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Family adventure

Beijing - Xi'an - Chengdu

Pandas Chengdu

A short 9-day day tour to include all the highlights of the Great Wall, Terracotta Army and China's adorable pandas. Try flying kites, making noodles and Chinese calligraphy among other activities.

Day 1  Depart London Heathrow or regional airports

Day 2  Arrive Beijing. Met on arrival and transfer to Holiday Inn Express Dongzhimen or similar.

Day 3  Try your hand at making traditional Chinese kites and flying them in one of Beijing's parks. Visit Tiananmen Square and 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. (B)

Day 4  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. Afterwards learn how to make traditional Chinese noodles at the Xiaolumian farmhouse. 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 5  Visit to the beautiful gardens and pavilions of the Summer Palace on the outskirts of Beijing, where emperors relaxed away from the summer heat of the capital, before transfer to railway station for high-speed 'bullet' train to Xi'an, capital of China for many centuries. Transfer to the 4-star Somerset Xindicheng Hotel or Grand Dynasty Culture Hotel or similar. (B)

Day 6  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 7  Take a Chinese cookery class, learning how to prepare your lunch by picking the ingredients, and techniques used in Chinese cooking. Then cycle along the top of Xi'an's imposing city wall. Transfer to railway station for high-speed train to Chengdu, capital of Sichuan province (journey time 3 hours). Transfer to Yinhe Dynasty Hotel (4 star) or similar. (B, L)

Day 8  Visit to the world famous Panda Research Base on the outskirts of Chengdu, where many giant pandas are kept and which runs a breeding programme dedicated to preserving the species. See numerous pandas, including the chance to see the babies in the nursery. In the afternoon enjoy a city tour of Chengdu including the traditional Jinli Street and the People's Park bustling with activity. Try your hand at Chinese calligraphy using traditional brush and ink. (B)

Day 9  Transfer to airport for flight(s) back to UK, arriving later the same day. (B)