Morning sightseeing takes us to
Park for a panoramic view of the Forbidden City from above. The park to
the north of the Forbidden City was part of the imperial palace in the
old days, serving the royal families as a convenient site for farming,
recreation and ancestor worshipping. The man-made hill
(46 meters above ground, 89 meters above sea level) overlooks the
Forbidden City and provides a great
spot for bird's-eye view of the surrounding area.
then proceed to Tiananmen Square. Located in the heart of Beijing,
the square is 880 metres from north to south, and 500 meters from east
Said to be the biggest of its kind in the world, Tiananmen
Square has the capacity to hold one million people.
Gate) Tower sites at the north end of the square while the Monument to
the People's Heroes dominates the centre. The square is flanked by The
Great Hall of the People (west) and the National Museum of China (east).
Chairman Mao's mausoleum and Qianmen (Front Gate) sit in the south of
the square. Considered one of the top 16 tourist attractions in Beijing,
Tiananmen Square is also the witness of the Chinese people's great
struggles for democracy and personal freedom since 1919.
Afternoon sightseeing at the
Temple of Heaven, a UNESCO World
Situated in southeastern Beijing the Temple of Heaven is
China's largest extant sacrificial temple where, during the Ming and Qing dynasties, the emperors conducted the elaborate and most exalted
sacrifices addressed to "the Supreme Ruler of the Universe." Construction of the temple started in
1406, during the reign of the Ming Emperor Yongle, and took 14 years to
complete. The temple was expanded under the Qing emperors Qianlong
(1736-1796) and Jiaqing (1796-1820). Occupying 2.73 square kilometres
(roughly 1,700 by 1,600 metres), the area of the Temple of Heaven is more than twice that of the
The famous Hongqiao Pearl
Market, the largest of its kind in the world, sits right across from the
Temple of Heaven. The market is recommended in various guidebooks as a
good place to buy fresh water pearls, a market segment dominated by the
Chinese. If you are interested, please ask the guide to drop you off
there. However, you'll need to get back to the hotel by taxi, which
costs about 50 yuan or $8. (B/L)
Day 5/Mon: Beijing
Today we embark on a full-day excursion to the legendary Great Wall at Mutianyu,
75km northeast of the city. Zigzagging over 6,000 kilometres from east to west along the
undulating mountains, the Great Wall was
built to hold off tribal invaders from the north. Construction of the
earliest sections of the Wall started in the 7th century B.C. A major
renovation started with the founding of the Ming Dynasty in 1368 and took
200 years to complete. The wall we see today in Beijing is almost exactly
the result of this effort.
The Mutianyu section of the Great Wall is connected with Jiankou in the
west and Lianhuachi in the east. Unlike many other sections of the Great
Wall, Mutianyu was built mainly with granite.
6/Tue: Beijing - Xian
Free morning to relax or explore on your own. We board the new high-speed train for Xian following
a light lunch. The four-hour-forty-minute rail journey cuts through
fertile farmland dotted with villages, providing the visitor an
excellent way to
enjoy the beautiful landscape. The track we travel on is part of the new 2,298 km
high-speed railway connecting Beijing and Guangzhou, the longest
high-speed rail line in the world. The Chinese for the past 20 years have
been on a building spree expanding the country's rail network and
upgrading existing railways. This new rail service rivals France's TGV and
Japan's "shinkansen" in terms of speed, comfort, cleanliness and onboard
terminus of the fabled Silk Road and one of the ancient capitals of China,
Xian is home to the world famous
Morning visit to the Terracotta
Warriors and Horses Museum. Built on the excavation site, the museum is located 30km east of the
city. Designed to follow the first emperor of the Qin Dynasty
(221-206 BC) into eternity, the Terracotta Army represents one of the
greatest archeological discoveries of the 20th Century.
After lunch we return to the city for a stroll
on the ancient city wall.
The wall, declared national treasure by the State Council in 1961 under
the premiership of Zhou Enlai, was started in 1370 during the Ming Dynasty,
encircling an area of 14 square kilometres. The wall runs 13.7 kilometres
long and measures 12 metres in height and 15 to 18
metres in thickness at the base.
Tonight we enjoy a
spectacular music and dance show reminiscent of the Tang Dynasty (618-907
A.D.), a period generally considered a golden era of the Chinese
civilization. Depending on the season, the
theatre could substitute the show with one re-enacting the life of Emperor
Qin Shi Huang - the first emperor who unified China. (B/L/D)
Day 8/Thu: Xian
Morning sightseeing begins with
Shaanxi Provincial Museum.
well-organized museum was completed in 1992 and traces the history of
Xian from prehistory to Qing dynasty (1644-1911). The
extensive galleries and exhibitions offer the visitor an excellent
introduction to the area that greatly improves understanding of the
numerous historical sites in and around the city.
then visit the ancient grand mosque in the old town centre and the
adjacent Muslim bazaar. The mosque was established in the 8th Century but
the majority of the complex was constructed in the Ming Dynasty
(1368-1644). It was further expanded in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911).
Unlike most mosques in Middle Eastern or Arab countries, this mosque is
completely Chinese in its architectural style. It has neither domes nor
traditional style minarets.
We spend the rest of the day
learning Chinese calligraphy and water-colour painting with a local
artist. This is guaranteed to be a session filled with fun and laughter. (B/L)
Day 9/Fri: Xian - Guilin
Free morning to explore on your own. We recommend
Bell Tower and the Big Wild Goose Pagoda. You can reach both by Subway Line 2,
which has a stop right next door to our hotel. Bell Tower is 3 stops away
(8 minutes). The pagoda is 7 stops away plus a short taxi ride at the
other end which costs about 15 Yuan (less than $3).
a light lunch featuring authentic local cuisine, we drive one hour to
the city of Xianyang, where the airport is located, to visit one of the
highlights of the trip - Han Yang Ling Mausoleum. This is the site of the joint
tomb of Emperor Jingdi (188 BC - 141 BC), the fourth emperor of the Western
Han Dynasty, and his Empress Wang. Objects unearthed
from the 200 odd burial pits are on display and they include armored warrior figures with weapons,
elegant palace maids with Han costumes, and countless animals with vivid
expressions. The Han Yang Ling Mausoleum, which shows no sign of ever
being robbed, serves as tangible evidence
in the research of burial customs and civilization of the Han Dynasty.
Late afternoon flight to Guilin. A
small city by Chinese standards, Guilin has long been renowned for
its unique scenery. The name Guilin literally means "forest of sweet
osmanthus", owing to the large number of fragrant sweet osmanthus trees in
the city. (B/L)
Day 10/Sat: Guilin (Li River
We begin today with a five-hour cruise down the Li River.
The 83km stretch of the river between Guilin and
Yangshuo affords breathtaking scenery as the river snakes through tall
karst mountains, gigantic bamboo sprays, and picturesque villages --
sights that have inspired countless poets and painters for generations.
We disembark in Yangshuo after
lunch and drive back to Guilin. We stop by a village en route. (B/L)
Day 11/Sun: Guilin
Morning at leisure. A walk
along the Li River in front of the hotel is a wonderful way to soak in the
beauty and tranquility of this lovely city.
We gather in the lobby in
mid-afternoon to set out for the Reed Flute Cave. Created by an underground river
more than half a million years ago, Reed Flute Cave, which served as an
air raid shelter during World War II, is a karst cavern of stalactites and
stalagmites. Resembling the set of a science fiction movie, the cave is
bathed in artificial purple-blue light.
On the way back to the hotel we'll
climb the scenic Fubo Hill (63 metres). Those not interested can be driven
back to the hotel, which is only 2 kilometres away. (B/D)
Optional Longji Excursion
You may forgo all of the above activities and choose this physically challenging excursion
instead. Located about 80km (2 hours drive) from Guilin, Longji is
famous for its terraced rice fields. Built by the local farmers of different ethnic
groups from Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368) to Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), the
fields spread 500 meters from the foot of Mount Longji to the mountaintop
covering an area of 66 square kilometres.
The scenery is at its best in
early May (planting) and late September (prior to harvesting). There's not much to look at between
mid-October and late April. During the summer, the hike up the hill in high
heat and humidity can be too much to bear for many.
Price will be confirmed once we
find out how many would be interested. The cost including lunch can be
anywhere between $55 and $120 per person depending on the number of participants. At Laurus Travel's discretion, the excursion may not be
offered. The tour price does not include this because the excursion is too
seasonal and it's not suitable for all travellers.
Day 12/Mon: Guilin - Shanghai
Morning flight to Shanghai.
Before 1949, Shanghai was widely
known in the West as a city of quick riches and paradise of the
adventurers. After four decades of anemic growth in a state planned
economy, Shanghai is roaring back to recapture its position on the world
stage. With a population of 23 million and rapid economic expansion in
the last 20 years, Shanghai has again become a leading global city with
significant influence in commerce, culture, finance, media, fashion,
technology and transport.
Our sightseeing this afternoon begins
with a visit to Jade Buddha Temple, followed by a walk on the Bund - a waterfront promenade famous for its landmark
neoclassical buildings of European style. (B/L/D)
Day 13/Tue: Shanghai
Today's schedule takes in Shanghai Museum, Yu Garden in the old town centre,
and a walking tour of French Concession (extra-jurisdictional territory from
1849 to 1946). Evening entertainment is a dazzling
acrobatic show. (B/L/D)
Day 14/Wed: Shanghai
Today is a free day to explore on your own. Our recommendations include
Jinmao Tower and the popular evening cruise on Huangpu
River to enjoy the city's spectacular neon-lit skyline. The new bullet train system has
made it possible to explore a number of popular tourist destinations near
Shanghai, such as Hangzhou and Nanjing, without overnight stay. If you
need assistance on this, please ask your guide. (B)
Day 15/Thu: Shanghai - Home
Spend the morning packing and relaxing. Transfer to the airport by Maglev
train to board
return flight departing in the afternoon. Re-cross the International Date
Line and arrive home the same day. (B)
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