STS Tours - Historic China

Historic China

Photo of the historic Great Wall of China

The Historic China tour is especially designed as an introduction to the new and old China. The tours takes you to the cosmopolitan cities of Beijing and Shanghai as well as the ancient cities – Qufu (Confucius hometown) where little has changed in 2000 years, and Tai An City where you will experience a dramatic view from the summit of Mt. Tai. You will also tour the Imperial Palace in Beijing and walk the mighty Great Wall.

DAY 01: TORONTO/BEIJING

Depart Toronto on a regularly scheduled aircraft bound for Beijing. Meals will be served on board and headsets will be supplied so you may enjoy the full-length movie and the many available audio channels. Don’t forget to move your watches one day ahead as you cross the International Dateline.

DAY 02: BEIJING (D)

Upon arrival in Beijing you will be met by your friendly national guide and transferred to the 4-star Beijing International or similar hotel. Upon arrival, enjoy a welcome group dinner.

Overnight in Beijing.

DAY 03: BEIJING (B/L/D)

Breakfast at hotel.

All cities in China are equal, but some are more equal than others. Beijing has the best of everything in China bar the weather: the best food, the best hotels, the best transport, and the best temples. Among the Chinese, Beijing is considered “The Promised Land”. Poor peasants flock to the city in search of the elusive pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. The Government tries to encourage them to go home, but the lure of the capital proves too enticing.

Dr. Norman Bethune (1890-1939) is the most famous “foreign devil” in China, all Chinese people know of Bethune (bái qiúèn). Bethune is eulogized in the readings of Mao Zedong Thoughts: “We must all learn the spirit of absolute selflessness from Dr. Norman Bethune”. He is buried about 250 km southwest of Beijing.

Today tour Tian An Men Square, the world’s largest public plaza. The square is the creation of Mao and is the heart of Beijing. Vast rallies took place here during the Cultural Revolution when Mao, wearing a Red Guard armband, reviewed parades of up to a million people.

Also, tour the Forbidden City, off limits for 500 years; it is the largest and best-preserved group of ancient buildings in China. It was the home of two dynasties of emperors, the Ming and the Qing, who didn’t stay from this pleasure-dome unless they absolutely had to. The Palace Museum contains many priceless treasures. Visit the Summer Palace regarded as one of the best sights in Beijing, an immense park containing some Qing architecture. After dinner this evening, enjoy a Peking Opera performance. Overnight in Beijing.

DAY 04: BEIJING (B/L/D)

Breakfast at hotel.

Take a day long excursion to the mighty Great Wall of China which stretches some 4000 miles across the country. En route visit the Ming Tombs. This evening will be a traditional Chinese Peking Duck dinner. Overnight in Beijing.

DAY 05: BEIJING (B)

Breakfast at hotel.

Your last full day in Beijing has been left at your leisure for personal shopping or sightseeing.

Overnight in Beijing.

DAY 06: BEIJING –JINAN (B/L/D)

Breakfast at hotel.

The morning is left free to you explore. In the afternoon you will be transferred to the rail station for your train to Jinan. Transfer to your hotel.

EVENING: Dinner. Overnight in Jinan.

DAY 07: JINAN (B/L/D)

Breakfast at hotel.

Jinan hundred plus bubbling natural springs give this city of two million its name “City of Springs”. This city is settled in Neolithic times, some four thousand years ago. This is evidenced by the discovery of eggshell –thin pieces of black pottery unearthed in the nearby town of Longshan. You will visit Daming Lake this morning, covering one quarter of the city area, it has a temple and teahouses. In the afternoon visit the Yellow River, the birthplace of Chinese civilization and the Provincial Museum sited in an old temple.

EVENING: Dinner. Overnight in Jinan.

DAY 08: JINAN-MT. TAI (B/L/D)

Breakfast at hotel.

Tour other highlights in the city. Take a scenic coach ride to Tai’an after lunch. Visit the Dai Temple and enjoy the Qigong demonstration.

EVENING: Dinner. Overnight in Tai’an.

DAY 09: MT. TAI-QUFU (B/L/D)

Breakfast at hotel.

A scenic coach rides to Mt. Taishen; the most revered of the five sacred mountains of China. From its summit imperial sacrifices to heaven and earth were offered. From its heights Confucius uttered the dictum, “The world is small”. Poets, writers and painters have found Taishan a great source of inspiration and extolled its virtues. Your coach will take you midway up the mountain and you will travel by cable car to the summit. You will depart Mt. Tai by coach to Qufu the hometown of Confucius and stay overnight at the traditional Queli Hotel or similar.

EVENING: Dinner.

DAY 10: QUFU-SUZHOU (B/L/D)

Breakfast at hotel.

Today’s tour starts with the ancient Confucius Mansion, the magnificent Confucius Temple and the last resting-place of Confucius. Dinner will be followed by a Classical Music and Folk Dance show dating back to Confucius times. Board your train (soft sleeper accommodation, 4 berths to one compartment).

Overnight on board the train.

DAY 11: SUZHOU (B/L/D)

Arrive in Suzhou in the morning and transfer to the 4-star Suzhou Hotel or similar to freshen up. Suzhou is one of the oldest towns in the Yangtse basin, its history goes back 2,500 years. With the completion of the Grand Canal in the Sui Dynasty (589-618AD), Suzhou found itself strategically sited on a major trading route, and the city’s fortunes and size grew rapidly. It flourished as a centre of shipping and grain storage, busting with merchants and artisans. By the 12th century the town had attained its present dimensions, the city walls enclosed by moats. Although the walls have largely disappeared and a fair proportion of the canals have been plugged, central Suzhou retains its ‘Renaissance’ character. Suzhou’s gardens are looked upon as works of art – a fusion of nature, architecture, poetry and painting designed to ease the mind, move it, or assist it. Unlike the massive imperial gardens, the classical landscaping of Suzhou reflects the personal taste of officials and scholars south of the Yangtze. The key elements of the gardens are rocks and water. There are surprisingly few flowers and no fountains – just like the Zen gardens of Japan; they give one an illusion of a natural scene with only moss, sand and rock. You will visit the Lingering Garden extending over an area of three hectares, one of the largest Suzhou gardens; it dates back to the Ming Dynasty. Following you will visit a silk factory. By the 14th century Suzhou had established itself as the leading producer of silk in China, the inhabitants had become totally preoccupied with raising silkworms. The silkworms being hand fed on bamboo trays by peasants. When the cocoons are spun, these are sent off to the factories where the lava cases are boiled and the filament unwound in long strands. There is also an embroidery factory, a jade carving factory and a sandalwood-fan factory – all within the central area. You will also be taken on an hour Grand Canal boat cruise.

EVENING: Dinner. Overnight in Suzhou.

DAY 12: MARCH 29: SUZHOU-SHANGHAI (B/L/D)

Breakfast at hotel.

Today’s tour starts with Tiger Hill, then to the Garden of the Master of the Nets, the smallest garden in Suzhou. Laid out in the 12th century its most striking feature is its use of space. Despite its size, the scale of the building is large, but nothing appears cramped. Your tour ends with a visit to the Embroidery Institute.

Board your overnight train for Shanghai (soft sleeper accommodation, 4 berths to one private compartment). Arrives in Shanghai at 17:56 hrs and transfer to the 4-star Ocean Hotel or similar.

EVENING: Dinner. Overnight in Shanghai.

DAY 13: SHANGHAI (B/L/D)

Today after breakfast you start touring the city. Visit the Jade Buddha Temple, the temple is an active one, with 70 resident monks and was built between 1911 to 1918. Inside the centerpiece is a 1.9 metre high Jade Buddha, which was installed here after it had been brought from Burma in 1882 by a monk. This seated Buddha, encrusted with jewels, is said to weight a 1000-kg. A smaller reclining Buddha from the same shipment lies on a redwood bed. In the large hall are three gold-plated Buddhas, and other halls house ferocious-looking deities.

Visit Yu Yan Garden before going to a Children’s Palace. Chinese kids are the most baffling section of the population. Nappyless, hardly ever crying or looking worried – who knows what goes on inside their heads? Around the city are many Children’s Palaces, where extra-curricular activities take place and special interests are pursued. The one most visited is on Yan’an Zhonglu. The building is a palace that once belonged to the Kadoorie family. The children make model airplanes, play video games, attend classes in drawing, drama, and music – and practice how to love their country and impress tourists. If you can visit the Peiguang Middle School in the early morning you will see them doing exercises to the sound of ‘Oh Canada’.

EVENING: Dinner. Overnight in Shanghai

DAY 14: SHANGHAI (B/L/D)

Breakfast at hotel.

Your sightseeing tour today will include a visit to a local family in Cao Yang Village. The Bund is a great meeting place for local Chinese and foreigners alike. People stroll up and down in search of vicarious excitement, often provided by street performers or free-marketeers. Peddlers sell anything from homemade underwear to naughty pictures. In the morning it’s am exhibition of taiji and martial arts; at night it’s a lovers lane. Nanjing Road is the golden mile of China’s commerce. Some display windows will stop you in your tracks! Just about everything can be found here. Before 1949 Nanjing Lu was a mixture of restaurants, nightclubs and coffin makers. The most prestigious department stores were here, and still are, including Wing On’s (now the No.10 Department Store), Sun Sun’s (now No. 1 Food Store), and The Sun (now No. 1 Department Store). It’s entertaining to visit these places where escalators no longer function. The stores used to be exclusive, but now are used by crowds of eager shoppers clamoring for the latest things. After dinner you will see the Shanghai Acrobatic Theatre, one of the best equipped in China, sometimes performing tigers and pandas show up as an added bonus.

EVENING: Dinner. Overnight in Shanghai.

DAY 15: SHANGHAI-TORONTO (B)

Breakfast at hotel.

You will still have some time to do your last minute shopping before you say goodbye to China. Your flights back to Toronto will arrive the same day.

INCLUSIONS:

  • Return airfare: Toronto – Beijing – Shanghai – Toronto
  • Overnight Sleeper Trains: Qufu - Suzhou and Suzhou – Shanghai
  • Airport assistance and all transfers by private A/C coach
  • 14 Nights accommodation
  • Tour Manager
  • Meals as per itinerary
  • All Sightseeing and entrance fees as per itinerary

EXCLUSIONS:

  • Departure Tax
  • Entry Visa
  • Cancellation and medical insurance
  • Single supplement charge (if needed)
  • Items of a personal interest
  • Tips and gratuities

In Search of the Promised Land

“Aren’t you guys worried about going to places like Israel and Jordan?” concerned family and friends asked. “They’re always having wars and trouble over there.”“Not really,” my wife Margaret and I replied while packing our bags, “we’re going to look for the Promised Land.”... full story