Experience

Beijing, Xi’an & Shanghai: Master the Art of Kung Fu in Imperial China

China has always held a certain allure here at Black Tomato. A place where modernity fuses with tradition, the heart of the Far East has both entranced and mystified travelers for years. Our travel experts have scoured every mile, from the sprawling Great Wall to the thick bamboo forests to put together the perfect luxury adventure, guaranteed to get you right under China’s skin. Sprinkled with a host of luxurious hotels, exclusive insights and authentic experiences – such as kung fu lessons with Shaolin Monks – it’s an immersive 10-night adventure taking in some of China’s most important sights. Discover rich culture, delicious cuisine and centuries-old history as you stroll through Beijing’s Hutong neighborhoods and Shanghai’s deserted Jewish Quarter, before learning the ancient art of Shaolin kung fu in Luoyang and standing unflinchingly before the fearsome terracotta warriors of Xi’an. This is China as you’ve never seen it before.

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Emperors and Empresses

Your trip begins in the heart of Imperial China: Beijing with a stay at the luxurious Aman Summer Palace hotel, just a few steps from the East Gate of the vast Summer Palace grounds. Tomorrow, the cultural discoveries begin. Start your day gazing across the vast expanse of Tiananmen Square, taking a moment to absorb the full weight of its cultural and historical significance, before passing through into the Forbidden City. As you stroll through the former imperial palace, explore a rich history of ruling Emperors, fan-fluttering concubines and scheming eunuchs which reaches back over 500 years. A showcase of traditional Chinese palatial architecture, but the best view awaits you atop Coal Hill from where you’ll be treated to unbeatable panoramic views of the Forbidden City before you.

A stroll through Beijing

The next day, take a stroll through the labyrinthine hutong that make up Beijing’s traditional neighborhoods, where you can get an authentic glimpse of everyday local life. Nestled deep within this maze of narrow streets, lies the eccentric hutong of Nanluongxiang where you’ll stop for a coffee and explore a range of stores ranging from the chic to the kitsch. But if you’re looking for a more traditional walk? Well, it has to be the Great Wall. Stretching over 20,000km in length, your private guide will whisk you away to the quieter Mutianyu section where you can enjoy the Wall in all its glory, away from the crowds, before an exhilarating toboggan ride back down. Refuel with a delicious lunch at the authentic Schoolhouse restaurant before a final stroll down the Sacred Way as you explore the imperial mausoleums of the Ming dynasty.

Taiji Tranquility and Kung Fu Fighting

Before leaving Beijing, you’ll find your zen with a private taiji lesson with a taiji master at the Temple of Heaven. Full of flowing movements to soothe the soul, it’s the perfect antidote to the chaos of everyday modern life. From Beijing, you’ll then board a bullet train and head south to the ancient capital of Luoyang. Here, you’ll pay a visit to the legendary Shaolin kung fu school and channel your inner Jackie Chan as you take a lesson with some local student monks. You’ll then continue onto the Shaolin temple, where this oldest and most famous style of Chinese martial arts was born, and learn all about its fascinating history.

History in Xi’an

From Luoyang, it’s then just a short hop to Xi’an where you’ll spend the next few nights at the Sofitel Legend People’s Grand Hotel,  just a stone’s throw away from many historical sights. The most famous of these sights, however? It’s got to be the Terracotta Warrior Army. Standing to attention for all eternity, we’ll get you an up-close General’s view of these fearsome warriors on a special lower deck viewing platform. You’ll then get under the skin of Xi’an with a bike ride along the Ancient City Wall that encircles the historical city center offering a fascinating alternative perspective. Once you’ve worked up an appetite, allow yourself to be drawn in the by the savory aromas that waft down the street from countless food stalls in the Muslim Quarter. Some of our favorites and must-try dishes include the halal skewers, roast mutton and persimmon cake.

Shanghai Nights

Your final stop on this Chinese cultural whirlwind is the bright lights of Shanghai. From an elegant base at The Peninsula hotel, you’ll discover world-class cuisine, opulence that knows no bounds and a mesmerising skyline. Tomorrow, we recommend a peaceful stroll through the elegant tree-lined avenues of the French Concession, awash in old world charm, before continuing onto the eerie ghost town that is the Jewish Quarter. Later, you’ll stop for lunch in chic Xintiandi and discover streets of traditional shikumen houses. Then, on your final day in China, you’ll swap the towering neon lights of Shanghai for the idyllic water town of Zhujiajiao before wandering through the maze of pavilions and arched bridges that make up the Yu Garden, Shanghai’s beautiful classical garden.

We meant it when we said that this trip would get you under China’s skin. But even so, it’s one of those rare countries that keep you coming back for more, whether that be for cuddles with giant pandas, hiking in the Himalayas – or simply more dim sum (who could blame you?). Whatever it is, we’re pretty sure we just found your new favorite destination.

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