Treasures of China: A Family Adventure
Experience the sights, sounds, and tastes of Asia on this active family adventure to China where you will help rebuild a portion of the Great Wall, see the Terra-Cotta Soldiers of Xi'an, and spend time in a traditional village.
WHAT OUR TRAVELERS SAY
China was a trip of a lifetime for our family. Our guides, Chuck and Ping, were exceptional. Chuck was the “magician” of the trip, making good things happen, while Ping was the “Pied Piper” and “Mary Poppins” all rolled into one.”
- Insights from the West of Ireland
- Fabulous shots from Smithsonian Journeys Expert Kirt Kempter
- Visiting Mount Fuji, by way of rural Japan
- Saturday in Pamplona
Experience the sights, sounds, and tastes of China, from cosmopolitan cities to rural villages. Stroll Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City in Beijing, hike in a Chinese national park, and see the giant panda up close. Children can meet with their young Chinese pen pals over a dumpling making lesson. Enjoy special opportunities for behind-the-scenes access and exclusive tours—among them helping to restore a section of the Great Wall—and private talks with leading archaeologists. Another highlight is a three-night stay at the remarkable Linden Centre, an elegantly and lovingly restored villa located along the Ancient Silk road in Yunnan Province. Here, your family has the chance to truly experience daily life of rural China—something most visitors to this vast and ancient land miss. This family tour is recommended for families for children ages 10 and older.
Days 1 & 2 — U.S., Beijing
Cross a day off the calendar as you fly over the International Date Line! Upon arrival at Beijing Capital International Airport, you are met outside of immigration and customs, transferred to the hotel, and assisted with check-in. Tonight meet your fellow travelers and enjoy a welcome dinner at the hotel. Renaissance Beijing Capital Hotel (D)
Day 3 — Beijing
This morning after breakfast our city tour begins. Start with a visit to Tiananmen Square, the location where Mao Zedong proclaimed the founding of the People's Republic of China from the balcony of the Rostrum on October 1, 1949. Continue on to the magnificent Forbidden City, home to 24 emperors. The entire complex consists of 8,706 rooms in which an estimated 8,000 to 10,000 people lived—including 3,000 eunuchs, as well as maids and concubines—all within 170 acres surrounded by a moat. Historically strictly off-limits to ordinary people (hence the name), the gates today will lead to a fascinating display of Chinese history in what is probably the best-preserved site of classical Chinese architecture. Lunch is at a local restaurant, then return to the hotel and enjoy some free time to rest or swim in the hotel pool. Savor a traditional Peking duck dinner tonight. Renaissance Beijing Capital Hotel (B,L,D)
Day 4 — Beijing
Depart this morning for an excursion on the Great Wall at Badaling. After doing some sightseeing there and walking along the Wall, drive to the nearby remnant sections. Here your family has the opportunity to go behind the scenes at a section of the Wall that is being actively restored, and meet local artisans and learn about what is being done to preserve this UNESCO World Heritage site. You can even do some hands-on restoration work yourself, if you'd like, complete with a certificate issued by the Administrative Office of the Great Wall, showing your support and help rebuilding the Great Wall! Take in a Kung Fu Show featuring professional martial arts performers, followed by dinner. Renaissance Beijing Capital Hotel (B,L,D)
Day 5 — Beijing to Xi’an
The Temple of Heaven is where emperors once prayed for a good harvest and made offerings of grain, silk, and animals. Constructed during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), the harmonious proportions and bold colors of the Temple of Heaven make it a masterpiece of Chinese architecture. The highlight of the Temple of Heaven is the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests, which was built without a single nail!
After, take a Taijiquan (Tai Chi) lesson, which is an ancient Chinese martial art best known for its slow graceful movements and health benefits. Next, enjoy a pedi-cab tour of Old Beijing as you explore the city's traditional neighborhoods, called hutongs (literally, alleyways). Here, you can to get an idea of what the entire city once looked like and get a glimpse of the traditional way of life before flying to Xi’an. Hilton Xi’an (B,L,D)
Day 6 — Xi’an
A trip to China would not be complete without a visit to the Terra Cotta Army, created to guard the tomb of Qin Shihuang, the first emperor to unite China. One of the most remarkable archaeological discoveries of all time, the Terra Cotta Army is designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You can leisurely admire this vast array of soldiers and their terra cotta horses, currently being unearthed in stretches of land the size of football fields!
Learn about painting and paper cutting at the farming village of Huxian. The painting style here is said to originate from the late 1950s when Hu Township peasants built a new reservoir and began to paint the work in progress in order to record this work. The paper cutting in Huxian is also highly praised as "the parent national art and the living historical fossil of Yellow River Culture." This art form is listed by UNESCO in the directory of "World Cultural Heritage." (Note families can choose to opt out of this activity and rest at the hotel). Dinner tonight is a traditional dumpling dinner, complete with a dumpling making lesson with your Chinese pen pals and other local children. Hilton Xi’an (B,L,D)
Day 7 — Xi’an to Chengdu
View the cultural relics on display at China's first underground museum, which contains the tomb of an emperor and his wife. The Hanyang Tomb has been under excavation for many years, and pots, terra-cotta warriors, and many other buried artifacts have been recovered. The museum has specially made glass floors over the underground excavation and relics, to show what the tombs would have originally looked like before excavation. Fly to Chengdu, and enjoy a relaxing afternoon at leisure. Ritz-Carlton in Chengdu (B,L (on flight),D)
Day 8 — Chengdu
At the Panda Breeding Center you have the exciting opportunity to encounter a panda and to learn about the care of these amazing animals! See pandas up-close and learn about their habitat, mating habits, diet, intelligence and how they have survived despite increasing natural and human threats to their existence.
Later this afternoon experience what Chengdu has to offer. From its traditional-style buildings and tasty local snacks, people have been gathering on this street since 221 B.C. Jin Li Street was most famous for “baldachin,” an elaborately brocaded fabric of silk and gold that was hung as a canopy over alters, thrones, and daises all over the world.
This evening after dinner, witness the artistry of the Sichuan Cultural Show, renowned for the amazing skill of actors who can subtly change their masks and make-up ten times in the span of less than one minute! See if you can figure out how they do it.
Ritz-Carlton in Chengdu (B,L,D)
Day 9 — Chengdu to Xizhou
It’s a short flight to Dali, where you are met and whisked away to Xizhou town, home to the Bai ethnic minority and where your hotel is located. The Linden Centre is in the former home of one of the Silk Road’s leading merchants, and is now a nationally protected, elegantly restored villa. After lunch, travel back in time biking through the gardens, rice fields, and alleys of Xizhou. Continue biking through tiny fishing villages that line the endless coastline of Er’hai Lake. The Linden Centre (B,L,D)
Day 10 — Xizhou
Visit a traditional morning market to gather fresh vegetables, such as lotus root, bamboo shoots, Chinese broccoli, and tender young pea-sprouts for our cooking class this afternoon at the centre. Take in the surrounding countryside on a horse-drawn cart ride before learning about the tradition of cormorant fishing. The cormorant is a type of bird that has been trained to catch fish for centuries. They can live to be about ten years old and start their training when they are just six months old.
Families can get an overview of traditional Chinese medicine with a local doctor this afternoon, or grab a bike and explore any one of the quaint and winding roads around the Centre. Tonight, choose two dishes to prepare using the ingredients purchased at the market earlier today. The Linden Centre (B,L,D)
Day 11 — Xizhou
From a beautiful Cangshan Mountain perch this morning, explore the tea culture of Dali. Try tea making, taste several types of tea, and take a short hike to a secluded waterfall. After a relaxing lunch at the Centre, explore Dali City, which is surrounded by snowcapped mountains on three sides. Dali is a melting pot comprised of 25 ethnic minorities wth the earliest settling the area 4,000 years ago. The newer ethnicities collected goods and ideas transported through this unique city, a link between ancient China and countries known today as Bangladesh, Burma, Laos, and Nepal.
Tonight enjoy one of the most common dishes in Yunnan cuisine, “Crossing the Bridge Noodles”, at a local restaurant inside Old Town Dali. The Linden Centre (B,L,D)
Day 12 — Xizhou to Shanghai
Depending on flight schedules, there may be time for an activity this afternoon upon arrival in Shanghai. Otherwise, free time at the hotel or to explore, time permitting. Marvel at the amazing feats of traditional Chinese acrobats at an acrobatic show, then dinner is on your own this evening. Grab a bite at your hotel, or your guide can offer recommendations for restaurants. Renaissance Shanghai Yu Garden Hotel (B,L)
Day 13 — Shanghai
Dive into Shanghai today with a city tour that includes the Yuyuan Garden, the City Planning and Exhibition Hall, and the Old Town Bazaar. Get a bird’s-eye view of this incredible city from the top of the Oriental Pearl Tower and walk by dozens of historically significant buildings in the riverside area of the Bund. There is free time for families to do some exploring on their own this afternoon. Meet up again to say good-bye to your guide and fellow travelers at the farewell dinner. After dinner, you can stretch your legs with a stroll along the Xintiandi neighborhood. Renaissance Shanghai Yu Garden Hotel (B,L,D)
Day 14 — Shanghai, U.S.
This morning you and your family will be transferred to the airport for your flight home. Cross the International Date Line again, and arrive home the same day. (B)