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.
Day 3: Free Day. We include a Free Day here so that you can enjoy those other sites in Beijing that are top of your list at your own pace. Meals: breakfast.
Day 4: Great Wall and on to Wuqiao. We check out before heading off to the Great Wall at Mutianyu. This allows us to go straight to the train station later. The Great Wall 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 train to Dezhou. We transfer from there to our hotel in Wuqiao. 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 5: Wuqiao: home of Acrobatics in China. We spend most of the day at Acrobats World where we see much more than a regular evening acrobats performance. A succession of enthralling shows indoors and out reveal the wealth of talent that brings major production teams such as Cirque Du Soleil here to find specialist performers. Later we visit the museum to learn more about the acrobatic history of Wuqiao. We transfer to Jinan where, after dinner, we catch an overnight train to Shanghai. Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner.
Day 6: Shanghai City Tour and 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: lunch, dinner.
Day 7: Free day. Visit the World Expo? This is also a free day for you to do your own thing. You may choose to see more sites in the city, go shopping along Nanjing Lu or head out to a nearby town for an adventure of your own. In the evening you could choose to take a cruise along the Huangpu River. These leave from the Bund. Meals: breakfast.
Day 8: On to Xi'an and the Wild Goose Pagoda. We transfer to the airport for our flight to Xi'an. Once in the city center we visit 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. We make a short visit to the nearby Fine Arts Museum with its wonderful collection of paintings, sculptures and other exhibits. 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 9: Free day and Tang Dynasty Show. This is the last free day of your program. Xi'an has many worthwhile sites within easy reach of the city center and you can choose your own favorites. In the evening we gather again for dinner and the highly rated Tang Dynasty Show. Meals: breakfast, dinner.
Day 10: Terracotta Warriors and on to Chengdu. 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 pit. 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. Later we transfer to the airport and catch our flight to Chengdu. Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner.
Day 11: Pandas, Mysteries of a Lost Civilization and Tea with Taoists. We start early to catch the pandas whilst they are still active and because we have much to do today. The Panda Breeding And Research Center on the outskirts of Chengdu is the ideal place to see these wonderful creatures up close. Many visitors also enjoy their lesser known cousins, the Red Pandas. We return to the city where an exhibition shows the artifacts found at Jinsha.
This is believed to be a site of a mysterious civilization known only from the finds here and further out of the city at Sanxingdui. Our final stop is at Qing Yang Gong, a delightful temple where Laozi is meant to have expounded upon his emerging philosophy/religion: Taoism. Since drinking at a tea-house is a local tradition this is included in our afternoon's activities. Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner.
Day 12: A Mountain, a Ditch and one last Show. Today we head north-west to Qingcheng Shan a Taoist Mountain associated with longevity. This site was heavily damaged by the Wenchuan Earthquake but is getting back to normal. Our next stop is very unusual: a highly celebrated irrigation project at Dujiangyan. Have faith; it is more than just a ditch and much more interesting than it sounds. We finish the included activities for this China Journey with a flourish. This evening we watch a Variety Performance which includes Chengdu Opera's "Changing Faces", shadow puppets, comedy and many other routines. Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner.
Day 13: Journey's End. This Journey ends after breakfast. Check-out is usually 12:00 (noon).
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