A Taste of China

Beijing, Xi'an & Shanghai plus Hong Kong optional extension

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
If this is your year to visit China, you won't want to miss this wonderful opportunity to see it's most popular three cities at an amazing tour price. China has become one of the most attractive travel destinations in the world. You'll find impressive modern achievements 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. But don't wait too long to reserve your spot. At prices this low, our tour will sell out quickly!

Detailed Itinerary

A Taste of China 10 Day Tour Itinerary Day 1: Depart USA. Depart just after midnight aboard your Air China wide-body non-stop flight to Beijing.

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.

Summer Palace 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.

Giant panda, China 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

Forbidden City, Beijing 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.

Visit to Gaobeidian school 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.

Great Wall of China 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.

Friendly Planet travelers Stan & Diane Blackett with friends at the Great Wall 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.

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.

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.

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.

Young Kung-Fu performers 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.

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 2,200-year-old Terra Cotta army, among the most important archeological discoveries of modern times.

Friendly Planet travelers at the Terra Cotta Warriors site in Xi'an 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.

Tang Dynasty Dinner Show Musicians This evening, enjoy an optional Dumpling Dinner and Tang Dynasty dance performance ($48 per person). Xi'an Aurum International Hotel 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, take a ride on the world's fastest train, the maglev train. Then, visit one of Shanghai's oldest attractions—the Yu Garden. Time permitting, indulge in some silk shopping after lunch. Proceed to your hotel for check in. Your hotel is located in the center of Shanghai, near the waterfront boulevard known as the Bund. This evening, take advantage an optional evening of dinner followed by an exciting acrobatics show ($35 per person). 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.

Nanjing Road, Shanghai 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.

Shanghai skyline
Oriental Pearl TV Tower & Shanghai skyline
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 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 ($60 per person).

Posing with Chinese actors 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.

Hong Kong Optional Extension

Hong Kong as seen from Victoria Peak

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.

Junk in Victoria Harbour 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.

Nathan Road, Golden Mile, Kowloon  © DiscoverHongKong.com
Golden Mile   © DiscoverHongKong.com
Day 10: Shanghai & Hong Kong. Bid farewell to Shanghai as you transfer to the airport your flight to cosmopolitan Hong Kong. You'll be transferred to your luxurious hotel located in the bustling heart of Kowloon, near the scenic harbor and the "Golden Mile," Hong Kong's famous shopping district. Eaton Hotel (or similar, subject to availability) Breakfast provided.

Tram up to Victoria Peak 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.

Repulse Bay from Ocean Park cable car

Junk cruise, Victoria Harbor 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.

Senado Square, Macau 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.

Day 13: Hong Kong/USA. Your final day in Hong Kong is at leisure to for shopping, strolling or taking photos. Later, transfer to the airport to board your return flight to the U.S. via Beijing. Your memorable journey to China comes to an end as you arrive in Los Angeles later today. Breakfast provided.

Optional Tours in China

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:

  • Hutongs of Beijing & Temple of Heaven full day tour with lunch (Day 5)
  • Xi'an Dumpling Dinner plus Tang Dynasty Dance Performance (Day 6)
  • Suzhou full day tour, including lunch & farewell dinner (Day 8)

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.

Destination FAQs

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

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