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: Tianjin - Beijing's Port. We take the ultra-fast train to Tianjin, often referred to as Beijing's port. With a top speed of over 300 kilometers per hour the 120 kilometer journey takes less time than the metro across Beijing. Our city tour uses the numerous bridges as an excuse to drive around the modern parts of the city, though we will also make a stop at the Tianjin Museum. Most of the exhibits relate to the period from the Opium Wars onwards; turbulent and very interesting times. We also have one very unusual stop; the House of China. We return to Beijing after dinner. Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner.
Day 3: The New Beijing. We have a city tour but with a difference. The focus is on the new sites in Beijing. We will visit some of the more interesting designs that featured in the Beijing Olympics of 2008 - the Birds Nest and the Water Cube. We will view these from the outside only to have time elsewhere. We will also make a quick stop at the highly unusual CCTV Building. This is still not open because of damage caused by a fire in the nearby hotel complex.
Our next visit is to the 798 Art Zone. The strange name comes from the building's original factory designation. The resident artists produce contemporary works of art for display and sale. Our final stop will be at the sleek Centre for the Performing Arts. This ultra-modern building is of a very interesting design and often houses exhibitions related to its main function. Dinner is, appropriately, a delicious buffet in the revolving restaurant of the CCTV Tower. Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner.
Day 4: Free day in Beijing. You are free to do as you please. You can even go and see some old stuff if you like. We won't tell! All you need for tomorrow is to be packed and ready to move on. Meals: breakfast.
Day 5: Hi-tech Hangzhou. We catch a morning flight to Hangzhou. Hangzhou was an ancient capital of China but these days it is trying to establish itself as a high-tech outsourcing center for domestic and international businesses. The two eras do not conflict. Hangzhou remains an attractive and prospering city; an ideal place to live or to visit. On arrival we head straight out to Hangzhou's West Lake for a boat cruise. This is the best way to enjoy the natural beauty that was already famous when Marco Polo passed through. Later we head to Qing Hefang Street. This whole area has been restored and now houses a collection of curio shops and restaurants. Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner.
Day 6: Urban Wetlands. This morning we visit the Xixi National Wetlands Park, part of the local government's attempts to make Hangzhou a more pleasant place to live. The park has been formed at the southern end of the ancient Grand Canal linking Beijing and Hangzhou. The network of ponds, streams and rivers makes an ideal highway to enjoy this urban wetland so we take electric boats to the more distant sites. After we return to the city the rest of the day is free for you to go off and explore on your own. There are plenty of temples and museums to visit; you may also be tempted to hire a bike and go further afield. Meals: breakfast, lunch.
Day 7: On to Ningbo. Ningbo is a little known but interesting city further around the coast. We take the train there before a visit to Tian Yi Square.Later we head to Lao Waitan District for a bit of lively nightlife. This will be our first train ride in China. Fear not: we normally travel soft-seater class for short journeys and this is comfortable enough. For more details see Trains in China. Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner.
Day 8: Technical achievements. We drive back to Shanghai across the bay on the world's longest trans-oceanic bridge (by one definition). This bridge shortens the journey by about one-third. We stay on the bus to visit the Pudong commercial district that barely existed even 20 years ago. Here we will ascend the Oriental Pearl Tower for fantastic views over the city. We will go up as far as the 'Space Capsule' - the highest observation platform open to the public - and have time to visit the exhibitions on some of the other floors. 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 9: Shanghai City Tour. We avoid many of the old tourist traps and head off to get an impression of the Shanghai of today, and of the future. We will visit the impressive Urban Planning Museum which will put yesterday's fabulous views into perspective. We will also visit Xin Tian Di, a district of old, traditional-style buildings but with a very modern outlook. After lunch there is free time for you to explore on your own. Meals: breakfast, lunch.
Day 10: The All-new Ancient. This morning we fly down the coast to Xiamen. Our city tour in this prosperous trading port will show us some old sites with interesting modern twists. For instance, at the Nan Putuo Temple we will see sacrificial paper money, burnt for the use of the deceased in the afterlife, in many forms including paper air-conditioners and paper cars. Even Hell moves with the times, it seems. Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner.
Day 11: A look at Taiwan. In the morning we take a boat trip out into the South China Sea. We venture as far as the dividing line that separates mainland China from Taiwan, getting a good look at the Island of Jinmen which belongs to the other side. Later you will have free time in and amongst some of the most advanced shopping malls in China. To drop back in time you could take the short ferry ride over to Gulangyu Island. Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner.
Day 12: Guangzhou (Canton). We take a flight down the coast to Guangzhou, the provincial capital of Guangdong - home of the Cantonese. (N.B. Guangzhou's Baiyun International Airport is fast catching up with Hong Kong's as a transit hub for Asia and beyond. Make sure you check out flights to and from here when considering the overall price of your journey.) Lunch will be a selection of Dim Sum, the tasty snacks that are taken with tea as a traditional Cantonese brunch. Later we visit Shamian Island, previously the British and French Concession area of the city. We have a walking tour of this island and of the Qingping Markets across the bridge. In the evening we eat aboard a Pearl River Cruise boat for a very special last dinner together. Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner.
Day 13: Journey's end. This Journey ends after breakfast. Check-out is usually 12:00 (noon). We offer the Beyond Guangzhou: Hong Kong extension for those who wish to continue their travels or those who need to catch their flight from the international airport on Lantau Island.
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