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10-day Pandas and palaces

Beijing - Xi'an - Chengdu

pandas at Chengdu

Guaranteed departure dates with minimum of 2 passengers

A short 10-day group tour that combines China's loveable giant pandas in Chengdu with the 'must-see' attractions in China, including the Great Wall, Forbidden City and Terracotta Army.

A select group tour based on 4- and 5-star hotels, with most meals included and with cultural evening shows.

Hotels awarded TripAdvisor's Certificate of Excellence.

Day 1  Depart London Heathrow or regional airports.

Day 2  Arrive Beijing. Met on arrival and transfer to the Holiday Inn Express Dongzhimen, popular with westerners, or similar. Rest of the day free.

Day 3  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 welcome dinner featuring that delicious local delicacy Peking duck. (B, L, D)

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. 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. After dinner enjoy a colourful and energetic kung fu show displaying martial arts. (B, L, D)

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 (journey time 5 hours). Transfer to the 4-star Somerset Xindicheng Xi'an Hotel or similar. (B, L)

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. Enjoy a 'Tang Dynasty' music and dance show in the evening evoking the sights and sounds of old China, together with a delicious speciality dumpling dinner. (B, L, D)

Day 7  Visit Xi'an's impressive medieval city wall , the Small Wild Goose Pagoda , and the rich archaeological collections of the Shaanxi Historical Museum before transfer to railway station for high-speed train to Chengdu, capital of Sichuan province (journey time 3 hours0. Transfer to 4-star Yinhe Dynasty Hotel 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. (B, L)

Day 9   Full day excursion to the imposing Giant Buddha at Leshan, one of the world's largest Buddha statues carved from a cliff overlooking the Min River in the 8th century AD, a feat that took 90 years to complete. On the return journey to Chengdu stop at Huanglongxi, a well-preserved old town with cobbled streets, wooden houses and shops giving an authentic taste of history. (B, L)

Day 10  Transfer to airport for flights back to UK, arriving later the same day (B)


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