Day 1 Arrival in Shanghai (D)
Arrive in Shanghai. You will be be met and transferred to the Sofitel Hotel on downtown's Nanjing Road, for the first night of a two night stay in Shanghai.
Day 2 Shanghai - Suzhou - Shanghai (B, L, D)
Today is primarily devoted to a vist to some of the most beautiful sites in Suzhou, a city compared favourably to the paradise in the heaven, includingn the arch bridges on the Grand Canal, ancient Pan Men Gate, the Fisherman's Net Garden and Lingering Garden, and Silk Embroidery Institute (if time permits). You will return to Shanghai to photograph the Old Town at dusk and have dinner at local restaurant.
Day 3 Shanghai - Xitang (B, L, D)
After morning shoot on the Bund and breakfast, transfer to Xitang for lunch and photography in afternoon and evening. Xitang, 110 km of Shanghai, is built on a plain crossed by nine rivers, which divide water village into eight districts. It is also famous for its 104 bridges, dating all from Ming and Qing Dynasty, its alleys and its covered passages evening photography and dinner. Xitang also contains densely distributed rivers and lakes, and displays a magnificent illustration of natural sceneries and old buildings together. On the lake, you can hear songs from the fishermen's floating boats. Overnight at local Xitang hotel.
Day 4 Shanghai - Dali (B, L, D)
You drive back to Shanghai in the morning to take flight to Kuming to connect with flight to Dali. First night of two night stay at the Ya Xing (Asia Star) Hotel. Standing against the Cangshan Mountains in the west and adjoining the Erhai Lake in the east, embraced by undulating hills around, Dali was the capital of the Nanzhao and Dali Kingdom as early as 1,300 years ago and has been home to the Bai minority. You will find the crystal blue lake and the green mountain range nearby look alike a Chinese painting. The format of Dali's old town is like a chess board with four gates guarding the four directions, a design that was adopted by most towns in ancient China.
Day 5 Dali (B, L)
Standing like a tripod on the outskirts of old town, the Three Pagodas were constructed in about 850 and 1050 following the model of the Small Wild Goose Pagoda in Xi'an. For centuries, they are the landmarks of the region. After photography of the Three Pagoda Temple, depart after lunch for a boat trip on Er Hai lake (named for its ear-like shape, it lies in a geological fault between parallel mountain ranges) and a visit to Shelter Island. Dinner is not included this evening so that one of the town's popular and inexpensive privately owned restaurants in Old Town, such as the Cafe de Jack, (great pizza baked in real pizza ovens), Yunnan Cafe, the Salvador Dali, or Jim's Tibetan Cafe (featuring great conversations with Jim) can be experienced.
Day 6 Dali - Lijiang (B, L)
Drive 180 kilometers to Lijiang, a small mountain town of stone and tile, laced with swift canals, listed as a UNESCO world heritage. Once passing the Waterwheel at the entrance of the Old Lijiang Town, we will find ourselves transported into a world of narrow cobblestone streets bordering canals of crystal clear freshly melted snow. It has kept unchanged since the Ming Dynasty (A.D.1368-1644) when the town was founded. Lijiang, possibly the best-preserved old town in China, is one of the last places in this country where we can witness and experience a historical, traditional, ancient urban culture. En route, you'll make stop to visit the Mao Ping Sunday Market. First of three nights at the Jian Nan Chun Hotel located conveniently in the heart of the old town. Dinner for all evenings in Lijiang is at leisure on your own account. Popular restaurants here include Sakura, MaMa Fu's, and the Blue Papaya Italian.
Day 7 Lijiang (B, L)
Morning photography of the Black Dragon Pool Park with its Moon Embracing Pavilion and Jade Dragon Snow Peak. In the afternoon, visit Baisha village with its frescos dating back to the Ming and Qing dynasties. (Mr. Joseph Rock, an Austro-American botanist and explorer who lived here off and on from 1922-1949, is best remembered for introducing innumerable plant species to the West and his rigorous works on Naxi ethnology. Likely, Dr. Ho, Dr. Rock's apprentice who has gained an international reputation will be on hand to offer some lively tales about the area.) In the evening, you'll attend a performance of the Naxi Orchestra, a Taoist ceremonial instrumental music accompanied with chanting that was introduced to Yunnan from mainland China during the Tang dynasty some 1200 years ago.
Day 8 Lijiang - Tiger Leaping Gorge - Lijiang (B, L)
American breakfast at hotel. All day excursion to visit the Stone Drum village, the First Bend of the Yangtze River, and the Tiger Leaping Gorge. The village of Stone Drum stands at the First Bend of the Yangtze River, some 70 kilometers west of Lijiang. Approaching Stone Drum offers a dramatic view of the Yangtze's near-180-degree turn, where the wide, swift waters perform a miraculous about-face. For nearly 20 kilometers the river, first flowing south, then north, runs parallel to itself. Locals say if it were not for their village standing guard at the bend, China would lose the water of the Yangtze to Southeast Asia, like that of the adjacent Mekong and Salween Rivers. The Tiger Leaping Gorge, or Hutiaoxia in Chinese, is the Yangtze's best-known gorge after the Three Gorges in Sichuan and Hubei. Wedged tightly between titanic cliffs, the river is so narrow here, as legend tells us, that a hunted tiger made his escape to the other side in a single bound. Lunch en tour at local Chinese restaurant. Dinner at leisure is again on your own account in Lijiang.
Day 9 Lijiang - Kunming - Xi'an (B, D)
This morning is free to individually explore the old town of Lijiang and its charms. Lunch is again on your own today. In the afternoon, you will fly to Kunming to connect for flight to Xi'an. First of two nights at the Bell Tower Hotel in the center of the old walled city.
Day 10 Xi'an (B, L, D)
Xi'an, the historical city, was called Chang'an in ancient times, and is now the capital of Shaanxi Province. As one of China's seven ancient national capitals, it served as the capital for 12 dynasties spanning more than 1,000 years. Xi'an therefore, has a great number of precious relics and historical sites. Xi'an's photographic subjects will include the Qin Shihuangdi Museum with the world famous Terra Cotta Army, Big and Small Wild Goose Pagodas, Chinese-style mosque, and city wall and moat. You'll have Tang Dynasty Song and Dance performance with dumpling dinner in the evening.
Day 11 Xi'an - Yuncheng (B, L, D)
Drive to Yuncheng. On the way visit Zhangdian village for its underground old kiln houses, which is the only place in China for this type of house. Also visit the Iron Ox of the Yellow River and the Yong Le Temple. The Yongle Temple is located on the east side of Longquan Village, 3 kilometers to the north of Ruicheng County, Shanxi Province. The original site of the Yongle Temple is in Yongle Town, Yongji County. To make way for the Sanmenxia Water Control Project, the whole buildings and the frescoes were moved to Ruicheng County in 1959. The Yongle Temple, originally called Da Chunyang Wanshougong (Big Pure Sun Longevity Temple), is very grand in scale and has a compact layout. The temple is imposing and magnificent and the building complex appears splendid. Stay overnight at the 3 star Yuncheng Tongbao Hotel.
Day 12 Yuncheng - Lin Fen (B, L, D)
Today you continue your way to Lin Fen with a visit to the old theatre stage from the Yuan Dynasty. You then move on to the Yellow River and its raging Hu Kou Waterfall, the second largest waterfall in China. The width of the waterfall changes with the season, usually 30 meters wide but increasing to 50 meters during flood season. It has a fall of over 20 meters. When the Yellow River surges towards the Hukou Mountain, blocked by mountains on both sides, its width is abruptly narrowed down to 20-30 meters. The water speeds up with increasing waterpower. Then it rushes down from the narrow mouth, forming a grand waterfall of 15 meters high and 20 meters wide, as if water is pouring down from a huge teapot. Hence it gets the name Hukou (kettle spout) Waterfall. Stay at Lin Fen Red House Hotel overnight.
Day 13 Lin Fen - Pingyao (B, L, D)
Continue drive to Pingyao with visit enroute to the 17th century Wang Family Courtyard, the former living quarters of a prosperous local family, consisting of 1,118 houses in many classic styles mostly from the Ming and Qing dynasties. One special characteristic of the courtyard home is certainly the intricate carved frescoes that decorated many of the building walls. Afterwards, you'll visit the Guang Sheng Temple. The landscape around the temple built in 147 is quiet and beautiful, making one of the most attractive tourist spots of Linfen. First of two nights at Pingyao Yun Jin Cheng Folklore Guesthouse (modern rooms with traditional kang beds).
Day 14 Pingyao (B)
Full day exploring and photographing in the Pingyao old town including a performance of the old court and visits to the gray-brick courtyard homes, extravagant family mansions, Daoist and Buddhist temples, and China's earliest commercial banks. Entrance fee to the ancient drum tower in city center and rammed earth Ming city wall surrounding the city will be included. However lunch and dinner will be on own with many convenient inexpensive restaurants catering to both Chinese and Western tastes from which to choose.
Day 15 Pingyao - Taiyuan - Beijing (B, L, D)
Drive to Shanxi province capital of Taiyuan with stops along the way at the sixth century Buddhist Shuanglin Temple, famous for its 2000-plus painted statues in ten halls. Another highlight today is the visit to the Qiao Family Courtyard, best known of Shanxi's merchant-family mansions. The compound was constructed in 1755 by Qiao Guifa, the first member of the family to strike it rich selling tea and bean curd beyond the Great Walll. Returning to his hometown, he built his dream home, to which successive generations added until it reached its present size. It covers 8724 square meters with 313 rooms. Fly to Beijing. First of three nights at the Jianguo Hotel.
Day 16 Beijing (B, L, D)
Early morning in Beijing at Jingshan Park photographing the exercise activities of the locals and panoramic views overlooking the city and Forbidden City from Coal Hill followed by walk through the Forbidden City. After early lunch depart for three hour bus ride to the remote Jinshanling section of the Great Wall for shooting until sunset. Dinner at restaurant near the wall before driving back to the city.
Day 17 Beijing (B, L, D)
Morning in the Summer Palace followed by an "Awards Banquet" luncheon at the imperial restaurant, Fangshan, with distinguished guests from the national Chinese Photographers Association. Following lunch visit the Temple of Heaven 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. Dinner will then precede an evening Peking Opera.
Day 18 Departure (B)
The photo tour ends with transfers to the Beijing airport for flights home.
USD3300 per person for a group of 2-6 pax group based on double occupancy.
All transportation in China, most meals, three to five star hotels (best available), full sightseeing, transfers, tips for local guides and drivers, and English-speaking local guides. The single room supplement is $785*.
Visa for China, personal expenses, and individual tips, including to the national guide. Optional pre-tour or post-tour extensions in China, such as more time in Shanghai and/or Beijing for first time visitors, can be arranged through us.