Beijing, Tokyo City Escape 7 Days / 6 Nights
Upon arrival to Beijing, our guide and driver will be waiting to provide transport to the hotel for check in.
En route to the hotel, keep an eye out for the famous “Bird’s Nest” stadium, a contemporary structure (partially designed by Ai Weiwei) symbolising modern China, featured during the Opening Ceremony of the 2008 Olympic Games. If desired, it’s possible to stop there to take a few photos from the outside -just ask the driver!
According to flight schedules (be wary of the 72 hour limit for the stay), there will be an opportunity to visit the Temple of Heaven, which is known for its stunning architecture and symbolism combining Taoist and Buddhist beliefs.
Overnight in Beijing at the hotel.
After breakfast at the hotel, begin the day with a visit to the iconic Forbidden City of Beijing. Arguably China's most famous attraction, the Forbidden City was built during the reign of the Ming Dynasty, acting as the seat of China's emperors for centuries, and completely closed off to the outside world. Legend has it that the complex is comprised of 9,999 different rooms.
Note: Forbidden City access will be limited to 80,000 visitors/day. A passport copy must be provided at least 11 days in advance for personal registration (preferably two weeks in order to assure a successful booking); it will not be possible later on to modify its date.
Visitors are required to bring their passport for security check upon their visit to the monument.
Afterwards, climb the artificial Coal Hill just behind the Forbidden City, which provides a spectacular view of the entire site and provides glimpses of the whole of Beijing.
Visiting the Forbidden City can take several hours. After the Forbidden City visits, the rest of the day will be dedicated to walks around Beihai Lake and the more lively Houhai Lake which is encircled by Hutongs. Hutongs are the famous Beijing alleyways home to traditional courtyard style homes, many of which have now been converted into pedestrianised streets boasting charming little restaurants and bars.
The day’s tour will finish at the Drum Tower, where a demonstration will be held of how, during the Ming Dynasty, the passing of each hour was marked with a drum roll. From the top it is also possible to admire the rooftops of the neighbouring Hutongs and the Clock Tower just opposite.
Optional: Alternatively, end the day by having dinner on a roof terrace overlooking traditional Chinese courtyard-style housing, also known as Siheyuan.
Start day three with a visit to one of the world’s most famous attractions: The Great Wall of China. Though it’s not visible from space (contrary to popular belief), this landmark is still as breathtaking as one would imagine. Although its roots date back some 2,000 years to the Qin Dynasty, the Wall as we know it today was mostly built and renovated during the Ming Dynasty. Spanning over 6,000 kilometres, the Wall reaches from Ancient Manchuria to the Gobi Desert in the west, dotted with tall watchtowers along the way.
Begin the day with an early morning visit to the Mutianyu section of the Wall. Early morning is, by far, the best time of the day for photographs, as fewer tourists will be around to obstruct the views.
For those who aren’t keen on a hike back down (after the hike to the top), there is an alternative option for descending via cable car or toboggan (for those seeking an adventurous descent!) Time allowing, there may also be an opportunity for a picnic on the Great Wall.
After the Great Wall explorations, pay a visit to the Summer Palace. What once stood as a simple Imperial garden, was entirely renovated by Emperor Qianlong during the 18th century to become one the most important sites of the capital. Harmonious with nature, the temple complex contains a variety of traditional Chinese temples, pavilions, lakes and gardens.
After the palace visits, transfer back to the city for an evening at the hotel.
Star the final morning in Beijing with a visit to the 798 Arts District, situated in Dashanzi in the north east of the city. 798 is made up of a number of abandoned factories which were r enovated in the 90s by Chinese artists in a style similar to that seen in Berlin. ‘798’ as it is known locally, has become the mouthpiece for Beijing’s most popular contemporary artists and is probably the most vibrant art district in the whole of Asia.
‘Dashanzi’ as it is known, is becoming ever more popular. Cafés, restaurants and specialist boutiques selling clothes by exciting young designers, homeware pieces and pottery have grown in number over the past few years. It is possible to spend hours wandering these narrows alleys, popping into the quaint shops and cafes along the way.
After the visit, there will be transport provided to the airport for the flight to Tokyo.
Upon arrival at Tokyo International Airport, one of our representatives will be waiting to assist with transport into the city (boarding the right train or finding the appropriate shuttle van to the hotel.)
Overnight in Tokyo
Meet up with the guide this morning at the hotel for the trip to Hamarikyu, a Japanese garden that once served as a private villa of a powerful feudal lord during the Edo period. Its wide collection of seasonal flowers makes it one of the most visited gardens in Tokyo, however its most attractive aspect is its teahouse called Nakajima-no-Ochaya.
Enjoy a break in the teahouse and a cup of freshly made green tea while the guide shares interesting facts about chado (tea ceremony).
From the park, take a scenic river cruise to Asakusa, a part of Tokyo’s shitamachi or old town. Asakusa is the city’s oldest Geisha district and also home to Senso-ji, Tokyo’s oldest Buddhist temple. The streets around Senso-ji feature many traditional shops and are a delight to wander through.
The tour ends with a visit to Meiji Jingu, Tokyo’s most famous shrine dedicated to Emperor Meiji and a popular venue for traditional Shinto weddings.
The shrine is also home to around 120,000 trees, making one forget that just outside its grounds are two of the city’s popular shopping districts, Harajuku and Omotesando.
Note: The order of this itinerary may change according to the location of your hotel.
Overnight in Tokyo
Today is a self-guided day.
Keep exploring the city on your own, or follow our suggested itineraries, you can also take part in a cultural experience we can arrange.
Suggested Self-Guide Itinerary:
Mix with the otaku (anime fans) and visit maid cafes in the electronics district of Akihabara, discover Tokyo’s world class museums and art galleries in Ueno and Roppongi, or get a glimpse of the future at Tokyo Bay’s Odaiba development.
If you need a break from Tokyo’s hectic pace you can choose to make an excursion outside of Tokyo to the delightful seaside town of Kamakura.
One of Japan’s former capitals, Kamakura is a home to many ancient temples and the Daibutsu, a giant bronze Buddha. Tokyoites also flock to the beaches here in the summertime.
Optional Activity: Tsukiji Fish Market and Sushi Making
Embark on a unique Tokyo culinary adventure. Start the day with a guided Tsukiji fish market tour, exploring one of the world’s largest seafood markets. Browse stall after stall, seeing some of the 480 different varieties of seafood on offer and learning about how they are used in traditional Japanese cuisine. The guide will share some background on Japan’s market culture and introduce some of the more exotic items. There may also be a chance to see skilled fishmongers at work cutting and filleting giant tuna or other fish.
While exploring Tsukiji, purchase some fresh fish and wasabi with the guide. Take these market purchases to a nearby cooking classroom for an introductory sushi-making lesson. Under the guidance of a local cook learn to prepare rolled sushi, nigiri sushi, and other variations.
At the end of the course, sample the fresh creations and receive a set of cooking utensils to take back home. Then return to the train station for the journey back to the hotel or to another destination in Tokyo.
Duration (program): 4.5 h
Optional Evening Tour: Tokyo Street Food Tour
This tour heads inside the lively street food scene of Tokyo: an exciting trip across some of the hidden pearls that can only be found with the help of a local, wandering around the city’s narrow streets.
A local English-speaking food expert will provide an escort through tiny izakayas (Japanese-style pubs) and small traditional restaurants and bars, each boasting distinctive atmospheres in heart of the traditional Japanese entertainment districts.
None of these local taverns normally accept reservations, but the expert guide is able to pick, depending on the evening, the right areas (always in central Tokyo) and venues to find available seats. Because of this, the tour is always unique and different for each guest.
Meet the food expert at the train station and enjoy 4 to 5 different venues during the tour. Although the menu is set, the guide will ensure stomachs are full and taste buds are entirely satiated with a range of different options.
Duration: 3.5 h
Overnight in Tokyo
Departure day. At leisure until your included transfer by shuttle bus to Narita International Airport.