With a history dating back three millennia, Beijing is a fitting microcosm of modern-day China. Soaring skyscrapers, Michelin-starred restaurants, and Olympic stadiums stand in proximity to ancient landmarks, such as the Forbidden City palace compound, Tiananmen Square, and the Great Wall of China, which stretches along the northern part of the municipality. And though Beijing is massive, it moves at a much calmer pace than Hong Kong or Shanghai.
Guided tours of UNESCO World Heritage sites, including the Temple of Heaven and the Great Wall.
Photo opportunities at Beijing National Stadium, which hosted the 2008 Olympics.<p>
The capital city of the Sichuan province, Chengdu has a reputation for being one of the most laid-back cities in China. It’s a nice respite during the tour: you can stroll along the river or regroup over cups of jasmine tea (the tea-drinking culture in Chengdu dates back more than a millennium).
As in many Sichuanese cities, Chengdu’s local recipes emphasize spicy flavors. Traditional specialties here include tofu and hot pots made with fiery Sichuan peppercorns.
A visit to a giant panda breeding center, where you can volunteer to help clean out pens and feed or bathe pandas.
A visit to a local teahouse to sip cups of jasmine tea and learn about Chengdu’s ancient tea culture.
Eight-day, six-night tour of China with round-trip airfare. 28 options available, including departures from Chicago (ORD), Seattle (SEA), San Francisco (SFO), and Los Angeles (LAX) in September, October, and November 2013. Click here to see all options and departure dates. For an additional $150 you may depart from one of these cites.
Note: All options priced per person and valid for a Travel with a Friend package (two Groupons required), or pay an additional $300 fee to travel solo. Read about package structures here.