23 December 2015. Welcome to China and the start of your holiday! Arrive Beijing Airport and included transfer to our hotel. The remainder of the day offers free time.
This morning, we explore the centre of Beijing, including massive Tiananmen Square and the sprawling Forbidden City. Boasting some 9999 rooms, the city within a city was once the sole preserve of the Chinese emperors. This afternoon we take rickshaws to the Hutongs areas of Beijing. As our trusty rickshaw driver peddles us through the network of alleys, old back lanes, traditional courtyards and compact houses, we gain a fascinating snapshot into the city’s traditional way of life. There is time to meet a local family and take a peek inside their home, before returning to our hotel. Tonight, we enjoy a Welcome Dinner at a city restaurant
Overnight: Beijing | Breakfast, Dinner
Merry Christmas. Today we drive beyond Beijing to Badaling, where we can walk a section of the famous Great Wall. Climbing the Great Wall on Xmas day, now that’s something special. The wall is a little steep in sections, but the photo opportunities are worth a million dollars! Afterwards we visit a cloisonne workshop. Tonight, Xmas dinner (Chinese banquet style) and choreographed acrobatic show.
Overnight: Beijing | Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Beijing - Luoyang. Today we start with a sightseeing tour of the Summer Palace, set on Kunming Lake. The lake may be frozen solid. This afternoon we visit the famed Silk Alley markets, boasting more than 1000 stores and every souvenir imaginable. Later today we drive past the Beijing 2008 Olympic Stadium en route to the train station where we take the late afternoon bullet train to Luoyang. Reaching speeds of up to 305km per hour the journey is an experience in itself! We arrive to Luoyang late this evening.
Overnight: Luoyang | Breakfast
Today we explore the UNESCO World Heritage listed Longman Caves. Carved into the cliffs along the Yi River, the 1300 caves (grottoes) were hollowed out during the Northern Wei Dynasty. Creating temples within the caves they then sculpted and decorated the interior with 100,000 statues and images of Buddha and his disciples. Experts consider the Longman Caves to be the artistic triumph of all Buddhist stone carvings. Later this afternoon we tour the stunning White Horse Temple, the first Buddhist temple in China before having a delicious local dinner.
Overnight: Luoyang | Breakfast, Dinner
Early this morning we walk to Peony Square to witness and maybe even partake in a little local exercise. Hundreds of local people enjoy their daily exercise by practising ballroom dancing, performing tai chi, sword fighting and play sports like badminton and hacky sack in the early hours of the morning. It's a marvel to watch! After some free time we board a high speed express trains to Xi'an, evening at leisure.
Overnight: Xi'an | Breakfast
Xi’an - Harbin. This morning we bike ride (solo or tandem) on top of the amazing old City Wall, offering unique views of the city and residents going about their daily lives. Visit the Big Wild Goose Pagoda, the Muslim Quarter and Great Mosque, with time to explore. Evening flight to Beijing and onward connecting flight to Harbin.
Overnight: Harbin | Breakfast
Today, we hit Sun Island Park for the Harbin Ice Festival. The festival is open to visitors from 20 Dec, (though the official festival opening occurs on 05 Jan). This is a wonderful time to visit as sculptors will still be adding final touches to their masterpieces. This evening we head out to Zhaolin Park for theenchanting Ice Lantern Garden Party. Ice blocks standing some 8 metres tall, resembling giant ice lollies are sculpted into the most unusual designs; a rooster, a dragon boat, a pair of cupids fluttering in the heavens and a cavalry about to do battle. Each is lit up with hundreds of Traditional Chinese lanterns and a multitude of neon creating the most spectacular photo opportunities. Before the stroke of midnight we will take a prized position our hotel bar. Ring in the new year with plenty of lights, ice and ‘local Maitai firewater spirit’. Before the stroke of midnight we will take a prized position in our hotel bar. Ring in the New Year with plenty of lights, ice and local 'Dragon Fire - Spirit'.
Overnight: Shangri La Hotel - 5 star | Breakfast, Dinner
Harbin - Beijing. Happy New Year. We spend the day at leisure enjoying the festivities at the Harbin Snow and Ice World. Imagine sliding down a 100m ice luge resembling the Great Wall of China. You can pick up some serious speed if wearing a slick winter coat. Climbing to the top of a replica of the Emperor’s Summer Palace in Beijing, complete with towers, guard house, moat and seven arched bridge or sail away on Empress Dowager Cixi’s ice marble boat. Living up to its name the ‘Ice World’ is totally beyond imagination, unusual, enchanting, inspiring and down right bizarre. What will be on offer this year is anyone's guess. Later this evening we bid farewell to Harbin boarding our overnight sleeper train to Beijing.
Overnight: Soft Sleeper Train to Beijing | Breakfast
Friday 02 January 2015. Arrival into Beijing, hotel breakfast and onward departure transfer to the airport. We hope you have had a wonderful Christmas and New Year tour in China! Note: Onward flights should be booked for departure after 2pm.
Datong is an ancient cultural city dating back more than 2,000 years, the region’s biggest attraction is the UNESCO-listed Yungang Caves. Built more than 1,500 years ago, the 53 caves are a treasure trove of ancient Buddhist art comprising a fine collection of carved-sandstone Buddhist figures. See our Datong bolt on for more info. Take a look at our other great bolt-ons.
For all our tours and tailor-made holidays we provide you with a clear categorisation of all hotels we use. The REGIONAL CATEGORY indicates the local rating of each hotel in each respective country. We have also rated each hotel using OUR CATEGORY, which will be in line with generally accepted western hotel grading standards.
Basic hotels and simple accommodation is a no frills option with an adventurous authentic feel.
Standard accommodation equates to a Western 3-star standard, always featuring en-suite rooms and usually a restaurant.
Superior accommodation equates to a Western 4-star standard, featuring en-suite rooms and usually a restaurant and often a swimming pool and/or a fitness centre.
Deluxe accommodation equates to a Western 5-star standard, usually featuring spacious, en-suite rooms, a restaurant, swimming pool and fitness centre and an array of amenities, excellent service and customer care.
Lavish accommodation equates to a Western 5-star plus standard - the creme de la creme. Featuring spacious, en-suite rooms, a restaurant, swimming pool and fitness centre and an array of amenities, this accommodation is a cut above the rest. Sheer opulence!
The Rainbow is a contemporary hotel accented by the colours of traditional Chinese folk art culture. The spacious guestrooms display character of the Ming and Qing dynasties with beautiful wooden furniture whilst providing modern amenities fit for international travellers. The hotel also has a restaurant, cafe and bar.
The Peony Hotel is an impressive, modern sky-scraper with stylishly decorated rooms. The functional rooms are well facilitated with modern amenities and the hotel also has a restaurant and business centre.
The Wan Nian Grand is a comfortable, friendly hotel with light, good sized rooms. Elegantly decorated, the rooms also boast modern amenities and the hotel has a wealth of facilities including an indoor pool and sauna house, a cafe and bar, and well-equipped business centre.
Luxury 5 star hotel with a vast array of rooms for all tastes. All guests enjoy 24 hour room service, complimentary Internet access and evening cocktails. There is also an indoor swimming pool, outdoor tennis court and health club.
Soft sleeper cabins are private compartments which have four bunks - two upper and two lower. A door separates the compartment from the aisle and bedding and pillows are provided. Each bunk is equipped with a small reading lamp. Temperature controls are installed alongside the door. Generally, the facilities include a clothes rack, slippers, clothes brush, stainless steel thermos, fine porcelain teacup, a waste bin and wall socket.
Tipping is not a natural part of many Western cultures and many of us feel uncomfortable, or unsure, about when, or how much, to tip. However, in China, tipping makes up a significant part of many people's wages so it's important that we get it right. For this reason we've developed a very simple system to take all the hassle out of tipping. With our 'tipping made easy' policy, a nominal pre-determined amount is collected from all group tour participants to cover tips en route. This then saves you the hassle of when and how much to tip bellhops, luggage handlers, local guides and other support staff through the tour. Our 'tipping made easy' doesn't include a tip to your group tour leader. Naturally, though, the amount is up to you as tipping is an entirely personal gesture.
Stephanie was very good, everything was organised well. She was always accessible.”
We had a fantastic time and would highly recommend On The Go Tours. Our guide Feng was amazing, a credit to the company and really made the trip special. Feng was knowledgeable , calm and organised and although we were quite a mixed group, she ensured that we were all happy (not just ma ma hu hu!) all of the time. The local guides Joe in Luoyang and Benny in Xi'an were also great and Stephanie who was in charge of the other group was lovely.
The tour itself ensured that we had a real taste of China with a good balance of culture and fun. It is quite a packed itinerary, so not a relaxing trip, but you certainly make the most of your time there. The only comments we have would be that it was a shame that the hotels in Luoyang and Xi'an did not have a proper bar area for the group to meet up and relax in the evenings. Also the hotel in Harbin was so lovely it would have been much better to have had our new Year's Eve meal there.
Many thanks to all involved!”
Our tour guide was great however I did feel that time at some of the attractions could have been less and therefore we could have fitted in other things. ie To long at the grottos and teracotta warriors however when have loved to have seen the light show in xian.”
This tour is such a cultural shock with people spitting everywhere , even on the floor of restaurants. The pollution is overwhelming, but traveling to foreign countries these all add to the experience. Like it or not this is the way of the local people.
Our tour guide Fung was fabulous. enough cannot be said to praise her enough. she went out of her way as most of the tour group was ill at some stage and she escorted them to a chemist for medicine and even a tour member to hospital.
As a train buff I was excited about the high speed trains and was not disappointed. they were fantastic. I would go back just to travel on them again.
Benny in Xian was a particular highlight as he was animated and made that part of our trip so enjoyable i would have been happy to stay in Xian longer. Whatever is done don't remove the bike ride on the wall in Xian as this was a favourite of most of our group.
I must say the tour was very enjoyable but did not follow the itinerary as represented in the brochure. This was not the same as our Vietnam tour where the problems were weather related, but the we felt the tour was misrepresented in regard to some or the activities .
Beijing - Luoyang. Opt for and early morning walk
through the local, market before we set off to see
the Summer Palace, set on Kunming Lake "Didn't happen, wasn't offered. My wife was looking forward to this excursion
New Years Eve was a major disappointment as the only celebrations were drinks in the hotel lobby bar.
"Before the stroke of midnight
we will take a prized position our hotel bar. Ring
in the new year with plenty of lights, ice and ‘local
Maitai firewater spirit’.
Apart from the hotel bar there were no lights, the only ice was in the 'ice bar 'outside.
there was a drinks/nibbles package on offer that was so poorly explained no one in our group took advantage of it. it was only when speaking to the other group "Stephanie" that we realized we missed out on a fairly good deal.. I understand that this tour is a once a year trip but surely the content and the ability of the guide , who has done the trip before should be suitable. .
Our local guide in Harbin "Suzie" was hopeless. A very poor grasp of English and had no interaction with the passengers and spoke as if she was reading from a set script.
Apart from my complaint i wouldn't hesitate to recommend this trip as it was a once in a lifetime experience. If the brochure was suitably amended to show the true tour, guides vetted to ensure they have at least some personality and grasp of English and costs explained instead of hidden extras then it would be wonderful experience without complaint.”
Fung was an amazing tour guide. She was extremly knowledgable, always had a smile on her face, and nothing was too much trouble if we asked. She definately made the tour”
Stephanie was very good, everything was organised well. She was always accessible.”