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(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.
Fairmont Hotel in Beijing is within a short driving distance to Forbidden City or Tiananmen Square, the Embassy District, Oriental Plaza or Wangfujing, and China World Trade Centre. The hotel offers natural-lit rooms with floor-to-ceiling-windows that are furnished in contemporary Chinese style. The gate-form architecture showcases natural light-filled interiors accented by contemporary Chinese artworks, creating a sense of space and luxury living in the heart of China.
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.
Shangri-La Hotel Xian has the very best of the city right on its doorstep such as 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 386 guest rooms and suites set a new standard for deluxe accommodation in Xian and offer four trendsetting designer restaurants. With luxurious spa treatments and a fully equipped health club with heated pool, it's the perfect place to soothe 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 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.
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.
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 by land between Lijiang to Zhongdian via Tiger Leaping Gorge, driving a less travelled route on dramatic cliff side roads, and through the indigenous areas of the "White Water Terraces". This drive will provide ample opportunity for photo stops as you ascend to “Yunnan’s Shangri La”.
A local lunch will be included en route.
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.
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.
The Fairmont Peace Hotel (5*), overlooking Shanghai’s Huangpu River, boasts a history that overshadows that of any other hotel in the Far East. With its origins dating back more than a century, this beloved landmark served as a glamorous playground for the elite of Shanghai. Each spacious guest room and suite is inspired by the original art deco influence married to the rich blending of cultures that gave rise to Shanghai’s fame as the Pearl of the Orient. All has been luxuriously decorated with opulent furnishings and modern amenities - providing the guest with an experience that is both indulgent and exquisite. Experience extraordinary cuisine, innovative bars, headlining entertainment and attentive service at the most iconic address on the Bund. Watch heritage and haute cuisine blend to reflect the new spirit of Shanghai at one of their six dining destinations including the endeared Jazz Bar. Willow Stream Spa at Fairmont Peace Hotel is relaxing, comfortable and sensorial.
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.
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!! "
Denise Abadi ,
June 21, 2013
"We have just returned from our trip to Malaysia and wanted you to know how much we enjoyed the itinerary you put together for us. Our guides were personable and very knowledgeable about the various places we visited. We were amazed by the sights, sounds and friendliness of the people we encountered. Needless to say, it was a most memorable trip and one of the
highlights of our traveling careers!
July 11, 2013
"Sunita, my wife and I had a wonderful time in China. The hotels were superb. Our guides were excellent. They spoke good English, were knowledgeable, and flexible. It was a wonderful trip. We particularly enjoyed the Yangtze River cruise. We will certainly consider your firm for international travel in the future."
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