A preview of whats to come !
Trip Start Mar 10, 2007
153Trip End Jan 01, 2007
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Itinerary Days 1-2 Hong Kong Travellers will be arriving at all times during the day, from all corners of the world, so feel free to arrive at the joining point at any time before the evening of Day 1. There are no activities planned for this day but we will have an initial group meeting in the evening, followed by dinner. Please check the noticeboard in the entrance of the hotel for a note from your leader detailing the time and place. For those who arrive early, you might want to visit Stanley Market or Nathan Road for some shopping, or catch the views of Hong Kong from Victoria Peak.
On day 2 we leave mid-morning and catch the cross-border bus to Guangzhou (approximately 4 hours). Bustling Guangzhou is a great place to arrive in China proper and from here we board our overnight train bound for Guilin in Guangxi Province (approx 13 hrs). Train is our main mode of transport in China and a great way to travel.
Days 3-5 Yangshuo We arrive in Guilin in the early morning and transfer by public bus to the small countryside town of Yangshuo (1.5 hrs). The region around Yangshuo is probably the most well-known scenic attraction in all of China as the Li River winds its way around thousands of limestone karst mountains and pictureque riverside villages and markets. Each karst is impressively named, in true Chinese tradition!
On Day 4 we take a full-day bike ride through the surrounding countryside with a local guide to gain an insight into rural Chinese life and have a scrumptious lunch in a local restaurant. It is also a wonderful area for exploring individually, as every turn in the road brings you to another picture-postcard location - this is why Yangshuo is a firm favourite with Intrepid travellers.
On Day 5 we bus to Guilin train station for a train to Wuhan and bus to Yichang
Days 6-8 Yangzi River Arriving in Wuhan, we take a bus to Yichang (5 hours) which is our launching point for a tour of the massive Three Gorges dam project. In the evening we board our basic Chinese-style boat. We will spend the 1st night on board the boat. Our cabins are clean, twin share with private toilet and shower facilities, but not luxurious. There is basic Chinese food available in the restaurant on board.
The following day we will make an excursion to a Tributary of the Yangtze river and White Emperor city before disembarking the boat for an overnight in the town of Feng Jie on the banks for the mighty Yangtze.
Our return to Yichang is by express boat and after lunch.
we will transfer to airport for a mid afternoon flight to Shanghai (approximately 1 hour) and bus to Hangzhou (approximately 2 hours),
Days 9-10 Hangzhou One of the city's main attractions in beautiful Hangzhou is the West Lake, surrounded by hills and gardens, its banks dotted with temples and pavilions. Hangzhou is also the centre of one of China's best-known tea-growing areas and home to numerous traditional teahouses. The city is also known for its superb food. On Day 9, we visit Lingyin Si Temple, one of the largest in China and have a whole day to explore all of the attractions of this lovely area and soak up the relaxing atmosphere.
Days 11-12 Huangshan On Day 10, we travel by chartered bus to the spectacular Huangshan or Yellow Mountains area (approximately 5 hours). Painters and poets for countless of centuries have come to this region of China to be inspired. We spend half a day in a countryside village and then a day hiking and exploring the amazing jagged peaks and temples of Huangshan.
We stay overnight the the foothill of the mountain, and might even be able to catch the sunrise before descending and taking our overnight train to Shanghai (approximately 11 hours).
Days 13-14 Shanghai We arrive in Shanghai on the morning of Day 13. China's most populated city has always been connected with the wild and exotic life of the Orient. Take a stroll along the Bund with its art deco architecture, explore the busy Yuyuan Bazaar, the old city, or catch a performance of the famous Shanghai Acrobats one night - there is plenty to do so we have lots of free time to appreciate it. A visit to the Shanghai Museum, renowned as one of the best in China, is included in our itinerary.
Day 15-16 Zhouzhuang We leave Shanghai mid-morning for a short drive out to the picturesque village of Zhouzhuang (approximately 2 hours) where cobblestone streets are lined with traditional buildings in village-style architecture. This is a haven for keen photographers, as Chinese gondolas make their way down narrow canals and under small arched bridges. Zhouzhuang is a tranquil place and an escape from the hustle and bustle of Shanghai. We stay for 1 night in a traditional guesthouse.
Days 17 Suzhou We travel past lakes and a network of waterways as we head to Suzhou (approximately 1.5 hours), a city famous for its gardens. This is a great place to take to the streets on a bicycle, dropping in on the beautiful gardens as you go. Cycling down the lanes next to the canals is a delight and a great way to see the real China. In the evening we attend a cultural show in the Master Of The Nets Garden (seasonal), an ideal opportunity to learn about the cultural side of China. In the evening of Day 17, we board our overnight train bound for Xi'an (approximately 16 hours).
Days 18-20 Xi'an Xi'an is our base for visiting the famous Terracotta Warriors, built over 2000 years ago to protect the tomb of Emperor Qin Shi Huang. Over 6000 life-size warriors have been discovered. We have a half-day trip to explore this archaeological wonder, approximately 45 minutes from Xi'an. There are many other attractions on offer in the city of Xi'an, including the Great Mosque, a wonderfully serene place to escape the hustle and bustle of the city, and fantastic evening food markets. The centre of Xi'an is enclosed by an enormous city wall which can be climbed for a small fee. The top of the wall is a great place to view the setting sun. In the late afternoon of day 20, we leave Xi'an on a comfortable overnight train, bound for Pingyao (approx 11 hrs).
Days 21-22 Pingyao The warmth of the local Shanxi people is most welcome - Western travellers are a rarity in Pingyao. A former commercial and military centre of the Ming and Qing Dynasties, this is a well-preserved traditional Han Chinese walled city. We include a visit to the Wang Family Courtyard then the rest of the day is free to explore temples, ancient houses and museums.
Days 23-24 Datong We take a chartered bus from Pingyao to Datong, stopping on the way to see the 1400-year-old Hanging Monastery at Hunyuan to discover Buddha statues and other treasures. The monastery clings precariously to a sheer cliff face under an overhanging precipice, connected by wooden bridges and corridors.
On Day 24 we visit the Yungang Grottoes at Datong. Built over a 34-year period starting in 460 AD, these caves house 51,000 Buddha statues. In the afternoon we take a comfortable train to Beijing (approx 6 hrs), watching the world go by - the Great Wall, ancient villages, lakes and rural life.
Days 25-28 Beijing There is simply so much to see and do in Beijing, the capital of all capitals. We arrive in the late afternoon and visit Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City on the morning of Day 25, followed by a rickshaw tour of the hutongs and a performance by Huiling - an Intrepid-supported local charity for Chinese with learning disabilities. On Day 26 we have free time for shopping, relaxing, or visiting sights such as the Summer Palace, the Temple of Heaven and the Lamaist Monastery, to name just a few.
No journey to China is complete without walking on the Great Wall, an incredible feat of engineering ranging over 6000km along the mountain ridges north of Beijing and stretching west. The wall was originally constructed to protect the Chinese empires from the Mongolian 'barbarians' of the north. On Day 27 we visit a lesser-known section of this wonder of the world, before heading back to Beijing (approximately 3 hours each way). In the evening we have a final night's dinner at one of the capital's many fine restaurants.
Sounds Good doesn't it! Only 17 days including today left, better start planning some stuff!