CHINA TOUR with York College



Tour Code: EYCN
Featuring:
Shanghai, Yangtze Cruise, Xi'an, Beijing

Date: 14 Jun 2011 - 28 Jun 2011
Duration: 15 days & 14 nights
Cost from: 3685 USD



ITINERARY IN BRIEF


Day 1 : Washington, Dulles - Shanghai, China

Today we fly from Washington IAD to Shanghai, China, via London.

Day 2 : Connect in London

Flight: London - Shanghai.

Day 3 : Arrival in Shanghai

Today we arrive in Shanghai and transfer to our hotel.

Shanghai, among the two or three largest cities in the world, is China's most populous as well as its most "urban" city. Despite the profound changes in social and economic structure brought on since 1949, Shanghai retains the look and feel of a great Western metropolis, with a population that seems quite at home amidst the press of crowds and the throbbing energy and diversity of city life. In many ways, Shanghai's ambiance is more like that of New York or Rome than that of Beijing or Guangzhou.

Overnight in Shanghai.
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 4 : City Tour

We spend today exploring Shanghai, starting with the city's famous waterfront promenade, the Bund; and the tranquil Yuyuan Garden. This is possibly the most celebrated classical Chinese Garden in Shanghai. We will visit the Jade Buddha Temple, famous for its two rare statues of Buddha carved out of a single piece of white jade. One depicts Buddha at the moment of his enlightenment and the other as he is passing into Nirvana. The two statues were brought from Burma by a Chinese monk in 1890, eight years after the temple's construction. There are a number of other statues of Buddha, his disciples, angels, and celestial guardians to be seen in the various halls. Many worshippers still attend services here, although most are older people and overseas Chinese.

We also visit the world-renown Shanghai Museum which houses sensational works of art from all Chinese periods, beautifully displayed on several floors. Out of a collection of 120,000 pieces, the museum is especially famous for its bronzes, jade, and ceramics. Included in your visit is use of a personal Audioguide which provides an informative commentary on the exhibits.

Overnight in Shanghai.
Meals Included: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 5 : Shanghai - Suzhou - Shanghai

Today we travel by bus to the nearby historical town of Suzhou, China's well-known "city of gardens", which tops all others in both the number and the artistry of gardens. Dating from Pi Jiang Garden of the Eastern Jing Dynasty, Suzhou's art of gardening has endured for 1,500 years. There were once over 200 gardens in the city, of which 69 are still in good preservation today.

Our tour here will include a visit to the Humble Administrator's Garden and the Garden of the Master of Nets. We also visit the Hanshan Temple before returning to Shanghai with the balance of the day at leisure.

Overnight in Shanghai.
Meals Included: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 6 : Shanghai - Wuhan - Yangtze Cruise

Today we fly to Wuhan, situated at the confluence of the Han and Yangtze rivers. Wuhan's strategic location has also made it the third most important military center in China, a role that has considerable historical precedence. Battles fought here at the turn of the century accompanied the fall of the Qing Dynasty. In 1949, Communist forces in this sector won key victories over the last pockets of Guomindang resistance, paving the way to their final victory. Today, Wuhan is the capital of Hubei Province and the largest city in Central China, with a population of 7.3 million.

After a brief look at Wuhan, we continue to Yiching where we board our Yangtze River cruise. Foreigners who travelled this fabled stretch in the early 1900s recount that it took anywhere from 20 to 60 days to traverse the 648 km (405 mile) stretch between Yichang at the mouth of the gorges and Chongqing. The first power boat trip up the Yangtze from Yichang took place in 1898.

The famous gorges of the Yangtze lie in a 189 km (118 mile) stretch between Chongqing and Yichange: Qutang Gorge, Wu Gorge, and Xiling Gorge. Towering mountains drop almost perpendicularly into the river as if hewn by an axe. The spectacular grandeur of these walls and the turgid river that roars through them have long been the subjects of China's romantic poets and painters. To boatmen and navigators, however, they meant dangerous bends, shallows, rapids, and reefs. Adding to these difficulties are a fast current (prior to recent man-made changes in the "green shallows," the flow reached 7.9 m/s) and a variation of as much as 53 m (175 feet) in the river level between dry and flooded seasons. Yet boats have plied this part of the Yangtze since the Western Zhou Dynasty (1066-771 BC).

Overnight Yangtze River Cruise.
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Day 7 : Yangtze Cruise

At some point in our programme we will have an excursion to the Three Gorges Dam, taking a bus across the Three Gorges Bridge which leads toward the top of the hill for a birds-eye view of the construction from the observation deck. Visitors will observe the five-step ship lock, the diversion canal, the dam in construction, and the power station. Our guide will provide detailed information on the history of the dam and facts on its construction. In addition, an exhibition room displays a model of the dam and surrounding buildings.

We make an excursion along the Shennong Stream, which starts at Mt Shennong Jia in Hubei Province north of the Yangtze. It is comprised of Parrot Gorge and Dragon Boot Gorge, both with breathtaking scenery. Moving through the treacherous gorges with lush pine and translucent water, visitors can see spectacular sights like ancient suspension coffins and aquatic caves.

Overnight Yangtze River Cruise.
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Day 8 : Yangtze Cruise

Today we have an excursion to the town of Fengdu, said to be the abode of devils and ghosts. Situated on the northern bank of the river between Zhongxian and Fuling, the city was once depicted as the 'City of Ghosts' in two ancient Chinese classic works: "Monkey King" and "Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio". The origin of the town's extraordinary reputation can be traced back to the Han Dynasty (206 BC-AD 220) when two officials, Yin and Wang, became Taoist recluses here and eventually Immortals. Later in Tang Dynasty their names when combined mean "King of the Under World".

Today tourists come to visit temples and shrines dedicated to the gods of the underworld. Landmarks here bear horrific names: Last-Glance-at-Home Tower, Nothing-to-be-done Bridge and Ghost Torturing Pass.

Overnight Yangtze River Cruise
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Day 9 : Yangtze Cruise

Our cruise today continues through the Qutang and Wu gorges. Our river guide will talk about the historic sites, including Ancient Plank Road, Bellows Gorge (Fengxiang Xia), Chalk Wall (Fenbi Tang) and the 12 lofty and misty peaks and precipices in the Wu Gorge.

Overnight Yangtze River Cruise.
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Day 10 : Yangtze Cruise Disembarkation -Chongqing - Xi'an

Today we say farewell to the Yangtze and fly from Chongqing to Xi'an, the ancient capital of 11 dynasties and one of the largest medieval cities in the world when visited by Marco Polo. Of all cities on our itinerary, Xi'an and its history most vividly exemplify the extraordinary continuity of Chinese civilization. Only in recent years, however, has Xi'an become well-known outside of China, owing to the 1974 discovery of the astonishing burial site of emperor Qin Shi Huangdi (3rd century BC).

To the north of the city lie the rugged Western Hills, dotted with ancient combs and the Wei River which forms a natural boundary. The entire region south of the river is fertile, suitable for growing cotton and coarse grains. The city's impressive ancient walls and wide avenues are laid out in orderly grid patterns.

While in Xi'an, we will visit the museum dedicated to the tomb known as Han Yangling, located near the airport.* Built in 2005 and regarded as one of the best of its kind in the world, the museum showcases not only the resting place of the occupant, Jing Di, but also how he and others lived during his time, the second century BC. The displays are exquisitely and sensitively done; the piles of hundreds of artifacts, in situ, are like a modern work of "found" art.

*NOTE: depending on flight times, we may visit Han Yangling today, as above, or prior to our departure from Xi'an.

Overnight in Xi'an.
Meals Included: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 11 : Xi'an: Terra Cotta Warriors

Today we view the Terra Cotta Warriors, an impressive legion of thousands of life-size terra cotta warriors that has been guarding the emperor's burial site for over 2,000 years. In 1974, a group of peasants digging a well in Lintong County, about 30 km east of Xi'an, accidentally made one of the century's greatest archeological discoveries. What they stumbled upon were thousands of life-size terra cotta warriors; an estimated 8,000 figures have thus far been identified. We will visit pits 1, 2, and 3 as well as the amazing Bronze Charriots.

We also visit the Great Mosque, a five minute walk from the Drum Tower in the center of Xi'an. Inscriptions from the stone tablets indicate that the Great Mosque, located at Huajue Lane, was established in AD 742 during the Tang Dynasty. After restorations in the Song, Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties, the present complex proudly ranks among the largest mosques in China. Unlike Arabic mosques which have splendid domes, minarets reaching into the clouds, and colourful engraved sketches with dazzling patterns, the mosque is built in a Chinese traditional style with the grounds taken up by platforms, pavilions and halls.

Finally we visit the Shaanxi Historical Museum, the largest museum in the province. Time permitting, we might also visit the Big Wild Goose Pagoda and the Bell Tower from where you have a spectacular view of all four of Xi'an's city gates.

While in Xi'an, we will enjoy a "dumpling banquet" for which this area is famous.

Overnight in Xi'an.
Meals Included: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 12 : Xi'an - Beijing

Today we fly to Beijing, the capital of the People's Republic of China. While many of its elements are common to other Chinese cities, the sum of this city--its scope and presence in history--has no equivalent in China or anywhere else in the world.

Beijing is not only the political and administrative center of the People's Republic of China, it is also China's greatest repository of monuments and treasures from the imperial era. It is also the second-largest and fastest growing municipality in today's China, the home and workplace of +/-9.3 million people.

Overnight in Beijing.
Meals Included: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 13 : Beijing: Great Wall & Summer Palace

This morning we travel north of Beijing to the Great Wall of China. A walk along the enormous undulating towered and turreted wall is spectacular. Rising and falling in concert with the ridges of the northern hills and undulating far off into the distance, the Great Wall consistently exceeds visitors' expectations and remains one of humankind's most remarkable accomplishments.

The wall's construction began during the Warring States Period (403-221 BC), when separate sections were built in scattered strategic areas. Following China's unification under the first Qin Emperor, Qin Shi Huangdi (221-206 BC), 300,000 men --many of them political prisoners whose bodies are buried in the wall -- were put to work connecting the segments into one huge rampart of stone and earth.

We will have plenty of free time to explore the wall before returning to Beijing early this afternoon.

After lunch we will have a tour of the Summer Palace, located in the northwest area of the city. During the late Qing Dynasty this was the summer retreat from Beijing's heat for the imperial family and court. Originally created as an imperial garden by Emperor Qianlong, it was destroyed and plundered during the Second Opium War in 1860. In 1888 the notorious Empress Cixi used the money intended for the Chinese Navy to build this opulent summer retreat for herself. In 1900 the Summer Palace was damaged extensively once again during the Boxer Rebellion, but was rebuilt shortly thereafter. Equally famous as the Forbidden City, the Summer Palace is called "Yiheyuan" (Garden of Nurtured Harmony) in Chinese. It is up to now the best preserved and the largest imperial gardens in China.

Overnight in Beijing.
Meals Included: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 14 : Beijing: Forbidden City & Temple of Heaven

We begin today with a visit to Tian'anmen Square, the place where one million students rallied for democracy in 1989. This is the largest public square in the world. Originally built in 1651, the square was quadrupled in size in 1958 to its present 40.5 hectares (100 acres) during a massive city-wide reconstruction program. Each flagstone is numbered so that parade units can line up in their assigned places.

From here we walk to the Forbidden City, a huge complex of palaces, pavilions, courtyards and gardens, which was off-limits to commoners for 500 years. This is where the emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties carried out their administration and lived, now open as a Palace Museum.

This afternoon we visit the Temple of Heaven, completed in 1420, and expanded over the years by two Qing Dynasty Emperors. Qinian Hall, the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests, with the three blue-tiled cone-shaped roofs, has become a worldwide symbol of Beijing. It was hit by lightning in 1889 and then completely restored. No nails or pegs were used in the original construction nor in the restoration.

Overnight in Beijing.
Meals Included: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 15 : Departure

Departure from Beijing. BON VOYAGE!
Meals Included: Breakfast





INCLUSIONS


What's included on this tour?
  • Accommodation based on twin accommodation in 3 star hotels
  • Breakfast and dinner included daily
  • Lunches also included on the Cruise
  • All sightseeing and entrance fees
  • Transportation
  • Services of local guides at various sites
  • Services of Global Educational Travel tour leader
  • Gratuities to porters, waiters, guides and drivers
  • Flights and taxes from Shanghai-Wuhan,Chongqing-Xian and Xian-Beijing
  • International air fare from BWI or IAD to Shanghai, return from Beijing, including international taxes and fuel surcharges

EXCLUSIONS


What's NOT included on this tour?
  • Visa fee for entry into China. This must be applied for and acquired prior to arrival in China
  • Lunches (except on cruise)
  • Gratuity to Global Educational Travel tour leader (Mr. Fyfe will hold a collection to pay for gratuities)
  • Passports and vaccinations are the responsibility of the person travelling
  • Trip cancellation and interruption insurance



LOOKING FOR INSPIRATION?