Thomson Family Adventures - vacations and travel

China Great Wall, Guilin & Giant Pandas

Great Wall of China
,  Giant Pandas
,  Beijing
,  Tiananmen Square and Terra Cotta Army., China, Asia

from $5,490* per person 15 Days June, July
Comfort accommodations Exertion level: 3
Operator: Thomson Family Adventures 20 people max
  • Beijing airport, china
  • Family & Friends trips
A ncient. Intriguing. Exquisitely beautiful. And mind-boggling. China is a travel adventure like no other and a chance for your family to experience a nation bursting with future possibility, while discovering its fascinating millennia-old history.

You’ll travel in the company of personable local guides who reveal the subtleties of authentic Chinese culture. And our well-balanced itinerary is designed for active, inquisitive families who love to explore and learn—with all five senses. Imagine the feel of a panda bear cub in your arms.  Witness an entire army of clay, 7,000 individually sculpted soldiers strong. Listen to the story-songs sung by hundreds of villagers against a backdrop of mountains and evening sky. Watch as performers change masks so quickly you won’t believe your eyes. And feel your spirit soar as you walk tall atop the Great Wall.

From walking across Beijing’s vast Tiananmen Square to exploring its narrow labyrinth of alleyways by pedi-cab... From a bike ride on the ramparts of Xi’an to meeting your pen pal, smile to smile... From sailing a bamboo raft through Yangshuo’s magical scenery to taking in the dazzling views of Shanghai from the world’s highest observation deck... China promises a journey of delight and wonder, and a family vacation of memory-making moments to last a lifetime.

Locations visited/nearby

Great Wall of China , Giant Pandas , Beijing , Tiananmen Square and Terra Cotta Army., China, Asia

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Special information

  • May accommodate certain types of disabilities. Contact the operator for more information.
  • Family oriented trip.

Itinerary

Days 1 and 2 – Depart Home / Arrive Beijing

Welcome to China— one of the most ancient civilizations on Earth! With its rich and fascinating culture, beautiful landscapes, and timeless traditions, this exotic land offers a truly once-in-a-lifetime family adventure.

Days 3 to 5 – Beijing

The capital of China and its second largest city after Shanghai, Beijing has been the political and spiritual center of the Middle Kingdom for more than 500 years. Today its population tops 14 million. Our three days in the city are packed with awe-inspiring exploration, from Tiananmen Square to the Forbidden City, from the Great Wall to the Olympic National Stadium. And, we’ll sample local delicacies in the company of new friends.

Visit Tiananmen Square Sprawled across 109 acres, Tiananmen Square is so enormous it can accommodate nearly one million people. The bordering buildings include the huge Monument to the People’s Heroes, the Mausoleum of Chairman Mao, and the National Museum of China. arrow The Forbidden City The first ancient Ming emperor believed himself to be the “son of heaven.” His residence, built as an earthly duplicate of the Purple Palace of God, was certainly forbidden to mere ordinary mortals—which is how the Forbidden City acquired its name. There’s no doubt that the 24 Chinese emperors from the Ming and Qing dynasties knew how to liDays 1 and 2 – Depart Home / Arrive Beijing

Welcome to China— one of the most ancient civilizations on Earth! With its rich and fascinating culture, beautiful landscapes, and timeless traditions, this exotic land offers a truly once-in-a-lifetime family adventure.

Days 3 to 5 – Beijing

The capital of China and its second largest city after Shanghai, Beijing has been the political and spiritual center of the Middle Kingdom for more than 500 years. Today its population tops 14 million. Our three days in the city are packed with awe-inspiring exploration, from Tiananmen Square to the Forbidden City, from the Great Wall to the Olympic National Stadium.

Visit Tiananmen Square
The Forbidden City arrow Olympic Village visit
Chaoyang Theater acrobatics show  
Peking Duck dinner  
Walk the Great Wall
Temple of Heaven  
Pedi-cab tour of Old Beijing

Days 6 to 8 – Chengdu

Sichuan Province is home to nearly all of China’s giant pandas and its rapidly growing city of Chengdu is also home to the Giant Panda Breeding Center. Since 1978, the Center boasts one of the best panda mating rates in the world—especially impressive since pandas only mate once a year and are extremely picky in their choice of partner! During our visit here, your family’s personal encounters with the amazing pandas are a thrilling—and photographic— highlight.

Wenshu Monastery  
Wangjianglou Park
Sanxingdui arrow Shu Feng Ya Yun—face-changing performance
Visit Bifengxia Panda Base  Explore Chengdu’s Old China lanes

Days 9 and 10 – Xi'an

Xi’an—“westerly peace”—is one of the oldest cities in China. This was the eastern end of the renowned Silk Road, connecting with such far-flung places as Constantinople, Rome and Venice. Because of its extensive history, Xi’an is home to some of the most important archeological sites in China.

View the Terra Cotta Warriors
Painting and paper cutting lesson with a local family
Dumpling Dinner
Friends Across Borders Meeting (pen pals)
Xi'an city wall bike ride  
Visit the Han Tomb

Days 11 and 12 – Yangshuo

Because of the unique geography of Guangxi Province’s Yangshuo, and its sublime location on the Li River, many travelers have called this the most picturesque landscape in the world. Thomson family adventurers are always awestruck as we cruise past the remarkable “Gumdrop Mountains.” A climb to the top of Moon Hill is challenging, but worth every step!

Yulong River float trip and biking to Moon Hill
Cormorant fishing
Visit the ancient town of Fuli
“Impression Liu Sanjie” show in Yangshuo

Days 13 and 14 – Shanghai

A morning flight brings us to big, brash Shanghai. Boasting one of the world’s boldest urban skylines, the city is famous for its Bund, the Huangpu River waterfront area fronted by more than 50 buildings built in every architectural style imaginable. During our time here, you’ll have the chance to explore the city’s many and multi-faceted delights, both by boat and on foot.

Huangpu riverboat ride
Xintiandi Stroll  
Shanghai city tour
Farewell dinner

Day 15 – Depart Shanghai / Arrive home

After breakfast transfer to the airport for your international flight home. Cross the International Date Line and arrive back the same day. Bon voyage...
ve... To put it into perspective, there are 90 palaces and courtyards, 980 buildings, and a grand total 8,704 rooms included in the Forbidden City. As you wander here stop for a closer look at the painted decorations and incredible details. arrow Olympic Village visit We start off our day with a visit to the impressive 2008 Beijing Olympic Gardens, including the incredible National Stadium, or “Bird’s Nest,” and the Aquatics Center, or “Water Cube”—both perfect backdrops for a special family photo! arrow Walk the Great Wall The 4,500-plus mile-long Great Wall zigzags through deserts, mountains and plateaus and is the longest human-made structure ever built. Take a cable car to the top for a short and easy hike—an unforgettable experience for any age! On the way down, those of you feeling adventurous can choose the gravity-propelled toboggan! arrow Visit to Qianmen Theatre Our visit to Qianmen Theater, home to the fabled Peking Opera, offers the exciting opportunity to meet the actors and watch and learn about the centuries-old art of face painting. arrow Pedi-cab tour of Old Beijing Explore the city's ancient neighborhoods, called hutongs, by pedi-cab today. Wander the labyrinthine alleyways and catch a glimpse of the traditional way of life that began more than 700 years ago! arrow Make dumplings with a local family Join a local hutong family and learn to make Chinese dumplings—one of the country’s most popular and delicious foods. You’ll be participating in a time-honored tradition!

Days 6 to 8 – Chengdu

Sichuan Province is home to nearly all of China’s giant pandas and its rapidly growing city of Chengdu is also home to the Giant Panda Breeding Center. Since 1978, the Center boasts one of the best panda mating rates in the world—especially impressive since pandas only mate once a year and are extremely picky in their choice of partner! During our visit her, your family’s personal encounters with the amazing pandas are a thrilling—and photographic— highlight.

Wangjianglou Park Savor a visit to one of China’s premier gardens today. Wangjianglou is a breathtaking blend of bamboo forest, pathways, and pavilions and halls mirrored in the Jinjiang River. arrow Sanxingdui In 1929, a Sichuan farmer unearthed the first ancient relic of what was to become one of the world’s largest collections of Bronze Age cultural artifacts. Our visit here includes a chance to see the incredible excavations. What makes this site so intriguing is that its purpose and origins remain a mystery. arrow Shu Feng Ya Yun—face-changing performance Witness this ancient classic Chinese art in a former teahouse. Everyone will be enthralled with the “face-changing” performance, a 300-year-old dramatic art that involves performers in elaborate costumes moving to fast-paced music and, in an unperceivable instant, repeatedly changing their brightly colored masks. arrow Visit Bifengxia Panda Base Today’s adventure brings you face to face with the fascinating giant panda. We drive to the Bifengxia Panda Base, internationally renowned for its superb work with these rare animals. Kids and adults alike will love the chance for close-up interaction... just think of the photos of your child holding a baby panda! arrow Explore Chengdu’s Old China lanes Explore the fascinating western corner of Chengdu and its two ancient streets known as Wide Lane and Narrow Lane. Built in the 18th century by the Manchu army, the officials lived on the wealthier, or Wide Lane, and the soldiers in the more crowded Narrow Lane.

Days 9 and 10 – Xi'an

Xi’an—“westerly peace”—is one of the oldest cities in China. This was the eastern end of the renowned Silk Road, connecting with such far-flung places as Constantinople, Rome and Venice. Because of its extensive history, Xi’an is home to some of the most important archeological sites in China.

View the Terra Cotta Warriors Imagine nearly 2,000 life-size stone warriors hand-carved to look like real men and all created to protect one emperor in the afterlife. The army comes complete with generals, soldiers, chariots and horses—each individual statue unique. arrow Painting and paper cutting lesson with a local family In nearby Huxian we learn about a local, documentary-style of painting and watch the fascinating folk art of paper cutting. arrow Dumpling making class This evening put on your aprons for an official dumpling making class at the Defachang Restaurant—the perfect appetizer before our group dinner. Both Asian and Western dishes are equally delicious here! arrow Friends Across Borders / Meet your Chinese pen pal As part of our Friends Across Borders program—a Thomson family favorite—we’ve arranged for a pen pal meeting this afternoon for the children who exchanged letters with a local student before leaving on their adventure. Through playing a game or sharing in a mutual activity, the kids all enjoy the eye-opening, and truly rewarding, experience of making a new friend from a culture very different from their own. arrow Visit the Han Tomb We visit the tomb of the progressive Emperor Han (who ruled from 158 - 141 BCE); the site covers 12 square miles and the mausoleum houses both Emperor Jingdi and his wife, Empress Wang.

Days 11 and 12 – Yangshuo

Because of the unique geography of Guangxi Province’s Yangshuo, and its sublime location on the Li River, many travelers have called this the most picturesque landscape in the world. Thomson family adventurers are always awestruck as we cruise past the remarkable “Gumdrop Mountains.” A climb to the top of Moon Hill is challenging, but worth every step!

Yulong River float trip and biking to Moon Hill In the morning bike to a pier on the Yulong River and climb aboard small bamboo rafts for the beautiful trip downstream. Destination: the mysterious Moon Hill Mountain. Once we disembark, we’ll ride towards the mountain. For those who are game, every one of the 800 steps to the top of Moon Hill is worth the stunning bird-eye views of the magical scene below. arrow Cormorant fishing In the late afternoon, the Li River fishermen can be seen rowing their rafts on the silken waters with their cormorants— large birds trained to find and catch fish. arrow Visit the ancient town of Fuli Enjoy a walking tour through this historic community, both rich in folklore and famous for its painted fans—China’s lovely art form that connects generations of artists. arrow “Impression Liu Sanjie” show in Yangshuo This incredible show, staged by the famed film director, Zhang Yimou, takes place in the great outdoors and includes more than 600 “actors” from local minority groups who combine the natural environment with classic folk songs and the reenactment of the area’s unique fishing culture.

Days 13 and 14 – Shanghai

A morning flight brings us to big, brash Shanghai. Boasting one of the world’s boldest urban skylines, the city is famous for its Bund, the Huangpu River waterfront area fronted by more than 50 buildings built in every architectural style imaginable. During our time here, you’ll have the chance to explore the city’s many and multi-faceted delights, both by boat and on foot.

Huangpu riverboat ride Cruise the river between the Bund—the heart of colonial Shanghai—and the Pudong with its eclectic ambiance. Twenty-story-high buildings reach skyward, while hundreds of malls, cafes, and gourmet restaurants make this city a shopper’s paradise. arrow Shanghai city tour Explore Shanghai’s Old Quarter, stand at the top of the Financial Building and take in the views from the world’s highest observation deck, and ride the “people mover”—the world’s longest underwater pedestrian tunnel. arrow Farewell dinner Join everyone for a farewell dinner and say good-bye to your guide and new friends. After dinner, take a stroll through the exciting Xintiandi neighborhood!

Day 15 – Depart Shanghai / Arrive home

After breakfast transfer to the airport for your international flight home. Cross the International Date Line and arrive back the same day. Bon voyage...

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