Huan ying, welcome to China and the start of your holiday! Airport arrival transfer and hotel check in.
2 Forbidden City
Today we tour of the nation’s capital and host of the 2008 Olympics. Tiananmen Square is essentially the heart of Beijing. A patriotic vision of grandeur, Tiananmen Square is a square for the public and also home of the mausoleum of Chairman Mao and the striking Monument to the People’s Heroes. Perhaps one of Beijing’s most famous sights is the Gate of Heavenly Peace. Up above the gate and looking out across to all his people, is Chairman Mao.
Heading back a few centuries, we step into the Forbidden city, the walled city of the former Chinese emperors. Entry was Forbidden to all but those on imperial business until 1911, when the last emperor, Puyi, was overthrown. Comprising of 9999 rooms, temples and hallways the complex is an architectural feat and stunningly beautiful. This afternoon we take rickshaws to explore the Hutongs of Beijing. As our trusty rickshaw driver peddles us through the network of alleys, old back lanes, traditional courtyards and compact houses we gain a fascinating snapshot of the city’s traditional way of life. There is time to meet a local family and take a peek inside their home. 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 at a city restaurant. (B/D)
3 The 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. We also visit a Jade Carving Centre before heading to our quaint hotel near Juyongguan Pass, which offers views of the Great Wall. (B/L)
4 Morning at the Great Wall
Beijing - Luoyang. 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 - a treasure trove of souvenirs, handbags and clothing, 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. (B)
5 Shaolin Kung Fu Temple
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 before we join together in the evening for a visit to Xiyuan Park where ball room dancing, tai chi, aerobics and badminton lessons take place every evening. (B/D)
Luoyang - Xi’an. Today we 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 peddle offers delightful views of the city hubbub and daily life with the Old City in the centre of the walls and the modern city on the outside. (B)
7 Terracotta Warriors
Xi’an is perhaps most famous for the discovery of Emperor Qin’s Terracotta Warriors. Discovered in 1974 by local farmers digging a well, the 2,200 year old terracotta warriors comprise of more than 7,000 life-sized soldiers standing battle-ready in excavated pits under the cover of a modern protective hanger. No two faces are alike – each is said to be an individual portrait. Today, we visit the archaeological site of the Terracotta Warriors and a workshop where crafts people make clay warrior replicas. This evening we offer an optional Tang Dynasty add-on dinner and performance with Chang’an music and dance originally performed for the illustrious Tang emperors, book with your travel consultant to secure your place. (B/L)
8 Big Wild Goose Pagoda
Xi’an - Shanghai. Today we visit the Wild Goose Pagoda followed by a delicious hot pot lunch. This afternoon we also visit the Grand Mosque and Muslim Quarter of Xi'an before boarding our train destined for sizzling Shanghai. (B/L)
9 City tour
Arrive Shanghai and hotel check in. Focus your eyes on spectacular Shanghai. Perhaps China’s most modern city, its amazing Pudong skyline is breathtaking. After time to freshen up we enjoy a tour of the Yuyuan Garden, old Shanghai, the Bund and take a Huangpu River cruise. (B)
Shanghai - Suzhou - Shanghai - Qufu. Today we travel by road to ancient Suzhou. A sort of oriental Venice, ancient Suzhou is interwoven by a series of canals and pretty waterways. We enjoy a cruise on the Grand Canal and visit a silk workshop. There’s plenty to see and do in Shanghai, Day 11 is free for you to venture to the Old City, French Quarter or opt to shop along the famous Nanjing road. This evening we bunk down in our soft sleeper train cabins en route to Qufu. (Bx2/L)
Qufu, birthplace of Confucius and home to the Confucius Temple, ranks with Beijing’s Forbidden city as a great classic Chinese architectural complex. With 466 rooms and over a kilometre long, the complex was built and dedicated to the descendants of the great sage, who lived here continuously for more than 2,500 years, spanning 77 generations. The grandeur and opulence of the mansion conveys the power and wealth of the mighty Kong clan and their head Yansheng Duke (Confucius’ direct male descendant). The clan rose throughout imperial history as the family head was granted increased privileges. With the decline of imperial rule, the end was nigh and in 1940, the last of the family line - Kong Dechend - fled to Taiwan during the Japanese invasion. Not surprisingly, half of Qufu now claims descent from the Kongs.
After visits to the mansion and temple we take a rickshaw ride around the city wall with a visit to the eerie Confucius forest. The forest is studded with tombs and graves of Kong family members dating back some centuries. Anyone with the surname Kong can still be buried here today. Evening stroll through the colourful night market. (B)
13 Bu Yang Village
Qufu – Bu Yang village - Mt Tai Shan – Jinan. A short drive leads us to Bu Yang Village. The principles of Communism and communal work and land ownership are somewhat still in place here. We stop for a light lunch at Mr Peng’s (one of the party officials) home. Seated around the family’s low to the ground lazy Susan, Mrs Peng serves up local dishes and copious bottles of beer. This is real village life! A short stroll leads us to the village prep-school, where we step into the class room to be swarmed by the mass of 5 year olds all vying for our attention.
Later we drive to Mt Tai Shan, perhaps the holiest of the five Chinese holy mountains devoted to Taoism. There are more than 6000 steps to the summit, streams of pilgrims take the challenge, we take the cable car. With stunning scenery and many ancient temples dotting the slopes we visit Heaven Street, Cloud Bridge and the Jade Emperor’s temple. A short drive to Jinan. (B/L)
Jinan - Beijing. Today, we embark on a short city sightseeing tour and enjoy a fabulous Hotpot lunch. Afternoon express train journey to Beijing. (B/L)
Tour ends after breakfast and included onward transfer to airport. (B)