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. Crowne Plaza Beijing
(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. Crowne Plaza Beijing
(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! Return to the hotel via the 2008 Olympic Village—including the Bird’s Nest and the Water Cube—with plenty of opportunities for picture taking. Take in a Kung Fu Show, followed by dinner. Crowne Plaza Beijing
(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!
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 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 musicians, 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. Sheraton 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.
The Sanxindui Museum is your destination this afternoon. This museum is dedicated to a mysterious culture that is unrelated to Chinese, and that disappeared over 3,500 years ago. The museum reflects the great culture of the Shu state. Magnificent bronze sculptures, grand jade and stone wares, glittering gold objects, and simple potteries reveal the greatest achievement of bronze civilization, and important information of the beginning of ancient Shu society. There are amazing bronze faces and gold masks that are unlike anything related to Chinese or Western antiquity.
This evening after dinner, thrill at the artistry of the Sichuan Cultural Show, renowned for the amazing skill of actors who can subtly change their masks and make-up 10 times in the span of less than one minute! See if you can figure out how they do it. Sheraton 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, enjoy a tour of the Centre as you explore its history and architecture, and take part in a three-course tea tasting later this afternoon. The Linden Centre
(B,L,D)Day 10 — Xizhou
Visit a traditional morning market and noodle maker today, then sample the local specialty known as Xizhou pizza. 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 10 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. The Linden Centre
(B,L,D)Day 11 — XizhouNote: Lunch is included at the Centre, but if you are away from the Centre at lunch, it will be at your own expense.
Options for activities today include:
Bike around Xizhou Town
Bike around Lake Erhai
- You don’t have to go too far from the Linden Centre to experience great cycling. Guests can experience a variety of different trails and villages, and fields of corn, tobacco, and rice in just a short six mile loop around the surrounding countryside and waterfront.
Mosque to Temple Hike
- Traverse the endless coastline of the Erhai as you skip through tiny fishing villages and flooded rice fields. This leisurely ride will take you from Xizhou to Dali Old town along 12 miles of a newly built greenway that circles the lake.
- Dali is home to a large Hui Chinese (Muslim) population. Hui people in China have diverse origins; many are direct descendants of Silk Road travelers. Mosques can be seen around the valley with their bright green minarets. Hike up the base of the Cang Mountain along a foot path through the graveyards that is used by the fire protection brigade. Finish your hike at a Daoist temple where you can ponder your accomplishments.
Recap your adventures from today tonight over dinner! The Linden Centre
(B,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. Hilton Hotel Shanghai
(B,L (on flight))Day 13 — Shanghai
Dive into Shanghai today with a city tour that includes the Old Quarter, the brand new Shanghai Aquarium, the Urban Planning Center, and a bird’s-eye view of this incredible city from the top of the World Financial Center. 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 restored area. Hilton Hotel Shanghai
(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 Dateline again, and arrive home the same day. (B)