Private Departure - China Express Family Adventure    *alt*

7 days, from £1475
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Travelling across China by train and plane, this fast-paced journey gives all the famous highlights of the country all within a week - visit the imperial palaces of Beijing and Xian's Terracotta Army as well as the giant pandas in Chengdu. We have lunch with a local family, learn the ancient art of calligraphy, make a Terracotta Army statue figure and have a go at flying a kite.

The Private Departure trips are designed for customers who prefer the flexibility of travelling independently rather than as part of a small group experience. The itinerary is the same as the small group trip although there is more likely to be a driver or guide rather than a trip leader escorting customers around the itinerary. These trips can usually start on a day that suits and there is the freedom to adjust daily timings when possible.

Please note, child prices are the same as adult prices.

Tour comfort rating: standard

Tour pace rating: full-on


 Day 1 Join tour in Beijing and visit the Temple of Heaven

Arriving into Beijing, we check-in at our city hotel. Beijing is the political and cultural centre of this vast country and this afternoon we visit the Temple of Heaven in Tiantan Park. The temple is well-known for its Ming architecture and was conceived as the meeting point between heaven and earth.
Meals included: Dinner
Single room option

 Day 2 Tiananmen Square, lunch with a local family and night market

This morning we begin with a visit to the impressive expanse of Tiananmen Square in the heart of Beijing which covers some 40 hectares and encompasses the Monument to the People's Heroes, Great Hall of the People and Mao Zedong Memorial Hall. After visiting the square, we cross to the magnificent Forbidden City, the one-time home of the Ming and the Manchu (Qing) emperors and a treasure trove of eastern wares. So named because for 500 years it was off limits to all but a privileged few, the Forbidden City is the largest and best-preserved collection of ancient buildings in China, covering an area of some 720,000 square metres and containing 800 buildings. We then travel onto the Hutong district of Beijing for a tour by rickshaw of the narrow streets, alleys and courtyard residences - a number of which are now designated as protected areas in an attempt to preserve this aspect of Chinese cultural history. Lunch is with a local family in their home where you can learn how to make Jiaozi (dumpling recipe) and also try your hand at paper cutting - decorative designs made from paper cut outs. We visit the Beijing Donghuamen Night Market this evening where we find rows of unusual food stalls and an array of Chinese food delicacies on display.
Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
Single room option

 Day 3 Visit the Great Wall and overnight train to Xian

Today we visit a man-made wonder in Mutianyu, some 125 kilometres to the north-east of the city. China's famous Great Wall is one of the country's most iconic symbols as it stretches from the China Sea to the Gobi desert, a journey of over 5,000 kilometres. The section we visit today (Badalang) is one of the best preserved parts of the wall and was built over 400 years ago during the Ming dynasty. Over 10 kilometres in length, this magnificent part of the wall crosses five mountain passes and features two beacon towers and nearly 70 watchtowers. There is also a visit to a jade factory where traditional sculptures are made. We then fly kites either by the Great Wall or the square by the Birds Nets stadium, the main venue of the Beijing Olympic Games. Try out this ancient Chinese tradition as you battle with the wind to reach for the sky. There is the option to visit the Summer Palace in the afternoon which is the old summer residence of the emperors. The Palace contains an extensive garden complex full of impressive imperial buildings and a large boating lake that comes complete with a magnificent marble boat built by the Empress Dowager Cixi. We then take the overnight train to Xian.
Meals included: Breakfast Lunch

 Day 4 Arrive in Xian with city tour

We arrive in Xian early this morning and walk the short distance to our hotel in time for breakfast. The rest of the day includes visiting China's old imperial capital that includes visiting the Shaanxi National Museum and the network of alleys that make up the city's Muslim Quarter which all provide an excellent destination for a day of exploring. We also cycle along Xi'an's 14th-century city wall which was constructed during the reign of Hongwu, the first Ming emperor in 1368 and took eight years to complete before stopping off at the Big Wild Goose Pagoda, a 64 metre high structure that offers some superb views out across the city.
Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
Single room option

 Day 5 Visit the Terracotta Warriors, make warrior statue and calligraphy class

Today we visit one of China's most famous sights, the Terracotta Army of Emperor Qin Shi Huangdi. Travelling by private bus, we spend three to four hours exploring this incredible site, visiting the three excavated pits that hold literally thousands of life-sized archers, soldiers and charioteers. Buried here to guard the tomb of China's first emperor, the Terracotta Army is considered to be one of the greatest archaeological finds of the last century. Before experiencing the site, we visit a workshop close by where we will try our hand at making smaller versions of the Terracotta figures which gives some idea of the challenge that the Chinese craftsmen had when making the life sized equivalent. Returning to Xian, we then travel onto the Tang Art Museum where we try our hand at the ancient art of calligraphy which of course is Chinese letter writing - learn how to write your name in this ancient written style. We then take the evening flight to Chengdu.
Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
Single room option

 Day 6 Visit Chengdu Panda Research Centre

Chengdu is the capital of China's Sichuan Province, a city that once marked the starting point of the old southern Silk Road. Set along the western edge of the Sichuan Basin, Chengdu can trace its ancestry back over 2,500 years and is famed throughout China for its food and its embroidery. The city is also home to the world famous Panda Breeding and Research Centre which lies on the outskirts of the city. See for yourselves an animal that has become synonymous with China itself. Home to numerous free roaming Giant Pandas, the ultimate aim of the centre is to reintroduce these rare animals back into the wild in such numbers as to ensure their survival. To that end, the centre has enjoyed an extraordinary level of success with numerous new-born pandas over the past few years. We also visit Huanglongxi, an historic Chinese town located about 50 km from Chengdu. The town is over 1700 years old and has been restored to retain its rustic charm, with ancient cobbled streets, temples and curving alleys. The majority of the buildings in Huanglongxi date back from the Qing Dynasty, some 370 years ago, and include the Zhenjiang, Chaoyin and Gulong Temple. It is for this reason that a number of Chinese film makers have chosen to shoot exterior scenes of period movies in the town including scenes from the blockbuster film, 'Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon'.
Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
Single room option

 Day 7 Tour ends in Chengdu

Our tours ends in Chengdu this morning
Meals included: Breakfast

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