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Custom Itineraries

Travel to China with a Private Tour

Imperial Tours takes pride in individually crafting each private tour itinerary to the preferences of the traveling party. The following examples include a possible “Highlights of China” itinerary suitable for first-time visitors, plus other themed variations.  We can customize itineraries based on must-see destinations or other interests. To start planning your journey, please complete our brief questionnaire.


Highlights of China Sample Itinerary

Day One Arrive Beijing VIP Airport Pickup; Transfer to Hotel
Day Two Beijing Tian’anmen Square; Forbidden City with Exclusive Access to Private Chambers; Hutong Tour
Day Three Beijing Great Wall
Day Four Beijing Panjiayuan Market; Summer Palace
Day Five Beijing – Xi’an Temple of Heaven; Fly to Xi’an; Transfer to Hotel; Dumpling-Making Lesson + Dinner
Day Six Xi’an - Hangzhou Terracotta Warriors; Fly to Hangzhou; Transfer to Hotel
Day Seven Hangzhou Tea Plantations, Tea Ceremony and Tasting; West Lake Boat Ride
Day Eight Hangzhou – Shanghai Yongfu Temple; Drive to Shanghai; Hotel check-in
Day Nine Shanghai Colonial Architecture Tour with Expert; French Concession; Acrobatics Show
Day Ten Shanghai Shanghai Museum; Yu Gardens; Shopping
Day Eleven Depart Shanghai Transfer to Airport

So you did it. You made the decision to go to faraway China, one of the most exotic countries in the world, a country the size of Europe with 5,000 years of rich, fascinating, diverse history. Plug in your seatbelt because chances are this will be a long, long flight. That’s why Imperial Tours arranges to meet and greet you at the jetway, and then whisks you as fast as humanly possible to a comfortable air-conditioned vehicle.

Beijing or Bust

From here, it’s likely about a 45-minute ride to a rapid check-in at the five-star hotel of your choice, all accomplished with the minimum of fuss. So rest up in luxury and prepare for the adventure of a lifetime: a unique opportunity to explore the ancient middle kingdom, facilitated and guided by an experienced team of well-informed, well-connected bilingual hosts and guides who will help you get to grips with this beguiling country.

The first must-see on any such trip is of course the Forbidden City, with Imperial guests afforded the option of exclusive access to the boudoir of the former Emperor Qianlong. Declared a World Heritage site in 1987, this awe-inspiring complex once served as the ceremonial and political centre of Chinese government. It takes a couple of hours to stroll through the 500-year home of the emperors, eunuchs and concubines. But it takes about four days to see all the best of what Beijing has to offer: whether it’s an afternoon wandering the old hutong alleyways or the long corridors of the Summer Palace, China’s ultra-modern capital city teems with history, pomp and politics. Although invisible from space, the sheer scale and ambition of the Great Wall nonetheless impresses many a first-time visitor, among the most famous a certain Richard Nixon who was prompted to remark, “I think that you would have to conclude that this is a great wall and it had to be built by a great people.”What the former US president thought about Peking duck was never recorded, but Imperial guests have often been stunned to discover a delicious array of contemporary and fusion eateries on tour delivering delightful new dishes that are completely unknown and unavailable in their restaurants back home. Finally for a fine morning of people watching, nothing quite beats the Panjiayuan antique market where craggy stall vendors and determined bargain hunters haggle over priceless heirlooms and worthless junk.

Xi'an, ‘She An’

Now pay attention: Xian is pronounced “she an”, but it used to be called “Changan” when it was the eastern capital of the Silk Road, its only rival perhaps being Rome. Gawk in amazement at massed ranks of terracotta warriors standing to attention at this famous terminus of the ancient world. Absorb, if you can, the majesty of one of the great archeological wonders of the world that was only discovered in 1974. Those with an extra passion for archeology might enjoy an exclusive visit to a nearby pit to inspect the ancient armour of this heavenly army up close. Round off a day here with a dumpling-making lesson from a local chef and sleep like an emperor.

Heavenly Hangzhou

Chill out for a day in China’s most beautiful lake resort: Hangzhou, a city famous for its romantic boating and expensive green tea. See leaf pickers working the fields before settling down to a traditional tea ceremony, that timeless zen experience. The cooling breezes and genteel aesthetics of West Lake itself are best experienced by boat, perhaps with an ancient zither being plucked in the background by a sophisticated lady in a traditional cheongsam. Here too is a chance to ponder the four noble truths and eightfold path at a local Buddhist temple. Believers bow to statues while monks mumble mantras amid drifting clouds of morning incense.

Sexy Shanghai

No great cultural adventure in China would be complete without splurging for a couple of days in cosmopolitan Shanghai, shopping and dining in the most-happening modern city of the 21st century. From the fabulous art deco frontages along the Bund through the galleries and cafes of the French Concession up to the top of one of the most dizzying skylines in Asia, Shanghai is most definitely a city that comes alive at night. An award-winning array of gourmet Western, Chinese and fusion restaurants have been smashing outdated stereotypes for more than a decade and drawing envious glances from all over the world. But it’s not all shopping and partying: In fact China's finest modern museum of historic relics, for example, “has disappointed almost no visitor since it opened in the heart of People's Square,” according to the New York Times. The museum shop alone justifies the half-day excursion. Of the city’s magnificent Yu Gardens the author John Dewey wrote, “The visitor does not remain a cold spectator and is carried forward not by a restless desire to arrive at the final solution, but by the pleasure activity of the journey itself.”

Family Itinerary

Day One Arrive Beijing VIP Airport Pickup; Transfer to Four Seasons Hotel
Day Two Beijing Temple of Heaven & Kite Flying; Tian’anmen Square; Forbidden City; Shadow Puppet Performance
Day Three Beijing Panjiayuan Market or Opera Face Painting; Great Wall & Kungfu Performance
Day Four Beijing Summer Palace & Dragon Boat; Hutong Tour & Athletic School
Day Five Beijing – Xi’an Beijing Zoo; Fly to Xi’an; Transfer to Sofitel Legend Peoples Grand Hotel; Dumpling-making Lesson
Day Six Xi’an-Guilin Terracotta Warriors; Fly to Guilin; Transfer to Banyan Tree Hotel
Day Seven Guilin Bamboo Raft Ride; Village Visit
Day Eight Guilin – Shanghai Free Morning; Fly to Shanghai; Transfer to Peninsula Hotel
Day Nine Shanghai Shanghai Museum; Children’s Palace; Acrobatics Show
Day Ten Shanghai Yu Gardens; French Concession
Day Eleven Depart Shanghai Transfer to Airport

A trip to China offers a fascinating insight into an exotic civilization that will doubtless become ever more relevant to your kids’ future. Each day of this tour is planned with younger travelers in mind – we take into account the number, gender and ages of children to customize an itinerary that will engage the interests of the whole family. In addition, we include an Activity Book that is so designed to bring cultural sites alive with background information, treasure hunts, games and drawings.

In Beijing, your son can try his hand flying a kite in the Temple of Heaven or having his face painted like a Peking Opera star. Your daughter will be thrilled to see the flying kung fu display by Shaolin monks atop the Great Wall. Whether it’s a pedicab ride through the crisscrossing hutong alleyways of the old city or that magical first feeling of a shadow puppet performance, we believe it’s all about balance. Too much history and site-seeing can be a little overwhelming for a young child. So in addition to the child-friendly itinerary, a bilingual, Western China Host stands ready to ensure you and your children get the very best.

Dough antics

After taking in the amazing terracotta warriors in Xian, there’s a chance for all the family to cycle around the ancient city wall or make dumplings for dinner. Sometimes it’s not such a bad idea to disguise learning within a fun activity. Deep in the countryside of Guilin, friendly village schoolchildren like nothing better than showing a guest how to play ping-pong or basketball, offering an opportunity to exchange laughs as well as meaningful memories.

Li River Rafting

Guilin itself offers a sedate and enchanting river raft ride down the Li River. Gaze at  magical limestone karst hills on either bank where rugged farmers plough their paddies, perpetuating a way of life that has endured for millennia. Even in dynamic new Shanghai with its dull-for-kids diet of daily shopping and nightly dining, we can take children on a ride in the magnetic levitation train, climb the Lupu bridge or visit the children’s conservatory to see their talented peers study and perform song, dance and music. Finally, the acrobats are not to be missed.

Mission possible

We intend a family tour to be the transformative adventure of a lifetime.  While familiarizing children with the sites, activities and history of ancient China, we also aim to instill a fascination for its future promise and love nothing so much as to hear your kids have returned to their home countries with a new passion: studying Chinese!

Art Itinerary

Day One Arrive Beijing VIP Airport Pickup; Transfer to Opposite House Hotel
Day Two Beijing Expert-led tours of Summer Palace and Forbidden City (with Chonghua Palace access)
Day Three Beijing Expert-led tours of 798 & Caochangdi Art Districts
Day Four Beijing Curated Private Art Collection; Great Wall at Jinshanling with Banquet Lunch
Day Five Beijing – Xi’an Fly to Xian; Yangling Museum with Archaeologist; Transfer to Hilton Hotel
Day Six Xian Terracotta Museum with Pit #1 access; Archaeological Institute with Vault access
Day Seven Xian -- Shanghai Fly to Shanghai; Transfer to Park Hyatt Hotel
Day Eight Shanghai Colonial Architecture Tour; Shanghai Museum with Expert
Day Nine Shanghai Expert-led tour of Contemporary Art Galleries
Day Ten Depart Shanghai Transfer to Airport

Today’s market for Chinese art, both antique and contemporary, is among the hottest and fastest-growing in the world. We design itineraries that cater especially to those interested in a deeper exploration and more textured connoisseurship of the domestic arts scene.p>

Highlights include art festivals, gallery events, expert-led contemporary art and museum tours, private studio visits including meetings with the artists, exclusive viewings of private art collections and lectures on traditional Chinese painting and the five classical arts.

Breathtaking Beijing

For Beijing, must-see visits include the Summer Palace and Forbidden City, guided by knowledgeable experts able to decode the intricate geomancy and numerology of these awe-inspiring architectures.

Nor would any artistic exploration of China be complete without forays into the 798 and Caochangdi districts, home to the nation’s booming visual arts, where the avant-garde is reportedly moving toward the more personal and private in subject matter, more professional in technique. 

After accepting an exclusive invite to tour a private curated art collection, there’s still time to savor a delicious banquet atop the Great Wall at Jinshanling before embarking on the next great adventure.

Priceless craftsmanship of Xi'an

From the modern to the ancient capital of China, Xian is the natural place to admire the middle kingdom’s long, mysterious and unique art history.

After sampling the terracotta and mini-terracotta soldiers, it’s time to don white gloves before descending into the vaults of the archaeological institute and handling priceless pieces of ancient history. An exclusive visit to another terracotta pit can also be arranged.

Shimmering pearl of Shanghai

Leaving ancient to arrive in modern, ultra-modern in fact: Shanghai is the brash new imposter on the China arts scene, its forests of skyscrapers declaring the arrival of a new superpower.

An expert will guide you through its most happening contemporary art galleries before a stroll through the French Concession and a visit to the always-impressive Shanghai Museum.

Culinary Itinerary

Day One Arrive Beijing VIP Airport Pickup; Transfer to Grand Hyatt Hotel
Day Two Beijing Peking Duck preparation, Peking Duck lunch; Hutong Tour with market visits
Day Three Beijing Great Wall at Jinshanling with Banquet Lunch
Day Four Beijing -- Chengdu Tea Market visit; Lunch with Tea-tasting; Fly to Chengdu and transfer to Shangri-La Hotel
Day Five Chengdu Sichuanese cooking lesson; visit to Panda Institute; Hotpot dinner
Day Six Chengdu - Shanghai Fly to Shanghai and transfer to Peninsula Hotel
Day Seven Shanghai Market Visit & Cooking Lesson in French Concession; Colonial Architecture Tour
Day Eight Shanghai – Hong Kong Fly to Hong Kong and transfer to Peninsula Hotel; Dinner at Michelin 3-star Cantonese restaurant
Day Nine Hong Kong Dimsum making lesson; Central District walking tour; Aberdeen Harbor; Wong Tai Xin temple
Day Ten Depart Hong Kong Transfer to Airport

Hungry? You sure picked the right country. James Beard, the legendary chef & food writer, said it correctly, "the three best cuisines in the world are Chinese, Chinese, and Chinese."

Eating out is a dominant aspect of Chinese culture, and in Beijing, the fine dining scene is booming like never before, attracting celebrity restaurateurs such as Daniel Boulud and giving rise to a generation of maverick contemporary chefs.

Ducky delights in Beijing

As the old Chinese proverb goes, “Sour, sweet, bitter, pungent: All must be tasted.” Beijing buzzes with the steam and sizzle of 70,000 restaurants showcasing the country's best regional cooking. In theory, a diner could eat his way through China without ever leaving the city. Imperial Tours tailors its traveling itineraries to celebrate the rich culinary smorgasbord of China with special add-on activities like learning how to prepare and eat a Peking Duck feast, a formidable banquet on the Great Wall or a tea market visit and private tea ceremony in an ancient teahouse in Chengdu.

Spice is right in Chengdu

Chengdu is the spicy capital of Sichuan province, home to what most westerners know as “Szechuan” cuisine, one of China’s most successful exports alongside Cantonese cuisine. Indeed Chengdu delivers that perfect one-two combination for lovers of Chinese culture: a chance not only to learn how to cook tasty Szechuan dishes from a top local chef, but also a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to cuddle a baby panda.  Lessons in local cuisine, including trips to meat, fruit and vegetable markets are all part of the tasty Imperial template to teach yourself to cook Chinese.

Gourmet dining in Shanghai

After all that authentic heartland fare, what better place to head than Shanghai, where east meets west in a galaxy of Michelin stars? The Pearl of the Orient enjoys a stellar reputation for its fine contemporary Chinese, Western and fusion cuisines, attracting chefs of the calibre of David Laris, Jean-Georges Vongerichten, Jerome Leung, Stephen Wright and the Pourcel brothers, to name but a few. With wines paired by master sommeliers and dinners available every night that have been lovingly prepared by multiple award-winning chefs, the decision to leave this dynamic 21st century metropolis is often a difficult one.

Tea you can eat in Hong Kong

But after gorging with the gourmets, it’s time for tea.  “Drinking tea” (yum cha) in Hong Kong is another way of saying “eating dim sum”. A chef can show you how he prepares his best bite-sized delicacies, those tasty Cantonese tidbits served in steamer baskets or on tiny plates that are carted around the restaurant for diners to choose while seated at table. Dim sum started out as a humble snack that accompanied tea to aid digestion but proved so popular it evolved into a staple of Cantonese dining culture. Just remember as you start wolfing down that 100th dumpling that table etiquette is important to Chinese people. Correct table manners bring good luck. Lazy Susan is watching, but don’t worry: Your China Host will ensure you don’t put a chopstick wrong and that your customized menus are continually updated to suit your particular tastes and interests.



Testimonials Author: 
B.P.<br />USA
"You guys are amazing! So much effort must go into your tours and yet it all seems effortless...What a difference 15 years makes. The last time I was in China, I flew around in old Russian prop planes - these flights were fine."
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