Cheap Day Trips from Beijing (Great Wall, Ming Tombs, Summer Palace)
The Great Wall of China
Beijing, China's massive capital, has history stretching back 3 millennia. Yet it's known as much for its modern architecture as its ancient sites such as the grand Forbidden City complex, the imperial palace during the Ming and Qing dynasties. Nearby, the massive Tiananmen Square pedestrian plaza is the site of Mao Zedong's mausoleum and the National Museum of China, displaying a vast collection of cultural relics. Few places on earth can match the extraordinary historical panorama on display in Beijing. There are six Unesco World Heritage Sites in this city alone, and it's not just the ancient architecture that wows tourists. Beijing is also home to some of the world's most innovative modern buildings. Constantly reimagining itself as it races towards the future, yet inextricably linked to its glorious, notorious past, Beijing is as compelling as it is complex. Food is an obsession for the Chinese and the dazzling array of different dishes you'll encounter in Beijing reflects the sheer joy locals take in eating. Dining out is the main social activity; it's in restaurants that Beijingers party with friends, romance each other, hold family reunions and do business, and the sheer variety of places to eat here is mind-boggling. With so much to see, do, and taste, Beijing is a great place to experience, and it's also a great base for exploring more of the Chinese culture and sights nearby, and there are several options for exciting day trips and tours from the city to help you make the most of your time here.
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Depart from your Beijing hotel in a luxurious, private vehicle and get acquainted with your private guide during the 55-mile journey to Chuandixia Village. Listen as the historical scene of the enclave is set and you discover that the majority of Chuandixia's architecture dates back the 14th century. Admire the lush scenery as you approach the village and stop to capture photographs of dramatic canyons, enormous mountains and dense pine forests. Disembark your vehicle and set out on an explorative stroll of the village; ascend stone stairs and meander through stone-paved lanes to visit beautifully preserved houses from the Ming and Qing dynasties. Visit local temples to absorb their sacred atmosphere and see remnants of the revolution from red inscriptions saying "Long Live Mao Zedong". Chat with local villagers to learn about the cultural traditions of Chuandixia and then feast upon a traditional Chinese lunch prepared before your eyes. Bid the villagers goodbye and return to your vehicle for the relaxing journey back to your Beijing hotel, where the tour concludes.
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From Beijing, start with an early morning transfer from your hotel to the airport for your flight. Your expert local guide meets you when you land at the Xi'an airport and takes you to your first stop in a comfortable, private vehicle. Feel free to share any special interests you might have so that your guide can customize the commentary. As you head out of town to see the world-famous terracotta warriors, your guide explains the region's rich history. Learn about the first emperor of the Qin Dynasty, who commanded that the terracotta army be made during his reign. Admire some of the estimated 8,000 life-size soldiers and horses that were buried in Qin Shihuang's tomb to protect him in the afterlife, a testament to his power, and designated a UNESCO World Heritage site. The main vault is the most impressive, with figures arranged in typical battle formation. Eleven columns of terracotta officers and soldiers stand ready for one last battle, wielding spears, swords and horse-drawn chariots. Have the option to peruse the adjacent museum as well. Take a break for lunch at one of Xian's most renowned restaurants, choosing from an array of delectable regional dishes. Then continue your tour of Xi'an in the afternoon. In the Old City, stop at the ancient city wall, first constructed in the 2nd century BC, then rebuilt in AD 1370 during the Ming Dynasty. Next, see the Muslim Quarter followed by the Big Wild Goose Pagoda, a Buddhist temple from the Tang Dynasty that was built in 652. The seven-story central pyramid remains an iconic sight in Xi'an. After visiting the pagoda, your guide returns you to Xi'an airport to catch your flight back to Beijing. Upon arrival, you are transferred back to your hotel.
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Your tour guide will pick you up at 8:00am from your hotel and your first stop will be the Mutianyu Great Wall. This section of the Wall is fully restored with spectacular view and beautiful surrounding. You will have your own option to choose taking a cable car or chair lift up to the wall or spend 2-3 hours hiking on the Wall. Taking a toboggan ride back down is exciting and a lot of fun and is available at your own expense. After a delicious dumpling meal, head to the Summer Palace, a well-preserved royal garden in China. It's nice to stroll around ancient pavilions, mansions, temples, bridges and the huge lake, stopping occasionally at a shop or tea-house. Much-loved summer retreat of the Imperial families, the lovely landscaped gardens, halls, pavilions and corridors are set around the lake and rivers in natural harmony. Between April to October, you can enjoy a Dragon Boat ride there if you like. After you tour is finished, you will be transferred back to your hotel.
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