Shanghai Water Towns


Close  Zhouzhuang, Shanghai’s oldest water town is called the Venice of China.

Shanghai Water Towns

Shanghai boasts of many charming water towns, with traditional architecture and classic Chinese gardens. Most can be visited on a day trip from Shanghai, Suzhou and Hangzhou and make good weekend excursions. These towns with hundreds of years of history, built on waterways are indispensable part of the enchanting scenery of Suzhou and Hangzhou. The best months to visit are during spring and autumn, while mornings and nightfall are the most charming times of the day.

Explore the Old Chinese Quarter in Shanghai and wander through the Yu Yuan Garden. Drive to Suzhou and stop en route in the river town of Tongli with a history of more than 1,000-years. In Suzhou, visit Humble Administrators Garden, from the Ming dynasty and best represents a Chinese classical garden. Cruise on the Grand Canal, China’s greatest engineering achievement. Huangshan, is famous for magnificent scenery. Also visit Guilin and Yangshuo before travelling to Shanghai.

And, discover its beautiful ancient towns and gardens.

We Love
  • Exclusive Tour: your own private multilingual guide throughout the trip  
  • The best rooftop bar. Yin at the Emperor hotel, located opposite the Forbidden City palace complex with grand views in town hands-down
  • The biking tour on the Old City Wall in Beijing is available as optional
  • Airfare Shanghai/Guilin/Beijing, Economy Class is included
  • Train tickets: Shanghai/Huangshan, soft berth and Hangzhou/Shanghai, first class, soft seat are included
Need to Know
  • Your international airfare is not included. We can book your international and domestic flights.
  • Some of Beijing's prime attractions require extensive walking and even modest climbing. Put on sturdy footwear before tackling crumbling sections of the Great Wall
  • Most hotels in China accept credit cards and there are ATM machines in the country. However, cash is still king in China and credit cards something of a novelty item
  • We strongly recommend that you take travel insurance for this holiday

Shanghai Water Towns

This tour is focussed around the towns along the Yangtze and its tributaries including Shanghai and Guilin.
Shanghai, Suzhou, Huangshan, Hangzhou, Guilin, Beijing
(14 Days. Travel Any Day)

Day 1 – Arrive
Shanghai You will be received at the Shanghai Pudong Airport by our representative. After a warm welcome, you will be escorted to your hotel for 2 nights stay. The rest of your day will be scheduled depending on your arrival time and how tired you feel.   
Pudong Shangri-la Hotel (Nil)

Day 2 – Tour
Shanghai Today visit the Old Chinese Quarter and wander through the Yu Yuan Garden and Bazaar. Other sights to see will include the Jade Buddha Temple, Shanghai Museum and the People’s Square. Later enjoy a walking tour along the historical riverfront area, known as the Bund, set on the banks of the Huang Pau River, which separates old Shanghai from the new area of Pudong.
Pudong Shangri-la Hotel (B)

Day 3 – Tour
Suzhou We drive to Suzhou and stop en route in Tongli town with a history of more than one thousand years. Fifteen rivers divide the town into seven islands and forty-nine sets of historic bridges connect the town as a whole. With an abundance of water and good soil, there were hundreds of gardens and temples established here during the Ming and Qing dynasties, primarily in the former residence of eminent businessmen. Take a cruise tour to experience this beautiful water town.  
Shangri-la Suzhou Hotel (B, L)

Day 4 – Tour
Huangshan Take  a full day tour of Suzhou, starting with the Humble Administrators Garden, that best represents a Chinese classical garden. Constructed in the Ming dynasty, it focuses on a central pond with pavilions, terraces, chambers, and towers located nearby. It is the largest and one of the most famous of all the gardens here. Don't miss the Garden Museum.

Then take cruise by motor boat on The Grand Canal, that ranks alongside the Great Wall of China as the country's greatest engineering achievement and it is the longest man-made waterway in the world. Finally, take a rickshaw ride through the old streets & Hutongs in Suzhou, where you will experience the life of the local inhabitants.
Overnight on the train (B)
Soft berth, 4 guests share 1 compartment.

Day 5 – Tour
Huangshan Arrive in Huangshan, meet with guide and transfer to tour of the Yellow Mountain, known as "the loveliest mountain in China". It is famous for magnificent scenery: granite peaks piercing the clouds, strangely shaped rocks and gnarled trees, hot springs, waterfalls and over 1500 plant species. There is no traffic within the core area of about 150 square kilometers and access is by cable car or on foot. We will take the Yungu Cable Car from which you can enjoy the scenery along the way to the Yellow Mountain.
Beihai Hotel (L, D)

Day 6 – Explore
Hangzhou Morning enjoy the beautiful view of Huangshan and then take the cable car down to visit the Hongcun Village. This 800-year old village sits on the side of Mt. Huangshan and generally covered with fog, which gives an appearance of a natural landscape painting. At the foot of the mountain and some 50km away is the 900-year old Xidi Village from the Song Dynasty with its traditional architecture is well preserved. Don't miss the magnificent memorial archway. Later drive to Hangzhou for overnight.
Shangri-la Hangzhou Hotel (B, L)

Day 7 – Tour
Shanghai While in Hangzhou, we will visit the Lingyin Temple, the most important and wealthiest Buddhist temples in China, to see its pagodas and Buddhist grottoes. Then take a cruise on the West Lake, a symbol of Hangzhou. The pagodas and Chinese-style arched bridges add atmosphere to the tree-lined walkways that make West Lake a very special part of any China experience.

After lunch, experience the Chinese tea culture in one of the traditional tea shops in the Meijiawu Tea Village. At this 600-year old village, situated among lush green hills you can see tea picking, processing and tasting tea. It also showcases tea products of all kinds including Jasmine tea, Dragon Well tea, Green tea, Black tea, and Wulong tea. Take a train to Shanghai. Upon arrival, meet with guide and transfer to the hotel. (Dep 1900h - Arr 2001h)
Pudong Shangri-la Hotel (B)

Day 8 – Transfer & Explore
Guilin Take the morning flight to Guilin, China's most picturesque region and one of the world's most famous travel destinations. It is renowned for its gorgeous mountains, clear waters and bizarre rock formations. Famed for the "the finest scenery under heaven", Guilin has attracted, poets and artists for thousands of years who are inspired by the Karst formations and the unsurpassed beauty of the Lijiang River.

With your private guide, explore its well known sites like the Elephant Trunk Hill Park, regarded as the symbol of Guilin landscape and with a history of 3.6 hundred million years. Resembling elephant leisurely sucking water from the river with its long trunk, it has been famous for hundreds of years. Then visit the “Palace of Nature Art” or Reed Flute, a limestone cave in existence for at least 600,000 years.
Shangri-la Guilin Hotel (B)

Day 9 – Cruise
Yangshuo Enjoy a delightful cruise along the Li River flowing from Guilin to Yangshou. The highlight of the Lijiang River scenery is between Guilin and Yangshuo called the “hundred mile art gallery”. As Bill Clinton said on visiting the Lijiang River, “it is more vivid and genuine than what I thought before. Nowhere is like Guilin. It makes me think of the traditional Chinese paintings." Lunch is served on board.

The town of Yanghsuo is embraced by mountains, with the Li River flowing quietly through its chest like a blue ribbon and local houses strewn around the sides of the mountain like sparkling dust. The landscape combines natural scenery with pastoral settings and has “the best scenery in Guilin”.
Yangshuo Resort Hotel (B, L)

Day 10 – Relax
Yangshuo Spend the day at leisure, exploring the town or walk along the Lijiang River. Visit local villages and learn about the local life in the region.

Late afternoon, drive back to Guilin for overnight.
Yangshuo Resort Hotel (B)

Day 11 – Transfer
Beijing Free at leisure before transfer to Guilin airport for flight to Beijing. Upon arrival, meet with guide and transfer to the hotel. Afternoon take a rickshaw ride through the Hutong’s – the fascinating old laneways of Beijing around the Drum Tower.
Peninsula Beijing Hotel (B)

Day 12 – Tour
Beijing We drive outside Beijing, to one of the best-preserved sections of the Great Wall, the Mutianyu section. Built over 2,000 years ago, the Great Wall stretches 5,000 kilometres from Shanhaiguan Pass on the east coast to the Gobi Desert in the west. Take time to walk along the wall and capture the scenery on camera.  

Then visit the Ming Tombs, also known as the “13 Tombs”, burial site of 13 of the 17 Ming Dynasty emperors. The best part of the Ming Tombs is the road there. Walk along the Sacred Path leading to the necropolis and Giant Tortoises, with bizarre, mythical stone monsters standing guard. Return to Beijing in the mid-afternoon.
Peninsula Hotel (B, L)

Day 13 – Tour
Beijing Take a tour of Tiananmen Square, a site of historic significance for the advent of communism in China. Aside from the tragic events here over the last 50 years, Tiananmen is truly a people's square, alive with local kite fliers and wide-eyed tourists. Then visit the impressive Forbidden City, the imperial palace of the Ming and Qing dynasties. See the great palace architecture and its treasures and your private guide will tell you the anecdotes about the imperial family and the court. Also visit the sacred and architecturally unique Temple of Heaven that has come to symbolise Beijing.
Peninsula Hotel (B)

Day 14 – Depart
Beijing Today you will be transferred to Beijing Airport for your onward flight.
Meals: B

Shanghai Water Towns China

Make this your holiday

  • Exclusive Tour: your own private multilingual guide throughout the trip  
  • Price Guarantee: costing 25-30% less than similar tours of the same flexibility and quality
  • Tailor Made: customised itinerary to create your dream holiday
  • Duration: shorten or lengthen the tour to suit your wishes
  • Dates: depart and return whenever you choose
  • Hotels: change hotel grade to suit your budget
  • Group Discounts: call 020 8350 6199

Getting There Beijing Capital International Airport, about 12 miles (19 kilometres) northeast of the city centre, is served by numerous international carriers from the UK. Taxis at the airport are plentiful; the ride into town costs about $20 and can take anywhere from half an hour to an hour and a half, depending on traffic. For the adventuresome there's also a train that whisks you in 23 minutes to a fairly central station in Beijing from which you can cab it to your hotel.

When to go The best time to visit China is during autumn (September to early November) when the skies are clear and the weather is at its comfortable best. The days are warm, sunny and dry with clear skies and pleasantly cool evenings. Local Beijingers describe this short season as tiāngāo qìshuǎng (literally ‘the sky is high and the air is fresh’).

The second-best time is spring, late March to mid-May, when winds blow away the pollution but also sometimes bring clouds of scouring sand for a day or two, turning the sky a livid yellow (great for pictures). From May onwards the mercury begins to surge well over 30°C until the rains arrive. The months of July and August are sultry and humid.