B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner
Saturday, 8 Apr 2017: Arrive Beijing; Welcome Dinner (D)
Schedule your flight to Beijing to arrive no later than 4:30pm. After transferring to the hotel, relax and freshen up. The tour begins in the lobby of the hotel at 6:00pm. After introductions we'll dine together at a local restaurant. Overnight Beijing - 4 nights
Sunday, 9 Apr 2017: Beijing – Tian'anmen Square; Forbidden City; Rickshaw Ride (B,L,D)
Today we spend a full day touring the highlights of Beijing. We begin at the Tian’anmen Square, the largest public plaza in the world, and visit the Forbidden City, built by more than 200,000 workers in the 15th century during the Ming Dynasty and home to the 24 Emperors of the Ming and Ch’ing (Qing) dynasties. After lunch, we board a rickshaw and ride through the centuries-old hutongs, the ancient quarters of Beijing, for a fresh insight to the city's local life. We enjoy dinner at a local restaurant that specializes in Shandong cuisine.
Monday, 10 Apr 2017: Beijing – Tai Chi; Summer Palace (B,L,D)
Our Beijing sightseeing continues today as we visit the Temple of Heaven, a masterpiece of Ming Dynasty architecture built for important rituals for the emperors. We then join a Tai Chi master and practice this ancient Chinese exercise. Developed in the mid-1600s, Tai Chi, or T’ai Chi Chuan (supreme ultimate fist) is designed partly to provide relaxation in the process of body-conditioning exercise. It employs flowing, rhythmic, deliberate movements, with carefully prescribed stances and positions. After a Beijing-style snack lunch, we visit the Summer Palace, a royal garden and summer retreat of Empress Dowager Cixi. We'll rest up back at our hotel before having dinner together.
Tuesday, 11 Apr 2017: Great Wall, Jade-Carving Factory; Sacred Way (B,L,D)
Today we explore the Great Wall, which winds 6,000 kilometers through Northern China and was built in the fifth century BC to protect China from the aggressive northern Tartars. We begin our day though with a driving tour past the Bird’s Nest (National Stadium) and the Water Cube (National Aquatics Center), both built for the 2008 Olympics, and stop at the Sacred Way of the Ming Tombs for a view of the beautifully carved statues of real and mythical animals and guardians. We then stop in at a jade carving factory. After lunch, it's time to walk atop the Great Wall as we head to Mutianyu. Choose to ride the cable cars or climb the stairs to the ramparts for spectacular views. Later we'll have dinner together.
Wednesday, 12 Apr 2017: Fly to Xi'an; Chinese Painting Lesson; Evening Market Tour (B)
This morning we fly to Xi'an, one of the ancient capitals of China. Our first stop is Huxian Farmer’s Village, famous for its style of Chinese painting, which is instantly recognizable by its bold, exaggerated forms and excessive use of color. After being greeted with a lion dance, we have a Chinese painting lesson. We continue on to our hotel where the rest of the afternoon and early evening are free. Later, we have an evening guided tour of a Muslim market. Overnight Xi'an - 2 nights
Thursday, 13 Apr 2017: Xi'an – Terra Cotta Warriors (B,L,D)
Today we experience another major highlight of China – the Terra Cotta Warrior and Horse Museum. Our first stop is at a terra cotta replica factory to see how artisans constructed the warriors. After lunch it's on to the real thing: 6,000 life-size warriors and horses that guard the tomb of the first emperor of China. After a day spent at this incredible site, we enjoy a performance of Tang Dynasty dancing and singing over dinner.
Friday, 14 Apr 2017: Beilin Musuem; Fly to Chengdu (B,L)
This morning we visit the Beilin Museum, also known as the Forest of Stone Tablets, and see how the Chinese preserve their thirteen classics of filial piety, the Confucius classics and other calligraphy works. After lunch we fly to Chengdu, home of giant pandas. Situated in the province of Sichuan, which is known for its spicy cuisine, Chengdu has preserved an atmosphere of China past. We'll transfer to our hotel. The remainder of the evening is free. Overnight Chengdu - 1 night
Saturday, 15 Apr 2017: Panda Breeding Research Center; Fly to Guilin (B,L)
This morning we visit the Panda Breeding Research Center, located just outside Chengdu. This center replicates the pandas' natural habitat to better enable successful breeding and rearing of pandas. Giant pandas, lesser pandas, black-necked cranes, white storks and more than 20 other species of rare animals are fed and bred here throughout the year. After a hotpot lunch we fly to Guilin, world-famous for serene landscapes, mysterious limestone formations, mist-covered hills and bamboo groves. The region boasts some of the most beautiful scenery in the world and offers one of the most photographed areas of China. The city of Guilin is located on the Li River and although it is small, it has a highly developed tourism infrastructure. Overnight Guilin -2 nights
Sunday, 16 Apr 2017: Reed Flute Cave Tour; Afternoon Free in Guilin (B,L)
This morning we tour the Reed Flute Cave, a spectacular world of stalactites, stone pillars and rock formations created by carbonate deposition. After lunch at a local restaurant, the remainder of the day is free for you to enjoy the tranquil and breath-taking scenery of Guilin.
Monday, 17 Apr 2017: Li River Cruise; Chinese Cooking Lesson (B,L,D)
Today we cruise 50 miles down the calm, serene Li River for breathtaking panoramas of the misty “karst” scenery (limestone formations along the river banks). Later this afternoon, we join a local chef for a market tour and cooking lesson to learn how to prepare some of China’s unique dishes. We enjoy the dinner we make, then head back to our local hotel. Note: Your primary luggage will be stored at the hotel in Guilin; you will need to pack a small overnight bag for tonight. Overnight Yangshuo - 1 night
Tuesday, 18 Apr 2017: Morning at Leisure; Fly to Shanghai (B)
Enjoy free time this morning before our afternoon flight to Shanghai. You will be reunited with your primary luggage at the airport. With a population of more than 12 million, Shanghai is China’s largest urban center. In the 19th century when the Treaty of Nanking opened Shanghai to western trade and influence, the quiet commercial backwater was jolted into a thriving financial metropolis. This evening is at your leisure. Overnight Shanghai - 2 nights
Wednesday, 19 Apr 2017: Full-Day Shanghai Tour; Evening Acrobatic Show (B,L,D)
Our full-day tour of Shanghai begins at the old quarter near Yu Garden, built in 1577 and concealed behind carved brick walls decorated with undulating dragons and lovely lotus pools. After lunch, we visit Shanghai Museum and the old French Concession. Built in 1994, this stunning museum features exhibits of ancient Chinese bronze, ceramics, calligraphy, paintings, jade, Ming and Ch’ing (Qing) dynasty furniture, coins and ethnic art are fantastic. We enjoy an acrobatic performance after dinner.
Thursday, 20 Apr 2017: Drive to Suzhou; Beautiful Gardens; Sampan Ride; Free Time (B,L)
This morning we travel by coach to Suzhou, one of China’s most beautiful cities known for its more than 100 gardens. Unlike western gardens, these are places of rock conglomerations, reflections of intricate pavilions upon water, and architectural tricks of the eye. Here ancient scholars would think, paint, write poetry and debate. We begin our day at the Humble Administrator’s Garden, the largest of Suzhou's hundreds of gardens, with zigzag bridges, a maze of connected pools and endless hills. From here, we take a sampan ride on the Grand Canal. After lunch, we visit Suzhou's Ornamental Garden and stop at a local furniture and sandal wood fan museum. Your evening is free to enjoy as you wish. Overnight Suzhou - 2 nights
Friday, 21 Apr 2017: Tai Chi Fan; Silk-Spinning Factory; Calligraphy Lesson (B,L,D)
This morning we participate in Tai Chi Fan, an exercise or dance practiced by many Chinese early in the morning (subject to weather and availability). Later, we stop at a silk-spinning factory to learn about the silk making process and finally, we attempt to learn calligraphy followed by lunch. The late afternoon is free to enjoy the city before we gather for our Farewell Dinner.
Saturday, 22 Apr 2017: Return Home from Shanghai (B)
Our Chinese exploration comes to a close. We transfer as a group together to the airport. Schedule your return flight no earlier than 12:00PM (noon).