More than geography separates Beijing and Pingyao and you’ll understand why after this memorable tour of two vastly different destinations. Spend four days in bold Beijing where you can absorb its political, cultural and historic highlights, among them Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City and Summer Palace, and the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall. From Beijing travel comfortably by bullet train on China’s vast and growing rail network to Pingyao, almost quaint by contrast. It’s here you’ll discover the essence of China’s commercial pedigree beautifully preserved and exemplified in the Wang Family Mansion and the Rishengchang Draft Bank. Wander Pingyao’s streets and follow Buddha’s enlightenment at the Shuanglin Temple. A six day adventure including four and five star hotel accommodation, daily breakfast, train travel and transfers, and friendly local guides, you’ll appreciate the opportunity to experience some of the many contrasts of China on this tour.
Arrive at Beijing airport where you’ll be greeted by your local guide. Together you’ll drive directly to your hotel, on the way taking the opportunity to learn a little about this city, which is rich in Chinese history, politics, and culture. After check in, you’re free to rest, relax, or explore. Be sure to check with your guide for their insider local dining options.
Meals included: None
Your Beijing adventure starts this morning with a visit to the world’s largest city square, Tiananmen Square. Seriously large, even by China’s standards, Tiananment Square is auspicious, as China’s political heart, flanked by the Great Hall of the People, the Chairman Mao Memorial Hall, and the National Museum of China. Your guide will lead you across the road the to the awe-inspiring Forbidden City. A culturally historic landmark in Beijing, the Forbidden City seems to go on and on. The detailed planning, careful construction, and symbolic representation of every part of this former residence of Chinese royalty is to be admired. Be prepared to walk in wonder. From the Forbidden City, your guide will lead you to the Summer Palace, highlighting the uniqueness of its elaborate design, beautiful gardens, and the man-made Kunming Lake. It will be easy to imagine Empress Dowager Cixi spending her summers here, overseeing the intrigue and plots that were characteristic of imperial life. Reflect on China’s opening up to the world when you take a stopover to explore the Bird’s Nest and Water Cube – the stadium and pool constructed for the 2008 Summer Olympics. After a full day of exploring, you’ll be taken back to your hotel.
Meals included: Breakfast
Note: Your tour guide may adjust your itinerary due to closure of the Forbidden City each Monday.
China is home to many iconic historical structures and monuments, however few are as remarkable as the Great Wall. Today is your chance to climb the wall at the Mutianyu section and understand a little of its impressive history. A quick stop at the famous local food market Sanyuanli on the way means you can stock up on fruit and snacks for today’s trip. Every section of the Great Wall attracts interest, however the Mutianyu Great Wall is one which is less frequented. Located about 90 minutes drive from Beijing, you can sit back and enjoy being driven, while having the opportunity to ask your guide questions about points of interest along the way. The wall is accessible by cable car and a short trip up provides wonderful views of the surrounding country. It also makes you reflect on this incredible feat of construction, which involved over 800,000 soldiers and civilians. Make like a guard and walk the wall to take in the Ming dynasty guard towers and sensational views. There will be plenty to talk about on the return trip to Beijing. Your afternoon is spent visiting the Confucius Temple, first built in 1302 to honor Confucius and the philosophers who studied Confucianism over centuries. You’ll also visit the Imperial College Museum too and it’s here you’ll learn of its importance to scholars past and present who studied and took exams there to advance their careers. Finish the day’s itinerary by wandering through Wudaoying Hutong. This is a chance to visit Beijing’s most creative and artistic hutong and make like a local as you visit the curious shops, cafes, and witness the lifestyle of a unique Beijing community.
Meals included: Breakfast
Every Chinese emperor constructed buildings of importance and Emperor Yongle was no exception. Responsible for the building the Temple of Heaven (along with the Forbidden City), he established it as a pivotal place of worship during his reign, a tradition continued until 1900 by subsequent Ming and Qing emperors. Your guide will explain the significance of the many elements of the temple, each of which was deliberately designed. Learn how ceremonies and rituals were performed, as the emperor and people of the day prayed for good harvests and blessings for the country. Watch locals as they practice Tai Chi, sing, and dance to water calligraphy. Farewell Beijing on the transfer to Beijing West railway station. Our guides provide support every step of the way and you’ll be assisted with check in for the bullet train trip to Pingyao. With an afternoon of travel ahead – the train trip lasts close to four and a half hours – you can sit back and enjoy the scenery, which highlights the contrast in contemporary high speed development and the slower pace of unchanging Chinese agricultural traditions. On arrival in Pingyao, your local tour guide will be there to meet you and escort you to your hotel. Happy to share their knowledge of favourite foods and restaurants, you can make the most of your first evening in Pingyao.
Meals included: Breakfast
One day in Pingyao and you’ll understand why China’s evolution as an economic power is no mistake. Pingyao’s fame resides in its history as an economic hub and the astute architectural and regional planning evident in the streets and buildings. Your day starts when your guide picks you up from the hotel and takes you to Rishengchang Draft Bank, belived to have been established in 1823 during the Qing Dynasty. Aptly named Rishengchang – literally meaning “Sunrise Prosperity” – Rishengchang Draft Bank is considered the forerunner to China’s modern bank. Even today it remains true to its original style, providing a window into banking operations from previous eras. With a slower pace you’ll find in Beijing, you can wander leisurely along Ming and Qing Street where you can sample street food snacks, shop for souvenirs, and enjoy the unique traditional architecture of the Ming and Qing dynasties that is so beautifully preserved here. Consistent with the financial theme of the day, you’ll visit the Tongxinggong Escort Agency. It seems armored financial guards are not a recent phenomena. You’ll discover how the armed escort service provided by Tongxinggong Escort Agency operated in ancient Chinese dynasties and supported the Pingyao County Government for over 600 years. With a bit of luck, there may be an opportunity to be a bystander to an old Court Trial re-enactment. The day’s itinerary concludes with a climb up the Ancient City Wall. Incredibly, this wall dates back to 1370 and its not hard to see why. The locals must have wanted to enjoy the fabulous views of the ancient town that you’ll discover once there.
Meals included: Breakfast
There is something special about this corner of China which has much of its history steeped in the merchant families who made good. Today’s exploration is a prime example. After a one hour drive you’ll be taken to the Wang Family Mansion, a grand Qing-dynasty residential compound which took over half a century to complete. The Wang family story is a quintessential rags to riches one, with its ancestors starting out as farmers. Morphing their way into business, construction, and politics, the family eventually built the impressive Wang Family Mansion. Here you can explore the seemingly endless courtyards and marvel at the elaborate and unique architectural design. Ascend to the very top of the wall where the view provides the true perspective of the mansion’s size. Moving to the more ethereal, you will visit the 1400-year-old Shuanglin Temple. It’s here you can travel the journey of Buddha’s enlightenment while you explore the exquisite collection of more than 2000 colored sculptures and wall paintings. Your time in Pingyao concludes today when the local guide takes you to the Pingyao railway station for travel to your next destination.
Meals included: Breakfast
Note: Like to spend more time in Pingyao? No problem! We can make arrangements for additional time and sightseeing in Pingyao. You only need ask. Our specialist travel team can help with every arrangement, including the train ticket departing from Pingyao. All additional arrangements do incur a surcharge.
Inclusions / Exclusions
- Admission fees: to sightseeing spots and activities specified
- Accommodation: hotels based on double/twin occupancy as specified
- Meals: as specified in the itinerary
- Tour guide: excellent private English-speaking guide
- Transportation: bullet train of Beijing/Pingyao (First class seat for Luxury tours; second class seat for Superior tours).
- Transfers: land transfer with drivers as specified
- Travel Agency Liability Insurance during the tour
- Government taxes and fees.
- International/domestic flights and trains to Beijing/from Pingyao
- China visa fees
- Gratuities to guides and drivers and any expense of a personal nature
- Our tour package does not include travel insurance. Please purchase travel insurance before your trip to provide for any unforeseen circumstances.
- This is a private tour for your group of family or friends. No other travelers will join you. It’s always available for your schedule.
- Smart casual dress and comfortable walking shoes are recommended.
- Prices based on twin occupancy.
- The prices shown above are not valid during China’s Official Holidays (such as National Day and Chinese Spring Festival etc.).