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adventure travel trip to China
Explore the Great Wall and other iconic sights of China
  • Oct 13-27, 2014
  • Nov 3-17, 2014
  • Privately on Request
  • View all trip dates
  • Duration 15 days
    Group Size 2-12
    Land Cost $4,295-$4,795 Details
    Single Supplement $900-$1,900 Details
    Lodging 2 stars-3 stars
    Grade I-II
    Best Time

    China's Wonders, Past and Present

    Explore the Great Wall, Terracotta Warriors, the Yangtze River, Shanghai, and Hong Kong

    Day 1      Arrive Beijing

    Upon arrival, meet your guide and transfer to a centrally-located Beijing hotel. Depending on when your flight arrives, you may have time to explore the area around the hotel. You may also wish to just spend this time relaxing after a long flight.

    Meals: None
    Lodging: Centrally located 4 * hotel

    Visit the Summer Palace
    Day 2      Beijing

    After breakfast, set off on a guided city tour that includes the enormous Forbidden City, built more than 500 years ago and off limits to commoners for almost all that time, but now open to the public. Its size might surprise you, but what makes it fascinating is the intense detail with which it was built, ranging from intricately-carved walkways to colorfully-painted ceilings. The Temple of Heaven is another fine examples of extraordinary construction and workmanship. Also spend time exploring the alleyways and courtyards of the old hutongs. In the evening, enjoy dinner and a performance of the unique Beijing Opera. The colorful costumes, intricate makeup, and performance combination of singing, dialogue, dancing, and martial arts make this show both interesting and culturally enlightening.

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging: Centrally located 4 * hotel

    Explore atmospheric hutong alleys
    Day 3      Great Wall/Overnight Train to Xi'an

    Today you will travel by van to visit the Great Wall at Mutianyu, a large 1.5-mile stretch of the wall about 50 miles northeast of Beijing, renowned for its Ming dynasty guard towers and fantastic views. You will have a great time hiking this, one of the few remaining segments of the Great Wall where architectural features have been well-preserved, including 26 military watchtowers. Afterward, return to Beijing for more exploration, including good shopping opportunities at the open air Silk Street market and the colorful Dachilan market.

    Late in the day, board an overnight train to Xi'an, where you and your group will share soft-sleeper class compartments that accommodate four people in two overhead and two low bunks, another interesting component of your China adventure.

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
    Lodging: Train

    Hike a stretch of the Great Wall, an engineering marvel
    Day 4      Xi'an

    Your train arrives in Xi’an in the morning. Xi’an, best known for the Terracotta Army of Qin Shi Huang. Discovered by local farmers in 1974 as they were digging a well for water, these entombed statues are considered one of the most important archaeological finds of the century. Over 8,000 soldiers were individually sculpted from clay, each having a different costume, height, and even facial expression. There are also some 130 chariots with 520 horses and 150 cavalry horses, the majority of which are still buried in the pits. The entire assemblage stands in battle formation, facing east to protect the tomb of China's first Emperor, the great Qin Shi Huang.

    Later, you will visit the ancient Imperial Hot Spring Baths, famous for its romantic love story of Emperor Xuangzong and his concubine Yang Guifei during the Tang Dynasty. Then, head on to the bustling countryside open market. In the evening, enjoy dinner and a Tang Dynasty era concert that features music and dance from royal courts of the day.

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
    Lodging: Centrally located hotel

    A few dozen of Xi'an's thousands of terracotta warriors
    Day 5      Xi'an/Chongqing

    In the 10th century, Xi'an was considered the greatest city on earth. Today, you will visit its ancient sites, including the Bell and Drum Towers; the Wild Goose Pagoda, which was built by Emperor Gao Zong in memory of his deceased mother; and the ancient City Walls, built on the foundations of the walls of the Tang Forbidden City. Also explore the Shanxi Museum, which holds the world's greatest repository of Tang Dynasty ceramics, paintings, and imperial artifacts, and visit the Great Mosque, one of the largest in China and a fascinating blend of Chinese and Islamic architecture. Later in the day, transfer to the airport for your flight to Chongqing, where you will be met and transferred to your river boat for an excellent Yangtze River cruise.

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging: 4* River boat

    Spend the day exploring Xi'an's many historical sights
    Day 6-7      Yangtze River Cruise

    Wake up in your stateroom on your Yangtze riverboat.  The Yangtze, also known locally as the Changjiang, is the world’s third longest waterway, rising deep in the province of Qinghai, north of Tibet, and flowing relentlessly eastward some 4,000 miles until it reaches the East China Sea near Shanghai. Effectively dividing the country into north and south, the river not only supplies the rural heart of China, but has also spawned many industries reliant upon its power. The Yangtze has inspired many poets, writers, and travelers over the centuries.

    Your cruise between Chongqing and Yichang is on a tourist-class boat from which you'll have a fascinating vantage point for insights into life along the river. Spend a total of three nights on board, sleeping in twin-share cabins (similar to a small hotel room) with private facilities. You'll travel through the renowned Three Gorges, ending the cruise at Yichang, near the construction site of the massive new dam.

    Meals: 2 Breakfasts, 2 Lunches, 2 Dinner
    Lodging: 4* River Boat

    Dusk on the Yangtze (photo by A. Hitchcock)
    Day 8      Yichang/Shanghai

    Arrive Yichang around noon, disembark from your riverboat, and transfer to the aiport for your afternoon flight to Shanghai, where you'll be met and taken to your hotel for the night.  The evening is yours free to relax or venture out in this cosmopolitan metropolis of more than 24 million people, China's largest city and also the largest city proper (i.e., excluding suburbs) in the world.

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
    Lodging: Centrally located 4* hotel

    Not well-known outside Asia, Yichang is a thriving big city of more than four million people
    Day 9      Shanghai

    Get an early start today (near dawn!) and be rewarded with a great experience wandering among scores of locals practicing Tai Chi along Shanghai's waterfront. Afterward, visit the famous Yuyuan Garden and its bazaar, a fascinating highlight of the city and worth exploring for its tranquil Chinese garden and wonderful food stalls. You also visit the Jade Buddha Temple. In the evening, attend a performance of the famous Shanghai Acrobats, then consider a stroll along the river on the magnificent Bund.

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
    Lodging: Centrally located 4* hotel

    Explore cosmopolitan Shanghai (photo by Aapo Haapanen)
    Day 10      Shanghai/Suzhou/Shanghai

    After breakfast, drive to the nearby city of Suzhou, which, although famous for its canals and silk industry, is best known for its magnificently-landscaped gardens, all works of art. Enjoy a rickshaw ride through the old section of town, then embark on a boat ride to Han Shan Si Temple (Cold Mountain Temple), built during the Tianjian Period of the Liang dynasty (502-557) and named after the monk Hanshan who was in charge of the temple during the Tang dynasty. The temple contains cultural relics, including a stone tablet with a poem inscription, stone carvings, and a large bell. You also visit Tiger Hill, which is surrounded by rivers and covered with pine and plum trees. Here you can see the Yunyan Pagoda, Suzhou's oldest pagoda built in the Sui dynasty (581-618), and Duanliang Hall, built in the Tang dynasty (618-907). Continue on with a visit to the Gardens – the Humble Administrator’s Garden is one of the four most famous gardens in China. Visit a silk and embroidery factory before returning to your Shanghai for your last night in the city.

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
    Lodging: Centrally located 4* hotel

    Picturesque canal in Suzhou's river district
    Day 11      Shanghai/Guilin/Yangshuo

    After breakfast, check out of your hotel and go out on a morning visit to Shanghai Museum, housing more than 120,000 precious and rare works of art in one of the world's most interesting architectural structures. Afterward, head to the airport for your flight to Guilin, where you will be met and transferred to your Yangshuo hotel, your base for the next two nights.

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
    Lodging: Best available hotel

    The Shanghai Museum was designed in the shape of an ancient bronze cooking vessel called a ding
    Day 12      Yangshuo

    This small town offers a relaxed and intimate alternative from the major cities of China and is an excellent place to explore by bicycle. You can join your local guide and spend a few hours pedaling through wonderful scenery in the surrounding countryside, including Moon Hill, a limestone pinnacle with a moon-shaped cutout. You will also meet some inhabitants of the nearby villages. After finishing your bike ride, enjoy a home-cooked lunch at the home of a local family. In the evening, watch the incredible Liusanjie light show, designed and directed by Zhang Yimao, who also directed the opening ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging: Best available hotel

    Explore Yangshuo and the nearby countryside by bicycle
    Day 13      Yangshuo/Guilin/Hong Kong

    Today you will take a leisurely boat ride down the Li River to explore the picturesque market town of Fuli with its stone houses and cobbled lanes. Afterward, return to Guilin to take a late afternoon flight to Hong Kong, where you will be met and transferred to your hotel, your base for the next two nights.

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
    Lodging: Centrally located 4* hotel

    Take in the scenary on a Li River boat ride
    Day 14      Hong Kong

    Today is free for you to explore Hong Kong in whatever ways are most appealing to you. Your hotel can arrange for guided tours if you wish, or we can arrange for you to go on a private tour to any attractions that interest you (not included in land cost). Or why not strike out on your own if you're feeling intrepid? Hong Kong is easily explored on foot, by ferry, and on trams. Consider a Hong Kong Island tour to visit Man Mo Temple, Aberdeen Fishing Village, Stanley Market, Repulse Bay, and see Victoria Peak by tram. Another option is a tour of the Lantau Islands. You can take a ferry out to see Silvermine Bay, Po Lin Monastery, Cheung Sha Beach, and Tai Village, then it’s only a short ride out to the China Sea to see Chinese white dolphins. Consider an evening stroll to the waterfront for a spectacular nighttime view of Hong Kong's harbor.

    Meals: Breakfast
    Lodging: Centrally located 4* hotel

    Take the tram up Victoria peak for fabulous city views
    Day 15      Hong Kong / Onward

    After breakfast, check out of your hotel for your transfer to the airport and your flight home. Or consider extending your time in Hong Kong or other Asia destinations if your schedule permits.

    Meals: Breakfast
    Lodging: None

    Hong Kong's "Symphony of Lights"

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