The Summer Palace & the Great Wall of China
Depart from the pier for an approximately three-hour transfer to the Summer Palace and the Garden of Cultivated Harmony. Built in the Qing Dynasty and surrounded by grounds laid out by Emperor Qianlong, as a place of retirement for his mother, this summer residence took on special interest for the notorious Empress Dowager Cixi, who fulfilled a wonderful, if expensive, dream by commissioning the palace in 1888. Using money intended for the building of a naval fleet, she constructed the Summer Palace. Originally a concubine of the third rank, Cixi placed herself on the Dragon Throne after the death of the emperor and ruled in an unscrupulous, egocentric way for 50 years, initially in the role of regent for her young child. By deploying young women and other earthly distractions, she kept her son away from matters of government until his death at the age of 18. Bypassing the legal inheritance, she installed her young nephew as emperor and governed from ‘behind the throne’ until he reached majority. She then retired to the Summer Palace, but did not refrain from meddling in court politics. Lunch will be served at a local restaurant near the Great Wall where you'll also have a half hour of shopping for local specialties. Continue to the Great Wall, whose construction began as early as the 8th century BC, but it was the first Qin Emperor who extended this bastion against the northern barbarians. Construction reached its zenith under the Ming Dynasty. Today, the wall stretches some 3,600 miles. Your visit features a walk along a restored section of the Wall’s battlements, which are wide enough to allow cavalry and chariots to pass. Board your motor coach and transfer directly back to the ship in Xingang—a drive of approximately three hours.
Wear comfortable walking shoes. There will be walking and some stairs to climb at the Great Wall. Wear layered clothing and bring a jacket as the wind blowing through the valleys can be cool and the wall is quite exposed. The drive inland to the attractions is approximately 3½ hours each way.