Journey back in time to the Middle Kingdom, a place where child emperors ruled, wonders of the world were built and the exquisite peony was the flower of royalty.
Group Flight departs from Sydney; meet your Ross Tour representative at Sydney Airport for your Qantas flight to Beijing, or join the tour at the Regent Hotel, Beijing.
Wake up in this vibrant city that is home to 20 million people. Explore Beijing’s old city this morning; Tiananmen Square, the world’s largest public square, the ethereal Temple of Heaven, a postcard moment, with its unique lapis lazuli tiled roof and The Forbidden City, the residence of the Emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties, China’s largest and best-preserved collection of ancient buildings, where the ‘Last Emperor’ was filmed. Visit some of the 9999 rooms, magnificently decorated halls and finish in the secluded garden of the Last Emperor, Puyi. He was taken at the age two years and 10 months into the Forbidden City to become the country’s twelfth and final emperor. Chairman Mao eventually allowed Puyi to live out his days in Beijing, where he worked in the Botanic Gardens.
Lunch is included today.
We are travelling to Yanqing to the north-west of Beijing for the biggest International Horticultural Expo ever staged. The theme “Live Green, Live Better” derives from the concept of ecological civilization, a guiding principle in the long history of humankind. Beijing Expo is a platform where people can understand horticulture better and love it more. Each outdoor garden covers an area of 1,000 – 3,000 square metres and will showcase, with classic design, the unique horticultural style of the participating country. Indoors the pavilions will house a series of exhibits, each one displaying the latest in horticulture development and achievements, including typical and selected varieties of plants, gardening techniques, facilities and equipment. Spend this day exploring this comprehensive Expo site. Check into the Crowne Plaza, Huailai for 2 nights.
Two opportunities today, to travel back in time. First up this morning is The Sacred Way, an avenue of giant stone sculptured animals set in serene landscaped grounds leading to the Ming Tombs, the mausoleums of the 13 Emperors of the Ming Dynasty (1409-1644). Also known as Changling Sacred Way, it’s the approach to the Changling Tomb. You will see the Stone Tablet Archway, Great Red Gate, Tablet Pavilion, Ornamental Columns, Stone Figures and Lingxing Gate. Visit the Changling Tomb built in 1409, resting place of the third Emperor of Ming Dynasty, Emperor Zhu Di and his Empress Xu. It is the largest, original and the best preserved of the 13 Ming Tombs, with three courtyards in front and a Treasure City at the rear. The magnificent Grace and Blessing Palace (Ling’en Palace) can be seen in the second courtyard.
Lunch included today.
Another wonder of the world this afternoon at the Great Wall of China. The ancient city of Beijing, once Peking, was one of the most strategic in the north. To defend their territory, many rulers were involved in the building of the Great Wall which totals 573km in length. We will visit the Badaling Section, the best preserved and discover the ongoing restoration process of this world heritage site
Travel to Suzhou, the Venice of the East. This ancient city is sited in a network of stone canals and is famous for its celebrated gardens. Synonymous with high culture, scholars and intellectuals were attracted to Suzhou by exquisite art and refined gardens. This afternoon we’ll visit Tiger Hill and the oldest pagoda in the city. Yunyan Pagoda was first built in the Sui Dynasty (581–618) and re-built in 961AD in the Song Dynasty. Check into Pan Pacific Hotel overlooking historic Panmen Gardens. Dinner included tonight.
Three sublime examples of ancient Chinese garden design today, from different dynasties, all UNESCO World Heritage Listed. The small ‘Master of Nets Garden’ dates from the Song Dynasty (960-1279) with gardens within gardens. The masterful arrangement of pavilions and gardens, in this small area, gives the impression of great size and variety. Look for the exquisite moon gate! The Humble Administrator’s Garden is the largest classical garden in Suzhou and one of the most famous gardens in China. It was a scholar’s garden during the T’ang dynasty and a monastery garden during the Yuan dynasty. The structures are grouped around a labyrinthine lake; an exquisite layout of pools, rockeries, islets, bamboo grove, pines, pavilions and corridors. It is the representative and example of classical gardens.
The wisteria and bamboo filled Lingering Garden, from the 16th century Ming Period is another classic treasure, recognised for its artful representation of nature in miniature scale. Note the rhythm to the sequence of garden spaces. Cross the wisteria-covered stone bridge to understand its serene ambience. Garden construction reached a peak during the Ming and Qing dynasties, as landholding
aristocrats, scholars and elite families moved their main residences to urban and suburban areas of southern cities. Suzhou, in particular, became a place of refined culture, renowned for its canals and mild climate, as well as the ready availability of garden building expertise.
Lunch included today.
Travel by coach this morning to the ancient water village of Tongli (1000 yrs old), picturesque with exquisite pavilions, canals, bridges and pagodas. Visit the Garden of Seclusion & Meditation. There’s a hint of old China with traders and craftsmen still living and working here. Tongli is built across a wide stretch at the confluence of three rivers, where a number of small islands are linked by stone arch bridges. Continue to Shanghai and check into the Central Shanghai hotel for 1 night. Take an evening stroll along the river promenade looking across from The Bund to the impressive and illuminated Pudong skyline. A charming mix of traditional houses that back onto flowing streams, ancient stone arched bridges, narrow cobblestone lanes and some of the most interesting mansions and estates from the late Ming period.
Yuyuan Garden this morning, the garden of the Pan family in the Ming Dynasty. It was the largest and most prestigious of its period in Shanghai. There are decorative halls, elaborate pavilions, glittering pools, zigzag bridges, pagodas, archways and rocks. Spend time on the famous Bund to discover one hundred years of colonial architecture as we stroll its length an admire the well preserved art deco buildings. Afternoon transfer to the airport for onward flights.
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