People of China From City to Countryside 23 Day Itinerary
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Last updated: 04/23/2009
Take in both China's highlights and areas a little off the beaten track; From the Great Wall and Terracotta Army in the North,to the epic countryside and spectacular karst mountains of the South
Arrival in Beijing
On arrival One of our local representatives will greet you and take you to your hotel. In keeping with local style you'll stay in a traditional courtyard hotel with fruit trees, magnolias and flowers. The rest of the day is yours to spend as you wish; to recuperate from your flight and to explore the area surrounding your hotel.
Beijing - Tour of Tian'anmen Square, Forbidden City and more
Today you'll have a chance to discover Beijing by car with a driver and an English-speaking guide. The first stop is Tian'anmen Square: the gateway to heavenly peace. This famous square is home to the buildings of parliament as well as the entrance to the Forbidden City and Mao Zhedong's Mausoleum and is most likely top of your list of must-see's in China. After a stop you'll visit the Temple of Heavenly Peace and the colourful Lama Temple. These are Beijing's most important temples. For instance, when you're visiting Tian'anmen around 12:30 when your driver sends you on your way you can ask your guide to give you tips on the best places to visit for lunch.
During the afternoon you'll walk along with your guide into the Forbidden City where you'll have a look at the 18th century residence of the emperor, once you've seen all you wish to see your guide will help you find a taxi cab back to your hotel.
Beijing - Great Wall Trek
The Great Wall of China should be a part of every China trip. A hike over the wall from Jinshanling to Simatai, is the most enjoyable way to get a sense of the vastness of the Great Wall of China. The 10km hike is quite strenuous; you'll be climbing and descending for about 4 hours over restored and original wall segments. Another alternative would be an excursion to the Great Wall of China at Mutianyu. During this excursion you can walk over the wall for about 3km and simply return to the starting point at the end of the walk allowing you to make your walk as short or as long as you wish.
Beijing - Departure to Xi'an
Today you'll have one more day to spend as you please in Beijing. If you'd like spend the day relaxing, take a taxi cab to Beihei City Park with its classical Chinese gardens or visit the Summer Palace. If you feel like spending your day more actively, go for a walk or bike ride through Beijing's old neighbourhoods, the hutongs.
Be sure to head back to your hotel around 15:00, you'll be picked up there around 17:00 and taken to the train station. We'll arrange a hard sleeper for you in the night train to Xi'an. Once on board, we fell asleep quite quickly to the rhythmic sound of the train on the tracks.
Arrival in Xi'an
You'll be awakened from your slumber before arriving in Xi'an (if you prefer not to travel by train, there are several daily flights to Xi'an. You'll be greeted in the arrival hall and taken straight to your hotel. The rest of the day is yours to spend as you wish. You may want to have a look around the large boulevards and we would suggest visiting the charming Muslim neighbourhood. The heart of the city is the large Bell Tower in the middle of the traffic intersection. If you climb the tower around 17:00 you'll have a wonderful view of the city, the Muslim neighbourhood and you'll catch a demonstration of Chinese kettle drums.
Xi'an - Terracotta Army
You'll be picked up at 9:00 this morning for a visit to one of China's most popular attractions. The Terracotta Army excavation site is located in a park about 40 minutes from the city of Xi'an. The site was discovered in 1974 by farmers. They found approximately 7000 clay soldiers, clay horses and clay chariots, which were commissioned by the then 14 year old king Zheng for his future royal tomb.
At around 13.00 you'll be back in Xi'an. In the afternoon you could visit the large Goose Pagoda or stroll through Xi'an's charming Muslim district.
Xi'an - Lanzhou For those looking for a bit of exercise during the holiday, today can be spent bike riding over the approximately 10m wide city wall. The wall is 12km long and is built in a square around the city. If you're looking to avoid the crowds in the city, this is your best bet. We will make reservations for hard sleeper seats in the night train from Xi'an to Lanzhou for you. You'll pick up your baggage at the hotel an hour and a half before the train departure and you'll arrange your own transport to the train station.
Lanzhou - Xiahe (Altitude 3000m)
On arrival at Lanzhou station you'll be picked up by a mini van and taken to Xiahe; a 5.5 hour drive. Along the way the mini van will stop for food and drinks.Xiahe is a 3km long street with stores and several hotels that ends at the famous 16th century Labrang monastery with its characteristic golden roof. This is the second largest Tibetan monastery in China after Potala Palace in Lhasa; approximately 2000 monks live here. You'll spend the night in the Overseas Tibetan Hotel or in a similar type hotel near the monastery. Just like all other hotels in the area, the hotel you'll stay at will have a 1.5 - 2 star rating. Warm water is available at set times during the day.
Xiahe - Ganya grasslands
Xiahe's outback is very beautiful. A mini van will take you to the Ganya grasslands in the morning; the ride will take about 2 hours. The road will quickly climb into the Mountains and onto the plateau. You'll cross a landscape full of lakes mirroring clear blue skies, soft babbling brooks, traditional villages (we fell in love with the Eight Corners Village) and large herds of (mainly) sheep and naturally the typical Tibetan yaks. You'll stop in one of the villages for a hearty lunch. Stroll through the village and meet some of the colourful inhabitants of the village, monks and nomads from the surrounding area. In the afternoon you'll ease back to the town of Xiahe.
Xiahe - Lanzhou - Chengdu (Altitude 500m)
A transfer will take you back to Lanzhou, where you'll catch a plane to Chengdu. We'll arrange a transfer to pick you up from Chengdu airport and take you to your hotel in the centre of town. The rest of the day is free to spend as you choose. Head to Jinli street, a charming, pedestrian neighbourhood next to the entrance of the Wuhou temple. This is a great place to stroll around through the small, authentic streets, enjoy a bite to eat on 'snack street' and to have a drink at one of the lantern-lit bars or tea houses. You'll definitely enjoy people-watching here, especially because of the large number of Chinese tourists you'll encounter.
Chengdu - Panda Research Centre excursion
If you'd like to see pandas while in China, the best thing to do would be to visit the Panda Research Centre in Chengdu. This green park filled with bamboo forests and a swan lake is home to giant pandas in large fenced in gardens. We really enjoyed our visit to the centre since you could see the animals from very close by. You'll be picked up at 7:30 in the morning so that you can arrive at the panda research centre when the pandas are fed. It's endearing to watch the pandas eating, playing and sleeping and if you visit the instructional panda museum you'll understand more clearly why the panda is an endangered species.
After an hour or two you'll have seen all there is to see at the panda research centre and the sight of these giant teddy bears forever engrained in your memory, you'll be back at your hotel around 11:30.
Day 12: Chengdu - Lijiang
Arrange your own taxi cab to Chengdu airport and catch the 1 hour flight to the fairy tale town of Lijiang. On arrival you'll be greeted by one of our local representatives and you'll be taken to the historic part of town. This part of town called 'old town of 'Dayan' is on Unesco's World Heritage List. You'll stay in a courtyard hotel with plants, sitting areas and lanterns. You'll stay in the middle of 'old town' amidst bars, stores and restaurants. This is a pedestrian town without cars. At night Lijiang is illuminated by red lanterns. Stroll through past the small canals, over stone bridges and over cobble stone streets.
Day 13: Lijiang
On this morning you'll go on a bicycle ride through area surrounding Lijiang. You'll ride over a flat road with mountains to the right and left of you together along with your guide. You'll visit the traditional Naxi village Baisha, where you'll park your bike and visit the legendary herbal practitioner Dr. Ho. You'll return to Lijiang around noon where you'll say goodbye to your guide and your bike. After lunch you can visit the Black Dragon Pool Park. This park is home to some of the most often photographed areas in China, such as the lake featured in the picture, which when the sun shines reflects the temple and tops of the surrounding mountains beautifully.
Day 14: Lijiang - Dali
Today you'll visit a part of the Chinese countryside and a bus will take you from Lijiang to Dali, which will take approximately 4 hours. The last part of the drive will take you past Lake Erhai. Historic Dali, the part of town that you'll stay in, is the most fun part of Dali to stay in. Take a stroll through the illuminated southern gate in the evening, into the historic heart of town. There are small wooden homes, stores and restaurants on both sides of the streets. 'Foreigner Street' is the place where western tourists get together and share stories and experiences.
Day 15: Dali
This day can be spent however you choose. Your hotel offers a variety of interesting excursions to choose from. Naturally you don't have to book an excursion to have a great time; you can also choose to go out on your own. For 10 Yuan you can rent a bike and explore the area surrounding Dali independently. There are also horseback rides through the forests and mountains. There are plenty of options.... and in the evening you can enjoy the nightlife in the walled off part of Dali.
Day 16: Dali - Kunming - Guilin - Yangshuo
Today you'll travel by comfortable public transport bus to Kunming within 5 to 6 hours. This will be another ride with hills and mountains surrounding you and through farmland and villages. On arrival in Kunming you'll arrange your own taxi cab to the airport for a 2 hour flight to Guilin. At the end of the day you'll arrive in 'wonderland' and you'll see the karst mountains near Guilin. You'll be greeted by our local representative in the arrival hall and we'll arrange a connecting transfer to the next destination, Yangshuo, which is about two hours away. All in all you'll be travelling for quite some time, however all the travelling will be well worth it!There's a very laid back atmosphere and it's easy to meet people here. We'll arrange accommodation for you in a charming retreat located between the karst mountains. There are mountain bikes, kayaks, bamboo rafts and tubes for rent and naturally this area is great for walking.
Day 17: Yangshuo - bike, bamboo boat excursion Yulong River You'll start off the day with a bike ride along the Yulong River. During your bike ride you'll leave the main roads and peddle over paths along the river, through farmland and rice paddies and you'll have the karst mountains as constant companions during your ride. After biking for a while, the bamboo raft will be waiting to take you down the river. You, your guide and other boats will sail through the peaks of the karst mountains. After a few kilometres you'll get back on your bike and peddle towards the 'highlight' of this trek, Moon Hill. You can choose to climb the hill if you wish. Eventually when you return to your hotel you can unwind with a beer or glass of wine on the terrace.
Day 18: Yangshuo
Today you'll have the entire day to spend as you please; there is plenty to do in this area. You can rent a kayak from the hotel, spend another day on a bicycle to explore the area on your own or you can even take Kung Fu lesson for an hour. We'll gladly give you more options.
Day 19: Yangshuo - Ping'an
At around 9:00 you'll be picked up and a transfer will take you north through Guilin to the Longji rice terraces. The village Ping'an is located in the middle of this area and is only accessible by foot. You'll be awaited at the end of the drive and someone will join you on the 20 minute walk to the village. You'll stay in a basic, well maintained guest house in the village. The guest house has a large veranda where you can enjoy the view of the rice fields and mountains in the crisp clean air. The afternoon is free to spend as you wish in this picturesque location.
Day 20: Ping'an
At around 9:00 you and a guide will head out for a day of hiking through the world's highest altitude, most vast area of rice terraces. This area is called Dragon's Bone or Longji.You'll mostly be walking through the rice terraces; however you'll also walk through forest or marshes. You'll see the Zhuang hard at work in their paddy-fields bushing their oxen through the mud. Around lunchtime you'll have a bite to eat in a small town and then you'll continue hiking for another two hours. Then you'll catch a bus back to the end of the road leading to Ping'an where you'll walk back to your guest house in the village with your guide. In the evening you'll be able to enjoy a stunning sunset from the veranda.
Day 21: Ping'an - Guilin - Canton - Hong Kong
Start off the day by enjoying the magical sunrise and the silence of the morning. When time has come to move on a transfer will be waiting to take you to Guilin airport (a 1.5 hour drive).You'll fly to the city of Canton, which lies near Hong Kong. A transfer will be waiting to take you to the Guangzhou (Canton) train station. Your train ride to Kowloon will take another 2 hours.
Day 22: Hong Kong
Our most popular hotel lies in the central district of Tsimshatsui on the southern point of Kowloon where you'll find the famous shopping street, Nathan Road. You'll spend two nights in Hong Kong and you'll have the day after arrival free to spend as you wish.
Day 23: Hong Kong - UK
Arrange your own transfer back to Hong Kong International Airport at your hotel reception area for a small cost. As you plane lifts off your China trip will come to an end; however your memories of this trip will be unforgettable.
- Inclusions -
- Transport, accommodation, 4 domestic flights and transfers and excursions as described below
- Exclusions -
- International flight, (airport) taxes, meals and drinks, entrance fees
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Email the tour operator - People of China From City to Countryside 23 Day Itinerary
Important Notice : Avoiding Fraud
It's rare, but some helpful hints to watch out for with regards to fraud:
- It is important to NEVER wire funds or use/employ other fund transfer mechanisms such as western union: Always use a credit card to protect yourself against fraud. If owners pressure you into providing a deposit or refuse to accept credit cards, there is a high probability that this is a scam.
- If at all suspicious of fraud, ask to see their website, or any other literature they can provide or send to you. Ask them for contact details for guests who have previously stayed on their property insisting on telephone numbers. Be suspicious of emails that originate from free email services (yahoo, hotmail, gmail, etc)
- Research the property thoroughly on the internet to see if there is any history or mention of scams associated with the property.