China Unchanged

Travel Idea:

China Unchanged

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Length of trip:

15 days

Approximate price of this trip per person:

from $ 3495

Best travel dates to go:

Sep 08, 2008 to Sep 22, 2008;


Detailed Description of this trip:

Take an unusual journey on China's back roads. Explore hanging temples, ancient grottoes and old walled cities. Visit in many different traditional villages. Enjoy beautiful scenery, delicious local foods, and unique accommodations, including a 19th century country inn.



Trip Itinerary:

  • Day 1 - Beijing

    Hotel

    Welcome to China! Upon arrival, you will be met by your guide and transferred to a centrally located hotel.

    Sightseeing

    Depending on flight arrival times, you may have time to browse the area around the hotel. However, most of you will just be glad to get off the plane and get a good night’s sleep.

  • Day 2 - Datong

    Beijing - Datong (overnight train).
    Sightseeing

    In the morning, you are free to explore Beijing at your leisure before departing to Datong.

    Train

    Travel by soft class overnight sleeper train in compartments of four bunks each.
    Meals: Breakfast

  • Day 3 - Datong

    Datong - Wutaishan.
    Sightseeing

    Arrive in the Han town of Datong in the early morning. Datong, located in the northern part of Shanxi Province, had a luminous past as the capital of the Northern Wei Dynasty (383-534 AD). It is now famed for many things, one of which is the Yungang Grottoes. Built against the Wuzhou Mountain, the grottoes extend for almost a mile east to west. The 53 grottoes include some 1,000 niches with about 51,000 statues – a treasure-trove of cave art that combines traditional Chinese forms with foreign influences, particularly Greek and Indian. Sculptures here are noted for their vigorous features and a rich variety of sizes that range from the smallest, only .75 in. high, to the tallest – a Buddha 56 ft. high.

    Historical and Educational Tours

    Halfway through the Jinlong Valley lies the Hanging Temple of Wutaishan, another unforgettable historical place of interest. Situated against steep rock and facing a high valley, the temple literally hangs on the west cliff of Jinxia Gorge, more than 165 ft. off the ground. This type of structure is rarely seen in Chinese architecture, and is in fact, the only wood building built on a cliff in China. The Hanging Temple was built during the North Wei dynasty and was renovated in the dynasties of Tang, Jin, Ming and Qing. It is the most amazing sight on the Hengshan mountain.

    Hotel

    Overnight at the best available 3 star hotel in Wutaishan. Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

  • Day 4 - Taiyuan

    Wutaishan - Taiyuan.
    Sightseeing

    Today you will visit Mt. Wutaishan, one of the most sacred Buddhist mountains in China. The Five Terrace Mountain (Wutaishan) is a quiet area that, despite recent tourist infiltration, still retains its Buddhist roots. With an alpine-esque atmosphere of dense forests and scattered snow capped peaks, the mountain is known for its purity in the form of clean streams, including the aptly named Clear Water River (Qingshuihe), and a piety of Buddhist thought.

    Hiking

    Choose from a variety of activities in and around the mountain, including hiking and visiting the City of Temples.

    Bus

    In the afternoon you will be transferred to Taiyuan (4 hr. drive).

    Hotel

    Upon arrival, you will be met and checked into a 4 star hotel for your overnight. Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

  • Day 5 - Taiyuan

    Taiyuan - Pingyao.
    Bus

    After breakfast, you’ll be driven approximately 4 hours to Pingyao, a small town located 62 miles south of Taiyuan, whose history goes back 2,700 years.

    Sightseeing

    En route to Pingyao, you will stop to visit the Jin Ci Temple. Located just outside of Taiyuan city, the temple is a combination of historical and cultural relics mixed with beautiful landscapes. Take some time to stroll around the temple halls and observe the many figures that it houses. All of this, together with the Flying Bridge across the Fish Pond (an architectural wonder of its time), provide evidence of a new era in Chinese architecture. Built in the Ming Dynasty, Pingyao is one of the few towns left in China that is still encircled by original Ming Dynasty walls. Most of the buildings in this town date from the Qing Dynasty, when Pingyao was at its most prosperous point. Because of the remarkable state of the city’s preservation, and its importance as the city in which banking in China originated in the 19th century, it has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage site.

    Food and Dining

    A late dinner will be served upon arrival in Pingyao.

    Bed & Breakfast

    Overnight at a local inn, which is a converted 19th century courtyard dwelling, refurbished entirely to keep with the style of former days. Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

  • Day 6 - China

    Pingyao.
    Museums

    Today you’ll walk along the ancient city wall, which is marked with a watchtower every 50 meters (164 ft). Visit several of the ancient courtyards and a complex of old private houses that have been converted into museums exhibiting their collection of art and furniture.

    Sightseeing

    In addition to appreciating the ancient architecture, you will learn about how banking started in China over a century ago in this very city. Of particular interest is the Qing Dynasty Yamen, or county magistrate's complex. Today’s pace is leisurely, allowing you to absorb the atmosphere of the buildings and the relaxed way of local life. Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

  • Day 7 - Taiyuan

    Pingyao - Jingsheng - Taiyuan.
    Sightseeing

    In the morning, head about 4 1/2 miles south of town to the 1,300 year old Shuanglin Temple, which houses over 2,000 Buddhist terracotta sculptures. Travel a few more miles to the Zhenguo Temple, the only existing Buddhist complex dating back to the Five Dynasties Period. After lunch, continue the drive to Jingsheng Village in Lingshi County. Jingsheng has a quaint and unique charm, and it is famous for its well-preserved Qing Dynasty architecture and a heritage of wealthy bankers that inhabited the area. The main attraction of the village is the Wang Residence, the former living quarters of a prosperous local family. Spend about two hours wandering around this enormous but little known mansion, exploring its many nooks and crannies.

    Train

    Return to Taiyuan to catch the overnight train to Xian. Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

  • Day 8 - Xian

    Sightseeing

    Today you arrive in Xian, one of the six ancient capitals of China. Xian served as the seat of 12 imperial capitals for 1,120 years, and is also a world-famous tourist city housing a treasure of cultural relics. Xian is most famous for its Terra Cotta figures, which you’ll see today. The Terra Cotta Warriors and Horses are the most significant archeological excavation of the 20th century. In 1974, a group of peasants uncovered some pottery while digging for a well nearby the royal tomb outside Xian. News of the discovery immediately caught the attention of archeologists who came to Xian in droves to study and extend the digs. They established beyond a doubt that these Terra Cotta army men and horses were artifacts associated with the Qin Dynasty.

    Museums

    Today, the site is preserved as part of the Terra Cotta Museum, and is still actively excavated. There may also be time to walk the old city wall around Xian. Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

  • Day 9 - Xian

    Xian - Guiyang - Kaili.
    Museums

    Today, before departing for Guiyang, you’ll see the Muslim quarter and the Shangxi Musuem.

    Commercial Flight

    Then it’s off to the airport in order to catch your flight to Guiyang, the capital of Guizhou Province.

    Bus

    From here you’ll have a 2.5 hour drive to Kaili, the center of many ethnic minorities.

    Sightseeing

    In the afternoon, make an excursion to visit the little known Geija people at Matang village, located an hour’s drive to the north. Due to their tradition of learning martial arts, or Wushu, their unique costumes resemble the style and design that ancient Chinese generals once wore. Their dyed handkerchiefs look like a general’s helmet; their outer coat like armor; and the silverware on their bodies take the forms of a sword, knife and hammer.

    Food and Dining

    Return to Kaili in the evening where you will be treated to local Miao cuisine. Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

  • Day 10 - Rongjiang

    Kaili - Rongjiang (via Langde & Datang).
    Bus

    A short drive along the Bala River brings you to the village of Langde, one of Guizhou’s loveliest Miao Villages. Here you see their traditional wooden houses and waterwheels.

    Food and Dining

    Enjoy a lovely lunch before continuing your journey to Datang, another Miao village with an aquatic granary and a stunning view of Mt. Leigong.

    Sightseeing

    Resume the drive along a sandstone road to Rongjiang through Kaitun Terrace, where the layers of terraced rice fields form what appears to be a gigantic staircase along the side of a mountain. The drive today is long, but the tour stops make it all worth while. Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

  • Day 11 - Rongjiang

    Rongjiang - Zhaoxing.
    Bus

    A six-hour drive will bring you to Zhaoxing, one of the largest Dong villages in the region with more than 700 households and a population of 4,000.

    Sightseeing

    Though it is long, the drive will be filled with interesting village stops such as the Basha Miao village. The Dong can be recognized by their turbans (for men) and pleated skirts (for women). They are also known for their architecture, particularly their drum towers and Fengyuqiaos, or wind and rain bridges which are used as shelter during bad weather.

    Bed & Breakfast

    Overnight at a wooden hostel.
    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

  • Day 12 - China

    Zhaoxing.
    Hiking

    If you wish, you can hike to visit nearby Dong villages such as Jilum, Kitang, and Tang’an.

    Hotel

    Overnight in Zhaoxing.
    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

  • Day 13 - China

    Zhaoxing - Chenyang (via Sanjiang).
    Sightseeing

    From Zhaoxing, continue the adventure south into the Guangxi Province to visit Sanjiang. This village was inhabited by the South Dong, one of the two subgroups of the Dong ethnic minority.

    Sightseeing

    A short drive from Sanjiang will take you to Chenyang, a quaint little village with one of the largest Fengyuqiaos in the region. Here you will get to explore the villages on foot and visit lively markets and hillside farms.

    Hotel

    Overnight at the Sanjiang Hotel or similar. Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

  • Day 14 - Guilin

    Sanjiang - Guilin (via Longsheng).
    Sightseeing

    Leave Chenyang in the morning to visit Longsheng, where the mountains are covered with terraced rice fields, some of them reaching up to 3,300 feet high.

    Hotel

    Continue on until reaching Guilin, where you will overnight. Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

  • Day 15 - Hong Kong (SAR)

    Guilin - Hong Kong - Onward.
    Commercial Flight

    Transfer to the airport for your flight back to Hong Kong.

    From there, continue on to other destinations in China, or catch your onward flight home.
    Meals: Breakfast

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