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|Itinerary at a Glance
Beijing & Tokyo
|4||Great Wall of China|
|7||Tokyo City Tour|
24 travelers max, dedicated tour escorts & guides throughout
|Departs||Los Angeles (LAX), San Francisco (SFO); other gateways on request (flight schedule)|
|Highlights||Beijing, the Great Wall, Tokyo Tower, Meiji Shrine, and Japanese Imperial Gardens|
|What to Expect||This leisurely-paced, independent tour requires minimal walking and is suitable for most levels of physical fitness.|
|As Seen in|
With this great deal, it's your year to visit a combination of two dream destinations. Beijing, China & Tokyo, Japan are among the most attractive travel destinations in the world. You'll find impressive modern achievements within ancient and incredibly rich cultures whose recorded histories date back 5,000 years.
First, you’ll spend time in Beijing, China's capital city and host of the 2008 Summer Olympics. You’ll tour the Great Wall of China and experience the best of this beautiful city. Next, you’ll travel from Beijing to Tokyo, Japan's modern capital, where Japanese shrine architecture and peaceful gardens contrast with the bright lights and designer shops of Ginza. You’ll also tour Tokyo with a local guide and visit Japanese Imperial Gardens on this ten-day vacation package.
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Day 2: Arrive Beijing. Beijing huan ying ni! This evening arrive in Beijing, China’s historic and cultural capital. Transfer from the airport to your centrally located hotel for check-in. Enjoy your first night in China at leisure. Accommodations: Kempinski Hotel Beijing.
Day 3: Beijing. Enjoy a full day at leisure to explore on your own. Your hotel is centrally located in the heart of Beijing, close to major attractions, restaurants and shopping. Alternatively, take advantage of an optional excursion to the Summer Palace, Panda Zoo and Forbidden City. Breakfast provided.
Optional Excursion: Enjoy some time at the Summer Palace, the quintessential Chinese garden, a UNESCO World Heritage site ranked among the most noted classical gardens of the world. Continue your optional tour 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. 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, 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. ($62 per person, includes lunch).
Day 4: Great Wall of China. Depart after breakfast on a full day included excursion to the only man-made structure visible from the moon, the Great Wall of China. En route, enjoy a visit to a jade factory with a presentation and some time for shopping. The Great Wall follows a ridge of barren hills and stretches at least 3,750 miles (6,000 km). 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, which had bricks tied to their heads before being driven up a mountain. Tonight, take advantage of an ptional dinner and Kung Fu Show. Breakfast & lunch provided.
Optional Excursion: 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 ($53 per person).
Day 5: Beijing. Enjoy your final day in Beijing at leisure, or conclude your stay with an optional excursion Breakfast provided.
Optional Excursion: For those who want to explore the way the Chinese live and have lived for centuries, a jaunt down the intricate maze of Beijing's Hutongs is essential. These ancient, labyrinthine alleys or lanes 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. Continue to the Temple of Heaven, the most holy of Beijing's Imperial temples, is the place where Chinese Emperors came to worship heaven and to 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. The main buildings in the temple are circularly shaped. This pattern represents an ancient belief that heaven was round while earth square, and this pattern is quite architecturally unique. The whole complex, gorgeously painted and set off by thousands of pine and cypress trees, expressing a harmonious atmosphere as if heaven and earth are integrated into one. You will also pay a visit to the famous DIY shopping place of the Pearl Market. ($65 per person, includes lunch).
Optional Excursion: This evening, take advantage of a very special and unique optional tour to Gaobeidian Village, a picturesque community where you will visit a local market, the People's Commune Museum, and a street filled with fascinating antique furniture stores. Later, visit a typical Chinese school or kindergarten to see for yourself how children are taught in China. The highlight of this very special tour is an opportunity to join a village family in preparing and sharing a traditional Chinese dinner ($45 per person).
Day 6: Beijing to Tokyo. This morning, bid zai jian to Beijing as you transfer to the airport to board your flight to Tokyo, Japan, one of the world's main economic centers and Japan's modern capital. Tokyo e Youkoso! Upon arrival transfer, via airport bus, to your hotel located in Tokyo's Shinjuku ward, home to a popular shopping and entertainment area surrounding the world's busiest railway station complex. En route, you'll have your first glimpse of the stunning, modern skyline and glittering neon-lit streets that are quintessential Tokyo. Accommodations: Keio Plaza Hotel. Breakfast provided.
Day 7: Tokyo City Tour. After breakfast this morning, set out on a city tour to explore some of Tokyo's main sites. Begin at the Tokyo Tower, modeled after (and slightly taller than) the Eiffel Tower in Paris, where you will enjoy a wonderful view of the city. Proceed to the Meiji Shrine, a fine example of Japanese shrine architecture, nestled in a peaceful, picturesque setting. Next, drive by the Akasaka Guest House and the National Diet Building en route to the East Garden of the Imperial Palace, which dates back to the 15th century and is the former site of Edo Castle and the present residence of the Emperor of Japan. Visitors are not permitted inside this very private residence of royalty, but you will enjoy a walk through the beautifully manicured gardens, with views of the ancient castle walls and ruins. The tour concludes in Ginza, Tokyo's most famous up-market shopping, dining and entertainment district, featuring numerous department stores, boutiques, art galleries, restaurants, night clubs, cafes and the famous Kabuki Theater. After wandering the streets of Ginza, make your own way back to the hotel, or continue exploring the marvels of modern Tokyo. Breakfast provided.
Day 8: Tokyo. Enjoy the next three days discovering the wonders of Tokyo and all it has to offer. Your hotel is conveniently located just minutes away from Shinjuku Station and by train you can easily explore Tokyo's major attractions. See the sights on your own or join an optional excursion. Breakfast provided.
Optional Excursion: Get acquainted with Shinjuku ward and Japanese culture on an optional guided walking tour exploring the neighborhood surrounding your hotel. Assemble at the lobby after breakfast, and stroll down to the Keio Department Store. Here you will experience the almost ceremonious morning greetings and see traditional Japanese crafts. Continue to Shinjuku Alta a favorite hangout for many locals known for its stylish shops, neon lights, and giant video screen. Proceed to the Manga Kissa Cafe to discover one of Tokyo's most popular hobbies, Manga (Japanese comic books). Next, you will enter the Kabukicho area and learn about izakaya (Japanese pubs), arcades, and pachinko. At an arcade, try purikura, colorful and fun photo booths which are particularly popular with young people. Finally, enjoy a Japanese tradition that has gained popularity all over the world, Karaoke! The tour concludes at your hotel. (Approx. $80 per person - Photo identification is required on this excursion, please bring your passport. Excursion is available locally and operates with a minimum of 2 passengers.)
Optional Excursion: Visit Mt. Fuji and Hakone on this full day optional excursion with lunch. Enjoy a beautiful panoramic drive from Tokyo to Mt. Fuji, an almost perfectly conical volcano that is recognized around the world as a symbol of Japan. It stands over 12,000 feet high and is beautifully snow-capped in winter. Drive to the 5th station, a 5 to 6-hour trek from the summit for experienced hikers, where you'll enjoy gorgeous views of the surrounding countryside. Continue to Hakone, a hot springs resort town located in the Fuji Hakone Izu National Park, where you'll enjoy an included lunch. Next, take a ride on the Hakone Sky Gondola and a scenic cruise on Lake Ashi, a slender body of water formed in the Hakone caldera some 400 thousand years ago. Return to Tokyo late this afternoon. (Approx. $175 per person. Excursion is available locally and operates with a minimum of 1 passenger.)
Day 10: Tokyo/USA. Today, bid sayonara to Tokyo as you transfer to the Narita Airport, via airport bus, to board your return flight to LAX via Beijing. Your adventure to Beijing and Tokyo ends on arrival in Los Angeles later today. Breakfast provided.
My concern with group tours has always been that I would not be able to independently wonder through the city. Friendly Planet Travel changed my perceptions. My tour to Beijing & Shanghai was an excellent experience, with highly informative, professional tour guides. We were able to bypass the long lines to national historic locations and each location we visited was wonderful. We were always given a taste of the region's delicious cuisine at every stop. And the best yet, was I could take a day to tour the cities on my own. Perfect!
H Walker, New York, NY