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21 Mar 13 - 11 Apr 13
22-day expedition to A...
A unique overland expedition to the “hill tribe land” that borders China, Vietnam and Laos. Despite political disputes and ever-changing borders in this region, a large number of local people have kept their ancient tradition... (+)
From 2000.00$

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China delights– blossoming China

19-day trip to Sichuan, Yunnan, and the Nine Villages Valley in China

This amazing trip focuses on discovering landscapes and nature. Join us as we explore China’s natural opulence, something that few travelers really get to see. The trip will include a visit to the Jiuzhaigou nature reserve, the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, and the nature reserves surrounding Shangri-La, and you’ll also get to experience some of the other must-see areas and sites of this part of China.

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Day 1. Arrival in Beijing (D)

We arrive in Beijing, the fascinating capital of the world’s most populated country. This city mirrors the whole of China’s fast-growing economy and the people’s struggle to make it through another day. Skyscrapers rise up only a few steps away from the ancient hutongs; the latest cars glide past rickshaws; and traditions thousands of years old continue to be observed alongside new market rules and a new way of life. All these, and much more, make Beijing one of the world’s most impressive cities to visit. From the airport, we drive to the Summer Palace. Built during the Qing Dynasty as a resort exclusively for the Imperial Family, this enormous site comprises various temples, the world’s longest decorated corridor, and today offers Beijingers a place where they can escape the hustle and bustle of the city. We tour the site on foot and enjoy a boat ride on the man-made Kunming Lake. We then drive to the heart of the city and take a panoramic tour around Tiananmen Square, which has had significant importance in the history of the city and the entire country from ancient times to the present day. From there we continue to Wangfujing Pedestrian Street, where, behind some of the world’s largest shopping malls, we visit the night food market. For the brave at heart, a delicious meal of various insects cooked in several ways awaits. After checking in at our hotel, we enjoy a traditional Beijing roast duck dinner. Overnight in Beijing.


Day 2. Beijing (B,L,D)

We have an early start and leave for the Temple of Heaven. This used to be where the emperor, considered to be directly descended from heaven and representing the heavenly spirit on earth, asked for blessings for the Imperial Family and for the entire nation. He asked for good crops, good weather, and prosperity for all. The ceremony lasted three days during which he did not leave the compound. Nowadays the grounds surrounding the temple are filled with Beijingers of all ages, who come to practice t’ai chi and dancing, and take part in all kinds of recreational activities. We join them for morning exercise before proceeding on a tour of the temple itself. From there, we return to Tiananmen Square. It is the world’s largest central city square and it is said that no one could rule China without first gaining control of the square. It is surrounded by important buildings, among them the National Museum and the Great Hall of the People (the Chinese parliament). At the heart of the square there is a mausoleum for Chairman Mao, who reshaped the country, leading the People’s Republic of China from its foundation in 1949 until his death in 1976. We then proceed on foot to the Forbidden City. A common belief in China is that the ancestral spirits in heaven use 10,000 halls on different occasions, so, to show his recognition of the superiority of heaven over earth, the emperor had only 9999 halls built in the Forbidden City for his own use. The compound was forbidden to all but the Imperial Family and their servants, and has been the place from which the emperors of China ruled the country for hundreds of years. We stroll between the halls and the gardens surrounding them and stop at some of the more significant halls. Leaving the Forbidden City, we continue to Coal Hill. Dating back to the Ming Dynasty, this is the highest observation point in the centre of the restless city, offering a great view over the Forbidden City and the whole of Beijing. From there, we make a visit to the hutongs, which are living evidence of how Beijing looked during imperial times. With families living around central courtyards, sharing their toilets, water, and other facilities, this way of life dates back hundreds of years. We take a rickshaw ride through the calm streets of the hutongs, and get a glimpse of the life of ordinary Beijingers. After dinner we enjoy a magnificent show by monks of the famous Shaulin Temple, displaying breathtaking kung fu maneuvers. Overnight in Beijing.


Day 3. Beijing (B,L,D)

After breakfast at the hotel, we drive out of the city to the famous Great Wall, probably China’s most prominent landmark. What we in the West know as the Wall is actually a system of walls that was built over centuries by different emperors. The Wall is considered to be some 2700 kilometers in length, but if we include all the sections that were built throughout its history, there are some 10,000 kilometers of this enormous man- made structure. We walk on part of the Wall, and hear about its history and how it failed to fulfill its main goal of stopping the Mongols from invading the country. On our way back to the city, we pause at a cloisonné workshop and see the amazing detail involved in creating a variety of beautiful enamel objects. We then stop for a view over the famous Bird’s Nest and the Water Bubble, the two main venues of the Beijing Olympic Games in 2008, before continuing to the Sacred Road, where the Imperial Families were given their last resting place. The name derives from the fact that the Chinese believed that a road with several gates leads the souls of the ‘heavenly families’ back to the sky. In the late afternoon we enjoy strolling in one of the city’s busy markets, where traditional Chinese artifacts are sold next to knockoffs of the world’s most well-known brands. Overnight in Beijing.


Day 4. Beijing Q X’ian (B,L,D)

With an early transfer to Beijing’s airport, we take the first available flight to X’ian. Known as ‘The Eternal Peace’ during the Tang Dynasty, X’ian was the center of the ‘old world’ and also the center of the first Chinese Empire after the first Qin emperor conquered the nearby feudal kingdoms and laid the foundations of the great united Chinese empire. On arriving in the city, we drive directly to the City Wall, which dates from the Ming Dynasty. We walk on the wall and stop for a short visit to the Feng Shui Museum, displaying all types of artifacts related to this ancient Chinese belief that has become so popular in the West. Feng shui means ‘wind and water’, and is based on the importance of placing objects in a certain way in a particular location and orienting new buildings to allow the ‘good spirits’ to flow, and prevent the ‘bad spirits’ from taking over. Leaving the wall, we proceed into the bustling Muslim Quarter. The Muslims settled in X’ian during the glory days of the Silk Road, which connected East and West for trading purposes. Originating in Central Asia, the Muslims arrived to trade in the exotic goods they brought to the then capital of the Chinese Empire. Over time, a huge community of Muslims became assimilated into the population and has recreated its traditional way of life. They brought with them their delicious food, their clothes and customs, and built a beautiful Mosque at the heart of the once cosmopolitan capital. We roam the colorful market and visit the Great Mosque, which is a blend of Chinese style and Muslim architecture. For dinner we enjoy a traditional dumpling dinner. Overnight in X’ian.


Day 5. X’ian (B,L,D)

Driving out of the city center, we head towards the Terracotta Army Site. Discovered accidentally in 1974 by two farmers plowing their plot, one of the most amazing historical discoveries of our time was made. An entire army made of terracotta, each of the soldiers with different characteristics and fully armored, was created to protect the tomb of the first Qin emperor. We explore this breathtaking site and then visit the nearby museum to see the permanent exhibition displaying the rare artifacts found in the site and also describing its discovery, excavation, and the restoration works. Leaving the Terracotta Army site, we make a short stop at a Traditional Chinese Medicine market before driving to the heart of X’ian to visit the Wild Goose Pagoda. Built in AD 647, it was originally constructed to house holy scripts brought from India, which contributed to the adoption of Buddhism as the main religion in China many years later. In the evening we enjoy a traditional Tang Dynasty concert of dancing and singing. Overnight in X’ian.


Day 6. X’ian Q Jiuzhaigou/ Huang Long Nature Reserve/ Jiuzhaigou (B,L,D)

In the morning, we take the first available flight from X’ian to Jiuzhaigou (Nine Villages Valley). On arriving in the valley, we drive to the nearby Huang Long Nature Reserve. Huang Long literally means ‘The Yellow Dragon Valley’ and it is commonly known to the Chinese people as ‘The fairyland on Earth’ for its undeniably breathtaking landscapes. The valley was added to UNESCO’s Natural World Heritage List in 1992. Running along the southern slopes of the Minshan mountain range, the valley is a true wonder of nature, with stunning limestone formations, some 3400 ponds of all shapes and colors, stalactite caves and beautiful waterfalls. In addition, several ancient temples dot the landscape. All these features, together with the snowcapped peaks of the Minshan in the background, make up an area that is not often visited, but a beautiful day is in prospect for anyone willing to make the journey. In the afternoon we drive back to Jiuzhaigou. Overnight in Jiuzhaigou.


Day 7. Jiuzhaigou (B,L,D)

Jiuzhaigou and its superb and breathtaking landscapes are extremely attractive on account of the karst scenery, the large number of lakes, and spectacular waterfalls. A great number of endangered plant and animal species, including the giant panda, inhabit this wonderland. The name Jiuzhaigou derives from the nine Tibetan villages scattered throughout the valley. Its attraction lies in its simple, idyllic beauty; it is primitive and natural and still in a pristine state. With majestic and unrivalled emerald lakes, layered waterfalls, colorful forests, snow-peaked mountains, and Tibetan folk villages, all blending in harmony with each other, it is a jewel of nature set in spectacular mountain scenery. Jiuzhaigou lies in a transitional area where northern and southern flora and fauna meet. A natural botanical and zoological garden, it is home to densely growing conifers and broadleaf trees, and to rare and endangered animal species such as the giant panda, golden snub-nosed monkey, and white-lip deer. Overnight in Jiuzhaigou.


Day 8. Jiuazhaigou Q Chengdu/ Leshan/ Chengdu (B,L,D)

Leaving Jiuzhaigou, we fly to Chengdu and then head towards Leshan. On our arrival, we take a short boat trip to see the Giant Buddha, the world’s tallest statue of a seated Buddha. It is believed that the statue, carved into the mountain, was built by ancient sailors to protect them from the turbulent waters of the swiftly flowing rivers. Indeed, once the statue was built, the turbulence stopped, and, when we are on site, we shall understand how this mysterious change came about. In the late afternoon we drive back to Chengdu and enjoy a traditional Buddhist vegetarian dinner. Overnight in Chengdu.


Day 9. Chengdu Q Lijiang (B,L,D)

Today we visit one of the world’s largest wildlife rescue operations, the Panda Research and Breeding Center. We visit the station in which researchers from all over the world have joined forces to save this rapidly declining species. We shall learn about the rescue efforts and get to see these cuddly, playful bears. We then proceed to China’s largest Daoist temple, learn about this unique philosophy, and how it influenced China’s history throughout the ages. In the afternoon we visit a local teahouse, a place in which the elders usually meet up for a chat or a game of mah-jong. This provides some insight into the life of the people of China and their leisure activities. For dinner, we enjoy a traditional Sichuan hotpot before taking our flight to Lijiang. Overnight in Lijiang.


Day 10. Lijiang (B,L,D)

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Lijiang is a town combining different cultures, beliefs and architectural styles. Our first visit of the day will be to the Black Dragon Pool. Covering an area of about 40 hectares, this huge lake is a natural habitat for all kinds of waterfowl and fish. We take a walk around the lake and to the several temples surrounding it. We then drive to the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, which is 5600 meters high. This is a true haven for wild flora and fauna, of which it is said that about a quarter of China’s plants can be found in its vicinity. We take a cable car trip to the top of one of the peaks for an amazing view over the surroundings, and then enjoy the ‘Impressions of Lijiang’ show with the mountain as the backdrop. In the afternoon we drive back to Lijiang, and after dinner will have some free time in the old city. Overnight in Lijiang.


Day 11. Lijiang/ Shangri-La (B,L,D)

Leaving Lijiang, we drive towards the Tibet Autonomous Region and the north of Yunnan Province. En route, we stop at the Yangtze First Bend and the Tiger Leaping Gorge, where the waters of the Yangtze River rushes into this narrow gorge. Our next stop is at Baishutai, also known as the ‘White Water Terraces’. Carved into the mountainside, these natural terraces are a breathtaking phenomenon. In the afternoon we reach the town of Zhongdian, which is often referred to as Shangri-La. If time permits, we shall explore the town’s lively market. Overnight in Shangri-La.


Day 12. Shangri-La Q Kunming (B,L,D)

In the morning, we visit the monks of Yunnan’s largest Tibetan monastery for their puje ceremony in which they chant from Tibetan scripts. Songzanlin Monastery, dating back to 1679, lies at the foot of Foping Mountain and is rich with Buddhist treasures. We then leave Shangri-La and drive to Bita Lake. Being the highest lake in Yunnan Province at 3500 meters above sea level, this is a great spot to enjoy the beautiful wilderness and landscapes of the region. On our way back to the city, we stop for a traditional tea with a Tibetan family and hear from them about their daily life. In the evening, we fly to Kunming, the provincial capital. Overnight in Kunming.


Day 13. Kunming Q Guilin (B,L,D)

After breakfast, we embark on a three-hour drive out of town to the famous Stone Forest. Many legends tell the story of the creation of this unique geological phenomenon, but only seeing it for yourself can reveal the entire majestic landscape. It is said that ‘visiting Yunnan without seeing the Stone Forest is like not visiting the province at all’. During our visit to the forest, we meet the people of the Sani, an ethnic group living in the area, who wear colorful embroidered traditional clothing. The Sani are known for their heart-stirring singing and dancing. After exploring the park, we drive back to Kunming. We then visit the local flower market, and enjoy a traditional dinner of ‘cross-the-bridge’ noodles. Afterwards we drive to the airport for our flight to Guilin. Overnight in Guilin.


Day 14. Guilin/ Longsheng/ Guilin (B,L,D)

In the morning we drive to Longsheng. The Dragon Ridgeback Mountain features one of the world’s largest manmade creations. In the endless slopes of the mountain, the local peasants have carved with their bare hands thousands and thousands of terraces to capture water streaming down the mountain and use it for crop cultivation. We climb to the top of the terraces to take in their enormous extent and to enjoy the great view over the beautiful landscape. The region of Longsheng is also known for the diversified ethnic groups living there and we stop at some of their villages to learn about their traditions and customs. In the afternoon we return to Guilin and visit the city’s own landmark—the Elephant Trunk Hill. If time permits, we shall go on an evening tour of the lively night market in the heart of town. Overnight in Guilin.


Day 15. Guilin/ Yangshuo (B,L,D)

Embarking on a boat ride along the Li (Crystal) River, we head towards the town of Yangshuo. Along the way we get a glimpse of life on the river banks. In the small villages, the locals depend totally on the river to sustain their way of life. The river is not only their main mean of transportation but also the source of water for their fields and washing their clothes, and even of drinking water. On arriving at Yangshuo, we take our time to climb the 800 steps in a mountain path leading to the top of Moon Hill for an outstanding view over the rocky surroundings. We then return to this cozy town for dinner. In the evening, we enjoy the unique “Yangshuo Impressions” performance directed by the very same director who was responsible for the Beijing Olympic Games opening ceremony in 2008, when hundreds of actors performed in the world’s largest outdoor theater—with the waters of the Li River serving as their stage. This breathtaking show is not to be missed. Overnight in Yangshuo.


Day 16. Yangshuo/ Guilin Q Hangzhou (B,L,D)

Leaving Yangshuo, we head back to Guilin. We visit Reed Flute Cave, which sheltered the locals from aerial bombardments during World War II, and which contains an amazing display of stalactites. Driving to the airport, we take a flight to Hangzhou. Upon arrival, we go to explore the ‘old street’—a restored 19th-century street, and nowadays busy with pedestrians. Overnight in Hangzhou.


Day 17. Hangzhou/ Shanghai (B,L,D)

We begin the day with a visit to the Six Harmonies Pagoda, located at the top of Yuelun Hill and built during the Song Dynasty. It is believed that the pagoda was built to help the locals control the Qiantang River and as a navigational aid. From there, we continue to the Hidden Souls Temple, which dates back to the very early Eastern Jin Dynasty. It is said that the temple was built by an Indian monk who believed that the breathtaking scenery could only be the final retreat of all souls. We then go for a boat ride on the West Lake, probably Hangzhou’s most prominent landmark. Leaving Hangzhou, we head for Shanghai’s gigantic metropolis. We make a late evening visit to the Bund. Since the middle of the 19th century, this street has played a major role in opening up China to the rest of the world. Built on the bank of the Huang Pu River, the Bund served as the main trading area for merchants coming to Shanghai from all over the world to trade for exotic goods and take them to their native countries. It is still a bustling street that offers a great view of the magnificent buildings along the river. After dinner, we explore Xin Tian Di, the new hot spot in town. This pedestrian street offers a mixture of traditional architecture alongside contemporary design. Here you can get a real sense of the fusion of two cultures that sometimes clash but most of the time peacefully coexist in this rapidly changing city. Overnight in Shanghai.


Day 18. Shanghai (B,L,D)

Today we explore the city of Shanghai, making our first stop at the Shanghai Museum. It provides a fascinating insight on China’s 5000 years of history, with many rare artifacts on display that have both historical and artistic significance. We then proceed to Shanghai’s old town to visit the Yu Yuan Gardens. Perfectly maintained to the present day, the gardens were built by a Chinese mandarin in the 16th century in honor of his beloved parents. With their six very distinctive areas, these gardens are a true marvel and a great escape from the city’s hustle and bustle. We then enjoy a view over the metropolis and its shoreline from the top of the Jinmao Tower in the heart of Pudong District. An 88-story building, the Jinmao is a prominent landmark in the city. We proceed to the Jade Buddha Temple. Dating from 1882, the temple was constructed to house two jade Buddha statues brought from modern Myanmar (Burma) by an abbot returning from a pilgrimage to Tibet. In the evening we enjoy a traditional Chinese acrobatics show, which displays an art developed and performed in China for the past 2000 years. Overnight in Shanghai.


Day 19. Shanghai (B,L)

Checking out of our hotel, we stop at Nanjing Road. With more than 600 shops extending over 5.5 km, this is probably Asia’s busiest trading street, visited daily by more than 1.5 million people—locals and tourists alike—looking for a good bargain, and here you can see the best of the Chinese trading and bargaining customs as they take place. From Nanjing Road, we transfer to the airport for our international departure flight.

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  • A 2% discount shall apply for any payment done by either wire transfer or cash.
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  • The below listed rates are based on tier pricing. While booking, the price shown in your booking summary will be based on the number of people you have booked on this trip. The final price will however be determined and sent to you in an invoice about 30 days prior to the trip’s first day of service, and would depend on the total number of people that have booked this particular trip.


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1. Culture Scapes Co. Ltd. gives notice that some services provided in connection with its itineraries, including transportation, hotel accommodations, restaurants, and other services, are purchased from independent suppliers who are not affiliated with Culture Scapes Co. Ltd. in any way. Although we endeavor to choose the best suppliers available, Culture Scapes Co. Ltd. Does not control their operations and therefore makes all travel arrangements upon the express condition that Mongolian Ways Co., Ltd., and its own agents and employees, shall not be liable for any delay, mishap, inconvenience, expense, irregularity, bodily injury or death to person, or damage to property occasioned through the conduct or default of any company or individual engaged in providing these services. Culture Scapes Co. Ltd. shall not be liable for: (a) expenses such as additional hotel nights and meals not specified in the individual trip itineraries that may be required either en route, prior to, or following a trip, when caused by individual clients' travel arrangements, by airline scheduling or airline schedule changes, canceled flights, missed flight connections, or by other factors not under Culture Scapes Co. Ltd. control; (b) expenses incurred in recovering luggage lost by airlines, belongings left behind on a trip, or in shipping purchases or other goods home from abroad; (c) bodily injury or property damage for any reason, including but not limited to acts of God, weather, quarantines, strikes, civil disturbance, theft, default, detention, annoyance, changes in government regulations, terrorism, war, or failure of conveyance to arrive or depart as scheduled, etc., over which it (Culture Scapes Co. ,Ltd.) has no control.

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