The Russ Oquist and Friends
16-day Private Deluxe China Tour
Russ Oquist , President of MG Tour Co., has traveled to China over 40 times, exploring most of China, from the north to the south. Over the past 12+ years, he and his company have been arranging custom tours for Americans traveling to China and have offices in Beijing and Kunming as well as in the United States, where they have both English and Chinese speaking staff. Russ has worked and traveled extensively in China and has a great appreciation for the wonderful country and people of China.
His company, MG Tour, started the “Russ Oquist and Friends Premium Travel Series,” as a way in which he could personally design tours with his closest clients/friends in mind – full of unique and exciting experiences that all can enjoy. They offer this tour with a view to having a blend of people whom they know will travel well together, or they can design a customized private tour, with excellent value for your travel dollar.
Russ will not be the guide. He will have the local guides and a national guide to lead the tour. His role on these trips is to enjoy these times with you and to help ensure that everyone has the maximum quality travel experience. China and Zhangjiajie are such exciting and magical places to visit and MG Tour wants to share these world-class travel experiences with you.
Join us October 4-19, 2012 — it’s all about the experience!
October 4: Fly to China… the adventure begins!
October 5: Arrive in Beijing; transfer to the hotel
You will arrive at Beijing Capitol airport. Upon arrival, you will be taken to the Red Wall Garden Hotel (this is a lovely 5-star Hutong-style hotel in the Hutong area near the famous Wang Fujing neighborhood (one of the Chinese capital's most famous shopping streets). The rest of the day is free to spend at leisure.
Evening Option: Brief evening time of wine and snacks in the center court area.
October 6: Beijing tour (B, L, D)
In the morning, we will visit a traditional Chinese Hutong. This is the traditional housing in old Beijing that generally consists of four small houses surrounding a court area with a high wall separating it from the narrow streets. The Hutong has been home to both the rich and the poor. We will start with a rickshaw ride through the old neighborhood and continue with a walking tour into the narrow streets of the Hutong. We will also visit the Prince Gong Palace, built in 1777 for minister He Shen and notably the best-kept courtyard house in Beijing. Afterwards, we will visit the home of a Hutong family; feel free to ask the family questions. These quaint dwellings are disappearing in the continual modernization of China. We will have lunch with the family in the Hutong House (home-made meal). After lunch we will go to Tiananmen Square (the third largest city square in the world and the focal point of the protests in 1989) and then to the Forbidden City, which was the Chinese imperial palace from the Ming Dynasty to the end of the Qing Dynasty. It is located in the middle of Beijing, China, and now houses the Palace Museum. For almost 500 years, it served as the home of emperors and their households, as well as the ceremonial and political center of Chinese government. In addition to seeing the buildings and grounds of the Emperor’s palace, we will also see the Emperor’s clock collection and the Qing Dynasty Jewelry, Robes and Relic collection (which Westerners rarely see). A special Peking duck dinner is included for tonight.
Optional: Special night out – Hutong Club area or Karaoke if anyone is interested.
October 7: Beijing (B, L, D)
In the morning, we will visit the Tibetan Yong He Gong Lamasery, the most renowned Tibetan Buddhist temple in China outside Tibet that holds treasures of both the Han and Tibetan cultures. After some time there, we will walk to Confucian Temple --here the Emperor paid homage to the Confucian magnates of the past (built in 1302 and rebuilt in 1411). These are two sites that are not often visited. After lunch we will take you to Pian Gia Yuan (2nd Hand Street Market) where Beijingers go to shop. This is an amazing cultural event that is held only every Saturday and Sunday, where you can see hundreds of individual Chinese vendors selling everything from paintings, to furniture, to incredible hand embroidery to Beijing Opera costumes, chop stick collections, etc. We will return to the hotel for a chance to relax.
Evening Special: Special Sichuan Dinner with Face Changing (most dishes are spicy, but there will be some non-spicy dishes).
October 8: Beijing Olympics; Artist’s Colony 798; Commune by
the Great Wall (B, L)
We will start the day with a brief tour of some of the most impressive Beijing Olympic Stadiums from 2008 – including the Bird’s Nest (colloquial for the Olympic National Stadium) and the Water Cube (again, colloquial for the Beijing National Aquatic Center). Afterwards we will take you outside Beijing to see the 798 Artist’s Colony, an old factory area in the outskirts of Beijing, where a small group of artists moved to in the 1990's to open workspaces and galleries. Today there are over 150 galleries sprinkled through the collection of low-slung brick buildings and large, abandoned factories with high ceilings and gorgeous, huge windows. This is a fascinating site where some intriguing new art is being created. Then it’s on to The Commune by the Great Wall. These luxurious buildings, designed by Master Architects, are both beautiful and intriguing. We will be occupying two of the 4-5 bedroom villas which give us some common rooms where we can have some excellent social times together. Each villa includes the bedrooms (with private bath), living rooms, kitchens, dining rooms and balconies (these rooms are held in common with the various residents of the villas). The rest of the day is free to enjoy the Commune. In addition to the beautiful mountains, and area hikes, you can enter your own De Facto Private entrance to the Great Wall. You can enjoy sunrise and/or sunset on the Wall or view it from the comfort of your balcony or window in the luxury villa suite. You can walk along the Wall, take photos and thoroughly enjoy it without crowds, banners and sellers of T-shirts. This resort also has a swimming pool, a fitness center and the world famous Anantara Spa.
Evening: After Dinner social time complete with wines and snacks.
October 9: Commune by the Great Wall; Explore the Great Wall or Free Day (B)
Today will be a free day to enjoy the Commune, its spa, Fitness Center, the restaurant, the swimming pool area or even to admire the many uniquely designed buildings on this site. We will be leading a hike on the private trail to the Great Wall for anyone who wants to come with us. The hotel staff can also take you to the trail whenever you want, where you can go to the Great Wall OR to a nearby entrance to the Great Wall. You can also enjoy their master chef’s fine cooking at one of three restaurants. The Commune Clubhouse has a great display of modern art. Nearby you can also golf or go horse-back riding (additional expense). If you are interested, the Commune also provides tours of the facility, that feature a more in-depth look into the design of the master architect buildings (subject to the availability of the buildings). This is such a unique experience it will be hard to believe that you are in China, except the evidence of the Great Wall on the hills around you.
Evening: After Dinner social time complete with wines and snacks.
October 10: Commune by the Great Wall; Drive to Chengde (B, L)
Enjoy your free morning in Commune by the Great Wall. Then we will drive to Chengde (approximately 3.5 hour drive). Upon arrival in Chengde we will check into the hotel and the rest of the afternoon is free to enjoy at your leisure. Chengde is best known as the site of the Mountain Resort, a vast imperial garden and palace formerly used by the Qing emperors as summer residence.
Evening Option: We will be going to an excellent restaurant in Chengde and all are invited to join us. (Dinner at own expense.)
October 11: Chengde tour (B, L, D)
Today we will visit the Summer Resort of Chengde. Constructed between 1703 and 1792 during the Qing Dynasty, the Mountain Resort was the exclusive place where the emperors and royal members spent their summer. Compared with the grand and solemn Forbidden City, it is characterized by simplicity and elegance, where the various styles of palaces are integrated into the surrounding lakes, mountains, and woods harmoniously. In the afternoon, we will visit Puning Temple and Putuozongcheng Temple, two of the Eight Outer Temples. Puning Temple is famous for the world’s largest wooden statue of the thousand-armed Goddess of Mercy while the magnificent Putuozongcheng Temple has the same style as the Potala Palace in Tibet and is known as “Little Potala Palace.” Drive back to your hotel.
October 12: Chengde; drive to Beijing; flight to Zhangjiajie (B, D)
The morning is free until we transfer to the airport for our flight to Zhangjiajie. Zhangjiajie is considered one of the most beautiful places in China and famous worldwide for its pristine national scenery. Upon arrival, we will be met by our guide and transferred to the hotel. The rest of the day is free to enjoy the hotel and the city area.
Dinner: Special Hunan Dishes (generally very spicy and delicious).
October 13: Zhangjiajie (TianMen Shan) tour (B, L, D)
After breakfast, we will ride the Tianmen Mountain Cable Car. This is the longest and the fastest cable car in the world! You will be able to explore the Tianmen Mountain Forest Park. You will visit Tianmen Cave (probably one of the main reasons people visit Tianmen Mountain is to be able to see the Tianmen Cave, and the primary reason why the park was built in the first place. Tianmen Cave is not actually a cave but a hole in the mountain that formed naturally), the Guigu Wooden Walkways (plank roads upon which you can breathtakingly walk along the side of a mountain with nothing beneath you except the planks under your feet) and the Temple of Tianmen Mountain (first built in the Tang Dynasty as a center of Buddhism in the area of western Hunan). Afterwards we will return to the city via a road that has 99 hairpin turns from the mountain. After a lunch stop, we will visit the Tujia Museum of the Tujia people, which is an intriguing set of buildings, grounds and cultural exhibits — this is a very unique ethnic museum. The museum is a traditional Tujia style building. The exhibits are mainly furniture from Ming and Qing dynasties mixed with Tujia clothing, painting, wood carving etc. which are all set up in a family arrangement. The museum also provides Tujia custom show which allows tourists to experience the local custom.
October 14: Zhangjiajie tour (B, L, D)
Today we will see some of the most amazingly beautiful sites that you will ever see in your life! After breakfast we will go up to Yuanjiajie by Bailong Elevator (a glass elevator built onto the side of a huge cliff that is 1,070 feet high. It is claimed to be the highest and heaviest outdoor elevator in the world; it takes about two minutes to complete the journey from the base of the cliff to the top). We will sightsee in the back garden, Mihun Stage and Helong Park (in commemoration of Marshal He Long of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army). We will walk along the trail where you can see this amazing area from the many vista points. The last and most amazing vista point is called the Emperor Mountain scenic area. As we descend by cable car, this “fairy land” of peaks and stone pillars takes on named images such as the Ten-Miles-Gallery, Herb Picking Old Man, Three Sisters peaks, etc.
October 15: Zhangjiajie tour; flight to Shanghai (B, L, D)
After breakfast, we will take you to see some of the most beautiful and tranquil sites. Admire the tall thin trees and a stream with dappled sun light breaking through to the canyon floor. This area includes the Golden Whip Stream, the Golden Whip Crag, the Magical Eagle Protecting the Whip and the Water Winding Four Doors. After we have seen this lovely canyon floor we will visit Baofeng Lake by boat for a tour of the natural views around it. Baofeng Lake is one of the most beautiful scenes in the Wulingyuan Scenic Area. It is a rare lake on a plane, surrounded by green mountains, green water and beautiful landscapes. After our visit we will be taken to the airport for our flight to Shanghai. Upon arrival in Shanghai, we will be transferred to our hotel. We will have dinner at the hotel.
October 16: Shanghai (B, L)
The tour day will begin with a visit to the Shanghai Jewish Refugees Museum. The museum consists of two parts: the former site of Ohel Moshe Synagogue and the gallery. It is an important component of the “Tilanqiao Historic Area” and serves as a witness commemorating the phase of history when the Jewish refugees, during World War II, sought refuge from massacre and fled to live in Shanghai. Afterwards we will drive to visit the Shanghai Old Street Area. This area is hidden behind the modern tall buildings, the history of Shanghai can be seen in the narrow roads and twisted lanes – this old fashioned way of life still exists. Shanghai’s Old Street Area (southwest of Yuyuan Garden) is not well known by foreigners, but it is worth visiting if you want to see the old culture and customs. As evening approaches, we will visit Heng Shan Road. Heng Shan Road is popular for its French style and many bars and restaurants. This area includes a large green belt and a heavy concentration of bars. The street is often called the Champs Elysee of the East. On either side of the street, there are buildings with strong European characteristics, most completed in the 1920s and 1930s. Afterwards we will return to the hotel. OPTION: If some are interested and there is time, we will then go to the Private Lotus Shoe Museum. The practice of binding women’s feet was horrific, however, the embroidery work done on these tiny shoes were often amazing.
Evening option: The Bund and possibly the Peace Hotel or wherever you want to go.
October 17: Shanghai; day trip to Suzhou (B, L, D)
After breakfast, we will drive to Suzhou, where we will visit the Humble Administrator’s Garden, which is the largest classical garden in Suzhou and praised to be one of the top four gardens in China. Next, visit Tiger Hill another must of Suzhou. Only 36 meters above sea level, this picturesque hill is left with a number of historical sites and anecdotes dating back 2,500 years ago. Finally, we come to the Garden of the Master of the Nets, where you will be surprised by its ingenious gardening in a compact space. Benefiting from its lettered masters, this garden has the most artistic and cultural relics. Drive back to Shanghai in the late afternoon.
Evening Option: XinTianDi (delightful club area).
October 18: Shanghai; drive to Wuzhen (B, L)
After breakfast, we will depart at 10:00am from the hotel, drive two hours and arrive at the beautiful Water Town of Wuzhen. Wuzhen enjoys a history of over 1,000 years. It has become a living fossil of ancient oriental civilization for its profound history and culture, graceful water town scenery, unique flavored delicious food, and colorful folk customs and festivals. It is a kind of beauty that is naturally endowed. You could take a private boat ride around the old canal to experience the old culture. After lunch at a local farmer’s restaurant, visit the old buildings and the museums in the water town. Then we will check into our 5-Star hotel in Wuzhen and enjoy a beautiful romantic night.
October 19: Wuzhen; transfer to Shanghai; flight home (optional extension listed below)
After breakfast we will drive back to Shanghai airport for your return flight home with a lifetime of wonderful memories!
Note: Tour and Tour Information are subject to change.
Meals Provided: B = breakfast, L = lunch, D = dinner
The Russ Oquist and Friends 16-day Private Deluxe China Tour
October 4 – October 19, 2012
Land and Internal Air for: $4,435/person* (Dbl Occ)
Single supplement: $1,345USD/person*
Included in Private Deluxe China Tour:
- All Internal Chinese flights
- Hotels based on Double Shared Rooms
- Meals as listed on itinerary
- Private Transfers and Tours with English-speaking Guide & Driver
- English-speaking Tour Guide & Air Conditioning Luxury Car with Driver.
- Admission fees to all the sightseeing in the itinerary
- All government taxes
- One bottle mineral water per person per day
- Domestic flights listed in the itinerary
- Some special items as referred to in the itinerary
Not included in China Experience:
- International Flights
- Tips for guide & driver
- Meals not listed
- Touring or Activities listed as optional
- International flight ticket and taxes
- Travel Insurance
Accommodations (or similar):
Red Wall Garden Hotel - 5 star boutique Hutong
Great location, charming hotel in style of Hutong
Commune by the Great Wall - 5 star
Unique master architect designed Villas, spa, etc.—de facto private entrance to the Great Wall
Yun Shan Hotel - 4 star
The first 4-star in Chengde, as it is not as travelled to but has great treasures to see
Qinghe Jinjiang Hotel - 5 star
Very nice 5-star in this amazing area
Ocean Hotel - 5 star
Great location on Yangpo River, minutes from the Bund, rotating Restaurant on top floor and in the historic Jewish Quarter
Tong An Hotel - 5 star
Beautiful hotel in a very beautiful area