Throughout its tumultuous history China's dynasties came and went, shifting the location of the capital as they arose only to be moved by the next ambitious general or warlord to come knocking on the palace gates.
During my tour to China, I visited some of the most important ancient capitals where I marveled at the grand palaces and other imperial relics. Afterwards I journeyed into Yunnan for a fascinating discovery of ethnic culture and scenic wonders.
In Beijing, we stayed at the Fairmont Hotel, just a short walk from the vibrant Jianguomen district. From there we visited in Beijing was Ritan Park, one of Beijing’s most authentic and peaceful parks. Afterwards we went to Lao She Teahouse for a taste of true Chinese tea culture and entertainment.
The next day after breakfast we went for sightseeing. Our first stop was the Temple of Heaven where Beijing’s seniors gather each morning to enjoy a variety of activities; from badminton and Tai Chi to street opera and ballroom dancing, This is a true taste of Chinese community life! Of course you also visit the magnificent temple itself.
Later we visited the renowned Forbidden City, for centuries the heart and soul of imperial China and one of the grandest historical treasures in the world. We then went across the city for a rickshaw tour in Beijing’s ‘Hutongs’, a maze of traditional old alleyways and courtyards. We even had tea with a local family and visited the impressive Drum Tower. We ended the day with drinks in the Legation Quarter, a collection of stunning historical buildings converted to restaurants and upscale lounges.
On the third day we went for an excursion which was unique and exhilarating! We took a vintage sidecar motorcycle for a scenic trip to the Great Wall at Mutianyu. We explored the city, followed by rural neighborhoods and finally the wall itself from the comfort of the sidecar with frequent stops for pictures. Afterwards we went to The Brickyard, a former tile factory transformed into a eco-retreat, where I enjoyed the spa with views of the Great Wall.
We visited Beijing’s last and most expansive imperial monument, the Summer Palace. We went to the gardens, pavilions and causeways followed by a short boat trip on Kunming Lake.
We took a flight from Beijing to Xi’An. On arrival, we first visited the famous Muslim Quarter for an evening walk, followed by a delicious ‘dim sum’ dinner banquet at famous De Fa Chang restaurant. The next day we visited the impressive City Walls where we enjoyed a bike ride along this ancient fortification. Afterwards we went to the Small Goose Pagoda and the adjacent history museum.
We also took a short drive outside the city to enjoy a tour of the iconic Terracotta Warriors & Horses Museum.
The next day we flew to Hangzhou and upon arrival immediately went to the Banyan Tree Resort, located in the picturesque XiXi Wetlands. Here we saw the stunningly beautiful “Impressions Hangzhou” show in VIP seats. We also had dinner at the fantastic Dragon Well Manor restaurant, arguably one of China’s best. The next morning we visited the beautiful Lingyin Temple, followed by a walk along the “9 creeks, 18 gullies”, a peaceful path connecting pristine forest and tea plantations.
Afterwards we set out by car to Moganshan, a spectacular and vast bamboo forest located between Hangzhou and Shanghai. We check in to the Naked Stables, a new luxurious eco-retreat and a fantastic place to relax and unwind amid true Chinese scenery. We spent the next day relaxing at Naked Stables. The resort offers a number of activities including horse-back riding, hiking, biking, swimming, yoga, archery, calligraphy, fishing and tea picking.
We then drove car to the picturesque water village of Nanxun, one of greater Shanghai’s undiscovered treasures where you can see little canals, bridges and locals enjoying a calm way of life.
Later in the day we drove to the exciting metropolis of Shanghai where we stayed at the ultra-modern Waterhouse at South Bund, a stylish boutique property located at Shanghai’s Cool Docks hotspot. On our final morning in China, we took a sidecar motorcycle for a glamorous exploration of Shanghai’s key areas. We visited a modern art district, a boutique shopping area, the former French Concession and a local park. In the evening we took a walk to the opulent House of Roosevelt, located on the Bund nearby before heading out to the airport for our flight back home.