Places Visited: Zhangjiajie, Fenghuang, Hangzhou, Huangshan, Chengdu, Emeishan, Huanglong, Jiuzhaigou
Antique scroll paintings spring to life on this 17-day tour, which blends together the crème de la crème of the country’s most distinctive landscapes. In addition to the quintessentially Chinese limestone scenery of Zhangjiajie, with its mist-shrouded, pine-studded rock towers, you’ll see the turquoise travertine lakes of Jiuzhaigou and three separate sacred mountains, where dramatic escarpments and forests are embellished with pretty Taoist shrines and temples. The pandas and prehistoric wonders of Chengdu are the icing on the cake of this varied, outdoor-oriented itinerary. To get the most out of it, you’ll need to be in reasonable physical shape, and able to walk uphill for a couple of hours. Although cable cars and elevators have been installed on the holy peaks, the most rewarding (read ‘quietest’) trails up them stretch the lungs and legs!