China Architectural Tour: Travellers would begin their journey in the charming city of Beijing- the cultural and political hub of China. From here they will proceed to witness some amazing wildlife in the 4 national parks of China still unfamiliar to the west – Huanglong and Jiuzhaigou in the Sichuan province and Tianmenshan in the province of Hunan. These amazing parks present amazing natural beauty and lush greenery with absolutely stunning environment. The villages and countryside give guests a little glimpse into the culture and tradition of the areas.
China is known for its diverse culture but the one aspect that stands out is its architectural masterpieces, both traditional and modern. Watchtowers also called Diaolou in Guangdong province; Hakka forests in Fujian, merchant’s house in Shanxi to the Great Wall of China near Beijing are few of the many examples of amazing architectural delights that welcome you to China. The country has become every architects dream country to explore and implement various modern and innovative ideas in building masterpieces through the various cities of China.
China Architectural Tour: DAY 1 – Guangzhou
Welcome to Guangzhou!
Upon your arrival in Guangzhou you will be welcomed by your guide who will take you to your hotel in the city. En route you will first visit Guangzhou’s New TV tower also dubbed as Canton Tower, one of the tallest towers in the world. This amazing hyperboloid architectural masterpiece is designed by Mark Hennel along with a Dutch architectural firm and is more than 600m tall. It includes beautiful gardens, museums and a shopping centre too! You begin your journey into the architectural realms of China by visiting this tower.
The presence of foreign entities in Guangzhou goes back to as early as the Tang dynasty (618-907) making it an important southern port of the country as well as a centre for silk trade. Arab and Persian merchants dominated this region and also had their own mosques. With time, the Portuguese established themselves in Macao, with the help of the Emperor in the 16th century. The British, Dutch, Americans and French soon followed suit around the 17th and 18th century making it a notable port especially due to their tea trade.
From here you will be taken to pleasant park on Shamian Island, a medieval Anglo-French concession located along the Pearl River. You can observe the locals practice their gymnastics called Taiji and Qijong here as well see some beautiful centuries old Banyan trees. You will then exit the park and take a bike ride to see the well preserved regal architecture that defines the skyline of the city especially Our Lady of Lourdes Church that was constructed by the French.
Once you cross the large avenue that divides the Island from the North of the city, you would enter an ancient place that was home to the erstwhile Qingping Market that was famous for selling cats, rodents, dogs and owls for consumption, but was partly closed in light of the SARS epidemic some years back. Despite of this set back one can observe a Chinese medicinal drug making stalls that offer an extremely wide range of dried scorpions, ginseng, stags horns, seahorses and rare mushrooms in a maze of innumerable roads. A less visited road takes us through an area famous for its clothes vendors who call out to customers bragging about their quality all the way through. This leads us to another market called Longjin that has covered stalls selling all types of fruits, meat and fish.
Your next stop on your bike ride will be the famous 19th century temple called Chen Family temple. It was built by residents of 72 villages of the region brought together by a clan system that represented the region as one. The wonderful collection of beautiful scriptures, Chinese architecture, paintings, etc. is all homage to the Chen Clan.
Alternative: You can try the dim sum (optional) the basis of the lauded Cantonese cuisine that is one of the four major types of cuisine eaten in China. They are similar to Spanish Tapas but either sweet or savoury.
China Architectural Tour: DAY 2 – Guangzhou – Kaiping – Guangzhou (B)
Road trip to Guangzhou-Kaiping-Guangzhou
You will travel by road to Kaiping around 180 kms or 50 miles and takes about 2 hours depending on the traffic. In the 19th century a large number of Chinese migrants left this region due to demographic reasons as well as the Opium Wars and Taiping rebellion. They moved on to North America and South East Asia mostly being sold as coolies. Those who chose to stay back or were left back had been subjected to murder, theft and sudden disappearances so they built self-defence mechanisms including the famous Diaolou. These are fortified multi-storey buildings that were constructed by the inhabitants to protect themselves for the widespread crime and 1800 such structures were built across Guangzhou province, now forming a part of UNESCOs world heritage sites.
Today you will begin your day with a visit to Chikan village where you can see excellent traditional Cantonese homes along the banks of the river and is often used as a location for shooting colonial style films. You will take your bikes from the town centre and ride through the picturesque countryside where one can see lovely rice paddies, banana plantations and bamboo trees along with various domestic and farm animals like water buffaloes, ducks swimming in the ponds. You can meet with a duck farmer on the way who will explain his way of work. Ducks here are reared in large numbers to meet the increasing demand of local restaurants who serve ‘Cantonese style roast duck’.
The local system of social groups is based on assembling people from the same ancestor thus giving way to ancestor worship. On the way you will get an opportunity to visit Zili village which is home to the largest number of Diaolou in the region. The towers here showcase architecture that is inspired by both Malaysia and Chicago built by the Fang Clan.
Next stop after Zili village will be to Li Garden that is made up of various villas styled in Italian architecture that reflects the entire region or country for that matter.
After this you will proceed to see the group of towers in Majianglong. Following the flagged path that winds through bamboo forests you will see many watchtowers from where you can truly admire the beauty of the countryside. Your day will end at Ruishi Lou, considered to be the most beautiful Diaolou of the region. It is famous for its Byzantine architecture and is located in the Jinjiang village.
Besides these wonderful Diaolou’s you can observe many others which have been left in crumbles over a period of time! You will spend the night in a hotel in Guangzhou.
China Architectural Tour: DAY 4 – Guangzhou- Xiamen – Gulanqyu (B,D)
Travel to Guangzhou-Xiamen-Gulangyu!
You will be taken to the airport where you will hop onto a flight to Xiamen, capital of Fujian province, often referred as the Amoy in the West.
On your arrival you will be met by your local guide who will take you to the pier just before making a crossing of a few minutes by boat to Gulangyu island that literally means ‘the islet where waves roll like drums’. This is a small yet charming island and represents some excellent colonial architecture. Founded during the Ming dynasty, Xiamen was once a major trade port in the south of the country however after several European invasion attempts from French, British, and Dutch and Portuguese, it finally became a foreign concession, post the Opium wars in the 19th century. Gulangyu became home to many Japanese and European colonizers. Today one can see a beautiful maze of wonderful roads, shaded alleys with banyan trees, palm trees and baroque villas and typical Chinese housing dotting the skyline. Excluding the permanent masses along the pier, one can get away from the bustle of the Chinese cities and above all its traffic as cars are banned on the island. A walk on the island will refresh you and you can admire the beautiful architecture that the island has to offer such as ancient foreign consulates, art deco style buildings and churches. After a fulfilling trip to Sunlight Rock that dominates the entire island, you can also visit the Koxingo Memorial, if you wish.
In Chine, Gulangyu is also called “Piano Island” due to the interests of the locals in this particular musical instrument that was taught in European schools from 1913, giving birth to many pianists. Your day will advance with a lovely visit to the striking and calming Shuzhuang Garden. You can do quite a few things here like relaxing on the beach or admiring the pengjing or bonsais or strolling through several pavilions.
If not this, you can alternatively give your taste buds a treat by gorging on various seafood and by tasting their famous “Xiamen Pie”.
(Kindly Note that this particular dinner is not included in the price of the package. Also request you to contact us for the option of an electric car, as it is the only vehicle allowed on the island)
China Architectural Tour: DAY 4 – Gulangyu – Xiamen – Yongding (B,D)
Return to Xiamen by boat and transfer to your journey to Yongding (around 200km/125 miles away, taking around 4 hours by road depending on the traffic), a region scattered with spectacular Hakka fortresses, or tulou. It is impossible to do an architectural tour of China without visiting these unique structures! “Hakka” (or “Kejia”) means “guest families” and refers to a branch of Han people who originate in the central plains of China, today numbering more than 80 million people in the world in total. The emigration of the Hakka people from the centre of China to the southern provinces started in earnest under the pressure exerted from the north by the Manchu (future Qing dynasty, the final dynasty in Imperial China) during the Ming Dynasty.
The architectural style of the tulou is the materialisation of these historical conflicts with locals. Made principally of clay and round or square in shape the tulou are impressive fortresses that sometimes housed many hundreds of people. An isolated microcosm of the outside world, the tulou often contained a temple for ancestor worship and a school in the centre. Its wells, kitchen, and supply areas made the Hakka fortress an almost autonomous entity and one of the most interesting architectural and sociological sites of the country. The tulou, some of which are listed under UNESCO’s World Heritage project, can be found all over Fujian and Guangdong provinces, but it’s close to the town of Yongding where they are most concentrated. In much the same way as the cave-dwellings you will visit close to Pingyao, the structure of the fortresses and the building materials used allow a pleasant room temperature to be maintained whatever the season.
There are still thousands of such fortresses and a large number of them are still inhabited. The wooden doors still creak, and the red lanterns sway in the wind while the inhabitants go about their business, each one of these fortresses is like its own little village!
You will start your visit with a trip to the Hongkeng fortresses, where you can find Zhengcheng lou, whose construction dates back to the start of the 20th Century, Kuijiu lou, which is a square style tulou, letting you appreciate the two principal architectural forms of these constructions (a third form, semi-cylindrical, can be seen in Guangdong province and can be visited if you wish to extend your trip – please ask us about this). You will also get to see Rusheng lou, the smallest but probably the best example for observing the Hakka community spirit.Your visit will end with what is considered as the “King of tulou”, Chengqi lou in Gaobei village. This tulou is notable for its size, with 400 rooms and a history dating back to the start of the 18th century. Family dinner and night in a tulou.
Note: conditions in tulou are basic but charming. Please consult with us if you want to upgrade accommodations
China Architectural Tour: DAY 5 – Xiamen – Hangzhou (B)
Travel from Xiamen to Hangzhou
On your return journey to Xiamen, visit the Tianluokeng Tulou Cluster, comprising of five fortresses famous for the incredible views of the hills situated close to Ruiyun lou that they have to offer. You will be transferred to Xiamen airport and hop on a flight for Hangzhou (approx. 90 minutes duration).
The ancient capital of the Song Dynasty (1127-1279), Hangzhou is now the provincial capital of Zhejiang.
Relax the night in the hotel.
China Architectural Tour: DAY 6 – Hangzhou – Xidi (B,D)
Exciting journey from Hangzhou to Xidi
Post breakfast you will head towards West Lake by road and then enjoy a wonderful bike ride in one of China’s most breath-taking and picturesque locations. There are curved bridges that lead to the centre of the lake where you will find the most romantic Quyuan garden. From here you will continue your wonderful journey to be awestruck by the beautiful and lush tea leaf fields.
Travel by car further west to see the beautiful and one of the most revered Buddhist temples of China- Lingyin temple. This quaint temple was founded by an Indian monk names Huili in the 4th century. His ashes are still stored in one of temples’ small pagodas. It is believed that the most important aspect is the Buddhist sculptures found besides and in the caves of Felaifeng. Legend has it that a woodpecker flew in and landed on the monk Huili, after which the temple is named. You can admire the statues of key figures in the introduction of Buddhism to China such as Xuanzang, a Chinese pelerine monk from the Tang Dynasty (618-907). Xuanzang spent nearly 20 years travelling through Central Asia and India to facilitate, discover and understand all the teachings of Buddhist thought. He translated the sutras into Chinese to assure their better diffusion in China. The book, Peregrination to the West, one of the most popular Chinese novels, tells his incredible story.
We then move on to Wannan in Anhui province, at the foothill of Yellow Mountains, taking around 5hours to cover the 300 kms depending on the traffic. Very rich merchants of the province dealing in salt, bamboo and tea, built large houses in the area that forms the mainstay of interesting architecture. Three main architectural characteristics that still dominate these buildings is the white chalked exterior walls, black time roofs with beautifully sculpted gables, indoor courtyards lit by skylights also called Tianjing or Mirrors to Heaven and the paifang or commemorative arches dedicated to the most triumphant candidates from Imperial exams.
You will spend this beautiful night at Xidi.
China Architectural Tour: DAY 7 – Xidi – Huangshan (B)
Another delightful tour from Xidi to Huangshan
Begin your day with a ride through the beautiful and striking villages, Xidi and Hongcun, considered to be the most beautiful in the country and also form a part of UNESCOs World Heritage Sites. A visit to these two villages will give you a glimpse of another important aspect of Chinese culture called ‘fengshui’ which literally means ‘wind’ and ‘water’. This is also called Geomancy.
This village is one of the best examples of fengshui in the entire country. Its layout is a deliberate reproduction of the silhouette of a buffalo. Its intestines symbolise the village’s complex network of canals and its stomach represents the central valley into which they all flow. The two large trees, just outside the village, signify the horns of the buffalo- an animal symbolically linked to water. It acted as a guard against the fires which ravaged the village before it was completed redesigned by a fengshui expert. You will also meet a fengshui master who will explain to you the secrets of this centuries-old practice.
You will then proceed to visit the modest Chengshitang, constructed by a salt merchant and perfectly representative of the level of prosperity and refinement present in the region. Film buffs will recognise the entrance to the village which is seen in one of the scenes from Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon when the thief “Green Destiny” attempts to escape Shu Lien (marvellously played by the actress Michelle Yeoh) in a thrilling chase scene over the houses of the village.
A neighbour of Hongcun, Tachuan is a seemingly timeless village. Ta is the Chinese word for Pagoda, just like the name given to the village by those who conceived it. The best way to pass the time in Tachuan is by losing yourself in the maze of grey-marble pathways or strolling around the countryside. Move forward towards the Yellow Mountain (Huangshan) and ascend by cable-car.
Spend the night at the summit. The nights here are fresh but the climate is quite unpredictable hence we recommend walking boots, waterproofs and warm clothes.
China Architectural Tour: DAY 8 – Huangshan – Tunxi – Shanghai (B,L,D)
Proceed to Huangshan- Tunxi and Shanghai
This particular site gets its name from an ancient tradition where each mountain was named after its most famous visitor. In the case of Huangshan it was the Yellow Emperor or in Chinese Huangdi, one of the founding fathers of Chinese civilisation, who lived in the 3rd century BC.
A few curved pine trees similar to bonsai trees, beautifully to grow on the granite ledges, and are a perfect addition to this living painting. Your walk to the top will be similar to that of a monk (or Kung Fu Panda for the young ones) as you climb endless steep stairs that wind their way up the mountain face. You can descend by cable-car and transfer to Tunxi.
Optionally: You can choose to relax and bathe in the hot springs, where the Emperor used to relax thousands of years ago, and where the Chinese now absorb the springs’ medicinal qualities.
Take an overnight train to Shanghai in soft sleeper class. The trains in China are incredibly lively places, as passengers enjoy instant noodles made with hot water from the boilers at the end of every carriage, consume astronomical amounts of sunflower seeds, play cards and drink beer or baijiu (a type of very strong Chinese rice wine)
China Architectural Tour: DAY 9 – Shanghai (B)Welcome to the beautiful city of Shanghai!
You will arrive in Shanghai at approx. 8:30am and will be taken by your tour guide to your hotel. You will begin your day with a visit to the People’s Square.
Today you will visit three museums known for its unique styles and designs. Our first stop would be Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Centre where we will primarily visit the model layout of Shanghai that is spread on the 3rd floor of the building. The model as well the as a short video give you an opportunity to understand how Shanghai has transformed into the thriving metropolis it is today. The 4th floor of the museum is great for the young or the young at heart as one can operate a simulator of a boat being docked at the Yangshan deep water port. On the 2nd floor you will be captivated by the city’s rich history, however it depends on what is being exhibited as well as the photographs, at the time you visit the museum.
Our 2nd stop will be at the most famous museum of China and Asia- The Shanghai Museum. The entire museum is an architectural and cultural masterpiece with unparalleled artefacts and statues. You can enjoy the beautiful bronze statues on the 1st floor that are complimented with gorgeous jade pieces of artwork, Qing dynasty furniture, Buddhist sculptures and other pieces of Chinese art. The audio guides are excellent if you want to explore the entire museum. The last stop with be at Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA)- a great place to visit for all art lovers.
The beautiful People’s Park lies at the heart of the People Square and is complete with a small lake, countless places to sit and relax and many food stalls. The area itself is surrounded by quaint restaurants and cafes. You can later stroll back up Nanjing road to the Bund where you can regale Shanghais night skyline.
Overnight stay in a hotel in Shanghai
China Architectural Tour: DAY 11 – Shanghai
Another beautiful day in Shanghai!
Today morning you will head to the French Concession, a symbol of western powers being accorded many privileges. Your trip with begin with a visit Fuxing park where you can enjoy the different forms of exercise and the tango, the music of which reverberates in the surrounding.
From here you will proceed to admire the old colonial homes of that have now been converted into boutique, cafes and restaurants. In the early times, French concession was a no go zone for the police as it was famous for its gangsters, mafias, opium dealers and prostitution. Shanghai Triad by Zhang Yimou very aptly depicts this city in 1930’s.
You will move one to Xintiandi, the liveliest part of the city. You can end your walk at Tianzifang, a maze of beautiful passages full of small art galleries, restaurants and boutiques.
Your walk finally end at Old Town that has been rebuilt mostly but still has its traditional Lilongs (like the Hutongs of Beijing)that come alive with the continuous chatter of the Shanghainese. The Old town is also home to the famous Yu Yuan gardens that represent the splendid Chinese landscaping. Traditionally Chinese landscaping is a miniature representation of nature where each element coincides perfectly with each other and represents one part of Mother Nature.
(Alternately you can choose to meet a Chinese gardener who will explain the concept of Bonsai or Pengjing)
Take a peek at the local bazaar that are lined with shops selling souvenirs, which you may want to indulge in if you like and then relax at the Huxingting tea house, located opposite the Yu Yuan Park and is very famous in China.
(Alternatively you can choose to enjoy a show “ERA” in Shanghai that has been running for the past 6 years. ERA is a multimedia odyssey that showcases the traditional Chinese acrobatic arts and modern technology.)
Spend the night in Shanghai
China Architectural Tour: DAY 11 – Shanghai – Taiyuan – Pingyao (B)
In the morning we will head to the airport and hop on a flight to Taiyuan, capital of Shanxi region. Here you will visit the beautiful ancestral temple or Jinci that was constructed in honour of Prince Shuyu who established the Jin State (773-403 B.C.)
The Hall of the Holy Mother (Prince Shuyu’s mother and to whom this site is dedicated) is beautiful piece of work of its time. Take your time to examine the wooden dragon sculptures that surround the temple and often only found in imperial temples. Ask your guide to explain why the Emperor never joked and you can various stories that resonate through the region. Later we will head to Pingyao that is around 90 mins away or 110kms/ 70 miles.
Pingyao is the best example of a perfectly preserved medieval city through China. The beautiful alleys lined gracefully with traditional courtyard style homes lit with red lanterns and surrounded by perfectly conserved city walls. Pingyao prospered as a market town under the Ming dynasty however it became the country’s’ first financial centre and an incredible walled city during the Qing dynasty.
Explore the city walls to get a real sense of the layout of the streets below. Measuring 6km long, 10 metres high and numbering 72 watchtowers (each of which houses a piece of Sunzi War artwork) the town walls ensure that Pingyao is almost impenetrable to any invading force. Pingyao has been attracting a growing number of tourists, and as a result, some of the 4000 Ming and Qing homes have been transformed into little restaurants, boutiques and charming hotels. You will spend the night in one of these hotels, maybe sleeping on a traditional kang, which is a bed made of bricks and heated by a small fire beneath.
Spend the night in Pingyao
China Architectural Tour: DAY 12 – Pingyao (B)
A beautiful day in Pingyao awaits you!
Post breakfast you will head towards other attractions of the region mainly exploring the beautiful houses and cave dwellings. During the Ming and Qing dynasties local merchants amassed a lot of fortune and built themselves sprawling houses. One such example of a palatial house is the Wang Family residence that has beautiful maze of courtyards, small gardens, and narrow stairways. It is located 50 kms from Pingyao.
On the way back to Pingyao we will stop over at a small village called Zhangbicun that is famous for its underground tunnels. An incredible system of defensive tunnels was built during the Sui Dynasty (581-618) in order to prepare for any attack by the Tang. However they failed in their purpose and the Tang ruled from 618-907. The tunnels are built 30m underground and extend for around 1500m. This small town on the surface also offers a lot to visitors who can enjoy its mix of paved streets and houses constructed during the Chinese Middle Ages.
This trip will also enable you to explore the famous Cave Dwellings. Even though we can’t give an exact figure, it’s thought that around 30 million people in China still live in cave dwellings that are built into the loess sedimentary rock (according to an article published in the Los Angeles Times on 18th March 2012). These types of loess cave dwellings are primarily found in the 3 provinces of Shanxi, Shaanxi and Henan which are often considered as the cradle of Chinese civilisation. Even though the conditions in these cave homes are very basic, with no running water and mains electricity supply, they have their advantages. The temperature inside the caves remains at a constant all year round, protecting the inhabitants from the bitter cold winds in winter, and keeping them cool and fresh in the hot summer months.
You will end your day with a visit to the Shuanglin Buddhist Temple translated as Temple of the Double Forest, outside Pingyao. It was established during the Northern Wei dynasty and still holds some beautifully preserved statues that are an example of an era gone by. From here you will proceed to Pingyao and enjoy the evening moving around the town.
You will spend the night in Pingyao
China Architectural Tour: DAY 13 – Pingyao – Taiyuan – Beijing (B)
A delightful journey from Pingyao to Taiyuan to Beijing
You can choose to take a morning stroll to observe the days beginning at Pingyao and enjoy the small things in life that the city has to offer. After your morning stroll, you will head off to walk around Rishengchang, who started off as a small dye store in the 17th century and grew into China’s first bank, opening branches throughout China. A true success story, Rishengchang helped to contribute to Pingyao’s success and establishment as China’s first financial centre. Later you will visit the local Yamen, which during Imperial times, was home to the administrative centre, courthouse and sometimes even a prison. The accused would present themselves in front of a judge who had the power to sentence them with punishments ranging from a simple fine to amputations.
From here you will proceed to Taiyuan Train Station from where you will head to Beijing. We will depart at 17:19 arriving in Beijing at 21:06. Upon arrival you will be met by our local guide and transferred to your hotel.
Overnight in Beijing
China Architectural Tour: DAY 14 – Beijing (B)
An incredible day exploring Beijing!
Welcome to Beijing- capital of the “Middle Kingdom”! This thriving metropolis garnered a lot of worldwide attention when it successfully hosted the 2008 Olympic Games.
In the morning we will proceed to the Forbidden City that is known to have 9999 rooms. The most important aspect of Chinese homes is that all of them face south to avoid the barbaric threat and invasion from the north. The main entrance of the Forbidden City faces Tiananmen Square- the 3rd largest city square in the world. This beautiful architectural masterpiece has been immortalized in the movie “Curse of the Golden Flower” and the cult classic “The Last Emperor”.
The construction of the city was finished in 1420 during the reign of Emperor Yongle of the Ming Dynasty. It served as an imperial administrative centre during the Ming and Qing dynasties until the fall of the entire empire in 1911.
This site is simplified by dividing it in 3 sites
– The official palaces which were used for lavish ceremonies, government meetings and imperial exams.
– The Imperial lodgings and gardens where the Emperor, Empress and visiting ambassadors resided.
– The surrounding areas that house temples, gardens and libraries.
This beautiful city was restored to its former glory during the 2008 Olympic Games. Take your own time to move around the Forbidden City to regale in its massiveness and beauty. Climb the artificial Coal Hill located behind the Forbidden City, from where you can get a great glimpse of the entire layout of Beijing.
From here proceed to China National Grand Theatre that was conceptualised by Paul Andreu. This French architect’s work is admired by the foreigners who visit the city. Its eggshell like appearance somehow seems to float on an artificial pool of water and houses a theatre, an opera house and a concert hall whose acoustics are the best in the world.
You will head by foot into Beijings Hutongs or Alleyways found only in this city. The Hutongs are less roads and more like extensions of people’s homes where you will be able to observe the locals of the area in action. From here will visit the Drum Tower where the passing of each hour was indicated by a drum roll during the Ming era. The tower is opposite the Clock Tower and provides a pleasant insight into old Beijing. (We offer an optional tour of the Clock Tower)
You can end your day by relaxing in one of the many bars and restaurants that surround Houhai Lake (Drink not included here)
Spend the night in Beijing
China Architectural Tour: DAY 15 – Beijing (B)
Another enthralling day in Beijing!
The one that immediately strikes as Chinese architecture are the Chinese temples, the Forbidden City, the Great Wall and everything that constitutes what we call traditional China. But modern China has much more to offer and justifies its status as a major economic power through the accelerated modernisation it has undergone. This strong revolution has above all affected the urban landscape, and particularly that of Beijing which was suffering from comparison with Shanghai and HongKong, the centres of dynamic China. Beijing has become a paradise for architectural firms from all over the world came into limelight during the Olympic Games in 2008 by producing original sporting installations of very high quality.
Your day will begin with an excursion to the National Stadium or “Bird’s Nest” as it is commonly known. Resembling a nest and with a structure made of steel, the challenge in its construction was immense, but the result is spectacular, and is in part the work of Ai Weiwei who was the artistic consultant for the project.
The stadium was host to the unforgettable opening ceremony of the 2008 Olympic Games as well as several of the major athletic events. The stadium is considered to be one of the most beautiful in the world.
National Aquatics Centre (which also played host to major Olympic events) or the “Water Cube” does not match the beauty of the neighbouring Olympic Stadium; it is nevertheless enjoyed by architecture buffs as a technical and ecological feat. The structure resembles a giant mattress made of 3000 “air bubbles”, and it is made of a type of transparent plastic which allows for the absorption and passage of natural light, reducing the amount of energy consumed by one third, including by heating the pool. The Cube is also equipped with a system for recycling and sanitisation of rain-water.
Another architectural masterpiece is the Phoenix International Media Centre an immense structure of steel and glass that is somewhat reminiscent of the Olympic Stadium. The structure, which will be completed before the end of 2012, will be the headquarters of the TV network Phoenix TV. You will pass the building before arriving at the rival network CCTV, a national station that is based in the famous CCTV Building, to which Bejingers give the nickname “big pants” after its unique design. The asymmetry of the structure is its main feature, and has earned the respect of specialists in the field.
(Note: Depending on your departure point on the last day, you can complete your tour of Beijing’s modern architecture by admiring terminal 3 at Beijing Capital International Airport, an incredible structure made of glass and aluminium that is said to look like a dragon and was designed by the British architect Sir Norman Foster)
China Architectural Tour: DAY 16 – Beijing (B,L)
Last Day in Beijing
The Great Wall of China is one of the most famous wonders of modern world and it supposed to be around 6000kms long. The construction of the defensive wall began almost 2000 years ago during the Qin Dynasty and it was later restored and further fortified under the Ming Dynasty, who created the Wall as we know today.
It stretches from ancient Manchuria to the Jianyuguan fort at the edge of the Gobi Desert in the west. This desert is known to have the most hostile environments and hence notorious criminals were banished to this part. The wall runs along high ridges that provided a great vantage point to the soldiers in the watch towers to sound of any enemy invasion. You will visit the Mutianyu section of the wall and you will begin your trip early in the morning to witness a spectacular sunrise and click some amazing photographs. If you think the walk down the Wall is too much you can opt to take the cable car downward or ride the Toboggan to the bottom.
Once you return to Beijing you will be taken to visit the Summer Palace. As the name indicates, the Summer Palace served as an escape for imperial members during the scorching summer heat of the Forbidden City. The palace was totally redesigned by Emperor Qianlong during the 18th Century. It consists of a mix of pagodas, small lakes and gardens that represent the Chinese culture and architecture. The Seventeen-Arch Bridge, the long corridors, the marble boat, Kunming Lake and Longevity Hill are the key landscape areas of this beautiful Summer Palace Gardens. After your astounding visit to the summer palace you will be taken back to your hotel in central Beijing.
Spend the night in Beijing
China Architectural Tour: DAY 17 – Beijing (B)
You will be transferred to the airport from where you will be able to take your onward/return flight.
China Architectural Tour: Please contact us to get the best possible price based upon your travel period and specific touring needs, private basis not join in, please inquire for pricing which varies depending on accommodation standards.
China Architectural Tour: What’s Included
Accommodation in selected hotel
Meals as mentioned (B= Breakfast, L= Lunch, D= Dinner).
English speaking guide without shopping
Tours and transfers as mentioned by private air conditioned vehicle
Entrance fees for mentioned visits
China Architectural Tour: What’s NOT Included
Other meals than mentioned
Other services than mentioned
International and Domestic Flights
Laundry, telephone calls and expenditure of a personal nature
Tips, Travel insurance
Visa of China
China Architectural Tour: Creating Unique Touring Experiences
All the touring itineraries on this website have been carefully crafted by our in-country management teams and represent a series of experiences we can certainly recommend. However, we understand that every travel experience should be as unique and individual as each traveler. Our consultants are waiting to hear from you so that we can tailor or custom design a China tour to your individual specifications.