Arrive in Beijing at any time.
Discover the history of the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square then join the throngs of locals as you hop on your bike to explore the city's ancient hutongs for a couple of hours. On Days 3 & 4, walk in the footsteps of ancient soldiers as you get far away from the tourist herd and hike along a lesser known section of the Great Wall (4-5 hours per day). For the night of day 3, interact with our rural farmer friends at a homestay for the evening. Each family can host 4-6 travellers, so our group may be split among 2 or 3 different families. Each family will be very happy to cook country style dumplings for the group, and of course we join them to learn how to make dumplings. The homes have simple but good bathing and shower facilities. Return to Beijing on Day 4. Take an overnight sleeper train (13 hrs) to Xi'an.
In the morning, we arrive by high speed train to Luoyang. From Luoyang we transfer to the holy mountain of Song Shan where we spend the night. Song Shan is home to the Shaolin Monastery, mystical birthplace of Kungfu. First founded in the 5th century, Shaolin has been rebuilt multiple times and is world famous for its kung fu. In the morning we visit the Longmen Grottoes, a UNESCO world heritage site with over 100,000 Buddha images carved into a mountain side. From Longmen we take a high speed train to Xi'an, where we arrive later that evening, where we transfer to our hotel.
Xi'an is one of many cities that was once capital of the great Chinese empire. We gather for an orientation walk exploring the inner city which is surrounded by 9 miles (14 km) of ancient city walls which, weather permitting, we will explore by bike during our time in Xi'an. In the evening, we explore the Muslim Quarter, with its Great Mosque, multi-cultural feel, shopping lanes, and street-side food stalls selling nan, kebobs, and a fine array of sweets. On our second day enjoy some free time to wander the city or visit the world famous Terracotta Warriors, built over 2000 years ago. Emperor Qinshi Huangdi arranged for the thousands of warriors and their horses to be crafted and aligned so as to eternally protect his mausoleum. Discovered in 1974 by a local farmer, they were meticulously unearthed. Departing Xi'an on Day 8 we take a flight to Guilin arriving in the morning and transferring by public bus (approximately 1½ hours) to the small countryside town of Yangshuo where the Li River winds its way around thousands of limestone karst mountains.
Orientation walk of Yangshuo this morning. Every turn in the road brings you to another picture-postcard sight. Take a boat ride along the stunning Li River, stop at markets and picturesque villages along the way or observe one of the local traditions: cormorant fishing. Enjoy a leisurely evening of Day 9, experience some of Yangshuo's famous nightlife or go see the Liu San Jie, a 500 person show by Oscar winning and Beijing Olympic Ceremony direct Zhang Yi Mou. On day 10 we take a full-day bike ride through the surrounding countryside with a local guide to gain an insight into rural Chinese life.
Longsheng in famous for centuries old rice terraces often referred to as the Dragon's Backbone rice terraces, built along forested mountain slopes poking into the clouds and punctuated by hillside villages showcasing the unique wooden architecture of the local Zhuang and Yao people. This is arguable one of the the most authentic and peaceful tastes of rural China one can experience today without camping or actually being a Chinese farmer. Our hike takes us between these traditional villages on ancient stone paths carved along the terraces over centuries by the local people. Awesome in all seasons, from the deep green of summer to the snow dusted winter, Longsheng is a memorable experience. On day 13 we travel back to Guilin to board an overnight train to Shenzhen (approx 14 hours).
After an early arrival in Shenzen, cross the border and catch the metro in to the heart of Hong Kong. Prepare for the change of pace as you enjoy your last night's dinner in the most dynamic city in Asia. Explore Stanley Market, shop, eat, go up Victoria Peak or take a harbor cruise, wander around Stanley Market, jump on the famous Star Ferry or go exploring one of the nearby islands. There's so much more to Hong Kong than just the bright lights of Kowloon. You may wish to arrange extra nights' accommodation in this exciting city.
Free to depart anytime.