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China’s Giants: Of Palaces and Pandas

Embark on a journey through China’s history, culture, and natural beauty. Wander through Beijing’s imperial landmarks, examine ancient relics in Xi’an, and admire pandas in Chengdu before rounding off your travels in the glittery Shanghai. Along the way, walk upon the Great Wall, explore Xi’an’s Muslim Quarter, taste the famous spiciness of Sichuan cuisine, and enjoy a bird’s-eye view of Shanghai from a Pudong skyscraper. Experience a colorful overview of the fabric of this 5,000-year-old country as you visit China’s palaces and pandas.

Spring: 16th – 27th MAR 2021 / 13th – 24th APR 2021
Summer: 11th – 22nd MAY 2021

History, Cultural Immersion, Nature & Wildlife, Must See Attractions

  • Share stories and tea with residents of Beijing’s ancient neighborhoods
  • Experience daily life in the Hutongs
  • Visit the Terracotta Warriors
  • Be led by a curator through Shanghai museum’s world-class exhibits
  • Help rehabilitate pandas as a volunteer at Dujiangyan Panda Base
Day 1
Arrival Beijing

Arrive in Beijing and rest up for your adventures to come

Day 2
Beijing (B)

In the morning, step inside the Forbidden City, a massive imperial palace once home to China’s emperors and the geographic center of Beijing’s metropolis. Embark on a walking tour of Beijing’s historic hutong (alleyway) neighborhoods with history expert and visit a modern Beijing family’s hutong home.

Day 3
Beijing (B)

Head to the stunning Ming Dynasty Great Wall ruins outside Beijing, from which lonely guards far from home once kept a weary watch over the barbarian lands beyond. After conquering the wall, live an afternoon of royal splendor at the Summer Palace, whose regal pathways and pavilions were built by the Empress Dowager Cixi, a former concubine who went on to become one of the most powerful women in China

Day 4
Beijing to Xi’an (B)

In the early morning light of the ancient Temple of Heaven, a tai chi master will take you on a spiritual and physical journey through an equally ancient Chinese tradition. All aboard your bullet train to Xi’an, home of the treasured Terracotta Warriors, the eastern end of the Silk Road, and a history that stretches longer than the Great Wall. Upon arriving in Xi’an, enjoy the night to explore at your leisure.

Day 5
Xi’an (B)

Join an expert at Louguantai Giant Panda Breeding Center for exclusive access to see the cuddliest of national icons, the giant pandas, before meeting the people who work tirelessly to protect this delicate species. Visit the temple where Taoism was created, where Laozi wrote the famous Dao De Jing, and where he lectured its principles to Taoism’s first followers. End your day at Qinling National Botanical Garden, the largest botanical garden in the world and an oasis of scientific research that stretches from 460 meters to 3,000 meters above sea level.

Day 6
Xi’an (B)

The Terracotta Warriors are often billed as the greatest archaeological find of the 20th century, but it is the details as much as the massive scale of the discovery that makes the find so incredible – learn all about it in a fascinating talk from an archaeology and Terracotta Warriors expert. Soak in views of the ancient city within, and the modern metropolis without, as you cycle atop Xi’an’s ancient city walls. Visit the Muslim Quarter, one of the most bustling areas of modern-day Xi’an, and a sensory feast of neon signs, exotic spices, and mouth-watering barbecued fare. Head to Xi’an’s most popular dumpling joint, where hand-pinched dough parcels of ground meat and vegetables are crafted into all shapes and sizes, from walnuts to roses, before having a go for yourself at making scrumptious dumpling art.

Day 7
Xi’an to Chengdu (B)

All aboard your train to Chengdu, the cosmopolitan economic hub of Southwestern China. Get lost in the giant tableaux of Chinese culture that is People’s Park, a cultural playground of rock gardens, lakes, and century-old teahouses. Rub shoulders with locals in Kuan Zhai Alleyway’s quirky lanes, where Qing Dynasty buildings play host to some of Chengdu’s best coffee shops, bars, galleries, and boutiques. Marvel at the mystery-shrouded Sichuan Opera, full of face-changing, acrobatics, comedy, and vivid characters as you luxuriate in your VIP seats.

Day 8
Chengdu (B)

About an hour and a half outside of Chengdu, Dujiangyan Panda Base’s bamboo-covered hills replicate the iconic animal’s natural habitat in order to prepare the pandas for their eventual return to life in the wild. Play your part as a volunteer, feeding the pandas, cleaning their cages, and sharing lunch (and questions) with the panda-base staff. Punctuate your day with spectacular views of lush green hills rolling into the horizon atop Qingcheng Mountain.

Day 9
Chengdu to Shanghai (B)

Before your flight to Shanghai, uncover the treasures of the lost city of Jinsha, so unlike other artifacts of the time that rumors began to spread of alien involvement. Take off to Shanghai, a backwater fishing village turned major international metropolis. In Shanghai, take the evening to relax or explore as you please.

Day 10
Shanghai (B)

Stroll through the elegant, tree-lined streets of the French Concession, whose boulevards were once the domain of China’s rich and powerful, revolutionaries and movie stars. Feel the creative pulse of Tianzifang’s quirky and cultural network of boutique shops and galleries. Learn how 3,000-year-old bronze wine vessels can be poured using just one hand, or why ancient history was recorded inside cooking pots as a museum curator leads you through Shanghai Museum’s world-class exhibitions.

Day 11
Shanghai (B)

Revel in some of China’s best people-watching opportunities at Fuxing Park, once a private Ming Dynasty park that is now the beating heart of Shanghai’s local life. Find yourself a world far away from skyscrapers and bullet trains as you stroll through Yuyuan Garden’s pavilions and bridges, rockeries and teahouses. Ascend the superlative-laden Shanghai Tower as you ride the world’s fastest elevator, to the world’s highest observation deck, in China’s tallest building, overlooking one of the planet’s largest cities. Head to the Bund, where a history expert will bring to life the stories behind the stone, from the 1927 customs house that tried to imitate Big Ben to a bank that was one of the first buildings in Asia to feature marble in its interior design.

Day 12
Depart from Shanghai

Your guide will escort you to the airport and help you check in for your flight home.

  • Meet and greet on arrival at Airport.
  • Accommodation and meals as indicated in the itinerary (B – Breakfast, L – Lunch, D – Dinner).
  • Entrance fees where applicable.
  • Tours as indicated in the itinerary.
  • Professional English-speaking guide/driver guide.
  • Transfers
  • Travel Protection is offered on all packages at an additional cost.