Classic China Itinerary

Day 1: Depart for China

You will leave the US for China. The adventure begins!

Day 2: Arrive Beijing

When you arrive in Beijing, you will be met by a guide and transferred to your hotel.


BEIJING - The capital of China, where many miraculous structures have been built for the glory of the Emperor! This city is rich in history and culture.  Here you will experience China from the last 500 years of history to modern times.

Day 3: Beijing (B)

Your guide will meet you this morning and begin with a tour of a Chinese Hutong by rickshaw. Ride through the old neighborhood, then a short walking tour into the narrow streets of the Hutong.  You will visit the home of a local family; feel free to ask any questions. This is the traditional housing in old Beijing that was generally four small houses surrounding a court area. The Hutong has been home to both the poor and the rich. These quaint dwellings are disappearing in the continual modernization of China. After lunch you will go to Tiananmen Square and then to the Forbidden City. In addition to seeing the buildings and grounds of the Emperor's palace, you will also see the Emperor's clock collection and the Qing Dynasty Jewelry, Robes and Relics collection (which Westerners rarely see). 


Evening Option:  Beijing Duck Dinner and/or Beijing Opera Performance.



Day 4: Beijing – Great Wall (B, L)

Today you will visit the Great Wall of China!  There are 23 towers on the Mutianyu Great Wall snaking the ridge for about 3000 meters. The watch towers at the Mutianyu Great Wall are distributed at short intervals. The 23 watch towers are numbered from right (east) to left (west). The 23th tower is highest point of the Mutianyu Great Wall. You have three ways of getting to the Great Wall at this location:


1)     Walking up the Great Wall along the stone steps (like a mountain hike - 30 minute hike ) - to the 10th or 8th Watch Tower

2)     Taking a cable car up to the Great Wall - to the 14th Watch Tower

3)     Taking a chairlift to the Great Wall - to the 6th Watch Tower


Afterwards, you will be returned to your hotel.

Day 5:  Beijing – Temple of Heaven – 798 Artist District (B)

We will start the day with a visit to the Temple of Heaven. This site is actually twice the size of the Forbidden City.  It was where the emperor went to commune with the gods for rain and fruitful crops. In Chinese cosmology, there is a place in the Temple of Heaven’s grounds that is the center of the earth.  After this tour we will take you for a stop at the 798 Artist’s District. This is a community of modern artists, with homes, art studios and display halls.  


Evening Option: Visit “Lotus Lane” in the Hutong Bar Street area (a festively lit strand of bars, restaurants, and shops on the lake in the Hutong District).


Day 6: Beijing – Xi’an (B)

This morning you will be transferred to the airport for your flight to Xi’an. You will be met at the airport and transferred to your hotel. After you are settled you will be taken on a tour of the city, including the old city wall. After lunch you will go to the Shaanxi Provincial Museum, which has an extensive collection of artifacts from the various Chinese Dynasties.


XI'AN is the oldest capital of China. Xi’an is the home of incredible archaeological discoveries and is the Eastern-most city of the Silk Road. The ancient emperor's burial sites can be found here. Xi'an is naturally a flat area. The many "hills" that you will see there are actually burial mounds of emperors, governors, and other rich dignitaries.


Evening Option: Watch the Wild Goose Pagoda water show. This free show is the largest of its kind in China.


Day 7: Xi’an – Chengdu (B, L)

Today you will visit what has been called the "8th Wonder of the World" the Terra Cotta Soldiers Museum. You will then have lunch.  Afterwards you will be transferred to the airport for your flight to Chengdu.  Upon arrival you will be met and transferred to your accommodation. 


Chengdu: Chengdu is a very interesting city in China. It is home to the Panda Research Station, as well as close the Panda Reserve. Chengdu is also famous for its lush produce, Cultural Streets and its famous Tea houses. Additionally, Chengdu is very close to Leshan Mountain, where you can see the largest outside Buddha in the world.


After Dinner Evening Show: Traditional Show at Sichuan Chinese Teahouse. These are not just quaint little cultural shows designed for tourists.  These shows are performed for Chinese and visitors alike and feature a variety of the incredible and beautiful Sichuan arts including;  Fire-Breathing, Face-Changing, Stick puppetry, Shadow Puppetry (amazing level of shadow puppetry, my favorite act!) and a brief Sichuan Opera scene. While you are watching these talents on display you can be sipping your Chinese tea and eating some little snacks. 


Day 8: Chengdu – Leshan Buddha Tour (B, D)

Today we will drive you into the countryside where you can visit the famous Leshan Buddha.  The giant sculpture stands where the Minjiang, Daduhe, and Qingyi Rivers meet. This is the largest outside seated Buddha in the world. You can either view it from a boat on the river or if you have the energy you can walk along the top of the hill and descend to where the Buddha is standing. You will will be able to enjoy the beautiful countryside along the way.  Then we will return to Chengdu. Tonight you will have dinner at a Sichuan Restaurant to taste genuine Sichuan dishes.


Day 9: Chengdu – Ya’an Panda Reserve Internship (B, L)

Today we will drive out to Ya’an.  We will stop and have a special lunch there and visit the Ya’an Bridge, which is a historic site.   Then we will continue to the Panda Reserve to sign in for our internship.  You will get your uniform and the basic instructions and we will be shown where we will be working.  We will have a little time to see some of the Pandas in the reserve.  We will then check into the very simple “Farmer’s Hotel.” Once you are settled, we will take a nature hike in this beautiful area, where we will see some lovely vistas and a waterfall.   


Day 10: Ya’an Panda Reserve Internship - Chengdu – (B, L, D)

This is an incredible and unique experience!  We will start the internship, which is very simple work cleaning 1-2 adult Panda cages and feeding the Pandas 4 times.  The work is simple and pleasant.  The rest of the time you can either interact with the pandas in our area or walk around and look at the other Pandas.  We will learn a lot about this amazing and unique animal that has captured the imagination of people around the world! You can go to a zoo to look at pandas but this experience the pandas look at you and are interested in you! 


For an extra fee you can take a picture with a 2-year old baby Panda on your lap (subject to governmental regulations) for an additional fee you can even sit with with a 1-year or 2-year old baby Panda for three minutes.  When our Panda duties are complete we will be picked up and taken back to Chengdu. 


Day 9: Chengdu – Zhangjiajie (B)

Today you will start with a visit The Street Produce Market (which is one vendor after another featuring their huge and lush produce) and the SanXing Dui Museum (which is a huge museum built over an excavation site which has artifacts and ruins of an ancient civilization dating back to the 16th Century BC). Time depending, we can then take you to a Traditional Chinese Medicine Center. You can learn about their acupuncture as well as their traditional medicines. Afterwards you will be taken to the airport to catch your late afternoon flight to Zhangjiajie.  There your guide will meet you and transfer you to your hotel. 


Zhangjiajie:  This is one of the most beautiful places on earth!  The karst formations here are unique and beautiful. The mountains, caves, waterfalls create a virtual wonderland! There are also three principal minority peoples in this area, the Tujia, the Miao and the Bai peoples. The ancient town of Tujiazu provides a unique view of ancient China.  This tour combines the beauty of nature, minority peoples and ancient villages and watertowns.     


Day 10:  Zhangjiajie (B, D) - Zhangjiajie Park,  Huangshi Fort, Jinbian Brook

Today we will take you to some of the most beautiful spots in the spectacular Zhangjiajie National Forest Park. You can go to set off for Huangshi Fort which is 1080m above the sea level, which is surrounded by tall narrow peaks and cliffs. From this site you will see a spectacular panorama of sites. In the afternoon we will explore Jinbian Brook. It covers a distance of 7.5 km from north to south, winding across mountains and valleys. There are many gorgeous scenic sites along the way.  We will also see some of the minorities who live in this area.  Evening:  Dinner at an excellent Hunan restaurant (wonderful type of Chinese cooking).

Day 11:  Zhangjiajie (B, L) - Mt.Tianzishan, Mt. Tianzishan Cable Car
Today Tianzi Mountain is our goal. It is a mesa in the northwest of Wulingyuan. Up on the mesa, the field of vision is widely opened up and it is a perfect location to have a panoramic view of the nature reserve. The two-way cable car ride saves your energy to enjoy the views and relax.  You will see some absolutely spectacular scenery. Then we will return to the city. 

Optional:  A cooking class from a local cook or visit a local village. 

Day 12:  Zhangjiajie (B, L) - Mengdong River Scenic Spot, Furong Town
Today's we will go to the Mengdong River Scenic Spot which is reputed as "the back garden" of Zhangjiajie. We continue on to the Furong Town located on the northern bank of Youshui River which is 26 km southward to Yongshun County. It is an ancient town of the Tujiazu,and history and culture of more than 2000 years.  You can visit some of the minority peoples in the countryside. 

Evening:  We can watch a local cultural show complete with dances, music and a lovely array of local festive costumes. 

Day 13:  Zhangjiajie - Shanghai (B, L) Aborigines Scenic Park, Yellow Dragon Cave

Start with a visit to the Aborigines Scenic Park within the city proper first. We can visit some of the minority peoples of this Hunan city.  Then on to the spectacular Huanglongdong Cave/Yellow Dragon Cavern, which has many impressive stalactites and stalagmites, illuminated in a variety of colored lights. Here are some of the most beautiful caves in the world. 


This evening you will be transferred to the airport for your flight to Shanghai.


SHANGHAI - The east meets the west city.  This historic home of the European and American headquarters in China is still witnessed by the historic Bund.


Day 14: Shanghai (B) 

The day begins with a tour of the classic Yu Yuan Gardens, which is a gorgeous example of a classic Chinese Garden.   This area exits into the main shopping center of Shanghai.  Shanghai is such an East-Meets-West city that they call this area "China Town."  After lunch, you will be taken to the world-class Shanghai Art Museum. This fantastic museum has a number of quality exhibits including an ancient coin collection and on the fourth floor an ethnic minority exhibit which features their costumes, masks, and various implements and tools.


Evening Option: Shanghai Acrobats or The famous Peace Hotel Jazz Band (in the Bund area)


Day 15:  Shanghai – Suzhou/Shouzhuang (B, L, D)

Suzhou:  The city of beautiful gardens, canals and fine art.  The silk factory and the Embroidery Institute are delightful.  This city is also famous for its beautiful women and their very soft skin.







After breakfast we drive to Suzhou. Upon your arrival at Suzhou, we will visit the Humble Administrator's Garden, which is the largest classical garden in Suzhou and praised to be one of the top four gardens in China. We will then visit the Embroidery Institute.  This is an amazing place where Chinese Masters do with thread what our Western Masters do with oil paintings.  We can also visit the Silk Factory and Showroom.  They feature many high quality silk products including the impressive silk comforters made by layer after layer of individual silk worm cocoons which are spread the entire width and length of the comforter. Afterwards we will take you to the Watertown of Zhouzhuang.  You will see some beautiful canals, classic small bridges and a glimpse into what life was like in older China.  Finally we will drive you back to Shanghai in the late afternoon.


Day 16:  Shanghai - Home (B)

Today you will be transferred to the airport for your flight back to the USA with many wonderful memories!



Note: Tour and Tour Information are subject to change.

Meals Provided: = B = breakfast, L = lunch, D = dinner


Note: Tour and Tour Information are subject to change.

Meals Provided: B = breakfast, L = lunch, D = dinner


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