Imperial China & Yangtze River Cruise

19 days
$3,335 USD
Traveller ratings
4.6 / 5 from 58 reviews >
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Trip code: 
Ways to Travel:
Guided Group, Tailormade Adventures
Culture & Discovery Holidays
Min age:
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A comprehensive China itinerary covering the country's length and breadth

The Great Wall, the Forbidden City, Terracotta Warriors and Giant Pandas - China's iconic sights need little introduction and we visit them all on this comprehensive and varied journey. Equally inspiring are China's great scenic attractions including the breathtaking Three Gorges on the Yangtze River and the serene limestone mountains around Yangshuo. China remains one of the world's 'must-see' destinations; from ultra-modern Shanghai to the wizened faces of ancient Chinese villagers, this trip reveals a country as fascinating and beguiling as ever.


  • See the Terracotta Warriors in Xi'an
  • Visit a quieter section of the Great Wall
  • Cruise down the Yangtze River
  • Discover ancient and modern China

Key information

  • Travel by train/overnight train, private minibus, public bus, cruise boat and 1 internal flight
  • Group normally 5 to 16, plus leader. Min age 16 yrs
  • 12 nights comfortable hotels, 3 nights comfortable 4-star cruise boat with outward facing twin berth air-conditioned cabins, all en suite, and 3 nights 1st class sleeper train, soft-bed berths
  • Fast paced itinerary

What's included

  • 18 breakfasts, 9 lunches, 3 dinners
  • All accomodation (see below)
  • All transport and listed activities
  • Tour leader throughout
  • Flights from London (if booking incl. flights)
  • Arrival and departure transfers

What's not included

  • Travel insurance
  • Single accommodation (available on request) (excludes sleeper train)
  • Vaccinations
  • Chinese Visa - GBP201 with Travcour or GBP151 plus GBP18 special delivery direct with Embassy
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Great Wall at Sunset, Sunset

Responsible Travel

At Exodus we believe in the power of Responsible Travel.

Every time we travel, we are part of a global movement that creates jobs, builds more sustainable societies, encourages cultural understanding and safeguards common natural and cultural heritage. To learn more about what Responsible Travel means to Exodus click here… 


  • Day 1

    Arrive Beijing

    After a transfer to our hotel in the centre of Beijing, a welcome briefing will be held in the evening, to give us an opportunity to meet our leader and the rest of our group. During dinner we will have the chance to try some authentic Chinese cuisine, which is quite different to the British take on Chinese food! During most meals a variety of dishes will be served for the group to share (frequently utilising the ingenious 'Lazy Susan' rotating table-piece) and our leader will help us select dishes depending on the groups' tastes.

    Dong Feng Hotel or similar

  • Day 2

    Sightseeing in Beijing

    The sightseeing in Beijing today will include the Forbidden City with its innumerable courtyards and temples as well as Tiananmen square, the largest square in the world and able to hold over a million people. We will take a walking tour of the cities hutongs (narrow alleys) to see what is left of old Beijing and its traditions. This afternoon is free to explore.

    Dong Feng Hotel or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 3

    Full day at the Great Wall

    We leave the capital and head into the countryside to the Great Wall, an approx 2 hour journey to the north of the city. We go to one of the best-preserved parts of the Great Wall at Mutianyu which is an impressive sight, snaking across mountains and valleys into the distance. This section of the Great Wall used to serve as the northern barrier defending the capital and the imperial tombs. The wall here is up to 8.5 metres high and 5 metres wide, and has 22 watchtowers on its 2,250-metre-long stretch. There are some steep steps to navigate and clients who suffer from vertigo may find it difficult, (there is an optional cable car). Lunch will be taken at a local restaurant on the way back to Beijing; we should expect some traditional northern Chinese cuisine involving vegetables (aubergine, lotus roots, mushrooms etc.), tofu, chicken and pork - and much more! 

    There is the option of seeing an acrobatic or Kung Fu show or a trip to the opera this evening in Beijing.

    Dong Feng Hotel or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 4

    Beijing; overnight train to Xi'an

    This morning we visit the Temple of Heaven followed by the Summer Palace where you can witness first hand how vast the exclusive playground of China's emperors and their concubines once was.

    In the evening we board an overnight train (approx. 12 hours) to the ancient city of Xi'an. It is recommended to purchase food before the train as there is a limited selection on board. The train itself is of a good standard, although please note that facilities such as washrooms and toilets are shared with other passengers and the cleanliness can never be guaranteed. Sleepers are four berth (bunks) and bedding is provided.

    Overnight train

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 5

    Morning walking tour of the Muslim area and mosque; free afternoon or optional cycle ride

    Xi'an is one of China's former capitals and one of the few cities in China to have retained its city walls, probably because they are so massive that no revolutionary was willing to tackle the huge task of removing them. Today, after an opportunity to try some local Chinese breakfast, we will visit the city and the Bell and Drum Plaza at its heart, along with the Great Mosque. The Muslim quarter is a fascinating place to visit, especially in the evening as it comes alive with the bustle of the bazaars and food stalls. This afternoon is free; it is possible to appreciate the sheer scale of the city walls; you can hire bikes and cycle along them.

    Skytel Hotel or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 6

    Visit the Terracotta Warriors; overnight train to Chengdu

    Today we visit the famous Terracotta Warriors of Emperor Qin. Originally four armies were planned, at each point of the compass, life-size and lifelike. Three have been found and it is assumed the Emperor's successors decided enough was enough before the fourth was begun. The first pit excavated had an estimated 6,000 figures in its one army. The third pit has been opened to the public, which contains the 'command post' for the entire operation. This is one of China's great tourist attractions, and some people may find the sheer numbers of visitors rather overpowering.

    After our visit we will take our lunch at a local farmer's restaurant nearby with the opportunity to taste some fresh seasonal produce, home-made noodles and bread. 

    In the evening we will leave Xi'an and board an overnight train to Chengdu (approx. 13 hours)

    Overnight Train

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 7

    Morning transfer to hotel; afternoon sightseeing tour of Chengdu

    We arrive in Chengdu around midday, the capital of Sichuan province, then transfer to our hotel. This area is recognised throughout China as being 'the Spicy Province', and it certainly lives up to its name! Major flavour combinations include garlic, star anise, chili peppers, and the ever-present Sichuanese peppercorn (hua jiao) which is used in many recipes.  In the afternoon, your group leader will take you on a walking tour (using public buses) through the lively parks and city centre square where you will get a taste of local life. Don't miss the options to join the locals in the atmospheric outdoor tea houses for some tea.

    Garden City Hotel or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 8

    Sightseeing trip to Leshan Giant Buddha; return to Chengdu

    Today, we will visit one of the iconic UNESCO sites near Chengdu - the Leshan Giant Buddha. About 2-3 hours drive from Chengdu, this 71m tall Buddha carved out of the cliff face of the mountain is the biggest sitting Buddha in the world and took almost 100 years of hard work to finish about 1300 years ago. You will have 2 options of visiting the Buddha, either by boat on the river or by walking around it in the mountain. Be prepared for the crowds and long queues who come to worship this Giant Buddha if you walk. Your group leader can advise you on the best way to visit depending on the season. We return to Chengdu in the late afternoon.

    In the evening there is the opportunity to taste some of the legendary Sichuanese cuisine in the form of a Chengdu hotpot dinner. The typical flavours of this iconic dish are created with Sichuan pepper (hua jiao) and involve a certain amount of interaction as the food is cooked in a large hot pot by the diners themselves! For those not a fan of spice there are options to omit the peppers from the hot broth in which the food items are cooked.

    Garden City Hotel or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast Dinner
  • Day 9

    Visit the Giant Panda Breeding Research Centre; to Chongqing, board cruise boat

    With an early start today we will visit the Giant Panda Breeding Research Base. Hopefully these intriguing and rare animals will be feeding, as this is when they're most active; otherwise we will have the opportunity to watch the Pandas indulge in their most common form of entertainment, sleeping!

    We then travel by train to Chongqing City (approx 3 hours), the embarkation point for our Yangtze River Cruise (after a 30 minute transfer to the dock). On arrival we will board our 4-star cruise boat and settle into our cabins. The boat accommodates approx 330 passengers. We will stay in twin berth cabin with en suite bathrooms.

    Cruise boat (China Goddess 2)

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Days 10-11

    Two full days cruising the Yangtze River including the Three Gorges and the dam

    These two days are spent cruising on one of the world's great rivers as we head downstream through stunning scenery of towering cliffs and gorges. En route we pass many towns and villages that have sprung up along the banks of the river that supplies the lifeblood to the heart of China.To try to limit the impact of flooding, the Chinese government has undertaken a huge construction project with a massive dam being built. This has flooded the famous Three Gorges of Qutang, Wu and Xiling. A journey amidst these natural wonders is a must see for any visitor to China. The nights are spent on the boat and there is time for shore excursions on the way as the boat docks at some of smaller towns and villages, and the lesser gorges by smaller boats, depending upon water levels.

    The day-to-day schedule for the cruise and timings can change due to adverse weather conditions, river conditions and permission of navigation authorities. The details of onboard and shore activities will be explained in the briefing and the river guide will be able to give you more information after boarding. The cruise will cover what is commonly considered as the essence of the Three Gorges, but some parts of the gorge will be passed through the night. If water levels are ok we will cruise through a series of locks through the dam itself, but this cannnot be guaranteed as it depends on the weather and river traffic. As we leave the cruise to catch the overnight train from Yichang to Liuzhou, we will not completely finish the Third Gorge.

    Cruise boat (China Goddess 2)

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 12

    Disembark; overnight sleeper train to Liuzhou

    We complete our cruise this morning and disembark and will take a look at the dam and learn about the massive engineering project that took place. We then drive to Yichang where we catch the afternoon train to Liuzhou (approx. 16 hours).

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 13

    Arrive Liuzhou; transfer to Yangshuo; free afternoon

    We arrive in Liuzhou early this morning (4:30/5:00am) and then transfer by road for 3 ½ hours through the stunning towering limestone scenery to Yangshuo. The surrounding region is famous for the steep-sided karst mountains that pierce the otherwise flat landscape of paddy fields; a view of a rural landscape that has changed little in centuries. Despite its small size, Yangshuo has quite a good tourist infrastructure due to its large transient population of backpackers and domestic tourists. In the afternoon there is the opportunity to discover how to make some of China's most iconic dishes as we take a cooking class lead by a local host, before enjoying our home-made dishes for lunch.

    Starway Hotel Xinfuan or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 14

    Explore the local countryside by bike; meal with a local family

    This morning gives us the opportunity to appreciate the spectacular landscape on two wheels; as we take a bike and ride towards Moon Hill, one of the most famous in the area. The biking is at a leisurely pace, and there are plenty of stops to hydrate and appreciate the glorious scenery! Lunch is spent with a local family, giving us the opportunity to sample some new dishes and create friendships over food. Expect delicious dishes such as clay-pot taro, stir fried chicken and veggies, and traditional fried eggs. The afternoon is free to relax or enjoy one of the many optional activities Yangshuo has to offer.

    Starway Hotel Xinfuan or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 15

    Free day in Yangshuo, surrounded by towering limestone scenery

    Today is free to relax and enjoy the laid-back atmosphere and iconic scenery around Yangshuo. There are many optional activities available; cruise on the Li River, visit the Black Buddha caves or enjoy a Chinese massage or a kung fu or Chinese cooking class, or watch the Liu Sanjie Show: an outdoor performance set on a natural stage formed by the Li River and 12 peaks. Even if you choose just to relax this is an ideal place, you can take a stroll around the market and examine the local produce or enjoy one of the cafes and watch the world go by.

    Starway Hotel Xinfuan or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 16

    To Guilin for flight to Shanghai; evening tour along the Bund

    In the morning we transfer to the airport at Guilin to fly to Shanghai; a city with a real international feel to it which will seem a world away from the countryside you have come from. In the evening we take a walking tour of the famous Bund area, to see the iconic buildings along the riverside lit up in all their glory. There will be the opportunity to visit the Jin Mao Tower (optional), which is the 18th tallest building in the world and boasts a spectacular view of Shanghai from the observation deck.

    Kingtown Hotel Plaza or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 17

    Visit Xitang water town

    Today we will spend the day visiting the ancient water town of Xitang; famous for its cobbled streets and bridges arching over the many canals. There are several well-preserved buildings from the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) Dynasties, and the town is a delightful place to explore on foot. We will take lunch here before the journey back to Shanghai (around 2 hours) where the evening will be free.

    Kingtown Hotel Plaza or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 18

    Full day in Shanghai

    With a population of around twelve million Shanghai is yours to explore today. This morning we enjoy a visit to firstly the Shanghai museum, followed by the Yu Yuan garden; the rest of the day is free to explore. Though it no longer warrants the title 'Paris of the East', many of the vestiges of its colonial past are still apparent. It is worth strolling along Nanjing Road (Shanghai's 'Oxford Street') or visiting the Shanghai tower, (currently the tallest building in China and second tallest in the world, standing at 632m high) or Shanghai's smaller television tower to see some of the city's stunning architecture.

    Optional activities this evening include the Shanghai Acrobatic show, which comes highly recommended!

    Kingtown Hotel Plaza or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 19

    End Shanghai

    For those on the group flight to London the flight is in the morning, with a same day arrival into London in the evening.

    Meals included: Breakfast
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Essential Info



Nearly all nationalities require a visa to enter China, which must be obtained prior to departure. The Chinese authorities now require a letter from Exodus, confirming all your accommodation details. Along with this, you need to supply a copy of your flight details, which are on your invoice if you have booked directly through Exodus. For further information see
It is also essential that we have a clear copy of the details page of your passport. This is required to book certain ground services in China and we cannot confirm your details with our local partners until it has been received. This must be emailed as an electronic scan to [email protected] a minimum of 8 weeks prior to your trip.



There are no mandatory vaccination requirements. Recommended vaccinations are: Polio, Tetanus, Diphtheria, Typhoid, Hepatitis A. The risk of malaria is slight but you may wish to consult your GP or travel health clinic for further advice.

Eating and Drinking

18 breakfasts, 9 lunches and 3 dinners included

One of the major draws of China is its exciting and varied cuisine. On this trip you will be able to try many different dishes that will be carefully selected with your leaders help and based on the group's dietary requirements and preferences. Meals generally consist of shared dishes, which is the best way to experience as many different ingredients as possible and try things you might not usually choose. Examples of popular dishes include Ma Po Tofu, a delicious tofu dish made with beef, chillies and onion, Gong Bao chicken, a very popular dish with chilli and peanuts, the iconic Peking Duck, served with hoisin sauce and pancakes, and dumplings in many shapes and sizes. A very popular dish in Sichuan Province is Hot Pot (Huoguo) which can be served as spicy as you wish and consists of a simmering metal pot of stock in the middle of a table which is served with ingredients ranging from quails eggs, local vegetables and many different types of meat. There are many different dishes to try and the leader will always try and accommodate tastes, but if you tire of Chinese food there are always opportunities to eat Western-style dishes. For vegetarians or those with dietary requirements, many of the traditional dishes can be amended to omit the meat products.


Beijing and Xi'an: The north of China has warm (25ºC+), quite humid summers, and cold dry winters. If you travel between June and August, it will be hot more or less everywhere, except in the mountains. Some rain must be expected, possibly heavy. If you travel in September/October, you will probably get less rain and the temperatures will be fairly warm (around 20ºC) everywhere. Yangtze River Gorge: The central region of China has very warm humid summers and cold winters. Rainfall should be expected during the summer months. In July/August temperatures along the Yangtze River can reach 40 C and in Spring/Autumn will be 22-26 ºC. Yangshuo/Shanghai: The south of China is sub-tropical with hot (30ºC), wet summers (May to September), and warm, relatively dry (November to March) winters, though rain is possible at almost any time of year. The winter months in China are cold (+3ºC), so if travelling in November/March be prepared for temperatures to drop to below freezing at night in the North, but with almost guaranteed dry sightseeing. The weather is milder in the south.

Beijing Weather

Beijing Weather

Is this trip for you?

This holiday is designed so that you can see the best parts of China in a relatively short period of time. There is a lot to see and do, and the distances covered are large, but everything is scheduled so that it doesn't feel too rushed. You should come armed for an experience: China can be hard work and the summer heat and the bustle of some of the cities can be a little overwhelming. That said, there are places where you can find peace and quiet, and we try to incorporate these into the itinerary at regular intervals. Although the temperatures in the summer can frequently top 30 degrees celsius there are many places that offer air conditioning (hotels, transportation and restaurants/shops) so you will find many places to cool down.

You should be aware that there are several occasions where you will need to carry your own luggage on this trip, mainly when journeying to and from the train stations and along the long platforms; sometimes there will only be stairs for access. Trolleys and porters are often available but these should not be depended upon as some stations do not offer these facilities. Many passengers find it useful to bring luggage with wheels.

Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.


Hotels, Boat & Train

On this trip you will spend 12 nights in comfortable hotels, 3 nights on a 4-star cruise boat with 2 berth air-conditioned cabins, all en suite, and 3 nights on a 1st class sleeper train. Nearly all the hotels are locally rated as at least 3-star and wherever possible located as near to local attractions as possible. The overnight trains are in the 'soft sleeper' cabins, which are 4 berth (bunk beds) private cabins. The train itself is of a good standard, although please note that facilities such as washrooms and toilets are shared with other passengers and the cleanliness can never be guaranteed. Bedding is provided but we do recommend you consider taking a thin sleep sheet. Whilst we make every attempt to place passengers together in cabins, sometimes this is impossible, however we will never place a solo traveller in a cabin by themselves (they will always be either with another passenger on the trip or with the leader).

The boat we used for Yangzte River Cruise is China Goddess Number 2, one of the newest cruises (rated as 4-star internationally, and 5-star locally) launched in November 2014. With the theme “Chinese Civilization, Three Gorges & Goddess Culture”, the cruise is like a moving Three Gorges culture exhibition centre. On the whole ship, passengers can enjoy not only the spectacular Three Gorges scenery, but also the culture and stories of the China Goddess. The ship features a sun deck with bar, a multi-functional lounge, spa, massage facilities and a fitness centre. It takes a maximum of 400 passengers.


Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Expert Blog Entries

The mountains will always draw us back to this majestic country: and now, with the return of a very special trip, the

  • Reviewed September 2017
    Julia Ingall

    Interesting overview of China's highlights

    This trip covered many of the highlights of China from the Great Wall to Shanghai and did it very well. Although it was rated as 'leisurely' it was very busy and perhaps Exodus could introduce a new range of ratings to reflect how busy they are as well as the physical effort required. China is an interesting country going through massive change and urbanisation, I had not expected the huge amount of building work and high rise blocks built and being built and the sheer enormity of the cities visited.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    I particularly enjoyed the visit to the Panda Breeding Programme in Chengdu and seeing the baby pandas -such a conservation success story.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    The leader Alan - Liu Bin was excellent, my only criticism was that he only seemed to have one speed which was fast, I prefer to amble and take in my surroundings particularly in a country with a different culture and this was not possible when trying to keep up with Alan. Alan gave us a very interesting and informative session on China's take on disputed territories which presented a different viewpoint from that we have been given in the West. Alan was very organised and full of information, he worked constantly but still maintained a good sense of humour.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    If you are not happy to use squat toilets I found that the disabled cubicle usually contained a 'potty' style. Coffee was not generally provided in hotel rooms so some sachets are useful.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Hotels in China do not provide maps, I found this very frustrating and feel that Exodus should provide maps of the area around the hotels used with information of suggested places to eat/drink and transport options to places of interest, it is not possible to print these before departure as hotels are not notified until arrival. As a consequence of the lack of maps I do not feel that I had an overview of the cities visited (spatial awareness). I found the food pretty boring, as the only non-meat eater I found that meat dishes were served first (a cultural norm) and often sat with just a couple to veg dumplings while the rest of the group tucked in, when the vegetables (and rice) eventually arrived they were usually rather bland and boring and the rest of the group were nearly finished eating. I would have welcomed the opportunity to pick a dish for myself from the menu. The much vaunted Sichaun Hot Pot was rubbish for me as the spicy part contains ox fat so I could not cook my food there and just had to use the boring unspicy broth. Three nights on trains was too many and Exodus should look at tweaking the itinerary as there was some wasted time waiting for trains and also when we go on the boat. Overall a very good enjoyable trip - I found China interesting and am very pleased I chose this trip as it gave a great overview.
  • Reviewed September 2017
    Matthew Stanlake

    Imperial China and Yangtse river cruise

    This tour is simply a stunning way to experience all aspects of life in China! From historic Beijing, to the more cosmopolitan Shanghai, with so many more unexpected surprises in between. Guide book recommendations such as The Great Wall, Tiananmen square, the Terracotta warriors, pandas in Chengdu and bustling Shanghai are all experienced and do not disappoint. However, so many more positive experiences add to the varied nature of the tour. Cycling around the enormous city walls in Xian - breathtaking, seeing the Terracotta warriors in situ - amazing, watching the sunset from the 119th floor of the Shanghai tower - fantastic, while the rugged landscape of Yangshuo is simply stunning and a world away from the hustle and bustle of the enormous but fascinating cities. However, the sense of not knowing what to expect also led to some amazing, unexpected destinations, such as the Muslim quarter in Xian, and the water town in Huanlongxi (neither of which we would have visited without a local guide and both of which were bustling and vibrant - great fun to be a part of!). Equally, the fascination of the Chinese around foreign tourists - embrace the photo opportunities - it's like being a celebrity! Some of the transfers between destinations can be long, and at times tiring, but offer a fantastic opportunity to view the varied landscape which China has to offer. A couple of hours on a coach, or several hours on a train, can fly by as you sit back and admire the changing scenery. A great way to travel, where you get to see so much more. Not to mention the Yangtse river cruise - a few days at a slower pace, with breath-taking views and travelling in comfort. An unexpected bonus. Embracing every moment is a must for this tour. The overnight trains are a unique experience but offer a great opportunity to engage with fellow travellers - many of whom are welcoming and eager to practice their English. Equally, seize the opportunity to eat out and sample the local delicacies - you will quickly find out just how much of it you can stomach, although more conventional meals can be found and are far tastier than back home. In a nutshell - the long flights are associated jetlag are a small price to pay for the wonderful experiences you will encounter!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Walking a stunning stretch of The Great Wall. Cycling through the stunning scenery in Yangshuo.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Jane (Weijie) Liu was a wonderful addition to the tour, offering a knowledgeable background to the history of China and all locations visited, together with a great sense of humour and patience with all members of the group. Not to mention an incredibly hard-working approach and willingness to go the extra mile to keep everyone satisfied. Any group that finds Jane leading their tour will be very lucky.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Walk every path, climb every hill and explore at every opportunity - there is so much more to discover...and stunning scenery too. Invest in a good quality camera. You will return with photos to treasure. The optional tours give an added flavour of life in China and can be recommended....although maybe not the Beijing opera.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    3 weeks for a tour of China? I could have stayed for much longer!
  • Reviewed September 2017
    Martin Hole

    Imperial China and Yangstse River Cruise

    Wow! This trip was an assault on the senses from day one! Started off stressfully we arrived in Bejing on time but our luggage was still in Dubai! Well done Emitates and Exodus we were reunited within 12 hours (note: always take spare pants in hand luggage) China was amazing redefining our preconceptions from day one! Bejing; old town, Forbidden Palace, Summer Palace etc. Jane our guide was Wonderwoman, fantastic knowledge, super organised and a sense of humour. We asked if we could fit in a visit to the Olympic stadium: no problem, we were walking round the 'Birdsnest' the following afternoon. The Great Wall was a highlight and tobogganing down was certainly different. This trip cannot be described as leisurely, if you want to see the best of this fantastic country we need to be prepared for a frantic itinerary. Thank you for the advice Exodus, pack lightly and make sure you can carry your own luggage with ease. Loved the pandas and visiting the Terracotta Army. I must admit as a person who would never consider a cruising holiday and who considers the Isle of Wight ferry tiresome I was not looking forward to the Yangstse river cruise; I was pleasantly surprised the scenery of the 3 gorges was breathtaking, the relative rest of 3 days, was a chance to recharge batteries and the dam a marvel of engineering. Superlatives are far to many to mention, the tour finished in Shanghai where again Jane our guide was brilliant suggesting we visited the Tower on arrival since clouds were forecast the following day - wow! Awesome views across the city as the sunset fron 532m. I have no hesitation in recommending this trip to all if you want to see China warts and all. It was well organised, accommodation was as described, guide was fantastic. Try everything and go on every optional tour you will not regret it ( one visit to a Chinese Opera is enough for any sane person)

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Bejing, Great Wall, Chengdou Dou and Shanghai

    What did you think of your group leader?

    I cannot praise Jane enough, (The best things come is small packages) she was professional, unflappable, super organised and helpful. Jane has a wicked sense of humour, if I could book Jane to be my next Exdous guide I would. Thinking of walking in North America next year, can you organise Exodus?

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Read the trip notes, ensure you pack light and can carry your cases ( easy to organise laundry and ball gowns are not required) Take advantage of every optional tour you won't regret it.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Do not be faint hearted - if your are prepared to be out of your comfort zone and want a different holiday - book this trip now
  • Reviewed June 2017
    Sandra & John Maundrell

    Amazing China trip

    Everything about the trip was amazing if a little challenging at times. It included all of the 'Must see' sights of China, many of which were mind blowing - how did they manage to build a wall that long and high so high up in difficult terrain?! We travelled on flights arranged by Exodus from a regional airport and the transfers were part of the package and worked well. The optional trips in Beijing were good and the Acrobatic and Kung foo shows were both worth doing and entertaining. The overnight sleeper trains were interesting!! Some stations had escalators which was great but some only had staircases which were challenging and stowing our large bags in the sleeper compartments often involved lifting them onto the area above the door as there was limited space under the beds, the men in the party found themselves lifting several bags each. The optional excursion to the Han Yang Ling Mausoleum, which we did before the Terra Cotta Warriors was on a very different scale and very interesting. Most days involved leaving the hotels between 7.30am and 8.30am in order to travel to the place of interest for that day and arrive in good time before the crowds got too big. In Chengdu we did an optional visit to an ancient Chinese town en route to the Giant Buddha in Leshan which was interesting in spite of the 'touristy' nature of the place. We went to the optional Chinese Cultural Show which was amazing - so many unusual brilliant acts, the 'Face Changers' were fantastic. The bullet train was very smooth and seeing the porters carry our heavy bags to the China Goddess 2 for the Yangtze river cruise was humbling, they are so strong!! The cruise ship was much nicer than we had expected and the accommodation was very nice, we even got a lesson in playing Mahjong which was quite complicated but very interesting. The scenery in Yangshuo was amazing and the optional trip to the tea plantation was great fun even in the rain! The trip to the Ancient water town of Xitang was lovely and fortunately as we were not there at the weekend, it wasn't too busy. One evening in Shanghai our guide suggested going to the Global Financial Centre to the Observatory on the 100th floor as the weather was good, to hopefully see the sunset over the city - we were lucky and it was beautiful. Our last day in Shanghai was wet but it didn't stop any of the activities and we had time to see some of the city before we left the following morning.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    It was an amazing trip with so many highlights it is hard to name just one. The Great Wall is exactly as named - Great, the Panda breeding and conservation centre was lovely, the scenery in many places was completely unique. The sheer size and complexity of the Terra Cotta Warriors site was incredible, the story about how they were discovered and the work that had to be done to produce what is visible today is amazing.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our group leader - Jenny was lovely. She went the extra mile to make sure everything ran as smoothly as possible for us working tirelessly to make sure all the arrangements for all the excursions were made in order for us to have a brilliant trip. She always had a smile and was very patient and understanding when dealing with any problems or requests members of the group might have.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    The beds on the sleeper trains appeared clean but if you got on the train part way through it's journey bedding was not changed so silk sleeping bag liners made us feel more comfortable!! Public toilets are everywhere and free to use but are mostly 'squat' style and having your own toilet paper accessible at all times is essential! Before we arrived at the port our tour guide told us that there was an option to upgrade to the VIP dining restaurant which was limited to about 30 people for each cruise, she explained that the extra cost gave us assigned tables and free wine and beer with meals but the main advantage was that it was away from the 'free for all' nature of the main dining room. After consideration the whole group opted for the upgrade and we were very pleased that we had done as it gave us a much more relaxed dining experience - it was money well spent!! Before we left we were unsure what to do about money for the trip so we took a reasonable amount of Yuen plus credit and debit cards. It turned out that most of the time we needed cash, all of the optional excursions were paid for in cash as were the group meals that were not included as well as drinks for all the meals. There were plenty of ATM's available in all of our destinations and the guide was happy to take whoever needed cash when necessary. Credit and debit cards were acceptable in larger shops but cash was used most of the time. Be prepared to barter for your purchases! We did a lot of the optional excursions on the basis that we may never be in China again and every one was worth the extra cost.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    This is an amazing trip but there is a lot of walking and there are stairs at many of the places of interest. The stairs at the stations were hard work, it is rated as leisurely but that is not a word I would use to describe it, great but 'full on'!!
  • Reviewed May 2017
    Patricia Pick

    imperial china and yangtze river cruise

    this holiday exceeded all of my expectations

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    there were too many to name just one .

    What did you think of your group leader?

    our group leader jenny lu was top class she never failed us and with a group of fifteen treated everyone with respect ,and went above and beyond her duties i cannot speak highly enough of her.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    if you are hesitating about this holiday go for it ,but be prepared as it is full on.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    we were a group of mixed ages and abilities ,but if you go with an open mind you will enjoy every minute of it and will go home home with some wonderful memories and hopefully a few new friends.
  • Reviewed May 2017
    Marja Ramos

    Great Wall - great everything!

    What a great trip that was! It was relentlessly busy and heaving with people, but so enjoyable. We were constantly on the go, spending no more than three nights in any one location. Three slightly uncomfortable nights on a 'soft sleeper' train, and three very comfortable nights on the Yangtze river boat, except the last noisy one when we travelled through the five locks at the Three Gorges Dam. But any discomfort paled into insignificance at each destination. I saw far more of the country than I had expected, both urban and rural, and now have a much better understanding of China, its culture and people - and the food, glorious food!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The limestone mountains, thousands of them, covered in greenery in the Yangshou region were a revelation, breathtaking! We climbed up one of them, the Xianggong mountain - via a staircase! Also sailing through the lesser gorges on a smaller boat was one of those 'I can't believe I'm here' moments. On a lighter note, we enjoyed learning to play PROPER Mahjong on the boat, on a proper mechanical table.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Jenny Lu was a breath of fresh air and a ray of sunshine, always full of smiles and energy and enthusiasm. She led us through the included and optional excursions and meals, and through the complicated travel arrangements and crowded stations with confidence and authority, and always readily pointed out a western toilet where available! We learned so much about living and working in China as well as the history and culture.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    The trip notes mention about the need to be able to climb stairs, sometimes with luggage. This is true! If you take part in all the optional activities, there are even more stairs! Also getting your luggage on and off the train at some stations can be difficult, but help was usually at hand within the group or from porters. The temperature was unusually high for May, up to 31 degrees and extremely humid. My advice is, ignore the discomfort and embrace everything with an open mind and open heart!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The recommended amount of currency is very much on the low side. If you wish to enjoy everything on offer and if you are not strong willed when it comes to shopping, then you will need more, although it is easy to get some from the ATM. In larger shops e.g. the silk shop in Shanghai you can pay with a card.
  • Reviewed October 2016
    Michael Casey

    Imperrial China and Yangtze River Cruise

    This was our first group holiday having previously travelled around various Asian countries on our own. The holiday exceeded our expectations and we really enjoyed the experience of modern China. The organisation was good with a great balance of varied experiences. The food was excellent too.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    It is difficult to nominate one inspirational experience but walking on the Great Wall in the early morning before it was too crowded and with clear visibility has to be up there. Also seeing six baby pandas (pre-walking stage) fed, burped, washed and put out to play at the Chengdu Breeding Centre was just wonderful. Again an early start to avoid the crowds but so worthwhile.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    He really made the holiday. Very well organised, knowledgeable with a great sense of humour. He also fully understood where western and Chinese cultures would clash and pre explained situations to the group which helped enormously. We had a great group too who were up for the trip and wanted to enjoy themselves - no moaners here.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Nothing can prepare you for the sheer size of this country and the numbers of people. It is an amazing power house of a country. with sights that I will remember for ever and a rate of development which is almost unbelievable. However, if you cannot cope with crowds and noise and want peace and quiet don't do this trip. Modern China isn't for you.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    This is a cash economy. Apart from the modern chain stores in the big cities credit cards are rarely accepted. Think carefully about how many optional trips you may want to do - by enlarge they are very good and worth doing but you will need cash. It's cheaper to buy Yuan in UK than use in country ATMs.2F
  • Reviewed October 2016
    Angela Cureton

    Imperial China

    This trip was far better than I expected. We saw and experienced so much of the people and culture of China and it was truly an adventure.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Its difficult to choose just one inspirational moment because there were many. Although my first sight of The Great Wall was awesome and will last in my memory for a long time. The Terracotta Army, The Pandas, beautiful scenery, beautiful river cruise, exciting overnight train journey, good food etc etc.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our group leader Dragon was absolutely brilliant and was very knowledgeable. We all agreed that he made a great contribution to our tour. He looked after all of us so well. Thanks Dragon

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Don't pack too many clothes. Limit yourselves to the minimum weight because you have to carry your own cases (up flights of stairs in some situations). Read the notes !!!!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Bicycle ride through the countryside. Be aware that the countryside is so beautiful but part of the route is on the main road which can be a bit nerve racking.
  • Reviewed October 2016
    Edmund Ronayne

    Imperial China & Yangtze River Cruise

    One of the best holidays I have been on, wish we could have stay longer.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    There was so many it is hard to pick which one to go for but if I had to pick one, it would be The Great Wall. Experience I will never forget.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Dragon was one of the best group leaders I have had, helpful, always there when you needed him, friendly, and very knowledgeable.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Just to say Thank Exodus for a great Holiday
  • Reviewed September 2016
    Marilyn Bremner

    Imperial China & Yangtze River Cruise

    This trip was all that was described to a "T". For only one exception and that was the stairs at some of the rail stations that did not have elevators, my expectation was much lower than what actually existed, so my advice would be pack very lightly and ensure that you can carry your luggage up and down those many stairs. Yes they prepared us for stairs, .....but not how many !! I was a solo female over 60 so did struggle sometimes and I am reasonably fit. Nevertheless the trip overall was excellent, and the experience on the sleeper trains was lets say "different", but at the very least, you are seeing life as the Chinese people live it and after all, isn't that what we travel for.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    No doubt for me, the 3 Gorges on the Yangtze River Cruise, this was a fascinating part of China, and I likened it to my experience of Milford Sound in South Island of New Zealand, (breathtaking) but this was unique to China, and I would describe it as a "moving" experience. When one considers how mighty the Yangtze is and how so many people lost their lives there in the floods, you really experience one of the great rivers in the world up close.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    The group leader was a fine, very knowledgeable, and very personable young man. His guidance of us and acting as an translator when needed was exceptional, and unquestionable. Our group presented some challenges from time to time, however he handled himself with grace and diplomacy. And he had a wonderful sense of humour!! He certainly made my trip experience a memorable one.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Make sure you read up on what is expected on this tour. Although it is described as "Leisurely", there is a lot of activity and adventure (depending on your limitations). Our leader gracefully explained from the outset that Exodus tours are "different" from the run of the mill, and that was certainly what we got. So make sure you are fit and healthy, and ready for adventure, when you want it !! Personally I very much appreciated and enjoyed the level of walking and "other" activities, like climbing up into temples and walking on the Great Wall. And I am over 60.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    This tour encompasses some of the most popular tourist attractions, so be prepared for crowds and crowds. However, I think any trip to China must see these things to truly appreciate China. (The Great Wall, The Pandas, The Terracotta Warriors and the regional cuisines, and the regional differences. I would have liked more time in Shanghai, but hey, thats a good reason to return to China one day in the future ! Also Just to say how appreciative I was of our Tour Leader, (Dragon) he was exceptional.

Dates & Prices

An overview of flight options

Exodus is committed to making joining our tours as easy as possible, wherever you live. We generally only block book seats from London, but this certainly does not mean that you need to fly from there. Depending on the route and airlines available, there will usually be various options available for those who want to fly from their local airport.

This page aims to provide a useful overview of the options available to our clients. However, the best flight arrangements should be tailored to your personal requirements, so please contact our Sales team for expert advice.


What kind of options do I have ?

1. We can book for you: Flights from anywhere in the world - not via London  

Depending on the route, this may be direct or via an overseas hub like Amsterdam, the Middle East or elsewhere. On short haul routes there may be direct flights with low cost airlines, charter flights or scheduled airlines. Exodus can book most, but not all, of these for you. The most appropriate airline may be different to that which we use for the group flight from London, but many people now travel on different airlines and meet up with their fellow passengers at the destination.

Pros Cons
  • May be the most direct route
  • Often the extra fare compared to the London flight is minimal.
  • As you will be in the hands a single airline for your entire journey, the airline will be responsible for your bags and your connections.
  • You may not be able to join the group transfers. However, we can usually arrange private transfers, or book your flights to try and coincide with the group transfers. See notes on transfer arrangements below.


2. We can book for you: Connecting flights from your local airport to London

Exodus can book connecting flights to London so you can join the group flight there. Connecting times will be followed according to airline advice, or as requested by clients. There are two types of fares we can use for this option: a 'through-fare' or a 'published fare'.
a) A 'through-fare' is where you will be in the main airline's care throughout. You change planes, but your bags are checked all the way through to your final destination. 

b) A 'published fare' ticket is completely seperate from your onward ticket from London. It is usually cheaper than a through-fare but will need to be paid for and issued as soon as it is booked. This can be a problem if your tour has not yet reached minimum numbers. On 'published fares' neither airline is aware that you have connecting flights, so Exodus is responsible for timing your connection, not the airlines involved. The tickets are also usually non changeable and non refundable.

Pros Cons
  • Depending on the fare type, Exodus or the airline is responsible for flight connections.
  • Through fare tickets can be expensive.
  • On a published fare, tickets must be issued immediately; tickets on published fares can be very difficult to change if onward flight times change; bags are not checked though to your final destination.
  • Published fares are non-refundable.


3. Booking some or all of the flights yourself

You can also book connecting air travel yourself, either to London, or all the way to the start point. There may be certain airlines or routes we don't have access to, so this is always an option. However, if you make your own travel arrangements you become liable for any delays, cancellations or missed connections, and Exodus is not required to offer refunds if you have trouble reaching the start of your trip.

Pros Cons
  • You might find cheaper fares, or routes not available to Exodus.
  • You are responsible for any delays or missed connections, and the cost of the tour is not protected should you miss your flight be cancelled.


 Notes on transfer arrangements

Sometimes it is possible to travel on a different airline to the group flight from London. Where this is the case, we need to think about ensuring you meet up with the group with minimum extra cost and hassle.

  • On certain trips, it is easy to arrive on a different flight and still meet the group at the hotel with time in hand. We can usually arrange private transfers (at extra cost) or offer advice on taking a taxi to the start hotel.
  • On other trips (especially in Europe), the transfer meets the group flight and then travels some distance to the first night's accommodation. Where this is the case, our Sales team will try to arrange flights that arrive before (and depart after) the group. However, we do have to make it clear in your final documentation that if your flights are delayed, the transfer cannot wait for you. While Exodus or our local operators will do what we can to help you reach the start point of the tour, any additional costs must be paid by the client. 


Next steps? 

Call our Sales team on: 0203 733 0698

Email your query: [email protected]

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