Hidden China & Inner Mongolia
Day 1 Beijing
Arrive in Beijing at any time. As group members will arrive at different times, there are no arranged activities on Day 1 until our group meeting in the evening at 6pm. Please see the notice board in the hotel lobby for details of this meeting. Optional group dinner to follow.
Day 2 Beijing (1B)
On Day 2, travel out of Beijing to explore the Great Wall at Mutianyu. An incredible piece of engineering stretching almost 3000km westwards from the mountain ridges north of Beijing. It was originally constructed to protect the Chinese empires from the Mongolian 'barbarians' of the north. Return to Beijing in the afternoon. Prepare for the overnight sleeper train to Jining. Taking an overnight train in China is an experience in itself. Enjoy the chaos of the train station and rush to get on board. You will likely have locals for bunk-neighbours who will have varying levels of interest in getting to know you. Some might want to practice their English with you, some may just be curious observers. Just remember the journey is half the experience. Sleeping on a train can take some getting used to– earplugs are recommended! Approximate distance: 650km Estimated travel time: 7 hrs
Day 3 Inner Mongolia (1B,1D)
Arrive to Ulanchap and visit the grasslands which lie 70km west of the city. Opt to visit a Mongolian family and enjoy the scenery around you. With a little luck, you'll catch a beautiful sunset or sunrise and clear blue skies. Enjoy traditional living on the grasslands with a a night spent in a ger and an delicious Mongolian dinner. Home to 36 ethnic minorities, the region is full of diverse people and culture. A bit of a mix between Mongolia and China, this region offers a variety of activities and sights. During the Naadam Festival (July 11-13, 2014), events and festivities will be taking place. Horseback riding, wrestling and archery are the three main sports to test the skills of the competitors.
Days 4-5 Datong (2B)
Enjoy a free morning in Inner Mongolia before travelling by train to Datong. On Day 5, visit the Yungang Grottoes to see the thousands of Buddha statues and the Hanging Monastery on the outskirts of town. Once the country's political and economic centre, Datong is now famous for the temples, pagodas and other Buddhist buildings in the area. The Huayan Monastery and Nine-dragon Screen are excellent examples of the treasures found in the middle of the city. Opt to check out the six remaining pagodas which earned the city the nickname "City of Pagodas". Further afield is the Yungang Grottoes (16km from the city, 9.9mi). There are currently 53 grottoes with 51,000 statues remaining. Enjoy a guided visit to the grottoes to marvel at them in person. Beyond that, is Mt Hengshan, one of the five sacred mountains of China. The Hanging Monastery (or Hanging Temple) is a wooden structure built into a cliff at the foot of the mountain more than 1500 years ago. it includes Buddhist, taoist and Confucian elements. Approximate distance: 300km Estimated travel time: 4 hrs
Day 6 Pingyao (1B)
Travel by train, arriving in Pingyao in the late afternoon. Enjoy some down time staring at the beautiful scenery, playing cards or chatting to your fellow passengers. Pingyao is located in the Shanxi Province and was the financial centre of China during the Qing Dynasty. Established more than 2700 years ago, this is one of the best preserved ancient cities in the world. it's a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is known for it's ancient city wall. (http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/812) Approximate distance: 460 km Estimated travel time: 8 hrs
Day 7-8 Pingyao (2B)
Explore this traditional town and enjoy an included visit to a local family with a traditional Chinese painting lesson. Overnight train on Day 8. Sights around the city include the market Tower, built in the 14th century, the Confucius Temple, wandering the ancient streets and marvelling at the city walls. For lunch we visit a local family and try a traditional Northern Chinese lunch. After, take a painting lesson from a former teacher. This evening, board our second overnight train for the journey to Xi'an. Approximate distance: 570 km Estimated travel time: 8.5 hrs
Day 9 Xi'an (1B,1L)
Visit the Terracotta Warriors and enjoy an included lunch at a local farmer's house. Arrive in Xi'an in the early morning and, after checking into the hotel, grab some breakfast and take an orientation walk. After take an guided trip out to the Terracotta Warriors, situated a short drive away (approximately 1 hour). The warriors were re-discovered in 1974, having been buried for over 2000 years. All face east in battle formation, complete with horses and chariots to guard the tomb of the emperor Shi Huang Di. After, enjoy a local lunch at a farmhouse nearby. Int he evening or on Day 10, head to one of Xi’an’s most fascinating areas – the Muslim Quarter. Opt to tour the lovely and unusual Great Mosque (a wonderfully serene place to escape the hustle and bustle of the city), great souvenir stalls and enjoy some of the best street food in China. The remaining city walls are a great place to watch the sunset or join the locals for ballroom dancing or tai chi in the early morning.
Day 10 Xi'an (1B)
Enjoy a free day in Xi'an. Opt to visit the Muslim Quarter, ride a bike around the city walls, visit the Big Goose Pagoda or do some shopping. Take an overnight train to Beijing. Approximate distance: 1200 km Estimated travel time: 12.5 hrs
Day 11 Beijing (1B)
Arrive in the early morning to Beijing. In the mid-afternnon enjoy a guided tour of Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City. In the evening, choose to take in a Chinese acrobats show, a kung fu show, or the Chinese Opera.
Day 12 Beijing (1B)
Depart at any time. With so much to see in Beijing, it is strongly recommended that you book pre- or post-tour accommodations and take in all the sights there are to see.