Fly from Chengdu to Beijing, China's fast-paced modern capital, where your local guide meets you on arrival. With a picnic lunch en route, travel directly to the Great Wall, the 2,000-year-old edifice built to protect Chinese civilization from encroaching northern tribes. We arrive by late
Day 2: Hutong Tour / Temple of Heaven / Tiananmen Square / Forbidden City
A full immersion in Beijing's main sights is in store today. Begin the morning exploring one of Beijing's old hutongs, the city's rapidly disappearing low-rise neighborhoods of alleys, courtyard residences and small shops. Wandering the narrow lanes on foot, we are treated to glimpses of authentic Chinese street life as cyclists pass by, children play and elders gather for games of mahjongg.
Our next stop is the Temple of Heaven, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and masterpiece of architecture and landscape design. Constructed in the early 15th century, the temple's individual structures and overall layout of the building complex, set among gardens and surrounded by pine forest, reflect the mystical relationship between heaven and earth. The complex was visited by emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties for annual ceremonies of prayer to Heaven for a plentiful harvest.
After lunch at a local restaurant featuring Chinese specialties, spend the afternoon exploring some of Beijing's most impressive monuments. Our first stop is Tiananmen Square. As we traverse its sprawling expanse, our guide recounts the many turning points in Chinese history, including the well-known demonstrations of 1989, that have occurred on this site. Immediately opposite is the Forbidden City, the largest ancient palatial structure in the world, with 90 palaces and courtyards, 980 buildings and more than 8,700 rooms. It was off-limits to visitors from its completion in 1420 until the reign of the last emperor ended in 1911. Home to the Ming and Qing rulers, this complex houses some of the finest architecture in China. Return to our hotel with time to freshen up before a classic Peking duck dinner at a popular nearby restaurant.
Day 3: Beijing / Depart
After breakfast at the hotel, a transfer to the airport is included to meet your departing flight.