Day 1 UK - Shanghai
Today you'll fly overnight to Shanghai.
Day 2 Shanghai
On arrival in Shanghai, we will transfer you to your hotel.
Shanghai is a fascinating city and at its heart is the Huangpu River and the famous riverside boulevard, the Bund, which is lined with magnificent former colonial buildings. Why not start your holiday with an optional cruise along the river this evening. You'll see many of the city's famous sights, including the Monument to the People's Heroes, the Oriental Pearl TV Tower and the dramatic skyline of the Pudong business district.
Day 3 Shanghai
Your sightseeing begins in earnest today with a tour of vibrant Shanghai, one of the fastest developing cities in China, if not the world. We'll introduce you to the busy Nanjing Road, said to be the world's longest shopping precinct. You'll also see the Old Town, the Yu Yuan Gardens and visit the ornate Jade Buddha Temple.
Explore the famous waterfront of the Bund, with its varied architecture. Here, you will enjoy an afternoon tea, an English tradition immensely popular in Shanghai.
This evening you have a chance to watch the incredible Shanghai Acrobats. Be prepared for an amazing spectacle if you choose to join this optional excursion, which also includes dinner.
Day 4 Shanghai - Xian
After breakfast we're going to set off for the airport and take a flight to Xian, the 'City of Eternal Peace'. On arrival in Xian we'll visit its ancient and beautifully preserved City Wall before we transfer you to your hotel.
This evening you have the opportunity to join an optional excursion to watch the famous Tang Dynasty show, with dinner included. The show you will see is performed by the world-renowned Shaanxi Song and Dance Troupe, the largest performing group in Western China, and promises to be truly entertaining.
Day 5 Xian - Beijing
Today's the day that you are going to see one of the world's most remarkable sights, the Terracotta Army at Li Shan Mountain. Discovered in the 1970s by farmers digging a well, this collection of at least 6,000 life-size terracotta figures was interred in 200 BC with the first Qin emperor. The warriors, representing individuals of the Imperial Guard, are grouped in battle order, rank by rank. Some are mounted on horse-drawn chariots and others are armed with spears, swords and crossbows. This dazzling display of Chinese military power is quite simply breathtaking.
We then board a high-speed train and head to our next destination, Beijing. With a three-night stay here, we'll have ample time to discover so much of this fascinating city.
Day 6 Beijing
Beijing is an extraordinary city, where ancient temples and palaces stand beside the vast 20th century civic buildings created by Chairman Mao and his people.
You're going to explore today on a sightseeing tour that will take you to Tiananmen Square, the largest public square in the world. From here we will pass through the Gate of Heavenly Peace into the incredible Forbidden City, the largest palace complex in the world. Prepare to be blown away by its size and the magnificent buildings that house the Imperial Palace from which China was ruled for hundreds of years.
After lunch we'll take a guided tour of the Temple of Heaven, which was built during the Ming Dynasty in 1420. It sits within a vast park and during your tour you'll see amazing collections of Chinese bronzes, porcelain, paintings and other treasures.
This evening is yours to enjoy at leisure, or if you want to carry on exploring, we offer an optional walking tour along the city's narrow streets and alleys known as hutongs. In these traditional residential areas we will visit local families and learn about their day-to-day lives. We'll also head to a restaurant, where dinner is included.
Day 7 Beijing
Today will we visit to the Great Wall of China. Winding its way through the hills of northern China, this iconic structure passes within about 40 miles of Beijing, and that's where we visit it, at Badaling. It's wide enough to allow five horsemen to ride abreast at this point, and you'll have plenty of time to walk along the historic ramparts.
When we return to Beijing this afternoon, we'll head to the Summer Palace, which is surrounded by hills and set beside the Kunming Lake. You'll have time to admire the views and soak up its tranquil beauty.
This evening, we'll enjoy Beijing's most famous dish, Peking Duck.
Day 8 Beijing - Tokyo
We will transfer you to the airport today for your flight to Tokyo. After time to settle in, why not head out for stroll to get your bearings.
Day 9 Tokyo
Your explorations of Japan begin here in dazzling Tokyo and take you first to the Meiji Jingu Shrine. This collection of buildings and tranquil grounds is dedicated to the first emperor of modern Japan. Next we'll transfer to the district of Asakusa, where you'll visit the fascinating Sensoji Buddhist temple, and head to the vibrant Nakamise shopping street.
In the afternoon we're going to visit the Tokyo Tower and make a stop close to the spectacular Imperial Palace. This is the main residence of the Emperor of Japan, so make sure you bring your camera! Tonight we'll head to a restaurant for a welcome dinner.
Day 10 Hakone & Mount Fuji
A spectacular sight awaits us today, as we journey to Hakone. This is the gateway to Mount Fuji, Japan's highest mountain, and the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park. The scenery here is breathtakingly beautiful and we'll take a cable-car ride over the Owakudani Valley to admire views of mountains, sulphur hot springs and crystal-clear Lake Ashi.
The lake formed thousands of years ago in the crater of a dormant volcano, and we'll take a tranquil and scenic cruise across its waters. At the hot springs, you'll have a chance to try the local delicacy of 'black eggs'. Cooked in the sulphur, eating just one egg is believed to add seven years to your life! We'll also make a photo stop at a great spot close to Mount Fuji, so you can capture its stunning beauty if the weather is on our side.
Day 11 Tokyo - Takayama
Your next base is Takayama, and a day of discoveries starts with a visit to the ancient and perfectly preserved Matsumoto Castle. Set against the stunning backdrop of the Japanese Alps, it's the country's oldest five-tiered wooden castle and has been designated a National Treasure of Japan.
In the afternoon we're going to tour Daio Wasabi Farm to see how Japanese horseradish is grown. The farm has a number of large fields where the wasabi plants grow and we will admire them from specially designed walking trails. To round off your visit, why not treat yourself to a wasabi-flavoured ice cream!
Day 12 Takayama
Our day out today starts early at Miyagawa morning market, where you'll see and even sample the region's exotic fruit and vegetables. We'll then have the chance to see a traditional house and enjoy some free time in Takayama.
One of Japan's most scenic areas is Shirakawago, located along the Shokawa River. We'll head here later to take in wonderful sights of pine-covered mountains and centuries-old thatch-roofed farmhouses.
Day 13 Takayama - Kyoto
A journey by train this morning takes us to Nagoya, where we board one of Japan's famous Bullet Trains bound for Kyoto. We'll start the sightseeing as soon as we arrive in historic Kyoto. It's filled with fascinating temples, ancient buildings and splendid gardens, and we'll see highlights including Nijo Castle, built in 1603 for the first Shogun of the Edo Period. We'll also admire the Sanjusangendo Temple, the longest wooden building in Japan, which houses 1,001 unique carved statues of Kannon, the Goddess of Mercy.
Day 14 Kyoto
We'll start the day by viewing the Kinkakuji Temple with its Golden Pavilion. Next we're heading to the beautiful district of Arashiyama today, where a rickshaw ride through a bamboo forest promises to be an exhilarating experience. Sit back and enjoy the sight of the towering stalks swaying gently in the wind and casting shadows on the path. A sushi-making demonstration and lunch are also included before an afternoon of exploration in Nara. This historic city is where we'll find the Todaiji Temple, one of the most famous in Japan, and the Deer Park with its hundreds of free-roaming deer - you can even purchase crackers to feed them. We'll also visit Kasuga Taisha, the most celebrated shrine in Nara.
Day 15 Kyoto - at Leisure
How you spend today in Kyoto is entirely up to you. You could take part in a Kendo lesson, a modern martial art which uses bamboo swords, or maybe enjoy a more genteel experience, a tea ceremony. Kyoto is the birthplace of this traditional ceremony and there are a number of places which offer you a chance to experience it for yourself.
If you fancy a spot of retail therapy, Downtown Kyoto has plenty to offer, including department stores and a wonderful food market. Alternatively, you could opt to learn more about Japanese culture on a Kimono-wearing experience.
Day 16 Kyoto - Hiroshima
We're taking another Bullet Train today, and this time it will transport us to Hiroshima. This city is infamous as the target of the first-ever atomic bomb, dropped by the US at the end of the Second World War.
You'll tour this rebuilt city and nearby Miyajima Island, taking in views of the beautiful Itsukushima Shrine, a UNESCO-listed site built over water. You'll also see the Peace Memorial Park, a vast area of open land dedicated to the promotion of world peace, and the Atomic Bomb Dome. This building stood at the epicentre of the devastating bomb blast and has been preserved as a lasting reminder of that tragic event.
Tonight we'll get together for a farewell dinner. We'll head to a restaurant and try okonomiyaki, savoury pancakes served with a variety of toppings including seafood, vegetables, pork and noodles.
Day 17 Hiroshima - Osaka
Osaka is the final destination of your tour, and you'll journey here by road, so this morning is all about relaxing and admiring the view from your window. You'll spend the rest of the day discovering Osaka Castle and the Floating Garden Observatory at the top of the Umeda Sky Building.
Day 18 Osaka - UK
Your hotel is located close to the city's main shopping and entertainment district, so there's plenty to keep you busy today. Make your way to the upmarket stores along Midosuji Street, the so-called Champs-Élysées of the East. Later, we'll transfer you to the airport for your flight back to the UK.
Days 19 - 18 UK
You'll arrive back in the UK today.
Please note: To introduce you to China's many extraordinary sights, our itineraries are very full with some early starts and long days, but they are also extremely rewarding.