10 days Beijing - Datong - Pingyao and Xi'an cultural tour
Beijing, Datong, Pingyao, and Xi'an are cities rich with history. Beijing and Xi'an, being among the four great ancient capitals of China, have plenty to offer. During your visits to Datong and Pingyao, marvel at the breathtaking Yungang Grottoes and the Hanging Temple, and explore the Ancient City of Pingyao, which served as China's financial hub until the end of the Qing Dynasty, immersing you in its historic financial significance.
Upon arriving in Beijing, you will be greeted by your local guide and driver who will then transport you to the hotel. Here you can have a good rest and be prepared for the next days' journey. Overnight at Beijing.
Your first day will begin with a visit to the largest square in the world - Tiananmen square. It is also an assembling place for Chinese people to celebrate important festivals or hold other big events.
Located in the north of Tiananmen Square, is the Forbidden City, the best persevered imperial palace in China. Walk through this mysterious place and taste the more than 500 years of historical civilization that once was China. Imagine you've traveled back more than 1,000 years ago, wandering here with princess or princes.
After lunch, drive to visit the Summer Palace, an original royal garden and a temporary dwelling palace for emperors of Qing Dynasty, which is mainly dominated by Longevity Hill and Kunming Lake. It is declared "a masterpiece of Chinese landscape garden design" by UNESCO.
After dinner, you can choose to enjoy the authentic Chinese Kungfu Show. Overnight at Beijing.
Morning excursion to one of the most adventurous sections of the Great Wall - Shixiaguan. It will take approximately 2 hours to drive there. Once you arrive, you will experience the physical challenge and the amazing views of the hiking tour from Shixiaguan to Badaling sections. This is an ideal place for hiking enthusiasts to enjoy the landscape. It is less crowded than other parts of the Wall and provides a unique view. It's really fun and worthy of a China Great Wall experience.
In the late afternoon, upon your return to Beijing, you will have a chance to view the 2008 Olympic Green.
After breakfast, you will be guided to visit the Temple of Heaven, a holy imperial temple where emperors once prayed for a good harvest and offered sacrifices to the God of Heaven during every winter solstice. You will have a glimpse of this masterpiece of architecture and landscape design.
Afterward, you will have 1-2 hours to experience the traditional Hutong culture by visiting Shichahai in west Beijing. You will travel by rickshaw through century-old Hutongs in Shichahai before their demolition. You can also walk along the old Yandai Xiejie, which has an 800-year history surrounding Beijing's Drum Tower. You will have plenty of time to explore on your own and nearby Nanluoguoxiang, where you can taste some local snacks or buy souvenirs from the many antique shows for your family and friends.
In the afternoon, you will take the high-speed train to Datong (about 2 hours train ride). Upon your arrival in Datong, you will be picked up and transferred to the hotel.
Today's tour begins with a visit to the Yungang Grottoes, one of the three major grottoes in China, the other two being the Longmen Grottoes in Luoyang and the Mogao Grottoes in Dunhuang. Yungang Grottoes is made up of 252 grottoes containing over 51,000 Buddha statues and statuettes.
After that, visit the Huayan Monastery. The original monastery dates back to AD 1140 and the reign of Emperor Tian Ju'an of the Jin dynasty. The entire complex is being developed into a regional museum.
In the late afternoon, you will visit the Nine Dragon Screen, a wall carving built over 600 years ago, which is the oldest and largest glazed screen in China today.
Stay overnight at Datong.
Today you will drive to Pingyao for about 5-6 hours. Pingyao was a financial center of China. Its history dates back 2,700 years and is one of the best preserved ancient cities in the known world. It is still inhabited by 50,000 residents and is renowned for its well-preserved ancient city wall, and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
After breakfast at your hotel, start a 1.5-hour drive to visit the Hanging Monastery in Hunyuan County of Datong, the biggest feature of this temple as its name suggests lies in its unique construction site, on the west cliff of Jinlong Gorge more than 50 m. (164 ft.) above the ground as well as in its architectural style which blends elements of Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism all in. This is a one of its kind in China.
Then continue your journey south to Pingyao. En route, pause to visit the Yingxian Wooden Pagoda, recognized as the world's tallest and oldest wooden stupa. After a cultural immersion at the stupa, continue on a four-hour drive until you reach Pingyao Ancient City. Settle in for an overnight stay in Pingyao.
Today you and your guide will visit Pingyao's ancient city. Your tour starts with the Ancient City Wall of Pingyao, offering a panoramic view of the town's layout. Next, Visit the Rishengchang Former Bank to get a glimpse of the historical banking system. Known as the 'Countryside Grandfather' of various Chinese banks, it was established in 1823 during the Qing Dynasty. Then, wander along the traditional Ming and Qing Dynasties Street, this narrow, bustling street is filled with numerous shops showcasing Ming-Qing style architecture. As you stroll down this street, you'll feel as though you've stepped back in time by 200 years. Continue the day tour by appreciating the intricate wood carvings, paintings, and sculptures at the Temple of City God. You will also be arranged to visit the Pingyao Ancient Government Office. If time permits, you can also visit some other attractions on your own. Overnight at Pingyao.
Today, you will have another half day tour in Pingyao to visit Wang Family Compound & Shuanglin Temple.
Begin your day with a drive to the Wang Family Compound, an architectural marvel located in Jingsheng town. More resembling a grand castle than a cozy home, it boasts 123 courtyards, around 1113 houses, and covers an area of 45,000 square meters. The compound is a reflection of the prosperous era of the Wang family and is noted for its intricate sculptures and woodwork. The journey from your hotel to this impressive location will take approximately an hour
Next, you'll continue to the Shuanglin Temple, located 7 km (4 mi) south of Pingyao. Known for its rare Song and Yuan painted statues, the temple was reconstructed in 571 A.D., making its history span about 1,400 years. The temple consists of halls of various sizes, from small to large, and rooms exclusively designed as sutra chanting halls. The notable Guan Yu's Hall is named after a famous general of the Shu people during the Three Kingdoms period.
Take afternoon bullet train to Xi'an (takes about 3 hours). Xi'an train station pick up and transfer to hotel. Overnight at Xi'an.
Today your tour will begin with a short drive into the suburb to visit the Terracotta Warriors and Horses. Here you can embrace this more than 2,000 years lost history with what is now called the eighth wonder of the world. See the more than 10,000 clay warriors and their chariots, none of which are the same!
Afterward, you will be driven back in a private car to Xi'an where in the afternoon, you will visit the Big Wild Goose Pagoda, the landmarks of Xi'an. It's said the pagoda was built to house the Buddhist sutras brought back from India by a famous monk named Xuanzang. Here, you can enjoy a bird's-eye view of the city and samples of ancient architecture.
A short drive will then take you to the final stop of the day which is Xi'an Muslim Quarters and the Great Mosque. These two places will are filled with a unique feel and ethnic atmosphere. Overnight at Xi'an.
In the morning, visit Shaanxi History Museum, which is often touted as one of the best of China, with a collection of 370,000 elaborate relics. You will feel that you have come to the ancient Xi'an because the museum is built in the architectural style of the Tang dynasty.
After you and your guide have left the museum, enjoy a delicious local lunch and then continue on to visit the famous Xi'an City wall, one of the oldest and best-preserved walls in China. Your last stop on the tour is Shuyuan Men, a perfect place to grab some last minute souvenirs. It presents you what the building and people's life in Tang dynasty. Your guide will ensure you reach the airport or train station for your departure from Xi'an.