Arrive at any time. An arrival transfer is included. As group members will arrive at different times there are no arranged activities on Day 1 until our group meeting at 6 pm. Please see the notice board in the hotel foyer for details of this meeting. The meeting will be followed by an included group dinner featuring the local specialty Beijing Duck.
On the morning of Day 2 a private bus will take you to a section of the Great Wall of China located about 2 hours from Beijing. One of the greatest structures ever built by humans, the Great Wall was constructed in stages over 2000 years and stretches 6000 kilometres westwards from the Sea to western China. The section we visit is called Mutianyu and is one of the best preserved Ming Dynasty sections reachable from Beijing. Arriving at the wall we'll be able to walk up and explore a stretch by foot while taking in views as it winds along the mountain ridges. On the Day 3 and 4 we'll discover Tiananmen Square and inside the walls of the Emperor's Palace - the Forbidden City. We'll also explore the unique Temple of Heaven with it's exciting parks surroundings and find opportunity for a walking tour featuring some of Beijing's traditional streetscapes known as hutongs. Late Day 4 we travel by overnight train to Xi'an (approx 12hrs) in soft sleeper compartments - 4 beds to a compartment with closing doors.
On arrival in the ancient Chinese capital and traditional silk road terminus Xi'an, we have a full day to visit the city's many attractions including the Great Mosque, a wonderfully serene place to escape the hustle and bustle of the city, and fantastic evening food markets. The centre of Xi'an is enclosed by an enormous city wall - the top is a great place to ride a bike during a day or to view the setting sun in the evening. At night, head out to the Muslim Quarter for some of the best street food in China – the spicy beef and lamb kebabs are always a favourite. On day 6 we visit the famous Terracotta Warriors, built over 2000 years ago to protect the tomb of Emperor Qin Shi Huang, approximately 1 hour from town. Over 6000 life-size warriors have been discovered. Spend half a day exploring this archaeological wonder.
On Day 7 we fly from Xi'an to China's lush southwest to experience the rural culture lush and unique limestone karst scenery of the Yangshuo area. Arriving from Guilin airport into Yangshuo town there will be opportunity to wander the shop and cafe lined streets or relax with a drink before enjoying an evening sunset cruise on the world famous Li River. Day 8 we embark on a day of cycle based rural discovery venturing from Yangshuo out to the Dragon River area to take in the montage of rural scenes, stunning topographical backdrop and try our hands at preparing local cuisine at a cooking school built in a local village. Returning to Yangshuo with an evening free you may choose to relax, experience some of Yangshuo's vibrant nightlife or witness Impressions Liu San Jie, an evening performance by Oscar winning Zhang Yi Mou (of Beijing 2008 Opening Ceremony fame) with a truly remarkable setting and cast of 500!
On Day 9 we'll drive from Yangshuo up to Longsheng county, though only a few hours away, Longsheng is very distinct from Yangshuo for it's rolling forested mountain slopes lined with centuries old rice terraces. Home of the Yao and Zhuang people, villages cling to the hillsides comprised largely of traditional wooden structures. While the village of Pingan now boasts a few accommodation options this is our most remote spot in the tour and in spending the night offers an opportunity to experience a very rural and traditional area of China. While still comfortable this is our most basic accommodation and does require a walk up the hillside to reach (though porters can carry your bags). Sedan chair service is available at a small cost for anyone concerned about the physical walk up to the hotel. Once in Longsheng the experience is all about getting to know the local culture and walking around to enjoy the different views of the terraces and rural life. On Day 10 we depart by private bus to Guilin for a flight to our final destination, Shanghai.
In a great day of contrasts we awake overlooking the timeless panorama of rice terraces in Longsheng and finish the day in the heart of China's bustling metropolis, Shanghai. Cosmopolitan Shanghai is a mesmerizing array of old and new from the 19th century Asian infused Victorian and early 20th century Art Deco to the bold 21st century futuresque skyline additions. Day 11 we will discover some of the rich diversity of the city core through a walking orientation including the one-time international settlement area, old Shanghai and French Concession with opportunity to take in the view of modern Pudong from the Bund - Shanghai's waterfront strip. Free time will be available for individual exploration such as a visit into Yuyuan Gardens or Shanghai Museum.
Depart Shanghai at any time.