China: Savour the beauty of China’s ancient history, rich culture, delicate cuisine, thriving industries, and modern architecture. Walk along the Great Wall and unfold the mystery of the Forbidden City in China’s capital Beijing, discover the exquisite southeastern cities Wuxi, Suzhou, and Hangzhou – long known for their natural beauty, and immerse yourself in dynamic, cosmopolitan Shanghai.
Japan: Starting your tour of Japan in Osaka, you’ll visit Kyoto and Nara – famous for their well-preserved ancient castles, temples, and monuments. In Nagoya, visit Inuyama Castle, and explore the 1200 shops and restaurants of Osu Shopping Street. Japan’s stunning natural endowments are on the itinerary too, in the form of sacred Mount Fuji and the surrounding region. Your trip wraps up with time free in Tokyo, for sightseeing, shopping, or your choice of a diverse range of optional activities.
Taiwan: A country of stunning beauty and jaw-dropping natural landscapes, and one of the most diverse destinations in Asia, Taiwan attracts travellers from all over the world, showcasing a thriving folk culture, museums bursting with treasures – including the best of imperial China, its bustling night markets – famous for their delicious xiaochi (snacks, or literally ‘small eats’), and the latest in high-tech gadgets.
Get to know China better with our list of in-depth excursions recommended to add another dimension to your total experience! They can be prepaid in Australia more than 30 days prior to departure at the discounted AUD prices below, or paid directly in the local currency to your tour guide upon arrival in China. Prepay for all optional programs to receive a $15 discount off the total price. English speaking guide, admissions and round trip transfers are included in the prices.
|Beijing||Peking Duck Dinner||$40|
|Beijing||The Golden Mask Dynasty||$75|
|Beijing||Hutong Life & Panda House Tour w/Lunch||$80|
|Beijing||Chinese Kung-Fu Show||$75|
|Beijing||Forbidden City Tour||$80|
|Wuxi||Grand Canal Cruise||$35|
|Wuxi||Jiangnan Dumpling Lunch||$25|
|Suzhou||Western Buffet Dinner||$40|
|Hangzhou||Impression West Lake||$80|
|Shanghai||ERA: The Intersection of Time||$75|
|Shanghai||Jin Mao Tower, Xintiandi & Maglev Train Tour:||$70|
|Shanghai||Huangpu River Cruise||$40|
|Shanghai||Shanghai Disneyland Package|
(cannot be combined with ERA & Jin Mao Tour)
Fly to Beijing via connecting cities and transfer to the hotel. Note: Some flights may depart the night before. Beijing, China’s massive capital, has a history stretching back three millennia, and since the 2008 Olympic Games, it has been known for its modern architecture as well as grand ancient sites such as the Forbidden City complex, the imperial palace during the Ming and Qing dynasties.
After breakfast, visit Tiananmen Square, the second-largest public square in the world! Tiananmen Square is named after the Tiananmen (Gate of Heavenly Peace) located to the north of the square, separating it from the Forbidden City. The square contains the Monument to the People’s Heroes and has great cultural significance, as it was the site of several important events in Chinese history.
Next, continue on to the incredible Forbidden City, which was the imperial palace from the Ming to the Qing dynasty (1420 to 1912). The complex consists of 980 buildings and covers 72 ha (over 180 acres). The Forbidden City was declared a World Heritage Site in 1987 and is listed by UNESCO as the largest collection of preserved ancient wooden structures in the world!
Optional Program: Peking Duck Dinner – Tonight, head out for a Beijing speciality which is one of the most famous Chinese dishes, Peking Duck.
Today’s highlight is an excursion to the majestic Great Wall of China at Juyong Pass. This is one of the three most famous passes along the Wall, together with Jiayuguan and Shanhaiguan. Just 60 km from downtown Beijing, Juyong Pass was the northern route to Beijing in ancient times. Once here, there is plenty of time to learn about the wall’s construction and you’ll have the chance to climb a portion of this 6,000 km marvel.
On the way back to Beijing, we stop at one of the largest jade exhibitions in Asia. Then, after lunch, see skilled artisans at work at a cloisonne factory. Cloisonne is a famous traditional enamel ware, known as the ‘Blue of Jingtai’ in China, with a history of over 500 years. It was so called because blue was the colour typically used for enamelling, and Jingtai was the reign title of the 7th Ming Emperor.
Optional Program: The Golden Mask Dynasty – This phenomenal show incorporates dancing, acrobatics, magnificent costumes and lot of surprises. Seen by an estimated 1.1 million people, it is one of Beijing’s must-see shows.
Enjoy a tour to the Summer Palace, the largest preserved ancient garden in China and a former summer resort for Emperors followed by a visit to a Chinese herbal medicine institute to learn about traditional Chinese medicine, which has existed for thousands of years, as you enjoy a rejuvenating foot massage.
Optional Program: Hutong Life & Panda House Tour w/Lunch – A rickshaw will take you around the intricate winding hutongs to admire these old courtyard dwellings, built during the Mongol Yuan Dynasty. Even today, when many have been developed into upscale restaurants, tea houses, and boutiques, many residents are reluctant to move from their beloved hutongs. On this tour, you are invited to visit a local family’s house to experience authentic ‘old Beijing’ life. Next, visit the Panda House in Beijing Zoo to see China’s adorable national treasure – the Giant Panda.
Optional Program: Chinese Kung-Fu Show – This show is an energetic mix of traditional Chinese martial arts, dance and high-flying acrobatics set in a modern theatre. Combined with an excellent storyline, exceptional stage design and professional actors this show is not to be missed for Chinese Kung-Fu enthusiasts or those seeking a thrilling performance.
Take a high speed train to Wuxi, an ancient city, richly endowed with natural attractions due to its pleasantly warm and moist climate. Wuxi boasts a reputation of being the ‘Land of Fish and Rice’. Enjoy the scenery as we pass by Lake Tai, the third-largest freshwater lake in China. This evening, we will stroll along the trendy yet traditional Nanchang Street, composed of both ancient and modern architecture, and juxtaposed with the peaceful atmosphere of the waterside town and fashionable life of Wuxi.
Optional Program: Jiangnan Dumpling Lunch – Enjoy a traditional lunch that includes the famous Xiao Long Bao, a Chinese steamed bun filled with minced pork and tasty soup, prepared in a small bamboo steaming basket.
This morning visit one of the largest freshwater pearl exhibitions in the country. After lunch, travel by coach to Suzhou, an extraordinarily elegant city with its canals, stone bridges, and meticulously designed gardens. Suzhou has been referred to as ‘Paradise on Earth’ by Chinese poets and writers since ancient times. As a large area of the city is covered by water, including a vast number of ponds and streams, Suzhou is also known as ‘Venice of the East’. It is also known as the ‘Garden City’ due to its many classical gardens, renowned for their charming natural beauty and harmonious construction. Visit the Lingering Garden, which is among the finest in China.
Optional Program: Grand Canal Cruise – Take a cruise along the UNESCO World Heritage listed Grand Canal of over a thousand years to view life along what was known as ‘China’s golden waterway’ in its heyday.
Optional Program: Western Buffet Dinner – Enjoy a sumptuous western style buffet dinner with at your hotel, a relaxing way to wind down the day.
This morning visit a silk spinning mill, and learn how silk is created from mulberry-munching silkworms to produce the finest thread and cloth. After lunch, travel by coach to Hangzhou, described by Marco Polo as ‘the most beautiful and magnificent city in the world’. Upon arrival, take a boat ride on the serene West Lake, the most renowned feature of Hangzhou, and noted for its scenic beauty which blends naturally with many famous historical and cultural sites.
Optional Program: Impression West Lake – This evening, enjoy an open-air performance, a masterpiece created by Zhang Yimou, the director of the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics Games Opening Ceremony.
Experience tea-tasting at the Dragon Well Tea Plantation. Then travel by coach to Shanghai, a vibrant metropolis and the commercial centre of China. Upon arrival, walk along the famous Bund, a mile-long stretch along the Huangpu River. Lined with colonial architecture of European design, it is the best place to capture the Western influences of the old days. Enjoy the rest of the day at leisure strolling along the bustling shopping district, Nanjing Road.
Optional Program: Huangpu River Cruise – As you cruise along the Huangpu River, you will get a glimpse of the history and spectacular view of cosmopolitan Shanghai. On one side of the river, there is The Bund, a landmark of Shanghai. Lining the boulevard of the waterfront are grandiose solid buildings of Western style dating back to the early 19th century. On the other side is the charming image of modern Shanghai.
This morning, visit the Shanghai Museum to see ancient Chinese art, furniture and jade. The rest of the afternoon is at your own leisure, or you may join our optional programs.
Optional Program: Jin Mao Tower, Xintiandi & Maglev Train Tour – Visit the Jin Mao Tower Observation Deck (88th floor) for a panoramic view of the Huangpu River and the Bund. Then explore the affluent Xintiandi (New Heaven and Earth) area which holds the historical and cultural legacies of the city. Xintiandi was the site of the first congress of the Communist party of China, and is now the most expensive place to live in China. Next, experience the world’s fastest commercially operating train, running between the city and Shanghai airport with a top speed of 431km/h. Note: This program cannot be combined with Shanghai Disneyland Package.
Optional Program: ERA: The Intersection of Time, or SPIRAL – Tonight you can watch a stunning Chinese acrobatic show combining Chinese performing arts and modern technology, comparable to the tradition of the Broadway Musical. Note: This program cannot be combined with Shanghai Disneyland Package.
Optional Program: Shanghai Disneyland Package – Newly opened in June 2016. Shanghai Disneyland showcases a never-before-seen world of wonder where you can ignite the magical dream within your heart and experience fun, adventure and thrills for guests of all ages! Includes standard Shanghai Disneyland admission and one transfer in each direction. Note: Departure transfer is at a set time. If you prefer to stay behind at the resort, you must make your own way back to the hotel. This package cannot be combined with any other optional programs on this day.
After breakfast, transfer to Shanghai airport to board your flight to Japan. On arrival in Osaka, your friendly tour guide will be waiting at the airport to transfer you to the airport hotel.
This morning, travel to Kyoto and visit Fushimi Inari Shrine and Nijo Castle before heading to Nara. Visit Todaiji (Great Eastern Temple), with its Great Buddha Hall – the world’s largest wooden building. This impressive building houses the world’s largest (15m) bronze statue of the Buddha Vairocana. Wander through Nara Park, where over 1,200 wild sika deer roam free, before travelling back to Osaka.
Spend today free at your own leisure. You may spend the day visiting one of the most spectacular Japanese aquariums, Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan; or taking a day trip to Hyogo to visit Himeji Castle (pictured), an enormous and unique castle decorated in white. An optional day tour is available for some departure dates. Please see optional programs for more information.
This morning, head to Nagoya and visit Inuyama Castle. Then, head to Atsuta Shinto Shrine (covering 200,000 square meters and established almost 2000 years ago) before enjoying some time for shopping it the Osu Kannon Shopping Quarter. Transfer to your hotel in the evening.
Today, visit Oshino Hakkai. Known as the springs of Mount Fuji, the eight ponds are fed by melting snow filtering down from the slopes of nearby Mount Fuji, through porous layers of lava, resulting in very clear spring water that is revered by locals. Afterwards, visit Hakone Shinto Shrine. Standing at the foot of Mount Hakone along the shores of Lake Ashi, the shrine buildings are hidden in dense forest. Finally, visit Owakudani – ‘Great Boiling Valley’ is a valley formed by the explosion of Hakone volcano more than 300 years ago, and contains hot springs and steaming sulphur vents – visitors usually eat eggs cooked in the boiling, sulphurous waters. At the end of the day we head to Tokyo.
Spend today free at leisure. You may wish to visit Tokyo Disneyland or DisneySea (admission $120) or join the Nikko Day Tour ($290). Alternatively, you can join our wide range of optional programs; tea ceremony, pottery-making experience, ‘golden joinery’, kimono photo shoot, cooking class. NOTE: All activities are not guided and transportation is self-arranged.
Spend today free at leisure before transferring to the airport for your flight to Taiwan. Arrive at Taipei Taoyuan International Airport, you will be greeted warmly at the airport by your local tour guide and transferred to your hotel. Standard hotel check-in time is 3pm.
Today’s highlight is a visit to the Presidential Building (outside) and Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall. This afternoon, visit Tamsui – a laidback waterfront town on the northern part of Taipei city. Enjoy lunch today at Tamsui Old Street, where you can feast on many famous Taiwanese snacks. Visit Lin An Tai Historical House and Museum. This elegant building is built in the style of prosperous houses in China’s Fujian province, where many Taiwanese migrated from, and the paving stones in the courtyard were once ballast in merchant ships. In the evening, explore the bustling night life of Taipei. Have a traditional Taiwanese dinner of Xiao Long Bao, then proceed to colourful Huahsi Night Market.
This morning travel to Sun Moon Lake, situated 762 meters above sea level in the lofty mountains of central Taiwan. Cruise across the lake for a spectacular view of Xuanguang Temple & Lalu Island, as you relax on the lake’s tranquil waters. Then, take Sun Moon Lake Ropeway to the Formosan Aboriginal Culture Village and observe Taiwan’s traditional indigenous lifestyles and traditions. After a dinner of Taiwanese-style roasted chicken, check in to the hotel.
After breakfast, we will head to an Oolong Tea Farm before continuing south towards Kaohsiung and Fo Guang Shan Buddha Memorial Centre (BMC). Completed in 2011, BMC has enshrined a relic of the Buddha, gifted by Tibetan Lama Kunga Dorje Rinpoche, since the beginning of contraction in 2001. We will be spending most of our day at this place to enjoy the serene atmosphere and explore the entire area at our leisure. Then, learn how to make Pineapple Tarts at the popular Vigor Pineapple Factory. Later we will be enter Kaohsiung City and explore Pier 2 Art Central, where 25 former warehouses have been converted into a thriving arts precinct. After dinner (Taiwanese Shabu Shabu hotpot), explore one of Kaohsiung’s bustling night markets.
The highlight today is a visit to Kenting National Park, Taiwan’s first nationally recognised park and undoubtedly one of the most spectacular landscapes you will see. Be awestruck by the vastness of the natural reserve and stand on the southernmost tip of the island at Maopitou and Longpan Park, also known as ‘The Light of East Asia’ as its lighthouse is one of the most powerful along the Taiwan coast. This afternoon, head to Kenting Main Street in the heart of Kenting, an area bustling with locals, tourists and vendors. Spend lunch time discovering the numerous stalls and restaurants offering a variety of local snacks and cuisines. Travel up the scenic Southern Link Highway to Taitung Country, ending the day with dinner at the hotel.
The highlight today is a visit the East Coast National Scenic Area, known as ‘Taiwan’s last unspoiled land’, stretching 170 kilometres down the east coast of Taiwan. Weathering and erosion have produced a wide range of breathtaking landforms here which can only be appreciated first-hand. Stop at Siao-ye-liou (‘little wild willow’ geological formations), San-sien-tai (Three Immortals Island), Shi-ti-ping (Stone Steps) and take in the spectacular views. Proceed to Hualien, to Taroko National Park. Encompassing Taroko Gorge, Swallow Grotto, and Shakadong Trail, the park covers over 120,000 hectares and rises from sea level in the east to heights of over 3700m further west. The aquamarine Liwu River cuts through the centre, forging deep slit valleys before joining the sea.
Today, visit a Marble Factory on the return trip to Taipei. Depending on the size of the group, visit local scenic towns Yilan or Shifen. These towns are both rich in culture and local history, and provide a nice glimpse of Taiwan’s beautiful natural scenery. Later, visit Taipei 101 (admission fee at your own expense, payable to the guide). Experience soaring heights and impressive views at the tallest building in Taiwan, and the 6th highest in the world. Taipei 101 was the first building to exceed 500m in height and has a unique design that mimics the shape of bamboo. Dinner will be hotpot (or similar, depending on availability).
After breakfast, transfer to the airport for your flight home via a connecting city.
Arrive home this morning