Day 1: Arrival Day. This journey begins in Beijing. If you need advice or assistance getting to Beijing then please contact us. Arrival transfer: You will be met at the airport and taken to your meeting point hotel. Our representative will answer any questions that you may have and ensure that you are checked-in before leaving. Please note: You may only actually be able to check-in after the hotel's standard time. If you will arrive in the morning and want to be able to check-in immediately you should consider booking the previous night as an extra service.
After check-in you are free to do as you please. Please do look for a message from your guide about a briefing this evening. In the evening, your guide will meet with the group and take you to dinner. After eating the guide will brief you all on some important aspects relating to your journey. This should only take about half an hour. Meals: dinner.
Day 2: Beijing Sites. Today we visit the Temple of Heaven and the Summer Palaces. Yes - there are two. Our visit to the Temple of Heaven will begin at the South Gate and work north. Along the way we will see the Altar for Prayers, try to be heard at the Echo Wall and then gaze at the stunning Hall of Prayers. Our visit will include time to enjoy the parkland surrounding the main site where locals gather to relax. Typical recreation includes chess, mahjong and kite flying. After lunch we will have plenty of time to visit the Summer Palaces.
We will make a shorter stop at the Yuan Ming Yuan (aka the Old Summer Palace) before continuing to the nearby Summer Palace. During the visits you will learn that both sites were ravaged by the British and French troops towards the end of the Second Opium War. In the evening we enjoy a Beijing Opera Show with (usually) three scenes from different operas. Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner. Approximate driving time: 3.5 hours.
Day 3: Into the Forbidden City. We start today's excursion near Qianmen so as to appreciate the Feng Shui inherent in Beijing's street plan. As we walk across Tiananmen Square we can also appreciate its scale. We will pass under Tiananmen the gate that gives the square its name and on into the Forbidden City. Once inside we follow the logical progression from south to north.
This takes us deeper into the personal domains of the Emperors. We make a few diversions to see the various exhibitions and the quarters allocated to concubines. The rest of the day is free for you to go to the other sites in Beijing that you most want to see. Meals: breakfast. Approximate driving time: 1 hour.
Day 4: Great Wall and on to Xi'an. We check out before heading off to the Great Wall at Mutianyu. This allows us to go straight to the airport which is in that direction. The Great Wall of China at Mutianyu was one of the most strategically important and the construction quality there was second to none. As such, it is one of the best preserved sections. Those who do not feel active may take a cable car to the top. We have a late afternoon/early evening flight to Xi'an such that we are ready to go straight out again the next morning. Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner.
Day 5: Terracotta Warriors and Wild Goose Pagoda. We head off early so as to be amongst the first to the site of the Terracotta Warriors. This gives us the best chance of getting unobstructed views and photos in the main pits. The site has been enhanced and our excursion will include talks at all major pits and the museum, one cycle of the show at the cinema and some free time for you to revisit your favorite bits or to shop for souvenirs.
After lunch we head to the Wild Goose Pagoda once one of the most important Buddhist temples in China. For those who love the TV series 'Monkey' it is worth noting that the scriptures collected by the real monk Triptaka (aka Xuanzang) are stored here. Xi'an is renowned for its tasty snacks and we gather again in the evening for a rather special treat; a Dumpling Banquet where the various dumplings are shaped according to their filling. Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner.
Day 6: Xi'an City Sites and on to Shanghai. Xi'an has many worthwhile sites. We will visit the Grand Mosque and the City Walls at least before heading out to the airport for our flight. Xi'an has a Muslim Quarter where the Hui Minority (descendants of Muslim Silk Road traders) live and ply their trades. At the center of this area is their mosque, a masterpiece of woodwork that incorporates both Arabic and Chinese features. Unlike most other cities in China, Xi'an also has intact City Walls. These give the center of Xi'an a homely feel and offer the visitors some great views - both inwards and out to the wider city. We fly to Shanghai, a city that needs little introduction. Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner.
Day 7: Shanghai City Tour and Evening Acrobats. We have a full day city tour. We will visit Shanghai Museum where the collections are presented clearly and with good information in English. We then move across People's Square to the Urban Planning Museum where the displays bring to life the exciting plans for the Shanghai of the future. With the plans in mind we head off to Jinmao Tower where we can get a bird's eye view of the city as it is. The model, then the reality.
We have chosen to visit the Longhua Gardens in the afternoon rather than the more famous Yuyuan Gardens so as to avoid the crowds as best we can. Those who want can be dropped near to the Bund for a look before dinner. The day ends with a visit to the world famous Shanghai Acrobats, a performance that will have you at the edge of your seat. Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner.
Day 8: Journey's end. This Journey ends after breakfast. Check-out is usually 12:00 (noon).
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