China grand tour: from Hong Kong to Beijing

A 3-week itinerary taking in highlights of eastern China

From cosmopolitan cities and authentic cuisine to spellbinding scenery and exquisite, luxury hotels – China is yours to discover with our independent itinerary. So if you’re planning an eastern adventure, our Travel Advisors are ready to help put everything in place.

AT A GLANCE

• 3-week independent itinerary for eastern China, based on flying into Hong Kong and out of Beijing

• Explore fascinating cities that have shaped regional and national Chinese culture over the centuries – all from the comfort of specially selected SLH boutique hotels

• Highlights include cosmopolitan Hong Kong, ancient temples in Guangzhou, spa serenity in Anxi, imperial history in Huangzhou, art deco glamour in Shanghai – finishing with Beijing’s modern vision and historic grandeur

START IN STYLE: HONG KONG

After a view-laden transfer from the airport, you’ll arrive at your boutique hotel base in Causeway Bay – Hong Kong’s designer heartland. Behind the glitzy stores, you’ll also find echoes of the city’s colonial past. Taking the 125-year-old tram up to Victoria Peak is almost a rite of passage for new visitors. It can be busy, but it’s worth it for the views over Hong Kong Island towards Kowloon.

As well as popular Hong Kong activities such as shopping, going to the races and sampling just about any regional Chinese or international cuisine you can think of, this is somewhere to get back to nature. If you have a day to spare, take a boat to Lantau island, or seek out one of Hong Kong’s walking trails, such as the Dragon’s Back.

UNPACK YOUR SUITCASE

Lanson Place Hotel offers Parisian belle époque elegance in central Hong Kong, with rooms featuring private kitchenettes. Suggested stay 3-4 nights.

THE ADVENTURE CONTINUES: GUANGZHOU

A two-hour train ride takes you to mountain-circled Guangzhou, known as the cradle of Cantonese culture and cuisine. First settled over 3,000 years ago, Guangzhou is where you’ll find some of China’s oldest temples, such as the 6th-century Temple of Six Banyan Trees with its towering pagoda. More ancient still is the 2,000 year-old Mausoleum of the Nanyue King, buried in his intricate jade sarcophagus.

If you’ve had your fill of history, head to the Guangdong Museum of Art for ultra-contemporary Chinese art. Or follow the local lead and while away a few hours over delicious dim sum.

YOUR RIVERSIDE RETREAT

LN Hotel Five puts in the centre of the Guangzhou art district, right on the Pearl River. Suggested stay 3 nights.

ONWARDS AND UPWARDS: FUJIAN PROVINCE

Swap buzzing cities for mountains and tea-fields in Fujian province. You’ll be staying at Elite Spring Villas, in Anxi County, a boutique retreat based on a Zen concept. This is somewhere to sample historic Chinese culture in contemporary luxury.

Take a sightseeing tour to discover treasures such as Nanshan Temple. Experience a traditional tea ceremony at the hotel, or head to the spa for a soak in a hot spring infused with green tea leaves. Suggested stay 3 nights.

NEXT STOP: HANGZHOU

The relaxation continues at your next destination, Hangzhou Rose Garden Resort. Wrapped in a traditional water garden, this luxury resort is perfectly placed for exploring China’s ancient former capital, Hangzhou.

Marco Polo called it the ‘city of heaven’. And, with its beautiful lake fringed with willow trees and historic temples, it’s easy to see why. Spend your days soaking up the views from the water, or strike out into the surrounding countryside. Options for a picturesque day trip include Lingyin temple, with its Buddha statues carved into the cliff-face. Suggested stay 3-4 nights.

EXPERIENCE AN ICON: SHANGHAI

Dive back to the future in China’s biggest city. Fast becoming a must-visit destination for luxury city breaks, Shanghai pairs an irrepressible energy with a decadent art deco past.

Transport yourself to the roaring ‘20s with a stroll along the Bund – where you’ll find striking modernist skyscrapers – and an evening of cocktails and jazz. Or swap the European-style boulevards for historic houses in the old town, and traditional artefacts at the Shanghai Museum. If you want to escape the city, visit one of the traditional water towns such as Zhouzhuang or Zhenze, with their canals and steep, arched bridges.

SETTLE IN FOR THE NIGHT…

The Sukhothai Shanghai pairs spacious, stylish rooms with an enviable setting on Nanjing Road (West), a favourite for dining, shopping and entertainment. Suggested stay 3 nights.

LAST BUT NOT LEAST: BEIJING

China’s capital provides a fittingly grand finale for your grand tour. Tick off unmissable sights such as the awe-inspiring majesty of the Forbidden City, along with a day tour to the Great Wall. Lose yourself among the hutongs – old, stone houses that made up the thriving artisan quarter for centuries.

For all its heritage, Beijing is definitely not stuck in the past. Head for Chaoyang district to contrast classic sights such as the Temple of tguangzhou he Sun, with contemporary culture at 798 Art Zone, housed in a former factory complex. Then explore the city’s countless locations for retail therapy, from markets made for honing haggling skills, to designer boutiques.

DECISIONS, DECISIONS…

Opt for a final immersion in traditional Chinese design at Cours et Pavilions, a collection of residences in the Beijing hutongs. Or keep it contemporary at Hotel Eclat, set in a sleek glass pyramid in Chaoyang district. Suggested stay 3-4 nights.

TRAVEL TIPS

It’s easiest to use taxis and public transport within and between Chinese cities, as you can’t drive unless you have a Chinese license. Fast trains connect Hong Kong to mainland destinations such as Guangzhou. Internal flights are good options for further distances – for example, Guangzhou to Xiamen for Anxi in Fujian; Xiamen to Hangzhou; and Shanghai to Beijing (you can also make this leg of the journey by bullet train). As always, ask our Voice Reservation Team for details about transfers or transport provided by individual hotels. 

BOOK YOUR BOUTIQUE HOTELS

To book the hotels on this independent itinerary, get in touch with our Voice Reservation Team on 0800 0482 314 (UK) & 1-877-234-7033 (US). You can find a full list of our dedicated toll-free numbers here. We’re ready and waiting to plan luxury adventures 24 hours a day, seven days a week. So whenever inspiration strikes, just get in touch.