If you are interested in culture and have a special affinity to religious art, this tour gives you a chance to see the best of both and the classic sights as well. The major Buddhist and Confucian centers, Shaolin Temple and Mount Tai, are some of the religious wonders of China, whereas the Great Wall, the Forbidden City, Terracotta Warriors and the best museums in Shaanxi bring in the cultural viewpoint.
You can get on a relaxed mood as soon as you arrive; your guide and driver will be waiting and ready to take you to the hotel.
The Great Wall in Mutianyu is famous for having the most watchtowers, but not so crowded as many other parts; yet for convenience there is a cable car to take you to the top.
The Temple of Heaven is a magnificent complex of unique circular buildings, designed to please the heavens with an annual sacrifice performed here by every dynasties emperors. The surrounding parkland is thick with ancient pine trees, adding to the mysterious atmosphere.
Nowhere was Chinese art patronage more concentrated than in Beijing. Tiananmen Square has two magnificent gates intricately decorated in Ming Dynasty style, and the same theme continues into the Forbidden City. The rich symbolism through the arts is intimately connected with the culture,it can be seen everywhere in the former palace, and in the precious artifacts displayed in the Treasure Houses. Your guide will make sure you get the most out of the experience.
A Hutong Tour is a chance to see a world fast changing and disappearing; the narrow alleyways lined with old trees leading to traditional courtyard houses. Your visit to a local family gives you a rare insight into life here.
The Summer Palace was the Imperial families' favorite relaxing place, with pavilions and theaters in a beautiful landscape by a lake. It is still a delight to eyes, and a calm place to have a leisurely walk; except at weekends when local families arrive to have picnics.
In the afternoon a train ride takes you to Jinan, where you will be met by the local guide.
This morning your private car takes you up to Mount Tai, the first among the holy Buddhist Mountains with stone steps leading through magnificent gates to temples and shrines. It was believed to be the entrance to heaven and therefore a site for rituals and sacrifices by the Emperors. There is a cable car ride to ascend to Nantianmen, where you can see the mountain from bird's eye view.
Dai Temple at the foot of Mount Tai is where the God of the Mountain was worshipped. It is a smaller scale copy of the Imperial Palace in Beijing, or Forbidden City as it is also called. Afterwards, your journey continues to Qufu.
Qufu is the birthplace of Confucious, and the home of the famous Three Confucians, or Confucian Sites. Confucius Temple was originally his home, consecrated as a temple soon after his death. Confucian Mansion was then built for his direct descendants, who were bestowed favor and even imperial princesses as wives, and had the largest private estate in China in their time. Confucian Family Graveyard has a 2300 year history and has Confucious' grave among others.
In the afternoon you will return to Jinan in the comfort of your own vehicle.
Daming Lake has been the subject of poems for 1,500 years due to its scenery, and still is a beautiful place to have a stroll. Baotu Spring Park in built around some of the springs that keep the lake's water clear all year round; the delicate pavilions and flowering trees make it a refreshing place to stroll.
After dinner you will board a train to Zhengzhou, where on your late arrival you will be met at the station and taken directly to the hotel.
Anyang was the last Bronze Age capital of the mysterious Shang Dynasty, also called Yin Dynasty. Yin Xu Museum displays the finds from excavations; especially interesting are the oracle bones which explain the cultural and religious practices of the time.
Shaolin Temple has been the subject of legends and mystery for centuries, and the home of martial arts. The monks display their prowess during the shows in a small theater on the temple grounds. Pagoda Forest is a densely packed memorial place; each pagoda commemorates an accomplished master of Shaolin.
This day is dedicated for lessons in learning the basic techniques of Kungfu in Shaolin Temples.
Longmen Grottoes, carved into the limestone banks of Yi River, are a marvelous art gallery in beautiful natural surroundings. The styles of the statues change through the centuries, ending at Tang Dynasty elegant carvings.
White Horse Temple is considered to be the cradle of Chinese Buddhism; its history stretches over 2,000 years, although the buildings are mainly from Ming Dynasty. Guanlin Wholesale Market on the way back is an interesting experience of a true countryside market, where villagers come for their goods.
Xi'an City Wall is a stunning place to get an overview of the old part of town. You have a chance to circumnavigate the whole 14km circuit by bike, but there are also rickshaws available. If it rains, going to see the Bell Tower is an alternative.
Good to Know:
If you're not up for the whole ride that's fine also, you guide can take you to the most interesting parts.
Shaanxi History Museum has a collection of finest artifacts found in the province, including remarkable Tang Dynasty murals. This area was the center of China and a capital during the first 13 dynasties, so the exhibitions tell of the development of a nation as well.
The Terracotta Warriors and Horses are the most stunning archeological find in a single location. It is not only culturally important to understand warfare but also an artistically unique creation of production line combined with unique detailing added to each soldier as final touches. In short, it is a marvel.
Big Wild Goose Pagoda was built on the 7th century to house Buddhist relics, and is still a very elegant structure despite the wear from hundreds of years of visitors and pilgrims.
Your morning flight takes you to Shanghai, and to explore its two most famous streets: Nanjing Road, the shoppers' heaven with all its glamorous shops, and the Bund, an elegant promenade and architectural show room in one. Make sure you stay in the area until after dark; it is particularly charming in the evenings.
Yuyuan Garden is a wonderful example of Ming Dynasty design, built by an official after his retirement and then lost in a card game by his son. Jade Buddha Temple is named after two priceless white jade statues decorated with precious stones.
Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Hall showcases the proud city of the future, whereas the Shanghai World Financial Center lets you admire the present cityscape from 474m above ground on its observation deck.
Your guide will come to pick you up at an agreed time; if your flight leaves later in the day, just let the travel advisor know and we will take it into account in making plans with you. We hope you enjoyed traveling the China Highlights way, which is all about ‘Discovery Your Way!'.