Fly from the UK to Beijing.
Upon arrival in Beijing this morning, we will transfer to our hotel for the next three nights, the Plaza Hotel Beijing (4T), Vision Hotel (4T), Novotel Beijing Xinqiao (4T) or similar. This afternoon there will be an optional excursion, visiting the Temple of Heaven, a remarkable complex of altars and prayer halls built in the 15th century, where Chinese emperors once led religious ceremonies. It is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
This morning we take a guided tour of two of Beijing’s most famous landmarks, the vast Tian’anmen Square and the Forbidden City, formerly the palatial imperial residence and now a museum displaying the emperors’ collections of ceramics, bronzes, paintings and some 30,000 pieces of jade. An optional excursion this afternoon will introduce you to a different side of Chinese life, in Beijing’s ‘hutongs’, the traditional residential areas of narrow alleyways and courtyards, while tonight there will be an opportunity to experience the Gongfu Show, a display of martial arts.
No visit to China is complete without seeing the Great Wall, and today we visit this architectural marvel, stretching for an incredible 8,100km across the country, on an included tour. We will also visit the Summer Palace, originally built in the 18th century, and surrounded by extensive formal gardens. This evening, you might like to join us for an optional Peking duck dinner, a Beijing speciality, at a local restaurant.
We head to Beijing airport for a flight to Xi’an, one of China’s oldest cities. On arrival, we will transfer to the Golden Flower Hotel (4T), where we will be staying for the next two nights. Later, there will be an optional excursion offering the chance to see a demonstration of traditional dumpling making, followed by a walking tour on the remarkable North Square of the Giant Wild Goose Pagoda. The square holds the largest musical fountain in Asia.
Today we discover one of the great archaeological treasures of the world, Xi’an’s famous Terracotta Army. More than 2,000 years old, it is composed of thousands of incredibly detailed life-size soldiers, no two of which are alike. They were buried here along with terracotta horses and chariots to protect the tomb of China’s first emperor, Qin Shi Huang, who died in 210 BC, and were only discovered by chance in 1974. We will also visit the Tangbo Art Museum, which houses displays of Chinese folk art, paintings and calligraphy. Tonight you have the option of experiencing the Tang Dynasty Show, a colourful spectacle of traditional Chinese music and dance.
After breakfast we transfer to Xi’an railway station to board the Bullet train to Chengdu, the capital city of Sichuan province. We will be spending our last two nights in China at the Lhasa Grand Hotel (4T) or Sichuan Hotel (4T). On today’s included excursion, we will visit Jinli Street, one of Chengdu’s best preserved medieval thoroughfares, lined with buildings dating from the Ming and Qing dynasties, now operating as shops and food outlets. We will stop for tea in a traditional Chinese tea house. This evening’s entertainment option is a ‘Changing Face’ show, a fascinating quick-change act with music.
This morning we visit the Panda Breeding Centre, home to more than 80 captive giant pandas. These charismatic animals are being reared in surroundings recreated to resemble their natural habitat and as well as being a popular tourist attraction, this is also an important scientific research facility and education centre aiming to save pandas from extinction. We will also pay a visit to the Taoist Qing Yang Gong, or Bronze Goat Temple, which is one of the biggest in China.
We transfer to the airport for your return flight to the UK.
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