Day 1: Beijing
Dragon Bus highly recommends you arrive early and explore Beijing, a city full of history and culture, not to mention amazing bars and nightlife. Fellow Pass members will be arriving throughout the day so there are no planned activities until the group meeting at 5pm, which is generally followed by a group dinner. The Chinese capital, Beijing, is one of the world's most impressive and vibrant cities. Suggested sights are - Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City or the 798 Modern Art District. Arriving early allows you to also visit the Temple of Heaven, the Summer Palace, Yonghegong Tibetan Monastery and some of Beijing's many markets where you'll find all your clothing needs!
Day 2: Beijing & Hutongs
Today you may like to spend the morning visiting one of the 15 free museums in Beijing City. For those that wake up early, you may like to visit one of Beijing's numerous parks and practice Tai Qi with the locals. Your Trip Leader will be taking you to lunch at a local restaurant not too far from the hostel. After lunch join your Trip Leader and soak up the real laneways, back alleys and families that make Beijing Hutongs so appealing. Afterwards, head to dinner with the rest of the group and plan your evening with your new found friends!
Day 3: Beijing - The Great Wall
The Great Wall awaits! Boarding the Dragon Bus we head north for the quintessential image of China. On arrival you'll be taken to one of the more "as is" sections of the Wall, where you can hike, climb, sit or just stare! The 2011 schedule means you'll be staying in the shadows of the Wall, in a very well laid out hostel, which can otherwise be quite difficult to find! Staying overnight allows you the chance to spend as long as you like at the Wall. The sunset is not to be missed!
Day 4: Great Wall to Seaside Qingdao
This morning is at your leisure. Your Trip Leader will be in the hostel to suggest some morning activities for you. We try to arrange early afternoon tickets to Qingdao. Wave goodbye Beijing as we speed through the countryside. On arrival in Qingdao we'll head straight to our hostel where you can take a break in the bar/cafe, before beginning your evening in this seaside city. Qingdao is home to the famous beer carrying the same name and it is here that you can buy it in plastic bags along the street. The food stands that set up along the street are also not to be missed.
Day 5: Qingdao - Beaches, beer, brewery
No package tour schedule to worry about with Dragon Bus so it's your chance to explore Qingdao the way you want to, and there is much to see and do here! One option is making your way to the famous Laoshan Mountain by public bus with others on the Pass. Water from this beautiful site is used to exclusively make China's most famous beer, Qingdao or Tsingtao. The Mountain is also a sacred Buddhist site, and well worth the visit. You can also wander down to the beach, for a lazy day with a book or hit the German Concession section of Old Qingdao for a glimpse of Qingdao when it was ruled by the Germans.
Day 6: Qingdao
Today gives you a full day to explore Qingdao, which should include the originally 1901 German built brewery, and still a major attraction! Heading to the brewery you can take a tour for around 50 RMB, which includes a fresh beer at the end. The German influence can be further seen in the older section of the city with buildings at would be right at home in Munich! Qingdao is a great place to kick back and relax, but it has much to explore and full of history. The city is quickly regaining its reputation as one of China's top resort cities, and this reputation is supported by some amazing seafood restaurants. You should consider a cozy dinner with Lao Zhao, one of Qingdao's brightest personalities.
Day 7: Qingdao to Qufu - Beaches to Confucius
Today we take a coach to the hometown of Confucius. On arrival, kick back in the hostel or waste no time and head out to explore this classical Chinese city. Qufu has various parks and you'll be sure to find a great little restaurant for your meals, perhaps even a jug of cheap, ice cold local beer. Consider jumping onto on a 3 wheel rickshaw for the journey around town, which will also only set you back around 15-30 rmb. The city has a good supermarket to stock up your supplies, and Qufu is highly recommended if you're in China looking to capture great black and white photos. The hostel is a good place to kick back and unwind as Qufu is by far the smallest city that you will visit on your Dragon Bus tour.
Day 8: Qufu& The Tomb of Confucius
Being the home town of Confucious; Kong Zi as he is known in China, Qufu is a great place to experience the China of most peoples imagination. No gleaming towers, just plenty of history, friendly locals and buildings that haven't changed for centuries. Today, hit the streets early to ensure you can fully explore both the city along with the Confucius family mansion, temple and the nearby forest housing the tomb of Confucious and his extended family. Although you can hire a horse drawn carriage to see this city, when the weather is nice, it is also great to traverse on foot.
Day 9: Qufuto Nanjing
Today we head to nearby Yanzhou station where we take the train to Nanjing. As the one time capital of China, Nanjing is a very diverse city. Its proximity to Shanghai means that western influence is never far away. Tonight, you have an opportunity to enjoy food from all over China with different cuisines from all parts of China being served in the local restaurants. Nanjing is also home to numerous bars, with a good one right around corner from the hostel or for those looking for a bit more fun, make sure you find your way to the 1912 Bar district, where you can dance & have a drink any night of the week!
Day 10: Imperial Nanjing
As the former capital of the Republic of China, Nanjing is a city rich in history, but also rapidly modernising as well. Second only to Shanghai in terms of economic output, yet it has retained and improved on its many historical sites and museums. The city has an intact 600 year old city wall and excellent museums including the Massacre Museum and former Imperial Palace, which was the central palace before being moved to Beijing around 600 years ago. Take to the streets on foot with one of Dragon Bus's own walking guides. Perhaps hire a boat on the lovely and centrally located Xuanwu Lake and paddle your cares away?
Day 11: Nanjing
Today you may like to get out of the city and visit Purple Mountain, home to the mausoleum of Sun Yat Sen. Another option while in Nanjing is the chance take a "real" Chinese cooking course at a cooking school that is home to some of China's up and coming chefs. You may learn to make Mapo Toufu, Chilli Chicken or some famous Chinese dumplings. The Nanjing Museum, City Wall and Imperial Palace should also be on your agenda today and can easily be explored by yourself. However, with your last night in Nanjing don't resist the temptation of another night in the 1912 Bar and Restaurant area. Get together with your team for a few drinks and some great moves before you wave goodbye to Nanjing the following day (or the same day should you stay a little late!).
Day 12: Magical Suzhou and Venice like canals
Renowned for its beauty and Venice like canals, Suzhou is a famous garden city that houses a vast array of wonderful gardens and timeless pagodas. Differing from the gardens you may have seen in Beijing, the gardens of Suzhou were built by private merchants and not the Imperial Family. Suzhou has several sites that are listed and protected by UNESCO, these are the ones that by re-joining the bus on arrival we'll head out and explore. This afternoon will also give you a look into this wealthy city, which is also equally world famous for its silk industry, where we will also visit one of these silk mills. Suzhou has always been a wealthy city and its restaurants and nightlife are a reflection of this.
Day 13: Canal towns and onto Shanghai
After breakfast you'll board the Dragon Bus for a small, ancient canal town. Entry is included into this canal village, where life goes on as in years gone by....ok the sounds of mobile phones ringing gives this up! Once inside the village, take your time to explore it on foot. Late in the afternoon, and of course after a great lunch of local delights, we'll re-board the bus for Shanghai. Shanghai, Paris of the East and an amazing city!! Don't waste any time, check in and then hit the streets as you'll be in the hands of your Trip Leader and also in a great part of the city. Many head out and party in this amazing city. Shanghai is the commercial hub of China and a great place to spend a few extra days! Blending Eastern & Western cultures this city should be an ending highlight.
Day 14: Shanghai - Paris of the East
Today is your final day with Dragon Bus. Though you should still get out and further explore Shanghai. Do not miss Taikang Lu (see News on Website) for a great taste of old and new. Rise early and join the Chinese elders dancing, exercising or doing Tai Chi in a park or on the Bund, and then enjoy a local breakfast of Xiao Long Bao! (hmm beautiful). Please make sure to let your Trip Leader know if you need help with any onward transport.