Insight Learning on Ancient Culture

ST07: 10 Days China Tour from Sofia Bulgaria to Beijing - Pingyao - Datong - Beijing
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Day 1 Sofia - Beijing
For international visitors to China, Beijing is an important entry gate. At present, there is no direct flight available from Sofia or other cities in Bulgaria to Beijing. However, you can still transit through some cities including Moscow, Paris, Istanbul, Frankfort, Munich, Vienna or Amsterdam to make your China tours from Sofia, Bulgaria come true. We recommend your transit in Moscow and Paris as the airfare would be more economical.

If you choose Moscow as the transit city, you can take Russian Airlines flight SU3561 1525/1810, have a layover there for 3 hours & 25minutes, and then board the connecting flight SU204 2135/0950+1 to Beijing. You will totally need 13.5 hours for the air travel. This option is available on every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. If it is on other days, you can take the flight SU2061 1235/1540, have a layover for 4 hours & 15 minutes in Moscow, and then transit to the China Hainan Airlines flight HU7986 1955/0830. It will take about 15 hours for the whole journey.

If you choose Paris as the transit city, you can take Air France flight AF1789 1705/1900, have a 4.5 hours layover, and then board the connecting flight AF382 2325/1520 to Beijing. Alternatively, you can take flight AF5031 0720/0920, stop Paris for 4 hours & 40 minutes, and board the flight AF128 1400/0555+1. For both options, your journey will be nearly 17.5 hours.
Day 2 Beijing
On landing in Beijing, please take a taxi to the hotel by yourself. If you are interested in public transportation, please refer to the following: 

From the Capital Airport, you can take Airport Express from T3, after 3 stops, get off at Dong Zhi Men Stop and change to subway Line 2 for 6 stops, finally you will take Line 8 for 2 stops to Tian Qiao Stop and get out from Exit D, which is near to your hotel. From Daxing Airport, you can take Airport Express to Cao Qiao Stop and then change to subway Line 10 for 2 stops to Jiao Men Dong Stop and get out from Exit B. For the last leg of the trip, you can take taxi to the hotel. 

The rest time of the day is on your own to explore this city.

Accommodation: Holiday Inn Express Beijing Temple of Heaven
Day 3 Beijing
We have a one-day mini group tour covering the must-see sites in Beijing: Tiananmen Square, Forbidden City, Mutianyu Great Wall, and Bird’s Nest. You are recommended to join in this trip for a wonderful experience. 

Meals: Breakfast
Day 4 Beijing
Also, another mini group tour which includes the sites of the Temple of Heaven, Hutong Alleys, Lama Temple and Summer Palace can be a good choice for today's arrangement. 

Meals: Breakfast
Day 5 Beijing - Pingyao
Today, your guide will transfer you to the railway station and see you off for your bullet train to Pingyao. The train ride takes about four hours, and you can enjoy the beautiful scenery of countryside on the way. Upon arrival, the local guide and driver will meet you at the railway station and transfer you to the hotel in Pingyao Old Town. The guide will give you a brief introduction of Pingyao during the drive to the hotel.

The hotel you are going to stay in Pingyao is Zheng Guesthouse, where you will experience the traditional way of life in Northern China, like sleeping on a "kang", a heated-brick bed. In Northern China, especially in the countryside, the kang is connected to the flue of cooking range and chimney, thus the heat of burning coal and firewood will make the bed warm.

Meals: Breakfast
Accommodation: Zheng Guesthouse
Day 6 Pingyao
People playing chess in Pingyao Old Town
Today you will have a whole day to visit the Pingyao Old Town, one of the four best-preserved old towns in China and an important site of world cultural heritage. You will first get on to the city wall to have a panoramic view of this 2,700-year-old town. Walk along Ming-Qing Street, and stop at Temple of City God, Ri Sheng Chang Financial House, and Tongxinggong Ancient Bank Bodyguard Establishment.

In the afternoon, you will learn to draw a theatrical mask of the Chinese opera from local artists. Chinese opera has a history of over 1,000 years and has different types according to their places of origin, such as Beijing Opera, Sichuan Opera, Yu Opera (Henan Opera), and Qin Opera (Shaanxi Opera). Theatrical mask, or facial makeup, is the patterns on the faces of Chinese opera actors, which always reflects the characteristics of the role. For instance, a red face refers to loyalty, frankness and uprightness, a black face means the character is very serious and strong, and a white face reflects cunning and suspicious. You can keep it as a souvenir after you finish it.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
Day 7 Pingyao
Tongxinggong Ancient Bank Bodyguard Establishment, Pingyao
Today's trip will start from the Qiao's Compound, the family yard of the Qiao's. Covering an area of over 4,000 square meters, the Qiao's Compound is an architectural complex of castle-style buildings that was first constructed in 1756. On the site, you will see delicate carvings, beautiful decoration paintings, and precious tablets. Then continue to visit the Shuanglin Monastery, an ancient Buddhist temple with a history of over 1,400 years.

This afternoon, you will have a chance to learn to cut window decorations and practice Chinese calligraphy. Paper-cut on windows is one of the traditional decorations during Chinese Spring Festival, along with spring couplets and lucky characters. Most are cut on a piece of red paper with various patterns representing auspiciousness and happiness, including Chinese characters, people, flowers, birds, fishes, Chinese Zodiac animals etc. It is not easy to write a Chinese character, not to mention draw one with a bamboo brush. The artist will teach you the basic ways to hold a bamboo brush and some simple characters. You can also learn more about the Chinese calligraphy if you are interested.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
Day 8 Pingyao - Datong
Hanging Monastery
After breakfast, a five-hour bus trip will transfer you to Datong. You will see the beautiful scenery of countryside and on the way stop to visit Hanging Monastery.

Constructed in the Northern Wei Dynasty (386 - 557), about 1,500 years ago, the Hanging Monastery is the only temple that merges Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism. As the name suggests, the monastery hangs on the cliff of Hengshan Mountain, about 65 km from Datong City. All the 40 halls in the temple seem to be supported by some wooden columns, but some of columns do not bear any stress. It is said that there was no column when the temple was finished, and people added some for fear of it collapsing. Actually, the temple's center of gravity falls on the rocks of the mountain, and that is how it has been hanging there for over one thousand years.

Upon arrival, the guide will help you check into the 4-star Datong Hotel. The rest of the day is for you to have a good rest.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
Accommodation: Datong Hotel
Day 9 Datong - Beijing
Yungang Grottoes, Datong
The morning excursion will take you to Yungang Grottoes, one of the four most famous grottoes in China. The other three are Mogao Grottoes in Dunhuang, Longmen Grottoes in Luoyang, and Maiji Mountain Grottoes in Gansu. The construction of Yungang Grottoes started in the Northern Wei Dynasty and took 64 years to complete. There are 252 shrines and over 54,000 Buddhist statues of all sizes.

Afterwards, the guide will transfer you to Datong Railway Station for your high speed train back to Beijing, which will take around 2 hours. When you arrive in Beijing, please take a taxi to get back to hotel. 

Meals: Breakfast
Accommodation: Holiday Inn Express Beijing Temple of Heaven
Day 10 Beijing - Sofia
Your China tour from Bulgaria comes to the end today. It's time to say goodbye. The transport from hotel to airport is by your own arrangement. To fly back to Sofia, you can take the Russian Airlines flight SU205 1140/1445, have a layover for 4 hours & 20 minutes in Moscow, and then board the connecting flight SU3560 1905/2210. Or you can take the Austrian Airlines flight OS064 1120/1550 to Vienna, stop there for 4.5 hours, and then connect to the flight OS799 2025/2300. The air travel including layover for both options take around 16 hours, and they are available for most of the days every week. If they are not available, there are red-eye flights leaving Beijing for Munich and Frankfort, where you can also take connecting flights back to Sofia. We wish you a smooth journey home and expect your next China tour in the future!

Meals: Breakfast
This trip can be customized to meet your individual needs!
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