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Provincial Enlightenment

Dive into an itinerary enriched with sumptuous cuisines, temple and palace tours, and the rarest sights on Earth. Enlighten yourselves with interactive touring of aged and philosophical wonders, thousand year old temples and ancient cultures as you get a glimpse into another world. Discover the old and new Hong Kong as you make your way on foot to the ferry terminal and cross the Victoria Harbour on the legendary, but humble, ‘Star’ Ferry service between Kowloon and Hong Kong. Look up at the buildings scraping the skies while tucked into the narrow alley ways, traditional vendors’ stalls make home and maintain traditions of years passed.

Trip Type: Adventure, Cosmopolitan, Cultural

MapProvincial EnlightenmentProvincial Enlightenment

Day By Day

Day 1 – USA to Beijing
Please note international air from the USA has not been included in the package price. 

Day 2 – Welcome to Beijing, China
Upon arrival, you will clear customs and immigration before being transferred by private vehicle to your hotel.

For centuries, Beijing has played a major role in China's imperial rule. It was Kublai Khan, a grandson of Genghis Khan, who reunified the Chinese territories and transferred the capital to Beijing during the 13th century. Beijing was not only a lasting imperial city, but also a thriving trading city that served as the easternmost terminus of the caravan routes of the Silk Road.

Today, Beijing remains as it was centuries ago-a great center of power and commerce. It is a bustling metropolis of soaring high-rises, gaudy billboards, teeming highways and a growing international stature. Although a number of Beijing's historical sites are slowly being preserved, many of the city's ancient neighborhoods have been razed in recent years to make way for glitzy commercial skyscrapers and apartment blocks. Nevertheless, Kublai Khan's imperial spirit remains in the Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, the Great Wall and the Summer Palace.

Starting Accommodation: Traders Hotel

Day 3 – Forbidden City, Temple of Heaven and Court Cuisine
This morning depart your hotel for magnificent Tiananmen Square, the largest public square in the world, where Mao's picture hangs over the rostrum at the entrance of the Imperial Forbidden City. Walk in the steps of ancient emperors as you tour the powerful Forbidden City, hidden from public view for over 500 years. This is where Chinese emperors resided and ruled the country for 700 years until the year of 1911. The Imperial Palace provides outstanding examples of the greatest palatial architectural ensembles in China. They illustrate the grandeur of the imperial institution from the Qing Dynasty to the earlier Ming and Yuan dynasties, as well as Manchu traditions, and present evidence on the evolution of this architecture in the 17th and 18th centuries.

Continue to the masterpiece Temple of Heaven, an embodiment of grace and harmony. This is where Ming and Qing emperors prayed for good harvest and it is the largest temple complex remaining in China today. The pomp and grandeur of imperial China lives on in this historic landmark so integral to the nation's soul.

Lunch is at Beijing Fang Shan Restaurant. Set in Bei Hai Park a former imperial garden, Beijing Fang Shan Restaurant offers exquisite food from former Chinese dynasties. Waitresses in period garb lead you to the main dining room, which is splendid, with high painted ceilings and traditional Chinese art.

Starting Accommodation: Traders Hotel (L)

Day 4 – Great Wall at Mutianyu and Summer Palace
A walk along the Great Wall of China ranks high on the wish list of many travelers and today's excursion will confirm it is one of the world's greatest travel experiences. Travel 43 miles by private vehicle northeast of Beijing to the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall, known for its beautiful surroundings of dense woods and rich pastures changing colors with each season of the year. It winds its way over a thousand meters to the crest of a mountain before turning sharply and dipping downhill, forming a triangle known as 'Ox-Horn Wall'. Linger at the towers and broad promenades; contemplate on the spectacular scenery and the lives lost in building this monumental construction that never truly fulfilled its purpose. There is ample time to stroll along its ancient stone promenade and photograph the wall as it winds across impossibly steep mountain areas. A cable car is available to help visitors and is included in today's tour.

Stop for lunch at Xiaolongpu Restaurant nearby, where their specialties include Sturgeon from neighboring Dongting Lake.

Continue on to the Summer Palace, formerly an imperial garden and palace for the Qing emperors. First built in 1750, largely destroyed in the war of 1860 and restored on its original foundations in 1886 - is a masterpiece of Chinese landscape garden design. The natural landscape of hills and open water is combined with artificial features such as pavilions, halls, palaces, temples and bridges to form a harmonious ensemble of outstanding aesthetic value.

Stroll along the famous 700 meter Long Corridor, with its beautiful Painted Gallery (each archway depicts a different scene), and enjoy some peaceful time on Kunming Lake by boat, soaking in the majesty of China's imperial past.

Starting Accommodation: Traders Hotel (L)

Day 5 – Beijing to Xi’an
Transfer from your hotel to Beijing airport by private vehicle for your onward flight. Upon arrival you will be met and transferred by private vehicle to your hotel.

In 1974 a farmer from the dusty town of Lintong was digging a well when he unearthed a chamber that housed one of the most significant archaeological discoveries of the 20th century. Today the ancient army of more than 7,000 life-sized terracotta soldiers that guard the entombed Emperor Qin Shihuang is considered the “eighth wonder of the world”.

Terracotta Warriors
Transfer by private vehicle to the Mausoleum of the First Qin Emperor, home of the world renowned Terracotta Army, an archaeological site of unimaginable size and importance. No doubt thousands of statues still remain to be unearthed at this archaeological site, which was not discovered until 1974. Qin (d. 210 B.C.), the first unifier of China, is buried, surrounded by the famous terracotta warriors, at the center of a complex designed to mirror the urban plan of the capital, Xianyan. The small figures are all different; with their horses, chariots and weapons, they are masterpieces of realism and also of great historical interest.

The statues remain where they were uncovered, protected by a large hangar-like hall. Individual soldiers can be studied more closely in a museum exhibit in an adjacent building. Following your visit you will be returned back to your hotel.

Tang Dynasty Show with Dumpling Dinner
Transfer from your hotel to the Tang Dynasty Theatre. As you travel around China, you'll soon discover that each region has its own unique cuisine. Your evening experience in Xi’an begins with a feast of local dumplings, nearly 20 varieties that are steamed and stuffed with a delicious assortment of vegetables, meats and seafood.

But the banquet is only the prelude to another feast for the senses. You'll experience the local color and pageantry of the Tang Dynasty Show. The performance showcases the music, dance and colorful costumes that have graced the region for centuries. The dinner and entertainment lasts for two and half hours and will fill a memorable evening in the walled city. Return to your hotel by private vehicle.

Starting Accommodation: Grand Mercure on Renmin Square (D)

Day 6 – Xi’an to Chengdu
Transfer from your hotel to the airport by private vehicle for your onward flight. Upon arrival you will be met and transferred by private vehicle to your hotel.

This city of 4 million is the capital of the Sichuan region, which is famous for its pandas and spicy cuisine. One additional attraction is Chengdu's many tea houses, an important part of its cultural heritage. There, locals chat the hours away sipping tea and eating snacks, or maybe playing a little mah-jongg or chess. Chengdu also has a vibrant arts community, with many of the country's best and brightest living and working there.

Visit the city's zoo where giant pandas are on display. You can also visit the Giant Panda Breeding and Research Center in the northern part of the city. The Provincial Museum and the Sanxingdui Museum are worth visiting for their amazing Shu/Ba bronze humanoid figures. A couple of days could also be well spent exploring the area around Chengdu. Nearby (25 mi/40 km) is the Wolong Nature Preserve, home to golden monkeys, golden langurs and more than 500 pandas. Although it's not likely that you'll see a panda (sightings are rare), the beauty of the reserve makes the trip worthwhile.

As the main gateway to Tibet, Chengdu has daily flights to Lhasa. It's also the last urban outpost before Tibet, so enjoy the modern conveniences while you can. 940 mi/1,500 km southwest of Beijing.

Giant Panda Breeding Base
Depart from your hotel by private vehicle to the Giant Panda Breeding Base, The giant panda is beloved by people from all over the world. It is a symbol of world biodiversity conservation, peace and friendship. Located six miles from the city in the northern suburb of Chengdu on Futou Hill, the Giant pandas at the Giant Pandas Breeding Base live in large naturalistic habitats, which help the visitor to understand how these animals live in the wild. It is an excellent recreational area and a highlight of any visit to Chengdu.

Starting Accommodation: Sofitel Wanda (Deluxe) (B)

Day 7 – Le Shan
The first Buddhist temple in China was built here in Sichuan Province in the 1st century A.D. in the beautiful surroundings of the summit Mount Emei. The addition of other temples turned the site into one of Buddhism's holiest sites. Over the centuries, the cultural treasures grew in number. The most remarkable is the Giant Buddha of Le Shan, carved out of a hillside in the 8th century and looking down on the confluence of three rivers. At 71 m high, it is the largest Buddha in the world.

Arriving at Le Shan you will be able to enjoy views of the Giant Buddha from below and from the side, as well as by river boat, as the stone sculpture faces Mount Emei, with the rivers flowing below his feet. Lunch is included in today's arrangements.

Return to Chengdu around 6:30 pm.

Starting Accommodation: Sofitel Wanda (Executive) (L)

Day 8 – Emei Shan
Mount Emei, inscribed as by UNESCO as a cultural world heritage site is notable for its exceptionally diverse vegetation, ranging from subtropical to sub-alpine pine forests. Some of the trees there are more than 1,000 years old. It is also revered by Chinese Buddhists as one of the four Holy Mountains and is shrouded in myths and legends.

On arrival take a chair lift to the highest peak, the Peak of the Ten Thousand Buddhas (Wanfo Ding), which reaches a height of 10,170 feet. A local lunch will be had on the mountain. The summit commands a grand view of rolling mountain peaks, sometimes visible, sometimes emerging from the clouds like small islands in an enormous ocean.

Starting Accommodation: Sofitel Wanda (Deluxe) (L)

Day 9 – Chengdu to Kunming
Transfer from your hotel to the airport by private vehicle for your onward flight. Upon arrival you will be met and transferred by private vehicle to your hotel.

Kunming, at an elevation of 6,200 feet, is surrounded by gorgeous mountain scenery. It is home to many of China's ethnic minorities-tribal people-who consider themselves distinctly different from China's predominant ethnic group, the Han. The city is also intriguing because some of the neighborhoods escaped the 1950s Chinese modern architecture that characterizes most cities in the rest of the country.

Things to see in Kunming include an interesting market, some ruined pagodas, the Yuantong Temple (a glorious building set on Green Lake) and stores selling tribal handicrafts. A highpoint about Kunming is that its traditional Chinese teahouses have survived. Tucked into side streets, they serve as neighborhood centers where older citizens play games and smoke the afternoon away-visitors are welcome.

There are many lakes and old temples outside the city that make fun destinations for day trips. Most notable are the Huating Temple (built in the 1300s) and the 300-year-old Golden Temple (bronze-covered pillars, roofs and gates). Another attraction in the vicinity is the Stone Forest of Lunan. These oddly shaped rock formations are about 75 miles southeast of town.

Kunming City Tour
Depart for a city tour that visits Western Hill with Dragon Gate and Huating Buddhist Temple.

Sometimes called the Sleeping Beauty Hills (their contours are said to resemble the outline of a sleeping maiden when viewed from afar) this densely forested range of hills on the western banks of Lake Dian is home to a number of Buddhist and Daoist temples and pavilions carved into the sheer rock face.

Along the way, the first major temple is the large and impressive Ming dynasty Huating Si, which has statues of 500 arhats, 'saints' or sages who have fully realized for themselves the Buddhist Doctrine, and have attained freedom from the cycle of suffering and rebirth.

At the conclusion of today’s tour you will return to your hotel.

Starting Accommodation: Grand Park Hotel (Deluxe Lakeview)

Day 10 – Stone Forest
Transfer by private vehicle today to the Stone Forest, located in Lunan Yi, which is about 75 miles from Kunming, covers an area of 96,000 acres and includes both large and small stone forests, as well as many other scenic spots. Walking through the Stone Forest, visitors marvel at the natural stone masterpieces and are bewitched by the intricate formations. The magnificent, strange and steep landscape creates countless labyrinthine vistas, including Major Stone Forest, Minor Stone Forest and Naigu Stone Forest; all of which feature stones in various formations. Animals, plants, and even human figures can be found here. Some are elegant, some are rugged, and each is lifelike with its own distinguishing characteristics. After a local lunch you will be transferred to your Kunming hotel.

Starting Accommodation: Grand Park Hotel (Deluxe Lakeview) (B)

Day 11 – Kunming to Hong Kong
Transfer from your hotel to the airport by private vehicle for your onward flight. Upon arrival you will be met and transferred by private vehicle to your hotel.

Hong Kong is a place of contrasts: geographically, socially and economically. Although many Asian cities claim to be where East meets West, the former British Crown Colony-whose largely Chinese population was ruled by Europeans for 156 years-is probably the closest the world comes to the genuine article.

Perched precariously on the edge of mainland China, Hong Kong has been battered by geopolitical forces for centuries. Thanks to its strategic deep water harbor and proximity to Asia's most populous nation, the city profited as the capitalist gateway for the communist giant to the north. What was once a fishing village became one of the world's busiest international ports and business centers.

Scratch the cosmopolitan, high-tech surface, however, and you'll discover vestiges of ancient China lying just below the city's modern urban facade and, in some cases, right alongside it. Residents invariably live in two worlds: Skyscrapers and enormous shopping malls sit next to narrow alleys crowded with traditional vendors' stalls. Businesspeople use cell phones to consult fortune-tellers before making important decisions. Taoist priests exorcise evil spirits from buildings, even from the city's racecourses. In sleepy walled villages, farmers tend their crops in the same way they have for generations.

Starting Accommodation: InterContinental Grand Stanford (B)

Day 12 – Hong Kong Island Orientation
Pick up from hotel to traverse the World-renowned Victoria Harbour via the Cross-Harbor Tunnel.  We then drive through Wanchai and take the Peak Tram to Victoria Peak, which operates on a double reversible funicular system with a maximum speed of 6 meters per second. Victoria Peak offers a breath-taking 360-degree view of the bustling harbour, Hong Kong Island and Kowloon as far as the eye can see.  From Victoria Peak, the tour continues to Aberdeen village via the scenic resort areas of Repulse Bay and Deep Water Bay. At Aberdeen board a sampan to see the fishing junks and the Jumbo floating restaurant moored there. The tour will continue to Stanley Markets where you will have free time to stroll around historic fishing lanes jam-packed with vendors selling Chinese artwork, silk collectibles and curios. Return to Hong Kong or Kowloon.

Starting Accommodation: InterContinental Grand Stanford (B)

Day 13 – Hong Kong to USA
You will be transferred to the airport for your departure flight to the USA.  (B)

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Highlighted Activities

Emei Shan Tour
Emei Shan Tour
Length: Full-day
Forbidden City, Temple of Heaven & Court Cuisine
Forbidden City, Temple of Heaven & Court Cuisine
Giant Panda Breeding Base
Giant Panda Breeding Base
Length: Half-day
Great Wall at Mutianyu and Summer Palace
Great Wall at Mutianyu and Summer Palace
Length: Full-day
Hong Kong Island Orientation
Hong Kong Island Orientation
Hong Kong
Length: Half-day
Stone Forest Tour
Stone Forest Tour
Length: Full-day
Terracotta Warriors Tour
Terracotta Warriors Tour
Length: Half-day


BeijingTraders Hotel Shangri-La Hotel, Beijing
Xi'anGrand Mercure on Renmin SquareSofitel on Renmin Square
ChengduSofitel Wanda (Deluxe)Sofitel Wanda (Executive)
KunmingGrand Park Hotel (Deluxe Lakeview)Grand Park Hotel (Privilege Club)
Hong KongInterContinental Grand StanfordKowloon Shangri-La, Hong Kong


Pricing for this package is on request. Please call a Swain Destinations Specialist to customize this journey.

Terms and Conditions

Prices are per person, twin/double share in USD. All highlighted savings are reflected in the price. Travel may be limited to certain days of the week. Hotels and tours remain subject to availability. Cancellation penalties and other booking or alteration restrictions may exist. Please note blackout dates may apply to Christmas, New Year and local special event periods. Pricing may increase over Holiday and special event periods and may not be reflected in price grid. Prices indicated remain subject to change without notice. Prices are not guaranteed until full payment is received and processed. CST #2012413-20 See our full Terms and Conditions: