Join my Culinary tour of China to explore six of China’s most culturally and culinary diverse cities. See detailed itinerary of this 14 day trip below.
◊ Day One ◊
Our exclusive culinary tour of China will start in BEIJING, where I spent several years as a local journalist and a city I know intimately. We will explore the culinary delights of this ancient capital and visit some of its most important cultural heritage sites.
- I will arrange for you to be collected from Beijing Capital Airport and taken to your hotel. You will be free to discover the surroundings or to have a rest to ease the jet lag.
- In the evening I will host a welcome dinner. This will be an opportunity for me to answer any questions you may have and for you to meet fellow travellers and share your interests.
◊ Day Two ◊
- Visit the Temple of Heaven, an imperial complex visited by emperors for ceremonies of prayer to heaven for good harvest. Apart from its historic significance, grand architecture and unique layout, it’s also an excellent location to experience the diversity of early morning pursuits engaged in by ordinary citizens such as Peking opera, calligraphy on the paving stones, folk music practice, tai chi, etc.
- Take a stroll through the charming Hutongs, alleys formed by lines of traditional courtyard residences. This offers us a glimpse at the traditional lifestyle of Beijing natives which is slowly disappearing under the influence of the city’s fast growing economy.
- Have a meal at a family run restaurant in a picturesque area of old Beijing. We will meet and converse with the master chef specialising in Northern Chinese cuisine who will cook his signature dishes on a private menu not available to general public.
◊ Day Three ◊
- Explore one of China’s most important historic sites, the Forbidden City (The Palace Museum), the imperial palace for some five centuries which houses numerous rare treasures and curiosities.
- Enjoy a special treat in a delightful restaurant overlooking the Forbidden City where we will witness a Peking Duck serving demonstration.
- Visit Tiananmen Square (Gate of Heavenly Peace) which has great cultural significance as it was the site of several important events in Chinese history including Chairman Mao’s announcement of the founding of the People’s Republic of China.
- Engage in a private cookery class in a typical Beijing style courtyard house. We will have the opportunity to learn a number of classic stir-fry dishes, then enjoy the fruit of our efforts in this beautiful venue.
◊ Day Four ◊
- Travel in a private vehicle to the northern suburbs of Beijing to visit the Great Wall of China and its picturesque surroundings. I’ve chosen Mutianyu, a less crowded section of the Great Wall with cable car service to make your visit more enjoyable and less tiring.
- Have a rural feast of fresh fish prepared “country style” in a nearby village.
- Say goodbye to Beijing and take a flight (2.5 hours) to the north-western city of Lanzhou, historically a major link on the northern Silk Road.
◊ Day Five ◊
LANZHOU, the capital of Gansu province, is where I grew up and a place which holds many happy food-related memories for me. Being the home to many different ethnic groups, Lanzhou is an excellent spot to sample the delights of Chinese Silk Road fare.
- We will have a private audience to view the making of Lanzhou beef noodles, the culinary art which the city is most famed for. One of Lanzhou’s master noodle chefs will demonstrate the hand-pulling technique. We will also have the opportunity to give it a try under the guidance of this local expert. Afterwards, we will queue up in front of the beef noodle production line (just like the locals do) to get a bowl of delicious beef noodles.
- Have a walk on Zhongshan Bridge, one of the first modern iron bridges over the Yellow River constructed by German engineers in 1907.
- Visit Lanzhou’s Watermill park on the banks of the Yellow River and witness the local custom of floating down the river on inflated sheep skin rafts (you can also have a go!).
- Explore the buzzing night market to absorb Lanzhou’s food culture and try some local street food delicacies.
◊ Day Six ◊
- Take the cable car to the top of Lanshan Mountain, overlooking the interesting geographic features of Lanzhou: a city built between two mountain ranges, with the Yellow River flowing through the valley.
- Have a group meal in one of Lanzhou’s most popular restaurants specializing in exquisite lamb dishes, north-western style.
- Take a High-speed train (3 hours) to the historic city of Xi’an, the oldest of the Four Great Ancient Capitals of China.
◊ Day Seven ◊
XI’AN is the starting point of the Silk Road and home to the Terracotta Army. It’s also an unmissable location on the culinary atlas of China. I have always enjoyed strolling around the Muslim quarter in Xi’an tasting the delicious street foods which this city is famous for.
- Visit the Old City Wall of Xi’an, the most complete city wall remaining in China. We can either walk or cycle along the top of the wall. A unique experience and a great way to view the splendour of this historic capital.
- Visit Xi’an’s Muslim Quarter where you will encounter a diversity of local street foods as you wonder around the narrow alleyways which make this area so unique.
- Prepare dumplings at the home of a local resident. This is a very special treat which I have organised for our group. We will participate in assembling the dumplings in
- the traditional manner and cooking them by two different methods. Then we will enjoy the meal together with the host family.
◊ Day Eight ◊
- No visit to China is complete without a visit to the tomb of Qin Shi Huang, the first Emperor of China and home of the famous Terracotta Army. Have a close look at more than 8,000 soldiers, 130 chariots with 520 horses and 150 cavalry horses.
- Dine in a time-honoured restaurant in Xi’an city which serves high quality local specialities.
- Take a high-speed train (4 hours) south to Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province.
◊ Day Nine ◊
Here comes the “hottest” part of our culinary tour of China (my personal favourite): In CHENGDU (UNESCO City of Gastronomy), we will explore many aspects of the gastronomy of Sichuan province, the land of spices and the home of China’s most famous cuisine.
- Meeting adorable pandas is a must when visiting Sichuan, the home of this rare creature. We will visit Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding in the early morning when the pandas are most active. This non-profit facility is in a beautiful parkland setting (nothing like a zoo) and has plenty to discover.
- Have an authentic Sichuan style hotpot meal in one of the most reputable restaurants in the city. The numerous choices, the buzzing atmosphere and the special serving procedure will give you a great opportunity to taste the local food culture (Don’t worry if you don’t fancy spicy food since there are also non-spicy options which you can choose from).
- Wander around Chengdu’s most vibrant market where we can explore some of the most unusual vegetables, spices and condiments found in Chinese cuisine.
- Visit Chengdu’s famous culture quarter where we will see the symbolic architecture of the city, experience local’s leisure lifestyle and try out some popular street foods freshly prepared right in front of you.
◊ Day Ten ◊
- Spend a day at Sichuan Cuisine Museum where we will be guided to learn about local food history, experience ancient cookery tools, identify special ingredients and sample many typical street foods of Sichuan.
- Participate in a cookery class. A master chef will guide us to make three classic Sichuan dishes. Comments will be given by the expert and then a Rookie Master Chef Certificate will be issued. In the end, we will enjoy the meal together with fellow participants.
- Take a flight (3 hours) to Hangzhou, the provincial capital of Zhejiang province, home of the famous West Lake.
◊ Day Eleven ◊
HANGZHOU is regarded as one of the most liveable cities in China. Together with Suzhou, Hangzhou in ancient Chinese folklore is regarded as a “heaven on earth”. Marco Polo wrote of Hangzhou as “my heavenly city”.
- Visit Longjing “Dragon well” tea village in the suburbs of Hangzhou city which grows the most prestigious green tea in China. We will see the beautiful tea plantation scenery, have a chat with local tea farmers to learn about the tea harvest, roasting process and serving methods.
- Have a Hangzhou style meal in a restaurant surrounded by rows and rows of tea trees, along with green tea produced in the village.
- Visit National Tea Museum which holds more than 300 types of tea. It’s a wonderful place to gain in-depth knowledge on the history and culture of Chinese tea. We will have a chance to see a tea art performance and taste several different kinds of tea.
- Strolling along West Lake (UNESCO World Cultural Heritage) is a must for all travellers to Hangzhou. Since ancient times, West Lake has been associated with China’s most revered writers, poets, philosophers, national heroes and heroines.
◊ Day Twelve ◊
- Visit Temple of Soul’s Retreat (Lingyin Temple), one of the most famous Buddhist temples of China. It consists of palaces, pavilions and halls in which we will find many magnificent figures of Buddhist deities.
- Enjoy the pleasure of eating a buddhist-style vegetarian meal at this working temple.
- Visit Feilai Feng Grottos nearby where there are nearly 500 Buddist stone statues carved on hillsides and riverbanks.
- Take a short journey on the high-speed train (1 hour) to Shanghai, the largest city in China.
◊ Day Thirteen ◊
As the heart of China’s economic development, SHANGHAI is also renowned for its cultural heritage and for its outstanding local cuisine which is commonplace throughout China.
- Visit Temple of the City Gods, a Taoist temple in the old district of Shanghai which was built to protect the safety of the people in the city. A great place to sample the local folk culture.
- Visit the nearby Yuyuan Garden, an excellent example of a Chinese garden built in the Ming dynasty.
- Explore the surroundings of the temple, an area packed with restaurants, tea houses and snack food stalls. We will encounter numerous gastronomic specialities of Shanghai. This area also offers us a glimpse at some traditional architecture, art & crafts.
- Take a cruise on the Huang Pu river, the last significant tributary of the Yangtze river before it empties into the East China Sea.
- Explore The Bund, a waterfront area where you will encounter both the historic colonial architecture of the city, as well as the towering skyscrapers of modern China.
- Have a farewell dinner featuring Shanghai’s finest cuisine to draw our culinary tour of China to a close.
◊ Day Fourteen ◊
- After breakfast, say goodbye. Either continue your adventure in Shanghai or head home from Shanghai airport.
- As a farewell gift, I have personally selected an “essential culinary kit” for you to take home and continue your Chinese culinary adventures.
More information about this tour is available HERE.