Cultural Tour in Shanxi

Loess Plateau

Do you want to explore a traditional loess cave house for the first time? Do you want to stay in a monumental mansion which once belonged to a rich Chinese family? Do you want to see something completely different from what you’re used to? Then Shanxi province is the place for you!

Shanxi Province is considered “the museum of ancient Chinese architecture”. This province contains more than 70% of the old buildings constructed during or before the Song Dynasty (960-1279). There you will also find the Yungang Grottoes, Mount Hengshan,which is one of the “Five Great Peaks” of China, the ancient city of Pingyao, many Shanxi Grand Compounds and an amazing view of the Loess Plateau. The Ancient City of Pingyao is a well-preserved ancient town which was particularly prosperous during the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) Dynasties. The Shanxi Grand Compounds act as fantastic examples of the artistry of Northern Chinese architecture. And the stunning view of the Loess Plateau is something unique to Shanxi Province. (Read more about Shanxi)

During this tour, we will

  1. visit the most famous cultural attractions in Shanxi Province;
  2. enjoy the splendid scenery in the Loess Plateau, including the Yellow River;
  3. learn the history of the Jin Merchants (read more about the Jin Merchants);
  4. experience life in a loess cave house;
  5. try various kinds of local food made from flour.

This tour includes:

  • A well-planned cultural tour, which covers all of the most famous cultural attractions and amazing scenery in Shanxi Province;
  • All entrance fees, transport, and accommodation costs and some of the meal costs;
  • An English speaking guide with knowledge of Shanxi History, particularly with regards to the history of the Jin Merchants and the architecture of the Shanxi Grand Compounds;
  • Small group sizes (no more than 10 people);
  • The opportunity to experience real local life and public transportation;
  • The feeling that you are travelling with friends;
  • A pdf file of the culture, history and other useful facts about Shanxi Province.

Highlights of the tour:

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The Hanging Temple 

The Hanging Temple, or Xuankong Temple, was built onto a cliff-face in Mount Hengshan and has survived for more than 1,500 years. It is the only existing temple that combines teachings from the three traditional Chinese religions: Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism. The supportive foundation of the structure is hidden within the bedrock. The temple includes 40 rooms; the highest room, Sanjiao Hall, is 90 meters above ground level. There are more than 80 statues made of copper, iron, stone and clay within the temple. (Read more about the Hanging Temple)

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Pingyao Ancient Town

Pingyao was the financial centre of China during the Qing Dynasty. The first bank in Chinese history was set up there. Now it is considered the most well preserved ancient city in China, in that it illustrates perfectly what a typical big city in the Ming and Qing Dynasties was like. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. (Read more about Pingyao)

 

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The Shanxi Grand Compounds

Jin Merchants (merchants from Shanxi) played a dominant role in Chinese history during the Ming and Qing Dynasties. They became incredibly wealthy and used that wealth to build grand compounds for their families. These castle-like structures were constructed based on the architectural style of northern China. Similar to the traditional Chinese Quadrangle, the courtyard is usually rectangular in shape and all of the rooms will face towards the courtyard. The whole mansion looks like a compound formed by many small quadrangles. The external walls are high and strong, which makes them perfect for defensive purposes. (Read more about the Shanxi Grand Compounds)

Yungang Grottoes01

The Yungang Grottoes

This group of grottoes was carved between 453 and 495 AD, during the Northern Wei Dynasty (386-534 AD). It was the first group of grottoes to be constructed under imperial patronage. The whole site is composed of 252 grottoes with more than 51,000 Buddha statues and statuettes. It is one of the “Four Grand Groups of Grottoes” in China and was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2001. (Read more about the Yungang Grottoes)

The Yaodong Villages 

house cave01The Yaodong (Loess Cave House) is a typical type of dwelling found in the Loess Plateau, with more than 4,500 years of history behind it. Nowadays, there are still more than 40 million people living in this type of building. (Read more about Yaodong)

Of the Yaodong Villages, we have chosen Qikou Ancient Town and the two other listed villages to visit on our tour. We have chosen these three villages specifically so that you can see all three types of Yaodong, which can be found in these three places respectively.

Qikou

“Qi” means “the moraine in the river” in Chinese. Qikou was the most important port on the Yellow River during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), which was the most prosperous era for the Jin Merchants. More than 200 hotels, along with numerous warehouses, in Qikou were constantly busy during that period. (Read more about Qikou)

xiwan chen's house

Xiwan Village

Xiwan village was a small port, and the whole village also acted as a castle-like compound for the Chen clan. One of the Chen’s Ancestral Halls still remains in the village and there is also a large mansion there, which belonged to Chen Sanxi’s family.  The Chen’s Courtyard is different from that of a typical Shanxi Compound; it is a compound comprised of Yaodongs built in ascending steps along the sides of the hills in Xiwan.

Lijiashan

Lijiashan Village

More than 400 Yaodongs have been built in rows on the hills of Lijiashan village, which creates an amazing and unique architectural landscape. There are both loess cave houses and loess caves in Lijiashan, which have been strengthened by stones and bricks. During the Qing Dynasty, two rich families from the Li clan built large mansions in the village, and these mansions demonstrate beautifully the local art of brick-sculpture, stone carving and woodcutting.

The Yellow River

The Yellow River is the second longest river in China, and it is also the most important river in Northern China. Billions of different species of animal live in the river. The Yellow River is not yellow at its source; it is the yellow sandy soil which has eroded from the Loess Plateau that gives it its colour. Thus, thanks to the Loess Plateau in Shanxi, the Yellow River graduates from being completely clear at its source to being a deep yellow colour further down the line.

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The Location of Shanxi in China:

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hotel

Accommodation: In Qixian Ancient town and Pingyao Ancient town we will stay in a traditional Shanxi Courtyard (4 nights). In Qikou we will stay in the featured loess cave house that has been equipped with modern amenities (2 nights), and in Datong city (2 nights) and Taiyuan city (1 night) we will stay in 4-Star hotels.

Please Note: In the Shanxi Courtyard hotel and the loess cave house we will be sleeping on traditional Chinese heated brick beds.

Food: Breakfast will be provided every day and we will also provide 5 dinners consisting of authentic Shanxi cuisine.

Transportation: The cost of the high-speed trains, normal trains, coaches and the hired car we will use are all included.

Duration: 11 days and 10 nights

Date: 10th of May to the 20th of May, 2017

Final Deadline for Subscription: 10th of March, 2017

shanxi foodCost pp£1180 (including: 9 nights of accommodation; all entrance fees to the attractions; 5 dinners; 9 breakfasts; all transportation fees during the designated tour times; an English speaking guide; a pdf file with useful facts about Shanxi province;
Single supp:+£350

Please Note: the cost is based on the subscription of at least 4 participants; the maximum is 10 participants.

 

 

 

 

Itinerary:

Day 1 Beijing – Datong

Meeting Point: Beijing Railway Station

Meeting Time: 9:30 AM

It will take us six and a half hours by train to get to Datong. During our journey, we will have plenty of opportunities to see the prairie and the edge of the Loess Plateau.

Accommodation: 4-Star hotel

Dinner: We will sample traditional Shanxi cuisine together.

Day 2 Hanging Temple and Yungang Grottoes

In the morning, we will go by car to Mount Heng, which is where the Hanging Temple is located.

We will return to Datong city around about 1pm to have lunch, and then we will go to visit the Yungang Grottoes in the afternoon.

Accommodation: 4-Star hotel

Dinner: Dinner not included on this evening

Day 3 Datong – Qixian

We will leave for Qixian by train in the early morning (about 7:30am). Our train journey will cut straight through the Loess Plateau. We will arrive at about 3:00pm and spend the afternoon exploring the old town.

Accommodation: Traditional Shanxi Courtyard

Dinner: We will sample traditional Shanxi cuisine together

Day 4 Qiao’s Family Compound and Qu’s Family Compound

We will visit the Qiao’s Family Compound in the morning and the Qu’s Family Compound in the afternoon, as well as a few other historical sites in the old part of the town.

Accommodation: Traditional Shanxi Courtyard

Dinner: Dinner not included on this evening

Day 5 Pingyao Old Town

We will go to Pingyao in the morning and spend the whole day there exploring the old town. Our tour will start with the most famous attractions: the site of the first bank in China, several sites of other ancient banks, the ancient security organisation, and the city wall.

You’ll also have a few hours alone to spend exploring the old business street. There are various shops there that sell local art and traditional handcrafts.

Accommodation: Traditional Shanxi Courtyard

Dinner: We will sample authentic Shanxi cuisine together.

Day 6 Pingyao Old Town

One day simply wouldn’t be enough to uncover all of the hidden gems this ancient town has to offer, so the next day will be spent continuing our exploration! Our guided tour will include the three main temples, the old town hall, several large mansions, and a few other attractions covered by the admission ticket. If the tour stays on schedule, you should have a few hours left to spend wandering the town on your own.

Accommodation: Traditional Shanxi Courtyard

Dinner: Dinner not included on this evening

Day 7 Shuanglin Temple and the Wang’s Family Compound

We will visit Shuanglin Temple in the morning for roughly 2 hours, and then we will go to visit the biggest Shanxi Grand Compound – the Wang’s Family Compound.

Accommodation: Traditional Shanxi Courtyard

Dinner: Dinner not included on this evening

Day 8 Pingyao – Taiyuan – Qikou

We will go to Taiyuan, the capital city of Shanxi Province, by train. From there, we will catch a coach to Qikou. This coach journey will not only provide ample opportunity to enjoy the spectacular landscape, but give you an unforgettable experience of traveling through the barren Loess Plateau.

Accommodation: Loess cave house

Dinner: We will enjoy a meal together made up of various local dishes

Day 9 Lijiawan Village and Xiwan Village

We will hike to these two villages, which will give us the chance to appreciate the spectacular scenery throughout the Loess Plateau and along the Yellow River.

Qikou – Xiwan: Approximately a 1km hike

Qikou – Lijiawan: Approximately a 3km hike

Accommodation: Loess cave house

Dinner: We will enjoy a meal together made up of various local dishes

Day 10 Qikou – Taiyuan

We will spend one last beautiful morning in Qikou and then we have to return, by coach, to Taiyuan.

Accommodation: 4-Star hotel

Dinner: We will enjoy a meal together made up of various local dishes

Day 11 Taiyuan – Beijing

We will return to Beijing by high-speed train, which will take just 3 hours.

 

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Please Note: You can choose to stick to this tour entirely, or you can just incorporate it as part of your wider plans to travel across China. We can provide you with information and help you with any other travel plans you may have if you need us to. We also provide a hotel booking service and a flight or train booking service for all of our members’ traveling in China outside of the 10 designated days of the tour. We will also provide a consultancy service for you, which will help you to plan your journey across China and give you useful tips on traveling in China.

 

We hope that you will have a wonderful time traveling with us!

For more information, please contact us at info@asiaculturaltravel.co.uk.

Hiking along the wild Great Wall

 

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What is the best way to experience the Great Wall? Should you simply visit the Badaling section, take a photo of yourself there, and then post it on Facebook or Instagram to show your friends and family that you have been the Great Wall?

Most visitors would say ‘Yes’, but not us.

The Badaling portion of the Great Wall is the most famous according to any tour guidebook, because it is the most ‘complete’ one. It has been rebuilt to show how majestic the Great Wall once looked. Most of it is relatively new and easy to climb. However, some people argue that the Badaling portion is not the “real” Great Wall; it just has many big steps and was built on top of a part of the Great Wall.

The Great Wall has more than 2,300 years of history behind it. But the surviving parts of the Great Wall are mostly just relics of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), even those ones that are around the Beijing area. However, even if these portions of the Great Wall only date back to the Ming Dynasty, that still means they have been standing for nearly 600 years. The Badaling portion of the Great Wall has been so well maintained that it arguably demonstrates what the Great Wall would have looked like during the Ming Dynasty. However, other parts of the Great Wall have suffered from lack of regular maintenance but these parts may help you get a feel of the historical import of this monument much more so than the Badaling portion would.

We have selected five parts of the Great Wall, which are all near Beijing, to show you what the real Great Wall looks like. The plan both includes parts of the Great Wall that are in their original condition and haven’t undergone any maintenance, and also some parts that have been repaired but not to the same extent as the Badaling portion.

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During this tour, we will

  1. see the wild parts of the Great Wall;
  2. hike along the Great Wall;
  3. learn about the history of the Great Wall;
  4. enjoy authentic Beijing Cuisine and traditional snacks;
  5. experience life in a Chinese Quadrangle.
  6. have open discussions about the Great Wall and Chinese culture with like-minded people.

This tour includes:

  • Hiking along five unique parts of the Great Wall near Beijing;
  • The services of an English speaking guide who has specialist knowledge of the Great Wall’s History and hiking experience in these five spots;
  • Small group sizes (no more than 10 people);
  • Enough private time to enjoy your tour alone;
  • A pdf file with important and interesting information about the Great Wall.
  • A tour of three of the most famous districts in the old part of Beijing.

Please Note:

  1. On this tour you will be required to sleep in a real village hotel for two nights. You are advised to bring your own sleeping bag with you, and the shower facilities at the hotel may not always be available. Regretfully these are the only hotels in the area so we ask that participants be accepting of the basic nature of the hotels.
  2. This tour is only for people who have at least some hiking experience and are fit and healthy. Some parts of the hike are very tough; please get an idea of the level of difficulty from the following photo:

climb

More details about the activity

 

Summary:

This is a 5-day hiking tour. We will hike along five parts of the Great Wall over the course of four days. There will be an interval on the third day, and you will be given a tour of the old part of Beijing. On the rest day, we will have Chinese afternoon tea to heighten your experience of what life in Beijing may have been like in the past.

 

Introduction to the spots we will visit:

 

The Jiankou Portion of the Great Wall  (箭扣)

 

jiankou02

“Jian” (箭) means “arrow” in Chinese. The term “Jiankou” (箭扣) implies that an arrow is on the bow and ready to shoot. This part of the Great Wall looks like a sideways “W”, i.e. like a bow with its arrow ready to shoot. Its unusual appearance is what earned it the name Jiankou.

 The Jiankou portion of the Great Wall is more than 20 kilometres long. The most popular part, the “W” part, always attracts lots of visitors. But most of them just stay there and look at the Great Wall since it is too challenging for them to finish the whole hike.

Some parts of the Great Wall are just plain walls, so you can also enjoy some rock climbing on these walls whilst you’re there.

 

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The Mutianyu Portion of the Great Wall (慕田峪)

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This was once a battlefield where many famous wars took place during the Ming dynasty. It was an important military fort because it protected one of the gates that gave access to the city of Beijing. Because of its important defensive function, it was repaired many times during the Ming Dynasty. Thanks to these regular repairs, it is now one of the most well-preserved parts of the Great Wall.

In fact at its eastern point the Mutianyu portion of the Great Wall is connected to the Jiankou portion.

Mutianyu great wall 02Mutianyu is a well-developed tour location, but it is not as popular as Badaling. Many foreign visitors choose to go here as part of their Great Wall tour because it is not as crowded as Badaling, but it is still easy to get to.

 

 

The Simatai Portion of the Great Wall (司马台)

Simatai great wall05 The Simatai portion of the Great Wall should be famous seeing as it has been listed as a world heritage site since 1987. Yet, strangely, not many people know of it.

Historically it was considered the most impenetrable stronghold along the Great Wall. It was built across a particularly unforgiving stretch of mountains. Between towers No.15 and No.16 of the Simatai portion there is a wall that is just 30cm wide, with a sheer cliff on its south side.

 

 

 

The Jinshanling Portion of the Great Wall(金山岭)

金山岭01

At its western point Jinshanling is connected with Simatai and, together with Simatai, it is also listed as a world heritage site.

The Jinshanling portion of the Great Wall consists of 67 towers and is 10 and a half kilometres long. It has been repaired several times and appears to be as well developed as Badaling. However, thus far there are far fewer tourists here than at Badaling. That being said, if you want to witness the Great Wall in its complete glory, Jinshanling is the best place to go. The refurbishment that it has undergone has not altered its original appearance too much. All of the components of the original Great Wall – the tower, the gate, the fire beacon tower—are still there.

The Qiangzilu Portion of the Great Wall (墙子路)

墙子路02

Hiding in the mountains, having never received any kind of maintenance, Qiangzilu seems to have been forgotten by the world.

Yet surprisingly, among all of the parts of the Great Wall, Qiangzilu is relatively new. It was first built during the Ming Dynasty, under the reign of Emperor Hongwu (1368-1398), and was repaired in 1575. It contained the east fort, which was used to protect the city of Beijing.

Most parts of Qiangzilu have now been damaged or destroyed by natural forces, so it has become known as a ‘wild’ part of the Great Wall.  Many outdoorsy people are still drawn to Qiangzilu every year simply because of its natural, wild appearance.

The most famous feature of the Qiangzilu portion of the Great Wall is the large ‘V’ shaped wall there.

Guozijian Hutong District

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Guozijian was the most esteemed institute of higher learning in China (like the Imperial Academy) during the Yuan, Ming and Qing Dynasties.

There is a Confucian Temple about 500 metres away from Guozijian. Even now many young students go to this temple to pray before big examinations, such as gaokao (the University entrance examination).

For more information about this Hutong district please read the article entitled Hutongs in Beijing.

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Accommodation:

  • For 3 nights we will stay in a Quadrangle Courtyard hotel in old Beijing, which is equipped with all modern amenities;
  • For 2 nights, whilst we are in the regions surrounding parts of the Great Wall, we will have to stay in a countryside guesthouse;

Please Note:

  • Since we will be staying in a Hutong district for part of the tour, there will be plenty of time and ample opportunity for you to explore the Hutongs there.
  • The photo of the Quadrangle Courtyard hotel shown here is just an example, we cannot guarantee that this is the exact hotel you will be staying in on your tour. However, they are all very similar in style and appearance.

The meals that are included in the tour price are as follows:

    • A welcome dinner in Beijing on day 2 consisting of authentic Beijing-style cuisine;
    • 2 dinners consisting of delicious, local cuisine whilst staying in the countryside near the Great Wall;
    • 1 lunch in Beijing and 1 lunch in the countryside guesthouse;
    • 1 breakfast whilst staying in the countryside near the Great Wall;
    • Chinese afternoon tea in a Quadrangle Courtyard.
  • We suggest that participants bring simple food (e.g. sandwiches) on the hikes for their lunch.
  • The Quadrangle hotel is in the centre of the old part of town, so you will have ample opportunity to explore the area and try some delicious and interesting food by yourself when you are in the city.Please find further details of meal arrangements in the Itinerary section. 

Transportation:

  • All transportation costs within designated tour times are included;
  • You will be brought to the countryside near the Great Wall by our minibus;
  • We will mainly rely on the underground whilst we are in the city of Beijing.

Time arrangement:

For hiking hours, please find specific information in the Itinerary section. We don’t have to be together for the entirety of the tour, but we must follow some guidelines when hiking to ensure we have enough time to finish the hike and to avoid losing people whilst on the hike.

Cost:

  • £650 per person;
  • £780 per person if you want a single room during our stay in Beijing;
  • £720 per person if you need us to meet you and provide accommodation on the day before the tour begins. This includes the cost of the hotel room for an extra night and the service fee for picking you up from the railway station or the tube station. If you would like us to pick you up from the airport, please let us know in advance;
  • All three of the above prices also include as standard: 5 nights’ accommodation (3 nights in a Quadrangle Courtyard hotel and 2 nights in the countryside guesthouse); 3 dinners, 2 lunches, 1 breakfast, and Chinese afternoon tea; all tickets and entrance fees for the specified attractions; all transportation costs during the designated tour times; the service of an English speaking guide; a pdf file with important and interesting information about the Great Wall; information for further travel in Beijing; help with any further traveling you may do around China after the tour (e.g. designing your travel plan, booking hotels and attractions etc.).

Minimum number of participants required to run the tour: 4

Maximum number of participants for this tour: 10

Tour dates: 22nd of May 2017 – 26th of May 2017

Final Deadline for Subscription: 16th of March, 2017

Itinerary:

 

Day 1
Introductory Lunch;

Purchasing of necessity items for hiking;

Arrival at the village of Xizhazi

11:30 Have lunch together
13:00 – 14:00 Purchase necessity items for hiking e.g. food, water, tissues.
14:30 – 16:30 Travel to Xizhazi village
16:30 – 17:00 Attend meeting to discuss hiking plan for the following day
18:30 Have dinner together
Please Note: we ask that you please get everything you will need for the hike during the designated shopping hours. You will have time in the evening to explore the village alone but you may not be able to purchase some necessary items there easily.

 

Day 2
Hiking from Jiankou to Mutianyu; Roughly 10 – 11 hours 6:30 Depart from Xizhazi village
≈ 8:30 Take a 20 minute break at a fire beacon tower
≈ 11:30 Reach the designated picnic spot near the end of Jiankou; Have lunch
12:00 Head for Mutianyu
≈ 14:00 Take a 20 minute break
≈ 16:00 – 18:00 Finish hiking, head back to Beijing
19:00 Have Dinner
Please Note:

  1. It is vitally important that you have breakfast before our departure;
  2. Since we acknowledge that everyone’s hiking speed will be different, you will be given a picture of the break spots so that you will recognize them as you are hiking. Please wait at the designated break spots for other members.
  3. Please DO NOT go out hiking alone, we ask that at least two members travel together at all times. There are some very steep and potentially dangerous steps and walls which some of you may need assistance climbing.

 

Day 3
Tour in Guozijian Hutong District in Beijing City;Chinese afternoon tea in Quadrangle Courtyard Morning time Enjoy some private time wandering Beijing or have a good rest
14:30 – 15:00  Tour of Guozijian Hutong district with our guide.
15:00 – 16:00 (you can choose how long you wish to stay.) Chinese Afternoon Tea
16:00 – Enjoy your tour in the old part of Beijing City
Please Note: Our hotel is in the old part of town so it is a very good location for you to venture out and explore Beijing. If you have any questions or want some tips on where to go, please feel free to ask our guide.

 

Day 4
Hiking along the Qiangzilu portion of the Great Wall;

Arrival at the village under the Simatai portion of the Great Wall

9:00 Depart by coach.
11:00 Arrive at the village under the Great Wall
11:00 – 16:00 Hike along the Qiangzilu portion of the Great Wall
16:00 – 17:00 Arrive at the village under Simatai
18:00 Dinner
Please Note:

  1. We will have lunch during the hike;
  2. Feel free to hike at your own speed, but we ask that you please DO NOT walk too much faster than the others as you may cross the line out of the Qiangzilu area without realizing.

 

Day 5
Climbing on the top of the mountain to enjoy the scenery of Simatai portion of the Great Wall;Hiking along the Jinshanling portion of the Great Wall 6:30 – 7:00 Have breakfast.
7:00 – 8:30 Arrive at Wangjing Tower; Enjoy the view of the Great Wall for approximately 30 mins
9:00 – 10:00 Return to the village
11:00 Arrive at Jinshanling and have lunch
12:00 – 16:00 Hike along the Jinshanling portion of the Great Wall
16: 30 – 19: 30 Head back to Beijing
Please Note: The hiking plan in Simatai is simply to go to the first fire beacon tower and take in the beautiful scenery there. The Great Wall in the Simatai portion is very steep and dangerous. Accidents occur at Simatai every year. We do not advise any of our participants to attempt to hike along this part of the Great Wall. Because Simatai is considered dangerous for climbers, there is sometimes a checkpoint at the entrance to the village. If we are unlucky enough to encounter the checkpoint, we will regrettably have to cancel this part of the tour.

Please Note:

  • You can choose to stick to this tour entirely, or you can just incorporate it as part of your wider plans to travel across China. We can provide you with information and help you with any other travel plans you may have if you need us to. We also provide a hotel booking service and a flight or train booking service for all of our members’ traveling in China outside of the 4 designated days of the tour. We will also provide a consultancy service for you, which will help you to plan your journey across China and give you useful tips on traveling in China.
  • If you want to see any other parts of the Great Wall (such as Badaling or the Juyong Gate), we can help you plan your travel there as well. All of these services, including the aforementioned consultancy and booking services, are free for all members that have taken this tour or any other tour with us, but we ask that all participants inform us of their desire to travel to other parts of the Great Wall before they take our tour so that we will have enough time to make arrangements for their further travel. If you have any requests, please let us know as soon as possible.

 

We hope that you will have a wonderful time traveling with us!

 

For further information, please contact us at info@asiaculturaltravel.co.uk.

Explore the Silk Road in China

silk road tour 550

The legendary Silk Road is living proof that the path to adventure is almost always a long one, but is wrought with exciting surprises.

The term ‘The Silk Road’ was coined during the 19th century by a German geographer named Ferdinand von Richthofen. It refers to the commercial routes that connected mainland China with Central Asia in ancient times.  However, the Silk Road was not solely used for commercial trade, but was also a point of cultural exchange between various ethnic groups in China, Central Asia, west Asia, and Europe. Thus the road is littered with ancient treasures, stunning works of art, and unique styles of architecture.

This tour begins at the very source of the Silk Road, starting in Xi’an and ending in Ürümqi. From towering mountains to the sandy expanse of the Gobi Desert, we’ll cover all kinds of exotic terrain.

 

During this journey, we will:

  • Visit the ancient city of Xi’an, which was once the capital of 3 great ancient empires;xi'an
  • Visit the exotic city of Ürümqi, where the culture of the Muslim Uyghur ethnic minority dominates;Ürümqi
  • Take a trip to marvel at the legendary Terracotta Army, and several old Buddhist temples;Terracotta Army01
  • Challenge one of the tallest mountains in China, Mount Hua;mount hua
  • Enjoy stunning views of the desert, the incredible landscape of the Gobi, and the marvellous Yardang and Danxia landforms;danxia and yardang
  • Discover long abandoned cities built almost entirely out of clay that are over 900 years old;Jiaohe relics
  • Admire the magnificent Maijishan Grottoes and Mogao Caves up close;china grottoes
  • Admire the magnificent hanging temples without having to battle with the tourist crowds.horse's hoof temple
  • Discover an old Han-style mansion, of which there are very few in western China.Tianshui Hu family
  • Sample the traditional cuisine of the Han, Hui and Uyghur ethnic groups;hui cuisine
  • Learn more about the fascinating history of the Silk Road;silk road Dunhuang
  • Experience horse riding and camel riding in the desert.camel in desert

 

             The Route of our Tour:

silk road tour

 

More information of the tour:

Highlights of the Tour

Itinerary

Cost

 

Dates: 24th of Oct to the 11th of Nov 2017

Final Deadline for Subscription:  15th of Aug 2017

Although these dates are for the group tours, we can also customise any of our
tours according to the dates you prefer. The dates shown are simply a
suggestion to give you an idea of the tour’s length and to reflect how much
notice we need before booking you on your tour of choice. Tour dates can easily
be adjusted depending on your personal preferences and needs.

Please Note: You can choose to stick to this tour entirely, or you can just incorporate it into your wider plans to travel across China. We can provide you with information and help you with any other travel plans you may have if you need us to. We also provide a hotel booking service and a flight or train booking service for all of our members’ traveling in China outside of the 10 designated days of the tour. We will also provide a consultancy service for you, which will help you to plan your journey across China and give you useful tips on traveling in China.

We hope that you will have a wonderful time traveling with us!

For more information, please contact us at: info@asiaculturaltravel.co.uk.

Explore the Ancient Chinese Villages in the Huizhou Region

huizhou village05

When you think about China, what do you think of as its national symbol of beauty? Of course you can’t only be thinking of the Great Wall. Indeed, the Great Wall is a remarkable Chinese landmark. However, there are also a multitude of architectural styles and buildings that express a uniquely Chinese beauty. The ancient villages in the Yangtze Plain serve as good examples. And among these villages, the group of villages in the Huizhou area is the most distinctly fascinating.

hongcun specialty

Huizhou as a region has an interesting history. There were not only many successful merchants that came out of Huizhou, but also many famous politicians and scholars. Of course it was the rich merchants who made the biggest contribution to the improvement and success of Hui architecture. And in the background of this fascinating history, women in Hui culture had their own story. They were regarded as making the chastest wives.

woodcut

Elaborate brick-sculptures, woodcuts and stone carvings are the three essential artistic components of Hui architecture. Stone carvings of flowers, birds and beasts are usually on the doorframe; woodcuts decorate the windows and brick carvings can appear in any place, even someplace unexpected. The wall of a Hui style residence is called a horse-head wall. It is so-named because the top shape of the wall looks like a horse’s head. When visiting a Hui village, you will see that the white horse-head walls match the black roofs (consisting of tiles) very well. It looks very romantic, especially on a rainy day.

In ancient times, Chinese people used “the four treasures of the study” for writing and painting. These “four treasures” were the writing brush, the ink stick, paper and the ink stone. Huizhou was famous for manufacturing the best “four treasures”. Nowadays, people don’t use ink and a writing brush in their daily life anymore. But craftspeople in Huizhou insist on maintaining the ancient apparatus and they continue making these good quality products to this day.

Furthermore, Huizhou is the hometown of several popular kinds of tea, the most famous ones being Huangshan Maofeng, Keemun and Taiping Houhui.

Hui cuisine

With regards to the food in this region, it is difficult to tell whether you will like it or not. Hui cuisine is a very special kind of Chinese cuisine. But don’t worry, you can also find more familiar Chinese food in this region. If you like Hui cuisine, you may end up being crazy about it; but you may feel disappointed when you leave, as it is not easy to find real Hui cuisine outside of this region.

Huizhou is a beautiful and mysterious area with an interesting history. So, if you want to witness a special but also a somewhat typical kind of Chinese beauty, if you want to experience the feeling of being in a Chinese Kung-fu film (all villages look like the backdrop of a Kung-fu epic ), or if you are interested in Hui Art, please follow us and embark on a journey of discovery.

huizhou village 04

During this tour, we will

  • experience life in an ancient Chinese village, to feel the thrill of being on the set of a Kung-Fu movie;
  • discover the stunning artistry of Hui architecture, particularly the woodcutting, brick cutting and stone cutting styles of art;
  • listen to and study the unique history of the Huizhou region, with particular reference to the Huizhou merchants;
  • sample the delectable Hui cuisine;
  • enjoy the famous types of tea in the Mt. Huangshan area.

We offer:

  • Tours in 5 (+1 optional choice) villages and 2 old towns in the Huizhou region;
  • An English speaking guide with a vast knowledge of Hui Art and History;
  • Small group sizes (no more than 10 people);
  • Featured accommodation in ancient houses built in the traditional Chinese style;
  • Enough time to enjoy your tour alone;
  • A pdf file with important information about Huizhou.

 

02

the Location of Huizhou in China

huizhou location

An Introduction to the stops on our journey:

Chengkan

chengkan

The layout of the village is in the special Chinese “Bagua” style (the Eight Trigrams). The Yin part is represented by the fields whilst the Yang part is represented by the residential buildings. A river divides these two parts.

In ancient times Longxi was the name of this village. At the end of the Tang Dynasty (618-907), the Luo brothers moved there with their big family and changed the village’s name to Chengkan. The Luo brothers believed in Feng Shui theory (an old philosophical and somewhat superstitious system which follows the belief that you can create a better life for your family by managing the surrounding environment). They found that Longxi’s location was particularly auspicious and it promised their family potential prosperity, according to Feng Shui theory. During the establishment of the entire village they continued to follow this theory. So this village is considered one of the best, if not the best, examples of Feng Shui theory in practice.

There used to be ninety-nine lanes that once made the village seem like a maze. Of these ninety-nine lanes, there are still ninety lanes left today. Most of the buildings in the village were established in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), among them there are fourteen mansions which all exemplify the Hui style of architecture beautifully.

chengkan bagua

Tunxi Old Town

Tunxi old street

Tunxi is the central district of Huangshan City. Tunxi Old Street is the most famous tourist attraction in Tunxi. It is 832 meters long and features buildings that follow the Song (960-1279), Ming and Qing (1644-1911) style of architecture. The Cheng family was the biggest family that lived in Tunxi. Nowadays you can still see the three big mansions that once belonged to them.

There were also many famous people that came from Tunxi, such as the philosophers Cheng Hao and Zhuxi, and other famous scholars who focused on different academic disciplines.

Shexian

Shexian, the capital of the ancient Hui State that existed during the Tang dynasty, sits at the southern foot of Mt. Huangshan and on the upper portion of the Xin’an River.

huizhou

Shexian was founded during the Qin Dynasty. Many cultural relics still exist there. More than 100 buildings in Shexian date back to the Ming Dynasty, and thousands of them date back to the Qing Dynasty. Of these buildings, the Three Wonders of Ancient Huizhou Architecture are the most acclaimed by experts and they include: the ancient residential houses, the ancestral temples1 and the stone archways built in the Ming and Qing dynasties. The most famous of these archways are Xuguo’s Stone Archway and Tangyue’s Memorial Archway.

Since Hui culture originated from Shexian, it is also the birthplace of Xin’an Painting, Xin’an medicine, Hui-style Architecture, and the Hui-style of carving bamboo, wood, brick and stone. There are still many Hui ink stick and Shexian ink slab workshops. What’s more, you can also still buy Chengxintang Paper, which was considered the best quality paper during the Qing Dynasty.

Tangyue Memorial Archways

tangyue

This is the most popular attraction in Shexian and many people still come to Shexian just to see this group of archways. Tangyue Memorial Archways are located in Tangyue village, 9 kilometers from the Shexian old town in the west. There are seven archways there, which were built during the Ming and Qing Dynasties by the Bao clan.

Among them, the three most famous ones are: the archway to honor the filial son, the archway to honor filial affection and the archway to honor the chaste wife Bao Wenling.

Xidi

西递

Xidi Village was built during the Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127). In those times, people lived together based on clanship and consanguinity. Xidi was occupied by the Hu clan. There are more than 300 buildings in Xidi, which were mainly built during the Ming and Qing Dynasties, among which 124 residential houses and three ancestral temples have been preserved in their original state. The layout of Xidi is well designed. It looks like a sailing boat. Most of the houses are composed of three rooms and a square yard.

As a famous village in Huizhou, Xidi thus housed many rich Hui merchants. These merchants wished to build their luxury houses in order to show off their wealth. But the strict hierarchy of society had restrictions which directly affected construction. So the merchants could only choose the best materials and utilize the most sophisticated workmanship for their place of residence. The memorial archway—built in 1578 by Hu Wenguang, who was a high official during the Ming Dynasty—is a good example of the Hui-style of stone carving. The best example of Hui-style brick sculpture is in the house of another Ming official, in a place called the West Garden.

It was listed as culture heritage by UNESCO in 2000.

Hongcun

hongcun

The village was built during the Northern Song Dynasty for the Wang clan. There are more than 140 well-preserved ancient houses in Hongchun that were built during the Ming and Qing Dynasties. Among them there is a place called Chengzhi Hall, which was built by a salt merchant during the Qing Dynasty and is now regarded as the “countryside palace museum”.

The most fascinating thing about this village is its “buffalo shape” design. An artificial water system was designed following the shape of a buffalo in order to supply water to every building for people’s routine life and also for their fields.

 It was listed as culture heritage by UNESCO in 2000.

Nanping

nanping

Due to the fact that there are so many big and beautiful ancient villages in the Huangshan region and because Chinese people have limited holiday time, Nanping is not a very popular tourist destination in the Huangshan region. But those tourists who skip going there don’t know what they’re missing.

This typical Hui village consists of more than 300 buildings and 72 lanes. In ancient times, the 8 Ancestral Temples in Nanping represented the power and influence of eight local families. The village has served as a backdrop for many famous movies, such as “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” and “Judou”, which both featured the Chinese actress Gongli.

If you want to enjoy a truly beautiful and peaceful Hui village rather than simply a tourist attraction, Nanping is your best choice.

Ancestral temples: This was a kind of temple used by a family or a clan to worship their ancestors.

 

 

Accommodation: 4 nights in the featured old style hotels, which are all equipped with modern amenities, and 2 nights in 3-star hotels. You will have a single room in 2 of the featured old style hotels, and then you will be moved to shared rooms in the other 4 hotels.

Food: Two dinners consisting of authentic Hui cuisine. We will help make dinner arrangements for you on other days of the tour, but these meals are not included in the tour price.

Transportation: public transportation (train and coach) and taxis when necessary.

Hotel in Hui style

Duration: 7 Days and 6 Nights

Date:1st of Dec to the 7th of Dec, 2017

Cost: £780 per person (including: 6 nights of accommodation; entrance fees to all of the villages; 1 dinner; tea every day; the cost of all transportation during the designated tour times; English guide services; a pdf file with important information about Huizhou; information for your tour of Mt. Huangshan if needed; further help for your following travel in China).

£890 per person for 6 nights of single room accommodation.

Please Note: the price is based on at least 4 participants; the maximum number of participants is 10.

Itinerary:

Day 1 Meeting in Tunxi (Huangshan City)

If you need us to help you to buy the domestic train or air tickets, please let us know in advance and give us all of the details for your journey. People who plan on coming from Beijing have the opportunity to take the train with our tour guide if they would like to.

Accommodation: featured hotel in old, ancient-style house, shared room (2 people per room).

Dinner:  Not included. We will explore the local food market together and sample some tasty dishes.

Day 2 Chengkan

We will visit Chengkan, which is the first Hui village on our tour. It is a very typical example of a Hui village and it will give you a sense of what to expect from a Huizhou village.

Accommodation: featured hotel in old, ancient-style house in Chengkan village, shared room (2 people per room).

Welcome dinner: Hui cuisine.

Day 3 Huizhou Old Town (Shexian)

In ancient times Shexian was the central town in Huizhou. We will have a tour of the old town, then we will go to visit the Tangyue Memorial Archways and be treated to some historical stories about them, which reveal details about the strict moral rules surrounding filial piety and chastity in ancient times. We will then walk along the Xin’an River and visit the ink craft shops.

Accommodation: 3-star hotel in Shexian, shared room (2 people per room).

Dinner:  Not included. We can either have local food together or you can choose to explore the local restaurants on your own.

Day 4 Xidi

In the morning we will catch the train back to Tunxi and from there go to Yixian (where Xidi, Nanping and Hongcun are located) by coach.

We will then go to visit Xidi, the most famous village in the Huizhou region. However, we have chosen a better place than Xidi for our accommodation – Nanping, where it is much quieter. Nanping is in its original condition so it will undoubtedly give us the sensation of living on the set of an epic movie.

Accommodation: featured hotel in old, ancient-style house, in Nanping village, single rooms for everyone.

Dinner:  Not included. We can either have local food together or you can choose to explore the local restaurants on your own.

Day 5 Nanping and Hongcun

Although by this time we will have enjoyed the evening and the night in Nanping village, we will also spend some time the next morning taking in its beauty.

After that, in the afternoon we will head for Hongcun. It is a very short journey from Nanping to Hongcun so we can spend almost the entire afternoon visiting its various sites of interest.

Accommodation: featured hotel in old, ancient style house in Hongcun village, single rooms for everyone.

Dinner:  Not included. We can either have local food together or you can choose to explore the local restaurants on your own.

Day 6 Hongcun or Lucun

lucun

This is an option for everyone: you can either stay in Hongcun and enjoy the peaceful, picturesque countryside or go hiking in the neighboring village of Lucun, which is an authentic Hui village that doesn’t attract too many tourists.

Please Note: the entrance fee for Lucun is not included in the tour price and is around 50 RMB; the most famous attraction in Lucun is a wholly woodcut building and the entrance fee is 30 RMB.

Tips for staying in Hongcun: take time to venture out of the village in order to have a look at the tea fields on the mountains.

On the afternoon of the sixth day we will return to Tunxi.

Accommodation: 3-star hotel in Tunxi, shared room (2 people per room).

Dinner: Chinese cuisine in both Hui style and other styles.

Day 7 Tunxi

Participants are either free to start their return journey or continue their travels in China

We recommend Mukeng Bamboo Forest and the Mount Huangshan.

Note: if you want to visit Mukeng Bamboo Forest, or Mount Huang and need our help, please do not hesitate to tell us in advance.

 

Please Note: You can choose to stick to this tour entirely, or you can just incorporate it as part of your wider plans to travel across China. We can provide you with information and help you with any other travel plans you may have if you need us to. We also provide a hotel booking service and a flight or train booking service for all of our members’ traveling in China outside of this 7 designated days of the tour. We will also provide a consultancy service for you, which will help you to plan your journey across China and give you useful tips on traveling in China.

hizhou village03We hope that you will have a wonderful time traveling with us!

For more information, please contact us at: info@asiaculturaltravel.co.uk.

Explore the distinctive Tulou(Earthen Structure)

hongkeng tuloucover02

An amazing opportunity to experience the distinctive South Min culture in China

Fujian Province, which is sometimes shortened to “Min”, is located in southeast China and it takes up a large part of the southeast coast. Nearly 90% of Fujian’s land is mountainous, making it very suitable for growing tea and subtropical fruits.

South Min region refers, as its name implies, to an area in the south of Fujian province. It is the homeland of the Hoklo and Hakka people1. Both of these ethnic minorities speak their own dialects. We usually prefer to call them languages, rather than dialects, as they are so different from Mandarin that they are barely intelligible to the average Han Chinese person. Aside from their unique dialects, many of them also live in an unusual type of dwelling – a Tulou (meaning “Earthen Structure” in Chinese).

Tulou in Fujian

These peculiar structures are hidden up in the mountainous regions of Fujian, and entering one is like entering a different world, a peaceful and magical world.

Xiamen is the central city of South Min, and historically it was known as Amoy. It is an island city just about 1 kilometre away from Jinmen Island, which belongs to Taiwan. Xiamen was one of the first economic zones that were specially opened up to foreign investment in 1981. Nowadays, it is the most economically successful city in Fujian.

This fantastic journey will show you both the traditional and the modern sides of China.

xiamen

During this tour, we will

  1. explore Tulou life in Southern Fujian;
  2. enjoy the extremely beautiful scenery in the mountainous areas of Southern Fujian;
  3. taste a variety of local teas as part of a traditional Fujian tea ceremony.
  4. visit a colonial-style island (optional);
  5. visit modern Xiamen City (optional);
  6. learn about the history of the Hakka and Hoklo people;
  7. try various kinds of local food and subtropical fruits.

We offer a 5-day tour exploring Tulou in the mountainous regions of Southern Fujian, plus an optional 2-day tour of Xiamen city as a potential add-on.

Taxia village

The highlights of this tour:

I. Marvel the Unique Local Architecture

  1. Qilou

骑楼-漳州

Qilou, or Tong lau, appeared during the late 19th century, and are commonly found in the south of China in places such as Guangdong, Fujian, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan.

This style of building originated from Guangzhou, which was the most important commercial port for foreign trade during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). It is easy to see that the Qilou’s architectural style has been influenced by western architecture. The earliest Qilou were built by wealthy men to be stores in the business districts.

You will find various types of Qilou in Xiamen’s old business sector. It is a common sight in Southeast Asia. Most of the Qilou in Zhangzhou city were built in the traditional Chinese style, and did not adopt too many western features. This is because Zhangzhou is not as big a port as Xiamen so it was not subjected to as much western influence.

 

  1. Tulou (Earthen Structure)

Fujian Tulou04

A Tulou is a large enclosed construction that is usually circular or rectangular in shape and is used to house multiple families. There are more than 3,700 Tulou in the mountainous regions of South Min, which were all built by Hakka or Hoklo people. These large clay buildings are usually two- to five-storeys high and were built in such a way for defensive purposes. One Tulou is usually for one clan and the people of said clan would often conduct all of their social interactions inside of this “castle”. (Read more about Fujian Tulou)

Twelve Tulou have been selected by us to visit on this tour. All of them are listed by UNESCO as World Heritage Sites. We will also be given the opportunity to visit other Tulou in the nearby villages either together or separately.

 

  1. Traditional Chinese (Han-style) buildings

传统建筑-云水谣

Hoklo and Hakka people were both originally Han people. They still maintain some aspects of traditional Han culture, including Han architecture. So in the Hakka villages you will not only find Tulou but also traditional Han-style buildings.

 

 

  1. Colonial-style buildings in Gulangyu Island

Gulangyu Island

Gulangyu is a small island that is just a few minutes’ drive away from the main island of Xiamen. It is the most famous tourist attraction in the Xiamen area because of its peaceful atmosphere and seemingly colonial style. From 1850 through to 1900, after the Opium War, many western traders settled on Gulangyu and built western style houses there. You may feel as though this small island is more like a western city rather than an Asian island.

 

  1. Modern skyscrapers in Xiamen City

厦门night

As one of the most economically successful cities in China, Xiamen has many new and modern buildings. It serves as a typical example of the rapid development happening in certain Asian cities, but it is much more beautiful than many of these other Asian cities.

 

 

II. See the Amazing Land Views

Fujian is one of the most prominent tea growing provinces in China. There are tea fields on almost every mountain in Fujian. What’s more, since Fujian is a mountainous region, terraces must be carved into the hills and mountains in order to grow rice there.

Fujian Terrace

 

III. Try the Subtropical Fruits

You will find many fruits in Fujian that you will have only previously seen in books. Feel free to try them, so long as you have a strong stomach.

fruits

 

IV. Try the Local Food

The food in South Min is very similar to the food in Taiwan. The Hoklo people are also notoriously good at cooking seafood.

On top of that, if you love Chinese tea, Fujian is the province for you, since a wide array of top quality Chinese teas are grown there.

厦门小吃

V. Taste the Various Local Teas

Hakka and Hoklo people are famous for producing high-quality teas. In the Tulou area, they make tea not only from tea leaves, but also from fruits and wild flowers. These types of tea have a light fragrance but a strong and sumptuous flavour that will linger in your mouth. Each type of tea has different medicinal properties according to its ingredients.

Tulou Tea

 

VI. Stay in Tulou Hotel

No one can gain a real insight into any culture by just visiting local attractions and villages. In order to give you an up-close and personal look at Hoklo and Hakka culture that you will never forget, we have chosen a real Tulou as our accommodation for the tour. Let’s explore real life in a Tulou together.

tulou hotel

 

The Location of Fujian in China:

fujian

Accommodation: We will stay in Tulou hotel in the mountainous regions of Fujian for 2 nights of the tour, and a 3-Star hotel in Zhangzhou for 1 night, a 4-Star hotel in Xiamen for 1 night of the tour (plus an extra 2 nights in a 4-star hotel should you decide to expand your tour of Xiamen).

Note: : There are no en-suite bathrooms in the Tulou hotels because of their design. All rooms will have a shared toilet and bathroom.

Food: We will provide 3 meals per day, consisting of local Chinese food, when staying in the mountainous region of Fujian. Breakfast and dinner will be provided in Xiamen city. Our guide will be on hand to help you order lunch in Xiamen.

Transportation: mini coach

Duration: 5 days and 5 nights (plus an extra, optional 2 day tour in Xiamen as specified above)

Dates of the tour:

10th of Dec to the 14th of Dec, 2017 (or the 16th of Dec, 2017 should you choose to add the extra 2 day tour of Xiamen to your trip)

Cost pp:

£680 (including: 5 nights of accommodation; all entrance fees to the attractions; all meals during the 3 days spent in the mountainous region of Fujian and 2 breakfast and 2 dinner in Xiamen; all transportation costs during designated tour times; the services of an English speaking guide; a pdf file with information about Tulou; help with any further travel in China following the tour).

£880 (all of the above plus: an extra 2 day tour in Xiamen, including the services of an English speaking guide and transportation costs during designated tour times; two extra night of accommodation in Xiamen; one extra dinner in Xiamen)

Single supp:£280

Please Note: the cost is based on the subscription of no less than 4 participants; the maximum number of participants being 10.

Itinerary:

Day 1 Meeting up in Xiamen

We will meet you at the hotel in Xiamen. If you are planning on flying into Xiamen, the hotel is within the airport area and can be easily found. If you are planning on coming to Xiamen by train, you can either make your own way to the hotel or we will happily pick you up from the railway station and take you to the hotel. You need to book this service in advance.

Accommodation: 4-star hotel near Xiamen airport

Day 2 Tianluokeng Group of Tulou

In the morning we will head out towards the most famous group of Tulou – Tianluokeng, or “Four Dishes and one Soup” Tulou.

Tianluokeng consists of three circular Tulou and one square-shaped Tulou, which, from above, resembles the common layout for a family dinner. Its unique appearance earned it the name “four dishes and one soup”.

First we will enjoy the panoramic view from up the mountain, and then we will travel down the mountain to visit the village. Although Tianloukeng village is the most famous Tulou village, most of its visitors tend to just view it from a distance, up on the mountain, and do not enter the village itself. Unlike them, we will get to experience a real Tulou village by going there directly. Read more about Tianluokeng Village.

tianluokeng

We will sample the local tea in a Fujian-style tea ceremony. Before you get the wrong idea, this isn’t a luxury experience! You’ll get to enjoy drinking tea in the same traditional way that the locals do, looking out at the lofty mountains while listening to the folk tales of the Hakka people.

Accommodation: Tulou Hotel in Tianluokeng

Day 3 Yuchang Lou, Taxia Village and Hongkeng village

On the way to Hongkeng village, we will come across another very famous Tulou, Yuchang Lou, which is particularly amazing because all of its pillars are made out of plum wood. It is also the tallest Tulou in existence. Yuchang Lou is in a small, tranquil and traditional village without tourists.

Fujian Tulou, Yuchang lou

Then we will go to explore the village of Taxia, which is famous for the seamless way in which the Tulou blend in with their natural surroundings. Read more about Taxia Village.

Accommodation: Tulou Hotel in Taxia Village

Day 4 Yunshuiyao Village, Zhangzhou

We will spend the whole morning in Yunshuiyao village soaking in the peace and beauty of the mountainous countryside.

Yunshuiyao is village with hundreds of years of history behind it, particularly with reference to the Jian clan. It is reminiscent of the legendary “Shangri-la” in appearance and atmosphere. Most of the buildings in the village are clay houses which were built during the Qing Dynasty, including a big Ancestral Hall2 for the Jian family. There are several banyan trees on the riverside that are hundreds of years old. One of them is the biggest banyan tree in Fujian Province and this banyan tree has some branches that are more than 30 meters long. Read more about Yunshuiyao Village.

云水谣

We will visit two Tulou, which are near to Yunshuiyao village.

Huaiyuan Lou is considered a perfect example of the round-style of Tulou, while Heguilou is the best example of the rectangular-style of Tulou (more details about these two types of Tulou can be found in the article entitled “Fujian Tulou”). Another distinguishing feature of Hegui Lou is that the whole compound has been built on marshland. Isn’t that amazing?

In the late afternoon, we will head for Zhangzhou.

Accommodation: 3-star hotel in Zhangzhou

Day 5 Xiamen

We will visit the Ming-Qing Streets in Zhangzhou (streets which were built during the Ming and Qing Dynasties).

We will return to Xiamen in the late afternoon.

Accommodation: 4-star hotel in Xiamen

Add-ons:

beachDay 6 Xiamen City – Qilou, Zengcuo An and the Seaside

Siming district is the business centre of Xiamen Island and there you will find many typical South Min-style buildings, known as Qilou.

Zengcuo An is a small village on the seaside. All of the villagers used to be fishermen. Nowadays it serves as a typical example of a coastal village in Xiamen. All of the houses have been changed so that their architectural style incorporates more western features. However, you will still find some of their original, local features are intact. You will also find all of the traditional South Min style dishes and local subtropical fruits in Zengcuo An. They are all worth trying so don’t forget to sample some local delicacies whilst you’re there.

At the seaside, there is a long plank road that runs alongside the beach, which you can take a walk along if you like. Or you may prefer to just sunbathe on the soft, white sand.

Read more about Xiamen.

Accommodation: 4-star hotel in Xiamen

Gulangyu IslandDay 7 Gulangyu Island 

We will go to Gulangyu Island by ferry. After we have visited the buildings of major interest on the island, you will be given the opportunity to explore the island and enjoy some of the local attractions by yourself. Read more about Gulang Island.

Accommodation: 4-star hotel in Xiamen

 

 

Notes:

  1. Hoklo people and Hakka People:

From the West Jin Dynasty (307-12 BCE), there were several great immigrations from central China to Fujian, among them the one took place in the late Tang Dynasty (7th-8th century) was on a particular large scale. Those who settled down in southeast of Fujian Province became the Hoklo people. During the Song Dynasty, because of the conquest by the Jin ethnic group in northern China, many people fled from central China again, bringing with them the culture and language, and finally settled down in Fujian, Guangdong and Jiangxi. These people formed the Hakka group.

  1. Ancestral Hall:

It is a kind of temple for a family or a clan to worship their ancestors.

 

饮茶

Please Note: You can choose to stick to this tour entirely, or you can just incorporate it as part of your wider plans to travel across China. We can provide you with information and help you with any other travel plans you may have if you need us to. We also provide a hotel booking service and a flight or train booking service for all of our members’ traveling in China outside of the 5 designated days of the tour. We will also provide a consultancy service for you, which will help you to plan your journey across China and give you useful tips on traveling in China.

We hope that you will have a wonderful time traveling with us! 

For more information, please contact us at: info@asiaculturaltravel.co.uk.

The First Full Moon Festival in Pingyao

first moon festival

Enjoy the Chinese First Full Moon Festival in a Traditional Old Chinese Town

7 Days from £800pp

Do you want to marvel at a temple that is literally hanging from a cliff? Do you want to stay in a monumental mansion which once belonged to a rich Chinese family? Do you want to celebrate the First Full Moon Festival in an ancient town brimming with traditional Chinese culture?

Shanxi Province is considered “the museum of ancient Chinese architecture”. This province contains more than 70% of the old buildings constructed during or before the Song Dynasty (960-1279), such as the Yingxian Wooden Tower, which was built over 900 years ago. There you will also find the Yungang Grottoes, Mount Hengshan (one of China’s Five Great Mountains), the ancient city of Pingyao, many Shanxi Grand Compounds, and an amazing view of the Loess Plateau. The Ancient City of Pingyao is a well-preserved ancient town which was particularly prosperous during the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties. The Shanxi Grand Compounds act as fantastic examples of the artistry of northern Chinese architecture. And the stunning view of the Loess Plateau is something unique to Shanxi Province. (Read more about Shanxi)

The main activities of the tour:

  1. To visit the Hanging Temple, the Yungang Grottoes, the Yingxian Wooden Tower, and other historical attractions in Shanxi Province;shanxi attractions
  2. To enjoy the splendid scenery on the Loess Plateau and Mount Hengshan;shanxi land view
  3. To visit some of the most famous Shanxi Grand Compounds;Qiao's family compund02
  4. To learn about the history of the Jin Merchants (merchants from Shanxi);shanxi grand compounds
  5. To stay in an ancient Courtyard House;pingyao hotel 02
  6. To experience the festival atmosphere in an ancient town;first moon festival pingyao
  7. To try various kinds of local food made from flour.shanxi cuisine

 

The Location of Shanxi in China:

shanxi location

More information about the tour:

Highlights of the Tour

Itinerary

Cost

Dates:

9th of Feb to the 15th of Feb 2017

Final Deadline for Subscription: 8th of Jan 2017

Although these dates are for the group tours, we can also customise any of our
tours according to the dates you prefer. The dates shown are simply a
suggestion to give you an idea of the tour’s length and to reflect how much
notice we need before booking you on your tour of choice. Tour dates can easily
be adjusted depending on your personal preferences and needs.

Please Note: You can choose to stick to this tour entirely, or you can just incorporate it into your wider plans to travel across China. We can provide you with information and help you with any other travel plans you may have if you need us to. We also provide a hotel booking service and a flight or train booking service for all of our members’ traveling in China outside of the 10 designated days of the tour. We will also provide a consultancy service for you, which will help you to plan your journey across China and give you useful tips on traveling in China.

 

We hope that you will have a wonderful time traveling with us!

For more information, please contact us at info@asiaculturaltravel.co.uk.

 

Explore Chinese Culture through the Ages

forbidden city Beijing

From Dynasties to the Digital Age: Experience China’s Changing Culture on a Tour of its most Celebrated Landmarks 

15 Days from £2,200 pp

 

It is impossible to see all of the stunning attractions that China has to offer in one trip, but a well-designed tour will afford you the opportunity to discover many of its most celebrated landmarks and follow the fascinating historical timeline that has led to China as we know it today.

The culture of the Han ethnic majority originated from Central China and currently plays a dominate role in Chinese communities throughout the world. Yet it is towards the north that we will turn our attention, to the home of Beijing and Xi’an, which are considered the two most important capital cities in Chinese history. Some of the most successful dynasties made these cities their base, and they subsequently flourished as hubs of Chinese culture. Ancient history carries forward to the modern-day, as Beijing remains China’s capital and centre of culture.

Similarly Nanjing was not only one of China’s ancient capitals, but also served as the capital of the Republic of China, as evidenced by the Presidential Palace. However capital cities aren’t the only thing on the agenda, as we’ll also visit two areas that were integral to the development and success of China’s culture and economy; Shanxi and Huizhou. After all, you can’t have a capital without capital! Bringing our tour right up to the modern day, we’ll also be visiting Shanghai, a city in China synonymous with technology, fashion, and keeping ahead of the curve. So join us on our tour, where we’ll discover how Chinese culture adapted from imperial times right through to the modern day. And we’ll tackle a couple of the country’s most scenic mountains while we’re at it!

During our tour, we will:

  1. Explore the old part of Beijing, the old part of Xi’an, the city of Nanjing, and Shanghai. This adventure will take us from imperial palaces to the contemporary presidential palace, from ancient Xi’an to modern Shanghai. We’ll even make a stop at Pingyao Old Town, which features stunning architecture that was built during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) and has been beautifully preserved;pingyao old town
  2. Visit a few of the Shanxi Grand Compounds, which were built by wealthy merchants during Shanxi’s prosperous periods;wang's family compound
  3. Compare the mansions built by Shanxi merchants with those built by Huizhou merchants;shanxi anhui architecture
  4. Uncover the myth behind the Bagua village of Chengkan;chengkan village
  5. Marvel at the Forbidden City and the legendary Terracotta Army;forbidden palace panoramic
  6. Challenge two of the tallest and most beautiful mountains in China: Mount Hua and Mount Huang;mount hua &mount huang
  7. Hike along a portion of the magnificent Great Wall;Mutianyu GreatWall
  8. Enjoy stunning views of the Loess Plateau and the mountainous landscape that surrounds Mount Huang;shanxi & huizhou
  9. Experience the modern-day China in Shanghaishanghai01
  10. Sample traditional Beijing-style, Shaanxi-style, Anhui-style, and Jiangsu-style cuisine;
  11. chinese foodLearn about the history of China, particularly with reference to the histories of Shanxi and Huizhou;Hui Ancestral Hall
  12. Experience what it’s like to live in traditional Chinese dwellings, such as Shanxi Courtyard Houses and Hui-style mansions.pingyao hotel

The Route for Our Trip:

cultural tour ages

More information about the tour:

Highlights of the Tour

Itinerary

Cost

Dates: 1st of April to the 15th of April 2018

Final Deadline for Subscription: 20th of Feb 2018

Although these dates are for the group tours, we can also customise any of our tours according to the dates you prefer. The dates shown are simply a suggestion to give you an idea of the tour’s length and to reflect how much notice we need before booking you on your tour of choice. Tour dates can easily be adjusted depending on your personal preferences and needs.

Please Note: You can choose to stick to this tour entirely, or you can just incorporate it as part of your wider plans to travel across China. We can provide you with information and help you with any other travel plans you may have if you need us to. We also provide a hotel booking service and a flight or train booking service for all of our members’ traveling in China outside of the 15 designated days of the tour. We will also provide a consultancy service for you, which will help you to plan your journey across China and give you useful tips on traveling in China.

We hope that you will have a wonderful time traveling with us! 

For more information, please contact us at: info@asiaculturaltravel.co.uk.

 

Explore the culture of Ethnic minorities in Southeast Guizhou

drum tower yintan

Our epic adventure tour is designed to help you discover and connect with fascinating cultures that are vastly different from your own. The accommodation available to you in this region may be basic but the unique architecture and stunning scenery is so awe-inspiring, so unforgettably beautiful, that it will more than make up for any inconvenience you face there.

The majority of the tour will be focused on visiting villages inhabited by two of China’s ethnic minorities: the Dong people; and the Miao people. Both are renowned throughout the country as talented singers and performers.

The Dong ethnic group

dong ethnic minority 01

The Dong ethnic group are renowned for their musical ability and their skill as carpenters. From the Kam Grand Choirs to the looming Drum Towers, Dong villages are a place of harmony and wonder. The Dong people boast a population of nearly 3 million in China and the vast majority of them are concentrated in eastern Guizhou, western Hunan and northern Guangxi.

The Dong people’s talent and penchant for music evolved from their habit of singing folk songs while they were working or farming. Many of these songs are based on enchanting folk tales that were based around topics related to daily life, mainly about the pursuit of true love. The beauty of their music is matched only by the intricacy of their architecture, manifested in their characteristic Drum Towers and Wind-Rain Bridges.

Nowadays most Dong people still follow a traditional way of life in their hometowns. To this day you can still see their magnificent architecture, their traditional style of dress, and their vibrant local festivals But unfortunately more and more young people from the Dong community are being drawn to cities in the hopes of achieving a better, more modern quality of life The art of batik, embroidery, silverwork, and even singing is gradually being lost. Nowadays, in some Dong villages, you can still enjoy some authentic “performances” that are not staged for tourists. But who knows how long this opportunity will last? Read more about the Dong Ethnic Group.

The Miao ethnic group

Miao intro

The history of the Miao people is shrouded in mystery, but modern research suggests that they may have been among the earliest settlers in China. Researchers have found that many Chinese words related to rice farming were borrowed from the Miao language, which indicates that the Miao were some of the first rice cultivators in the country and may have done so over 5,000 years ago!. This, along with DNA evidences, connects the Miao to the ancient Daxi people, whose history dates back approximately 5,300 to 6,000 years. The Daxi have long been credited as the first cultivators of rice in the Far East, and it appears that the Miao may have been among them.

The Miao prefer to live in mountainous areas and have developed a special type of dwelling to this end. This dwelling, known as a diaojiaolou. The front of the house is supported by pillars, whilst the rear is suspended on wooden stilts to keep it level with the mountainside. This makes it look as though the building is hanging off of the mountain!.

The Miao are adept at carpentry and wickerwork, but are best known for their mastery of silversmithing, embroidery, and batik. The Miao women hand weave and dye cloth, then sew and embroider it by hand to make all of their clothes. The patterns incorporate themes based partly on the natural world and partly on the artists’ imagination, which is why dragons and phoenixes often feature in Miao craftwork and why certain animals and plants look different to how they appear in real life. Their creativity is legendary and their traditional dress, resplendent with colour, is the highlight of any traditional Miao festival. Read more about the Miao Ethnic Group.

During the tour, we will:

1. Discover the culture and lifestyle of the Dong and Miao ethnic minorities.

D&M culture

 

2. Study the traditional architecture of Dong and Miao villages;

basha miao village

 

3. Witness first-hand the delicate traditional dress and adornments of the Dong and Miao people;

Dong minority dressing

 

4. Listen to the beautiful songs and watch the graceful performances that are associated with the traditional culture and customs of the Dong and Miao minorities;

D&M performance

 

5. Enjoy the stunning mountainous landscape of Guizhou province;

guizhou moutains

 

6. Sample the delicious local cuisine.

Guizhou&Guangxi food

 

What information will we provide you with in advance?

  • Useful information about the Dong and Miao ethnic minorities, including their culture and customs, their way of life, their architecture, their traditional dress and adornments, the geography of their hometowns and their current situation;
  • Specific information about each village on your trip.

guizhou china

 

 

More information of the tour:

Highlights of the Tour

Itinerary

Cost

 

Dates of the tour: 7th of Sep – 18th of Sep 2018

Final Deadline for Subscription:  15th of July 2018

 

 

Basha familyPlease Note: You can choose to stick to this tour entirely, or you can just incorporate it as part of your wider plans to travel across China. We can provide you with information and help you with any other travel plans you may have if you need us to. We also provide a hotel booking service and a flight or train booking service for all of our members’ traveling in China outside of the 5 designated days of the tour. We will also provide a consultancy service for you, which will help you to plan your journey across China and give you useful tips on traveling in China.

We hope that you will have a wonderful time traveling with us! 

For more information, please contact us at: info@asiaculturaltravel.co.uk.

 

 

Cycling in the grassland of Inner Mongolia (6 Days £750pp)

 

insidecover

 

Have you been to grassland before? The ‘green sea’ is boundless, as far as the eye can see. Horses and sheep are scattering everywhere, enjoying their happy life. Mongolian yurts look like huge white flowers, blooming on the grass.

Most people prefer to come in the autumn, because the grassland would become colourful, and the sky is more blue and clear.

Cycling in grassland in the autumn, you would get the feeling like a happy bird to fly in a fantastic fairyland.

Besides, if you are a fun of photographing, there is no reason to miss this magnificent place.

inner mongolia02

 

Key words: Cycling, Grassland, Inner Mongolia, Colour Autumn, Mongolian yurt, Buildings by Qing Dynasty in Chengde, Lamaseries in Chengde.

 

The purpose of this activity:

  • To enjoy the cycling in grassland;
  • To try the Mongolian way horse-riding;
  • To experience sleeping in a Mongolian yurt;
  • To enjoy the beautiful landscape;
  • To visit Chengde Mountain Resort;
  • To find out Tibetan Buddhism culture in lamaseries.

 

We offer:

  • An English speaking leader for the cycling activity, as well as being the guide, to introduce every spot we will visit;
  • Mountain bike (if you prefer to use yours, please bring it with you);
  • A mini coach to accompany, in case some one gets problem and needs help;
  • All accommodation and transport during the activity;
  • Small groups (no more than 10 people);
  • A pdf file of the knowledge of Chengde Mountain Resort and the lamaseries around there.

 

Important notification:

Although the level of this cycling activity is moderate, it will just last 3 days, and roughly no more than 150km per day, please make sure you are strong enough to make it.

To join this activity, you must be sure that you can accept to sleep in the Mongolian yurt for 2 nights, 4 or 5 people share one. You are advised to bring your sleeping bag with you.

mongolian yurt

 

More details about the activity

 

Summary:

This is a 6-day activity including 3 days for cycling in the grassland, one-day tour in Chengde city. We have one and half days on the transport, however, it is still a good chance to enjoy the beautiful landscape.

 

The introduction of the places we will visit:

Bashang (坝上) Grassland

inner mongolia-wulanbutongThe Banshang Grassland is a part of Inner Mongolian Plateau, covering 350 square kilometres. The average altitude is 1500 metres. In the summer, the weather in this area is cool, that is why the emperors of Qing Dynasty (1644-1912) built a palace (named Mountain Resort) to for their summer life in this area.

 Of course there is not just grass in the Banshang Grassland, various sceneries show their beauty together – wetland, forest, lake and river. The trees are especially beautiful in the autumn. You will find it seems like a fantastic painting. And among all trees, the white birch is undoubtedly the most amazing one.

避暑山庄

 

Chengde Mountain Resort

From 1703 to 1792, the Qing Dynasty took 89 years to build this large complex of imperial palaces and gardens. It seems like a small China, the layout is designed according to the landform distribution of China, and it is also a rich collection of Chinese architecture – gardens, buildings and pagodas from a variety of regions of China.

The weather of Beijing in the summer was usually very hot, so the emperors of Qing Dynasty preferred to spent several months here to escape the summer heat. Their ancestor was from the grassland, and it seemed that they preferred the grassland to Beijing city.

 

Eight Outlying Temples

the Mountain ResortThe Mountain Resort and its Outlying Temples were together listed in World Heritage.

Actually there are 12 temples around the Mountain Resort, the ‘Eight Outlying Temple’ refer to the eight temples in the north of it. Among these eight temples, there are three temples named Putuo Zongcheng Temple, Xumi Fushou Temple and Puning Temple have larger scale and are most popular.

These 12 temples can be divided into Tibetan temple, Han temple and Tibetan-Han mix temple. Every temple was built for some political purpose.

 

 

 

Accommodation:

5 days accommodation in total;

3 days in 3 star hotels in cities;

2 days in Mong0lian yurt.

 

Food:

5 breakfasts and 5 dinners in total;

1 Mongolian favour dinner with lamb;

1 Chengde favour dinner with Dumplings and Lamb Shumai;

1 North China Favour dinner;

2 simple dinners in the grassland area.

Note: We will have picnic lunch during cycling, please prepare food for two days lunch in Jingpeng, where is our first stop. Or you prepare in Beijing, before our departure, because you can’t buy anything you want in a small city Jingpeng. Our suggestion is to bring some food that is not easy to expire from Beijing, and also to buy some fresh one in Jingpeng.

 

Transportation:

A mini coach will bring us, as well as all bikes, into the grassland area, and will also take us back Beijing city.

 

Time Arrangement:

It is a moderate level cycling activity, we will cycle nearly 400km in three days, but will not be in a rush and tough situation. So everyday we will start cycling at 9:30 AM and finish roughly around 5:00 PM. During the cycling time, we will also have enough break to enjoy the landscape; you can take chance to do some photographing.

 

Cost:

  • £750 per person;
  • £910 per person for single room in 3 star hotel.

Including: 5nights accommodation, 5 breakfasts and 5 dinners with local flavour, bike hire, horse-riding, coach, all entrance for attractions (Five attractions in the grassland and five attractions in Chengde), English guide service, a pdf file about knowledge of the Mountain Resort and Eight Outlying Temples, further help for your following travel.

 

Minimal participants required in one group: 4

Maximal: 10

Date: 15 Oct – 20 Oct 2014

 

Itinerary:

Day 1  Beijing – Jingpeng;  by coach  650km 7.5hours 

  1. Meet at 10:00 AM, departure at 10:30 AM, arrive around 6:00 PM;
  2. We will see the landscape on the coach including: the great wall, mountains, countryside villages and the grassland. Following our journey, less and less people will be in our view.

 

Day2  Jingpeng – Hongshan military horse ground; by cycling 125km 7hours(including break times)

  1. Departure at 9:30 AM;
  2. Three break will taken during the journey, 30mins for each;
  3. Arriving around 4:30 PM;
  4. Members can choose to cycling around inside Hongshan area or taking rest.

Note: Members who want to cycle around must be accompanied by the leader.

 

Day3  Cycling in Hongshan; by cycling 80km

  1. Horse-riding from 9:30 AM – 10:30 AM;
  2. Start cycling at 11:00 AM, heading for the Princess Lake;
  3. Come back the General Lake around 13:00, to have lunch;
  4. Heading for the Colourful Mountain, arrive around 3:30 PM; enjoy the scenery for one hour (cycling around or hiking around);
  5. Back guesthouse at 5:30;
  6. Members can choose to cycle around, of course must be accompanied by the leader.

 

Day4  Hongshan – Weichang – Chengde; by cycling 120km 5hours (including break time); by coach 140km, 2hours

  1. Departure at 9:30 AM, the first spot is the Moon Lake, to arrive around 10:20 AM;
  2. Follow the country road to Weichang, get through the white birch forest;
  3. We are lucky to enjoy the downhill, not the uphill, which also means we must be very careful to manage our bicycles.

Note: We will cycle across a forest area. We may be refused to come in because it is in the fire-alarm season. It happens sometimes. In this case we have to follow the motor road. The land view is no difference. But it may be more danger to cycle on the motor way in downhill direction.

  1. Arrive at Weichang around 14:30;
  2. Arrive at Chengdu around 17:00 (by coach);
  3. You are advised to have a walk in this historical city after dinner.

 

Day5  Chengde; a tour for Ding Dynasty culture and Buddhism culture

Five spots in our plan:

The Mountain Resort, Putuo Zongcheng Temple, Xumi Fushou Temple, Puning Temple and Puyou Temple.

 

Day6 Chengde – Beijing; 220km 3.5hours

Departure at 9:30 AM, arrive at Beijing around 1:00PM.

 

Note:

You can choose this activity as your whole travel plan in China, or just part of your exploration in this country. We can provide information and help for your following travel if you need. We also provide hotel booking, flight or train booking service for members’ travel in China outside these 6 days. We also would like to give the consultancy for your travel, such astravel plan and tips. All these services are free for all members that join this activity. If you have any request, please let us know as sooner as possible.

 

inner mongolia01

We wish we would have a wonderful time together!

For any more information, please contact us: info@asiaculturaltravel.co.uk.

Hutongs & the Wild Great Wall (6 Days £750pp)

combine cover

You may want to visit both the Hutong districts and the wild parts of the Great Wall, but you may only have a limited amount of time for your vacation. By selecting the most popular and attractive places in both areas, we have successfully shortened and combined both of the two activities to form this amazing tour.

The Hutong Districts:

Shicha Lake District, Guozijian District, Dashilan District

For more information on these Hutong districts, please follow this link: Hutongs in Beijing.

The Wild Great Wall:

Jiankou, Jinshanling

Please find details of each area in the information regarding the tours entitled “Experience real ‘Hutong Life’ in Beijing and “Hiking along the wild Great Wall”.

01

Accommodation: we will stay in the Chinese Quadrangle hotel, which is equipped with all modern amenities. The tour will last 6 nights in total, including the night before the first activity.

  • Since we will be staying in a Hutong district, there will plenty of time and ample opportunity to explore the Hutongs.
  • The photo we have shown of the hotel has been picked as an example, we cannot guarantee that it is the one you will stay in. However, they are all very similar in style.

Food: we will provide a welcome dinner of authentic Beijing cuisine, on day 3, several Beijing-style snacks on day 2, and Chinese afternoon tea on day 5.

You will also be given the opportunity to explore the local food by yourself.

There is also the option to have a luxurious, authentic royal dinner in one of the large mansions built during the Qing Dynasty. It costs approximately £35 per head and is not included in the original tour price. We can arrange the dinner for anybody who is interested.  Please look at the following photo to get an idea of what this luxury restaurant is like:

bai

Transportation: We will mainly rely on taxis and the Underground when we’re inside the city. The brave ones among you may also like to try the Underground during rush hour, which makes peak-time on the London Underground seem quiet. You will be brought to the Great Wall by our minibus.

Cost: £750 per person (including: 6 nights’ accommodation in the Quadrangle Courtyard hotel; 1 welcome dinner, Chinese afternoon tea and several snacks during designated parts of the tour; all entrance fees for attractions; all transportation costs during designated tour times; the services of an English speaking guide; meetings with locals; a pedal cab tour of the Hutongs; a pdf file with information about Hutongs; information for tour in Beijing; help with any further traveling you may do around China after the tour).

It will be £1000 per person if you want a single room rather than a shared room in the hotel.

Minimum number of participants required to run the tour: 4

Maximum number of participants for this tour: 10

Dates of the Tour: 14th June 2015 – 19th June 2015

Itinerary

Day 1

Meeting up

You can choose the meeting points including: the hotel, the underground station near the hotel, Beijing railway station. If you need the pick-up service from any places of Beijing (including the airport), please let us know in advance.

Day 2

pic01A trip to the royal mansions in a Hutong district — Shicha Lake (什刹海).

On your first day you will embark on a tour of the Hutongs by trishaw (a three-wheeled, rickshaw-like pedal cab).  Feel free to relax and soak in the stunning, ancient streets whilst looking like a regular visitor to the Hutongs!  After the tranquil pedal cab tour, we will take you to visit the largest surviving mansion from the Qing dynasty (1644-1911) – Prince Gong’s Mansion.

In the afternoon, we will visit the surviving Chinese Quadrangles and talk to their current owners. Then we will throw ourselves hungrily into Jiumen Snack Street and enjoy some of the authentic, time-honoured Beijing snacks – (large fried dumplings, soft bean curd, cooked offal and Chinese sticky cakes). Please let us know if you don’t want to or simply cannot eat certain snacks.

We will also visit Yandai Xiejie as part of the first day’s tour.

Tips: the Houhai Pub is nearby, so feel free to include their happy hour in your evening plans!

 

Day 3

A trip to the old high street that was used during the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties — Dashilan or “Outside the Front Gate” (前门大栅栏) and the old financial centre — West Heyan Street (西河沿儿街). 

day4

You will find that this district contains a mixture of artificial “old-style” buildings and authentic old buildings. Luckily these two kinds of buildings are not on the same street. All of the shops that once sold the old, time-honoured local brands still exist and operate on these streets. Although the newly built, artificial street is prettier, we don’t recommend that you spend too much time there as it is expensive and doesn’t provide the kind of authentic experience that the older streets do.

If you want to enjoy a traditional Chinese cross talk performance, please let us know in advance and we will help you book a ticket.

In the afternoon we will focus our attention on the smaller Hutongs. Historically the district we will visit was used predominantly by merchants, peddlers, some prostitutes and regular citizens. The Hutongs and houses in this district appear shabby. The Quadrangle Courtyard hotels here are smaller and cheaper than they are in other, more famous Hutong districts. For these reasons, you will find many young tourists from all over the world staying here.

On this day of the tour the plan is to walk into a few small but phenomenally well-preserved Hutongs. The most distinct of these Hutongs are Shijia Hutong and Jiuwan Hutong. Shijia Hutong used to be the main street for the old banks, whilst Jiuwan Hutong has the most bends of all the Hutongs in Beijing.

That evening we will provide welcome dinner consisting of delectable, authentic Beijing-style cuisine.

 

Day 4

A long hike along the Jiankou portion of the Great Wall

jiankou04

Day 4
Hiking in Jiankou;

Roughly 7-8 hours

7:30 Depart from Beijing
≈ 9:00 Start hiking
≈ 10:00 Get to the Great Wall, have a break
13:00 – 14:00 Break for lunch
≈ 17:00 Finish hiking
≈ 19:00 Head back to Beijing
Please Note:

  1. It is vitally important that you have breakfast before we start hiking;
  2. Since we acknowledge that everyone’s hiking speed will be different and we do not want to rush you, you will be given a picture of the break spots so that you will recognize them as you are hiking. Please wait at the designated break spots for other members.
  3. Please DO NOT go out hiking alone, we ask that at least two members travel together at all times. There are some very steep and potentially dangerous steps and walls which some of you may need assistance climbing.

 

Day 5

guozijian01

A trip to the most archetypal Hutong district – Dongsi(东四)and Guozijian(国子监)

A trip to the most popular Hutong district – Nanluogu Alley(南锣鼓巷)

Dongsi(东四)and Guozijian(国子监)are not as popular as tourist attractions and thus will be less crowded than the other three Hutong districts in our tour plan.  The buildings there are more authentic because they have not been altered to attract tourists.  When we are there, we will walk through the Hutongs and make time especially to visit the Confucian Temple and Imperial College there. However, in spite of all of these awe-inspiring sights, your favourite part of the day may very well be simply taking traditional Chinese afternoon tea in one of the Quadrangle Courtyards.

After the Chinese afternoon tea, feel free to explore Nauluogu Alley by yourself.”

 

Day 6

金山岭01

A trip to the Jinshanling portion of the Great Wall

Day 6
Hiking in Jinshanling;

Roughly 5-6 hours

8:30 Depart from Beijing
≈11:00 Arrive at Jinshanling
11:00 – 16:00 Hiking
16: 30 – 19: 30 Head back to Beijing
Important Note: When hiking, please be aware of the line and do not cross the line into the restricted areas.

 

Please Note:

You can choose to stick to this tour entirely, or you can just incorporate it as part of your wider plans to travel across China. We can provide you with information and help you with any other travel plans you may have if you need us to. We also provide a hotel booking service and a flight or train booking service for all of our members’ traveling in China outside of the 5 designated days of the tour. We will also provide a consultancy service for you, which will help you to plan your journey across China and give you useful tips on traveling in China. All of these services are free for all of the members that take this tour or any of our other tours. If you have any special requests, please let us know as soon as possible.

 

mutianyu02We hope that you will have a wonderful time traveling with us!

For further information,

please contact us at: info@asiaculturaltravel.co.uk.