Day 1: Beijing
Saturday. Hello China! Arrive Beijing and included airport transfer to our hotel. Overnight - Beijing
Day 2: Forbidden City
This morning, we explore the heart of Beijing including the vast Tiananmen Square where Chairman Mao¡¯s tomb and various monuments to the people are located. Dominating the city¡¯s heart is the Forbidden City, a centre of power for five centuries and seat of the emperors. Entering through the Gate of Heavenly Peace (replete with Chairman Mao¡¯s portrait), we enjoy a guided tour of this old city within a city. Later we take a rickshaw ride through the Hutongs of Beijing, weaving through old back lanes, traditional courtyards and compact houses, gaining a fascinating snapshot of the city¡¯s traditional way of life. Tonight, we enjoy a traditional dinner at a city restaurant. Overnight - Beijing
Day 3: The Great Wall
Today, 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 defense, following the highest contours of a steep range of hills. Tonight, we attend a Chinese acrobatic performance. Swinging ropes, juggling hoops, spinning plates, rings of fire and human pyramids are just a few tricks these showstoppers pull out. Overnight - Beijing
Day 4: Summer Palace
Beijing - Xi¡¯an. Free morning, head out to the nearby street market to try a few unusual local delicacies. Later we visit the Silk Alley markets and the Summer Palace, set on Kunming Lake. We view from a distance the 2008 Olympic stadium commonly referred to as the ¡®birdsnest¡¯ and aquatic centre. Tonight we travel to Xi¡¯an in Shaanxi Province by express soft sleeper train Overnight - Sleeper Train to Xi'an
Day 5: Terracotta Warriors
Arrive Xi¡¯an and transfer to hotel. We visit Huaqing Hot Springs, a scenic spot in the shadow of Li Mountain and the Terracotta Warrior archaeological site. 7,000 Warriors stand battle ready and have done so for the past 2,200yrs. Try counting them! Visit to a clay workshop specialised in making replica figurines. Tonight, optional Tang Dynasty Bolt-on, with dinner and performance. Overnight - Xi'an
Day 6: Big Wild Goose Pagoda
Xi¡¯an - Guilin - Yangshuo. Early this morning you can opt to undertake our Giant Panda bolt-on by visiting the Shaanxi Rare Wildlife Rescue and Breeding Centre a 2hour drive from Xi¡¯an. The centre offers care to a small number of injured Giant Pandas in the region. There are also many other rare animals including golden monkeys, black bears, leopards, white lipped deer, musk deer and vulture to be seen, see page 29. Alternatively spend the morning at leisure before visiting the Big Wild Goose Pagoda and enjoying a bicycle ride atop the Xi¡¯an City Wall. After an early dinner we fly to Guilin. Upon arrival, transfer to Yangshuo (approximately 1.5hrs drive). Enjoy an early dinner and late evening check in. Overnight - Yangshuo
Days 7 - 8: Yangshuo
Yangshuo offers a world of opportunity for exploring the great outdoors. With breath-taking beauty, striking limestone mountain scenery and pure clean rivers, one can choose to go swimming or tubing down the Yu Long River, hike or hire a bicycle or motorbike and head off on one of the many mountain trails. Stop to watch the local fishermen use their trained cormorants to catch fish (a centuries old tradition, though somewhat commercialised these days) and perhaps take a sailing trip on a bamboo raft up stream or down stream, hand paddled or motorised. You can also visit any number of the giant local caves or go to Xanadu - a primitive minority village bursting with rural charm, culture and genuine hospitality. If this is not enough, Yangshuo is also China¡¯s foremost venue for rock climbing, with around 300 bolted routes and several companies offering guiding and equipment hire.
At a slower pace, discover West Street, which has retained its traditional styles and is laden with quirky shops, tea shops, antiques, art studios, calligraphers, t-shirt designers and souvenir curios. Maybe take a beginners art class with a local painter or enjoy a morning class at the ¡®Cloud 9¡¯ cooking school. West Street is a sort of ¡®Global Village¡¯ where the local ethnic minority of Hui, Zhuang, Yao people (each with their own distinct appearance, traditions and culture) mix with the Han Chinese, foreign travellers and a number of foreign residents managing caf¨¦s and restaurants.
By nightfall sit back and relax at any one of the many al fresco cafes, pubs or bars serving cold beer and delicious speciality foods. Catch a film at an outdoor cinema or attend the nightly ¡®Impression Liu Sanjie¡¯ performance. This popular musical extravaganza is performed outdoors by the river with a mountain backdrop by a cast of more than 500 singers and dancers.
Yangshuo is yours to explore at leisure on day 7 and until late afternoon on day 8, where we return to Guilin. Overnight - Yangshuo (1) Guilin (1)
Day 9: Longsheng - Dragon's Backbone
Guilin ¨C Longsheng ¨C Shanghai. This morning we drive to Longsheng. Here, we explore the rice terraces of the Dragon¡¯s Backbone! Beginning at the base of Mt Longji the verdant green rice fields coil the steep mountain layer upon layer climbing to its summit. Where there is soil a terrace has been made! Taking a walk along the stone paths no more than a metre wide, we climb skyward to enjoy panoramic views of the ribbon like terraces with picturesque valleys and meandering streams below. Evening flight to Shanghai. Overnight - Shanghai
Days 10 - 11: Discover Shanghai
Focus your eyes on spectacular Shanghai. Perhaps China¡¯s most modern city, its amazing Pudong skyline is stunning. The next two days are free for you to explore the city at leisure. Consider visiting the Jade Buddha Temple, Yuyuan Garden and street market, The Bund, shopping along Nanjing Road or taking a cruise with a cruise along the Huangpu River. Overnight - Shanghai
Day 12: Shanghai
Wednesday. Our tour concludes after breakfast and onward departure transfer to the airport.