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Journey to the "Northern Capital" - a land of emperors, epic monuments and the cultural heart of China. On arrival in Beijing, you'll be transferred to your hotel where you can relax before meeting your Travel Director for a Welcome Reception drink and local appetisers.
Surround yourself with the grandeur of Beijing's landmark Great Hall of the People, Qianmen Gate and the mausoleum of Mao Zedong as you walk through one of the world's largest public areas, Tiananmen Square. Delve into China's imperial heritage, passing the south gate into the frozen-in-time Forbidden City - once home to emperors and their households and today a UNESCO World Heritage Site. After lunch, indulge in a relaxing foot massage at the Foot Reflexology Centre to ease you into an evening at leisure or consider joining an Optional Experience.
The iconic Great Wall of China beckons this morning - its stone ramparts and walls snaking thousands of miles into the distance to defend the empire against nomadic invaders since 5th century B.C. The afternoon is yours to enjoy on your terms. Consider strolling through the imperial gardens of the Summer Palace or visit one of the outdoor markets. This evening, indulge in a Regional Meal of succulent Peking Duck for dinner - a must during any visit to Beijing.
Navigate the ancient alleyways of the courtyard Hutong residences, weaving through lively neighbourhoods on the back of a traditional rickshaw. Stop at the home of a local family where you'll 'Connect with Locals', enjoying a Be My Guest lunch of traditional Chinese cuisine, then visit a nearby tea house. Here, you'll delve into the art of chayi, joining a 'Local Specialist' who'll share first-hand the age-old ritual of tea-making. Leave Beijing behind, bound for Xi'an, an ancient departure point on the Silk Road.
Engage with the children and teachers of a local primary school (during term-time) where you will learn a few words of Chinese and 'Make a Difference' by donating much-needed supplies. Next, descend into the subterranean tomb of Emperor Qin Shi Huang to view his legendary army of Terracotta Warriors and Horses, followed by a delicious traditional meal of Chinese noodles. Your final stop today is to a Jade factory where you'll admire the favoured stone of emperors, more precious to the Chinese people than gold.
This morning, your choice of activities gives you an opportunity to join a 'Local Specialist' in their T'ai Chi practice or embark on a cycle tour around part of the ancient City Wall of Xi'an. Get stuck in to the ancient art of dumpling making next, with an opportunity to sample the juicy results for lunch, then transfer to the railway station for your high-speed bullet train trip to Chengdu. On arrival in the hometown of the giant panda, you'll check in to your hotel and savour the leisurely pace of local life on your terms.
Witness the ground-breaking work being done by the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding this morning. Join a 'Local Specialist' and learn how your visit Makes a Difference to this non-profit research breeding facility which rescues and protects the endangered giant panda, of which fewer than 2,000 remain.
Indulge in the bold and spicy flavours of local cuisine as you 'Dive into Culture' and learn about regional cooking practices at the Museum of Sichuan Cuisine. Learn how to crush chilli into powder using a Qing Dynasty pestle and mortar, then view ancient kitchenware, books and manuscripts faithfully recording the history of Sichuan culinary cultures. Immerse yourself in the intoxicating scents wafting through Restaurant Alley then, pay tribute to the Kitchen God before attempting to create your own culinary magic with the guidance of a local chef. Stomach and soul sated after a delicious encounter with Chengdu, you'll have an afternoon to relax, explore further or perhaps fit in some last-minute shopping.
Rub shoulders with the locals during a visit to People's Park with its beautiful Chinese gardens, lake and tea houses. Gain insights into the day-to-day lives of the locals who spend their free time in tranquil surrounds indulging in a leisurely game of mah-jong, a quiet nap or neck massage. Venture to lively Jinli Old Street next, crossing beneath the imposing archway into a world of intricate handicraft, paintings and calligraphy. Stroll along the narrow street whose façades were modelled on the architectural style of a traditional old town in western Sichuan Province, then transfer to the railway station for a high-speed bullet train ride to Chongqing. Here, you'll enjoy a city orientation tour with dinner before boarding your Yangtze River Cruise.
Disembark this morning for a short visit to Shibaozhai to admire its 12-storey cliff-top temple, built in the 19th century. Stretch your legs and climb up to the temple, tackling the red pavilion which leans against the side of the steep peak, now an island due to the rising waters of the Three Gorges Dam. Return to the Yangtze, cruising to Fengdu's 'Ghost City' to explore the mystical shrines, temples and monasteries that are dedicated to the afterlife.
Connect with your exquisite natural surrounds as you cruise gently down the Yangtze to the imposing Three Gorges. Squeeze through the narrow Qutang Gorge, admiring its dramatic vistas, before your journey takes you through Wu Gorge, renowned for its quiet beauty, forest-clad mountains, and cliffs so sheer the sun barely penetrates their precipices. A small motor boat will ferry you through the magical landscape of the Goddess Stream, a tributary of the Yangtze - its limestone cliffs covered in greenery provide a tranquil backdrop for your relaxing encounter with this mighty river.
Make an early start this morning to enjoy the views of the Three Gorges Dam from the top deck of the cruise ship – a great photo opportunity. After disembarkation at Maoping Port take another chance for photographs of the Dam before joining your coach for your transfer to Yichang Airport and your onward flight to Shanghai.
Shanghai's famous 'Bund' waterfront is the first stop on a day of sightseeing with a 'Local Specialist'. Admire the ornate neoclassical colonial buildings and skyscrapers that have sprung up from this former marshland, then Dive into Culture during a visit to a silk museum. Embrace the tranquillity of the famous Yu Garden next, with its pavilions, halls, rockeries, ponds and cloisters. Then, enjoy some free time for a local lunch of soup dumplings perhaps and shopping in the Old Town, a treasure trove of winding streets and vibrant markets that was once enclosed by the ancient walled city of Shanghai. Our final stop this afternoon is a visit to the Jade Buddha Temple, built in 1928 after the original temple was destroyed during the revolution that overthrew the Qing Dynasty. Admire the beauty of its precious jade Buddha statues made out of crystal-clear white jade, before you settle into an evening performance by the world-renowned Shanghai Acrobatic Troupe.
This morning visit Shanghai Museum, one of the largest museums of ancient Chinese art in China. Then embark on a walking tour with a 'Local Specialist' through the Shanghai French Concession, for an exhilarating encounter with the opulent age of French colonial China. Wander through the narrow alleyways, past elegant villas and apartments dating back to the early 1900s when the territory was proclaimed a French settlement. Later this morning, you’ll see where the First Conference of the Communist Party took place in Xin Tian Di, whose charming antique façades hide a 21st century world of bars, cafés, boutiques and theme restaurants. Later ascend the 88-storey Jinmao Tower for panoramic views of the skyscrapers that loom over the most populous city on earth. This evening say a fond farewell to newfound friends during a Farewell Dinner.
Our epic encounter with China at its end, take a transfer to the airport for your onward flight.
Optional Experiences are subject to change. Your Travel Director will supply you with a final list of Optional Experiences available on your trip. Optional Experiences cannot be booked online; they can be purchased during your trip through your Travel Director.
The Legend of Kung Fu Show is a mix of traditional martial arts and modern theatre. It is presented by a group of marvelous Kung Fu artists from all over China whose average age is only 17 but they have studied Chinese Kung Fu for many years. The story tells of a young boy who dreams of becoming a Kung Fu master and attaining enlightenment. He takes the path of a monk in which he must face many obstacles both from this world and his own mind to overcome his fears and to become a true master of Kung Fu. During the 80-minute show, the artists do not speak but perform daring acrobatics and Kung Fu dance but there are English subtitles above the stage explaining the storyline. Transfers to and from the Red Theatre are included. The price shown is in Chinese Yuan Renminbi.
Adult Price: ¥325
Enjoy a sumptuous Tang dumpling banquet followed by a wonderful performance of ancient music and dance which has graced the region for centuries. The show consists of 8 parts filled with vibrant costumes, colorful dances and traditional music. Under the ruling of the Tang Emperors from 618 to 907, China became the most powerful and prosperous country in the world. During this time the economy, politics and military strength reached an unprecedented level which influenced the culture of its neighboring countries. It was during this flourishing and peaceful period that exquisite Tang imperial feasts with music and dance emerged and developed. Step back in time and enjoy the delightful hospitality and performances of the Tang Dynasty. The price shown is in Chinese Yuan Renminbi.
Adult Price: ¥385
Take a guided tour of Jinsha Site Museum. It was built to protect, study and display the archaeological finds discovered on the Jinsha site dating back 3000 years. Precious relics including gold articles, jade objects, bronze wares, stone tools and ivory carvings are on display and signify the exquisite technical craftsmanship of the Ancient Shu people. It is a rare site museum among Chinese museums because of its combination of modern civilization and the civilization of ancient Shu State which is now known as Sichuan Province. Later visit Du Fu Thatched Cottage; a shrine to Chinese literature and commemorative museum of Du Fu, a famous poet during the Tang Dynasty. During his stay there he wrote around 270 poems which are considered to be precious national treasures and some of which are currently being taught in schools. Discover the life of this famous poet in his cottage and take a stroll around the traditional style garden. The price shown is in Chinese Yuan Renminbi.
Adult Price: ¥385
Spend the evening at the ShufengYayun Sichuan Opera House to enjoy a colorful authentic Sichuan opera performance. There are many separate performances, all of which are introduced in English and these include a comedy show, fire spitting, a puppet show and the famous face changing show where actors switch between different masks to portray different characters. There is live music featuring a host of traditional Chinese instruments and it all takes place in a beautiful semi-outdoor courtyard setting. NB. The price shown is in Chinese Yuan Renminbi.
Adult Price: ¥365
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