The first half of this itinerary is a tour through China's more under-traveled destinations. With the tourism boom occurring in China, it's truly a special experience to find beautiful places with few tourists. Lijiang is a perfect example. In any other country, a medieval-era city complete with stone streets and centuries-old buildings would be an attraction. Yet today, it remains just enough off the beaten path to offer travelers a truly authentic experience. This itinerary features these places, both in city- and countryside-form.

The second half is a highlights tour of China's more popular destinations, Shanghai, Xian and Beijing. The classic sites are all here: the heart of modern China in Shanghai, the Forbidden City and Great Wall in Beijing, and the Terracotta Warriors near Xian. This itinerary is a fantastic introduction to China, offering different perspectives on this country deep in culture and history.

Daily Itinerary

Day 1: Kunming Arrival

Kunming Arrival
Daily Summary
  • Transportation: Airport Transfer
  • Accommodation: Kunming New Era Hotel

In the afternoon, you will be picked up at the airport in Kunming and transferred to your hotel. (This service is on a private basis.)

Kunming

Kunming enjoys all the benefits of a modern Chinese city, without the pressure of living up to the standards set by Hong Kong, Beijing or Shanghai. This is laid back Chinese living, and a few days in Kunming is really worth one's time. Americans and Europeans who want to live in China are beginning to choose Kunming over other Chinese cities for this more familiar lifestyle. Other than the city life, there are some beautiful Karst landscapes in the mountains surrounding the city, and a few days can be lost exploring the temples that dot the city itself.

Day 2: Kunming

Kunming
Daily Summary
  • Tour: Jiuxiang Caves & Stone Forest Tour
  • Accommodation: Kunming New Era Hotel
  • Meals: B

Jiuxiang Caves & Stone Forest Tour

Today you will be met at your hotel to embark on a tour of the Jiuxiang Caves and the Stone Forest. Enjoy lunch at the Stone Forest Ashima Hotel.

Jiuxiang Caves are situated in Jiuxiang Township, about 70 kilometers from Kunming. There are more than one hundred karst caves in Jiuxiang scenic area. The caves at Jiuxiang are the largest cave group system in China. Inside the cave are many well-developed and wonderful stalactites and stalagmites, which look like pretty fairies welcoming their guests. Names have been given to them such as "Fairies Welcoming Guests", "Woman Weaver", and "The Fairy is coming out of bathing".

Note: The final stage is to climb up Bat Cave. This is the most challenging part as there are about 336 steps. Sometimes there are laborers who offering sedan chair service.

A fantastic natural phenomena, the Stone Forest, is located 90 km southeast of Kunming. The various shapes of karst landscape was formed due to millions of years' movement of Earth. The Stone Forest area is the home of the Sani people, their folk customs has become one spectacular scene, the colorful embroidery and minority dances combine with the natural sceneries, which will surely leave you a deep impression. (This service is on a private basis.)

Day 3: Kunming - Dali

Kunming - Dali
Daily Summary
  • Transportation: Airport Transfers
  • Transportation: Domestic Flight
  • Tour: Lake Erhai Cruise & Xizhou Town Tour
  • Accommodation: Dali Landscape Hotel
  • Meals: B
Domestic Flight
Kunming - Dali
Flight #: TBD
Departs: TBD
Arrives: TBD

In the morning, you will be picked up at your hotel in Kunming and transferred to the airport in good time to board your domestic flight to Dali. Upon arrival in Dali, you will be picked up at the airport and transferred to your hotel.

Dali

With so many international travelers spreading across every Chinese nook and cranny, it's difficult to find a city that hasn't completely succumbed to the tourism hype. Sandwiched between a pair of popular Yunnan province destinations, Dali remains relatively unexploited. An authentic Chinese lifestyle can be found here, centered around the best parts of travel: eats, drinks, and fun. Most souvenir-hawking is confined to the appropriately named "Foreigner Street" in the Ancient City, while the rest of the city maintains a proud and modern attitude toward its history.

Lake Erhai Cruise & Xizhou Town Tour

The area around Lake Erhai is blessed with a mild climate and fertile land with forests containing valuable stocks of timber, medicinal herbs and rare animals. A cruise around the lake and its islands is an excellent way to explore the area and visit a working fishing village. Fifteen minutes' wait is sometimes required if there are less than five people to take the boat.

Afterwards it’s on to your next tour. The Houses of Bai people in Xizhou are located in the Xizhou Town which is 16 kilometers away from the Ancient City of Dali. Xizhou is not only a famous historic city, but also a typical commercial town of Bai people. It is one of the cradles of National capitalism of Bai people, and a famous hometown to overseas Chinese in Yunnan. You will see typical Bai traditions and dresses there. Some buildings are old and typical ancient architectures, which are the real local house. On the outside walls of each house, there are numerous exquisite paintings showing the art atmosphere.

After you will be transferred to your hotel in Dali. (This service is on a private basis.)

Day 4: Dali - Lijiang

Dali - Lijiang
Daily Summary
  • Transportation: Internal Transfer
  • Tour: Ancient Town & Wangu Tower Tour
  • Accommodation: GuanFang Hotel Qidian
  • Meals: B

In the morning, you will be picked up at your hotel in Dali and transferred to your accommodations in Lijiang. (This service is on a private basis.)

Lijiang

Lijiang is famous for its winding maze of cobblestone streets that let one wander, and get lost, in its twisting turns. "Famous" is certainly the right word, as the large volume of tourists fill up the narrow streets pretty quickly in the morning. Though there are plenty of opportunities to leave the Old City district, we encourage our travelers to settle in and take part in the frantic shuffle. This is a rare opportunity to experience an ancient city that still functions at full capacity every day. One can really feel the energy left here by millions of people over centuries of activity.

Ancient Town & Wangu Tower Tour

Lijiang is situated in the middle area of the county, which is more than 2400 meters high above sea level. It enjoys beautiful scenes, an indeed famous city with long history and splendid culture. It is very rare in China that such well-preserved minority ancient cities still exist. The old town is quite busy in the afternoon and evening with an active atmosphere of the lights and crowd. An early morning visit will be less crowded.

Then visit Wangu Tower. Located on the top of Lion Hill, Wangu is the landmark building of Lijiang ancient town. This pure wood building is 33 meters (108 ft) tall, overlooking the scenery of Lijiang at its foot, and looking out to Jade Dragon Snow Mountain in the distance.

You will enjoy lunch at No.8 Lv Xue Zhai Restaurant today. (This service is on a private basis.)

Day 5: Lijiang

Lijiang
Daily Summary
  • Tour: Jade Dragon Mountain & Baisha Village Tour
  • Accommodation: GuanFang Hotel Qidian
  • Meals: B

Jade Dragon Mountain & Baisha Village Tour

Today after breakfast you will enjoy a tourist cable ride up Jade Dragon Mountain and visit the Baisha Murals at Baisha Village.

Noted as the highest tourist cable in China, the Large Cable way goes up to Shanzidou (Shanzi Peak) the main peak of the snow mountain, with the an entire length of 2,914m, a top altitude of 4,506 km, and a perpendicular ascent of 1,150m. The cable car will take you into the clouds, where you will be far away from the worldly hurly-burly, and find yourself in a real paradise. Many visit Ganhanzi, Baishuihe (White Water River), and Glacier Park from this cableway.

Painted over a thousand years ago, the murals of Baisha Village, combine the cultures of Han, Tibetan and Naxi people displaying the life stories of the Tibet Buddhism, Confucian and Taoism. Drop by Dr. Ho's clinic, an experienced traditional Chinese medicine doctor in Lijiang. Visitors will see how Dr. Ho and his apprentices diagnose and treat patients, and get to know about the local clinic and herb culture. (This service is on a private basis.)

Day 6: Lijiang - Shangri-La

Lijiang - Shangri-La
Daily Summary
  • Transportation: Internal Transfer
  • Tour: Stone Drum Town & Tiger Leaping Gorge
  • Accommodation: Holy Palace Hotel
  • Meals: B, L

In the morning, you will be picked up at your hotel in Lijiang and transferred to your accommodations in Shangri-La. (This service is on a private basis.)

Shangri-La

Traveling north to south, Shangri-La is the first city where one really feels the Tibetan influence on Chinese culture, or the Chinese influence on Tibetan culture. The Tibetan monastery is why many people come here, and many more come here to begin the journey across Tibet. Locals are both used to foreign travelers and thankful for them. Expect a warmer-than-average welcome to the city.

Shangri-La serves as the legendary jumping-off point into the Himalayas. Speaking of Himalayas, make sure to take your time here. At 10,500 feet above sea level, you may have to stop for a breath or two while climbing the steps of this city.

Stone Drum Town & Tiger Leaping Gorge

View the first bent of Yangtze River at The Stone Drum Town. Stone Drum Town stands the base of the mountain flanking First Bay on the Yangtze River. This town derives its name from a white marble carved monument in the shape of a drum. It has a diameter of 15 m and is 0.7 m tall. This historically relevant stone monument was erected during one of the earliest periods of history of the Lijiang area.

Then see Tiger Leaping Gorge. As one of the deepest and most marvelous gorges, Tiger Leaping Gorges are located in Hutiaoxia Town, 105 kilometers away from Zhongdian/Shangri-La County. Spring is the best time to visit, as melting snow flowing down from mountains makes the river turbulence at its peak. (This service is on a private basis.)

Day 7: Shangri-La

Shangri-La
Daily Summary
  • Tour: Songzanlin Lamasery & Pudacuo National Park
  • Accommodation: Holy Palace Hotel
  • Meals: B, L

Songzanlin Lamasery & Pudacuo National Park

Today in Shangri La you will visit the Songzanlin Lamasery and Pudacuo National Park. Enjoy lunch at Arro Khampa.

The largest Tibetan Buddhist lamasery in Yunnan Province. Occupying an area of 33.3 hectares, Songzanlin was built in the style of Potala Palace in Lhasa and represents the Tibetan culture, housing buddhist statues and many precious cultural treasures.

Located near Shangri-La in China's Yunnan Province in southwest China, the Pudacuo National Park covers a total area of nearly 2,000 square kilometers. This park has an average altitude of 3,500 meters and retains a well-preserved ecosystem within the virgin forests.

The must-see scenery in this park includes Lake Bita and Lake Shudu. "Bita" means "a place with a dense oak forest" in the Tibetan language and "Bitahai" means a quiet lake. The Bitahai Lake is surrounded by mountains covered with ancient pines, oaks and rhododendrons, and appears like an emerald in the heart of the mountain. Shudu Lake is located in northeast of Shangri-la and it is one of the largest fresh water lakes on the Diqing plateau. The lake is surrounded by a forest of fir, spruce and silver birch, and is home to lots of wild animals such as bears, golden cats, deer and pheasants. (This service is on a private basis.)

Day 8: Shangri-La - Guilin

Shangri-La - Guilin
Daily Summary
  • Transportation: Airport Transfers
  • Transportation: Domestic Flight
  • Accommodation: Guilin Zongshui International Hotel
  • Meals: B
Domestic Flight
Shangri-La - Guilin
Flight #: TBD
Departs: TBD
Arrives: TBD

In the morning, you will be picked up at your hotel in Shangri-La and transferred to the airport in good time to board your domestic flight to Guilin. Upon arrival in Guilin, you will be picked up at the airport and transferred to your hotel.

Guilin

As China opened its doors to the international community in the second half of the 20th century, Guilin was the crown jewel. The epic landscapes, combined with the charming historic town, created a picturesque vision of rural China - and does so to this day.

Guilin serves as a central base for travel in the region around it. International hotels, restaurants, and shops line the streets of the historic center to accommodate the tourism economy. One is sure to meet international travelers who will inevitably share stories of their adventures around town. Guilin is the perfect place for new travel stories to be born.

Day 9: Guilin

Guilin
Daily Summary
  • Tour: Elephant Trunk Hill, Reed Flute Cave & Daxu Ancient Town
  • Accommodation: Guilin Zongshui International Hotel
  • Meals: B, L

Elephant Trunk Hill, Reed Flute Cave & Daxu Ancient Town

Today you will enjoy visits to Elephant Trunk Hill, Reed Flut Cave and Daxu Ancient Town. Enjoy lunch at McFound Restaurant.

Elephant Trunk Hill is located at the junction of Li River and Peach Blossom River. It is the symbol of Guilin with 55 meters high and got its name because its shape resembles an elephant with its trunk drinking from the Li River. The hill is pierced with many caves and topped with a small pagoda.

Located 5 kilometers northwest of Guilin city, the Reed Flute Cave gets the name from the reeds used for making flutes and pipes that grow at its entrance. The cave is regarded as the largest and most impressive cave in Guilin. It is 240 meters long, and the length of the tour is about 550 meters offering a magic land of stalactites, stalagmites, stone pillars, stone curtains, birds, plants and animals in fantastic shapes and colors. The visit lasts for 40 minutes and there are a lot of steps. Watch your step as the lights are dim. You guide will show you by electric torch.

Daxu Ancient Town is in the township of Linchuan, 15km away from the city proper of Guilin.It is one of Guangxi’s four ancient towns. The old street runs about 2km along the Li River. The narrow street is paved stone blocks, and the houses on both sides are well preserved. (This service is on a private basis.)

Day 10: Guilin

Guilin
Daily Summary
  • Tour: Longsheng Day Trip
  • Accommodation: Guilin Zongshui International Hotel
  • Meals: B, L

Longsheng Day Trip

Today you will make a day trip to Longsheng with your guide and driver. Enjoy visits to a minority village and terraced fields. (190kms total)

The Longji Terraces are built into the steep mountain range named "The Dragon's Backbone" about 2.5 hours from Guilin. The terraces look like ribbons as they wind from the foot to the top of the mountain. This ingenious construction makes best use of the scarce arable land and water resources in the mountainous area. There are about 66 square kilometers of terraced fields in the district. The Terraces were first built in the Yuan dynasty and completed in the Qing dynasty by the Zhuang people. Zhuang and Yao minority villages dot the area and feature traditional unique architecture where no nails are used in construction. The different minority customs and dressing styles are especially interesting. Sedan chairs are available from the parking lot to the top of the mountain for customers who would like to see the great views but do not wish to climb all the way up to the top; it takes about CNY350 per person for the round trip.

Enjoy lunch at Ping'an Restaurant today. (This service is on a private basis.)

Day 11: Guilin - Yangshuo

Guilin - Yangshuo
Daily Summary
  • Tour: Li River Cruise to Yangshuo
  • Accommodation: Yangshuo Aiyuan Hotel
  • Meals: B

Li River Cruise to Yangshuo

Today you will embark on a Li River cruise from Guilin to Yanghuo.

A cruise along the Li River between Guilin and Yangshuo is an unforgettable experience. As you take in the stunning scenery, there's something interesting to see at almost every bend in the river. Between spectacular limestone peaks you'll see graceful bamboo groves, farmers tending rice paddies, and lumbering water buffaloes pulling carts or cooling off in the river. You may see fishermen gliding along on their narrow bamboo rafts, and if you're very lucky you might see one of the famous fishing cormorants. Boats depart from various wharves, according to the height of the river at different times of the year.The Li river cruise is by a medium size boat which can accommodate about 140 passengers.

Today you will also experience soe countryside cycling before heading to your hotel.

Experience Yangshuo's idyllic scenery and see rural life by riding a bike. You can also choose to ride an electric golf cart (6 passengers maximum). Your tour guide will lead the way and introduce what's happening around. Drop by a local farmer's house and get to know about their life in the countryside. The whole cycling takes around 2 hours for a length of 15 kilometers. (This service is on a group basis.)

Yangshuo

Travelers don't visit Yangshuo for the city, they visit for the countryside that's just a short drive away. The karst rock formations that make up the surrounding landscapes are almost out of a dream. Hiking, biking and river boating one's way through the maze of mountains is really all the reason you need to visit this place. Yangshuo itself is friendly towards visitors, with plenty of English speakers and international restaurants throughout.

Day 12: Yangshuo - Shanghai

Yangshuo - Shanghai
Daily Summary
  • Transportation: Airport Transfers
  • Transportation: Domestic Flight
  • Accommodation: Kingtown Hotel Plaza Shanghai
  • Meals: B
Domestic Flight
Yangshuo - Shanghai
Flight #: TBD
Departs: TBD
Arrives: TBD

In the morning, you will be picked up at your hotel in Yangshuo and transferred to the airport in good time to board your domestic flight to Shanghai. Upon arrival in Shanghai, you will be picked up at the airport and transferred to your hotel.

Shanghai

One can see Shanghai's stories in its architecture. From art deco buildings that were all the craze in the 20's and 30's, to silver skyscrapers that baffle the mind, to tight streets leading through local hoods, it's plain to see. Shanghai has been growing strong, and it does not show signs of slowing down any time soon. As one of China's economic motors, Shanghai shows off a dramatic blend of businesses and business people, and everyone is pursuing the Chinese dream of prosperity that the city reflects so well.

Day 13: Shanghai

Shanghai
Daily Summary
  • Tour: Yuyuan, The Bund, & Jade Buddha
  • Accommodation: Kingtown Hotel Plaza Shanghai
  • Meals: B, L

Yuyuan, The Bund, & Jade Buddha

Today, you will go on a full day and comprehensive tour of Shanghai, beginning at Yuyuan Garden located in the center of the city's old quarter. This was a private garden built in 1559 during the Ming Dynasty, with typical Chinese classic architecture and style. The garden is surrounded by a busy market place selling everything from local snacks, to handicrafts and antiques.

Next you'll visit the Bund. This 1.5-kilometer-long embankment runs along the western bank of Huangpu River. On its west side it is the "architecture gallery" with 52 well-preserved old European style buildings. Once the major trading and commercial center of old Shanghai, the Bund has now taken on new vitality, with futuristic developments, chic restaurants, top end shops and bars offer plenty to see and do-and by night it's magic!

Next you'll visit the Jade Buddha Temple. Built in 1918, Jade Buddha Temple is a very popular Buddhist temple among local people. The main treasures are two statues of Buddha imported from Burma by sea. They were carved from rare single blocks of white jade adorned with precious stones. The temple is a hive of activities with monks, worshippers and visitors.

You will also visit the Shanghai World Financial Center, reaching a height of 1,615 feet, the Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Hall and the Jiangnan Silk Shop.

Day 14: Shanghai

Shanghai
Daily Summary
  • Tour: Zhujiajiao & Shikumen
  • Accommodation: Kingtown Hotel Plaza Shanghai
  • Meals: B, L

Zhujiajiao & Shikumen

Today, after breakfast, you’ll enjoy a tour of Zhujiajiao Ancient Town.

Shaped like a fan, Zhujiajiao Water Town has hundreds of years of history. Thousands of examples of Ming Dynasty and Qing Dynasty architecture lie on the sides of the lakes and the 36 stone bridges retain their ancient style. The tour includes four attractions: Tongtianhe (an ancient pharmacy), the historic Post Office, Yuanjin Temple and Kezhi Garden. You will also have an opportunity to take a 20 minutes cruise on the river through the ancient town.

Today you will also visit Shikumen, where 80% of Shanghainese were born and raised before the 90's. Now with the economy developing, Shikumen has changed a lot, turns into a gathering place with bars, tea houses and entertainment centers. However, you still could take a glance at Wu Li Xiang, which is a small exhibition of the old Shanghainese’ home furnishings. (This service is on a private basis.)

Day 15: Shanghai - Xian

Shanghai - Xian
Daily Summary
  • Transportation: Airport Transfers
  • Transportation: Domestic Flight
  • Accommodation: Xian Skytel Hotel
  • Meals: B, L
Domestic Flight
Shanghai - Xian
Flight #: TBD
Departs: TBD
Arrives: TBD

In the morning, you will be picked up at your hotel in Shanghai and transferred to the airport in good time to board your domestic flight to Xian. Upon arrival in Xian, you will be picked up at the airport and transferred to your hotel.

Xian

As the Eastern tip of the Silk Road, the caravans from the west brought their culture and customs, and the result is Xian, a unique city in China with deep history. Make no mistake, Xian is a modern city, but Ming Dynasty-era city walls are still intact, and the Muslim Quarter remains as a hub of merchant activity as it has for centuries. The Terracotta Warriors, outside the city, have been the main draw for tourism to Xian. Many people fly in and out to observe their ancient faces, but history enthusiasts can find a reason to stay much longer.

Day 16: Xian

Xian
Daily Summary
  • Tour: Terracotta Warriors & Big Goose Pagoda
  • Accommodation: Xian Skytel Hotel
  • Meals: B, L

Terracotta Warriors & Big Goose Pagoda

This morning you will first visit the Terracotta Warriors. Discovered accidentally in 1974, this incredible army of over 7000 soldiers, archers, horses and chariots in full battle array has guarded Emperor Qin's tomb since 210BC. Each figure is unique, and the painstaking repair and excavation continues in 3 pits which are protected inside huge hangars.

Later today, you will visit the Big Wild Goose Pagoda. A major Buddhist site, the simple, elegant brick Pagoda stands in the grounds of the attractive Da Ci'en Temple. The Pagoda was built in the 7th century to house the Buddhist materials that Xuanzang (Tripitaka) brought back from his epic journey to India. The Temple complex has several large halls with some great Buddhist statues and murals.

Day 17: Xian - Beijing

Xian - Beijing
Daily Summary
  • Tour: City Wall & History Museum
  • Transportation: Airport Transfers
  • Transportation: Domestic Flight
  • Accommodation: Red Wall Hotel
  • Meals: B
Domestic Flight
Xian - Beijing
Flight #: TBD
Departs: TBD
Arrives: TBD

City Wall & History Museum

Visit Shaanxi History Museum. The history of Shaanxi is said to be the history of China, and this museum is quite simply one of the nation's best. Four major galleries in large, Tang-style buildings house a vast and impressive collection, beautifully displayed. Most of the item labels are in English, although some other information on the exhibitions is not, but your guide can help here. Wear comfortable walking shoes.

Next visit the Ancient City Wall on a bicycle. The walls, ramparts, gates and watchtowers form one of the oldest and most complete city defenses still around. Built in the 13th century on the foundations of the original Tang Forbidden City surrounding the city centre, it is a major landmark, and the best preserved, as well as the oldest and largest of the city defense systems in China. We operate this with bicycle. If the weather is not good for biking on the city wall, we will substitute a visit to the Bell Tower. Your guide will be very glad to take you the Bell Tower after you have been to look at the city wall.

Enjoy lunch at Qianzhou Restaurant. (This service is on a private basis.)

In the morning, you will be picked up at your hotel in Xian and transferred to the airport in good time to board your domestic flight to Beijing. Upon arrival in Beijing, you will be picked up at the airport and transferred to your hotel.

Beijing

This is it. All of China's industry, culture, people, and history come together here, and the result is Beijing. The beating heart of the great machine is thriving, and as China evolves so does Beijing. One can see this in the food. It's quickly becoming more international and modern while still retaining its Chinese roots, and the world's best chefs are flocking to open restaurants in the city. One can see this in the locals, who are eating out more than ever before, and doing so wearing post-modern fashions and talking on the market's latest cell phones. The Olympic stadiums in all their modern glory are a short drive away from the ancient Great Wall, and the Forbidden City looks out over new skyscraper constructions. If you want to experience the new China and can only visit one city, Beijing is your destination.

Day 18: Beijing

Beijing
Daily Summary
  • Tour: Hutong Tour & Lama Temple
  • Accommodation: Red Wall Hotel
  • Meals: B, L

Hutong Tour & Lama Temple

Before your overnight train to Xian this evening you will enjoy some more sightseeing in Beijing. Begin with a Hutong Tour in Xicheng District.

Hutong is a maze of historic alleyways with old single storey traditional courtyard houses, which are now fast disappearing. In this one hour tour, you can hop on a rickshaw to ride through the narrow alleys as well as visit a local family then walk on the Silver Ingot Bridge (Yinding Bridge) and find out about the different thresholds of the courtyards.

Next visit the Lama Temple. The colorful Yonghe Lamasery is the largest and most famous Tibetan Buddhist temple outside Tibet. It's still very active, and the beautiful halls and courtyards are thronged with devotees come to worship or seek good luck. You can see the world's largest wooden statue (the Matreiya Buddha) and Tibetan exhibitions.

Lastly, visit Houhai. Houhai is a lake in central Beijing, one of the three parts of Shichahai. In recent years it has become famous for nightlife because it is home to several popular restaurants, bars, and cafes.The area is especially popular with foreign tourists visiting Beijing, but is also often visited by the expatriate community and younger locals.

Enjoy lunch at the Courtyard 7 Restaurant. (This service is on a private basis.)

Day 19: Beijing

Beijing
Daily Summary
  • Tour: The Great Wall & Olympic Stadiums
  • Accommodation: Red Wall Hotel
  • Meals: B, L

The Great Wall & Olympic Stadiums

Today you will visit two of China's most impressive engineering feats, one old and one new! After breakfast, your guide will accompany you to the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall. This less-crowded section of the Great Wall is about a 2.5 hours' drive from downtown Beijing. A cable car takes you to a good section (avoiding a very steep climb), where you can walk along the wall, through the watch towers and enjoy superb views as it snakes across the hills and mountains. You can return by cable car, walk down or walk along the wall for about an hour to descend by chairlift.

You will also visit the Temple of Heaven today. Built in 1420 during the Ming Dynasty, Temple of Heaven is a complex of Taoist buildings where emperors of Ming and Qing dynasties visited for annual ceremonies of pray for good harvests. Located in the south of Central Beijing, it covers an area of 273 hectares. Temple of Heaven was enrolled as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1998.

You will then visit the Beijing Olympic Stadiums. Located at the north end of the central axis of Beijing City, with a large area of 1215 hectares, this complex includes the national museum, exhibition area, Olympic Village and Olympic competition avenues. Approximately 31 venues were used in the Beijing Olympics, including the National Stadium, the Bird's Nest and National Aquatics Center. You will explore the park, but today's tour won't include going inside the Bird's Nest and Water Cube.

You'll also visit a Cloisonne factory.

Day 20: Beijing

Beijing
Daily Summary
  • Tour: Forbidden City & Tiananmen Square
  • Accommodation: Red Wall Hotel
  • Meals: B, L

Forbidden City & Tiananmen Square

Your guide will meet you at your hotel this morning after breakfast, and take you on a full day tour of the city, including the Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, Jingshan Park and more.

The Forbidden City was home to 24 emperors between 1368 and 1911. This "city within a city" is a World Heritage Site, and is the largest and the best preserved ancient imperial architecture complex in the world, with great square, halls and gates contrast with intricate halls, gardens, courtyards and quarters.

Tiananmen Square is the largest city square in the center of Beijing, named after the Tiananmen (literally, Gate of Heavenly Peace) which sits to its north, separating it from the Forbidden City. It has great cultural significance as it was the site of several key events in Chinese history. As the world's largest city square and enduring symbol of China's national pride, it is surrounded by many imposing buildings including the Heavenly Gate (entry to the Forbidden City), Museums, government buildings and Chairman Mao's Mausoleum.

Jingshan Park was a part of the Forbidden City until the early 1900's when the walls were pulled down and a road cut through it destroying several gates and buildings between the park and the rear entrance of the palace. The hill in Jingshan Park was made with the earth removed to create the palace moat. It is well worth the climb on a clear day for spectacular views of the Forbidden City and Beijing.

Day 21: Beijing Departure

Daily Summary
  • Transportation: Airport Transfer
  • Meals: B

In the morning, you will be picked up at your hotel in Beijing and transferred to the airport. (This service is on a private basis.)

Accommodation

Kunming New Era Hotel

Kunming New Era Hotel

This 28 story hotel near Wujiaba Airport was built in 1998 and underwent a partial renovation as quickly as 2004. Many of the hotel's employees speak English and its management is proud of the amount of hotel experience they collectively have. All the rooms are designed with international travellers in mind, and the hotel has made sure Western amenities are the norm throughout.

Dali Landscape Hotel

Dali Landscape Hotel

Opened in 2002, the Dali Landscape Hotel is located in the famous Old Town of Dali, Yunnan Province. This hotel is built in traditional Bai Nationality style. It is 13km away from the City Center, 15km away from the Railway Station and 25km away from the Dali Airport. The Dali Landscape Hotel offers a total of 315 guest rooms, including standard room and single room, etc. All rooms are provided with IDD/DDD phone and 24-hour hot water and so on. The Chinese restaurant in the hotel mainly provides local specialty foods.

GuanFang Hotel Qidian

GuanFang Hotel Qidian

The GuanFang Hotel Qidian is in the center of Lijiang and faces Yulong Mountain. Its 288 rooms boast modern facilities and comfortable and welcoming accommodations.

Holy Palace Hotel

Holy Palace Hotel

This 3-star accommodation, located in the downtown of Shangri-La, serves as a good base from which to explore the greater city. Wooden furniture decorates the rooms and lobby. For travelers quickly making their way through Shangri-La, this serves as a great, affordable option for a one or two night stay.

Guilin Zongshui International Hotel

Guilin Zongshui International Hotel

Situated in Railway Station, Guilin Zhongshui International Hotel is the perfect place to experience Guilin and its surroundings. Only 30.0 Km away, this 4-star hotel can be easily accessed from the airport. A haven of rest and relaxation, the hotel will offer total renewal just steps away from the city's numerous attractions such as Guilin Art Gallery, Pagoda Hill, Tunnel Hill Park. Guilin Zhongshui International Hotel offers impeccable service and all the essential amenities to invigorate travelers. The hotel provides car park, bar, 24-hour front desk, room service, shops to ensure our guests the greatest comfort. Hotel accommodations have been carefully appointed to the highest degree of comfort and convenience, with television, air conditioning, non smoking rooms, coffee/tea maker, desk in each room. Besides, the hotel's host of recreational offerings ensures you have plenty to do during your stay. Whatever your purpose of visit, Guilin Zhongshui International Hotel is an excellent choice for your stay in Guilin.

Yangshuo Aiyuan Hotel

Yangshuo Aiyuan Hotel

Renovated in 2008, the Ai Yuan Hotel guarantees guests a pleasant stay whether in Yangshuo for business or pleasure. Only 0.1 km from the city center, the hotel's strategic location ensures that guests can quickly and easily reach many local points of interest. Visitors to the hotel can take pleasure in touring the city's top attractions: Fuli Ancient Town, West Street, Impression Sanjie Liu. The facilities and services provided by Ai Yuan Hotel ensure a pleasant stay for guests. Top features of the hotel include 24hr room service, coffee shop, shops, car park, meeting facilities. The hotel features 72 beautifully appointed guest rooms, each including desk, internet access – LAN, hair dryer, satellite/cable TV, television. The hotel offers fantastic facilities, including garden, to help you unwind after an action-packed day in the city. Ai Yuan Hotel is your one-stop destination for quality hotel accommodations in Yangshuo.

Kingtown Hotel Plaza Shanghai

Kingtown Hotel Plaza Shanghai

The Kingtown Hotel Plaza Shanghai has an extremely convenient and central location, in the heart of Shanghai's business, entertainment and shopping center. It offers clean and compact rooms, with easy access to Metro Lines 1, 2 and 8. Nanjing Road Pedestrian Mall, Huaihai Road shopping district and the People's Square are all close at hand. With the Metro, the whole city is at your disposal (and taxis to get around in your free time are inexpensive and plentiful). Rooms and suites in this Shanghai hotel are all outfitted with LCD PC-TV equipment, and a wireless network covers the entire hotel. On-site Chinese, Western restaurants and a café serve fine food.

Xian Skytel Hotel

Xian Skytel Hotel

This is a 3-star International hotel located at South Avenue in the heart of Xi'an City. The hotel is adjacent to the Bell Tower and faces the scenic Stele Forest, South Gate and City Wall. It's merely minutes from the railway station and a convenient 40-minute drive from the airport. There is much to explore in this charming city and tourist attractions are easily accessible from the hotel. This eight-storey hotel boasts 170 comfortably furnished guest rooms, equipped with high standard facilities and amenities. Rooms come with a variety of layouts catering to all types of guests.

Red Wall Hotel

Red Wall Hotel

This luxurious four-star property in Beijing is located in a central area, with the world-renowned Forbidden City as its backdrop. It's merely minutes from the Forbidden City and Jingshan Park where guests can breathe the fresh air and participate in Taiji and Zhongguo Kongfu. Worth a visit is the pavilion, which is the highest point in the heart of Beijing for a stunning panoramic view. The vibrant street right beside the hotel is the place to be for a taste of traditional food and a better understanding of local life. The hotel boasts 189 comfortable rooms, coming in a mix of Chinese and European styles to satisfy International guests. Picturesque views can be seen on the high floors of the property. Guests are ensured a pleasant stay through a range of high quality facilities. Nestled in a tranquil location and offering modern conveniences, Redwall Hotel a great choice for a memorable stay in the charming city.

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