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China's Imperial Cities (2018)

Marco Polo Journeys: Exclusive trips, accompanied by A&K's most accomplished guides

Limited to 18 guests
Days: 15  |  From: $9,295


China's Imperial Cities

Day 1: Arrive Shanghai, China

Arrive in Shanghai, where you are met and transferred to your hotel.

The Peninsula Shanghai

Day 2: Shanghai | Ancient Traditions & Modern Art

Venture to Zhujiajiao, boarding a boat to cruise through a traditional water village of canals spanned by stone bridges. The town features many historical sites and buildings, including rice and spice shops, Fangsheng Bridge, Kezhi Garden, and Yuanjin Buddhist Temple. Enjoy an afternoon of art as you explore Shanghai’s rapidly developing M50 Art District and Museum of Contemporary Art (MoCA). M50, a thriving art community tucked away in an old industrial area, features more than 120 galleries and art studios. On a larger scale, MoCA is a private museum that focuses on the promotion of Chinese and international contemporary art and design. Tonight, meet your fellow guests for a cocktail and welcome dinner.

The Peninsula Shanghai   |   Meals: B L D

Day 3: Shanghai | Walk Along the Bund

Stroll the Bund, the waterfront promenade along the Huangpu River, popular with locals and visitors alike. Visit Yu Garden, a former private garden built during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) that features an exquisite layout, beautiful scenery and garden architecture. Savor a lunch of steamed dumplings at a local restaurant. Then, transfer to the airport and fly to Beijing. Upon arrival, check in to your luxurious hotel.

Four Seasons Hotel Beijing   |   Meals: B L

Day 4: Beijing | Discover the Great Wall

This morning, journey to the Mutianyu portion of the Great Wall — its most well-preserved section. Marvel at the size and scale of the site, which began as a series of fortifications in the seventh century BC to block the invading nomadic tribes of the Eurasian steppe. Walk or ride a cable car to the top of the wall and revel in magnificent vistas of the surrounding mountains. Return to Beijing and proceed to the hutongs (networks of winding alleyways) where you Ride Like a Local by pedicab. Explore the area which features lines of siheyuan (courtyard residences) surrounded by buildings on all four sides.

Four Seasons Hotel Beijing   |   Meals: B L

Day 5: Beijing | Tai Chi & Tiananmen Square

Partake in a morning tai chi class at the historic Temple of Heaven. Built in 1420, it is considered the most beautiful example of Ming Dynasty architecture. After lunch, visit Tiananmen Square, site of the mausoleum of Mao Zadong and the 1989 Chinese democracy movement protests. Continue to the Forbidden City, located in the heart of Beijing. Once off-limits to most for more than 500 years, it is one of the world’s largest palace complexes and features a vast collection of historic buildings. Take in the Chinese Imperial Palace, the former home of the nation’s royal families.

Four Seasons Hotel Beijing   |   Meals: B L

Days 6-7: Luoyang | The Birthplace of Kung Fu

Fly to Luoyang and transfer to your hotel. The next day, experience a fabled chapter of Chinese history come to life as you visit legendary Shaolin Temple and witness a thrilling private demonstration of Shaolin kung fu by resident monks. This Zen Buddhist monastery is considered the birthplace of the martial arts, first formalized here in the sixth century. Stroll through the stone and brick Pagoda Forest. Enjoy lunch before visiting the Songyang Academy of Classical Learning, renowned center of Confucian philosophy. Dine locally and embrace the colorful nightlife of Luoyang.

Lee Royal Mudu Hotel   |   Meals: B D (Day 6); B L D (Day 7)

Day 8: Luoyang/Xian | Buddhism Explored

Explore the spectacular Longmen Caves, a memorable opportunity to experience the rich history and arts of ancient China. Devoted to the Buddhist religion, its grottoes and niches contain the largest, most impressive collection of Chinese art of the late Northern Wei and Tang Dynasties. After an authentic lunch at a local restaurant, journey to White Horse Temple. Considered the first Buddhist monastery built in China, it was established in the first century. Next, board a high-speed train to Xian, the capital of Shaanxi Province. Set amid the Guanzhong Plain, it is one of the oldest cities in China. Upon arrival in Xian, transfer to your hotel.

Sofitel Legend People's Grand Hotel, Xian   |   Meals: B L D

Day 9: Xian | Magnificent Terra Cotta Warriors

Today, accompanied by one of Xian’s leading archaeologists, visit the excavation site of the Terra Cotta Warriors and Horses. The site includes a life-size army created during the Qin Dynasty to protect China’s first emperor, Qin Shi Huang, in his afterlife. More than 8,000 soldiers, each with a unique face, exhibit remarkable craftsmanship. Enjoy a Chef’s Table experience with a private dumpling-making demonstration. After lunch, enter the Ancient Gate of Xian’s impressive City Wall and stroll along its ramparts.

Sofitel Legend People's Grand Hotel, Xian   |   Meals: B L

Day 10: Chengdu | Cherished Giant Pandas

Rise early and fly to Chengdu, the charming capital of Sichuan Province. Upon arrival, visit the Chengdu Giant Panda Breeding and Research Center. This site provides pandas with a nurturing environment, affording an unforgettable opportunity to see these endangered living symbols of China as they roam freely in their natural habitat. Then, discover the beautiful, well-preserved Wenshu Temple dating back to the seventh century. Stroll along Jinli Walking Street, a commercial district built during the Shu Kingdom. Jinli Street was reconstructed in 2004 to resemble the traditional architectural style of Sichuan Province during the Qing Dynasty. Watch traditional Chinese handicrafts being made and folk artisans putting on entertaining shows, such as shadow puppetry or a hand-puppet performance.

Shangri-La Hotel, Chengdu   |   Meals: B L

Day 11: Guilin | Picturesque Landscape

Transfer to the airport for your flight to Guilin. This afternoon, journey to Elephant Trunk Hill, a popular landmark along the Li River that resembles an elephant drinking from the water. Continue to Fubo Hill, a visually stunning rock formation that causes the river to eddy and is therefore said to subdue the waves. Conclude your excursion at picturesque Reed Flute Cave, a natural wonder carved out of the karst limestone mountains over millions of years.

Banyan Tree Yangshuo   |   Meals: B L D

Day 12: Guilin | The Li River by Bamboo Raft

Today, embark on a leisurely bamboo raft trip on the Li River, drifting quietly downstream, past stunning limestone peaks. Observe life along the shore, where fishermen use cormorants to collect their catch and farmers still cultivate rice paddies by hand. Next, ride a bicycle or motorized tricycle through the beautiful nearby countryside, absorbing the scenery en route.

Banyan Tree Yangshuo   |   Meals: B L

Days 13-14: Hong Kong | Victoria Peak & Floating Villages

Fly to Hong Kong, China’s glittering gateway of international trade and finance. Check in to your hotel and enjoy time at leisure exploring this world-class city. The next morning, depart for Sheung Wan, one of the earliest British settlements. Stroll through an herbal medicine market, and stop at Man Mo Temple on Hollywood Road for an informative look at a typical Chinese temple. Enjoy a panoramic view of the city, Victoria Harbour and Lamma Island from atop Victoria Peak. Continue to Aberdeen for a leisurely sampan (wooden boat) ride through the floating villages of the Tanka community, observing the ebb and flow of everyday life. After lunch, spend your afternoon at leisure. Tonight, gather with fellow guests for a cocktail reception and farewell dinner.

The Peninsula Hong Kong   |   Meals: B (Day 13); B L D (Day 14)

Day 15: Depart Hong Kong

After breakfast, transfer to the airport and depart.

Meals: B

5 Things That Will Surprise You in China | From Beijing to Shanghai, ancient and modern still collide in five magical places. Read more on A&K's blog

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Marco Polo Journeys 2018

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