China Encompassed

Travel Idea:

China Encompassed

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Length of trip:

20 days

Approximate price of this trip per person:

from $ 3200

Best travel dates to go:

Aug 15, 2008 to Sep 03, 2008; Aug 29, 2008 to Sep 17, 2008; Sep 05, 2008 to Sep 24, 2008; Sep 19, 2008 to Oct 08, 2008; Oct 03, 2008 to Oct 22, 2008;


Detailed Description of this trip:

This unforgettable journey takes you from Hong Kong to Beijing, via the vast southern provinces of Guangxi and Sichuan. Experience a bicycle ride through stunning landscapes near Guilin, view giant pandas in Chengdu, see the world’s largest Buddha statue in Leshan, witness amazing Buddhist sculptures in caves in Dazu, visit the fabled Terracotta Warriors in Xian and enjoy a comfortable cruise on the fabled Yangtze River, surrounded by dramatic gorges. You will also have the opportunity to dine on the famous hot and spicy cuisine of Sichuan. The final highlights are visits to vibrant Shanghai and the capital, Beijing, home to the renowned Forbidden City and Summer Palace.



Trip Itinerary:

  • Day 1 - Hong Kong (SAR)

    Arrive Hong Kong.
    Hotel

    On arrival in Hong Kong you are transferred to your hotel.

    Food and Dining

    There will be a notice at reception about the evening's welcome dinner in the hotel restaurant (Cantonese cuisine). This is a chance for you to meet your fellow group members.

    Sightseeing

    Due to restrictions for Chinese citizens into Hong Kong, your tour leader will not be meeting you until you arrive in the mainland. If you are a first-time visitor to Hong Kong, it is recommended that you arrive a few days before the tour starts to allow yourself enough time to explore this exciting city. It is only a short walk from your hotel, situated on the Kowloon side near Nathan Road, to the waterfront for a spectacular night view of Hong Kong harbor.
    Meals: Dinner

  • Day 2 - Guangzhou

    Hong Kong - Guangzhou.
    Sightseeing

    Start a long traveling day by taking a morning boat to Guangzhou, one of China's largest cities, where a former coastal trading town has given way to a metropolis of gleaming glass skyscrapers. This is where you meet your Chinese tour leader, who will hold a tour briefing en-route. Have a quick look around the city formerly known as Canton, before going to the railway station

    Train

    Board the overnight train to Guilin. You will travel in a ‘soft-class’ sleeper, which is a four-berth compartment. Meals: Breakfast

  • Day 3-4 - Guangzhou

    Guangzhou - Yangshuo.
    Bus

    Arriving in Guilin Railway Station, transfer to a bus and travel on to Yangshuo, a place nestled amongst the imposing limestone karst formations that have inspired poets and painters for centuries.

    Hotel

    This small town is a haven for back-packers and here you’ll stay in a delightful local style hotel.

    Bicycling

    Yangshuo offers a relaxed and intimate alternative from the major cities of China and is an excellent place to explore by bicycle. Join one of our local friends and spend a few hours exploring the wonderful scenery in the surrounding countryside, including Moon Hill, and meeting some of the inhabitants of the nearby villages.

    Food and Dining

    Finish your bike ride by enjoying a home cooked lunch in your friend’s family home.

    Sailing

    A boat trip on the Li River to the surrounding market town of Fuli is an option to consider in your free time.

    Shopping

    This is also one of the better places for souvenir shopping so make the most of it.
    Meals: Lunch

  • Day 5-6 - Chengdu

    Yangshuo - Chengdu - Leshan.
    Commercial Flight

    Catch your flight to Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan Province. Sichuan is known for its hot, spicy dishes, considered by the Chinese as their best cuisine. In such a food-loving country, that is no mean achievement.

    Sightseeing

    A history of trade built on ‘cottage industry’ handicrafts has had a major influence on the development of Chengdu. Recent changes in the regulations in China have seen a revival of this tradition of private industry, and, at almost every turn, you see signs of a thriving market.

    Sightseeing

    There is free time to explore the city. There is a large statue of Chairman Mao in the middle of the city and the tranquil Renmin Park is well worth a visit, with its beautiful gardens and interesting teahouses. On a day trip, you’ll travel to Leshan, to see the world’s largest Buddha, carved into the hillside near the confluence of the Dadu and Min Rivers. A seated figure (as opposed to the ‘standing’ or ‘reclining’ Buddha images found elsewhere), it is a staggering 71 meters high. It is over 1,000 years old and took almost 100 years to build. It is not only impressive at close quarters, but can be viewed on a boat from a distance, in order to gain a different perspective.

    Sightseeing

    On one morning you’ll also visit the Giant Panda Breeding Research Base situated near the city. The giant panda is one of the world’s most endangered species and has become an icon for conservation movements everywhere. It is still found in parts of the Sichuan Province, but is very difficult to spot in the wild.
    Meals: 2 Breakfasts

  • Day 7 - Dazu

    Leshan - Dazu.
    Bus

    Travel by bus to Dazu County, where you’ll visit the remarkable Baoding Shan (Treasured Summit Hill).

    Sightseeing

    Here are a series of Buddhist sculptures created between 1179 and 1249. These amazing works of art were created by mystic monks and incorporate many of the natural features of the surrounding hillside. The highlight is a 31-meter long reclining Buddha.

    Hotel

    Overnight in a nearby hotel. The accommodations here are very basic, as Dazu is a small town with very little in the way of tourism infrastructure. Staying here will give you a taste of the 'real' China, but you will need bring with you your spirit of adventure! Meals: Breakfast

  • Day 8-10 - Chongqing

    Yangtze River Cruise.
    River or Barge Cruise

    Continue on to the city of Chongqing, where you’ll board a boat to commence a cruise on one of the greatest rivers in the world. The Yangtze (also known locally as the Changjiang River) stretches over 6,300 km, and is the world’s third longest waterway. It rises deep into the heart of the province of Qinghai, to the north of Tibet, and flows relentlessly eastwards until it empties into the East China Sea near Shanghai.

    Sightseeing

    Effectively dividing the country into north and south, the river not only supplies the rural heart of China, but has also spawned many industries reliant upon its power. The Yangtze has also inspired poets, writers and travelers over the centuries. The ‘Sanxia,' as they are known in Chinese, stretch for 200 km and vary from 100-300 meters in width.

    River or Barge Cruise

    Enjoy your cruise on a tourist-class boat and travel between Chongqing and Yichang.
    This is a much more comfortable way to travel than on the local boats that ply the same route, and offers a fascinating insight into life along the river. Spend three nights on board and sleep in twin-share cabins with private facilities, in accommodations similar to a small hotel room. Bedding and sheets are provided, as are all meals throughout the cruise.

    Sightseeing

    Travel through the renowned Three Gorges and finish the cruise near the construction site of the massive new dam.

    River or Barge Cruise

    Please note that all rooms on the Yangtze cruise are on a twin share basis. If you are not already sharing a room with someone from your group, you may be required to share with someone (of the same gender) from outside your group. This could be a member of another tour group or a local person. If you have paid a single supplement, please note that this does not cover the cruise. Meals: 3 Breakfasts, 2 Lunches, 2 Dinners

  • Day 11 - Xian

    Yichang - Xian.
    Bus

    After disembarking from the boat, you travel by bus to Wuhan through some typical Chinese rural areas.

    Train

    Catch an overnight train to Xian. Meals: Breakfast

  • Day 12-13 - Xian

    Food and Dining

    Capital of Shaanxi Province and the largest city in northwest China, Xian is a wonderful place to explore. Food options are excellent here, ranging from delicious Muslim fare to great little dumplings in Chinese cafes.

    Sightseeing

    Widely regarded as the first capital of a united China in 221 BC, the city is rich in history. A half-day tour to the renowned Terracotta Warriors introduces you to these entombed statues, considered one of the most important archaeological finds of the 20th century. Over 6,000 of them were individually sculpted from clay, each having a different costume, height, and even facial expression. They are standing in battle formation, facing east in order to protect the tomb of China's first Emperor, the great Qin Shihuang. Peasants digging a well only discovered the underground vault, which was home to this army for two millennia, in 1974. Xian also has a wonderful Muslim Quarter.

    Shopping

    A free day can easily be spent wandering the narrow streets where you’ll find quaint shops, lively markets, groups of white-bearded men in skull caps sipping tea in dingy cafes, and the Great Mosque, one of the most important in China. Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

  • Day 14-16 - Shanghai

    Commercial Flight

    This morning, you fly to Shanghai.

    Transfer to your hotel located near the famous Bund or waterfront area, where dozens of imposing European colonial buildings, remnants of the concession era, line the promenade.

    Shopping

    This is an excellent place to rub shoulders with the locals. The shopping area on Nanjing Road is situated nearby. Enjoy free time in Shanghai; however, your tour leader can show you how to get to the famous Yuyuan Gardens and Bazaar, a fascinating highlight of the city and worth exploring for its tranquil Chinese garden and wonderful food stalls.

    Performing Arts

    In the evening, there is a chance to see a performance of the famous Shanghai Acrobats. Keen photographers are rewarded by an early start to the day, as scores of locals practice tai chi along the waterfront at dawn.

    Museums

    The old French Quarter is also a great place to wander around, and the Jade Buddha Temple and the impressive Shanghai Museum are both well worth a visit. The gleaming towers on the Pudong side reflect China’s march towards modernization and the rapid rate of changes that are taking place.

    Train

    On the evening of Day 16, you will board another overnight train for your final destination - Beijing. Meals: 3 Breakfasts

  • Day 17-19 - Beijing

    Sightseeing

    Beijing offers endless opportunities for exploration. The enormous Forbidden City, built more than 500 years ago and off limits to commoners for almost all that time, is a truly amazing place. Its size might surprise you (it is huge!), but what makes it fascinating is that every square meter is interesting, ranging from intricately carved walkways to colorful, painted ceilings. The Summer Palace and Temple of Heaven are two other fine examples of extraordinary workmanship. Travel to Simatai, a largely un-restored and, as such, more authentic section of the Great Wall, not crowded with hordes of other tourists. Being perched on this incredible engineering feat and surveying the spectacular surrounding countryside is an unforgettable experience. There is also ample free time in the itinerary, allowing you to make your own discoveries.

    Hotel

    Your hotel is located in the south of the city and a walk in any direction will unveil all sorts of wonderful surprises.

    Shopping

    There are good shopping opportunities at the various markets around the city, such as the centrally located Dashilan Market.

    Performing Arts

    In the evening, you have the chance to enjoy a performance of the unique Beijing Opera or the spectacular acrobats (optional). Meals: 2 Breakfasts

  • Day 20 - Beijing

    Beijing - Onward.
    Food and Dining

    Your tour ends after breakfast. A transfer to the airport is not included, however, your tour leader will be on hand to advise you as to the options available.
    Meals: Breakfast

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