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China & the Yangtze River 2014

From Only:
Itinerary : Beijing Hong Kong

Trip Extensions

Pre-trip: Tokyo, Japan

89% of our travelers rated this extension "Excellent" in 2013  

A colorful mix of small villages and cultural centers that often seem hidden in a large metropolis of more than 13 million people, Tokyo is likely the world’s busiest and most complex metropolitan area. Discover a city of high energy, blazing neon lights, and almost endless possibilities.

It's Included:
Air transportation—from Tokyo to Beijing
Accommodations—for 4 nights at the Superior First-Class Hotel Metropolitan Tokyo or similar
6 meals—4 breakfasts, 1 lunch, and 1 dinner
Included tours—Tokyo city tour and Mount Fuji/Hakone
Exclusive services of an experienced, English-speaking, resident local guide
All transfers

    Depart the U.S. today on your flight to Tokyo, Japan.

  • Upon arrival in Tokyo late this afternoon, a Grand Circle representative meets you and helps you transfer to your hotel. Your Program Director will welcome you at the hotel and assist you in checking in. The balance of the evening is at leisure to relax after your overseas flight. Formerly called Edo, this city has been a center of Japanese civilization since it was first fortified in 1603. It was already one of the world’s most populous cities by the 19th century.

  • After breakfast this morning, set off on a tour of this impressive modern metropolis. You'll begin at the Asakusa Kannon Temple, one of Tokyo’s cultural landmarks and the main site of the Sho-Kannon branch of Buddhism. Built in the year AD 645, the temple honors Kannon, the goddess of mercy, and boasts a graceful, imposing gate and lovely arcaded walkway.

    At your next destination, you see the impressive Imperial Palace and visit its plaza. Then tour the high-tech Tokyo Tower, contrasting vividly with the venerable city’s ancient monuments. En route back to your hotel, drive through the famous Ginza shopping district.

    The balance of your afternoon is at leisure to relax or explore independently. Seek out an interesting spot for lunch on your own. Maybe you’ll want to try out one of the many sushi bars for a taste of Japan’s traditional cuisine.

    You might notice that, as the day progresses toward dusk, Tokyo's colorful and dazzling lights emerge and change the face of the city.

    Gather with your traveling companions this evening for a dinner welcoming you to Tokyo.

  • Today, after an included breakfast, we depart for Hakone, a scenic region about 50 miles west of Tokyo that’s home to majestic Mount Fuji. With an altitude of more than 12,000 feet, Mount Fuji is the tallest mountain in Japan—and its perfectly symmetrical, perpetually snowcapped peak has made it a popular subject for artists and photographers throughout the centuries.

    You’ll set off via private motorcoach for Mount Fuji, ascending to the mountain’s Fifth Station, where (weather permitting) you’ll enjoy scenic views. Then, cruise tranquil Lake Ashi before enjoying an included lunch. Continuing on to Mount Soun, you’ll board an aerial tramway to the Owakudani Valley, an area known for its onsen (hot springs) and kuro tamago (hard-boiled eggs), a local specialty. Also known as “black eggs,” due to the fact that the sulfurous waters in which they’re cooked render the shells black and chalky, they reportedly increase longevity: Each egg consumed is said to add seven years to one’s life! You’ll have the opportunity to try one during your visit.

    Tonight, enjoy dinner on your own.

  • Spend your final day in Tokyo at leisure.

    Or, join us on an optional tour of the Yanaka district, famed for its traditional-style wooden houses. The day starts with a local train ride to Ueno Park, known for its many museums and cherry blossom trees. You'll enjoy a relaxing stroll through the park on your way to the Tokyo National Museum, the oldest and largest museum in Japan. Then you will journey to the Yanaka district.

    The gently sloping hills of Yanaka offer a peaceful side of Tokyo. This small community was once known for attracting artists, writers, and intellectuals. Now, it is a colorful area of narrow lanes and small homes, interspersed with old Buddhist temples, stone gardens, statuary, and bonsai trees. Tucked in among the residences you can find old neighborhood shops to browse, and during your walk you’ll see some of the remaining traditional wooden houses (concrete is being used increasingly more in replacing older structures). This afternoon, you’ll enjoy a Japanese-style included lunch.

    Enjoy dinner on your own this evening.

    • Meals included:

    Enjoy a morning at leisure as your Tokyo experience draws to a close. This afternoon, fly to Beijing, where you’ll meet your fellow travelers and begin your China & the Yangtze River Cruise Tour.