14 Day Kung Fu Education Tour

Highlights:

  • You’ll be taken to the cradle of Chinese martial arts, where you will undergo a training course taught under the supervision of professional martial arts instructors. You’ll also visit the Shaolin Temple, the legendary birthplace of Kung Fu.
  • You’ll get to China’s two giants, Beijing and Shanghai. In Beijing, China’s capital city, you’ll see and experience the thrills of the Forbidden City, the Summer Palace and the Great Wall of China. In Shanghai you’ll walk along the iconic Bund while taking in the neon lights and towering skyscrapers that surround you
  • Described by Marco Polo as “Heaven on Earth”, explore the beautifully preserved classical gardens and temples of Suzhou, which some consider to be a sort of “Chinese Venice”.

(B=breakfast, L=lunch, D=dinner)

Detailed itinerary:

Day 1 arrive in Beijing

You will fly into Beijing, the Chinese capital, and upon arrival you will be met by your English-speaking travel guide. You will be taken to your hotel, and you will have the rest of the day to settle down and recover from your travels.

Day 2 Beijing (B, L, D)

Today will be a day of touring Beijing’s best offerings. Following breakfast in your hotel, we’ll make the short drive to Tiananmen Square. The largest public square in the world, Tiananmen Square is seen as China’s political center. Its grounds have seen some turbulent moments, from the May 4th Movement of 1919 to the political turmoil of 1989. The south of the square is marked by the Chairman Mao Memorial Hall, while the center of the square is dominated by the Monument to the People’s Heroes, an imposing 10-story granite obelisk. To the east is the National Museum of China, and to the west is the Great Hall of the People, home to China’s legislative bodies. The north of the square is dominated by the Gate of Heavenly Peace, known for its iconic portrait of Mao Zedong, and is the national emblem of China.

After walking across the street, we will enter what is perhaps the greatest attraction in China, the Forbidden City. After walking across the square we will enter the Forbidden City (known in Chinese as Gu Gong), the largest surviving palace complex and the former home of the emperors of the Ming and Qing Dynasty. The Forbidden City is one of the greatest attractions in the world. Built by the third Ming emperor between 1406-1422, the Forbidden City served as the official residence to the Emperor of China until the last emperor, Puyi, was forced to evacuate in 1924. The Forbidden City is divided into two parts. The southern section, or the Outer Court was where the emperor exercised his supreme power over the nation. The northern section, or the Inner Court was where he lived with his royal family. Consisting of 980 buildings and with 8,707 bays of rooms, the Forbidden City is the best example of classical Chinese architecture in the world, and is a wonder to behold.

After lunch, we will pay a visit to the Summer Palace. Being northwest of the city center, the Summer Palace has the largest royal park and being well preserved, the Summer Palace is ranked amongst the most noted and classical gardens of the world. In 1998, UNESCO listed it as one of the World Heritage Sites. Like most of the gardens of Beijing, it could not elude the rampages of the Anglo-French allied force of 1860 and was destroyed by fire. In 1888, Empress Dowager Cixi embezzled navy funds to reconstruct it for her own benefit, changing its name to Summer Palace (Yiheyuan). She spent most of her later years there, dealing with state affairs and entertaining. Highlights not to be missed are climbing Longevity Hill, viewing the Empress Dowager Cixi’s extravagant Marble Boat, and talking a walk down Suzhou jie, a canal meant to resemble the beautiful river city of Suzhou.

In the evening, we will enjoy a performance of Chinese Kung Fu. “The Legend of Kung Fu” is presented by China Heaven Creation International Performing Arts Co., Ltd. ( CHC)-- China's leading performance art production company. “The Legend of Kung Fu” follows the story of a young boy found wandering outside an ancient temple. Like every boy in China, he dreams of becoming a Kung Fu master. On the road to enlightenment the young monk encounters many difficulties and temptations. The show has English subtitles shown above the stage to keep you informed of the story line. The actors do not speak, and the show is all Kung Fu, dance and acrobatics. It is the fusion of modern dance with Chinese traditional arts, which make this performance unique and spectacular. The best Kung Fu practitioners from all over China have been found for this production and it shows on the stage. Their average age is just 17 years old! Additionally the costumes, set design and special effects are up to international standards, created by some of the best stage directors and designers in China. The show will last for about 1.5-2 hours.

Day 3 Beijing-Zhengzhou (B, L, D)

In the morning you will be taken to the most iconic of China’s sights, the Great Wall. The Great Wall of China is one of the greatest sights in the world. The longest wall in the world, it is an awe-inspiring feat of ancient defensive architecture. Its winding path over rugged country and steep mountains takes in some great scenery. The Great Wall is the building project with the longest duration and greatest cost in human lives, blood, sweat and tears. It deserves its place among "the New Seven Wonders of the World" and the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in China.

On our return to Beijing we’ll take a peak into the city’s splendid past. Traveling by rickshaw, we will take a glimpse into the past as we take a tour of Beijing’s hutongs. Hutongs are narrow alley streets made up of courtyard homes, and formed the center of daily life way back when. The hutong was the nerve center of daily life, and is where much of local culture originated from. You should see them while you can, because they are rapidly disappearing as a result of Beijing frantic modernization.

After your hutong tour we’ll pay a visit to a local family where you will have a short course on cooking Chinese cuisine. You will then be taken to the train station where you will take a sleeper train to the next stop on your tour, Zhengzhou.

Day 4 Zhengzhou-Dengfeng (B, L, D)

Once you arrive in Zhengzhou you will be met by your travel guide. Zhengzhou, the capital of Henan province, is a prime example of the changing face of China. Here you will modern buildings and shopping malls contrasted against the background of an ancient civilization.

After we arrive in Zhengzhou we’ll first head to see the Yellow River, the country’s second longest river. The Yellow River is called the "the cradle of Chinese civilization", as its basin is the birthplace of the northern Chinese civilizations and is the most prosperous region in early Chinese history. But frequent devastating flooding, largely due to the elevated river bed in its lower course, has also earned it the unenviable name "China's Sorrow".

Following our jaunt to the Yellow River you’ll be taken to the Shaolin Temple in the nearby town of Dengfeng. The town is located in the Songshan Mountains. Songshan, one of China's five sacred mountains, is home to the Shaolin Temple, the birthplace of Kung Fu. The area of Songshan Mountain has some of China's biggest and most important temples and schools for Buddhism, Confucianism, and Taoism. It is one of China's centers for martial arts and was where the Shaolin style of martial arts originated. The city was known as Yangcheng at one time. It was said to be the capital of the earliest dynasty in the area of China, the Xia Dynasty, though historians are not sure about whether their rule was truly dynastic. The city has been important as one of China's main centers for the development of Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, and martial arts.

Shaolin Kung Fu, only one of several types of kung fu wushu, or "hard-won achievement" (kung fu) "martial arts" (wushu), is, in turn, only one among many such martial arts that claim association with Shaolin Temple. The temple, which was founded in the 5th century CE, became famous in fact due to its association with the martial arts, in particular, with the strain of martial arts that was referred to as "external" (Shaolin) martial arts (as opposed to "internal" (wudang) martial arts. This is probably the most famous temple in China, not only because of its long history and its role in Chinese Buddhism, but also because of its martial arts or Wushu.

Day 5 Dengfeng (B, L, D)

Today, your tour kicks off with a visit to the enthralling Shaolin Temple. Shaolin Temple embraces many exciting attractions, such as the Hall of Heavenly Kings (Tianwangdian), the Mahavira Hall (Daxiongbaodian), the Pagoda Forest, the Dharma Cave and the Shaolin Temple Martial Art Training Center.

First we see the Shanmen Hall. Hung on its top is a tablet reading 'Shaolin Temple'. The tablet was inscribed by the Emperor Kangxi (1622 - 1723) during the Qing Dynasty (1644 - 1911). Under the stairs of the hall crouches two stone lions made in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). The hall enshrines the Maitreya Buddha. Two sides of the corridor behind the hall's gate are paved with inscriptions on stone steles made during several different dynasties. Next we arrive at the Hall of Heavenly Kings. The gate of the hall is guarded by two figures depicting Vajra (Buddhist warrior attendants). Inside the hall are figures of the Four Heavenly Kings who are responsible for inspecting peoples' behavior, helping the troubled, and blessing the people.

Then we come to the Mahavira Hall. The complex's center is right before your eyes. Both important celebrations and regular prayers are held here. 18 Buddhist Arhats stand along the eastern and the southern walls of the hall. Buddhas of the Middle, East and West are enshrined in this hall, respectively Sakyamuni Buddha, Pharmacist Buddha and Amitabha Buddha. Figures of Kingnaro (the founder of Shaolin Cudgel) and Dharma (the founder of Chinese Zen Buddhism) stand beside those three Buddhas, a placement which is very different from other Mahavira Halls. At the feet of the pillars in this Mahavira Hall are stone lions that are more than one meter high. On the ground there are about 50 small pits, 20 centimeters deep. It is said that they are the footprints left by monks when they practiced Shaolin Martial Arts.

Unexpectedly, we come to the Pagoda Forest, a graveyard for Buddhist dignitaries through the ages. On average, the pagodas are less than 15 meters high. The layer and the shape of a pagoda depend on many factors, such as one's Buddhist status, attainment and prestige during his lifetime. The Pagoda Forest in Shaolin Temple is the largest of China's pagoda complexes.

Outside the temple we continue walking to the northwest, and then we will take a look at two monasteries, named the Ancestor's Monastery and the Second Ancestor's Monastery. The first monastery is built by a Dharma's disciple to commemorate Dharma's nine years of meditation in a cave. It has a big hall supported by 16 stone pillars on whose shafts are exquisitely carved warriors, dancing dragons and phoenixes. The second monastery is a nursing home of the second ancestor Huike who cut his left arm in order to show his sincerity to study Buddhism from Dharma. In front of the monastery are four springs created by Dharma to help Huike to fetch water easily. They are called 'Spring Zhuoxi' and each has its own distinctive flavor.

The cave we see next is the Dharma Cave. In this cave Dharma patiently faced the wall and meditated for 9 years. Finally, he reached the immortal spiritual state and created the Buddhist Zen. The cave is seven meters deep and three meters high Many stone inscriptions are carved on both its sides. There is a Meditating Stone in the cave. It is said Dharma's shadow was reflected upon the stone and embedded on it because of the long time of his meditation facing the wall. Unfortunately the stone was ruined during the war.

After passing the Dharma Cave, we come to the Buddhist Living Quarters for transient monks. It is on the south bank of the Shaoxi River opposite the temple. First built in 1512 of the Ming Dynasty, it was repaired in the Qing Dynasty. The quarters are noted for the simple and distinctive design. It collapsed in 1958 and then repaired in 1993. The Shaolin Temple Wushu (Martial Arts) Training Center comes last. Its perfect scenery makes it an ideal place for practicing the Chinese Shaolin Kung Fu. Shaolin monks have been practicing Kung Fu for over 1,500 years. The system was invented by Dharma who taught the monks basic methods to improve their health and defend themselves. The Martial art performance shows the true Chinese Shaolin Kung Fu. For example, Tong Zi Gong, performed by teenagers, is a kind of martial art to train one's flexibility and strength.

Days 6-10 Dengfeng (B, L, D)

The following five days will be challenging, but fun! You will live and train at the Dengfeng Martial Arts School with Chinese students and your professional coaches. You will get a systematic and thorough instruction in Kung Fu, while enhancing your understanding of the spirit of Chinese martial arts.

Day 11 Dengfeng-Zhengzhou-Suzhou (B, L, D)

In the morning your travel guide will drive you back to Zhengzhou, and from there you will take a bullet train to Suzhou. uzhou is a city on the lower reaches of the Yangtze River and on the shores of Lake Taihu in the province of Jiangsu, China. The city is renowned for its beautiful stone bridges, pagodas, and meticulously designed gardens which have contributed to its status as a great tourist attraction. It is widely known as the “Chinese Venice”.

After arriving in Suzhou you’ll be met by your travel guide, who will take you to your hotel in the city. The rest of the evening can be spent at your own leisure.

Day 12 Suzhou-Shanghai (B, L, D)

Today, you will visit several of Suzhou’s famed sites. Our first stop will be at the Garden of the Master of the Nets. This is the smallest garden yet supposed to be the most delicate one in the city. The 0.6-hectare garden is an elegant structure of a typical official's residence in the Qing Dynasty. The present garden is found on the former site of a Song dynasty official's mansion. Its owner, an early Qing-dynasty official Song Zongyuan, gave its present name based on the earlier one, "Fisherman's Retreat". Garden of Master of the Nets consists of a residential quarter and the garden proper. Inside the refined residential quarter, the halls are linked closely by a corridor. The garden, petite but substantial, is focused on a pond and decorated with plants, rocks, pavilions, and stone bridges. The garden is especially fancied by overseas visitors and is praised as the most ornate and intact private gardens in Suzhou. Some tourists even offer a huge amount of money to buy it.

Also known as the “land of silk”, Suzhou has long been famed as China leading center of silk producing and manufacturing, and even hosts a silk festival every year. We’ll head for the No.1 Silk Factory to see the technical process of how silk is made, from silk swarm rasing, cocoon sorting, cocoon boiling and cocoon reeling, rewinding and packing. The high-grade silk produced in this factory is the best raw material for the product of high-quality silk fabrics.

We’ll then arrive at the Panmen City Gate, the oldest city gate in existence in Suzhou city. It used to be one of the eight city gates during the Spring & Autumn Annals (770-476 BC) when Suzhou was the capital of the Wu Kindom. The current gate was reconstructed in 1351. It consists of Water and Land Gates, city gate tower and city walls at both sides. After our visit you’ll then be taken on a boat ride on the Grand Canal, which passes through Suzhou. First constructed at the end of Spring-Autumn Period, in the 5th century BC, the Grand Canal was extended in the 7th century, and again in the 13th century. It has played an important role in the development of water, conservancy and the economic and cultural exchange between the northern part and the southern part of China. Cruising the Canal in Suzhou you can view the daily life of the people living on the both sides of the canal as well. Taking a boat ride on the Grand Canal is analogous to taking a gondola ride down the water avenues of Venice.

You will then be taken to Shanghai, which is only a short car drive away. Shanghai is China’s largest and most cosmopolitan city. You’ll be taken to your hotel, and the rest of the night can be spent at your own leisure.

Day 13 Shanghai (B, L, D)

In the morning your travel guide will meet you and take you to visit the Bund , Shanghai’s iconic landmark. he Bund is a waterfront embankment and has been regarded as the symbol of Shanghai for hundreds of years. It affords marvelous views across the river of the Pudong district and its numerous towers. The most famous and attractive sight which is at the west side of the Bund are the 52 various buildings of different architectural styles including Gothic, Baroque, Romanesque, Classicism and the Renaissance.

We’ll then head a little bit outside the city to go to the water township of Tongli. Tongli is over 1000 years old and has only recently been changed into a tourist attraction. The town is characterized by stone bridges and well preserved ancient architecture including private gardens, temples and houses.

15 small river lanes crisscrossed the town, over which spans around 49 stone bridges in variety of styles. Bridges are important parts of the town. The most famous bridges among the 49 bridges in Tongli are the three bridges called Taiping (peace), Jili (luck) and Changqing (celebration) bridges, which has been important landmarks of the place and regarded as the sacred architecture by the locals. Whenever there is an important occasion, such as wedding, people would like to walk through the three bridges, which is supposed to bring peace, fortune and happiness in their lives.

Buildings well preserved from the Ming and Qing Dynasties standing by the rivers fill the town. The traditional gardens are well worth seeing. The Tuisi Garden makes a good example. The garden was constructed between 1885 and 1887 by an imperial scholar. In the garden, pavilions, terraces, halls, rockeries, ponds and other elements of the garden were harmoniously integrated together. After walking along the bridges and taking a look at the historic buildings, we’ll take a cruise through Tongli’s canals, as it is the best way to experience the charms and beauty of this lush and enchanting water village.

You’ll then be taken back to your hotel in Shanghai.

Day 14 Shanghai-departure (B)

Following breakfast you will be taken to the Shanghai airport, and you will fly on to your next destination, ending your tour.