Dreams of Nature
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China has some of the most beautiful scenery in the world. From the swirling mists of Mt. Huang to the dramatic pinnacles of Zhangjiajie, the Dreams of Nature group tour was designed to highlight the natural wonders throughout the country. Tour guests will discover the most incredible natural sights throughout China, including the spectacular Li River and a visit to the beautiful alpine scenery of Nine Villages Valley. This tour reaches a maximum altitude of 11,500 feet at Huanglong.
Days 1-2: US/Shanghai
Fly overnight to the cosmopolitan city of Shanghai, also known as the "Paris of the East." On day 2, you will be met at Shanghai’s Pudong International Airport in the Arrivals Hall by your Local Guide and/or National Escort from Wendy Wu Tours. Pudong Airport is China’s largest airport, located about 30 kilometers (18.6 miles) from downtown Shanghai. Together with all other group members who may be arriving at a similar time, we will arrange to transport you to your hotel.
Sightseeing around the central city takes about 3-4 hours on foot. The afternoon includes easy sightseeing at the Bund, one of the most famous tourist destinations in Shanghai. The Bund is a waterfront area in central Shanghai and has dozens of historical buildings, lining the Huangpu River, that once housed numerous banks and trading houses from the United Kingdom, France, the United States, Italy, Russia, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands and Belgium, as well as the consulates of Russia and Britain, a newspaper, the Shanghai Club and the Masonic Club. Shopping time will be provided at Nanjing Road, the main shopping street of Shanghai, and one of the world's busiest shopping streets, attracting over one million visitors daily. In the evening a tour introduction will be held in the hotel. No food or drinks will be served at this meeting -- it is simply an opportunity for your group to meet and learn more about travelling in China.
Day 3: Shanghai
There is a full day of sightseeing around the central city today. Be careful and aware of your valuables while in the Old Town (Yuan Bazaar) as it is very crowded. Yuan Bazaar is the city's largest Flea Market. Its narrow lanes are dotted with over 100 shops, as well as teahouses, wine houses, snack bars, restaurants, a lotus pond, a zigzag bridge, and the famous Yu Yuan Garden (an extensive Chinese garden whose centerpiece is the exquisite 5-ton boulder, “The Jade Rock”) and China's Oldest Teahouse. The ground may be uneven in some parts, so wear comfortable shoes and watch your step. In the 4evening, enjoy a cruise on the panoramic Huangpu River.
Day 4: Shanghai/Mt. Huang
Due to the high demand for hotel rooms in Shanghai, a late check-out is unlikely, so you will more than likely have a morning at leisure before check-out before midday and lunch. The afternoon sightseeing at Xintiandi is easy, taking about 1 hour on foot. Xintiandi is an affluent car-free shopping, eating and entertainment district of Shanghai, composed of an area of reconstituted traditional shikumen ("stone gate") houses on narrow alleys, some adjoining houses which now serve as book stores, cafes and restaurants, and shopping malls. Xintiandi retains the antique walls, tiles and exterior of the Shikumen housing of old Shanghai, yet its interior embodies a totally different world of international gallery, bars and cafes, boutiques and theme restaurants. This is where 'yesterday and tomorrow meet in Shanghai today,' and has become the best place for tourists to appreciate the history and modern life of the city.
The overnight train to Mt. Huang departs in the evening and takes about 10 hours (the distance is over 350 miles).
Day 5: Mt. Huang
You will arrive at the train station in the early morning and transfer to a restaurant for breakfast. Then transfer to your hotel in Tunxi (Mt. Huang City), where you can leave your main luggage in storage, and take only an overnight bag to Mt. Huang.
NB: You will need to carry your own overnight bag from the cable car to the hotel on Mt. Huang, so pack light. You will need to take all medications, clothing, toiletries etc. that you will need. The weather here is very changeable and usually foggy, so you will need a rain jacket.
You will be driven to Huangshan Mountain (1.5 hour-drive), where you will take the cable car from Yungu Station to the top of the mountain (about a 10-minute ride). From the cable car, you will walk to the hotel and leave your overnight bag, as rooms may not be ready until midday.
Sightseeing this afternoon involves some steps and about 3 hours on foot over uneven and damp surfaces. You will be able to explore at your own pace — anyone who is unable to keep up with the pace of the rest of the group will be able to return to the hotel. This area is well known for its scenery, sunsets, peculiarly shaped granite peaks, Huangshan Pine trees, and views of the clouds from above. Huangshan is a frequent subject of traditional Chinese paintings and literature, as well as modern photography. Typical sights might include Brush Pen Peak, followed by a tour to Begin-to-Believe Peak to see its ancient twisted pine trees growing out of the rocks, Lion Peak, and Xihai Grand Canyon.
Day 6: Mt. Huang/Tunxi (City)
Continue sightseeing around the summit, which takes about 2 hours on foot. Return by cable car and coach to the Tunxi hotel for an overnight stay. After lunch, there will be some easy sightseeing in the city. Tunxi is an ancient city with a long history. The ancient streets are paved with slab stone; on both sides of the street are shops in classical Ming and Qing architectural style, with resplendent halls, exquisite pavilions, carved doors and windows, black tiles and whitewashed walls. This plus the Xin'an River nearby provides the living history of the social life of the Ming and Qing Dynasties as well as ideal background for shooting films of classical themes. Over 20 films and TV plays based on classical Chinese stories have been shot here. The factory making the famous Anhui ink stick (used in Chinese calligraphy) is also located in Tunxi. Made from the Huangshan pine trees, it is said that the Anhui ink stick has magic qualities. It is as hard as stone and does not deteriorate for as long as ten years. The ink produced from the Anhui ink stick is as black as black paint. Many charming stories and anecdotes about the Anhui ink stick exist in Chinese literature. The factory has over 7,800 mold plates for making ink stick, which are considered a national treasure. The local products include the famous tea such as "Tunlu", "Qihong", "Houkui", "Huangshan Maofeng", and Huizhou's ink stick, Shexian's ink slab, and lacquer-ware, bamboo weaving,etc.
NB: Your tickets for the cable car descent will be booked in advance to avoid the crowds. However, particularly in bad weather; VIPs and government groups can take priority in the queue and this may occasionally cause delays.
Day 7: Mt. Huang (Tunxi)/Changsha
You will be driven about150 miles (3 hours) on the new expressway towards Hangzhou, and have lunch at a restaurant outside the city. Transfer directly to Hangzhou airport. Fly to Changsha (flight duration is about 1 hour) and transfer to your hotel.
Day 8: Changsha/Zhangjiajie
There will be an easy morning visit to the Mount Yuelu Scenic area. Mt. Yuelu is noted for its picturesque scenery. The towering trees that provide dense shade emerge through heavily planted foliage around the mountains and provide an instant sense of refreshment and vitality to the environment. The full-blown azaleas in spring, the tranquility and coolness in summer, the flamboyant maple leaves in autumn and the silver-colored trees covered with snow and frost in winter make it a delightful spot all year round. Besides the natural scenery, Yuelu Mountain abounds with cultural landscape as well. Many literati, ideologists, and hierarchy once visited here and left their tracks. The coexistence of Confucianism, Buddhism and Taoism is the most unique culture in this mountain. So many revolutionists, patriots and great people, who were dedicated to the democratic revolution of the old type, were buried here. And the monuments, graves and cemeteries built for those martyrs make a solemn and stirring scene on the mountain. The most renowned attractions on Mt. Yuelu are the Yuelu Academy, the Lushan Temple and the Aiwan Pavilion. The permanent charm of Mt. Yuelu remains for all to witness, as no matter what the season it appears to exude natural beauty whilst still remaining a highly valued cultural site.
Explore the area on foot before boarding the bus for the about 4.5 hour drive to Zhangjiajie. Upon arrival you will check into the hotel.
Days 9-10: Zhangjiajie
On Day 9 and 10, sightseeing involves the coach dropping off our group at the entrance to the National Park, and then exploring on foot. Anyone who is not able to keep up with the pace of the rest of the group will be able to return to the coach to rest. On day 9, there is about 4 hours and on day 10 about 2.5 hours on foot over uneven ground and some steps.
In 1982, Zhangjiajie National Park was recognized as China's first national forest. The most notable geographic features of the park are the pillar-like formations that are seen throughout the park. They are the result of many years of erosion. The weather is moist year round, and as a result, the foliage is very dense. Much of the erosion which forms these pillars is the result of expanding ice in the winter and the plants which grow on them. These formations are a distinct hallmark of Chinese landscape, and can be found in many ancient Chinese paintings. One of the park's quartz-sandstone pillars, the 3,544-foot Southern Sky Column, had been officially renamed "Avatar Hallelujah Mountain" (in honor of the film, Avatar. According to park officials, photographs from Zhangjiajie inspired the floating Hallelujah Mountains seen in the film. This is a photographer’s dream journey!
Day 11: Zhangjiajie/Changsha
Return to Changsha today, a journey of about 4.5 hours. Upon arrival you will check into the hotel for an overnight stay.
Day 12: Changsha/Guiyang
This morning is spent at leisure before checking out before midday. Changsha is the capital of Hunan Province, and with a population of slightly over seven million inhabitants, is a major port and a commercial and industrial center, and one of the most popular tourist cities in China.
Transfer to the airport for the afternoon flight to Guiyang (1 hour flight duration). Drive about 40 minutes to the hotel. Guiyang is a fascinating city and home to many colorful ethnic minority groups.
Day 13: Guiyang/Zhengyuan
This morning, transfer to the train station for your scenic train ride (“soft seat” class, which is much more enjoyable than the “hard seat” class!) to Zhengyuan. This journey usually takes about 5 hours and arrives in time for a late lunch. Sightseeing this afternoon at Green Dragon Cave (the pinnacle of Taoist Temples) is easy. Built in Ming Dynasty with a history of 500 years, enduring many times of damage and repair, this ancient complex is divided into six parts, such as the cave, Zichan Academy, and Longevity Palace.
Day 14: Tiexi day trip
Transfer about 30 minutes to Tiexi for this morning’s sightseeing, involving about 3 hours of walking. It can get very hot here, so you may wish to return to your hotel for lunch and rest in the heat of the day.
Late this afternoon, there will be easy sightseeing in the Ancient Town and the Fu Family’s Grand Courtyard, taking about 2-3 hours on foot. You will stroll along the Ancient Walkway and visit the Ancient Well. We also visit the residence of the Fu Family, built over 300 years ago. The Fu family was one of the richest families during the Qing Dynasty, and the furnishings in the home have been well-preserved.
Day 15: Zhengyuan/Guiyang
Transfer about 40 minutes to Wuyang to enjoy a cruise on the river, before returning to Zhengyuan for lunch. Transfer to the station for your afternoon train to Guiyang. This train usually takes about 5 hours (170 miles) and is expected to arrive about 9 pm, so a simple meal will be provided for you on the train. Upon arrival in Guiyang, transfer to the hotel and check-in (which takes about 30 minutes).
Day 16: Guiyang/Guilin
Checkout from your hotel this morning then drive about 2.5 hours (100 miles) to Huangguoshu Waterfall and enjoy easy sightseeing here. Huangguoshu Waterfall is world famous as China's largest waterfall and also the biggest waterfall in Asia.
Return to Guiyang and have dinner before transferring to the airport for your evening flight to Guilin (flight duration, about 1 hour). Upon arrival, transfer to the hotel and check-in (which takes about 20 minutes).
Day 17: Li River Cruise/Yangshuo
We take a 3-hour cruise from Guilin to the small town of Yangshuo. We will cruise the stunning Li River and enjoy the breathtaking landscape of beautiful limestone hills, tranquil fishing scenes and picturesque villages. A simple meal will be served on-board (usually before midday at “Chinese lunch time”). These are small cruise boats, usually holding about 100 passengers, with an enclosed dining area on the lower deck and an open viewing area on the upper deck. As it is so popular, there are generally many boats at the docks. Please be reassured that the cruise itself will be scenic and relaxing as the boats cruise past pristine countryside. Usually the boats depart at 9am, from a dock one hour’s drive from your hotel. However, when the river level is low they depart from further downstream which might mean a longer drive and an earlier check out from your hotel.
Disembarking from the cruise, your Local Guide will walk with you to your hotel, about 15 minutes walk from the river. Electric carts can be rented from private vendors at your own cost, if desired.
NB: You will be staying in Yangshuo for a single night before returning to Guilin. We recommend you leave your main luggage in safe storage at our hotel in Guilin; taking only a small, overnight style bag with you for Days 17 and 18.
Day 18: Yangshuo/Guilin
Easy sightseeing this morning and time at leisure. Yangshuo is also China's foremost venue for rock climbing, with around 300 bolted routes and several companies offering guiding and equipment hire. Much of the town's traditional culture has been absorbed into the tourist industry, and tourists can pay a fee to watch fishermen fishing with cormorants, hire local women in traditional ethnic dress to pose for photographs, or take classes in Chinese calligraphy, tea ceremony, or cooking. Then drive about 1 hour back to Guilin (40 miles) and check in at the hotel.
Day 19: Guilin/Chengdu
Visit Reed Flute Caves this morning, by taking a short walk through the caves, along uneven paths and damp stairs. This cave got its name from the verdant reeds growing outside it, with which people make flutes. Inside this water-eroded cave is a spectacular world of various stalactites, stone pillars and rock formations created by carbonate deposition. Illuminated by colored lighting, the fantastic spectacle is found in many variations along this 240-meter-long cave. It usually takes about 1 hour to complete the route, and is very cool inside. Visit Mt Diecai, a low, karst mountain, and one of the most popular attractions in Guilin, a place known for its amazing scenery and stone carvings. Because of the resemblance of its rock formations, piled up layer upon layer on each other, to folded brocade, it is now also known as Folded Brocade Hill. We usually spend about 1.5 hours here. Transfer to the airport for your afternoon flight to Chengdu (flight duration, 1.5 hours). Transfer to the hotel and check in (which takes about 20 minutes).
Day 20: Chengdu/Nine Villages Valley
Transfer to the airport to board a domestic flight to Jiuzhaigou (Nine Villages Valley). Transfer to hotel located at the entrance of the National Park for the next two nights.
Day 21: Nine Villages Valley
The breathtaking Nine Villages Valley (Jiuzhaigou National Park) is a botanical gallery that is heavily forested and home to many protected species. Entering the valley is like being transported into a different world as it presents a seemingly never-ending display of stunning natural scenery where crystal clear lakes gather at the foot of every waterfall and rich, dense forests are dotted with colorful flowers. Today it remains one of China’s greatest natural assets virtually unseen by tourists, due to its remoteness, inaccessibility and the government’s determination to protect and preserve the ecology of this pristine area. History tells us that a group of Tibetan pilgrims came into the area seeking refuge from religious persecution in the 1300s. The endless, soaring mountain range kept them and the area totally hidden and untouched for over six centuries. It was named after the nine Tibetan villages that laid claim to this valley.
The National Park authorities have introduced an “environmental vehicle”, which is aimed at reducing pollution in the area. Your group will receive an entrance pass and a voucher for this transport. The vehicles run between the different sites at regular times; this will mean you will be sharing these vehicles with people from other tourist groups. However, your Wendy Wu Tours guides will remain with you. Today’s sightseeing takes about 4 hours on foot, and reaches an altitude of 10,200 feet at Changhai (Long or King) Lake.
NB: There is only one restaurant within the National Park that will cater to all the tourist groups in the park on any given day. It can therefore get very crowded and noisy.
Day 22: Nine Villages Valley/Chengdu
Most of the driving today is on sealed, winding mountain roads. This morning, drive about 3 hours (80 miles) to Huanglong. This UNESCO world heritage site is renowned for its hundreds of sparkling mineral pools where beautiful striking colors intertwine and the waters cascade down the mountainside. There is now a cable car here and it is possible to take the 10 minute ride both up and down, allowing more time for sightseeing at the top of the waterfall. The cost of the cable car is at your own expense. We usually spend about 2 hours sightseeing here, and this area is at an altitude of 11,500 feet.
After lunch at a nearby restaurant, we transfer to the airport for the return flight to Chengdu.
Day 23: Chengdu
The Panda Reserve is located only 6 miles from the city center. It is not guaranteed that you will be able to see the feeding of the younger pandas, as this only happens at the very start and end of each day. Chengdu Panda Base has not only dedicated itself to giant panda conservation, but has also made great efforts to combine natural scenery and man-made landscapes to create wonderful and humane living areas for giant pandas, red pandas, and other Chinese endangered animals. This non-profit organization has made tremendous strides in wildlife research, captive breeding, conservation education, and educational tourism. On site is a Giant Panda Museum, souvenir and other shops, a book store, and tea room and dining facilities. Sightseeing here takes about 1.5 hours on foot. Electric carts can be rented from private vendors at your own cost, if desired.
Afterwards, drive about 1-2 hours to the Sanxingdui Museum in Guanghan, where we will spend about 1.5 hours. The Sanxingdui Museum is near an archaeological site that dates to the Neolithic, Shang and Zhou periods. In 1988 this site was declared a National Key Cultural Relics Protected Unit, due to its scope, the wealth of its contents, and the rarity and precious nature of its excavated objects. The artifacts from Sanxingdui have had global influence. In 1986, two large Shang-period sacrificial pits were unearthed with more than one thousand gold, bronze, and jade objects.
Day 24: Chengdu
Drive about 1.5 hours (40 miles) on another stretch of mountainous road, visiting the Dujiangyan Irrigation Project on the way. This project is honored as the 'Treasure of Sichuan', which plays a crucial role in draining off floodwater, irrigating farms and providing water resources for more than 50 cities in the province. Dujiangyan is the oldest and only surviving no-dam irrigation system in the world; and a wonder in the development of Chinese science. Easy sightseeing here with about 1.5 hours of walking.
Day 25: Depart Chengdu
Fly to the US, arriving home later the same day or the following morning depending on the airline chosen.
If you are travelling on a land-only basis, then we will provide a transfer for you from Shanghai Pudong Airport to your hotel on Day 2 of the itinerary. On Day 25, you will check out from your hotel, and transfer to Chengdu Airport. Please ensure that you confirm your flight details with us as soon as possible before departure.
Please refer to the Wendy Wu Tours brochure and/or website for details on departure dates, prices, itineraries, inclusions and tour extensions available as well as full booking conditions.