BEIJING · SHANGHAI · GUILIN · XIAN · YANGSHUO

APRIL 6-16, 2017 ITINERARY

11 DAYS From $4999

Day One ~ Beijing
Arrive in Beijing. After clearing customs, please proceed to the luggage area to claim your check-in bags. You are greeted by Zoom Vacations® representatives with welcome signage at Beijing International airport and transferred to China World Summit Beijing, Five Stars.  We highly recommend that you arrive the night before.
Beijing, the capital of China, lies just south of the rim of the Central Asian Steppes and is separated from the Gobi Desert by a green chain of mountains, over which The Great Wall runs. Modern Beijing lies on the site of countless human settlements that date back half a million years. Homo erectus Pekinensis, better known as Peking man was discovered just outside the city in 1929. It is China's second largest city in terms of population and the largest in administrative territory.

The name Beijing - or Northern Capital - is a modern term by Chinese standards. It first became a capital in the Jin Dynasty (1115-1234), but it experienced its first phase of grandiose city planning in the Yuan Dynasty under the rule of the Mongol emperor, Kublai Khan, who made the city his winter capital in the late 13th century.  Little of it remains in today's Beijing. Most of what the visitor sees today dates from either the Ming or later Qing dynasties. Huge concrete tower blocks have mushroomed and construction sites are everywhere. Bicycles are still the main mode of transportation but taxis, cars, and buses fill the city streets. 

Morning: Optional visit to Temple of Heaven for those who have arrived early.
The Temple of Heaven is a sequence of temples and altars set in a park. Twice a year during imperial times, the emperor and a magnificent procession of some 1,000 eunuchs, courtiers, and ministers would leave the Forbidden City for the temple. At the winter solstice, he expressed thanks for the previous harvest, and on the 15th day of the first month of the lunar year, he begged the gods of sun and moon, clouds and rain, and thunder and lightening to bless the coming harvest.  Chinese philosophers considered heaven the source of harmony and spiritual authority. The architecture reflects that sense of order; the northern wall of the complex is curved in a half circle to symbolize heaven, and the southern wall of the complex is built as a square to symbolize earth. Whereas most imperial buildings have yellow roof tiles, the blue tiles here echo the color of the sky. The main buildings and altars are also built in tiers of three to create nine dimensions of surface. Nine is the mystical number in Chinese tradition and it also symbolizes heaven. The dominant feature of the whole complex is the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests. Amazingly, the wooden pillars ingeniously support the ceiling without nails or cement. Lunch at a local restaurant.

Afternoon: Optional Shopping at Silk Street

Evening: Welcome Dinner
Our special evening will take place in a private club siituated in a palace near the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square. This palace was built in the 16th Century for a prince descended from Emperor Kang Xi of the Qing Dynasty. Due to careful preservation over the centuries, the architectural features and character of the traditional palace remain intact. A superb selection of everything that embodies classical Chinese food is offered at this private club. Regional specialties including Cantonese, Shanghainese and Sichuanese haute cuisine are incorporated into culinary delights that are sure to tempt your palate.

Accommodations: China World Summit Beijing, Five Stars
Meals Included: Dinner

 

Day Two ~ Beijing
Buffet Breakfast at leisure in Hotel

Morning: Visit Tiananmen Square & Forbidden City
Tiananmen Square is the largest public square in the world. It has long been a gathering place for locals and visitors alike. On the north side of the square is Tiananmen Gate (the Rostrum). It was from the balcony of the Rostrum on October 1, 1949 that Mao Zedong, chairman of the Communist Party, proclaimed the founding of the People's Republic of China. Mao gazes south from a huge portrait on the south side of the gate onto Tiananmen Square. Behind the Rostrum lies the Forbidden City, also known as the Imperial Palace.  The Forbidden City was home to 24 emperors beginning with its creation by Emperor Yongle in 1420 until the last Qing emperor, Puyi, left in 1924. 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. Behind walls more than 30 feet high and within the 160-foot moat, complex rules and rituals dictated life in the Imperial Palace. Strictly off-limits to ordinary Chinese people (hence the name) the gates today lead to a fascinating display of Chinese history in what is probably the best-preserved site of Classical Chinese architecture.

Lunch at one of our favorite restaurants in the city. 
Our restaurant borders on Beijing’s ancient Imperial City, and gives new life to the spirit of Chinese aristocratic aesthetics. 200-year-old lanterns hang from the ceiling, and the calligraphy on the screens is replicated from the work of master calligraphers. A flotilla of yellow parasols screening the glass-encased central courtyard floats above a Taoist pool cut into the gray stone floor, with the free-swimming fish a direct foil to the aristocratic artifice surrounding them. Sitting on the second floor balcony, you can overlook the ancient, wing-tipped roofs of the Forbidden City. Deep dynastic culture dominates the dining experience and the food is just as impressive.

Afternoon: Rickshaw ride to see the Hutongs of Beijing, Family visit and Local Market
An essential highlight of Beijing is a tour to the Hutong area, this unique tour will be by Pedi cab (3-wheeled bicycle). The Hutongs were mostly built during the Yuan, Ming, and Qing dynasties, and are the narrow network of lanes created by closely built quadrangular homes. A twenty-minute ride through the narrow alleys to visit a home for tea and meet a typical family provides a fascinating insight into Chinese life. The residents here are delighted to answer questions about the great changes they have lived through and the interesting, and sometimes difficult, times they have experienced.  Along with the Hutong Tour, guests will have chance to visit a local market in the area.

Dinner on your own at one of Zoom's recommended restaurants, followed by a Gay Nightlife Excursion with your Zoom Concierge

Accommodations: China World Summit Beijing, Five Stars
Meals Included: Buffet Breakfast, Lunch

 

Day Three ~ Beijing
Buffet Breakfast at leisure in Hotel

Morning: Excursion to the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall
In the northern part of Huairou County some 70 kilometers north-east of Beijing City, this section of the Great Wall winds its way for over 2000 meters. This section is better preserved and less touristy that other sections of the Wall.

The construction of this section was started in the mid-6th century during China’s Northern Dynasties (386 - 581) and what now remains is the main restoration made during the Ming Dynasty (1368 - 1644). It has served as a northern barrier of what is now Beijing through the ages. Connected with Juyongguan Pass in the west and Gubeikou Gateway in the east, this section was built along steep ridges and deep valleys. Differing from that part of the Great Wall more widely visited, this section is renowned for its unique fortifications.

Most parts of the Great Wall have outer defensive parapets to provide cover for the soldiers and a low parapet on the inner side (called Nu Qiang) to prevent soldiers or horses from falling. However, in this section, both the outer and inner parapets have melons, indicating its military importance. Also there is a 1000 meter long wall parallel to the main wall to enhance the defenses.  The surrounding natural environment is most attractive. Here the mountains are densely covered by verdant plants and tall ancient trees.

Lunch at our favorite restaurant in the area
Our selected restaurant offers guests and visitors a park-like setting, with clean fresh air and wonderful views of the Great Wall from our dining terrace.

It is also a sustainable tourism project, incorporating the use of existing buildings, hiring and training local staff, sourcing organic food products locally, and making handicrafts on site.

Afternoon: visit the Summer Palace
This afternoon, we drive to Northwest Beijing to visit The Summer Palace, one of the finest landmarks in Beijing. It has long been a royal garden and was considerably enlarged and embellished by Emperor Qianglong in the 18th century. It was later abandoned. Empress Dowager Cixi began rebuilding in 1888 using money that was supposedly reserved for the construction of a modern navy. Three quarters of the area is occupied by the lovely Kunming Lake. Walk back along the Long Corridor. This 728-meter long corridor is decorated with 8,000 paintings including many from the emperor's travels around the country.

Evening: See the Beijing 2008 Olympic Village
The Olympic Park is located in the central axis of Beijing city, the City of Victoria and the Northern flag in the North between.   The Olympic Park is the center of the national stadium which can seat 80,000 people, scattered around athletics, gymnastics, swimming, and 14 venues. The park covers an area of 1,215 hectares, with a total construction area of approximately 2 million square meters.

Evening at leisure to experience one of Beijing's many incredible restaurants. Your Zoom Concierge will be on hand to offer recommendations.

Accommodations: China World Summit Beijing, Five Stars
Meals Included: Buffet Breakfast, Lunch

 

Day Four ~ Beijing/Xian
Buffet Breakfast at leisure in Hotel and transfer to the airport for flight to Xian.

Flight to Xian. Upon arrival at Xian, you will board a deluxe air-conditioned sedan waiting outside the terminal building. Then transfer to Hilton Xian, Five Stars

Welcome to Xian
Xian, the eternal city, records the great changes of the Chinese nation just like a living history book. Called Chang'an in ancient times, Xian is one of the birthplaces of the ancient civilization in the Yellow River Basin area of the country. During Xian's 3,100 year development, 13 dynasties such as Zhou, Qin, Han and Tang placed their capitals here. So far, Xian enjoys equal fame with Athens, Cairo, and Rome as one of the four major ancient civilization capitals.  Xian is the capital of Shaanxi province, located in the southern part of the GuanZhong Plain. With the Qinling Mountains to the north and the Weihe River to the south, it is a stunning location surrounded by water and hills.

Afternoon: Tour to Xian City Wall
When Zhu Yuanzhang, the first Emperor of the Ming dynasty (1368-1644), captured Huizhou, a hermit named Zhu Sheng cautioned him that he should "build high walls, store abundant food supplies and take time to be an Emperor," so that he could fortify the city and unify the other states. After the establishment of the Ming dynasty, Zhu Yuanzhang followed his advice and began to enlarge the wall built initially during the old Tang dynasty (618 -907), creating the modern Xian City Wall. One of the features of the Xian Wall lies in the fact that it has been preserved intact, which is rarely seen in the world. 

Afternoon: Learn Chinese Calligraphy at Tang Dynasty Museum

Optional Dinner at one of Xian's best known restaurants, specializing in hand made dim sum.

Accommodations: Hilton Xian, Five Stars
Meals Included: Buffet Breakfast

 

Day Five ~ Xian
Buffet Breakfast at leisure in hotel

Morning: Excursion to Terra Cotta Warriors Museum
Uncovered in 1974 by farmers digging a well, the terra cotta warriors are Xian’s greatest and most important attraction.  The first emperor of the Qin Dynast, Qin Shi Huangdi, ordered the making of the warriors.  During his reign, he undertook military programs to the far corners of the known world.  The estimated 8,000 terra cotta soldiers are a testament to his power and megalomania. In the main and most impressive vault, the figures are arranged in typical battle formation in 11 columns comprised of officers, soldiers holding spears and swords and others steering horse-drawn chariots.   Each figure is 5’10” tall and each head has been individually modeled with unique facial expressions.

Lunch
Xian is famous for noodles and dumplings, and today's lunch will deliver!

Afternoon: Visit the Great Mosque
Located in Huajue Lane beside the Drum Tower, and covering an area of 12,000 square meters, the Great Mosque is the best-known Islamic Mosque in Xian City. It was built in 742 A.D. (first year of Tian Bao of the Tang Emperor Xuanzong), being restored in each of the Yuan, Ming and Qing Dynasties. The distribution of pavilions, halls, towers and platforms in the mosque is compact and exquisite, blending the traditional architectural styles of Islam and Han.

Optional Tang Dynasty Dinner Show
The Tang Dynasty Dinner Show is a performance of Chang'an music and dance originated in China's Tang Dynasty over a thousand years ago. It has been recreated in accordance with various historical records as well as ancient art and relics discovered in Xian, the capital of the empire during the Tang Dynasty.  This type of performance has been treasured as a national art that reflects the glory and richness of the Tang Dynasty era.

Accommodations: Hilton Xian, Five Stars
Meals Included: Buffet Breakfast, Lunch

 

Day Six ~ Xian/Guilin
Buffet Breakfast at leisure in hotel

Morning: Transfer to the airport for the flight to Guilin

Welcome to Guilin
Located in the northeast of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, Guilin is considered to be the pearl of China's thriving tourist industry on account of its natural beauty and historic treasures. Covering an area of about 27,800 square kilometers (10,734 square miles), the city is rather compact when compared with other leading cities in the country. However, situated within this area one may find green mountains, crystal clear waters, unique caves and beautiful stones.

Upon arrival at Guilin Airport, our local representative will assist you to board our deluxe air-conditioned car waiting outside the terminal building. Transfer from airport to the deluxe Shangri-La Guilin, Five Stars

Afternoon: Visit Reed Flute Cave and Elephant Trunk Mountain
Reed Flute Cave is a brilliant cave, and a must-see for those visiting the region. The cave got its name from the verdant reeds growing outside it, with which people make flutes.  Inside this water-eroded cave is a spectacular world of various stalactites, stone pillars and rock formations created by carbonate deposition. Illuminated by colored lighting, the fantastic spectacle is found in many variations along this 240-meter-long cave. Walking through the serried stone pillars, tourists feast their eyes on changing spots, feeling they are in a paradise where the gods live.  As the symbol of Guilin, Elephant Trunk Mountain is located on the western bank of Li River Scenery, and gets its name from its shape in the form of a huge elephant drinking water from the river with its trunk.

Accommodations: Shangri-La Guilin , Five Stars
Meals Included: Buffet Breakfast

 

Day Seven ~ Xian/ Yangshuo
Buffet Breakfast at leisure in hotel

Morning: Li River Cruise
Today enjoy an upstream cruise on the Lijiang River and be exposed to the indescribable beauty and scenery surrounding it. Disembark at a small village, where you will have the chance to visit a local family. Continue to Yangshuo, a small town, which has become of great interest to tourists. The relaxing pace of life here, friendly people, good food, scenic beauty, rice fields and clear streams, country roads for cycling, all make it the paradise for those who wish to get a rest from the harsher aspects of life in the big cities. You’ll have some free time to shop at the “Biggest Market of the World.”

Buffet lunch onboard cruise

Late Afternoon: Arrive at Yangshuo
Yangshuo lies in the northeast of Guangxi Province and to the southeast of Guilin City. The special geography gives it breath-taking beauty while over 1,400 years of history blesses it with a deep traditional culture. The diverse ethnic minority groups including Hui, Zhuang, Yao and others, enrich it with special folk cultures represented by their various festivals; while many foreign residents add exotic flavors to its fascination. Yangshuo is stunningly beautiful and culturally significant and diverse.

This evening, wander around West Street, and shop to your heart's content

Optional Dinner at a local restaurant, recommended by your Zoom Concierge

Tonight, enjoy the over-the-top Folk dancing show “Impression Liu Sanjie”, VIP seat                              
This is a performance like you have never seen or experienced before.   An area of 2 km along Lijiang River and 12 dramatic peaks serve as stage setting. Under a boundless sky, the Shanshui Theater with its mountains and rivers creates the largest natural theater in the world. In this masterpiece of the creator, a brand-new performance on the natural stage setting of Guilin scenery is produced. After the performance, we head back to the beautiful Shangri-La, Guilin.

Accommodations: Shangri-La Guilin , Five Stars
Meals Included: Buffet Breakfast, Buffet Lunch on board cruise

 

Day Eight ~ Guilin/Shanghai
Buffet Breakfast at leisure in hotel

Morning: Bike ride in and around Yangshuo. Visit Moon Hill. 
Leisure biking in beautiful Yangshuo: When you escape onto the country roads, lanes and tracks of the distinctive and beautiful Yangshou countryside, you will see rice paddies, farm houses, and green limestone hills. Biking around the paddy fields and orchards that surround the famous mountains will give a fascinating insight into life in rural China. Centuries old farming methods sit side by side with mobile phones and satellite dishes.  After half an hour cycling, take bamboo rafting on Yulong River through Limestone Mountains and trails for around 45 minutes. Your bikes will be transferred to the place where you board off the bamboo raft.

Transfer to the airport for the flight to Shanghai.

Welcome to Shanghai
Shanghai, Hu for short, is situated on the estuary of Yangtze River of China. It is the largest industrial city in China. Covering an area of 5,800 square kilometers (2,239 square miles), Shanghai has a population of 18.7 million.  Originally, Shanghai was a seaside fishing village and in time its gradual development led to it being granted County status on May 19th, 1291 during the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368). Hence, this day became the anniversary of the founding of Shanghai. Today's Shanghai is a multi-cultural metropolis with both modern and traditional Chinese features. Shanghai serves as the largest base of Chinese industrial technology, an important seaport and China's largest commercial and financial center.  Modern Shanghai is centered upon People's Square and along the Huangpu River. The city's Cultural Center with its public activities and community facilities and finally the main Entertainment and Holiday Tourism area are located at Mt. Sheshan, Chongming Island, Dingshan Lake and Shenshuigang.

Upon arrival at Shanghai Airport, you will board a deluxe air-conditioned vehicle waiting outside the terminal building. Transfer from airport to our 5 star hotel in Shanghai.

Dinner on your own at one of Zoom's recommended restaurants followed by our Gay Nightlife excursion with your Zoom Concierge

Accommodations: Fairmont Peace Hotel, Shanghai, Five Stars
Meals Included: Buffet Breakfast

 

Day Nine ~ Shanghai
Buffet Breakfast at leisure in hotel

Morning: visit Yu Garden and Old Bazaar
Yuyuan Garden, a place of peace and comfort in the heart of bustling Shanghai, dates back to the fabled Ming Dynasty. Yuyuan began as a private garden created by Pan Yunduan, who spent almost 20 years - and all of his savings - to build a garden in order to please his parents in their old age. That is why he called this garden "Yuyuan" - because "yu" in Chinese means "peace and health".  During the past 400 years, Yuyuan, although restored and reopened several times, was most often in disarray. Due to the decline of the Pan family after Pan Yuduan's death, Yuyuan gradually fell into disuse. In 1956, after Shanghai's liberation, the city government reconstructed the garden and refurbished it to its original beauty. Yuyuan Garden was finally reopened to the public in 1961, and the State Department declared it a national monument in 1982. Now Yuyuan Garden attracts countless visitors every year.

Afternoon: excursion to Zhujiajiao (Water Town)
Located in a suburb of Shanghai city, Zhujiajiao is an ancient water town well-known throughout the country, with a history of more than 1700 years. Covering an area of 47 square kilometers, the little fan-shaped town glimmers like a bright pearl in the landscape of lakes and mountains. Endowed with another elegant name - "Pearl Stream" - the little town is the best-preserved among the four ancient towns in Shanghai. Unique old bridges across bubbling streams, small rivers shaded by willow trees, and houses with courtyards attached all transport people who have been living amidst the bustle and hustle of the modern big city to a brand-new world full of antiquity, leisure and tranquility.

Lunch included in Water Town

Late Afternoon: Shop till you drop on Nanjing Shopping Road
China's premier shopping street, 3.4-mile-long Nanjing Road, starts at the Bund in the east and ends in the west at the junction of Jingan Temple and Yan'an West Street. Today Nanjing Road is a must-see metropolitan destination attracting fashion-seeking shoppers from all over the world. After the Opium War (1839-1842), Shanghai became a treaty port. Nanjing Road was first the British Concession, then the International Settlement. Importing large quantities of foreign goods, it became the earliest shopping street in Shanghai.

We will spend some time at the Bund, also called the Zhongshan Road, a famous waterfront which has been regarded as the symbol of Shanghai for hundreds of years. It starts from the Baidu Bridge, which is at the connecting point of the Huangpu River and the Suzhou Creek, to the East Jinling Road and winds about 1500 meters (less than one mile) in length. Walking along the Bund, which is at the west shore of the Huangpu River, the Oriental Pearl TV Tower can be seen on the opposite side and also the Jin Mao Tower.  Being one of the Top Ten Shanghai Attractions, the Bund is a really beautiful and special place which is worth visiting.

Evening: Optional Acrobatic Show at Portman Ritz-Carlton Theatre, VIP seat
Acrobatics is an interactive art form. Everyone, young or old, educated or not, can easily appreciate it while watching or seeing the acrobats perform. There is no language barrier and borders of culture do not limit it. Chinese Acrobatics is one of the oldest performing arts. Its history can be traced back to Neolithic times. It is believed that acrobatics grew out of labor and self-defense skills, which people practiced and demonstrated during their leisure time. Then it developed into an entire art form. Performances may include acrobats walking on three-meter-high stilts while juggling daggers.

Accommodations: Fairmont Peace Hotel, Shanghai, Five Stars
Meals Included: Buffet Breakfast, Lunch

 

Day Ten ~ Shanghai
Buffet Breakfast at leisure in hotel

Day at Leisure to enjoy the French Concession, Shanghai Museum, and more.

Farewell Dinner at M on the Bund
When M on the Bund opened in January 1999, the historic waterfront Bund and its surrounds was a culinary desert. Michelle Garnaut had spent two weeks guest chef-ing at The Peace Hotel in 1996 (in the days when 20-watt light bulbs struggled to illuminate the Bund) and felt that Shanghai was ready for an independent, international restaurant. She spent the next couple of years scouring Shanghai, from Frenchtown to the International Settlement, for the right location. Finally, going against popular opinion (no one would come all the way to the Bund for a meal, she was told, and worse, Shanghai was not ready for fine dining) the Bund’s charms won her over and M on the Bund was born.

Accommodations: Fairmont Peace Hotel, Five Stars
Meals Included: Buffet Breakfast and Dinner

 

Day Eleven ~ Shanghai
Buffet Breakfast at leisure in hotel.

Transfer to Shanghai Airport for the flight home.

Meals Included: Buffet Breakfast

 

Air: International and domestic airfare not included.

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*Land only Introductory rate, based on double occupancy. Prices are subject to change. Need a roommate? Zoom Vacations® is happy to match you with someone, at no additional charge. Or, you may pay a single supplement and go as a single.

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