|14 Day China's Best Treasures (2009)|
|Day 1: Depart USA|
Board Air China nonstop flight to Beijing. En route, cross the International Date Line. (IM)
Day 2: Beijing
Arrive in Beijing in the afternoon. Meet your local representative and transfer to your hotel. Relax and enjoy the evening in China's historic and vibrant capital city. Beijing Jianguo Garden Hotel
Day 3: Beijing
Tour Beijing's imperial treasures. First, Tiananmen Square, the largest public square in the world, capable of holding a million people. Stroll across its vast expanse. An assortment of historical buildings, Communist monuments and huge museums, including Chairman Mao's Mausoleum, the Monument to the People's Heroes, and the Great Hall of the People - home of the National People's Congress, flank the Square. Walk through the Gate of Heavenly Peace, under the famed portrait of Chairman Mao, to enter the Forbidden City, a 9,999-room compound, where the 24 emperors of the Ming and the Qing Dynasties ruled the Middle Kingdom for nearly 500 years (1420-1911). Experience the architectural splendor of the palaces, ceremonial courtyards and private quarters. Lunch at a local restaurant. Then visit the Giant Panda at Beijing Zoo. In the afternoon tour the idyllic Summer Palace, with its sprawling encampment of temples, pavilions, the marble boat, and the 728-yard Long Corridor. Enjoy a boat ride on Kunming Lake. (B,L,D)
Day 4: Beijing
In the morning, you visit the Temple of Heaven; this remarkable building is considered the supreme achievement of traditional Chinese architecture. During each winter solstice, the Ming and Qing emperors would perform rites and make sacrifices to Heaven praying for good harvest for their empire. The most striking edifice is the "Hall of Prayer of Good Harvests", which according to the emperor's Fengshui masters, is the exact point where heaven and Earth met. Built in 1420, this masterpiece of Ming architecture, features triple eaves, dramatically carved marble balustrades, and gorgeous glazed azure roof that symbolizes the color of heaven. Built without a single nails, this 120-foot-high structure is fixed by four inner pillars represent the seasons, and two sets of 12 columns denote the months and the traditional Chinese division of a day. Later you visit the "Bird's Nest" and Water Cube, the main 2008 Beijing Olympics venues.
Afterwards, you take a scenic drive through the countryside to reach China's most renowned monument - the Great Wall. The 'original' wall was begun in the 5th century BC to keep out foreign invaders. Construction continued for centuries, eventually linking up the walls of the former independent kingdoms. The Great Wall meanders through China's northern mountain ranges from the Yellow Sea to the Gobi Desert - a distance of over 3500 miles! Chairman Mao once said "You haven't walked on the Wall, you haven't been a good Chinese". Today you will have ample time to climb a section of the Great Wall and to get a sense of the enormity of this ancient edifice. In the evening, savor a specially prepared meal of Beijing Duck, cooked to crispy perfection.
Day 5: Xian
Join our Culture InSitesT Program and experience the world of Beijing's Hutongs, via rickshaw. This network of courtyard homes and narrow lanes traditionally linked the old city. Tour the maze-like alleyways and neighborhood residences. See the locals as they go about their daily activities. Highlights include visits to a local kindergarten, to the 800-year-old Drum Tower and to a traditional courtyard style home. This unique tour concludes with a meal served at the home of a local family. After lunch transfer to the airport for a flight to Xian, an ancient capital and the historic gateway to the Silk Road. Xian was the capital of the Middle Kingdom for 11 dynasties. In a time when ancient Beijing was just a remote trading post, Xian was the capital of China and one of the world's largest and richest cities, with a population exceeding one million in the 10th century. Meet your local representative and transfer to your hotel. Enjoy your evening at leisure. Xian Titan Times Hotel (B,L,D)
Day 6: Xian
Today's excursion will take you to modern China's greatest archaeological discovery - The Terra Cotta Warriors and Horses, which silently guarded the tomb of China's First Emperor for over 2,200 years. In 1974, a local farmer uncovered the first of three massive earth and timber vaults, while digging a well. The extensive excavation, still in progress, has yielded over 6000 life-sized terra cotta warriors, each individually sculpted, with the physical characteristics of the humans they were modeled after. Archers, infantrymen, horses and bronze chariots have also been unearthed. A Circle Vision documentary is available on site. Lunch at a local restaurant and see a noodle making demonstration. Later you take a walk through one of Xian's most fascinating areas - the Muslim quarter, to the 7th century Great Mosque. Stand in four beautiful courtyards of ancient trees, ornate arches and stone steles, the Mosque is the center of life for the Muslim community - the descendants of the merchants that ferried the religion into China along the ancient Silk Road. Tour the lovely and unusual area with bustling stalls and enjoy some of the best street food in China. Tang Dynasty (AD 618-907), traditionally regarded as the golden age of China, was a time of patricians and intellectuals, Buddhist monks and Taoist priests, poetry and music, song and dance - a period of peace and exceptional creativity lasting 300 years. This evening, you attend a feast of culinary and cultural delights with a special Dumpling (dim sum) banquet followed by a fascinating Tang Dynasty stage show. Indulge yourself in this remarkable show and reinvent your China dream with a travel back in time to the world of China's Golden Age, then come back to the present with a greater understanding of this amazing time. (B,L,SD)
Day 7: Guilin
This morning, tour the Wild Goose Pagoda, a Tang Dynasty landmark. This seven-story pagoda was initially constructed in 652 AD to house the Buddhist sutras brought back from India by the monk, Xuan Zang, who later translated them into Chinese. His pilgrimage to India is immortalized in the Chinese classic - The Journey to the West.
Today's Culture InSitesT Program will offer you a rare opportunity to witness a real rural life at a typical village in central China. You visit a rural primary school and mingle with students and faculties at their classroom. Later, you stop at a "Yao Dong" (Literally an arched tunnel) - a typical cave dwellings that stretches across six provinces in north central China. The "Yao Dong" is caves dug into mountainsides with a signature arched front. Usually, one family unit consists of three arched openings, and the units are interconnected inside. The center cave can be termed the "living room," which includes a stovetop cooking area. The two side caves are sleeping quarters. Outside of the cities of this region, some 90% of the rural population live in yaodongs.
In the late afternoon, you fly to Guilin and indulge yourself in China's most amazing natural landscapes. Guilin is celebrated for its picturesque karst limestone pinnacles and meandering Li River. An old Chinese saying describes Guilin's landscape as "the best scenery under heaven". Its misty limestone peaks "rise as suddenly from the earth as trees in a forest, and surrounding the city like mountains floating in an imaginary sea". Meet your local representative and transfer to your hotel in the heart of the city. Your hotel is located at the foot of Mount Laoren and surrounded by Osmanthus Lake, which is then connected by Guilin's three major rivers to all five lakes in the area. At night, the hotel is lit up and spectacular views are reflected on the Lake Osmanthus. It's a place for relaxation and also offers a perfect escapade after one week of group travel.
Guilin Park Hotel (B,L,D)
Day 8: Long Sheng
This part of the country encompasses China's most famous scenic landscapes. Before discovering the best treasures Guilin has to offer, we start an off-the-beaten-path hiking tour to Long Sheng's spectacular Dragon Spine Rice Terraces.
Over the centuries, the Zhuang and Yi minorities have sculpted 2,000 feet peaks with remarkable step-like terraces for growing rice in the hilly areas of Southwest China. This transformation over time has created landscapes of utility as well as immense beauty. In Spring, when the terraces are full of water, they resemble irregular silver ladders; and in autumn, when the rice ripens, the mountains turn into golden waves.
Visit the unique culture of local minorities and their villages where life has remained unchanged for thousands of years! we are able to hike between the villages following tiny stone paths carved out by the local people. This memorable journey is rarely included in the conventional itinerary.
Return to Guilin in the afternoon and tour the Reed Flute Cave, Nature's subterranean wonder filled with stalactites and stalagmites. The grand chamber known as the Crystal Palace, is an awesome spectacle, not to be missed.
Day 9: Li River Cruise - Yangshuo
A beautiful day waits! You take a scenic motor coach ride through the countryside, past lush green fields and rice paddies. Arrive at a local village and embark on a memorable Li River cruise. The 52-mile trip has countless twists and turns. The scenery is reminiscent of classical Chinese landscapes - bamboo groves, sleepy villages, fishermen on bamboo rafts, cormorants, water buffalo, soaring karst pinnacles and mist shrouded peaks... your cruise concludes at the famed Yangshuo, a small town, amidst a haunting and surreal setting.
Upon arrival, check into your hotel and enjoy a free afternoon to explore this fascinating town on your own. You may rent a tuk-tuk to visit local farmers' fields and homes, or take a bicycle to the Moon Hill. Yangshuos landscape of limestone hills, rice fields and lazy rivers is the very image of rural China. Taking a bike through this much-painted landscape provides a great way to experience the dramatic countryside, ancient villages and bustling local markets in a very personal way.
Tonight, you may attend an optional singing & lighting show "Liu Sa Jie" which was directed by Zhang Yimou who also choreographed the opening ceremony of 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Yangshuo Sovereign Hotel (B,L)
Day 10: Guilin - Suzhou
Take a morning flight to Shanghai, then travel by deluxe motorcoach to the fabled water town of Suzhou. Suzhou is often referred, by the Chinese, as the "Venice of the East". It is a 2,500-year-old city renowned the world over for its traditional gardens, ancient canals and silk worm production. In 1997 Suzhou was designated an UNESCO World Heritage Site. The construction of the Grand Canal created a means whereby goods from this region could be transported to the Northern capital, Beijing, a distance of over 600 miles. With prosperity came prestige as merchants and artisans plied their trade. Elaborate gardens were built. Visit the Garden of the Master of Fishing Nets, and experience all of the elements of a classical Chinese garden. In the afternoon, tour the Silk Spinning Mill, where you will learn how silk is created from the mulberry-munching silkworms to produce thread and fine cloth. Marco Polo once reported that so much precious silk was produced in Suzhou that every citizen was clothed in it. Enjoy the evening at your leisure. Your hotel, the Suzhou Nanlin is centrally located in the quaint old city, within walking distance of art studios, silk shops, tea houses and handicraft stores. Suzhou Nanlin Hotel (B,L,D)
Day 11: Tongli - Shanghai
Today, you will travel to Tongli, another unique water village, in the region. Reminiscent of scenes from traditional Chinese paintings, it is complete with canals, arched stone bridges, cobbled lanes, and tile-roofed wooden houses. Visit a courtyard mansion to learn about the lavish life style of its residents. Then, learn about traditional Chinese wedding customs at a local folklore museum. Take an exciting ride on a gondola and experience the charm of Tongli's waterways. You will have free time to browse and buy some local specialties along Old Street, which is lined with Ming style homes and storefronts. Later, you travel to Shanghai, China's financial and artistic center, and enjoy your evening at leisure. Shanghai Crowne Plaza Hotel (B,L,D)
Day 12: Shanghai
Walk along the Bund, the elegant riverside promenade which symbolized European and foreign influence and affluence in the 1930s. See the ships and barges on the Huangpu River, enroute to the sea or going upstream to the interior of China. The modernistic Oriental Pearl TV Tower looms in the background, redefining the skyline. Then visit the futurist Pudong area. Transformed from once fertile farmland, this new area, is rapidly becoming the symbol of modern China with its world class hotels, international financial institutions, and commercial centers. Enjoy a stunning view of Shanghai from the 88th floor of the Jinmao Tower, the tallest building in China. At 1,380 feet, it is the world's third tallest building, as well as home to the world's tallest hotel, the Grand Hyatt Shanghai. Enjoy a traditional Mongolian BBQ Buffet lunch. In the afternoon, visit the architectural inspiring Shanghai Museum, with its 120,000 piece collection of ancient Chinese relics. The priceless collection includes jade, bronze, ceramics, paintings and furniture, etc. After dinner, attend an unforgettable performance of the Shanghai Acrobats. (B,SL,D)
Day 13: Shanghai
Today is a free day to explore this vibrant city on your own. You will be provided with a specially prepared orientation list. You can stroll through the Old Shanghai bazaar, shop at Nanjing Road's emporiums, or enjoy a nostalgic evening performance by the renowned senior citizen's Jazz band at the Peace Hotel. (B)
Day 14: Journey home
After breakfast, board the Maglev, the world's fastest magnetic levitation train, for your trip to the Pudong International Airport. The Maglev travels at a speed of 287mph and will cover the 20 mile distance in less than 8 minutes! * Maglev is available for San Francisco departures only. (B)
|Departures & Fares||Click fare to reserve|
|Departure - Return||San Francisco|
|Contact us if you need a roommate|
|01/10/2009 - 01/23/2009||$460|
|01/24/2009 - 02/06/2009||$460|
|02/07/2009 - 02/20/2009||$460|
|02/21/2009 - 03/06/2009||$460|
|03/07/2009 - 03/20/2009||$460|
|03/14/2009 - 03/27/2009||$460|
|03/21/2009 - 04/03/2009||$460|
|03/28/2009 - 04/10/2009||$460|
|04/04/2009 - 04/17/2009||$460|
|0411/2009 - 04/24/2009||$460|
|04/18/2009 - 05/01/2009||$460|
|04/25/2009 - 05/08/2009||$460|
|05/02/2009 - 05/15/2009||$460|
|05/09/2009 - 05/22/2009||$460|
|05/16/2009 - 05/29/2009||$460|
|05/23/2009 - 06/05/2009||$460|
|05/30/2009 - 06/12/2009||$460|
|06/06/2009 - 06/19/2009||$460|
|06/13/2009 - 06/26/2009||$460|
|06/20/2009 - 07/03/2009||$460|
|06/27/2009 - 07/10/2009||$460|
|07/04/2009 - 07/17/2009||$460|
|07/11/2009 - 07/24/2009||$460|
|07/18/2009 - 07/31/2009||$460|
|07/24/2009 - 08/07/2009||$460|
|08/01/2009 - 08/14/2009||$460|
|08/08/2009 - 08/21/2009||$460|
|08/15/2009 - 08/28/2009||$460|
|08/22/2009 - 09/04/2009||$460|
|08/29/2009 - 09/11/2009||$460|
|09/05/2009 - 09/18/2009||$460|
|09/12/2009 - 09/25/2009||$460|
|09/19/2009 - 10/02/2009||$460|
|09/26/2009 - 10/09/2009||$460|
|10/03/2009 - 10/16/2009||$460|
|10/10/2009 - 10/23/2009||$460|
|10/17/2009 - 10/30/2009||$460|
|10/24/2009 - 11/06/2009||$460|
|10/31/2009 - 11/13/2009||$460|
|11/07/2009 - 11/20/2009||$460|
|11/14/2009 - 11/27/2009||$460|
|12/05/2009 - 12/18/2009||$460|
|12/19/2009 - 01/01/2009||$460|
*Prices reflect early booking discount of $200 per person on
select dates if you book by Oct. 31, 2008.
$200 deposit is required to
secure a reservation and payable by a credit card or personal
check. It makes no difference on the method of payment as
for the initial deposit. To take advantage of the cash discount
rate, you should pay the balance by personal check or money
order 50 days prior to departure date.
Rates are in U.S. fund, per person, based on double occupancy.
U.S.A. & China air taxes/fees and China visa handling fee
are extra. International air transportation is included except
for Land only package. Land Only Package includes all China
internal flights and transportation except for international
flights and airport/hotel transfers on arrival/departure date.
U.S.A. & China air taxes and fees: SFO: $530, JFK: $570, China Land Only: $115.
China Single Entry Visa handling fee: $150