China - The Classic Route

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Day 1: Arrive in Beijing

Met on arrival at Beijing airport and transferred to your hotel. Tonight we have an orientation and welcome dinner. Overnight in Beijing.

 

Day 2: The Great Wall of China, Ming Tombs

Today we visit the Great Wall, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Every tower and turret stands just as it did when the Mongols overran the country 700 years ago. Our next visit is to the famed Ming Tombs where we walk along the sacred path to the vast imperial burial ground and see the 3rd Emperor's Tomb.

Back in Beijing we explore one of the few remaining hutongs (old alleys) on foot and by rickshaw. After our sightseeing we have a meal in a local home in the hutong area. Overnight in Beijing.

 

Day 3: Forbidden City, Beijing Opera

We begin with a walk through Tiananmen Square en route to our morning visit to the Forbidden City, known as the Imperial Museum and a UNESCO site. In its 500-year history only 24 Emperors and their attendants could ever have known about its 800 buildings and 9000 chambers.

Our afternoon is spent exploring the Summer Palace (UNESCO) gardens with its poetic and evocative names such as 'Ordinate Clouds' and the 'Jade Wave'. Stroll under the covered gallery winding its way along the north shore of Kunming Lake. Tonight we enjoy a performance of Beijing opera at the Li Yuan Theater. Overnight in Beijing.

 

Day 4: Beijing, fly to Xian

This morning we begin by visiting the Temple of Heaven (UNESCO) which the emperor visited twice a year to pray for good harvests. We also have some free time to interact with the locals and watch activities (badminton, tai chi, cards, knitting). Next stop is the Confucius Temple.

In the afternoon we transfer to the airport for our short flight to Xian. Situated on the crossroads between China and Central Asia, Xian was once one of the wealthiest and most sophisticated cities in the world. Overnight in Xian.

 

Day 5: Xian, Terra Cotta Warriors

A memorable day starts with a visit to the Terracotta Warriors (UNESCO). We discover the famous clay army of soldiers and part of the tomb of Qin Shi Huang Di, the first emperor of China.

Next we visit the History Museum, one of the largest in Asia to see various artifacts unearthed at sites in the area. We complete our day with a visit to the Wild Goose Pagoda, home to over 600 sets of Buddhist scriptures. Tonight we sample local Muslim specialties. Overnight in Xian.

 

Day 6: Xian, fly to Chongqing

This morning we visit the Forest of Steles, a goldmine for calligraphers, historians and philosophers, which hosts an interesting collection of Buddhist sculptures. We then visit the great Mosque (built in the 8th century) and have time to wander the area around the Drum Tower.

We have an afternoon flight to Chongqing, and on arrival we drive to a scenic view point of the city where we take in an exhibition on the Three Gorges. Overnight in Chongqing.

 

Day 7: To Dazu, Buddhist Caves, Board Yangtze River Cruise

Drive to Dazu, one of China's most remarkable Buddhist sites featuring more than 60,000 statues dating from the Tang and Song Dynasties. En route we stop at a local farmer's home. In Dazu we visit the Buddhist caves in the northern hills of Beishan and Baodingshan (UNESCO), which display numerous sculptures. Set upon the beautiful terraced fields, they are perfect examples of a great artistic and religious period at its peak.

After dinner we board our Yangtze river cruise boat, our home for the next few nights. Overnight on the boat.

 

Day 8: Yangtze River Cruise

The Yangtze is the third largest river in the world. The lands along its banks are among the most populous and productive in China. Today we stop at Fengdu, where the river banks' heights are fabled to be the abode of spirits and therefore named "The City of Ghosts". Accommodation and meals on board the boat.

 

Day 9: Yangtze River Cruise, Shennong Stream

We cross Qutang Gorge, the first and narrowest of the Three Gorges which is lined with dramatic vertical cliffs on either side. We board a small boat to sail up the Daning River or Shennong Stream for a look at the vertical limestone cliffs and the "hanging coffins" of the ancient Tujia people.

Later in the afternoon back on our river boat, we cross the Wu Gorge, considered to be the most enchanting and bewitching of the Three Gorges. Accommodation and meals on board.

 

Day 10: Yangtze River Cruise - Yichang Three Gorges Dam Tour, To Wuhan

After passing the longest and the last of the Three Gorges, the Xiling Gorge, we pass through the Gezhouba Dam and disembark from our river cruise in Yichang. A tour of the immense Three Gorges Dam is a fitting end to our Yangtze voyage. (Please note: due to the ongoing process of damming the Yangtze, the cruise itinerary is subject to change).

We continue on by high speed train to Wuhan. In 1842, the Treaty of Nanjing opened the district to foreign trade and the European style architecture provides a visible remainder of its five foreign concessions; British, German, Russian, French and Japanese. Overnight in Wuhan.

 

Day 11: Wuhan - Train to Shanghai

We begin with a visit to Guiyan Monastery, famous for its statues of 500 "arhats" (disciples of Lord Buddha). Nearby we stroll around the exquisite Bonsai garden and learn about Chinese Bonsai. We also visit the Hubei Provincial Museum with its collection of musical instruments and bronze and lacquer artifacts dating back to the era of the "Fighting Kingdoms".

This afternoon we head to the train station for our ride on the high speed train known as the Bullet Train. We will have a 5 hour ride to Shangahi where we will then check into a hotel. Overnight in Shanghai.

 

Day 12: Shanghai

This morning we enjoy a city tour of cosmopolitan city of Shanghai including the famous Bund area, the Shanghai Museum and Yuyuan Garden, where we will explore the gardens, crossing many bridges to visit Hu Xin Ting teahouse, one of the finest of ancient Shanghai. Overnight in Shanghai.

 

Day 13: Guilin

A mid morning flight will take us what is deemed the most beautiful place on earth by Chinese visitors for centuries, Guilin. This afternoon we take a chairlift to Yaoshan Hill to admire the beautiful view over the surrounding karst peaks. This afternoon we visit the local market and an organic tea plantation. Overnight in Guilin.

 

Day 14: Guilin, Li River Cruise, Yangshuo

Today we take a cruise on the Li River through amazing landscapes of limestone peaks to the village of Yangshuo. Yangshuo has all the comely charms of Guilin but on a much smaller scale. This afternoon you are free to explore or take a walk up Moon Hill for breathtaking views of the area. Overnight in Yangshuo.

 

Day 15: Fly to Hong Kong

This morning we enjoy a bicycle ride through the countryside and enjoy a glimpse of rural life. (Other transportation is available for those not wishing to bicycle.) This afternoon we drive to the airport for our flight to Hong Kong. Upon arrival we will check in to our hotel before dinner. Overnight in Hong Kong.

 

Day 16: Hong Kong - Victoria Peak

We begin with a visit to the city's premier visitor attraction, Victoria Peak: situated high above Hong Kong Island on the "back of the dragon," the peak gives us magnificent harbor and city views.

Continue on to explore Aberdeen fishing village and enjoy delicious dim sum for lunch. Afternoon at leisure until our farewell dinner. Overnight in Hong Kong.

 

Day 17: Depart Hong Kong

We bid farewell to the far east and transfer to the airport for our flight home.

 
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