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Beijing, Xi'an & Shanghai

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, the Temple of Heaven, and Olympic Park. Our time in Bejing ends with an excursion out to see the Great Wall of China!

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.

Shanghai was a fishing village until 1842 and within 80 years it was the most prosperous city in East Asia and a glamorous outpost for western ex-patriots from America, Britain, France, Italy and Germany. We’ll discuss the modern history of China including the Opium War, World War II and Special Economic Zones as we wander through the alleys, markets, temples, and gardens of the Old City, admiring the contrast with the Parisian style of the French district, the Colonial buildings of the Bund, and the skyscrapers of the Pudong District. Our time in Shanghai also includes an excursion outside the city to experience the ancient river towns before ending with a final dramatic contrast: the acrobatics show at Shanghai Circus World.

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 the authentic Chinese dinner.
3BeijingNavigate to Tiananmen Square for the dawn flag raising ceremony. Breakfast at the hotel. Board shuttle for a ride out to the Great Wall of China. Climb the stairs up to the top of the wall, stroll along the top between some of the watchtowers, take in the views, and toboggan back down! Lunch, then board shuttle for ride to the Summer Palace. Enjoy the cool breeze from the lake as you explore the many halls, pavilions, gates, and gardens within the grounds. Subway from the Summer Palace to the hotel, then freshen up for dinner. End the day with a sunset stroll through Olympic Park to see the “Bird’s Nest” and “Water Cube” lit up at night.
4BeijingPre-breakfast climb of Jing Shan Hill for a panoramic view of Beijing. Breakfast at the hotel. Navigate to the Temple of Heaven, visit the buildings and watch the locals enjoying the park. Guided tour of the Forbidden City. Enjoy lunch then relax in Beihai Park. Subway to Wangfujing for shopping and the best Peking Duck in the world.
5Xi'anNavigate to airport using Beijing’s public transport. Fly to Xi’an. Board shuttle for a ride out to see Emperor Qin’s Terracotta Army. Lunch, then visit the Hua Qing Hot Springs made famous by the love story of Yang Guifei. Dinner, then enjoy the evening performance of “Song of Eternal Sorrow”.
6Xi'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. Climb the Giant Wild Goose Pagoda and enjoy calligraphy lessons at the Small Wild Goose Pagoda. Lunch and then admire the stone rubbing at the Beilin Museum. Head 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.
7ShanghaiFly to Shanghai then navigate to hotel using public transit. Check into the hotel, unpack and freshen up. Metro to Yuyuan Gardens for lunch and shopping, then metro over to People’s Square to check out fountain and visit the Shanghai Museum of Art. Metro under the Huangpu to Pudong for a panoramic view from the Pearl Tower before exploring the Shanghai History Museum.
8ShanghaiBreakfast then board private shuttle for a ride to Suzhou where we’ll explore the Lion Grove Garden and then to the ancient river town of Tongli where we’ll have lunch before exploring the town first on foot and then by skiff. Shuttle back to Shanghai Circus World for dinner and some incredible acrobatics at ERA: Intersection of Time.
9AirborneFlight from Shanghai. Zài jiàn China!

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