advertisement

An extra week allows visitors to experience some of the incredible contrasts that China has to offer; you'll see imperial sights, ultra-modern cities like Hong Kong and Shanghai, and idyllic Chinese countryside.

Days 1-4: Beijing

Start your time in Beijing with a visit to the Forbidden City and make sure you have plenty of time to explore all of its nooks and crannies. The following day head to the Temple of Heaven and in the afternoon visit the Lama Temple, then stroll through the lakes and hutong alleys of the Back Lakes. Dine looking out over it all, aboard one of Kaorouji's flat-bottomed boats. On the third day, head out early to the Great Wall at Jinshanling or Simatai and take a steep, spectacular hike. By the time you get back to Beijing you will certainly have the appetite for a hearty and delicious Beijing Duck dinner. On day 4 visit the Summer Palace, or whichever of Beijing's astounding range of attractions appeals, and then take an overnight train to Xi'an.

Days 5-6: Xi'an

Check into your hotel and freshen up before heading out to explore Xi'an's historic sights. Get some insight about that which you'll see in the coming days, by heading to the first-rate Shanxi History Museum. Later in the day go for a wander through the artist's quarter, maybe looking in on the Forest of Stelae Museum, or taking a stroll along the City Wall which gives a good overview of the city. In the evening dine on dumplings at De Fa Chang. Early the following day, head out to the Terra-Cotta Warriors. In the afternoon visit the Great Mosque and then as the light fades enjoy an alfresco dinner of kabobs in the Muslim markets.

Day 7: Home Time

Take a morning flight back to Beijing and connect with your international flight home.

Days 7-9: Shanghai

On day 7 make your way down to the Big Goose Pagoda, and in the afternoon take a flight from Xi'an to Shanghai. Speed into town on the maglev and settle into your hotel. In the evening head to Cloud 9 in the Jin Mao Tower for a cocktail while you gaze out over the city. From here it's not far to Jade on 36, where you enjoy yet more views over dinner.

The following day visit the Shanghai Museum, one of the finest in the country. After exploring the museum, wander around Yu Garden (Yu Yuan) which makes for an interesting afternoon, especially when combined with souvenir shopping in the surrounding bazaar, and then a relaxing pot of green tea in the floating teahouse. In the evening head for a sumptuous dinner at one of the eateries in Three on the Bund, and then take a wander along the river. If you have any shoe leather left, cross over and continue your stroll along one of Shanghai's main shopping arteries, Nanjing Road, where very few places close before 10pm.

On day 9 cross town to the French Concession, and wander round one of China's best preserved collections of colonial buildings. Enjoy a meal at one of Xin Tiandi's trendy restaurants and after lunch maybe do a spot of shopping at nearby Huaihai Zhong Lu.

Days 10-12: Yangshuo

On day 10 fly from Shanghai to Guilin and then transfer to the rural retreat of Yangshuo. Spend the next few days taking boat and bike rides through the stunning scenery to traditional villages and markets, interjected with cultural adventures ranging from tai chi to Chinese cooking classes. Break up your activities with leisurely meals and drinks in Yangshuo's cozy cafes.

Days 13-14: Hong Kong

Finish your trip in one of the world's most captivating cities, Hong Kong. While you're here, make sure you take the Star Ferry over to Central, and then take the Peak Tram up to Victoria Peak for one of the world's great urban vistas. Have a meal on the peak, looking out over it all. Spend the rest of your time in Hong Kong according to what appeals: For some that might mean visiting Hong Kong's famous markets, for those with kids it could be checking out the interactive Science Museum, but for me it would be a boat trip to Lamma or Lantau Islands for a hike and a swim.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.