China Deluxe

11 Day Tour

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This popular luxury holiday takes in some of the classic sights of China. You will see some of China’s world-famous sights such as the Great Wall and the Terracotta Warriors, you’ll also take in the beautiful scenery of the Lijiang area, before ending your holiday in vibrating Shanghai.

Highlights of this holiday:

Beijing - See The Great Wall, Temple of Heaven & The Forbidden City
Marvel at The Terracotta Warriors - each with a different face
Visit Jade Dragon Mountain
Experience the hustle and bustle of Shanghai, one of the world's most exciting cities


Upon arrival you will be met by your guide and transferred to the hotel.

According to your flight schedule you’ll be able to visit Temple of Heaven which is notable for its architectural simplicity and its symbolism reflecting early Buddhist and Taoist beliefs. Here, emperors would forge the link between the round sky and the square earth through sacrificial rituals based on the founding principles of this ancient civilization,


Most Chinese buildings face south, which according to ancient beliefs symbolized the barbarian threat and potential invasion from the north. This explains why the main entrance to the Forbidden City faces south towards Tiananmen Square, the third largest city square in the world.

The construction of the City was finished in 1420 during the reign of the Ming Dynasty Emperor Yongle, and served as the Imperial administrative centre throughout the Ming and Qing Dynasties until the fall of the Empire in 1911. According to legend the Forbidden City is made up of 9999 different rooms.

In order to simplify this huge site, it is often divided into three parts:

- The official palaces which were used for lavish ceremonies, imperial exams and governmental meetings.
- The Imperial lodgings and gardens where the Emperor, Empress and visiting ambassadors resided.
- The surrounding areas which house temples, libraries and further gardens.

Note: From 13 Jun 2015 the Forbidden City access to visitors will be limited to 80 thousand/day. Passport copy must be provided at least 11 days advance for personal registration (preferably 2 weeks in order to assure a successful booking); and it will not be possible later on to modify its date.
Visitors are required to bring their passport for security check upon their visit to the monument.

Lovingly restored for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the Forbidden City has regained the youthful and vivid colors of its former glory. Take your time during this visit to such an unforgettable destination, and make sure you spend some time in the more serene surrounding courtyards and rooms. Climbing the artificial coal hill just behind the Forbidden City provides a spectacular view of the entire site and lets you get a grasp of the layout of the whole of Beijing.

Visiting the Forbidden City can take several hours. The rest of your day will be dedicated to walks around Beihai Lake where young couples come for romantic boat trips and the more lively Houhai Lake which is encircled by Hutongs. Hutongs are the famous Beijing alleyways home to traditional courtyard style homes, many of which have now been converted into pedestrianised streets boasting charming little restaurants and bars.

Your walk will then lead you to the Drum Tower. Here you can attend a demonstration of how, during the Ming Dynasty, the passing of each hour was marked with a drum roll. From the top you can also admire the rooftops of the neighboring Hutongs and the Clock Tower just opposite.

Option: Enjoy on the evening the Kung Fu show in Red theater! The Red Theater is originally known as Chongwen Worker's Cultural Palace Theater. After the renovation, the stage facilities have been dramatically improved and now the theater specializes in traditional Chinese performances, such as "The Legend of Kung Fu".


Although, contrary to popular myth, the Great Wall cannot be seen from the moon, it is nonetheless one of the most famous symbols of China and should not be missed. You have to go back to the Qin Dynasty over 2000 years ago to find the first traces of defensive walls that were slowly unified and linked under the greater restoration project of the Ming Dynasty and created the Wall we know today.

The Wall stretches for over 6000km from ancient Manchuria to the fort at Jiayuguan at the edge of the Gobi desert in the west, one of the world’s most hostile environments to where criminals were banished in ancient China.

Running along high ridges, the Wall offered an excellent vantage point to the north allowing watch tower guards to raise the alarm on any potential threat from invading barbarian hordes. The wall was also high enough to slow the progress of expert Mongol Cavaliers who were forced to dismount in order to continue their attack.

Your trip will begin with an early morning departure from the hotel will mean that your photographs of the Wall will be graced with the spectacular morning light.

If you feel like the long walk up to the Wall is too much, you can take the cable car and coming back down children can enjoy the toboggan ride (optional) to the bottom.
Depending on time, you will also be able to have a picnic on the Great Wall whilst admiring the stunning, rugged scenery all around.

Once back in Beijing, you will visit the Summer Palace. At one time a simple imperial garden, the site was totally redesigned by Emperor Qianlong in the 18th Century becoming one of the capital’s major sites. The Imperial Court used to relocate to the Summer Palace during the summer months to escape the stifling heat of the Forbidden City. A mix of temples pavilions, lakes, pagodas and gardens make up this harmonious representation of Chinese culture and architecture. The Long Corridor, the Marble Boat, Seventeen-Arch Bridge, Kunming Lake and Longevity Hill are the key landscape features of the Summer Palace gardens.

After your visit to the Summer Palace, you will be taken back to your hotel.


Head to the heart of the capital’s art scene: the 798 art district, situated in Dashanzi in the north east of the city, just outside the 4th ring road. 798 is made up of a number of abandoned factories which were renovated in the 90s by Chinese artists in a style similar to that seen in Berlin. ‘798’ as it is known locally, has become the mouthpiece for Beijing’s most popular contemporary artists and is probably the most vibrant art district in the whole of Asia. The famous Ai Weiwei had his first exhibitions at 798 and a number of other artists have followed in his footsteps. At the time of its opening 798 was noticeably influenced by the Maoist era whilst these days the collection has become much more eclectic. ‘Dashanzi’ as it is known, is becoming ever more popular. Cafés, restaurants and specialist boutiques selling clothes by exciting young designers, homeware pieces and pottery have grown in number over the past few years. You can spend hours wandering through the narrow alleyways browsing the shops stopping to relax and enjoy a coffee at any one of the cafés or bars…

We recommend that you check the upcoming exhibitions on their website ( so as to make the most of your time at 798.

You will be transferred to the airport (not far away from the Art District) and take flight to Xian.

When you arrive in Xian, your local guide will welcome you and provide transportation to the hotel.

DAY 5 - XI'AN (B)

Visit of the Terra Cotta Warriors!

In 1974, a few farmers stumbled upon the Warriors by accident. Now, we can only wonder what those original farmers felt when they first laid eyes on the thousands of soldiers lined up in battle formation. They had just discovered one of the greatest archeological finds in history!

Incidentally, we now have this wonder to view because of Qin Shi Huangdi’s fear of malevolent spirits. Qin Shi Huangdi built a mausoleum to have his immense army of infantrymen, archers, and cavalry riders to protect him in the Afterlife. Each one of the Terra Cotta Warriors has a different face from a soldier during the Emperor’s life. Historians theorize that the Emperor may have wanted to rule the world from the Afterlife.

The statues you can view are separated in three pits. You will begin with the pits number 2 (that is still being excavated) and number 3 (that shelters the majority of items). You will end with pit number 1, the most impressive one with about 2000 warriors.

Otherwise there is a small museum on site that houses two splendid bronze chariots found in 1980 west of the mausoleum. You can now see them on display along with other artifacts.

Afterwards, you will take a bike tour (or for an additional charge a cart tour) for about one hour to discover and glide through Xi’an without traffic jams and crowds. You can even test out a tandem bike for something with a little more jazz. During your tour, you will see the impressive Xi’an ramparts built during the Ming Dynasty. Today, they stand restored and reconstructed and are a part of the fortifications still visible in China.

On a different note, Xi’an is also a city of many cultures. During the day of the Silk Road, Muslim merchants from Central Asia came to China to do business and left their influence in Xi’an. Several Muslim minorities (totaling 15 million inhabitants) now live in China. The Hui minority is predominant in Xi’an. You will visit the Chinese-style Mosque and the vibrant neighborhood around it housing a number of butcher shops and different sorts of stores where men wear white skull caps and women wear colorful headscarves. At dinner, you will appreciate the unique ambiance of a night market as you dine on the neighborhood’s specialties of spiced lamb kebabs, flat bread and mutton soup with noodles.

Optional: At dinner, you will appreciate the amazing tastes and flavor of Xi’an Evening Food Tour. Our Tuk Tuk driver will pick you up, enjoy unlimited beer and soda while you and your guide whisked around Xi’an in a private tuk tuk. You will visit several authentic tasting location where you can’t fond on your own. We will introduce some special story about the food you tried. We’ll finish at a local Brewery located conveniently for you to leave whenever you’re ready go.


Transfer to airport for flight to Lijiang.

Your guide and driver will welcome you at airport and transfer you to the hotel.

This magnificent labyrinth of traditional redwood and brick houses topped with grey slate roofs, canals, stone bridges and cobbled streets in 1999 was classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Small interior courtyards are furnished with flowers and bushes to which the locals tend and that give this town its beautiful, and special, aroma. It’s a real paradise at the heart of Naxi culture. Originally coming from Tibet over 2000 years ago, the Naxi first lived as nomads in Sichuan before settling in Yunnan. There are around 300,000 Naxi People living in China, found mostly in Yunnan and Sichuan. They are most notable for their expertise in canal building which assures each home has running water, Lijiang being a perfect example, their literature, religion, and by their social organization which is both “matrilocal” (whereby couples move in with the wife’s family) and “matrilineal” (where succession favors females over males).
The Dongba script is the keystone of the Naxi culture, supposed to be the only pictographic writing still in use in the world, and whose shamans (we are now on the fingers of the hand) are the guarantors. The Canon Dongba is a veritable encyclopedia of over 1000 volumes that describe the Naxi mythology and deal with cosmology and astronomical treaties.
In Naxi culture, there is no marriage as sexual liberty takes precedence over formalized unions. Children, who do not know their fathers, are raised by their mothers, aunts and maternal uncles. Additionally the Naxi are split into 2 groups, including the Na (eastern branch) who live near the Lugu Lake and whose society still operates based around matriarchal clans.

In the afternoon, you will visit the Mu Palace which is named after the Chinese Empire warlords who ruled from this magnificent residence in this region during the Mongol Dynasty (13th century). The palace is a vivid example of Ming and Qing architecture, based on the same style of architecture as the Forbidden City in Beijing.

DAY 7 - LIJIANG (2500m high) (B)

In the morning, the visit to the palace we will head to the edge of the old town where you will be able to enjoy the local market and get a feel for the ‘real’ Lijiang, where you will see locals still dressed in traditional clothing selling teas, vegetables, fruits and even daily tools in a very vibrant and animated atmosphere.

From here we will walk to the Black Dragon Pond Park in the north of the town which offers, on a clear day, a panoramic view of the famous Jade Dragon Mountain which you will visit the next day.

We will then head back to the vibrant heart of the old town.

You will be free to enjoy the afternoon and evening yourselves, wandering around the town as the night falls and red lanterns are placed outside people’s homes.


The trip up Jade Dragon Mountain, which stands majestically to the north of the city, will be the ‘mountainous’ stage of our stay in Lijiang. The mountain, also called Satseto in the Naxi language, takes its name from the God of War in the Dongba religion. The number of visitors to the site is rather high and so we will instead visit an area less well-known, but quieter and more rural, called the Yak Prairie. The view from here over here over the glacier is as equally as stunning as from the more popular destinations.

Transfer back to hotel.


Transfer to airport for flight to Shanghai.
From Lijiang to Shanghai, based on flight 08:35-11:50

Take an adventurous ride through Shanghai to see a side of city that few get to discover.

Meet with the day’s host, a foreign expat who has spent at least three years in the city. Board a vintage side car that will be led by a Chang Jiang 750 motorbike. This is truly a unique perspective from which to experience vibrant Shanghai.

Get away from the main streets and into the heart of the city. Zip along intriguing alleyways and into hidden residential neighbourhoods. The low, open-air sidecar provides a sensory experience like none other- smell food cooking or the sweet scent of a flower stall, hear the chirping of birds kept as pets in local houses and see the streets from a closer perspective. A few stops will be made on the way so that the host can share his or her favourite secrets tucked amid the shining buildings of modern Shanghai.

The entire tour takes around two hours, a mix of driving and walks. Afterwards, say goodbye to the host and walk away with a better appreciation of the big city.

Era show in the evening


See a different side of Shanghai today. Travel on public transportation to the Xintiandi district. Meet at a café for a Vintage bike fitting and safety briefing and then start pedaling the streets of Shanghai.

Ride along the shady lanes of the French Concession, stopping to admire the architecture. Learn about the international influences that have shaped Shanghai’s history and impacted its culture.

Continue onwards to Fuxing Park and learn how the Chinese people use public spaces to escape the bustle of modern life. See people gathered for activities such as Tai Chi and Qi Gong and learn why physical exercise is viewed as an important cornerstone of daily life. There may be a chance to try water calligraphy art, a deep-rooted Chinese tradition.

Cycle to a street of food stalls for a snack break- choose from an array of sweet or savoury treats. Learn about the eating habits of the Shanghai people and the cultural nuances of traditional table manners. Then bike onwards to a local wet market, a kaleidoscope of colours, sounds and smells. Witness shoppers bargaining for the day's freshest items and the best prices!

Take a closer look at local life with a ride through Shanghai’s lilong. The lilong are a labyrinth-like mix of extremely narrow streets that link residential neighborhoods. Riding through them gives an up-close, intimate view of the people’s houses and daily activities.

The last visits of the morning focus on Shanghai’s spiritual side. Stop at a Taoist temple tucked away in a quiet local neighborhood. Learn about the life of Taoist monks and the ancient belief system of the religion.

Having worked up an appetite with all of the cycling, it is time for lunch! Delve into yet another unique aspect of Shanghai life with a meal at a Buddhist Canteen. In keeping with religious beliefs, all of the dishes will be vegetarian but many ‘faux meats’ are meant to look – and taste- like real meats.

The morning’s biking adventure comes to an end after lunch.

Head onwards to Shanghai’s old town. Though mostly restored today, visitors can explore the remaining lilongs (equivalent to Beijing’s hutongs), where local Shanghai life goes on as normal. The old town also houses the Yu Garden, a great place to get acquainted with the Chinese art of gardenscaping. An extremely popular visit on the weekends, it’s best to explore the grounds just before closing hours. Meet up with a gardener to learn all about the art of the penjing or Bonsai plants; an artform that originated in China!


Time at leisure until your guide meets you for your transfer to Pudong Airport for your onward flight. (B)


Notes on our prices

Prices are generally for private arrangements based on two people travelling together and sharing a room. There are a number of factors which will influence the price; these include the standard of accommodation, the season, and the level of private guiding versus shared excursions.

Holiday Prices Include: Accommodation at 5* deluxe hotels with daily breakfast - The Opposite House Beijing, Sofitel Legend Xi'an, LUX Lijiang & Andaz Xintiandi Shanghai, Meals as indicated in the itinerary, Tours and transfers by air-conditioned vehicle on a private basis including all admission fees, English speaking guide service.

No flights have been included.

Value for money
We believe that value for money is important, we want you to travel with ICAN Holidays again. When comparing prices, ensure you are comparing like for like as often there may be a cheaper option, but there may be hidden extras or the quality may not be as good.

China Deluxe 11 Days
Visit Beijing, Xi'an, Lijiang, Shanghai. (Code: EXO)