China, a civilisation rich in historical achievements and artistry, is predominantly defined by its imperial heritage. Our 18-day tour spans 2000 years of dynastic rule as we seek to understand how emperors sought to immortalise their reign, commencing with the imperial treasures at the Forbidden Palace and National Museum in Beijing. Visit the world’s most extravagant ‘afterworld’ in Xi’an. Explore the silk court costumes in Suzhou and the postimperial republican years in Shanghai, culminating in forward-looking Hong Kong.
Beijing, the seat of imperial governance established as the capital by Mongol conquerors
An emperor’s extraordinary legacy of protection in the afterlife, with an army of Terracotta Warriors
The confluence of traditional Chinese culture and European art deco in post-imperialist Shanghai
Exquisite palaces and gardens built by a succession of Ming and Qing Dynasty emperors
An emerging contemporary art culture against a backdrop of imperial tradition
Beijing’s imperial treasures at the Forbidden City and the National Museum
An army of 8000 life-size terracotta soldiers, chariots and cavalry horses in Xi’an
Shanghai’s art deco heritage, Missionary Row, the Bund Promenade and the former Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank
Suzhou’s imperial silk and embroidery industry and two of China’s revered classical gardens
A personal tour of the world’s most comprehensive imperial textile collection, at the owner’s private home
Private visits to collections not accessible to the public
Days 1–5: Imperial sites in Beijing, including the Forbidden City and National Museum, the Great Wall and Qing Tombs.
Days 6–8: Fly to Xi’an and see the Terracotta Warriors and Wild Goose Pagoda.
Days 9–10: Explore art deco in Shanghai and visit the furniture collection at the Shanghai Museum.
Days 11–13: Visit elegant classical gardens and discover the famous textiles of Suzhou and Nanjing.
Days 14–18: Fly to Hong Kong to enjoy private and public art collections, cultural and site visits on the island and Kowloon.
A detailed itinerary for this tour is available. Click on the link above to view or download.
Cathay Pacific offers daily flights from Australia to Beijing and out of Hong Kong. Contact us for competitive quotes and bookings.
Included meals are shown with the symbols B, L and D.
Monday September 25: Arrive
The tour begins at the Beijing hotel this evening. There is a light dinner available in the hotel this evening. (D)
Tuesday September 26: Beijing
After a morning lecture in the hotel we depart by coach for an orientation tour of Beijing’s city highlights including Jingshan Park, Olympic Park, the Birds Nest Stadium and a visit to one of the remaining Hutongs. After a lunch in a local restaurant we head to Curio city, Beijing’s enormous antique market to browse the myriad of stores selling porcelain, calligraphy, paintings, jade, bronze ware and jewellery. This evening before our welcome dinner we meet a local Imperial art collector and enjoy a presentation on the Chinese antiquities market from a local and international perspective. (B, L, D)
Wednesday September 27: Forbidden City and National Museum
Beijing was originally established as a capital by the Mongol conquerors in the 14th Century. From the 15th Century until 1911, Imperial governance emanated from the Forbidden City which we visit this morning. In the inner court of the Forbidden City we visit the recently renovated Palace of Tranquil Longevity, the retirement palace of Emperor Qianlong. We explore the gardens, gates and pavilions considered to be the pinnacle of Chinese design. This afternoon we visit the National Museum containing over five thousand years of Chinese art and cultural heritage and wander through Tiananmen Square passing under the iconic picture of Mao and through the Gate of Heavenly Peace. There is a lecture in the hotel this evening. (B, L)
Thursday September 28: Great Wall
This morning we visit the most iconic symbol of Chinese Imperialism, the Great Wall. The fortifications which are accessible from Beijing are most impressive being built of stone whereas other sections of the wall are made from tamped earth, brick, wood and other less sturdy materials. After lunch, we visit the Eastern Qing Dynasty tombs, the mausoleum for the most accomplished emperors, empresses, and concubines of the period. After a full day we return to Beijing. (B, L, D)
Friday September 29: Summer Palace
Today we visit the Summer Palace, the largest royal park in China and one of the main recreational residences for Qing Emperors. A popular recreation area comprising of the lake and court area, the superb halls, temples and decorated gates of Longevity Hill are a highlight. UNESCO placed the Summer Palace on its world heritage list citing it as a masterpiece of Chinese landscape garden design. This afternoon we visit the Temple of Heaven, an imperial complex of Confucian design, Ming and Qing emperors came here to pray for a good harvests and divine atonement. Finally, we make a private visit the studio of well-regarded contemporary artist, Huang Gang whose works have been collected by the Rothschild’s. (B, L)
Saturday September 30: To Xi’An
We depart by coach this morning for the airport and our flight to Xi’an, the Imperial capital from the Zhou to Tang dynasties (1046BC-907AD) and the start of the Silk Road. There is a lecture and dinner in the hotel this evening. (B, D)
Sunday October 1: Wild Goose Pagoda
This morning we tour the fortifications that make up Xi’an’s city walls one of the largest and complete ancient military defensive systems in the world. We also visit the Dayan or Giant Wild Goose Pagoda, a Buddhist structure built during the Tang Dynasty and rebuilt during the Ming Dynasty. The pagoda held sutras and figurines of the Buddha that were brought to China from India by the Buddhist translator and traveller, Xuanzang. After lunch in a local restaurant we visit the expansive Shaanxi History Museum which houses a large collection treasures that give context to thousands of years of Chinese history and culture. (B, L)
Monday October 2: Terracotta Warriors
Today we visit the Terracotta Warriors, one of the highlights of the tour. These terracotta sculptures depicting the armies of Qin Shi Huang, the first Emperor of China, were to protect him in the afterlife. Dating from around the late third century BC, they were discovered in 1974 by local farmers. Current estimates are that in the three pits there were over 8,000 soldiers, 130 chariots with 520 horses and 150 cavalry horses; the majority of which still remain buried. (B, L)
Tuesday October 3: To Shanghai
We depart by coach this morning for the airport and our flight to Shanghai. There is a lecture in the hotel this evening followed by dinner. (B, L, D)
Wednesday October 4: Shanghai Museum and Art Deco
This morning we explore the most important galleries at the Shanghai Museum including the Qing and Ming Dynasty furniture collection. After lunch in a local restaurant we take a walking tour of Shanghai’s art deco heritage including Missionary Row, the Bund Promenade, the former Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank Building and Shanghai Club set against backdrop of the ultra-modern business district of Pudong. (B, L)
Thursday October 5: Yu Gardens and Suzhou
After checkout we head to the peaceful Yu Gardens built by a Ming Dynasty family over 18 years. It was largely destroyed during the first opium war of 1842 and again by the French during the Taiping rebellion. Now restored, the layout, design and architecture of the garden make it one of Shanghai’s best loved attractions. After lunch, we continue by coach to Suzhou. There is a lecture in the hotel this evening followed by dinner (B, L, D)
Friday October 6: Suzhou silks and gardens
Suzhou is famous for its elegant classical gardens and this morning we visit two of the most honoured and revered in China; The Humble Administrator’s Garden and the Lingering Garden. Following lunch in a local restaurant we visit the Suzhou Silk Museum which details the 4000-year-old history of Suzhou’s Imperial silk industry. Suzhou embroidery is characterised by beautiful patterns, colours and meticulous stitching. This afternoon we also visit the embroidery Institute and see some of the artisans, and master craftsmen, creating the finest quality silk. (B, L, D)
Saturday October 7: Nanjing
Today we make a roundtrip to Nanjing, the initial capital of the Ming Dynasty, to visit the Cloud Brocade Museum. Cloud Brocade, so named because of its delicate and distinct patterns which are like flowing clouds, was made exclusively for the court costume of the Emperors, and nobility, of China. The method for weaving the brocade designs is complex and labour intensive making it the most expensive type of silk fabrics. We return to Suzhou after lunch in a local Nanjing restaurant. (B, L)
Sunday October 8: To Hong Kong
We return to Shanghai Airport for our flight to Hong Kong. Upon arrival, we transfer to the hotel where there is a lecture followed by dinner. (B, D)
Monday October 9: Tour Hong Kong
Today we embark on a full day tour encompassing the highlights of both Kowloon and Hong Kong Island. Take the tram up to Victoria Peak for spectacular panoramic views over the Island, explore Stanley Market and enjoy a Sampan ride through Aberdeen’s floating fishing village. On Kowloon we visit the Tang style Nan Lian garden, the Flower market, Ladies market and Temple Street night market. The tour culminates watching the symphony of lights from Tshimshatsui promenade. (B, L)
Tuesday October 10: Private collection
This morning is at leisure. After a Dim Sum lunch we view the Chinese art and imperial textile collection of Chris Hall, a Hong Kong collector. Chris is regarded to possess the world’s most comprehensive Imperial Chinese textile collections and is a past president of the Oriental Ceramics Society. He will personally guide you through his collection, and share his story, at his home on the Peak. We will then visit a leading Auction House for a tour plus a talk on the ‘Chinese Art Market’. (B, L)
Wednesday October 11: Hong Kong Museum
This morning we visit the Hong Kong Museum of History housing collections of cultural objects pertaining to the ethnography and history of the region including artefacts relating to the revolutionary, Dr Sun Yat Sen. The remainder of the afternoon is at leisure to further explore Hong Kong before we gather for a farewell dinner in a local restaurant. (B, D)
Thursday October 12: Departure
The tour ends after breakfast. (B)
Is a specialist on the Qing Dynasty. David has undertaken lecture tours to Australia and leads tours to China that focus on Imperial Art and Culture.
Since returning to UK David has lectured extensively on the Qing Dynasty Chinese Court Costume to groups as diverse as National Trust, Embroiderers’ Guild, Art Fund and Oriental focused societies and museums, NADFAS. David and has undertaken lecture tours to New Zealand and Australia and leads tours to China that focus on Imperial Art and Culture.
Hotels have been selected principally for their central location.
Beijing, Park Plaza (5 nights)
Xi’an, Grand Park (3 nights)
Shanghai, Central Hotel (2 nights)
Suzhou, Marriott Hotel (3 nights)
Hong Kong, The Park Lane (4 nights)
What is included in the tour price? Unless otherwise stated in the itinerary, our tours include the following:
Any flights mentioned in the itinerary that take place during a tour
Land travel by private air-conditioned coach. Where appropriate public transport is also used for short distance travel on some tours
All accommodation in hotels or apartments as stated in the itinerary
Breakfasts, lunches and dinners specifically stated as included in the itinerary
Drinks at welcome and farewell meals. Other meals may not have drinks included
Background talks on tour, site notes and online resources
Services of tour leader throughout tour
All entrance fees to sites mentioned in the itinerary
Local guides at some sites
Tips for drivers, local guides and restaurants for included meals
Tours begin either at the arrival airport or the first hotel, depending on the itinerary. If you have booked your international flights with Academy Travel and arrive before the tour commences, we will provide airport to hotel transfers to the closest main city on your arrival, and to the closest airport at the end of the tour. These may be either individual or group transfers.
What is not included in the tour price? Open-age tours do not include the following:
Return international/domestic air travel unless those flights take place during the tour
Special taxes and airport levies that can only be paid in cash at the destination. We will advise you of these charges (if any) before you depart
Costs involved in obtaining visas for countries visited, where required
Travel insurance. We require all participants to have comprehensive travel insurance. A typical policy for one of our tours will cost from $160 upwards, depending on your age, pre-existing medical conditions, the countries you are visiting and the overall length of your trip
Lunches and dinners not specifically mentioned as included in the itinerary
Personal expenses such as laundry and phone calls
Costs associated with any activity mentioned as “optional” in the itinerary, or any suggested free time activity
You will be asked to sign an acknowledgement of these conditions when you book a place on a tour.
A deposit of $500 per person is required to confirm your booking on a tour. Final payment of the tour fee, insurance and any additional travel will be due 60 days before departure.
If you decide to cancel your booking the following charges apply:
More than 60 days before departure: $500*
60-45 days before tour start: 25% of total amount due
44-15 days before tour start: 75% of total amount due
14 days or less before departure: 100% of total amount due
*This amount may be credited to another Academy Travel tour within 12 months of the original tour you booked.
Unused Portions of the tour
We regret that refunds will not be given for any unused portions of the tour, such as meals, entry fees, accommodation, flights or transfers.
Academy Travel requires all participants to obtain comprehensive travel insurance. We offer a comprehensive policy with a reputable insurer if required.
Passport and Visa
A valid passport is required for all international travel. If you do not hold an Australian passport you may require a re-entry permit. Some countries require a visa to be issued before you depart Australia. We will advise you of all passport and visa requirements, but it is your responsibility to ensure that you meet passport and visa requirements before you depart.
Will the tour price change?
If the number of participants in a tour is significantly less than budgeted, or if there is a significant change in exchange rates Academy Travel reserves the right to amend the advertised price. If this occurs you will be given the option of cancelling your booking and obtaining a full refund. If an Academy Travel tour is forced to cancel you will get a full refund of all monies paid.
Will the itinerary change?
Occasionally circumstances beyond the control of Academy Travel make it necessary to change airline, hotel or to make slight amendments to daily itineraries. We will inform you of any changes as soon as they occur.
Full and final payment for the tour, airfare travel, insurance and any additional travel you book is due 60 days before departure. Payment may be made by bank deposit, cheque, cash or credit card. Please note there is a surcharge for payments made by credit card.
Academy Travel reserves the right to decline the booking or terminate the holiday of any traveller.