9 days Tour
Day 1: Beijing
Your trip starts today with your arrival in Beijing. No activities are planned, so arrive early if you can, as there is plenty to see. There will be a pre-departure briefing with your tour guide late this afternoon.
Day 2-3: Beijing
Beijing is a thriving metropolis and home to over 16 million people. Over the next couple of days, we explore many of its main attractions. The Forbidden City, built over 500 years ago, has been off limits to commoners until about 100 years ago. After entering through an archway beyond Tiananmen Gate, we spend the morning exploring this huge complex and marvel at the many intricate carvings that adorn its buildings. A visit to China is not complete without taking a walk along the Great Wall. You will visit one of the best-preserved parts of the Great Wall, the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall used to serve as the northern barrier defending the capital and the imperial tombs. Being perched on this incredible engineering feat and surveying the spectacular surrounding countryside is an unforgettable experience - the surrounding views are amazing. There is ample free time to explore the many other sights of Beijing, such as the Summer Palace and the Temple of Heaven, or just kick back and soak up the atmosphere of this historic and vibrant metropolis. On Monday evening we board the sleeper train for Xian. You can either purchase dinner on the train or buy some food prior to boarding. We stay in six-berth air-conditioned cabins that have an open and relaxed feel about them. A blanket, sheets and a pillow are provided, although some people may wish to bring their own inner sheet. Travelling on the train is a great way to mix with the locals and practise your Chinese-language skills.
Day 4-5: Xian
On Tuesday morning we arrive in Xian, the capital of Shaanxi province. After freshening up at our hotel, we are soon out exploring the awesome army of Terracotta Warriors. Unearthed in 1974 by farmers digging a well, these life-sized soldiers, horses and chariots were all individually hand carved. There are over 6,000 of these clay statues, all in battle formation and facing east, in order to protect China’s first emperor, Qin Shihuang. Afterwards, we have free time to wander around this historical city. The Muslim Quarter, situated just a few blocks from our hotel, is fascinating place to visit with its Great Mosque and vast array of market stalls. The local dumplings here are legendary! Alternatively, you can walk along the top of the ancient city walls or climb the Bell Tower, with its commanding views across town.
Day 6-7: Suzhou - Zhouzhaung
We arrive into Suzhou a city that dates back 2500 years and some regarded as the home of Silk. Here we can hire bikes and and explore the backstreets and gardens and pagodas. In the evening there is the option of attending the master of the nets performance which is a great snapshot of traditional Chinese cultural performances from opera to comedy. On the second day in Suzhou we take a day trip Zhouzhuang, a town that was established in 770 BC with most of the bridges being built from the 1300s. The legend of this water township is evident in the architecture and design of the bridges and canals which have been maintained despite the metropolis of Shanghai just over an hour away. This township is a photographers dream. As you wander the streets take in the history of where once Marco Polo roamed.
Day 8: Shanghai
On Saturday morning a short train ride takes us to Shanghai, China’s largest city. We take a stroll along the famous river waterfront known as The Bund, which is lined on one side by Art Deco buildings and on the other by the ‘space age’ skyline of Pudong, across the Huangpu River. The Legend of Shanghai came about as it was the most cosmopolitan city of the 1850s. We visit Yuyuan Gardens, a fine example of a classical Ming Dynasty garden set amidst a lively bazaar. We allow you plenty of free time to visit any of the fascinating museums or the many shopping arcades. Like all modern cities, Shanghai has a multitude of bars, restaurants and nightclubs for you to try out.
Day 9: Shanghai
Our trip comes to an end after breakfast on Sunday morning in Shanghai. You may wish to extend your stay in this colourful city (post-tour accommodation is available) or perhaps join up to another Gecko’s trip.