Ancient Capitals Exploration

B-104: 11 Days Beijing - Luoyang - Xian
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Day 1 Italy - Beijing
Nothing could be more convenient than taking a direct flight to travel from your location to other parts of the world. It offers a great way for people to explore the places that have different history and culture from their own country. For people who wish to take China tours from Italy, they may take flights from Rome or Milan to Beijing, the first stop of this China holiday tour. There are two direct flights from Rome to Beijing for your choice. One is CA940 2055/1310+1 of Air China and the other is AZ790 1420/0620+1 of Alitalia Airline. As for the flight from Milan to Beijing, CA950 is the only non-stop flight that leaves Milan at 21:00 and arrives in Beijing at 13:30 the next day. It takes 10 hours to 10 hours 30 minutes to fly from Italy to China. 

If you start your independent China tour from Florence, Venice, Naples, Bologna or other countries of southern Europe, you can transfer the flight at Rome.
Day 2 Beijing
Tiananmen Square
Upon arrival at the Beijing Capital Airport, you need to find your own way to the booked hotel. We suggest you check into the Hotel Yoo Beijing in the city center, which is within walking distance to Wangfujing Commercial Street. Living in the hotel, you can have easy access to attractions like Tiananmen Square and Forbidden City. Please take a taxi to the hotel directly, and the cab fare may cost you about CNY120. 

For the rest of the day, you can refresh yourself through a good rest or explore the surroundings.

Accommodation Suggestion: Hotel Yoo Beijing
Day 3 Beijing
Your Beijing tour from Rome Italy starts with the highlights of the city, Tiananmen Square and Forbidden City. After breakfast, find the Nanheyan Street to the east of your hotel and walk southwards along the street for 250 yards to East Chang'an Street. Then turn west and walk for another 800 yards to the Tiananmen Square, the heart of Beijing City. Afterwards, stroll north through the Tiananmen Tower to the Forbidden City, the imperial palace for 24 emperors in the Ming and Qing Dynasties (1368 - 1911), where you can see the clear hierarchy from the layout of the whole palace complex. 

On leaving from the northern gate, the Gate of Divine Prowess, you can go across the road and take bus No. 124 from Gugong Stop to Gulou. Alighting from the bus, you should walk north straight along the Diwai Street for 200 yards, there you will meet the east entrance of a famous hutong, Skewed Tobacco Pouch Street. This quarter is clustered with old dwellings, demonstrating traditional local lifestyle. For a better tour experience in hutong, you can hire a man-powered rickshaw to get around. There are also various restaurants and you can choose a decent one for your supper. Afterwards, walk back to the Gulou stop to take bus 60 or 80 to Nanheyan Station. Get off the bus and walk to your hotel.
Day 4 Beijing
One-day tour to Mutianyu Great Wall would be an experience of a lifetime for backpacking travelers. Located about 45 miles from downtown Beijing, the Mutianyu Great Wall is an unusual section with unique watchtowers. Hiking on the wall would be challenging, but it also makes you feel inspired. There are cable cars and slideway available, especially for physically-challenged seniors.

Travel mode: From the hotel, walk south to East Chang'an Street; head eastwards for 400 yards to take subway line 1 from Wangfujing Station to Jianguomen, and then transfer to line 2 to Dongzhimen Station. Take Exit E and walk to the nearby Dongzhimen Transport Hub. There you can take bus No. 916 Express to Huairou Beidajie first at a cost of CNY12, and the bus ride takes about 60 – 70 minutes. Afterwards, carpool with other passengers to the scenic area, which may cost CNY10-15 per person. If you hire a private car alone, the fare would be CNY50-60. The last bus returns from Huairou to downtown Beijing at 18:50, and you should reach Huairou Beidajie bus stop before that.
Day 5 Beijing
Mutianyu Great Wall
Today, the recommended self-guided tour itinerary includes two must-sees of Beijing, Temple of Heaven and Summer Palace. From the hotel, walk to Nanheyan Bus Stop to take bus No.60 to Fahuasi. Get off the bus and keep walking south for another 250 yards, you will get to the East Gate of the Temple of Heaven. The temple used to be the imperial sacred place in the Ming and Qing Dynasties. Emperors would hold worshiping ceremonies for people's harvest and the peace of ancestors. If in spring, you will see many people flying kites there. 

Exit from the north gate of the park, and walk north along the Qi'nian Street for 500 yards, and then turn west to enter Zhushikou East Street for another 130 yards, you will reach the Qiaowan Subway Station. Take line 7 to Caishikou Station, and then transfer to line 4 to Beigongmen. Take Exit D and walk westwards for about 400 yards, you will reach the entrance of the Summer Palace. As the royal family's summer resort, the imperial garden showcases both natural beauty and manmade architectural masterpiece. At last, take subway line 4 from Beigongmen Station to Xidan Station, and then exchange to line 1 to Tiananmen East. Take Exit B and walk back to the hotel.
Day 6 Beijing - Luoyang
Today, you are going to take a train to Luoyang in the afternoon, and before that you can seize the morning to visit Beijing Zoo. Check out of the hotel after breakfast. There is no left-luggage service in the zoo, so avoiding traveling with heavy luggage. You can go to the West Railway Station first to deposit the luggage. From Tiananmen East Station, you can take subway line 1 to Military Museum, and then transfer to line 9 to the West Railway Station. After leaving the baggage, take subway line 9 from the railway station to National Library. Take Exit C and walk eastwards for 600 yards, you will reach the northwest entrance of the zoo. One of the main highlights in the zoo is the treasured giant pandas. You should reach the zoo at 8:30 – 10:00. The giant pandas will have their breakfast of bamboo leaves and shoots during that time, and it is their most active moment of the day. If the weather is fine, you can see pandas enjoying the sunshine and playing games in the outdoor enclosure. 

Leave the zoo from the south entrance and walk west along the Xiwai Street for 200 yards to take bus No. Te 19 to the West Railway Station. You are supposed to reach the train station about 1.5 hours at least before the train's departure. Remember to retrieve your luggage and then check in for the onward bullet train to Luoyang. Besides, you are advised to board the train as soon as possible so that you can occupy a space for your luggage on the limited baggage racks. The travel time is about 4 hours. We suggest you catch a train that leaves at around 14:00-15:00, and you will reach Luoyang City not too late. The dinner time will be passed during this train ride, and we suggest you have your supper with food sold on board. 

The train will finally stop at Luoyang Longmen Railway Station, and we recommend you stay in the nearby Holiday Inn Express Luoyang City Center. From the train station, you can take a taxi to the hotel with a fare of no more than CNY10. 

Accommodation Suggestion: Holiday Inn Express Luoyang City Center
Day 7 Luoyang
Longmen Grottoes
A whole day will be spent in Shaolin Temple in Dengfeng City, which is about 35 miles from downtown Luoyang. In the morning, take a taxi to Luoyang Bus Station at a cost of CNY20. There are direct buses available to the temple every 20-30 minutes from 5:30 to 12:30. The bus fare is around CNY20, and it takes about 1.5 hours on the way. 

Shaolin Temple, built in 495 in the Northern Wei Dynasty (386 - 534), is one of the most famous birthplaces of Chinese Kung Fu. The Pagoda Forest is a must-see of the temple, which is a graveyard for Buddhist dignitaries in different generations with about 240 pagodas in total. Meanwhile, you can also enjoy the Kung Fu show performed by monks of the temple. 

Getting out of the temple, you may take a bus in the parking lot back to Louyang directly. The buses run every 30 minutes from 10:00 to 17:00. Upon arrival, take a taxi back to your hotel.
Day 8 Luoyang - Xian
Before you take a bullet train to Xian, we recommend you visit Longmen Grottoes in the morning. Pack your luggage and check out of the hotel, and then take a taxi to Longmen Grottoes at a cost of CNY20. Upon arrival, you can deposit your luggage in the Tourist Center near the entrance. Located at the Longmen Mountain in the southern suburb of Luoyang City, the grottoes first carved in the Northern Wei Dynasty are one of the four grandest Buddhist grottoes of China. There are about 2,345 caves, over 100,000 Buddhist statues and more than 2,800 inscription works. There you are able to learn more about Chinese Buddhism. 

The next destination is the ancient city, Xian, and the high-speed train is the most ideal travel mode, providing a safe, fast and comfortable trip. Around 20 bullet trains to Xian are operated from Luoyang Longmen Railway Station every day. From Longmen Grottoes, take a taxi to the railway station directly, which may cost you around CNY15. Within the 90 - 120 minutes' ride, the train will traverse picturesque mountainous area, which would be a good distraction for you to kill the time. 

Early-bird booking for the train ticket will smooth your journey, especially in the tourist peak season. TravelChinaGuide offers superb ticket booking with unrivaled low service fee, which would be your first consideration. 

When you arrive at the Xian North Railway Station, take the subway to the downtown area. If you want to stay somewhere close to the city center and attractions, the Days Inn City Center Xian would be an ideal option. The hotel also has easy access to subway stations and bus stops. Take subway line 2 from the train station to Beidajie (North Street), and take Exit C1. With 500 yards' walking southward, you will reach the hotel. 

Accommodation Suggestion: Days Inn City Center
Day 9 Xian
Cycling on the Xian City Wall
Terracotta Army Museum is a must-see of Xian. Outside the hotel, walk northwards along the North Street for 200 yards, you can take bus 608 or 616 to the Xian Railway Station West. Stroll eastwards to the East Square of the train station, and take the tourist bus line 5 to the museum directly. The 22 miles' bus ride takes about one hour. 

The Terracotta Army was built during the Qin Dynasty (221 - 207 BC) of China, and it is now a vivid underground military museum. Emperor Qin Shi Huang started to construct his mausoleum before his death, and he created an enormous army to protect him in the underworld. Seeing these pottery figures, bronze chariots and weapons, your perception for the Qin Dynasty will be reshaped, and meanwhile you will get to know more interesting stories about the Emperor Qin Shi Huang. 

After the sightseeing, catch the tourist bus line 5 back to the railway station. Then, walk southwards to take bus 201 or 251 to the Bell Tower. For another 300 yards' walking to the west after getting off the bus, you will reach the Drum Tower, and the famous Muslim Quarter is just located behind the tower. It is not only the largest Muslim community in Xian, but also a popular food street clustered with halal restaurants. Among all the delicacies, dumplings, Shaanxi sandwich (Rou Jia Mo) and Crumbled Flatbread in Mutton Stew (Yangrou Paomo) are must-tries. There are also many craft shops where you can purchase souvenirs. 

At last, walk eastwards to the Bell Tower, and turn north to North Street to find your hotel.
Day 10 Xian
After breakfast, take a taxi at a cost of CNY10 from the hotel to Yongning Gate, one of the main entrances to start your exploration on the ancient City Wall. Your hotel is about 1 mile north of the Yongning Gate, so you can also cover this distance on foot. 

Built in the Ming Dynasty (1368 - 1644), the City Wall with a history of over 600 years is still well preserved. With a total length of 11 miles, the square-shaped City Wall surrounds the city center inside. You can take a relaxing stroll or rent a bicycle to tour the wall for a circle which would be a cool experience.

Get off the wall from Yongning Gate, and walk southwards to Nanmen Bus Stop, where you can take bus 501 or 701 to the South Square of Big Wild Goose Pagoda (Dayanta Nanguangchang). Upon arrival, you will see the giant statue of Monk Xuanzang towering in front of the Big Wild Goose Pagoda. The pagoda, with a history of 1,300 years, used to be the work place for hierarch Xuanzang to translate the sutra scripts. At the top of the pagoda, you can capture a bird's eye view of the whole Xian City. Afterwards, take a taxi back to the hotel at a cost of CNY20.
Day 11 Xian - Italy
Your fruitful China tour from Rome Italy comes to an end today. Check out of the hotel before 12:00 and head to Xianyang Airport for your homebound flight. We suggest you take a taxi from the hotel to the airport, and it could cost you about CNY120. 

The direct flight HU7971 0100/0655 of Hainan Airlines is scheduled to fly from Xian to Rome on Monday, Wednesday and Friday according to current timetable. You will arrive in Rome at 06:55 local time after nearly 12 hours' flying. If the non-stop flight is not available, you may consider other alternatives and make transfer through Shanghai, Beijing or Hong Kong. Travelers who go back to Milan are also able to fly to these cities first and then connect a flight home.
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