Route of the Seven Dynasties
Calling all history buffs – it's time for your journey through China to begin. In Shanghai, you'll be picked up and taken to your hotel to rest after your flight. Spend the afternoon and evening as you please, perhaps stretch your legs with a wander to the Bund to watch the light show and enjoy Shanghai’s vibrant atmosphere. Your home in Shanghai will be the Sunrise on the Bund - be sure to walk out and see the amazing Pudong skyline!
Board a high-speed train to the ancient water town of Suzhou. At 2,500 years old, the town became the home of Chinese silk in the 14th century. It’s an elegant town, with classical Chinese architecture and immaculate gardens promoting positive 'Qi' and picturesque canals draped with willows. On arrival, you will visit Tiger Hill, home to the Cloud Rock Pagoda. This architectural triumph ushered in a new era of Chinese design, though now it is tilted by two meters. There’ll be time to admire the manicured gardens and take a private boat ride around the moat.
The next morning you'll head straight to the town’s best gardens early to beat the crowds. Wander through the Humble Administrator's Garden, Garden of the Master of the Nets and the Pan Gate Scenic Area. In the afternoon, spend your time as you please. Wander along the canals lined with tempting shops or visit Suzhou museum to learn more about this fascinating area. In the evening enjoy a boat trip around the outer canal.
It's on to Kaifeng by high-speed train. Once the capital of the Northern Song Dynasty, it's an excellent spot to learn more about ancient China. Once you've checked into your hotel, you'll have an afternoon to yourself before visiting the night market for a fresh and tasty local dinner.
In the morning you'll head off on a full day of adventure around Kaifeng. Visit the Temple of the Chief Minister, which dates back to 555AD and still attracts monks to its temple to practice their daily chants. Next, it's on to Kaifeng Fu, the reconstructed Northern Song offices and the Iron Pagoda Park, a fine 11th Century pagoda clad with beautiful tiles. You’ll have a guide on hand to provide you with plenty of historical context.
A short journey to Luoyang and you'll find yourself in one of the oldest cities in China. It was first settled in 2070BC. The junction of Luo and Yi rivers meant it was considered sacred and today you will find many religious examples of this belief dotted all over the city. You’ll visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Longmen Grottoes, home to some of the finest examples of Buddhist art in the world. Within the 2,345 caves, there are over 100,000 statues.
The next day head to Xiaolong Kung Fu School, a famous academy where a local master will show you around the school’s restaurant and training room. After your tour, you will enjoy a one-hour lesson with the master and learn some basic Kung Fu skills.
It's back aboard the high-speed train, and this time you're off to the historical city of Xi'an. After you've settled into your hotel, you'll head out for a spot of sightseeing. Visit the ancient city walls that were first built in 1370. Later in the day, you'll see the Drum and Bell Towers and the Great Mosque – the largest mosque in China.
The next day visit one of China’s most famous attractions – the 2,000-year-old Terracotta Army. This life-size army was built to protect the soul of China's first emperor. Despite being discovered several decades ago, only 1% have been excavated, making it one of the most famous archaeological sites in the world.
In the afternoon you'll return to Xi’an where you can spend your afternoon as you please. In the evening head out on a food tour of the Muslim quarter. Given Xi’an’s location at the end of the Silk Road, the cuisine here is a true melting pot of cultures. Tuck in!
It’s time to board the train to China's best-preserved ancient town, Pingyao. Unlike many ancient towns in the country, Pingyao has not been redeveloped and is still home to local inhabitants. Get to know it better on a walking tour and learn about the traditional art of paper cutting. In the evening you'll have plenty of leisure time. Stroll around the streets and take in the picturesque red lanterns swaying in the breeze.
The next day it's off to the cliffs at Mianshan to admire the beautiful temples located in this picturesque landscape. Perched on the rocks' edge, these temples make a wonderful photo opportunity. After you've absorbed the history, explore the narrow gorge and walk along the river in search of waterfalls. Afterward, go to Yunfeng temple with your guide, looking out for the ominous-looking Sky Ladder that climbs up the buildings attached to the side of the cliff.
Your trip through China will finish with a flourish, with a final high-speed train journey into Beijing, the country’s capital that is packed to the rafters with history. In the capital, you will enjoy a full-day tour of the best historical attractions, including the Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square and Summer Palace. Along the way, your guide will be able to share insight into the varied history of each site. On your last full day in China, visit the Great Wall at Jinshanling, a perfect slice of history to end on. This lesser-visited stretch of the wall boasts far-reaching views as it stretches out over undulating hills.