Beijing Essence Tour
This extension takes you on an exploration of all the major sites in and around Beijing. Visit the Forbidden City, Summer Palace, and Temple of Heaven, all fine examples of exceptional Chinese architecture. See one of the 7 Wonders of the World at the Great Wall of China. Finally, escape the hustle and bustle of Beijing by taking to the ancient city streets through the hutongs to get a feel of what old Beijing must have been like.
Day 1 Arrive Beijing
Upon arrival in Beijing, you will be met and transferred to your centrally located hotel.
Day 2 Beijing
After enjoying an American-style breakfast in the hotel, you visit the enormous Forbidden City, built more than 500 years ago and off limits to commoners for almost all that time, is a truly amazing place. Its size might surprise you, but what makes it fascinating is that every square foot is interesting, ranging from intricately carved walkways to colorful, painted ceilings. Called the “Forbidden City” because it was off limits to commoners for 500 years, it is the largest and best-preserved cluster of ancient buildings in China. Afterwards, visit the Summer Palace, one of the finest sights in Beijing; it includes an immense park that had long been a royal garden. Today it is made up of interesting ruins and a favorite picnic spot. You also pay a visit to the Temple of Heaven, the most perfect example of Ming architecture. Its original function was a vast stage for solemn rites performed by the Son of Heaven, who came here to pray for good harvests, seek divine clearance and atone for the sins of the people. In the evening, enjoy the Beijing Opera and dine in a local restaurant for dinner. After the opera, you return to your hotel.
Day 3 Great Wall
In the morning, you travel to the Great Wall at Mu Tian Yu. The “Great Wall of China” stretches from the Shanhaiguan Pass on the east coast to Jiayuguan Pass in the Gobi Desert. The original wall was begun 2000 years ago during the Qin Dynasty. Much of the wall has now been forgotten, but several important sections have recently been rebuilt. Return to your hotel for your overnight.
Day 4 Hutong District
After breakfast, head to the Hutong district for a tour and lunch. Hutongs are extensive residential neighborhoods of low courtyard houses lining mazes of “streets” which may be only a meter or two wide. By some counts, a quarter of Beijing’s population lives on these very orderly, very traditional old lanes. Afterwards, return to your hotel where the rest of the day is free to explore or do some last minute shopping.
Day 5 Beijing/Onward
After breakfast, transfer to the airport for your onward flight.
What to Expect
Duration 5 days
Match the trip’s intensity to your ability and motivation.
Easy walking, with opportunities for low-key physical activity.
Energetic exploration with optional day hikes, leisurely cycling, or light canoeing.
Day-long active excursions and options for demanding activity in varied environments.
Strenuous hiking or other intense activity that may be at high altitude or over rough terrain.
Multi-day trekking and other activities requiring endurance or strength. Steep trails. No technical expertise necessary.