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China. From Beijing to ancient towns on the Tea Horse Road and secret monasteries in the mountains

Price
$2930
+ flight to Beijing and from Kunming back home
Duration
23 day

What you get

China
Cities, villages, mountains
Transportation
During the entire trip
Guiding
Professional tour leader-traveler
Tickets
To domestic flights
Accommodation
22 nights
Physical grade
Level 2 (easy) out of 5

China. From Beijing to ancient towns on the Tea Horse Road and secret monasteries in the mountains

We will visit small towns and colorful villages to immerse yourself in the laid-back life of the authentic people of southern China. 

  • Observe the life of the monks and talk with a real Teacher in a small monastery in the mountains near Dali No tourists!
  • Ride bamboo boats along the Li River, enjoying the most beautiful landscapes in the whole Middle Kingdom 
  • Walk the Great Wall of China 
  • Explore the Forbidden City and Temple of Heaven in Beijing
  • Meet cute pandas at the Chengdu research center
  • Take a walk between the weightless cliffs of Avatar Park and see the headwaters of the Yangtze River

Trip code
CNTR
China. From Beijing to ancient towns on the Tea Horse Road and secret monasteries in the mountains

The price of the trip includes:

  1. Two domestic flights
  2. All transportation, including trains, buses, taxi and public transportation of all kinds
  3. Accommodation during the entire trip
  4. Entry tickets to parks, museums, palaces and other attractions ($500)
  5. Professional guiding services

What is NOT included:

  1. Flight to Beijing and from Kunming back home. (Let us know if you need help finding the best deals)
  2. Visa to China
  3. Insurance (mandatory)
  4. Food ($15-20 per person per day).

Departures

Individual Tour
You can choose your date

Day 1

Beijing Tiananmen Square Temple of Heaven Old hutong district

We arrive in Beijing and check into the guesthouse.We begin our group trip to China and after a short rest, leave for the very heart of China - Tiananmen square. Let`s walk to the Forbidden City. Yes, the world's largest palace complex is located on the largest square in the world! The Chinese emperors built this city in the city for themselves in the 15th century and have since used it as an official residence. We cannot go around all 980 buildings, but we will definitely see all the most interesting! 

Next, we head to the Temple of Heaven known for its unusual round shape. Chinese emperors prayed here for the prosperity of the country. For mere mortals, the entrance here was closed. After all, the Chinese believed that only the head of the country could speak directly with the highest powers. From the grandiose palaces and pompous central areas, we return to our guesthouse. We are in one of Beijing`s famous old districts, hutong. In the evening, we explore its narrow streets and traditional courtyards, as well as enjoy a Beijing roasted duck in a restaurant popular with the locals.

Day 2

The Great Wall of China

After breakfast and take the train to Badalin (1 hour on the way). Perhaps this is the most popular place to explore the Great Wall of China. Let us explain - first we bump into a crowd of tourists and selfie lovers, and then we will walk to places where we will be the only visitors! In total, we will walk about 10 kilometers, enjoying the views.

This part of the Wall was built in 1504 and is very well preserved. It protected the empire from the unfriendly tribes of nomads. The first Chinese emperor Qin Shi Huang began to build the Wall in the 3rd century BC. He first united the scattered kingdoms into one empire and is still revered in China as a national hero. Have you seen the iconic movie "Hero"? It's about this emperor and its a must-see before your trip to China!  We head to Beijing airport, fly to Chengdu, check into a hotel.

Day 3

Chengdu Panda Research Center Museum of poet Du Fu The biggest shopping mall in the world

In the morning we drive to the Wolong Panda Research Center, the breeding center of the famous Chinese pandas. We will watch these funny animals - how they eat bamboo, play, and examine visitors with curiosity. And we can also see red Chinese monkeys, snow leopards and red pandas. We dine on traditional spicy Sichuan cuisine. The main secret is the use of fragrant Sichuan pepper, which has nothing in common with pepper and is made from the bark of a special tree. 

Next, we head to the museum-hut of the most famous Chinese poet Du Fu. Despite fame, he fell into disgrace after criticizing the emperor in poetry. For almost four years, Du Fu lived in this reed hut he built with his own hands. 

In the evening we leave for the largest shopping center in the world, New Century Global Center. We are unlikely to go around the entire 1 million 700 thousand square meters, but we will definitely see an entire Mediterranean village, take a walk along an artificial beach, and take a picture with a life-size pirate ship.

Day 4 - 5

Mount Emeishan Buddha statue in Leshan Sichuan opera

We continue our small group trip to China and from noisy cities in just 3 hours by train we get to the peaceful mountains. We head to Mount Emeishan, one of the four sacred mountains of China. Buddhists believe that Samantabhadra, a disciple of Buddha, the patron saint of meditation, reached enlightenment on this peak. We get to the top of the mountain by cable car and visit the temple of the 9th century to see the ancient statue of Samantabhadra on an elephant. 

The next morning, we leave for Leshan (2 hours on the way). It is known for the famous Buddha statue 71 meters high, carved into the rock. This impressive sculpture was created back in the 8th century. We walk up the steps closer to the face of the great teacher to examine the statue closer. And what a view opens from here to the confluence of three rivers! We get down to the river to ride the small boat, enjoy peaceful views of provincial China and watch the work of local fishermen. 

In the evening we head to the traditional Sichuan opera. This is one of the most popular types of famous Chinese opera. We will see a very unusual performance with national music, mask shows and the shadow theater. And the costumes and makeup!.. Impressive.

Day 6 - 8

"Avatar park" World's highest glass bridge over the abyss

In the morning we fly to Zhangjiajie and head to the hotel in the Wulingyuan National Park. These places became famous all over the world when the famous Hollywood movie "Avatar" was released. The flight scenes between the rock spiers above the clouds were filmed here! Yes, these places really exist and they look exactly like in the film. There are more than three thousand such karst peaks and they reach heights of up to 200 meters. Here you feel like a person from the fictional Na`vi race ...

We will walk along suspension bridges over the abysses, explore the wild jungle, walk along rivers, looking for exotic birds and unusual plants. And also, we’ll definitely walk on the world's highest glass bridge over the abyss. 300 meters above the canyon! Dare to try?!

Day 9 - 10

Fenghuang, the Venice of China Longsheng rice terrace Yao and Zhuang villages

We leave for the town of Fenghuang by bus (4 hours on the way). It is called the Chinese Venice, because the locals here live in houses on stilts over the water. We go boating along the canals of the river, getting acquainted with the life of the Miao people who inhabit these lands. We will go to temples and try unusual national cuisine. Shrimps and crabs are highly regarded by Miao, and they also bake cookies from pork blood and soy broth.

The next morning, we continue our guided tour to China and drive to the famous rice terraces in Longsheng (4 hours on the way). Locals look different than in Fenghuang - in these villages the Yao and Zhuang peoples live. They adapted the surrounding hills to fields and still grow rice and vegetables on the terraces, which, like snakes entangle these slopes. But no less than these terraces, the local women of Yao are famous for  never cuting their hair and wearing unusual hairstyles. We will certainly learn more about their traditions, walk along the rice terraces and narrow streets of the villages. 

Need we say we are in for unforgettable gastronomic pleasures? After all, we are in China! Let`s try the traditional dried fish, smoked pork and rice baked in bamboo. And the way locals make their tea is very unusual!

Day 11 - 12

Yangshuo Riding boats on Li river Xingping village

We take a bus to Yangshuo (3 hours on the way), and check into a hotel. We found ourselves on the Li river, which is famous for the most beautiful landscapes in the whole Celestial Empire. And these are not just words - for centuries, poets and artists of China have been depicting these landscapes of beautiful karst rocks. Now these views are even placed on a 20 yuan banknote. We will visit the place in the neighboring village of Xingping to compare the drawing on the bill with reality. 

We will have unforgettable  time exploring the Li river on traditional bamboo boats, walking on rice fields and narrow streets of small villages where life flows slowly, like hundreds of years ago. We also watch unusual bird fishing, and party lovers can plunge headlong into the night life in bustling bars on Yangshuo's main street.

Day 13 - 14

Kunming Stone Forest Tea market

We travel by train to Kunming (7 hours on the way), the capital of the southernmost province of Yunnan. Here we will continue our guided tour to China, check into a hotel, and go out for a walk around the city. Let's start by visiting the oldest noodle house in town. They have been making the most delicious traditional Kunming noodle soups for decades! We have to stand in line, but it's worth it! Full and happy, we explore the city center, and visit the famous flea market. 

The next morning, we take a bus to Stone Forest. The vast territory here is covered with thousands of limestone cliffs of bizarre shapes. You can climb some rocks to enjoy unusual views. Narrow steps are trodden between other rocks, and some gorges between stone "trees" are so narrow a person can hardly fit. 

After a walk, we return to Kunming and head to the famous tea market. Yunnan Province is the heart of China's tea industry, where the country's best puerhs and oolongs are made. In hundreds of tea shops you can not only buy any kind of tea or tea utensils, but also participate in a traditional tea ceremony. Late in the evening, we take the night train to Lijiang.

Day 15 - 16

Lijiang Black Dragon pond Walk in the Yulongshan Mountain national park

In the morning we arrive in Lijiang and check into the hotel. In ancient times, this city was famous for its silk, and was one of the important centers on the so-called Southern Silk Road. We walk along the streets of the old part of the city, and visit traditional teahouses, where locals love to chat over endless cups of tea. Let`s head to the Black Dragon Pond park to see the palace and the ancient Taoist temple. Local residents claim that in ancient times a black dragon lived in this pond ... 

In the morning we drive to the national park near Yulongshan Mountain. It is the southernmost glacier in the northern hemisphere. We will get to 4506 meters above sea level by cable car, and then walk to a height of 4680 meters. The view of Jade Dragon Mount from here is amazing! We enjoy the scenery and crystal clear air, and in the evening return to the hotel.

Day 17 - 18

Hiking in the Tiger Leaping gorge Source of Yangtze river Shangri-La

In the morning we leave for the Tiger Leaping gorge (4 hours on the way). We will walk about 13 km along the trails, enjoying the mountain views and the noise of the river below. This is the Yangtze - the longest river in Asia. And we walk right at its source! For foreigners, this beautiful route was opened only in 1993. Along the way, we will visit the small villages of the Naxi people who inhabit these places. We will spend the night at the guesthouse. 

The next morning, breakfast awaits us, and then a journey of approximately 13 km. Today we will go down to the rapids of the Yangtze, reach the Stone of the jumping tiger and see several waterfalls. After lunch, we drive to the town of Shangri-La (3.5 hours on the way) and check into the hotel. In the evening we explore the town and watch the lively dances of local women right on the streets. You can join and learn some new moves!

Day 19 - 20

Shangri-La Sumtseling Monastery Shaxi town Temples on Mount Shibaoshan

We have come to the foothills of Tibet, a valley where mainly Tibetans live. And Shangri-La is the capital of this region. The name of the city is not a coincidence with the mystical lost world of writer James Hilton. Until 2001, this city had a different name, but Chinese renamed it, hoping to attract more tourists. Even if you are not a fan of the novel “The Lost Horizon”, Shangri-La has a lot to offer! 

We will visit Sumtseling Monastery, which was founded by the fifth Dalai Lama in the 17th century. One hundred years ago, more than seven thousand monks lived here! If you saw the famous residence of the Dalai Lama in Tibet, you will immediately notice the similarity of this monastery with Potala. Sumtseling is also called Little Potala. We will admire huge statues, covered with gold, walk through endless halls, watch Buddhist ceremonies. 

We leave for the town of Shaxi (3 hours on the way). It is so small and remote, that it it is not served by the public transport. We will walk among the small wooden houses, visit the temples in the rocks on Mount Shibaoshan and feed the curious monkeys in the gorges.

Day 21 - 23

Dali Three Pagodas Wu Wei monastery in the mountains

In the morning we leave for the city of Dali by taxi (2 hours on the way). We check into a hotel and explore the old town of traditional wooden houses of the local Bai people. We enjoy an unhurried life, visit traditional teahouses. If we are lucky, we will take part in an unusual tea ceremony - Bai people drink tea with nuts, cheese, add honey and even pepper to the pot! 

We walk to the Three Pagodas complex on the Erhai Lake. They were built in the 9th century, during the Kingdom of the Bai people. Early in the morning we leave for the Wu Wei monastery in the mountains. This is a small Buddhist monastery, never visited by tourists and other random people. We will be met by the abbot, who will speak to us, observe the life of monks, take part in a Buddhist ceremony, have lunch and drink tea. Those who wish can attend the kung fu lesson taught at this monastery. The experience is completely unique and unforgettable! 

On the last day, we take a high-speed train to Kunming (2.5 hours on the way), go to the airport and fly home. Our group trip to China has come to an end. Thank you for traveling with us!

Tour leader

Olga WuWei
tour leader

Is this trip for you?

This trip is of easy physical grade. It includes long walks in cities and villages and in the national park. We will also make a trek to the Tiger Jumping Gorge - on the first day we will cover 13 kilometers and about the same on the second day. We will travel by trains, buses (trips lasting up to 5 hours) and take two short domestic flights. Accommodation in double/twin rooms of tourist class hotels and guesthouses. Each room will have attached bathroom with hot water, almost everywhere there will be wi fi internet.

Visa

Citizens of almost all countries need a visa to visit China.

A visa is issued before the trip at the Chinese embassy in the country of residence.

We provide free visa consulting for clients.

Additional options

3g mobile internet in China
Price: + $30
Prepaid local sim card (no international calls) with 2GB internet package

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