Huan ying, welcome to China and the start of your holiday Airport arrival transfer and hotel check in. The remainder of the day offers free time.
Embark on a guided tour of the nation’s capital. Tiananmen Square, a patriotic vision of grandeur and the Forbidden city, the walled city of the former Chinese emperors boasting stunning temples, courtyards and reception halls. We take an afternoon rickshaw ride navigating the old back lanes and courtyards of Beijing’s Hutongs. This evening, we enjoy an eye boggling Chinese acrobatic performance. Swinging ropes, juggling hoops, spinning plates and human pyramids are just a few tricks these show stoppers pull out followed by a Welcome Dinner of Peking Duck.
After a free morning to further explore the city, we drive beyond Beijing to Badaling, to walk a section of the famous Great Wall. Built in the Ming Dynasty, a 6m wide pathway makes a formidable defence, following the highest contours of a steep range of hills. We also visit a Jade Carving Centre before heading to our quaint hotel near Juyongguan Pass, which offers views of the Great Wall.
We rise early this morning and head (5 min bus drive) to the Great Wall at Juyongguan Pass when it opens to beat the crowds. Later we return to Beijing to explore the famous Pearl Market – an Aladdin’s Cave of clothing, jewellery and electronic gadgets before taking an afternoon bullet train to Luoyang. Reaching speeds of up to 305km per hour the journey is an experience in itself Check in to hotel in Luoyang, late evening.
First thing today we drive to the Shaolin Kung Fu Temple (approx 2 hours), set on the foothills of the Songshan Mountain. Here generation after generation of Shaolin monks have devoted themselves to practising Chan Buddhism and a martial art widely recognised as the origins of kung fu. Over the years hundreds, if not thousands, of people have flocked to this very site to learn this ancient discipline and we’ll have the opportunity to watch a performance of kung fu during our visit. Returning to Luoyang you’ll have some free time, and the option to walk to Xiyuan Park where ball room dancing, tai chi, aerobics and badminton lessons take place every evening.
& Xi’an City Wall. Explore the UNESCO-listed 6th Century Longman Caves etched into the cliffs of the Yi River. The 1300 caves (grottoes) are adorned with 100,000 statues and images of Buddha, carved during the Northern Wei Dynasty. This afternoon we board the high speed train to Xi’an (journey time approx 2hrs). After hotel check-in and some time to fresh up we’ll embark on a casual bike ride around the Xi’an City Wall. Looking down as you pedal offers delightful views of the Old City in the centre of the walls and the modern city on the outside.
Emperor Qin’s Terracotta Warriors are reputed to be the greatest discovery of the 20th century – 7,000 life-sized clay soldiers stand ready for battle. We visit the archaeological site and the workshop where the replica warriors are crafted. Tonight, optional Tang Dynasty add-on, with dinner and performance.
& lively Muslim Quarter. First up this morning, we tour the lofty Big Wild Goose Pagoda. The complex of temples, pagodas and expansive gardens, constructed during the 7th century offered refuge and a store house for Chinese Buddhists translating the very important Buddhist sutras from India. After we visit the Muslim Quarter and enjoy some free time to explore the backstreets of this ever lively area. Later tonight we board our overnight train to Shanghai.
Good morning Shanghai Just the mere mention of ‘Shanghai’ conjures up mystery, romance and general decadence. Pre – 1949, cosmopolitan Shanghai was a magnet for seekers of wealth, idle colonialists, explorers and the dispossessed. Everything went belly up in 1949, when Mao and the communists took to power and swept the good times and rock and roll away. A legacy of these heady times is Shanghai’s Bund where on and around this waterfront promenade are a vast series of grandiose pre-1949 buildings. Just across the Huangpu River is the new Shanghai, a high-tech development of gravity defying skyscrapers. We will tour many of the city’s top spots – Yu Gardens and Bazaar- Shanghai’s finest traditional garden, the Bund, Pudong and the Shanghai Plaza Tower and take a cruise along the Huangpu River.
- Day 10 Suzhou, Grand Canal Cruise.
Travel by road to ancient Suzhou. A sort of oriental Venice, ancient Suzhou is interwoven by a series of canals and pretty waterways which feed a series of classical gardens, laid out here since the Song dynasty a thousand years ago, they are justly famous across China. Suzhou sits very close to the Grand Canal, we enjoy a cruise on the Grand Canal before exploring the Lingering Garden – a beautiful classical Chinese garden dating back from the Ming Dynasty. Today’s final visit is a silk workshop before returning to Shanghai.
Our tour ends after breakfast and onward departure transfer to airport.