Today, ultramodern skyscrapers tower over central Beijing, symbols of China's supersonic ascent to the global economic forefront. But in their shadows, countless locals still meander through the same cobbled streets their ancestors walked centuries ago. Known as hutongs, these ancient alleyways snake between traditional courtyard homes—some of which have been standing since the 13th century—where Chinese families still practice communal-style living. In recent years, many hutongs have been razed as part of efforts to further modernize Beijing, but others have been preserved as museums open to the public. With seven- or nine-day sojourns including a rickshaw ride through the hutongs, SNA Tours brings travelers face-to-face with China's storied past and enterprising present.
Click here for the complete seven-day A China Experience itinerary and here for the complete nine-day Historic China itinerary.
When travelers arrive at Beijing Capital International Airport, welcoming English-speaking guides immediately usher them to a four- or five-star accommodation, such as the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Beijing. After a restful night, globetrotters drop their jet lag like a hot wonton and dive into Beijing's cultural treasure trove the next morning. Guided tours of Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City, the imperial government seat for more than five centuries, shed light on China's complex political evolution. Later on, visits to the Great Wall and the 2008 Olympic National Stadium accentuate China's duality—that of an ancient and an emerging power. The seven-day Beijing itinerary concludes with an excursion through the Wangfujing shopping district, where visitors can practice haggling for clothes, jewelry, and exotic street fare, including deep-fried scorpions.
After an extra free day to explore Beijing, the nine-day Historic China tour takes a morning flight to Xi'an on day 7. This former capital of ancient China is rich with archaeological sites, including the Big Wild Goose Pagoda, built in the seventh century to house a collection of Buddhist scriptures and Emperor Gaozong's bottle-cap collection. The next day, travelers get to explore one of the world's most impressive tombs—the Terracotta Warriors and Horses Museum, where 8,000 life-size statues of Chinese warriors have stood watch for more than two millennia over Qin Shi Huang, China's first emperor. The final day includes a flight back to Beijing Capital Airport followed by a connection back to each traveler's original U.S. or Canadian departure point.Groupon Says