Get a real taste of China with fine dining and cooking lessons, interspersed with visits to extraordinary historical sites and traditional Chinese entertainment. Feast on famed Peking Roast Duck, prepare a mouthwatering lunch and dumplings and watch a demonstration of hand-pulled noodles. For a truly authentic experience, take a class in a Chinese home, including a visit to the local market with your host. Sightseeing includes Beijing, Xian and Shanghai, China’s most charismatic and historic cities.
Slightly Active. May involve some walking and climbing.
China is characterized by a continental climate, and the climate differs from region to region because of the country’s extensive territory and complex topography (latitudes span nearly 50 degrees). Most parts of China have a clear division be-tween seasons. In winter, northerly winds from high latitude areas keep the northern part cold and dry, while in summer, monsoons from southern coastal areas bring warmth and moisture. The rainy season runs from May through August and typhoons frequently occur in the southeast coast between July and September. Consequently, China is best visited in the Spring and Fall, avoiding the sweltering heat and monsoons, as well as the winter cold.
Depart the USA and arrive in Beijing the next day, where you are escorted to your centrally-located hotel. The remainder of your day is at leisure to relax or begin exploring China’s political, educational and cultural center, which was named as the capital in 1057 B.C. Your contemporary hotel is conveniently located in the city center, only a mile or so from the Forbidden City and offers comfort and numerous facilities. BEIJING CROWNE PLAZA WANGFUJING HOTEL. (Meals Aloft)
Start today at Tiananmen Square, the largest square in the world, flanked by only two monuments – Monument of the People’s Heroes and the Mao Zedong Memorial Hall where Chairman Mao’s body lies in a crystal coffin. Continue onto the Forbidden City, a UNESCO World Heritage Site with a wealth of treasures and antiquities. After lunch, marvel at the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvest in the Temple of Heaven and the Hongqiao Market. Enjoy a traditional kung fu show in the evening. Next day, visit and even climb the incredible Great Wall of China. In the afternoon, visit the Ming Dynasty Imperial Tombs, where 13 emperors from the Ming Dynasty are buried within spectacular mausoleums, pavilions and memorials. For dinner, enjoy a traditional favorite – Peking Roast Duck. BEIJING CROWNE PLAZA WANGFUJING HOTEL. (B,L; B,L,D)
Awaken your inner Iron Chef this morning at a cooking class at Chunyi in Hutong. Beijing cuisine, also known as Peking, has hundreds of well-known dishes with distinct flavors and techniques that have found their way from the imperial court to international restaurants. In an exquisitely restored hutong courtyard house, learn about the many varied flavors of Chinese cookery, the use of Chinese spices and condiments, wok and cleaver skills, and make your favorite Chinese dishes – and consume the food you created. This afternoon, make some new friends and have a better understanding of Chinese people as you explore Beijing’s maze of old hutongs (alleys), built more than 800 years ago. Get an authentic view of modern life in China with a rickshaw tour through a typical modern village and spend time sipping tea and chatting with a local family in their home. BEIJING CROWNE PLAZA WANGFUJING HOTEL. (B,L)
Fly to Xian where you will be escorted to your five-star contemporary hotel in downtown Xian. Work up an appetite with a Chinese Dumpling cooking class before dinner at Shaanxi Grand Opera restaurant. Watch as the restaurant’s team make dumplings in the kitchen, and then learn first-hand. One of the chefs will join your group and give you a close-up demonstration, and you’ll get to practice making them yourself. Before the cooking class, enjoy a stroll on Xian’s City Wall, which has protected the city since the Tang dynasty (618-907). XIAN HILTON HOTEL. (B,L,D)
Visit the Terra Cotta Warriors and Horses Museum, possibly the most significant archaeological excavation of the 20th century. Thousands of life-size statues depicting a massive army of warriors, horses and chariots have been unearthed within the tomb of the first emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang. For lunch, watch a local chef make “hand pulled” noodles right in front of you. In the afternoon, observe the simple yet stunning lines of the Big Goose Pagoda, built in the 7th century to house hundreds of Buddhist scriptures brought over from India. Top off your exciting day with dinner and a show at Tang Dynasty Theatre. HILTON HOTEL. (B,L,D)
Fly to Shanghai, China’s commercial center and most sophisticated city. Enjoy lunch at one of Shanghai’s most famous dim sum restaurants – Din Taifung. This afternoon, tour the infamous waterfront Bund, once the financial center of the foreign powers. Visit Old Town and then find peace and health amongst the beauty of Yu Garden. Over 400 years old, the present-day garden occupies five exquisitely designed acres with pavilions, halls, stones and streams. You are free to enjoy dinner on your own before a traditional Chinese Acrobatic Show tonight. SHANGHAI GRAND CENTRAL HOTEL. (B,L)
This morning is a highlight of your culinary adventure and an opportunity to gain invaluable insight into local cuisine and the role it plays in Chinese culture: a cooking class in The Kitchen at cooking studio in the French Concession area. Before the class, your guide will take you to the market to purchase fresh vegetables and fruit. Learn about the Chinese way of life and the various ingredients, and then return to class to learn how to make a Chinese dish and enjoy it for lunch. In the afternoon, visit the Shanghai Museum and enjoy an evening of leisure to discover your own culinary adventure. SHANGHAI GRAND CENTRAL HOTEL. (B,L)
Today you visit Zhujiajiao, an ancient canal town often nicknamed the Venice of China. The town was formed about 1,700 years ago and features incredibly wellpreserved Ming and Qing architecture and ancient stone bridges (36 in all). Tonight, enjoy a farewell dinner at a local restaurant. SHANGHAI GRAND CENTRAL HOTEL. (B,D)
Time to bid farewell to this majestic land and its misty mountains and ancient wonders, as you board your flight home, bringing with you a refreshed understanding – and new recipes! – of this steadfast culture. (B, Meals Aloft)
Interested in exploring more of this vast country? Classic Escapes offers a number of extensions to other parts of China and throughout Asia. Check with one of our travel experts for details; we’d love to arrange a customized program just for you.
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