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Suggested flight (not included in the cost of the tour) British Airways BA39 departing London Heathrow at 16.25 hrs.
Arrival in Beijing at 09.30 hrs. Transfer to the Regent Hotel where three nights are spent. The hotel is centrally located, a short drive away from the mystical Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square.
Lunch under own arrangements. Afternoon at leisure. Welcome dinner at the hotel.
Day 3: Visit the Forbidden City, former home of China’s Imperial Dynasties and the best-preserved collection of ancient buildings in China with its pavilions, courtyards, gates, treasure halls and gardens. Continue to the vast Tiananmen Square and visit The Great Hall of the People, home to China’s Parliament.
Peking Duck lunch at Hua Jia Yi Yuan Restaurant. Take a rickshaw ride around the Gulou area of Beijing where the remaining Hutongs can be found. These alleyways are home to traditional courtyard style homes and many of them have now been converted into pedestrianised streets boasting charming little restaurants and bars. Cooking demonstration in one of the courtyard homes. Dinner at F Bistronome Restaurant.
Day 4: Visit the Panjiayuan weekend market in Jingsong to shop for Chinese curios such as ceramics, jade, wood carvings, paintings and textiles. Continue to the magnificent Temple of Heaven, where the emperors once came to pray for good harvests and today where local residents come to do their morning exercises such as Tai Chi and Ballroom Dancing.
Lunch at Dawanju Restaurant. Visit the Urban Planning Exhibition Hall which tells the history of Beijing and its construction. Also visit Factory 798, comprising several abandoned factories which were renovated in the 1990s by Chinese artists and where contemporary artists exhibit. Dinner under own arrangements. Optional evening Kungfu show.
Drive to Jinshanling to visit a more remote and less crowded section of the Great Wall. Built in stages between the 5th century BC and the 16th century AD, the wall is 3,333 miles long and is one of the world’s few landmarks visible from space.
Lunch, dinner and overnight at the Dwaha Hotel in Jinshanling.
Morning transfer to the Beijing Train Station and board the high-speed train from Beijing to Xi’an North Station.
Box lunch on the train. Transfer to the old city and the centrally located Hotel Sofitel on Remnin Square where two nights are spent. Dinner at Yun Zhen Xuan Restaurant.
Visit the famous 2,000-year-old Terracotta Warriors, one of China’s greatest historical sites – three underground vaults containing thousands of life-size terracotta soldiers and their horses in battle formation. Begin with pit number 2 (which is still being excavated) and 3 (which contains most of the items) ending with pit number 1, the most impressive, with about 2,000 warriors. Also see the Bronze Chariot Museum and a film presentation on the history of the site.
Lunch at Defachang Dumpling House. Walk along the ancient City Wall which dates from the Ming Dynasty and visit the Great Mosque in the Muslim Quarter. During the times of the Silk Road many Muslim merchants from Central Asia set up businesses in Xi’An and much of the population is still Muslim. Time to explore the old city food markets. Dinner under own arrangements. Optional Tang Dynasty show with dinner.
Morning visit to Jingdi tomb, better known as ‘Han Yangling’; though little visited in comparison with the Terracotta army, it is well worth seeing. The tomb houses a multitude of figurines representing eunuchs, servers and domestic animals, and gives a picture of everyday life under the Han Dynasty. A glass panel over the pits allows observation of the recently discovered statuettes from up close.
Transfer to Xi’an Airport for a flight to Guilin. Lunch under own arrangements. Transfer to the Shangri La Hotel in Guilin where two nights are spent. Dinner at Hoo Town Restaurant.
Drive to the pretty town of Yangshuo and board a traditionally built bamboo raft steered by a local fisherman. Drift down the Yuong River, a tributary of the Li River, enjoying the peace and quiet and the picturesque scenery of lush, vibrant green paddy fields contrasting with the limestone hills. The rafting trip ends at Gongnong Bridge where there is time to explore the surrounding area and to admire the local architecture, some houses from the Ming and Qing Dynasty being still in remarkably good condition.
Lunch at the Yangshuo Mountain Retreat. Continue to the ancient town of Fuli, home of fan painting. Have a fan-painting lesson and stroll through the town before heading back to Guilin. Dinner at Elysée Bistro.
Morning transfer to Guilin Airport for a flight to Shanghai.
Lunch under own arrangements. Transfer to the Hyatt on the Bund Hotel, where three nights are spent. The hotel is uniquely located on the banks of the Huang Pu River at the northern end of the famous Bund and offers spectacular views of both the Bund and Pudong. Begin the tour of Shanghai in Lujiazui, where the giant skyscrapers are located including the Orient Pearl TV Tower, Jin Mao Tower, and the Shanghai Tower. The Shanghai Tower is the tallest building in China at 632 metres high with 121 floors above ground and 5 floors underground. You can take its super high-speed elevator to the 118th floor observation terrace and enjoy panoramic views of the city. Dinner at Hakkassan restaurant.
Day 11: Morning walking tour with an expert guide of the Bund often called Shanghai’s ‘Wall Street’ and the symbol of foreign trade with its assortment of 1920s and 30s grand architecture.
Lunch at Lost Heaven Restaurant. Visit the Old Town and Yu Gardens which originally date from the 1550s and are laid out in traditional Ming style. Continue to Shanghai MOCA contemporary art museum. Dinner at Roof 325 Restaurant. Optional ERA Acrobatic Show.
Day 12: Visit the stunning Shanghai Museum, which houses an impressive collection including bronzes, sculpture, exquisite ceramics and jade, and countless other fascinating exhibits.
Lunch at Ye Shanghai Restaurant. Take a tour by jeep through the old districts of Linong and Shikumen, stopping to walk through the narrow lanes. Drive through the old former French Concession under the plane trees and stop at the 1930s French Club where the original Art-Deco decor has been preserved. The tour will finish at Fuxing Park. Continue to Xintiandi, a revitalized district, and walk through Tianzifang, a maze of alleyways and lanes full of restaurants, boutiques, and small galleries. Farewell drink and dinner at Pop Restaurant.
Morning transfer to Shanghai Pudong International Airport. Suggested flight (not included in the cost of the tour) British Airways BA1168 departing at 10.55 hrs arriving London Heathrow at 15.55 hrs.
Sara could not have been more knowledgeable or helpful. She was very responsive and really listened to what we wanted.- MN, Ecuador & Galapagos