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  1. Day 1, Beijing
    Saturday. Huan ying, welcome to China and the start of your holiday! Airport arrival transfer and hotel check in.
    No meals included.
    Day 2, Tiananmen Square
    Today we explore the heart of Beijing - Tiananmen Square where Chairman Mao’s tomb and various monuments to the people are located. Dominating the city’s heart is the Forbidden City, a centre of power for five centuries and seat of the emperors. Entering through the Gate of Heavenly Peace (replete with Chairman Mao’s portrait), we enjoy a guided tour of the old city, within the imperial city. This evening, we enjoy an eye boggling Chinese acrobatic performance. Swinging ropes, juggling hoops, spinning plates and human pyramids are just a few tricks these show stoppers pull out followed by a Welcome Dinner of Peking Duck at a city restaurant.
    1 breakfast, no lunch, 1 dinner included.
    Day 3, Great Wall of China
    Don some comfortable shoes. Today we drive to Badaling, to walk a section of the Great Wall. The Wall is impressive to say the least. Following the ridge of barren hills through northern China it stretches as far as the eye can see. Later we visit a cloisonne workshop demonstrating the unique Chinese art of combining copper and enamel to make decorative pieces.

    This evening take an optional Beijing by Night city tour and see some of the capital's monuments illuminated against the night sky (payable locally).
    1 breakfast, 1 lunch, no dinner included.
    Day 4, Summer Palace
    Beijing - Xi’an. This morning offers free time. If you are up for a little adventure, make your way to Wangfujing Dajie (shopping street, only a 10 minute journey. Through the winding alleys and adjacent back streets of Wangfujing you'll find numerous souvinier sellers, chinese herbalists and snack stalls, the later offering some fairly obsure local delicacies. BBQ Seahorse on a skewer anyone?

    Later we re group and visit the Summer Palace, set on Kunming Lake and the cavernous Silk Alley market. En route to the train station we drive past the 2008 Olympic stadium commonly referred to as the ‘birdsnest’. (4 berth soft sleeper cabin)
    1 breakfast, no lunch, no dinner included.
    Day 5, Terracotta Warriors
    Arrive Xi’an and transfer to hotel. Today we visit the Terracotta Warrior archaeological site and a workshop where we see the process used to create the terracotta figurines. In battle formation, the Terracotta Warriors are one of China’s most impressive sights. This evening we can attend a Tang Dynasty dinner and performance with Chang’an music and dance originally performed for the illustrious Tang emperors. Tonight, optional Tang Dynasty Bolt-on, with dinner and performance.
    1 breakfast, 1 lunch, no dinner included.
    Day 6, City Wall Bike Ride
    Today we take a leisurely bike ride along the 9 mile medieval City Wall that encircles the old town. Our afternoon offers a guided tour of the the Big Wild Goose Pagoda and early dinner. Free evening to relax or independently explore.
    1 breakfast, no lunch, 1 dinner included.
    Day 7, Tibet
    Xi’an - Lhasa. Consider independently exploring the Muslim Quarter or see the Grand Mosque before your noon flight to Lhasa. Upon arrival to Tibet you will drive (aprox 1.5 hours) to the fabled city of Lhasa. Once you reach Lhasa the remainder of the day is free for you to relax and acclimatise at ‘the roof of the world’.

    Note: Travellers will fly without tour guide accompaniment to Tibet. Upon arrival to Tibet you will meet with our local guide who will conduct sightseeing arrangments throughout your stay.
    1 breakfast, no lunch, no dinner included.
    Day 8, The Potala Palace
    We begin our exploration of this mystical city first heading to Lhasa’s most enduring image, the Potala Palace. The winter home of the Dalai Lamas and a masterpiece in design, 13 stories high, containing thousands of rooms, this is the heart of Tibet, its (exiled) government and people. The Dalai Lama’s Summer palace, Norbulingka, is our next place of pilgrimage. Less daunting and surrounded by gardens, this homely palace reflects the Dalai Lama’s more earthly pleasures and it was from here the present Lama fled in the 1950’s. However, it is the Jokhang Temple which will be the most enlightening stop of the day. The holiest shrine in Tibet, it houses a solid gold shrine of the enlightened Buddha and it is around which, in varying degrees of exertion, all Tibetans prostrate themselves at some point throughout their lifetime.
    1 breakfast, no lunch, 1 dinner included.
    Day 9, Drepung Monastery
    Our exploration of Lhasa continues today as we take the short journey to the 15th century Drepung Monastery. Formerly one of the central monasteries of Tibet it was torn asunder during the Cultural Revolution and continues to rebuild is walls and status today. Just north of Lhasa is the Sera Monastery, still a working retreat 600 years after its foundation as a main teaching monastery and one of the three great Gelukpa ‘Universities’ once housing more than 5500 monks. You will see young novices learning scriptures in the Debating Garden and being rewarded for a correct answer with a resounding hand-clap from their master. Returning to Lhasa we will experience the Barkhor markets which surround the Jokhang temple and sell all things Tibetan.
    1 breakfast, no lunch, no dinner included.
    Day 10, Pilgrims & Yamdrok Lake
    An early morning start as we drive out toward the Himalayas. From Lhasa, itself at 3500m, we travel over the Kamba-La pass and reach 4794m above sea level. As we journey along the winding road, weaving our way through the rocky mountains and valleys, in the far distance on a very clear day it maybe possible to catch a glimpse of the High Himalayan Peaks of Everest and Lhotse.

    From the top of the pass we can look down on the deep azure waters of Yamdrok Lake, cradled by snow capped mountains before dropping down to the shores itself. One of Tibet’s 3 holy lakes, nomadic tents, pilgrims prostrating and children hunting with sling shots on the stony beaches make this something you are likely to have never experienced before. Rising back into these vivid and rugged mountains we head back to Lhasa, looking for hoards of Yak along the way.
    1 breakfast, no lunch, no dinner included.
    Day 11, Lhasa
    Tuesday. Hotel check out and included onward transfer to airport.
    1 breakfast, no lunch, no dinner included.
  3. 1 Kunming
    Located on the eastern side of Lake Dianchi, Kunming – the capital of the Yunnan province – is a contemporary city with flair. Stare up at towering skyscrapers, see wide streets rumbling with traffic and feel the pulse of this charismatic city.
    2-3 Dali
    Travel by bus through picturesque countryside to the delightful town of Dali. See the Cang Shan mountain range in the distance as you stroll the city’s quaint cobblestone streets. Those feeling energetic can go boating on Erhai Lake or venture out into the mountains for a hike.
    4-5 Shaxi
    Nestled off the main highways, the town of Shaxi has preserved much of its ancient beauty. Meander along quiet country roads, learn all about the Yi and Bai people who call this beautiful township home and discover the dazzling Danxia landform on a walk out to the nearby Shizong Temple.
    6-7 Tiger Leaping Gorge
    Legend has it that a wild tiger, being chased by hunters, jumped from one side of the river that runs through this canyon to the other. The gorge certainly lives up to its impressive name – this is one of the most scenic regions in all of China. Trek though the gorge and discover its majestic beauty.
    8-9 Lijiang
    Get lost in the intricate maze of cobblestone streets in Old Town Lijiang, and imagine being part of an era long gone. Your accommodation tonight is right in the heart of this remarkable ancient precinct.
    10-12 Shanghai
    Be utterly entranced by the city of Shanghai. Take a walking tour of the historical Bund, gasp as the Shanghai acrobats flip and fly, and get a glimpse into the future of the city at the Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Centre. Escape the hustle and bustle on a day trip out to Zhouzhuang, an impeccably preserved ‘watertown’.
    13 Chengdu
    Fly from Shanghai to the capital of the Sichuan province. Immerse yourself in the tradition and culture of the area – visit one of the many teahouses, peruse the local markets and taste traditional dishes like the hot mapo doufu (spicy tofu). Any spare time would be well spent catching a performance by the classic Sichuan Opera.
    14-16 Yangzi River
    Visit the Giant Panda Breeding Chengdu Research Base before jumping on board a Yangzi River boat and journeying down Asia’s longest waterway. Stand on deck and gaze out at the dramatic scenery as we cruise along, passing through the Three Gorges on the way to Yichang.
    17-19 Yangzi River
    Boasting a location at the start of the ancient trading route, the Silk Road, Xi’an brims with history. Visit the great Bell and Drum Towers, the Muslim Quarter and the City Gates on a walking tour. Later, take a trip out to the site of the imposing Army of Terracotta Warriors, ancient relics dating back more than 2000 years.
    20-23 Beijing
    An incredible fusion of old and new, China’s character-packed capital will leave your senses dazzled. See the sights and sounds of the city, including the largest city plaza in the world – Tiananmen Square. Visit the Temple of Heaven Park and admire the magnificent Summer Palace. Take an early morning trip out to the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall and walk atop this iconic structure. Before the tour ends, be sure to try some Peking Duck – this famous (and oh-so-delicious) dish originated in this very city way back in the imperial era.
  5. 1-2 Tashkent
    Start the journey in the most modern of Uzbekistan’s cities, Tashkent. Visit the Chorsu Bazaar to pick up Soviet-style souvenirs and admire the ornately decorated Kukeldash Medressa.
    3 Khiva
    Catch a flight to Khiva. Get to know this mesmerising city on a guided orientation tour that takes in Kalta Minor Minaret, Juma Mosque and the skyline-defining tower of Islom-Hoja Minaret.
    4 Ayaz Qala
    Drive to Ayaz Qala and delve into the weather-worn desert complex of Toprak Qala. Bed down below vast open skies in a yurt for the ultimate, authentic Uzbek experience.
    5-7 Bukhara
    Get to know Central Asia's holiest city and one of the region's finest examples of a well-preserved Islamic city. The combination of buildings that span 25 centuries of history and a thoroughly lived-in Old Town combine to create an enchanting ambience.
    8 Nuratau Mountains
    Pass the fortress of Alexander the Great en route to the ancient town of Nurata. Gain an insight into local village life on a family homestay and take in the haunting views over a desolately beautiful landscape.
    9-10 Samarkand
    Travel on to Samarkand, the architectural jewel in Uzbekistan's profusely adorned crown. Get a taste of the old world, navigating the eclectic stalls of the bazaar, checking out Ulugbek's Observatory or simply strolling the atmospheric city streets and alleyways.
    11-12 Samarkand
    Return to Tashkent for a final night sampling Uzbekistan's charm. Perhaps seek out a cabaret performance at one of the imperial Russian nightclubs or head to a banya (bathhouse) for a traditional deep tissue massage.
  7. 1-2 Ashgabat
    Touch down in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan's capital on the rise. Ringed by the dramatic Kopet Dag mountain range and vast Karakum Desert, the city's brazen opulence strikes a bizarre contrast against the harsh surrounding landscape. Take in the city's sights and intrigues on a guided tour that includes independence monuments, Neutrality Square and the National Museum of History and Ethnography. Come evening, venture out to the city's periphery for a cable-car ride down the Kopet Dag Mountains.
    3 Nissa
    Set out east for Mary – a province famed for its cotton production – stopping en route at the former medieval city of Anau. Enjoy some time exploring the ruins of Abiverd, an ancient settlement that's now one of the country's eight listed historical reserves, before arriving in the city of Mary.
    4 Kow-Ata
    Known also as Margiana or Margush, Merv was once a major oasis city on the Silk Road but is now Turkmenistan's most famous historical site. Spend some time wandering around the gigantic walls and arches of this UNESCO World Heritage site, then return to Mary and gain a deeper understanding of the region's history inspecting the archaeological exhibitions of the Mary Regional Museum.
    5 Mary
    Drive through Kahka back to Ashgabat, breaking up the journey with a picnic lunch and short tour of Nadir Shah's 18th-century fortress.
    6 Mary
    Following breakfast, head out to the UNESCO World Heritage site of Old Nisa for a tour of the ancient Parthian Empire's earliest capital. Then venture 60-metres underground for a surprisingly balmy dip in the Kow-Ata cave. Visit a stud farm where you'll witness Akhal-Teke horses in action – a rare and distinctive Turkmen breed that serves as the country's national emblem. Before arriving back in Ashgabat, stop in at the Spirituality Mosque and the family mausoleum of the nation's first President.
    7-9 Ashgabat
    Darvaza – nicknamed 'The Door to Hell' for its evocation of all things underworld – is a 70-metre wide crater in the middle of the Karakum Desert. Hear the tale of how this pit of fire and brimstone came to be and spend the night camped near its crater. Then it's back to the capital and civilisation for a final group dinner.
  9. Day 1
    Welcome to Tokyo! Upon arrival at Narita International Tokyo Airport, transfer to your centrally located hotel. This evening join your Travel Director and fellow travellers for a Welcome Reception drink and local appetisers.Welcome Reception

    Day 2
    Embark on a city tour of Tokyo. Visit the grounds of the Imperial Palace, formally known as Edo Castle, surrounded by its original inner moat. The star attraction, Meiji Shrine, is located in a forest that covers an area of 700,000 square metres and consists of 365 different species of tree. It is a picturesque Shinto shrine where cherry blossoms bloom in springtime. During lunch, enjoy a cooking class and learn how to make sushi, a Local Speciality, in the famous Ginza district. Continue to Asakusa and visit the Sensoji Buddhist temple. It is one of Tokyo's most colourful and popular temples. It has been rebuilt countless times since it was founded in 628 making it Tokyo's oldest temple site. Visit Nakamise, a shopping street over 200 metres long that stretches from the outer gate to the temple's second interior gate. Alongside typical Japanese souvenirs such as yukata and folding fans, various traditional local snacks from the area are sold. This evening, enjoy a Japanese-style dinner at a local restaurant with your Travel Director and fellow travellers.Buffet Breakfast,Lunch,Dinner

    Day 3
    After breakfast depart on a full day of sightseeing, beginning at the Five Lakes District dominated by majestic Mt. Fuji. At 3776m, it is Japan's highest mountain and most recognisable icon. Ascend to the 5th Station of Mt. Fuji to enjoy some spectacular views at 2,300m (weather permitting). After enjoying lunch at a local restaurant continue to Owakudani via the Hakone Ropeway,ride over the crystal clear waters of Lake Ashi and look down on the volcanic activity. Enjoy black eggs boiled in geysers of Owakudani before continuing to the beautiful town of Hakone, where the cherry blossoms are noted sights in this area in Spring (known as sakura) and in Autumn (susuki). After an enjoyable day of sightseeing return to your hotel for a restful evening.Buffet Breakfast,Lunch

    Day 4
    Drive north this morning to visit Mastumoto Castle, one of the most beautiful and complete original Japanese castles. Marvel at its unique timber and stone structure. Later, head to the Matsumoto Folkcraft Museum to see wooden crafts, bamboo wares, glassware, china and porcelain. Matsumoto is also famous for its wasabi cultivation, cherished for decades in the East for its unique flavour and health benefits. Wasabi is best known as an age-old food pairing with sashimi or sushi dishes with raw fish. Wasabi is also served as a garnish with soba noodles and made into pickles, jams, wine and other foods. Today learn all about the production of wasabi, a Unique Insight, before enjoying a lunch of soba noodles with wasabi. Continue your journey through the breath-taking Japanese Alps to the beautiful hillside town of Takayama. Located in the Hida Region, the town has retained a traditional touch like few other Japanese cities, especially in its beautifully preserved old town. Takayama gained importance as a source of high quality timber and highly skilled carpenters during the feudal ages.Buffet Breakfast,Lunch

    Day 5
    Begin your walking tour of Takayama, known as 'little Kyoto', discover its Edo style streets filled with amazing attractions. Explore the Old Town, stopping at some of the traditional houses and delightful local museums, then wander through a vibrant open-air flower and fruit market (Asaichi). Later enjoy a Regional Meal of Japanese Hida beef at a local restaurant. Hida beef (Hida-gyu) is the specific name given to beef from a black-haired Japanese cattle breed, it is known as one of the finest quality varieties of beef. After lunch, continue to Takayama Jinya. Takayama Jinya was a former government outpost that was established in order to bring the Hida Province under the direct control of the Edo Bakufu (Shogunate) in 1629. The Takayama Jinya served as the local government office, headed by the officials dispatched from Edo. The present building complex includes various rooms for administrative purposes: kitchens, residential space, a court room and storehouses. It was in official use until 1969, and is now open to the public as a museum. Continue to the Kami-Sannomachisu District, home to skillfully renowned local artisans. Take time to sample the delicious rice wine, Sake, a Local Speciality. Walk through the narrow streets and admire the ancient Japanese wooden architecture. This evening is free to explore the many restaurants in this picturesque town.Buffet Breakfast,Regional Meal

    Day 6
    Take a step back in time with a Local Expert during a visit to the peaceful mountain village and UNESCO designated site of Shirakawago. The unique Gassho-zukuri wooden houses in this area are the only example of their kind in Japan. The steeply sloped thatched roofs resemble two hands together in prayer. Walk around this wonderful outdoor exhibition of farmhouses and traditional buildings typical of the region. Later continue towards the coast to Kanazawa, a historic castle town which boasts beautifully preserved samurai districts. On arrival, take time to see the Nagamachi District with old samurai houses. Stop to visit the Normura house, an elegant samurai mansion with beautiful small gardens belonging to a high-ranked samurai family. Later check in to your centrally located hotel and enjoy a relaxing evening.Buffet Breakfast,Lunch

    Day 7
    Begin the day at the gardens of Kenroku-en, rated as one of the top 3 most beautiful gardens in Japan. Explore the ornate landscapes, temples and ponds or enjoy an optional visit to a Japanese tea house within the gardens. Later in Kanazawa, discover the secrets of gold leaf painting, a Local Speciality, during a visit with a local artist. The production of gold leaf started in Kanazawa at the end of the 16th century and now 99% of Japan's high quality gold leaf is produced in the area. Before taking the train to Kyoto take a short walk through the Omicho market to see the local fish catch and enjoy an insiders view of everyday life in a busy coastal town. Kyoto is home to some of Japan's most important works of art, most refined cuisine and richest culture. On arrival at your centrally located hotel, explore this historic town or relax for the afternoon. Later enjoy a traditional Japanese Kaiseki Regional Meal and dance performance featuring Maiko and Geisha.Buffet Breakfast,Regional Meal

    Day 8
    This delightful city has an abundance of fine architecture in its shrines, temples and gardens as well as a variety of art and craft shops. See Nijo Castle, the old Shogun residence and then visit Kinkakuji Temple famous for its Golden Pavilion. The Kinkakuji history dates back to 1397, when the villa was purchased by Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu. When Yoshimitsu died, the building was converted into a Zen temple by his son. This afternoon, enjoy a special Be My Guest Farewell Lunch at a traditional Ryokan nestled in the peace and quiet of Mt. Yoshida. The Ryokan was built in 1932 by master craftsmen to serve as the second residence of the uncle of the current Japanese emperor, Akihito. Learn more about local Japanese customs as your hosts welcome you into their beautiful home. Enjoy the pleasures of a truly flavourful and unique dining experience of Kaiseki cuisine, crafted from the very freshest of seasonal delicacies. Later continue on to the Heian Shinto Shrine and discover its beautiful inner Garden. Then head to Nishiki-koji market to explore the hundreds of local shops and purchase last minute souvenirs. The evening is free to enjoy Kyoto. Relax at the hotel, explore the town or join an optional trip to the Gion Corner for a cultural performance.Buffet Breakfast,Be My Guest Dining

    Day 9
    Transfer by airport shuttle service to Kansai International Airport or Osaka Itami Airport for your onward flight home. Buffet Breakfast

    Sightseeing Highlights
    City tour of Tokyo and Kyoto, walking tour of Takayama and Hiroshima.
    See the traditional Gassho-zukuri houses at Shirakawago and the beautiful gardens of Kenrokuen in Kanazawa.
    View Mt. Fuji at 3376m and a Shingon buddhist service in Mt Koya.
    Visit the grounds of the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, Matsumoto Castle. The Kinkakuji Temple, Nijo Castle and Heian Shrine in Kyoto and the the Atomic Bomb Museum, Peace park and Itsukushima Shrine in Hiroshima.
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