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 approximately 6.30pm (please confirm timing in your final documentation). Following this we will head out to a local restaurant for our first taste of Chinese cuisine in this fascinating city. Beijing has been the dynastic 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.
Overnight in a hotel.
After breakfast we will enjoy a walking tour of Beijing. We will leave our hotel and walk to Dashila where you will see what old Beijing is like. After that we will come to Tiananmen Square. Tiananmen Square is located at the center of Beijing City where you can see Tiananmen Tower, the Monument to the People's Hers, Great Hall of the People, and Mao Zedong Memorial Hall which is the world's largest city square. From here we will visit the Forbidden City. To conclude our day of sightseeing we will enjoy a full view of the city from atop Jingshan Park. In the late afternoon we will attend a show of acrobatics before dinner of delicious roast Peking duck. An 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 a real treat as we travel to a beautiful section of the Great Wall of China. The Mutianyu section is approximately a 1.5 hours drive from Beijing, slightly further than the popular and very busy Badaling Gate section. The Mutianyu section is renowned 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. Construction commenced over 2000 years ago, around 221 B.C, as a defence line 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. Late this afternoon we transfer to the train station for our overnight train journey to Xian in comfortable air-conditioned sleeper cabins.
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. We will have breakfast in the hotel before visiting the famous Terracotta Warriors, Great Mosque and City Wall. 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 in hotel.
After breakfast we have a morning tour of the Wild Goose Pagoda and the History Museum. This afternoon we have a transfer to the station for our high speed train to Chengdu. Upon arrival we will be met and transferred directly to our hotel. After freshening up we begin our sightseeing of town with an orientation walk. Chengdu is the capitol of Sichuan province and is famous for its spicy, pepper based foods and healing medicine markets. It is a green city and is one of the more laid back cities in China.
In the morning we will visit the Panda Sanctuary, at this research center we have a chance to see these gentle giants wandering around the grounds. This afternoon we travel to the Tang Dynasties Wenshu temple, Kuan Zhai Alleyway and People's Park. Originally built in the 7th century, The Wenshu Temple is one of Chinas oldest and best preserved Buddhist temples.
This morning you have an optional tour of Giant Buddha in Leshan (additional charge - payable direct). This large sitting Buddha statue has been carved into a cliff and overlooks the river. We then transfer this afternoon to the station to take a bullet train to Chongqing. Later in the afternoon we will board our boat for the start of our Yangtze River cruise.
Overnight on board.
The Yangtze River is the longest river in China and the third longest waterway in the world. We travel along one of the most picturesque sections of the river where over millions of years it has carved its way through the surrounding mountains creating these uniquely beautiful gorges now named the Three Gorges. Over the next two days we will have the opportunity to view the dramatic scenery from both sides of our comfortable 4-star boat. Along the banks of the Yangtze River high peaks tower above us from both sides, in some sections, exposing huge cliffs and dramatically perched temples. Waterfalls spray mist over the river creating a mystical feeling as we meander along. Accommodation aboard our boat is in private twin share cabins. All meals on board are included.
We arrive into Yichang mid morning and visit the Yichang Three Gorges dam project and marvel at this huge undertaking before transferring to the airport to catch our flight to the cosmopolitan city of Shanghai. Upon arrival at the Shanghai Airport, the trip concludes. Shanghai is known as the "Paris of the Orient" and it is easy to see why. If you choose to stay longer in this cosmopolitan and vibrant city you can wander through the old Frenchtown to view some of the wonderful architecture including the old art-deco apartments and the neo-classical mansions, go to the Shanghai Museum, and visit the famous and spectacular Yu Garden. Long the place of quick fortune, opium and teahouses Shanghai has a vibrant feel that seduces all travellers that pass through her gates.