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Northern China World Heritage Discovery Tour

This 17 days luxurious itinerary takes you to explore the best of North China’s UNESCO World Heritages, for its thousand years-old cultural traditions, unparalleled architectural beauty, haunting mystery and colorful multiplicity. Travel from Beijing to Chengde, paying homage to the imposing imperial palace, gardens and the Great Wall, before exploring Shanxi Province for its wonderful Buddhist culture, grotto arts and UNESCO-protected ancient town. Then journey to Xian to witness Terra-cotta Warriors and later Shanghai to embrace the future of China.

CCT Advantages:

  • 1. Tour Beijing’s awe-inspiring imperial architectures including Forbidden City with treasures, Summer Palace and Temple of Heaven, and witness the deep cultural root of Beijing on a trip of hutongs;
  • 2. Ascend a relatively less-visited Great Wall on the serene mountaintop to view the world;
  • 3. View the amazing outlying temples of Chengde and the Mountain Resort with beautiful imperial palaces and gardens;
  • 4. Take a spiritual tour to Mount Wutai and Yungang Grottoes of peaceful Buddhist atmosphere, and wonder at the surprising Hanging Temple and Yingxian Pagoda;
  • 5. Tour Pingyao Old Town to witness the commercial culture of ancient China;
  • 6. Explore Xian stretching back into prehistory, discovering the site of Terra-cotta Army;
  • 7. Soak up the intriguing mixed culture of Shanghai, vising the Bund and a UNESCO-listed classical garden.

17 Days Beijing Chengde Datong Mount Wutai Pingyao Xian Shanghai Tour

17 Days Beijing Chengde Datong Mount Wutai Pingyao Xian Shanghai Tour

Day 1, Arrive Beijing

Meals: No Meals

Nihao, welcome to China! Arrive in Beijing Capital International Airport where you are met by your private China Culture Tour guide and transferred to your luxurious hotel of a good location. Therefore you may explore China’s capital city on your own for the rest of the day.

Recommended hotels:

  • -Beijing luxury hotels: Four Seasons, Peninsula, Hilton Beijing Wangfujing, Regent Beijing or similar
  • -Beijing boutique hotels: Double Happiness Beijing Courtyard Hotel or similar
  • 17 Days Beijing Chengde Datong Mount Wutai Pingyao Xian Shanghai Tour

    Day 2, Forbidden City, Summer Palace

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

    Tour Beijing - China’s dynastic capital, where there are numerous ancient architectural wonders to be discovered. And some have entered UNESCO’s World Heritage Site List.

    Stand in Tiananmen Square, the heart of Beijing, overlooking Chairman Mao’s Portrait hung on the Tiananmen Rostrum, where people witnessed the founding of New China in 1949. 

    Then walk into the Imperial Palaces of the Ming and Qing Dynasties, or previously named Forbidden City, where 24 emperors used to ascend the throne. Initially built in 1406, Forbidden City covers an area of 720,000 square meters, with over 9000 rooms making up the world’s largest ancient wooden architecture groups.

    Visit Summer Palace in the afternoon. With beautiful mountain and river landscape, the site of Summer Palace had been constructed as a royal garden ever since the 11the Century, and extended to an area of over 1000 hectares in the early 20th Century. A boat cruise is included for you to better explore Summer Palace.

    Enjoy amazing Shaolin Kungfu or Peking Opera night show (optional).

    17 Days Beijing Chengde Datong Mount Wutai Pingyao Xian Shanghai Tour

    Day 3, The Great Wall, Beijing Hutongs

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

    One of the first UNESCO World Heritages in China, sketching for over 21000km (13048mi) on the big mountains, the Great Wall of China is the greatest architectural project in the history of human civilization. Ascend Mutianyu Great Wall with cable car, to view the endless walls and the entire world.

    Thereafter discover the old cultural traditions of Beijing when touring hutongs. Hutong is a vanishing scene as Beijing is now being built as an international metropolis. See elegant traditional quadrangle dwellings.

    Optional dinner - Peking duck, which is a must-eat Beijing food dating to the Northern and Southern Dynasties (420-589)

    17 Days Beijing Chengde Datong Mount Wutai Pingyao Xian Shanghai Tour

    Day 4, Temple of Heaven, Beijing to Chengde Tour

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

    Constructed in 1420, the Temple of Heaven was where the Ming and Qing emperors annually feted heaven to pray for a good harvest. Admire the Qinian Hall, Huangqian Hall and other beautiful architectures of Temple of Heaven. We can also arrange you a Tai Chi class. With the soft Tai Chi moves, you can feel very energetic and refreshed.

    Then enjoy a visit of Panjiayuan Antique weekend Market or Lama Temple. Panjiayuan has been a wonderful place for local antiquarians to search for “precious” and reaches its peak during the weekend. If don’t travel on a weekend, then go visit Lama Temple, the former residence of Emperor Yongzheng of Qing Dynasty, and later becoming the biggest Buddhist temple in Beijing.

    Leave Beijing and head for Chengde (3-3.5 hours’ drive), which connected Central China to Inner Mongolia of the North in the ancient times.

    Recommended hotels:

  • - Chengde luxury hotels: Chengde Imperial Mountain Resort or similar
  • 17 Days Beijing Chengde Datong Mount Wutai Pingyao Xian Shanghai Tour

    Day 5, Chengde Mountain Resort, Pule Temple

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

    The Mountain Resort of Chengde was built between 1703 and 1792 as an imperial summer palace. It is a masterpiece of Chinese classical garden by making full use of local landscape and traditional Chinese horticulture, thus known as the epitome of China's natural landscape.  

    Right next to Mountain Resort is the Pule Temple, with a blend of ancient Chinese temple complex and Tibetan architectures. It is a symbol of national unity.

    17 Days Beijing Chengde Datong Mount Wutai Pingyao Xian Shanghai Tour

    Day 6, Putuo Zongcheng Temple, Punning Temple, Chengde to Beijing

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

    In the north of Mountain Resort, the hillside Putuo Zongcheng Temple is a replica of the Potala Palace in Tibet, thus known as the Lesser Potala Palace. With 60 building complex, it is the largest and grandest temple of Chengde’s eight outlying temples. 

    Also visit Punning Temple, the largest Tibetan Buddhist temple in North China. Admire its magnificent architectures from its front courtyard of traditional Chinese style gates, halls, towers to the backyard of typical Tibetan architecture, including a group of buildings modeled after the famous Samye Temple in Tibet.

    Drive back to Beijing.

    17 Days Beijing Chengde Datong Mount Wutai Pingyao Xian Shanghai Tour

    Day 7, Beijing to Datong Tour, Yungang Grottoes

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

    This morning, take a flight from Beijing to Datong, where the UNESCO protected Yungang Grottoes is located. Constructed between the 5th Century and the 6th Century, Yungang Grottoes is one of the largest grottoes in China and a world-famous treasure house of Buddhist art, with 252 grottoes and over 51,000 Buddha statues.

    In the afternoon, visit the 11th Century Huayan Temple, a royal temple of the historical Liao Dynasty, destroyed in a war and reconstructed in the 12th Century. Then admire China’s earliest and best Nine-Dragon Screen Wall of a Ming Dynasty prince’s palace. It is 45.5m long and 8m high, with 9 dragons flying between the moon and sun and accompanied by various animals.

    Recommended hotels:

    • Datong luxury hotels: Yunzhong Courtyard or similar
    17 Days Beijing Chengde Datong Mount Wutai Pingyao Xian Shanghai Tour

    Day 8, Hanging Monastery, Datong to Mt. Wutai Tour

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

    Visit Hanging Monastery on Mount Heng, an ancient shrine of Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism as well. Built on a vertical cliff 60m above the ground and supported only by timber pillars for over 1500 years, Hanging Monastery is a real Chinese architecture gem.

    Then visit the all-wood Yingxian Wooden Pagoda, the extant earliest and highest wooden pagoda in China and praised as one of the three pagoda wonders in the world, along with the Leaning Tower of Pisa and the Eiffel Tower.

    Drive all the way to Mt. Wutai, which was inscribed on UNESCO World Heritage for both its ancient Buddhist heritages and gorgeous mountainous landscape. 

    Recommended hotels:

    • Wutai Mountain luxury hotels: Marriott Hotel or similar
    17 Days Beijing Chengde Datong Mount Wutai Pingyao Xian Shanghai Tour

    Day 9, Mt. Wutai’s Enormous Temple Complex

    Meals: Breakfast

    Mt. Wutai is a Buddhist sanctuary dating to 68, and features magnificent mountain views. There are still 47 ancient temples of different historical periods built on different mountain peaks are well maintained, with tens of thousands of Buddha sculptures carved out of clay, iron, stone, wood, ceramics, embroidered on the silk or painted on the wall.

    Especially visit Tayuan Temple, where the White Pagoda is located, and Xiantong Temple, known as the second oldest temple in China but now housing mainly the Qing Dynasty temple architectures.

    17 Days Beijing Chengde Datong Mount Wutai Pingyao Xian Shanghai Tour

    Day 10, Mt. Wutai to Pingyao Tour, Jinci Temple

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

    Drive to Pingyao. Visit Jinci Temple in Taiyuan en route. It is one of the earliest royal ancestral temple gardens in China, with dozens of traditional Chinese architectures mainly constructed from the 7th Century to the 19th Century and a wealth of inscriptions, sculptures and other ancient Chinese artistic relics.

    Arrive at the Old Town of Pingyao to travel back in time to visit a Ming and Qing Chinese county.  

    Recommended hotels:

    • Pingyao luxury hotels: Jing's Residence or similar
    • Pingyao boutique hotels: YunJinCheng Hotel or similar
    17 Days Beijing Chengde Datong Mount Wutai Pingyao Xian Shanghai Tour

    Day 11, Wang’s Family Compound, Zhangbi Ancient Castle

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

    Previously an official’s residence, Wang’s Family Compound has been known as the best of China’s traditional dwelling house, with a total area of 250,000 square meters, including one main street, five alleys and six castles symbolizing dragon, phoenix, tiger, turtle and unicorn. Also appreciate its tasteful brick carvings, wood carvings and stone carvings.

    Zhangbi Ancient Castle was an ancient defense project, built to make full use of its environmental advantage of steep hillside, with a 3-floor ancient tunnel and other historical sites such as ancient tombs and traditional theatrical stages.

    17 Days Beijing Chengde Datong Mount Wutai Pingyao Xian Shanghai Tour

    Day 12, Pingyao Ancient Town, Pingyao to Xian Tour

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

    Originally built in 827 to 782 BC, the old town of Pingyao is one of the four best-preserved ancient towns in China. It was a China's financial center in the late Qing dynasty. And today Shanxi Merchants Culture can still be experienced everywhere in Pingyao. Walk along the Ming Qing Street to the Rishengchang Draft Bank to trace the history of ancient Chinese banking. Get in Pingyao Ancient City Wall, and then you can overlook the entire town.

    Ride a high speed train from Pingyao to Xian, where the great Silk Road began and thrived.

    Recommended hotels:

    • Xian luxury hotels: Wyndham Grand Xian South, Gran Meliá Xian, Sofitel Legend Peoples Grand Hotel or similar
    • Xian boutique hotels: Grand Mercure Xi'an on Renmin Square or similar

    Day 13, Museum of Terra-cotta Army, Big Wild Goose Pagoda

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

    The eighth wonder of the world, the Museum of Terra-cotta Army is built at the three burial pits of Mausoleum of the First Qin Emperor (259 – 210 BC). Pit one is home to the main force of chariots and infantry, with about 6,000 life-size terracotta warriors. Pit two is composed of chariots, cavalry and crossbowmen. Pit three is the command system of the army.

    Inside Da Cien Temple, Big Wild Goose Pagoda was built in 652 to exhibit Buddhist classics obtained from India via the Silk Road. It is a masterpiece of Buddhist architecture in the Tang Dynasty and a must-visit sight in Xian.

    At dinner time, savor different flavors of dumplings, the most popular Chinese food, and feast your eyes on beautiful Tang Dynasty Dance show.

    17 Days Beijing Chengde Datong Mount Wutai Pingyao Xian Shanghai Tour

    Day 14, Xian Ancient City Wall, Xian to Shanghai Tour

    Meals: Breakfast

    View Xian’s past and present on its Ming Dynasty City Wall, the longest and best-kept in China. If you prefer, ride a bike for one hour to see its 18 city gates, gate towers hung with red lanterns and the Bell and Drum Tower of Xian.

    Visit the Great Mosque of Xian, the most famous and largest Islamic mosques in China, with a blending of traditional Chinese architecture style. Then see Han people and Hui people live in harmony when rambling the Muslim Quarter, where there is also a wide spectrum of local foods and snacks to taste.

    Fly to Shanghai - China’s most bustling city is also the major exit city for most international travelers.

    Recommended hotels:

    • Shanghai luxury hotels: Peace Hotel, Les Suites Orient Bund, Peninsula or similar
    • Shanghai boutique hotels: Hotel Indigo on the Bund, The Yangtze Boutique or similar
    17 Days Beijing Chengde Datong Mount Wutai Pingyao Xian Shanghai Tour

    Day 15, Shanghai’s Traditional Art Museum, Garden & the Bund

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

    Start Shanghai tour with a visit of Shanghai Museum, a fabulous ancient Chinese art museum with tens of thousands of precious relics, including bronze ware, ceramics, calligraphy, painting, etc.
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    Tour Yu Garden, located right next to the City God Temple. Built in the 16th Century, it is one of the finest examples of China’s traditional gardens with many exquisite and elegant ancient structures. Then roam the old streets of Yuyuan Market.

    Later get to know Shanghai’s colonial culture on the Bund, where you can see an array of 19th Century colonial architectures. Across the Hupu River is the ultra-modern Lujiazui Financial District. Ascend Shanghai World Financial Center, one of the highest buildings in the district, for glitzy city view of Shanghai. 

    17 Days Beijing Chengde Datong Mount Wutai Pingyao Xian Shanghai Tour

    Day 16, Tongli Water Town, Retreat and Reflection Garden

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

    Around 1 hour’s drive from Shanghai city center, beside the Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal (UNESCO), Tongli Old Town in Suzhou is one of most famous water towns in East China, and a mix of rivers, wetlands and ancient building complexes. Take a boat cruise through Tongli. And visit UNESCO-listed Retreat and Reflection (Tuisi) Garden. It is small in size but very exquisitely designed and constructed, with all the essential elements of classical Chinese garden.  

    Make sure you don’t miss the amazing acrobatics show in Shanghai in the evening (optional).

    17 Days Beijing Chengde Datong Mount Wutai Pingyao Xian Shanghai Tour

    Day 17, Shanghai Departure

    Meals: Breakfast

    Enjoy a transfer with your private guide and driver from hotel to the airport and board your onward international flight. China Culture Tour service ends. Farewell and safe journey!

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    **Price per person per day Excludes Int'l Airfare but includes domestic airfare/train, excellent guide, private transfer, breakfast, fine lunch,some featured dinners, entrance fee, etc.

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