Laurus Travel offers premium escorted group tours to China, Japan, South Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Singapore. We also provide customized private tours for families and groups of any size travelling to the above countries plus India, Nepal, Bhutan, Malaysia, Indonesia and Mongolia.
We specialize in Asia travel, having been doing what we love for 18 years. The company enjoys A+ rating by the BBB and has been recommended in every edition of Frommer’s China – the only Canadian tour company receiving that honour. If you find consumer reviews on TripAdvisor and customer testimonials on our website insufficient to convince you, please feel free to ask for references – we have thousands of satisfied customers across Canada, the United States and Australia ready to vouch for us.
Vancouver Sun columnist & bestselling author
“Jacob was superb in every way. He was organized, knowledgeable, friendly, patient, listened to particular requests, took pictures, totally reliable. David (Guilin), amazing guy. Elaine in Shanghai was a close second.
The quality of the guides on this trip – both the group leader and all of the local guides – was really wonderful. They all spoke excellent English, were highly knowledgeable and were able to answer questions well. They chose very good itineraries, made sure we had excellent food and plenty of water, and time for breaks. I can’t say enough good things about them.”
Dr. Martin Schreiber, MD
Professor of Medicine, University of Toronto
“So you want to take a China tour. Family and friends have given you some leads on a possible tour company but you’ve found their recommendations to be a little too qualified with “howevers” and “buts” to instill you with confidence. So you go to the internet and find page after page of tour company listings and you begin to think that vacationing in your backyard is maybe not such a bad idea after all.
Well, before you give up, let me direct you to Laurus Travel and their comprehensive website at www.laurustravel.com. Not only can I recommend Laurus Travel without hesitation …” [full review]
Published author, Ottawa, Ontario
15-day Best of China visiting Beijing, Xian, Guilin & Shanghai
We don’t call this tour Best of China for nothing. For many years it has been one of our most popular luxury China tours. The vacation package is a perfect choice for the time-pressed looking for a well-rounded introduction to both the old and modern China.
The itinerary covers all the highlights in each city and yet still leaves you time to explore on your own. Trip highlights include the Great Wall at Mutianyu, Forbidden City, Temple of Heaven, Summer Palace, Terracotta Army, a day cruise on picturesque Li River, hiking through terraced rice fields in Longji, and exciting evening shows.
- Small group size – 20 maximum.
- Top guides hand-picked by company owners.
- Gratuities for all local guides and drivers included.
- No forced shopping stops of any kind.
- Quality meals at high-end, non-tourist restaurants.
- Free in-room Wi-Fi in all hotels.
- Unlimited supply of bottled water.
- Beijing to Xian by high speed train.
- Peking roast duck at a top rated restaurant.
- Side chambers in Forbidden City most tour companies leave out.
- Great Wall visit at Mutianyu including cable car.
- Day hike to Longji terraced rice fields outside Guilin.
- Peking opera show in Beijing
- Jewish heritage tour in Shanghai
Meal Code: B = breakfast / L = lunch / D = dinner
Contact us for printer-friendly PDF version of the itinerary
Day 1/Thu: Departing Home City
The journey begins with your transpacific flight departing from a Canadian gateway city of your choice.
Currently non-stop flights to China are available from Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto and Montreal provided by Air Canada, Air China, China Southern, China Eastern, Hainan Airlines, Sichuan Airlines, Xiamen Airlines, China Capital Airlines and Cathay Pacific. Ask about our unbeatable business class deals.
You’ll lose a day upon crossing the International Date Line.
Day 2/Fri: Arrival in Beijing
Welcome to Beijing! Meet your guide on arrival in late afternoon and transfer to the hotel. The balance of the day is at leisure.
Day 3/Sat: Beijing (B/L/D)
Capital of China, Beijing is a world-class cultural and educational centre with a population of 21 million (2013), ranking it China’s second largest city behind Shanghai. Beijing is renowned for its opulent palaces, temples, and huge stone walls and gates, treasures that make it the most popular tourist city in China by the number of visitors it receives every year.
Beijing was already a strategically important city in northern China for centuries when Kublai Khan decided to move his capital here from Karakorum in Mongolia. With the collapse of the vast Mongol empire in 1368 AD, Beijing, known as Da Du or Grand Capital at the time, lost its status as the country’s capital but soon regained it when the imperial court of the successive Ming Dynasty moved here from Nanjing. Beijing continued to serve as China’s capital after Manchu tribes dethroned the last emperor of the Ming Dynasty in 1644 and established the Great Qing Empire (Qing Dynasty), which lasted till 1911.
We begin today with a visit to Tiananmen (tian an men) Square. Located in the heart of Beijing, the square is 880 metres from north to south, and 500 meters from east to west. Said to be the biggest of its kind in the world, Tiananmen Square has the capacity to hold one million people. Tiananmen (Heavenly Gate) Tower sites at the north end of the square while the Monument to the People’s Heroes dominates the centre. The square is flanked by The Great Hall of the People (west) and the National Museum of China (east). Chairman Mao’s mausoleum and Qianmen (Front Gate) sit in the south of the square. Considered one of the top 16 tourist attractions in Beijing, Tiananmen Square is also the witness of the Chinese people’s great struggles for democracy and personal freedom since 1919.
After lunch we proceed to the Forbidden City. Also known as Palace Museum or Gu Gong in Chinese, the Forbidden City was the place where the emperors of Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) Dynasties lived and carried out their administration. Construction of the Forbidden City took 14 years (1406-1420) to complete. The complex consists of 980 buildings and covers 72 hectares or 180 acres. It exemplifies traditional Chinese palatial architecture and has influenced cultural and architectural developments in East Asia and elsewhere. Declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1987, this is the largest collection of preserved ancient wooden structures in the world.
We conclude our sightseeing today with a visit to a hutong neighbourhood. Hutong refers to an ancient alleyway with siheyuan or ”4-sided courtyard house” on both sides. The name hutong dates back to the Yuan Dynasty (1279 – 1368 A.D.). According to some experts, the word originated from the Mongolian language, in which it is pronounced as hottog and means “well.” In ancient times, people tended to gather and live around wells. So the original meaning of hutong should be “a place where people live around”.
Today we enjoy a delicious dinner at high-end Beijing roast duck restaurant.
Day 4/Sun: Beijing (B/L)
Morning sightseeing takes us to historic Jingshan Park for a panoramic view of the Forbidden City from above. The park to the north of the Forbidden City was part of the imperial palace in the old days, serving the royal families as a convenient site for farming, recreation and ancestor worshipping. The man-made hill (46 meters above ground, 89 meters above sea level) overlooks the Forbidden City and provides a great spot for bird’s-eye view of the surrounding area.
Next on our schedule is the Summer Palace, a well preserved UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site. The imperial resort was first named Garden of Clear Ripples, which was burnt down by the allied forces of Great Britain and France in 1860 during the Second Opium War (referred to as Arrow War by the British). Reconstruction started 25 years later and was completed in 1895 when the name was changed to Yi He Yuan (Garden of Good Health and Harmony). The design gives prominence to Longevity Hill and Kunming Lake, south of the hill. The sprawling complex covers an area of 290 hectares and the buildings inside consist of over 3,000 bays.
Afternoon sightseeing at the Temple of Heaven, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Situated in southeastern Beijing the Temple of Heaven is China’s largest extant sacrificial temple where, during the Ming and Qing dynasties, the emperors conducted the elaborate and most exalted sacrifices addressed to “the Supreme Ruler of the Universe.” Construction of the temple started in 1406, during the reign of the Ming Emperor Yongle, and took 14 years to complete. The temple was expanded under the Qing emperors Qianlong (1736-1796) and Jiaqing (1796-1820). Occupying 2.73 square kilometres (roughly 1,700 by 1,600 metres), the area of the Temple of Heaven is more than twice that of the Forbidden City.
The famous Hongqiao Pearl Market, the largest of its kind in the world, sits right across from the Temple of Heaven. The market is recommended in various guidebooks as a good place to buy fresh water pearls, a market segment dominated by the Chinese. If you are interested, please ask the guide to drop you off there. However, you’ll need to get back to the hotel by taxi, which costs about 50 yuan or $8.
Day 5/Mon: Beijing (B/L)
Today we embark on a full-day excursion to the legendary Great Wall at Mutianyu, 75km northeast of the city. Zigzagging over 6,000 kilometres from east to west along the undulating mountains, the Great Wall was built to hold off tribal invaders from the north. Construction of the earliest sections of the Wall started in the 7th century B.C. A major renovation started with the founding of the Ming Dynasty in 1368 and took 200 years to complete. The wall we see today in Beijing is almost exactly the result of this effort.
Day 6/Tue: Beijing – Xian (B/D)
Free morning to relax or explore on your own. We check out the hotel at noon and travel to Xian by the high-speed train. The four-hour-forty-minute rail journey cuts through fertile farmland dotted with villages, providing the visitor an excellent way to enjoy the beautiful landscape. The track we travel on is part of the new 2,298 km high-speed railway connecting Beijing and Guangzhou, the longest high-speed rail line in the world. The Chinese for the past 20 years have been on a building spree expanding the country’s rail network and upgrading existing railways. This new rail service rivals France’s TGV and Japan’s “shinkansen” in terms of speed, comfort, cleanliness and onboard facilities.
Please note that the train ride may be replaced by air flight during and within 3 days before and after these Chinese public holidays: Spring Festival, Qingming, Labour Day, Duanwu, Mid-Autumn, National Day and New Year’s Day.
Day 7/Wed: Xian (B/L/D)
Eastern terminus of the fabled Silk Road and one of the ancient capitals of China, Xian is home to the world famous Terracotta Army.
Morning visit to the Terracotta Warriors and Horses Museum. Built on the excavation site, the museum is located 30km east of the city. Designed to follow the first emperor of the Qin Dynasty (221-206 BC) into eternity, the Terracotta Army represents one of the greatest archeological discoveries of the 20th Century.
After lunch we return to the city for a stroll on the ancient city wall. The wall, declared national treasure by the State Council in 1961 under the premiership of Zhou Enlai, was started in 1370 during the Ming Dynasty, encircling an area of 14 square kilometres. The wall runs 13.7 kilometres long and measures 12 metres in height and 15 to 18 metres in thickness at the base.
Enjoy a delicious buffet dinner in the hotel.
Day 8/Thu: Xian (B/L)
Morning sightseeing begins with Shaanxi Provincial Museum. The modern, well-organized museum was completed in 1992 and traces the history of Xian from prehistory to Qing dynasty (1644-1911). The extensive galleries and exhibitions offer the visitor an excellent introduction to the area that greatly improves understanding of the numerous historical sites in and around the city.
We then visit the ancient grand mosque in the old town centre and the adjacent Muslim bazaar. The mosque was established in the 8th Century but the majority of the complex was constructed in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). It was further expanded in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). Unlike most mosques in Middle Eastern or Arab countries, this mosque is completely Chinese in its architectural style. It has neither domes nor traditional style minarets.
Day 9/Fri: Xian – Guilin (B/L)
Free morning to explore on your own. We recommend Bell Tower and the Big Wild Goose Pagoda. You can reach both by Subway Line 2, which has a stop right next door to our hotel. Bell Tower is 3 stops away (8 minutes). The pagoda is 7 stops away plus a short taxi ride at the other end which costs about 15 Yuan (less than $3).
Late afternoon flight to Guilin. A small city by Chinese standards, Guilin has long been renowned for its unique scenery. The name Guilin literally means “forest of sweet osmanthus”, owing to the large number of fragrant sweet osmanthus trees in the city.
Day 10/Sat: Guilin (B/L)
We begin today with a five-hour cruise down the Li River. The 83km stretch of the river between Guilin and Yangshuo affords breathtaking scenery as the river snakes through tall karst mountains, gigantic bamboo sprays, and picturesque villages — sights that have inspired countless poets and painters for generations.
We disembark in Yangshuo after lunch and drive back to Guilin. We wrap up the day with a quick tour of the scenic Fubo Hill (63 metres) located 2 km from the hotel.
For dinner, you will find all kinds of restaurants around the centrally located hotel. To avoid hassle and waste of time, please ask your local guide for advice.
Day 11/Sun: Guilin (B/L)
Enjoy a full-day hiking excursion to the terraced rice fields in Longji. Located 80km (2 hours drive) to the northwest of Guilin, Longji, meaning dragon back, is famous for its terraced rice fields. Because the villages at Longji are in the jurisdiction of Longsheng County, the tourist attraction is often collectively referred to as Longsheng Terraced Fields. The scenery is arguably at its best in early May during transplanting and in late September right before harvest when the fields turn golden.
Built by local farmers of different ethnic groups from Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368) to Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), the mountainous fields cover a total area of 66 square kilometres, rising between 300 meters and 1,100 metres above sea level.
Optional Tea Farm Visit
If time permits and for a nominal fee we can arrange a late afternoon visit to Guilin Tea Science and Research Institute, subject to a minimum of 6 participants.
Founded in 1956, the state-owned institute and its experimental tea farm cover an area of 42 hectares, boasting 250 species of tea plants. The predecessor of the institute was said to be one of the tea suppliers to the imperial court during the Ming Dynasty. The farm sits on fertile soil ideal for tea growing. During harvesting season, the farm employs 150 workers full time to pick tea leaves. Each year the institute produces around 42 tons of organically grown tea of different flavours.
Day 12/Mon: Guilin – Shanghai (B/D)
Morning flight to Shanghai. Before 1949, Shanghai was widely known in the West as a city of quick riches and paradise of the adventurers. After four decades of anemic growth in a state planned economy, Shanghai is roaring back to recapture its position on the world stage. With a population of 23 million and rapid economic expansion in the last 20 years, Shanghai has again become a leading global city with significant influence in commerce, culture, finance, media, fashion, technology and transport.
Afternoon sightseeing at Jade Buddha Temple. This is an active temple of Mahayana Buddhism. It was founded in 1882 with two jade Buddha statues imported from Burma by sea. Please note that extended delay is very common among flights from Guilin to Shanghai. If we couldn’t make it to Shanghai on time, the planned sightseeing for this afternoon would be moved to the next day.
Day 13/Tue: Shanghai (B/L/D)
Before 1949, Shanghai was widely known in the West as a city of quick riches and paradise of the adventurers. After four decades of anemic growth in a state planned economy, Shanghai is roaring back to recapture its position on the world stage. With a population of 23 million and rapid economic expansion in the last 20 years, Shanghai has again become a leading global city with significant influence in commerce, culture, finance, media, fashion, technology and transport.
Our full-day walking tour begins with a stroll through an old but vibrant neighbourhood near our hotel. We then proceed to the magnificent Shanghai Museum with a huge collection of national treasures collected from around the country.
After lunch, we walk to Yu Garden in the old town centre. The last stop of our schedule is the Bund, a waterfront promenade famous for its landmark neoclassical buildings of European style. The skyline of the glitzy buildings across the river in Pudong looks better in late afternoon and certainly works better for your camera!
Day 14/Wed: Shanghai (B)
Today is a free day to explore on your own. Our recommendations include Jinmao Tower and the popular evening cruise on Huangpu River. We also offer an optional half-day Jewish Heritage Tour.
Day 15/Thu: Shanghai – Home City (B)
Spend the morning packing and relaxing. Transfer to the airport by Maglev train to board return flight departing in the afternoon. Re-cross the International Date Line and arrive home the same day.
Contact us for printer-friendly PDF version of the itinerary
|Beijing||4||Sheraton Beijing Dongcheng||luxury|
|Xian||3||Sheraton Xian North City||luxury|
|Shanghai||3||Sheraton Shanghai Hongkou||luxury|
scroll down for what the tour price includes and excludes
|What the tour price includes:||What the tour price excludes:|
When you deal with Laurus Travel, you don’t need to worry about hidden charges because there are none!
See Terms & Conditions for more information.
Name: People’s Republic of China
Population: 1,367,485,388 (2015 estimate), largest in the world
Total area: 9,596,960 square kilometre, 4th largest in the world after Russia, Canada and the United States.
Geographic coordinates: 39 55 N, 116 23 E
Time zone: UTC+8 (13 hours ahead of Toronto/New York during Standard Time)
23 provinces, 5 autonomous regions, 4 municipalities (Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin, Chongqing), and 2 special administrative regions (Hong Kong & Macao)
Close to 92% of the population are Han Chinese while the rest are made up by 55 officially recognized ethnic minority groups including Zhuang, Hui (Chinese Muslims), Tibetan, Mongol and Uighur.
Over 96% of Chinese over 14 years of age can read and write. The ratio is slightly higher among males (98.2%) than among females ( 94.5%).
The written form of Chinese is the same across China as it has been for centuries. The mainland version has many simplified characters which are rejected by the traditional style currently in use in Taiwan and Hong Kong. Putonghua, literally meaning Popular Tongue, is the standard spoken form based on Beijing dialect but Putonghua is commonly known as Mandarin in English speaking world. Many ethnic groups have their own languages.
The majority of the Chinese have no religious affiliation and thus may be categorized as atheists. Buddhists account for 18%, of the population while the other religious groups are mostly Christian and Muslim. Daoism (Taoism) is one of the four major religions in China and the only one native to China. However, its believers may worship Buddha too.
Currency: Renminbi or RMB for short, literally people’s currency
For centuries China stood as a leading civilization, outpacing the rest of the world in the arts and sciences, but in the 19th and early 20th centuries, the country was beset by civil unrest, major famines, military defeats, and foreign occupation. After World War II, the communists under Mao Zedong established an autocratic socialist system. Mao’s successor Deng Xiaoping and other leaders embarked on market-oriented economic reform beginning in 1978 and by 2000 output had quadrupled. For much of the population, living standards have improved dramatically and the room for personal choice has expanded, yet political controls remain tight. Since the early 1990s, China has increased its global outreach and participation in international organizations.
Frequently Asked China Travel Questions
Q: What is the best time to visit China?
A: China is a huge country whose climatic patterns are extremely diverse, ranging from tropical in the south to sub-Arctic in the north, from some of the wettest spots on Earth to arid deserts. The question of when is the best of time to visit China really depends on where you want to go. For example, when the north gets very cold in winter, cities in the far south such as the tropical island of Hainan have very pleasant weather for vacationers. In July and August, most Chinese cities can be hot and humid; however, summer is the best season to experience Tibet, the Silk Road region, Inner Mongolia and the Northeast (Manchuria).
Most travellers going to China for the first time are primarily interested in Beijing (Great Wall, Forbidden City), Xian (Terracotta Army), Guilin (Li River cruise) and Shanghai. Some also include Hong Kong and a Yangtze cruise on their itinerary. For them, the best months to visit China would be April, May, September and October. In some regions of China, high season for tourism begins in mid-March and ends in mid-November.
Q: How do I sign up for a tour?
A: See Contact page for the three steps involved.
Q: Are there any hidden charges that are actually mandatory or else we won’t be able to enjoy the tour?
A: Absolutely not. We despise companies engaged in such deceptive behaviour and would never do this to our guests.
Q: What is the maximum group size?
A: Our group size ranges from 10 to 20 with 20 being the maximum except specials that are clearly identified.
Q: Do you include shopping stops in your tours as so many of your competitors do?
A: No, and we are proud of our no forced shopping policy.
Q: Do I need a passport and visa to travel with Laurus Travel?
A: Yes. Please see Visa page for more information.
Q: Can Laurus Travel help us obtain visa?
A: Yes. Please go to Visa page for details.
Q: Does Laurus Travel accept credit cards?
A: We accept Visa and MasterCard for deposit. No credit card of any kind is accepted for final payment. See Terms & Conditions.
Q: Does Laurus accept disabled travellers?
A: Our group tours are not suitable for travellers with mobility issues but such travellers are welcome to book private tours with us.
Q: What’s the average age of Laurus clients?
A: The majority of our travellers are Baby Boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) and seniors in their early 70’s. Travellers between 35 and 50 make up 20% of our customer base but their percentage has been going up. During summer, we have many families with school-age children travelling with us.
Q: How physically demanding are Laurus tours?
A: Our tours involve lots of strenuous walking and stair climbing as mentioned in the Terms & Conditions. As a result, people with mobility issues or suffering from obesity will find it too challenging to enjoy our tours. Regardless of the traveller’s age, a high level of physical fitness is required of all customers.
Q: What kind of vaccinations do you recommend?
A: The places our tours take you to are generally safe from a health point of view. Our top concern is hepatitis A & B regardless of the country you travel to. We do not recommend shots for tetanus and rabies. Please visit a travel clinic or your family doctor or websites of U.S. CDC and Health Canada for more information.
Q: Do I need local currency before arrival?
A: Probably not, because you can easily get it on arrival and the exchange rate at destination is a lot better. If you need local currency to pay the taxi driver for your transfer to the hotel (this is necessary for guests arriving ahead of tour schedule unless other arrangement has been made), please check with us for a reliable fare estimate.
Q: What is the baggage allowance on local flights?
A: Economy class passengers are restricted to one checked piece weighing no more than 20 kilograms or 44 pounds. Certain carriers may allow the passenger to check in two pieces if the total weight is within limit. However, our policy is one checked bag per guest and we accept no exceptions. Carry-on bag is limited to 5kg or 12 lbs per passenger even though it is not uncommon to see passengers exceeding that limit to be allowed onto the plane. For luggage dimensions and packing advice please see Baggage Allowance & Packing.
Q: Do we eat local food throughout the tour?
A: Breakfast is buffet style with a huge variety. Lunch and dinner when included are local cuisine unless otherwise specified. Please see Terms & Conditions – Food & Beverage.
Q: Is Internet access available at the hotels?
A: Free Wi-Fi is available in the lobby of all the hotels. Most of the hotels also provide our guests with complimentary in-room Wi-Fi.
Q: Do I get non-smoking rooms throughout the tour?
A: Yes. See Terms & Conditions for details.
Q: What about laundry service?
A: Hotels provide speedy laundry service but the prices can be steep. It’s better to bring clothing that can be worn in layers and easy to wash by hand. Unlike in Southeast Asia, it is not that easy to find retail laundry service providers outside the hotels because almost every household has a washing machine.