Bangkok Protests – Update
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New Tour | Two Great Walls in a Campervan
Experience 2 very different cities without the requirement of arranging a VISA (for 72 hours in Beijing). The city operates now a 72 hours no visa policy for 45 countries at Beijing Capital International Airport. Foreign visitors from these countries will not be permitted to leave the capital but can experience all this stunning metropolis and that of Beijing has to offer.
Upon arrival you will be met by your guide and transferred to the hotel.
Welcome in Beijing that has become a thriving metropolis in recent years, and was brought to the attention of everyone on the world stage in 2008 when it hosted the Olympic Games. It would of course probably be more appropriate to say “brought back”, because Beijing was a major world player as capital of the Chinese Empire under the Yuan Dynasty (the Mongols) in the 18th century. It was however much before that time under the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) that Beijing truly created its own identity, with notable thanks to the Emperor Yongle who commissioned building of the Forbidden city (and not to forget the one million workers that toiled over this immense project.
According to your flight schedule (be careful with the 72 hours time limit!) you’ll be able to visit Temple of Heaven which is notable for its architectural simplicity and its symbolism reflecting early Buddhist and Taoist beliefs. Here, emperors would forge the link between the round sky and the square earth through sacrificial rituals based on the founding principles of this ancient civilisation.
Most Chinese buildings face south, which according to ancient beliefs symbolised the barbarian threat and potential invasion from the north. This explains why the main entrance to the Forbidden City faces south towards Tiananmen Square, the third largest city square in the world.
The construction of the City was finished in 1420 during the reign of the Ming Dynasty Emperor Yongle, and served as the Imperial administrative centre throughout the Ming and Qing Dynasties until the fall of the Empire in 1911. According to legend the Forbidden City is made up of 9999 different rooms.
In order to simplify this huge site, it is often divided into three parts:
- The official palaces which were used for lavish ceremonies, imperial exams and governmental meetings.
- The Imperial lodgings and gardens where the Emperor, Empress and visiting ambassadors resided.
- The surrounding areas which house temples, libraries and further gardens.
Lovingly restored for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the Forbidden City has regained the youthful and vivid colours of its former glory. Take your time during this visit to such an unforgettable destination, and make sure you spend some time in the more serene surrounding courtyards and rooms. Climbing the artificial coal hill just behind the Forbidden City provides a spectacular view of the entire site and lets you get a grasp of the layout of the whole of Beijing.
Visiting the Forbidden City can take several hours. The rest of your day will be dedicated to walks around Beihai lake where young couples come for romantic boat trips and the more lively Houhai lake which is encircled by Hutongs. Hutongs are the famous Beijing alleyways home to traditional courtyard style homes, many of which have now been converted into pedestrianised streets boasting charming little restaurants and bars.
Your walk will then lead you to the Drum Tower. Here you can attend a demonstration of how, during the Ming Dynasty, the passing of each hour was marked with a drum roll. From the top you can also admire the rooftops of the neighbouring Hutongs and the Clock Tower just opposite.
Optional (with driver only): You will end your day by having dinner on a roof terrace overlooking traditional Chinese courtyard-style housing, also known as Siheyuan.
Although, contrary to popular myth, the Great Wall cannot be seen from the moon, it is nonetheless one of the most famous symbols of China and should not be missed. You have to go back to the Qin Dynasty over 2000 years ago to find the first traces of defensive walls that were slowly unified and linked under the greater restoration project of the Ming Dynasty and created the Wall we know today.
The Wall stretches for over 6000km from ancient Manchuria to the fort at Jiayuguan at the edge of the Gobi desert in the west, one of the world’s most hostile environments to where criminals were banished in ancient China.
Running along high ridges, the Wall offered an excellent vantage point to the north allowing watch tower guards to raise the alarm on any potential threat from invading barbarian hordes. The wall was also high enough to slow the progress of expert Mongol Cavaliers who were forced to dismount in order to continue their attack.
Your trip will begin with an early morning departure from the hotel will mean that your photographs of the Wall will be graced with the spectacular morning light.
If you feel like the long walk up to the Wall is too much, you can take the cable car and coming back down children can enjoy the toboggan ride to the bottom.
Depending on time, you will also be able to have a picnic on the Great Wall whilst admiring the stunning, rugged scenery all around.
Once back in Beijing, you will visit the Summer Palace. At one time a simple imperial garden, the site was totally redesigned by Emperor Qianlong in the 18th Century becoming one of the capital’s major sites. The Imperial Court used to relocate to the Summer Palace during the summer months to escape the stifling heat of the Forbidden City. A mix of temples pavilions, lakes, pagodas and gardens make up this harmonious representation of Chinese culture and architecture. The Long Corridor, the Marble Boat, Seventeen-Arch Bridge, Kunming Lake and Longevity Hill are the key landscape features of the Summer Palace gardens.
After your visit to the Summer Palace, you will be taken back to your hotel.
Head to the heart of the capital’s art scene: the 798 art district, situated in Dashanzi in the north east of the city, just outside the 4th ring road. 798 is made up of a number of abandoned factories which were renovated in the 90s by Chinese artists in a style similar to that seen in Berlin. ‘798’ as it is known locally, has become the mouthpiece for Beijing’s most popular contemporary artists and is probably the most vibrant art district in the whole of Asia. The famous Ai Weiwei had his first exhibitions at 798 and a number of other artists have followed in his footsteps. At the time of its opening 798 was noticeably influenced by the Maoist era whilst these days the collection has become much more eclectic. ‘Dashanzi’ as it is known, is becoming ever more popular. Cafés, restaurants and specialist boutiques selling clothes by exciting young designers, homeware pieces and pottery have grown in number over the past few years. You can spend hours wandering through the narrow alleyways browsing the shops stopping to relax and enjoy a coffee at any one of the cafés or bars.
We recommend that you check the upcoming exhibitions on their website (www.798space.com) so as to make the most of your time at 798.
You will be transferred to the airport (not far away from the Art District) and take a flight to Hong Kong. Upon arrival you will be met by your guide and transferred to the hotel.
Immersing yourself in Hong Kong is an incredible adventure. The cars drive on the left and just like in London you will spot double-decker busses which make up part of the incredibly efficient city transport network. You will also find some of the best restaurants in the world offering, amongst pretty much everything else you could imagine, top quality Cantonese food. You can admire the city’s skyline, considered by visitors as one of the most stunning in the world, and watch the never ending flow of people made up of almost every nationality on the planet, surrounded by the bright neon lights and sweet perfume of dim sum and tropical fruits. Hong Kong is a real delight for all the senses!
Overnight in Hong Kong
Hong Kong is a city of markets, trade, exchanges, negotiations... In addition to the various stock exchanges and speculation, Hong Kong has also more traditional street markets than Western travelers don’t even expect. This whole day trip will be on foot and by public transport to have a real local life experience!
In this tiny but enchanting corner of Mongkok, your Hong Kong walking tour will start by Bird and Flower markets, breeding birds is one of favorite local hobby and you will see old men walking out their caged songbirds. Enjoy the colorful Flower Market which sell everything from Dutch tulips to exotic orchids and perfume the whole area with pleasant scents.
Head to Goldfish Market located in Tung Choi Street and famous for its exotic fish, corals, aquarium with very imaginative plant decorations but also its dogs, spiders, lizards or even snakes, a real zoological museum! Fish symbolize good fortune and wealth for Chinese people, hence their popularity.
Next stop at Langham Palace Mongkok, where you will discover an impressive and design shopping center with giant metal spirals sculptures and revisited representations of Revolution, a visit which contrasts with the other traditional markets.
You’ll ride then the worldwide famous Star Ferry, an important part of the commuter system between Hong Kong Island and Kowloon, and essential journeys for visitors. The National Geographic Traveler named the ferry crossing as one of 50 places of a lifetime… Picture time! Capture some of the world’s tallest buildings that rivals the highest hills of city.You’ll reach North Point in Hong Kong Island and follow Chun Yeung Street, a multitude of wet markets, windows to a vivid and timeless world of food shopping that refuses to be extinguished by modern supermarkets.
Head to Taiyuen Street in Wanchai, famous for its toys, a paradise for kids and toy collector.Nostalgia alert! For those born before eighties, a walk down Tai Yuen Street is liable to bring on rushes of happy childhood memories. Some of the classic toys that were once made in Hong Kong and placed under Christmas trees around the world survived here, nestled like treasures among the latest “thingamajigs” that today’s kids go wild over. A place definitely for both parents and children!
You will end your day in Ko Shing Street where a seemingly endless number of Chinese pharmacies display all sorts of plants and dried roots reminding you how in this city traditional Chinese medicine coexists with the modern Western medicine introduced during colonial times. Pharmacotherapy is, as its name suggests, treatment using pharmacological methods. It is a collection of remedies that come in the form of pills, powders or brews derived from plants (such as Ginseng root), animals (scorpions, seahorses, snakes, rhinoceros horn…) or humans (for example, some people eat the placenta after the birth of a child).Its dispensary employees have earned a reputation for being highly knowledgeable.
Optional: You can enjoy your dinner in the authentic Temple street night market which offers a wide variety of seafood and local specialties in a lively atmosphere
Note: The order of the visits may be modified depending on the location of your hotel.
There are also countless hiking opportunities in this 75% made of islands, beaches and hill territory... The "Dragon's back hike" as it is commonly called was elected in 2004 by Times Magazine as the best urban trek Asia! The trek takes place on the island of Hong Kong, particularly in the "Shek O Country Park."
Head to Shek'O by public transports (MTR and bus depending on your hotel location), a small 200 years old village which alone symbolizes the other side of Hong Kong with its mix of fishermen, businessmen and expatriates seeking rest in a relaxed atmosphere. Walking through this maze of fishermen’s houses and seaside restaurants which ends on Shek’O lovely beach where you will enjoy a seafood barbecue whose premises are fond.
You will continue your journey by bus to To Tei Wan, neighbor Shek'O and starting point of the 8km trek that initially goes along bamboo groves away from heat (off winter season), before reaching the crest of the hill. Besides the pleasant surrounding nature composed of azaleas and myrtle, it’s especially the striking 360 degrees view from the highest point of the Dragon’s back that constitutes the main interest of the trek, with Clear Water Bay on the east and Stanley beach on the west.
The walk will end on Big Wave (Tai Long Wan) beautiful sandy beach where you can rest your weary feet in the bay’s clear waters and even swim if your heart tells you.
Guests can enjoy a drink (not included) to complete this off the beaten track and beautiful day.
Note : good walking shoes, sunscreen and swimsuit are recommended!
You will be taken to the airport where you will catch your return flight.
Rates vary frequently. Please contact us to get the best possible price based upon your travel period and specific touring needs.
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Creating Unique Touring Experiences
Highlights of Classical China - 19 Days / 18 Nights
Hong Kong : The Asian New York - 4 Days / 3 Nights
Bangkok Protests – Update
New Tour: Northern Laos Revealed
New Tour | Two Great Walls in a Campervan