China. The Sleeping Giant is Wide Awake.
Land of towering mountains, magnificent silks, porcelain, pandas, pageantry, and people. Get a first look at China on a journey to three pivotal cities. Begin in cosmopolitan Shanghai. Next, visit Xian to meet the 2,000-year-old terracotta warriors. Finally, Beijing—the Great Wall, Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City, and beyond.
China is a land in flux. Her people have strong ties to a traditional way of life that is being brought into focus against a backdrop of 21st-century changes. Once you've had your maiden journey through China, we suggest you peruse R. Crusoe's collection of fine journeys to further unravel all that is China. Click the "Pre-Tour & Post-Tour Options" tab on this web page for more about these second-look itineraries.
This is a 12-day sample itinerary. Remember that R. Crusoe can create a China journey of any length to meet your exact specifications.
Day 1: United States
• Overnight flight to China.
Overnight in flight
Day 2-4: Shanghai, China
• Land in Shanghai.
• Panoramic city tour including the Pudong District, the Bund via the People Mover, Nanshi, Yu Yuan Garden.
• Day of independent exploration based on your interests and accompanied by a private English-speaking guide and driver. Options include traditional Suzhou; shopping outing; a water town; Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Hall; silk workshop; Wulixiang Shikumen Museum; M50 contemporary art district; French Concession and Jewish Quarter.
• Shanghai Acrobatic Troupe performance.
Overnights in Shanghai
Day 5: Shanghai, Xian
• Jade Buddha Temple, Shanghai Museum.
• Fly to Xian.
Overnight in Xian
Day 6-7: Xian
• Introduction to the archaeological site of the terracotta warriors of Emperor Qin Shi Huang (UNESCO World Heritage site), view the figures.
• Leisure time, option to Wen Bao Zai Arts & Crafts Center.
• Option to Tang Dynasty Show.
• Shaanxi Normal University visit for discussion with students and faculty.
• Walk or bike ancient city walls, Small Goose Pagoda.
• Muslim Quarter.
• Shaanxi Provincial Museum to view Zhou bronzes and Tang porcelain. We also view ancient Tang murals on a curator-led tour.
Overnights in Xian
Day 8: Xian, Beijing
• Han Yangling Museum terracotta miniatures.
• Fly to Beijing.
• Temple of Heaven.
Overnight in Beijing
Day 9: Beijing Countryside
• Rural cloisonné workshop.
• Great Wall at Mu Tian Yu.
• Return to Beijing.
• Option to Beijing Opera.
Overnight in Beijing
Day 10-11: Beijing
• City tour including Beijing Zoo, Summer Palace, Olympics "Water Cube," "Bird's Nest," and "Silver Egg."
• Cyclo tour of old Hutong District including family visit in a private home.
• Tiananmen Square, Forbidden City with option to enter a private, off-limits prince's residence, Coal Hill.
• Leisure time with option for shopping with a guide.
Overnights in Beijing
Day 12: Beijing; United States
• Fly home, or continue on in China or Tibet.
Per person sharing room from $5,990 for this 12-day sample itinerary
Internal Air per person (estimate): $520
For more information, to book, or to speak to an R. Crusoe & Son tour specialist, please call us at 800-585-8555.
Pre-Tour & Post-Tour Options
China is a very big place. No single journey there can cover every traveler’s complete wish list. So R. Crusoe offers an easy and seamless way to enhance your China adventure. Consider adding one or two (or more) of these extensions to dig deeper into China.
Have a look at the following four mini-journeys, and see which suits you and your fellow travelers. Then allow our tour specialists to add them to the main Crusoe China tour you just read about in a way that makes the most sense for you and yours.
Hong Kong, China. 3 Days.
Explore this former über-colony as it finds it way in tomorrow’s landscape. Poke around the city’s commercial heart, and step inside a walled village that preserves local ways of the past. ManMo Temple is one of our favorites in town. See why.
Hangzhou. A Thousand Years of Tradition. 4 Days.
Come and see what many consider China’s most beautiful region. Marco Polo gushed about Hangzhou back in the 13th century.Here, China’s finest tea is grown on beautiful mountain terraces. Explore beloved West Lake, and examine the traditional architecture on its shores.
Guilin. Poetry in Motion. 4 Days.
Guilin has long been a magnet for China’s writers, artists, and the like. Serene, hilly, and ancient, the region around the city boasts lovely traditional architecture, gorgeous rice terraces, and the pretty Li River. Come see it all for yourself.
Have you already seen Shanghai, Beijing, and Xian? Are you ready to dig deeper into China and continue into Tibet? If so, the following two itineraries lead you west, beginning in Yunnan Province and continuing into the Himalayan foothills. From Yunnan, our travels reveal the cultural shift from native Han peoples and Chinese minority peoples to a more heavily Tibetan-influenced way of life. The change is palpable, and it is quite interesting.
Understand that we are penetrating areas of China that few travelers have the opportunity to visit. Happily, there are good—sometimes even extraordinary—hotels to keep us comfortable along the way.
These two journeys, by the way, complement one another perfectly. If you’ve got the time, take them together for one grand adventure through western China and Tibet. Speak to an R. Crusoe tour specialist to learn how, and visit our Yunnan Province and Lhasa, Yarlung, & Dunhuang pages on our website for additional information on these journeys.
Meet the minority peoples of China, who live as they have for centuries in their native Yunnan villages. We continue northwest into the lovely and timeless town of Lijiang, where streets are lined with rare examples of ancient Chinese architecture, untouched. Then across the Sino-Tibetan border into Gyalthang, recently rechristened “Shangri-La” by the forward-thinking Chinese government. Sample Pricing: Per person sharing room from $5,980 for this 11-day itinerary.
Begin in Chengdu, home of China’s giant panda breeding center. From here, we fly to Lhasa for a taste of Tibet’s wonderful vibrancy. Then descend into the picturesque Yarlung Valley. Finally, to Dunhuang, important oasis on the Silk Road and home of the outstanding Mogao Caves, where Buddha lives on in many incarnations. Sample Pricing: Per person sharing room from $4,890 for this 10-day itinerary.
Remember that R. Crusoe & Son can create China pre-tour and post-tour itineraries of any length to meet your exact specifications.
Gongbao (Kung Pao) Chicken Recipe: the Back Story.
By Craig & Alison Fields
In 1998, we went with R. Crusoe & Son to China. In Beijing, we ate at the fabulous Gongwangfu Sichuan Restaurant and had the very best gongbao chicken we had ever tasted. It was very subtle, unlike the commonplace, over-the-top renditions we had eaten in the U.S.
Some time after we returned, we mentioned the meal to a friend of mine, an enthusiastic cook and the CEO of a major corporation. We told him we wished we had the recipe. He said “No problem,” and he swiveled in his chair to his computer, emailing the head of his Beijing office asking if they could get the recipe. Two hours later, we received an email with the recipe.
The recipe that follows here differs from the recipe we received in only one way: In Beijing, they cook raw peanuts and chicken separately, cooking the peanuts so slightly that they retain their white color. We prefer a more peanuty taste.
Inspired by this, we installed in our home a custom-made Chinese wok range with a flame a foot high. The aforementioned friend quipped that he was sure the heat signature from our range could be seen from space. That may or may not be true.
Gongbao (Kung Pao) Chicken
9 oz. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cleaned and cut into ¾-inch pieces
1 large-egg white
1 Tbsp. dry sherry*
1 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
1 ¾ oz. roasted, unsalted peanuts
4 scallions, cut into ¾-inch pieces
¾ inch fresh ginger, julienned across the grain
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 Tbsp. dark soy sauce
2 tsp. rice vinegar
2 tsp. dry sherry*
1/4 tsp. sugar
10 dried, red hot peppers
Thickener (optional; water and cornstarch mixed to make 'liquid cornstarch')
1 Tbsp. water
1-2 tsp. cornstarch
Peanut oil, as needed
1. Velvet the chicken** as follows: Mix the chicken pieces, egg white, dry sherry, and cornstarch together. Marinate overnight in the refrigerator. Bring a pot of water, with 2 teaspoons of peanut oil, to a simmer. Stir in the marinated chicken pieces, gently separating, for about 30 seconds until the outside is white but the inside is still uncooked. Drain and immediately proceed to stir-frying.
2. Bring a wok to the point of smoking. Pour in a few tablespoons of peanut oil. Stir-fry the dry peppers until they begin to darken. Add the aromatics and stir-fry for a few seconds. Before the dry peppers are black, before the garlic is brown, before the scallions are too soft, add the chicken and the peanuts and stir-fry until the chicken is nearly done. Add the sauce and stir to coat. Add the thickener if desired (if you do, the sauce will be thicker and will do a better job of coating the chicken; if you don’t, the sauce will be tastier, since starch in sauces masks flavor).
3. Serve with rice. Discard (do not eat) the peppers.
*High quality dry sherry is a good substitute for, and much more easily found, than drinking-quality dry Chinese wine.
**If time is short, marinating can be shortened, and simmering can be eliminated. The taste will change a little, but the texture will change more. Texture is very important in Chinese cuisine.
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