Great Wall hiking programs and tours, you are sure to get the Great Wall experience of a lifetime! These hikes bring you to all different sorts of Great Wall structures and styles, giving you the full range on one of mankind’s most incredible achievements. You can see the classically restored Great Wall with its watchtowers and brick (such as at Jinshanling, Mutianyu,and Shanhaiguan), and you can also explore the rugged ruins of the “wild” wall at Jiankou, Simatai, Gubeikou, and Panlongshan. You can visit the eastern-most point of the Great Wall, or you can see the Great Wall submerged underwater. Each program gives you a different and unique Great Wall encounter. In addition to the Great Wall, these programs also being you some of China’s other wonderful cultural imperial heritage. You can visit the East Qing Tombs, a vast complex which is one of China’s best burial sites, and which serves as the final resting place for much of the Qing Dynasty. Our trips will also show you a neglected side of China, one that isn’t widely reported in all the stories about China’s economic boom. You’ll have the chance to explore and stay in tiny villages and farmer’s communities that are in the countryside, trying the local delicacies and learning about their long yet fascinating lives during your time there. As with our other Great Wall multi-day hikes, heavy trekking camping equipment will be provided (such as tents when sleeping on the Great Wall), and your safety will be ensured.
summer Palace, Tian’anmen Square, Forbidden City/Imperial Palace
Great Wall at Badaling or Mutianyu, Ming Tombs (Dingling + Shenlu)
Beijing Zoo, Lhama Temple and Hutong Tour
Beijing Olympic Green, Temple of Heaven and the Hongqiao Market
Day 1:Arrive Beijing over night at Hotel.
Day 02:Drive by private minivan to the Summer Palace.
We will meet you at Peking International Airport, and from their drive by private mini bus to the Summer Palace. Having the largest royal park and being well preserved, the Summer Palace is ranked amongst the most noted and classical gardens of the world. In 1998, UNESCO listed it as one of the World Heritage Sites. Like most of the gardens of Beijing, it could not elude the rampages of the Anglo-French allied force of 1860 and was destroyed by fire. In 1888, Empress Dowager Cixi embezzled navy funds to reconstruct it for her own benefit, changing its name to Summer Palace (Yiheyuan). She spent most of her later years there, dealing with state affairs and entertaining. Highlights not to be missed are climbing Longevity Hill, viewing the Empress Dowager Cixi’s extravagant Marble Boat, and talking a walk down Suzhou jie, a canal meant to resemble the beautiful river city of Suzhou.
After a refreshing lunch we will head to Tian’anmen Square. The largest public square in the world at 440,000 square meters, Tian’anmen Square has been the site of the most important developments in China’s modern political and cultural history. It was the stage for the May 4th movement (where in 1919 Chinese students protested the transfer of Shandong province from Germany to Japan), the protests following the death of premier Zhou Enlai in 1976, and of course the political turmoil of 1989. The Monument to the People’s Heroes marks the center of the square, a ten-story obelisk built in dedication to those who died fighting for Chinese Revolution. The square is flanked on the east by the National Museum of China (set to reopen in late 2010), on the west by the Great Hall of People (home of china’s legislative bodies), to the south by the Chairman Mao Memorial Hall (where his body lies in a crystal coffin), and of course to the north by the Gate of Heavenly Peace, with its distinctive portrait of Mao Zedong. The Gate of Heavenly Peace is the official symbol of the People’s Republic of China.
After walking across the square we will enter the Forbidden City, the world’s largest surviving palace complex and the former home of the emperors of the Ming and Qing Dynasty. The Forbidden City is one of the greatest attractions in the world, and once you enter its confines it is easy to see why. Built by the third Ming emperor between 1406-1422, the Forbidden City served as the official residence to the Emperor of China until the last emperor, Puyi, was forced to evacuate in 1924. Afterwards, the Forbidden City was officially known as the Palace Museum. The Forbidden City is divided into two parts. The southern section, or the Outer Court, was where the emperor exercised his supreme power over the nation. The northern section, or the Inner Court was where he lived with his royal family. Consisting of 980 buildings with 8,707 bays of rooms, the Forbidden City is the best example of classical Chinese architecture in the world, and is one of the greatest wonders of the world.
After exploring the Forbidden City we will take you to your hotel for the night.
Day 03: Beijing :Today’s sights involves two UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and a chance to see a little of the Beijing countryside. After meeting you at your hotel in the morning we will drive to the Great Wall at Badaling. Badaling was the first section of the Great Wall to be opened to the public in 1957, and is therefore the best known among visitors. Badaling was the site of U.S. President’s Richard Nixon’s visit to the Great Wall on his historic trip to China, and is a popular choice for celebrities, foreign dignitaries and leaders (U.S. President Obama visited Badaling in November of 2009). Badaling also offers incredible views of the wall winding and twisting along the hills. After a delicious lunch we will make the short journey by minibus to the Ming Tombs.
The Ming Tombs, about 50 km/31 miles from Beijing, are where 13 emperors of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) are buried. This site was carefully chosen for its feng shui principles by the third Ming emperor Yongle (who also moved the capital from Nanjing to Beijing and began construction on the Forbidden City). The tomb we will visit, Dingling, is the tomb of the Wanli Emperor. It is the only one of the Ming Dynasty Tombs to have been excavated. It also remains the only imperial tomb to have been excavated since the founding of the People’s Republic of China. After viewing the tombs, we will head to the “Shenlu”, or the Spirit Way. The Spirit Way leads into the complex, lined with statues of guardian animals and officials, with a front gate consisting of a three-arches, painted red, and called the “Great Red Gate”. The Spirit Way, or Sacred Way, starts with a huge stone memorial archway lying at the front of the area. Constructed in 1540, during the Ming Dynasty, this archway is one of the biggest stone archways in China today.
After walking the Spirit Way we will take you back to your hotel, completing the day’s travels.
Note: Because Badaling is the most well known section of the Great Wall, it can become quite crowded. If you prefer, we can take you to Mutianyu, a restored section of the wall that is not as crowded as Badaling. Please indicate to us what you’d like to do when booking.
Day 04: Beijing: After picking you up at your hotel in the morning, we will head straight to the Beijing Zoo. Unlike other zoos in China, the Beijing Zoo has the distinct look of a classical Chinese garden. Initially an imperial manor during the Ming Dynasty, the grounds was converted into a zoo in 1908 with the original name being The Ten Thousand Animal Garden. The Beijing Zoo exhibits the wild and rare animals of China. Outside of traveling to Sichuan, this is the best place in China to view the Giant Panda. The zoo also includes a monkey hall, lion hall, and tiger hall. Altogether there are more than 30 large halls exhibiting animals.
After visiting the zoo we will go to visit the Lhama Temple. Other than the temples in Tibet this is the best Buddhist temple in China. Work on the Lhama Temple originally began in 1694 during the Qing dynasty. It served as an official residence for court eunuchs. It was then converted into the home of the Prince Yong, a son of the Kangxi Emperor and himself the future Yongzheng Emperor. It was converted into a lamasery after his ascension to the throne in 1722. Today the Lhama Temple still functions as a monastery and temple of the Geluk School of Tibetan Buddhism. Walking through the temple your senses will be enveloped by the incenses and the chanting of the visiting monks and other followers. The rear Pavilion of Ten Thousand Happinesses features a 26m tall statue of the Maitreya Buddha cared from a single piece of white sandalwood. It is one of three artworks in the Lhama Temple that were included in the Guiness Book of World Records, and it is not to be missed on your visit.
After visiting the Lhama Temple we will embark on a rickshaw tour of Beijing hutongs. Hutongs are courtyard homes grouped together around narrow alleys, and served as the lifeline and center of everyday life in old Beijing. The hutongs were a critical component in the development and evolution of Beijing folklore and culture. Going on this hutong tour, you will feel like you have traveled back in time to a far different China, one where there was still an emperor sitting in the Forbidden City, and where there was still enough time to enjoy the simple pleasures of common life.
Day 05: Beijing :After a morning pickup from your hotel, we will make the drive to the Olympic Green. The Olympic Green was the center of the event that captivated the world for two weeks in August of 2008, and is where a majority of the Olympic events took place. The highlights include the Bird’s Nest (officially known as the Beijing National stadium) and the Water Cube (the Beijing National Aquatics Center). The stadium gets its nickname from its outward design, which originated from the study of Chinese ceramics, implementing steel beams in order to hide supports for the retractable roof, thus giving the stadium the appearance of a “Bird’s nest”. The Bird’s Nest hosted the Opening and Closing Ceremonies, athletic events, and football final of the 2008 Summer Olympics, from 8 August to 24 August 2008. Since the Olympic end, the Bird’s Nest has been used to host events ranging from opera to a ski park.
The site of Michael Phelps’ Olympic triumph, the Water Cube design combines modern technologies with Chinese traditional values. In tradition, Chinese conceptualized a square Earth and a round Heaven, and this formed the design’s central theme. Moreover, the cube shape dominates ancient urban buildings. The National Aquatics Center’s design is of traditional style to meet all its functional requirements. The National Aquatics Center looks like a huge blue box, from which it takes its nickname: the Water Cube. The Water Cube is blue in order to reflect sunlight. The National Aquatics Center shines in the sunlight like a pearl in water. From the inside of the National Aquatics Center, you may discover that the pneumatic cushions of all sizes are just like sea bubbles.
After touring and visiting the Olympic Green we will make our way to the Temple of Heaven park. The complex was visited by the Emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties for annual ceremonies of prayer to Heaven for good harvest. The Temple of Heaven park is best known for the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests, an iconic building famed for its magnificent triple-gabled circular roof. You will also have an opportunity to walk the same imperial walkway that the same emperors walked hundreds of years ago in their holy rites. You will also see Beijing’s senior citizens using the park grounds for everything from tai chi and ballroom dancing to bullwhip practice!
To cap off the tour, we will take a short walk just outside the east gate of the Temple of Heaven Park to the Honngqiao Pearl Market. The Hongqiao Pearl Market is one of the best-known pearl markets in the world, and you are sure to find a bargain here. More than 1,000,000 visitors come to Hongqiao Market to buy pearls yearly. Even the former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and current U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has been to Hongqiao Market to try to pick up the latest beautiful pearls. Apart from pearls, the market also offers seafood, digital products and silk. Since it is a market, bargaining is the norm, so if you need some assistance, our guide will be sure to give you a hand, and in return you’ll get some great swag! After the strolling through Hungrier we will take you back to your hotel.
Day 06: Beijing :Today is a free day, so you are welcome to do whatever you desire. However, this tour includes free drop-off at the airport, so please take advantage of it. After these 5 days in Beijing, you will understand what makes the city one of the greatest in the world, and the memories and sights (as well as the photographs!) will be with you for the rest of your life!
Day 07: Departure From Beijing.