The vacation starts straight away: no waiting in taxi lines, your driver and guide will be waiting to take you to your hotel.
Two of the most iconic symbols of Beijing are the Tiananmen Square and Forbidden City. Part of the same imperial complex, they form a wonderful rhythm of buildings and open spaces. Everything is in a larger than life scale, but gets smaller as you advance into the former private quarters of the Emperor.
Beijing’s Hutongs are an essential part of any Beijing experience, as they are such ubiquitous part of the city, or perhaps one should say were, as they are rapidly disappearing. A visit to a local family gives an insight into their changing life. A rickshaw ride is a charming way to see more in shorter time here.
The Great Wall at Mutianyu is somewhat less visited, so the experience here is richer. The wall winds into the distance among the mountain peaks, and gives an idea of scale of the project in ancient times.
Lunch is taken on the way back, in a popular countryside restaurant with a delicious choice of dishes.
Temple of Heaven was one of the holiest places in ancient China, where the emperor entered once a year to sacrifice for a good harvest. The temple is part of a succession of circular structures, as round shapes symbolized heaven in ancient China.
The Summer Palace is as impressive as the rest of the imperial residences, but for slightly different reasons, as a great deal of its allure comes from the surrounding lakes and landscape.
Newer impressive architecture in the form of the Water Cube and the Bird’s Nest are admired from the outside on the way back. The expression is different, but it aims to invoke the same: awe.
After lunch a flight takes you south: Xian.
The Terracotta Soldiers and Horses are one of the most fascinating discoveries of our lifetime, and new artifacts and soldiers are still being found. The sight of the multitudes of statues is quite awe-inspiring, and to see one up close brings on a realization of how life like they are, each one unique in dress and expression.
The restaurant nearby serves very authentic and tasty Hunan and Sichuan cuisine, so we make a point of stopping there.
Big Wild Goose Pagoda from the 7th century stands in the grounds of a Buddhist temple and overlooks the city. The views from the top are worth the climb.
Xi’an was the capital of China before Beijing, and some say it is where the roots of the culture are. Shaanxi History Museum brings light also to the brilliant Silk Road connections, and the Xi’an City Wall reveals the design of a city defense system; it is the best preserved of its kind. We take you on a bicycle ride along the top of the wall, as the 14km length is too long to walk, or you can hire a rickshaw for convenience.
Qian County is famous for its Four Treasures, originating from the Tang Dynasty, and our choice of lunch spot is one of the best restaurants for these dishes. It actually draws on some ancient Tang recipes.
In the evening Shanghai awaits; your guide will take you to the airport to board the plane. If you have time, take a short stroll along the Shanghai Bund, in the evening it is truly magical.
The old trading center of Shanghai, the Bund with its collection of 19th century European style buildings, is on the opposite bank of the Huangpu River than the Shanghai World Financial Center. The latter has an observation deck with a see through floor, which at 474m (1,555 ft) above ground is quite an experience.
You lunch is old Shanghai fare, famous throughout the world especially in Chinese communities. Your guide will be on hand to guide you and help you select some dishes to your taste.
Yuyuan Garden is a hidden gem in the midst of a busy city, created in Ming Dynasty. City God Temple nearby is also from that era and still a center of religious life for local Taoists. The area is surrounded by the busy Yuyuan Market, a shopper’s paradise.
In the morning your flight to Guilin will arrive in time for lunch at a local favorite, where flavors are subtle but satisfying.
Reed Flute Cave and Elephant Trunk Hill are both formations of the famous karst mountains, the former filled with glittering stalactites and stalagmites, the latter a symbol of Guilin right at the center of the town.
Good to Know:
Our head office in located in Guilin and your travel advisor would love the chance to meet you. If you have time let them know and they either come to your hotel lobby or arrange for your guide to call in with you on route.
The karst mountain scenery is best appreciated from aboard a boat on the Li River Cruise, where the bamboo forests and dramatic peaks appear around each bend.
After arrival to Yangshuo you have some free time to explore before returning to Guilin.
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