China: Ancient History, Modern Practice

This tour covering China's touristic highlights is designed to help the traveler experience as many of China's most culturally important sights, sounds and tastes as possible in thirteen whirlwind days. Time is, of course, provided for the traveler to independently explore as much as possible, while leaving room for guided touring whenever necessary. In addition to the absolutely necessary stops in Shanghai and Beijing, this itinerary also features a detour to Chengdu, a modern city that is home to the Panda Center, which is working to preserve this beloved species for future generations.

Daily Itinerary

1: Beijing Arrival

Beijing Arrival
Daily Summary
  • Transportation: Airport Transfer
  • Accommodation: Penta Hotel Beijing

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

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.

2: Beijing

Beijing
Daily Summary
  • Tour: Forbidden City & Tiananmen Square
  • Accommodation: Penta Hotel Beijing
  • 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.

The Temple of Heaven, built in 1420 during the Ming Dynasty, is a complex of Taoist buildings where emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties visited for annual ceremonies to pray for good harvests. The park of the Temple of Heaven is full of life - in the morning, lots of local elderly people meet there to sing, exercise, and do Tai Chi.

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.

After this delightful introduction to Beijing's history, you'll enjoy the delicious local specialty: Peking duck. (This service is on a private basis.)

3: Beijing

Beijing
Daily Summary
  • Tour: The Great Wall & Summer Palace
  • Accommodation: Penta Hotel Beijing
  • Meals: B, L

The Great Wall & Summer Palace

Today, your tour will begin as your guide drives you out to the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall. This less-crowded section is about a 2.5 hours drive from downtown Beijing. A cable car ride will take you up to a good section (avoiding a very steep climb), where you can walk along the wall, through the watch towers and admire the breathtaking views, as it snakes across the hills and mountains. You can return by cable car, walk back down, or walk along the wall for about an hour to descend by chairlift. The choice is yours.

Continue on to the Beijing Olympic Stadium to see the famous Bird's Nest and Water Cube, before your visit the Summer Palace. This much-loved summer retreat of the Imperial families, boasts lovely landscaped gardens, halls, pavilions and corridors, all set around the lake and rivers in natural harmony. It is the largest and best preserved imperial garden in China, and also a World Heritage Site.

Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant today, during your adventure. (This service is on a private basis.)

4: Beijing

Beijing
Daily Summary
  • Accommodation: Penta Hotel Beijing
  • Meals: B

Enjoy this free time at your leisure.

5: Beijing - Xian

Beijing - Xian
Daily Summary
  • Tour: Hutong Tour & Lama Temple
  • Transportation: Train Station Transfer
  • Transportation: Sleeper Train
  • 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 798 Art District. Since 2002, artists have been flocking to 798 and opening studios, lofts, and contemporary art institutions in old factory buildings that were not in use. This has developed into galleries, an art center, design companies, fashion shops, bars, and other spaces catering to creativity. 798 has produced the nations largest and most influential international artists in recent years.

Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant during your adventure. (This service is on a private basis.)

In the evening, you will be picked up at your hotel in Beijing and transferred to the train station.

Beijing - Xian
Train: Train No. Z19 (Beijing Xi West Railway Station - Xian Railway Station)
Room Type: Soft SLeeper
Departs: 10:41pm
Arrives: 8:15am

6: Xian

Xian
Daily Summary
  • Transportation: Train Station Transfer
  • Tour: Terracotta Warriors & Big Goose Pagoda
  • Accommodation: Grand Noble Hotel Xian
  • Meals: B, L

In the morning, you will be picked up at the train station and transferred to your hotel in Xian.

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.

Terracotta Warriors & Big Goose Pagoda

This morning, you will first visit the Terracotta Warriors & Horses site. 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.

Next you'll visit the Muslim quarter for a chance to shop. 100 meters west of the Bell tower in Xian, these avenues are peppered with many unique stalls, souvenir shops, cafes and bars.

Later in the day, your excursion will lead you to the Big Wild Goose Pagoda. A major Buddhist site, this 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. Enjoy a typical Xian style lunch today, during your excursions. (This service is on a private basis.)

7: Xian - Chengdu

Xian - Chengdu
Daily Summary
  • Tour: City Wall & History Museum
  • Transportation: Airport Transfers
  • Transportation (Air): Domestic Flight
  • Accommodation: Tibet Hotel Chengdu
  • Meals: B, L
Domestic Flight
Xian - Chengdu
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 afternoon, you will be picked up at your hotel in Xian and transferred to the airport in good time to board your domestic flight to Chengdu. Upon arrival in Chengdu, you will be greeted at the airport by your driver and transferred to your hotel. (This service is on a private basis.)

Chengdu

So many people come to Chengdu to visit the Panda Breeding and Research Center that they hardly pause to appreciate the city and its beautiful surroundings. Yes, this is probably the world's best place to see giant pandas up close and personal. But there are too many fascinating things to see around the city to ignore. Chengdu locals are also special, because although they live and work in a city, they're more laid back than the frantic Beijing or Shanghai types. Quiet tea house culture, and fabulous boutique restaurants abound. Chengdu: Come for the pandas, stay for everything else.

8: Chengdu

Chengdu
Daily Summary
  • Tour: Panda Center & Sichuan Cuisine Museum
  • Accommodation: Tibet Hotel Chengdu
  • Meals: B, L

Panda Center & Sichuan Cuisine Museum

Your first stop today will be the Panda Breeding and Research Center, home to nearly 50 giant and red pandas. This beautifully laid out park is about 10 kilometers from downtown Chengdu, with excellent walkways to various open enclosures of pandas. We will go early, so as to see the pandas feeding at at their most active, and learn about these amazing animals. Enjoy lunch in a local restaurant before heading to the Sichuan Cuisine Museum and enjoy some famous Sichuan snacks before your cooking class - you'll learn all about this unique cuisine and enjoy the 3 course menu you cooked, with fruit, red wine, Chinese herbal alcohol, and tea. (This service is on a private basis.)

*Note: The Panda Breeding and Research Center has a donation program which allows you take pictures with holding a panda one minute by donating RMB 2,000 Yuan (for reference only). Only 40 tourists are allowed to hold pandas a day. If you want to hold a panda, you must book it one day in advance.This program is subject to the availability of pandas on that day. Please bring enough RMB cash as payment by credit card is not accepted there.

9: Chengdu

Chengdu
Daily Summary
  • Tour: Jinli Old Street & Panda Post
  • Accommodation: Tibet Hotel Chengdu
  • Meals: B, L

Jinli Old Street & Panda Post

Today you will visit The People's Park - a spiritual haven from the bustle of downtown, this park has bonsai gardens, artificial lakes, rockeries, historical monuments and traditional tea houses. Have a cup of tea in traditional Chengdu style before continuing to Jinli Old Street. Once the commercial heart of the old kingdoms this ancient street has been fully restored in traditional Sichuan style. Picturesque, bustling, and cheerful, you can sample local arts and craft, traditional Chinese goods, food and delicacies, and even a Starbucks, local style. Next you'll visit Wenshu Monastery and Panda Post, before enjoying a Sichuan Hotpot. Like most cuisine in this area, it is extremely spicy - your guide will assist you in ordering 2 types of soup (spicy and non-spicy) as well as an array of meat, vegetables, and local side dishes. (This service is on a private basis.)

10: Chengdu - Shanghai

Chengdu - Shanghai
Daily Summary
  • Transportation: Airport Transfers
  • Transportation (Air): Domestic Flight
  • Tour: Shanghai Tower & The Bund
  • Accommodation: SSAW Boutique Hotel Shanghai Bund
  • Meals: B, L
Domestic Flight
Chengdu - Shanghai
Flight #: TBD
Departs: TBD
Arrives: TBD

In the morning, you will be picked up at your hotel in Chengdu and transferred to the airport in good time to board your domestic flight to Shanghai. Upon arrival in Shanghai, you will be greeted at the airport by your driver and transferred to your hotel. (This service is on a private basis.)

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.

Shanghai Tower & The Bund

Today you will enjoy a guided tour of Shanghai including visits to the The Shanghai Tower and Yuyuan Garden.

Shanghai World Financial Center is located in Pudong District, reaching a height of 632 meters (2073 feet). It is now a new landmark of prosperous Shanghai. It was the second tallest building in the world when it was completed in 2007. Its observation deck, at 474 meters (1,555 feet) above the ground, is currently the tallest in the world. The multi-function skyscraper consists of hotels, apartments, restaurants, shopping malls, offices and observation decks.

Yuyuan Garden is 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.

Continue on to The Bund - a 1.5 kilometer embankment running along the western bank of Huangpu River. Featuring the architecture gallery with 52 well-preserved old European style buildings, this vital hub is home to chic restaurants, high end shops, and nightlife.

Enjoy a typical Shanghai lunch during your adventure today. (This service is on a private basis.)

11: Shanghai

Shanghai
Daily Summary
  • Tour: Zhujiajiao & Shikumen
  • Accommodation: SSAW Boutique Hotel Shanghai Bund
  • 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.)

12: Shanghai

Shanghai
Daily Summary
  • Accommodation: SSAW Boutique Hotel Shanghai Bund
  • Meals: B

Enjoy this free time at your leisure.

13: Shanghai Departure

Daily Summary
  • Transportation: Airport Transfer
  • Meals: B

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

Accommodation

Penta Hotel Beijing

Penta Hotel Beijing

Occupying a central location in Beijing’s business district, pentahotel Beijing is a 2-minute walk from the 2 subway lines at Chongwenmen Metro Station. It features an indoor pool and business center. Both free wired internet access and free Wi-Fi are provided throughout the entire property. Next to New World Shopping Mall, Beijing pentahotel is about a 10-minute drive from Tiananmen Square and popular shopping areas like Wangfujing Pedestrian Street. Beijing International Airport is a 35-minute drive away. Air-conditioned rooms provide the comfort of oversize windows, a sofa and carpeted floors. Decorated in neutral shades, they have a 37-inch flat-screen TV and a safe. Guests can relax in the sauna after active gym workouts. Featuring a 24-hour front desk, Pentahotel also provides tour and ticketing services.

Grand Noble Hotel Xian

Grand Noble Hotel Xian

Grand Noble Hotel, Xian is a luxurious property offering comprehensive facilities and services for leisure and business stays. It is conveniently located in the commercial center, shopping and entertainment area of Xian’s downtown, neighboring a lot of popular tourist attractions. Only 40 minutes away from Xi’an Xian Yang International Airport and 5 minutes way from Xian Railway Station.

Tibet Hotel Chengdu

Tibet Hotel Chengdu

The Chengdu Tibet Hotel is among the premier hotels in this city, having won the Diamond service Award by the World Golden Key Organization. Guests should be sure to take advantage of the tourist attractions nearby which include the Baoguang Temple, the Chengdu Panda Breeding Research Center, Sanxingdui Museum, Wenshu Monastery, Wolong Panda Reserve, Wuhou Memorial Temple, Mt. Qingcheng Qingyang Temple, and the Thatched Cottage of Du Fu. Both tourists and business travelers alike appreciate its combination of tradition and modern styling. As this hotel is located next to the Jinjiang River, it provides both tranquility and a beautiful view. All of its rooms are luxuriously furnished, highlighted by the elegant bedding.

SSAW Boutique Hotel Shanghai Bund

SSAW Boutique Hotel Shanghai Bund

SSAW Boutique Hotel Shanghai Bund is located in the bustling core area of Huangpu District, close to Metro Line 8 & 10 stations. It is just a five-minute walk away from Yuyuan Garden and Huaihai Road. All rooms are well appointed and feature high-quality mattresses. The south-east style on-site restaurant specializes in Cantonese and local cuisines. SSAW Boutique Hotel Shanghai Bund offers 165 guest rooms, including 17 city view rooms, 12 suites, and 14 Family rooms. All air-conditioned guest rooms come with free WIFI access, complimentary drinks in the mini-bar, complimentary coffee/tea facilities, an in-room safe and flat-screen cable TV. To ensure the sleep quality for your stay, all rooms are equipped with a black-out curtain and comfortable‘King Koil' mattresses.

Pricing and Details

Starting from $ 3,668 per person

*Pricing is based on two persons traveling together, based on availability, subject to change.

Price Includes

  • Full support before, during & after your trip
  • Meals as mentioned
  • Accommodation as mentioned
  • Tours/activities as mentioned
  • Transport as mentioned

Price Excludes

  • International & domestic flights
  • Travel insurance (highly recommended)
  • Entrance visas when applicable
  • Other services not mentioned
  • Tips and gratuities to guides, drivers
  • Taxes and fees

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