China and Japan - Timeless Traditions
Day 1 UK - In flight
Titan’s VIP door-to-door travel service collects you from home for your overnight flight to Beijing.
Day 2 Beijing
This morning we arrive into Beijing and transfer to our centrally located hotel. The rest of the day is at leisure to settle in and explore this extraordinary city, or you may wish to join an optional tour exploring the alleyways (hutong) of old Beijing.
Day 3 Great Wall
The Great Wall of China is one of the New Seven Wonders of the World, and one of the greatest sites of ancient defensive architecture, built in stages over millennia with watchtowers and fortresses. Today we see part of this 13,000-mile-long wonder and unravel some of the myths that surround it, before we head to the Summer Palace, one of the largest and best-preserved royal parks in China, filled with fine pavilions, halls, palaces and temples. Enjoy a traditional Peking Duck dinner this evening.
Day 4 Beijing
This morning we visit China’s largest existing sacrificial building, in the Park of Temple of Heaven. This ancient masterpiece which reflects the relationship between sky and earth was where emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties held the annual Heaven Worship ceremony, to pray for a good harvest. The complex is also famed for the Echo Wall, Three Echo Stones and the Dialogue Stone, which demonstrate the ancient understanding of sound. We then learn Tai Chi in the park with local people, an activity practiced by thousands of Beijing’s older generations at the beginning of each day. The afternoon is spent in vast Tian’anmen Square (the ‘Gate of Heavenly Peace’) and the Forbidden City, the imperial palace which required the permission of the Ming or Qing emperor to enter. Tonight there is an opportunity to experience the Gongfu Show.
Day 5 Beijing - Xi’an
This morning we board a bullet train to Xi’an, reaching up to 186 mph to journey over 700 miles. On arrival we check in to the Golden Flower Hotel (4.5-star), and this evening there is an opportunity to see the famous Tang Dynasty Show with dumpling dinner included.
Day 6 Xi’an
Today we visit the magnificent Terracotta Warriors, discovered by accident in 1974. Nearly 8,000 figures have been discovered guarding the tomb of the First Emperor of China for over 2,200 years. We also see the ancient City Wall, a landmark that separated the emperor in the moated inner city, from the outer city. After dinner we go to the north square of the Big Wild Goose Pagoda, where Asia’s largest musical fountain comes to life. It also offers the chance to join local citizens in a dance, accompanied by music, designed to strengthen the body.
Day 7 Xi’an - Shanghai
We transfer to the airport for our flight to Shanghai, where we visit the Bund, the famous waterfront considered a ‘museum of international architecture’, and Nanjing Road, China’s premier 3.4-mile-long shopping street. We check into the Hotel Equatorial Shanghai (4-star) before an optional Huangpu River cruise tonight.
Day 8 Shanghai
Our coach takes us to Zhouzhuang today, a quaint water town with ancient residential houses and long standing traditions. The rivers that lace Zhouzhuang are crossed by 14 stone bridges, and our tour includes the Twin Bridges, considered the symbol of the town, plus Shen House, a Ming style property with over 100 rooms that belonged to a descendent of a Ming dynasty millionaire, and the slightly more modest Zhang House. There is no motorised traffic in the town so we take a boat ride on small canals to see a little more before returning to Shanghai.
Day 9 Shanghai
Enjoy a free day exploring Shanghai on your own. Walk amongst record breaking skyscrapers, pristine art deco and rickety streets; and discover an abundance of arts from galleries to acrobatics and Chinese opera.
Day 10 Shanghai - Fukuoka
Today we depart China for Japan, flying into Fukuoka where, on arrival, we transfer to the Royal Park Hotel (4-star). The rest of the day is free to discover your new surroundings, with popular sights such as Tochoji Temple and Hakata Machiya Folk Museum featuring artwork, craft and magnificent displays on the city’s major festivals, within a short walk.
Day 11 Fukuoka - Hiroshima
After breakfast we take a guided tour of this important harbour town, pausing at the impressive Fukuoka Tower and visiting the Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine; built over the grave of Sugawara Michizane, a scholar and politician, it is the most important of Japan’s many Tenmangu shrines. Later we head to Hakata Station to board a bullet train to Hiroshima. Just over an hour later, we disembark and transfer to the Grand Prince Hiroshima (4-star).
Day 12 Hiroshima
A full day of sightseeing takes us first to Itsukushima Island. Believed to be where God dwells, it is famous for its giant torii gate and peaceful shrine, built over the lake. We then return to the city centre to visit the Hiroshima memorial museum, which details the devastation and historical background of Hiroshima, and the beautiful Memorial Park. The park includes the A-Bomb Dome; a hall destroyed by the atomic bomb now designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its importance as a symbol of peace.
Day 13 Hiroshima - Himeji - Osaka
After breakfast we make our way to Himeji, home of Japan’s most beautiful castle. We take a tour of the city and visit the elegant white World Heritage Site, a 14th-century castle of 83 buildings and gardens of cherry trees. This afternoon we proceed to Osaka and the Sheraton Miyako Osaka (4-star), with time to relax.
Day 14 Kyoto
Kyoto was Japan’s capital and the emperor's residence from 794 until 1868. Many wars and fires have affected the city but it has been spared in more recent times to preserve the countless priceless temples and shrines that still stand today. Our tour takes us into Kinkakuji, a zen temple with two floors completely covered in gold leaf that reflects the extravagant culture of the wealthy aristocrats. We take a walk through the Gion district, Kyoto’s most famous geisha district, filled with shops and teahouses; and experience a tea ceremony, a much savoured and highly ritualised practice. We also explore the Kiyomizu temple, one of Japan’s most celebrated temples - founded around 780 and one of the oldest schools of Japanese Buddhism.
Day 15 Osaka - Nara - Tokyo
An excursion to Nara, Japan’s first permanent capital in 710, takes us to some of the country’s oldest and largest temples. We visit Todaiji; as the powerful head temple of all Japan’s Buddhist temples it had great influence on government affairs. The stunning main hall is the world’s largest wooden building, despite being two thirds of its original size, and contains a 15 metre seated Buddha, one of Japan’s largest bronze statues. We also spend time in Nara Park, which surrounds Todaiji, before boarding the bullet train to Tokyo. On arrival, we check in at the Sheraton Miyako Tokyo (4-star).
Day 16 Tokyo
Tokyo is a bustling, colourful and incredibly clean capital. Our morning tour of the world’s largest metropolitan area takes us into the legendary Sensoji temple and Nakamise shopping mall, a 300-year old shopping arcade. We pause to see a little of the extensive grounds at the Imperial palace, the primary residence of the Japanese Head of State, originally completed in 1888 on the former site of Edo Castle. We also visit Meiji Shrine, dedicated to the deified spirits of Emperor Meiji, who brought many Western influenced changes to Japan, and moved the capital from Kyoto to Tokyo. The rest of the day is at leisure to make your own discoveries.
Day 17 Hakone
Relax and enjoy the scenery from our coach as we head into Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park. We visit Fuji World Heritage centre, which explains the importance of Mt Fuji, and Owakudani (accessed by cable car), the ‘Great Boiling Valley’ created during the last eruption of Mt Hakone some 3,000 years ago. Sulphurous fumes and hot springs still rise from this volcanic area. The same eruption also created the caldera that holds Lake Ashinoko. We take a cruise on this peaceful lake, with views of sacred Mt Fuji (weather permitting).
Day 18 Tokyo - UK
Transfer to the airport for your return flight to the UK. Upon arrival, your Titan vehicle will be waiting for the journey home.