India & China; Past, Present & Future
20 days from £10,800 per person
This itinerary is one of Ampersand's Top 10 Cultural Holidays.
India and China; two of earth’s largest countries and home to the oldest living civilisations. Often seen as polar opposites, we believe that there are a surprising number of similarities between these great nations; both home to examples of the world’s finest temples, largest historical empires, exciting cuisines, greatest cities, spectacular landscapes, oldest religions, diversity of experience and from the Western perspective, the personification of the exotic, the unfamiliar, the enchanting and the beguiling. Combined, they immerse travellers with an unparalleled richness of experience.
This itinerary traces both countries’ histories; their ancient capitals, holiest sites and modern metropolises. Although just scratching the surface, this epic journey will give an insight into the past, present and future of these two important nations. Shanghai and Mumbai possess rich heritages, including British and Jewish, but are also pioneers in global finance, international art markets and Michelin-starred restaurants. Delhi and Beijing both combine the ancient and the contemporary; home to multiple bygone empires and a collection of simply incredible historic sites. In China visit the former capitals of Hangzhou and Xi’an; Xi’an renowned for the world-famous Terracotta Army, and the beautiful lake city of Hangzhou celebrated in Marco Polo’s travelogues. India and China are also home to the birthplaces of major religions. This itinerary will take you to a range of sacred centres and to where the countries’ most beautiful religious art is preserved; Varanasi on the banks of the Ganges River is considered the holiest place on earth by Hindus, and nearby Sarnath is a major art centre where Buddha preached his first sermon. In Mumbai the exquisite Elephanta Caves, and the spectacular Ellora and Ajanta Caves near Aurangabad, are known for their Buddhist murals and Hindu carvings. China’s Dunhuang Caves display their own examples of ancient Buddhist murals, and provide a fascinating glimpse into archaic Chinese art and history.
The hotels we have suggested provide a culturally relevant and luxurious base to this incredible tour. All are either the most charming, or the best in their location, and often both. Your first stop will be a stay at Mumbai’s Grand Dame, the Taj Mahal Palace hotel, built in 1911 to welcome King George and Queen Mary. Part of the family-run Tata brand, the Palace was supposedly built after Jamsetji Tata was refused entry to Watson’s Hotel in 1903. Delhi’s first luxury hotel The Imperial, built in 1931 by an associate of Edward Lutyens, provides the perfect setting for a taste of Raj-era opulence. Patiala Peg, the hotel’s bar, was also the location of the historical meeting between Nehru, Gandhi, Jinnah and Lord Mountbatten to discuss partition. Aman Summer Palace in Beijing is the only hotel in China built within a historical palace complex, making any stay here a memorable experience. Atmospheric rooms are located within traditional Ming Dynasty inspired courtyards and a secret passage way leads directly into the Summer Palace complex. The Sofitel Legend in Xi’an opened as a state-run guesthouse in 1953, but now is the city’s best luxury hotel. Located within Xi’an’s historical walls, both the modern city and historic sites, such as the Bell and Drum Towers and the Muslim Street, are within walking distance. The world-famous Peninsula Hotels Group presents the Peninsula Shanghai, located on the historic ‘Bund’ with jaw-dropping views over Shanghai’s iconic Pudong financial district.
As with all our itineraries, this is purely a suggestion and can be amended in any way to your preferences. If you'd like to see similar trips, take a look at our Epic Journey and Family Holiday collections; as well as our favourite Ultimate Luxury, Active and Multi-Country itineraries.
20 days from £10,800 per person
- Day 1 - Taj Mahal Palace - Mumbai
Arrive in Mumbai and transfer to your hotel. Afternoon colonial walking tour (St Thomas's, PoW Museum, Horniman Circle etc).
- Day 2 - Taj Mahal Palace - Mumbai
Morning city tour - Ghandi's Home, Dhobi Ghat & Parsi sites. Afternoon Elephanta Caves. Dinner at Golden Dragon.
- Day 3 - Vivanta Aurangabad - Aurangabad
Fly to Aurangabad. Afternoon visit to Ellora Caves & Daulatabad Fort.
- Day 4 - Nadesar Palace - Varanasi
Morning visit to Ajanta Caves. Fly to Varanasi via Delhi.
- Day 5 - Nadesar Palace - Varanasi
Morning City Tour. Afternoon visit to Sarnath. Experience evening aarti at ghats.
- Day 6 - The Imperial Hotel - Delhi
Morning boat ride on Ganges. Fly to Delhi. Afternoon visit to Qutub Minar. Dinner at Bukhara or Dum Pukht.
- Day 7 - The Imperial Hotel - Delhi
Full day visit to Jama Masjid, Old Delhi & Humayun's Tomb with lunch at Karim's. Dinner at Indian Accent.
- Day 8 - The Imperial Hotel - Delhi
Visit to Lutyen's Delhi & Parliament Buildings. Afternoon tour of Hauz Khas Village. Fly to Beijing overnight.
- Day 9 - Aman Summer Palace - Beijing
Morning at leisure. Afternoon tour of Summer Palace & Calligraphy Class.
- Day 10 - Aman Summer Palace - Beijing
Full day Beijing city tour - Temple of Heaven, Forbidden City, Hutong District & Peking Duck dinner.
- Day 11 - Aman Summer Palace - Beijing
Full day trip to Great Wall of China with picnic lunch.
- Day 12 - Silk Road Hotel - Dunhuang
Fly to Dunhuang. Afternoon visit to caves. Sunset desert barbeque.
- Day 13 - Sofitel Legend Peoples Grand Hotel Xi’an - Xi'an
Morning visit to Caves. Fly to Xi'an. Afternoon tour of Muslim Quarter. Dinner at Indian Restaurant.
- Day 14 - Sofitel Legend Peoples Grand Hotel Xi’an - Xi'an
Morning visit to Terracotta Army & Historical Museum. Afternoon at leisure or visit to Giant Wild Goose Pagoda.
- Day 15 - Four Seasons Hangzhou - Hangzhou
Fly to Hangzhou. Afternoon boat ride on West Lake. Evening Impression Show. Dinner at Steam House at Amanfayun.
- Day 16 - Four Seasons Hangzhou - Hangzhou
Dawn visit to Faxi & Lingyin Temples. Morning City Tour & Pharmacy visit. Afternoon visit to Dragon Well Tea Plantation with Tea Ceremony.
- Day 17 - The Peninsula Shanghai - Shanghai
Fly to Shanghai. Afternoon visit to Shanghai Museum and/or Jewish Heritage Tour.
- Day 18 - The Peninsula Shanghai - Shanghai
Morning walking tour of The Bund & French Concession. Afternoon at leisure for shopping. Special dinner at the Bell Tower.
- Day 19 - The Peninsula Shanghai - Shanghai
Full day visit to ancient trading capital of Suzhou, including Youyicun Garden. Cocktails & dinner at Sir Elly's.
- Day 20 - In transit.
Transfer to Shanghai airport for your flight home.
- Mr & Mrs Manson, North India
- Anonymous, India
- Matthew Annable, Rajasthan, India
- Jaime Benitez, South India
- Leslie Siben, India
- Mr David Wallace, North India
- Mr Geoffrey Johnson, India
- Mr Richard Stoughton, Sri Lanka
- Krista Weir, Sri Lanka
- Matthew Nicklin, North India