Day 1 Beijing There are no activities planned until an evening welcome meeting.
Arrival Day and Welcome Meeting
Day 2 Beijing/Baotou (1B) Travel out of Beijing to explore the Great Wall at Mutianyu. An incredible piece of engineering stretching almost 3,000km (1,864 mi) westwards from the mountain ridges north of Beijing, it was originally constructed to protect the Chinese empires from the Mongolian 'barbarians' of the north.
Return to Beijing in the afternoon. Prepare for the overnight sleeper train to Baotou.
Great Wall Mutianyu Visit
Enjoy the chaos of the train station and rush to get on board. You will likely have locals for bunk-neighbours who will have varying levels of interest in getting to know you. Some might want to practice their English and some may just be curious observers. Just remember, the journey is half the experience.
Basic overnight train (beds) (7.00 hour(s), 650km)
Day 3 Baotou/Inner Mongolia (1B, 1D) Enjoy the scenery around you and optional activities like horseback riding or a grasslands tour to see some wildlife.
With a little luck, catch a beautiful sunset or sunrise with clear blue skies.
Enjoy traditional living on the grasslands with a a night spent in a ger (yurt) and a delicious Mongolian dinner.
A number of activities may be arranged for the time spent here, depending on weather and the family's availability. There may be opportunities to spend time with the family and learn more about their culture, explore the grasslands looking for animals, or hike to visit rock paintings. All available options will be determined upon arrival to the ger camp.
Private Vehicle (5.00-6.00 hours)
Day 4 Inner Mongolia/Datong (1B) Datong is famous for its temples, pagodas, and other Buddhist structures in the area. The Huayan Monastery and Nine-Dragon Screen are excellent examples of the treasures found in the middle of the city.
Private Vehicle (7.00 hour(s))
Enjoy the afternoon journey in the Hard Sleeper car. With a little more room to stretch out, this ride should be a breeze.
Train (3.50-4.50 hours, 300km)
Day 5 Datong (1B) The Hanging Monastery (or Hanging Temple) is a wooden structure built into a cliff at the foot of a mountain more than 1,500 years ago. It includes Buddhist, Taoist, and Confucian elements.
Further afield are the Yungang Grottoes; there are currently 53 grottoes with 51,000 statues of the Buddha remaining. Enjoy a guided visit to the grottoes to marvel at them in person. Beyond that is Mt Hengshan, one of the five sacred mountains of China.
Opt to check out Datong's six remaining pagodas, which gave the city the nickname "City of Pagodas".
Yungang Grottoes Visit
Hanging Temple Visit
Day 6 Datong/Pingyao (1B) Start planning your free time in beautiful Pingyao. The well-preserved UNESCO World Heritage Site is known for its ancient walls.
Train (8.00 hour(s), 460km)
Day 7 Pingyao (1B) Sights around the city include the Market Tower, built in the 14th century, and the Confucius Temple. Opt to wander the ancient streets, marvelling at the city walls.
For lunch, visit a local family and enjoy a traditional Northern Chinese lunch. Later, take a painting lesson from a former teacher.
Chinese Painting Lesson
Day 8 Pingyao/Xi'an (1B) Take a fast train to Xi'an and spend some time exploring the city.
Cut travel time on the fast train.
Train (3.50 hour(s))
Day 9 Xi'an (1B, 1L) Take an orientation walk around Xi'an. Later, take a guided trip out to the Terracotta Warriors, situated a short drive away (approx. 1 hr). Enjoy a local lunch at a farmhouse nearby.
Spend time in Xi'an exploring this vibrant city.
Terracotta Warriors Guided Tour
Day 10 Xi'an/Beijing (1B) Head to one of Xi’an’s most fascinating areas – the Muslim Quarter.
Opt to tour the unusual yet lovely Great Mosque (a wonderfully serene place to escape the hustle and bustle of the city), great souvenir stalls, and enjoy some of the best street food in China.
The remaining city walls are a great place to watch the sunset or join the locals for ballroom dancing or Tai Chi in the early morning.
Basic overnight train (beds) (12.50 hour(s), 1200km)
Day 11 Beijing Arrive in Beijing in the early morning. Enjoy a guided tour of Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City. In the evening, choose to take in a Chinese acrobats show, a Kung Fu show, or the Chinese Opera.
Forbidden City Tour
Day 12 Beijing (1B) With so much to see in Beijing, it is strongly recommended that you book pre- or post-tour accommodations and take in all the sights.