Arrive in the Chinese capital, Beijing. Make your way from the airport to the hotel, check-in & let your Chinese adventure begin. Maybe head out into town to take a peek at this city, famed as one of the Four Ancient capitals of China & home to the 2008 Olympic Games. Later, head back to the hotel where you’ll meet your fellow travel buddies & Tour Manager who will be showing you the sights & sounds of China & Hong Kong for the next 12 days.
Start your day in Beijing with a locally guided tour of Tiananmen Square – the world’s largest city square right in the heart of Beijing. Our expert Local Guide will tell you all about this place & its history. It is home to the Mausoleum of Mao Zedong, the resting place of the revered Chinese leader & the Monument to the People’s Heroes. It’s also flanked by the Great Hall of the People – the People’s Republic of China’s parliament building, & National Museum of China. As the cultural & political centre of China, so there’s so much to learn & discover while you’re here. There is plenty of time for photos before we walk through the Tiananmen Gate that leads into the famous Forbidden City. This massive former home to the Emperors of China was once off-limits to anyone but the royal court. Our local expert will show you the highlights & fill you in on the history of this UNESCO World Heritage Listed Site. Later, it’s your chance to get off the beaten track & explore the 798 Art District. This cool area is home to lots of former military factories that have been reclaimed & transformed into a thriving artistic community for Chinese artists. With some free time here, marvel at some of the modern sculptures or wander through architecturally distinctive factories that have been transformed into art galleries. Later, visit Beijing’s World Heritage Listed Summer Palace, referred to as "a masterpiece of Chinese landscape design." Our Local Guide will bring the Summer Palace to life describing how one of the Empress Dowagers diverted 30 million tells of silver destined for the Royal Navy to enable the reconstruction of the grounds. Tonight is all about going local & indulging in some of the food that China is famous for. Try Wangfujing Night Market – it’s a great place to grab a bite for dinner. Tempt your taste buds with some Chuanr (meat kebabs), Fu Ling Bing (a pancake-like snack made from flour, sugar, honey & other ingredients) or some of the Tang Hu lu (candied fruits). Later, ask your Tour Manager for some tips on where to head out if you want to experience the party scene in Beijing by night.
With our local guide leading the way, we head out of the city today, bound for an in-depth look at some of China’s fascinating ancient history. Located south of Beijing, at a site specially selected by the Emperor Zhu Di, lies the tombs of the Ming Emperors. Here 13 Emperors of the ancient Ming & Qing dynasty were buried during a period of over 200 years. Our Local Guide will explain the history of the tombs at this UNESCO World Heritage Listed site & show you some of the treasure that was retrieved during the tomb excavations. After a delicious lunch, there’s your chance to do a spot of shopping for some locally made souvenirs to take home for family & friends. Later it’s time for an un-beatable experience with a visit to one of the world’s most famous monuments, the Great Wall of China. Built, rebuilt & maintained from the 5th century BC until the 16th century, the UNESCO World Heritage Listed Great Wall is now considered to be one of the new 7 Wonders of the World & stretches for over 8,850 km (5,500 mi). Our visit takes us to the Mutianyu section of the Wall. It’s off the beaten track & lacks the bustling crowds, so it’s your chance for some great photos & views as you imagine Mongolian warriors of the past trying to make their way across the Wall into China. Your visit includes a return cable car ride. Tonight there’s your chance to go local & opt in for a delicious local dinner of famous Peking Duck. We’ll head to one of our favourite restaurants where you can indulge in this delicious meal of soft pancakes & crispy duck with spring onions, hoi sun sauce & cucumber – divine!
Experience the stuff of legends today as we visit the site of the 2008 Summer Olympics. In the hands of our expert Local Guide you’ll learn about the recent games as you see all the key iconic sites & stadiums like the Bird’s Nest (Beijing National Stadium) & the Water Cube (Beijing National Aquatics Centre) with plenty of chance for photos. Things get a little bit more local later, as we make our way into one of Beijing’s hutongs. The hutongs are narrow streets, formed with traditional Chinese residences that are still inhabited by local families. Get out on 2 wheels as we cruise around the hutongs in the back of a rickshaw, before a truly local experience – you’ll enjoy something different as we meet a local family living in the area & take a tour of their home before sharing lunch with them. This afternoon there’s free time for you to explore Beijing. You could get a shopping fix & visit the Silk Market. It truly is a shopping paradise! With over 1,700 vendors selling everything from handbags to watches, electronic accessories to clothing, jewelry to suitcases – there’s never a shortage of some gifts to take home. If a historical fix or some culture is more your thing, then ask your Tour Manager for some ideas on where’s best to head or check out one of Beijing’s many museums. There’s also the Beijing Zoo for those who are interested in seeing some of the animals that China is famous for such as Sichuan Golden Snub-nosed monkeys, Manchurian Tigers or the Giant Panda. You may want to visit the Temple of Heaven – a location that Chinese emperors would visit annual to pray for prosperity in the coming year. Tonight we do as the locals do & take an overnight train to Xi’an.
Wake-up in Xi’an, a former ancient capital of China. Surrounded by old city walls once used to protect the area, Xi’an served as the home to some of many of China’s most important early dynasties. After breakfast, we meet up with our Local Guide, who’ll show us the Big Wild Goose Pagoda. This 7 story Buddhist pagoda houses the statutes & figures brought from the travels of monk Xuanzang, author of the famous Monkey King stories. From here it’s a change of scene as we journey to the countryside & the site of the world famous UNESCO World Heritage Listed Terracotta Army. Marvel at the incredible collection of terracotta sculptures of the armies of Qin Shi Huang, the First Emperor of China. After lunch, our Local Guide will show us around the site of the Terracotta Army. Discovered in 1974 by local farmers, excavation projects have unearthed three pits containing over 8,000 soldiers as well as chariots & horses. Our guide will give us an insider’s look at how the site was discovered, its historical significance & the effort that has gone into restoring the warriors. After exploring this site, we go back to Xi’an for tonight’s un-missable optional activity - the Tang Dynasty Dumpling dinner & show. Feast on a main course featuring over 16 types of delicious dumplings, before being entertained at a traditional Chinese cultural show. Afterwards you could explore some of the local nightlife in the brightly-lit, tree-lined area of the Xi’an’s South Gate.
After breakfast, it’s time for something different as your Tour Manager & Local Guide show you more of the area on a bike ride along the impressive city walls of Xi’an. Whether it be a single or tandem, everyone can explore on two wheels what are known as the best preserved city walls in China. Later, our Local Guide will give us a glimpse into the past at the Great Mosque of Xi’an & the neighbouring Muslim community with its bustling bazaar. It's a perfect place for picking up some souvenirs & tasting more of the great regional food found here. We say farewell to the Shaanxi region before our included flight to Shanghai – the showpiece of modern China, with its distinctive skyline & historical landmarks. On arrival we’ll be met by our expert Local Guide who will show us around the area for the next 2 days. First up, we’ll visit one of the tallest buildings in China, the Jinmao Tower. Until 2007, the Jinmao Tower was the tallest building in China & as we head sky high to the 88th floor viewing level, you’ll be able to see incredible sweeping views of Shanghai below you. You can even send a postcard from one of the highest post offices in the world! With free time tonight, you could grab a bite to eat at one of the many restaurants in the Xintiandi district, which are made up of renovated shikumen (traditional stone houses). Later, you could ask your Tour Manager for some tips on where to check out Shanghai.
This morning, shop Shanghai-style as we visit the Chenghuang Miao (City God Temple). With three temples & a surrounding complex of shops, restaurants & teahouses to be explored, you can people watch, shop, eat or just take time to chill. Later, it’s more sightseeing as we head to the famous Bund, Shanghai’s riverside promenade. Historic building line the road that contain wharves, while views over the Huangpu River show-off the famous skyline of Pudong. Then the city is yours to explore. Your Tour Manager has loads of ideas for ways to spend this afternoon. Maybe a visit the popular shopping street of Nanjing, visit the kitschy Bund Sightseeing Tunnel or see a different side of the country’s Communist history at the Shanghai Propaganda Poster Art Centre. Tonight after an included dinner, there’s the option to see a Chinese Acrobatic Show – a brilliant 1.5 hour show that features the crazy “Ball of Death” performance! This is a must-see while in Shanghai! Later, you could head out for a drink in the city, but don’t forget to take photos of Shanghai’s neon-tinged skyline before you go.
After a free morning it’s time to catch another flight as we head to the city of Guilin & then make our way to Yangshuo town, nestled amongst the limestone karsts that this region is famous for. On arrival, we’ll take a look around the town, where there’s an option to learn a few skills to show off back home at an optional Chinese cooking class! First up is a visit to a fresh produce market to pick up your ingredients, before a Chinese chef teaches you the skills to whip up a tasty Chinese feast. With a free night tonight, head to one of the many outdoor bars, sip on a Tsingtao or shop for bargains at the late night markets.
With a free day to explore Yangshuo, maybe take a trip down the Li River on a bamboo raft, or head out on foot & climb one of the local hills for a view of the area. Tonight, there’s your chance to witness the spectacle of “Impression Liu Sanjie” on our optional activity – an amazing outdoor performance set on the Li River. Using the natural islands & mountains as the stage, performers dance & sing to music, set under brilliant lights. Featuring over 600 local performers, this show is not to be missed.
This morning, jump on 2 wheels as we head into the Yangshuo landscape and take a two-wheel trip to the Moon Hill. Bring your camera along to capture the varying “phases of the Moon” as you make your way up the walking path to the viewpoint. On return to Yangshuo, grab some lunch & we’ll make our way to Guilin for our flight to Hong Kong – a longtime gateway between East & West.
Your Local Guide will show you some of the highlights of Hong Kong this morning on our city tour. We’ll take a trip to the heights of Victoria Peak on-board a tramcar to see Hong Kong Island & its surrounds. This area offers unbeatable panoramic views of Hong Kong so it’s the perfect place to take some pics. Later, you’ll get to see locals going about their day on a trip to the floating fishing village of Aberdeen located in South Hong Kong, before heading to Repulse Bay famed for its architecture & beach area. Your look at the Island wraps up at the Stanley Market, an open air market famed for bargains – so it’s time to flex your haggling skills & pick up some gifts for friends back home (or yourself!). Later, it’s time to party like they do in Hong Kong – take one of the famous Star Line Ferries across the harbor to our hotel to get ready for a night out - Hong Kong style.
It’s time to swap addresses, emails & numbers this morning as our tour ends after breakfast.