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Beijing – Japan
Beijing – Japan
Arrive in Beijing, located in the north of the People’s Republic of China. After hotel check-in, the rest of your day is free at leisure.
The Chinese capital for more than 800 years, Beijing (formerly, Peking) is one of the world’s oldest cities, with a rich history dating back three millennia. Beijing is home to some of the finest remnants of China’s imperial past and renowned for its ancient architecture that includes magnificent palaces, temples, parks and tombs, with a total of seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites. However, this sprawling megacity is also the world’s third most populous city proper and China’s cultural and political hub. Alongside the city’s centuries-old treasures, startling modern developments and architecture showcase the new, 21st century face of China.
Allegedly more than 2,000 years old, the Great Wall is recognised as one of the world’s most impressive feats of ancient defensive architecture and one of its longest man-made structures, extending across diverse landscapes. Once important fortification systems to defend China from invaders, today, the Great Wall is a top tourist attraction. We explore Mutianyu, one of the more picturesque, least crowded and longest wall section open to tourists. Hike-up the mountain ridge to the top, passing beautifully restored architecture and watchtowers. Enjoy breathtaking views, then descend down on foot, cable car, or toboggan. Later, visit UNESCO-heritage listed Summer Palace, a retreat for emperors containing lakes, landscaped gardens, pavilions, temples and palaces dating back to the 12th century. This evening, sample world-famous Peking duck, China’s most celebrated imperial court dish, at a century-old restaurant. Then watch a spectacular Shaolin Kung Fu show at the acclaimed Red Theatre, featuring a fast-paced display of Chinese martial arts stunts, dances and acrobatics.
The Great Wall in Beijing
Summer Palace in Beijing
Early morning, take a ride on the Beijing subway, the fastest way to get around and beat the capital’s notorious traffic jams. Experience daily local life, travelling with school kids and commuters. Disembark at stunning Temple of Heaven, the holiest of Beijing’s imperial temples. Amid the temple park, observe locals partaking in their daily morning exercise, including Tai Chi, Kung Fu and sword fighting, besides practicing meditation and calligraphy. Then visit one of Beijing’s most popular teahouses, a good place to soak-up local life. Drinking tea has been an integral part of Chinese culture for over 5,000 years. Later, cycle through Beijing’s hutongs, centuries-old narrow streets lined with traditional courtyard residences, many under heritage status. Cycling through hutongs and around Houhai Lake affords a first-hand experience of Beijing’s grassroots street culture and preferred mode of transport. Later, discover the capital’s modern side at Wangfujing, the longest and most famous shopping street.
Temple of Heaven, Beijing
Enjoy morning tea at a popular Beijing tea house
Explore the stupendous Forbidden City, the world’s largest imperial palace complex and China’s best-preserved collection of ancient buildings. The UNESCO Heritage-listed Forbidden City was the former imperial palace of the Ming and Qing Dynasties from 1420 to 1912, the residence of 24 emperors and their households and the Chinese government’s ceremonial and political epicentre. Amid this mammoth compound, our exploration focuses on three main sections, which cover the official palaces, imperial lodges set in beautiful gardens and traditional temples and libraries. Along with your expert guides’ insightful explanations and glimpses of the meticulously restored architecture, understand more about China’s momentous history and exalted lives of the emperors. Later, catch a flight to Japan’s dynamic capital, Tokyo. After your airport transfer, the rest of the day is free at leisure in this megacity of non-stop action.
Shinto is the ancient indigenous faith of Japan. Visit Tokyo’s most revered Shinto shrine, Meiji Jingū, dedicated to Emperor Meiji, the first emperor of modern Japan. Experience a private Shinto prayer ceremony, followed by a dance by Miko, female Shinto attendants. In contrast, nearby Harajuku is a bustling neighbourhood famed for its vibrant youth and ‘cosplay’ culture. As the birthplace of teen fashion trends and ‘Kawaii’ (culture of ‘cuteness’), your guide will show you Harajuku’s unique themed cafés and hip boutiques. Head to Shibuya Station, one of Japan’s busiest train terminals, where your guide will explain about the Hachiko dog statue – a well-known Tokyo meeting point. Then walk across the iconic Shibuya Crossing, the world’s largest pedestrian crossing. Later, take a private Iai class under the instruction of a sword master, learning the systematised martial art skills of the Samurai warriors. Attired in traditional Samurai garb, learn how to cut a rolled-up tatami straw mat with a sword and about Bushido, Samurai codes of conduct.
Start early at Tsukiji Outer Market, adjacent to the former Tsukiji Inner Market – one of the world’s greatest wholesale fish markets, which recently relocated out. Visitors can still enjoy the lively shops and restaurants in the remaining Outer Market. Your guide will point out fresh fish and seafood, seasonal produce and premium kitchen equipment sold here. Then watch a traditional Kabuki performance at historic Kabukiza Theatre. Established around four centuries ago and a UNESCO-listed ‘Intangible Cultural Heritage,’ Kabuki is a Japanese theatrical art form unique for its stylised dance-drama. Afterwards, visit the Imperial Palace, the main residence of the Japanese Imperial Family, built on the former site of Edo Castle. Stop at the historic moat and iconic Nijubashi (‘Double Bridge’), which forms the entrance to the inner palace grounds. Conclude your day at Japan Sake & Shochu Information Centre, sampling two of Japan’s most renowned drinks, Sake rice wine and Shochu, a robust distilled liquor.
Free at leisure, until your private transfer to either Tokyo’s Narita International Airport or Haneda International Airport, for your onward flight.
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