BeijingDay One Arrive in Beijing in early afternoon and get settled. Take a walk around the neighborhood to get comfortable and to stretch our legs after the long flight, maybe go to the Night Market. Day Two Visit Tiananmen Square, Forbidden City, and in the evening, maybe go to the Peking Opera or Puppet Theater (http://www.squidoo.com/beijing-shadow-puppet-performance). Day Three Take a taxi to Beihei City Park to visit the classical Chinese gardens or visit the Summer Palace. This estate located about 40 minutes from Beijingwas once the Emperor's family getaway. Visit the Garden of Virtue and Harmony. Day Four Pack a lunch and in the morning head towards a quiet part of the wall, about 3 hours from Beijing. We'll walk over the wall for about 10km from Jinshaling to Simatai; a vigorous walk. It starts with a long upward climb and then it descends for quite a bit. Many parts of the wall are authentic and haven't been restored. Since this is a quieter area and since we'll be spending such a long time on the wall, we'll really get a feel for the enormity of the Great Wall. Day Five Olympic Park, Bird Nest Stadium, and Watercube Waterpark Day Six Do a little shopping at the Pearl Market in the early part of the day. Depart Beijing in the evening via night train to the ancient city of Pingyao.
PingyaoDay Seven Arrive in Pingyao (UNESCO World Heritage Site) early in morning, check into motel, then wander ancient city streets by day to see what China looked like a century ago. Day Eight We may wish to see Family Qiao’s courtyard-house, with its 25 courtyards and 300 rooms. These days the residence is a museum and lies about 2 hours north of Pingyao. The blockbuster hit ‘Raise the Red Lantern’ was filmed here. We’ll depart in the evening when we’ll catch the sleeper train to Xi’an.
Xi'anDay Nine Arrive in Xi'an on the morning, check into your hotel within the historic city walls. The heart of the city is the large Bell Tower in the middle of the traffic intersection. Nearby you'll also find the Drum Tower. If you climb the tower around 5pm you'll have a wonderful view of the city, the Muslim neighborhood and you'll catch a demonstration of Chinese kettle drums. Eat a ‘Muslim hamburger’. Maybe rent bikes & ride around city wall. Day Ten Travel to the excavation site where you'll see more than 7000 amazing clay soldiers, clay horses and clay chariots. This is the world famous Terracotta Army 兵马俑. In early evening, go to train station to take night train to Chengdu.
ChengduDay Eleven Arrive in Chengdu in the morning. Chengdu is all about pandas and this is the best place to see these magnificent gentle giants up close. The Panda Centre is on the outskirts of town. You may also wish to visit Leshan Buddha, which is the largest Buddha in the world. Leshan is about 2 hours from Chengdu. China has the best tea houses in the world and Chengdu has the best tea houses in China. Day Twelve Spend the day in the Jiuzhaigou Valley, about 2 hours from Chengdu (five color pond, five flower lake, pearl waterfall). For dinner, try the spicy traditional ‘hotpot’. Afterwards the Sichuan Opera is a great way to spend the evening.
YangshuoDay Seventeen Depart Shanghai early via a domestic flight to Guilin near the Karst mountains. We’ll then take a car to Yangshuo, an hour away. Yangshuo is the perfect place to relax and unwind, far away from busy cities. In the evening, we'll take in the Cormorant Fishermen. Day Eighteen During the day we can bike ride along the Yulong River in a small group along with other international travelers. During your bike ride you'll leave the main roads and peddle through farmland and rice paddies with the karst mountains as constant companions during your ride. After biking for a while, we can take a bamboo raft down the river. You will sail through the peaks of the karst mountains and after a few kilometers you'll get back on your bike and peddle towards Moon Hill. Day Nineteen Return to Guilin by car and from there, depart by bullet train for Hong Kong / Kowloon arriving late in the evening. (Train stops in Shenzhen for customs)
Hong KongDay Twenty Arrive in Hong Kong by train, a city filled with skyscrapers, colorful signs and futuristic gadgets. In the evening we can head over to the island to enjoy the atmosphere on Lan Fong Kwa Street. It’s popular among locals, expats and tourists alike. Day Twenty-one Possible day excursion to Guangzhou (“City of Flowers”) or Macau. Day Twenty-two While we’re here we can spend our time shopping, relaxing at the beach or having a look around Victoria Peak on Hong Kong Island. Dinner cruise, Victoria Peak. Day Twenty-three Depart for home.
Update :: We are home now! To read of our adventures .. check out the series of posts, Discovering China, on my website.