Chinese Civilisation for ACE Study Tours

Chinese Civilisation for ACE Study Tours

This has been one of our most successful programmes which we have operated in association with ACE Study Tours, each departure is accompanied by an experienced Sinologist and you are looked after by local English speaking guides in China. We believe it gives a most comprehensive introduction to Chinese history and culture.

Next Departure dates from London 05 April 2009, 11 October 2009

China, one of the world’s great civilisations, hosts a seductive array of archaeological sites, archaic towns and ancient gardens. Our explorations, based around the middle reaches of the Yellow River and the Lower Yangtze, will take us from Beijing to Xian, the cradle of Chinese civilisation, and then onwards to the modern metropolis of Shanghai. Our itinerary will feature several less-frequented destinations, notably the exceptionally well-preserved walled city of Pingyao, where the local inhabitants live and work as they have done for centuries.

Beijing will be our base for visits to the Great Wall, perhaps the world’s most awesome military structure, and the Forbidden City, once the imperial home of the Ming and Qing dynasties. Jinci Temple, outside Taiyuan, dates back over 1,000 years and is the venue for a remarkable assembly of Song dynasty sculptures.

It was near Xian, in 1974, that one of the greatest archaeological discoveries of any era was made: a terracotta army of more than 8,000 life-sized warriors, chariots and horses buried alongside the emperor Qin, the first unifier of China. Here, in the regional museum, we will enjoy a private tour of the Tang frescoes in the company of one of the curators.

In the prosperous area around Shanghai we will take in Nanjing, site of the tomb of the first Ming emperor, and the Grand Canal, the world’s oldest and longest waterway. A further attraction of the region is Suzhou, where the 11th-19th century gardens reflect the profound metaphysical importance of natural beauty in Chinese culture. Hangzhou, the capital of Zhejiang province, ranks as one of China’s most beautiful – and most romantic – cities. West Lake is dotted with causeways and islands adorned with intricately designed gardens, ponds, pagodas and pavilions: “Three Pools Reflecting the Moon” is a pagoda-like structure erected in the lake some 700 years ago to ward off evil spirits.

Shanghai, the face of modern China and the country’s capital of commerce, will form the most intriguing of contrasts to the towns visited earlier on our itinerary. We will take in the city’s architecture, both modern and old, and will enjoy a farewell dinner on Shanghai’s famous waterfront.

We will cover a considerable part of our journey by train, one of the most fascinating ways to develop a sense of the vastness of China. Overnight accommodation on-board will be in soft-class sleepers with four berths per compartment. Elsewhere, we will stay in hotels of four-star quality.

Day 1

Depart Heathrow 1335 on Finnair via Helsinki for Beijing.

Day 2

Arrive Beijing 0855 and transfer to Prime Hotel, near Forbidden City, for two nights. Own arrangements for lunch. Orientation tour of Beijing including 15th century Ming Temple of Heaven. Evening lecture.

Day 3

Whole-day excursion to Great Wall, Valley of Ming Tombs, Sacred Way, Ding Ling (excavated tomb).

Day 4

Morning lecture followed by Forbidden City and Summer Palace (masterpiece of Chinese landscape garden design). Depart on overnight train to Taiyuan (capital of Shanxi Province).

Day 5

Arrive Taiyuan and transfer to hotel for breakfast. Afternoon: Twin Pagoda Temple, Jinci Temple (famed for its Song sculptures), then via the Qiao Family Mansion (example of courtyard home of a wealthy Qing household) to Pingyao for overnight at Yunjincheng Hotel.

Day 6

Pingyao (founded in 14th century): exceptionally well-preserved urban buildings, city walls, visits to local artisans. Return to Taiyuan for overnight at World Trade Hotel.

Day 7

Fly to Xian, visit Han Yang Ling Tomb and transfer to Aurum International Hotel.

Day 8

Visit Terracotta Warriors, Great Wild Goose pagoda (Tang dynasty) and Bei Lin – the forest of Steles

Day 9

Provincial Museum (with guided tour of Tang frescoes by curator) then by train to Luoyang via Yellow River Valley (loess landscape) for overnight at Peony Hotel.

Day 10

Via White Horse Temple (first Buddhist temple in China), Longmen Caves (Buddhist grottoes with wonderful collection of Tang art), Shaolin Temple (renowned for martial arts) to Zhengzhou (capital of Henan Province) for overnight at Crown Plaza Hotel.

Day 11

Depart Zhengzhou by train for Nanjing, short city tour on arrival, transfer to Mandarin Garden Hotel for two nights.

Day 12

Nanjing (seat of Ming dynasty): Ming Xiaoling Mausoleum (tomb of first Ming emperor), Fuzimiao (Confucian temple), observatory on Purple Mountain. (own arrangements for dinner this evening)

Day 13

By train to Suzhou (city of gardens) for overnight at Bamboo Garden Hotel. Afternoon: canal trip through old city, 16th century Lingering Garden, silk reeling factory.

Day 14

Suzhou: Master of Nets Garden then by road to Hangzhou on West Lake and transfer to Wang Hu Hotel for two nights. Afternoon: Tiger Spring (famous for green tea), Museum of Chinese Medicine.

Day 15

Hangzhou: by boat across West Lake, Three Pools Reflecting the Moon (pagoda), Six Harmonies (pagoda), Temple of the Soul’s Retreat. (own arrangements for dinner this evening)

Day 16

By train to Shanghai: old town, Yuyuan (classical garden), Bund, Shanghai Museum (museum of ancient Chinese art) with tour by curator. Transfer to Salvo Hotel for two nights. Evening: acrobatics show.

Day 17

Shanghai museum in the morning with welcome by curator: (own arrangements for lunch) free time followed by farewell dinner on floating restaurant on Bund (Shanghai’s famous waterfront).

Day 18

Depart Shanghai 1015, arriving Heathrow 1710.