Amazing China

Package Includes

  • Small groups of 10-18 travelers guaranteed
  • Round trip international flights LAX-Beijing, Shanghai-LAX
    Other departure cities available. Click on date of departure for selection and prices
  • Airline taxes & fuel surcharges
  • Intra-flights Beijing-Chengdu, Chengdu-Lijiang & Lijiang-Hangzhou and 1 train transfer
  • 13 nights in First Class accommodations that evoke the local character
  • Hotel porterage
  • All transfers and sightseeing per itinerary in modern air-conditioned vehicles
  • 35 meals: 13 buffet breakfasts, 12 lunches & 10 dinners (including a home hosted lunch, and welcome & farewell dinners)
  • Bottled water during sightseeing excursions. Bottled water and tea with all meals. Beer and wine included with dinner except on day 5 & 10
  • Services of local English-speaking tour manager throughout
  • Comprehensive, guided sightseeing and entrance fees per itinerary
  • Active itinerary with unique cultural features

Tour Highlights

  • Thanks to our small group size of 10-18 travelers, we can get to the heart of our destination, visit places that other tours miss, and get to know the locals.
  • Practice tai chi with a local seasoned instructor
  • Explore an authentic Hutong neighborhood and share lunch here at a local family’s home
  • Contribute to reforestation efforts when we plant a tree at the Great Wall of China
  • Learn the art and skill of Mahjong from experts at a real Mahjong parlor
  • Visit with a rural family in a Yunnan province village
  • Cruise the tranquil, pagoda-lined waters of West Lake in Hangzhou
  • See one of China’s best preserved ancient villages at Hongcun
  • Gaze upon dreamy, classic Chinese landscapes from atop Mt. Huangshan

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    DAY 1, Thursday - Depart the USA
    Depart Los Angeles for Beijing. Your overnight flight includes meals, drinks, and in-flight entertainment for the journey

    DAY 2, Friday - Arrive in Beijing
    Arrive in Beijing, Peking of old, in the afternoon and transfer to your hotel. We sample local cuisine at a local restaurant for dinner
    Overnight: Xizhao Temple Hotel, Beijing
    Meals: Dinner

    DAY 3, Saturday - Explore Beijing/Enjoy Home-Hosted Lunch in Hutong
    Fabled Beijing is a sprawling testament to the Chinese spirit. Begin your first full day in China like the locals: practicing tai chi with an instructor at our hotel. Our exploration gets underway at the Forbidden City, an extravagant compound of 980 buildings and 9,000 rooms. This sprawling palace was the residence of Chinese emperors from the Ming to the Qing dynasties. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is the world’s largest assembly of preserved ancient wooden structures. From palatial to modest, we continue to a typical hutong neighborhood, an enclave of low-flung residences centered around alleyways and courtyards. Beijing’s hutongs are dwindling in number as the city is increasingly modernized, but some have been designated as protected areas. We learn more about life here when we meet a local family for lunch in their home. During our stay, they’ll teach us their family recipe for dumplings. On the way back to the hotel, we will visit a pearl shop. Our Welcome Dinner tonight introduces you to real Peking Duck
    Overnight: Xizhao Temple Hotel, Beijing
    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

    DAY 4, Sunday - Discover Great Wall & Ming Tombs
    Today, we visit a less crowded section of the Great Wall at Badaling. A bit removed from the more touristed section of the wall, we’ll enjoy a less hurried experience and take time to marvel at this wondrous structure and the surrounding hillsides that look north toward Mongolia. While here, we’ll help a local organization plant a tree. En route to the Great Wall, we will stop at a local Jade shop. Later, explore the Ming Dynasty Tombs and the Sacred Way, lined with guardian animals. There are 13 tombs here, and we'll visit the only excavated one, Dingling, that houses the remains of the Wanli Emperor. In the museum, we can admire golden crowns and glittering jewels that have been uncovered here
    Overnight: Xizhao Temple Hotel, Beijing
    Meals:Breakfast, Lunch

    DAY 5, Monday - Fly to Chengdu/Visit Mahjong Parlor
    We fly to Chengdu today, recently named China’s fourth most livable city. It retains much of its traditional architecture and feel amidst its modernity. Upon arrival, we tour Jinli, the Old Town, replete with the ancient architecture typical of West Sichuan. Paper lanterns lend an undeniable charm to the streets, hanging over the entrances to teahouses and handicraft shops. Then we join some locals during their leisure time in a real Mahjong parlor and learn this ancient game from the experts. For dinner, you’ll see how a Hot Pot is prepared. This famous Chinese dish is more than 1,000 years old and its ingredients vary by region. The Szechuan version tends to be spicy
    Overnight: Huan Hua Brocade Hotel, Chengdu
    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

    DAY 6, Tuesday - View Giant Pandas/Fly to Lijiang
    Nothing reflects the relaxed nature of Chengdu residents like its teahouses. There are more of them here than in Shanghai, even though Chengdu has half the population. This morning we visit some of Chengdu’s most relaxed local celebrities – giant panda bears. Remarkably, 99% of their diet consists of bamboo. Their livelihood in the wild is under threat from deforestation. After lunch at a local restaurant, we board a short flight to Lijiang
    Overnight: He Xi Hotel, Lijiang
    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

    DAY 7, Wednesday - Explore Yuhu Village/Ascend Jade Dragon Mountain
    We have two days to explore this seldom-visited Chinese wonder. Begin in Yuhu Village at the residence of the 20th-century Austro-American botanist Joseph Rock. This brilliant eccentric had a love for both plants and ethnic cultures and wrote many articles for National Geographic about this spellbinding region and the Nakhi people who live here. Continue to the sacred lama monastery of Yufeng, located in a beautiful setting. Set at the foot of a mountain, it is known for its camellia tree that produces 4,000 blossoms in season. Then we ascend Jade Dragon Mountain by cable car for magnificent views of the Lijiang Plain and alpine meadows below. We’ll stop at a village to visit with a rural family and learn about life in this staggeringly beautiful region. Dinner tonight is back in Lijiang
    Overnight: He Xi Hotel, Lijiang
    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

    DAY 8, Thursday - Explore Lijiang’s Old Town
    After breakfast, we tour Lijiang’s remarkable Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and once a stop along the old tea horse road. These 800-year-old streets are unique in China for their orderly layout, lovely network of waterways and bridges, and blend of cultures that have influenced the region over the centuries. Its ancient water-supply system was ingenious and sophisticated, and still functions today. For lunch, we’ll pause to sample local noodles. After lunch, enjoy a visit to the famous Black Dragon Pool and Dongba Museum. Balance of the day at leisure
    Overnight: He Xi Hotel, Lijiang
    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

    DAY 9, Friday - Fly to Hangzhou
    We fly to Hangzhou this morning, arriving in time for lunch at a local restaurant. We’ll have a free afternoon amidst this city’s beautiful natural setting on Hangzhou Bay. Its location within the Yangtze River delta and its proximity to the seaport of Shanghai have helped Hangzhou grow into a major commercial cente
    Overnight: The Gallery Hotel, Hangzhou
    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

    DAY 10, Saturday - Cruise West Lake/Visit Lingyin Temple
    Enjoy a morning cruise on West Lake, inspiration to poets and painters for generations. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is dotted with manmade islands connected by arched bridges. Its shores are lined with some of the city’s most important cultural and historic landmarks, including pagodas, gardens, and temples that have shaped life here for centuries. After lunch, we visit Lingyin Temple, or Temple of the Soul’s Retreat. Thought to be the city’s oldest Buddhist temple, it is also one of China’s largest and wealthiest. Its grounds boast Buddha-adorned grottoes and vast halls. This evening, enjoy a dinner at a local restaurant
    Overnight: The Gallery Hotel, Hangzhou
    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

    DAY 11, Sunday - Travel to Huangshan/Meet Hongcun Village Monks
    Transfer to Huangshan today, stopping for lunch en route to sample more authentic flavors of China. This afternoon, we explore the ancient streets of Hongcun Village. It’s said that this rustic hamlet was arranged in the shape of an ox, with the nearby hill forming the head and four bridges spanning the Jiyin stream forming the legs. Its 150 residences from the Ming and Qing dynasties are unequalled for their authenticity and preservation. During our visit, we’ll meet some monks for an enlightening discussion Dinner is at a local restaurant
    Overnight: Tiandu International Hotel, Huangshan
    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

    DAY 12, Monday - Ascend Mt. Huangshan
    Take a cable car up Mt. Huangshan this morning for spectacular views of craggy granite peaks. You just might recognize the landscape of this UNESCO World Heritage Site; its beauty here is often the subject of Chinese ink painting and literature. We dine in local restaurants for lunch and dinner today, with time in the afternoon to explore atmospheric Song Street in the Old Town
    Overnight: Tiandu International Hotel, Huangshan
    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

    DAY 13, Tuesday - Visit School/Train to Shanghai
    We return to Hangzhou, stopping en route to visit some winsome children at a local school. Their teacher will give us insight into the Chinese curriculum and education system. After lunch in Hangzhou, we head to the city’s ultra-modern train station and embark a train that whisks us to Shanghai in an hour. There’ll be ample time to settle in upon arrival
    Optional: Shanghai by Night with dinner & wine
    Overnight: Jing An Hotel, Shanghai
    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

    DAY 14, Wednesday - Explore Shanghai
    This morning we stroll the green pathways of Yuyuan Garden, or Garden of Happiness. This beautifully manicured 16th-century haven features caves, pagodas, lakes, and magnificent pavilions, and has been a gathering spot for local for generations. Then we stop at a carpet factory to see how fabric is woven into stunning designs by local craftspeople. And at the Caoyang New Village, the first Worker’s Housing Project in Shanghai, we’ll gain insight into how this self-sufficient community lives day to day. After seeing the city’s government offices and learning how the legislature here functions, we enjoy a Mongolian barbecue for lunch. Our festive Farewell Dinner is at a local restaurant
    Overnight: Jing An Hotel, Shanghai
    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

    DAY 15, Thursday - Depart for the USA
    After a morning at leisure, transfer to the airport for your flight home
    Meals: Breakfast

    Dates & PricesLand OnlyAir & Land
    Dates & PricesLand Only
    Dates & PricesAir & Land
    This package is currently unavailable. Please check back later or call Discovery Tours for more information.

    Click a date to book online.

    *Not Included:
    Prices do not include China visa fees and gratuities for guides/tour managers. Land only prices do not include arrival/departure transfer, but does include intra flights.

    Additional Information:
    Due to limited storage space on High Speed train from Huangshan to Shanghai, only one small piece of luggage (44 lbs) per passenger is permitted onboard for your personal belongings. Your additional luggage will be transported separately to Shanghai and you will be without your checked in luggage for 1 night in Huangshan; therefore it is recommended to take an extra bag.

    Entry Requirements:
    Passengers traveling abroad require a passport valid for six months beyond their travel dates. All travelers are responsible to check if a visa is required for all countries on their itinerary. For visa information, check our Visas page.

    Is This Trip Right for You?

    This is an active trip. Our small group covers a lot of ground each day, and we spend 4-5 hours on our feet during tours. The pace is moderate, with 1 one-night stay, 3 two-nights stays, and 2 three-night stays. Some of our tours require walking over uneven surfaces or up and down steep stairs. This tour is not recommended for people who have difficulty walking or who have heart conditions.

    Getting Ready to GoAbout Your FlightsArrival and DepartureAccommodationsAt Your Destination

    Know Before You Go
    Although most of the planning and preparation is taken care of for you, there are still a few things you should know and some details you should take care of to ensure your comfort, safety and peace of mind. Please review the following information before your departure to ensure that any surprises along the way will only be pleasant ones.
    Getting Ready to Go
    Passports and Visas
    It is each traveler's responsibility to have a passport valid for at least 6 months after the date of travel and a visa if required. Please check the information at www.gate1travel.com/visas.aspx for the specific country/region you are visiting for more details. IMPORTANT: Passengers who are not U.S. citizens must check with the respective consulate or a visa agency to determine what personal identification is required. Passengers who enter, leave and then re-enter the same country on their itinerary should check if they require a double-entry visa. Passport applications are available at most U.S. Post Offices, as well as at regional Passport Agencies. Passengers requiring visas, whether obtained in advance or locally upon arrival, should ensure that their passport has unstamped visa pages.

    Entry Requirements:
    US citizens require a passport valid for six months beyond travel dates.
    Trip Preparation
    A little pre-planning can make your trip go a lot smoother. Several weeks before your trip, make a list of what you will need to take with you. Make sure your personal documents (passports, visas, driver’s license) are in order and that you have enough prescription medications to last through the trip. We suggest that you make photocopies of passports, visas, personal ID and any other important travel documents and pack them separately from the originals. Pack a list of medications including dosage and generic names. If you lose the originals while traveling, you'll have copies for easier reporting and replacement. You may consider bringing a small supply of over the counter medications for headaches and/or anti-diarrhea pills (especially when traveling outside of the USA and Western Europe). We recommend that you pack a portable alarm clock. Avoid placing valuables such as cameras in your checked luggage. Airplane pressure can cause similar pressure in your body, most notably in ears, as well as liquid tubes and bottles. Your physician can suggest medication for decongestion. As for the liquid containers, we suggest that you squeeze out excess air from those containers and place into Ziploc bags to catch any leaks.

    Cell Phones & Calling Cards
    You may wish to carry a cell phone while traveling. Check with your cell phone provider if your phone will work in the destination(s) you are visiting. U.S. service is dominated by the CDMA technology standard, while most of the world uses the incompatible GSM standard. Some U.S. providers do offer GSM, but you may incur high international roaming fees. With GSM, however, you can often choose to have your phone unlocked and then add a local SIM card for lower fees. If you can access the Internet as you travel, you can take advantage of email or a Skype Internet telephone (VOIP) account for the best value. Alternatively, you may investigate renting a cell phone before you leave or buying an inexpensive phone locally.

    When calling the U.S. from a foreign country, you may also use a prepaid calling card; normally, the only additional charge (besides the prepaid long distance charges) is a local fee of a few cents and possibly a connection fee if you are using your card at your hotel. It is best to check with the hotel’s reception desk prior to making phone calls to avoid unexpected charges.

    Making Telephone Calls from One Country to Another
    When dialing a number from one country to another, you should proceed as follows: dial your country's Exit Code + destination Country Code + Phone Number.
    For most countries, the exit code is 00. Exceptions include the USA and Canada (011), Hong Kong and Cambodia (001), Australia (0011), and Russia (8 Pause 10*). For Brazil, please consult with the local telephone company. If the international number you wish to call starts with a 0 (zero), you must drop this starting digit when dialing the number.

    Wireless Internet Access
    Passengers traveling with WiFi enabled devices (such as a personal computer, smartphone, tablet, or digital audio player) may be able to connect to the internet via a wireless network access point (or hotspot). WiFi access in hotels and/or cruise lines often involves a fee which, in some cases, can be very expensive. Availability of WiFi varies by country, hotel and/or cruise line. Even if WiFi is available, signal strength is subject to local conditions and not guaranteed. Internet availability on cruises is unpredictable due to the ship frequently changing locations while sailing through multiple countries. Passengers requiring internet access may seek out internet cafes or may be able to locate free WiFi hotspots such as libraries or coffee shops. Hotspots can often be located and planned in advance via an online search. Planning ahead may help avoid unnecessary fees.

    Staying Healthy While Traveling
    All travelers should familiarize themselves with local conditions, such as high altitude or required immunizations, which could affect their health. We recommend you consult with your personal health-care provider, the Centers for Disease Control (www.cdc.gov) and/or theWorld Health Organization (http://www.who.int/en/) for their recommendations.

    There are several easy steps you can take to stay healthy while traveling which may help prevent contracting an illness while away from home.

    • Watch what you eat. Try new foods in modest quantities, and depending upon your destination, you may want to avoid street foods, salad bars, raw vegetables and fruits, unless they have thick peels like bananas or grapefruit.
    • Stay hydrated. Drink bottled water and avoid consuming ice cubes made with tap water.
    • If you have allergies to foods, medications or insect bites, or have any other unique medical issues, consider a medical alert bracelet and/or a physician’s note detailing required treatment should you become ill.
    • Wash your hands regularly and carry hand sanitizer.
    • Where appropriate, pack sunscreen and insect repellant (for both active and warm destinations).
    • You may also want to bring a small first-aid kit with bandaids, antibiotic cream, pain killers, bug bite cream, digestive aids like antidiarrheal or anti-bloat medications, antacids, and cold medicine. This is in addition to any prescription medications which should be adequate for the entire trip.

    Notice on Aircraft Cabin Insecticide Treatment - Please note that some countries may require aircraft cabin insecticide treatment for in-bound foreign flights. A list of such countries is available at: http://www.dot.gov/office-policy/aviation-policy/aircraft-disinsection-requirements.

    Tibet - Tibet has one of the highest elevations in the world, averaging around 12,000 feet above sea level. Travelers to this region may be affected with altitude sickness, with no apparent regard to age, gender or physical condition. While it is generally a mild condition that passes within a few hours, it is our suggestion to discuss the matter with your health care provider, who may recommend prophylaxis with acetazolamide prior to departing for Tibet. Those affected should avoid over-exertion, drink extra water, and eat lightly. Oxygen bottles for your room are available for purchase at the hotel for CNY 150/per bottle (approx $25), which can last up to 6 hours and can be shared by 2 people. If desired, small portable oxygen pumps can be purchased as well at CNY 50/per bottle/per person (approx $8); these last about 15 minutes and may be taken with you on the tour. Due to the altitude, some areas of Tibet are covered by snow and ice most of the year, weather changes are frequent, and the climate is varied. The sun can be strong so sunglasses, sunscreen and lip protection are recommended. Note: Photographers may consider a camera with an ultraviolet filter for the same reason.

    Climate & Clothing
    China - China is a huge country with varied climates. In general, the north is cold and dry in winter. In the south, summer is hot and humid, with a rainy season from July through September.

    Bring comfortable walking shoes, a sweater, clothes you can layer and an all-weather jacket. Some religious sites may require modest dress to enter (no shorts, short skirts, or sleeveless tops).

    China Average Temperatures: http://www.gate1travel.com/weather/asia-pacific/default.aspx#china-weather

    Book & Film Recommendations
    Many of our guests enjoy reading about their destination - either in advance of their trip or while traveling - as a way of adding context to their visit. Whether reading a traditional guide book, learning about the history and culture, or simply enjoying a fictional novel set in the destination, a good book can add greatly to your experience. Similarly, a good movie set in your destination helps set the mood before you travel. We asked our Tour Managers and staff to recommend books and films which past guests may have enjoyed. The following does not constitute an endorsement of any authors, books or films listed, it is merely a collection of guests’ recommendations.

    CHINA: Books
    River Town by Peter Hessler
    From Emperor to Citizen by Pu Yi
    Wild Swans by Jung Chang
    Life and Death in Shanghai by Nien Cheng
    China: Fragile Superpower by Susan L. Shirk