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China and Vietnam

Beijing - Xi'an - Guilin/Yangshuo - Hanoi - Halong Bay - Hue - Hoi An - Saigon

Hoi An temple

Guaranteed departure dates with minimum of 2 passengers

A combination of two fascinating countries. First the highlights of China incuding the Great Wall and Terracotta Army, plus the beautiful countryside around Yangshuo. Then the exciting experience of an overnight train across the border into Vietnam to Hanoi. Then take the classic journey from north to south, visiting the former imperial capital Hue, historic Hoi An, and the busy and vibrant Ho Chi Minh City/Saigon. Busy cities and peaceful countryside, modern life and ancient buildings all combine to create an unforgetable experience

A select group tour based on 4- and 5-star hotels, with most meals included and with cultural evening shows.

Hotels awarded TripAdvisor's Certificate of Excellence.

Day 1  Depart London Heathrow or regional airports.

Day 2  Arrive Beijing. Met on arrival and transfer to the Holiday Inn Express Dongzhimen, popular with westerners, or similar. Rest of the day free.

Day 3  Full day excursion to the Great Wall at Mutianyu, about 1.5 hours drive north of Beijing. The wall here is not so busy at some other sections and is very scenic as its winds its way down the mountainside. Includes cable car up to the wall. Walk along part of the wall and explore the many fascinating aspects of this iconic symbol of China's past. En route to the wall pass the 2008 Olympic stadium, known as the 'Bird's Nest' and the 'Water Cube' - the national aquatic centre. Also visit a workshop carving items from jade, a stone of special significance to the Chinese. After dinner enjoy a colourful and energetic kung fu show displaying martial arts. (B, L, D)

Day 4  Start the day with a visit to Tiananmen Square, followed by the Forbidden City - the complex of buildings in the heart of Beijing that was the centre of power for China's rulers for over 400 years. Explore both the grand halls and some of the smaller rooms and courtyards that housed the imperial family. Then visit the imposing Temple of Heaven where emperors prayed for good harvests. Also visit a shop selling freshwater pearls. In the evening enjoy the warm atmosphere of a welcome dinner featuring that delicious local delicacy Peking duck. (B, L, D)

Day 5  Visit to the beautiful gardens and pavilions of the Summer Palace on the outskirts of Beijing, where emperors relaxed away from the summer heat of the capital, before transfer to railway station for high-speed 'bullet train' to Xi'an, capital of China for many centuries. Transfer to the 4-star Somerset Xindicheng Hotel or Grand Dynasty Culture Hotel or similar. (B, L)

Day 6  Full day excursion to the Terracotta Army, created by China's first emperor over 2,000 years ago to guard his tomb for eternity. Return to Xi'an city to see the Grand Mosque and the atmospheric streets of the surrounding Muslim Quarter, originally settled by Arab and Persian traders over 1,000 years ago. Also visit a workshop creating replica warriors using traditional techniques. Enjoy a 'Tang Dynasty' music and dance show in the evening evoking the sights and sounds of old China, together with a delicious speciality dumpling dinner. (B, L, D)

Day 7  In the morning visit Xi'an's impressive medieval city wall, the Small Wild Goose Pagoda , and the rich archaeological collections of the Shaanxi Historical Museum before transfer to airport for flight to Guilin, in the south-east of the country noted for its stunning scenery reminiscient of Chinese painting. Transfer to 4-/5-star Grand Lijiang Waterfall Hotel, or similar. (B, L)

Day 8  Cruise on the Li River to the small riverside town of Yangshuo, past beautiful scenery of limestone peaks and flat rice paddy fields. Browse Yangshuo's shops and market before transfer back to Guilin by road in the afternoon. (B, L)

Day 9  Half day city tour of Guilin to include the Reed Flute Cave, a huge underground cavern full of stalagmites and stalagtites.

Day 10 Transfer to railway station for the overnight train to Hanoi (soft sleeper compartment, four berths sharing with others) (B)

Day 11  Arrive Hanoi in the early morning. City tour of Hanoi, to include Ho Chi Minh's mausoleum, his stilt house in the grounds of the presidential palace, and the One Pillar Pagoda. Then visit the Temple of Literature, West Lake with the Tran Quoc Pagoda (one of the oldest in Vietnam), Quan Thanh Temple. A visit to the Sword Lake and Ngoc Son Temple is followed by a one hour cyclo ride around the Old Quarter. In the evening enjoy a traditional water puppet show (B, L)

Day 12  After breakfast travel to Halong Bay (about 3 hour drive). On arrival board your traditional-style junk before starting your cruise around the spectacular Halong Bay, with its myriad of islands. Seafood dinner. (B, L, D)

Day 13  Continue your cruise, and a leisurely brunch before returning to dock and transfer to Hanoi Airport for your flight to Hue, the former imperial capital of Vietnam from 1802 to 1945. Transfer to Midtown Hue Hotel or similar. (B, L)

Day 14  Take a boat trip on the Perfume River to visit Thien My Pagoda. Then visit the Imperial Citadel, the former imperial palace of Vietnam's rulers, and the lavish mausoleums of Tu Duc and Khai Dinh. End the day with a stroll around the Dong Ba Market, a lively central market selling a wide range of goods. (B, L)

Day 15  Depart Hue for Hoi An, crossing the Hai Van Pass and with a stop at the pictureque fishing village of Lang Co. En route also visit the Cham Museum at Danang, and the Marble Mountain. After lunch take a walking tour of Hoi An ancient town, once one of Asia's major ports. Visit the Japanese Covered Bridge, Phuc Kien Temple, old merchants' houses and the colourful market. Stay at Vinh Hung Riverside Resort or similar. (B, L)

Day 16  Excursion to My Son, once the administrative and religious centre of the Champa Kingdom which flourished between the 4th and 15th centuries. View the impressive brick towers that dominate the site. Return to Hoi An after lunch for afternoon free at leaisure. (B, L)

Day 17  Transfer to Danang Airport for flight to Ho Chi Minh City or Saigon. Visit to the Reunification Palace - the former presidential palace of South Vietnam; the War Renmants Museum, Notre Dame Cathedral, the General Post Office and Ben Thanh market. Dinner cruise on the Saigon River. Stay at Golden Central Hotel or similar. (B, L. D)

Day 18  Excursion into the countryside to see the Cu Chi tunnels, part of the network of tunnels built by Vietnamese guerrilla fighters during the Vietnam war to shelter from US attacks. Afternoon free (B)

Day 19  Excursion to the Mekong Delta. Travel by road to Ben Tre where you join a local ferry to cross the Mekong River to mid-river islands where you can explore orchards and fields and experience the life of local people. Then take a small sampan boat to cruise small canals line with water coconuts. (B, L, D)

Day 20  Day free at leisure until evening when transfer to airport for flights back to UK, arriving the following morning. (B)