Day 1 Beijing
Arrive in Beijing at late afternoon. Your English-speaking tour guide and driver will meet you at the baggage claim area and provide a private transfer to your hotel. Take a good rest this evening to adjust to the time difference.
Day 2 Beijing (B, L, D)
One of Beijing's UNESCO world heritage sites is on your itinerary today. After breakfast, meet your guide and driver to begin your tour at the Great Wall. Construction of the Great Wall started in the 7th century B.C. The vassal states under the Zhou Dynasty in the northern parts of the country each built their own walls for defence purposes. After the state of Qin unified China in 221 B.C., it joined the walls to hold off the invaders from the Xiongnu tribes in the north and extended them to more than 10,000 li or 5,000 kilometers. This is the origin of the name Of the "10,000-li Great Wall".
The Great Wall was renovated from time to time after the Qin Dynasty. A major renovation started with the founding of the Ming Dynasty in 1368, and took 200 years to complete. The wall we see today is almost exactly the result of this effort. With a total length of over 6,000 kilometers, it extends to the Jiayu Pass in Gansu Province in the west and to the mouth of the Yalu River in Liaoning Province in the east. What lies north of Beijing is but a small section of it.
Day 3 Beijing (B, L, D)
Begin your day with a tour of the Forbidden City. Listed as a world heritage site in 1987, the Forbidden City contains the largest group of intact palace structures in the world. Closed to the common people for 500 years, the palace covers an area of 720,000 square meters and is said to contain 9,999 rooms, numerous pavilions, gardens and courtyards.
Continue your tour as you visit Tian'anmen Square just north of the Forbidden City. Noted as the largest city square in the world, the square was initially designed for political rallies and important gala events. Today the square is flanked by the Forbidden City to the north, the Great Hall of the People to the west, Mao TseTung's Mausoleum to the south and the Museum of Chinese Revolution and the Museum of Chinese History to the east.
After lunch, visit China's largest temple and titlear at the Temple of Heaven (Tiantan Gongyuan) Park with the Hall of Prayer for good harvest; the attraction is often depicted as the symbol of Beijing. Built in 1420, Ming and Qing emperors prayed there frequently for good harvests; the temple complex was added to UNESCO's world heritage site list in 1998. Accommodations: deluxe hotel.
Day 4 Beijing - Datong (B, L, D)
After breakfast, explore the imperial gardens of the Summer Palace originally built in 1750 and rebuilt in 1886. Located in the western outskirts of the city, the Summer Palace is the leading classical garden in China and a UNESCO world heritage site since 1999. Enjoy lunch at a restaurant nearby before exploring the fascinating ancient Hutong neighborhoods. The oldest Beijing Hutongs were constructed during Yuan, Ming and Qing Dynasties. Four quadrangles or houses are often built around a quadrangular courtyard; they are often regarded as the main buildings of the Hutongs. Your tour will lead you through some of the best-reserved Hutong neighborhoods that most represented the history, culture and lifestyles of old Beijing. Late this evening, get onto an overnight train to Datong. Overnight train.
Day 5 Datong (B, L, D)
Arrive in Datong early this morning in Shanxi Province. After breakfast, we visit the Yungang Grottoes located at the base of the Wuzhou Mountains, 16 kilometers to the west of Datong City. The four main sites in China that are famous for their stone sculpture are Dunhuang, Longmen, Dazu and Yungang. Among those, the Yungang grottoes are considered first among equals, for their tremendous size, their ancient history, and their relatively complete state of preservation. The grottoes contain 51,000 sculptures scattered throughout 53 rock caves, and the earliest could be dated back as early as 460 AD. Most of the work was finished before the Northern Wei moved its capital to Luoyang in 494 AD although some work continued to the reign of Zheng Guang, 520-525 AD. This is the only complete set of Northern Wei stone carving groups in China. Regarded as one of the national treasures, the grottoes became a world heritage site in 2001. We return to Datong in the late afternoon.
Day 6 Datong - Taiyuan (B, L, D)
Today, we'll visit the extraordinary Hanging Monastery (Xuankong Si) located about 80km south-east of Datong. Precariously constructed on the sheer cliff face above Jinlong Canyon of Hengshan Mountain, the wooden Hanging monastery is more than 1,400 years old. With the aide of natural alcoves and strong beams, its 40 halls and pavilions clung stably to the rock walls. Stairways, corridors and boardwalks were connected to all buildings, hence forming breathtaking views at the valley floor. Numerous bronze, iron, stone and clay statues are enshrined in the monastery. In the Three Religions Hall Buddha, Laotze and Confucius are enshrined together. Return to Datong and get onto an overnight express train to the city of Taiyuan. Overnight on train.
Day 7 Taiyuan - Pingyao (B, L, D)
Arrive in Taiyuan early this morning and transfer to Pingyao. Originally constructed during the Zhou Dynasty (256 BC), Pingyao is among the four ancient Chinese cities that remain intact. After lunch, visit Pingyao's city wall. The city is known as "Turtle City" because of its six gates: two each at the east and west gates, and one each at the north and south gates.
You can explore some antique stores, restaurants and cultural sites the rest of the afternoon. Then stay overnight at the Xieshunlong Hotel, which is famous for its authentic Ming Dynasty antique furniture and excellent location within the city of Pingyao. Accommodations: deluxe hotel.
Day 8 Pingyao - Taiyaun (B, L, D)
Today you will have the opportunity to explore the Wang Family Courtyard (Wang Jia Da Yuan), which is said to be comparable to the Forbidden City in size. While the Forbidden City was designed for the use of the emperor and the royal family, the Wong Family Courtyard served as a resident of a reputable civil official. One special characteristic of the courtyard home is certainly the intricate carved frescoes that decorated many of the building walls. Get onboard your overnight train tonight to Xi'an. Overnight train.
Day 9 Xi'an (B, L, D)
Arrive in Xi'an early this morning. Known as Chang An during ancient times, Xi'an was the capital of China for 13 dynasties (around 1,062 years). Visit the ancient city wall today. Built during the early Ming dynasty with a core of mud covered by three layers of bricks, the city wall of Xi'an is the only one that remained intact. After lunch, visit the Shaanxi Provincial History Museum for an in-depth look at China's extensive history and 2,000 exhibition displays. Accommodations: deluxe hotel
Day 10 Xi'an - Hu County (B, L, D)
Embark on an amazing historical and cultural adventure today. Begin your adventure by exploring the Terra-Cotta Warriors and Horses Museum, a UNESCO world heritage site since 1987. Created 2,000 years ago to guard the tomb of China's first emperor Qin Shihhuang, the painted details of the soldiers and horses faded away during weathering, thus showing their original colors. Then visit the Emperor Qinshihuang's Mausoleum nearby. Historical records noted that 700,000 laborers spent 36 years building the mausoleum at the bottom of Lishan; numerous treasures that were entombed with Qinshihuang still remain undiscovered.
After lunch, tour around the Hua Qing Hot Springs Palace constructed during the Tang Dynasty and travel to Hu County during late afternoon. The county is famous for its peasant artists who create vibrantly colored peasant paintings and intricate papercuts. You will have a rare opportunity to stay at a local farmer's home tonight to enjoy the friendly hospitality and fresh homemade meals. Accommodations: farmer's home.
Day 11 Hu County - Xi'an (B, L, D)
Enjoy your stay in the countryside and browse workshops and galleries where you can learn about different artistic techniques, purchase artworks and paper cuts or even try creating your own magnificent work of art. Visit the farmers' fields and livestock-keeping areas to explore different Chinese farming practices. Return to Xi'an during late afternoon. Accommodations: deluxe hotel.
Day 12 Xi'an - Beijing - Back Home (B, L, D)
This morning, your guide and driver will provide a transfer to the airport for your early morning flight to Beijing. Depart China's capital, cross the International Dateline and arrive home the same day.
Airfare is included in the tour price.
Price: $1,699/per person for a group of 6 or more pax.
Groups of 10 or more passengers are eligible for a discounted group rate.