Make your own free website on Tripod.com

Detailed Itinerary

 

Day 1/Sun/Hong Kong

Your trip starts today with your arrival in Hong Kong. No activities are planned, so arrive early if you can, as there

is plenty to see. Please refer to your voucher for the joining hotel name and address. If you have not pre-booked

an arrival transfer you will find a shuttle bus, train and taxis available on arrival at Hong Kong airport. The best

option is the train that takes you down town. You can expect to pay around US $10 or HK $80. If you have booked

an airport transfer with us, please meet your transfer guide in the arrivals area as you exit from the customs hall.

Your transfer guide will be holding a Gecko’s sign. There will be a pre-departure briefing with your Hong Kong

Leader late Sunday afternoon. Don’t forget to check the notice board in the foyer of the joining hotel for details of

this meeting and for any messages. Please bring your passport and travel insurance documents to the briefing.

 

Day 2/Mon/Hong Kong

This morning we head to Guangzhou (Canton) on a three-hour hydrofoil journey. The views as we sail out of Hong

Kong’s Victoria Harbour are sensational! In Guangzhou, we meet our Chinese Tour Leader before transferring to

the train station for our overnight journey to Guilin. You can purchase dinner on the train or prior to boarding. We

stay in 6-berth air-conditioned cabins that have an open, relaxed feel about them. A blanket, sheets and a pillow

are provided, although some people may wish to bring their own sleeping sheet. The train is a great way to mix

with the locals and practice your Chinese language skills.

 

Days 3-5/Tue-Thu/Yangshuo

The train arrives into Guilin Tuesday morning, where we transfer by bus to Yangshuo. Set amongst lush farmland

punctuated by spectacular limestone karsts that jut vertically into the sky, Yangshuo is a pleasant market town

nestled on the banks of the Li River. During our stay here, we enjoy a scenic two-hour cruise along the picturesque

river and also take a half-day bike ride through the surrounding countryside. On our bike ride through this dramatic

scenery, we can stop along the way to barter in the markets or just meet the locals. Back in Yangshuo, you can

relax in a sidewalk cafe or shop in the market stalls that line Xi Jie (West Street). On Thursday afternoon, we

return to Guilin to catch our sleeper train to Wuhan.

 

Day 6/Fri/Yichang

Arriving into Wuhan around lunchtime, we transfer to a bus for our trip to Yichang. It is here in Yichang that we

gain our first glimpse of the mighty Yangtze River. This important river stretches for over 6,400 kilometres from its

source high in the Tanggulashan Mountains near the Tibetan border to the east-coast city of Shanghai. Yichang is

best known as the gateway city to the massive Three Gorges hydroelectric project that is being built 40 km

upstream. In the early evening we can take a stroll along the riverfront and join the locals in watching the sunset.

 

Days 7-9/Sat-Mon/Yangtze River

Early on Saturday morning we board our riverboat and begin our journey on the Yangtze River. Over the next

three days, we cruise through the famed ‘Three Gorges’ and the massive project that is the Yangtze Dam. With

the construction of the Three Gorges hydroelectric project, life along this majestic river is changing at a rapid pace.

The scenery is spectacular! One minute we're surrounded by sheer cliff faces, the next we’re passing a thriving

city or a deserted town. There is a surprise at every bend. Our riverboat is basic yet comfortable - we stay in 4-

berth cabins with private facilities. The boat has two viewing platforms, a bar, a shop, a dining room and of course,

a karaoke room! There are opportunities to take several shore excursions whilst we are on the river. These are

optional activities and prices can be found later in these notes under ‘Optional Sightseeing and Activities’. Please

note, not all activities will be available on all trips. Meals can be purchased on board the boat, however, we

suggest you also bring some food yourself. N.B. The first stages of damming the Yangtze River were

completed in June 2003. The water level has risen to an approximate height of 135 metres. The view of the

three gorges has not been adversely affected, however this will change when the second stage of

damming is completed (approximately 2009).

 

Day 10/Tue/Leshan

Leaving our riverboat in the bustling city of Chongqing, we transfer by bus to Leshan. Situated on the shores of the

Min River, this sleepy town is bursting with alleyways and backstreets just waiting to be explored. We have free

time this afternoon to stroll along the riverbank or explore the town. The Sichuan province is famous for its spicy

food. For dinner tonight, why not try the local delicacy, a Sichuan Hot Pot.

 

Days 11 & 12/Wed & Thu/Giant Buddha-Chengdu

Measuring 71 metres in height, the Giant Buddha ‘Da Fo’ is located at the convergence of the Dadu and Min

rivers. We visit this amazing sculpture, which was begun in AD713 by a Buddhist monk called Haitong and took 90

years to complete. In the afternoon we catch a bus to Chengdu. The following morning we drive out to the Giant

Panda Breeding Research Base, which was set up in 1990 to ensure the survival of China's national treasure. It

provides visitors with a rare glimpse of this cute & cuddly icon - a real highlight! On Thursday afternoon, we board

the sleeper train bound for Xian.

 

Days 13 & 14/Fri & Sat/Xian & Terracotta Warriors

Arriving first thing in the morning, we are soon exploring Xian's most famous attraction, the Terracotta Warriors.

Discovered in 1974 by farmers digging a well, this is one of the archaeological finds of the past century. The scale

of this open-air museum never fails to impress. The detail on the carvings is amazing - no two soldiers are the

same. There are over 6,000 of these clay statues, all in battle formation and facing east, in created to protect

China’s first emperor, Qin Shihuan. You have time to wander through the back lanes of the enchanting Muslim

Quarter, where you can taste dumplings - the local delicacy. Also in your free time, you can walk along the old city

walls or climb the Bell Tower, with its commanding city views. On Saturday evening we take the sleeper train to

Beijing.

 

Days 15-17/Sun-Tue/Beijing & The Great Wall

Beijing is one of the most fascinating cities in the world, with many remnants from its colourful past. We allow three

days to check out this city and many of its sights. We take a stroll across Tiananmen Square, where in 1976 over

one million people crammed in to pay their last respects to Chairman Mao. We walk through Tiananmen Gate, with

its massive portrait of Mao hanging above, into the Forbidden City. Home to the largest and best-preserved cluster

of ancient buildings in China, the Forbidden City gains its name from being off limits to commoners for 500 years.

It was home to the emperors of the Ming and the Qing, who didn’t wander from its grounds unless they absolutely

had to. One of mankind's greatest engineering feats lies just 70-km north west of Beijing - The Great Wall.

Although the section of the wall we visit at Badaling is in excellent condition, it is still very steep in places - a good

pair of walking shoes is strongly recommended. For those not wishing to climb up the wall, there is a cable car that

will take you up the mountainside. The views across the surrounding countryside are amazing. There is also an

excellent 360-degree Amphitheatre showing 15-minute films about the Great Wall. Another highlight today is our

visit Shisan Ling, the thirteen tombs. More widely known as the Ming Tombs, Shisan Ling is the final resting-place

for 13 of the 16 Ming Dynasty emperors. On Tuesday evening we board the sleeper train to Suzhou.

 

Day 18/Wed/Suzhou

Suzhou is a famed silk production centre and a celebrated retreat brimming with gardens and canals. The best

way to explore the canals and alleyways of Suzhou is by bicycle, as this picturesque town deserves to be seen at

a leisurely pace. After freshening up from our train journey, we are soon out and about exploring. In the early

evening you can take a sunset cruise (optional) along the canals. For those of you who are game, try the snails for

dinner tonight - they are a real delicacy.

 

Days 19 & 20/Thu & Fri/Shanghai

On Thursday morning a short train ride takes us to Shanghai, once known as the 'Paris of the East'. We take a

walk along the famous river waterfront, ‘The Bund’, which is lined by art deco buildings from the boom period of

the 1920s and 30s, and visit Yu Yuan Bazaar, famous for its food. There is also an excellent example of Ming

gardens, which we can wander around at our leisure. There is ample free time to visit one of the many fascinating

museums around town or catch the elevator up the Oriental Pearl Tower, with its commanding views of the city.

Like all modern cities, Shanghai has a multitude of bars, restaurants and nightclubs for you to check out.

 

Day 21/Sat/Hangzhou

We leave the hectic pace of the city on Saturday morning, and a short train ride brings us to the beautiful city of

Hangzhou. We take a half-day bicycle ride around the city’s West Lake, with its wonderful views and relaxing

gardens - a great way to unwind from the past few days. Hangzhou is well known for producing quality tea, so we

allow time for you to sample some of the world famous tea in one of the many teahouses around town.

 

Days 22-24/Sun-Tue/Yellow Mountain

On Sunday morning, we catch the bus to Huang Shan (Yellow Mountain). Consisting of 72 peaks and probably the

country’s most famous landscape attraction, Huang Shan is our base for the next few days. The region has

recently become well known for being the place where scenes from the hit movie “Crouching Tiger Hidden

Dragon” were filmed. On Sunday morning, we head up Yellow Mountain’s eastern steps by foot or cable car - the

choice is yours (the cable car is at your own expense). Either way the views are spectacular! For the more

adventurous, you can walk up the eastern steps and down the western steps. Afterwards, why not relax in the hot

springs at the base of the mountain (optional) - a great way to soothe those aching limbs. Tuesday afternoon sees

us transfer to Tunxi to board the overnight train to Shanghai.

 

Day 25/Wed/Shanghai

We arrive into Shanghai early on Wednesday morning, where your trip ends at the train station. You can transfer

directly to the airport for your flight home or you can extend your stay in Shanghai. If you require additional

accommodation, this can be arranged on request.