An Ancient & Modern Empire

China

China can transport you into an alternate reality where crowds of pedestrians thread their way through honking traffic, bicyclists carry two or three riders, and street food vendors claim the sidewalk in front of the headquarters of global enterprises. 

Burgeoning and madly cacophonous, the enormous country has built itself up layer by visible layer, with highlights of its 5,000-year-old culture still apparent today.

Why Travel with MIR to China
  • Over two decades of China travel experience
  • Travel programs such as the Louisiana State University AgCenter’s Agricultural Leadership Program and the University of Virginia have chosen MIR to guide them to China
  • Twice named one of National Geographic Adventure’s “Best Adventure Travel Companies on Earth”
  • On-the-ground support and quality you can trust
  • Personalized travel planning from start to finish
  • Guides and tour managers that clients rave about
Signature Experiences

We regularly garner raves from our travelers for the inspired opportunities we provide to help them get to know the distinctive art, architecture and accomplishments of the age-old country of China.  Below is just a sampling of the China experiences MIR has designed to take our clients far from the familiar.

  • Skirt the Taklamakan Desert on camelback
    Follow in the tracks of Silk Road explorers as you skirt the Taklamakan Desert on camelback. ...
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    Skirt the Taklamakan Desert on camelback

    China

    Dunhuang, Western China

    Follow in the tracks of Silk Road explorers as you skirt the Taklamakan Desert on camelback.

    Journeys with this Signature Experience

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  • Enter Grape Valley
    Enter Grape Valley near Turpan, where the air is fragrant with the sweetness of the favored white seedless Wuhebai grape, sometimes called the Green Pearl....
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    Enter Grape Valley

    China

    Turpan, Western China

    Enter Grape Valley near Turpan, where the air is fragrant with the sweetness of the favored white seedless Wuhebai grape, sometimes called the Green Pearl.

    Journeys with this Signature Experience

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  • Tour UNESCO-listed Mogao Thousand Buddha Caves
    Tour the UNESCO-listed Mogao Caves, which present a thousand-year study in the development of Buddhist art in China....
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    Tour UNESCO-listed Mogao Thousand Buddha Caves

    China

    Dunhuang, Western China

    Tour the UNESCO-listed Mogao Caves, which present a thousand-year study in the development of Buddhist art in China.

    Journeys with this Signature Experience

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  • Crest dramatic Torugart Pass, a demanding Silk Road caravan route
    Crest Torugart Pass, a 12,000-foot pass through the Tien Shan Mountains on the border of Kyrgyzstan and China, a route used by the old Silk Road caravans...
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    Crest dramatic Torugart Pass, a demanding Silk Road caravan route

    China

    Torugart Pass, China/Kyrgyzstan border

    Crest Torugart Pass, a 12,000-foot pass through the Tien Shan Mountains on the border of Kyrgyzstan and China, a route used by the old Silk Road caravans and one of the most spectacular routes into or out of China.

    Journeys with this Signature Experience

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Ways to Travel to China with MIR

We design every one of our China trips to help you discover for yourself why we like to keep checking up on China as it changes from day to day.

Take a look at your options, from small group escorted tours to independent trips, from luxury rail journeys to custom and private travel:

Small Group Tours
China’s Silk Road & Tibet:  Route of Monks & Merchants

China’s Silk Road & Tibet: Route of Monks & Merchants

An Expedition from Lhasa to Kashgar

Travels to: China, Tibet

18 Days / Departures in September 2017

Small Group land tour from $6,295, plus $1,860 internal air

See Trip

China’s Silk Road & Tibet:  Route of Monks & Merchants

China’s Silk Road & Tibet: Route of Monks & Merchants

An Expedition from Lhasa to Kashgar

Travels to: China, Tibet

18 Days / Departures in May, September 2018

Small Group land tour from $6,395

See Trip

Opening the Door on the DPRK (North Korea)

Opening the Door on the DPRK (North Korea)

Exploring One of the Last Travel Frontiers

Travels to: China, DPRK North Korea

11 Days / Departures in October 2017

Small Group land tour from $5,495, plus $650 internal air

See Trip

Chinese Turkestan & Central Asia

Chinese Turkestan & Central Asia

The Silk Road Through Western China and the Five ‘Stans

Travels to: Central Asia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan

24 Days / Departures in May, August 2018

Small Group land tour - call for pricing

See Trip

The Pamir Highway & Across Fabled Frontiers

The Pamir Highway & Across Fabled Frontiers

The Silk Road Less Traveled from Kyrgyzstan to Tajikistan

Travels to: Central Asia, China, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan

18 Days / Departures in July 2018

Small Group land tour - call for pricing

See Trip

Rail Journeys by Private Train
The Trans-Siberian Express Between Beijing & Moscow: Westbound

The Trans-Siberian Express Between Beijing & Moscow: Westbound

From China to Russia Aboard the Tsar's Gold

Travels to: China, Mongolia, Russia, Siberia and the Russian Far East, Trans-Siberian Railway, Western Russia

15 Days / Departures in August, September, June, July 2017

Rail Journey by Private train land tour from $8,695

See Trip

The Trans-Siberian Express Between Beijing & Moscow: Westbound

The Trans-Siberian Express Between Beijing & Moscow: Westbound

From China to Russia Aboard the Tsar's Gold

Travels to: China, Mongolia, Russia, Siberia and the Russian Far East, Trans-Siberian Railway, Western Russia

15 Days / Departures in May 2018

Rail Journey by Private train land tour from $8,395

See Trip

The Trans-Siberian Express Between Moscow & Beijing: Eastbound

The Trans-Siberian Express Between Moscow & Beijing: Eastbound

From Russia to China Aboard the Tsar's Gold

Travels to: China, Mongolia, Russia, Siberia and the Russian Far East, Trans-Siberian Railway, Western Russia

16 Days / Departures in September, June, July, August 2017

Rail Journey by Private train land tour from $8,795

See Trip

The Trans-Siberian Express Between Moscow & Beijing: Eastbound

The Trans-Siberian Express Between Moscow & Beijing: Eastbound

From Russia to China Aboard the Tsar's Gold

Travels to: China, Mongolia, Russia, Siberia and the Russian Far East, Trans-Siberian Railway, Western Russia

16 Days / Departures in May 2018

Rail Journey by Private train land tour from $8,495

See Trip

The Silk Route by Private Train: Eastbound

The Silk Route by Private Train: Eastbound

Moscow to Beijing via Central Asia Aboard the Golden Eagle

Travels to: Central Asia, China, Kazakhstan, Russia, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Western Russia

21 Days / Departures in September 2017

Rail Journey by Private train land tour from $24,595

See Trip

The Silk Route by Private Train: Westbound

The Silk Route by Private Train: Westbound

Beijing to Moscow via Central Asia Aboard the Golden Eagle

Travels to: Central Asia, China, Kazakhstan, Russia, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Western Russia

21 Days / Departures in September 2017

Rail Journey by Private train land tour from $24,595

See Trip

Tibet & China Rail Discovery

Tibet & China Rail Discovery

From Lhasa to Urumqi by Private Train

Travels to: China, Tibet

12 Days / Departures in October 2017

Rail Journey by Private train land tour from $9,995

See Trip

Custom and private travel is our specialty. We’ve been designing unforgettable custom itineraries across the floodplains, deserts and mountains of China for over two decades; a majority of our guests travel on custom itineraries.

For ideas, peruse one of our Regional Travel Planners, a roundup of the must-sees from our savvy staff.

You can choose to design your own trip or customize our China’s Silk Road & Tibet: Route of Monks & Merchants small group tour or other MIR small group tours stopping in China to match your preferred dates of travel.

Design Your Own Custom Trip

Traveling privately on a custom program means flexibility:

  • You set the dates, the focus and the level of accommodations.
  • You are met on arrival and seen off at the end of your trip.
  • Your in-country transportation is pre-arranged hassle-free.
  • Your own expert local guides ensure that you get the most out of your visit.
  • And the best part? You travel at your own pace on an itinerary exclusive to you.

Check out just a handful of our China signature experiences below and then get in touch with a MIR Private Journey Specialist to craft an itinerary that suits your travel goals, budget and style.  Or get started planning now.

Suggested Itineraries for Private Travel

Whether you’re looking for a compact trip with all the highlights or something a little roomier with some of the extras, MIR offers itineraries that are available on a private departure basis with your choice of dates. They can also serve as inspiration for your own custom itinerary.

Our itinerary, your dates – great for solo travelers, couples or small groups.

Essential Tibet

Essential Tibet

Tibet Sampler

Travels to: China, Tibet

Departures in August, September, October 2017

This itinerary available as a private journey

See Trip

Weather
Our Favorite Places in China
China

Beijing

Multi-faceted Beijing, modern capital of China, is the country's most important city and its political and historical center. A city of contradictions, Beijing's skyscrapers overshadow traditional narrow alleys (hutongs), and the remnants of Imperial China sit alongside five star hotels and western brand-name stores.

Beijing’s numerous landmarks, ranging from the Temple of Heaven, site of Imperial prayer in the long-past Ming and Qing dynasties, to Tiananmen Square with its Great Hall of the People and mausoleum of Mao Zedong, tell the long history of China, as well as the short history of the People’s Republic.

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China

Xi’an

Xi'an is the capital of Shaanxi Province and the eastern terminus of the great Silk Road. Under the ancient name Chang'an, Xi'an was home to 11 Chinese dynasties and is one of China’s oldest cities. At its peak in the 8th century, over a million people lived in Xi'an. It is the resting place of the world-renowned Terra Cotta Army.

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China

Shanghai

Shanghai is arguably the most westernized city in China. Though originally forced open as a concession port at the end of the Opium War with Britain, the city has flourished. Foreign investment, once by decree and now by choice, has played a huge part in Shanghai’s development. A walk along the Bund, or riverfront, reveals modern office buildings, classic colonial-style structures, and an international mix of people. Far from being “overrun” by foreign influence, Shanghai's long Chinese heritage has blended with it in a unique synthesis.

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Journeys that travel to Shanghai

Contact a MIR Private Journeys Specialist at privatejourneys@mircorp.com or 800-424-7289 to plan a custom & private trip to Shanghai.

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China

Hong Kong

Inhabited since antiquity by the Chinese, Hong Kong became a British colony after the Second Opium War in the 1860s, controlled by a government over 11,000 miles away. The British obtained a 99-year lease on the island in 1898 and throughout the twentieth century Hong Kong prospered as a bastion of capitalism and an outpost of Western culture surrounded by a communist and often insular nation. The island city was handed back over to the Chinese government in a transfer of sovereignty in 1997, but will retain some of its autonomy until at least 2047.

Modern Hong Kong is part of a robust, economically powerful new China, and its famous towering skyline is no longer an anomaly. Not all of the British Empire's influence has left the city and an Edwardian shopping center can still be found amid the Qing-era temples.

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Journeys that travel to Hong Kong

Contact a MIR Private Journeys Specialist at privatejourneys@mircorp.com or 800-424-7289 to plan a custom & private trip to Hong Kong.

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China

Chengdu

Chengdu is one of the oldest cities in China, already going strong during the 4th century BC, during the time that the area’s ancient irrigation and flood-control project was being built. It is the capital of Sichuan Province, called the “rice bowl” of China because of its subtropical climate, its irrigation system and its fertile red soil. The city has a laid-back feel to it, and a relaxing “teahouse culture” still holds sway. However, many of the older wooden houses and their cobbled streets have been razed to make way for new development.

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Journeys that travel to Chengdu

Contact a MIR Private Journeys Specialist at privatejourneys@mircorp.com or 800-424-7289 to plan a custom & private trip to Chengdu.

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China

Kashgar

Two-thousand-year-old Kashgar is unlike any other place in China. Its population is made up in great part by the Turkic Uighur people prevalent in western China rather than the majority Han Chinese. Both the northern and southern caravan routes around the Taklamakan Desert converged at the Kashgar oasis.

This fabled city greeted Marco Polo in the 13th century as he entered the Middle Kingdom, and retains the exotic air and immense appeal of medieval Asia. Kashgar is one of the most isolated cities in the world and boasts a huge Sunday market. It is also home to the largest mosque in China, and one of the only remaining statues of Mao Zedong.

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China

Urumqi

Urumqi, a Mongolian name meaning “Beautiful Pasture,” is seated at the foot of the soaring Tien Shan (Heavenly) Mountains, and is the capital of China’s Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Province. Both its people and its landscapes are variegated and diverse. The slopes of 17,864-foot Bogdan Peak, bristling with spruce, give way to valleys lined with poplar that merge into the grasslands of the nomad, and finally transform themselves into desert. Nomads of Mongolian, Kazakh and Uighur extraction have roamed here for thousands of years, and Han Chinese people began moving here in the first century AD.

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China

Turpan

Turpan, the hottest city in China, is located in what is known as the "Valley of Fruits.”  The wine grapes that are cultivated here are irrigated with a 2,000-year-old gravity-fed system that brings water from the glaciers of the Tien Shan. Turpan was a welcome oasis on the northern Silk Road, its green fields surrounded by one of the deepest waterless depressions on earth. During the Han Dynasty, from 202 BC to 220 AD, its sister cities of Jiaohe and Gaochang were famous trade and defensive centers. Their ruins remain in the desert near Turpan.

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China

Guilin

Guilin was founded on the Lijiang River in 314 BC. After a canal joining it to the Yangtze was constructed, the city became more important as a supply link between Beijing and the armies in the south. Guilin’s saw-toothed green peaks are often seen in classical Chinese landscape paintings.

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Journeys that travel to Guilin

Contact a MIR Private Journeys Specialist at privatejourneys@mircorp.com or 800-424-7289 to plan a custom & private trip to Guilin.

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When to Travel to China

Harbin Ice Festival (January)

Harbin Ice Festival  Photo credit: China National Tourist OfficeHarbin’s incredible Snow and Ice Festival usually begins around January 5 and lasts for a month. During the light of day you can wander around Snow Island among the gigantic snow sculptures carved by teams from all over the world. As night falls, the action begins across the bridge on the Ice Festival grounds. Ice blocks cut from the Songhua Jiang River are stacked on top of each other with lights embedded in them to create Russian churches, Thai palaces and Chinese pagodas, and the whole place glows like Las Vegas.

Chinese New Year, throughout China  (varies by year)

Chinese New Year is the most important Chinese holiday, and lasts for a period of 15 days, beginning on the first day of the first month of the traditional Chinese calendar and ending with the Lantern Festival. Within China, regional customs and traditions concerning the celebration of the New Year vary widely. People buy presents, decorate their homes, cook traditional foods, and dress in elaborate clothing. Windows and doors are decorated in red, which is considered lucky. Traditional foods include meats such as pig, duck and chicken, as well as sweet delicacies. The night ends with a festive display of various firecrackers. Early the next morning, New Year’s greetings and gifts are exchanged, as it is traditional for the children to receive money in red paper envelopes.

Weifang International Kite Festival, Weifang City (April)

With a long kite-making history and a reputation for outstanding craftsmanship, Weifang produces fanciful and creative kites that are famous all over the world. The city has been hosting the Weifang International Kite Festival since 1984. During the festival, kite fanciers from over 30 countries and regions attend to display and compete with their kites. Activities during the festival include the wonderful opening ceremony, an international kite competition, and a chance to visit the Weifang Kite Museum.

Dragon Boat Festival, throughout China (June)

Activities for the Dragon Boat, or Duanwu Festival include the preparation and consumption of special foods such as zongzi (rice dumplings wrapped in bamboo leaves) and realgar wine, and the racing of dragon boats, the carved and painted traditional human-powered Chinese boats. Traditional activities that are meant to ensure health and well-being are undertaken, including a game of making an egg stand at noon. In China, Duanwu was also celebrated as “Poets’ Day.”