Day 1/Thu: Departing
The journey begins with your transpacific flight departing from a city of
your choice. 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.
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
China by the number of visitors it receives every year.
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.
We begin today with a visit to
Tiananmen (tian an men) Square. Located in the heart of Beijing,
the square is 880 metres from north to south, and 500 meters from east
to west. Said to be the biggest of its kind in the world, Tiananmen
Square has the capacity to hold one million people. Tiananmen (Heavenly
Gate) Tower sites at the north end of the square while the Monument to
the People's Heroes dominates the centre. The square is flanked by The
Great Hall of the People (west) and the National Museum of China (east).
Chairman Mao's mausoleum and Qianmen (Front Gate) sit in the south of
the square. Considered one of the top 16 tourist attractions in Beijing,
Tiananmen Square is also the witness of the Chinese people's great
struggles for democracy and personal freedom since 1919.
After lunch we proceed to 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.
Construction of the Forbidden City took 14 years (1406-1420) to
complex consists of 980 buildings and covers 72 hectares or 180 acres.
It exemplifies traditional Chinese palatial architecture and has
influenced cultural and architectural developments in East Asia and
elsewhere. Declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1987, this is the
largest collection of preserved ancient wooden structures in the world.
We conclude our sightseeing today
with a visit to a hutong
neighbourhood. Hutong refers to an ancient alleyway with
siheyuan or ''4-sided courtyard house" on both sides. The name
hutong dates back to the Yuan Dynasty (1279 - 1368 A.D.). According to
some experts, the word originated from the Mongolian language, in which
it is pronounced as hottog and means "well." In ancient times, people
tended to gather and live around wells. So the original meaning of
hutong should be "a place where people live around".
Today we enjoy a delicious
dinner at high-end
Beijing roast duck
Morning 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.
Next on our schedule is 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.
Afternoon sightseeing at the
Temple of Heaven, a UNESCO World
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 2.73 square kilometres
(roughly 1,700 by 1,600 metres), the area of the Temple of Heaven is more than twice that of the
The famous Hongqiao Pearl
Market, the largest of its kind in the world, sits right across from the
Temple of Heaven. The market is recommended in various guidebooks as a
good place to buy fresh water pearls, a market segment dominated by the
Chinese. If you are interested, please ask the guide to drop you off
there. However, you'll need to get back to the hotel by taxi, which
costs about 50 yuan or $8. (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. 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. (B/L)
6/Tue: Beijing - Xian
Free morning to relax or explore on your own. We check out the hotel at
noon and travel to Xian by the high-speed train. 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 TGV and
Japan's "shinkansen" in terms of speed, comfort, cleanliness and onboard
Please note that the
train ride may be replaced by air flight during and within 3 days before
and after these Chinese public holidays: Spring Festival (Feb 19), Qingming (Apr 5), Labour Day (May 1), Duanwu (Jun 20), Mid-Autumn (Sept
27), National Day (Oct 1-7) and New Year's Day. (B/D)
terminus of the fabled Silk Road and one of the ancient capitals of China,
Xian 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 Terracotta Army represents one of the
greatest archeological discoveries of the 20th Century.
After lunch we return to the city for a stroll
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.
Enjoy a delicious buffet dinner
in the hotel. (B/L/D)
Day 8/Thu: Xian
Morning sightseeing begins with
Shaanxi Provincial Museum.
The modern, well-organized
museum was completed in 1992 and traces the history of Xian 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. The mosque
was established in the 8th Century but the majority of the complex was
constructed in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). It was further expanded in
the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). Unlike most mosques in Middle Eastern or
Arab countries, this mosque is completely Chinese in its architectural
style. It has neither domes nor traditional style minarets.
We spend the rest of the day
learning Chinese calligraphy and water-colour painting with a local
artist. This is guaranteed to be a session filled with fun and laughter. (B/L)
Day 9/Fri: Xian - 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).
Late afternoon flight to Guilin. A small city by Chinese standards, 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, stopping by at a village en route. We wrap
up the day with a quick tour of the scenic Fubo Hill (63 metres)
located 2 km from the hotel.
For dinner, you will find all
kinds of restaurants around the centrally located hotel. To avoid hassle
and waste of time, please ask your local guide for advice. (B/L)
Day 11/Sun: Guilin
Enjoy a full-day hiking excursion to the terraced rice fields in Longji County. Located 80km (2 hours drive)
to the northwest of Guilin, Longji,
meaning dragon back, is
famous for its terraced rice fields. Because the villages at Longji are
in the jurisdiction of Longsheng Country, the tourist attraction is
often collectively referred to as Longsheng Terraced Fields. The
scenery is arguably at its best in early May during transplanting and in
late September right before harvest when the fields turn golden.
Built by local farmers of different ethnic
groups from Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368) to Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), the
mountainous fields cover a total area of 66 square kilometres, rising
between 300 meters and 1,100 metres above sea level. (B/L)
Optional Tea Farm Visit
If time permits and for a nominal fee we can arrange a late afternoon visit to Guilin Tea Science and Research Institute,
subject to a minimum of 6 participants.
Founded in 1956, the state-owned
institute and its experimental tea farm cover an area of 42 hectares,
boasting 250 species of tea plants. The predecessor of the institute was
said to be one of the tea suppliers to the imperial court during the
Ming Dynasty. The farm sits on fertile soil ideal for tea growing.
During harvesting season, the farm employs 150 workers full time to pick
tea leaves. Each year the institute produces around 42 tons of
organically grown tea of different flavours.
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.
at Jade Buddha Temple. This is an active temple of Mahayana Buddhism. It was
founded in 1882 with two jade Buddha statues imported from Burma by sea. Please note that extended
delay is very common among flights from Guilin to Shanghai. If we couldn't
make it to Shanghai on time, the planned sightseeing for this afternoon
would be moved to the next day. (B/D)
Day 13/Tue: Shanghai
Today's schedule begins with a walk on the Bund - a waterfront promenade
famous for its landmark neoclassical buildings of European style. We then
visit Shanghai Museum, the Yu Garden in the old town centre,
and the 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. We also offer an optional half-day Jewish Heritage Tour.
The new bullet train system has
made it possible to explore a number of popular destinations near
Shanghai such as Hangzhou and Nanjing without overnight stay. For more
information, please feel free to ask your tour leader or local guide. (B)
Day 15/Thu: Shanghai - Home
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)
departure dates and prices]
Laurus Travel is a Canadian China
tour operator having been offering premium small group tours to China
since 1998. We are the only Canadian China tour
recommended by Frommer's - you can find us in every edition
of Frommer's China guidebooks.