While many of his client's rely on him for Business Class airfares to the UK / Europe, Fine Travel Founder Paul Collins is seeing his clients increasingly express an interest in China and in particular bespoke itineraries. Paul is being hosted by New Zealand based China specialist and this is the first part of his report.
I was invited by a niche China wholesaler based in New Zealand that specialises in arranging bespoke itineraries throughout China. As my only experience of visiting China was to trip to Hong Kong while it was still under British rule, I was keen to experience this vast country that is steeped in tradition, is rapidly modernising, and is now served by so many airlines from New Zealand.
I will be flying with Hainan Airline to Shenzhen (Business Class seat below) then connecting on to Beijing where we are staying 3 nights (Air New Zealand and Air China also operate a direct service to Beijing from Auckland). We return from XI’an again via Shenzhen after a 2 night stay in Xi’an. I have never booked a client on Hainan Airline or flown on a Chinese airline myself, so I am looking forward to the first-hand experience to add to the favourable impressions my clients have passed on.
Due to language difficulties when travelling within China, having an itinerary designed so you always have access to an English speaking guide, is reassuring. My itinerary includes:
Departing Day 1 & arriving Day 2
After our morning arrival in Beijing we will have an afternoon guided tour of the Temple of Heaven, which is four times larger than the Forbidden City. That evening with are having our taste buds treated with a Peking Roast Duck dinner.
A morning tour of Tiananmen Square which is the largest city square in the world and leads into the Forbidden City, the former residence of the Ming and Qing emperors of China. In the afternoon we explore the Hutong area in old Beijing. Wandering through ancient alleyways where families live, play cards, hang their washing in as they have done for hundreds of years.
A tour highlight The Great Wall of China at Mutianyu which is one of the best preserved and best known Great Wall sections. A lot of walking plus a cable car ride and lunch. The afternoon is a visit to the Summer Palace, the former playground for the Imperial Court. With its huge lake, sprawling grounds, temples, pavilions, bridges and long corridors it concludes a very physically demanding day.
A high speed train from Beijing to XI’an travelling at speeds of 250 to 300 KM/H. During the 6 hours we will get to see cities, villages and cultural wonders along the way. Sure beats flying over them and waiting to be processed in airport queues. That night we attend a welcome Tang Dinner & Show.
Another highlight. A morning visit to the Terracotta Warriors Museum and Factory which is located 30 kms east of the city. After lunch we head back into the city and walk through the Muslim Quarter in Xi’an downtown. This block consists of multiple streets that are over 1,000 years old and are famous for its abundant selection of delicious local snacks and rich local culture. Later we explore The Bell Tower which is the largest and best preserved in China.
In the morning we discover the City Wall which features a series of turrets, crenels and gate towers. It stands 12 meters high, 14 kms in length and surrounded by a moat. This afternoon we commence our flight home via Shenzhen to Auckland.
It will be a busy time which is what we asked for given the distance travelled and the limited amount we wished to be out of the office. All transfers, local guides, entrance fees, breakfasts, 3 lunches and 2 dinners are included and our bespoke itinerary.
I am looking forward to the experience, can see no time for rest and will return with invaluable knowledge of the destination, airline and enjoying a bespoke itinerary in China.