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With an insight about the places to be visited, your meal plan, special activities etc. your detailed itinerary gives you an in-depth idea as to how you will proceed on your journey whilst in China.
Designing perfect voyages for our guests is our prime aim and hence we are always open to tailoring our travel products to suit your individual requirements. We, however, reserve the right to change any arrangement (including tours, programs, prices and services) in the best interest of our guests, with or without prior notice.
The Team - Voyages2Treasure
Day 1 : Arrival in Beijing
Welcome from your guide and transportation to the hotel.
Welcome to Beijing, capital of the “Middle Kingdom”!
This fascinating place has become a thriving metropolis in recent years, and was brought back to the attention of everyone on the world stage in 2008 when it hosted the Olympic Games.
As you enjoy the ride to the hotel, you will notice the “Bird’s Nest”, the modern stadium now recognized as one of the symbols of modern China and a triumph of architecture and the involvement of Ai Weiwei, the well-known Chinese artist. It still stands as the site of the unforgettable 2008 Opening Ceremony and the majestic 100m final when Usain Bolt flew down the track during the Games.
After stopping at the hotel, you will visit the famed hutongs (narrow alleys and streets of Beijing) near Houhai Lake. Then you will visit the Gulou, the Drum Tower where during the Ming Dynasty, the city marked the hours of the day with the rumbling of drums. The tower faces the Zhonglou, the Bell Tower, and gives visitors a glimpse of ancient Beijing.
Moving along, you will meet a bicycle repairman, whose job exemplifies perfectly the urbanization of the city itself. You can ask any question! Some could be: how quickly the car has surpassed the notorious Beijing bicycle, how the youth today move around or if the bicycle has become fashionable or preferable again.
Sooner or later you will probably assist in a mahjong party, a social get-together around Chinese Chess or card games. The number of elderly swells around these very popular games, a gathering where bystanders often come to watch and your guide can help explain the rules.
Afterwards, you will finish your day with a refreshing change of decor and ambiance in the Wangfujing neighborhood, home to the famous Wangfujing road, the most commercial area of the capital. While you are there, you will get the opportunity to witness how modern China has become and how its fierce consumerism continues. Next door, the Donghuamen Market offers a delightful taste of the night markets in the city. No one in the whole world yells as loud as the wonton vendors in Donghuamen.
Once you have had enough of the market, you will return to the hotel for a rest.
Overnight in Beijing.
China is a country of strong religious syncretism. It is still very difficult to find accurate statistics about the number of people participating in religions even though Buddhism dominates the scene. What we can find is the recurring indication of the people’s religious spirit and the quasi-absence of an official religion in the whole of Chinese history.
Therefore, China has become a fusion of popular and old-fashioned beliefs: Confucian doctrines, Chinese-originated Taoism, the foreign versions of Buddhism, Islam, Judaism and Christianity.
It is not rare to find gods from the Taoist pantheons in the Buddhist temples or to find representations of Guanyin (the Chinese version of the Buddhist deity Avalokitesvara in India) in the Taoist temples (where she is known as Tianhou). With so many versions of one deity, even the Chinese become confused over the details.
This day will begin very early, but you may forget this inconvenience when you enter the Temple of heaven. At this time of the day, you will see the various activities the Chinese do in the morning. Tai Qi, Kung Fu, sabre practice, meditation, tango, and gymnastics are just some of them. The Chinese like to prepare for their day with physical exercises that they consider essential for their health. As well, some Chinese practice calligraphy with giant brushes and water on the park’s flagstones that esthetically pleases for as long as the water evaporates.
You will also get to experience some of the more unusual types of exercise, such as people walking backwards whilst tapping the heads, arms and legs or people holding on to a fence and jumping up and down on the spot.
Next, you will discover the Temple itself and its simplicity in structure. Its hidden symbolism hints at beliefs even more ancient than Buddhism and Taoism and to a time when the Emperor was considered the direct authority on earth from the heavens.
Your guide will conduct you next to the discrete White Cloud Temple where Taoist monks wear their hair in chignons and superstitious visitors can touch the sculpture-murals representing the twelve Chinese Zodiac animals.
If you want and think you have enough time, you can visit the Niujie Mosque, a place that showcases the expansion of Muslim merchants from Central Asia to China.
Towards noon, you will eat lunch at a vegetarian restaurant in the downtown section of the city. You will get to try a few better-than-real imitations of lamb kebabs and Peking duck and to pretend that you are a monk too.
Later, the afternoon will consist of a visit to the Yonghe Temple, the most visited temple in town. To understand the Tibetan Buddhism practiced by both Tibetans and central Mongolians, this temple is fundamental for you to visit. With its 18-meter Buddha statue made from only one block of wood welcoming you, you can explore the grounds.
Your day will end with a visit of the Confucius Temple, named after the very man behind the moral codes and precepts that organized the majority of the social interactions of Imperial China. Even today, Confucianism still surfaces in China to be a part of the society.
Option: Enjoy on the evening theKung Fu show in Red theater! The Red Theater is originally known as Chongwen Worker's Cultural Palace Theater. After the renovation, the stage facilities has been dramatically improved and now the theater specializes in traditional Chinese performances, such as "The Legend of Kung Fu".
Overnight in Beijing.
Even though we like to falsely say that it is visible from the moon, the Great Wall is one of the most important symbols of the country and must be visited. In doing so, we must retrace our steps back to the Qin Dynasty (more than 2000 years ago) to find the first traces of the defensive walls. During the Ming Dynasty, workers restored and expanded the Wall to its height, width and length we recognize today.
Placed on the highest ridges, the wall offered an excellent view to the north and permitted the guards of the lookout towers to watch out for alarm fires down the wall in case of barbarian intruders. The Wall sufficiently prevented Mongolian cavalry from easily progressing on the wall and forced them to dismount from their horses before attacking.
At its peak of condition, the Wall extended over more than 6000 kilometers of ancient Manchuria until the fort of Jiayuguan (where the Gobi desert begins to the west). At a point in history, the government used to ban criminals to this desolate location.
Bright and early in the morning, you will depart from your hotel to visit the Mutianyu section of the Wall. Once you are there, you can benefit from the early morning sunrise in your photographs.
If the hiking seems too long after a while, you and your companions can ride the toboggan (optional) down the wall or have a picnic on the Great Wall. You may take some time and admire the wonderful rugged scenery.
Soon after, you will return to Beijing and visit the Summer Palace. Otherwise a simple Imperial garden, the site was completely renovated by Emperor Qianlong during the 18th century to become one the most important sites of the capital. Back in the day, the members of the Imperial Court would flee the summer’s insufferable heat in Forbidden City to lounge on Palace’s immense lawn. Harmonious in nature, a variety of traditional Chinese temples, pavilions, lakes and gardens comprise the Palace. The Long Corridor, Marble Boat, 17-Arch Bridge, Kunming Lake and Longevity Hill are the cornerstones of the site.
Now, the Emperor is no longer there, but the heat remains. You can make various stops in the shade of the Palace to refresh yourself.
Afterwards, you will return to the capital.
Overnight in Beijing.
Day 4 : Beijing / Xi’an
In the morning we will head over to the Forbidden City.
Most Chinese buildings face south, which according to ancient beliefs symbolised the barbarian threat and potential invasion from the north. This explains why the main entrance to the Forbidden City faces south towards Tiananmen Square, the third largest city square in the world.
The construction of the City was finished in 1420 during the reign of the Ming Dynasty Emperor Yongle, and served as the Imperial administrative centre throughout the Ming and Qing Dynasties until the fall of the Empire in 1911. According to legend the Forbidden City is made up of 9999 different rooms.
In order to simplify this huge site, it is often divided into three parts:
- The official palaces which were used for lavish ceremonies, imperial exams and governmental meetings.
- The Imperial lodgings and gardens where the Emperor, Empress and visiting ambassadors resided.
- The surrounding areas which house temples, libraries and further gardens.
Lovingly restored for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the Forbidden City has regained the youthful and vivid colours of its former glory. Take your time during this visit to such an unforgettable destination, you spend time in the more serene surrounding courtyards and rooms. Climbing the artificial coal hill just behind the Forbidden City provides a spectacular view of the entire site and lets you get a grasp of the layout of the whole of Beijing.
You can take your time for this unforgettable visit and explore the various rooms and outdoor spaces. You can walk up Jingshan or the « Prospect Hill » to get a superb view of the City and the surrounding capital’s architectural arrangement. Restored for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the City now shows more clearly how it may have been.
The second portion of the day will consist of traveling to the train station for a night train in a soft sleeper cabin to Xi’an. In China, the train is the meeting place of the Chinese. People board the train, eat containers of instant noodles with water from their thermos in hand, gulp down unbelievable quantities of sunflower seeds, play cards, and clink glasses of beer or baijiu, the country’s rice liquor.
There exist many types of trains today. The most noticeable is the arrival of the ultra modern TGV, but the night trains provide a memorable experience. For anyone who has adventured in the different class cabins, this may be an unforgettable experience. There are: hard seat, soft seat, hard sleeper and soft sleeper train cabins.
Overnight in the train.
When you arrive in Xian, your local guide will welcome you and provide transportation to the hotel.
Now you are in Shaanxi Province, the place often considered where Chinese civilization began. The capital of the Empire three times, Xi’an played a decisive role in the history of the country. On the Silk Road, the city was an administrative site and a hub of commerce. The city exported silk and local products to other countries. During the reign of Qin Shi Huangdi, the first Emperor of China (who unified the different provinces in 221 BC), the city had over a million people. Later, during the Tang Dynasty (618-907 BC) the city became the most populated city in the world.
The Terra Cotta Warriors are about an hour ride outside of Xi’an.
In 1974, a few farmers stumbled upon the Warriors by accident. Now, we can only wonder what those original farmers felt when they first laid eyes on the thousands of soldiers lined up in battle formation. They had just discovered one of the greatest archeological finds in history!
Incidentally, we now have this wonder to view because of Qin Shi Huangdi’s fear of malevolent spirits. Qin Shi Huangdi built a mausoleum to have his immense army of infantrymen, archers, and cavalry riders to protect him in the Afterlife. Each one of the Terra Cotta Warriors has a different face from a soldier during the Emperor’s life. Historians theorize that the Emperor may have wanted to rule the world from the Afterlife.
Certain practices during the Shang Dynasty (centuries before the beginning of the Empire) consisted of aristocrats and local kings burying people alive or sacrificing slaves before placing them in their future tombs or coffins so that they might serve their masters beyond the living realm. This cruel practice was later slowly abandoned with the beginnings of the Qin and Han Dynasties and the use of tomb statues instead of victims. It was here that the idea of the Warriors began.
In spite of this, it did not stop Qin Shi Huandi from burying a few thousand workers who worked on his mausoleum in a separate tomb so they could not divulge the secrets of the mausoleum’s construction to anyone. This tomb is still considered today to be too dangerous to be disturbed and visited.
The statues you can view are separated in three pits. You will begin with the pits number 2 (that is still being excavated) and number 3 (that shelters the majority of items). You will end with pit number 1, the most impressive one with about 2000 warriors.
Otherwise there is a small museum on site that houses two splendid bronze chariots found in 1980 west of the mausoleum. You can now see them on display along with other artifacts.
Afterwards, you will take a bike tour (or for an additional charge a cart tour) for about one hour to discover and glide through Xi’an without traffic jams and crowds. You can even test out a tandem bike for something with a little more jazz. During your tour, you will see the impressive Xi’an ramparts built during the Ming Dynasty. Today, they stand restored and reconstructed and are a part of the fortifications still visible in China.
On a different note, Xi’an is also a city of many cultures. During the day of the Silk Road, Muslim merchants from Central Asia came to China to do business and left their influence in Xi’an. Several Muslim minorities (totaling 15 million inhabitants) now live in China. The Hui minority is predominant in Xi’an. You will visit the Chinese-style Mosque and the vibrant neighborhood around it housing a number of butcher shops and different sorts of stores where men wear white skull caps and women wear colorful headscarves. At dinner, you will appreciate the unique ambiance of a night market as you dine on the neighborhood’s specialties of spiced lamb kebabs, flat bread and mutton soup with noodles.
Optional: Your evening will end with a short visit to a internet bar. In China, there are 450 million Internet users today, with 24 million of them being devote gamers. The Internet now plays a big role in China’s modernizing society. Currently, the number of gamers grows rapidly and causes a new problem not seen in the country until now. Because of the rapid growth, it is in one of the biggest cybercafés of the town that you will get to see the new version of the buried warriors in Xi’an. These “warriors” are still alive and may have now lost the sense of their origins, stuck in front of their computers.
Overnight in Xi’an.
The day will begin with transportation to the airport and a visit along the way to the tomb of Emperor Jing, about 15 kilometers from the Xi’an airport. It is an ideal place to visit before taking off.
The reign of Emperor Jingdi during the Han Dynasty (118-141 BC) is the exact opposite of the one with Qin Shi Huangdi. As it is, the reign of Qin Shi Huangdi was marked by cruelty and priority to military spending, while the reign of Jingdi was distinguished by his humanism and his vision of more diplomatic relations with foreign peoples.
The tomb, opened to the public in 2006, houses a multitude of figurines representing eunuchs, servers and domestic animals, and brings more to mind the normal day life under the Han Dynasty than the Qin Shi Huangdi tomb with its warlike appearance.
You will walk on a glass panel over the different pits and will be able to observe closely the most recently uncovered statuettes. The site also contains a small museum showing the items in the best condition. The importance of the contrast between the two excavation sites near Xi’an makes this visit essential.
Next, you will fly to Guilin where your guide will meet you and transport you towards the city upon arrival.
Welcome to the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region! This region is best known for its numerous minorities and its fantastic countryside of rocky peaks bordering the Li River, uncountable caves, the Longsheng terrace paddy fields and the Detain waterfalls. This portion of your voyage will be the nature portion.
You will discover the Reed Flute Clave that gets its name from the numerous reeds growing at the entrance of the cave. Local tradesmen use these reeds for the fabrication of flutes. When you enter the cave, you will have the opportunity to explore the cave’s stalactites and stalagmites that create a game of light across the cave’s walls with the use of a flashlight.
You will end your day with a walk around Shan Lake known for its two superb Sun and Moon pagodas.
Overnight in Guilin.
Day 7 Guilin / Yangshuo
Your guide will transport you to the pier to begin the cruise on the Li River.
Eighty-three kilometers separate Guilin, the capital of the province, from Yangshuo, the small market town that has become very popular during these last 15 years. The town’s buildings follow the famous Li River where they are overshadowed by picturesque hills with fantastic names: the Elephant Trunk Hill and Folded Brocade Hill.
These superb natural formations have inspired poets, painters and photographers, and constitutes today as one of the most capturing visits in the country.
Even though the majority of voyagers stop in Yangshuo to spend time on the commercial West Road, we propose that you pursue your own trek on a bike to explore the countryside environment with its rice paddies, water buffalo and small villages.
For the night’s stay, you will have the choice to loge in Yangshuo itself or outside the town so you can be closer to nature.
Optional: Enjoy on the evening the show Impressions Liu Sanjie. Created by the famous director Zhang Yimou of ‘Raise the Red Lantern’ fame. Here in the heart of the Karst formation countryside, hundreds of actors including local fisherman, imitate scenes from rural life by dressing up in traditional costumes of the minorities of the region.
Overnight in Yangshuo.
Day 8 Yangshuo / Guilin / Shanghai
Your day begins with your guide transporting you to the Guilin airport (about two hours on the road) and a flight to Shanghai.
Welcome to Shanghai! This city has an important place in Chinese history the first area to be colonized by western powers in the 18th century, to then becoming the first seat of the Communist Party, and nowadays being the economic powerhouse of China. The recent history of this city has been a real rollercoaster!
When you arrive, your local guide will welcome you and help you enter the city on the Maglev, an electro-magnetic train of the latest fashion and a source of pride for the Shanghainese. During its construction, the municipal government paid for it to make transportation from the city to the airport more rapid and impress visitors.
As you ride the train, you will be able to note the speed on a small monitor in each train car. The train can go up to 430 kilometers per hour. It only takes about eight minutes to go 30 kilometers.
Then you will continue your entrance into the city with the subway at Longyang station (the terminal station of the Maglev) until Lujiazui station in Pudong district. On a separate note, your baggage will be picked up at the airport and directly transferred to the hotel while you enjoy traveling light into the city.
Not long ago, Pudong district was just a marsh where only farmers and water buffalo frequented. Now, the area has become one of the most important business centers in Asia with skyscrapers popping up like mushrooms next to old Shanghainese banks each year.
When you come to Shanghai, “dong” means “east” and “xi” means “west.” The Huangpu River separates the Puxi and Pudong areas. Puxi is the entire downtown region of the city west of the river while Pudong is the whole region of the city east of it.
You will converge on the nearby neighborhood of Lujiazui, the epicenter of some of the most famous buildings: the Oriental Pearl TV Tower, Jin Mao Tower (where a shoe seller from Anhui Province and later Alain Robert, the famous urban climber, scaled the tower’s walls) and the never ending Shanghai World Financial Center (the tallest building in Shanghai), that you will visit and where you can admire the city from the highest panoramic terrace in the world.
Option: You can take a break at the 100 Century Avenue café and enjoy some refreshments when you arrive.
Shortly after, you will take the famous Bund Sightseeing Tunnel, a mini subway line, to cross the Huangpu River to reach Puxi in a couple of minutes.
Next you will discover the Bund, the city’s famous walkway along some of Puxi’s historical buildings. The area dates back to the 1930s, Shanghai’s rich culture and European influence.
Then you will explore the famous Nanjing Road with its colorful signs and crowd of locals and tourists corresponding perfectly with the image of a modern Asian capital. If you feel the urge, please do not hesitate to stroll the neighboring streets animated by the sight of locals recycling materials from the public waste bins, the uncountable number of restaurants and the smells from the fruit stalls.
Once you are finished with your stroll of Nanjing Road, you will arrive at People’s Square, the former site of the Shanghai Racetrack (and the site of your next extensive visit), and be transported back to your hotel.
Overnight in Shanghai.
We will start the day by heading to the People’s Square.
This day will see us visit three museums of very different styles. We will start off with the Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Centre, and more precisely the model layout of Shanghai which covers a large part of the 3rd floor. This model city will really let you get your head around the layout of Shanghai, and understand just its size. A stunning panoramic cinema which shows a short video explaining how the city developed into the metropolis it is today will also help you get your head around Shanghai’s recent development. On the 4th floor there are some more interactive displays, which are perfect for the young (or the young at heart) and include a simulator of a boat being docked at Yangshan deep water port.
Depending on the exhibitions on show at the time you visit, and the photographs on display on the second floor, you should be able to get a grasp of how the city has evolved over time and get a look into its captivating history.
From here you will head to one of the most famous and prestigious museums in the country, and in Asia: The Shanghai Museum. The collection of bronze statues on the first floor is unrivalled, and is complemented by a number of jade pieces of artwork, as well as Qing Dynasty furniture, Buddhist sculptures and other pieces of Chinese artwork. The audio guides on offer are excellent, and it’s really worth taking your time to explore the museum.
For those interested in art, the day will end with a visit to the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA).
The delightful People’s Park offers visitors an enjoyable place to relax at the heart of the People’s Square. The park has a small lake, a number of food stands and countless places to sit and enjoy the atmosphere. The area is surrounded by a number of cafés and restaurants.
To end your time in the Square, you can stroll from the Square, along East Nanjing Road, to the Bund and admire the Shanghai night skyline. We will head back to the hotel and retire for the evening.
Option: Enjoy on the evening the shows “ERA” in Shanghai has become one of the most popular evening entertainments in the city. Now, it has been staged for 6 years. ERA is a multimedia odyssey whose inspiration is a direct result of the combination of traditional Chinese acrobatic arts and modern technology.
Overnight in Shanghai.
In the morning we will head for the French Concession, a symbol of a time when Western powers were accorded many privileges. You will start your trip with a stroll through Fuxing Park where you will have the chance to watch the Chinese practising their ritual of morning exercise. Especially worth watching are the tango dancers whose music fills every corner of the park.
Afterwards you will wander the surrounding roads, admiring the old colonial homes that have now been transformed into restaurants, bars and different boutiques. During colonial times the French Concession was a no-go zone for the police and was home to gangsters, mafia, opium traffickers, prostitutes and people looking for a good time. Shanghai earned itself the title of one of the world’s vice capitals.
Shanghai Triad by Zhang Yimou is a faithful depiction of the city in the 1930s.
You will continue on to Xintiandi, an entirely renovated area that is considered one of the liveliest parts of the city. You can end your walk at Tianzifang, a maze of animated alleyways full of restaurants, boutiques and small art galleries similar to those found in Xintiandi but much more authentic.
Your will walk will end in the Old Town, which today has mostly been rebuilt but which still has some of its old lilongs (which are like the hutongs found in Beijing) alive with the chatter of the Shanghainese and decorated with people’s washing strung out across the streets to dry. The Old Town also home to the famous Yu Yuan Gardens, a superb example of the art of Chinese garden landscaping, which is particularly common in this region. Traditionally Chinese gardens are a miniature reproduction of nature: the presence of rocks represents mountains, ponds represent lakes and running water imitating rivers. The quest for harmony takes precedence over the rigorous geometrical planning that you would see in most Western gardens. Their shape is therefore never rectangular, encouraging visitors to wander around with only their thoughts and no definite aim.
Optional: you will also get to meet a Chinese gardener who will talk to you about his art and notably about penjing (bonsai) trees.
Visit the local bazaar, where visitors and locals come to haggle. It’s a perfect chance for you to buy some souvenirs before your departure the following day, or take a rest at the Huxingting tea house, which is located at the centre of the lake opposite the Yu Yuan Park, and is one of the most famous in China.
The finale of your day will be a traditional Chinese massage, or “acupressure”, that concentrates on acupuncture points to stimulate the body’s natural healing throughout the whole body. It is a perfect conclusion for this trip full of contrasts and lessons.
Overnight in Shanghai.
Day: 11 Leaving Shanghai
You will be transported to the airport and to your returning flight. If you would not like to leave yet, please consult with us about your plans.