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4-Day Classical Beijing Tour

This 4-day private tour of Beijing offers a complete background on the history and significance of China’s imperial capital city. Destinations such as the Forbidden City and the ancient Great Wall reveal the ingenuity and resourcefulness of the Chinese that is still found today.

Great wall

Day 1

On arrival to Beijing, be assisted at the airport with luggage and then be escorted to the hotel. The rest of the day will be at leisure while all travelers arrive into Beijing throughout the day.

While Beijing is rooted by its glorious past reminding of powerful emperors and unparalleled achievements, it is also a contemporary city that is poised to lead China as one of the great world powers of the future. There are currently 6 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the capital, while many more historic remnants also well represent the marvels achieved so many years ago.

The food is also a source of pride; having been the crossroads for so many people of different backgrounds and cultures, dishes of an incredible variety of styles and regions can be found in Beijing. Finally, China’s capital is a hub for the most talented and influential artists and entertainers in the country, which is evidenced by the endless schedule of cultural events found any night of the week.

In a immense and multi-layered city such as Beijing, there is no one single characteristic than can be used to describe the vibrancy of its personality.

During free time today, we recommend for example the Ancient Observatory or the Beijing Amusement Park (especially if traveling with children). Note that transfers, entrance fees, and meals during these excursions are not included.

Meals: none

  • Tourist Class: Red Wall Hotel Beijing
  • Deluxe Class: Sunworld Hotel Beijing
  • Superior Class: Crowne Plaza Hotel Beijing Chaoyang U-Town

Day 2

Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City, the Temple of Heaven, Lizexiang Pearl Store

A full day discovering Beijing will include stops at Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City, the Temple of Heaven, and the Lizexiang Pearl Store today for a taste of imperial and traditional China.

Tiananmen Square

After meeting in the lobby of the hotel in the morning, go together first to Tiananmen Square, the largest public square in the world and site of many historic events from throughout China’s past. Tiananmen Square was designed and built in 1651 and has been enlarged 4 times up until the 1950s.

Here, people from all countries and walks of life gather to admire the traditional Chinese layout and the Soviet-style buildings that surround its perimeter. Nearby are the Mausoleum of Mao Zedong, the Great Hall of the People, and other important national sites.

Forbidden City

Continue through the decorated Gate of Heavenly Peace and into the Forbidden City, the former home of 24 emperors during the Ming and Qing dynasties throughout China’s royal history. That covers more than 500 years of some of China’s most important chapters. The construction of the more than 980 buildings and 8,704 rooms took 14 years to complete, from 1406 to 1420 as commissioned by Emperor Yongle.

Because this was the sacred home of the emperor, believed to be the son of heaven, it wasn’t until modern years that the Forbidden City was open to the public. The entire complex is considered the best-preserved imperial palace in China and in 1987 was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site.To regain energy, enjoy lunch in a typical Chinese restaurant named Bai Shi Da Restaurant, with assistance in deciphering the menu and choosing the best dish to try.

Temple of heaven

In the afternoon, stop by the Temple of Heaven where Chinese emperors once visited to worship God and offer sacrifices. The entire design of the property is a reflection of Confucian beliefs and theories and is a tranquil escape from the endless bustle otherwise found in Beijing.

Order and symmetry were the deciding rules during the construction of the Temple of Heaven, also with a heavy emphasis on nature’s dominance and harmony with mankind. The 4,000 ancient cypress trees add a unique flavor to the park not seen elsewhere in the city.

Since there is also a large natural area as part of the temple, many older Chinese people will come here in the mornings to engage in exercises to keep their body as sharp as their mind, such as doing tai chi, running, cycling, dancing, and flying kites.

Lizexiang Pearl Store

Concluding the day will be a visit to a pearl production center and store. Pearls are one China’s most valuable and proudest exports coming mainly from the southeastern regions. An expert at the Lizexiang Pearl Store will demonstrate the process of curating pearls, how to distinguish a real pearl from a fake one, and how to define the quality of a pearl. With this information, feel free to then browse the shop for items to take back home for friends and family.

Dinner and the rest of the evening will be at leisure. Recommended are local restaurants which serve tasty, local meals. Also, consider attending a kungfu show at a venue, a unique experience that cannot be missed when staying in Beijing. Note that transfers, entrance fees, and meals during these excursions are not included.

Meals: breakfast, Chinese lunch at Bai Shi Da Restaurant

  • Tourist Class: Red Wall Hotel Beijing
  • Deluxe Class: Sunworld Hotel Beijing
  • Superior Class: Crowne Plaza Hotel Beijing Chaoyang U-Town

Day 3

Badaling Great Wall, Sacred Way (Ming Tombs), Shahe Cloisonné Factory, Beijing Olympic Green Olympic Park

Badaling Great Wall

Start the day by visiting the Great Wall, one of China’s most impressive and proudest engineering achievements, with portions of it dating as far back as 500 BC. The Badaling section of the Great Wall, measuring 7,600 meters (4.7 miles), is a very accessible part of this historic monument and was the first section opened to the public in 1957 and enjoyed restorations in 1980.

The sights of the wall and the mountainsides all around are very photogenic, and on location, it is easy to learn and imagine the historical significance before your eyes. There are also many typical restaurants in the area. Be sure to wear comfortable walking shoes since there is a lot of walking around today!

Sacred Way (Ming Tombs)

Afterwards walk the Sacred Way, also known as the Ming Tombs. It was believed that this road is the path to heaven, from which the Chinese emperor would arrive from heaven and also return home by. Lined on both sides are a total of 18 pairs of marble figures of fascinating creatures such as dragons, elephants, lions, camels, and more to stand guard over the emperor and ward off evils. At the end of the Sacred Way is the Changling Tomb, the final resting place of the great Emperor Yongle from the Ming Dynasty.

Emperor Yongle was the third leader of the nation in this dynasty and is one of China’s most respected leaders. He presided over the first sailings and explorations of the South Pacific and Indian Oceans, repaired and reopened the Grand Canal, and took part in overseeing the construction of the Forbidden City. Also, the emperor had a hand in establishing the national imperial examination system which was inspired by the disciplines of his father. In 1424, Emperor Yongle passed away while fighting the Mongols to protect his precious China.

Shahe Cloisonné Factory

To see a bit of Beijing’s classical artistic side, continue to a Shahe Cloisonné Factory. Cloisonné is the method of using copper wire and over a variety of stages and processes over porcelain, turning it into a beautiful vase or sculpture distinguished by the applied blue glaze; this is a very traditional type of Chinese art. This distinctive enamel style first appeared in Beijing during the Yuan Dynasty in the late 13th century and continued to flourish in the Ming Dynasty afterwards. An expert artist will explain the history and process of producing Shahe Cloisonné pieces, and then there will be some time to explore the shop.

Beijing Olympic Green Olympic Park

Have lunch at Xinshuangquan Restaurant, with recommendations for the best dishes to write home about.Finally, explore the Beijing Olympic Green Olympic Park which was the stage of the 2008 Summer Olympics when China was in the international spotlight. On this external tour of the complex and its venues, especially note the Bird’s Nest (also known as the National Stadium for track & field events) and the Water Cube (or the Aquatics Stadium where swimming events were held).

Passing by the Olympic Village, see where the top athletes from around the world stayed and enjoyed their time in China during this historic event. Today, the Beijing Olympic Green Olympic Park serves as a venue for different types of events in the capital such as sports and concerts, and some are open to the public.

Return to the hotel and have the rest of the day at leisure. During this free time, we can recommend enjoying the Olympic Green Olympic Park some more (since the earlier tour is only to visit the exteriors of the buildings) such as a multimedia digital show, the museum, or perhaps enjoying the facilities of one of the venues. There is also the Chaoyang Theatre Acrobatics Show which is a great option in the evening especially if with children. Note that transfers, entrance fees, and meals during these excursions are not included.

Meals: breakfast, Chinese lunch at Xinshuangquan Restaurant

  • Tourist Class: Red Wall Hotel Beijing
  • Deluxe Class: Sunworld Hotel Beijing
  • Superior Class: Crowne Plaza Hotel Beijing Chaoyang U-Town

Day 4

Summer Palace, Beijing hutong neighborhood

After breakfast, go on one last tour of Beijing to the exquisite Summer Palace and tour a typical Beijing hutong neighborhood to see how many local people have lived for generations.

Summer Palace

The Summer Palace is right up there with the Great Wall and the Forbidden City as one of Beijing’s not-to-miss destinations. This beautiful classic Chinese garden and palace was the escape for emperors and their families during the sweltering hot summers that hit the city every year. The landscapes at the Summer Palace are unparalleled, with a gorgeous lake and hilltop views to please all eyes and cameras.

Wandering around the grounds, explore the collection of ancient temples, gardens, pavilions, bridges, and corridors. It is a wonder the complex looks so beautiful today, because from the late 1800s to the mid 1900s, it had fallen into despair due to China’s political strife. Thankfully, dedicated restoration efforts have brought back the Summer Palace to its former glory as enjoyed by the royal families so many years ago. Be sure to spend some time at Kunming Lake which takes up a majority of the park, and Longevity Hill which boasts incredible panoramas.

Beijing Hutong Neighborhood

Finally, duck into a maze of hutongs which are the iconic traditional style neighborhoods known to the capital. For many generations, countless Beijing citizens have called these tight knit places their home. Hutongs bustle with business and pleasure, and people of all ages ride their bicycles to purchase groceries, take walks, chat on their phones, enjoy each other’s company in groups, drink beer, play chess, and generally take in life.

The sense of community in a hutong is something that cannot be found in most other living arrangements in the capital. Meanwhile, vendors bike up and down offering their wares and services. The alleyways are tree-lined, providing much shade and relief especially in the summer. Hutongs are considered peeks into local life and even into the past.

Knock on a local family’s door and be invited in for a cup of tea and chitchat; some homes are smaller while others are larger and in traditional style, feature large courtyards to indulge in. Unfortunately, many hutong neighborhoods are being destroyed every year to make way for modern buildings and constructions, so the ones that still exist are to be valued.

Lunch will be enjoyed at the fine Courtyard 7 Restaurant.

At a convenient time, be transferred back to Beijing airport.

Meals: breakfast, Chinese lunch at Courtyard 7 Restaurant
Overnight: none