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China and the Shaolin Temple

Shanghai - Suzhou - Hangzhou - Huangshan - Zhengzhou - Shaolin Temple - Xi'an - Beijing

West Lake Hangzhou

Guaranteed departure dates with minimum of 2 passengers

A journey through the heart of China, absorbing its culture and heritage, together with beautiful scenery. Travel by high-speed 'bullet' train and experience beautiful cities such as Suzhou and Hangzhou, the majestic mountain scenery of Huangshan and the energy of the martial arts at Shaolin Temple - home of kungfu.

Day 1  Depart London Heathrow or regional airports.

Day 2  Arrive Shanghai. Met on arrival and transfer to 4- or 5-star hotel. Rest of the day free.

Day 3  Free day to explore the vibrant city of Shanghai or optional tours. We recommend visiting the Jade Buddha Temple, seeing the famous Bund or waterfront and perhaps taking a boat trip on the Huangpu River. (B)

Day 4  Pick up from hotel and excursion to the nearby city of Suzhou, famous for its classic gardens. Visit the the Liu Yuan (the Garden for Lingering In), one of the best gardens. Then visit the Yu Pu (Garden of Cultivation), a Ming Dynasty garden dating from the 16th and 17th centuries, created by famous scholars, where you will learn how to write Chinese calligraphy. Visit a local family to learn how to make wonton, and take a ride by tricycle rickshaw around the old alleyways of the town. Visit the bird and flower market and markets selling local fruit and vegetables. Enjoy a boat trip on some of the canals, lined with old houses, which has led to Suzhou being called "the Venice of the East", before transfer back to Shanghai. (B)

Day 5  Transfer to Hangzhou. Boat trip on the scenic West Lake and visit to a tea plantation on the slopes of the hills overlooking the lake. (B)

Day 6  Transfer to railway station for high-speed train to Huangshan. Huangshan or Yellow Mountain is one of the most famous in China for its magnificent scenery. Take the cable car up to the mountain and visit some of the noted beauty spots for stunning views. Overnight in hotel on the summit of the mountain (B)

Day 7  In the early morning see the 'cloud sea' from the summit before descending by cable car and transfer to railway station for high-speed train to Zhengzhou. (B)

Day 8  Visit to the famous Shaolin Temple, home of kungfu. See the temple and the pagoda forest, plus a display by students and monks. Continue to the Longmen Grottes, one of the summits of Chinese sculpture, before catching a high-speed train for the short journey to Xi'an. Met on arrival and transfer to 4-star Somerset Xindicheng Hotel or Grand Dynasty Culture Hotel or similar. (B)

Day 9  Full day excursion to the Terracotta Army, created by China's first emperor over 2,000 years ago to guard his tomb for eternity. Return to Xi'an city to see the Grand Mosque and the atmospheric streets of the surrounding Muslim Quarter, originally settled by Arab and Persian traders over 1,000 years ago. Also visit a workshop creating replica warriors using traditional techniques. (B)

Day 10  Morning: enjoy the unique experience of cycling along the broad expanse of Xi'an's medieval city wall. Then transfer to railway station for high-speed train to Beijing. Transfer to 4-star Novotel Xinqiao Hotel or similar. (B)

Day 11  Full day excursion to the Great Wall at Mutianyu, about 1.5 hours drive north of Beijing. The wall here is not so busy at some other sections and is very scenic as its winds its way down the mountainside. Includes cable car up to the wall. Walk along part of the wall and explore the many fascinating aspects of this iconic symbol of China's past. En route to the wall pass the 2008 Olympic stadium, known as the 'Bird's Nest' and the 'Water Cube' - the national aquatic centre. Also visit a workshop carving items from jade, a stone of special significance to the Chinese.(B)

Day 12  Start the day with a visit to Tiananmen Square, followed by the Forbidden City - the complex of buildings in the heart of Beijing that was the centre of power for China's rulers for over 400 years. Explore both the grand halls and some of the smaller rooms and courtyards that housed the imperial family. Then visit the imposing Temple of Heaven where emperors prayed for good harvests. Also visit a shop selling freshwater pearls. In the evening enjoy the warm atmosphere of a farewell dinner featuring that delicious local delicacy Peking duck. (B, D)

Day 13  Transfer to airport for flight back to UK, arriving later the same day (B)