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Imperial China, Tibet & the Yangtze River 2014

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Pre-trip: Shanghai: China's Historic Gateway to the West

In Shanghai, we’ll share a Home-Hosted Lunch with a local family, tour the old and new parts of the city, cruise along the canals of an ancient river town, and explore the treasures of the Shanghai Museum. Join us on this pre-trip extension in one of China's most dynamic cities.

It's Included:
Airfare from Shanghai to Beijing
Accommodations for 4 nights in Shanghai
8 meals—4 breakfasts, 3 lunches, and 1 dinner (including 1 Home-Hosted Lunch)
5 small group activities
Services of an expert Trip Leader who speaks English and the native language
All transfers
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    You depart the U.S. on an overnight flight to Shanghai.

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    An OAT representative will meet you at the airport and assist with your transfer to your hotel.

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    After breakfast at our hotel this morning, we set out for a sightseeing visit to the Bund. The Bund is perhaps the most recognizable area of Shanghai; its Art Deco buildings hug the Huangpu River and stand as a tribute to the city’s wealthy past. But developers are breathing life into this remarkable area and restoring it to its former glory. As you stroll the waterfront boulevard, notice how the European influence on Shanghai is apparent everywhere—from the historic Bank of China to the clock tower of the British Customs House.

    Later this morning, we explore the Yuyuan (or “Yu”) Gardens. Along with the Bund, this area, located at the northeastern side of the Old City, is as justifiably famous for its serenity as the rest of the city is for its feverish pace. Founded by the Pan family in 1557, the Yu Gardens took 18 years to create. They consist of three main sections: traditional Chinese tea houses, sparkling goldfish ponds, and beautifully manicured pavilions.

    After an included lunch, we'll take in the treasures and trades of the Shanghai Museum. The Shanghai Museum is a must-see for visitors. Built in 1994, it reflects a new approach to viewing ancient artifacts. The galleries are vast and airy and the exterior of the museum is just as impressive as the collections housed within. As you pass through the Bronze Gallery to the sculpture collections and on to the Chinese Calligraphy exhibit, the museum also guides you through the pages of China’s history. Other displays include ornate furniture from the Ming and Qing dynasties, rare coins, exquisite Chinese paintings, and beautifully sculpted ceramics. This evening, we gather for a Chinese dinner near our hotel.

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    Today after breakfast, we travel to Zhu Jia Jiao village. Located southwest of downtown Shanghai, Zhu Jia Jiao is a historic town known for producing the best rice in southeast China. Here we’ll visit Ke Zhi Garden, the former private garden of Mr. Ma, a salt merchant during the Ming Dynasty. We'll also enjoy a boat ride, a visit to the Rice Culture Exhibition Hall, and a look at the Setting-Free Bridge, a 400-year-old arched stone bridge that is the earliest and longest in southeast China. We'll conclude with lunch at a local restaurant and some free time to browse the ancient streets and traditional shops before we return to our hotel.

    You may choose to spend the remainder of your day resting or exploring Shanghai, with dinner on your own. Or join us for an optional Shanghai by Night tour. This tour includes a one-hour cruise on the Huangpu River, taking in the views on both sides. We then drive back through thriving Shanghai at night, taking in the glittering lights of the city. This tour includes dinner.

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    After a leisurely breakfast at our hotel, the day is free for relaxation or independent exploration.

    Or, if you wish, you can join our optional tour to Suzhou, which we reach with a 40-minute train ride. This 2,500-year-old city is known for its traditional Chinese handcrafts, in forms from wood-block prints to silk embroidery, and for its exquisite gardens. When we arrive, we enjoy a short cruise by the city’s Water Gate, which links this city of waterways to China’s Grand Canal. We then visit a local silk factory where we see how this classically Chinese fabric is woven. We enjoy lunch at a Suzhou restaurant before continuing to Dinghui Temple, said to be built at the end of the Han Dynasty around AD 220. Next, we visit the Ou Garden, a beautifully landscaped enclave begun in the sixth century. We return by train to Shanghai before dinnertime.

    Tonight you are free to enjoy your last night in Shanghai as you choose.

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    • Meals included:

    This morning, we'll take in the atmosphere of a Shanghai neighborhood including a stroll through its local market. Then we'll be the guests of local residents for a Home-Hosted Lunch. This is a unique opportunity to spend time with a family who lives here and absorb the subtleties of Chinese life. There may be a language barrier, but you’ll be surprised at how much you can actually communicate without using words.

    This afternoon we depart for the Shanghai airport and our flight to Beijing, where we join our fellow travelers on Day 2 of our Imperial China, Tibet & the Yangtze River adventure.