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)

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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)

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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)

 

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“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)

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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)

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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.

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

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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”.

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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:

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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.