China – The Middle Kingdom

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At nearly 4,000 years old, China is ancient beyond most Americans’ understanding. With its first dynasty founded 2,000 years BC, China was advancing & standardizing civilization when Europe was just entering the Bronze age.

Educationally rich. Join Quo for the ultimate experiential learning adventure as you journey into the “Middle Kingdom.”

This experience is ideal for students with an eye on their education, career and the global future. Gaining a personal understanding of China now will deliver a lifetime of advantages.

You’ll engage with Chinese students, meet local families and forge enduring friendships. You’ll clamber up the Great Wall, see Giant Pandas, wander through the Forbidden City, marvel at an ancient terra-cotta army, and be inspired by the beauty of Shanghai.

The social diversity, ancient history and fascinating traditions you’ll encounter in today’s rapidly-changing China present endless opportunities for cultural immersion, enduring connections and personal transformation.

Program Snap Shot

Smaller group.  Bigger impact.

Program length:  13 days
All Inclusive Price:  from $5,295
Departure City:  Birmingham, AL
Departure Date:  June 8, 2017

**Enrollments after March 20, 2017 are subject to availability and may be subject to air add-on.**


  • Stroll Imperial paths in The Forbidden City
  • Climb the Great Wall of China & visit the Summer Palace
  • Explore Tiananmen Square
  • Ride a rickshaw through the Hutongs of Beijing
  • Shift your perspective at the Shaolin Martial Arts School
  • Ride an overnight train to Xi’an
  • Get up-close with the Terra Cotta Warriors
  • Sample Chinese dumplings in Xi’an
  • Marvel at the towering vistas of the Li River
  • Explore the Reed Flute Cave in Guilin
  • Visit Suzhou – the Venice of the East
  • Sample Chinese teas at a tea plantation
  • Ascend the iconic Oriental Pearl Tower in Shanghai
  • Try your hand at Chinese Calligraphy

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Full Program Itinerary

Day One
Bon Voyage! Today we depart the U.S. for Beijing.
Day Two
  • Our flight arrives in Beijing.
  • Our Travel Group will be met at the airport by our guides and local staff. Get ready to start making lifelong friends – our fun and informative National Guides are with us at all times throughout the trip.
  • Later, we transfer to our hotel where our expert National Guide will give us an introductory briefing and lay the foundation for our amazing adventure.
  • After our Welcome Dinner we’ll turn in to get a good night’s sleep.
Day Three
Our day begins with an exploration of China’s capital city, Beijing.

  • Tiananmen Square is one of the largest public squares in the world. It features the Peace Palace and the Tomb of Mao Zedong.
  • Even after all these years, long lines form every day for people to walk past the tomb of Chairman Mao.
  • Next, your imagination will go into overdrive as you pass through the gates of the spectacular Forbidden City!
  • This is the ancestral home of many of the great emperors of China.
  • This massive complex of buildings was off limits to anyone not a member of the royal household, or one of the thousands of servants employed by them.
  • Standing before the main palace you might recognize it as the set for the movie “The Last Emperor.”
  • Every view inside the Forbidden City is epic and evocative. Despite its age and the presence of so many non-royals, this is a perfect representation of everything you’ve always imagined about historic China.
  • Next its off to the Temple of Heaven. This is one of the icons of Beijing featured in thousands of photos and movies.
  • The temple was constructed in 1406 and its blue tiles are the color of the sky on a clear day.
  • Our last stop of the day is the Lama Temple, a Tibetan Buddhist temple in Beijing.
  • This temple, constructed in 1694 has five main halls separated by courtyards and has an outstanding collection of Buddhist statues.
Day Four
About now, you’ll start asking yourself if this trip can possibly get any better. We have your answer right here:

  • Today we head to the outskirts of Beijing to see one of the Seven Wonders of the Medieval World—The Great Wall of China.
  • This wall was built to keep the Mongolian hordes from invading China, about 2,200 years ago. (Where was western civilization 2,200 years ago?)
  • During the Ming Dynasty this hand-built wall extended for 5,500 miles.
  • It’s one of the few man-made structures that can be seen from space.
  • Our excursion will focus on the Juyongguan section where some of the best preserved and restored sections of the wall can be seen.
  • Then, we’ll climb the ramparts and walk along the enormous walkway that ran the length of the wall.
  • This very special morning will give you an unforgettable, lifelong memory of exploring a massive, epic piece history with your friends.
  • After lunch we will have a very special visit to a Shaolin Martial Art School.
  • Here, we will learn about ancient Martial Arts practices handed down from generation to generation.
  • You’ll meet the students, watch them demonstrate their art, and learn some hands-on moves you can take home to impress your friends and family.
  • Who knows, maybe this is your first step to becoming a Kung Fu Master?
  • This evening, we will enjoy a Peking Duck Dinner. It’s not just any dinner – this is the ancient original!
  • We’ll dine in the world famous restaurant where, centuries ago, this highly prized dish was first introduced.
  • During dinner, a culinary expert will explain the complex preparation of the duck.
  • Duck is a common dish in Chinese culture, but this is how they transform everyday dinner into a delicacy. Truly a culinary experience to remember!
Day Five
Today we continue our exploration of the wonders of Beijing before heading to the train station for our trip to Xian

  • This morning, our first stop is the Panda Hall at the Beijing Zoo.
  • Located in the Xicheng District, this is one of the oldest zoos in China, built in the late Qing Dynasty.
  • We’ll not only see the animals that live here, but we’ll also see authentic examples of Qing Dynasty architecture.
  • Our visit will focus on the most famous residents, the pandas. We’ll learn about the difference between the Giant and Red Pandas and why they bear no resemblance to one another.
  • Our guide will explain the strange breeding habits of these animals and we will soon learn why they are so endangered in the wild.
  • Later we will visit the epitome of ancient grandeur, tradition and imperial excess: the Summer Palace.
  • This complex of palaces and pagodas, set in exquisite gardens, evokes the elegance and meticulous craftsmanship that was a hallmark of Chinese culture for centuries.
  • In 1873 the teenage Tongzhi Emperor attempted reconstruction of the original Summer Palace but soon ran out of funds.
  • During the 1880s the ancient Garden of Clear Ripples was restored as the New Summer Palace for the Dowager Empress Cixi.
  • It’s rumored that in 1888, Dowager Empress Cixi, unsatisfied with her extraordinary pleasure playground, embezzled funds from the Navy in order to undertake an extensive expansion to the palace and grounds. Then she moved into the palace and remained there for the rest of her life.
  • (Dowager Empress means something like “Widow Queen.” After her husband the Emperor died, she assumed his role as ruler of the empire.)
  • We’ll see signs of her eccentric taste as we marvel at the extraordinary Marble Boat which appears to float on the lake. This was her favorite spot to take tea.
  • You won’t believe what lunch looked like for this eccentric Empress!
  • Next, we’ll see a very different side of Beijing’s history, and future: we’ll visit the Hutongs.
  • We’ll descend from the Imperial Gardens to the streets of the common people.
  • Ever wanted to ride in a rickshaw? We’ll board authentic bicycle rickshaws to tour the narrow, historic streets of the Hutongs, where the famous small houses date back centuries.
  • We may be among the last people to witness the ancient streets of the Hutongs, as the expansion of Beijing is rapidly demolishing this neighborhood to make way for gleaming skyscrapers.
  • This evening, we head to the train station to board our overnight train to Xi’an.
  • Don’t worry, we have a nice sleeper car reserved for you.
  • The click-clack of the rails will lull us to sleep as we journey the 800 miles to Xi’an, one of the oldest cities in China.
Day Six
We wake up in a new city having traveled almost 700 miles during the night.

  • Upon arrival, we will head to breakfast, then visit the Xi’an City Wall.
  • Imagine visiting a 3,000 year-old city!
  • We’ll learn about Xi’an’s history as one of the main capital cities of ancient China.
  • You’ll see first-hand how the many phases of China’s history and development are reflected in the city’s artifacts, architecture and traditions.
  • Our morning begins in the ancient city where we will explore the Ming Dynasty City Walls of Xi’an.
  • We will see some of the best preserved buildings of ancient China as we continue our exploration of the old city.
  • Later we’ll explore the Big Wild Goose Pagoda constructed in 652
  • The pagoda was built to house a collection of Buddhist relics taken from India in ancient times.
  • While the pagoda itself is fascinating, the real attraction is the squares surrounding the pagoda, complete with a fascinating collection of statues and the largest “musical fountain” in Asia.
  • Our last activity of the day is a lesson in Chinese calligraphy. By the end of the class we will have an understanding of this art form and a souvenir of our own creation to take away with us.
Day Seven
One of the icons of China await us today.

  • A consistent theme of your time in China will be the truly EPIC scale of so many things you encounter: the population, the size of the cities and the scale of the great wall, for instance. But no visit to China is complete without seeing the mind-boggling Terracotta Army.
  • In 1974, a couple of farmers digging in a field discovered an ancient terracotta statue.
  • Subsequent excavation uncovered a vast army of these Terracotta Warriors.
  • Archeologists were amazed to discover that every warrior is unique; it’s believed that every individual statue was modeled after an actual living member of The Emperor’s army.
  • We’ll be joined by experts who will teach us about the history and excavation techniques as we explore the excavation site.
  • We will also gain access to the museum where some of the more valuable finds are housed.
  • This evening, we will attend a fascinating Tang Dynasty show, which is kind of like a variety show from 700 AD.
  • Our cultural exploration of China’s regional cuisine continues, as we dine on a wide variety of unbelievably delicious dumplings, from sweet to savory, which are a specialty of this region.
Day Eight
Our day begins in Xian and ends in Guilin as we continue our journey south.

  • This morning we head to the Xi’an airport for our flight south to Guilin in Guanxi Provence.
  • This afternoon we will arrive in Guilin and head to the Reed Flute Cave, one of the most famous attractions in this part of China.
  • Colored lights illuminate the limestone formations turning the cave into a magical subterranean wonderland.
  • Inside the cave we will marvel at inscriptions which have been dated back to the Tang Dynasty in 792AD.
  • overnight in Guilin
Day Nine
The beauty of this region is best explored by river.

  • Today it’s time to cruise the Li River.
  • We’ll head to Yangshuo where we will board our bamboo raft to float down the river.
  • As we float along between ancient forests and cliffs, our imaginations will drift… picturing the mythical creatures of China (like dragons, or a phoenix) roosting in the many caves & clefts high above.
  • Our meandering journey invokes the vistas of ancient Chinese lore. This is the quintessential scenery that seems hauntingly familiar, because this landscape has been the subject of countless paintings, photographs and movies.
  • Next we will explore the old market of Yangshuo which is a colorful market with hundreds of vendors selling fruits, vegetables and various kinds of animals that feature in Chinese cuisine.
  • Speaking of cooking, our next stop is the Yangshuo Cooking School where cooks will show us how they turn fresh ingredients into delectable Chinese dishes.
Day Ten
Tea is one of the main exports of China. Today we will learn about Tea farming and end our day in Shanghai.

  • This morning, we head to a tea plantation to learn about the art of cultivating tea. Tea is way more than you might think!
  • Tea farming is a fascinating and complex vocation, steeped in tradition and technique.
  • The careful selection of fine tea is an art, much like wine making in the US.
  • We’ll marvel at the beauty of plantations covering the hills all around us.
  • Then, we’ll walk right onto the grounds of a working tea plantation and learn about the fascinating and dramatic history of tea in China.
  • Like a gathering of young connoisseurs, we’ll become familiar with the most important parts of various tea plants and learn how the leaves are cared for, processed and used to make some of the world’s most complex and exquisite beverages.
  • Later we will get to taste some tea and learn about the various preparations used to create green, black, white, gunpowder and oolong tea.
  • After lunch we board our bus and head to Shanghai. On the way we will get a sense of the beauty of this region of China as the countryside rolls by our window.
Day Eleven
Shanghai is one of the fastest growing cities in the world. We will explore the old and the new!

  • Our day begins as we head to the Bund, which is the international section of old “colonial” Shanghai.
  • The Bund, and its well-preserved examples of European colonial architecture, runs along the western bank of the Huangpu River.
  • In the evening, the wide concrete walkway fills with locals strolling or exercising, and you’ll find all manner of merchants displaying their wares.
  • From here, we can marvel at the contrast between Old Shanghai and the modern architectural wonders of the Pudong on the other side of the river.
  • It’s difficult to believe that the modern skyline of the Pudong has all been constructed in less than 30 years.
  • We’ll explore the city of Shanghai – in miniature – at a massive, fascinating and unforgettable exhibit at the City Planning Exhibition Hall.
  • The exhibit shows the entire city of Shanghai in miniature.
  • Pathways surround and criss-cross the hall allowing us to see what has been accomplished and the parts of the city that are yet to be built.
  • We cross to the Pudong where we will get to see the iconic Oriental Pearl Tower.
  • You will recognize this tower from countless movies and photographs of Shanghai.
  • The tower is constructed of 11 spheres, big and small.
  • There are fifteen observation levels in the tower.
  • The tower also contains a shopping center, revolving restaurant and hotel.
  • To top off our day we head to an acrobatic show where we will marvel at the abilities of these amazing performers.
Day Twelve
Its time to head to one of the most beautiful and tranquil cities in China – Suzhou.

  • Today, we head out of Shanghai to the tranquility of Suzhou – The Venice of The East
  • Our first stop in Suzhou will be the Panmen City Gate which is over 2,500 years old.
  • The gate is part of the old city wall which protected the city in 514BC.
  • Later we board a boat and tour the old city by cruising the Grand Canal.
  • Our next stop is a silk factory where the process of obtaining silk from the cocoon of silk worms is explained.
  • Our hosts will then show us how the micro threads of silk are transformed into exquisite cloth.
  • At our last stop of the day we will learn about the Kun Opera which emerged during the 14th century and is unique to this region.
  • The Kun Opera combines the music of the region with the music of Nanxi (southern drama).
  • Then its back to Shanghai for our last night in this extraordinary country.
Day Thirteen
Home to the USA!

This morning we transfer to airport for return flight to Birmingham


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