Day 1 Beijing
Our tour begins with a get-acquainted meeting in our Beijing hotel, followed by a classic Beijing Duck dinner at a storied restaurant.
Dongfang Hotel (2 nights)
Day 2 Beijing
Tiananmen; Temple of Heaven; Forbidden City
Today begins with a private coach tour of the city. Stops include The Temple of Heaven, Tiananmen Square, and the Forbidden City. This morning’s theme is gargantuan public spaces. The Temple of Heaven is actually a collection of temples in an immense public park at the city’s center. Tiananmen Square, the symbolic center of the modern Chinese nation, is the world’s largest public square. The Forbidden City, so called because commoners were not allowed for 500 years, was the capital for two dynasties and is the largest palace complex in the world. In the afternoon a walking tour gives a more intimate glimpse of life in the capital as we explore a Hutong district. Hutongs are the tiny streets or alleyways that make up the ancient, traditional neighborhoods of Beijing. We’ll see more of the bustle of everyday Beijing life here along with ceremonial gates, towers, and mansions, and traditional courtyard houses.
Day 3 Beijing/Gubeikou
Pack a day bag (leave your luggage in Beijing) and on our way out of Beijing this morning we will stop for a tour of the magnificent Summer Palace. Then we proceed to Gubeikou village near the Great Wall. We’ll have dinner with our guesthouse hosts.
Gubeikou Guesthouse (1 night)
Day 4 Gubeikou/overnight train
Our entire morning will be spent learning about, photographing, and hiking the Great Wall of China, one of the Seven Wonders of the World and the only one that can be seen from space. We have chosen to visit the Jinshanling section. It is further afield from Beijing, but less crowded and commercial, less restored (more authentic feeling), and the view is amazing. In the afternoon we return to Beijing to board our overnight train to Xian in Shaanxi province.
Soft sleeper class (4 to a cabin)
Day 5 Xian
Muslim Quarter tour
Upon arrival today we’ll have a Chinese style breakfast and freshen up before enjoying a walking tour of the Muslim quarter of Xian. The tour will include a visit to the Great Mosque, one of the largest in China. An interesting blend of Chinese and Muslim architecture, the mosque blends a spirit wall and Chinese garden with calligraphy decorated gates and a minaret. Your afternoon is free to explore Xian on your own.
Union Alliance Hotel (2 nights)
Day 6 Xian
Terra Cotta Warriors; Hanyang Mausoleum
The incomparable Terra Cotta Warriors are the highlight of today’s activities. This 1974 discovery is one of the great archeological finds and sights in the world today. Multiple pits (formerly tombs) house an army of thousands of life-sized soldiers, horses, and war machines. Our lunch today is at a local farmer’s restaurant. Then this blockbuster day continues with the Hanyang Mausoleum, which many believe is even more amazing than the TCW. This is the tomb of 2ndcentury BC emperor Jingdi. Jingdi, greatly influenced by Taoism, was a great ruler and famous reformer. Almost as impressive as its TCW neighbor, this sight is pleasantly lacking in crowds.
Day 7 Emei Shan
A morning flight delivers us to Chengdu, in Sichuan. The afternoon affords a visit to one of China’s signature sights – the Leshan Giant Buddha. Carved into the riverside cliff, this 1200-year-old stone Buddha is no less than 233 feet tall. We continue our travels to Emei Shan, one of China’s four great Buddhist mountains.
Emeishan Grand Hotel (2 nights)
Day 8 Emei Shan
Today’s highlight is a visit to the spectacular Golden Summit, another of China’s iconic destinations. A cable car whisks us to the top of this scenic wonder for panoramic views. This striking temple is decorated with glazed tiles and surrounded by a white marble balustrade. Those with more energy might opt to hike to the top, joining the stream of devout pilgrims making their way to storied temple. Your afternoon is free to relax or explore.
Day 9 Chengdu
Tea plantation; Family lunch
Today we will enjoy a wonderful cultural connection experience. We’ll head to the countryside to visit a tea plantation. After a tour, we will sit down to lunch, hosted by the farming family that operates the tea farm. It will be a great chance to interact with everyday Chinese people, a rare opportunity. In the afternoon, we are transported by private bus back to Chengdu.
Garden City Hotel (2 nights)
Day 10 Chengdu
This morning our deluxe coach delivers us to the nearby Giant Panda Breeding Center for memorable encounter with these lovable bears. Nearly 50 giant and red pandas called this preserve home. It is the best place to see these shy and gentle creatures. Our afternoon is free to relax or explore Chengdu. Tonight, we share chuan-chuan xiang (hotpot) for dinner, the quintessential local specialty.
Day 11 Yangshuo (Guilin)
Li River excursion
In the morning, we’ll drive to the airport for our flight to Guilin. Upon arrival, we’ll check into our Yangshuo hotel before boarding boats for an iconic journey down the karst-lined Li River. You’ll have the afternoon and evening free to relax and enjoy this scenic and serene region of China. Your afternoon is yours to fill as you wish.
Starway Xinfuan (2 nights)
Day 12 Yangshuo (Guilin)
This morning our guide will lead us on a bicycle tour of the countryside. The spectacular and surreal karst landscape is world famous and we’re sure to burn through a few flash cards in our cameras. In the afternoon, we have a Chinese cooking class arranged.
Day 13 Ping’an
The fabled and intensely photogenic Dragon’s Backbone Rice Terraces are our goal this morning as we venture out to a tiny village in the countryside. The drive alone is worth our effort as we wind through the picturesque valleys and more karst formations to our destination of Ping’an. It is sure to be another spectacular photo safari day.
Longsheng Liqing Guesthouse (1 night)
Day 14 Hong Kong
Today is primarily a travel day as we make our way south to Hong Kong. Our deluxe bus drives us to Guilin where we catch one of China’s famous bullet trains. This high-speed wonder rockets us along in comfort as we watch the scenery of Guangxi and Guangdong provinces speed by. We’ll settle into our HK hotel in the early evening.
Metropark Hotel Kowloon (2 nights)
Day 15 Hong Kong
This morning we’ll begin our sightseeing with the iconic Peak Tram excursion to famous Victoria Peak for panoramic views. The rest of your day is free to explore before we gather for a last night dinner together.
Day 16 Tour Over
Tour over after breakfast. Imprint will assist with airport transfers or post-tour travel arrangements.
[Itinerary details & hotels subject to change]
14 nights accommodation + 1 overnight train; All breakfasts, 7 dinners, 5 lunches; All tour transport (train, bus, minivan, boat, airplane); All tips; Full-time services of a Chinese guide and Imprint tour director; All entrances: Forbidden City, Temple of Heaven, Summer Palace, Great Mosque Xian, Terra Cotta Warriors, Hanyang Mausoleum, Panda Breeding Center; All activities: Leshan Buddha cruise, Great Wall visit/hike, walking tours Xian Muslim Quarter, Chengdu, & Hong Kong, hotpot dinner, tea farm visit and hosted lunch, Emei summit cablecar, bike tour Yangshuo, cooking class, Victoria Peak cable car, and more.
Tour participants are responsible for the cost of drinks, free-time sightseeing & meals, expenditures of a personal nature, and flight baggage overage fees.