On arrival you will need to make your own way to the group hotel. The remainder of the day is at leisure to explore Beijing. There will be a group meeting in the hotel foyer at a time indicated in your final documents, followed by dinner. Our hotel will be our base as we explore this fascinating city for the next four days. Beijing has been the dynamic capital since the 13th century and visiting the iconic sights located in this orderly city is like meandering through the pages of a history book.
After breakfast we visit Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City. Tiananmen Square is the worlds' largest public square and is located only a short distance from our hotel. From here we enter the Forbidden City through the Gate of Heavenly Peace. Late this afternoon we will make our way to the famous Chinese Acrobat Show. Set in an old theatre, the Acrobat Show is something to see as very talented young men and women enthrall the crowd with daring feats involving bicycles, dragons, swords and double-jointed body parts!
Today is the real treat as we travel to a beautiful section of the Great Wall of China. The Mutianyu Guan section is approximately a 2 hour drive outside of Beijing, slightly further than the popular and very busy Badaling Gate section. The Chinese say you must do your hair before visiting the Badaling section of the wall as you will no doubt meet someone you know. The Mutianyu section is renown for its Ming Dynasty Guard Towers and stirring views. The Great Wall of China is one of the Seven Wonders of the World and is one of the worlds most unusual and awesome sites. Commenced 2000 years ago, around 221B.C, it was built as a line of defence to keep out invaders, along the course of several thousand kilometres. The Emperor Qin Shihuang unified the various northern walls into the Great Wall we see today. We have the opportunity to walk along this section, quite often with no one else in sight, and appreciate the many watchtowers as well as the surrounding rolling hills. This evening we are treated to delicious Beijing Duck dinner.
For those who are keen, we rise early and travel to the Summer Palace. This huge area is punctuated by the picturesque Kunming Lake. Once a secluded resting place for the imperial court this collection of temples, gardens, pavilions and lakes is now one of the most visited places in all of Beijing. This afternoon we transfer to the train station for our bullet train journey to Shanghai. Shanghai is known as the 'Paris of the Orient' and it is easy to see why. Long the place of quick fortune, opium and teahouses, Shanghai has a vibrant feel that seduces all travellers that pass through her gates. Overnight: Shanghai
This morning after a leisurely breakfast we will embark on a full day walking tour of this cosmopolitan vibrant city. We will visit the Shanghai museum as well as the famous and spectacular Yu Garden. We also have the opportunity to wander through the old French quarter to view some of the wonderful architecture including the old art-deco apartments and the neo-classical mansions. The day will be interspersed with tasting the delicious snacks such as steamed dumplings with vinegar dipping sauce that can be found in the many teahouses, bazaars and markets throughout the town. Overnight: Shanghai
This morning we visit the water town Zhujiajiao before returning to Shanghai to take a comfortable, airconditioned sleeper train for an overnight journey to Xian. Founded 1,700 years ago, Zhujiajiao was an important trading hub for the surrounding countryside, and many of the buildings that can be seen there today date back to the Ming and Qing dynasties. Traditionally, goods and people were ferried on the small canals from house to house, passing under the 36 ancient stone bridges that are all still in use by locals and tourists alike.
This morning we arrive in Xian, the traditional starting point of the Silk Road. The old walled city of Xian, the capital of Shaanxi Province, is a vivid example of old and new China. The modernised new city bustles around the quaint, winding lanes of the Old Quarter, where old men can be seen smoking pipes and watching the world go by, as butchers pull their carcass laden carts and hawkers sell their wares. Following breakfast, we visit the famous Terracotta Warriors. These warriors stand in their thousands outside the tomb of Qin Shihuang where they were uncovered in
1974 by peasants digging a well. Each warrior stands over 6 feet tall and has different features and characteristics. Some stand in a vanguard with crossbow and longbow bearers, others hold spears, daggers and axes at the ready. They are accompanied by dozens of horse drawn carriages and enormous terracotta horses. The sight of the warriors arising from their muddy grave, some intact, others still submerged in the ground, is an extraordinary one. Overnight: Xian
Following breakfast we will embark on a walking tour of the old city and Muslim Quarter. The city wall of Xian is one of the few cities in China where the old city walls are still standing. These walls were erected during the Ming Dynasty in 1370. We explore this historic structure before venturing amongst the small laneways and exotic smells of the Old Muslim Quarter. This area has been home to the cities Hui Community (Chinese Muslims) for centuries. The rest of the afternoon will be an optional tour if the group would like to the Stone Tablets Museum and Wild Goose Pagoda. Overnight: Xian
Today we transfer to the airport for the flight to the riverside city of Guilin. From here we transfer directly to the charismatic, colourful town of Yangshou. Yangshou is an idyllic town set amidst soaring limestone pinnacles on the banks of the Li River. The surrounding region is very beautiful, spotted with small villages and imposing karst rock formations. Upon arrival, we will take an orientation walk and exploration of West Street, Li River and the town of Yangshuo. This area has long been the inspiration for generations of artists and pts. It is classed by many as the most spectacular area in the whole of China. The town itself has fantastic shopping and restaurants, and an extremely laid back ambiance. Overnight: Yangshuo
Today we have a bike ride around the countryside followed by a visit to the stunning Moon Hill which is set alongside the Li River. Moon Hill is a strange limestone pinnable with a crescent moon-shaped hole at the top. From the top of the hill there is a magnificent view of the layers of mountains and jigsaw landscape of rice paddies for which the region is famous. Make sure you have plenty of space on your memory card as the view is incredible. In the afternoon we are treated to a lunch at a local farmers home! Overnight: Yangshou
We have an early start to the day with a visit to the local market to buy fresh ingredients for our morning's cooking lesson. Set in a charming rural village about 25 minutes from town, the class is hands on and will help unlock some of the secrets of Chinese cuisine. Relax, sit back and then eat what you have cooked. After lunch we take a river cruise on the Li River or soak in the spectacular surrounding landscapes. We will visit an ancient village before returning to Yangshou. The more active of our group have the opportunity to walk the last 5km through small villages and huge rice fields. Overnight Yangshou
On our final day we will transfer to Gongcheng (2.5 hours approx) for the bullet train to Shenzhen after breakfast at approximately 7:30am. Upon arrival in Shenzhen North, you will be met by our guide and MTR transfer to Futian, walking across border into HKG. KCR train to HKG central. Trip concludes after arrival in Hong Hum Station (approx 7:00pm) where your guide will assist with your onward journey.
Shenzen is China's richest city and has become so in just 20 years. Before that, it was a poor fishing village. Shenzen straddles the Hong Kong border and it is here that we cross the lively border teeming with transfers from mainland China to Hong Kong.
*Ask our staff for information on accommodation packages if staying on in Hong Kong. Hong Kong is an intriguing, vibrant city well worth at least 2-3 days exploration. Best of all it is a very easy place to get around with an excellent transport system. Stay a while and take the historic Peak Tram to Victoria Park for the best views of Hong Kong; soak up the glittering skyline from the famous star ferry; try your hand at haggling in the Temple Street Markets or enjoy a "junk" boat ride to Lamma Island for a sumptuous seafood lunch.