9 Days China Cultural Tour of Beijing-Datong-Pingyao-Xi’an
Are you fascinated by Chinese culture and history? This 9 days China tour perfectly unveils the mysterious mask of this old nation and its 5000-year continuous civilization by the in-depth exploration to Beijing, Datong, Pingyao, and Xian. Accompanied by friendly local guides and experienced drivers, you will explore the splendid Forbidden City and Mutianyu Great Wall in Beijing, the incredible Yungang Grottoes and Hanging Temple in Datong, and the marvelous Terracotta Warriors in Xian. Wondering around the antique Pingyao Ancient Town, you will be dazzling by the bustling street as well as the unique buildings in Ming and Qing Dynasties. Taking high-speed train as main transportation between each city will help to save budget!
Forbidden City, Mutianyu Great Wall, Temple of Heaven, Summer Palace, Yungang Grottoes, Pingyao Ancient Town, Hanging Temple, Terracotta Warriors and Horses, Ancient City Wall
Upon your arrival at Beijing airport/train station, the local driver will pick you up from the exit gate by holding a welcome board with your name and transfer to downtown hotel for check-in. Free and easy on your arrangement for rest of the day.
You will start today’s tour with the largest city square in the world - Tian'anmen Square. The square has a very important role in China’s history and visiting it is a dream for many generations of Chinese people. So don’t be surprised when you see the square is teeming with Chinese people. You can just wander around the square and take in the rich history.
Then you will follow your tour guide into the incredible Forbidden City, which was once the royal palace of the Ming and Qing dynasties with more than 70 big and small palaces and over 9,000 rooms. It is one of the largest and most well-preserved ancient wooden structures in the world. Walking into the grand and majestic complex, you will steep in China’s long history and marvel at this architectural masterpiece.
After lunch, continue your visit to the royal garden, Summer Palace. With an area of 2.9 square kilometers, this palace was the best place where the emperors of the Qing Dynasty spent their summers. Here you will enjoy the amazing lake view, explore the exquisite long corridor, appreciate precious cultural relics, step on the elegant stone bridge, see high old trees, etc. You will love every minute here with so much to see.
Beijing Hutongs are full of history which attracts many worldwide tourists! Today your tour guide will take you to feel the charm of the hutongs in Shichahai scenic Area. Taking a rickshaw to ride along the ancient alleys, you will know more about the background information of the Hutongs, experience authentic old Beijing life, and witness the blending of tradition and modernity.
After breakfast, you will firstly come to Temple of Heaven, famous for its meticulous layout, unique architecture and magnificent decoration, this grand complex was built for the emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties to offer sacrifices to the heaven and pray for good harvests. It was listed as a world heritage site by UNESCO in 1998. You will definitely marvel at the craftsmanship and learn more historical facts about ancient China.
Later, drive around 2 hours to thefamous world’s heritage Mutianyu Great Wall. Mutianyu Great Wall is the most scenic part of Chinese Great Wall. It was built in the early Ming Dynasty at 1368 and stretches for 5400 meters. 90 percent of the Mutianyu is covered by vegetation. So in each season this part of the Great Wall will treat visitors with its unique scenery. If pure-hiking is too much for you, there are also options of cable car and toboggan to see the spectacular scenery from different angles ( optional).
Finish the amazing sightseeing, you’ll have an exterior visit of the marvelous Bird's Nest and Water Cube on the way back to Beijing, which were built for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. Walking around the outside of the building to appreciate the unique design and take some pictures would be perfect.
In the morning, the driver will pick you up from the downtown hotel and drive around 1 hour to Beijing West Train Station for your high-speed train to Datong. The train rides around 2.5 hours, you can have a nap on the train.
When you arrive at Datong South Train Station, there will be the local English speaking tour guide and driver waiting for you at the exit gate by holding a welcome board with your name.
Firstly, drive westwards to Yungang Grottoes. As the first batch of key cultural relics under state protection, also on the world heritage list, Yuagang Grottoes has a highly cultural and artistic meaning. It not only shows the traditional Chinese artistic style, but also incorporates the art characteristics of ancient India, the western regions and the Central Plain. Yungang Grottoes is the beginning of the "sinicization" of Chinese grotto art which mainly stores 45 grottoes and 51,000 stone statues.
Later, continue your visit to Shanhua Temple which is a Buddhist temple with great fusion Han culture in Song Dynasty and ancient northern ethnic culture of Jin and Liao Dynasties. Although it’s lesser visited compared with other Datong attractions, the artistic level of relics there including sculptures, wall paintings and ancient architectures show a pretty high level.
Last, pay a visit to The Nine-Dragon Wall, built in late Ming Dynasty, is composed of colored glaze. Nine dragons are different in shape and form, each of which is connected by water grass, white clouds and rocks. It presents the superb sculpture skills of ancient China.
Today the first site will be Hanging Temple. Located between the cliffs of Mt. Hengshan,it is the only unique temple in China that integrates Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism. The whole monastery is built in wooden framework structure. Though not very big, it astonishes people by the building design that relies on a mortise joint and embeds into the cliff without falling down. Owning a history over 1,500 years, Hanging Temple have earned compliment from many notable literati and poets in their works.
Later, drive around 3.5 hours to Taiyuan. Coming to Taiyuan, Jinci Temple is the No.1 attraction that you should not miss. It is the earliest imperial sacrifice garden existing today, dating back to Western Zhou Dynasty, about 11th century B.C. Each Taiyuaner is proud for Jinci Temple where their origin could be traced and for the historical heritage including the grand architecture complex, high-level sculptures, wall paintings and inscriptions. Immerse yourself into the elegant temple to learn the local history and culture with professional commentary from expert guide.
After breakfast, drive around 40 minutes to Pingyao and start your visit in Pingyao Ancient City. Bearing the history over 2700 years, sharing the title “Four Best Preserved Ancient Chinese Cities” together with Langzhong in Sichuan Province, Lijiang in Yunnan City and Shexian of Anhui Province, this ancient city is one of the only two ancient cities succeeding in applying World Cultural Heritage in China. Pingyao started to be built in Western Zhou Dynasty (827BC-782BC) and extended in 1370 AD, Ming Dynasty. Until today, the basic layout and landscape of Ming and Qing Dynasty is still visible in Pingyao.
The city had ever governed China’s finance in Ming and Qing Dynasty with over 20 exchange shops (it’s like bank in ancient time) headquartered here, about the half of the whole country, gaining the title of “Ancient Chinese Wall Street”. Today, you can still find the basic look of its ever prosperity from the relics.
Like the most city walls, Pingyao City Wall was built in early Ming Dynasty on the purpose of defense against the foreign invasion and get patched 26 times in later generations. The Wall is extremely admirable with its strong character in the lengthy past when you stroll on the wall top and behold the mottled bricks over there. Stretching round the city 6,000 meters in length and up 12 meters in height, the ancient City Wall divided the small city into 2 distinct worlds inside and outside its embrace: the inside was prosperous in trade with the streets lined with shops and people coming and going.
Visit the relics of the famous Rishengchang Exchange Shop to trace the history of Chinese financial industry. Built in 1823 by the general manager Lei Lvtai with fund support from local rich merchant Li Dajin, Rishengchang had even dominated the economic artery of Qing Empire in 19th century.
Setting your feet on the Ming-Qing Street, the one of busiest commercial street in China, you shall have a better idea in mind about how advanced the development in China was in that time. Today, the relics of those ancient shops still are well preserved and visible, including exchange shops, banks, drugstore, butcher, pawnshop… Local snack shops, souvenir shops and things like that inherits the ever prosperity of the street and dominates the major crowds here.
Besides, joining in a Paper Cutting Class in the ancient city would be a big highlight today. Following the local expert and waving the scissors in hands, you will amazingly get a vivid “bird” or “fish”, through which the interesting Chinese culture could be caught a glimpse.
You will begin today with Qiao Family Courtyard which could be said as a name card of travel to Shanxi Province, boasting its unparallel value of viewing, scientific and historical research. It’s a typical folk-art museum with strong characteristics of Shanxi merchants’ culture, reflecting the social and economic life in Ming and Qing Dynasties. Different from the tiny and elegant ancient town embraced by streams in southern China, Qiao Family impresses visitors strikingly with its square layout, tall and thick walls, grey bricks and red lanterns as well as classic overhanging eaves, suddenly bringing you back to ancient northern China when you stepping into the yard.
Later, move on to Shuanglin Temple. This temple could be said as a “surprise” among the attractions in Pingyao because it is a lesser-known site but have been collecting incredible artworks in its lengthy past. It’s a Buddhist temple where you will meet many delicate wall paintings, colored statues and beautiful buildings of Tang, Song and Ming Dynasties.
After the visit, you will be dropped off at train station to catch the 3.5-hour high-speed train to Xian. Upon arrival at Xian, the local driver will be waiting for you at the exit gate and transfer to local hotel.
Your Xian exploration begins with world’s heritage Terracotta Warriors and Horses. Known as “the Eighth Wonders of the World”, it was found by four local farmers while drilling a well in 1974. Now it has turned into one of the most important attractions in China and the No.1 attractive site in Xi’an. The museum includes Pit 1(the largest pit), Pit 2, Pit 3, and the exhibition hall of the chariots and horses. You will stay in the museum for 2-3 hours. Listening to the explanation from the expert tour guide, you will learn the hidden story of those live-sized sculptures and history of their owner: First Emperor of Qin who is also the first emperor of China.
After lunch, continue your visit to Ancient City Wall. It is the most complete preserved and the largest city wall in China, which was built for the military defense in the ancient time. Since it is cycling the city, visitors can ride a bike around the city wall (optional ).
Later, move on to the Bell and Drum Tower Square, which locates in the very center of the city and is considered as the symbol of this old capital. Walking forward, you will come to Muslim Quarter where you will find many special local products and authentic local snacks. You can enjoy preserved meat, casserole, various noodles, and purchase some Terracotta Warriors imitation as souvenirs.
The core of our service is excellent travel guides. Over 20 years, we have built up a considerable professional guide team that is knowledgeable, attentive and flexible. The most experienced and reliable guides will be arranged for your unique China tour. Our passionate guide team is full of contagious enthusiasm and keen interest to share culture and history in a pleasant manner. We are always glad at your service to lead you to explore a real China and experience authentic local life in China.
Our Driver and Vehicle
The first mission of our service is to ensure you feel safe and comfortable during your travel. The vehicles we use are air-conditioned, clean and well-maintained. Our drivers are all licensed drivers with many years of driving experience. Moreover, we offer free baby seats for families with little kids.
Food is a very important part of Chinese culture. You won’t want to miss the opportunity to taste the real local Chinese food!
Buffet breakfast will be included in the hotel if you would like accommodation to be arranged by us. Having lunch at local restaurants close and convenient to the attractions you will visit, you would enjoy the local dishes in each city. Chinese style, Vegetarian or Muslim meals are all available. If you have any other diet requirements or allergies, please feel free to let us know, we will try our best to organize it.
For daily dinner, you are suggested to have it on your own when you are exploring each city in your own time, this way would be more flexible for you to choose food as per your interest and preference.