China Dragon Tour
Day 1: Depart Miami to Washington, DC for our Direct flight to Beijing
Day 2: Beijing/Tianjin
Arrive Beijing Airport - meet representative from China who will help us with our entry process and in boarding our flight for Tianjin. Upon Tianjin arrival we will meet our China Tour Guide who will assist us with the transfer and conveniently located hotel check-in. After our long flight we will have time to rest and then attend our welcome dinner.
Overnight Holiday Inn Riverside, Tianjin.
Day 3: Tianjin
Today we attend the FIU Food & Wine Festival held in conjunction with the Tianjin University of Commerce. August 2006 FIU unveiled the first US School of Hospitality and Tourism in Tianjin, China, similar to FIU's top-ranked program in Miami. This joint hospitality management program signed between the Chinese government and an American university is lauded as being the first of its kind in China.
The $50 million university center, fully funded by the Chinese government, sits on 80 acres and has a capacity for up to 2,000 students.
At one time Tianjin was shared by nine countries: Italy, Germany, France, Russia, Great Britain, Austria, Japan and Belgium an extremely hard period for Tianjin and her people. However, the people from these various countries left permanent marks on the area by building thousands of villas which today lends an exotic flavor to Tianjin. You will find a number of beautiful natural scenes as well as historical sites making it a good place to explore.
Overnight the Holiday Inn Riverside, Tianjin.
Day 4: Tianjin/Beijing
Part of the day we will again attend the FIU Wine Festival Tianjin. Then transfer back to Beijing the Capital of the People's Republic of China and check into our hotel the Beijin, located in the Dongcheng District.
Conveniently situated, this hotel is the largest Marriott Hotel outside the USA with 1312 elegantly decorated rooms, 4 restaurants and a lounge which features nightly live music. Perhaps this evening prior or after dinner we will have time for a rickshaw ride through the Hu Tongs, or alleyways, very much a part of culture in China.
Overnight Beijing Marriott Hotel City Wall.
After breakfast we meet our China Tour Guide and visit some famous sites in Beijing, several of which are mentioned below, and enjoy the famous Peking Duck for
dinner this evening.
The Forbidden City, the world's largest palace complex with 800 buildings and total of 9,999 rooms, was home to 24 emperors during the Ming and Qing dynasties. The heart of the Forbidden City is the Taihedian or Hall of Supreme Harmony, the symbol of Imperial power. It was the highest structure in the empire; no other building was permitted to exceed its height. Standing on a three-tier marble terrace this grand timber structure with its doors and windows embossed with clouds and dragons is overwhelming. Here emperors received high officials and exercised their rule over the nation. This was the site for grand ceremonies, such as when a new emperor ascended the throne, celebrations for emperors' birthdays, wedding ceremonies and other important occasions. Inside, the floor is paved with special bricks; the sandalwood golden throne with carved dragons stands in the center.
Other carved animals, mythical beasts and numerous dragons give an aura of solemnity and mystery. Above the throne is a design of two dragons playing with pearls, made of glass and painted with mercury. The center pearl was said to be able to detect anyone who was not the descendant of the Emperor Huang Di, causing the pearl to drop down on the usurper to the throne and strike him dead.
1989 was a year that saw the collapse of a number of communist governments around the world. The Tiananmen Square protests also took place during that year, when a series of demonstrations were held in the Square and the surrounding streets, ending in an unknown number of deaths. Led by an estimated 100,000 students and intellectuals the protests were sparked by the death of a pro-democracy and anti-corruption official named Hu Yaobang, whom protesters wanted to mourn. The protests lacked a unified cause or leadership; participants included disillusioned Communist Party of China members and Trotskyists as well as free-market reformers, who were generally against the government's authoritarianism. They demanded economic change and democratic reform within the structure of the government. Since there is little photo coverage, there is no visual record of the happenings that lasted for seven weeks after Hu's death. Following the conflict, the government conducted widespread arrests of protesters and their supporters, cracked down on other protests around China, banned the foreign press from the country and strictly controlled coverage of the events.
The Great Wall of China is one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Literally a "long fortress wall" approximately 5,500 miles long, stretching from Shanhaiguan in the east to Lop Nur in the west, along an arc that roughly delineates the southern edge of Inner Mongolia. Made up of a series of stone and earthen fortifications in northern China, the wall was built originally to protect the northern borders of the Chinese Empire against intrusions by various nomadic groups. Construction is believed to have begun between 220-206 BC, by the first Emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang. We can go up to a certain point by cable car then continue climbing on foot. How far you decide to go up is your choice, but just to be there will be an unforgettable experience not to be missed.
Beijing Marriott Hotel City Wall Overnight.
Day 6: Beijing
Today we will visit the Fresh Water Pearl Market the Silk Market and San Litun (tailor).
Shopping or buying souvenirs for your family or friends is an important part of your trip to Beijing. There are hundreds of shopping centers and department stores that are open from 9 AM to 9 PM, but these shopping centers are not favored places for overseas travelers. Shop assistants don't speak foreign languages, credit card, traveler's checks or foreign currencies are not acceptable, prices of goods are fixed, no-bargaining, and the shopping malls are similar to those in the USA -- not so interesting. The favored shopping places, both for the local people and overseas visitors, are free markets such as Silk Market, Cashew Clothes & Shoes Market, or Hongqiao Pearl Market which is roughly half-a-city-block square. At these markets you will find jewelry, souvenirs, table cloths, brand name clothing and shoes, suitcases and some imitation brands. Bargaining is extra fun; if you don't bargain you will surely be overcharged, and a good deal depends on your bargaining skills. If you would like to buy some valuable objects, such as jade ware, freshwater pearls, pure silk clothing, silk carpets, and elegant Chinese classic décor, we recommend the factory-like stores where you can not only see and learn about the process, arts and history, but buy at a reasonable price. The knowledgeable staffs are friendly and able to communicate with customers, in case of some quality problem. Returns are accepted as long as you keep the receipt. Nobody in the free market gives you a receipt or accepts a return so scrutinize your purchases. We can even arrange for a tailor who will complete an outfit in 24 hours.
In the evening we will go to the Beijing Opera with our guide. The Beijing Opera represents the finest combination of literature, music, dance, martial arts, fine arts, acrobatics and many other arts available in China. Known as the Peking Opera, it is the national opera of China and one of the three main theatrical systems in the world. Based upon traditional Anhui Opera, Peking Opera has also adopted repertoire, music and performing techniques from other opera companies as well as traditional folk tunes. Taking the best from each style and eventually forming its own highly stylized music and performing techniques, including a blend of music, dance, art, acrobatics, and martial arts. With its beautiful paintings, exquisite costumes, and graceful gestures, Peking Opera has developed into a comprehensive art. Its repertoire includes historical plays, comedies, tragedies and farces. Vital to the understanding of an Opera is the colors painted on the face of a character, the facial makeup highlights and exaggerates the principal features of the characters. A visit to the opera is sure to be a memorable experience.
Beijing Marriott Hotel City Wall Overnight.
Day 7: Beijing/Yantai
Today we fly from Beijing to Yantai then transfer to our hotel. Here in addition to seeing the area and the local sites, we will attend the 2nd part of the International Wine Festival being held in Yantai, the birthplace of the famous Shandong cuisine. Yantai also boasts marine products, peanuts, various fruits and wine production, and is nationally recognized as a center of economy. Located in the middle of Shandong Peninsula, it is the largest fishing seaport in that Province, opening for international trade in 1862. It carries the title of "Hometown of Fruits", due to the abundant fruit orchards, including the famous red Fuji Apple and grape arbors perfect for the wine and brandy produced here. Yantai is an ideal tourism city, with its beautiful landscape and pleasant climate, interesting sceneries and fascinating coastal line. Also famous known as a center for hot springs, it attracts tourists in the world to bathe in its waters.
Crowne Plaza Yantai overnight.
Day 8: Yantai
Today we attend the International Wine Festival. International Wine Festival theme: Developing Brands, Spreading Culture and Promoting Cooperation. Yantai International Wine Festival was named one of the '30 Top Festival Events in China' and is the only city in Asia that was awarded the title 'International Vine and Wine City' by OI. Our hotel, the 5-star Ramada Plaza Yantai, has 4 restaurants, a lounge, free high-speed internet, gym/fitness center and pool.
Crowne Plaza Yantai overnight.
Day 9: Yantai/Xi'an
Today we will transfer from Yantai to Xi'an, one of China's oldest cities which has existed for over 3,000 years. Through the ages, thirteen different dynasties have used Xi'an as their capital. The city shares the distinction of being a major center of ancient civilization, along with other ancient cities like Athens, Cairo and Rome. Today we will visit the bell tower and the old city walls.
The Bell Tower. During the Ming Dynasty, Xian was an important military town in China, a fact that is reflected in the size and historic significance of the Bell Tower. A stately traditional building, built in 1384 by Emperor Zhu Yuanzhang it housed the famous Jingyun Bell from the Tang Dynasty, dominated the surrounding countryside, provided early warning of attack by rival rulers and marks the geographical center of the ancient capital. East, South, West and North Streets leading from the landmark connect to the gates of the City Wall. When Zhu Yuanzhang, the first Emperor of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), captured Huizhou, a hermit named Zhu Sheng advised him that he should "build high walls, store abundant food supplies and take time to be an Emperor," so that he could fortify the city and unify the other states. After the establishment of the Ming dynasty, Zhu Yuanzhang followed his advice and began to enlarge the wall built initially during the old Tang dynasty (618 -907), creating the modern Xian City Wall. It is the most complete city wall that has survived in China, as well being one of the largest ancient military defensive systems in the world. Since ancient weapons did not have the power to break through a wall and the only way for an enemy to enter the city was by attacking the gates of the city wall complicated gate structures were built within the wall. In Xian, the city wall includes four gates they are respectively named as Changle (meaning eternal joy) in the east, Anding (harmony peace) in the west, Yongning (eternal peace) in the south and Anyuan (forever harmony) in the north. The south gate, Yongning, is the most beautifully decorated one. It is very near to the Bell Tower. Important greeting ceremonies organized by the Provincial Government are usually held in the south gate square.
Overnight, the deluxe Sheraton Hotel Xian
Today we will visit Huaqing Hot Springs and Big Goose Pagoda.
In the evening we will dine on Imperial Dumplings and watch the classical Tang Dynasty dance performance. When in Xi'an, we will visit the amazing Museum of Terra Cotta Warriors and Horses, designated as one of the major miracles in the world. This is the most significant archeological excavation of the 20th century. The Terracotta Army is a type of funerary art that was buried with the first Emperor of Qin. The purpose of the Terracotta Army was to help him rule another empire in the afterlife. First discovered in 1974 by the local farmers who were drilling a well, archaeologists rushed to investigate and found that the Terra Cotta figures vary in height, with the generals being the tallest and the figures included strong warriors, chariots, horses, officials, strongmen, musicians, and acrobats. They have a very realistic appearance, archaeologist surmise that the terracotta figures were made in workshops by government laborers and also local craftsmen. The head, arms, legs, and the torsos were created separately and then were assembled. It is likely that there were eight face moulds that were used, and then clay was added to the facial features to make them more individualized. Within the 3 pits discovered, there are an estimated 8,000 soldiers, 130 chariots with 520 horses and 150 cavalry horses many still remain buried in the pits. Their existence shows us how powerful the first Emperor was, since he was able to demand such a huge project.
After lunch we will visit the Huaqing Hot Springs ranked among the hundred most famous gardens in China. History says that King You built a palace here during the 11th century BC. The palace has a history of 3,000 years and the hot springs, a history of 6,000 years!
Giant Wild Goose Pagoda is a Buddhist pagoda located in southern Xi'an. Built in 652 AD during the reign of Emperor Gaozong of the Tang Dynasty, the original 5-story pagoda's main function was to house the collection of Buddhist sutras, figurines and other materials that were brought back to China from India by Xuanzang the Buddhist translator and traveler. Xuanzang started off from ancient Xian, traveling along the Silk Road and through deserts until he finally reached finally India, the cradle of Buddhism. For 17 years he traveled thru 100 countries, obtaining Buddha figures, 657 kinds of sutras, and several Buddha relics. Having gotten the permission of Emperor Gaozong, Xuanzang, as the first abbot of Da Ci'en Temple, supervised the building of the pagoda inside the walls. With the support of royalty, he invited 50 Sanskrit translators into the temple to translate the 1,335 volumes of sutras into Chinese, which heralded a new era in the history of translation. Based on his journey, he wrote a book entitled 'Pilgrimage to the West, to which scholars attached great importance.
Tonight, following our Imperial Dumpling dinner, we will have the opportunity to see an outstanding performance of ancient music and dance. The city of Xian has a very long history, and was the imperial capital during 13 dynastic periods. Of these, the Tang Dynasty was the most prosperous and glorious of all. The Tang Dynasty Music and Dance Show is an outstanding example of this ancient prosperous society, keeping alive its splendid culture and providing an insight into the peaceful life style of the period. As an art form, the show has its roots in folk festivals, when dances were first performed by people as part of rituals of prayer for a good harvest or a better life. Over thousands of years, the dances developed from a few simple postures or gestures to become delicate and artistic, reaching a peak during the Tang Dynasty. Unlike some other regimes, the Tang was open to outside influences and was willing to take in the best of various art forms of past dynasties, ethnic groups in the northwestern China as well as central and western Asia. Consequently a wide range of unusual oriental musical instruments, many techniques such as painting, sculpting, pattern and costume design, cuisine and dining etiquette, singing and dancing was accepted by the Chinese, paving the way for the kind of entertainment that is now the Tang Dynasty Music and Dance Show. By combining poetry with the skilled playing of musical instruments, singing, dancing and also stunning costumes, the modern presentation is certain to give you an impressive view of ancient China, including its splendid history, brilliant arts, distinct traditions and customs.
Overnight, the deluxe Sheraton Hotel Xian overnight.
Day 11: Guilin
Morning flight to Guiling, check into our hotel Guilin Royal Garden, afternoon tour of Elephant Trunk Hill and Reed Flute Cave. Located in the southern region of China, only a few hours away from the exciting city of Beijing. Renowned for its limestone hills, beautiful mountains, and scenic winding rivers, it is one of the most picturesque cities in the area. We are visiting at the best possible time when the changing colors throughout the hillsides and valleys create a brilliant panorama. First established as a city during the first century BC, and once a prominent trading post under the Ming Dynasty, Guilin is situated on the western banks of the River Kuei. With twelve ethnic groups making up a city of more than one million people, culture is one of the most fascinating aspects of the historic city. Some of the sights we will see here are: Elephant Trunk Hill, the most notable of all Guilin attractions and considered the main attribute of the city. Standing elegantly in the heart of the city, travel to Guilin isn't complete without a visit to this majestic site. The hill, shaped as its name implies, is found at the junction of Peach Blossom and Li River. With two fascinating caves to explore in the area, and Puxian Pagoda standing proudly on the top of the hill, this is one of the most beautiful and scenic spots in the area.
Reed Flute Cave, with its location five kilometers northwest of the downtown of Guilin, the Reed Flute Cave is a brilliant cave marked on almost all travel itineraries. People make flutes from the reeds growing outside of it; that is why the cave got its name. Inside this water-eroded cave is a spectacular world of various stalactites, stone pillars and rock formations created by carbonate deposition. Illuminated by colored lighting, the fantastic spectacle is found in many variations along this 240-meter-long cave. Walking through the serried stone pillars, tourists feast their eyes on changing spots, feeling they are in a paradise where the gods live. Tourists enter the cave and then take a U-shaped sight-seeing route to see different spots, whereupon they exit from another cave quite near the entrance. One trip lasts about one hour. It is a Chinese habit to give each formation a legendary or poetic name such as Crystal Palace, Dragon Pagoda, Virgin Forest, Flower and Fruit Mountain and other interesting names. For some of these names, you need to use your imagination, but the story behind each is quite fun. It's a pleasure to listen to romantic or fairy tales whilst appreciating the fantastic stone formations. Both the stories and the lighting add mystery to the scene. Although there are different kinds of lighting inside, you are not supposed to take photos unless you are a professional photographer, because the light inside is not sufficient for exposure. At some spots, such as the Crystal Palace or Flower and Fruit Mountain, special photography is offered at 20 Yuan for one picture. (They use special equipment to provide enough illumination.) Some 70 inscriptions on the cave wall are said to be travelogues and poems derived from the Tang Dynasty, which made the cave a popular tourist site at that time.
Overnight Guilin Royal Garden.
Day 12: Guilin/Yanshou/ Shanghai
Cruise down the scenic LI River enjoying lunch served aboard. Our LI river cruise ends as we arrive at the quaint town of Yangshuo, which is where we will visit the Colored Glaze Factory. We then return to Guilin and board a short flight to Shanghai. After arriving in Shanghai, we will meet our tour guide and transfer to our hotel.
LI River cruise to Yangshou
The most popular of all tours in Guilin is a cruise along the Lijiang, or Li River to Yangshuo. Much like visiting The Great Wall or the site of the Terra Cotta Warriors, a cruise down the Li River is a must-do when visiting China. With many China cruises leaving Guilin daily, this scenic day trip sails by many of the most dramatic spots in the surrounding area, impressive hills, pagodas, cliffs, and peaks. Upon arriving to Yangshuo, visitors get a chance to explore the one-thousand-year-old village before heading back to Guilin. We will pay a visit to the well known Colored Glaze Factory to see some fine examples of Chinese pots.
Crowne Plaza Fudan overnight
We will be picked up from our hotel between 8:30 and 9:00 AM this morning, for a full day of sight seeing. We will explore the Oriental Pearl TV Tower, People's Square area, view the Shanghai Urban Planning Centre, visit the Silk Factory,
the busy shopping district, Nanjing Road and The Bund waterfront area, Yuyuan Garden, Old City God's Temple and the Shanghai Museum. Later we'll return to hotel to rest and prepare to attend this evening performance an acrobatics show.
Fifteen million people call Shanghai China home, the largest financial and commercial center in the country and for years the country's biggest and busiest port. It is here that items meant for export, travel down the Yangtze River to meet ocean or air transport. The city itself is a barrage of colors, sounds and above all motion, nothing seems to stand still. Shanghai enjoys a mild climate year round, has beaches within its city limits and features a number of popular Chinese festivals and holidays through out the year. It's a perfect spot for the 2010 World Expo which we will visit while we are here, but Shanghai does not have to depend on festivals and events to make it an interesting place to visit. Areas like the Bund, once the country's version of Wall Street, back when Europeans controlled Shanghai, the Oriental Pearl TV Tower an important part of the city's skyline. Another reminder of Shanghai's past is known as Old Shanghai a winding collection of colonial lanes, featuring the Yu Gardens, and interesting shopping areas such as scenic Frenchtown with quaint streets featuring art deco and neoclassicism architecture. Sun Yatsen's Former Residence is a tourist attraction as well as a visit to one of the many temples located in the area, like the Jade Buddha Temple with it's six-foot-high jade Buddha that is supposed to weigh over a ton.
The Old City God's Temple, for Taoist, was converted in 1403 from the Jinshan God Temple. People come to Old City God's Temple not only to pray for peace and fortune, but also to have the most authentic flavor of Shanghai food specialties. Unlike the sweet taste of Cantonese and Hong Kong food or the spicy flavor of Sichuan cuisine, Shanghai food is well-known for being light, fresh and tasty. Popular snacks are Tangbao, a unique kind of dumpling filled with gravy, Baiye, a bow tie made of several thin layers of bean curd, and Youmianjin, deep fried fermented dough balls, which are the most popular.
Shanghai Museum is located in the center of People's Square. A large museum of ancient Chinese art and artifacts demonstrating ancient wisdom and philosophy, the exterior design of the round dome and the square base symbolizes the ancient idea of a round heaven and a square land. The museum is divided into eleven galleries and three exhibition halls. The eleven galleries cover most of the major categories of Chinese art: Ancient Bronze, Ceramics, Paintings, Calligraphy, Sculpture, Jade, Coins and Ming and Qing Furniture. The 400 pieces of bronzeware of the Shang and Zhou dynasties contribute to our understanding of ancient civilization. The ancient ceramics collection is a special Shanghai Museum treasure, even a simple chair demonstrates Chinese culture and etiquette.
Crowne Plaza Fudan overnight
We will be picked up from our hotel between 8:30 and 9:00 AM, then we are off to explore the Oriental Pearl TV Tower. From there we head to People's Square area, view the Shanghai Urban Planning Centre and visit the Silk Factory,
and Oriental Pearl TV Tower. The tower, surrounded by the Yangpu Bridge in the northeast and the Nanpu Bridge in the southwest, creates a picture of 'twin dragons playing with pearls'. The entire scene is a photographic jewel that excites the imagination and attracts thousands of visitors a year. This 1,536 feet high tower is the world's third tallest TV and radio tower, surpassed in height only by towers in Toronto and Moscow. But it's the tower's unique architectural design that makes the Oriental Pearl TV Tower the most attractive. Visitors travel up and down the tower in double-decker elevators that can hold up to fifty people while the elevator attendants recite an introduction to the TV Tower in English and Chinese during the rapid 1/4-mile ascent. When you reach the top, you will be amazed at the variety of activities available. The inner tower is a recreational palace, while the Shanghai Municipal History Museum is located in the tower's pedestal. The large lower sphere has a futuristic space city and a sightseeing hall. From here, on a clear day a visitor can see all the way to the Yangtze River. The base of the tower is home to a science fantasy city. The five smaller spheres are a hotel and the pearl at the very top of the tower contains shops, a rotating restaurant and a sightseeing floor.
Silk Factory: What is so amazing about the silk-making process is that the silkworm creates its cocoon out of a single silk thread that is continuous for approximately 3,600 feet. The workers operate machines that spin the silk filaments into skeins. One cocoon is attached to each spindle. This makes it better understood why the filament of each cocoon must be unbroken. The silk workers produce silk with the old style machine, making handmade silk quilts as light as a feather and very warm.
The People's Square is located on the People's Avenue, the crossing road of South Xizang Road and Fuzhou Road, covering an area of 130, 7000 square meters. Various trees are planted here and all kinds of flowers which are usually in blossom. It really adds more colors to Shanghai, the largest and one of most prosperous cities in China. Many ceremonies and cultural activities are held here, so it is conveniently located near the public transportation lines. There is an underground shopping mall with several department stores are here in addition to an underground parking garage which is the largest in Shanghai.
Day 14: Shanghai - Full Day Expo
Expo 2010 Shanghai China is being held on both banks of the Huangpu River in the city of Shanghai, People's Republic of China, from May 1 to October 31, 2010. It is a World Expo in the tradition of international fairs and expositions. The theme of the exposition is "Better City - Better Life" and signifies Shanghai's new status in the 21st Century as the "next great world city".
The expo Logo features the Chinese character "Shi" or "world," modified to represent three people together with the 2010 date. It is the most expensive Expo in the history of the world's fairs. The Shanghai World Expo is also the largest World's Fair site ever at 5.28 square km. More than 190 countries and more than 50 international organizations have registered to participate in the Shanghai World Expo, the largest ever. China expects to receive almost 100 foreign leaders and millions of people from across the world to come and visit the World Expo, the largest in history.
Crowne Plaza Fudan overnight
Extension of Tour: Shanghai/USA
End of Tour or start of extension.
Board our flight from Shanghai to Miami or if you have opted to take the extension you will depart Shanghai for your arrival to Hong Kong Airport.
Why not consider adding our 3-night, 4-day extension to Hong Kong?