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B-102D: 15 Days Independent Beijing Xian Guilin  Shanghai
Day01 Arrival in Beijing
Upon arrival at Beijing Capital airport, you can get to your hotel by subway or taxi. Our recommendation for your four night stay in Beijing is the 3-star King's Joy Hotel. It is conveniently located in the old Hutong area, close to the Dashilan and Qianmen streets, as well as a subway station and the Forbidden City. It is highly rated by foreign visitors, especially for its clean rooms, helpful staff, and the top-floor bar offering good food with a panoramic view of Tiananmen Square.

You can take the subway airport express line to Dongzhimen and then change to line 2 to Qianmen station. Exit from Exit C and walk along the Meishi Street (where the KFC is located) for about 10 minutes, you will find the hotel on the right hand side. You can also take a taxi from airport to the hotel with an approximate fare of CNY 90 per cab.

Accommodation Suggestion: King's Joy Hotel
Day02 Beijing
The panoramic view of the Forbidden City photoed in Jingshan Park
After the buffet breakfast in the hotel, you can start your exploration in Beijing city from its center, the Tiananmen Square, which is only 10 minutes' walk from your hotel. Heading all the way north across the square, you will reach the imperial palace, the Forbidden City. It is said there are over 9,000 houses and halls in the palace, so TCG suggests that you rent an audio guide or hire an English guide at the entrance and visit the most famous buildings. You will reach the north gate, Gate of Prowess, in about 3 - 4 hours.

As for lunch, we recommend the restaurants on the Jingshan West Street. Walk west along the Jingshan Front Street when you leave the Forbidden City, and turn right to the Jingshan West Street. You can find a Dasanyuan Restaurant featuring Cantonese food. If you are interested in the imperial cuisine of the Qing Dynasty, you can walk north along the Jingshan West Street for about 280 meters and turn left to the Zhishanmen Street. Go down the street to enter the east gate of Beihai Park, where you will find the Fangshan Restaurant. You can enjoy the beautiful scenery of Beihai Park while having the delicious royal cuisine. The food there is a little bit expensive but really worthwhile. There are also many reasonably priced restaurants on Jingshan West Street.

Continue your visit to the Jingshan Park to appreciate the panoramic view of the Forbidden City. You can enter the park from the west gate on Jingshan West Street and leave from the south gate. Then take a special bus No.1 to Qianmen. Strolling along the Qianmen Street and Dashilan Street among the old-style buildings and shops, you can also sample the local snacks and buy some souvenirs there. 
Day03 Beijing
A lovey panda climbing a tree in Beijing Zoo
A visit to China's national treasure, the giant panda cannot be missed during your tour. The best time to visit the panda is at the feeding time which is about 10:00 in the morning. You can walk to the Qianmen subway station to take the subway line 2 for two stops to Xuanwumen, and change to line 4 to the Beijing Zoo. Exit from Exit A and you can find the zoo. The zoo is very large, we suggest that you follow the map to the Panda House directly and then see other animals if you are really interested.

In the afternoon, you can get to the Summer Palace by taking the subway line 4 to the Beigongmen station and leave via Exit D. Enter the palace from the north gate and follow the route of Suzhou Street - Four Great Regions - Tower of Buddhist Incense - Hall of Dispelling Clouds - Long Corridor - Ferry Boat on the Kunming Lake - Seventeen-Arch Bridge - Hall of Happiness and Longevity - Hall of Benevolence and Longevity - Eastern Palace Gate. The recommended visiting time is 3 hours.

We suggest that you continue to visit the Drum Tower and the nearby hutongs and courtyards to gain an appreciation of the life style of the local inhabitants. You can walk eastward from the Summer Palace to take the subway line 4 to Xizhimen, and change to line 2 to the Drum Tower Street. Exit from Exit B and go down the Old Drum Tower Street to the Drum Tower. You may also have dinner in one of the featured restaurants. For the way back to the hotel, you can either take a bus No.5 or 82 from the Drum Tower to Qianmen, or take a taxi to your hotel with a cost of CNY 25.
Day04 Beijing
You must not miss the Great Wall when traveling to China. TCG recommends the Juyongguan Pass Great Wall which is closer to the city than other sections, and less crowded than other sections. (But for those who come to China for the first time, we recommend the famous Badaling or Mutianyu section which present the best parts of the Great Wall). Get up early in the morning, put on a pair of comfortable shoes, pick up some fast food and bottled water, and set off for the Great Wall! You can take the subway line 2 to Xizhimen and change to line 13 to Longze station, and then take the Changping bus No.68 to Juyongguan Pass. The bus trip takes about 2.5 hours, and please notice that the last bus No.68 back to the Longze subway station leaves from Juyongguan at 18:00. 
Day05 Beijing - Xian
Juyongyuan Great Wall
Photo by our client Mr. Ronald Cain with his testimonial
Our suggestion for today is to visit the Temple of Heaven and the Lama Temple, and then take a high-speed train to Xian. Lunch will be late, so you can have a big breakfast and take some snacks with you. Check out of the hotel and leave your luggage at the reception desk. Walk to the bus stop south of your hotel to take a bus No. 120 to the South Gate of Temple of Heaven (Tian Tan Nan Men). There is a public park inside, where you can see the locals doing their morning exercises. It takes about 2 hours to visit the major buildings there. You can leave from the east gate to take the subway line 5 to the Lama Temple (Yong He Gong). There are many nice restaurants near the Lama Temple, where you can find both Chinese and western cuisines for lunch after visiting the temple.

Then please take the subway line 5 to Chongwenmen, and then line 2 to Qianmen. Walk back to the hotel to pick up your luggage and take a taxi (CNY 30 per cab) to the Beijing West Railway Station for the high-speed train to Xian. The train ride takes 5 hours, so we suggest that you take the train leaving Beijing before 17:00. The tickets are in great demand during travel peak seasons and holidays, so you'd better book your tickets in advance. (You can also search the schedule and book with TCG with the Train Search Tool at the bottom of this page).

Upon arrival at Xian North Railway Station, you can take a subway or taxi to downtown area. We recommend that you stay at the HNA Hotel Downtown Xi'an, closing to the Bell Tower in the city center. You can take subway line 2 to Bei Da Jie (North Street) station. Leave from Exit A1 to take bus 601 or leave from Exit B to take bus 102 for two stops to Xin Cheng Guang Chang (Xincheng Square). Get off the bus and walk back for about 50 meters, you will find the hotel. If you go by taxi, the cost will be around CNY50.

Accommodation Suggestion: HNA Hotel Downtown Xi'an
Day06 Xian
Visit the Shaanxi Provincial History Museum in the morning and in the afternoon the iconic Big Wild Goose Pagoda and City Wall. From the hotel, you can walk east along Dongxin Street and turn left onto Jiefang Road at the second traffic light. Take the bus No. 30 or K5 to Cuihua Road. The history museum is across the way. You can either queue up for the free ticket or buy a ticket of CNY 20 for the special exhibition without waiting in line to enter the museum. We suggest that you hire a guide in the museum, so that you can learn the background stories of the relics. After that, walk east along the Xiaozhai East Road in front of the museum for about 500 meters to the Big Wild Goose Pagoda. You may have lunch at a restaurant in the Ci'en Town (northwest of the Big Wild Goose Pagoda square) and then visit the pagoda. Afterward, take a bus No.K609, 23, 501 or tourist bus No.6 to South Gate (nan men) stop. The South Gate is one of the major entrances to ascend the City Wall. It will be an enduring experience to stroll along the ancient wall in the rosy sunset. You can also take an 80-minute cycling trip around the wall. Take a bus No. 603 or K46, four stops to Minleyuan stop and walk back to your hotel. Please note that the South Gate is closed at 22:00 in travel peak season (April - October) and at 20:00 from November to March.
Day07 Xian - Guilin
Local people dancing in the City Wall Park, Xian
In the morning, we suggest that you pay a visit to the eighth world wonder, the Terracotta Warriors and Horses Museum. Check out of the hotel and the leave your heavy luggage at the front desk. Walk to take the bus No.30 or K5 to the railway station, and change to the tourist bus No. 5 (306) at the east square to the museum. The bus fare is CNY 7 per person and it takes about 1 hour on the way. Both audio guide and an English-speaking guide are available in the museum, and the recommended visiting time is 3 hours. There are not many decent restaurants near the attraction, so you can have your lunch at one of the fast-food restaurants near the parking lot, such as KFC, SUBWAY and King Coffee. Then get back to the train station by tourist bus No.5.

Take a bus No. 251 in front of KFC to the Bell Tower stop (Zhong Lou). Head toward the Drum Tower direction and you will find the bustling Muslim Street. Walk along the street and turn left to the Huajue Lane, and you will find yourself in front of the famous Great Mosque after 150 meters' walk. When leaving the mosque, continue to walk to the end of Huajue Lane, where you will find many places serving delicious Muslim food. Take a bus No. 15 from the Bell Tower bus stop to Xincheng Square (Xin Cheng Guang Chang) and walk back to your hotel to pick up your luggage. Take a taxi to the railway station for the overnight soft sleeper train to Guilin. There is only one train from Xian to Guilin, leaving Xian at 18:54, so you need to arrive at the railway station by 18:00. You can buy the ticket at any railway station by yourself or book with TCG and collect paper ticket at the railway station.
Day08 Guilin
The train ride takes 26 hours and you will arrive in Guilin at around 21:00. Traveling in daytime provides a good opportunity for you to enjoy the beautiful scenery of cities and countries on the way. You will travel through cities like Zhengzhou, Wuhan, Yueyang, and Changsha, and also pass the Wuhan Bridge over the Yangtze River. Upon arrival in Guilin, you can take a taxi to your hotel. We recommend the Guilin Osmanthus Hotel, and the taxi fare to the hotel is within CNY10.

Accommodation Suggestion: Guilin Osmanthus Hotel
Day09 Guilin
Two Rivers and Four Lakes, Guilin
Guilin is known for its beautiful mountains, rivers, and karst caves, so we suggest that you spend a whole day to explore its charming landscape. After breakfast, you can walk to the Guilin Bus Station to take a bus No.3 to Reed Flute Cave (Lu Di Yan), where you will be mesmerized by the stalactites and stalagmites of various shapes. Then take a bus No.3 to Yangqiao and walk south along the road and turn left to Wenming Road, the Elephant Trunk Hill Park is about 5 minute's walk away. You can have lunch at a nearby restaurant and then visit the park. Posing in front of the huge natural stone 'elephant' for photos will be fun. 

Leave the park from the north gate. You may walk north along the Binjiang Road for about 700 meters, turn right to the Jiefang Bridge. Cross the bridge and walk south to the dock, you will find the ticket office for the night cruise of Two Rivers and Four Lakes. We suggest that you book the ticket and then walk east to visit the Seven Star Park. Exit the park from the Southwest Gate 3 and have dinner at a nearby restaurant to taste the famous rice noodles. Then walk to the port and board the night cruise ship. The cruise tour will take you to the Li River and Peach River, Ronghu, Shanhu, Guihu and Mulonghu lakes; the most fascinating part is the folk shows during the cruise. You will disembark at the Wenchang Bridge Port, which is only 900 meters' walk from your hotel. You can walk across the Wenchang Bridge and turn left to the Nanhuan Road. Go down the road for about 500 meters and turn left to the Zhongshan South Road. Walk for another 170 meters and turn right on to the hotel's Cangsong Road. 
Day10 Guilin - Yangshuo
Our suggestion for the day is to take a Li River Cruise and stay overnight in Yangshuo, so we suggest that you book a one-night stay in the Yangshuo Regency Holiday Hotel. You can pack a light bag for the night and leave the rest luggage at the reception of your Guilin hotel. Check out and take a taxi to the Zhujiang Ferry Terminal with an approximate fare of CNY 50 per cab, and then board the Li River cruise ship. As for the cruise ticket, you can book it in Guilin city. The ship departs at around 09:00 and arrives in Yangshuo at 13:00. Lunch is included in your cruise fare but may not be to your taste, so you can take some fast-food along with you.

On arrival in Yangshuo, walk toward the West Street direction and the hotel is at the entrance of the West Street. Check in and have a short rest. In the afternoon, you can take a leisure stroll along the West Street. Enjoy the local delicacies and have some drinks in a bar. At night, you can go to watch the Impression Sanjie Liu singing and dancing show directed by the famous director Zhang Yimou. The show starts at 19:45 and 21:20, and the ticket is CNY 198 per person. The ticket is available at the ticket office of the Li River Shanshui Theater, and you can get there by the electric cart from the West Street in 10 minutes.

Accommodation Suggestion: Yangshuo Regency Holiday Hotel
Day11 Yangshuo - Guilin - Shanghai
Bicycle riding in Yangshuo country area
Check out and leave your heavy bags at the hotel. You have the full morning to indulge yourself in the charming scenery of mountains, rivers and the countryside of Yangshuo. Riding a bike along the country road would be very interesting. The rental of a bike is only CNY 10-40 per day. From your hotel, ride westward along the Pantao Road for about 900 meters and turn left to the Longyue Road. Then ride along the road at the river bank to the 66 Country Road. After about 2.5 km, take the road on your left and get to the Chaoyang Marina. This bicycle trip takes only 30 minutes. From the marina you can take the bamboo raft to drift downstream along the Yulong River, costing CNY 180 per person and taking 2 hours. The cruise company will transfer your bike to the arrival port, Gongnong Bridge. Then ride back to the town to pamper yourself with the delicious local food.

After lunch, pick up your bags at the hotel and walk west along the Pantao Road to the Yangshuo Bus Station to catch the bus to Guilin city. One hour bus ride takes you to Guilin Bus Station. You can walk to the Osmanthus Hotel to get your luggage back and then take a taxi to the railway station for the overnight soft sleeper train to Shanghai. Four trains are available from Guilin to Shanghai daily, and we suggest that you take the fastest one T78, which takes 18.5 hours and costs CNY537 for soft sleeper. Remember to book the ticket in advance. Or you can book the ticket with TCG and have the ticket delivered to your hotel or pick it up by yourself at the railway station. Get to the Guilin railway station at least one hour prior to the departure. Train T78 leaves at 20:40, so you can have dinner before departure, as the food on the train is a little expensive and may be not to your taste. The train arrives in Shanghai at 15:05 the next afternoon, so you can also take some fast food with you.
Day12 Shanghai
We suggest the Pretty House Haodu Hotel for your three night stay in Shanghai. When you arrive at the Shanghai South Railway Station, take a subway line 1 for eight stops to People's Square station. Change to line 8 for one stop to Da Shi Jie. Leave from Exit 1 and head east along the East Ninghai Road. Turn right to South Guangxi Road at the second turning. The hotel is 50 meters ahead on the left hand side. Check in and have a rest. Then you can take subway line 8 or walk to the People's Square for a leisurely walk. There you will also find many nice restaurants to enjoy local food for dinner.

Accommodation Suggestion: Pretty House Haodu Hotel
Day13 Shanghai
Shanghai Bund
After breakfast, walk southeast along the South Guangxi Road to the East Huaihai Road, turn left and go down the road for about 500 meters. Turn right to the South Henan Road and walk for about 100 meters to the Fuyou Road, turn left and you will find the Yuyuan Garden after 400 meters' walk. Taxi fare to the garden is about CNY 15 per cab. The nearby Yuyuan Mart and City God's Temple are also worth a visit. The Shanghai Old Street is just 350 meters south and is parallel to the Fuyou Road, where you can enjoy the local snacks while strolling among the old-style buildings.

Then walk back to the Fuyou Road and take the subway line 10 from the Yuyuan station to East Nanjing Road and leave the station from Exit 4. If the Shanghai Old Street reveals the city's past, then the Nanjing Road represents today's Shanghai. You can shop around and enjoy the Shanghai cuisine at a decent restaurant. When it gets dark, we strongly recommend that you walk east along the Nanjing Road to the Bund and take a stroll along the Huangpu River. Then take a taxi back to your hotel (CNY 15 per cab). 
Day14 Shanghai
The Shanghai Museum is one of the four most famous museums in China, so it is a must-see in this city. The museum is just located on the People's Square and can be reached within 10 minutes on foot. After visiting the museum, you can drop by the Urban Planning Exhibition Hall north to the museum to learn more about this city. There are many restaurants in the Raffles City opposite to the People's Square, where you may have lunch and relax. In the afternoon, you can take the subway line 8 from the People's Square to Lujiabang, and then change to line 9 to Dapu Bridge (Da Pu Qiao). Exit from Exit 1 and you will find the famous Tianzifang, where cafés, bars and small shops are dotted among the old houses and narrow lanes. It is an ideal place to enjoy a leisurely afternoon.
Day15 Departure from Shanghai
Your memorable self-exploration in China ends today. Please check out of the hotel before 12:00 and go to either Pudong or Hongqiao airport for your homeward flight by taxi. The fare to Pudong is about CNY 180 per cab and CNY 50 to Hongqiao. Subway lines are also available to either of the airports. Take line 8 from Da Shi Jie to People's Square, and line 2 to Pudong Airport; if your flight departs from Hongqiao, take line 8 to Lao Xi Men station, and then change to line 10 to Hongqiao airport. Be sure to go to the correct airport as they are some distance apart. We wish you a pleasant journey home!
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