China Cultural Heritage Tour (9-day)
- Visit Beijing, China’s most important city, which includes the Great Wall, Tian’anmen Square, and the Forbidden City
- Witness the exotic and lush beauty of Jiuzhaigouand its surrounding valleys and canyons
- Travel to the Sichuan capital of Chengdu, known for its pandas and the giant Buddha at Leshan
- Go to Shanghai for the World Expo, one of the most important and biggest spectacles in China’s modern history
B=(Breakfast) L=(lunch) D=(dinner) DEPARTURE: Daily
Day 1: Airport Transfer
When you arrive in Beijing, we will meet you and drive you to your accommodation, a 4-star hotel in the heart of Beijing, The rest of your day is up to your discretion.
Day 2: Beijing-Tian’anmen Square+Forbidden City+ Temple of Heaven +Lama Temple (B, L)
Our guide will meet you at your hotel between 7:30-800am, and from we will start our sightseeing. Our first stop is at Tian’anmen 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 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.
We will then drive to the Temple of Heaven park. The complex was visited by the Emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties for annual ceremonies of prayer to Heaven for good harvest. The Temple of Heaven park is best known for the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests, an iconic building famed for its magnificent triple-gabled circular roof. You will also have an opportunity to walk the same imperial walkway that the same emperors walked hundreds of years ago in their holy rites. You will also see Beijing’s senior citizens using the park grounds for everything from tai chi and ballroom dancing to bullwhip practice! If you’d like we can join in for their exercises, known as Tai Chi.
After visiting the Temple of Heaven we will go to visit the Lhama Temple. Other than the temples in Tibet this is the best Buddhist temple in China. Work on the Lhama Temple originally began in 1694 during the Qing dynasty. It served as an official residence for court eunuchs. It was then converted into the home of the Prince Yong, a son of the Kangxi Emperor and himself the future Yongzheng Emperor. It was converted into a lamasery after his ascension to the throne in 1722. Today the Lhama Temple still functions as a monastery and temple of the Geluk School of Tibetan Buddhism. Walking through the temple your senses will be enveloped by the incenses and the chanting of the visiting monks and other followers. The rear Pavilion of Ten Thousand Happinesses features a 26m tall statue of the Maitreya Buddha cared from a single piece of white sandalwood. It is one of three artworks in the Lhama Temple that were included in the Guiness Book of World Records, and it is not to be missed on your visit.
We will then drop you off at your hotel, and the night is up to your discretion.
Day 3: Beijing-Mutianyu Great Wall-Ming Tombs-Spirit Way-Olympic Green (B,L)
After a morning pickup at your hotel we will drive directly to the Great Wall at Mutianyu. As one of the best-preserved parts of the Great Wall, the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall used to serve as the northern barrier defending the capital and the imperial tombs. First built in the mid-6th century during the Northern Qi, Mutianyu Great Wall is older than the Badaling section of the Great Wall. In the Ming dynasty, under the supervision of General Xu Da, construction of the present wall began on the foundation of the wall of Northern Qi. In 1404, a pass was built in the wall. In 1569, the Mutianyu Great Wall was rebuilt and till today most parts of it are well preserved.
Compared with other sections of Great Wall, the Mutianyu Great Wall possesses unique characteristics in its construction. Watchtowers are densely placed along this section of the Great Wall - 22 watchtowers on this 2,250-meter-long stretch. The Mutianyu Pass consists of 3 watchtowers, one big in the center and two smaller on both sides. Standing on the same terrace, the three watchtowers are connected to each other inside and compose a rarely seen structure among all sections of Great Wall.
For the afternoon, we will make the short trip to the Ming Tombs. The Ming Tombs, about 50 km/31 miles from Beijing, are where 13 emperors of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) are buried. This site was carefully chosen for its feng shui principles by the third Ming emperor Yongle (who also moved the capital from Nanjing to Beijing and began construction on the Forbidden City). The tomb we will visit, Dingling, is the tomb of the Wanli Emperor. It is the only one of the Ming Dynasty Tombs to have been excavated. It also remains the only imperial tomb to have been excavated since the founding of the People's Republic of China, After viewing the tombs, we will head to the “Shenlu”, or the Spirit Way. The Spirit Way leads into the complex, lined with statues of guardian animals and officials, with a front gate consisting of a three-arches, painted red, and called the "Great Red Gate". The Sacred Way, starts with a huge stone memorial archway lying at the front of the area. Constructed in 1540, during the Ming Dynasty, this archway is one of the biggest stone archways in China today.
On our way back to the city we will stop off at one more sight, this one highlighting the more modern aspects of Beijing. The Olympic Green was the center of the event that captivated the world for two weeks in August of 2008. The highlights include the Bird’s Nest (officially known as the Beijing National stadium) and the Water Cube (the Beijing National Aquatics Center).
After walking the Olympic Green we will take you back to your hotel, completing the day’s travels. The night is at your discretion.
Optional: If you’d like, you can choose one of our 1 day Great Wall hiking tours and do that instead for today.
Day 4: Beijing-Jiuzhaigou Valley (by air) (B, L, D)
You will be taken to the airport, and you will catch your flight to Jiuzhaigou Valley, in Sichuan province of southwest China. On arrival at the airport, you will be met by our English-speaking guide and you will be drive to your hotel.
After stopping to freshen up we will go to the Huanglong Scenic and Resort Area, renowned as a “fairy land on earth”. Here we will see snow-clad peaks, colorful ponds, along with glaciers that are at its easternmost point in China. Along with all this is a backdrop of forest as far as the eye can see. ue to its layered calcium carbonated deposit patterns, the valley resembles a golden dragon winding its way through the virgin forest, stone mountains and glaciers. Along the valley are scattering numerous colorful ponds of different sizes and shapes, which are strewn with gold colored limestone deposit giving a shimmering golden hue to water, so in sunlight, a golden dragon seems to surge forth from the forest. Thus it was named 'Huanglong Valley' (Yellow Dragon Valley).
The region covers about 600 square kilometers (about 230 square miles), so it is immense. So we will also visit the Primitive Forest, and hike to the Rize Valley (you have the option of taking a bus between stops in our hikes). Rize Valley is known for its Mirror Lake. In the rosy dawns, the lake is as smooth as a mirror and blue sky, white clouds, the mountains far away and trees nearby can all be seen reflected in the lake.
Day 5: Jiuzhaigou National Park-Chengdu (by air) (B, L)
Our day will start with a drive to Long Lake, which is nestled at the highest point of the Zecawa Valley. Cedars all over the mountain encircle the lake. When looked at from afar, the lake is bathed in the sunshine, like the jade palace in the heaven. At the side of the lake there is an old tree, which is said to be the guardian of the lake. From there, we will hike all the way down to the Nuorilang Tourist Center. This hike will take about 2 hours, so make sure you are in the proper physical condition. Then we will press on to the last valley known as Shuzheng. t is about 14 kilometers (about nine miles) in length with over 40 lakes, representing 40% of all the lakes in Jiuzhaigou. The major scenic spots in Shuzheng Valley are Double-Dragon Lake, Bonsai Beach, Reed Lake, Spark Lake, Tiger Lake, Shuzheng Waterfall, Rhinoceros Lake, and Nuorilang Waterfall, etc.
After our hike, you will be driven to the airport, and from there you will make the short trip to Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province. Upon arrival, you will be met by one of our guides and will be taken to your 4star hotel in central Chengdu. The rest of the night is at your discretion.
Day 6: Leshan Giant Buddha (B, L)
Today’s activities will revolve around seeing the Leshan Buddha, the largest representation of Buddha in the world. We will make the 160km (100 mile ) drive in the morning.
The Leshan Giant Buddha is a statue of Maitreya (a Bodhisattva usually represented as a very stout monk with a broad smile on his face and with his naked breast and paunch exposed to view) in sitting posture. The Buddha is located to the east of Leshan City, Sichuan Province, at the confluence of three rivers, namely, Min River, Qingyi River, and Dadu River. The statue makes itself the most renowned scenic spot in Leshan City. In December, 1996, the location of the Buddha was included by UNESCO on the list of the World Heritage sites. Begun in the year 713 in the Tang Dynasty, and finished in the year 803, the statue took people more than 90 years to carve. During these years, thousands of workers had expended their efforts and wisdom on the project. As the biggest carved stone Buddha in the world, Leshan Giant Buddha is featured in poetry, song and story.
We will then drive back to Chengdu, where the night can be spent at your leisure. You might want to explore the city’s numerous traditional teahouses, or maybe partake in some Sichuan Opera.
Day 7: Panda Breeding Center-Chengdu-Shanghai (by air) (B, L)
After an early morning start, we will visit the Bifeng Gorge Base of Protection and Research, the home of some of China’s most beloved and famed natural animal, the Panda. In the May 12th 2008 Wenchuan Earthquake,the pandas suffered a crushing blow and over fifty giant pandas living in captivity became completely homeless. In order to save these national treasures, Wolong National Natural Reserve has, since May 15th, carried out an evacuation plan. Twenty-seven giant pandas were transferred in batches to Chengdu, Fuzhou and Beijng, and the rest were moved to Bifeng Gorge Base of China Panda Protection and Research Center.
The pandas are assured of healthy growth in their new home, and good news continually flows from Bifeng Gorge Base. In the morning on July 6th, 2008, the panda "Guo Guo" gave birth to the first twin cubs in the base. Guo Guo, the great panda mother, came to the base on June 24th when she was 119 days pregnant. She was really strong and brave to have these baby pandas after surviving the big earthquake, overcoming the difficulties of bumping and shaking on the long journey, and adjusting herself to the new environment. The center is divided into the giant panda breeding zone, baby giant panda care zone, research center, bamboo woods and office area.
Lunch will be at a local Sichuan restaurant. Sichuanese has long held a reputation as one of the best provincial styles of Chinese cooking. Sichuan cuisine is famed for its spicy dishes. How much will you be able to handle?
Then it is off to the airport to complete the final leg of your China adventure. You will fly to Shanghai, and will be met by one of our guides upon arrival. You’ll then be driven to a 4 star hotel located in Shanghai’s center.
Day 8: Shanghai
Today it is up to you as to what you would like to see. Shanghai is one of the world’s great cities, and there is so much to see. If you’d like, you can sign up for one of our city tours that will show you as much as Shanghai as possible in a day’s time.
You can walk on The Bund, a famous waterfront and 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.
You can also stroll through Yuyuan Garden, a famed classical garden. The garden may be small, but it contains pavilions, halls, rockeries, ponds and cloisters, and all have unique characteristics. There are six main scenic areas in the garden: Sansui Hall, Wanhua Chamber, Dianchun Hall, Huijing Hall, Yuhua Hall and the Inner Garden. Each area features several scenic spots within its borders.
Of course the highlight of Shanghai today is the ongoing World Expo, held in Shanghai from May to November of 2010. The theme of this year’s expo is “Better city-better life”. In terms of gross numbers, this year’s expo is expected to be the most visited in its history. The Shanghai Expo features the participation of over 190 countries and world organizations. In addition to 45 countries’ own pavilions showcasing their ideas on the future of cities, there are also five central theme pavilions exploring different aspects of urban life: Urban Footprints, Urban Planet, Urban Dwellers, Urban Beings, and Urban Dreams. We can help arrange for you to get tickets to this once in a lifetime opportunity, so please notify us if you’d like to attend.
Note: if you feel that your time here is too short, you have the option of extending your tour to include a trip to Suzhou, widely regarded as “China’s Venice”, or the Tongli water town, a charming little river city where you can explore its bridges, shops, homes, and streets.
Day 9: Exit Shanghai
You will be driven to Shanghai’s Pudong International Airport to catch your flight home or to your next destination, thus ending your stay in China.
Note: you have the option of extending your tour to include a trip to Hong Kong, known as the “Oriental Pearl”.
Brittany Hamachek, Palm Harbor, Fl, USA:
My friend Christa and I are from the USA. We found China Adventure Club by surfing on the web. We compared the China Adventure Club programs with a number of others. This tour was outstanding-it allowed us the most flexibility, it allowed us different places to stay and different and (delicious!) menu options, and we could arrive at a date of our choice. We had a wonderful time. It was even more than we had expected. The pandas are wonderful, and Beijing and Shanghai were two of the most interesting cities we have been to. I highly recommend China Adventure Club to anyone thinking about planning a trip to China!