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Harbin Ice Festival


A tour that captures the essence of this spellbinding country

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2019 Tour code: HAE19

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Days 1-2 - London to Beijing

We fly to Beijing from London, arriving on Day 2. We check into our hotel and in the morning visit the Temple of Heaven. This large temple complex was built nearly 600 years ago, and includes the incredible Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests, a three-tiered circular building, as well as the large Circular Mound Alter, built for ceremonies for the emperor to pray for rain. The rest of your afternoon is free for you to explore Beijing.

Day 3 - Tiananmen Square

We continue our sightseeing of Beijing today, starting at the infamous Tiananmen Square, the largest city square in the world at over 4 million square feet, and the setting for the declaration of the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949. Surrounding the square are reminders of China's turbulent political history, including a large portrait of Chairman Mao and a mausoleum which contains his remains.

We then visit the Forbidden City, an enormous palace complex built in the 15th century to host the Imperial household. This complex is said to contain 800 rooms and 9,999 rooms and served as the home for the Emperors of China for 505 years.

Tiananmen Square, Beijing
Day 4 - The Great Wall of China

Today is one of the highlights of our holiday, with a trip to the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall of China. Built over the course of 2,000 years in an attempt to protect China from invaders, this enormous wall is one of the Seven Wonders of the World and stretches from the Gobi Desert to the Korean border. The Mutianyu section is one of the most famous areas of the wall, for good reason, thanks to being lovingly restored to its original splendour and its spectacular view of the surroundings.

We ascend to the wall by chair lift and enjoy a guided tour. After, we return to Beijing, pausing at the 'Water Cube' and the 'Bird's Nest', used in the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, for a photo opportunity. We enjoy a traditional Peking duck dinner together tonight.

Great Wall Of China
Days 5-7 - To Harbin & the Ice Festival

We experience China's efficient high-speed rail network today as we travel to Harbin in First Class. Dating back to 2,200BC, the city grew in the late 19th century to the lovely metropolis it is today. On arrival, we check into our hotel and enjoy a welcome seasonal cocktail.

On Day 6 we visit the Siberian Tiger Park and see the Snow Carving Festival in Sun Island Park, to marvel at the incredible snow sculptures that are intricately and painstakingly carved with an awesome end result. This afternoon we visit the Harbin Ice Festival, the largest of its kind in the world. The festival first took place in 1963, and despite being only a local event in its infancy, today it has grown to international renown. At night, the entire park is illuminated with incredible effect, giving the entire scene a beautiful and almost other-worldly quality.

Day 7 sees us take in Saint Sophia Cathedral, a former Russian Orthodox Church built in 1907 and the Harbin Jewish Synagogue. These religious buildings were completed thanks to the completion of the Trans-Siberian Railway however, the religious communities of Harbin diminished after the Second World War and the creation of the People's Republic of China. In the afternoon, we spend more time at the Zhaolin sculpture park.

Days 8-9 - Xian

This morning we take the First Class train from Harbin to Beijing, where we check into our hotel on arrival. On Day 9 we head to 'the city of long-lasting peace', Xi'an, the former ancient capital of China and the starting point of the world-famous Silk Road. Regarded as the founding city of Chinese civilisation, this incredible city is one of the Four Great Ancient Capitals of China and served as the capital for 73 emperors across 13 dynasties.

Day 10 - The Terracotta Army

Today our excursion takes us to the remarkable Terracotta Army. The army was built for the first Emperor of China to accompany him in death and was accidentally unearthed in 1974 by local farmers. Originally painted in bright colours and equipped with real weapons, these incredible statues are considered one of the world's wonders. Whilst here, we take a guided tour of the amazing spectacle, the extent of which is still not known.

Following our time here, we visit some of the main sights of Xi'an, including the Great Mosque, which holds the title of being the largest mosque in China. We also visit the Wild Goose Pagoda, built to hold holy Buddhist scriptures carried to China and to hold figurines of Buddhism brought to China, and the Bazaar. Tonight, we enjoy a dumpling banquet dinner.

Terracotta Warriors
Days 11-13 - To Shanghai and home

We take an internal flight to Shanghai this morning, one of the most exciting and contemporary cities in China, which combines ultra-modernity in its booming Pudong financial district and the Bund region showcasing the glamorous beauty of Shanghai in the 1920s. In the afternoon, we visit the Yu Garden, a verdant oasis of calm in a buzzing metropolitan city. The garden was first built in the 16th century by a governor of Shanghai as a comfort to his ageing father. The rest of the day is at leisure to continue exploring Shanghai.

The morning of Day 12 is at leisure before we visit the Jade Buddha Temple, a Buddhist temple built in 1882. We move on to the Pearl TV Tower, where you can enjoy the beautiful views of Shanghai. After our time here, enjoy a final buffet dinner back at the hotel.

After breakfast on Day 13, we transfer by rail to Shanghai airport for our flight back to London.