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Beijing, The Great Wall & The Terracotta Army

Beijing, the capital city of China, is one of the worlds largest cities. From our accommodations just outside the Forbidden City (from where 24 emperors ruled for over 500 years) we'll be within walking distance of Tian’an Men Square, Jing Shan Hill, Beihai Park, and Wangfujing Street (where we'll shop and enjoy Peking Duck). We'll use the metro system to visit the Summer Palace, Temple of Heaven, Shichahai Scenic Area and Olympic Park. Our time in Bejing includes with an excursion out to see the Great Wall of China and the Ming Tomb at Dingling!

Xi’an was the capital for 1000 years, with 13 dynasties and 73 emperors. At the end of the Silk Road, it was once the largest and wealthiest city in the world, with a city wall protecting over a million people. Highlights include the Terracotta Army, the Hua Qing hot springs, Caligraphy lessons at the Great Goose Pagoda, biking along the top of the fortifications protecting the original city, stone rubbings at the Forest of Stellae Museum, and the Muslim District at night with it's markets and the beautifully lit Drum and Bell Towers.

Program Highlights

The Great Wall

The great wall of the First Emperor of Qin.
By the time he was 38 years old King Zheng of Qin had conquered the six major kingdoms between his kingdom and the east coast. He unified the kingdoms and switched his title from king to emperor by declared himself "Qin Shi Huang" (first emperor of Qin).
Qin's dynastry - pronounced "Chin" - became modern day China. The 13,000 miles of unified northern wall became the Great Wall of China.

The Forbidden Palace

It took over a million workers and fourteen years to complete the Forbidden Palace.
It was built for Zhu Di (the 3rd Ming Emperor) after he moved the capital to Bejing. Over the following 500 years it was home to another 13 Ming emperors and 10 Qing emperors including Henry Pu Yi (last Emperor of China).
Today the Chinese refer to it as the "Former" Palace. It is currently in the midst of a 16-year project to return it to pre-1912 condition (when Emperor Puyi was evicted).

The Terracotta Army

One of the greatest archeological discoveries in the world was made less than 50 years ago.
In 1974 some peasants digging a well discovered a life-sized clay soldier. They had stumbled across the long lost mausoleum of Emperor Qin (he declared himself "first emperor" after defeating the various kingdoms and unifying the country).
Since then thousands of soldiers, horses, chariots, and weapons have been unearthed.

Fortifications of Xi'an

If you like medieval forts you'll love Xi'an.
At the heart of Xi'an is a 14 square mile city laid out as a perfect rectangle surrounded by a massive wall. The wall is 40' high, 60' thick at the bottom, 40' thick at the top, and it's surrounded by a moat. It's further protected by corner towers, watch towers, and ramparts, all of which are connected by a wall-walk along the top hidden behind a parapet.
The wall walk takea 4 hours on foot, we'll use suspension bikes!

Xi'an Night Markets

If you want to experience Chinese night markets there is no better city than Xi'an, with almost a dozen different markets scattered around the old city.
Each night market focuses on a the street food of a particular region of the country, so in the course of an evening you can take your taste buds on a virtual tour of the entire country.
Our favorites are the barbequed beef or lamb skewers, Steamed Dumplings, Fried Dumplings, Steamed Pastries, Roti, and hotpots. The fried scorpions are interesting...

Caligraphy Workshop

Each of the 3,000 stone stele (tablets) at the Forest of Stele in Xi'an is a hand carved reproduction of a Chinese Caligraphy that recorded an important political or cultural moment in China’s history or demonstrates a major calligraphy style of the great masters.
Watch prints of the caligraphy bring produced by rubbing ink on wet rice paper applied to the surface of the stele. Then learn the basics of Chinese Caligraphy yourself, taking your work (and brush) home.


1AirborneMeet your Group Director at the airport and start your journey to the other side of the world!
2BeijingArrive late afternoon and board shuttle for transfer to the hotel. Check into hotel, unpack, freshen up. Enjoy an early “family-style” dinner that will introduce you to some of our favorite local dishes.
3BeijingAuthentic chinese breakfast (“western” options are also available) at the hotel. Shuttle out of the city to the Mutianyu section of Great Wall of China. Enjoy the views from the chair lift up to the base of the wall then tackle the short stair climb to the top. Stroll along the wall, take in the views, then ride a toboggan back down (or walk if you prefer). Lunch on the way to Dingling and then explore the excavations of the Ming Tomb. Relax at the hotel and freshen up for dinner on the town. End the day with a sunset stroll through Olympic Park to see the “Bird’s Nest” and “Water Cube” lit up at night.
4BeijingNavigate to Tiananmen Square for the dawn flag raising ceremony. Admire the National Center of the Performing Arts. Breakfast at the hotel. Tour of the Forbidden City with all-access pass that includes the Treasury and the Clock and Watch Gallery. Lunch before climbing Jing Shan Hill to take in the panoramic views of Beijing. Stroll through Bei Hai Park and spend the late afternoon in the Shichahai Scenic Area.
5BeijingEarly breakfast then navigate to the Summer Palace. Enjoy the cool breeze from the lake as you explore it’s many halls, pavilions, gates, and gardens. Lunch/shopping on Wangfujing Street before exploring the Temple of Heaven Park. Back to the hotel to relax, pre-pack, and freshen up for dinner. Enjoy the best Peking Duck in Beijing (China, and the world) at the farewell banquet.
6Xi'anNavigate to airport using Beijing’s public transport. Fly to Xi’an. Navigate to hotel using public transport. Lunch, then climb the Giant Wild Goose Pagoda and enjoy calligraphy lessons at the Small Wild Goose Pagoda. Admire the stone rubbing at the Beilin Museum before heading over to the Muslim Quarter to find the mosque, stroll through the night markets and try some Xi’an’s best known foods - like hot and sour dumplings, biangbiang noodles, and of course the Xi’an meat burger.
7Xi'anBreakfast, then enjoy the views of Xi’an on a bicycle ride that follows the broad walkway along the top of the city’s defensive walls. Lunch, then board shuttle for a ride out to see Emperor Qin’s Terracotta Army and the Hua Qing Hot Springs made famous by the love story of Yang Guifei. Dinner at the hot springs, then enjoy the evening performance of “Song of Eternal Sorrow”.
8AirborneFlight from Xi'an. Zài jiàn China!

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