Ancient Empires of China & Japan
19 Nights / 20 Days
CLASSIC | 20 DAYS | PHYSICAL LEVEL 1
BEIJING – XIAN – GUILIN -YANGSHUO – SHANGHAI -OSAKA – HIROSHIMA – MIYAJIMA – KURASHKI – OKAYAMA – KYOTO – HAKONE – TOKYO
The ultimate tour for those wishing to combine the very best of two ancient nations. Join us on an incredible journey from Beijing to Tokyo by road, boat, rail and air on this epic three-week tour!
● Walk on the Great Wall of China
● Face the spectacular Terracotta Warriors
● Take a cruise down the tranquil Li River
● Reflect in Hiroshima
● Explore Japan's history in Kyoto
● Admire breathtaking Mount Fuji
Ancient Empires of China & Japan Tour Inclusions:
● All accommodation
● All meals (From dinner on day 1 to breakfast on the last day)
● All sightseeing and entrance fees
● All transportation and transfers
● English speaking National Escort
● Specialist advice from our experienced travel consultants
● Comprehensive travel guides
● Safe and secure with ABTA, ATOL and IATA
Please ask our sales team to price the International Flights
Single Room supplement
The only thing you may have to pay for are International flights, personal expenditure e.g. drinks, optional excursions or shows, insurance of any kind, early check in or late checkout and other items not specified on the itinerary.
Ancient Empires of China & Japan
Day 1-2 Beijing
Fly overnight to Beijing, the capital of China. On arrival on day two you will be met at the airport by your local guide and/or National Escort from Wendy Wu Tours. Together with all other group members who may be arriving at a similar time, you will transfer approximately 1 hour to your hotel for your 3-night stay.
Beijing – Beijing is the capital of the People’s Republic of China. With its unequalled wealth of history, Beijing served as the centre for the many different empires and cultures that ruled China and has been the heart of politics and society throughout its long histo ry. The ancient monuments, the stories of days gone by as well as the dynamic and modern city Beijing has become today, make it a destination not to be missed.
Day 3 Walk on the Great Wall
Rise early this morning to avoid the crowds and drive approximately 2 hours northwest of the city to the Juyongguan Pass to take a walk on the Great Wall of China, appreciating the wall itself and the dramatic scenery. Your visit involves walking from the bus to the first section. Once your group has been given an introduction to the Great Wall’s unique history, you will have free time to explore at your own pace. Later, visit the Jade Factory before strolling through the exquisite Summer Palace. In the evening, enjoy a traditional Peking Duck dinner.
Great Wall of China – Originally built under the first Emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang, The Great Wall of China is the country’s most iconic sight. Snaking through the northern countryside from the Gobi Desert in the west into the Bohai Sea in the east, the Great Wall of China is the longest wall in the world and was used as a fortification against northern nomadic tribes. The current structure dates back to the Ming Dynasty over 700 years old.
Jade Factory – Learn about one of China’s most symbolic and important materials: jade. Understand how to tell if jade is real or fake and watch artisans at work, carving this emerald stone into works of art.
Summer Palace – The former holiday retreat of the Qing emperors, the Summer Palace is a stunning example of Chinese garden style. The Summer Palace incorporates the Fengshui notion of ‘Mountain’ and ‘Water’, seen here with tranquil Kunming Lake and magnificent
Longevity Hill. A favourite resort of the Empress Dowager Cixi, the Summer Palace is home to a stunning Marble Boat and the Long Corridor, one of the longest outdoor passageways in the world.
Peking duck – A favourite of the Emperor’s court and the upper-class elite during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), Peking duck spread through Chinese society to become a national favourite and a symbol of China.
Day 4 Explore the Forbidden City
Soak up the harmonious ambience of the Temple of Heaven for about 1 hour where you can watch locals practise Tai Chi, dance or play cards. Next, enjoy a leisurely stroll in the warren-like hutongs where you will meet a local family before walking through Tiananmen Square and into the magnificent Forbidden City. Sightseeing will involve approximately 3-4 hours on foot. Please note: The Forbidden City is closed on Mondays. If this day of touring falls on a Monday, your touring in Beijing will be switched around so that the Forbidden City is visited on an alternative day.
Temple of Heaven – Set in a 267-hectare park surrounded by a long wall and with a gate at each compass point, the Temple of Heaven is absolutely unique. It is one of the most perfect examples of Ming architecture, created as a place of worship for the Emperors, who would ask for prosperity, longevity and good harvest for the people. Walking through the park we will see the many groups of local people that gather here every day to sing folk songs, practice Tai-Chi and sword dancing, play chess or just come to sit and chat.
Hutongs – The Mongol rulers of Beijing established this style of housing in the 13th century as tenancy for the growing population of t he city. Hutongs were designed to reflect the Chinese system of Feng Shui with 4 hutongs joining together to make a courtyard in the middle, known as Siheyuan. In more recent times, the hutong suburbs were in jeopardy of disappearing, but a fierce debate between developers and those who fought to protect the architecture and the hutong way of life diminished the threat.
Tiananmen Square – Built under the guidance of Chairman Mao Zedong, Tiananmen Square is one of the largest public squares in the world, said to hold a capacity crowd of over one million. It houses not only the Monument to the People’s Heroes, it is also the final resting place of Chairman Mao himself in the Mausoleum of Mao Zedong.
Forbidden City – The sacred centre of the Chinese empire for 500 years and home to the Ming and Qing dynasties, the Forbidden City is a vast complex of over 900 buildings and covers an area of 180 acres. Since 1987, the Forbidden City has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site and its palatial architectural style has been an influence on many imperial buildings throughout Asia.
Day 5 Travel to Xian
Transfer to the train station and take the bullet train for around 6 hours to the ancient city of Xian. In the evening, enjoy a delicious feast of traditional Shui Jiao dumplings and a lively performance of Tang Dynasty dancing.
Xian – Xian has long played a pivotal role in China’s extensive history and has been a thriving hub for cultural exchange, economic trade as well as national politics for centuries. Home to some of China’s most ancient sights, diverse architecture and delicious fares, Xian is a must-see destination.
Tang Dynasty Dancing Show – Xian, previously known as Chang’an, was an important cultural and historical centre in not only China but in the known-world. The Tang Dynasty dancing show is an exciting exponent of this prosperous society and keeps alive the splendour of this period.
Day 6 Terracotta Warriors
Spend the morning viewing the enigmatic ranks of the life-sized Terracotta Warriors. The Museum of the Terracotta Warriors and Horses is located approximately a 1-hour drive outside of Xian. From the bus park to the museum entrance is a 15-minute walk. There are electric carts offered by private vendors which can be organised at your own cost. There is no electric cart available for the return from the museum exit to the bus park. Within the museum area the warriors can be seen in three different ‘pits’, which are active archaeological digs. The site is large and will take about 2 and a half hours to explore. After this, visit the Xian Art Ceramics and Lacquer Exhibition Workshop to see smaller models of the warriors being made. Later, stroll on the beautifully preserved 14th century city walls that enclose Xian’s old town. The local guide will give you time to explore the ancient city walls at your own pace. There are options here to hire a bicycle or an electric cart to drive along the length of the wall. These are offered by private vendors and can be organised at your own expense.
Terracotta Warriors – One of the most significant archaeological discoveries of the 20th century, this unearthed terracotta army comprises over 7,000 soldiers, horses and chariots. The army was built in life-sized form by thousands of workers and designed by Emperor Qin Shi Huang to defend himself in the afterlife. Xian Art Ceramics and Lacquer Exhibition Workshop – See smaller versions of the enigmatic Terracotta Warriors being created at the Workshop and even purchase your own portable soldier.
Ancient City Walls – Dating back to the Ming Dynasty in the 14th century, Xian ancient city wall is one of the best-preserved urban fortifications in China. The wall’s ideal spot gives visitors a bird’s eye view over the city.
Day 7 Fly to Guilin
Visit the Little Wild Goose before transferring to the airport and flying approximately 2 hours hours to Guilin.
Little Wild Goose Pagoda – Dating back to the Tang Dynasty, the Little Wild Goose Pagoda is one of two prominent pagodas in Xian. A former centre for translating Buddhist scriptures from India, the Little Wild Goose Pagoda was said to have survived one of the strongest earthquakes in world history.
Guilin – Guilin is one of China’s most stunning and panoramic cities and was founded during the reign of the first Chinese empire, the Qin Dynasty. It is renowned for the unique beauty of the mountains that fringe it. Guilin developed as a trading town due to the building of the Ling Canal which links the important Pearl and Yangtze River systems.
Day 8 Cruise the Li River
Take a relaxed 4-hour cruise along the Li River to the charming town of Yangshuo, where you will spend 1 night. Around every river bend is a view to take your breath away as jagged peaks loom over rural scenes of lush greenery, grazing buffalos and local fishermen. These are small cruise boats usually holding approximately 100 passengers; with an enclosed dining area on the lower deck and an open viewing area on the upper deck. Usually, the boats depart at 9am from the dock located a 1-hour drive from your hotel. However, when the river level is low they depart from further downstream which would 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, approximately a 30- minute walk from the river. There are electric carts offered by private vendors which can be organised at your own cost. In Yangshuo, enjoy some time strolling along West Street and visit the local markets.
Li River – Pass tranquil farming and fishing scenes and picturesque villages as you cruise down the Li River. The main attraction is the stunning limestone karsts that tower above the river creating a magical landscape of mountains and water. The unique and natural beauty of this region has for centuries been an inspiration to Chinese artists and poets alike.
Yangshuo – Yangshuo is home to some of the best scenery in the world. This quaint town is renowned for its breathtaking vistas and peaceful country life. Surrounded by stark karst peaks and attractively located on the Li River, Yangshuo, alongside Guilin, prides itself in being the most sought-after beauty spots in China.
Day 9 Visit Reed Flute Cave
Drive back to Guilin. En route, see the colourful stalagmites and stalactites of Reed Flute Cave and visit the South China Pearl Factory.
Reed Flute Cave – Named so because of the clumps of slender reed once commonly found at the entrance to the caves which was also used to make flutes, the Reed Flute Caves houses a grotto of multi-coloured stalactites and stalagmites.
South China Pearl Factory – Gain a fascinating insight into the pearling industry of southern China at the South China Pearl Factory, where you also have the chance to purchase some of these elegant silver jewels.
Day 10 Fly to Shanghai This morning, stroll around picturesque Ronghu Lake and admire the Sun and Moon Pagodas – two towering examples of traditional Chinese-Buddhist architecture. Later, fly just over 2 hours to the exuberant city of Shanghai for a 2- night stay.
Ronghu Lake – One of two lakes originating from the Tang Dynasty when they made up part of the city moat. As Guilin Expanded in all directions, the moat became a lake within the city area.
Sun and Moon Pagodas – Known as the Gold and Silver Pagodas because of their colours at night, the sun and moon pagodas sit on top of the Chinese Fir Lake but are connected underwater by a glass tunnel.
Shanghai – Once known as the ‘Paris of the East’, Shanghai is now one of Asia’s most influential cities. Prior to communist arrival in 1949, Shanghai was a city with European-style mansions and was the most important trading port in Asia. Today it presents a blend of cultures; the modern and the traditional, along with the European and oriental. Modern skyscrapers intermingle with 1920s ‘shikumen’ buildings. This combination is what attracts millions of visitors each year.
Day 11 Explore Shanghai
Today’s explorations include the peaceful Yu Garden and a quick visit to the old town. Admire the magnificent colonial architecture with a stroll along the Bund and visiting the Silk Factory. Sightseeing today involves a full day of touring around the centre of the city including 3-4 hours on foot. In the evening, view the city from the Huangpu River on a panoramic cruise.
Yu Gardens – The Yu Gardens is seen as one of the most perfect examples of Chinese garden style. Built by the Ming-era governor, Pan Yunduan, as a retirement gift for his father, the Yu Gardens is home to exquisite jade rock, goldfish-filled ponds and stunning, tranquil pavilions.
The Bund – Recognised as Shanghai's former 'Wall Street', the Bund is home to an impressive collection of buildings from the early trade houses of the 1850s to the glamorous Art Deco modernism of the 1920s. Originally the home of the foreign population of Shanghai, the Bund’s architecture has inherited much western influence and is a stark contrast to the Pudong skyline, sitting across the Huangpu River.
Silk Factory – The Silk Factory is an educational journey through the production of silk, one of China’s most famous and luxurious materials. Learn about the use of silkworms and silk moths in its production; the manufacturing process; as well as silk’s jo urney along the Silk Road.
Huangpu River – The Huangpu River flows through the centre of Shanghai and separates the city into Pudong, meaning ‘east of the Huangpu’ and Puxi, ‘west of the Huangpu’. Cruising down the river, you will see the contrast of the historical Bund architecture on one side of the river with the modern Pudong skyline on the other side. At night, the banks of the Huangpu light up, turning Shanghai into a neon wonder.
Day 12 Goodbye China, Hello Japan!
It’s time to say goodbye to China and hello to Japan! Transfer to the airport and fly just over 2 hours to the vibrant city of Osaka. On arrival you will be met by your English-speaking Japanese guide and transfer to your hotel.
Osaka – Osaka is Japan’s third largest city. What Osaka lacks in sightseeing locations, it makes up for with its flamboyance, fun loving people and amazing food.
Day 13 Osaka Castle
This morning, visit the famous Osaka Castle before taking a 20-minute cruise along the Yodogawa River. Next, stroll around the Dotonbori district, a restaurant mecca, where you can sample delicious local delicacies for lunch. Spend the rest of the afternoon at leisure before dinner in the evening.
Osaka Castle – Osaka Castle is one of Japan’s most famous castles known for sweeping views of the city from its hilltop perch. Construction began in 1583 by Toyotomi Hideyoshi, who intended the castle to become the centre of a new, unified Japan under his rule.
Dotonbori District – Historically a theatre district and still a popular entertainment area today, the Dotonbori district offer an eccentric and electric atmosphere.
Day 14 Discover Okayama & Kurashiki
Transfer to Osaka Station and take the speedy bullet train for 45 minutes to Okayama. Visit Korakuen Garden, one of the ‘Three Great Gardens of Japan’ before continuing around 1 hour to Kurashiki to explore the beautifully-preserved Bikan Historical Quarter. Later, transfer around 2 hours to Hiroshima. Please note your luggage will be transferred from Osaka to Kyoto, you will need to pack an overnight bag for 2 nights.
Okayama – Okayama, an old castle town of the Ikeda daimyo family, is the capital city of its namesake prefecture. The prefecture is known for its delicious fruit and is often called the land of sunshine.
Korakuen Garden – Along with Kanazawa's Kenrokuen and Mito's Kairakuen, Korakuen is one of the ‘Three Great Gardens of Japan’. Korakuen was built in 1687 and opened to the public in 1884. It is a spacious garden with typical Japanese landscape garden features, including a large pond, streams and walking paths. Quite unique for a Japanese garden, however, are Korakuen's spacious lawns .
Bikan Historical Quarter – During the Edo Period (1603-1867), Kurashiki was an important point along the distribution route of Japan's most important commodity, rice. A central section of the city's former canal system has been preserved in the Bikan Historical Quarter. Along the canal, there are many of the original storehouses, which have been converted into cafes, boutiques, souvenir shops and museums.
Hiroshima – An atomic bomb was dropped over Hiroshima on 6th August 1945, and the city's name became famous worldwide for this unenviable distinction. The destructive power of the bomb obliterated nearly everything within a 2km radius. The city has been rebuilt and has risen phoenix-like from the ashes and destroyed sites of historical heritage were reconstructed.
Day 15 Explore Hiroshima & Miyajima
Take a short ferry ride to Miyajima Island, where sightseeing will be at a leisurely pace on foot. Visit Itsukushima Shrine and explore the traditional market town at leisure. Return by ferry and coach to Hiroshima and, after lunch, visit the famous Peace Memorial Park and Museum. Please be aware that the museum may be confronting and upsetting for some group members and it is at your discretion if you wish to visit or enjoy time at leisure exploring the Peace Memorial Park. Later, visit the observation deck of Orizuru Tower and enjoy great views of the city.
Please note: Renovation works on Miyajima's famous floating torii gate started in 2020 and is expected to last 2 years. During the renovation works, the torii gate will be covered up by scaffolding. While the torii gate will be covered, you can still see the Itsukushima shrine itself as well as enjoying free time on Miyajima Island to explore the local streets or make the walk up to Daisho-in Temple. The covers are expected to be removed by January 2023.
Miyajima – Miyajima is a small island outside of Hiroshima. While officially named Itsukushima, the island is more commonly referred to as Miyajima, meaning 'Shrine Island'. This is because the island is well-known for its main attraction, Itsukushima Shrine, a giant torii gate, which at high tide seems to float on the water.
Peace Memorial Park and Museum – The Peace Memorial Park and Museum is one of the most prominent features of the city. The trees, lawns and walking paths are in stark contrast to the surrounding downtown area. Before the bomb, this area was the political and commercial heart of the city and is why it was chosen as the target. The museum focuses on the events of August 6th and the ensuing outcome for the residents.
● The 50-metre-tall Orizuru Tower is located beside the A-Bomb Dome and is one of the few tall buildings around the Peace Memorial Park. It offers a great view of the surroundings, including the less commonly seen view of the A-Bomb Dome from above.
Day 16 Travel to Kyoto
This morning, transfer to Hiroshima Station and catch a bullet train to Kyoto, a journey of 1 hour 40 minutes. Capital for a thousand years, this enchanting city is the epitome of traditional Japan. After lunch, visit Ryoanji Temple, with its famous Zen garden, and Kinkakuji Temple, known as the ‘Golden Pavilion’ due to its golden exterior. You will spend approximately 2 hours exploring the temples before continuing to your hotel to check in.
Kyoto – Kyoto was the ancient capital of Japan for approximately 1,000 years until 1867 when it was moved to Tokyo. Many national treasures can be found in Kyoto and in nearby Nara, including old shrines and temples, screen paintings, beautiful gardens, and statues of Buddha.
Ryoanji Temple – Ryoanji Temple is a Zen temple renowned for its garden, which features a dry, sand landscape with large rocks and smooth pebbles.
Kinkakuji Temple (Golden Pavilion) – Kinkakuji Temple is a Buddhist temple and is an excellent example of Japanese garden design. The structure is a brilliant golden hue colour and is very minimalistic.
Day 17 Explore Kyoto
This morning, visit the mesmerising Fushimi Inari Shrine, which stretches from the bottom to the top of Mount Inari (233 metres high). You will walk up part of the mountain; there are some steep steps and the incline allows a steady-paced walk. Next, head to Nishiki Market, also known as ‘Kyoto’s Kitchen’ with its lively open-air market specialising in all things food! Also visit a restored wooden Japanese townhouse to experience the ritual of a tea ceremony accompanied by a Tea Master and try your hand at the traditional art of origami.
Fushimi Inari Shrine (Taisha) – An important Shinto shrine in southern Kyoto, Fushimi Inari is most famous for its thousands of vermillion torii gates which form a network of tunnels around the main shrine buildings. The shrine itself is dedicated to Inari, the Shinto god of rice. There are many fox statues in the grounds of the shrine as foxes are thought to be Inari’s messengers.
● A narrow, five block long shopping street lined by more than 100 shops and restaurants, this lively retail market specialises in all things food related, like fresh seafood, produce, knives and cookware. It’s a great place to find seasonal foods and Kyoto specialties, like sweets, dried seafood and sushi.
Day 18 Bullet Train to Hakone
This morning, transfer to Kyoto station and take the super-fast bullet train to the Hakone area, a journey of around 2 hours. In Hakone, board a coach to explore this beautiful area. Take a boat cruise on Lake Ashi before soaring high on the Komagatake Ropeway for gorgeous Fuji views (weather dependent). Later, continue by coach for around 2 hours to Tokyo, Japan’s capital. Please note your luggage will be transferred from Kyoto to Tokyo, you will need to pack an overnight bag.
Hakone – Situated next to picturesque Lake Ashi, Hakone is a pleasant town, popular with weary Tokyoites looking for a break from the city and a great overnight stop after visiting Mount Fuji.
Lake Ashi – Formed after Mount Hakone’s last eruption 3000 years ago, Lake Ashi is the symbol of Hakone and on a clear day offers spectacular views of Mount Fuji in the distance.
Tokyo – One of the world’s most cutting-edge capital cities, Tokyo is a city of contrasts, famous for its neon-lit landscape, towering skyscrapers, peaceful shrines and lovely gardens. Although long the political and cultural centre of Japan, Tokyo became the official capital when the Meiji Emperor moved it there in 1867.
Day 19 Contrasts of Tokyo
Tokyo is the ultimate 24-hour city, but look behind its frantic, high-tech frontage and you’ll find plenty of tranquil backstreets and old temples to explore. Head to the 2nd observatory of the Tokyo Skytree for panoramic views over the city before taking a wander through the district of Asakusa, stopping at Sensoji Temple. Drive past Tokyo’s Imperial Palace Double Bridge and visit Meiji Jingu Shrine. You will be on your feet for 4-5 hours during your touring in Tokyo. Enjoy your evening meal whilst leisurely cruising along Tokyo Bay. You will need to get on and off your boat this evening for your cruise on Tokyo Bay without assistance.
Tokyo Skytree – The tallest structure in Japan and the tallest tower in the world, Tokyo Skytree is predominantly a television and radio broadcast tower and is earthquake resistant. 4$ Sensoji Temple – Sensoji Temple is an ancient Buddhist Temple and the oldest in Tokyo. The temple was originally founded in the 7th century. The temple adorns an image of the Buddhist Goddess Kannon, who was said to have been rescued by two fishermen from the Sumida River in Tokyo.
Imperial Palace Plaza – Imperial Palace Plaza is the main residence of the Emperor of Japan. Built on the original site of Edo Castle, the Plaza is made up of a palace, museum and large park.
Meiji Jingu Shrine – Meiji Shrine is a Shinto shrine dedicated to the Emperor Meiji and his wife Empress Shoken. The shrine is located in an evergreen forest within in the busy city and consists of 120,000 trees which were donated by people from all over Japan when the shrine was established.
Day 20 Depart Tokyo
This morning is free at leisure before transferring to the airport for your return flight home.
Please note: Only breakfast is included today. Late check-out is not included in our Ancient Empires of China & Japan tour. If you wish to book a late check-out for your final day in Tokyo, please contact our reservations department who can confirm the additional price and make this arrangement for you, subject to availability at the hotel. Transfers: In the event that your flight departs outside of the majority group departure time, you will be transferred to the airport by a shared coach (not with other Wendy Wu Tours passengers). If you are on a shared coach transfer, you may have to walk for a few minutes to get to the coach.
PLEASE INFORM OUR RESERVATIONS TEAM OF ANY ALLERGIES AND/OR SPECIAL DIETARY REQUIREMENTS AT TIME OF BOOKING.
Ancient Empires of China & Japan Travel Information
A visa is required for entry into China. A standard visa processing service is included in your tour cost for UK/Irish passport holders. We will require your passport, completed visa application form, and 1 passport photo, taken within the last 6 months, to process your visa. We will require all this information 8 weeks prior to departure. As per our standard visa processing service, we will have your passport for at least 4 weeks. Any visa applications that require an express 2-week service, or that are received in our office less than 6 weeks prior to departure will incur a £60 per passport express fee. In rare cases, you may be required to provide further information or documentation to the Chinese embassy and/or be required to attend an interview at the embassy in London. If this is the case, we will notify you as soon as possible
A visa is not required for UK/Irish citizens visiting Japan.
20/03/23 & 08/05/23 & 11/09/23 & 18/03/24 & 06/05/24 & 09/09/24 & 07/10/24