Classic China with Twist 10 Days / 9 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, take note of the “Bird’s Nest”, Beijing’s contemporary stadium (in part designed by artist Ai Weiwei), famous for being the site of the Opening Ceremony in the 2008 Olympics.
After reaching the hotel for check in, pay a visit to the city’s famous hutongs (narrow alleys and streets, exclusive to Beijing) near Houhai Lake. Continue with a visit to Gulou, or the Drum Tower, a structure which (during the Ming Dynasty) once marked the hours of the day with the rumbling of drums. The tower faces the Zhonglou, the Bell Tower, and gives visitors a glimpse of ancient Beijing.
Moving along, meet a bicycle repairman, whose job exemplifies the urbanisation of the city… feel free to ask any question! Why is this such a unique visit? While cars and technology take over the future of the city, the age-old bicycle still holds true as one of the most preferred modes of transport.
Continue with a visit to a mahjong party, a social get-together based around Chinese Chess (or alternatively, card games.) For those who aren’t familiar with the rules of the game, the guide will gladly provide some insights.
Afterwards, conclude the day with a refreshing change of decor and ambiance in the Wangfujing neighborhood, the most commercial area of the capital. While here, pay witness to how modernised China has become and how its fierce consumerism drives onwards.
Head back to the hotel for the evening.
Overnight in Beijing
Begin the day very early with a visit to the Temple of Heaven. Before entering the temple, explore the surrounding grounds, which provide some unique insight into daily Chinese activity. From Tai Chi, Kung Fu and sabre practice to meditation, tango, and gymnastics, physical exercise is considered an essential start to the day for the Chinese. Alternatively, some Chinese begin the day practicing water calligraphy; writing with giant brushes dipped in water on the park’s flagstones; an aesthetically pleasing act which quickly evaporates.
Continue on with a visit to the Temple itself, marked by both simplicity and symbolism. Displaying touches of Buddhism and Taoism, the temple was once used by Emperors to direct authority on earth from the heavens.
Continue next to the discrete White Cloud Temple, where Taoist monks wear their hair in chignons and superstitious visitors can touch the sculpture-murals representing the twelve Chinese Zodiac animals. For those with enough time to spare, pay a visit to the Niujie Mosque, a place that showcases the expansion of Muslim merchants from Central Asia to China.
Lunch will be had around noon; a vegetarian meal located in the in the downtown section of the city.
In the afternoon, pay a visit to the Yonghe Temple, the most visited temple in town. A Tibetan Buddhist temple, Yonghe is famous for its 18-meter high Buddha statue made from only one block of wood.
End the day with a visit to the Confucius Temple, named after the very man behind the moral codes and precepts that organized the majority of the social interactions of Imperial China. Even today, Confucianism still surfaces in China to be a part of the society.
Option: Enjoy an evening Kung Fu show in the historic Red Theater! Originally known as Chongwen Worker's Cultural Palace Theater, the theatre’s stage facilities have been dramatically improved, offering a range of traditional Chinese performances.
Overnight in Beijing
Start Day 3 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. While its roots reach back 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 kilometers, 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. Despite an early morning wake up, this is by far the best time of the day for photographs.
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 impending, 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 in nature, a variety of traditional Chinese temples, pavilions, lakes and gardens comprise the Palace.
After the palace visits, transfer will be provided back to the city for an evening at the hotel.
Afterwards, you will return to the capital. Overnight in Beijing
In the morning we will head over to the Forbidden City.
The construction of the City was finished in 1420 during the reign of the Ming Dynasty, serving as the Imperial administrative centre until the fall of the Empire in 1911.
Note: Access to for Forbidden City is limited to 80,000 visitors/day. Passport copies must be provided at least 11 days advance for personal registration (preferably 2 weeks in order to assure a successful booking); it will not be possible to modify this date later on.
Visitors are required to bring their passport for security check upon their visit to the monument.
Restored in 2008 for the Beijing Olympics, the Forbidden City has since regained its youthful, vivid colors. As there is much to see in the compound, it is suggested that visitors take their time during the visit. After exploring the interior and exterior parts of the compound, it is possible to climb Jingshan or Prospect Hill for spectacular views of the entire site and the whole of Beijing.
After the Forbidden City explorations, transport will be provided to the Beijing train station for the trip to Xi’an. Overnight train in a soft sleeper cabin to Xi’an.
Train station: Beijing – Xi’an
Train number: T41
Estimated departure time: 14:22
Estimated arrival time: 05:16(+1)
Second class tickets are included in the price; ticket includes soft berths, four berths per cabin. For those interested in reserving the entire cabin (or booking into a different class), please consult us in advance. (Tickets and class depend on availability and are subject to change)
Upon arrival, a local guide and driver will be waiting to provide transport to the hotel.
Welcome to Shaanxi Province, often considered the birthplace of Chinese civilization. The capital of the Empire three times, Xi’an played an integral role in the history of the country.
As no classic China trip is complete without seeing them, start the day by visiting the Xi’an Terracotta Warriors.
Unearthed accidentally in 1974 by local farmers, this grand discovery became one of the greatest archaeological finds in modern history. An expansive underground mausoleum built in response to Emperor Qin Shi Huangdi’s fear of malevolent spirits, this immense army features infantrymen, archers, and cavalry riders positioned to protect him in the Afterlife. The most astonishing fact about the warriors? Every single one has a different face from a soldier during the Emperor’s life!
The statues can be viewed in three different pits. Start with pits number 2 (still being excavated) and number 3 (sheltering the majority of the excavated items). Conclude with pit number 1, the most impressive, housing about 2,000 warriors.
After the Terracotta warrior tour, embark on a one-hour bike tour (or, for an additional charge, cart tour) to discover Xi’an... without traffic jams and crowds! One of the highlights of the tour will be the impressive Xi’an ramparts, built during the Ming Dynasty.
Continuing with the cultural visits, explore part of Xi’an’s Islamic background. During the day of the Silk Road, Muslim merchants from Central Asia came to China to do business, leaving behind their influence in Xi’an. Several Muslim minorities (totaling 15 million inhabitants) now live in China- the Hui minority being predominant in Xi’an. Visit the Chinese-style Mosque and the vibrant neighborhood around it, housing a number of butcher shops and different sorts of stores where men wear white skull caps and women wear colorful headscarves.
Dinner this evening comprises of a Xi’an Evening Food Tour. Whisk around town in a tuk tuk to discover some of the best local flavours of the city. The experience finishes with a visit to a local Brewery near the night’s accommodation (transport provided).
Overnight in Xi’an
Begin Day 6 with a transfer to the airport. Along the way, visit the tomb of Emperor Jing nearby to the airport. Standing in stark contrast to the cruelty of Qin Shi Huangdi, Jingdi was known more for his humanism and diplomatic relations; an ideal visit before taking off.
Opened in 2006, tomb houses a multitude of figurines representing eunuchs, servers, and domestic animals, and brings more to mind the normal day life under the Han Dynasty. Glass panels walk over the different pits, revealing the recently uncovered statuettes.
Today’s flight takes off for Shanghai, where our guide and driver will be waiting upon arrival. The afternoon is set aside for an orientation tour through the city in a truly vintage fashion. Discover Shanghai during a two-hour tour in a motorcycle sidecar (Chang Jiang 750). From the Old French concession to the fashionable Bund, explore all the best corners of this iconic Chinese city.
Note: Max capacity passengers: 2 passenger per sidecar.
Overnight in Shanghai.
Today enjoy a vintage bike ride through Shanghai- a truly immersive way of exploring the city.
Meet up with the guide at 09:00 in the Xintiandi area for a quick safety brief. Afterwards, begin the cycle in the neighborhood of Lujiazui. This region is the epicenter of some of the most famous buildings: the Oriental Pearl TV Tower, Jin Mao Tower and the never ending Shanghai World Financial Center. One of the tallest buildings in Shanghai, this colossal creation also boasts the highest panoramic terrace in the world. An optional stop can be made at the 100 Century Avenue cafe for some refreshments upon arrival.
Shortly after, take the famous Bund Sightseeing Tunnel, a mini subway line, to cross the Huangpu River to reach Puxi in a couple of minutes.
The discovery tour continues along the Bund, a famous walkway featuring some of the city’s most historic buildings. Afterwards, continue onto Nanjing Road with its colorful signs and bustling crowds. After completing the Nanjing stroll, wrap up the tour at People’s Square for transport back to the hotel
Overnight in Shanghai
Picking up where yesterday left off, begin the day with a visit to People’s Square. After meeting with the guide, continue on to explore some of Shanghai’s fantastic museums:
Start off with the Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Centre, where a model city of Shanghai provides excellent insights into the city’s layout. Additionally, a stunning panoramic cinema will display a short video explaining how the city developed into the metropolis it is today. The remainder of the museum has a range of unique, interactive attractions- well worth the visit!
From here, head to one of the most famous and prestigious museums in the country: The Shanghai Museum. Its collection of bronze statues on the first floor is unrivalled, and is complemented by a number of jade pieces of artwork, as well as Qing Dynasty furniture, Buddhist sculptures, and other pieces of Chinese artwork.
For those interested in art, the day will end with a visit to the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA).
After the museum visits, the delightful People’s Park is a great place to relax at, situated at the heart of People’s Square. The park has a small lake, a number of food stands, and countless places to sit and enjoy the atmosphere.
Concluding the day, walk from the Square along East Nanjing Road, arriving to the Bund to admire the Shanghai night skyline. Head back to the hotel and retire for the evening.
Option: Enjoy an “ERA” evening show, one of the most popular evening entertainments in the city. On stage for 6 years, ERA is a multimedia odyssey whose inspiration is a direct result of the combination of traditional Chinese acrobatic arts and modern technology.
Overnight in Shanghai
Begin the day by heading towards the French Concession: a symbol of a time when Western powers were accorded many privileges. Particularly of note is Fuxing Park, where Chinese practice their daily morning exercise rituals.
After exploring the park, wander on along the surrounding roads, admiring colonial homes which have now been transformed into restaurants, bars, and different boutiques.
Wander on towards Xintiandi, an entirely renovated area that is considered one of the liveliest parts of the city. Conclude the walk at Tianzifang, a maze of animated alleyways full of restaurants, boutiques, and small, authentic art galleries.
Conclude the walk in the Old Town with its few remaining lively lilongs (which are like the hutongs found in Beijing). The Old Town also houses the famous Yu Yuan Gardens, a superb example of the art of Chinese garden landscaping, particularly common in this region.
Optional: Meet a Chinese gardener and learn all about the art of Chinese gardens, or more notably about penjing (bonsai trees).
Before heading back, pay a visit to the the local bazaar, where visitors and locals come to haggle. It’s a perfect chance to buy some souvenirs before departure the following day. Alternatively, take a rest at the Huxinting tea house, located at the centre of the lake opposite the Yu Yuan Park; one of the most famous tea houses in China.
Wrap up the day with a traditional Chinese massage, or “acupressure,” a technique that concentrates on acupuncture points to stimulate the body’s natural healing… the perfect conclusion for this trip full of contrasts and lessons!
Overnight in Shanghai
After breakfast, transport will be provided to the airport for the onward flight