HONG KONG train GUANGZHOU (1N) air GUILIN (2N) air XIAN (2N) air BEIJING (3N) air SHANGHAI (2N) air HONG KONG
Morning train ride northwest to Guangzhou (Canton), capital of Guangdong province and the Pearl River delta's main southern port. From one of the premier Tang Empire trading cities (7th-8th cs.) Canton was reduced by 19th c. opium wars to make humiliating concessions to Western powers and became a major center of nationalist and revolutionary struggle . Guangzhou is also justly renowned worldwide for its varied and subtly flavored Cantonese cuisine. Tour includes venerable Temple of the Six Banyan Trees and Memorial of Dr Sun Yatsen, leader of 1911 revolution and a Guangzhou native.
Morning visit on city tour to Chen Clan Academy (Chen Family Temple), a 19th century landmark of architectural, social, familial and educational significance. Then fly on to photogenic Guilin, an irresistible magnet to travelers and tourists and a sublime and exhiliarating inspiration to China's greatest painters and poets such as the Tang master Han Yu, who wrote 1200 years ago of the unique natural and geological features hereabouts comparing the river to a green silk belt while "the mountains are like blue jade hairpins."
This morning you embark on a wondrous 5 hour cruise down the winding turns of the beautiful Li river, surrounded on either bank by the verdant landscape and fascinating shapes of the karst formations, those serenely majestic and ever varying limestone structures which thrust up their unique conical, craggy outlines (given names like Elephant Trunk Hill, Old Man Mountain and Folded Brocade Hill) into the ever-changing mists and hues of the sky above or which hollow out into spectacular grottos and caves of stalactite and stalagmite formations of unending profusion and subterranean beauty. Return in afternoon from Yangshuo to Guilin by motorcoach.
Morning visits to three attractions in Guilin and vicinity: Ludi Yan (Reed Flute Cave), discovered over a thousand years ago northwest of the present day city and most famous of the many caves in the area; Xiangbi Shan (Elephant Trunk Hill) which you viewed afar yesterday from the river; and Fu Po Shan (Fu Po Hill) replete both with ancient artifacts and numerous intriguing legends and folktales. Afternoon flight due north to Xian.
Capital of today's Shaanxi province and the ancient capital city of China for 11 dynasties, Xian is a true treasure trove of relics and monuments. The big highlight is the recently discovered 7498 (and still counting) terra cotta statues of soldiers, horsemen and chariots guarding the tomb of China's first emperor, the iron willed despot and unifier Qin Shi Huangdi. Your full day tour also visits the Big and Little Wild Goose Pagodas, delightful Hua Qing royal hot springs (with its tragic tale of the emperor's concubine too beautiful for her own good) and Banpo Neolithic Village of 8000 year old artifacts. Evening entertainment of Tang dynasty dance show with dinner of local specialities.
Morning visit to monuments of downtown Xian: Great Mosque, Ming Dynasty City Wall, Bell Tower, Drum Tower ; then pay a visit nearby inside the city's old southern wall to the Shaanxi Provincial Museum with its exceptionally rich and distinguished collection (many artifacts helpfully provided with detailed English language descriptions) -- not to be missed by lovers of art, history and archaeology. Afternoon flight to Beijing.
Beijing (Peking, "Northern Capital"), a 3000 year old city which has been a center of advanced Chinese civilization going back at least 8 centuries to the era of Kublai Khan , is today the political, military and cultural hub of an immense nation: 1.2 billion souls spread out over a territory of 3,700,000 square miles, 22 provinces and 5 autonomous regions, administered from this capital of more than 10 million residents (plus 5 million bicycles!). Full day excursion to the famed Great Wall, an engineering triumph of which 3750 miles still survive, then traverse the Sacred Way and Avenue of the Animals to view the fabulous Ming tombs -- of the 13, the 2 so far excavated stand revealed as subterranean palaces, lavishly decorated with marble carvings and opulent thrones..
Today is spent visiting the vast and majestic architectural complexes comprising Tiananmen ("Gate of Heavenly Peace") Square, the Imperial Palace (the "Forbidden City" as it was called) and the park-enclosed Summer Palace. Since 1651 the Square was the heart of the Chinese Empire, seat of imperial government and stage for events central to the nation's history -- and none in modern times more pivotal than the proclamation here of the People's Republic of China on 1st October 1949: the date when, as Mao said in a revealing phrase, "China stood up." In the evening you enjoy a Peking Duck banquet.
Morning visit to the Temple of Heaven, a 15th century architectural masterpiece where emperors prayed annually for good harvests. Then you catch afternoon flight to Shanghai, China's largest (pop.12 million), most sophisticated and cosmopolitan city with its new skyscrapers, crowds of shoppers, more fashionably dressed women, busy port and booming factories. For good or ill, Shanghai since the much resented "international concessions" extorted by European powers in the 19th century has been China's most "westernized" and "urbanized" city.
You visit the historic Bund (the European/Japanese "Wall Street" of banks, trade organizations and consulates established at the barrel of a gunboat over a century ago) where today locals stroll and practice their Tai Chi; bazaars of Old Town; the Yu Yuan or Happiness Garden, an abiding symbol of douceur de vivre and a mandarin's filial piety in Old China; and nearby the charming Wuxingting Teahouse over water; famed Jade Buddha Temple with its two white jade sculptures and the glittering emporiums along Nanjing Road, also the Children's Palace and Arts and Crafts Exhibition. Evening entertainment is an acrobatic show.
Return flight to Hong Kong.
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Copyright 1996 DIA International Travel, Incorporated