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Beijing: 4 nights - Xi'an: 3 nights - Mount Emei: 2 nights - Chengdu: 3 nights - Beijing: 1 night
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Day 1 - Welcome to Beijing
Day 2 - Forbidden City & Temple of Heaven
Welcome to Beijing, the historic capital of the People's Republic of China. This vast city is known for its atmospheric narrow alleyways, lively food markets and elaborate temples. It is dominated by the Tiananmen Square and the 15th century Forbidden Palace complex, though other notable landmarks include the futuristic Birds Nest Olympic Stadium, the sacred Temple of Heaven and the Summer Palace, set within parkland on the outskirts of the city.
You will be greeted by your guide at the airport, who will assist you with your luggage, taking a private transfer to your hotel for a four night stay.
Day 2 - Tiananmen Square, Forbidden City & Temple of Heaven
Today's tour will start from Tiananmen Square, the largest urban space in the world, from where we can orientate ourselves in the city, learn about the square's historical significance and appreciate its communist style architecture and monuments. From here, we walk into the famed Forbidden City, the former imperial palace that was home to 24 Chinese emperors from the Ming and Qing dynasties for nearly 500 years. Large sumptuously decorated palaces, gates and halls are linked by landscaped gardens, traditional pavilions and spacious courtyards, lined with typical architecture and adorned with intricate statues, marble bridges and other fascinating details.
After lunch (included) we will visit the 15th century Temple of Heaven, one of the most important in all of China. The site is a collection of over 90 buildings, the most important being the richly decorated Temple of Good Harvest, to where Ming and Qing dynasty emperors, seen as a child sent from heaven, would come each year to make a sacrifice and pray for a favourable harvest. A visit here teaches you about Dynasty era sacrificial rituals, cosmogony and philosophical beliefs, as well as giving the opportunity to appreciate ancient artwork and see locals going about their everyday lives and taking daily exercise in the surrounding parkland.
In the evening dinner is included, afterwards you will enjoy a spectacular Kung Fu show.
Day 3 - Great Wall of China
We start the day with a once-in-a-lifetime visit to one of the great wonders of the world and an enduring symbol of Chinese power. Located around 50 miles north of Beijing, Mutianyu is one of the very best preserved sections of the Great Wall, affording picture-postcard views, as the wall gently rolls over the surrounding hills.
Upon returning to Beijing, we will make a quick stop to admire and photograph the world famous Birds Nest Olympic Stadium. It is one of the finest modern arenas in the world, surprisingly full of hidden symbolism. In the evening you will enjoy a traditional duck dinner at a local restaurant.
Great Wall alternative excursions
Alternatively, there is the option to visit the wilder Jinshanling Great Wall section, which offers hiking opportunities and far fewer crowds. This is a full day tour from Beijing, so does not allow time for the stadium, instead offering a more in-depth experience of the wall.
Day 4 - Day at Leisure in Beijing
Enjoy free time to do some shopping, relax or pursue your own interests. We have a range of optional excursions and tours to complete your time. These include:
Day 5 - Bullet Train to Xi'an
Day 6 - Xi'an City Tour
Day 7 - Terracotta Army
Travel by high speed futuristic Bullet Train to the city of Xi'an, a journey time of between 4 and 5 hours. You have time at leisure to enjoy a stroll through the city in the afternoon and evening.
Day 6 - Xi'an city tour
Today, you will be shown around the ancient city and its impressive city walls. Once the starting point of the legendary Silk Road and a capital for eleven dynasties, the city has retained a great deal of its mystique and boasts an impressive array of sights, including the Great Mosque, the Muslim quarter and the traditional drum and bell towers. We will also visit the Big Goose Pagoda, built in the centre of the Dacien Temple grounds to house precious Buddhist scripts, brought back from a seventh century pilgrimage to India by Tang monk Xuanzang. The structure stands 64 metres tall and is comprised of seven stories. You can climb the inside and throw coins out of the windows for good luck.
Lunch and dinner is included today.
We begin today with a visit to the famous Terracotta Army, just outside Xi'an. 8,000 individually sculptured clay warriors, horses and archers proudly stand shoulder-to-shoulder in three large excavated pits, protecting the tomb of China's first emperor, Qin Shihuang. At first it is the sheer number that overwhelms, but on closer inspection you begin to notice the extraordinary level of detail that went in to them, with each figure seemingly sporting a different expression and hairstyle. It's not hard to imagine this as a real army in waiting, awakening at the slightest hint of danger.
Lunch is included and in the evening you will enjoy a welcome dinner of traditional Chinese dumplings, followed by the wonderful Tang show. The Tang Dynasty (618-907) is distinguished as one of the most progressive and prosperous era in the history of China. The music and dance of the era fused the culture inherited from the preceding dynasties with elements of the new and exotic cultures that came along the Silk Road. With authentic Tang musical instruments - bells, drums and zithers, the show will take you back to the Tang Dynasty, and present you the art of that golden age.
Day 8 - Transfer to Mount Emei
Day 9 - Mount Emei tour
Day 10 - Leshan Giant Buddha
Day 8 - Transfer to Mount Emei
Fly to Chendgu in the morning and be transferred three hours south to a comfortable hotel at the foot of Mount Emei. Enjoy time in the afternoon to relax or explore. Lunch and dinner are included.
Day 9 - Mount Emei
Today we will explore Mount Emei, one of four sacred Buddhist mountains in China. Many temples, monasteries and pavilions are dotted along the side of the mountain, connected by a combination of steep staircases and cable cars. There are also buses which journey up the mountain to make life easier. At Mount Emei you can explore its rich cultural heritage and understand its sacred importance in the company of an expert guide. Lunch and dinner are included.
Measuring in at 71 metres high, the 1,200 year old Buddha watches over the confluence of three rivers and looks out onto the sacred Mount Emei. We will take a boat ride to enjoy panoramic views of the Buddha and climb up the steps to come face-to-face with the Giant Buddha, for a close up view. You will then return to Chengdu and again have all meals included during the day.
Day 11 - Chengdu at leisure
Day 12 - Panda Research Center
Day 13 - Fly to Beijing
Day 14 - Return flight to UK
Chengdu is renowned for having largely maintained its traditional atmosphere, found primarily in its charming streets and old-fashioned tea houses, in the face of urban development. One of the most interesting parts of the city, and the best place to buy souvenirs, is the lively Jinli Street, lined with traditional buildings and stalls selling locally created artwork, handicrafts, paper cuts and calligraphy.
Day 12 - Panda Research Base
Of course, no visit to Chengdu would be complete without going to the nearby Panda Research Base - there is simply no better place to see these impossibly cute and highly endangered animals up close. Cleverly designed to replicate the natural bamboo habitat of the panda to encourage breeding, the centre is respected the world over for its ongoing research and conservation efforts, not just for the giant pandas, but also for red pandas and black swans.
Time at leisure in the afternoon to relax and do some shopping.
Take a morning flight to Beijing, for one extra night in the capital.
You will be transferred to the airport for your return flight to the UK.
Price guidelines for travel dates and room arrangement
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