China tailor made holiday
Description of China tailor made holiday
From the sprawling urban settlements, sophisticated enough to compete with any modern metropolis, to morning tai chi and farming methods which have remained unchanged for thousands of years, China is a vast country made up of infinite variety and wild contradictions. This 15 night tour will take you to the highlights of this fascinating country as well as some of the quieter and less explored areas.
From the historical city of Beijing where you visit Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City, you will travel to probably the most famous site in China, the Great Wall of China. Here you will enjoy a trek along a quieter stretch of the Wall and a night in a fabulous eco-retreat overlooking the Wall itself. From here you head to visit the famous Ming Tombs before taking your comfortable overnight sleeper train to Xi’an, the home of the famous Terracotta Army.
The warriors, numbering in the thousands, were discovered in 1974 and it is thought they were created to accompany Emperor Qin into the afterlife. You will of course enjoy a visit to the Army of soldiers, chariots and horses in the Terracotta Museum and also in Xi’an city itself you will enjoy a gentle cycle ride around the elevated city walls for a different perspective. From Xi’an you will fly to Guilin and enjoy a trip to see the Longsheng rice terraces and also to visit the local minority villages followed by a cruise to the small, laid back town of Yangshuo. Here you will spend time in a quiet eco-retreat called the Yangshuo Mountain Retreat from which you will enjoy a spot of cooking with a local family and spare time in the low key town of Yangshuo itself with its bars, restaurants and shopping.
After time in rural China, you will fly to Shanghai for a few days in this modern metropolis. It’s thought that during the building boom of the early 90’s a third of the worlds construction cranes were at work in Shanghai. Here you will visit the pretty and lavish Yuyuan Garden, the Jade Buddha Temple and Long Hua Park before spending a final day exploring at your own pace, maybe doing a spot of shopping or simply relaxing after your busy trip.
Best time to go:
The climate in China varies a lot as the region covers a range of latitudes. Generally the most comfortable time of year to travel is in the Autumn or Spring between September and October or April to May when you can expect reasonable temperatures and limited amounts of rainfall. Summers between June and August can be very hot and the winters can be very cold indeed, especially in the north.
|Day 1:||Fly from London Heathrow on an overnight flight to Beijing via Dubai with Emirates.|
|Day 2:||Land Beijing. Upon arrival you will be met and transferred to the Jade Garden Hotel. The rest of the day is at leisure.|
|Day 3:||City tour. Today you will enjoy a full day city tour which will include the famous Tiananmen Square and Forbidden City, the Temple of Heaven and a rickshaw journey through the traditional hutongs district of the city. In the evening, enjoy a traditional Peking Duck dinner (B/L/D)|
|Day 4:||Luanping. This morning set off for Luanping country for the start of your fabulous 4-5 hour trek along the famous Great Wall of China. You will walk the less visited Jinshanling section towards Simatai, and it is generally regarded as the place to go for a more authentic experience of the Wall. At the end of your trek, you will be collected and driven to the Brickyard at the Mutianyu section of the Wall for dinner and overnight in the eco-lodge. (B/L/D)|
|Day 5:||Ming Tombs. Today you will depart the Great Wall and head back towards Beijing city with a stop off at the Ming Tombs and the Summer Palace. Enjoy the remainder of the day at leisure. (B/L/-)|
|Day 6:||Train to Xi’an. Enjoy today at leisure until you transfer to the railway station for the overnight express train service to Xi’an, overnight onboard (B/-/-)|
|Day 7:||Xi’an. Arrive into Xi’an. You will be met and transferred to your hotel to freshen up. This afternoon enjoy a fun and easy cycle ride around the city walls. Overnight Xi’an. (B/L/-)|
|Day 8:||Terracotta Warriors. Today enjoy a full day visit to the Terracotta Warriors. The Army, discovered in the 70’s by a group of farmers digging a water well, depicts the armies of the first Emperor of China Qin Shi Huang. This is a most impressive site with over 8,000 soldiers on display, a small portion of the whole number many of which are still buried beneath the earth. Return to Xi’an for overnight. (B/L/-)|
|Day 9:||Guilin. Today you will transfer to Xi’an for the flight to Guilin where you will be met and transferred to your hotel. In the afternoon, enjoy a visit to the Reed Flute Cave, an impressive natural limestone cave. Overnight Guilin. (B/-/-)|
|Day 10:||Longsheng Rice Terraces. You will enjoy a full day of activities to visit the Longsheng Rice Terraces and some of the local minority villages. Overnight Guilin. (B/L/-)|
|Day 11:||Li River cruise. This morning you will start a river cruise along the Li River with its fabulous karst stone peaks reminiscent of Halong Bay in Vietnam. End your cruise in the pretty town of Yangshuo and transfer to the Yanghsuo Mountain Retreat, your accommodation for the next 2 nights. (B/L/-)|
|Day 12:||Cookery class. This morning enjoy a cookery class in a local home with the afternoon at leisure to explore the laid-back town of Yangshuo with its lovely shops and restaurants. Overnight Yangshuo Mountain Retreat. (B/-/-)|
|Day 13:||Shanghai. Today you will transfer to Guilin airport for the short flight across to Shanghai. Here you will be met and transferred to your chosen hotel. (B/-/-)|
|Day 14:||Tour of Shanghai city. This morning you will be collected for your full day tour of Shanghai city. Visit the Yuyuan Garden, regarded as one of the most lavish Chinese gardens in the region. You also visit the Jade Buddha Temple and the lovely Long Hua Park to see the Pagoda and Temple. Overnight Shanghai. (B/L/-)|
|Day 15:||At leisure. Today is entirely at leisure to explore the city a little further, maybe do some shopping or simply relax. Overnight Shanghai. (B/-/-)|
|Day 16:||Depart. At the appropriate time you will be transferred to Shanghai airport for your return flight to the UK.|
PlanetOn the Tailor Made itinerary you will stay in the Red Wall Garden hotel in the quiet hutongs area of Beijing. This building used to be a local dignitaries personal house which has now been converted into a small hotel. This conversion avoided the need for the building of a new property and as it is built from the framework of a traditional Chinese hutongs home.
From Beijing you will enjoy a night in the (School House) or Brickyard, an eco-retreat at the Mutianyu Section of the Great Wall of China. This eco-retreat was converted from an old tile kiln many years ago – when it was discovered the quality and pretty colours of the remaining roof tiles were what inspired the owners to save the property. In converting the kiln, the owners kept all the original structures and re-used building materials as much as possible. The retreat makes use of low-energy LED lighting and solar heating. Energy-saving information pages are provided in each guestroom to try and encourage guests to ‘do their bit’. Energy use in the retreat is strictly monitored on a monthly basis to try and see where savings can be made.
The lodge recycles all plastic and paper products. All in-room toiletries are provided in refillable dispensers to avoid the use of unnecessary plastic. Chopsticks are not disposable or offered in plastic wrappers like most Chinese restaurants. The retreat has introduced an organic composting system for kitchen waste and the fertiliser generated by the waste is used in the on-site gardens.
The village itself is situated within the boundaries of the Mutianyu Great Wall Tourism Zone. The retreat works closely with the park officials to ensure that the staff and guests observe park rules respecting protection of the Great Wall and the natural environment in the area.
In the countryside region of Yangshuo, you will stay in the Yangshuo Mountain Retreat. This is a hotel which aims to offer guests a comfortable and authentic experience without compromising the local community. Inclusive in the price of the rooms and food is a 5% green tax that is used to help with various green initiatives.
The Retreat has drilled their own well and set up a cistern to reduce the impact on the water resources in the area and they don't use sprinklers but water all plants by hand. All gray water is contained in an open septic field which was built on construction of the hotel and is covered with water lilies and inhabited by snails and frogs.
The Retreat has been supplementing the water boiler's coal briquettes with agriwaste (sawdust/shredded newspaper/straw) in an attempt to reduce their carbon footprint. To do this they have to make the briquettes themselves which is done by means of a screwpress which they also built. Their goal is to completely replace coal. They have also installed solar panels for hot water to try and reduce fuel consumption yet further.
When the Mountain Retreat was built, the land used was previously fallow rice terraces. The Retreat planted over 300 plants and trees including native bougainvillea, orange osmanthus trees, bananas, bamboo, birds of paradise, fig trees, pipa trees, pineapple palms and evergreens. The introduction of this flora has encouraged local wildlife back into the area including frogs, non poisonous snakes, bats and many different insects and birds. Dotted around the hotel there are also bird houses which are inhabited each year.
At Yangshuo Mountain Retreat, they do not use any disposable or single-use products. In the guestrooms you'll find refillable aluminium water bottles and a hot water flask, but no plastic water bottles. Furniture is made from local bamboo and they use groundwater-friendly chemicals for cleaning. The retreat is very careful to preserve not only this property, but to try and ensure guests make a minimal impact on the Yangshuo environment as a whole. As a certified green hotel, the Yangshuo Mountain Retreat is proud to protect the Yangshuo countryside for future generations.
To avoid the use of too many internal flights, where distances are not prohibitive, we book overnight trains between points.
PeopleOn the Tailor Made itinerary you will stay in the Red Wall Garden hotel in the quiet hutongs area of Beijing. This building used to be a local dignitaries personal house which has now been converted into a small hotel, it remains as an example of a fast disappearing local way of life.
From Beijing you will enjoy a night in the (School House) or Brickyard, an eco-retreat at the Mutianyu Section of the Great Wall of China. All food is strictly sourced locally, some is home grown and no food is imported which significantly reduces transportation costs and thus energy expenditure. The retreat is also making a move towards using Fair Trade chocolate, coffee and tea.
The lodge recycles all plastic and paper products and revenue from recycling is used for staff benefit.
The retreat also runs a very good social responsibility programme. The retreats main aim is to provide employment and training to people in the local community, support other local businesses, promote handicrafts and procure food locally or grow it themselves. They utilise staff for outdoor cleaning, gardening and farming purposes from a local company they helped a neighbour to establish. The retreat produces courses for local school children on how to recycle, re-use, compost and conserve and each year the staff take part in a ‘community service day’ where they help to clean the village.
In the countryside region of Yangshuo, you will stay in the Yangshuo Mountain Retreat. This is a hotel which aims to offer guests a comfortable and authentic experience without compromising the local community.
The Retreat pays into a government social retirement fund which many private businesses in China do not provide. They also have a health care fund to cover any medical expenses not covered by staff health insurance. Staff have comfortable dormitories on site and many eat 3 meals a day there. Two weeks annual leave is offered after the first year with one additional day for every year that the staff member serves. Also each year that the Retreat meets their financial goals, the management takes all the staff on a special learning holiday.
The Retreat invites cormorant fishermen, local song and dance troupes as well as local artists, chefs and Tai Qi instructors to perform and teach guests. They sell locally made products in the charity shop that include hand woven slippers, food and handicrafts. They also encourage staff to sell their village produce through the shop which includes honey, chili paste and soap.
The Retreat also takes guests on guided tours to explore local villages and towns introducing them to the local culture and encouraging them to spend their money in local communities.
As a certified green hotel, the Yangshuo Mountain Retreat is proud to protect the Yangshuo countryside for future generations, and educate both locals and visitors to Yangshuo on the importance of keeping it beautiful for the future.
Our ground agents only employ local guides and drivers to accompany our clients, which we feel is an important way of keeping money in the country but also in offering our clients a ‘real’ experience of China. All food in the lodges and hotels is sourced locally, helping the local rural communities wherever possible.