Welcome to the historic capital city of China! Upon your arrival at the airport or train station, you will be met by your local tour guide and then transferred to your downtown Beijing hotel. After checking in at the hotel, you will be free to rest up from your journey or to explore the local area on your own.
China has more than 4,000 years of history with its Imperial Social System, and Beijing is the best place in China to experience this magnificent history and the culture of ancient China. Today your guide will pick you up at your hotel after your breakfast to begin the wonderful ancient China culture and history tour!
First up on your visit to Beijing is the world's largest plaza - Tian'anmen Square. The grandiose Tian'anmen Gate is the place where Chairman Mao Ze Dong announced the establishment of the People's Republic of China to the world in 1949. Passing through Tian'anmen Gate, you will enter the ancient and splendid Forbidden City, the home of 24 emperors of the Ming and Qing Dynasties for nearly 600 years. Magnificent architecture, intricate ornaments and touching legends make this a must-see site while in China.
After lunch, you'll visit the stunning and exquisite Summer Palace, where you'll be amazed at the vast ensemble of lakes, gardens, temples and palaces that together make up a masterpiece of Chinese landscape garden design. During the Qing Dynasty, the Summer Palace was the personal summer retreat of the royal family. The overall layout of the Summer Palace consists of a front hill, back hill, and Kunming Lake. The front hill area contains splendid halls and pavilions while the back hill provides quiet, natural beauty.
After visiting these sites, we will take you back to your hotel to relax.
Recommended Optional Night Activities:
1) The exciting Legend of Kung Fu Show at the Red Theatre (usual showtime 19:30)
2) The famous Beijing Opera Show at the Liyuan Theater (showtime 19:30 - 21:00)
Hiking on the Great Wall of China is just a dream for most people, but today you will make that dream come true. We will escort you about 70 kilometers from your downtown Beijing hotel to the world-famous Mutianyu Great Wall, which has fewer tourists than the often over-crowded Badaling Great Wall. Mutianyu is also the best section of the Great Wall to view the expansive and beautiful scenery while appreciating the grand scale of the Wall. After we purchase the entrance tickets at the ticket office, we will take the cable car up to the Great Wall for about 2 hours of hiking along the lengths of the Wall.
After hiking the Great Wall of China at Mutianyu, we will take you back to downtown Beijing, but along the way we will stop at the solemn Ming Tombs, the final resting place of the ancient emperors of the Ming Dynasty. Here you can wander along the Sacred Road, a tranquil path that in the past was reserved for royalty. The road is lined with statues of devine animals and officials as it leads to the mysterious Underground Palace, which we will also visit. One last stop before returning to your hotel will be at the Beijing Olympic Village, where you will have the opportunity to take some pictures of the outsides of the instantly recognizable "Bird's Nest" stadium and the Water Cube.
Recommended Optional Evening Activity:
Authentic Peking Roast Duck Dinner at the world famous Quanjude Restaurant.
After breakfast at your hotel, we will take you to marvel at one of the greatest architectural masterpieces in the world - the Temple of Heaven, where the ancient emperors of China presided over various rituals to ensure a good harvest for the empire. Today, the outer area of the Temple of Heaven is a public park where the locals gather to practice Tai Chi, fly kites, play mah jong, and chat, while the inner area remains a historical site for visitors to learn about ancient Chinese history and culture. After visiting the Temple of Heaven, we will visit some of the most famous "hutongs", which are ancient alleyways that stiill retain the traditional architecture that originated in the Yuan Dynasty (1271 - 1368 A.D.) Even today there are still many local Beijingers that live in these old quarters where during the Qing Dynasty (1636 - 1912 A.D.) many noble families lived. You will be able to wander freely around these narrow alleyways to experience the way people lived during ancient times, or you can take a relaxing rickshaw ride through the hutongs as well. Lunch will be arranged in the home of a local hutong family for a truly memorable experience.
After lunch you will have some free time to explore the hutongs until we transfer you to the Beijing West Train Station for your high-speed train to Xian. Your local guide will greet you at the Xian train station to escort you to your local hotel. The rest of the evening will be free for you to explore the ancient city on your own.
After breakfast at your hotel, we will drive around 90 minutes to witness the magnificent man-made wonders of the Terracotta Warriors and Horses, which were created and buried to protect the First Emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang, in the afterlife. More than 8,000 life-sized terracotta warrriors and horses, each one designed differently than the others, along with numerous bronze weapons are arranged into a large-scale military sytem to recreate the Qin army as it appeared more than 2,000 years ago.
In the afternoon, we will drive back to the city of Xian to visit the Ancient City Wall, the largest and best preserved ancient city wall in China. Built during the Ming Dynasty as a military defense, the wall's top was designed to be wider than its height as to allow the army to perform drill practices over the centuries. You will be able to stroll along the top of this ancient wall to observe the modern city of Xian that has now surrounded it and immerse yourself in the charm of this ancient capital. After exploring the city wall, we will visit the nearby Muslim Quarter, an interesting street with various local foods and snacks. This is also a great place for a leisurely walk to see how the locals live.
Recommended Optional Activities:
1) Bicycle rental for riding bikes on top of the ancient city wall.
2) Enjoy a wonderful evening performance of the Tang Dynasty Show (showtime is usually 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. nightly).
Today's tour of Xian starts with a visit to one of the ancient landmarks of the city - the Big Wild Goose Pagoda. The earliest and largest pavilion style pagoda built during the Tang Dynasty, the Big Wild Goose Pagoda is a seven-layered pagoda standing 64.5 meters tall. The pagoda was originally built to store the Buddhist sutras brought back from ancient India by the Chinese monk and religious scholar Xuanzang (the model for the character of Tang Seng in the classic novel "Journey to the West"). Following our visit to the historic pagoda, we will take you on to visit the Shaanxi History Museum, which houses a collection of more than 370,000 cultural relics from the different Chinese dynasties, including ancient bronzes, porcelain, gold and silver wares, tomb frescoes, coins from the various dynasties, and so much more that is held in its vast collections.
After your visit to the museum, you will have the rest of the day free to relax and prepare for tomorrow's flight to Lhasa.
After breakfast and checking out from your hotel, we will escort you to the airport for your 3 and half-hour flight to the capital city of Tibet, Lhasa. Upon arrival at Lhasa Gongga Airport, your tour guide will meet you with a private vehicle to escort you to your Lhasa hotel and help you check in. The rest of this day will be free for you to explore the local area and acclimatize yourself to the high altitude of Lhasa.
Tips for High Altitude Acclimatization:
1) Go for a leisurely walk in the fresh high altitude air, but avoid any strenuous activity after your arrival.
2) It's better to avoid taking a bath to avoid catching a cold.
3) Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration, and eat some fresh fruit.
4) Get plenty of rest.
Start your exploration of Lhasa today with a visit to a world-famous landmark - the Potala Palace, widely regarded as one of the most beautiful examples of architecture in the world. Climb up the palace along zig-zagging stone paths alongside the white and red walls to the top of the palace where you can gain a greater appreciation of the exotic Tibetan-style buildings as well as for a great view of Lhasa's entire urban area. After admiring the sweeping outside views, explore the inner spaces of the Potala Palace to find the stately chapels and learn more about the fascinating history of this special place.
From one historic landmark to another, your next stop will be at the Jokhang Temple, considered as the spiritual heart of Tibetan Buddhism. Every day thousands of pilgrims come from all over Tibet and other places to the temple to worship the Buddha. The Jokhang Temple is also known as the "House of Buddha" becuase it houses the precious Jowo Rinpoche, a life-sized (1.5 meter/5 feet) image of the Shakyamuni at the age of 12.
The last stop for today's Lhasa exploration is Barkor Street, the wide, circular street that surrounds the Jokhang Temple. Local residents enjoy walking on the street, completing several circuits around the temple as a daily tradition of pilgrimage. The street also has many small shops selling a wide variety of traditional Tibetan goods, religious items and handicrafts.
Tips for today's tour:
1) There are 1,080 steps to the top of the Potala Palace, so it's best to take it slowly to avoid high altitude sickness.
2) Taking photos is not allowed inside the Potala Palace.
3) Most of today will be spent outside, so please bring a hat, sunscreen, sunglasses and some water with you to protect yourself from the more intense sun at the higher altitude.
After breakfast at your hotel, we will visit the beautiful Norbulingka Palace and Park, the location of the former summer palace of the Dalai Lamas from the 1780s up until 1959. It features the famous Potrang, the private palaces of former Dalai Lamas built in the grandiose style of traditional Tibetan architecture.
After visiting the palaces and park at Norbulingka, we will travel around 5 kilometers to the western outskirts of Lhasa to visit the Drepung Monastery. The word "drepung" in Tibetan language means "prosperity". Since its establishment in 1416, Drepung Monastery has served as one of the most important Buddhist monasteries in Tibet. During its prime, more than 10,000 monks lived and studied in the monastery. Throughout its history, many important and famous Tibetan leaders studied at this monastery, including the Dalai Lamas. Accordingly, Drepung Monastery is also respectfully known as the “Mother School of Dalai Lamas”.
In the afternoon, we will escort you on to another famous monastery in Lhasa - the Sera Monastery. Sera Monastery is famous for its spectacular “Buddhist Debates”. As a daily routine, the monks gather in a courtyard, and debate on the various Buddhist doctrines with exaggerated gestures, which is thought to be helpful in facilitating a better comprehension of the Buddhist philosophy to attain higher levels of study. After enjoying the "Buddhist Debates", we will take you back to your hotel with the rest of the day and evening to relax or explore on your own.
Tips for Proper Etiquette While Visiting Monasteries
1) For clothing, shorts and/or bare shoulders are not allowed.
2) Hats and sunglasses should be removed before entering the chapels.
3) Taking photos is usually not allowed inside the chapels.
Today after checking out from your hotel you will be escorted by private car to the Lhasa airport for your flight to Shanghai, the largest city in China. Upon arrival in Shanghai, your local tour guide will meet you at the airport to take you on by private car to your hotel in Shanghai. The rest of the day will be free for you to explore the city on your own.
1) Please take care to pack all of your belongings, particularly the small things that are easy to forget about, such as phone and camera chargers, power adapters, mobile phones, wallets, etc.
2) If your flight or train is in the afternoon, please be sure to check out of your hotel room by 12 p.m.
After breakfast at your hotel, your tour guide will meet you in the lobby to take you to Yu Garden as your first sightseeing destination. This private garden that was built during the Ming Dynasty fully demonstrates the achitecture and design style of the classical Chinese gardens with its delicate pavilions, clear ponds and man-made hills. After your visit to the garden, we will walk leisurely through the Yuyuan Bazaar, a marketplace full of tasty local snacks along with elaborate traditional Chinese handicraft and art works. The Yuyuan Bazaar is conveniently located right next to Yu Garden. After the bazaar, we will travel by car to Lujiazui and climb to the top of the second tallest skyscraper in Asia – the Shanghai World Financial Center. With spectacular views from the viewing deck on the 100th floor, the full scope and scale of the prosperous and majestic city of Shanghai will be revealed before you.
After a nice local lunch, we will stroll along Nanjing Road – a world famous shopping street that has something for everyone as a paradise for shoppers. At the east end of the road we will come to The Bund, an iconic symbol of Shanghai situated on the west bank of the Huangpu River. Walking along The Bund will allow you to feel the perfect fusion of Chinese and Western cultures while viewing the fantastically modern Shanghai skyline with your own eyes.
Recommended Optional Night Activity:
Enjoy a night time cruise along the Huangpu River to enjoy the amazing futuristic skyline of Shanghai when it is lit up at night.
After enjoying your breakfast at your hotel, we will take you to the Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Center with its multimedia and interactive displays are used to help visitors learn about the past history, present facts and future plans of Shanghai. After the exhibition center, we will move on to the Jade Buddha Temple, where the largest jade buddha in the world is housed along with numerous religious artifacts, ancient statues and Buddhist scriptures. The Jade Buddha Temple is a quiet sanctuary hidden in the midddle of a crowded and modern metropolis.
In the afternoon we will escort you to the airport or train station for your flight or train on to your next destination or returning home.