Last week, I realised a dream of many years – to visit China for the first time. It was a fast paced express trip across three of China’s biggest cities: Beijing, Xian and Shanghai. I will be doing detailed blog posts about the trip in the coming weeks, but in the meantime, here are the highlights.
Day 1: Beijing. Early morning arrival in Beijing, Visit to Yonghegong Temple and Wangfujing Shopping Street. Read more here.
Day 2: Beijing. Visit to Temple of Heaven, Tiananmen Square, Forbidden City and Summer Palace. Read more here.
Day 4: Xian. Arrival in Xian, Visit to the Terracotta Warriors, Xian City Walls, Bell Tower, Drum Tower and Muslim Quarter. Read more here.
Day 5: Xian. Shopping in Xian Muslim Quarter, high speed train to Shanghai, night time visit to the Bund in Shanghai. Read more here.
Day 6: Shanghai. Visit to Yu Garden, explore Old Shanghai, day time visit to the Bund and Shanghai Acrobatics Show. Read more here.
Day 7: Shanghai. Visit to East Nanjing shopping street, Pudong financial district, top of Oriental Pearl TV tower and late night departure from Shanghai. Read more here.
Trip Facts and Figures
- Number of Cities: 3 (Beijing, Xian and Shanghai)
- Number of Trains: 2
- Distance Covered: 2400km
- Number of attractions: 15
The Great Wall: Of all the places we visited, this was without a doubt, my favourite. Stretching over the top of the mountains as far as the eye can see, it is a sight that must be seen to be believed.
Terracotta Warriors: Another attraction where no amount of photos, videos or TV programmes can do it justice. The detail on each of the statues and the sheer scale of construction is staggering. What surprised me most was the fact that what has been discovered so far is only a fraction of what lies underground, and also the painstaking work that has gone in to reassemble the pieces to the warrior figures.
Lights of Shanghai: If Beijing and Xian are testaments to China’s glorious past, the lights of Shanghai indicate China’s bright future. The Bund at night looked every bit as vibrant as I had seen in photos, but even better was being at the top of the Oriental Pearl TV tower at dusk and seeing the city illuminate around us. Simply amazing.
(Partially) Self Guided Tour: After much research, we decided to do this trip as a semi-independent tour tailor made for us by The China Travel Company. We booked hotels, trains, transfers and several guided day trips to the biggest attractions with the company, but leaving enough free time to explore on our own. This gave us the best of both worlds – freedom from stress when it comes to getting around in a new place, but the flexibility to set our own pace and explore things on our own.
I would highly recommend The China Travel Company as we had a great trip with them. They are a small, family run independent company based in UK and put together great tailor made itinerary for us. They were really helpful, answering all my questions from the serious to the banal. They also provided a fantastic guide book which covered everything from where to eat to how to take trains in China and everything else in between. On the trip itself, all the arrangements worked very smoothly. The hotels and the tour vehicles were very good. All the guides were excellent. They were on time, helped with our bags, took our photos, and answered all our questions and went the extra mile. (I have no affiliation with The China Travel Company, I just think they are very good.)
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