Mao and the forging of Modern China...


The Red Army's Long March

16 Days 



A seminal moment of military history, the birth of Modern China

The Long March is the founding story of the Chinese Communist Party, the grueling decisive retreat from pursuing Kuomintang forces traversing a massive distance of 12,500 kilometers over 370 days. The Red Army’s flight for thousands of miles across several provinces has become a bulwark of the history of modern China, depicting the fighting spirit of the Chinese people and a rallying cry for communism. Today, their trail fighting over impassable mountain ranges, remote villages, and the entirety of China is honored as essential to the story of China.

Travel the route yourself to see the journey that is crucial to the founding of China’s current government. Stand in the building where the first conference of China’s Communist Party was held in Shanghai, before touring the site where the first commune was built. See the battlefields of the great victories and defeats over soaring mountains and mighty rivers across most of China, while catching up with the cuisine and sights along the way. From the start to the end in Yan’an, see the dramatic history of the world’s most populous country with your own eyes.

Insider Experiences & Highlights:

Beijing & Tiananmen Square, Shanghai & The Bund, The Forbidden City, The Great Wall of China, The path of the Red Army through Mt. Jiajin, Expedition on Li River,  The Giant Panda Nature Reserve, The Terracotta Warriors, The Caves of Yangjia Ling and more.



We have selected some inspiring boutique luxury hotels from 5 Star opulence of The Mansion in Shanghai on to the Sheraton in Xi'an and Guiyang and the Red Wall Garden Hotel in Beijing. Our selections are based on their exceptional standards, location and how they compliment each itinerary. Pictures below.



Accomodation/Hotel, Private Driver Transfers, Private Tour Guides, Museum & Heritage Buildings Entrances, Culinary Excursions with daily lunch and one evening where we have selected restaurants highlighting excellent local cuisine.


Duration: 16 Days
Day 01Welcome to Shanghai. The Bund, local dining and sights

Land in Shanghai, we'll check into the Mansion Hotel in the charming French Concession, making evident why this incredible metropolis was and is still known as the 'Paris of the Orient'. We'll then take a leisurely stroll along Nanjing Road, the premier shopping street in all of China attracting fashionistas from around the world. Move on to the scenic Bund, where the art-deco mansions reflect the glory days of old Shanghai and are juxtaposed with the futuristic skyscrapers of today’s cosmopolitan city. Have your first taste of local cuisine with a banquet of authentic Chinese dishes in some of the best restaurants of the French Concession, with its distinctive tree-lined avenues.

Day 02 The Xintiandi & historical introduction to the rise of the CCCP 

Start your day looking through the long history of China at the Shanghai Museum, with fascinating exhibits detailing the story of one of the world’s greatest civilizations. Walk through Shanghai’s role in the tale with a lunch in fashionable Xintiandi, where traditional areas have been renovated and restored into chic restaurants and stylish boutiques. Stand in the footsteps of some of China’s greatest leaders at the museum of the first national congress of the Chinese Communist Party, where China’s ruling party was established, and meet with our historian guide to tell you the enrapturing details of modern China’s birth. In the evening, we'll take a late flight to Ganzhou.

Day 03  The Red Well and the First Chinese Soviet Ruijin

If the revolution was born in Shanghai, it came of age in Ruijin, where you’ll visit after a short drive from Ganzhou. The home of the first Red government in China is brimming with history and the fascinating stories behind it. It was here that the Long March began on the road outside of Ruijin, and the town is packed with historical sights. See where the first Chinese Soviet was constructed, the Red Well where the original communist leaders gathered, and take a tour of the museum documenting the beginnings of the revolution.

Day 04 & 05  Follow the Red Army's retreat over Jiajin Mountain

Transfer to Guilin via the provincial capital at Nanchang, a quick flight to the bustling city. Upon your arrival in town, we'll transfer to the Sheraton Guilin, where you will have the opportunity to explore the charming city at leisure.


The following day ascend the craggy heights of 'Maoershan', Jiajin Mountain, known for its tranquil and moving scenery only interrupted by the wispy cloud cover near the summit. The lush mountainsides were the site of the first mountain climb by Mao’s Red Army, a pivotal event in the history of the Long March. Relax from your climb with a banquet dinner of regional cuisine, a style well known throughout the nation. In the evening, enjoy a cormorant fishing show, where farmers have trained birds to swoop above the waters in a traditional display of showmanship.

Day 06  Li River expedition

Although there are many reasons to visit Guilin, the Li River cruise is undoubtedly the grandest and most breathtaking. Gorgeous karsts spring out of the river on all sides as your boat languidly sails around the bends of the river. The scenery is as far removed from the concrete jungle as could be, with water buffalo grazing at the river’s end and fishermen float by on bamboo rafts in scenery lifted from a classic of Chinese art. Upon your return, board an afternoon flight to Guiyang, where you’ll rest.


Day 07  Mao's rise to power, the Zunyi Conference, visit Mao's home

Walk the paths of history in Zunyi, where the prominent Zunyi Conference defined Mao Zedong as the leader of the Communist Party and commander of the Red Army. The preserved town stands in living memory of the defining event, and a guided explanation of the sites will describe to you the immense significance of the locale. Tour the former Soviet Bank, Mao’s personal residence, and the Catholic church where the conference was held, among more. Travel back to Guiyang after your visit for a taste of Guiyang specialties.




Day 08  Chengdu, close up with a Giant Panda, Ya'an Nature Reserve 

Fly to Chengdu for a chance to see one of China’s most famous symbols: the adorable Giant Panda. The cuddly black-and-white bears can only be found in the wild in China, and the Ya’an County Panda Reserve is one of the best place to catch a glimpse of the bears in their natural environment – and even have the opportunity to hold one yourself! Take a tour of the complex, seeing plenty of pandas there, and spend the night in a hotel in Ya’an.




Day 09  The decisive Battle of Luding Bridge

The Battle at Luding Bridge is described as a critical point in the Long March, mythologized into one of the greatest historical landmarks of the campaign. The lack of boats forced the Red Army to take the chain bridge dating back from the 18th century, storied to be a great feat of arms under difficult and dangerous conditions. A guide will introduce the dramatic story on the still-standing bridge, and see the feats made by the Red Army soldiers on that fateful day. Stay in Luding County for the night.

Day 10 Ancient Temples, sights & culinary wonders of Sichuan,

Return to Chengdu by car, and have the full day to explore the provincial capital of exciting Sichuan Province on your own. The city of spice and tea is packed with interesting temples, historical sights dating back to the beginnings of China, and natural wonders within easy reach. In the evening, discover Chengdu’s fame as a culinary capital of China with a meal of famous local specialty mala hot pot–the renowned broth so numbing and spicy it deserves its reputation as a baptism of fire.

Day 11 Eternal Guard, The magnificent Terracotta Warriors 

Board a morning flight for the ancient capital of Xi’an, one of the great ancient capitals of China. Xi’an’s power and majesty dates back to the Golden Age of China, where the city walls of the mighty capital still stand. Tour the archeological site of the Terra Cotta Warriors, where several regiments of clay infantry and cavalry have been guarding the tomb of China’s first emperor for centuries. Every soldier and officer is unique, with the site being one of the greatest archeological discoveries of the modern age. Back in Xi’an, enjoy a delicious dinner of dumplings representative of the area.




Day 12 The end of The Long March, the birth of Revolution

The Long March ended near Yan’an, where the four Red Armies converged and established their new capital here. Many communists revere Yan’an as the birthplace of the revolution, symbolizing a communist utopian period where they implemented their idealized visions of life, culture, and social justice. Stand where the revolution began at the foot of Fenghuang Mountain, a holy place in the communist epic, and see relics from the old capital at the revolutionary museum. In the afternoon, be absorbed by the scenery at Baota Mountain, watching tall over the cliffsides.




Day 13 The Caves of Yangjia Ling, Japanese Resistance, Civil War

The tiny caves at Yangjia Ling were the heart of the revolutionary movement, where the communist leaders set up offices to command the war against the Japanese invasion, as well as established the well-known rectification movement in the Chinese Civil War. The headquarters still stand at the Yangjialing Revolutionary Former Site, embodying the communist spirit. Find your own revolutionary zeal at the Revolutionary Former Hall, rebuilt to honor the former leaders of the party. Drive back to Xi’an in late afternoon.

Day 14 Tiananmen Square, Mao's Proclamation the birth of the CCCP

You’ll take a morning flight to Beijing. Discover the majesty of the emperors in the palaces of the Forbidden City, housing the seat of government of one of the world’s largest empires for nearly five hundred years. The son of heaven himself lived inside the enormous complex, a stunning architectural masterpiece consisting of nearly a thousand pavilions and palaces for his personal use. Step forward into time under Tian’anmen Gate, where Mao Zedong proclaimed the establishment of the People’s Republic of China, into Tian’anmen Square, the largest public square in the planet and the heart of modern China.

Day 15 & 16 The Great Wall of China, Beijing's amazing 'Hutongs'

Climb a wonder of modern engineering at the Great Wall at Juyong Pass, one of the greatest architectural achievements of modern mankind. The towering wall has defended the capital for centuries, snaking around the mountainside into the horizon. Many original guard towers and sites still remain the architectural masterpiece that has remains forever in our viewers’ hearts. Return to Beijing to explore the old Hutongs on foot, before feasting on the culinary symbol of Beijing: the venerable Peking Duck.


After a leisurely morning, prepare for your flight back to your point of origin.


Further Details: Accommodation, food, weather, inclusions ...

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In Shanghai and Beijing we have selected two exemplary boutique hotels chosen as they enhance the experience and reflect the best of these amazing city's charming 'Hutongs' or neighbourhoods. In Shangahi this is the luxury 5 star Mansion Hotel and in Beijing the charismatic Red Wall Garden hotel. In Xi'an and Guiyang we book into the Sheraton, and in Ganzhou and Yan'an the Jin Jiang International and Hongzou Hotels respectively. All other hotel selections are based on following our travel ethos for quality and mixing 'luxury and local' for real experiences, always with a touch of style.

Culinary Delights:


Aside from the excitig culinary scenes of Shanghai and Beijing we'll have some fantastic opportunities to enjoy regional dishes - those from Xi'an and Chengdu are particularly exceptional.


Xi'an is not only a birth place of rich and ancient culture, but is also a culinary paradise. Visitors to Xi'an usually end up spending a lot of time sampling its multitude of various lamb and dumpling snacks. Xian's local cuisine is well known throughout China for its diversity and is rich in the 'northwest flavour', with wheat flour batters, Beef Paopo, 'Tang Dynasty Dumplings' and more.


When people think of Chengdu, they immediately think of its famous hotpot style of cooking. Introduced from Chongqing, Chengdu hotpot has its own interpretation ranging from simple and spicy to moderate meat and fish broths. We'll enjoy some of the most famous restaurants with locals in the region.



What to pack? What's the weather like?


We'll traverse a large area over diverse regions of China. depending on season rainfall and humidity will vary considerably so we suggest to pack light and with clothing you can layer to allow you to adjust to changing climates.

What's Included: 

All hotel accommodation based on double occupancy. Brilliant hotels known for luxury, charm, hospitality and uniqueness are a hallmark of Variarts itineraries. Fly into town, unwind and know you'll be staying at the best places with truly great value offered via the tours. Every night you spend with us is included in the price of your trip.
All meals as indicated in the itinerary, highlighting the local cuisine including local beer or wine (as selected by VariArts local guides). We include meals where it makes sense, yet we understand that going off on your own to make a great discovery is rewarding, too!
All special events and private tours. Our guides will do whatever it takes to make your trip hassle free. They are equipped with cellphones and on call 24/7. They also happen to be firendly, highly informed, fun ... and they really care you get the most out of each trip! 
Services of professional local guides and other staff. Each morning, our guides brief you on the day’s options. We do this one-on-one, so you never get the feeling you’re involved in anything touristy.
Admission charges to all places and activities mentioned in the itinerary.
All transportation from rendezvous to drop-off.
All baggage transportation. Your baggage is transported from one hotel to the next. This is done by local handlers so the guides are free to concentrate on you.
Extra support. Each trip offers the opportunity to dine or lunch independently from the group…and we’ll happily make arrangements for you.
The VariArts difference - it may be intangible but years of experience and exhaustive research on the ground; local knowhow and the countless personal relationships we’ve cultivated which make for a seamless care free travel experience.

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