The Russ Oquist and Friends
17-day Private Deluxe China Tour
Featuring Beijing, Pingyao, Xi’an, Zhangjiajie, Shanghai, Suzhou, and Zhou Zhuang
from July 12 – 28, 2013
Russ Oquist , President of MG Tour Co., has traveled to China over 40 times, exploring most of China, from the north to the south. Over the past 12+ years, he and his company have been arranging custom tours for Americans traveling to China and have offices in Beijing and Kunming as well as in the United States, where they have both English and Chinese speaking staff. Russ has worked and traveled extensively in China and has a great appreciation for the wonderful country and people of China.
His company, MG Tour, started the “Russ Oquist and Friends Premium Travel Series,” as a way in which he could personally design tours with his closest clients/friends in mind – full of unique and exciting experiences that all can enjoy. They offer this tour with a view to having a blend of people whom they know will travel well together, or they can design a customized private tour, with excellent value for your travel dollar.
Russ will not be the guide. He will have the local guides and a national guide to lead the tour. His role on these trips is to enjoy these times with you and to help ensure that everyone has the maximum quality travel experience. China and Zhangjiajie are such exciting and magical places to visit and MG Tour wants to share these world-class travel experiences with you.
Join us from July 12 through 28, 2013 — it’s all about the experience!
July 12: Fly to China! The adventure begins!
Today you will board your plane for your flight to China! This exciting adventure begins!
July 13: Arrive in Beijing – Transfer to the Hotel
Welcome! You will arrive at Beijing Capitol airport. Upon arrival, you will be taken to the Peninsula Hotel (this is the premium 5-star Chinese-style hotel in the WangFujing neighborhood). The rest of the day is free to spend at leisure.
Evening Option: Brief evening time of wine and snacks in the center court area.
July 14: Beijing – Visit Tibetan Lamasery & Temple of Heaven (B, L, D)
In the morning we will visit the Tibetan Yong He Gong Lamasery. After some time there we will walk to Confucian Temple. These are two sites that are not often visited. After lunch we will take you to the Temple of Heaven, which is where the emperor would go every year to commune with the gods for the harvest of China.
Afterwards we will visit the Pian Gia Yuan (2nd Hand Street Market) where Beijingers go to shop. This is an amazing cultural event that is only every Saturday and Sunday, where you can see hundreds of individual Chinese vendors selling everything from paintings, to furniture, to incredible hand embroidery to Beijing Opera costumes, chop stick collections, etc. etc. We will return to the hotel for a chance to relax. A special Pecking duck dinner is included for tonight.
Dinner: A special Pecking duck dinner
July 15: Beijing – Olympics, Artist’s Colony, Great Wall – (B, L, D)
Today we will start the day take you for a brief view of the two main Olympic Stadiums, the Water Cube and the Bird’s Nest. Then you will be taken to your hotel. The rest of the day is free.
On the way into Beijing we can stop at the 798 Artist’s District. This is a community of modern artists, with homes, art studios and display halls. They also have fascinating modern statues and sculptures outside by the streets and the parks, including a giant size statue reminiscent of Gollum.
Afterwards, we will take you to the Great Wall of China in Mutianyu. This amazing area has far fewer tourists than the traditional site at Badaling. It is an amazing thing to be walking on the Great Wall of China. This delightful area to explore the Great Wall has two ways to ascend the wall, by foot or riding on the gondolas up to the Wall. This way, if you want, you can conserve your energy for running around on the Wall, if you want. You can descend the wall one of three ways, by foot, on the gondolas or on one-man toboggans. This adds a very fun element to this visit. Then we will return you to your hotel.
Evening Option: Beijing Opera or Kung Fu Show
July 16: Beijing - overnight train to Pingyao (B, L, D) (option evening flight to Taiyuan and drive to Pingyao)
In the morning we will visit a traditional Chinese Hutong. This is the traditional housing in old Beijing that generally consists of four small houses surrounding a court area with a high wall separating it from the narrow streets. The Hutong has been home to both the rich and the poor.
We will start with a rickshaw ride through the old neighborhood and continue with a walking tour into the narrow streets of the Hutong. Afterwards, we will visit the home of a Hutong family; feel free to ask the family questions. These quaint dwellings are disappearing in the continual modernization of China. We will have lunch with the family in the Hutong House (homemade meal).
After lunch we will go to Tiananmen Square and then to the Forbidden City. In addition to seeing the buildings and grounds of the Emperor's palace, we will also see the Emperor's clock collection and the Qing Dynasty Jewelry, Robes and Relic collection (which Westerners rarely see).
Optional: Special night out – Hutong Club area or Karaoke if anyone is interested.
Afterwards we will go to a supermarket to purchase some favorite foods, drinks and snacks for our overnight train to Pingyao. Then we will go to the train station and board our train for our ride to Pingyao.
Pingyao: Pingyao is also known as Turtle City. The south and north gates represent a turtle's head and tail, and the four gates on the east and west represent four legs, the two wells just beyond southern gate are the eyes. A web of alleys links the main streets in such a way that even the layout of the town resembles the markings on a turtle shell.
July 17: Arrive on train - Pingyao (B, L, D)
You will arrive in Pingyao in the morning. We will see many of the cities ancient sites. Then we will check into your beautiful boutique hotel in the heart of Pingyao. You will have some time to rest and refresh and then we will continue the tour. This city is full of ancient sites. Upon arrival we will be taken to our hotel.
July 18: Pingyao (B, L)
We will see many delightful and beautiful ancient sites including Ming Qing Street (which has many interesting historic museums). Then we will visit the Temple of the City God on Nan Da Jie, from the Northern Song dynasty. On the eastern end of Xi Da Jie is Rishengchang, meaning "sunrise prosperity," China's first bank. What started out as a single businessman's efforts to safely manage the accounts of his widely spread company, became a private banking enterprise that caught on like wildfire – a similar phenomenon occurred in Europe at the end of the Middle Ages. Now converted into a museum, the head office was on this same site during the Qing dynasty. There are 21 buildings surrounding three courtyards. On either side of the front yard are the counters, main banking activities were carried out in the middle courtyard house, which functioned as an exchange center.
We will also visit some of the beautiful ancient mansions outside of Pingyao, like the Qiao Family Courtyard House and the Wang Family Courtyard House.
July 19: Pingyao – Tour of countryside - Fly to Xi’an (B, L)
Today we will drive through the countryside and enjoy the sites there. When we arrive in Taiyuan we will take a flight to Xi’an. Upon arrival we will be transferred to our hotel.
Evening: After Dinner social time complete with wines and snacks
July 20: Xi’an – Private Xi’an City Tour (B)
Today you will visit the highlights of Xi’an. You will visit the old city wall and see the Shaanxi Provincial Museum, which has an extensive collection of artifacts from the various Chinese Dynasties. You will go to the see the Bell Tower and the Drum Tower. Then we can take you to see the Great Mosque and the Muslim Quarter. If you want, you can visit an authentic historic scholar’s home and garden.
July 21: Xi’an – Private Tour of Terra Cotta Soldiers – Evening Flight to Zhangjiajie (B)
Today you will visit what has been called the "8th Wonder of the World" the Terra Cotta Soldiers Museum. On the way we will stop at the Terra Cotta Soldier’s Replica Factory. This impressive store not only makes Terra Cotta Soldiers in every size, but also has the famous Three Color Pottery, silk rugs, silk clothing and jewelry. But the most impressive thing that they sell is fine Chinese furniture inlayed with semi-precious stones – very beautiful. Then you will be taken to see the amazing Terra Cotta soldiers, including the three major pits and the 360-theatre. In the evening you will be taken to the airport for your flight to Zhangjiajie. Upon arrival we will be transferred to our 5-star hotel.
Dinner: Special Hunan Dishes (generally very spicy and delicious)
July 22: Zhangjiajie (TianMen Shan) – Tour (B, L, D)
After breakfast, we will visit the Tianmen Mountain Cable Car. This is the longest and the fastest cable car in the world! You will be able to explore the Tianmen Mountain Forest Park. You will visit Tianmen Cave, the Guigu Wooden Walkways and the Temple of Tianmen Mountain. Afterwards we will return to the city via a road that has 99 hairpin turns from the mountain. After a lunch stop we will visit the Tu Si Museum of the Tu Jia people, which is an intriguing set of buildings, grounds and cultural exhibits – this is a very unique ethnic museum.
July 23: Zhangjiajie – Tour (B, L, D)
Today we will see some of the most amazingly beautiful sites that you will ever see in your life! After breakfast we will go up to Yuanjiajie by Bailong Elevator, to tour the back garden, Mihun Stage and Helong Park. We will walk along the trail where you can see this amazing area from the many vista points. The last and most amazing vista point is called the Emperor Mountain scenic area. We will then descend this “fairy land” by cable car. Then we will see the Ten-miles-Gallery of sights by a cable train. There are many highlights including Herb Picking Old Man, Three Sisters peaks, etc.
July 24: Zhangjiajie – Tour – Flight to Shanghai (B, L, D)
After breakfast we will take you to see some of the most beautiful and tranquil sites. Admire the tall thin trees and a stream with dappled sun light breaking through to the canyon floor. This area includes the Golden Whip Stream, the Golden Whip Crag, the Magical Eagle Protecting the Whip and the Water Winding Four Doors.
After we have seen this lovely canyon floor we will visit Baofeng Lake by boat for a tour of the natural views around it. After our visit we will be taken to the airport for our flight to Shanghai. Upon arrival in Shanghai we will be transferred to our hotel. We will have dinner at the hotel.
July 25: Shanghai – Yu Yuan Gardens & Museums (B, L)
Today your guide will meet you and you will be taken on a walking tour of the historic Jewish area of Shanghai. You will visit the Shanghai Jewish Refugees Museum. The museum consists of two parts: the former site of Ohel Moshe Synagogue and the gallery. It is an important component of the “Tilanqiao Historic Area” and serves as a witness commemorating the phase of history when the Jewish refugees lived in Shanghai and the small memorial park which testifies of this time in history. Then we will get on the bus and go to the classic Yu Yuan Gardens, which is a gorgeous example of a classic Chinese Garden. This area exits into the main shopping center of Shanghai. Shanghai is such a West influenced city that they call this area "China Town." After lunch, you will be taken to the world-class Shanghai Art Museum.
This fantastic museum has a number of quality exhibits including an ancient coin collection and on the fourth floor an ethnic minority exhibit which features costumes, masks, and various implements and tools. Then we will take you to a Private Lotus Shoe Museum, which features tiny lotus shoes, as well as ancient worker boots, Qing Dynasty costumes and various ceramic curios. The Lotus shoe was a horrific practice as women bound their feet when they were children to keep them very small (which was considered a beautiful feature). However, the lotus shoes themselves are exquisitely beautiful, with elaborate embroidery on all sides, even often the bottom of the shoe. There is one set of shoes (pictured here) which actually had a small drawer to hold powder in the heel, a scrim on the bottom with stencil-like holes in the shape of a Lotus flower.
Evening Option: An evening exploring the Bund (no additional charge, you just pay for your own drinks, food, etc)
Evening Option: Shanghai Acrobats (tickets $25-35/person) includes transportation to and from the theatre
Evening Option: The Bund and possibly the Peace Hotel or wherever you want to go.
July 26: Shanghai – Day Trip to Suzhou (B, L, D)
After breakfast we drive to Suzhou. Upon your arrival at Suzhou, we will visit the Humble Administrator's Garden, which is the largest classical garden in Suzhou and praised to be one of the top four gardens in China. Next visit Tiger Hill another must of Suzhou. Only 36 meters above sea level, this picturesque hill is left with a number of historical sites and anecdote dating back 2,500 years ago. Finally we come to the Garden of the Master of the Nets. Upon arrival at the Garden of the Master of the Nets, you will be surprised by its ingenious gardening in a compact space. Benefiting from its lettered masters, this garden has the most artistic and cultural relics. Drive back to Shanghai in the late afternoon.
Evening Option: XinTianDi (delightful club area)
July 27: Shanghai - Day Trip to Zhouzhang (B, L, D)
Today your guide will meet you and you be taken to the water town of Zhouzhang. You will see some beautiful canals, classic small bridges and a glimpse into what life was like in older China. Then we will go to the airport for our evening flight to Zhangjiajie. Upon arrival we will be met by our guide and transferred to the hotel. The rest of the day is free to enjoy the hotel and the city area. End the day with a delightful dinner in Zhou Zhang.
July 28: Shanghai – Main Group Flies Home
After breakfast we will drive back to Shanghai airport for your return flight home with a lifetime of wonderful memories!
Note: Tour and Tour Information are subject to change.
Meals Provided: B = breakfast, L = lunch, D = dinner
The Russ Oquist and Friends 17-day Private Deluxe China Tour
July 11 – 28, 2013
Land and Internal Air for: $4,975/person* (Dbl Occ)
Single supplement: $1,645USD/person*
Included in Private Deluxe China Tour:
- All Internal Chinese flights
- Hotels based on Double Shared Rooms
- Meals as listed on itinerary
- Private Transfers and Tours with English-speaking Guide & Driver
- English-speaking Tour Guide & Air Conditioning Luxury Car with Driver.
- Admission fees to all the sightseeing in the itinerary
- All government taxes
- One bottle mineral water per person per day
- Domestic flights listed in the itinerary
- Some special items as referred to in the itinerary
Not included in China Experience:
- International Flights
- Tips for guide & driver
- Meals not listed
- Touring or Activities listed as optional
- International flight ticket and taxes
- Travel Insurance
- Chinese Visa
Accommodations (or similar):
Peninsula Hotel – Top Chinese style 5-star hotel in Beijing
Great hotel in a great location – WangFuJing
Tianyuankui Guesthouse in the heart of the city
Metro Park (aka Hyatt Regency)
Great hotel located inside the City Wall, just a few minutes walk from the Bell tower and Muslim Quarter
Qinghe Jinjiang Hotel - 5 star
Ocean Hotel - 5 star