Beijing & Shanghai Express
Beijing, the Great Wall & Shanghai
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|Style||Small Group Tour
24 travelers max, tour escorts & guides for some segments
|Highlights||The Great Wall at Badaling, Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, Temple of Heaven with Tai Chi Lesson, Yu Garden|
|Departs||Los Angeles (LAX), San Francisco (SFO), Washington Dulles (IAD); other gateways on request (flight schedule)|
|Themes||History & Culture|
|What to Expect||This moderately-paced, partially escorted tour includes a reasonable amount of walking or hiking and requires an average level of physical fitness.|
|Already Booked?||Find everything you need to know before you go, including how to pay your balance due, passport & visa requirements, flight information, weather, and more.|
If you thought that China, one of the world's most attractive and popular destinations, was too expensive to visit this year, think again! Check out our new tour to China including Beijing and Shanghai, with air service from either Los Angeles, Houston, San Francisco or Washington D.C. Dulles.
Discover a wonderful mélange of impressive modern achievements within a rich and ancient culture, whose recorded history dates back 5,000 years. Start in Beijing, fabulous capital city of China, and visit the Great Wall. Then fly to Shanghai, often called the "Paris of the East". Spend a couple of days exploring this exciting city, or choose optional tour to Suzhou, the "city of gardens". Reserve your spot today, because at prices this low, our Beijing & Shanghai Express departures will sell out quickly!
To take full advantage of your visit to China, we offer a variety of optional excursions, which must be purchased locally. These are not "seat in coach" excursions that pick up passengers in various hotels—all our optional excursions are operated for Friendly Planet groups only. See our detailed itinerary below for full descriptions of each excursion.
Dates, Prices & Options
Departure Dates & Prices
This tour offers multiple departure airports. Please select a departure below to check availability.
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Options & Fees
Flights & Departure Cities
Check approximate costs to depart from other U.S. cities.
Houston (IAH) passengers must check-in no later than 9 PM of the night before scheduled departure.
Transfers: Transfers for this tour are provided on a group basis only. For passengers deviating in any way from the group program, transfers are not provided. Individual, private transfers can be arranged at a supplement in price. Taxis and other forms of transportation are also available and may cost less than private transfers. If you wish to arrange private transfers, please request this service at the time of reservation.
Day 1: Depart USA
- Depart the USA on your flight bound for Beijing, China
- Passengers departing IAH must check-in before 9pm the night before the scheduled departure
Day 2: Arrive Beijing
Accommodations: 4 nights Beijing International Hotel, Beijing.
- Arrive in Beijing, meet your guide and transfer to your hotel
Day 3: Beijing
Included meals: Breakfast
- See Tiananmen Square & the Forbidden City
- Afternoon is at leisure or join optional tours
Full Day Itinerary: Today's tour begins at historic Tiananmen Square. The square was originally built in 1417 during the Ming Dynasty and at 440,000 square meters, it is the largest open square in the world. It was here that the People's Republic of China was proclaimed by Mao Zedong on October 1, 1949. Next, continue to the Forbidden City, located at the exact center of the ancient city of Beijing where it served as the imperial palace during the mid-Ming and Qing Dynasties. Known as the Palace Museum today, its extensive grounds cover 720,000 square meters, with 800 buildings and more than 8,000 rooms. The Forbidden City is listed by UNESCO as the largest collection of preserved ancient wooden structures in the world and was declared a World Heritage site in 1987. The rest of the day is at leisure, but we highly recommend that you take advantage of your expert guide and join our optional afternoon excursion to the Lama Tibetan Monastery and Beihai Park.
Optional Excursion: Lama Tibetan Monastery & Beihai Park with lunch, $35 (purchased locally). Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant before proceeding to the Lama Tibetan Monastery, the most renowned Tibetan Buddhist temple outside Tibet. The Monastery was once the official residence of the Qing Dynasty prince Yin Zhen, who became Emperor Yong Zheng in the year of 1723. His former residence was converted into a lamasery and became home to a number of monks from Mongolia and Tibet. Continue to picturesque Beihai Park which was once the site of Kublai Khan's palace and the original center of Beijing before the creation of the Forbidden City. The park is now a relaxing place to take a stroll, grab a snack, or watch calligraphers practicing Chinese characters.
Optional Excursion: Kung Fu & Peking Duck Dinner, $53 (purchased locally). Tonight, enjoy an optional Peking Duck dinner followed by the Legend of Kung Fu show, a special Shaolin Kung Fu stage performance that blends music, martial arts, and a moving story.
Day 4: Beijing
Included meals: Breakfast & lunch.
- Explore the Great Wall of China
- Stop at a jade factory for a demonstration and shopping
Full Day Itinerary: Depart after breakfast on a full day included excursion to the Great Wall of China. The Great Wall follows a ridge of barren hills and stretches at least 13,000 miles. Construction of the Great Wall, which spanned more than two thousand years, began between the 7th and 6th century BC and continued through the Ming Dynasty. The wall was originally built of stone, wood, grass and earth, but during the Ming Dynasty, bricks were produced in kilns set up along the wall. The bricks were transported by men carrying them on their backs or by donkeys, mules and even goats. Next, enjoy a visit to a jade factory with lunch and some time for shopping.
Day 5: Beijing
Included meals: Breakfast.
- Full day at leisure in Beijing or join optional tours
Optional Excursion: Hutongs, Summer Palace & Panda Zoo with Lunch, $70 (purchased locally). For those who want to explore the way the Chinese live and have lived for centuries, a rickshaw ride through the intricate maze of Beijing's Hutongs is essential. These ancient, labyrinthine alleys are still an important feature in the urban landscape of Beijing, where houses along Hutongs still occupy one third of the total area, providing housing for half the population and providing yet another example of Beijing as an ancient yet modern city. Next, enjoy lunch at a local restaurant followed by a visit to the Summer Palace, the quintessential Chinese garden, a UNESCO World Heritage site ranked among the most noted classical gardens of the world. Conclude your optional tour with a visit to the Panda Zoo, dedicated to the preservation of this endangered (and adorable) species of bear, of which only about 2000 remain in the wild.
Day 6: Beijing & Shanghai
Accommodations: 3 nights Shanghai Ocean Hotel. Included meals: Breakfast.
- Enjoy a special Tai Chi lesson at the Temple of Heaven
- Stop at a pearl store for some souvenir shopping
- Transfer to the airport for your flight to Shanghai
- Upon arrival, transfer to your hotel for check-in
Full Day Itinerary: This morning visit the most holy of Beijing's Imperial temples, the Temple of Heaven. Ancient Chinese Emperors came here to worship and pray for a good harvest, since a bad harvest could be interpreted as the Emperor's fall from heavenly favor and threaten the stability of his reign. The 6-meter-high walls surrounding the temple take a square shape to the south and a semi-circular one to the north, and the main buildings in the temple are circularly shaped. This architecturally unique pattern represents an ancient belief that heaven was round while earth was square. The whole complex, gorgeously painted and set off by thousands of pine and cypress trees, expresses a harmonious atmosphere as if heaven and earth are integrated into one. Here you will have the unique opportunity to meet a Tai Chi master who will present a stimulating lesson on this ancient martial art. Next, it’s off to a pearl store for some souvenir shopping before continuing to the airport for your flight to Shanghai, China's most modern city. Upon arrival, transfer to your hotel for check-in.
Day 7: Shanghai
Included meals: Breakfast.
- Visit the Yu Garden in Shanghai
- Enjoy some shopping at a silk store
- Balance of the day is at leisure or join optional tours
Full Day Itinerary: After breakfast, board your touring coach for an included visit to one of Shanghai's oldest attractions, the Yu Garden. The garden was originally constructed in the 16th century, but the current layout was part of a five-year restoration project which began in the 1950's. Next, enjoy some shopping at a silk store featuring a colorful collection of high quality silk products. The balance of the day is at leisure in Shanghai to explore on your own or join our optional guided tour to see more of Shanghai’s most important sights.
Optional Excursion: Shanghai City Tour with Lunch, $60 (purchased locally). Begin at the Shanghai Museum of ancient Chinese art, which possesses a collection of 120,000 precious works. Its rich and high-quality collection of ancient Chinese bronze, ceramic and calligraphy is known throughout the world. Next, view the Oriental Pearl TV Tower, a unique architectural addition to the Shanghai cityscape and one of the largest radio and TV towers in the world. Continue with a stroll along the Bund River waterfront exploring this historic area.
Optional Excursion: Dinner & Acrobatics Show, $35 (purchased locally). This evening, take advantage of an optional dinner followed by an exciting acrobatics show, featuring daring performances that are sure to have you sitting at the edge of your seat in amazement.
Day 8: Shanghai
Included meals: Breakfast.
- Full day at leisure in Shanghai or optional excursion to Suzhou
Full Day Itinerary: Enjoy a full day at leisure in Shanghai to explore on your own. We suggest joining our optional guided excursion to Suzhou to see even more of this remarkable country.
Optional Excursion: Full Day Suzhou Tour with Lunch, $90 (purchased locally). Suzhou is China's well-known "city of gardens" where the art of gardening has evolved over more than 1,500 years. There were once over 200 gardens in the city, and an impressive 69 of them are still well-preserved today. You'll visit the Master of Nets Garden (1140 AD), which has been duplicated at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art. Enjoy a Rickshaw tour among the local streets and river banks. After a boat ride through Suzhou's lovely Grand Canal, stop for lunch at a local market and experience the sights and sounds of China first-hand. Round out your day at the Silk Reeling Factory and learn how silk is produced from the cocoons of silkworms and turned into the beautiful fabric we all know and love.
Day 9: Depart Shanghai/Arrive USA
Included meals: Breakfast.
- Transfer to the airport for your return flight
- Arrive in the USA later today
WOW!! We cannot begin to convey how amazing our trip was. David Bai, our tour guide, was fantastic, accommodating and overall phenomenal. The food, hotels, and all arrangements were wonderfully trouble-free. We will highly recommend China and already planning our next Friendly Planet tour. Thank you for a most memorable holiday!
Wendy & Bruce Longman, New Port Richey, FL
Before You Book
- Do I need a visa or any other documents? Travel visas are required for this package. Please review the requirements.
- Should I get travel insurance? Protect your travel investment with our comprehensive policies.
- What's the fine print? Read the terms & conditions for this package.
- I'm traveling solo. Can you help me find a roommate? Yes, you can connect with other travelers to share a room and avoid single occupancy rates.
- Can I bring my kids? Are there any age restrictions? To book this package, you must be 18 or older. Your traveling companions must be 8 or older at the time of travel.
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