Day 1: Australia –– Beijing
Fly to Beijing via connecting cities and transfer to the hotel. Beijing, China’s massive capital, has a history stretching back three millennia, and since the 2008 Olympic Games, it has been known for its modern architecture as well as grand ancient sites such as the Forbidden City complex, the imperial palace during the Ming and Qing dynasties. Please note: Some flights may depart the night before.
Day 2: Beijing (B)
After breakfast, visit Tiananmen Square, the second-largest public square in the world! Tiananmen Square is named after the Tiananmen (Gate of Heavenly Peace) located to the north of the square, separating it from the Forbidden City. The square contains the Monument to the People’s Heroes, the National Museum of China and the Mausoleum of Chairman Mao Zedong, and holds great cultural significance as it was the site of several important events in Chinese history.
Optional Program (at own expense): Forbidden City Tour – Continue on to the incredible Forbidden City, a true architectural masterpiece, and the imperial palace from the Ming to the Qing dynasty (1420 to 1912). The complex is home to the National Palace Museum, and consists of 980 buildings covering 72 ha (over 180 acres). The Forbidden City was declared a World Heritage Site in 1987 and is listed by UNESCO as the largest collection of preserved ancient wooden structures in the world!
Optional Program (at own expense): Peking Duck Dinner – Tonight, head out for a Beijing speciality which is one of the most famous Chinese dishes, Peking Duck.
Day 3: Beijing (B)
Today’s highlight is an excursion to the majestic Great Wall of China at Juyong Pass. This is one of the three most famous passes along the Wall, together with Jiayuguan and Shanhaiguan. Just 60 km from downtown Beijing, Juyong Pass was the northern route to Beijing in ancient times. Once here, there is plenty of time to learn about the wall’s construction and you’ll have the chance to climb a portion of this 6,000 km marvel.
On the way back to Beijing, we stop at one of the largest jade exhibitions in Asia. Then, after lunch, see skilled artisans at work at a cloisonne factory. Cloisonne is a famous traditional enamel ware, known as the ‘Blue of Jingtai’ in China, with a history of over 500 years. It was so called because blue was the colour typically used for enamelling, and Jingtai was the reign title of the 7th Ming Emperor.
Optional Program (at own expense): The Golden Mask Dynasty – This phenomenal show incorporates dancing, acrobatics, magnificent costumes and lot of surprises. Seen by an estimated 1.1 million people, it is one of Beijing’s must-see shows.
Day 4: Beijing (B)
Enjoy a tour to the Summer Palace, the largest preserved ancient garden in China and a former summer resort for Emperors followed by a visit to a Chinese Herbal Medicine Institute to learn about traditional Chinese medicine, which has existed for thousands of years, as you enjoy a rejuvenating foot massage.
Optional Program (at own expense): Hutong Life & Panda House Tour w/Lunch – A rickshaw will take you around the intricate winding hutongs to admire these old courtyard dwellings, built during the Mongol Yuan Dynasty. Even today, when many have been developed into upscale restaurants, tea houses, and boutiques, many residents are reluctant to move from their beloved hutongs. On this tour, you are invited to visit a local family’s house to experience authentic ‘old Beijing’ life. Next, visit the Panda House in Beijing Zoo to see China’s adorable national treasure – the Giant Panda.
Optional Program (at own expense): Chinese Kung Fu Show – This show is an energetic mix of traditional Chinese martial arts, dance and high-flying acrobatics set in a modern theatre. Combined with an excellent storyline, exceptional stage design and professional actors this show is not to be missed for kung-fu enthusiasts or those seeking a thrilling performance.
Day 5: Beijing – – Wuxi (B)
Take a high speed train to Wuxi, an ancient city, richly endowed with natural attractions due to its pleasantly warm and moist climate. Wuxi boasts a reputation of being the ‘Land of Fish and Rice’. Enjoy the scenery as we pass by Lake Tai, the third-largest freshwater lake in China. This evening, we will stroll along the trendy yet traditional Nanchang Street, composed of both ancient and modern architecture, and juxtaposed with the peaceful atmosphere of the waterside town and fashionable life of Wuxi.
Optional Program (at own expense): Jiangnan Dumpling Lunch – Enjoy a traditional lunch that includes the famous xiao long bao, a Chinese steamed bun filled with minced pork and tasty soup, prepared in a small bamboo steaming basket (xiao long).
Day 6: Wuxi – Suzhou (B)
This morning, visit one of the largest freshwater pearl exhibitions in the country. After lunch, travel by coach to Suzhou, an elegant city with canals, stone bridges, and meticulously designed gardens. Suzhou has been referred to as ‘Paradise on Earth’ by Chinese poets and writers since ancient times. As a large area of the city is covered by water, including a vast number of ponds and streams, Suzhou is also known as ‘Venice of the East’. It is also known as the ‘Garden City’ due to its many classical gardens, renowned for their charming natural beauty and harmonious construction. Visit the Lingering Garden, which is among the finest in China.
Optional Program (at own expense): Grand Canal Cruise – Take a cruise along the UNESCO World Heritage listed Grand Canal of over a thousand years to view life along what was known as ‘China’s golden waterway’ in its heyday.
Optional Program (at own expense): Western Buffet Dinner – Enjoy a sumptuous western style buffet dinner with at your hotel, a relaxing way to wind down the day.
Day 7: Suzhou – Hangzhou (B)
This morning visit a silk spinning mill, and learn how silk is created from mulberry-munching silkworms to produce the finest thread and cloth. After lunch, travel by coach to Hangzhou, described by Marco Polo as ‘the most beautiful and magnificent city in the world’. Upon arrival, take a boat ride on the serene West Lake, the most renowned feature of Hangzhou, and noted for its scenic beauty which blends naturally with many famous historical and cultural sites.
Optional Program (at own expense): Impression West Lake – This evening, enjoy an open-air performance, a masterpiece created by Zhang Yimou, acclaimed film and theatre director, and architect of the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics Games Opening Ceremony.
Day 8: Hangzhou –– Australia (B)
Today after breakfast you will depart Hangzhou for your return flight/s home via connecting cities. If time permits, you will experience tea-tasting at the Dragon Well Tea Plantation before departure.
Day 9: Australia
Arrive home today