With its rich and diverse culture, ancient history and awe-inspiring scenery, China offers a unique educational experience. Plus modern China is becoming an ever more important player in the global economy.
There has never been a more exciting time to visit this incredible country. Our escorted tours to China include full board accommodation, entrance fees, a National Guide to accompany you throughout and knowledgeable local guides in each city. Other tour variations are available, including 6 days to Beijing and 9 days to Beijing, Xian, Suzhou and Shanghai. Please telephone 01273 827 327 for more details.
Cross Curriculum Excursions (Beijing)
The Forbidden Palace makes the Palais de Versailles look like a children's doll house. It took 15 years to build, over 1 million workers were involved in its construction and there are almost 1000 separate buildings (and many more rooms) within the enormous complex. Although, Beijing is a huge city with around 20 million people living there, the Forbidden Palace still manages to dominate the capital's topography; it is imperial in every way. It was built at the beginning of the C.15th, when the Yongle Emperor of the Ming Dynasty decided to move the capital of China back to Beijing (Northern city) from Nanjing (Southern city). It served as an imperial Palace for close to 500 years under the Ming and Qing dynasties, and as well as acting as the Imperial Residence it was also the ceremonial political epicentre of China for this time. After the republican revolution in 1911, the youngest and last emperor of the Qing dynasty abdicated from power. He and his family were permitted to continue living in the royal residence until they were finally expelled by Republican troops in 1924. Since 1950 The Forbidden City has been the Palace Museum to the public and in 1987 it was declared a world heritage site by UNESCO. You will need at least a day to explore this ancient marvel of imperial power that is The Forbidden City, and will still be left wanting to go back for more, There are over 1 million rare and valuable objects in the museum, so take your time and enjoy. Be warned that in the summer months, the Forbidden City is often overwhelmed by the number of visitors that pass through its gates, so remember to turn up early in the day to avoid the initial rush, although it is always best to explore in winter (despite the extremely cold temperatures).
Best known for the Tiananmen Square uprising in June 1989, which resulted in the death of hundreds of peaceful protestors, Tiananmen Square has been a focal point in Beijing for many years and is the biggest city square in China and the third biggest in the world. It was named after the Tiananmen Gate, which was the entrance to the Forbidden City, built in 1415 during the Ming dynasty. Covering over 40 hectares, this square carries considerable political importance and it was where Mao Zedong declared a new nation in 1949. It is from here that you will be able to see Mao Zedong's portrait hanging above the entrance to the Forbidden City in a legacy that continues to effect every-day life throughout China.
Great Wall of China
The Great Wall of China is over 5,500 miles long, is one of the Seven Wonders of the World, was built between the C.5th BC and the C.16th AD, and is probably China's most impressive landmark, so as you can imagine, it makes for an extremely popular excursion. There are several sites along the wall that you can access easily from Beijing. Remember to take your walking shoes and be ready for a bit of a climb along the now uneven surface. For those of you who are after a particularly touristy attraction, you can take a slide back down, which is often popular with student groups.
The Ming dynasty tombs became the final resting place for 13 of the Ming Emperors. The site was chosen by The Emperor Yongle, who was also responsible for the construction of the Forbidden City. After the Palace was completed, Yongle selected his burial site according to Feng Shui Principles that are still prevalent and used today, and created a mausoleum. During the Ming dynasty, commoners were prohibited from visiting the tombs, but in 1644 an army ransacked and set many of the tombs alight before advancing to Beijing to capture the city in the April of that year. Go and see the museum that was created after the tomb of Dingling, belonging to Emperor Wanli, was excavated. The excavation revealed an intact tomb, with thousands of items of silk, textiles, wood and porcelain, along with the skeletons of the Emperor and his two Empresses, although these cannot be seen today.
The Summer Palace, known as Yiheyuan in Beijing, is located in Beijing's North-Western district and is a lovely tranquil idyll within the capital's hectic rush. As with the Forbidden City, the Summer Palace is best visited early on in the day or in winter if you wish to avoid the large crowds. The Palace is dominated by the Kunming Lake, which was entirely man-made and covers an expanse of 2.2 square km, and Longevity Hill, which is 196.9 feet high and houses many buildings designed in a symmetrical sequence. In December 1998, the Palace was declared a UNESCO world heritage site and was classified as "a masterpiece of Chinese landscape and architecture." Don't miss the incredibly authentic-looking artificial boat that looks as if it is made out of marble, but is in fact wooden.
Temple of Heaven
Constructed between the years 1406 and 1420, the Temple of Heaven is said to be the most beautiful set of buildings in Beijing. It was visited by Emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties, who went there on ceremony each year to pray to the heavens for a good harvest from the central Hall of Prayer. Although heaven-worship well pre-dates Taoism, the buildings are built in keeping with traditional Taoist architecture and so it is widely regarded as a Taoist place of worship. Once again, it was the Emperor Yongle (who constructed the Forbidden City and the Ming Tombs) that was responsible for its construction. However, during the reign of Emperor Jiajing in the C.16th, the Temple was much extended. As with many of China's historical sites, it suffered under the invasion of the Allied Anglo-French forces during the Second Opium War in the late nineteenth century and the Boxer Rebellion in 1900.
Cross Curriculum Excursions (Xian)
The capital of China for over 1,000 years and the start of the silk road.
The city of Xi'an is host to arguably the most significant archaeological find in the world, the Terracotta Army. If it is not the most important then it is definitely the largest, with over 7,000 pottery soldiers, horses, chariots, and even weapons having been unearthed so far. It was only relatively recently, in 1974, that this remarkable discovery was made; a group of peasants, while building a well, uncovered some pottery and since then the collection has grown and grown as archaeologists have uncovered more and more. The warriors and horses were made for the Emperor Qin Shi Huang in 246 BC, when at the age of 13 he began to commission work for his mausoleum and believed that such a huge army would protect him in his after life. It took 11 years to complete, which given the size of the army, was no small feat. The figures vary in size according to their rank and even have their own individual markings and features. Whilst the Generals are unsurprisingly the tallest, non-military figures were also found in other pits including acrobats, strongmen and musicians - presumably to amuse him after death!
Wild Goose Pagoda
The Wild Goose Pagoda is a Buddhist pagoda that was built in 652AD during the Tang dynasty, originally had five stories, but it was rebuilt in 704AD during the reign of Empress Wu Zetian, who added a further five stories. Unfortunately, in 1556 it suffered the throws of a violent earthquake and was reduced to seven stories, which is what visitors still see today. Many of the artefacts that it was built to home, were sutras and figurines of the Buddha that had been brought by the Buddhist translator and traveller, Xuanzang, from India. The current pagoda stands at 210 feet tall and offers brilliant views over the city of Xi'an.
Hua Qing Hot Springs
Also located near Xi'an are the Hua Qing Hot Springs, which have enjoyed a long long history. They were built in 723AD by the Emperor Xuanzong of the Tang dynasty to become part of the Hua Qing Palace, which sits at the foot of Lishan Mountain. The love story between Emperor Xuanzong and his Precious Consort, Yang Guifei, is what made the destination famous. Unfortunately, their love story came to a sad end when the Emperor's guards killed her, believing that her sister was responsible for a rebellious uprising against the King. However, her memory has been immortalised in the form of a beautiful statue that sits on its own island within the springs. She is now known as one of the Four Beauties of Ancient China. So, go and enjoy the peace, beauty and harmony that the Hua Qing Hot Springs and Palace affords!
As modern China becomes an increasingly important player in the global economy, there has never been a more opportune time to learn Mandarin. Indeed over 300 Secondary Schools in the UK are already teaching Mandarin, with many more set to follow their lead. Visiting China is ideal for consolidating this learning, perhaps even more so than our European programmes, given China’s diverse culture which is heavily influenced by its rich ancient history.
We’ve put together an exciting itinerary which combines visiting some of the world’s leading cultural attractions, with opportunities to learn and practice this rich language in a local setting.
Like all our Language tours, we arrange your visits for you and your national and local guides accompany you to every venue and are with you throughout your stay. We also provide educational structure through our worksheets which will engage and focus your students in every environment.
IMPORTANT INFORMATION ABOUT CHINA TOURS
- Visa required – price on application
- Passports must be valid for 6 months after return
- Health – Hepatitis A, Polio and Typhoid recommended
- Departure tax from Beijing not included - poa
- Departure taxes from internal airports not included – poa
- Tour price does not included tips and gratuities for guides and drivers which are customary and expected. Please contact for more details.