(Beijing, Xi'an, Lijiang, Yunnan's Shangrila, Shanghai)
Live the mystical legends of the silk route, fabled tea horse road, bygone emperors & ancient dynasties with this exclusive expedition showcasing the highlights of China & the earthly Eden of Yunnan, led by author & explorer Jeff Fuchs. Departure date is September 14th 2014. A world renowned expert in indigenous mountain cultures, oral histories, tea, Chinese history & ancient Himalayan trade routes, this engaging explorer has been featured in everything from National Geographic Traveler to UNESCO. This is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to unveil the secrets of China from not one, but a collection of internationally acclaimed experts. Tour Beijing, Xi'an, Lijiang, Hong Kong & Yunnan province’s Shangri-La stopping to meet historians, famed artists, internationally known journalists & global experts along the way. Prepare to be amazed from classic highlights like the Forbidden City, Great Wall & Terra Cotta Army to off-the-beaten-path secrets like artisanal workshops, meeting elders whom traveled the tea horse road, Buddhist blessings, local breweries, gourmet feasts, alpine hikes & Tibetan village visits. Featuring bicycling, boat rides & much more.
Price is $8695 per person based on double occupancy. Single supplement is $3300 per person. Departure date is September 14th 2014.
Minimum group size 6, maximum group size 16. Please note departures are not guaranteed until 120 days before travel, and we advise you do not book international air until the tour has been confirmed. Deposit is due upon booking, and refundable up until 120 days before travel. At 120 days before travel, and upon departure guarantee, final payment is due. Minimum traveler age is 18.
Jeff Fuchs, your host, is an author who has lived most of the past decade in Asia where his work and research has centered on indigenous mountain cultures, oral histories and an obsessive interest in tea. Jeff gained prominence in the realm of exploration for being the first westerner to trek the daunting Tea Horse Road, one of the world’s greatest trade routes. His book 'The Ancient Tea Horse Road' documents this 8-month ground breaking expedition covering 6,000 kilometers through the rugged Himalayan Mountains to uncover the mysteries of this vital route that has been so critical to the lives of the remote Himalayan people.
Jeff is a current member of the Explorers Club, fluent in several languages, most notably in Mandarin, and calls the Shangri La County his home. His passion for exploration can be seen through his powerful photo essays which have appeared in National Geographic Traveler, World Geographic, Kyoto Journal, The Spanish Expedition Society, The Earth, The China Post Newspaper, Silkwinds, Outpost, The Toronto Star, and The South China Morning Post, amongst others.
A transfer between the airport and your hotel will be provided on arrival.
Tonight, after all guests have arrived into China, you will enjoy a welcome dinner at Beijing's famous Dadong Restaurant. Dine on the classic dish, Peking Duck, and settle in as you get to know your fellow travellers, and your host - Jeff Fuchs.
Today you will embark on a full day tour of Tiananmen Square, Forbidden City and the Hutong area with a local lunch included. Tiananmen square is the biggest square in the world, and at its south end is the Forbidden City, called Gu Gong in Chinese. This was the imperial palace during the Ming and Qing dynasties. Rectangular in shape, it is the world's largest palace complex and covers 74 hectares. Surrounded by a six meter deep moat and a ten meter high wall are 9,999 rooms. Also visit the famous old town within Beijing, the Hutongs. The word "hutong" originates from "hottog" which means "well" in Mongolian, and means a lane or alley. The gray-tiled houses and identical criss-crossing deep alleys give you the impression of being in a maze.
Lunch is included.
As part of your Hutong tour this afternoon, you will stop at a local, out of the way brewery called "Great Leap Brewery". Enjoy some local craft beer and a talk with Jeff, as he offers some insight into lesser known Beijing.
Tonight you can relax at the hotel, or enjoy an independent dinner in Beijing.
Enjoy a full day tour to the Great Wall at Mutianyu located 45 miles northeast of Beijing, and an absolute highlight of any trip to China. This section winds along lofty, cragged mountains for 1.4 miles. Construction was started in the Northern Qi Dynasty (550 - 577) and was restored in the early Ming Dynasty (1368 - 1644). Built mainly from granite with 8m walls and 5m wide at the top, it is notable for its 22 watchtowers.
Transfer from the Great Wall, to the Beijing airport, for your onward flight to Xian.
Fly from Beijing to Xi'an. This direct flight takes approximately two hours.
A transfer between the airport and your hotel will be provided.
The first stop today is the famous Terra Cotta Army. Discovered accidentally in 1974, this incredible army of over 7000 soldiers, archers, horses and chariots in full battle array has guarded Emperor Qin's tomb since 210BC. Each figure is unique, and the painstaking repair and excavation continues in 3 pits which are protected inside huge hangars. The tour heads back into town, to the imposing ancient city wall. The walls, ramparts, gates and watchtowers from one of the oldest and most complete city defences are still around. They were built in the 13th century on the foundations of the original Tang Forbidden City surrounding the city center. The last leg of the tour is the Big Wild Goose Pagoda, which is a major Buddhist site. The simple, elegant brick Pagoda stands in the grounds of the attractive Da Ci'en Temple. The Pagoda was built in the 7th century to house the Buddhist materials that Xuanzang (Tripitaka) brought back from his epic journey to India. The Temple complex has several large halls with some great Buddhist statues and murals.
A transfer between the airport and your hotel in Xian will be provided.
Fly from Xi'an to Lijiang with a stopover in Kunming or Chengdu. Combined, the flights are a total of roughly 4 hours.
Lunch is not included, as today is a transfer day.
A transfer between the airport and your hotel will be provided on arrival.
Tonight you may explore Lijiang's old town independently, or relax at the hotel. Dinner is not included.
Today embark on a full day tour of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain (Yulong Mountain), the southernmost glacier in the Northern Hemisphere. From Lijiang Old Town the snow-covered and fog-enlaced mountain resembles a jade dragon lying in the clouds. Enjoy a trek through the natural beauty and snow covered glacier field. Next stop is The Baisha Mural located in the Baisha Village on the plain north of Lijiang. The mural was made from 1385 to 1619, employing the artistic energies of Chinese Daoist, Tibetan and Naxi Buddhists and local dongba shamans. This rich fusion had resulted in a tremendously powerful art, heavy in spirit and awe-inspiring in its presentation of the mystical world. Dominated by black, silver, dark green, gold and red colours, the murals in the back hall, overlaid with centuries of brown soot, are doom-laden and bizarre, the scenes and figures, some still vivid in detail, are largely taken from Tibetan Buddhist iconography and include the wheel of life, judges of the underworld, the damned, titans and gods, Buddhas and bodhisattvas. There are trigrams, lotus flowers and even Sanskrit inscriptions on the ceiling. The deliberate damage done to the paintings is apparent and terrible, but the loss of the irreplaceable wooden statuary that filled the temple, of which there is no trace, is even more tragic. The final leg of the tour is Jade Peak Temple which is one of seven lamaseries in the area. Luxuriant trees dominate the scenic landscape. There is a 300-year-old camellia tree which produces 10,000 blossoms every year.
Dinner is not included.
Transfer from Lijiang to Zhongdian via Tiger Leaping Gorge. The Tiger Leaping Gorge is a scenic canyon on the Jinsha River a primary tributary of the upper Yangtze River. At a maximum depth of approximately 3790 meters from river to mountain peak, Tiger Leaping Gorge is one of the deepest and most spectacular river canyons in the world. Lunch is included.
A local lunch will be included en route.
Today you will begin your exploration of Zhongdian and take a side trip to a small local village called Gonjo. It is an artisanal village famous for its hand carved bowls and artwork. You will visit a local home; try yak butter, local whiskey, and Tibetan yoghurt. The woman of the house is one of the last remaining to have travelled the Tea Horse Road. Jeff Fuchs is incredibly familiar with this region of China, and will be able to offer unparalleled insight into local ways of life, culture, and history.
Enjoy a full day trekking at Napa Lake and the surrounding villages. In the morning you will drive to Napa Lake which is a "seasonal" lake. This means that the entire pasture turns into a lake during the springtime, and many wildflowers bloom. Start your trekking from Hamu Village and visit a Tibetan family on route. Continue hiking to a look out where you can see the entire Shangri La grassland. Visit Nixi, as well as Tutao Village also known as the Pottery Village.
A local lunch is included.
A transfer between your hotel and the airport will be provided.
Fly from Zhongdian to Kunming.
Transfer to your flight from Kunming to Shanghai.
Lunch is not included today.
On arrival in Shanghai, transfer to your hotel.
This evening you will head out for a walking tour along the famous Nanjing Road and the fabulous Bund, while you listen to your expert local guide explain the history and development of China's most cosmopolitan city. The famous Nanjing Road is one of the world's busiest shopping streets, packed with bustling stores and food outlets. A large part of Nanjing Road is a pedestrian precinct. The next stop is the Bund, which is Shanghai’s famous waterfront area. From here you will have spectacular views of the city, and see some of the cities oldest buildings.
Dinner is not included tonight. Many local options are available from your hotel.
Today’s full day tour will take your group to the Shanghai Museum, the Jade Buddha Temple and Yu Gardens. The Shanghai Museum is an authentic treasure house of ancient Chinese art and houses about 120,000 precious relics. Bronzes, pottery, paintings and calligraphies are distinctive features of the Museum's collection. The next sight is the Jade Buddha Temple, which is one of the most popular sights in Shanghai containing rare white jade Buddhas brought from Burma in the nineteenth century. Yuyuan Garden is the largest of Shanghai's ancient gardens with architectural styles of the Ming and Qing Dynasties. The garden has six areas, each designed in a different style, of which the Grand Rockery located in the center is the most popular.
Tonight you say farewell to China, to your host Jeff, and to your fellow travellers with a dinner at Shanghai's famous dumpling restaurant DingTaiFeng.
Transfer today between your hotel and the airport for your return flight home.
The Fairmont Beijing Hotel brings unprecedented luxury and hospitality offering guests a distinctive stay right in the heart of China’s modern capital business center. Located in the central business district, their distinctive collection of comfortable and contended guest rooms, top-end spa treatments, gym facilities, and award-winning restaurants allow their globe-trotting guests to enjoy opulence from all aspects, while on their journey in China’s capital. Continuing The Fairmont Hotel’s global brand of unique hospitality excellence, The Fairmont Hotel Beijing has been recognized in various awards and accolades over the past few years, including Beijing’s Best Business Hotel by TTG Asia 2012, Trip Advisor’s Number One Hotel in 2012, Traveler’s Choice Award in 2013 for Luxury, and Traveler's Choice Award in 2014 for Romance and Luxury.
Shangri-La Hotel Xian has the very best of the city right on its doorstep with the finest in shopping and entertainment. The hotel is just a 30 minute drive from Xian International Airport, and is within easy reach of many top tourist attractions. The hotel’s guest rooms and suites set a new standard for deluxe accommodation in Xian. The hotel also offers trendsetting designer restaurants. With luxurious spa treatments and a fully equipped health club with heated pool, it's the perfect place to soothe the mind, body, and soul. Whether you're traveling for pleasure, Shangri-La Hotel, Xian offers exceptional levels of hospitality to further enhance your enjoyment of this magnificent city.
The Crowne Plaza Ancient Town Resort is set amidst a sprawling 51,000 square meters of lush greenery and is strategically located in World Cultural Heritage listed Lijiang , Yunnan Province. The resort is situated inside Ancient Town with direct vehicular access to and from the main street, the hotel's architecture and interiors reflect strong influences from the unique Naxi/Dongba culture with a hint of contemporary touches woven strategically into selected public areas.There are 5 private dining rooms located on site serving a celebratory feast. Relax in the Lobby Lounge terrace as the evening envelops Jade Dragon Snow Mountain.
Located in the Shangri-la hills, the Songtsam Retreat, a member of the MGallery collection, offers exceptional boutique accommodation in a distinctly Tibetan style. Boasting a breathtaking location in this beautifully remote corner of China, unique architecture, and stunning design, the retreat features 75 rooms. Songtsam Retreat at Shangri-la is located 25 minutes from Diqing Airport and 5 minutes from Songzanlin Monastery, and offers spectacular views, superb dining, and a day spa.
Fairmont Peace Hotel is situated at the famous Bund promenade and unrivaled shopping on Nanjing Road, making it the perfect place to explore Shanghai’s spectacular scenery and vibrant lifestyle. The hotel offers distinctive guestrooms, including luxurious suites, which blends art-deco-inspired furnishings with modern amenities. While keeping the traditions intact, such as the opulence of the signature Chinese restaurant Dragon Phoenix and the esteemed Jazz Bar, Shanghai's premier destination for Jazz, the legendary hotel’s new and contemporary spirit is felt in the elegant Cathay Room and Terrace with spectacular views of Pudong, the chic Cin Cin Bar, the refined Jasmine Lounge as well as the Parisian style Victor’s Café.
Olive Ramchand ,
June 03, 2014
"I have to admit, this was the BEST vacation I ever had. The tour was nothing less than Fantastic! The hotels were great, the guides were great, the transportation was great, the places were great, the people were great, the food was great and last but not least China, itself was out of this world. I'm so glad I booked this tour and would recommend this to anyone. Thanks so much for all your help, your interest and your recommendations. Steve in China was so attentive, he called constantly to make sure everything was fine. We really had a fabulous time and even my jaded husband who normally only seems to care about where the nearest golf course is, was impressed and had a wonderful time.
Thanks again, and unto the next vacation (although I don't know how we would top this one!!)
Jeanne Tarvin ,
April 21, 2014
"The tour was absolutely fabulous. It all started with the planning. Kathryn graciously accommodated our tight schedule and multiple needs, including a mid-trip change in plans. The tour guides and drivers were all great and extremely knowledgeable. The accommodations and meals were fantastic. I was apprehensive about going to China not knowing the language but it worked out great!"
January 15, 2014
"We just returned on Monday from our wonderful trip to South Korea, Bangkok and Phuket. I wanted to thank you for all of your hard work in planning our tours and adventures. Everything was spot on, from our arrivals at the airports, to the guides and the tours. I would not hesitate to recommend you and your company. It was truly a wonderful vacation. Thank you again.
Bob Feldman ,
November 19, 2013
"I wanted to let you know that our trip to China was great! Everybody enjoyed themselves. When planning a trip I am always concerned about the itinerary, the vehicles and the guides. All 3 of these were great. The guides were particularly good and in this case really made the trip a pleasure. Overall a great trip. Thanks for all you did."
Gloria DeWeese ,
October 10, 2013
"A wonderful trip and everything went like clockwork. Thank you so very much for all your assistance. I hope I will have a chance to work with you again."
Wayne Gavioli ,
September 04, 2013
"We just returned from our thailand/cambodia trip. It was fantastic. You did a great job. The guides were excellent as was the drivers. We loved the Victoria Hotel you selected in Siem. Wish we had more time. Thailand met our expectations but our expectations for Cambodia were low and they exceeded them. Loved the places selected for the included lunches. Certainly would use Kensington again"
Santo Filice ,
August 30, 2013
"Thank you for arranging our guided trip to Thailand - Vietnam. It was a memorable, and pleasant trip - a 1st for us with Kensington tours and a most enjoyable one. We found that we were able to maximize our visit of the the area without the concern of booking hotels, airline, finding parking and understanding the local language. "
Tim Mesarch ,
August 02, 2013
"Alexis helped us fit in all of the sites we wanted to see on our trip to Thailand and Cambodia, and suggested some more. It was valuable talking with someone who had been there and done that. The planning went pretty smoothly, and so did the trip. The local guides were all top-notch! "
July 25, 2013
"I highly recommend Kesington Tours. The planning of our trip to Cambodia was outstanding. Our advisor Alexis Mayer was unbelievably patient, knowledgeable and responsive. We planned the trip in every possible detail and Alexis was extraordinary during the whole process. Once we were in Cambodia, we had a tiny issue with the car. I was able to get in contact with Alexis right away and the problem was instantly solved. The trip itself was fantastic. Everything was very well planned and perfectly organized. The local guides and drivers were great. The hotels were very well chosen.
Great trip. I would definitely travel again with Kensington Tours."
Pennie Quintana ,
August 07, 2013
"Thank you so much for the amazing trip we enjoyed!! All our guides were fantasy. Joseph in Jakarta, July in Jojakarta and Deon in Borneo!! Wow!! Bless you for all your attention to detail and the outstanding communication to all my questions. You made me feel so taken care of and tended too!! "
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