Travelling a full circle from Beijing, you will discover temples, tombs, palaces and ancient cities, uncovering culture, tradition, religion and local communities along the way. This is China at its very best - it’s the full monty.
Saturday. Huan ying, welcome to China and the start of your holiday! Airport arrival transfer from Beijing Capital Airport to your hotel for check-in. The remainder of the day offers free time for you to independently explore this astonishing city.
Today we tour of the nation’s capital and host of the 2008 Olympics. Tiananmen Square is essentially the heart of Beijing. A patriotic vision of grandeur, Tiananmen Square is a square for the public and also home of the mausoleum of Chairman Mao and the striking Monument to the People’s Heroes. Perhaps one of Beijing’s most famous sights is the Gate of Heavenly Peace. Up above the gate and looking out across to all his people, is Chairman Mao.
Heading back a few centuries, we step into the Forbidden city, the walled city of the former Chinese emperors. Entry was Forbidden to all but those on imperial business until 1911, when the last emperor, Puyi, was overthrown. Comprising of 9999 rooms, temples and hallways the complex is an architectural feat and stunningly beautiful. This afternoon we take rickshaws to explore the Hutongs 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 of the city’s traditional way of life. There is time to meet a local family and take a peek inside their home. This evening, we enjoy an eye boggling Chinese acrobatic performance. Swinging ropes, juggling hoops, spinning plates and human pyramids are just a few tricks these show stoppers pull out followed by a Welcome Dinner of Peking Duck at a city restaurant.
Overnight: Beijing | Breakfast, Dinner
After a free morning to further explore the city, we drive beyond Beijing to Badaling, to walk a section of the famous Great Wall. Built in the Ming Dynasty, a 6m wide pathway makes a formidable defence, following the highest contours of a steep range of hills. We also visit a Jade Carving Centre before heading to our quaint hotel near Juyongguan Pass, which offers views of the Great Wall.
Overnight: Great Wall | Breakfast, Lunch
Beijing - Luoyang. We rise early this morning and head (5 min bus drive) to the Great Wall at Juyongguan Pass when it opens to beat the crowds. Later we return to Beijing to explore the famous Pearl Market - a treasure trove of souvenirs, handbags and clothing, before taking an afternoon bullet train to Luoyang. Reaching speeds of up to 305km per hour the journey is an experience in itself! Check in to hotel in Luoyang, late evening.
Overnight: Luoyang | Breakfast
First thing today we drive to the Shaolin Kung Fu Temple (approx 2 hours), set on the foothills of the Songshan Mountain. Here generation after generation of Shaolin monks have devoted themselves to practising Chan Buddhism and a martial art widely recognised as the origins of kung fu. Over the years hundreds, if not thousands, of people have flocked to this very site to learn this ancient discipline and we'll have the opportunity to watch a performance of kung fu during our visit. Returning to Luoyang you’ll have some free time, and the option to walk to Xiyuan Park where ball room dancing, tai chi, aerobics and badminton lessons take place every evening.
Overnight: Luoyang | Breakfast, Dinner
Luoyang - Xi’an. Today we explore the UNESCO-listed 5th and 6th Century Longmen Caves etched into the cliffs of the Yi River. The 2,300 caves (grottoes) are adorned with 110,000 statues and images of Buddha carved during the Northern Wei Dynasty. This afternoon we board the high speed train to Xi’an (journey time approx 2hrs). After hotel check-in and some time to fresh up we’ll embark on a casual bike ride around the Xi’an City Wall. Looking down as you peddle offers delightful views of the city hubbub and daily life with the Old City in the centre of the walls and the modern city on the outside.
Overnight: Xi'an | Breakfast
Xi’an is perhaps most famous for the discovery of Emperor Qin’s Terracotta Warriors. Discovered in 1974 by local farmers digging a well, the 2,200 year old terracotta warriors comprise of more than 7,000 life-sized soldiers standing battle-ready in excavated pits under the cover of a modern protective hanger. No two faces are alike – each is said to be an individual portrait. Today, we visit the archaeological site of the Terracotta Warriors and a workshop where crafts people make clay warrior replicas. Tonight, we welcome you to join the optional Tang Dynasty Show, which includes dinner, a traditional performance and transfers (bookable locally).
Overnight: Xi'an | Breakfast, Lunch
Arrive Shanghai and hotel check in. Focus your eyes on spectacular Shanghai. Perhaps China’s most modern city, its amazing Pudong skyline is breathtaking. After time to freshen up we enjoy a tour of the Yuyuan Garden, old Shanghai, the Bund and take a Huangpu River cruise.
Overnight: Shanghai | Breakfast
Shanghai - Suzhou - Shanghai - Qufu. Today we travel by road to ancient Suzhou. A sort of oriental Venice, ancient Suzhou is interwoven by a series of canals and pretty waterways. We enjoy a cruise on the Grand Canal and visit a silk workshop. There’s plenty to see and do in Shanghai, Day 11 is free for you to venture to the Old City, French Quarter or opt to shop along the famous Nanjing road. This evening we bunk down in our soft sleeper train cabins en route to Qufu.
Overnight: Shanghai (1) Sleeper Train to Qufu (1) | Breakfast x 2, Lunch x 1
Qufu, birthplace of Confucius and home to the Confucius Temple, ranks with Beijing’s Forbidden city as a great classic Chinese architectural complex. With 466 rooms and over a kilometre long, the complex was built and dedicated to the descendants of the great sage, who lived here continuously for more than 2,500 years, spanning 77 generations. The grandeur and opulence of the mansion conveys the power and wealth of the mighty Kong clan and their head Yansheng Duke (Confucius’ direct male descendant). The clan rose throughout imperial history as the family head was granted increased privileges. With the decline of imperial rule, the end was nigh and in 1940, the last of the family line - Kong Dechend - fled to Taiwan during the Japanese invasion. Not surprisingly, half of Qufu now claims descent from the Kongs.
After visits to the mansion and temple we take a rickshaw ride around the city wall with a visit to the eerie Confucius forest. The forest is studded with tombs and graves of Kong family members dating back some centuries. Anyone with the surname Kong can still be buried here today. Evening stroll through the colourful night market.
Overnight: Qufu | Breakfast
Qufu – Bu Yang village - Mt Tai Shan – Jinan. A short drive leads us to Bu Yang Village. The principles of Communism and communal work and land ownership are somewhat still in place here. We stop for a light lunch at Mr Peng’s (one of the party officials) home. Seated around the family’s low to the ground lazy Susan, Mrs Peng serves up local dishes and copious bottles of beer. This is real village life! A short stroll leads us to the village prep-school, where we step into the class room to be swarmed by the mass of 5 year olds all vying for our attention.
Later we drive to Mt Tai Shan, perhaps the holiest of the five Chinese holy mountains devoted to Taoism. There are more than 6000 steps to the summit, streams of pilgrims take the challenge, we take the cable car. With stunning scenery and many ancient temples dotting the slopes we visit Heaven Street, Cloud Bridge and the Jade Emperor’s temple. A short drive to Jinan.
Overnight: Jinan | Breakfast, Lunch
Saturday. Tour ends after breakfast and included onward transfer to Beijing Capital Airport.
The hotels listed below are ones which we frequently use on this tour. We reserve the right to substitute these hotels to ones of a similar standard.
Holiday Inn Temple of Heaven, Beijing
The Beijing Holiday Inn Temple of Heaven is an elegant and comfortable hotel with well-furnished and spacious rooms. Practical in design, the guestrooms feature internet access and the hotel also boasts a range of restaurants and bars, as well as an indoor swimming pool. Located just a 10 minute walk from the Temple of Heaven, the hotel is the perfect base from which to explore this fascinating city.
Holiday Inn Express Beijing Minzuyuan, Beijing
Located just a stones throw from the Beitucheng Subway station, with access to Line 10 & Line 8, the Holiday Inn Express Beijing Minzuyuan is a perfect base to explore the many amazing highlights of Beijing. Within walking distance of the hotel you'll find the famous Birds Nest Olympic Stadium. The hotel boasts a stylish restaurant offering breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Peony Plaza, Luoyang
The Peony Plaza Hotel is ideally located in Luoyang city centre, making it easily accessible from all parts of the city. The hotel benefits from a stylish, contemporary design and the guest rooms are tastefully furnished. All rooms feature minibars, free WiFi and LCD TVs with cable channels. The hotel also boasts a sauna and massage centre as well as a rotating restaurant for excellent views of the city.
Grand Dynasty Culture Hotel, Xi'an
Located a stone’s throw away from the Ancient City Wall and Islamic Mosque, is the Grand Dynasty Culture Hotel. The hotel offers modern comforts in the heart of the city. Each air-conditioned guestroom features WiFi, a minibar and satellite TV. There is an onsite restaurant which serves a daily buffet or a la carte breakfast as well as a variety of Asian and Western dishes. During free time, guests can enjoy a relaxing massage or work out in the fitness centre.
Ramada Encore Shanghai Hotel , Shanghai
Ideally located close to several plazas and shopping centres, this modern hotel offers you a comfortable stay in one of China’s fastest growing cities. Guestrooms are equipped with all the essential amenities, with free WiFi and access to the breakfast buffet included. The onsite Dakang Restaurant also serves lunch and dinner, and you can expect a tasty menu featuring both Western and Chinese cuisine. Other amenities include a fitness centre, coffee shop and small convenience store.
Queli Hotel, Qufu
The Queli a sublime hotel that combines excellent service with a great location to ensure each guest a fantastic stay. Designed in traditional Shandong style, the beautiful complex blends with the ancient town of Qufu and boasts modern amenities including a business centre and a bar. Rooms are spacious and comfortable and have been decorated with a neutral colour scheme. The hotel is in the city centre, adjacent to the Confucius Temple and 16 km from the railway station.
Shungeng Hillview Hotel, Jinan
Situated at the foot of a mountain, this modern hotel sits amongst wonderful landscapes and offers splendidly decorated rooms with an array of mod-cons. The hotel has several restaurants, a bar, a health club featuring a sauna and fitness centre, and a number of other recreational facilities including bowling, tennis and billiards. Upon entering guests can marvel at the magnificent lobby before making their way to their spacious room. The hotel is 3km from the city centre, 6km from the railway station and 38km from the airport.
Just one amazing tour, thank you! Highly recommend.”
We thoroughly enjoyed our trip to China. We saw so much and learnt so much about the country's history. The trip was well organised and planned. A few things had to be changed because of the Nations holiday but we got to see other things instead. We found all the tour guides to be extremely helpful and knowledgeable. Highlights would have been walking on the Great Wall, Terracotta Soldiers and experiencing some of the countryside. We would highly recommend On The Go tours and the Mandarin Sunrise Tour to any one looking to go to China.”
Just an overall amazing experience! Not all hotels had fridges…”
The tour was great. Our tour guide Lisa was absolutely amazing. We've taken a lot of tours and Lisa ranks up there with the best guides ever. She went above and beyond, helping everyone on the tour, even when we were "on our own." Fortunately, we never felt abandoned or lost because she was always available to translate and make sure we were being well taken care of. ”
Great Tour and top organisation by On The Go Tours, especially last 3 days which took as away from the usual tourist attractions showing more the life of the local people. Highlight visiting a Chinese Kindergarten and a Chinese family which gave us an impression on how local people live.
Competent tour guides (tour and local). We will recommend Go any time ”
Nothing was too much trouble for Lisa she made time for everyone of us always going the extra mile even when my suitcase broke she helped me find another one. We were all in agreement she was the best guide any of us had.”
The tour was absolutely great and our tour guide made it even more special. Stephanie was awesome, knowledgable and so much fun. She was always full of surprises for us and made the whole experience even better. The sleeper train from Xi'an to Shanghai was the highlight of the trip. The whole group was cramped in one berth singing songs having few bears, even the local kids came to join us. The Great Wall and the teraccota soldiers were absolutely stunning and it is a must see. Also I can't forget to mention the kids in the local school in the Bu Yang village who were so addorable and I enjoyed myself playing games, teaching them how to make paper planes and dancing with them. The only thing that wasn't so good was Jinan as there is not much to see and that day could have been used to visit some other place.”
Mandy as a tour guide is a real treasure. Her interest and concern for the party was unsurpassed. She advised the party of what was happening at every step of the tour, particularly when travelling. She also checked as to how we all felt about each of the local guides and the information they were giving us. Mandy also went above beyond by arranging to meet 3 of us who continued the tour back to Beijing at the station and, while she wasn't the one to take us to the airport, she phoned us on route to ask if everything was OK and to wish us a happy journey.
Generally the local guides were fine, and engaged with the Group with the exception of the guide in Shanghai. She showed little interest for the Group and was more interested in her mobile phone. She never told us what was happening with catching trains and often walked off without ensuring that all the group were ready,or telling us fully what was happening. Many of the Group were particularly unhappy at having to queue for nearly 4 hours to go up the TV Tower, and not being given any option. This was compounded by having to come out of the queue half way through for about 20 mins for a toilet break.
Generally the Tour was good, and covered all of the major sites that you would want to see. from a personal perspective, I would like to have seen a bit more of the countryside, and the picturesque side of China. The Shanghai to Beijing section of the trip was a highlight, particularly in the village, and the walking tour of Jinan. The guide Jin was great on this leg of the Tour.
Re the Tour, I think that a night tour of the cities should have been included. While we paid for the night tour of Beijing, this should have included seeing Tianamen Square at night. Also, Xian is very picturesque at night which we only saw by taking a taxi ride.
In Beijing, the trip to the Silk market was a waste of time. Most of us did not expect it to be a shopping mall, and really didn't want to spend the time there. More time could have been spent at the Summer Palace which was rushed, and quite a bit wasn't covered.
In Shanghai, we had a very long and tiring day having travelled overnight by train, and some of the party had a very early start the previous day going to see the pandas. An improvement would be to have the nighttime boat trip the following evening rather than all on that 1 day.
I did feel that the allocation of hotel rooms was unfair and that we got a particular bad deal. In many of the hotels, the rooms were of different standards, the higher the floor the better quality of room. From discussions with the other members of the Group, our allocated room was always of the lowest quality.
Hope that these comments are helpful.
I’ve just come back from a great trip to China with your Mandarin Sunrise package. It was amazing even unexpected in places. Justin was a great tour leader and a gentleman. He gave up his low bunk for me on an overnight train – there was no way I could climb to the top bunk, helped me with bag which was getting heavier by the day with all the goodies I’d been buying, and then shared his brolly with me when I’d left my rain jacket on the bus during a big down pour in Shanghi.
The Dragon Boat racing was a dream we were given VIP passes to had the best seats in the house right opposite the finish line.
I should also mention Tom, Benny and Richard and their in depth knowledge of area’s and jokes made the trip.
Thank you, am just looking where to go next. ”
Activities were well paced with necessary free time included. The guides were sensitive to the needs of the group. Guides were knowledgeable and efficient especially Mandy who guided us to local eateries when meals weren't provided. We learnt a lot about the history of places we visited, also about the political and economic situation of China in general, very fascinating. They all worked very hard to make our visit very enjoyable. Thank you. ”
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Just one amazing tour, thank you! Highly recommend.”