The Oriental Garden

April 16 - April 26, 2017

Sharing - £1,570 / $1,930     Single - £1,995 / $2,450

'We recognise the outstanding universal value of the classical Gardens of Suzhou, for their outstanding historical, cultural and landscape artistic significance.' 

(UNESCO citation - World Heritage Listing 1997) 


Stemming from our previous tours to the inspiring Gardens of Suzhou, our travel itinerary in China has now been extended into a varied, stimulating and wide ranging account of Chinese culture Whilst very much an enquiry into the roots of Oriental Garden design, the journey moves from the dense, high rise skyline of Shanghai to the misty, craggy peaks of Huangshan ( Yellow Mountains ), revered throughout Chinese art & poetry Whether sipping tea in a traditional Tea House on an island in the middle of Hangzhou's famous West Lake or rubbing shoulders with modern, rapidly developing, everyday China, it is impossible not to feel the full force of a great culture emerging from the shackles of its history

The story of the gardens leads to an understanding of the former Confucian way of life of the scholars, artists, merchants and officials who established them, whilst their intrinsic design qualities convey the meditative influence of Buddhism and Zen. Set amidst plaques of traditional poetry, the naming of the pavillions, rock formations and viewing points, speak directly to the intuition and aesthetic insight of the viewer 

Moving from place to place with tight logistics, the itinerary still preserves our customary balance between tour schedule and free time, enabling time and space to explore and reflect

TOUR GUIDE - Robert Ketchell (see Gardens of Kyoto)

For the past ten years in Spring & Autumn, Robert has introduced clients to the wonders of the Gardens of Kyoto, as well as guiding the occasional group to the Gardens of Suzhou Numerous returnee clients to Kyoto attest to Robert' s relaxed, good huomured style and to his deep and knowledgable involvement in the art form Together with the local knowledge of our Agent in China, Robert proposed the itinerary below which has now been researched and refined from the practical point of view.

The style of the Tour will be relaxed but well organised as with the Gardens of Kyoto Tours. Whether from a cultural or a horticultural pint of view. clients will obtain a comprehensive view of the Chinese garden tradition. The tour will use reasonably priced international standard hotels and will be supported by local guides and travel services. For those wishing to further deepen their understanding of the Oriental Garden, the timing of the China Tour has been designed to link up with the Gardens of Kyoto Tour, which directly precedes it. 


Pre-Tour / Visa - All visitors to China need to obtain a Visa before arriving in China

Sunday April 16 Shanghai 
International arrivals at Shanghai Pudong Airport. Clients make their own way to hotel 
Hotel: Grand Skylight (4 stars) - 2 nights 

Monday April 17 Shanghai 
Tour with bus & local guide - Am: Shanghai Museum; Pm: Yuyuan Garden & the Bund 

Tuesday April 18 Shanghai - Huangshan 
Full day at leisure. Evening transfer to airport with bus and local guide for flight to Huangshan city. 
Stay Huashan Hotel, Huangshan City ( 4 stars ) – 1 night

Wednesday April 19 Huangshan 
Go up the mountain. At leisure at the mountain top 
Hotel: Beihai (4 stars) - 1 night 

Thursday April 20 Huangshan 
At leisure at the mountain top. Pm go down the mountain 
Stay Huashan Hotel, Huangshan City ( 4 stars ) – 1 night 

Friday April 21 Huangshan - Hangzhou 
Am bus and guide transfer to Hangzhou West Lake lakeside hotel. Pm at leisure 
Hotel: Xinxin Hotel (4 stars) - 2 nights 

Saturday April 22 Hangzhou 
Tour with bus & local guide visiting Lingyin Temple, National Tea Musuem and West Lake islands. 

Sunday April 23 Hangzhou - Suzhou 
Am bus transfer to Suzhou garden hotel. Pm at leisure. 
Hotel: Nanlin (4 stars) - 3 nights 

Monday April 24 Suzhou 
Visit major Suzhou Gardens with Robert Ketchell 

Tuesday April 25 Suzhou 
At leisure 

Wednesday April 26 Depart Suzhou 
Clients make their own way to Shanghai Pudong Airport for departure flights 

- In general, European flights arrive during the morning, leaving the rest of the day of arrival for checking in at the hotel, relaxing or exploring Shanghai. American clients who find that their flights arrive in the evening are advised to arrive the previous evening on Saturday April 11. We will arrange the extra night at the hotel for you All clients should arrive at Shanghai Pu Dong Airport. 

THE BUDGET – Sharing - £1,570 / $1,930 Single - £1,995 / $2,450 ( October 2016 )

The budget includes an internal flight, much moving around China, a more sumptuous standard of hotel than Kyoto with breakfasts included. The uplift on the Single budget is due to paying by the room in China, rather than by the head as in Japan 

The budget for the China Tour is composed of three elements :

1. Tour Basic : 5,900 Yuan Single Supplement 3,000 Yuan 

( Includes 10 nts international standard accommodation with breakfast, local guide & transport in Shanghai, Huangshan & Hangzhou, internal flight and transfers Shanghai to Huangshan, transfer Hangzhou to Suzhou ) Payable to China Agent 4-6 weeks beforehand, via Espirita. 

2. Tour Expenses in China : 2,500 Yuan / 3,000 Yuan Single Person 
( includes taxis to and from international flights, national park, museum and garden entrance fees, local transport between gardens and sites visited, plus assorted minor expenses ) Pay as you go during the tour. 

3. Tour Fees : £550 per person Payable to Espirita 2-4 weeks beforehand. 


With particular reference to the landscape painting tradition on screen and scroll, the Tour will trace the origins of the Oriental Garden amidst the fine collections of the recently modernised Shanghai Museum, To become familiar with the local flora and to also note their astounding collection of Bonsai, a prolonged visit to the Shanghai Botanical Gardens is fully merited. 





Located in Anhui province, their classic misty layered craggy peaks have been an inspiration to writers and artists for many centuries. Representing the spirit of such scenery has been a vital element in the tradition of the oriental garden.



With it vibrant cultural history and with its classic traditional architecture, with the national museums for Silk and Tea, and with its situation at the southern terminus of the Grand Canal, the Oriental Garden Tour will fully explore Hangzhou's famous West lake, with its classic pavilions and scenic beauty.


Situated 2 hours from Shangai (Pu Dong) International Airport, the ancient and cultured city of Suzhou, in Jiangsu province, mercifully escaped the worst ravages of recent Chinese history - its rich cultural and garden heritage managing to survive more or less intact. Suzhou is probably the best place in China to see gardens as they were originally designed. Major gardens such as 'The Garden of The Master of the Nets', 'The Garden for Lingering In', 'The Garden of Harmony' and 'The Humble Administrator's Garden', all reflect the tastes in former centuries of the scholars, monks, officials and princes that served to bring these masterpieces into existence. Many of the smaller gardens serve to further enhance the journey into the traditional Chinese aesthetic. Additionally, in and around the main gardens are some awe inspiring Bonsai collections.

'Sitting in silence 
I enter in deep meditation
the still pond
calms down my emotions
from afar'

(plaque in Suzhou Garden)
From various hotel options, we have selected a moderately priced but luxuriously renovated international hotel, partly for its good facilities, but also for its secluded location within easy reach of restaurants, shops, internet cafes, tea houses and masseurs on one of Suzhou's main streets. No one should miss the modern version of the traditional Chinese tea house - for $4-5, you can choose freely from a wide selection of teas and a well stocked snack buffet. The local massage style is not so much a miss as a hit - not so much the subtle tendering of Japanese 'Acu-pressure' but something more akin to 'Acu-crusher' - describing it as vigorous might not be doing it full justice. Local cuisine is similarly uncompromising - far removed from the gelatinous neutrality of the average European Chinese restaurant, be prepared for some seriously spiced food, chillies abounding.

With Garden Japan Tour - For those thinking of combining it with the preceding Japan Tour, Open Jaws / Multi-City flight tickets, for example on KLM, Air France or Lufthansa which fly regularly to both Shanghai and Osaka, permit flying into Osaka and out of Shanghai, at the same price as Osaka return. At last, there are now some one way budget flights between Shanghai and Osaka, thereby avoiding the full priced one way ticket for the 2½ hrs flight for Shanghai to Osaka ( previously costing £300-£340 / $475-$550 ) Subject to being referenced by our agent in China, two budget airlines operate between Osaka and Shanghai, offer more reasonably priced one way /

Espirita - Forest Donation Policy