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I have been to China seven times since attending the 2008 Beijing Olympics. It was surprising to fall for the country as I did and I am compelled to learn much more through experience.
A visit to China “…is a continuing investigation, a boundless, endlessly fascinating mystery.”
–Anthony Bourdain, No Reservations, Travel Channel.
Confessions of a Cruise Director
John Locher posts as a guest blogger for this popular travel blog
China Tours Itinerary
Once again, I am working with my friends at Spirit Quest Tours. It is not a religious-themed trip, but a small group seeing a unique perspective of the beauty, power, emergence, trends and traditions of China. Now is the time to go-as travel and global interest in China rises.
The itinerary includes visits to wonderful places you must see, with a unique angle and some special sites. We have expert learning opportunities from friends, guides and exceptional speakers sharing about culture, language, family, business, religion, the arts and history.
Day 1- US/Beijing
Arrive in Beijing, China’s capital and largest city. Beijing is a city of amazing contrasts – an ancient capital with some incredible historical sites and a bustling modern metropolis which successfully hosted the 2008 Olympics. Upon your arrival in Beijing, our guide will meet you and whisk you off to the Regent Hotel, a 5-star luxury hotel.
The rest of the day is free to rest or to explore the area. In the evening, join us for our Welcome Dinner and Orientation at Wahaha restaurant – your first authentic Chinese meal of the trip!
Day 2- Beijing
Today we visit Tian’anmen Square, the symbol of Beijing. As we walk through, marvel at the huge size – nearly 100 acres. Then experience the ancient emperor’s daily life at the Forbidden City, where the Emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties governed for over 500 years. In the afternoon, enjoy the Temple of Heaven, built in 1420AD, where emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties would offer sacrifices to heaven and pray for good harvests.
Day 3- Beijing
After breakfast, we will visit the Jade-Carving Factory to see China’s national treasure. Then we visit the Juyong Section of the Great Wall to enjoy the beauty, grandeur, and learn about its history. We will have a photo stop at the Olympic Stadium “Birds Nest” on our way to see the Summer Palace, its history is full of bizarre anecdotes. This picturesque Place was set up by Emperor Qianlong as a “country home” for his mother with a man-made lake and gardens. Tonight, enjoy Peking Duck in the time-honored Quanjude Restaurant, which was opened in 1869.
Day 4- Beijing
In the morning, we will visit the Lama Temple. For the remainder of the day, it is your time to explore or have a restful afternoon. Dinner will be at a Mongolian restaurant at Houhai. More than any other, John thinks about the meal he had at this restaurant. Most cuisines in China are very distinct and different than anything you may have had in the US.
Day 5- Beijing/Xi’an
Take a morning flight to Xi’an, and have lunch on board. Visit Da Ci’en Temple. The Pagoda was built in the 7th century to house the Buddhist sutras that Xuanzang (Tripitaka) brought back from his epic journey to India. The Temple complex has several large halls with some great Buddhist statues and murals. Then it’s off to the Xi’an City Wall, a major landmark and the best preserved, as well as the oldest and largest of the city defense systems in China. As an option, you also can bike along the city wall.
In the early evening, check into the Xi’an Hyatt Regency, and have dinner at a local restaurant.
Day 6- Xi’an
Discovered accidentally in 1974, the Terracotta Warriors are an incredible army of over 7000 soldiers, archers, horses and chariots in full battle array, which have guarded Emperor Qing’s tomb since 210 BC. Each figure is unique, and the painstaking repair and excavation continues in 3 pits protected inside huge hangars.
On the way to the museum of the Terracotta Warriors and Houses, we will visit a Ceramic Workshop to see how the warriors are made. Then it’s back to Xi’an, where we will experience the Muslim Quarter and Bell Tower’s unique culture. In the evening, we will partake in a Dumpling Banquet, a Xi’an specialty.
Day 7- Xi’an/Hangzhou
In the morning, we fly to Hangzhou and visit West Lake. Lying on the west edge of Hangzhou city, West Lake is the symbol of Hangzhou, and one of the most beautiful lakes in China. While there, we will visit Huagang Park, one of the ten scenic spots along the West Lake. There, you can easily see hundreds of red carps. In the afternoon, we check in at Hangzhou’s 5-Star Shangri La Hotel.
Day 8- Hangzhou/Wuzhen
“As there is paradise in Heaven, so there are Hangzhou and Suzhou on earth.”
-Ancient Chinese saying
Today we visit Lingyin Temple, called the Temple of Souls’ Retreat, a magnificent temple and one of the most famous south of the YangTze River. It features rock-cut grottoes, carvings, and fresh springs. We will stroll along Qinghefang Pedestrian Street, a marvelous illustration the long history of Hangzhou. The cobblestone street is filled with well-preserved ancient two story buildings, all hung with traditional red lanterns. Typical businesses, like Chinese Medicine Pharmacies and Tea Houses, operate in the same way as they have done for centuries. Coin, china and antiques museums illustrate life in times past.
Then it’s on to the Tea Plantation, which boasts the most important tea production in China. It’s easy to relax in this magnificent setting, enjoying the unique culture, and tasting the fragrant tea- all while appreciating the beautiful village scenery.
In the late afternoon, we drive to Wuzhen and check in at the simple and homey Tongan Guest House- a delightful throwback to the ancient culture and atmosphere of the Water City.
Day 9- Wuzhen
Wuzhen is a 6500 year-old town known as the Water City — the Venice of the East! Spend the day on your own, exploring Wuzhen’s relaxing liquid landscapes.
Day 10- Wuzhen/Shanghai
After breakfast, relax as our coach whisks us to Shanghai, only an hour away. Upon arrival, we visit The Bund, which is an Anglo-Indian term for the embankment of a muddy waterfront. Today, it is the calling card for the most developed city of mainland. We will see numerous amazing skyscrapers from there including the Shanghai Financial Center, one of the tallest buildings in the world, and the iconic Oriental Pearl Tower. After checking in at 5-star Nikko Hotel Shanghai, we will visit Xintiandi Street, famous to visitors and locals who can watch each other there.
Day 11- Shanghai
We will visit the Jade Buddha Temple in the morning. Although built in 1928, this temple’s classical architecture stands out in modern Shanghai and houses two beautiful white jade Buddha statues. Then it’s off to Yu Yuan, Shanghai’s Old Town. There we will see the Yu Yuan garden (meaning garden of peace and comfort), which is considered the most complete and lavish Chinese gardens in the area. Last, we will marvel over Chinese art and treasure at the Shanghai Museum.
Day 12- Shanghai
Your day is free to explore more of Shanghai, shop, pack, or just relax. This evening, we will have our farewell dinner at a very special place!
Day 13- Shanghai/US
We will return to the Pudong International Airport for our flights back to the US
For more information visit: http://www.spiritquesttours.com/china/sign-up/