The Shanghai cityscape at sunset from above

Trips of a lifetime: touring China's great cities

Destination

Macau, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Beijing: together, they present an exhilarating itinerary, even if it’s your second – or third – visit

China’s greatest cities are worthy of multiple visits. Lively Macau’s heritage sites are storytelling at its best, while Hong Kong’s sophisticated dining scene continues to impress. The northern cities offer more surprises: forward-looking Shanghai never stands still, while the country’s capital demonstrates that what’s old can always be made new again. This itinerary takes you from south to north, with some unforgettable experiences along the way.

Heritage highlights in Macau

Start your epic adventure in historic Macau, sampling dishes that pay homage to the peninsula’s Portuguese heritage. A Lorcha is a classic address for bacalhau (salt cod) and chargrilled chouriço, with generous portions and time-warp decor.


In the quaint, cobblestoned surrounds of Taipa Village, António is another cosy spot, whose Lisbon-born chef serves up superb sautéed clams and seafood-studded rice. Take a post-lunch stroll to the Taipa Houses Museum, a cluster of carefully-restored, colonial-era residences.


In the city’s UNESCO-listed historic centre, pedestrianised Senado Square is perfect for a wander, while St Paul’s magnificent ruins are most striking come sunset. Back at Mandarin Oriental, Macau, retire to a Panorama Suite, with sweeping views over the harbour. The next day, a scenic helicopter ride will whisk you to Hong Kong in 15 minutes.

Sample the best of Hong Kong

Hong Kong’s legendary food scene doesn’t disappoint. Michelin-starred Duddell’s is the place for Cantonese dim sum, accompanied by free-flowing Veuve Clicquot at its decadent weekend brunches. For afternoon tea, head to Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong’s Clipper Lounge. Slathered with signature rose-petal jam, its scones are the best in the city.


After dark, settle in at the Old Man, whose name – and cocktails – pay homage to Ernest Hemingway. Alternatively, draw up a stool at PDT at The Landmark Mandarin Oriental.


Like its sister speakeasy in New York, it’s a playful but polished affair. Try the white negroni, with chocolate fat-washed gin, then head to bed in your suite of choice, before heading onwards to Shanghai.

Explore trend-setting Shanghai

In a city that’s always forward-looking, Mandarin Oriental, Shanghai is a perfect fit. It offers a futuristic take on five-star luxury, from its soaring, stripped-back lobby to its coolly-sculpted marble spa. Survey the neon-lit cityscape from a Pearl Tower Suite, thoughtfully equipped with a window-side bath. In the morning, head for the waterfront West Bund, an up-and-coming cultural hub, whose museums include Centre Pompidou’s stylish Shanghai outpost.


For dinner, the city’s most coveted spot is the tiny, three-starred Ultraviolet, where an unabashedly avant-garde, 22-course tasting menu is served at a mystery location (just be warned: you need to book months in advance).


For the final leg of your trip, you’re heading north, catching the world’s fastest passenger train to Beijing

Tradition (with a twist) in Beijing

You’re in the thick of the action at Mandarin Oriental Wangfujing, Beijing, overlooking the vermillion walls of the Forbidden City.


Further afield, the Great Wall will inevitably beckon, with the option of a cable-car ascent on the Mutianyu stretch, and toboggan-ride down. Back in town, TRB Hutong is an atmospheric pick for dinner, serving modern French menus in an ancient temple courtyard, while Duck de Chine is famed for its Peking duck, carved with a flourish tableside.


Before heading home, check into The Spa for the Emperor’s Longevity massage, which will end your epic trip on exactly the right note.