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(Beijing, Xi'an, Shanghai, Hong Kong)
An imperial combination of calibrated luxury, unfettered wanderlust, and orchestrated indulgence, this decadent private guided tour of Beijing, Xi'an, Shanghai, and Hong Kong puts the best of China’s epic 5,000 year-old civilizations at your fingertips.
Delve into the classical highlights of China with the luxury of private guide, but go a step above the rest. Sleep in the same pavilions that the elite did centuries ago when they waited for an audience with the Emperor. Dine on an imperial feast in a courtyard of The Forbidden City prepared by Mr. Cheng Ruming, who was the master chef of Chairman Mao Zedong. Go beyond other tourists with unparalleled access to UNESCO Heritage Sites such as after hours visits to the Summer Palace, the normally inaccessible Chonghua Palace, and even come face-to-face with the warriors of the Terracotta Army.
From lessons in a temple with a prestigious Kung Fu Master, tasting your way through tea plantations with renowned tea importer, and unveiling the art of Feng Shui with a Guru to touring Shanghai with a famed economics professor. Encounters with esteemed cultural experts offer rare behind-the-scenes access to all the mysteries of China.
With reservations at the most exclusive restaurants in the country, VIP airport treatment, luxury chauffeured vehicles, private shoppers, expert guides, and a collection of world class hotels, a red carpet awaits you on every step of this opulent adventure.
You will be met by an English speaking representative as you exit the plane in Beijing, and will be accompanied through Immigration and baggage claim to your awaiting private vehicle.
Meet your driver for an airport transfer with a private vehicle and English speaking guide.
A stay at The Aman Summer Palace allows unparalleled access to four UNESCO World Heritage Sites including the Summer Palace, the Forbidden City, the Great Wall and the Temple of Heaven. The original complex was used by guests of the Summer Palace awaiting an audience with the Empress Dowager Cixi at the turn of the 20th century. Within the resort, you may like to wander the lush grounds, relax at the Reflection Pavilion which features a peaceful terrace over-looking a lotus pond or spend time at the Spa and Fitness areas located beneath the resort in a unique 5,000-square metre, double level, underground recreational facility. The Spa menu features a wide range of health, well-being and beauty treatments. Other facilities include a 25 metre indoor lap pool, a 300-square metre sky-lit Gym with Technogym equipment (including Kinesis), two squash courts and a juice bar serving healthy fruit and vegetable drinks.
Dining options at the Aman at Summer Palace include the Chinese Restaurant which features Peking duck and several imperial dishes, along with traditional Cantonese cuisine for both lunch and dinner. The Grill features Western cuisine and specializes in grilled-to-order prime cuts of meat and fresh seafood.
Just 15 kilometres northwest of Beijing’s city centre lies a tranquil retreat adjacent to the East Gate of the iconic Summer Palace. Aman at Summer Palace, Beijing is housed in a series of pavilions dating back over a century, and provides guests with unparalleled access to four UNESCO World Heritage Sites including the Summer Palace, the Forbidden City, the Great Wall, and the Temple of Heaven. Rooms and suites reflect traditional Chinese architecture and celebrate the courtyard style of the Summer Palace with a dignified ambience throughout. Whilst every modern comfort has been provided, the design embraces Imperial Chinese layouts, materials, and fabrics. This summer palace luxury resort has a variety of dining options, an extensive Spa and a wide range of recreational facilities.
Discover the wonders of Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City, and Temple of Heaven as well as having private access to Chonghua Palace on a private guided tour. Tiananmen Square was built in 1417 during the Ming Dynasty and was the front door of the Forbidden City. The present square stretches over a vast 440,000 square metres and features Tiananmen Tower, Monument to the People's Heroes, Great Hall of the People, and Mao Zedong Memorial Hall. The Forbidden City is the world's largest palace complex with 9,999 buildings across 74 hectares, surrounded by a six metre deep moat and ten metre wall, and is divided into two parts. Enjoy privileged, private access to Conghua Palace inside Forbidden City, where an expert from the Forbidden City will give you a detailed introduction of Chonghua Palace and give you the opportunity to have a discussion on the rich and interesting history of this magnificent palace. The Temple of Heaven was built in 1420 AD during the Ming Dynasty to offer sacrifice to Heaven. The most magnificent buildings are the Circular Mound Altar (Yuanqiutan), Imperial Vault of Heaven (Huangqiongyu), and Hall of Prayer for Good Harvest (Qiniandian) - which are connected by a wide bridge called the Sacred Way.
As a special treat this afternoon, you'll be the hosts of the Grandson of Chairman Mao's personal chef who will prepare you a meal in a tranquil courtyard near the Forbidden City.
Enjoy a dinner designed by Chairman Mao Zedong's chef - Mr. Cheng Ruming, and prepared by his students. Mr. Cheng Ruming has been selected as the National Culinary Master Consultant for the Palace Museum and Imperial Kitchen. His guests have included Mao Zedong, state leaders, and heads of state along with many important foreign guests. This restaurant is located in a private courtyard near the Forbidden City, and is not open to public.
Enjoy a full day on a privately guided tour of the MuTianYu section of the Great Wall today. Located in Huairou County northeast of the Beijing urban area, the Mutianyu Great Wall crosses the mountain ridges connecting Juyongguan Pass to the west and Gubeikou to the east. Along with nearby Huanghua Great Wall and Jiankou pass, these fortifications make up the northern barrier protecting Beijing city and the imperial mausoleums. High quality construction and unique features make this section of the Great Wall a prominent feature in the defense of the capital. Despite the hundreds of buses that visit daily, the Great Wall at Mutianyu is not as crowded as the nearby Badaling or Juyongguan sections of the Wall. Mutianyu’s 2.5 kilometer stretch of the Wall allows you to walk for more than an hour as you explore 22 watchtowers and the valley on both sides of the Wall. In protected parkland, Mutianyu village and Great Wall maintain their old way of life and provide the perfect backdrop to this great sight.
Enjoy lunch in a great spot nearby - Xiao Long Pu, which serves a great variety of Chinese delicacy and allows for a wonderful view of mountains from the outdoor dining terrace.
Fully sated, relax on the drive to the Ming Tombs - the mausoleums of thirteen emperors of the Ming Dynasty (1368 - 1644). The mausoleums and necropolis are notable for their palatial architecture. Originally built as the tomb of Emperor Zhu Di and his empresses; the succeeding twelve emperors had their tombs built closely nearby in a grand complex.
Drive to the Dashanzi Art District, home of Beijing's vibrant and emerging modern art community. Centered around the 1950's factory now known as Space 798, this area is a wonderful place to explore both for art lovers and those seeking to discover some of the modern creativity emerging in Beijing. (includes entrance to Great Wall).
If you feel like experiencing the Summer Palace in a very tranquil manner, consider entering through the Aman Summer Palace special access door in the early morning, when it is still closed to the public (park opens to the public at 7am). This way, you can enjoy the imperial garden in all of its glory before the crowds arrive.
Nicknamed the ‘Ghost Market’ by locals, Panjiayuan is Beijing’s largest open-air antique weekend market. Mingle with art dealers and collectors worldwide, and with the help of your guide you can converse with villagers who bring in their treasures from the countryside. You will find hand-made crafts from China, the Silk Road, and Tibet that age from a couple days to a couple hundred years.
Fly from Beijing to Xi'an.
Enjoy a two hour evening walking tour in Muslim Cultural street in Xi'an - a fascinating area of the city which juxtaposes old against new. Nowadays this district is divided into three parts namely, Beiyuanmen Street, Xiyang Market and Huajue Lane, and gets its fashionable name "Muslim Street". The Drum Tower is to the southern end and the Great Mosque is to the northern end of the district. The mixture of ancient culture and modern style along with the prosperous scene and tantalizing smells will give you a great insight into the pulse of the city. You'll also get to visit the Big Wild Goose Pagoda evening music fountain during your tour and enjoy a deluxe dumpling dinner.
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.
Today you will meet with a Kung Fu Master at a school dedicated to this martial art. You will learn some of the principles and discipline of this ancient art. Kung Fu is a Chinese term referring to any study, learning, or practice that requires patience, energy, and time to complete, and is a primarily unarmed Chinese martial art resembling karate. Originally, to practice Kung Fu did not just mean to practice Chinese martial arts. Instead, it referred to the process of one's training - the strengthening of the body and the mind, the learning and the perfection of one's skills - rather than to what was being trained. It refers to excellence achieved through long practice in any endeavor.
Enjoy a lovely buffet at the Shangri-La Restaurant in Xi'an which specializes in Western cuisine.
The Terra Cotta warriors is arguably the most significant archeological excavation of the 20th century and consists of over 7,000 terra cotta life size warriors and horses arranged in battle formations symbolically guarding the Mausoleum of Emperor Qin Shi Huang, the first emperor of the Qin dynasty (246-209 BC). The site was listed by UNESCO in 1987 as one of the world cultural heritages and work is ongoing.The museum covers an area of 16,300 square meters, divided into three sections. Altogether over 7,000 pottery soldiers, horses, chariots, and even weapons have been unearthed, and most of them have been restored to their former grandeur.
So who was the Emperor Qinshihuang to merit such magnificence? One of the most important rulers in Chinese history, this Emperor leaves a legacy as morally complicated as that of Peter the Great. For, like the Russian Tsar, he is as well-known for his contributions to the modern state as he is for sacrificing the lives of thousands of laborers to his visionary projects. Made King of the state of Qin at the age of thirteen, by the time he was thirty-eight he conquered the six neighboring states to unify China for the first time. You'll have special access to the exhibits from level 2 at Pit 1 which gets you closer to the horses and warriors than general access. (includes entrance).
Fly from Xi'an to Shanghai.
Enjoy a dinner featuring the range of Eastern/Shanghainese dishes at Ye Shanghai which celebrates the great mainland port in its heyday, when it was known as the Paris of the East. This upscale restaurant is located in the famous Xintiandi precinct and serves Shanghainese and Hong Kong dishes including Yum Cha and Dim Sum. Hearty and diverse cooking techniques that emphasize braising, roasting, quick-frying, and steaming result in dishes that are well-developed and balanced in flavour notes while the intimate setting is inspired by the chic era of old Shanghai.
This evening, enjoy a two hour walking tour in the French Concession & Xintiandi areas of the city. Characterized by an intriguing mix of low-rise, architectural styles dating from the colonial-era, the French Concession area boasts quaint boutiques, galleries and an endless supply of stylish bars and restaurants. The history of the French Concession mirrors the history of foreign involvement in modern China. After the Chinese loss of the Opium Wars in 1842, Shanghai, among other cities, were forced to open themselves as international “ports of call.” In 1849, the government of Shanghai conceded a large segment of land to the French consulate. This plot of land was expanded a few times and at its height in the 1936, consisted of the whole of present-day Xuhui and Luwan Districts. Like the Shanghai International Settlement, the French Settlement had its own code of laws and enforcement and was a de facto sovereign nation. Entrance by local Chinese was strictly limited to the affluent and influential and, in fact, many Chinese leftist artists and intellectuals made the French Concession their home. Though controlled by the French, American and British settlers flooded the newer western section in the 1920s.
Located in the center of Shanghai City south of Huaihai Zhong Lu, Shanghai Xin Tian Di has become an urban attraction that holds the historical and cultural legacies of the city. It is a fashionable pedestrian street composed of Shikumen and modern architecture styleXin Tian Di is unique because of its concept of construction. It retains the antique walls, tiles and exterior of the Shikumen housing of old Shanghai. On the other hand, its interior embodies a totally different world of international gallery, bars and cafes, boutiques or theme restaurants. When you walk into it, you will get the taste of both Shanghai in the 1920's and the sonic modern lifestyle of urbanites of the 21st century. You'll be introduced to both neighbourhoods by your private guide on your two hour evening walking tour this evening.
Opening in late 2009, the ninth property in The Peninsula Hotels' portfolio fronts the historic Bund with spectacular views of the Bund, Huangpu River, Pudong and the gardens of the former British Consulate, and blends with the historic architecture of its landmark neighbors along the Bund -- a UNESCO-designated Modern Heritage Site.
Today you will have a private vehicle, guide and driver at your disposal for the day.
While the rest of the world struggles with recession, China explodes with growth. Cities spring up overnight. Or, as the case of Shanghai, are transformed weekly. During the course of a three-hour walking tour of Shanghai you’ll be made aware of the forces shaping China's economic growth and how this is playing out on the ground. In the company of a local scholar you’ll get to explore the extreme contrasts of the emerging metropolis as they frame some of the major issues .
The walking tour begins at the Xiaonanmen subway station in one of the oldest neighborhoods in the city. Strolling through the tangle of old alleyways and dense housing you’ll pass through vibrant street markets that trade in food and fabric. This area is slated for destruction and life exists amidst the rubble of half demolished structures. This provides the perfect backdrop to discuss some of the major themes that are emerging from Shanghai's high speed growth including the role of planning versus the unplanned and relocation and urban development to mention but a few.
Enjoy a delightful dinner at Mr. & Mrs. Bund specializing in Western cuisine. This is a modern French eatery by the famous Shanghai chef, Paul Pairet, and is located on the Bund so expect it to be classy yet relaxed, without sacrificing an ounce of chic. Service is family-style, recast for a modern table, and the wine list includes 32 wines by the glass.
Spend half of today in the esteemed company of Patrick Cranley who has studied China for 30 years and who has been a resident in Shanghai since 1997. Academically trained in comparative economics, international business and Chinese politics, in recent years his research has focused on Shanghai’s history, architecture and urban development. Cranley is Director of Development for the Hopkins-Nanjing Center, a joint venture graduate school operated by the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) and Nanjing University. With a history of working at the top of a Fortune 500 company in China as well as having served as a Governor of the American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai for five years and a member of the National Council on U.S.-China Relations, there is quite simply no-one better to give you an in-depth perspective of Shanghai.
Cranley will provide insightful comments throughout your tour on Shanghai - from the history, architecture and economy of Shanghai to give you a comprehensive overview of the mechanisms of this metropolis.
Meet your driver for a train station transfer with a private vehicle and English speaking guide.
Transfer from Shanghai to Hangzhou via the high-speed Bullet Train. A private guide will accompany you.
Tea's central role in Chinese culture and history shapes the course of your private four hour tea tour and tasting today in Hangzhou. Led by a former tea importer who is currently doing her Master's in tea history and agriculture, you’ll learn the basics of different teas, how they're grown, their use in cuisine and ritual, and some of the subtleties of tea appreciation. Situated in a fertile area of the delta southwest of Shanghai, Hangzhou is renowned for its particular variety of green tea, the most ubiquitous type of tea consumed in China. It is also home to one of the top tea science institutes in the country. As a result, it's the perfect place for learning about and sampling tea. You’ll be met by your guide at the train station in Hangzhou and set off immediately for a tea plantation in the heart of the "Champagne" region of China- the West Lake district (a UNESCO World Heritage site and a central site in Hangzhou). This is where one of China's most treasured teas, Dragon Well, is produced. See how tea is cultivated and processed and have a chance to enjoy some of the fantastic views from the top of the tea fields. From here, you’ll head back into town to a cozy teahouse for a tasting of four different teas from around China. Learn the tricks behind making a great cup of Chinese tea, no matter if its green, black, oolong, white, or pu'er tea and understand the parallels between tea and wine. Explore West Lake with your guide. Originally constructed as a park for the emperor and dotted with pagodas, it offers a wonderful example of Chinese landscape architecture and a constitutional follow-up to all the tea you’ll have consumed!
Transfer by train from Hangzhou to Shanghai.
Enjoy time at leisure to explore at your own pace, or relax at your hotel.
Relax on your private transfer from your accommodation to Pudong Airport in Shanghai in time for your onward flight.
Fly from Shanghai to Hong Kong.
Your Hong Kong Airport VIP Meet and Greet will consist of a chaperone, charter shuttle, and porter service to ensure a smooth a transition.
Located in the heart of the financial district, the Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong overlooks the Victoria Harbor. This property is just a short walk from the famous night-time entertainment area of bars, restaurants and clubs. Offering beautiful views of the surrounding, the 502 guestrooms are well-appointed and come with modern amenities to make your stay a pleasant one. The magnificent spa offers healing philosophies of Ayurveda and traditional Chinese Medicine to soothe your senses and enchant your soul. You can workout at the state-of-the-art gymnasium or have a bracing dip in the swimming pool during your stay in this hotel.
Your private guide and driver will transfer you to Victoria Harbour & Peak today and you will have the opportunity of experiencing Feng Shui under the guideance of a Master. Victoria Peak, also known as Mount Austin, and locally as The Peak, is located in the western half of Hong Kong Island. With an altitude of 552 m (1,811 ft), it is the highest mountain on the island proper and offers views over Central, Victoria Harbour, Lamma Island and the surrounding islands. Take in the sights from this vantage point before making your way to Wong Tai Sin Temple. Meet up with your Feng Shui Master and be introduced to its history and origins. This Chinese system of geomancy is believed to use the laws of both Heaven (Chinese astronomy) and Earth to help one improve life by receiving positive qi. At the end of your Feng Shui session with a Master, you'll be brought back to your hotel or dropped off in a central location, depending on your plans for the rest of the day.
Get a bird's eye view by taking a panoramic 15 minute flight over Hong Kong! After your flight, make your way to Kowloon which exposes the more gritty side of Hong Kong. Sitting north of Hong Kong island, it is bordered by Victoria Harbour to the south. Kowloon is home to some of the most densely populated neighbourhoods not only in Hong Kong but on the planet. This is very much working class Hong Kong and its streets bulge with hawkers, markets and salary men and give a great feel of Hong Kong daily life. A Taoist temple established in 1921, Wong Tai Sin Temple is one of the most famous temples in Hong Kong. Its architecture is in traditional Chinese temple style: grand red pillars, a magnificent golden roof adorned with blue friezes, yellow latticework, and resplendent multi-colored carvings. Aside from the Daxiong-baodian or Grand Hall, Sansheng Hall and the Good Wish Garden are also worth seeing and the grounds feature three memorial archways. The Chinese character for jade is a combination of the words for beauty and purity. In Hong Kong, the jade business is most active at the Jade Market in Kowloon. While there’s been a lot of redevelopment in the area in recent years, some vestiges of its past have been saved, such as the colonial-era police station.If shopping takes your fancy over architecture and monuments, you won’t be disappointed with the quality and quantity of jade being sold by the more than 400 stalls on Jade Street.
Today, enjoy a day at leisure in Hong Kong. You may decide to be avidly active and hit the stores for a bit of shopping, or you may think of having a lie in, followed by a scrumptious brunch and an afternoon at the spa.
Consider enjoying a fine dining experience in the heart of Hong Kong at the award winning Aqua Tokyo restaurant. Voted best Italian Restaurant in Hong Kong by the Italian Hospitality Board, the establishment focuses on inventive traditional cuisine taking authentic Japanese culinary roots to new heights. Specialties include black cod and Taraba crab with burdock and crab sauce and lobster with french bean, sweet potato, and shitake mushroom yasai kakiage tempura with pan seared teriyaki foie gras. With floor to ceiling glass overlooking Hong Kong Bay, and atmospheric lighting with plush decor. Please note, this is optional and is not included in the tour price.
You'll be transferred by a privately chauffeured vehicle from your accommodation to Hong Kong airport today in time for your departing flight.
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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