Explore the Longmen Grottoes and wonder at the thousands of Buddha statues carved directly from the limestone cliffs, including the 17-metre-high Vairocana.. Take a spectacular hike along the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall and see towers that date back to the Ming dynasty about 600 years ago.. Fall in love with Chinese food during a vegetarian feast at a Buddhist temple, a home-cooked lunch with a family in rural Xi’an, a Beijing (Peking) duck dinner, and more.. Check out the mind-blowing Terracotta Army, then head to a local’s house for lunch and some insight into how life has changed since farmers discovered the vast mausoleum.
Capture the spirit of China on this 12-day tour from Shanghai to Beijing. From fast-paced modern cities to the well-preserved remnants of a long and storied history, this adventure reveals the many sides of one of the world’s great cradles of civilisation. We think it’s important to contrast the big and the bold with quiet moments and real connections. That’s why our tour of the Terracotta Warriors finishes with lunch at a local family home, and why we spend a few days in the Tibetan Buddhist town of Xiahe before tackling boisterous Beijing. Whether you’re scaling the Great Wall or sharing crispy Beijing (Peking) duck with your fellow travellers, this tour is packed with unforgettable moments.
Breakfast Included: 11 Lunches Included: 4 Dinner Included: 3
Nimen Hao! Welcome to Shanghai. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm where you'll meet your tour leader and fellow travellers. If you arrive with time to spare, maybe head to the newest crown jewel of Shanghai skyscrapers - Shanghai Tower, for a birdview of the city, or visit the Shanghai Propaganda Poster Art Center or Shanghai Urban Exhibition Hall (both closed on Monday) for different tastes of the city's past and future. Your evening is free after the welcome meeting but consider heading out with your group afterwards for a dinner on your leader’s recommendation.
Today join your leader for a walking tour to historical Shanghai. Get a taste of 1920s Shanghai at the Bund, a spectacular array of art-deco style buildings lining what was once the most important financial street in Asia. Using the efficient subway, continue to Yuyuan Gardens, a classic example of traditional Chinese landscape gardening. The afternoon is free for you to explore at your own pace. Maybe hit Luwan's Huaihai Road is a busy shopping street and is home to both Xintiandi and Tianzifang, the popular shopping and dining spots for visitors, plus the area's tree-lined avenues and their many Tudor mansions still retain an air of the 'Paris of the East'. Join back with your group tonight for an included dinner of local specialties.
Take advantage of free time in the morning to delve further into Shanghai's sights and sounds. Perhaps get another taste of the city's eclectic food scene before boarding a westbound bullet train this around midday. Travel for about 6 hours to Luoyang, arriving in the early evening. Ancient China’s prosperous capital for many dynasties, archaeological digs of the surrounding countryside have unearthed some fascinating ancient treasures. After settling into your hotel, perhaps venture to the Old Town for dinner with the group.
Shaolin – Luoyang
Today, travel to the legendary birthplace of kung fu – the Shaolin Monastery (approximately 3 hours). The monastery remains the primary source of Shaolin Buddhist training to this day. Learn about the warrior monks of Shaolin and how the martial art has changed over the centuries. Watch an athletic kung fu performance and then wander through the Pagoda Forest, where respected monks have been laid to rest in towering tombs since AD791. For lunch enjoy a vegetarian feast at nearby Yongtai Temple. Head back to Luoyang after lunch in the afternoon and enjoy a free evening in Luoyang. As night falls, you’ll see thousands of colourful lamps light the streets and squares across the city, creating a lovely ambiance.
Longmen – Xi'an
This morning you'll drive to the Longmen Grottoes (approximately 40 mins). These 2100 caves, filled with more than 100,000 statues of Buddha dating back as far as the fourth century, are rare examples of exquisite Buddhist rock carving. Learn more about this UNESCO World Heritage-listed site as you explore some of the masterpieces with a local guide. In the afternoon, take a bullet train from Luoyang to Xi'an (approximately 2 hours), arriving in the early evening.
Xi'an, capital for 13 dynasties and kingdoms over the last 2500 years, is not only rich in ancient history but also full of life. Muslim quarter is a local favorite for great food experiences. Join your leader for a sizzling local dinner here in the evening.
In your free time, don't miss out on a bike ride on the ancient city wall, or a visit to the Big Wild Goose pagoda
Visit Xi'an's most famous site today, the Terracotta Warriors. You'll travel by bus (approximately 2 hours) to reach the site. Once there, you will hear all about this incredible archaeological find, which was uncovered by farmers digging a well in 1976. Until then, the site had been buried for thousands of years. These clay statues of soldiers, horses, and chariots all standing in battle formation were commissioned by the emperor of the Qin dynasty as part of his mausoleum and a number of pits are now on display to the public. Enjoy a local lunch nearby and return to Xi'an in the afternoon.
This morning you’ll get another taste of China’s efficient bullet trains as you travel about 3-hours west to Lanzhou. From there, transfer to the enchanting Tibetan town of Xiahe (another 3 hours). A place of pilgrimage for many Tibetans, Xiahe is as scenic as it is tranquil. Get acquainted with the town on a short walking tour with your leader. The rest of the day is yours to spend how you please.
Visit the fascinating Labrang Monastery today and see Tibetan monks going about their daily rituals. The rest of the day will change depending on the season. From June to August, the group will head to the Sangke grasslands to visit nomadic Tibetans to learn about their life over some yak butter tea. If you’re travelling during the other months of the year, pay a visit to a Tibetan family in town and enjoy a deliciously home-cooked lunch. The evening is free for you to do as you please.
Lanzhou – Beijing
Today is largely made up of travel. Head back to Lanzhou (about 4 hours), then catch an afternoon flight to Beijing, arriving in China’s capital in the late afternoon. After settling into your hotel, you will have the rest of the day free to explore bustling Beijing. Depending on the time of your arrival, you can choose to visit one of the many historical sites in the city or check out one of the shows that are on in the evening. Your leader is a wealth of suggestions for optional activities and places to eat, to be sure to ask them for advice.
Today, explore the legendary Great Wall. Take a private bus to the Mutianyu section of the wall. (approximately 1.5–2 hours). Spend some time exploring the wall, including guard towers that date back to the Ming dynasty-era. You can either walk to the wall or take a cable car (at your own expense). When returning, you can walk, take a cable car or take a toboggan ride. The latter is highly recommended!
Today visit Tiananmen Square, one of the world's largest downtown squares then you’llenter the Forbidden City, former home of China’s imperial rulers. Discover its many palaces, gardens, and courtyards. Then head to an area known for its hutongs (narrow streets and alleys) and explore the historic streets. Although Beijing is modernising rapidly (its contemporary culture is a huge source of fascination in itself), there are still some pockets in which to discover the nation's ancient roots. Enjoy a classic dinner tonight with the perhaps the most well known of all the capital's dishes – Beijing (or Peking) Duck.
Your trip comes to an end this morning after breakfast. Staying an extra few days in Beijing is highly recommended, as there is so much to see and do. Check out our Urban Adventure day tours for some ideas at urbanadventures.com/destination/Beijing-tours.