There will be a welcome briefing this evening.
We leave the capital and head into the countryside to the Great Wall, an approx 2 hour journey to the north of the city. We go to one of the best-preserved parts of the Great Wall at Mutianyu which is an impressive sight, snaking off across mountains and valleys into the distance. This section of Great Wall used to serve as the northern barrier defending the capital and the imperial tombs. The wall here is upto 8.5 metres high and 5 metres wide, and has 22 watchtowers on its 2,250-metre-long stretch. There are some steep steps to navigate and clients who suffer from vertigo may find it difficult, (there is an optional cable car). There is the option of seeing an acrobatic or Kung Fu show or a trip to the opera this evening in Beijing.
We take a morning walking tour of the city's hutongs (narrow alleys) to see what is left of old Beijing and its traditions. We also visit Tianamen square, the largest square in the world and able to hold over a million people. Later in the day we visit the Forbidden City with its innumerable courtyards and temples. This afternoon if free for personal exploration, just outside the city centre is the Summer Palace, a huge park dotted with impressive pavilions and temples which, like the Forbidden City, was once the exclusive playground of China's Emperors and their concubines. In the evening we board an overnight train to the ancient city of Xi'an.
Xi'an is one of China's former capitals, and one of the few cities in China to have retained its city walls, probably because they are so massive that no revolutionary was willing to tackle the huge task of removing them. Today we will visit the city and the Bell and Drum Plaza at its heart, along with the Great Mosque. The Muslim quarter is a fascinating place to visit, especially in the evening as it comes alive with the bustle of the bazaars and food stalls. It is possible to hire bikes (optional) and cycle on the city walls to appreciate the sheer scale of these constructions.
Today we visit the famous mausoleum of Emperor Qin with its staggering display of Terracotta Warriors. His tomb lies covered by a grassy mound amidst green fields. Originally four armies were planned, at each point of the compass, life-size and lifelike. Three have been found and it is assumed the emperor's successors decided enough was enough before the fourth was begun. The first pit excavated had an estimated 6,000 figures in its one army. The third pit has been opened to the public, which contains the 'command post' for the entire operation. This is one of China's great tourist attractions, and some people may find the sheer numbers of visitors rather overpowering. In the afternoon we fly to Guilin and transfer by road for 2 hours through the stunning towering limestone scenery to Yangshuo. The surrounding region is famous for the steep-sided Karst Mountains that pierce the otherwise flat landscape of paddy fields, a rural landscape that has changed little in centuries. Despite its small size Yangshuo has quite a tourist infrastructure due to its large transient population of backpackers and domestic tourists.
Today is free to relax and enjoy the laid-back atmosphere and stunning scenery around Yangshuo. There are many optional activities to choose from: a cruise on the Li River, hire a bike and cycle around the countryside, partake in a cooking course, visit the Black Buddha caves, enjoy a Chinese massage or even a kung fu class. If you would like, you can spend the evening watching the Liu Sanjie Show, an outdoor performance set on a natural stage formed by the Li River and 12 peaks. Even if you choose just to relax this is an ideal place; you can take a stroll around the market and examine the local produce or enjoy one of the cafes and watch the world go by.
This morning is free in Yangshuo. In the late afternoon we transfer to Guilin and catch our overnight train to Shenzhen.
At Shenzhen we cross the border and take a metro to Hong Kong our final destination. The train station, border crossing and metro are all in the same building but you will need to walk with your bags a short distance as porters are not available. Free afternoon on arrival in Hong Kong. Each evening there is a Sound and Light show with the cities high-rise buildings lit up in all their glory to round off the day.
This morning we take a walk down to the famous Tsim Sha Tsui promenade for a spectacular view of Victoria Harbour passing the iconic Kowloon railway clock tower before boarding the star ferry across to Hong Kong Island. Here we take a walk through the colonial architecture of Hong Kong island. We will pass the former supreme court and St Johns Cathedral. Hong Kong is mix of old and new and you will also see the bank of China Tower once the tallest building in the world outside the US. Finally we take an historic tram ride to Victoria peak famous for its stunning views. This afternoon is free for further sightseeing or shopping. One option is to visit Aberdeen Fishing Village which was once just that, a simple village, but is now a vibrant modern waterfront area, home to thousands of boat people on hundreds of junks (brightly coloured trawlers) who still carry on with their traditional way of life. It is worth taking a ride on one of these boats to experience life on the water with its colours, sounds and odours.
For those on the group flight to London the day is free day for further sightseeing or shopping. Evening depart.