Setting out from Beijing uncover some of China’s most famous and ancient sites, from the legendary Great Wall, to Xi’an’s Terracotta Warriors and Leshan’s Giant Buddha, plus meet the country’s cuddly mascot, walk the Dragon’s Backbone and enjoy some free time in spectacular Yangshuo.
Saturday. Huan ying, welcome to China and the start of your holiday! Airport arrival transfer from Beijing Capital Airport to your hotel for check-in. The remainder of the day offers free time for you to independently explore this astonishing city.
This morning, we tour the centre of Beijing, China's magnificent capital, including the massive Tiananmen Square and the sprawling Forbidden City. Boasting some 9999 rooms, the city within a city was once the sole preserve of the Chinese emperors. This afternoon we take a rickshaw ride through the Hutongs of Beijing and 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.
Location: Great Wall
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. This evening we spend the night at our quaint hotel near Juyongguan Pass, which offers views of the Great Wall.
Location: Juyongguan Pass
Beijing - Xi’an. 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. Explore and enjoy the spectacular scenery in peace as this section sees far fewer tourists.After we visit a Jade Carving Centre and have lunch before returning to Beijing. Free time is offered in the cavernous Pearl Market, a one stop shop for souvenirs, handbag, silk and more. In the evening we board our train to Xi'an.
Arrive Xi’an. This morning we visit the Terracotta Warrior archaeological site. Standing in battle-ready formation and numbering into the thousands, the Terracotta Army is Xian’s most popular sight and was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987, 13 years after the army was discovered. Built by local craftsman during the 3rd century BC for emperor Qinshihuang, the life-sized warriors and horses were designed to offer protection in the afterlife. After we visit to a clay workshop specialising in making replica figurines of the Terracotta Warriors, followed by the Muslim Quarter. Tonight, we welcome you to join the optional Tang Dynasty Show, which includes dinner, a traditional performance and transfers (bookable locally).
Xi’an - Chengdu. After breakfast, we enjoy a bike ride atop the Xi’an City Wall (electric car option available). Dating back to 1370 the 12m-high walls are some of the few remaining urban fortifications still standing in China today and after extensive restorations the City Walls offer ample opportunities from which to explore Xian. We’ll then visit the Big Wild Goose Pagoda, one of Xian’s most iconic landmarks. Late this afternoon we take a high speed train to Chengdu. Reaching speeds of up to 300km per hour the journey is an experience in itself!
Today's highlight is the famous Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding. Opened in 1993 it is fast becoming one of China’s must see places. The centre has been created to help and imitate the pandas’ natural habitat in order that they might have the best possible environment for rearing and breeding. Later we visit the Wenshu Monastery, built during the Qing Dynasty. The temple is a hidden gem with few tourists visiting and a stop must be made at the delightful teahouse located inside the temple grounds which serves a fine cup of green tea and some of the best vegetarian food in the city. The evening is spent at leisure. On most nights Sichuan Opera is performed at the Shufengyayun Theatre and tickets can be booked locally or in advance.
Driving to Leshan our morning is spent exploring the UNESCO World Heritage Listed Dafo (Great Buddha), which is carved into the red sandstone face of Lingyun Hill overlooking the treacherous confluence of the Min, Qingyi and Dadu rivers below it. Dafo has huge 8m feet, his ears droop 7m, his shoulders span 28m and his nose measures a whopping 5.6m! Evening at leisure.
Chengdu - Yangshuo. Early this morning we fly to Guilin where we’ll drive out to Longsheng for a tour of the spectacular terraces of the Dragon’s Backbone. Taking a walk along the stone paths no more than a metre wide, we’ll pass many of the Yao and Red Yao minority women. Reaching the ‘Seven Stars accompanying Moon’ lookout, soak up the spectacular views. <br/><br/> Later, we head to Yangshou for the night. The remainder of our time here is at leisure. Choose to hike, hire a bicycle or motorbike and head off on one of the many mountain trails or stop to watch the local fishermen use their trained cormorants to catch fish. Time can also be spent exploring the ancient alley of West Street. Maybe enjoy a morning class at the ‘Cloud 9’ cooking school. By nightfall, visit any of the cafes, pubs or bars or attend the nightly ‘Impression Liu Sanjie’ musical, with a cast of 500 singers and dancers.
Yangshou - Shanghai. In the afternoon on day 12, we drive to Guilin and fly onward to Shanghai. Upon arrival we transfer to our hotel. Shanghai is a city where old meets new with the former French concession and traditional Chinese buildings standing beside gleaming modern skyscrapers and neon lights. Spend the next day at leisure, independently exploring this cosmopolitan city. Head to the attractive Bund waterfront area and take in the spectacular Pudong skyline, stroll around the beautiful Yuyuan Garden and explore the picturesque Old Town.
Friday. Our time in China comes to an end today. Following breakfast and hotel check-out a transfer will take you to the airport for your onward travels.
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