From the modern skyscrapers of Hong Kong to the imperial palaces of Beijing, this trip offers a great introduction to China. Cruise along vast paddy fields flanked by vast limestone stacks, without forgetting the Terracotta Warriors and the Great Wall. Hong Kong - Explore this bustling metropolis, an interesting mixture of modern life and ancient traditions Xian - Visit the Terracotta Army of Emperor Qin Shi Huangdi and admire the Giant Wild Goose Pagoda Beijing - Walk a section of the Great Wall, explore Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City.
Arrive in Hong Kong; where East meets West. This lively and sophisticated city is a melting pot of culture and ancient traditions, which thrive harmoniously alongside towering skyscrapers. World-class transport and age-old markets make up the vibrancy of this unique metropolis. For those arriving on time our Leader plans to meet you in the hotel reception at 5pm for the welcome meeting. There are no other activities planned today, so you are free to arrive in Hong Kong at any time. If you would like to receive a complimentary airport transfer today, you'll need to arrive into Hong Kong International Airport (HKG), which is 40 minutes from our hotel. Should you miss the welcome meeting, your Leader will inform you of any essential information as soon as you catch up at 9am on Day 2. If your flight arrives earlier in the day, perhaps you might go by underground to the waterfront of Victoria Harbour, and then onto Temple Street Night Market in Kowloon.
Situated in a dramatic setting, Hong Kong is a lively, sophisticated city and the world's third largest financial centre. We start with an orientation walk and leave the afternoon free for optional excursions. Public transport is efficient and easy to use. You can take a funicular railway to Victoria Peak or a launch out to a floating restaurant in Aberdeen Harbour. Alternatively explore the jade market or admire the latest sartorial and electronic fashions.
After a relaxed breakfast, this morning we will transfer to Hong Kong West Kowloon station and board the high speed train to Guilin. Our border formalities will be completed in Hong Kong and therefore we will need to be at the station a couple of hours before. The train journey will take three hours and we will arrive into Guilin in the late afternoon, when we will take a short orientation tour of the city. The gateway to limestone scenery for which this part of China is known, Guilin was once the transport centre of the Qin dinasty thanks to the building of the Ling canal in the year 214 BC. After our orientation tour we will have some time free to relax in the evening.
This morning we head to the MoPanShan Dock where we board our boat on the Li River and cruise to Yangshuo. Lunch is taken aboard the boat during the journey as we pass along the most scenic stretch of the river. We will pass paddy fields, villages and stunning limestone scenery en route. An afternoon arrival in Yangshuo offers the opportunity to explore this laid back town - a contrast to the bustle of Hong Kong. During this free time you may wish to take one of the optional bike rides or walks in the surrounding villages. Alternatively you could head to one of the many limestone pinnacles around the town, the best known being the Moon Hill.
Yangshuo has a lot to offer so most of the day is left free for you to explore at your own pace. You can walk into the surrounding karst summits or hire a bike and cycle through country back lanes. Alternatively, you can soak up the atmosphere of this beautiful riverside town. You may want to practice your bartering skills in the local market - here art students from Guilin sell their batiks, silk paintings, Tai Chi, cooking, calligraphy, mahjong, or you may be tempted to buy a 'Little Red Book'. Later on today we fly to Xian.
Our stay in Xian reveals the extraordinary continuity of Chinese civilisation. Xian (Changan) served 11 dynasties and was the very starting point of the Silk Road between Central Asia and Europe. Its ancient monuments include, the Big Wild Goose Pagoda (64m, a 7-storey high structure with a superb overview of the city) and the Great Mosque, a wonderful 15th century working mosque within the old muslim Hui District, which we include in our sightseeing tour. The afternoon is free but highly recommended is an optional visit to the Shaanxi National Museum which takes us through a million years of Chinese history.
Today we visit one of the highlights of any visit to China - the magnificent Terracotta Warriors and Horses who guard the Qin Shi Huangdi Tomb. There are literally thousands of lifesize warriors, dating from 200BC. This dramatic find of the 1970s is considered one of the greatest archaeological discoveries of the century. We should have time to stop at the on-site factory to see how the warriors are made today. Later this afternoon we take an overnight train to Beijing - a great way to cover large distances and travel truly as a local. Berths are usually in 1st class 'soft sleeper' compartments. They are lockable and have 2 sets of bunks sleeping 4 people; clean bedding is provided. WC and washbasins for shared use are at the end of each carriage and hot meals and snacks are usually sold to your berth during the journey. In times of particularly high demand we may have to travel in 2nd class 'hard sleeper' which consists of sectioned off compartments for 6, leading off an open plan carriage.
Beijing is China's capital and its political and cultural centre. The city has been the capital for most of the period since Kublai Khan made it the capital of his mighty Asian Empire in the late 1200s. All clocks in this vast country are set by Beijing time despite the westernmost regions being some 5000kms away. During our stay we shall visit the Forbidden City, the one-time home of the Ming and the Manchu (Qing) emperors and a treasure trove of eastern wares. There is the option to visit the Summer Palace an old and very extensive imperial garden complex with a large boating lake and impressive palace buildings. There is also the possibility of seeing a Beijing opera in the evening, or perhaps an acrobatic performance (optional). The opera in Beijing is considered to be the best in China.
Today we drive out to a renovated part of the Great Wall at Mutianyu, situated 90km north of the city. Began in the 3rd century BC by Shi Huangdi, thousands of conscripted workers laboured on it and many lie buried in its brick and stone ramparts. It is incredible to think that this wall spans the entire country! Here there is a 2km section to walk along with watchtowers and views of the surrounding countryside. En route we may also get to visit a cloisonné workshop where you can see examples of this ancient metal-working technique.
The trip ends after breakfast at our hotel in Beijing. There are no activities planned today, so you are free to depart from Beijing at any time. If your flight is departing later in the day luggage storage facilities are available at our hotel. If you would like to receive a complimentary airport transfer today, you need to depart from either Beijing Capital International Airport (PEK) which is one hour and 30 minutes' from our hotel or Beijing Daxing International Airport (PKX) which is one hour 45 minutes' drive away.
9 Break Fast(s) 1 Lunch(es)
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