Today's sightseeing tour will see you dive straight into the magic of Beijing, kicked off in the world's largest public square, Tiananmen Square. Claiming an incredible 440,000 square metres of space and flanked by Soviet style buildings, the square was the brainchild of Chairman Mao and flexes some serious Communist design ideals. Next up, you'll head over to the UNESCO listed Forbidden City, the largest palace complex in the world featuring courtyards, palaces, pavilions and gardens all ringed by 3.5km of scarlet coloured citadel walls. Take your time exploring this impeccably preserved complex, imagining what life would have been like for the 24 emperors who ruled here during the Ming and Qing Dynasties.
This afternoon enjoy some free time at leisure and perhaps explore the enchanting hútòngs or alleyways that crisscross the city. This evening you could opt to join us for the spectacular 'Legend of Kung Fu' show. Mixing traditional martial arts with modern theatre, watch as Kung Fu artists from all over China display an art form that is utterly synonymous with Chinese culture. (B)
Widely considered a Top 10 life experience, today's the day you'll be able to tick off 'visiting the Great Wall of China' on your lifetime to-do list. China's greatest feat of engineering and one of the most famous sights in the world, the wall stretches some 21,000 km from East to West China, snaking its way like a dragon through deserts, grasslands, mountains and plateaus. Walking along this impressive piece of history, be sure to take in the views of the wall winding off into the distance and appreciate the sheer will and determination of the millions who helped to create this incredible fortification, the greatest relic of the Ming Dynasty.
Lunch today will be in a local restaurant, then this afternoon, and after some much needed downtime, why not see out your time in Beijing with an optional dinner, a sumptuous banquet of local specialities including Beijing Kao Ya, known as Peking Duck to the rest of the world. (B/L)
Waking up to a free morning in Beijing, make the most of your final hours here by joining our optional trip to the UNESCO listed Temple of Heaven. A vast religious complex in the old outer city and one of the country's most important Imperial temples, this place is widely considered one of the greatest achievements of traditional Chinese architecture, with a layout that displays the belief that the earth is square and heaven round.
This afternoon catch a flight to the historical city of Xi'an. Once home to emperors, warriors and the Chinese elite, Xi'an is the kind of place that keeps historians up at night, imagining what could have been. It's one of the few cities in China that's still managed to hold on to its imposing 12 metre high city walls, and is of course best known as the home of the magnificent Terracotta Army. This evening and with time to yourself, perhaps head out to explore the busy lanes of the Muslim Quarter. (B) Stay: Holiday Inn Express Bell Tower Xi'an
We hope you're prepared as today's visit to the Terracotta Army may just knock you over backwards. One of the greatest archaeological discoveries of recent times, it's incredible to think that this life size army of thousands of warriors, each with a face different to the next, was discovered completely by accident by some fortunate peasants drilling a well. Standing in battle formation and positioned according to rank, the warriors have silently guarded over the body of China's first emperor, Qin Shi Huang, for an astounding 2000 years. You'll learn about the discovery and history of the army from your local travel guide, then take your time exploring here before heading on for a local style lunch.
This evening and no doubt hungering for more Chinese history, perhaps opt to join your fellow travellers at our Tang Dynasty dinner and show. Tuck in to a delicious dumpling banquet, then enjoy the vibrant costumes, colourful dances and traditional music of this eight part show that brings to life the culture and lifestyle of the great Tang Dynasty. (B/L)
Diving into all that Shanghai has to offer, this morning's sightseeing tour will start off at The Bund, the city's famous waterfront hub. Once a place of fast paced trading akin to New York's Wall Street, today The Bund is the place to be in Shanghai. All the top restaurants, hotels and shops can be found on this exclusive patch of real estate, where art deco and neoclassical buildings rub shoulders with monolithic skyscrapers.
Continuing on to a silk museum where vibrant colours are the aim of the game, you'll then stop off at Shanghai's premium shopping destination, Nanjing Road. Stretching out over three miles and housing over 600 businesses, it won't be hard to see why shopping is serious business in Shanghai. Go wild in the stores selling high end couture and vintage finds alike, then this evening perhaps opt to join your fellow travellers on our visit to a daring acrobatics show. (B/L)
With a full day to explore your way and the last day of your China value tour, be sure to make the most of it! If it's culture you're after, you're in the right place; Shanghai has one of the most revered cultural scenes of any city in the world with a wealth of museums and galleries showcasing contemporary and historical treasures alike. You may choose to take our optional trip to the ancient water town of Zhujiajiao with its 36 bridges built during the Ming and Qing Dynasties.
Or if you prefer to discover the city on your own, you could head to the Old Town for a glimpse of Shanghai of old or visit Yùyuán Garden, a true delight with its shady alcoves and fish filled pools. Eating is a hugely important social activity in China and undoubtedly one of the best ways to experience the culture, so be sure to sample all the wonderful delights that cross your path on your adventures. (B)