Imperial China

Journey into China's imperial past on this unforgettable 12-day journey. We travel to four capitals of ancient China and explore resplendent Beijing and dazzling Shanghai.


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“Amazing tour of Beijing! The hotel was ok (Dongfang Hotel), food was delicious and our guide, Kent Wang, was excellent. ”
Frank S.

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Experience four of China's seven imperial capitals! In Beijing, China's last imperial city, we visit all the major sights such as the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square. No visit to Beijing would be complete without exploring the hutongs (alleyways) of old Beijing. We will also climb the Great Wall, before taking an overnight train to the ancient capital of Luoyang where we pay a visit to the legendary Shaolin Monastery,  the birthplace of kung fu. And we also visit the incredible Longmen Caves, where more than 100,000 Buddha statues were carved out of the rocks.

This tour also includes stops in the imperial cities of Kaifeng and Nanjing. Along the way, we stop in the picturesque canal towns  of Suzhou and Tongli which both have exquisite examples of Chinese classical gardens. Finally we end with two days of urban exploration in China's largest city, splendid Shanghai.


Day 1: Welcome to Beijing. Visit the Temple of Heaven.Meals: D

An Albatros Travel China representative will meet you at the airport. We head for one of the most well-preserved places of worship in Beijing, the Temple of Heaven. After the visit we check into our centrally located hotel and have dinner in a nearby restaurant.

Day 2: Beijing discovery: Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City and the Summer Palace.Meals: B L D

Our Beijing discovery begins in the centre of the city at Tiananmen Square and we continue north to the enormous imperial palace, the Forbidden City. Just north of the Forbidden City is the man-made Coal Hill. A short walk to the top will be richly rewarded with impressive views of the Forbidden City. The final stop of the day is the Summer Palace, the former imperial summer residence north of Beijing.

Day 3: Explore the Great Wall and old Beijing hutongs. Take the night train to Luoyang.Meals: B L D

We check out in the morning and head north to the mountains north of Beijing. Our first stop of the day is the magnificent Great Wall of China. This incredible fortification stretches over 6,300km and its construction began more than 2,000 years ago.

After the Great Wall, we head to the Drum Tower in old Beijing, where we’ll have a fantastic view of the old city’s hutongs (alleyways).The tower is from 1420 and the world’s largest drum, weighing 625kg with a diameter of 285cm, is kept here. We’ll have time to wander around the many hutongs of Beijing before taking the night train to Luoyang.

Accommodation: Softsleeper compartment (best class) on night train to Luoyang
Day 4: Welcome to Luoyang. Discover the Longmen Caves and pay a visit to a monastery.Meals: B L D

We arrive in Luoyang in the morning. Once an imperial capital, Luoyang holds an important place in Chinese history. The impressive Longmen Caves, with its incredible Buddhist carvings which can be traced back to 492 AD, bear testimony to Buddhism’s deep roots in the area. We will also visit one of the nearby monasteries.

We stop for lunch at a local restaurant before heading back to the hotel. On the way back to the hotel, we’ll stop by a farmer’s market where we can sample some local specialities.

Day 5: Experience martial arts at the Shaolin monastery. Explore Kaifeng's night market.Meals: B L D

The legendary Shaolin monastery is located approximately 60km southeast of Luoyang. We’ll get a chance to witness how the practice of Buddhism and training of martial arts go hand in hand. After a tour of the monastery, we’ll stop for lunch at a local restaurant.

After lunch we journey east to the old imperial city of Kaifeng, which is also one of China's seven ancient capitals. The city had its heyday during the Northern Song dynasty, and in the period 1013-1127 was most likely the world's largest city with a population of around 700,000. We check into our hotel and head to the city's huge night market, where hundreds of stands offering freshly-prepared food and snacks such as dumplings, grilled fish, noodle dishes, meat skewers, almond tea and countless other tempting dishes. The city's specialty is liangfen, a dish with thick, transparent noodles cut into thin strips and fried with bean sauce and chilli.

Day 6: Kaifeng city tour. Visit the Iron Pagoda and Dragon Pavilion. Afternoon at leisure.Meals: B L D

We start the day with a city tour of Kaifeng. We visit the Iron Pagoda, the octagonal pagoda built in 1049 during the Song Dynasty. The facade is a mixture of glazed brick red, brown, blue and green paired with brick with beautiful carvings. We also visit the Dragon Pavilion, which was built during the Ming Dynasty, on a plateau raised 72 steps over ground. It is surrounded by a beautiful park of about 870,000 m2 with several lakes, perfect for a morning stroll.

Day 7: Travel to Nanjing. Nanjing city tour and train journey to SuzhouMeals: B L D

We take the high-speed train to another of the seven imperial capitals: Nanjing, whose name means "southern capital", and explore its long and colourful history for the afternoon. In the evening, we take high-speed train to the canal city of Suzhou and check into our hotel.

Day 8: Welcome to Suzhou. Stroll through a beautiful classical garden. Learn about silk.Meals: B L D

With its numerous small canals, low whitewashed houses and peaceful gardens, Suzhou has always been a popular city. Our first stop is the Garden of the Master of the Nets, one of the most famous gardens in Suzhou. Next we visit the beautiful Suzhou Museum, designed by the Chinese-American architect I.M. Pei, who also designed the glass pyramid in front of the Louvre in Paris. Suzhou Museum has an interesting collection of historical Chinese arts and crafts. Suzhou has been China’s silk capital since the Tang Dynasty. We’ll visit a silk factory and be introduced to the intricate and labour-intensive process of silk-making. After lunch at the factory restaurant, we carry on to the old city gates.

Day 9: Travel to Tongli. Visit a classical garden. Travel to Shanghai.Meals: B L D

Our next stop is the charming water town of Tongli. When we arrive in the morning, we’ll go the Garden of Meditation, another classical garden. The pretty garden around the house has pavilions, stone sculptures and a pond, and in the idyllic old town you can admire the narrow canals along the whitewashed houses, laundry on lines, trees and fishing boats. We eat lunch at a restaurant in town before leaving for Shanghai by bus. After checking into our hotel, we’ll have dinner in the city.

Day 10: Shanghai. Jin Mao Building, cruise on Huangpu River, Yuyuan bazaar and the BundMeals: B L D

Shanghai, with its almost 20 million inhabitants, is China's largest and most populous city. We start the day in Shanghai’s Pudong district. This new financial and commercial centre houses one of the world’s tallest buildings, the Jin Mao Building. From the 88th floor, we’ll enjoy breathtaking views of Shanghai’s urban sprawl. After lunch, we embark on a cruise of Huangpu River. The port of Shanghai is not only China's largest, but also one of the largest in the world. On the voyage, we pass everything from giant cranes and cargo ships to traditional junks, which are reminiscent of the beginning of the last century, when the waterway was almost the only way to get to Shanghai. Shanghai offers some of the best markets in China. We drive to Shanghai's Old City, where we visit the Yuyuan bazaar. In the densely populated streets with little houses, it is possible to buy a lot of Chinese products, from art and souvenirs to local specialities. We continue to the one kilometre-long shopping street Nanjing Lu, where major designer brands are represented. We end the day with a stroll along the Bund. This area on the eastern bank of Huanpu River offers a great display of colonial architecture.

Day 11: Shanghai. Enjoy Shanghai on your own and farewell dinnerMeals: B D

The day is at leisure. Whether you want to relax, visit some of the city's many museums or do some last-minute shopping, it’s up to you. We’ll meet back at the hotel and go to dinner together.

Day 12: Departure serviceMeals: B

You will be driven to the airport for your onward journey.

Additional information

A child is defined as 12 years or younger and below 1.20m in height.

  • Pick up and drop off service at hotel, airport or train station
  • Professional local English-speaking guide
  • Hotel accommodation
  • Transportation according to the programme with car, coach or bus depending on group size
  • Meals as stated in the itinerary B = Breakfast. L = Lunch D = Dinner. Breakfast is usually international breakfast buffet combined with local Chinese breakfast. Lunch consists of local Chinese dishes including meat and vegetables. Sometimes lunch is a western-style sandwich if the weather or programme so requires. Dinner is specialised Chinese meals from many different regions in China.
  • All entrance fees to the sites mentioned in the itinerary
  • Beverages (soft drinks or local beer) within a reasonable limit (2-3 glasses)
  • English map of Beijing
  • 24hr on-call service in case of emergencies 
  • Anything not in “Included” list above
  • Any flights or transportation besides those mentioned in the "Included" list above
  • Phone calls or other personal expenses
  • Tips - We recommend that the guide receives 2 USD per person per day and 1 USD per person per day for the driver

We reserve the right to make improvements and changes to the itinerary due to local circumstances or events outside our control. 

Tour starts/ends:

This tour starts in Beijing and ends in Shanghai.

An Albatros Travel representative will meet you at the airport. This tour includes pick-up and departure services. Please let us know your flight details, including flight number, arrival and departure times, in order for us to arrange your transfers.

Type of vehicles used:

For transfers between destinations we use modern and comfortable vehicles that have air conditioning.

Level of ability required:

This tour does not include any strenuous activity so no particular level of ability is required, however please be prepared for some walking. If you have any concerns or questions regarding disability access, please contact us in advance.

Food and dietary information:

If you have any particular dietary preferences or requirements, please make these clear when you make your booking. Most types of diet can be catered for. We will eat at local restaurants. It’s not a problem to maintain a vegetarian diet in China.

Breakfast at the hotel is usually an international breakfast buffet.

Health and vaccinations:

In general, tourists do not need any vaccinations. Malaria vaccinations are not necessary in most parts of China. However, we advise you to consult with your doctor before travelling. For more information about health and vaccinations, please look at this website

What to wear:

Weather in Beijing
Summertime in Beijing is usually charaterised by hot and humid days followed by balmy evenings. Winters are often very cold with temperatures dropping to -10 degrees Celcius (14 degrees Fahrenheit). Spring and autumn are good seasons for visiting China's capital although spring sometimes sees sandstorms caused by the winds blowing dust from the Mongolian steppe.

Baggage and what to bring:

For domestic travel by air, the baggage allowance is 20kg (44lbs) per person. Since we do not provide tours with international air travel, please check your airline's website for luggage weight limits.

Flat two pin outlets are used in China. European round two pin outlets can also be used but don't fit perfectly. A plug adaptor can be purchased in most electronic stores.

Visa requirements:

Most travellers need a tourist visa to China. Please consult the Chinese consulate or embassy in your country of residence for visa application. This website may be useful in providing information regarding the application procedure.


If you need to cancel
We understand that your travel plans sometimes change and we try to be as flexible as possible. However as we have to book accommodation at hotels we are also bound by their cancellation policies. In general, the following rules will apply when cancelling a tour you have booked:

- If cancelling more than 45 days before commencement of our services there is no cancellation fee and we will refund 100% of your money

- If cancelling within 45 to 31 days before commencement of our services: 20 % of the total booking value will be levied

- If cancelling within 30 to 15 days before commencement of our services: 60 % of the total booking value will be levied

- We are unable to offer a refund if cancelling less than two weeks before commencement of our services

For full details of our cancellation terms, please see our general Terms and Conditions.

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