Arrive at any time. As group members will arrive at different times there are no arranged activities on Day 1 until our group meeting at 1800hrs followed by dinner. Please see the notice board in the hotel foyer for details of this meeting. Following the meeting we'll have an optional group dinner and go for a stroll along the Bund taking in Shanghai's futuristic skyline.
On Day 2, Start the day with a guided orientation and exploration walk of the city and finish with free time to explore the mix of the modern and the historic sides of Shanghai. The Shanghai Museum is one of the best in the country, housing excellent collections of bronzes and artwork. Yuyuan gardens great for a stroll, stopping for tea and samples of delicious local foods. Possibly ride the state of the art Maglev train, or take a boat ride along the Huangpu River. Walk through the French Concession area or go for a classy dinner in the big city. Possibly catch a performance of the world famous Shanghai Acrobats!
Arrive by train to Hangzhou, one of China's most historic and dynamic cities - in fact Hangzhou's West Lake is featured on the back of the one Yuan note! A trip to this city would not be complete without a boat ride on the water. In the afternoon, we will venture out to Longjing Village home of the famous Longjing tea and enjoy the plantation views while learning about this ancient tea production and having opportunity to taste some fresh brewed tea.
After time to spend most of Day 4 in Hangzhou, take an evening flight into Guilin and travel 1.5 hours south by private bus through stunning limestone karst scenery to the riverside town of Yangshuo on the world famous Li River. Spend half a day cycling through the countryside taking in the charming mix of vibrant rural life and unique stunning scenery from farmers and water buffalo tending the fields to children swimming in the streams amidst an other-wordly backdrop of surreal topography. There are so many optional activities to do in Yangshuo with some favourites including trying your hand at cooking local fare in a boutique local cooking school, dabbling in tai chi or Chinese calligraphy, walk and cycling through the countryside, climb up to a panoramic view from atop a karst or relax with some people watching from one of the many cafes in town.
On day 7, we fly from Guilin to bustling Chongqing from where we will travel by private bus for 4 hours to board our cruise boat which will take us down the Yangtze River. We spend 2 days travelling through stunning scenery along one of the most powerful rivers in all of China, which divides the country into north and south. We pass through the Three Gorges, which are absolutely stunning formations. We also have options to leave the boat and take small side trips to villages and/or temples along the river, or to get onto smaller boats and visit tributaries along the way. Cabins are twin share, with ensuite bathrooms. Very comfortable, but not glamorous. There are Chinese meals available three times a day on our vessel. In the afternoon of day 9 we take an overnight train to Xi'an.
After disembarking our vessel, we will get a chance to visit the largest dam in the world, the Three Gorges Dam. It is most interesting to see just by passing by but if interested we can have a tour of the facility and see the engineering giant for ourselves. We then make our way to the train station and board an overnight train to Xian (approx 17 hours). Ancient capital of China and terminus of the fabled Silk Road Xian boats a plethora of attractions including the Great Mosque and a downtown core enclosed by an enormous city wall which can be climbed for a small fee, it is even possible to bike around them - the top is a great place to view the setting sun. After sunset head out to the Muslim Quarter for some of the best street food in China – the spicy beef and lamb kebabs are always a favorite. Xian is home base for a half day exploration of the famous Terracotta Warriors located about an hour out of town and built over 2000 years ago to protect the tomb of Emperor Qin Shi Huang. Over 6000 life-size warriors have been discovered. In the evening of day 11 we board our final overnight train for Beijing.
Arriving in Beijing fresh in the morning of day 12 we drop our bags at the hotel before heading off to explore the nearby iconic Tiananmen Square and the and sprawling Forbidden City. With free-time in the afternoon you can experience one of Beijing's many markets and world-class shopping malls or visit some of the city’s many sights such as the Temple of Heaven, Summer Palace, Lama Temple and traditional alleys called hutongs. On day 13 the trip finishes with climatic gusto with a day trip out to the Great Wall, an incredible feat of engineering ranging over 6000km from the Yellow Sea to the desert fort of Jiayuguan. The wall was originally constructed to protect the Chinese empires from the Mongolian 'barbarians' of the north. We return to to Beijing late afternoon for an opportunity to spend your final night with your tourmates at one of the capital's many bars or restaurants.
Depart at any time.