Day 1/Thu: Departing
The journey begins with your transpacific flight departing from Toronto. You'll lose a day upon crossing the
International Date Line.
Day 2/Fri: Arrival in Beijing
Welcome to Beijing!
Meet your guide on arrival in late afternoon and transfer to the hotel.
The balance of the day is at leisure.
Where to Eat
There is a variety of restaurants below the hotel offering Chinese,
Japanese, Vietnamese and Western cuisines. We recommend the popular hot
pot eatery where you can have a good meal with beer for less than $10.
This service is available at the front desk of the hotel.
There is no need to shop around because the exchange rate is very much the
same anywhere in China. Guests arriving ahead of schedule who have to get
to the hotel by taxi can get Chinese currency at the airport on
Getting to the Hotel by Taxi
If you arrive one day or two ahead of tour schedule, you will need to make your way to the
hotel on your own. Getting a taxi at the airport is easy. Before
proceeding to the taxi stand, be sure to have some Chinese money on you as
cab drivers don't accept foreign currencies. Based on our first-hand
experience, cab fare to the hotel should be between 85 and 100 Yuan or $14
to $17. Avoid touts in arrival hall. These guys who operate against the
often charge 5 times of the regular price.
Exploring Beijing by Subway
Guests arriving early and wishing to explore the ancient capital on their
own should consider moving around by subway because it is faster and
cheaper than taxi.
Subway Line 2 and Line 6 are only a short
walk from our hotel. We recommend the National Museum, Lama
Temple, Beihai Park, National Gallery of Fine Art, the Military Museum,
and the Ancient Observatory - all of which can be easily reached by
subway. Ask hotel concierge for a map.
Day 3/Sat: Beijing
Capital of China, Beijing is a
world-class cultural and educational centre with a population of 21
million (2013), ranking it China's second largest city behind Shanghai.
Beijing is renowned for its opulent palaces, temples, and huge stone
walls and gates, treasures that make it the most popular tourist city in
Beijing was already a
strategically important city in northern China for centuries when Kublai Khan
decided to move his capital here from Karakorum in Mongolia. With the
collapse of the vast Mongol empire in 1368 AD, Beijing, known as Da Du or
Grand Capital at the time, lost its status as the country's capital but soon
regained it when the imperial court of the successive Ming Dynasty moved
here from Nanjing. Beijing continued to serve as
China's capital after Manchu tribes dethroned the last emperor of the
Ming Dynasty in 1644 and established the Great Qing Empire (Qing
Dynasty), which lasted till 1911.
Get introduced during the orientation following breakfast.
We then set out for the Forbidden City. Also known
as Palace Museum or Gu Gong in Chinese, the Forbidden City was the place
where the emperors of Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) Dynasties lived
and carried out their administration.
Lunch is at a family restaurant in
a hutong neighbourhood. Hutong refers to an ancient
alleyway with siheyuan or ''4-sided courtyard house" on both
Afternoon sightseeing at the
Summer Palace, a well preserved UNESCO World Cultural
Heritage Site. The imperial resort was first named
Garden of Clear Ripples, which was burnt down by the allied forces of
Great Britain and France in 1860 during the Second Opium War (referred to
as Arrow War by the British). Reconstruction started 25 years later
and was completed in 1895 when the name was changed to Yi He Yuan (Garden
of Good Health and Harmony). The design gives prominence to Longevity Hill
and Kunming Lake, south of the hill. The sprawling complex covers an area
of 290 hectares and the buildings inside consist of over 3,000 bays.
Today we enjoy a delicious
welcome dinner at one of the top rated
Beijing roast duck
After a stop at Tiananmen Square, we proceed to the
Temple of Heaven. Situated in
southeastern Beijing the Temple of Heaven is China's largest extant
sacrificial temple where, during the Ming and Qing dynasties, the emperors
conducted the elaborate and most exalted sacrifices addressed to "the
Supreme Ruler of the Universe." Construction of the temple started in
1406, during the reign of the Ming Emperor Yongle, and took 14 years to
complete. The temple was expanded under the Qing emperors Qianlong
(1736-1796) and Jiaqing (1796-1820). Occupying 2,668 hectares (6,670
acres), the area of the Temple of Heaven is more than twice that of the
Afternoon sightseeing takes us to
Park for a panoramic view of the Forbidden City from above. The park to
the north of the Forbidden City was part of the imperial palace in the
old days, serving the royal families as a convenient site for farming,
recreation and ancestor worshipping. The man-made hill
(46 meters above ground, 89 meters above sea level) overlooks the
Forbidden City and provides a great
spot for bird's-eye view of the surrounding area.
We then return to the hotel by subway.
The 10-minute, 3-stop ride is a great way to experience
Beijing. Beijing's subway is the oldest metro system in mainland China and the
second longest subway system in the world with the third largest annual
ridership globally with 2.46 billion trips delivered in 2012. (B/L)
Day 5/Mon: Beijing
Today we embark on a full-day excursion to the legendary Great Wall at Mutianyu, 75km northeast of
the city. On the way over, we
stop by the Sacred Pathway at Ming Tombs to marvel at the ancient stone
sculptures of animals and imperial court officials. The short stroll is
our warm-up for the climb on the Great Wall.
Zigzagging over 6,000 kilometres from east to west along the
undulating mountains, the Great Wall was
built to hold off tribal invaders from the north. Construction of the
earliest sections of the Wall started in the 7th century B.C. A major
renovation started with the founding of the Ming Dynasty in 1368 and took
200 years to complete. The wall we see today in Beijing is almost exactly
the result of this effort.
If possible, we'll stay the night at a
simple but clean guesthouse near the Great Wall, a feature that was first introduced in
2005 but suspended in 2007 due to logistical challenge. At the time, the
feature was widely praised by our guests. (B/L/D)
6/Tue: Beijing - Xian
Free morning to relax or explore on your own. We board the new high-speed train for Xi'an following
a light lunch. The four-hour-forty-minute rail journey cuts through
fertile farmland dotted with villages, providing the visitor an
excellent way to
enjoy the beautiful landscape. The track we travel on is part of the new 2,298 km
high-speed railway connecting Beijing and Guangzhou, the longest
high-speed rail line in the world. The Chinese for the past 20 years have
been on a building spree expanding the country's rail network and
upgrading existing railways. This new rail service rivals France's GTV and
Japan's "shinkansen" in terms of speed, comfort, cleanliness and onboard
terminus of the fabled Silk Road and one of the ancient capitals of China,
Xi'an is home to the world famous
Morning visit to the Terracotta
Warriors and Horses Museum. Built on the excavation site, the museum is located 30km east of the
city. Designed to follow the first emperor of the Qin Dynasty
(221-206 BC) into eternity, the Terra Cotta Army represents one of the
greatest archeological discoveries of the 20th Century.
After lunch at a restaurant
near the museum, we proceed to a village to visit some old cave dwellings
yao dong in Chinese. This is a particular form of earth shelter
dwelling common in the Loess Plateau in China's north. They are generally
carved out of a hillside or excavated horizontally from a central sunken
We return to the city for a stroll
(or bicycle ride if you are up to the challenge) on the ancient city wall.
The wall, declared national treasure by the State Council in 1961 under
the premiership of Zhou Enlai, was started in 1370 during the Ming Dynasty,
encircling an area of 14 square kilometres. The wall runs 13.7 kilometres
long and measures 12 metres in height and 15 to 18
metres in thickness at the base.
Tonight we enjoy a
spectacular music and dance show reminiscent of the Tang Dynasty (618-907
A.D.), a period generally considered a golden era of the Chinese
civilization. Depending on the season, the
theatre could substitute the show with one re-enacting the life of Emperor
Qin Shi Huang - the first emperor who unified China. (B/L/D)
Day 8/Thu: Xi'an
Morning sightseeing begins with
Shaanxi Provincial Museum.
well-organized museum was completed in 1992 and traces the history of
Xi'an from prehistory to Qing dynasty (1644-1911).
extensive galleries and exhibitions offer the visitor an excellent
introduction to the area that greatly improves understanding of the
numerous historical sites in and around the city.
We then visit the ancient grand mosque
in the old town centre and the adjacent Muslim bazaar.
We spend the afternoon
learning Chinese calligraphy and watercolor painting with a local master. If you are more
interested in Chinese cooking, we can arrange a class for you at cost.
Day 9/Fri: Xi'an - Guilin
Free morning to explore on your own. We recommend
Bell Tower and the Big Wild Goose Pagoda. You can reach both by Subway Line 2,
which has a stop right next door to our hotel. Bell Tower is 3 stops away
(8 minutes). The pagoda is 7 stops away plus a short taxi ride at the
other end which costs about 15 Yuan (less than $3).
a light lunch featuring authentic local cuisine, we drive one hour to
the city of Xianyang, where the airport is located, to visit one of the
highlights of the trip - Han Yang Ling Mausoleum. This is the site of the joint
tomb of Emperor Jingdi (188 BC - 141 BC), the fourth emperor of the Western
Han Dynasty, and his Empress Wang. Objects unearthed
from the 200 odd burial pits are on display and they include armored warrior figures with weapons,
elegant palace maids with Han costumes, and countless animals with vivid
expressions. The Han Yang Ling Mausoleum, which shows no sign of ever
being robbed, serves as tangible evidence
in the research of burial customs and civilization of the Han Dynasty.
Late afternoon flight to Guilin. A
small city by Chinese standard, Guilin has long been renowned for
its unique scenery. The name Guilin literally means "forest of sweet
osmanthus", owing to the large number of fragrant sweet osmanthus trees in
the city. (B/L)
Day 10/Sat: Guilin (Li River
We begin today with a five-hour cruise down the Li River.
The 83km stretch of the river between Guilin and
Yangshuo affords breathtaking scenery as the river snakes through tall
karst mountains, gigantic bamboo sprays, and picturesque villages --
sights that have inspired countless poets and painters for generations.
We disembark in Yangshuo after
lunch and drive back to Guilin. We stop by a village en route. (B/L)
Day 11/Sun: Guilin
Morning at leisure. A walk
along the Li River in front of the hotel is a wonderful way to soak in the
beauty and tranquility of this lovely city.
We gather in the lobby in
mid-afternoon to set out for the Reed Flute Cave. Created by an underground river
more than half a million years ago, Reed Flute Cave, which served as an
air raid shelter during World War II, is a karst cavern of stalactites and
stalagmites. Resembling the set of a science fiction movie, the cave is
bathed in artificial purple-blue light.
On the way back to the hotel we'll
climb the scenic Fubo Hill (63 metres). Those not interested can be driven
back to the hotel, which is only 2 kilometres away. (B/D)
Optional Longji Excursion
You may forgo all of the above activities and choose this physically challenging excursion
instead. Located about 80km (2 hours drive) from Guilin, Longji is
famous for its terraced rice fields. Built by the local farmers of different ethnic
groups from Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368) to Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), the
fields spread 500 meters from the foot of Mount Longji to the mountaintop
covering an area of 66 square kilometres.
The scenery is at its best in
early May (planting) and late September (prior to harvesting). There's not much to look at between
mid-October and late April. During the summer, the hike up the hill in high
heat and humidity can be too much to bear for many.
Price will be confirmed once we
find out how many would be interested. The cost including lunch can be
anywhere between $55 and $120 per person depending on the number of participants. At Laurus Travel's discretion, the excursion may not be
offered. The tour price does not include this because the excursion is too
seasonal and it's not suitable for all travellers.
Day 12/Mon: Guilin - Shanghai
Morning flight to Shanghai.
Before 1949, Shanghai was widely
known in the West as a city of quick riches and paradise of the
adventurers. After four decades of anemic growth in a state planned
economy, Shanghai is roaring back to recapture its position on the world
stage. With a population of 23 million and rapid economic expansion in
the last 20 years, Shanghai has again become a leading global city with
significant influence in commerce, culture, finance, media, fashion,
technology and transport.
Our sightseeing this afternoon begins
with a visit to Jade Buddha Temple, followed by a walk on the Bund - a waterfront promenade famous for its landmark
neoclassical buildings of European style. (B/L/D)
Day 13/Tue: Shanghai
Today's schedule takes in Shanghai Museum, Yu Garden in the old town centre,
and a walking tour of French Concession (extra-jurisdictional territory from
1849 to 1946). Evening entertainment is a dazzling
acrobatic show. (B/L/D)
Day 14/Wed: Shanghai
Today is a free day to explore on your own. Our recommendations include
Jinmao Tower and the popular evening cruise on Huangpu
River to enjoy the city's spectacular neon-lit skyline. The new bullet train system has
made it possible to explore a number of popular tourist destinations near
Shanghai, such as Hangzhou and Nanjing, without overnight stay. If you
need assistance on this, please ask your guide. (B)
Day 15/Thu: Shanghai - Return
Spend the morning packing and relaxing. Transfer to the airport by Maglev
train to board
return flight departing in the afternoon. Re-cross the International Date
Line and arrive home the same day. (B)
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