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11 Days Traditional Garden and Water Town Tour of China

Looking for China tour to ancient water towns and classical gardens? You should take this luxurious 11 days tour itinerary across China from the glamourous Beijing to see some world-class attractions, to Xian, one of oldest capitals in the world with many fabulous ancient sites. Then discover the cultural delights of Hangzhou and Suzhou, taking in the beautiful cultural landscape of classical gardens of Suzhou and the quaint atmosphere of Jiangnan water towns. End the vacation in Shanghai, enjoying its cosmopolitan allure.

CCT Advantages:

  • 1. Get under the skin of the history of the ancient Chinese Empire in Xian & Beijing;
  • 2. Take in the immensity of the Great Wall, discover the architecture masterpieces of Temple of Heaven, and treasures of Forbidden City;
  • 3. Marvel at one of world’s greatest archeological finds – Terra Cotta Army;
  • 4. Admire UNESCO-listed gardens including Summer Palace, Lingering Garden and Tuisi Garden;
  • 5. Soak up Chinese water town culture by cruising Tongli;
  • 6. Explore the fantastic sights of Shanghai, including bazaar, the Bund of colonial times and the futuristic skyscrapers.

11 Days China Water Town Tour to Beijing Xian Hangzhou Suzhou and Shanghai

Traditional Garden and Water Town Tour of China

Day 1, Arrive Beijing

Meals: No Meals

Begin your China vacation in the country’s capital, Beijing. Upon arrival at the airport, be greeted by your guide and driver. Transfer to your hotel for a rest. Alternatively you can explore a bit of this charming city, a modernized urban star but also with fascinating historical traces.

Recommended hotels:

  • Beijing luxury hotels: Peninsula, Hilton Beijing Wangfujing or similar
  • Beijing boutique hotels: Double Happiness Beijing Courtyard Hotel or similar
Traditional Garden and Water Town Tour of China

Day 2, Imperial Forbidden City, Humble Hutong Alleys

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Come to the center of China, both politically and culturally. Walk the large Tiananmen Square to see the historical monuments. Go through the red-painted wooden door to get in Forbidden City or now better known as the Palace Museum. Everything here, from the colored glazed tiles, stone lions, chambers, gardens to the hundreds of thousands of precious treasures, is a symbol of royal dignity and a witness of China’s chequered history.

From the rear entrance of Forbidden City, cross an avenue and begin to climb Jingshan Hill. On the Wanchun Pavilion of the hill, enjoy the panoramic view of Forbidden City and look out for White Pagoda of Beihai Park.  

After lunch, get on a rickshaw zigging through hutongs to discover the old town of Beijing and trace the city’s cultural root. The genuine natives of Beijing still live in traditional courtyard houses.

Tonight you have a chance to watch a real Shaolin Kung Fu show (optional).

Traditional Garden and Water Town Tour of China

Day 3, Temple of Heaven, Mutianyu Great Wall

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

This morning explore the sacred Temple of Heaven with its architectural groups for sacrifice. The ancient Chinese believed that heaven was the universal god and the kings were the chosen one and the representatives of god. So for hundreds of years, the kings worshiped heaven here.

One of the absolutely most outstanding man-made wonders in the world, the Great Wall of China is fruit of Chinese civilization and a significant carrier of history. Take cable car to get in Mutianyu Great Wall, one of the best-kept sections. Learn from your expert guide all about this ancient military fortification.  

Enjoy a tasty local specialty dinner with Beijing Roasted Duck (optional).

Traditional Garden and Water Town Tour of China

Day 4, Royal Garden of Summer Palace, Beijing to Xian

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Enjoy a relaxing morning touring Summer Palace, a grand royal garden and the best of traditional Chinese gardens. Discover both its architecture beauty of palaces, bridges, corridors and pavilions and landscape beauty of rivers and hills. We arrange you a leisurely dragon boat cruise on the Kunming Lake.

Board a bullet train from Beijing to Xian, where there are more historical sites are waiting for you to explore.  

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
Traditional Garden and Water Town Tour of China

Day 5, Terracotta Army Tomb, Big Wild Goose Pagoda

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

The celebrated capital of ancient China, Xian was known to the world due to the thriving of Silk Road. And today it is one of the top destinations in China mainly because of Terracotta Army. This amazing archeological find dates back to the 3rd century BC, when Emperor Qinshihuang, who just unified China, decided to build or actually craft this army by clay as burial objects after he died.  

Visit a famous Silk Road site - Big Wild Goose Pagoda inside Ci’en Temple. In 652, Master Xuan Zang built this pagoda to preserve the Buddhist scriptures brought back to Chang'an (ancient name of Xian) from Indian via Silk Road.

Enjoy classical Tang Dynasty Music and Dance at a dumpling banquet tonight (optional).

Traditional Garden and Water Town Tour of China

Day 6, Xian Ancient City Wall, Making Dumpling, Xian to Hangzhou

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

After breakfast, come to the ancient city wall of Xian, from where the merchant travelers used to depart their hometown and travel along the Silk Road to West Asia and even Europe. On China’s best-kept ancient city wall, experience the unique atmosphere that blends history and modernization.  

Enjoy a brisk stroll on Muslim Quarter. Muslim Hui people are main residents of Xian, apart from Han. Hui Muslim cuisine blends in local traditional cuisine, which can be discovered and tasted on this famous food street.

Enjoy a hands-on activity – making dumpling at a local Xian family’s home. Learn from the host about the real life of China and the step-by-step guide on making the most popular Chinese food.

Fly from Xian to Hangzhou, known among Chinese as a heaven on earth.

Recommended hotels:

  • Hangzhou luxury hotels: Wyndham Grand Plaza Royale or similar
  • Hangzhou boutique hotels: Tea Boutique Hotel or similar
Traditional Garden and Water Town Tour of China

Day 7, Hangzhou West Lake & Lingyin Temple

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Experience the peace at the 3rd-century Lingyin Temple hidden in woods. This beautiful temple is a finest example of Chinese Buddhist architecture. And admire the amazing grotto art of Peak Flown from Afar, looking out for Buddha sculptures of various sizes, carved based on those legendary stories. Later marvel at Six Harmony Pagoda to view the scenery of Qiantang River.

Cruise West Lake and get in a lovely islet to enjoy beautiful views and some cultural landscape, including Breeze-ruffled Lotus at Quyuan Garden, Three Pools Mirroring the Moon and the stone-arched Broken Bridge.

Traditional Garden and Water Town Tour of China

Day 8, Suzhou Classical Gardens, Old Streets & Markets

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Move to Suzhou by 1.5 hour bullet train.

The history of Panmen Gate can be traced to the 514BC, when Suzhou was the Wu Kingdom. It is more than an ancient gate, but also with old arched bridges, towers and delicate garden connected by winding corridors.

Then visit Lingering Garden, one of the four greatest gardens in China. With exquisite architectural arrangement and peculiar rockeries, this one single garden offers views of rurality, forests, courtyards and natural landscape. 

Sit back on a rickshaw zigging through the ancient streets and alleyways of Suzhou, discovering the lively traditional markets and glimpsing the local way of living. Also ramble on Pingjiang Road, regarded as the epitome of the old town of Suzhou.

Recommended hotels:

  • Suzhou luxury hotels: The Marriott, Hyatt Regency, Garden Hotel or similar
  • Suzhou boutique hotels: Tonino Lamborghini Hotel or similar
Traditional Garden and Water Town Tour of China

Day 9, Tongli Water Town by Cruise

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Tongli is one of most beautiful and authentic water towns in East China, with a history of over 1000 years. Embark a hand-controlled boat – boatman paddling on the stream - to discover the Ming and Qing houses on the banks and experience this unique cultural atmosphere. Visit Tuisi Garden (Retreat and Reflection Garden), with a smaller size than Suzhou gardens but even more delicate.

Private transfer or bullet train journey to Shanghai.

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
Traditional Garden and Water Town Tour of China

Day 10, Shanghai Museum, Yu Garden, the Bund

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Enjoy the art display at Shanghai Museum, one of the finest museums in China. The art works of ancient China, including jade wares, bronze wares, Chinese calligraphy and painting masterpieces and ceramics are the highlights.

Thereafter, discover the cultural and culinary delights of Shanghai, rambling in the Yuyuan Market, where there are various food stalls and traditional architectures. Right close to the bazaar, Yu Garden is the best traditional garden in Shanghai, elegantly designed and sophisticated constructed. 

Later walk down the Bund hand in hand, seeing century-old European-colonial hotels, banks and trade buildings. Cross the Huangpu River and ascend one of world’s highest buildings – Shanghai Tower to view the astounding and cheerful newness of this metropolis.

Traditional Garden and Water Town Tour of China

Day 11, Depart Shanghai

Meals: Breakfast

Be transferred from hotel to Shanghai Pudong International Airport and return home. End of your 11 days China tour of water towns and gardens.

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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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