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: Botanical and Royal Gardens. We head off to the Beijing Botanical Gardens for a tour of this extensive site which was established back in 1955. Later we continue to the two Summer Palaces, the old and the new. At the latter we have a lecture on Royal Gardens by a local horticultural expert so that you get a thorough understanding of the factors that went into the design of these glorious grounds. Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner.
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.
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 Dumplings. We have a free morning for you to rest up or explore as you prefer. After lunch we head off to the Terracotta Warriorswhere we tour the main pits as well as visit the cinema and museum.
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 favourite bits or to shop for souvenirs.
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: Gardens Galore. Today we visit the Botanical Gardens and the site of the World Horticultural Expo in Chanba District. Both sites contain a wide range of species in attractive settings. Please note: the Expo Park only re-open on 28 April. Journeys before that date will spend longer at the main gardens. Later we will 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. Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner.
Day 7: Luoyang. We make use of the new fast train service to visit two sites in Luoyang. We will visit the White Horse Temple, established back in the Han Dynasty. The name is derived from a legendary dream. Later we continue to the Longmen Grottoes where thousands of Buddha images have been carved into the cliff faces. We return to our beds in Xi'an. Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner.
Day 8: Xi'an City Sites and on to Hangzhou. 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 centre 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 Hangzhou, provincial capital of Zhejiang Province. Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner.
Day 9: Temple and Tea. We make a circuit today taking in a range of sites. First stop is the secluded Lingyin Temple. The temple has some magnificent buildings, and the attached Feilai Feng Grottoes are amongst the best in eastern China. We continue to the Tea Museum for a brief look before heading up the hill to the famous plantations of Longjing (Dragon's Well). We will stop here for a brew. We return to the city for a cruise on lovely West Lake. We will then then head off to visit Qing He Fang Street.
This street has been renovated and populated with curio shops and restaurants. Of particular interest is the Traditional Chinese Medicine Museum. Once a factory for the preparation of all manner of herbs and animal products, this grand building contains a delightful collection of displays with good explanations in English. We will stay here on into the evening when the character of the street changes. Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner.
Day 10: On to Suzhou. This morning we take a short train ride to Suzhou in neighbouring Jiangsu Province. Suzhou is famous for its gardens and, over the next two days, we will visit a selection of the best of these. We start with a visit to the Suzhou Science and Cultural Arts Center. Horticulture is just one of the crafts on display here. In the afternoon we visit the Lingering Garden; perhaps not the best translation for grounds so delightful as to encourage a prolonged stay. Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner.
Day 11: Three Garden Extravaganza. If yesterday's garden was rated one of the best private gardens in all China then the three today are not far behind. Our visits will be made particularly memorable as we will be joined by a local expert who will talk about many fascinating aspects relating to the plants and garden features and who will try to answer any questions raised. We start with a visit to the Humble Administrator's Garden designed as a retreat for a once powerful government official.
In the afternoon we will explore the rock formations that give the Lion Grove Garden its name. This garden has been visited by Emperors, and you may recognize elements copied for the Summer Palace in Beijing. In the evening we have a special treat: a visit to the Master of the Nets Garden where there will be a series of cultural performances around the grounds. Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner.
Day 12: Shanghai City Tour. We take another short train ride to Shanghai, a city that needs little introduction. We will visit the Shanghai Museum and nearby Urban Planning Museum before heading up the Jinmao Tower for a view out over the city. There may be some free time at the end of the day for you to wander the Bund, Shanghai's waterfront, or perhaps Nanjing Lu,the pedestrian shopping street that leads off from here. Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner.
Day 13: Flower Power. Today is all about flowers. We visit two sites that will impress in both scale and quality. Our first visit is to Shanghai Flower Port where modern agricultural techniques are used to produce some truly magnificent flower displays. Later we will visit the Panjiadu Flower Market now the largest in the city. The statistics are baffling: more than 3 billion stems pass through here every year. Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner.
Day 14: Journey's end. This Journey ends after breakfast. Check-out is usually 12:00 (noon).
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