Essence of China
Discover the true essence of China on this journey specially designed for your first visit to this magnificent country. From secret gardens in imperial palaces to perspective-changing views of towering skyscrapers, you’ll discover hidden sides to the China you’ve read about. Then, in the area surrounding the famed city of Guilin, you’ll get an intimate look at life in the countryside. The stunning landscapes you’ll discover have inspired generations of Chinese poets and painters; we’re pretty sure they’ll inspire you too.
Fall: 11th – 23rd OCT 2021
History, Cultural Immersion, Food, Must See Attractions
- Picnic on the Great Wall
- Gaze down at a life-size army of Terracotta Warriors
- Hike through the Dragon’s Backbone Rice Terraces
- Explore Shanghai with an history expert
- Bamboo Rafting
Meet your guide in the arrivals hall of the airport and transfer to your hotel in a private vehicle to check in and relax. Meet the rest of your fellow travelers at a welcome dinner and orientation session.
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. Hike up Jingshan Park for a commanding view over the Forbidden City below. Embark on a walking tour of Beijing’s historic hutong (alleyway) neighborhoods and visit a modern Beijing family’s home. Afterwards, continue strolling through the hutongs to Houhai Lake, one of Beijing’s best people-watching spots.
Drive out of Beijing (~3hrs) to the Jinshanling section of the Great Wall, a more remote stretch of both restored and ‘wild’ original Wall steeped in centuries of history. Celebrate conquering the Wall with the ultimate finish line: a picnic with champagne atop one of the great wonders of the world. Hear the stories behind China’s staple dishes on a dinner tour of old Beijing.
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. Head to Xi’an, home of the treasured Terracotta Warriors, the eastern end of the Silk Road, and a history that stretches longer than the entire length of the Great Wall. Visit the Muslim Quarter, one of the most bustling areas of modern-day Xi’an, and a veritable feast of neon signs, exotic spices, and mouth-watering barbecued fare. Settle in at 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 some dumpling art.
Catch a close-up general’s view of the Terracotta Warriors Army. Pay a visit to China’s first-ever chronological art museum, and try your hand at calligraphy and brush painting in one of the museum’s workshops. Soak in views of the ancient city within, and the modern metropolis without, as you walk on top of Xi’an’s ancient city walls.
Xi’an to Longsheng (B)
After your hotel checkout, wander the glass walkways above the excavated Hanyang Tombs before you head off to the airport. Upon touching down in Guilin, drive directly to Longsheng, home to the iconic rolling hills of terraced rice fields. Enjoy dinner overlooking the rice terraces at Li’an Lodge.
Spend the day hiking at your own pace through minority villages along the verdant, softly undulating Dragon’s Backbone Rice Terraces. Meet the locals and explore the town of Ping An, a fairytale village of wood and stone nestled among carpeted staircases of emerald green rice. Rest up after a long day of exploring.
Longsheng to Yangshuo (B)
Take in the famous karst mountains and swirling mist as you make the two hour drive to Yangshuo. Have a go at making a traditional paper fan in Fuli, the ancient hometown of this time-honored craft. Check into your hotel in Yangshuo and relax. Hit up West Street for dinner, Yangshuo’s main thoroughfare, which, despite being hugely popular among visitors, still manages to retain much of its traditional small-town charm once you’re off the central road. Enjoy the spectacle of Impression Liu Sanjie, choreographed by the mastermind behind the Beijing Olympics opening ceremony.
Enter the canvas of an ancient Chinese painting as you slip down the Yulong, a calmer tributary of the Li River, on a bamboo raft. Learn how to boil, sauté, and stir-fry your way through Guangxi’s culinary heritage in a cooking lesson set in a traditional mud-brick courtyard. Make the 20-minute climb up Wuzhi Hill to catch the sunset at one of Yangshuo’s most prized viewpoints.
Yangshuo to Shanghai (B)
On the way to the airport, stop by Daxu Old Town, once a commercial hub whose docks were a major stop-off for merchants traversing the Li River, and visit a man who transformed his residence into a museum. Our team will transfer you to the airport and help you check in for your flight to Shanghai. Upon arriving in Shanghai, your guide will meet you in the airport arrival hall with your private vehicle on standby. Enjoy the rest of the day at your leisure.
Take 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. Stroll through the elegant, tree-lined streets of the French Concession – ruled by France for almost a century until the 1940s, the boulevards of this enclave were once the domain of China’s rich and powerful, from revolutionaries to movie stars. Head to the Bund, where our history expert will bring to life the stories behind the stone.
Day Trip to Suzhou (B)
Rise early and travel to Suzhou, a verdant city which houses the lion’s share of China’s traditional Chinese Gardens. Step into the Nets and Master Garden, a compact garden designed by fengshui masters. Take your time at the Suzhou Museum, a series of cascading white stucco walls, glass panes and footbridges spun together by the illustrious I.M. Pei. Unwind on a boat-ride along the Suzhou section of the Grand Canal. Return to Shanghai.
Explore at your leisure in the morning. 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.
- Travel Protection is offered on all packages at an additional cost.