16 days

Ancient Dynasties of China

Ancient Dynasties of China

Walk on remote sections of the Great Wall

The Forbidden City

Terracotta Warriors of Xian

Shaolin - the birthplace of Kung Fu


Longmen Grottoes

Trip rating
  • The ancient dynasties of China are revealed on this 16-day journey – ancient and modern, cultural and historical. From a remote section of the Great Wall to visiting the medieval town of Pingyao but not before the Hanging Monastery of Datong. Our adventure unravels the myths of Kung Fu at the Shaolin Temple followed by exploring the ancient canal towns of Zhouzhang. Finally, our journey ends in the vibrant city of Shanghai which shows the modern face of China.


    Day 1 - Beijing

    On arrival in Beijing you are transferred to your hotel. In the evening you meet your tour leader and the other group members for a pre-tour briefing. This is followed by a Welcome Dinner at a local restaurant where we get to dine out on the local speciality - Peking Duck.

    Dong Fang Hotel or similar

    Day 2-3 - Beijing

    Beijing offers endless opportunities for exploration. Strolling through Tiananmen Square we make our way to the enormous Forbidden City, built more than 500 years ago and off limits to commoners for almost all that time, is a truly amazing place. Its size might surprise you (it is huge!), but what makes it fascinating is that every square metre is interesting, ranging from intricately carved walkways to colourful, painted ceilings. We visit the Temple of Heaven, which is a fine examples of extraordinary workmanship. We also travel to the Jinshanling section of the Great Wall. Being perched on this incredible engineering feat and surveying the spectacular surrounding countryside is an unforgettable experience. There is some free time in the itinerary, allowing you to make your own discoveries. Our hotel is located in the south of the city and a walk in any direction will unveil all sorts of wonderful surprises. There are good shopping opportunities at the various markets around the city, such as the centrally located Dashilan Market. In the evening, you have the chance to enjoy a performance of the unique Beijing Opera (optional).

    Dong Fang Hotel or similar

    Day 4-5 - Datong

    We have a morning visit to the Summer Palace in Beijing, and then we catch an afternoon train for the five-and-a-half hour journey to Datong. Now an industrial city and transportation hub, Datong once served as a military stronghold throughout numerous dynasties and also as a capital of some ancient kingdoms. In those days it flourished in trade, agriculture and was a centre for Buddhism. A tour to the Yungang Grottoes, one of the three great Buddhist grottoes in China, is a highlight. Construction began as early as 460AD. There are over 50,000 Buddha statues carved into the caves by over 10,000 artisans, stonemasons and their assistants. We also drive for a hour south and spend time exploring the unique Hanging Monastery. This amazing Buddhist temple appears to be glued to the side of a cliff.

    Datong Hong Qi Grand Hotel or similar
    Breakfast | Lunch

    Day 6-7 - Pingyao - overnight train

    We depart at dawn and catch an early morning train to Pingyao. There are not many trains that service this route and the more comfortable air-conditioned train only leaves at this early time of the day. The journey takes about 8 hours. In Pingyao we spend a night in a historic traditional style Chinese inn. A delightful day is spent exploring this ancient town designed in the shape of a tortoise - a traditional Chinese symbol for longevity. It is full of temples, traditional architecture, city walls, watchtowers and battlements. China’s earliest banks were set up in Pingyao, which at a stage during the Qing Dynasty, was the financial headquarters of the entire country. Boarding an overnight train, we travel soft-class sleeper and slowly head towards Xian.

    Yixingyi Tongfu Inn or similar

    Day 8-9 - Xian

    Xian is a wonderful place to explore. Food options are excellent here, ranging from delicious Muslim fare to great little dumplings in Chinese cafes. Widely regarded as the first capital of a united China in 221 BC, the city is rich in history. A half-day tour to the renowned Terracotta Warriors introduces us to these entombed statues, considered one of the most important archaeological finds of the 20th century. Over 6000 of them were individually sculpted from clay, each having a different costume, height, even facial expression. They are standing in battle formation, facing east in order to protect the tomb of China's first emperor, the great Qin Shihuang. Peasants digging a well only discovered the underground vault, which was home to this army for two millennia, in 1974. Xian also has a wonderful Muslim Quarter. A free day can easily be spent wandering the narrow streets where we find quaint shops, lively markets, groups of white-bearded men in skull caps sipping tea in cafes, and the Great Mosque, one of the most important in China.

    Union Alliance Hotel or similar
    Breakfast | Lunch

    Day 10-12 - Luoyang - Shaolin - overnight train

    A short train journey from Xian takes us to Luoyang where we base ourselves for the next 2 nights. Luoyang was the imperial capital of 13 dynasties. Luoyang is a great city for people watching. As there is a peoples square which is one of the most lively in China. In this square you can witness people ballroom dancing, doing Kung Fu, Tai chi or just wanting to practice their English with you. The following morning we visit the famous Shaolin Temple. It is here we can witness 1000s of students training in the ancient art of kung fu under the watchful eye of their master. After visiting the temple we can attaned a kung fu demonstration by some of the gifted students.. The following day we visit the Longmen Grottoes. The Longman Grottoes began in 493 and stretches 1 km in length and houses 100,000 statues with the most impressive Buddha standing 17.2 metres in height. Late in the afternoon we catch an overnight train to the exciting metroplis of Shanghai.

    New Friendship Hotel or similar

    Day 13-14 - Shanghai

    In the morning we arrive in Shanghai and transfer to our hotel located near the famous Bund or waterfront area, where dozens of imposing European colonial buildings, remnants of the concession era, line the promenade. This is an excellent place to rub shoulders with the locals. The shopping area on Nanjing Road is situated nearby. We enjoy free time in Shanghai, and your tour leader can show you how to get to the famous Yuyuan Gardens and Bazaar, a fascinating highlight of the city and worth exploring for its tranquil Chinese garden and wonderful dumplings. This evening the tour leader can organise tickets to the famous Shanghai acrobats(optional). The following morning is a free morning where the tour leader can organise many activities for you from visiting the impressive Shanghai museum, to a morning cruise along the Bund or an excursion to one of the tallest buildings in China the Jin Mao tower for a view of the expansive Shanghai area.

    Bund Riverside Hotel or similar

    Day 15 - Zhouzhuang - Shanghai

    In the morning we are transported by a private coach to Zhouzhuang where we spend the day exploring this ancient well preserved town. Zhouzhuang is the most famous water town in China and you can walk where Marco Polo once walked as he roamed these streets in the 1200s in what is known as the Venice of the East.

    Bund Riverside Hotel or similar

    Day 16 - Shanghai

    The tour ends after breakfast. You should arrange an evening flight out, or stay an extra day, if you wish to have time to explore more of Shanghai. A transfer to the airport is not included, however, your tour leader will be on hand to advise you as to the options available.

  • What to Know

    What's Included

    • Peregrine tour leader, local guides, arrival transfer, transport, sightseeing and entrance fees.

    Not Included

    • International and domestic departure taxes, departure transfer, visas, insurance, other meals, any optional tours and activities during free time, tips and items of a personal nature.
  • Map Itinerary

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Trip at a glance

Trip Code PCDC
Group size 4 - 15
Start City: Beijing
End City: Shanghai

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