This itinerary is for a past tour program.
Check out our new A Taste of China tour.
Day 2: Beijing. Arrive early this morning in Beijing, China's historic and cultural capital. You'll be met by your guide and transferred to your centrally-located hotel for check-in.
The rest of the day is yours to explore Beijing on your own. Or, take advantage of an optional afternoon tour which begins with lunch. Afterward, head to the Summer Palace, the quintessential Chinese garden, a UNESCO World Heritage site ranked among the most noted classical gardens of the world.
Continue your 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 ($40 per person). Beijing International Hotel
Day 3: Forbidden City. Today's touring begins at Tiananmen Square and continues with a visit 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. End your morning tour with a visit to an exquisite pearl factory and enjoy an included lunch.
After 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 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). Breakfast & lunch provided.
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, view the Olympic venues, the Bird's Nest and the Water Cube, and enjoy a visit to the 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.
Conclude your visit at the Sacred Way, an ancient road linking the Ming Tombs, the burial site of 13 emperors of the Ming Dynasty. A massive stone archway, built in 1540 at the southern end is decorated with designs of clouds, waves and divine animals. Breakfast & lunch provided.
You can also choose an optional full day tour 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.
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). 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). Breakfast provided.
More than 8,000 life-size ceramic soldiers, chariots and horses have been uncovered, but it's only a fraction of the total buried there to protect the tomb of the first Qin emperor. Each soldier is based on an actual person of the time, and all segments of Chinese society are represented. Learn more about this fascinating site during your visit to the Terra Cotta Warriors Museum, followed by an included lunch.
This evening, enjoy an optional Dumpling Dinner and Tang Dynasty dance performance ($48 per person). Xi'an Aurum International Hotel Breakfast & lunch provided.
Broadway Mansion Hotel Shanghail Breakfast & lunch provided.
Day 8: Shanghai. Enjoy a full day at leisure in Shanghai to explore on your own. Or, join an optional tour to Suzhou which includes lunch and a farewell dinner. 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, 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. After a boatride through Suzhou's lovely canals, conclude your tour at the Water Gate, one of the eight gates of Suzhou built by Wu Zixu. ($85 per person) Breakfast provided.
Day 9: Shanghai. Spend a final day at leisure in Shanghai. Or, a full day optional tour including lunch to some of the city’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.
Day 10: Shanghai/USA. Bid farewell to China as you transfer to the airport to board your return flight to the USA. Your exciting journey comes to an end as you arrive in the USA later today. Breakfast provided.
Prepare to be dazzled by a breathtaking symphony of lights in cosmopolitan Hong Kong. City-lovers worldwide rank Hong Kong among their must-see destinations, and for good reason.
A former British colony perched on the edge of mainland China, Hong Kong is a fascinating city of contrasts—a place where East meets West; where the modern blends with the traditional; where shiny skyscrapers stand next to narrow alleys crammed with traditional vendors' stalls; where new technology flourishes alongside ancient Chinese customs. With its glorious harbor, excellent shopping, renowned restaurants, and some of the best nighttime skylines in the world, Hong Kong has it all.
Day 11: Hong Kong. Your morning tour of Hong Kong Island features a ride to the top of Victoria Peak for a magnificent city and harbor view. Descend and continue to Repulse Bay and Aberdeen fishing village, a community of some 600 colorful floating homes. Conclude your tour with some time for shopping. The afternoon is yours at leisure for independent sightseeing in the city.
Tonight, we recommend an optional dinner cruise aboard the Hong Kong Bauhinia, where you'll enjoy a fabulous buffet dinner, live music, and stunning nighttime views of the glistening harbor. Breakfast provided.
Day 12: Hong Kong. Enjoy a full day at leisure to take in the sights and sounds of Hong Kong on your own or shop to your heart's content.
Or, take advantage of a unique optional excursion to the former Portuguese colony of Macau, situated on a corner of the Pearl River Delta. Although it was officially returned to Chinese sovereignty in 1999, Macau maintains a distinctly Mediterranean flavor. You'll see in the European-style architecture, pastel-colored buildings, open air plazas, and abundance of Portuguese wine. Breakfast provided.
To take full advantage of your visit to China, we offer a special discount package of optional tours to other "must-see" sites. These are not "seat in coach" tours that pick up passengers in various hotels—all our optional tours are operated for Friendly Planet groups only.
Optional Tours Package Includes:
Package Price: $165/per person if booked and prepaid prior to departure.
If you prefer not to book in advance, the individual optional tours will be available from your guide once you arrive in China, at prices posted in our itinerary ($198/person for all three). Other optional tours, mentioned above in our itinerary, will also be available to you in China. Payment for optionals purchased in China must be made in cash (U.S. or equivalent in Chinese currency). We regret that we cannot accept bookings for the pre-paid optional tours package within 75 days from departure or after final payment has been received.
For quick answers to Frequently Asked Questions about travel to China, click here.
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