7 Day Group Tour to Guilin and Chengdu
- Besides visiting some famous attractions in these two beautiful cities of Guilin and Chengdu, this tour arranges special activities for students, such as learning Chinese Calligraphy and Ink Painting from local masters and volunteering at the residence of pandas at the Panda Breeding Centre.
- Take a cruise down the enchanting Li River, which will provide you some of the most gorgeous scenery of a lifetime. The Li River was just selected by National Geographic Magazine as one of the world’s “Ten top watery wonders”
- Bike and hike through Yangshuo, a small town surrounded by mountains and lush fields, and that is acclaimed worldwide by backpackers
(B=breakfast, L=lunch, D=dinner)
Day 1 arrive in Guilin
You will fly to Guilin, nad upon arrival at the airport you will be met by your English-speaking personal guide. Located in Guangxi province of southern China, famous people and poets down through the centuries have eulogized Guilin’s scenery. It really has to be seen to be believed. The mountains are so sheer they come vertically out of the ground, as Guilin has some of the most spectacular karst topography in the world. The tooth-like limestone mountains come in clusters, or as isolated monoliths or mesas, often with caves, and sometimes with holes all the way through, like Elephant Hill and Moon Hill in Yangshuo.
After meeting your guide you will then be taken to your hotel. The rest of the day is yours to relax, or head out into the city for a little adventure on your own.
Day 2 Guilin-Li River-Yangshuo (B, L, D)
Today you will be cruising down one of the world’s most stunning rivers, the Li. Gorgeous karst peaks give you surprises at each bend of the limpid river under the blue sky. Water buffalo patrol the fields, peasants reap rice paddies, school children and fisherman float by on bamboo rafts. With its breathtaking scenery and taste of a life far removed from the concrete metropolis, the scenery along the Li River become one of China's top tourist destinations. Some of the highlights you will see on your 7-8hour cruise will be Elephant Trunk Hill, a hill resembling an Elephant taking water from its trunk, Pagoda Hill, just a few minutes away from the Elephant Trunk Hill, Daxu Town, an ancient river town, and of course you will also see local fisherman and workers over their normal course of work. The cruise down the Li River offers a fascinating insight into the lives of the local population here.
The cruise will end at Yangshuo. Yangshuo is a lush and exotic city that includes minority groups from all over Asia. Yanghsuo is characterized by crystal clear rivers, limestone crags, lush vegetation, traditional Chinese architecture and customs, which have been immortalized in Chinese classical landscape paintings and poetry. The beautiful natural scenery so admired by painters and poets has made Yangshuo famous throughout China and internationally. Word of Yangshuo's charm has spread like wildfire among travelers worldwide, greatly boosting its popularity and made it a paradise for backpackers. After checking into your hotel, we’ll go down to West Street, in order to learn about Chinese calligraphy. Your lesson will be under the guidance of a master.
Calligraphy is considered as a treasured artistic form of Chinese culture. It is not merely a practical technique for writing Chinese characters or a tool for written communication, but also, more importantly, a unique expression of the spiritual world of the calligrapher. Calligraphy conveys the emotions, esthetic feelings, moral integrity and character of the calligrapher. Appreciators of calligraphy can even tell the character, temper or the change of the calligrapher’s social situation by appreciating his/her work.
Day 3 Yangshuo-Guilin-Chengdu (B, L, D)
After breakfast in the hotel, we will rent bikes and ride onto the country roads, lanes, and tracks through the paddy field orchards that surround the misty mountains of Yanghsuo. We’ll then make the 1.5hr drive back to Guilin, where we will learn about Chinese brush painting at the Guilin Art Museum.
Traditional Chinese painting is known as “guo hua”. Like calligraphy, the painting is done using a brush dipped in black or colored ink, usually on paper or silk. The finished work can be mounted on scrolls and hung. Traditional painting has also been done on walls, porcelain, and lacquer ware. The two main techniques of Chinese painting that you will be learning about are:
“Gong-bi” or meticulous attention to detail, referring mainly to portraits, and “Xie yi” or freehand, referring mainly to landscapes.
After your lesson we’ll next head over to Reed Flute Cave. The Reed Flute Cave (Ludi Yan) is a fascinating gallery of natural sculpture (limestone cave formations), now enhanced by multicolored lighting, which has been one of Guilin’s many interesting attractions for over 1200 years. It rates as one of the top four tourist sites in the city. The cave is about 240 meters long and a tour lasts about one hour. Along the u-shaped route, you will have ample time see the oddly shaped rocks and stone pillars while the guide narrates interesting stories about them. Illuminated by the colored lights, the cave looks like a dazzling underground palace. That’s why the cave is also known as the Nature’s Art Palace.
You will then be taken to the airport, where you will make the short flight to Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province in southwest China. Upon arrival you’ll be met by your English-speaking travel guide. After checking in to your hotel you will be taken out to a dinner feast of spicy Sichuan cuisine.
Day 4 Chengdu (B, L, D)
In the morning, you will be taken to Ya’an to visit the Bifengxia (Bifeng Grge) Panda Breeding Center. In the May 12th 2008 the Wenchuan Earthquake dealt the pandas a crushing blow and over fifty giant pandas living in captivity became completely homeless. In order to save these national treasures, the Wolong National Natural Reserve has, since May 15th, carried out an evacuation plan. Twenty-seven giant pandas were transferred in batches to Chengdu, Fuzhou and Beijng, and the rest were moved to Bifeng Gorge Base of China Panda Protection and Research Center, located in the northern suburbs of Chengdu.
The pandas are assured of healthy growth in their new home, and good news continually flows from Bifeng Gorge Base. In the morning on July 6th, 2008, the panda "Guo Guo" gave birth to the first twin cubs in the base. Guo Guo, the great panda mother, came to the base on June 24th when she was 119 days pregnant. She was really strong and brave to have these baby pandas after surviving the big earthquake, overcoming the difficulties of bumping and shaking on the long journey, and adjusting herself to the new environment. The center is divided into the giant panda breeding zone, baby giant panda care zone, research center, bamboo woods and office area.
The rest of the day can be spent at your own discretion. From traditional teahouses, theaters to modern pubs and clubs, Chengdu people know how to enjoy the night. Every corner in Chengdu offers the warmest welcome, and you are sure to find something to pique your interest during your time on the town.
Day 5 Chengdu (B, L, D)
In the morning you will be able to volunteer at the Panda Breeding Center. Beside getting an up close and personal experience with this icon of Chinese wildlife, you can clean the residences and improve their living conditions.
After your time with the Pandas, we’ll take a tour of Shangli Ancient Town. As one of the top ten ancient towns in Sichuan province, Shangli Ancient Town once served as an important post on the South Silk Road and the Ancient Tea-Horse Trail in history. Besides, it witnessed the Long March (1934–1936) of the Red Army in the 1930s. estling among hills and surrounded by rivers, the town is noted for its evergreen trees, delicate hillocks, wooden resident houses, stone-paved streets, towers, ancient archways, caves, the Tang dynasty’s spring (The White Horse Spring), and historical stone bridges. Two streams with distinctive scenery on the banks flow gently around the town. The stone-paved streets are flanked with various styles of residential houses and courtyards in a layout of the Chinese character "well", which remains intact. The ancient bridges, ancient pagodas, ancient trees, ancient caves and ancient memorial archways are distributed in or near the town, contrasting finely with each other. The perfect combination of history, culture and tradition with natural beauty makes the town full of mystery and vitality.
You’ll then be taken back to Chengdu, while the rest of your day can be spent at your own leisure.
Day 6 Chengdu (B, L, D)
Today we’ll continue your tour of Chengdu city with a visit to Dujiangyan, which is one of the marvels of Chinese science. Over 2,200 years ago, the city was threatened by the frequent floods caused by flooding of the Minjiang River (a tributary of the Yangtze River ). Li Bing, a local official of Sichuan Province at that time, together with his son, decided to construct an irrigation system on the Minjiang River to prevent flooding. After a lengthy study and a lot of hard work by the local people, the great Dujiangyan Irrigation Project was completed. Since then, the Chengdu Plain has been free of flooding and the people have been living peacefully and affluently. Now, the project is honored as the 'Treasure of Sichuan', which still plays a crucial role in draining off floodwater, irrigating farms and providing water resources for more than 50 cities in the province.
Dujiangyan is the oldest and only surviving no-dam irrigation system in the world; and a wonder in the development of Chinese science. The project consists of three important parts, namely Yuzui, Feishayan and Baopingkou scientifically designed to automatically control the water flow of the rivers from the mountains to the plains throughout the year.
Next, we will head over to Mt. Qingcheng. Qingcheng Mountain is a famous Taoist mountain because it is one of the places where the Taoist religion originated. A Taoist teacher named Zhang came to the mountain and preached during the Eastern Han Dynasty period. Since then, over the last two millennia, dozens of other temples were built on the mountain. Tianshi Cave is one of the main attractions since it is the place where Zhang is said to have preached in. It is a good place to start from to see the dozens of other temples around. These temples include Jianfugong Temple, Shangqinggong Temple, Zushi Temple, Yuanminggong Temple, Laojunge Temple, Yuqinggong Temple, and Chaoyang Cave. The sunrise, the misty "sea of clouds" and the Shengdeng are beautiful sights.
Qingcheng Mountain has a beautiful peak near the city, and another peak is behind it. These peaks are called "Front Mountain" and "Behind Mountain". Front Mountain has been a major travel highlight in the Chengdu area, because it has a lot of ancient Taoist and Buddhist temples and historic sites. It was a religious pilgrimage destination. The scenery is beautiful.
15 kilometers away from Front Mountain is Back Mountain that the government has recently opened up for hikers. There are a few temples and historical sites, but it is mainly a natural reserve that has peaceful streams, quiet forests and a grand peak.
In the afternoon, you will have half day free to do some shopping in Chengdu or explore the "Leisure City" by yourself.
Day 7 Chengdu-departure (B)
Following breakfast you will be taken to the airport, where you will fly on to your next destination, ending your tour with us.
Jason Reschke, Auburn, AL, USA:
Want to say a big thank you to our different tour guides (especially Jason in Chengdu) and everyone at the China Adventure Club team that made our trip possible. We loved loved loved it! The Li River was absolutely gorgeous, and me and my girlfriend were able to get some fantastic photos. Seeing the Pandas in their natural environment was also really cool, and we both thought that Chengdu had this really cool and quirky vibe. Definitely a great trip!