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China isn't a country - it's a different world. Unless you have a couple of years and unlimited patience, it's best to follow a loose itinerary here, such as following the Silk Road, sailing down the Yangzi River, or exploring the Dr Seuss landscape of Guangxi Province.
From shop-till-you-drop metropolises to the desert landscapes of Xinjiang, China is a land of cultural and geographic schisms. It's not that it has completely done away with its Maoist past - it's more that the yin of revolutionary zeal is being balanced by the yang of economic pragmatism.
CHINA TOURS & TRAVEL:
A Taste of China Escorted Tour (UK),
Splendours of China Escorted Tour (UK),
Yangtze Experience Escorted Tour (UK),
Tibetan Discovery Escorted Tour (UK)
BEIJING Tours, Travel and Activities
If your visions of Beijing are centered around pods of Maoist revolutionaries in buttoned-down tunics performing exercise in Tiananmen Square, put them to rest: this city has embarked on a new millennium rollercoaster and it's taking the rest of China with it.
Today's youth are more interested in MTV than Mao, rhetorical slogans from the Cultural Revolution have given way to butchered English splashed across designer-copy T-shirts.
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CHENGDU Tours, Travel and Activities
Chengdu abounds with newfound affluence and is bent on modernizing. Although they're disappearing quickly, there are still some bustling side streets to explore, where you'll stumble upon markets, underground shopping malls, countless tiny restaurants specialising in Sichuan snacks, and old men walking their songbirds or hunched over a game of chess.
You'll also encounter the city's artisans: small-time basket-weavers, cobblers, itinerant dentists, tailors, houseware merchants and snack hawkers who swarm the streets and contribute to Chengdu's lively atmosphere.
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GUILIN Tours, Travel and Activities
Say Guilin and watch the looks of rapture (and pride) on the faces of Chinese people.
Dotted with supernaturally lovely karst topography gracing the Li River (Lí JiaŻng) - these bizarre limestone upthrusts shape-shifting in dancing mists and haze - the city's beauty has been celebrated for generations by painters and poets.
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QINGDAO Tours, Travel and Activities
Perched on the southern seaboard of the ShaŻndoŻng peninsula, the picturesque town of Qingdao (Green Island) is a welcome breather from the clogging conformity of socialist town planning.
With its cool sea breezes, (relatively) clear air, balmy summer evenings and excellent seafood, this is where Chinese Communist Party cadres come to build sand castles, lick ice cream and dream of retirement.
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SHANGHAI Tours, Travel and Activities
Shanghai is a scintillating city swirling with rapid cultural change. Since market restrictions were lifted, Shanghai has embraced the forces of business and design and rewritten its rule book shaping a fresh, new city that is sophisticated, innovative and living a life it has never lived before.
While it can't match the epic history of Beijing or Xi'an's grander sights, Shanghai is the hot spot of modern China; a cosmopolitan city buzzing with the concept of lifestyle revolution, showcased in the architectural temples of art, fine dining and contemporary urban living on the Bund.
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XIAN Tours, Travel and Activities
Shaanxi was the center of Chinese civilization, and Xian is a magnificent window through which to view it. Two centuries before Homer penned the Iliad and the Odyssey (and Rome was founded), five centuries prior to the Buddha's enlightenment, Xian was already a classic world city.
Today Xian is understandably one of China's major tourist attractions. The big draw card is the Army of Terracotta Warriors, and there are countless other sights scattered in and around the city. An Islamic element is found throughout the city, with mosques and marketplaces tucked away in back alleys.
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A TASTE OF CHINA Escorted Tour (from the UK)
This is essential China. Enjoy the modern metropolis of Shanghai, the cultural capital city of Beijing, the famous Terracotta Warriors in Xian and the culinary delights of Hong Kong!
Including flights from London, Heathrow to Shanghai and returning from Hong Kong on this 12 day tour. Your stay in Xian wouldn't be complete without a visit to see the magnificent Terracotta Warriors. The day also includes a trip to the Banpo Neolithic Museum.
Click here for A Taste of China Escorted Tour with Virgin Holidays
SPLENDOURS OF CHINA Escorted Tour (from the UK)
15 days/14 nights - exclusive to Virgin Holidays, the Splendours of China is our most popular escorted tour, with flights from London, Heathrow to Shanghai and returning from Hong Kong. Optional Thai beach extension for the ultimate asian adventure.
Enjoy the historic cities of Shanghai, Beijing and the Great Wall of China before flying to Xian, China's ancient capital with its walled city, mosque, Terracotta Warriors and Neolithic Village. Then on to charming Guilin and bustling Hong Kong.
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YANGTZE EXPERIENCE Escorted Tour (from the UK)
Discover the delightful scenery along the Yangtze River on this 11-night holiday combining a 4-night cruise with a visit to China's must-see cities - Shanghai, Xian and Beijing.
Including flights from London, Heathrow to Shanghai and returning from Beijing on this 13 day tour. Cruising the Yangtze river, you'll pass the east part of Xiling Gorge, which is famous for its strangely shaped cliff faces and enjoy a shore excursion at the Three Gorges Dam Project - one of the largest construction projects ever undertaken. Pass through Wu Gorge, home of the 12 peaks of the Wu Mountains, and experience a meandering landscape of dazzling peaks and rocks
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TIBETAN DISCOVERY Escorted Tour (from the UK)
Visit the truly wonderful and unspoiled Autonomous Region of Tibet with its brightly coloured flags, stunning scenery and abundance of temples and monasteries.
Including flights from London, Heathrow to Beijing and returning from Xian on this 12 day tour. You'll fly to Lhasa, the capital of Tibet, standing at over 3,600m above sea level. On arrival, you will be transferred to the Lhasa Hotel for 4 nights. Visit the magnificent Potala Palace. The former Winter Palace of the Dalai Lamas and originally built in the 7th Century, this imposing building towers over the city of Lhasa.
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