Essence of China

A journey through China's galactic diversity

  • Explore Beijing's iconic sites, including the Great Wall, Tiananmen Square, and the Forbidden City
  • Get to know Lijiang, in the Himalayan foothills, with beautiful mountain views and its own unique culture
  • Immerse yourself with special-access visits, insightful meetings, innovative cooking sessions, and more
GeoEx travel to China
Trip Type: Scheduled Departure & Sample Itinerary
Trip Length: 14 Days
Activity type(s): Cultural Tour, Food and Wine
Trip Extensions: Call 888-570-7108 for custom extension options

The fruit of 30-plus years of travel in, fascination with, and affection for China, Essence of China manages in just two weeks to capture much of what endlessly excites us about this huge and galactically diverse country. In addition to the iconic places we visit—Beijing, Xian, Guilin, Lijiang, and Shanghai—our China celebrants have arranged a number of special-access visits, performances, meetings, and innovative cooking sessions; they’ve booked us into some brilliant restaurants; and they’ve carefully chosen some of the country’s finest and most intelligently conceived hotels.

After good looks at the Great Wall, Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City (with a little effort, you feel like you’re roaming the redoubt of some mystic, extraterrestrial civilization), the Temple of Heaven, and other Beijing wonders, we’re off to Xian’s Terracotta Warriors, who look keyed up and ready to rush out the door any minute. We’ll raft on the Li River, craning our necks at Guilin’s lyric limestone karsts. And in Lijiang, on the green verge of the Tibetan Plateau, we’ll gaze at the exquisite Black Dragon Pool and recall Ezra Pound’s tribute in “Canto 112”: “And over Lijiang, the snow range is turquoise . . . a thin trace in high air.” Last, we encounter Shanghai, in all its shiny, bubbling, proud, and problematic glory.

Itinerary at a Glance

  • Day 1: arrive in Beijing
  • Days 2–4: explore Beijing
  • Day 5: to Xian, city tour
  • Day 6: Terracotta warriors, special access to Tang dynasty frescoes
  • Day 7: fly south to Guilin, on to Yangshuo
  • Day 8: bamboo rafting, village walk
  • Day 9: to Lijiang
  • Day 10: Lijiang Old Town visit, Black Dragon Pool
  • Day 11: Jade Dragon Snow Mountain
  • Day 12: to Shanghai
  • Day 13: Wuzhen water village, more Shanghai exploring
  • Day 14: depart Shanghai.