A Taste of China

Beijing, Xi'an & Shanghai

This itinerary is for a past tour program.
Check out our new A Taste of China tour.

Girl selling trinkets, China  Photo by Charlie Ridgeway
Girl selling trinkets, China
Photo by Charlie Ridgeway
China has become one of the most attractive travel destinations in the world, where you'll find impressive modern achievements, fast cars and computers within an ancient and incredibly rich culture whose recorded history dates back 5,000 years. Beijing, China's capital and, host of the 2008 Summer Olympics, and Shanghai, often called the "Paris of the East," are probably the most dynamic cities in the world. And Xi'an, which at first glance looks like any other large industrial city, is actually the site of one of the world's most important archeological treasures: the army of 2,200-year-old terra-cotta soldiers including more than 8,000 life-size ceramic soldiers, chariots and horses buried there to protect the tomb of the first Qin emperor.

A Taste of China 10 Day Tour Itinerary If you think you can't afford to visit this gem of a destination, think again. With prices from just $1099 per person, our 10-day Taste of China includes flights from Los Angeles, superior first class hotels in Beijing, Xi'an and Shanghai, all internal flights and transfers, 10 bountiful meals and a touring program that includes the most important sites you'll want to see. If you've been waiting for just the right tour at just the right price, you won't want to miss this amazing opportunity.

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Depart USA . Depart just after midnight aboard your Air China wide-body non-stop flight to Beijing

Chinese boys Day 2: Beijing. Arrive early this morning in China's historic and cultural capital. You'll be met by your guide and then escorted to your hotel in the center of Beijing, within short distance of Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City. Your rooms will be ready for your early arrival, so you can enjoy time to rest from the long flight.

Summer Palace After a briefing by your guide, the rest of the day is yours to explore Beijing on your own. Or, take advantage of an optional afternoon tour to the Summer Palace, the quintessential Chinese garden, A UNESCO World Heritage site ranked among the most noted classical gardens of the world.

Giant panda, China Continue your tour to the Panda Zoo, dedicated to the preservation of this endangered (and adorable) species of bear. End the day with a visit to the Red Sandalwood Museum, a temple to the world's largest and most valuable collection of Chinese red sandalwood, a timber now so rare that, like certain gemstones, it rates as "precious". $35 per person. Beijing International Hotel

Great Wall of China Day 3: Great Wall of China & Ming Tombs. Depart after breakfast on a full day included excursion to the only man-made structure visible from the moon, the Great Wall of China, which follows a ridge of barren hills stretching 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.

Friendly Planet traveler's Stan & Diane Blackett with friends at the Great Wall
Friendly Planet travelers Stan & Diane Blackett with friends at the Great Wall
Enjoy an opportunity to mount the ramparts of this ancient wonder before proceeding to the Ming Tombs, burial site of 13 emperors of the Ming Dynasty. In over 200 years, between 1409 and 1644, tombs were built over an area of 40 square kilometers. Each tomb is located at the foot of a separate hill and is linked with the other tombs by a road called the Sacred Way. A massive stone archway, built in 1540 at the southern end of the Sacred Way, is decorated with designs of clouds, waves and divine animals. Tonight an Optional Peking Duck dinner followed by a special Shaolin Kung Fu Martial Arts demonstration is available. $40 per person. Breakfast & lunch provided.

Forbidden City, Beijing Day 4: Forbidden City. This morning visit 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.

Visit to Gaobeidian school After an included lunch, the balance of the day is at leisure to explore Beijing on your own or take advantage of a very special and unique optional tour to Gaobeidian Village, a picturesque community where you will find talented craftsmen practicing the ancient art of furniture making as well as other Chinese arts and crafts. You will enjoy demonstrations by various artists and artisans, and you'll even have an opportunity to try your own hand at making an original piece while being tutored by masters. 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. $40 including dinner. Breakfast & lunch provided.

Mahjong players Day 5: Beijing. Enjoy a day to explore Beijing on your own. Your hotel is centrally located in the heart of Beijing, close to major attractions, restaurants and shopping. Take an optional full day to the Hutongs of Beijing followed by the Temple of Heaven, with lunch included. 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.

Temple of Heaven, Beijing 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. $55 per person. Breakfast provided..

The Terracota Warriors
The Terra Cotta Warriors
Day 6: Beijing/Xi'an. After an early breakfast, transfer to the airport for your flight to Xi'an. Upon arrival, board your touring coach and drive to the site of the famous Terra Cotta army, among the most important archeological discoveries of modern times.

FP travelers posing  with the Terracota Warriors
Friendly Planet travelers at the Terra Cotta Warriors site in Xi'an.
Except for its old city wall, some 8 mi/12 km around, Xi'an looks like any other large industrial city. However, it holds an important archeological treasure, the Qin Army Vault Museum, home to the army of 2,200-year-old terra-cotta soldiers unearthed 25 mi/40 km east of town. More than 8,000 life-size ceramic soldiers, chariots and horses have been uncovered-only a fraction of the total buried there to protect the tomb of the first Qin emperor.

Tang Dinner Show
Tang Dynasty Dinner Show
Each soldier is based on an actual person of the time, and all segments of Chinese society are represented. The statues remain where they were uncovered, protected by a large (3.7-acre/1.5-hectare) hangar-like hall. Individual soldiers can be studied more closely in a museum exhibit in an adjacent building. The flea market outside the museum offers an opportunity to buy inexpensive and beautifully embroidered clothing. Optional Dumpling Dinner and Tang Dynasty dance performance is available this evening. ($40 per person) Aurum Hotel, Xi'an. Breakfast & lunch provided..

Bunt District, Shanghai
Bund District, Shanghai
Day 7: Xi'an/Shanghai. Transfer to the airport and fly to Shanghai, China's most modern city, often called "Paris of the East." Upon arrival, board your touring coach for an afternoon panoramic tour of this bustling, exciting city. Proceed to your hotel for check in. Your hotel is located in the center of Shanghai, near the Bund. This evening, take advantage an optional evening of exciting acrobatics, including dinner, at the Shanghai Ritz Carlton Hotel. $28 per person. (Due to renovations at the Ritz Carlton, the acrobatic show will take place at an alternate venue during January departures). Broadway Mansion Hotel Breakfast & lunch provided.

Young Kung-Fu performers Day 8: Shanghai. Your centrally located hotel is convenient to many interesting sites, restaurants and shopping. Or, join an optional full day tour including lunch to some of Shanghai's most fascinating places. 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, ceramics, painting and calligraphy is known throughout the world.

Shanghai skyline Continue to the Jade Buddha Temple, which houses two exceptional Buddha statues, each exquisitely carved from a single piece of white jade. The temple's architectural design is also very impressive and finally, the Oriental Pearl TV Tower, a notable Shanghai landmark in the newly developed Pudong area. It is a working TV tower and possibly the tallest structure in Asia. Complete your tour of Shanghai with a visit to the Bund, also called Zhongshan Road, a famous waterfront that has been regarded as the symbol of Shanghai for hundreds of years. $55. Breakfast provided.

Nanjing Road, Shanghai Day 9: Shanghai. Enjoy a final day in Shanghai to explore on your own. Or, join an optional tour to Suzhou, lunch included. 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 in 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 and the Lingering Garden. Continue to the National Embroidery Institute, established in 1957 to preserve and further the study of silk embroidery, an important activity in Suzhou for more than 1,000 years and the Water Gate, one of the eight gates of Suzhou built by Wu Zixu and named "Water City Gate" because of its special defense position and usage. $55 Breakfast provided.

Posing with Chinese actors Day 10: Shanghai/USA. Transfer to the airport to board your returning flight to the USA. Your exciting journey comes to an end as you arrive in the USA later today. Breakfast provided.

Optional Tours in China

To take full advantage of your visit to China, we offer a special, discounted optional tours package to other "must see" sites. These are not "seat in coach" tours that pick up passengers in various hotels. All the optional tours we offer, including those in our special package, are operated for Friendly Planet groups only and are specially priced.

The special discounted optional tours package price is available when booked and prepaid in the USA.

Optional Tours Package Includes:

  • Full day tour of the Hutongs of Beijing & Temple of Heaven with lunch (Day 5)
  • Evening Xi'an Dumpling Dinner plus Tang Dynasty Dance Performance (Day 6) ***
  • Full Day Shanghai Tour with lunch, including the Shanghai Museum, the Jade Buddha Temple & Oriental Pearl TV Tower (Day 8)

*** This optional program is not available during January, 2007, as the restaurant and theater venue will be renovated during that time. For January groups, the Xi'an Dumpling Dinner and Tang Dynasty Dance Performance, scheduled for Day 6, will be replaced by a Peking Duck Dinner and Shaolin Kung Fu Martial Arts demonstration in Beijing on Day 3. The regular program will resume operating in February.

Optionals Package Price, per person: $120 if booked and prepaid before departure. These same optional tours, if booked and paid in China, will cost $150 per person.

If you prefer not to book and prepay our special Optionals package in advance, the individual optional tours will be available from your guide once you arrive in China, at the prices posted in our itinerary. Other optional tours, mentioned above in our itinerary, will also be available to you in China. Payment for other optionals purchased in China must be made in U.S. (or equivalent in Chinese currency), in cash.

Destination FAQs

For quick answers to Frequently Asked Questions about travel to China, click here.

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