your flight to Shanghai (flight not included). Arrive Shanghai Airport and included transfer to hotel. The rest of the day is free for you to relax or head out and explore the city.
Please note: The flight from Osaka - Shanghai is not included in the cost of this tour. China Eastern Airlines, Shanghai Airlines, Air China, Japan Airlines all fly direct. If you provide us with your flight details, we will be there to meet you at Shanghai airport and transfer you to your hotel.
Overnight: Shanghai | Breakfast
Today we embark on a guided tour of Shanghai, taking in sites including the lofty Plaza Tower, tranquil Yu Garden, the Old City and the bustling Bund. Shanghai is a city with a turbulent history and a promising future offering the best of the old and the new, with grand colonial architecture engulfed by gleaming skyscrapers. This evening we enjoy a cruise on Huangpu River and dinner at a local restaurant.
Please note: If you are travelling between 19 Sep and 31 Oct 2019, the Yu Gardens will be closed for improvements. During these dates, we will visit the Jade Buddha Temple and bazaar outside of the Yu Gardens instead.
Overnight: Shanghai | Breakfast, Dinner
Shanghai - Suzhou - Xi'an. Ancient Suzhou is reminiscent of Venice, with its series of canals, picturesque waterways and classical gardens. We enjoy a cruise on the Grand Canal, a tour the Lingering Garden - a beautiful classical Chinese garden dating back from the Ming Dynasty and visit a silk workshop. Later we return to Shanghai for our overnight train to Xi’an.
Overnight: Sleeper Train | Breakfast, Lunch
Arrival Xi'an and transfer to our hotel for breakfast, check in with time to freshen up before heading out to explore Xian. We start with one of Xian’s most iconic landmarks, the iconic Big Wild Goose Pagoda, followed by the vibrant Muslim Quarter.
Later we enjoy a leisurely bike ride along the Xi’an City Wall. Dating back to 1370 the 12m-high walls are some of the few remaining urban fortifications still standing in China today. Tonight, we offer an optional Tang Dynasty add-on, which includes dinner and a traditional performance.
Overnight: Xi'an | Breakfast, Lunch
Xi'an - Beijing. Emperor Qin’s 2,200 year old famous life-sized Terracotta Warriors and horses were designed to offer protection to the emperor in the afterlife. This morning we explore the archaeological site, where 7,000 clay warriors stand in military formation in excavated pits under the cover of a modern protective hanger and no two faces are alike.
Later we visit the clay workshop, specialising in making replica figurines of the Terracotta Warriors. After dinner, we board the overnight express train bound for Beijing.
Overnight: Sleeper Train | Breakfast, Lunch
Morning arrival into Beijing. Today’s highlights include Tiananmen Square and the sprawling Forbidden City, boasting some 9999 rooms, the city within a city was once the sole preserve of the Chinese emperors. This afternoon we take a rickshaw ride through the Hutongs before watching a Chinese Acrobatic performance this evening.
Overnight: Beijing | Breakfast
The famous Great Wall! The now partially ruinous Great Wall stretches 6000 kilometres across barren hills, deserts and mountains, from east to west in northern China and was constructed over a period of 2000 years. The wall is steep in sections but the photo opportunities are well worth the effort.
After lunch we visit a jade carving factory before heading to the bustling Pearl Market where you'll find anything from jewellery and clothing to gadgets and DVDs.
Overnight: Beijing | Breakfast, Lunch
Saturday. Our Chinese adventure comes to an end today. Hotel check out and transfer to the airport for your onward flight.
Prices & Dates
Departure dates noted with a 'G' are guaranteed to operate. All other departure dates are guaranteed with a minimum of 2 persons.Read More
The hotels listed below are ones which we frequently use on this tour. We reserve the right to substitute these hotels to ones of a similar standard.
Yaesu Terminal Hotel, Tokyo
Enjoying an enviable location on a cherry-blossom lined street in the centre of Tokyo, Yaesu Terminal Hotel is just a short jaunt away from the city’s main railroad station giving travellers easy access to locations across the city. A comfortable 3-star hotel with a natural theme, a permanent art exhibit in the hotel lobby and an in-house restaurant serving freshly prepared local cuisine; it is a soothing place to relax after a busy day of sightseeing. Hotel guests can make use of the free Wi-Fi, benefit from complimentary bathrobes and slippers and enjoy entertainment on a flat-screen TV.
Yamagishi Ryokan, Lake Kawaguchi
With stunning views over Lake Kawaguchi, which is located just one minute away, the Yamagishi Ryokan is a gorgeous accommodation and an excellent base for exploring the area around the lake. Rooms are designed according to traditional Japanese styles with low furniture and lots of natural light. Breakfast and dinner are both included with the room and are served in the hotel's dining room. After dinner, guests can take a dip in one of the hotel's baths or relax with a coffee in the lounge. The hotel is located just an 8 minute walk from Kawaguchiko Station.
Dormy Inn Premium Kyoto, Kyoto
Located just a short walk from Kyoto Station and the lofty Kyoto Tower, you really cannot get more central than this! Combining convenience with comfort, this contemporary hotel boasts modern guest rooms with flat screen televisions, complimentary WiFi, refrigerators and a private toilet – though washing facilities are shared. Buffet breakfast is available, with a choice of local and western dishes on offer. The hotel is surrounded by a wide choice of shops and restaurants, adn there are plenty of cultural landmarks just a short stroll away. After a day of sightseeing guests can relax with a soak in the hotel’s natural hot spring baths or opt for a sauna and massage.
Ramada Encore Shanghai Hotel , Shanghai
Ideally located close to several plazas and shopping centres, this modern hotel offers you a comfortable stay in one of China’s fastest growing cities. Guestrooms are equipped with all the essential amenities, with free WiFi and access to the breakfast buffet included. The onsite Dakang Restaurant also serves lunch and dinner, and you can expect a tasty menu featuring both Western and Chinese cuisine. Other amenities include a fitness centre, coffee shop and small convenience store.
Wan Nian Grand Hotel, Xi'an
The Wan Nian Grand is a comfortable, friendly hotel with light and spacious guest rooms. Elegantly decorated, the rooms also boast modern amenities and the hotel has a wealth of facilities including an indoor pool and sauna house, a cafe and bar, and well-equipped business centre. The hotel is located 4 kilometres from the railway station and 30 kilometres from the airport.
Holiday Inn Temple of Heaven, Beijing
The Beijing Holiday Inn Temple of Heaven is an elegant and comfortable hotel with well-furnished and spacious rooms. Practical in design, the guestrooms feature internet access and the hotel also boasts a range of restaurants and bars, as well as an indoor swimming pool. Located just a 10 minute walk from the Temple of Heaven, the hotel is the perfect base from which to explore this fascinating city.
Holiday Inn Express Beijing Minzuyuan, Beijing
Located just a stones throw from the Beitucheng Subway station, with access to Line 10 & Line 8, the Holiday Inn Express Beijing Minzuyuan is a perfect base to explore the many amazing highlights of Beijing. Within walking distance of the hotel you'll find the famous Birds Nest Olympic Stadium. The hotel boasts a stylish restaurant offering breakfast, lunch and dinner.