China Cultural Heritage Tour (10-day)
- Visit the two biggest and most famed cities of China, Beijing and Shanghai
- Experience the most beautiful natural scenery China has to offer at Jiuzhaigou Valley and the tropical area of Zhangjiajie
- Discover the ancient customs and culture of the Miao people at Fenghuang
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.
Day 5: Jiuzhaigou (B, L, D)
After breakfast in the hotel we will head to Jiuzhaigou National Park, the showpiece of Jiuzhaigou. This park and valley is regarded by the Tibetan peoples as a holy mountain and watercourse. This valley combines blue lakes, waterfalls, forests, and mountains with peaks of snow. We will take the whole day to explore this wonderland. The park has 12 natural peaks, how many will you be able to make it to?
Day 6: Jiuzhai-Zhangjiajie (by air) (B, L)
In the morning we will you will be driven to the airport, and will make the short flight to Zhangjiajie. After stopping at your hotel to get your bearings, we will drive to the Zhangjiajie National Forest Park. The park’s natural features include caves, lakes and waterfalls. One of the most prominent spots is the Golden Whip Stream. Then we will go by chair lift to Tianzhi Mountain. The popular paths on this majestic mountain include the Yellow Dragon Spring, Teaboard Tower, Lao Wu Chang, Feng Qi Mountain, and Shi Jia Yan.
After a full day of trekking and exploring the parks and mountains, we will return to the hotel for the night.
Day 7: Zhangjiajie (B, L)
Our day starts with a hike of the Yellow Stone Stronghold (Huangshi Zhai). The Yellow Stone Stronghold rises about 800 meters (0.5 miles) above ground and is known for its overhanging cliffs and jagged rocks. The Yellow Stone Stronghold is reputed to be one of the most beautiful canyons in the world. This hike is not for the faint of heart, and can be quite challenging. Visitors will encounter unusual and beautiful sights such as Fir Forest Path, Heavenly Book and Precious Box, A Pillar Piercing the Southern Sky and Pick Star Platform.
The hike will take most of the day, and we will return to the hotel later that afternoon. You are free to use that night to explore the city at your own pace.
Day 8: Zhangjiajie-Fenghuang town (B, L)
Today we will make the drive to the old town of Fenghuang, which is on the Yangtze River. Fenghuan is a bastion of the shrinking Miao minority peoples, and is a perfect place to sample its culture and customs. The most distinctive feature of Fenghuang Town are the Diaojiao which project over the river, and also the special clothing and cultural styles you will see and feel within the town. When exploring the city, you will also see women washing clothes beside the river and the local people carrying bamboo baskets on their backs. We will be able to stroll along the old village houses in the town. This is a bout as authentic experience you can have in China!
That night we will stay in a hostel. You can spend the night to wander about the town some more at your own leisure.
Day 9: Fenghuang Town-Zhangjiajie-Shanghia (by air) (B)
We will begin the day boating on the Tuojiang River, floating along the old city wall, and then head to the East City Gate Tower. East Gate City Tower is one of four city gates in the town. It stands at a height of 11 meters, and has the appropriate touch of magnificence that an entrance to this city should have.
We will then have the opportunity to sample some of the local Miao cuisine (spicy!) and to go to the town market for some traditional crafts and supplies. Afterwards we will make the drive back to Zhangjiajie to prepare for your flight to Shanghai.
You will be driven to the airport, and catch your flight to Shanghai, and when you arrive you will be met by one of our guides and taken to your 4 star hotel, located in central Shanghai. The night is at your discretion.
Day 10: Shanghai (Zhujiajiao Water Town or Suzhou)-exit Shanghai
Today you have two options when in Shanghai You can either make the short trip to the Zhujiajiao Water Town, or to go to Suzhou, a city known for its beautiful canals and classical gardens:
Located in a suburb of Shanghai city, Zhujiajiao is an ancient water town well known throughout the country, with a history of more than 1700 years. The little fan-shaped town glimmers like a bright pearl in the landscape of lakes and mountains.
Endowed with another elegant name - 'Pearl Stream' - the little town is the best preserved among the four ancient towns in Shanghai. Unique old bridges across bubbling streams, small rivers shaded by willow trees, and houses with courtyards attached all transport people who have been living amidst the bustle and hustle of the modern big city to a brand-new world full of antiquity, leisure and tranquility.
The unique characteristics of the past are still retained in present-day Suzhou. The double-chessboard layout of Suzhou, with 'the streets and rivers go side by side while the water and land routes run in parallel', are preserved basically intact. Strolling the streets, you can feel the unique lingering charm of this landscape left by its long history.
As the saying goes - 'Gardens to the south of Yangtze River are the best in the world, and Suzhou gardens are the best among them'. These gardens attain their high reputation not only for their vast numbers, but also for their charming natural beauty and harmonious construction. At present more than 60 gardens are kept intact in Suzhou, and a series of them have been listed in the World Heritage List, including the Humble Administrator's Garden, the Lingering Garden, the Garden of Master of Nets and the Mountain Villa with Embracing Beauty.
After going on your day’s excursion, you will then be driven to Shanghai’s Pudong International Airport, where you will catch our flight home or to your next destination, ending your voyage through China.
Linda Gerena, New York City, USA:
My tour across China was simply splendid. What I loved about it was how it allowed me to experience so many different aspects of China culture and life. My favorite parts were the Pandas in Chengdu and the scenery at Jiuzhaigou and Zhangjiajie. It really was like something out of Avatar! Getting to visit the small village of Fenghuang was a nice contrast with Shanghai, which I also really enjoyed. This was a long trip, and I want to thank you for organizing it for me, it really made my life a lot easier. I plan on making another trip to China, and when I do, I’ll be sure to get in touch with you!