China & Japan's Imperial Cities

12 days from $12,792 per person*
  • Explore Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City, the Great Wall, and more in Beijing.
  • Meet the Terra-Cotta Warriors in Xi’an and discover the sights of Shanghai.
  • Cross Tokyo’s must-see shrines, temples, and parks off your must-see list.
  • Revel in the understated elegance of Kyoto’s temples and gardens.
  • Stay at a handpicked selection of luxury accommodations.
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Age-old rivals and at times bitter enemies, the cultures and histories of China and Japan share common roots. Step back across the gulf of time with us on this captivating journey that explores the ancient and modern capitals, religious centers, and cultural hotspots of these Asian giants on a luxurious, life-changing experience.

After getting settled in Beijing, the adventure begins northeast of the city with a private wine tour at Château Changyu, a French-style château in the rolling hills of the Miyun District. Refreshed, you’ll walk the imposing Mutianyu section of the Great Wall, where its 22 watchtowers gaze out across the mountains. Back in the city, visit two UNESCO World Heritage sites and the world’s largest public square on a privately guided tour of Tiananmen Square, the lavish 178-acre Forbidden City palace complex, and the peaceful Temple of Heaven. You’ll also be granted exclusive access to the Forbidden City’s rarely visited Shu Fang Zhai Palace, where Emperor Qianlong lived as a boy. Finally, dine out on Peking duck, Beijing’s signature dish, at a popular restaurant before moving on to your next stop: Xi’an.

In addition to serving as the preferred home of China’s imperial dynasties, Xi’an boasts one of the country’s most significant Muslim populations. You’ll discover this first-hand on a private twilight walking tour of the bustling Huajue Xiang market en route to witness the musical fountain at the famous Big Wild Goose Pagoda. Next, come face-to-face with the city’s most famous residents, the Terra-Cotta Warriors, on a private full-day tour of their museum before stepping inside the Big Wild Goose Pagoda to get a glimpse at its collection of sacred Buddhist artifacts and murals.
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Few places blend the past with the future as seamlessly as Shanghai, your next stop. You’ll discover this first hand on a private tour of the French Concession neighborhoods of Tianzifang and Xintiandi where you’ll see traditional and modernized examples of stone-arch shikumen architecture on your way to dinner and a spectacular performance by the Shanghai Acrobatic Troupe. Later, marvel at the Shanghai Museum’s 120,000-strong collection of artifacts, visit the famous Jade Buddha Temple and unwind amid the serene confines of Yu Garden before bidding a fond zeh wèh to China and crossing the East China Sea to your next stop: Japan.

With so much to see and do, Tokyo can be an overwhelming place for the first-time visitor and savvy veteran alike. With the help of a private guide, you’ll see the Japanese capital as it was meant to be seen. After exploring the must-sees of atmospheric Asakusa, including the revered Sensoji Temple, the Meiji Shrine, and the Nakamise and Omotesando shopping streets, head downtown to tour peaceful Ueno Park and nearby Ameya Yokocho, a bustling market under the elevated rail lines.

The adventure ends in Kyoto, where the Japan of the imagination lives. First, get a taste of traditional Japan on a private walking tour through Higashiyama, home to temples, pagodas, and ancient shrines before dining out at one of the city’s top restaurants. Later, explore Kyoto’s many UNESCO World Heritage sites on a private tour that takes you to the fabled Kinkakuji (Temple of the Golden Pavilion), through the narrow lanes of the Nishiki Market (famed for its seasonal cuisine and only-in-Kyoto delicacies), and your choice of the stunning Sanjusangendo Hall and its 1,001 wooden Kannon statues, or Kiyomizu Temple, blessed an utterly stunning view of the city.

Kensington Tours creates private trips from the world’s finest ingredients. Tailor-made with care by your personal Destination Expert, your personalized trip is always a one-of-a-kind experience made just for you. Expert local guidance and 24/7 service come standard.
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Day
Activities Hotel & Meals
Hotel & Meals
  • Day 1 Beijing
    Beijing
    • Airport Meet & Greet
    • VIP Meet & Assist - Chaperone
    • Private Transfer - Airport - Vehicle/Guide/Driver
    The Peninsula Beijing (5*) (B) (Deluxe Suite)
  • Day 2 Beijing
    Beijing
    • Private Tour - Chateau Changyu AFIP Global Wine Tour & Great Wall Mutianyu with Lunch (8 hrs) - Vehicle/Guide/Driver
    The Peninsula Beijing (5*) (B) (Deluxe Suite)
  • Day 3 Beijing
    Beijing
    • Private Tour - Tiananmen, Forbidden City with Private Access to Shu Fang Zhai Palace & Temple of Heaven with Lunch - Vehicle/Driver/Guide
    • Peking Duck Dinner at Dadong Restaurant (2-3 hrs) - Vehicle/Driver
    The Peninsula Beijing (5*) (B) (Deluxe Suite)
  • Day 4 Beijing to Xi'an
    Beijing to Xi'an
    • Private Transfer - Airport - Vehicle/Guide/Driver
    • Air - Beijing - Xi`an [(2hrs)] - Economy
    • Private Transfer - Airport - Vehicle/Guide/Driver
    • Private Tour - Evening Walking Tour: Muslim Cultural Street, Pagoda, & Fountain Show with Dinner (2hrs) - Vehicle/Guide/Driver
  • Day 5 Xi'an
    Xi'an
    • Private Tour - Full Day Discovery of the Terra Cotta Warriors & Big Wild Goose Pagoda with Lunch - Vehicle/Guide/Drive
  • Day 6 Xi'an to Shanghai
    Xi'an to Shanghai
    • Private Transfer - Airport - Vehicle/Guide/Driver
    • Air - Xi`an - Shanghai [(2hrs)] - Economy
    • Private Transfer - Airport (Hongqiao Domestic) - Vehicle/Guide/Driver
    • Private Tour - 1/2 Day Tianzifang & Xintiandi with Lunch (4hrs) - Vehicle/Guide/Driver
    • Shanghai Acrobatic Show and Dinner at Ye Shanghai - Dinner & Acrobatic Show (VIP Seats)
    Breakfast
  • Day 7 Shanghai
    Shanghai
    • Private Tour - Jade Buddha Temple, Yu Gardens & Shanghai Museum with Lunch - Vehicle/Guide/Driver
    • Dinner Reservations & Car Service (3 hrs) - Vehicle/Guide/Driver
    Breakfast
  • Day 8 Shanghai to Tokyo
    Shanghai to Tokyo
    • Private Transfer - Airport (PVG) - Vehicle/Guide/Driver
    • Flight (Not Included)
    • Airport Meet & Assist - Meet & Greet-Narita 9:00-20:55
    • Private Transfer - Airport - Vehicle/Driver/Narita Airport
    • Japan - Welcome
    • Dinner Reservations - Dinner Reservations
  • Day 9 Tokyo
    Tokyo
    • Private Tour - Full Day Tokyo Highlights with Ueno Park by Private Transportation (8 hrs) - Vehicle/Guide/Driver
  • Day 10 Tokyo to Kyoto
    Tokyo to Kyoto
    • Baggage Transfer - Baggage Transfer
    • Private Transfer - Train Station Transfer with Private Vehicle and Guide - Vehicle/Guide
    • Train - Tokyo - Kyoto [(2.5hrs)] - 1st Class
    • Private Transfer - Train Station Transfer with Private Vehicle and Guide - Vehicle/Guide
    • Private Tour - Half Day Kyoto Higashiyama Walking Tour by Taxi (4 hrs) - Guide/Taxi
    • Dinner Reservations - Dinner Reservations
    Four Seasons Kyoto (5*) (B) (Premier Room)
  • Day 11 Kyoto
    Kyoto
    • Private Tour - Full Day Kyoto Highlights Tour by Private Transportation (8 hrs) - Vehicle/Guide
    Four Seasons Kyoto (5*) (B) (Premier Room)
  • Day 12 Kyoto
    Kyoto
    • Private Transfer - Kyoto - Osaka [Kansai Airport] - Vehicle/Driver
We can customize this private tour just for you. Any element can be tailored – activities, length, hotels and destinations.
Call us at 1 888 903-2001 or request a quote.
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Day 1: Beijing

To ensure a seamless experience, your guide will be waiting for you outside the secure customs area with a sign with your name on it. The guide will assist you in meeting up with your private driver and accompany you to your accommodation.

For a more relaxing arrival experience, an airport chaperone will greet you upon exiting the plane and escort you to meet your guide once you have cleared customs and immigration.

Enjoy a private transfer between the airport and your hotel with an English-speaking guide.

Accommodation: The Peninsula Beijing (5*) (B) (Deluxe Suite)

The Peninsula Beijing sets spectacular new standards in design, luxury and comfort, and was voted by the readers of Travel + Leisure US in the "World's Best Awards 2017" as one of the Top 3 of the Best Hotels in Beijing. The hotel reopened in the historic Wangfujing area in 2017 after extensive renovations, converting the property to a luxurious all-suite hotel, doubling the size of the rooms. It now delivers the most spacious all-suite guest accommodation in the heart of China’s dynamic capital. The restyled hotel also combines timeless Chinese artistry and craftsmanship with cutting-edge technology and superlative service to set spectacular new standards in design, luxury, and comfort.

China & Japan's Imperial Cities Tours 2019 - 2020 -  Beijing
Beijing
China & Japan's Imperial Cities Tours 2019 - 2020 -  Peninsula Beijing Exterior
Peninsula Beijing Exterior

Day 2: Beijing

Enjoy a full day private guided tour of a Beijing Chateau amid vineyards and of the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall. If you are going to sample some wines in Beijing, it is worth visiting Chateau Changyu AFIP Global, a French-style chateau set in the Chinese countryside. The chateau is located in Miyun District, northeast of Beijing. The chateau is known for its brewing, tourism, training and leisure activities. Afterwards, continue to the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall. 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. 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. Lunch is included at a local restaurant.

Accommodation: The Peninsula Beijing (5*) (B) (Deluxe Suite)
China & Japan's Imperial Cities Tours 2019 - 2020 -

Day 3: Beijing

Spend the day exploring three of Beijing’s most photographed sites with your private guide and driver, and enjoy exclusive access to Shu Fang Zhai Palace while visiting the Forbidden City. Head to the center of Beijing and begin with a walk across the sprawling expanse of Tiananmen Square. Built in 1417 during the Ming Dynasty and serving as the front door to the Forbidden City, the present square is one of the largest in the world, stretching a vast 44 square hectares. Here, walk past and featuring the Tiananmen Tower, Monument to the People’s Heroes, Great Hall of the People, and the Mao Zedong Memorial. Many historically important moments have unfolded in this public setting.

From here, cross the street and enter through the towering gates of the Forbidden City, a UNESCO World Heritage Site with the largest number of preserved ancient wooden structures in the world. The expansive palace complex is comprised of 9,999 buildings spread across 74 hectares and protected by a 19-foot deep moat and a 32-foot tall wall, divided into two parts. The Outer Court was where the emperor exercised his supreme power over the nation, while the Inner Court was where he lived with his royal family. Twenty-four emperors from the Ming and Qing dynasties reigned over China from the Imperial Palace here until 1924. During your visit to the Forbidden City, enjoy an exclusive visit to Shu Fang Zhai Palace, a section of the Forbidden City that is not open to the general public. The Palace was the study of Prince Qianlong in his youth, and later became used as a banquet hall when he became Emperor Qianlong. The visit to Shu Fang Zhai Palace will enhance guests appreciation of ancient Chinese palace architecture, the life of Emperor Qianlong and the history of the Qing Dynasty.

Stop for a 3-course lunch at TRB Forbidden City, a Beijing-inspired spin on European fine dining.

Next, drive to the Temple of Heaven, a serene space set amidst expansive gardens, and a popular spot for locals and travelers alike. With your private guide and driver, head to this urban oasis UNESCO World Heritage Site, originally constructed in 1420 during the Ming Dynasty to offer a sacrifice to Heaven in exchange for a bountiful harvest. 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. The park grounds surrounding the park are a popular local mingling spot, and it is quite common to see people practicing Tai Chi amidst the green space.

Today’s tour involves a fair amount of walking at a leisurely pace. Comfortable walking shoes and adequate protection from the sun are highly recommended.

 

Peking duck is an iconic dish that originated Peking duck is an iconic dish that originated in Beijing, and has been prepared since the imperial era. Enjoy a memorable dinner of this classic dish at Dadong Restaurant, a popular choice with locals and travelers alike as a fine example of this succulent dish. It is also possible to sample some non-duck dishes during your meal.

Accommodation: The Peninsula Beijing (5*) (B) (Deluxe Suite)
China & Japan's Imperial Cities Tours 2019 - 2020 -  Forbidden City
Forbidden City
China & Japan's Imperial Cities Tours 2019 - 2020 -  Da Dong Restaurant
Da Dong Restaurant

Day 4: Beijing - Xi'an

Enjoy a private transfer between the airport and your hotel with an English-speaking guide.

Board a flight with direct service from Beijing to Xi'an. Approximate flight time is 2 hours.

Meet your driver for an airport transfer with a private vehicle and English speaking guide.

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.

Accommodation: Sofitel Legend People`s Grand Hotel (5*)

Originally established in 1953, the legendary Xian People's Hotel embraced in a beautiful landscaped garden and located right in the heart of Xian was refurbished into a luxury hotel. Reopened in 2014, Sofitel Legend People's Grand Hotel Xian features an Italian restaurant, bars, cigar lounge, spa, and state of the art facilities. The hotel is only 45 minutes to the airport and Terracotta Warriors, and is within walking distance to many famous historical sites.

China & Japan's Imperial Cities Tours 2019 - 2020 -  Big Wild Goose Pagoda
Big Wild Goose Pagoda
China & Japan's Imperial Cities Tours 2019 - 2020 -  Xi'an
Xi'an

Day 5: Xi'an

The Terra Cotta Warriors are the most iconic site in Xi’an, an impressive marvel that went undiscovered until 1974. With your private driver and English-speaking guide, spend the day visiting the Terra Cotta Warriors and enjoy a unique opportunity to spend a half hour with Mr. Yang Xinman, the local farmer who accidentally discovered the warriors while drilling a series of water wells. The incredible army of over 7000 soldiers, archers, horses, and chariots in full battle array has guarded Emperor Qin’s tomb since 210 BC. Incredibly, each figure is unique, and the painstaking repair and excavation continues in 3 pits, protected inside enormous hangars specially constructed for the archeological dig. From here, visit Mr. Yang’s home and spend a half hour chatting with him about how he and other farmers made this incredible discovery. Mr. Yang does not speak English, but your guide will be able to translate for you. Stop for a local lunch before returning to the city center to visit the Big Wild Goose Pagoda. An important Buddhist site, the simple and elegant Pagoda is housed on 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 world-famous 16-year pilgrimage to India. The Temple complex has several large halls with some great Buddhist statues and murals. At the end of the day, return to your hotel by private vehicle.

Accommodation: Sofitel Legend People`s Grand Hotel (5*)
China & Japan's Imperial Cities Tours 2019 - 2020 -  Terra Cotta Warriors
Terra Cotta Warriors

Day 6: Xi'an - Shanghai

Meet your driver for an airport transfer with a private vehicle and English speaking guide.

Board a flight with direct service from Xi'an to Shanghai. Approximate flight time is 2 hours.

Meet your driver for an airport transfer with a private vehicle and English speaking guide.

If you want to experience the historical and cultural atmosphere of the city, Xintiandi is a wise choice. Composed of Shikumen and modern architectural style, now it has become a hot and fashionable pedestrian street in the center of the city. Actually, it stands for the popular and leisurely lifestyle of this city's new generation. The outdoor cafés, bars, and romantic restaurants can be seen everywhere. After you will go to Tianzifang, which has transformed itself from legacy residential architectures and factories into an artsy area housing bars, cafes, crafts shops, design studios, galleries, and boutiques. It's ardently supported by crowds of yuppies, trend setters, designers, and expatriates who fall for temptation of old Shikumen houses (stone-framed-door houses) and lanes with infinite novelties. Like Xintiandi, Tianzifang is one of a small number of old Shanghai shikumen buildings. The difference is the vivid live atmosphere stimulated from Tianzifang. The original buildings are still intact, true to the authentic features of the lanes in Shanghai, with Shikumen architecture to the fore. There are over 20 varieties of well-preserved Shikumen buildings in Tianzifang, whose types and completeness rank with the best in the city. Many original residents still live in the narrow lanes. Please be mindful and respect their privacy. Tianzifang's preservation is significant for the city’s cultural heritage.

The Shanghai Acrobatic Troupe has garnered international fame, with dazzling displays that seem to defy the laws of gravity. This evening, your private guide and driver will pick you up at your hotel for your dinner reservation at Ye Shanghai before the show. Housed in a renovated Shikumen style house, the restaurant embraces the cuisine of neighboring Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces. From here, drive to the theater and settle into your seats with the help of your guide. The multimillion-dollar performance is a testament to traditional Chinese acrobatic arts, featuring stunning costumes, modern technology, and original live music during the show. The acrobats undergo years of rigorous training, starting as young as six or seven. Many performers boast 20 years of experience. After the memorable performance, transfer back to your hotel by private vehicle.

Accommodation: The Peninsula (5*)

Opening its doors in 2009, The Peninsula Shanghai occupies a prime location with direct frontage on Shanghai’s historic Bund. Positioned 26 miles from Pudong Airport, and under 11 miles from Hong Qiao Airport, the hotel provides you with walkable distances to The Bund, Yuyuan Garden, Huangpu Park and East Nanjing Road. The intricately styled rooms have been designed to evoke flair from the glorious Art Deco era. Each room and suite incorporates an eclectic of traditional materials used in 1920’s Shanghai. Exotic woods, imported stones, black lacquer, carved glass and ornate accents of polished chrome combine to create a luxurious and nostalgic but yet contemporary ambience. In addition to five restaurants and bars, the hotel features a state of the art Spa that includes a stunning pool with full-length skylight, as well as a fitness center with high-end training machines and free weights. This hotel is proud to be as unique as the city itself. The Peninsula Shanghai features the city's only outdoor ice skating rink for the winter festive season and The Rosamonde Aviation Lounge which celebrates the fascinating history of aviation in China featuring an impressive collection of antiques and memorabilia.

China & Japan's Imperial Cities Tours 2019 - 2020 -  Shanghai
Shanghai
China & Japan's Imperial Cities Tours 2019 - 2020 -  Shanghai Acrobats
Shanghai Acrobats

Day 7: Shanghai

Spend the day visiting some of Shanghai’s most captivating sites with your private guide and driver. Start with a visit to the Shanghai Museum, treasure trove of ancient Chinese art. The museum collection features over 120,000 pieces, including bronze, ceramics, calligraphy, furniture, jade, ancient coins, paintings, seals, and sculptures. Home to eleven galleries, the collection includes several items of national importance, including one of three specimens of a “transparent” bronze mirror from the Han Dynasty.

Stop for lunch at a local restaurant showcasing Shanghai’s cuisine, then drive to the Jade Buddha Temple, one of the most famous Buddhist shrines in Shanghai. The statue was brought to China from neighboring Myanmar in the late 19th century, and the temple itself was destroyed during the revolution that overthrew the Qing Dynasty. The current temple was erected in 1928 to protect the jade statues inside. Next, drive to the Yu Gardens, the largest of Shanghai’s ancient gardens, dating to the mid-16th century. The expansive grounds feature the architectural styles of the Ming and Qing Dynasties, with six pavilions each with their own unique design, laid out in the Suzhou style. The Grand Rockery in the center of the garden is a popular photo stop, with replica peaks, cliffs, and caves. The Yu Gardens are a year-round delightful retreat from Shanghai’s frenetic pace, as the changing seasons offer a different experience and a moment of quiet contemplation. Adjacent to the gardens is the City God Temple, surrounded by a network of local snack vendors and souvenir shops that make for a colorful walk into the Yu Garden. At the end of the day, return to your hotel by private vehicle.

With food being such a prominent part of Chinese culture, there is a wide range of cuisines that must be experienced when visiting China. From groundbreaking fusion dishes to traditional delicacies, Shanghai has it all. Be sure to try out the local favorite, delectable soup dumplings. Tonight, you will be able to indulge in an unforgettable gastronomic experience. Reservations will be made in advance at the restaurant of your choice, and round-trip transportation in a private vehicle will also be provided accompanied by a private guide. The guide will help you get settled into the restaurant and can assist with navigating the menu, but will not be joining you for dinner. Your Destination Expert will provide top recommendations for anything from fine Chinese dining to high-end international restaurants.

Please note: Your meal is not included and will be paid for on location. Reservations are confirmed at the time of booking and are subject to availability.

Accommodation: The Peninsula (5*)
China & Japan's Imperial Cities Tours 2019 - 2020 -  Yu Gardens
Yu Gardens
China & Japan's Imperial Cities Tours 2019 - 2020 -  Dim Sum
Dim Sum

Day 8: Shanghai - Tokyo

Drive to the airport with a private vehicle and English speaking guide.

 

Flight is required, currently not included in the quote. Please contact your Destination Expert if you are interested in adding this service to the itinerary.

For your added comfort, you will be welcomed by an English speaking assistant who will assist you upon arrival at the airport. Your assistant will be waiting for you with a sign with your name on it.

Meet your driver for an enjoyable airport transfer with a private vehicle.

Welcome to Japan!

Japan's culinary scene is a delight for the senses. From elaborate sushi dinners to kaiseki meals, and hundreds of exclusive Michelin star rated restaurants to choose from, the dining options are sure to please even the most discerning of palates. Tonight's dinner reservation has been arranged for you. Transportation to and from the restaurant of your choice will be paid for on the spot, and tonight's meal is not included in your itinerary and is to be paid for at the restaurant. Please note that many fine dining establishments in Japan require a set course menu to be pre-ordered at time of reservation, or a deposit in order to secure a space. If this is the case, you will be advised at time of booking.

Accommodation: Ritz Carlton Tokyo (5*)

From an urban oasis atop a dramatic skyscraper, The Ritz-Carlton, Tokyo reveals an elevated experience that inspires memories as vivid as the panoramic views beyond. Admire the authentic Japanese culture of this luxury Midtown hotel's teahouse in the sky. Enjoy dining experiences that impress with both delectable fare and mesmerizing views. Begin your spa journey with a heavenly heat experience. This luxurious five-star hotel in Tokyo features stunning 360-degree panoramic vistas of Tokyo, including Tokyo Tower and Mt. Fuji, 245 elegantly appointed guest rooms and suites, a magnificent sky lobby on the 45th floor, six sensational restaurants, a lounge & bar, and café, expansive spa and fitness facilities on the 45th floor, and complimentary wired and wireless Internet access in guest rooms. Babysitting services are available by reservation, and the hotel offers complete concierge services and a full-service business center onsite.

China & Japan's Imperial Cities Tours 2019 - 2020 -  Sushi
Sushi
China & Japan's Imperial Cities Tours 2019 - 2020 -  Tokyo
Tokyo

Day 9: Tokyo

Today, you will enjoy a full day tour of the fascinating city of Tokyo including the beautiful Ueno Park with your local guide by private transportation. Your day begins with a visit to the outside Imperial Palace, home of Japan’s Imperial Family. Next, you will travel to Asakusa, Tokyo’s old town where you can experience the atmosphere of old Tokyo. Subsequently, you will visit Sensoji, Tokyo’s oldest temple and wander down Nakamise, a shopping street that has been providing temple visitors with a variety of traditional local snacks and tourist souvenirs for centuries. You will then take the subway across town to Meiji Shrine, a shrine dedicated to the deified spirit of Emperor Meiji and a popular place for traditional Japanese weddings. If time permits, you can take a walk to the Omotesando shopping street, a broad tree lined avenue home to the flagship stores of the world’s top fashion brands.

This afternoon explore Tokyo’s shitamachi (downtown). Our image of Tokyo is usually that of a super-modern metropolis but suburbs like Yanaka, which was miraculously spared the carnage of the Allied bombings in World War II, still preserve a nostalgic atmosphere. Part of its charm today lies in this sense of being hidden. Visit old temples and shrines, one of Tokyo’s oldest Buddhist cemeteries as well as traditional shops selling Japanese paper and sweets, and soak in the atmosphere of pre-war Tokyo. Take a look at what life in this area used to be like in the Shitamachi Museum, located in Ueno Park. One of the most popular parks for hanami (cherry blossom parties) in Tokyo, Ueno Park was originally part of Kaneiji Temple, which used to be one of the city's largest and wealthiest temples and a family temple of the ruling Tokugawa clan during the Edo Period. Your guide will take you on a stroll to show you the many attractions that enrich this large park. Last stop for the day is Ueno’s Ameyoko-cho, a busy market street underneath the train lines. Originally the site of a black market after World War Two, this bustling market is the last of its kind in Tokyo, and is filled with shops and stalls selling various products such as fresh fish, dried food and spices. At one of the many open air restaurants under the train tracks, you can stop for a cold drink and a yakitori (grilled chicken skewer). At the end of the tour, you will be dropped off at your hotel.

 

Accommodation: Ritz Carlton Tokyo (5*)
China & Japan's Imperial Cities Tours 2019 - 2020 -  Ueno Park Cherry Blossom Trees
Ueno Park Cherry Blossom Trees

Day 10: Tokyo - Kyoto

Your baggage will be transferred overnight by van to your next destination so that you may navigate the train system without the burden of heavy luggage. Please be sure to pack a small overnight bag.  

Meet your guide for a train station transfer with a private vehicle.

Board a train from Tokyo with direct service to Kyoto. The train ride is approximately 2.5 hours.

Meet your guide for a train station transfer with a private vehicle.

The Higashiyama District along the lower slopes of Kyoto's eastern mountains is one of the city's best preserved historic districts, and a great place to experience traditional old Kyoto. The streets in Higashiyama are lined by small shops, cafes and restaurants which have been catering to tourists and pilgrims for centuries. These businesses retain their traditional design, and they continue to serve customers today, selling local specialties such as Kiyomizu-yaki pottery, sweets, pickles, crafts and other souvenirs. Start the day with a visit to Kodaiji Temple. It was constructed in 1605 in memory of Toyotomi Hideyoshi by the great political leader's wife. It features temple halls, gravel and landscape gardens, teahouses and a bamboo grove. Yasaka Pagoda, the last remnant of Hokanji Temple, is one of the most visible and recognizable landmarks in the Higashiyama District. Visitors may climb up the inside of the five story pagoda, which is a rare opportunity as most pagoda can only be viewed from the outside. Yasaka Shrine, host to the Gion Matsuri, is one of Kyoto's most popular shrines and is located at the eastern end of Shijo-dori next to Maruyama Park. The shrine's hanging lanterns are lit every night after dark. Chionin is the head temple of the Jodo sect of Japanese Buddhism, which has millions of followers and is one the most popular Buddhist sects in Japan. The huge Sanmon Gate, Chionin's main entrance gate, stands 24 meters tall and 50 meters wide, and is the largest wooden gate in Japan. The gate was featured in the movie Last Samurai. At the end of the tour, you will be transferred back to your hotel.

 

Japan's culinary scene is a delight for the senses. From elaborate sushi dinners to kaiseki meals, and hundreds of exclusive Michelin star rated restaurants to choose from, the dining options are sure to please even the most discerning of palates. Tonight's dinner reservation has been arranged for you. Transportation to and from the restaurant of your choice will be paid for on the spot, and tonight's meal is not included in your itinerary and is to be paid for at the restaurant. Please note that many fine dining establishments in Japan require a set course menu to be pre-ordered at time of reservation, or a deposit in order to secure a space. If this is the case, you will be advised at time of booking.

Accommodation: Four Seasons Kyoto (5*) (B) (Premier Room)

Discover the style and vibe of today's Japan with an 800-year-old ikeniwa (pond garden) at its heart – intimate, contemporary Four Seasons Hotel Kyoto, in the scenic district of temples. Within light-filled, spacious guest rooms and select Private Hotel Residences, experience personalised, insider access to Kyoto's four-season delights. Double-height windows frame our tranquil garden as you enjoy modern European brasserie dining. Sip local craft beers on the waterside terrace. Cross the glass bridge for matcha in the Tea House. Float in the indoor pool then melt into bliss in the Spa. Conclude successful business behind artisan-carved cedar doors. Or celebrate new beginnings in the soaring, sunlit Chapel.

China & Japan's Imperial Cities Tours 2019 - 2020 -  Kiyomizu Temple
Kiyomizu Temple
China & Japan's Imperial Cities Tours 2019 - 2020 -  Sushi
Sushi

Day 11: Kyoto

Spend the day today exploring the former imperial capital of Japan with a local guide, traveling by private vehicle to visit some of Kyoto’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Start the day with a visit to Kinkakuji Temple (Golden Pavilion), originally built as a retirement villa for the Shogun. After his death in 1408, it became a Buddhist Temple as per the Shogun’s final wishes and is now one of Kyoto’s most famous temples. Next is Nijo Castle, an ornamental castle that was built by the founder of the Edo Shogunate as his Kyoto residence and is surrounded by stunning surrounding gardens. The main building was completed in 1603 and is famous for its architecture, decorated sliding doors and ‘chirping’ nightingale floors. The castle is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and served briefly as an imperial palace during the 19th century.

Take a walk through Nishiki Market, a narrow, five block long shopping street lined by more than a hundred shops and restaurants. Known as "Kyoto's Kitchen", this lively retail market specializes in all things food related, like fresh seafood, produce, knives and cookware, and is a great place to find seasonal foods and Kyoto specialties, such as Japanese sweets, pickles, dried seafood, and sushi. You may wish to stop for lunch in this area (not included).

To conclude the day, there is a choice of sites to explore with your guide. You may wish to visit the Kiyomizu Temple, also known as Pure Water Temple featuring spectacular views of Kyoto from its veranda. Its Main Hall and veranda were built without the use of nails or any kind of joiners. It is a steep walk uphill, and the temple is now under repair work, although it is still enjoyable and a Kyoto landmark. You may opt, instead, to visit the 393-foot-long Sanjusangendo Temple, Japan's longest wooden structure, famous for its 1001 statues of Kannon, the goddess of mercy. In the center of the main hall sits a large, wooden statue of a 1000-armed Kannon is flanked on each side by 500 statues of human-sized 1000-armed Kannon standing in ten rows. Together they make for an awe-inspiring sight. At the end of the tour, you will be transferred back to your hotel.

Accommodation: Four Seasons Kyoto (5*) (B) (Premier Room)
China & Japan's Imperial Cities Tours 2019 - 2020 -  Kinkakuji (Golden Pavilion)
Kinkakuji (Golden Pavilion)

Day 12: Kyoto

Enjoy a transfer with a private driver from Kyoto to Osaka Kansai International Airport.

Accommodation: Depart (Int`l Airport) (standard)

Depart from International Airport. End of itinerary.

We can customize this private tour just for you. Any element can be tailored – activities, length, hotels and destinations.
Call us at 1 888 903-2001 or request a quote.

Trip Terms & Conditions

  • Your deposit is due immediately on booking (30% of program price, minimum $350). The balance is due 90 days prior to departure.
  • Cancellations of confirmed bookings 90 days or more prior to departure will receive full refund minus a $350 (per person) administrative fee and any non-refundable paid fees (e.g. non-refundable airfare, cruise or hotel deposits). 60-89 days will be subject to loss of 30% of program price. 30-59 days will be subject to loss of 50% of program price. 29 days or less will be subject to loss of 100% of program price.
  • Tour quotes do not include airfare to/from the trip start point unless noted on the itinerary
  • Cost increases in currency exchange, government fees, taxes, surcharges or hotel/lodge tariff increases between quote date and start date are payable by the client.
  • Availability cannot be guaranteed until booked. We will exercise best efforts to book hotels per the itinerary, however, in busy seasons and with client bookings made within 90 days of tour date we may be forced to offer substitutes.
  • Payment of the program price constitutes your acceptance of the terms and conditions set out at www.kensingtontours.com/terms-and-conditions
  • Living Standards and practices at destination may differ from those in North America with respect to provisions of utilities, services and accommodation.

The Peninsula Beijing (5*) (B) (Deluxe Suite): Beijing

The Peninsula Beijing sets spectacular new standards in design, luxury and comfort, and was voted by the readers of Travel + Leisure US in the "World's Best Awards 2017" as one of the Top 3 of the Best Hotels in Beijing. The hotel reopened in the historic Wangfujing area in 2017 after extensive renovations, converting the property to a luxurious all-suite hotel, doubling the size of the rooms. It now delivers the most spacious all-suite guest accommodation in the heart of China’s dynamic capital. The restyled hotel also combines timeless Chinese artistry and craftsmanship with cutting-edge technology and superlative service to set spectacular new standards in design, luxury, and comfort.

Sofitel Legend People`s Grand Hotel (5*) : Xi'an

Originally established in 1953, the legendary Xian People's Hotel embraced in a beautiful landscaped garden and located right in the heart of Xian was refurbished into a luxury hotel. Reopened in 2014, Sofitel Legend People's Grand Hotel Xian features an Italian restaurant, bars, cigar lounge, spa, and state of the art facilities. The hotel is only 45 minutes to the airport and Terracotta Warriors, and is within walking distance to many famous historical sites.

China & Japan's Imperial Cities Tours 2019 - 2020 -  Sofitel Legend Peoples' Grand Hotel
Sofitel Legend Peoples' Grand Hotel

The Peninsula (5*): Shanghai

Opening its doors in 2009, The Peninsula Shanghai occupies a prime location with direct frontage on Shanghai’s historic Bund. Positioned 26 miles from Pudong Airport, and under 11 miles from Hong Qiao Airport, the hotel provides you with walkable distances to The Bund, Yuyuan Garden, Huangpu Park and East Nanjing Road. The intricately styled rooms have been designed to evoke flair from the glorious Art Deco era. Each room and suite incorporates an eclectic of traditional materials used in 1920’s Shanghai. Exotic woods, imported stones, black lacquer, carved glass and ornate accents of polished chrome combine to create a luxurious and nostalgic but yet contemporary ambience. In addition to five restaurants and bars, the hotel features a state of the art Spa that includes a stunning pool with full-length skylight, as well as a fitness center with high-end training machines and free weights. This hotel is proud to be as unique as the city itself. The Peninsula Shanghai features the city's only outdoor ice skating rink for the winter festive season and The Rosamonde Aviation Lounge which celebrates the fascinating history of aviation in China featuring an impressive collection of antiques and memorabilia.

China & Japan's Imperial Cities Tours 2019 - 2020 -  The Peninsula Shanghai
The Peninsula Shanghai
China & Japan's Imperial Cities Tours 2019 - 2020 -  Rosamonde Aviation Lounge
Rosamonde Aviation Lounge

Ritz Carlton Tokyo (5*): Tokyo

From an urban oasis atop a dramatic skyscraper, The Ritz-Carlton, Tokyo reveals an elevated experience that inspires memories as vivid as the panoramic views beyond. Admire the authentic Japanese culture of this luxury Midtown hotel's teahouse in the sky. Enjoy dining experiences that impress with both delectable fare and mesmerizing views. Begin your spa journey with a heavenly heat experience. This luxurious five-star hotel in Tokyo features stunning 360-degree panoramic vistas of Tokyo, including Tokyo Tower and Mt. Fuji, 245 elegantly appointed guest rooms and suites, a magnificent sky lobby on the 45th floor, six sensational restaurants, a lounge & bar, and café, expansive spa and fitness facilities on the 45th floor, and complimentary wired and wireless Internet access in guest rooms. Babysitting services are available by reservation, and the hotel offers complete concierge services and a full-service business center onsite.

China & Japan's Imperial Cities Tours 2019 - 2020 -  Exterior
Exterior
China & Japan's Imperial Cities Tours 2019 - 2020 -  Lobby Lounge
Lobby Lounge

Four Seasons Kyoto (5*) (B) (Premier Room): Kyoto

Discover the style and vibe of today's Japan with an 800-year-old ikeniwa (pond garden) at its heart – intimate, contemporary Four Seasons Hotel Kyoto, in the scenic district of temples. Within light-filled, spacious guest rooms and select Private Hotel Residences, experience personalised, insider access to Kyoto's four-season delights. Double-height windows frame our tranquil garden as you enjoy modern European brasserie dining. Sip local craft beers on the waterside terrace. Cross the glass bridge for matcha in the Tea House. Float in the indoor pool then melt into bliss in the Spa. Conclude successful business behind artisan-carved cedar doors. Or celebrate new beginnings in the soaring, sunlit Chapel.

Depart (Int`l Airport) (standard): Global Location

Depart from International Airport. End of itinerary.

We can customize this private tour just for you. Any element can be tailored – activities, length, hotels and destinations.
Call us at 1 888 903-2001 or request a quote.
We can customize this private tour just for you. Any element can be tailored – activities, length, hotels and destinations.
Call us at 1 888 903-2001 or request a quote.
  • Jennifer C. — August 10, 2018 — Asia

    Maria, our travel agent, was fantastic! She was extremely flexible to multiple requests. And, she produced an unforgettable vacation. Tajma, our guide in Thailand, was professional, knowledge, and a truly warm and wonderful person. She shared her country with us and answered countless questions. She went above and beyond what was required to make our trip special.

  • Emily G. — July 04, 2018 — Asia

    This trip was absolutely fantastic from start to finish. The planning was incredibly simple and the final product was even better than I could have ever imagined. Our local guides seemed to be hand-picked just for us and they really went above and beyond to help make our trip not only unforgettable, but also very easy. Thank you for helping to create such a memorable experience. I would absolutely recommend Kensington to anyone looking to plan a trip.

  • Karli H. — August 04, 2018 — Asia

    We had an absolutely amazing trip - every aspect of the trip exceeded our expectations. We felt well taken care of, but at the same time our guides gave us space to enjoy the trip on our own at times. We are so happy that we booked through Kensington Tours, as all of the organization and planning was done for us - thanks for a great experience!

  • Janet T. — June 23, 2018 — Asia

    Our multi-generational family of 8 recently returned from an amazing escorted, personalized 12-day tour of Japan. The quality was everything we expected and hoped for. Our tour planner, Anne-Laure, was fantastic and so was our Japanese guide, Mayumi. Both were attentive to our interests, professional, knowledgeable and personable. Transportation was high quality and on-time. The diversity and pace of the activities made our trip interesting and memorable. Our guide was flexible and allowed us to fine-tune our itinerary to meet our individual preferences. We felt safe and well-cared for. Japan is a pristine and polite country with a lot of history and we enjoyed it very much.

  • Richard F. — May 15, 2018 — Asia

    I am at a loss in describing how perfect our trip was! Every single detail was taken care of and the activities were amazing!

  • Derrick D. — May 22, 2018 — Asia

    Everything about this trip was AMAZING! From start to finish, Jennifer and her team responded promptly, and suggestions that catered to my ideal Bali trip.

  • Frances B. — April 11, 2018 — Asia

    Our trip to Japan was awesome! We learned so much about the customs, food and spiritual life. We never had any concerns about where we needed to be or when, even with quite a few transfers.

  • Steven C. — February 10, 2018 — Asia

    I have traveled all over the world with various travel companies. Kensington is ranked right at the top! Honestly could not have expected more than they provided.

  • Kimberley E. — February 13, 2018 — Asia

    Extraordinary Experience! From beginning to end, we were well taken care of. Thank you so very much. A very memorable trip indeed!

  • Andrew C. — January 06, 2018 — Asia

    We had a fantastic time on our Honeymoon! The level of service that Kensington provided from the time we started planning the trip to the plane ride home was second to none. I would not book a trip using any other agency!

We can customize this private tour just for you. Any element can be tailored – activities, length, hotels and destinations.
Call us at 1 888 903-2001 or request a quote.

* USD per person, double occupancy. Custom designed personal tour. Prices subject to change.

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