Tailor-made Tour 12 days from £2935 per person
Places Visited: Shanghai, Zhujiajiao, Suzhou, Hangzhou, Nanjing
If you’ve been seduced by the aesthetics of medieval China showcased in Ang Lee’s movie, ‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon’, you’ll love this leisurely tour of the most traditional, picturesque towns and cities on the country’s eastern flank. It starts with the postcard-pretty ‘water towns’ near Shanghai, then visits Hangzhou, with its shimmering West Lake, and finally Nanjing, whose imperial past is represented by a magnificent, 14th century tomb complex, sited on a wooded hilltop on the city’s eastern edge. The tour concludes back in Shanghai, where you can savour the astounding riverbank views and enjoy a spot of shopping before catching your flight home. A wide range of accommodation choices are on offer at every stage of this trip, one of the few in our portfolio which may be conducted entirely overland, without recourse to internal flights.
Fly from the UK to Shanghai. Non-stop flights take around 11hrs, indirect ones longer, depending on the route and carrier.
On arrival in Shanghai you’ll be met by your TransIndus guide and escorted to your hotel. Spend the remainder of the day resting after your flight, perhaps venturing out later for a quick taste of the city before nightfall.
For a first outing, we recommend a stroll along the Bund – the iconic walkway lining the Huangpo River. The best place in the city to get your bearings, this breezy promenade backed by stately old Neo-Classical and Art Deco buildings faces the dramatic skyline of Pudong across the water – a mesmerizing spectacle around sunset when the twinkling lights of its innumerable skyscrapers are reflected in the water.
Enjoy a full day’s sightseeing today in the company of your guide, culminating with a river cruise at sunset time.
If you didn’t make it to the Bund on the previous day, head there first thing in the morning, while the promenade is dotted with people practising Tai Chi, before spending a couple of hours in the Shanghai Museum, whose collection of ancient treasures ranks among the finest in China. Next, visit the enchanting Yuyuan Garden in Shanghai’s Old Town, famed for its pagoda-roofed pavilions, koi carp ponds, luohan pines and rockeries. Then tour the adjacent market, and, time permitting, the Jiangnan Silk Workshop to see modern Chinese sericulture in action. Round the day’s sightseeing off with a short river cruise for views of Pudong lighting up after sunset.
After breakfast you’ll be driven to the water town of Zhujiajiao, on the western outskirts of Shanghai, then on to Suzhou, where you’ll be spending two nights.
Packed around a network of winding canals, Zhujiajiao is a traditional ‘water town’ on the Dianpu River. Its exceptionally well-preserved array of late-medieval shophouses, temples and ceremonial halls are all delightfully free of signboards and motorized traffic, attracting a steady flow of admirers from the nearby metropolis. Be sure to take a boat ride on the river to see the 16th century Fangsheng Bridge, Zhujiajiao’s five-span centrepiece. In the afternoon you’ll travel on to nearby Suzhou, another pretty ‘water town’, where you’ll spend two nights in a heritage hotel.
Spend the fifth day of your trip enjoying the sights of Suzhou – one of China’s most attractive and historic towns.
Your guide who will show you around Suzhou’s highlights, including the Humble Administrator’s Garden (regarded as one of the finest Classical Ming gardens in the country) and the Pan Gate, featuring both land and water entrances. The town owed its former prosperity to its position on the Grand Canal, an engineering achievement regarded by many on a par with that of the Great Wall, which you can explore on a boat trip should you wish.
Polish off the remainder of Suzhou’s markets, silk shops and gardens before heading to the railway station in time for the short but scenic journey to the city of Hangzhou, where you’ll be spending two nights.
You’ll arrive in Hangzhou in time for a sunset stroll along West Lake, whose serene, willow-lined shores are dotted with pagoda-roofed pavilions, tombs and temples.
Explore more of the monuments dotted around the lake with your guide in the morning. Then ascend the wooded slopes of Feilai Feng mountain to see the Temple of the Soul’s Retreat, before visiting a tea plantation at Longjing.
Feilai Feng mountain, just beyond West Lake, is famous for the hundreds of laughing Buddhas and other statues carved between the 10th and 14th centuries from the limestone boulders lining the trails around the enormous Temple of the Soul’s Retreat. Founded in the 4th century, the shrine is still of great religious significance for Chinese Buddhists and a fascinating place to observe traditional pilgrimage and worship. Longjing Tea, grown, hand-picked and processed in artisanal quantities on the slopes south of the temple, is regarded as the finest in China. You’ll visit a small museum outlining the history of Chinese tea, and can watch pluckers at work in the fields.
After breakfast you’ll be accompanied by your guide to the railway station for the short train journey to Nanjing, where you’ll spend the afternoon visiting the city’s famous Confucius temple and walking around Bailuzhou Park to see its traditional Chinese houses.
One of the most attractive of China’s megacities, Nanjing (formerly known as ‘Nanking’), on the Yangtze River, boasts a history stretching back two-and-a-half thousand years, though its most impressive monuments date from the era of the Ming Dynasty. The best place to start your sightseeing is the extensively restored Temple of Confucius, which stands beside the Qin Hai River in a district filled with impressive historic buildings, including the Jiangnan Gongyuan, where students used to sit exams to become administrators in the Ming era. Your guide will show you the way across the canal in front of the temple to a neighbourhood retaining a fine crop of 17th century houses.
A full-day’s sightseeing of this fascinating city awaits on the ninth day of your tour. Begin with a visit to the great Ming-era ramparts, and then proceed to the Tianchao Palace, Xu Yuan classical garden and, finally, Nanjing Massacre museum.
Winding for 20 miles around the capital, the 14th century ramparts surrounding Nanjing were the most extensive in the world at the time of their construction, and remain an extraordinary sight. Your guide will show you the magnificent Zhonghua and Xuanwu Gates, and lead you on a short walk around a restored section of the walls. The Tianchao (or ‘Presidential’) Palace and gardens date from a similar period. Nanjing’s busiest visitor attraction, however, is the Massacre Memorial Museum, which catalogues the atrocities that followed the fall of the city to the Japanese in 1937, when an estimated 300,000 people were murdered.
Top of your hit list for the morning is the magnificent mausoleum of Zhu Yuangzhang, founder of the Ming Dynasty, which rests on Zijin Shan (literally ‘Purple Gold’) Mountain, to the east of the city centre. In the afternoon, head across the river to Yanghzou for a taste of Old China.
The tomb is approached via a paved pathway flanked by polished marble statues of animals and attendants dating from the 14th century. The views over the city from the hilltop are wonderful.
An off-track alternative for the afternoon would be a trip across the river to the neighbouring city of Yangzhou, where Marco Polo lived for three years in the 1280s. Noteworthy sights here include traditional storytelling houses, a couple of fine museums, and the hilltop Puhaddin tomb and mosque, overlooking the old Grand Canal.
After breakfast, you’ll be escorted by your guide to the railway station for the journey back to Shanghai. The afternoon is free for you to do a spot of last-minute souvenir shopping on Nanjing Road – China’s equivalent of Oxford Street.
You’ll also have enough time today, should you wish to bid farewell to the city in high style, to ascend the 101-storey World Financial Centre building for a fabulous view over the downtown area. For supper, seek out one of Shanghai’s acclaimed Cantonese restaurants to dine on cult local dishes such as dim sum, shrimp dumplings or crispy pork belly.
Transfer to the airport for your return flight to the UK.
Tailor-made Tour 12 days from £2935 per person
✓ International flights from UK in economy
✓ 10 nights accommodation
✓ Train journeys in first class
✓ All road travel and transfers with private chauffeur-driven vehicles
✓ Private English-speaking guides
✓ Breakfast daily
✓ Entrance fees to sites and monuments listed in tour itinerary
Places and Experiences in this tour
At the mouth of the Yangtze River, Shanghai became the hub of European imperial ambitions in mainland China after the Opium Wars, and today is the powerhouse of a dramatic economi...
A precious remnant of old China survives on the western fringes of Shanghai at Zhujiajiao – a traditional water town on the Dianpu River. Packed around a network of winding canals...
Only a 40-minute ride away from Shanghai on the bullet train, Suzhou is an ancient city whose antique core has fared better than many during the recent ferro-concrete revolution. ...
Another ancient city within easy range of Shanghai, and which beguiles for its bucolic scenery and atmospheric architecture, is Hangzhou. Strategically situated on the Grand Canal...
One of the ‘Four Great Ancient Capitals of China’ and amongst its most attractive megacities, Nanjing (formerly known as ‘Nanking’), on the Yangtze River, boasts a history stretch...
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