Karma Trekkers China II itinerary - East Tours

 
 

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Day 1 Fly to BEIJING

Fly from US to Beijing, China (Flight details to be ascertained).

 


Day 2 ARRIVE BEIJING

Welcome to Beijing! Arrive at Beijing International Airport. Clear Chinese immigration/customs. Airport reception/ private transfer to your hotel.

 

Accommodation in Beijing:

Regent Beijing (5-star, superior location and service).

 


Day 3  BEIJING
B,L,D

AM: Private escorted excursion to Tiananmen Square (Gate of Heavenly Peace). Its historical tragedies make many western travelers distance Tiananmen from its translation, ‘Gate of Heavenly Peace.’ However, upon actually being there and getting a feel for its historical and political importance, people change their impression of this ‘infamous’ place. This is the world’s largest public square and represents the heart of imperial and ‘tourist’ Beijing. Continue your day by visiting Imperial Palace Museum (former Forbidden City). This architectural marvel was completed in 1420 after 14 years of hard work by 200,000 laborers, and fortunately, it is still the best-preserved collection of ancient buildings in China. It was the symbol of imperial power for over 500 years and was the home of 24 emperors from the Ming and Qing Dynasties. Seeing the beauty of the palace is not enough; in order to appreciate it on a deeper level, you must learn about the ideas of design, the fengshui, and the legends of the imperial families. Imperial Lunch will be served in the famous Fangshan Restaurant inside the scenic Beihai Park.

 

PM: Private guided walking/biking/pedi-cab tour to Houhai District near the Forbidden City, an old neighborhood with well-preserved Chinese courtyard housing and ancient back alleys and passageways known as Hutongs. There will also be an opportunity for a private in-home visit with Chinese families in their ‘courtyard condo’ homes. Afterward, visit Liulichang Art Market.

 

EVENING: Welcome Peking Duck Banquet Dinner in Quanjude Duck House. This is the most famous historic restaurant and is the best place to enjoy authentic crispy duck that’s fresh from the coal oven. The chef will carve and serve the duck right at the table for you to enjoy.

 


Day 4  BEIJING
B,L,D

AM: Visit Temple of Heaven (Tiantan Park). This perfect example of Ming architecture was built in the 15th century. It was considered sacred ground where many of the emperors, as Sons of Heaven, performed major religious harvest ceremonies. Try the Whispering Wall.

 

PM: Private escorted tour to Mutianyu Great Wall. The construction of the Great Wall (Changcheng) started in the 7th century BC during the Qin Dynasty, making the Great Wall over 2,500 years old. The Mutianyu section is approximately 42 miles northeast of the city center. It is quite well preserved and winds over 1.6 miles with 23 watchtowers. The construction of this section started during China’s Northern Dynasties (during Qi, in 6th century after Tang), but it was restored to its current status in the Ming Dynasty. Many consider this section to be the most scenic. You will take a cable car up to the mountain, followed by some serious hiking if interested.

 

EVENING: Enjoy a Peking Opera performance at Laoshe Tea House. Performance accompanied by Kungfu Tea (www.laosheteahouse.com/).

 


Day 5  BEIJING/ XI’AN
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AM: Visit Yihe Yuan (former Imperial Summer Palace). In 1888, Qing’s most powerful Empress Cixi (Dowager) diverted 30 million silver dollars from the Chinese North Ocean Navy to construct Summer Palace as a gift for herself for her 60th birthday. She ordered the builders to imitate the West Lake of Hangzhou and the gardens in Suzhou and absorb the beauty into the creation of Yihe Yuan- Garden of Spirit and Harmony, or the Summer Palace, as most people know it. The garden was almost completely destroyed during the Eight Power Allied Troops’ invasion of Beijing in 1900. Upon Cixi’s return to Beijing from Xi’an, she ordered the garden to be rebuilt. Historical records show that Cixi rebuilt the Summer Palace with unbounded extravagance; the spending is equivalent to US$400,000 per day. You can still see how luxurious it is even now. Since this palace was for summer holiday use, the emphasis was on its cooling features, such as a natural underground stone cooler. Stroll along the Long Corridor, which is decorated with a beautiful painted ceiling. Each painting has a historic legend. You will see the famous White Marble Boat and can enjoy a dragon boat ride on Kunming Lake (a replica of West Lake).

 

PM: Private transfer to the airport to fly Beijing to Xi’an. Private escorted tour by car and on foot to Xi’an’s Tang Dynasty sites: South Gate, Ancient Walled City and Bell Tower. Xi’an used to be called “Chang’an,” and was the capital of the Tang Dynasty. In Chinese, Chang'an means “forever-lasting peace and prosperity.” It was also the ancient capital for eleven other Chinese dynasties. During the Tang Golden Age in the 10th Century, Chang’an was one of the largest and most cosmopolitan cities on earth, and was eight times larger than Xi’an is now. After the walking tour, you will be escorted to Sha’anxi History Museum featuring the glorious Tang Dynasty. This museum is one of the world’s greatest repositories of Tang Dynasty ceramics, painting, and textiles. Another Tang Dynasty Heritage site, Big Goose Pagoda, is right around the corner.

 

EVENING: Enjoy the Tang Dynasty dance/dinner show.

 

Accommodation in Xi’an:

Sofitel at Renmin Square (5-star)

 


Day 6  TERRA COTTA WARRIOR MUSEUM
B,L,D

AM: Private escorted tour to Imperial Tomb/ Palace Museum of Western Han Emperor Jing Di (156-141 BC). This brand new underground museum was vacuum sealed and covered with glass, allowing visitors to observe the entire structure. You will see guards, warriors, painted ceramic animals, chariots and horses, as well as other cultural relics, all still located in the same place as hundreds and thousands of years ago. When you stand on it, it seems as if you have entered through the tunnel of time. You will sense Han Imperial history. This is one of the largest cemeteries discovered in China covering a vast area of 7.2 square miles. Archeologists working for the past decade have located a total of 90 pits so far. According to historians and archeologists, there were religious ritual activities performed in the palaces that are on-site above the ground of the current tomb location.

 

PM: Head toward a neighboring village to visit a cave dwelling home. Chinese people call it Yaodong, meaning an arched tunnel. The earliest Yaodongs were caves dug into mountainsides. More recent versions are only partially dug in; they can even be free-standing. There are some 4 million people living in this vast region of China, and ninety percent of the rural population lives in Yaodongs. It is a common style of living across six provinces in north central China.

 

EVENING: Food is art! Let’s prove it tonight. Enjoy a Sha’anxi local specialty and dumpling banquet at De Fa Chang, one of the most well-known restaurants in China.

 


Day 7  XI’AN/ GUILIN
B,L

AM: Private escorted tour to Imperial Tomb/ Palace Museum of Western Han Emperor Jing Di (156-141 BC). This brand new underground museum was vacuum sealed and covered with glass, allowing visitors to observe the entire structure. You will see guards, warriors, painted ceramic animals, chariots and horses, as well as other cultural relics, all still located in the same place as hundreds and thousands of years ago. When you stand on it, it seems as if you have entered through the tunnel of time. You will sense Han Imperial history. This is one of the largest cemeteries discovered in China covering a vast area of 7.2 square miles. Archeologists working for the past decade have located a total of 90 pits so far. According to historians and archeologists, there were religious ritual activities performed in the palaces that are on-site above the ground of the current tomb location.

 

PM: Private transfer to the airport for flight to Guilin. Upon arrival, be greeted by your guide and transfer to the hotel.

 

Accommodation in Guilin:

Hotel of Modern Art (5-star, in between Guilin and Yangshuo at a private location in natural setting, www.yuzi-paradise.com)

 


Day 8  GUILIN
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AM: As the Chinese poem goes, “Guilin is the most beautiful place in the world, and Yangshuo is the prettiest spot in Guilin.” A tranquil cruise on Li Jiang (Li River) is the best way to absorb the superb beauty of this area. Li Jiang is the connecting river between Yangshuo and Guilin. Sail along and pass through the fabled karst mountain landscape while you sip tea or wine and enjoy your lunch on board. After this trip, you will agree what Han Yu, the famous Tang Poet, described in his poem: “The river is a blue ribbon of silk; the hills are hair pins of jade.”

 

PM: Ship disembarks at the colorful market town of Yangshuo. Hop on a specially designed electric golf cart and follow your guide for a private off-the-beaten-path experience. You will go down the small bumpy country road to explore the picturesque neighboring countryside. Explore rarely visited villages where you can see local people’s life in the most natural setting: farmers working hard in the rice paddies during harvest or growing seasons; buffalo wandering all over with children on their backs; minority ladies weaving or doing house work in the courtyard or in front of their houses. You can elect to visit a local farmer’s home, a village school or a grocery store. Along the way, you will see the famous Moon Hill before reaching Yulong River (The Little Li River). Afterward, return to the bustling West Street in Yangshuo. Relax in a coffee bar along Pantao Road, now nicknamed “Foreigners’ Street.” Dinner will be on your own. There are many good restaurants in the area. Don’t forget to try the famous local specialty: beer fish!

 


Day 9  GUILIN / SHANGHAI

B

AM: Private transfer to the airport for flight to Shanghai. Welcome to “Paris of the East.” Discover this cosmopolitan city’s roots by devouring its old section. Private escorted tour to the best part of the Old Town, centered around the Town God’s Temple (Chenghuang Miao). This is a great place if you enjoy souvenir shopping and sampling local snacks. This section was known as “The China Town” during colonial times.

 

PM: Visit Shanghai Museum. This spectacular building, at the center of People’s Square, has the best collection of public art in China, including bronzes, ceramics, calligraphy, sculpture, jade, seals, paintings, coins, furniture and objects dating back to 8000 years ago. The displays are well labeled in both English and Chinese, and there are over 120,000 valuable works. Private escorted walking tour including Nanjing Road and Huihai Road and Maoming Road, the most famous historic roads and delightful shopping districts. Huihai Road is the former French Concession, and is nicknamed ‘Frenchtown.’ Find an entrance back to the 1920s from a side street. You can expect to see some of the best old architecture from Art-deco apartment buildings to classical mansions and villas.

 

EVENING: Performance of world-famous Shanghai acrobatic show.

 

Accommodation in Shanghai:

Westin Bund Center (5-star, walking distance to The Bund and close by all conveniences, strategically located and considered one of the best in town, www.westin.com)

 

Day 10  TONGLI/ SUZHOU EXCURSION

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AM: Private excursion to Tongli, an ancient ‘water village’ situated on the bank of the Tai Lake about 17 miles from Suzhou. It has a beautiful landscape, where over 60% of the residential houses were built during the Ming and Qing Dynasties, with classical courtyards and carved brick archways and bridges. The elegant Tuisi Park is unique in architectural style, as the whole garden seems to float on water. Walk around the old town and visit well-preserved ancient buildings and houses, followed by a lovely boat ride on the canal.

 

PM: Private escorted tour to Suzhou, the famed silk production center and the ‘Garden City.’ Walk through Suzhou’s most famous ancient garden, the Humble Administrator’s Garden (Zhuozheng Yuan).

Suzhou’s classical gardens welcome visitors into a lovely, serene environment reflecting hundreds of years of Chinese history. Those interested in Silk can also visit National Silk and Embroidery Institute and the Number 1 Silk Mill.

 

EVENING: Enjoy Pintan Opera/Classic Music performance in Garden of the Master of the Nets. Return to Shanghai.

 


Day 11  SHANGHAI

B,L

AM: AM: Private escorted walking tour including Huihai Road and Maoming Road- the most famous historic roads and delightful shopping districts. Huihai Road is the former French Concession, and is nicknamed ‘Frenchtown.’ Find an entrance back to the 1920s from a side street. You can expect to see some of the best old architecture, from art deco apartment buildings to classical mansions and villas. Also visit the Children Palace.

 

PM: Private escorted tour to Xintiandi area- now the most well-known and romantic section in Shanghai. Shanghai Xintiandi is a walking district that features a multitude of entertainment, cultural, and recreational facilities in restored “Shikumen” houses, a special old form of building only found in Shanghai. Shikumen means “stone gate” in Chinese. It is indeed a gateway to the fascinating history of the largest coastal city in China. This area perfectly mingles the feeling of ancient history with modern cosmopolitan amenities, creating a very unique atmosphere. With many cafés and boutiques that have aj lot of character, Xintiandi is a most delightful experience. For those who have been to Hong Kong, Xintiandi may remind them of Lan Kwai Fong. Indeed, it was build by Hong Kong’s Shui On Group. Before the development of Xintiandi, worn, crowded old Shikumen buildings were spread all over. Xintiandi Musuem is the best place to check out what it was like then. The model home inside the museum will also give you a good idea of a typical Shikumen house.

 


Day 12  SHANGHAI/ US
B

AM: Private transfer to Pudong International Airport for return flight to the US (Flight details to be ascertained). Arrive home the same day.