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China High Speed Train Tour - 20 Days

Destination: Shanghai - Qufu - Tai'an - Beijing - Xian - Guilin - Chongqing - Yangtze River Cruise - Yichang - Wuhan - Hong Kong
Duration: no date
Tour Code:
Transportation: Vehicle & Train & Flight
Best Travel Time:All year
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US$5890/persons
 
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Travel China by bullet train! The leisurely paced grand tour introduces the traveller to China's three largest metropolises as well as off-the-beaten-path towns stringing together a collection of spectacular UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Highlights of the tour include a cruise on the mighty Yangtze, Terracotta Warriors, traditional Chinese gardens, the Forbidden City and the Great Wall.Travelling by train is a great way to experience China. The Chinese for the past 20 years have been on a building spree expanding the country's rail network and upgrading existing railways. The new high-speed rail system rivals France's TGV and Japan's "shinkansen" in terms of speed, comfort, cleanliness and onboard facilities.
Full price of this tour (per person in US$):
Price Price Instruction
US$5890/persons 5890USD/Person


Day 1: Arrival in Shanghai
Welcome to Shanghai! Meet your guide on arrival in late afternoon and transfer to the hotel. The balance of the day is at leisure.

Currency Exchange
This service is available at the front desk of the hotel. There is no need to shop around because the exchange rate is very much the same anywhere in China. Guests arriving ahead of schedule who have to get to the hotel by taxi can get Chinese currency at the airport on arrival.

Getting to the Hotel by Taxi
If you arrive one day or two ahead of tour schedule, you will need to make your way to the hotel on your own. Getting a taxi at the airport is easy. Before proceeding to the taxi stand, be sure to have some Chinese money on you as cab drivers don't accept foreign currencies. Based on our first-hand experience, cab fare to the hotel should be around 190 Yuan or $32. Avoid touts in arrival hall; these people operating illegally will charge you an arm and a leg.

 

Day 2:  Shanghai
Before 1949, Shanghai was widely known in the West as a city of quick riches and paradise of the adventurers. After four decades of anemic growth in a state planned economy, Shanghai is roaring back to recapture its position on the world stage. With a population of 23 million and rapid economic expansion in the last 20 years, Shanghai has again become a leading global city with significant influence in commerce, culture, finance, media, fashion, technology and transport.

Today's schedule begins with a walk on the Bund - a waterfront promenade famous for its landmark neoclassical buildings of European style. We then visit Shanghai Museum, the Yu Garden in the old town centre, and the French Concession (extra-jurisdictional territory from 1849 to 1946). Evening entertainment is a dazzling acrobatic show. (B/L/D)

 

Day 3: Shanghai
Today is a free day to explore on your own. Our recommendations include Jinmao Tower and the popular evening cruise on Huangpu River. We also offer an optional half-day Jewish Heritage Tour.

The new bullet train system has made it possible to explore a number of popular destinations near Shanghai such as Hangzhou and Nanjing without overnight stay. For more information, please feel free to ask your tour leader or local guide. (B)

 

Day 4: Shanghai - Qufu
After breakfast we ride the bullet train to Qufu, hometown of Confucius, arriving in three hours. Confucianism, the collective term for the sage's philosophy and teachings, has played and continues to play a vital role in the evolution of the Chinese civilization. To some extent, Confucianism defines the soul of China as a nation, at least for the Han Chinese who make up 92% of the population.

We visit the mansion inhabited by Confucius' descendants (now a museum), the sage's last resting place at Confucius Forest, and finally the massive Confucius Temple which features a series of impressive gateways, clusters of twisted pines and cypresses, inscribed steles and tortoise tablets recording ancient events. The temple, cemetery and the residence together form the UNESCO World Heritage Site. (B/L)

 

Day 5: Qufu - Tai'an - Beijing 
Following a leisurely breakfast, we drive 100km to Tai'an, the city at the foot of historic Mt. Tai, the most revered of the five sacred Taoist mountains of China. Since the dawn of Chinese history, Mt. Tai has been a great source of inspiration for poets, writers and painters. In 1987, the UNESCO designated Mt. Tai a World Natural and Cultural Heritage Site.

We ride the cable car to midpoint and then walk for about an hour to the summit for a rewarding view of the surrounding countryside. Please be forewarned that the hour-long walk includes strenuous stair climbing. The energetic may choose to skip the cable car and conquer the entire 6000 steps on foot. The climb can be hard work but the central route's bewildering catalogue of bridges, trees, towers, statues, inscribed stones, caves, pavilions and temples combine to take your mind off your aching calves.

We travel to Beijing by high speed train in late afternoon arriving in 2 hours. (B/L)

 

Day 6: Beijing
Capital of China, Beijing is a world-class cultural and educational centre with a population of 21 million (2013), ranking it China's second largest city behind Shanghai. Beijing is renowned for its opulent palaces, temples, and huge stone walls and gates, treasures that make it the most popular tourist city in China by the number of visitors it receives every year.

Beijing was already a strategically important city in northern China for centuries when Kublai Khan decided to move his capital here from Karakorum in Mongolia. With the collapse of the vast Mongol empire in 1368 AD, Beijing, known as Da Du or Grand Capital at the time, lost its status as the country's capital but soon regained it when the imperial court of the successive Ming Dynasty moved here from Nanjing. Beijing continued to serve as China's capital after Manchu tribes dethroned the last emperor of the Ming Dynasty in 1644 and established the Great Qing Empire (Qing Dynasty), which lasted till 1911.

We begin today with a visit to Tiananmen (tian an men) Square. Located in the heart of Beijing, the square is 880 metres from north to south, and 500 meters from east to west. Said to be the biggest of its kind in the world, Tiananmen Square has the capacity to hold one million people. Tiananmen (Heavenly Gate) Tower sites at the north end of the square while the Monument to the People's Heroes dominates the centre. The square is flanked by The Great Hall of the People (west) and the National Museum of China (east). Chairman Mao's mausoleum and Qianmen (Front Gate) sit in the south of the square. Considered one of the top 16 tourist attractions in Beijing, Tiananmen Square is also the witness of the Chinese people's great struggles for democracy and personal freedom since 1919.

After lunch we proceed to the Forbidden City. Also known as Palace Museum or Gu Gong in Chinese, the Forbidden City was the place where the emperors of Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) Dynasties lived and carried out their administration. Construction of the Forbidden City took 14 years (1406-1420) to complete. The complex consists of 980 buildings and covers 72 hectares or 180 acres. It exemplifies traditional Chinese palatial architecture and has influenced cultural and architectural developments in East Asia and elsewhere. Declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1987, this is the largest collection of preserved ancient wooden structures in the world.

We conclude our sightseeing today with a visit to a hutong neighbourhood. Hutong refers to an ancient alleyway with siheyuan or ''4-sided courtyard house" on both sides. The name hutong dates back to the Yuan Dynasty (1279 - 1368 A.D.). According to some experts, the word originated from the Mongolian language, in which it is pronounced as hottog and means "well." In ancient times, people tended to gather and live around wells. So the original meaning of hutong should be "a place where people live around".

Today we enjoy a delicious dinner at high-end Beijing roast duck restaurant. (B/L/D)

 

Day 7: Beijing
Morning sightseeing takes us to historic Jingshan Park for a panoramic view of the Forbidden City from above. The park to the north of the Forbidden City was part of the imperial palace in the old days, serving the royal families as a convenient site for farming, recreation and ancestor worshipping. The man-made hill (46 meters above ground, 89 meters above sea level) overlooks the Forbidden City and provides a great spot for bird's-eye view of the surrounding area.

Next on our schedule is the Summer Palace, a well preserved UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site. The imperial resort was first named Garden of Clear Ripples, which was burnt down by the allied forces of Great Britain and France in 1860 during the Second Opium War (referred to as Arrow War by the British). Reconstruction started 25 years later and was completed in 1895 when the name was changed to Yi He Yuan (Garden of Good Health and Harmony). The design gives prominence to Longevity Hill and Kunming Lake, south of the hill. The sprawling complex covers an area of 290 hectares and the buildings inside consist of over 3,000 bays.

Afternoon sightseeing at the Temple of Heaven, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Situated in southeastern Beijing the Temple of Heaven is China's largest extant sacrificial temple where, during the Ming and Qing dynasties, the emperors conducted the elaborate and most exalted sacrifices addressed to "the Supreme Ruler of the Universe." Construction of the temple started in 1406, during the reign of the Ming Emperor Yongle, and took 14 years to complete. The temple was expanded under the Qing emperors Qianlong (1736-1796) and Jiaqing (1796-1820). Occupying 2.73 square kilometres (roughly 1,700 by 1,600 metres), the area of the Temple of Heaven is more than twice that of the Forbidden City.

The famous Hongqiao Pearl Market, the largest of its kind in the world, sits right across from the Temple of Heaven. The market is recommended in various guidebooks as a good place to buy fresh water pearls, a market segment dominated by the Chinese. If you are interested, please ask the guide to drop you off there. However, you'll need to get back to the hotel by taxi, which costs about 50 yuan or $8. (B/L)

 

Day 8: Beijing
Today we embark on a full-day excursion to the legendary Great Wall at Mutianyu, 75km northeast of the city. Zigzagging over 6,000 kilometres from east to west along the undulating mountains, the Great Wall was built to hold off tribal invaders from the north. Construction of the earliest sections of the Wall started in the 7th century B.C. A major renovation started with the founding of the Ming Dynasty in 1368 and took 200 years to complete. The wall we see today in Beijing is almost exactly the result of this effort. (B/L)

 

Day 9: Beijing - Xian
Free morning to relax or explore on your own. We check out the hotel at noon and travel to Xian by the high-speed train. The four-hour-forty-minute rail journey cuts through fertile farmland dotted with villages, providing the visitor an excellent way to enjoy the beautiful landscape. The track we travel on is part of the new 2,298 km high-speed railway connecting Beijing and Guangzhou, the longest high-speed rail line in the world. The Chinese for the past 20 years have been on a building spree expanding the country's rail network and upgrading existing railways. This new rail service rivals France's TGV and Japan's "shinkansen" in terms of speed, comfort, cleanliness and onboard facilities.

Please note that the train ride may be replaced by air flight during and within 3 days before and after these Chinese public holidays: Spring Festival (Feb 19), Qingming (Apr 5), Labour Day (May 1), Duanwu (Jun 20), Mid-Autumn (Sept 27),  National Day (Oct 1-7) and New Year's Day. (B/D)

 

Day 10: Xian
Eastern terminus of the fabled Silk Road and one of the ancient capitals of China, Xian is home to the world famous Terracotta Army.

Morning visit to the Terracotta Warriors and Horses Museum. Built on the excavation site, the museum is located 30km east of the city. Designed to follow the first emperor of the Qin Dynasty (221-206 BC) into eternity, the Terracotta Army represents one of the greatest archeological discoveries of the 20th Century.

After lunch we return to the city for a stroll on the ancient city wall. The wall, declared national treasure by the State Council in 1961 under the premiership of Zhou Enlai, was started in 1370 during the Ming Dynasty, encircling an area of 14 square kilometres. The wall runs 13.7 kilometres long and measures 12 metres in height and 15 to 18 metres in thickness at the base.

Enjoy a delicious buffet dinner in the hotel. (B/L/D)

 

Day 11: Xian
Morning sightseeing begins with Shaanxi Provincial Museum. The modern, well-organized museum was completed in 1992 and traces the history of Xian from prehistory to Qing dynasty (1644-1911). The extensive galleries and exhibitions offer the visitor an excellent introduction to the area that greatly improves understanding of the numerous historical sites in and around the city.

We then visit the ancient grand mosque in the old town centre and the adjacent Muslim bazaar. The mosque was established in the 8th Century but the majority of the complex was constructed in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). It was further expanded in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). Unlike most mosques in Middle Eastern or Arab countries, this mosque is completely Chinese in its architectural style. It has neither domes nor traditional style minarets.

We spend the rest of the day learning Chinese calligraphy and water-colour painting with a local artist. This is guaranteed to be a session filled with fun and laughter. (B/L)

 

Day 12: Xian - Guilin
Free morning to explore on your own. We recommend Bell Tower and the Big Wild Goose Pagoda. You can reach both by Subway Line 2, which has a stop right next door to our hotel. Bell Tower is 3 stops away (8 minutes). The pagoda is 7 stops away plus a short taxi ride at the other end which costs about 15 Yuan (less than $3).

Late afternoon flight to Guilin. A small city by Chinese standards, Guilin has long been renowned for its unique scenery. The name Guilin literally means "forest of sweet osmanthus", owing to the large number of fragrant sweet osmanthus trees in the city. (B/L)

 

Day 13: Guilin (Li River cruise) 
We begin today with a five-hour cruise down the Li River. The 83km stretch of the river between Guilin and Yangshuo affords breathtaking scenery as the river snakes through tall karst mountains, gigantic bamboo sprays, and picturesque villages -- sights that have inspired countless poets and painters for generations.

We disembark in Yangshuo after lunch and drive back to Guilin, stopping by at a village en route. We wrap up the day with a quick tour of the scenic Fubo Hill (63 metres) located 2 km from the hotel.

For dinner, you will find all kinds of restaurants around the centrally located hotel. To avoid hassle and waste of time, please ask your local guide for advice. (B/L)

 

Day 14: Guilin
Enjoy a full-day hiking excursion to the terraced rice fields in Longji. Located 80km (2 hours drive) to the northwest of Guilin, Longji, meaning dragon back, is famous for its terraced rice fields. Because the villages at Longji are in the jurisdiction of Longsheng County, the tourist attraction is often collectively referred to as Longsheng Terraced Fields. The scenery is arguably at its best in early May during transplanting and in late September right before harvest when the fields turn golden.

Built by local farmers of different ethnic groups from Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368) to Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), the mountainous fields cover a total area of 66 square kilometres, rising between 300 meters and 1,100 metres above sea level. (B/L)

Optional Tea Farm Visit
If time permits and for a nominal fee we can arrange a late afternoon visit to Guilin Tea Science and Research Institute, subject to a minimum of 6 participants.

Founded in 1956, the state-owned institute and its experimental tea farm cover an area of 42 hectares, boasting 250 species of tea plants. The predecessor of the institute was said to be one of the tea suppliers to the imperial court during the Ming Dynasty. The farm sits on fertile soil ideal for tea growing. During harvesting season, the farm employs 150 workers full time to pick tea leaves. Each year the institute produces around 42 tons of organically grown tea of different flavours.

 

Day 15: Guilin - Chongqing
Morning flight to Chongqing. Our city tour of Chongqing includes the zoo (giant pandas) and Stilwell Museum built on the site of the former U.S. military headquarters in China during World War II. We board Victoria Cruises' Jenna (the newest among the U.S. cruise operator's fleet of seven) after a delicious dinner of Sichuan cuisine. (B/L/D)

 

Day 16: Yangtze Cruise
At 6,380km the Yangtze is the longest river in China and the third longest in the world after the Nile and the Amazon. The most impressive section of the Yangtze is the Three Gorges stretching 119km.

On today's shore excursion we visit a relocation village built for locals affected by the construction of the Three Gorges Dam. Please note that at the cruise line's discretion the village visit may be substituted with Fengdu Ghost City. The Ghost City is a Buddhism and Taoism-themed tourist project rebuilt in the 1980s with extensive murals and sculptures depicting life in the Next World. (B/L/D)

 

Day 17: Yangtze Cruise
Admire nature's grandeur while sailing through spectacular Wu Gorge (45km) and Qutang Gorge (8km). Later this morning we navigate Shennong Stream on a small vessel. Originating in the southern slopes of Shennongjia Nature Reserve, the crystal clear river twists and turns 66 kilometres through forested mountains before emptying into the mighty Yangtze. Please note this excursion may be replaced with a similar one on Daning River, another Yangtze tributary. (B/L/D)

 

Day 18: Yichang - Wuhan
Morning visit to the Three Gorges Dam site. Construction of the dam started on December 14, 1994 with completion date set for 2009. Due to additional projects such as the underground power plant with six additional generators, the dam did not become fully operational until the end of 2011. The dam raised the water level the third time to 172.5 metres by the end of 2008. The Chinese government estimated the cost of the construction to be $27 billion while some Chinese scholars and international organizations estimated the actual cost could be as high as over $80 billion. The project upon completion will become the largest hydroelectric dam in the world with a reservoir stretching hundreds of kilometres upstream.

We disembark in Yichang after lunch and travel to Wuhan on the newly completely high-speed rail line. Sightseeing in Wuhan includes East Lake Park and a food market. (B/L/D)

 

Day 19: Wuhan - Hong Kong
The morning flight to Hong Kong takes slightly less than 2 hours.

Hong Kong (meaning "fragrant harbour" in Chinese) is one of the two special administrative regions of the People's Republic of China, along with Macau. Comprising more than 260 islands, the territory is located on the eastern side of the Pearl River Delta, bordering Guangdong Province in the north and facing the South China Sea in the east, west and south. Hong Kong was a dependent territory of the United Kingdom from 1842 until the transfer of sovereignty to the People's Republic of China in 1997. The Sino-British Joint Declaration and the Basic Law of Hong Kong stipulate that Hong Kong operate with a high degree of autonomy until at least 2047, fifty years after the transfer. Under the policy of "one country, two systems", the Central People's Government is responsible for the territory's defense and foreign affairs while Hong Kong maintains its own legal system based on English common law, police force, monetary system, customs policy, immigration policy, and delegates to international organizations and events.

Our tour after lunch begins with a visit to Tian Tan Buddha, also known as the Big Buddha, on Lantau Island where the airport is located. This is a bronze statue of a Buddha Amoghasiddhi, completed in 1993, with a height of 34 metres (112 feet) and a weight of 250 metric tons.

We then proceed to ride the ferry across Victoria Harbour from Tsim Sha Tsui to Central. The heart of Hong Kong's business district, Central is home to the regional headquarters of many multinational financial services corporations. Consulates general and consulates of many countries are also located in this area, as is the government of Hong Kong. The area, with its proximity to Victoria Harbour, has served as the centre of trade and financial activities from the earliest days of the British colonial era in 1841, and continues to flourish and serve as the administrative centre after the transfer of sovereignty to China in 1997.

Our last stop is Victoria Peak. We'll reach it by tram. Victoria Peak, also known as Mount Austin or The Peak among locals, is located in the western half of Hong Kong Island with an altitude of 552 meters (1,811 feet). The peak offers sweeping views over Central, Victoria Harbour, Lamma Island and the surrounding islands. The Peak Lookout Restaurant is a wonderful place for dinner. Maybe you should take a look at the menu and make a reservation for tomorrow night! The menu is a combination of Chinese. American, Indian, and Southeast Asian dishes.

Please note that depending on the number of participants, we may move around Hong Kong by taxi and public transit (air conditioned subway train and double-decker bus).

Need a place for dinner? If you don't want to eat in the hotel, there are a number of reasonably priced restaurants nearby. (B/L)

Currrency Exchange - Hong Kong has its own currency, the Hong Kong dollar. HSBC and Bank of East Asia both have a branch close to the hotel; if you want to exchange more than $100 US, you should consider visiting one of the banks for better rates, instead of dealing with the front desk of the hotel. Remember to take the bank's service fee into account when comparing exchange rates. Please avoid currency exchange services at the airports if possible.

 

Day 20:Hongkong Departure
Transfer to the airport on your own to board return flight. Taxi to the airport costs about $258 HKD or $33 USD. The alternative is using the free Airport Express Shuttle to get to the Airport Express Train Station in Tsim Sha Tsui and ride the dedicated train to the airport. The shuttle bus comes around every 20 minutes between 06:30 and 23:30 and drops you off right in front of the train station 20 minutes later. The train leaves every 10 minutes during daytime from 05:50 to midnight and the travel time from Kowloon station to the airport is 21 minutes.

 

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