DAY 1, 21 JUNE 2023. ARRIVAL IN GUANGZHOU
Arrive in Guangzhou, sometimes referred to as Canton, the provincial capital of Guangdong in southern China. Strategically located along the Pearl River, Guangzhou has been a significant trade hub on the maritime Silk Road for centuries, offering easy access for mainland produce to the South China Sea. Its status, and the flow of fresh ingredients from all over the world, had a significant influence over Yue Cuisine, the traditional name for Cantonese or Guangdong Cuisine. Two proverbs aptly depict the reference of the people of Guangdong to food. The first one refers to the high quality and delicate taste of Guandong Cuisine- "To be born in Suzhou, to live in Hangzhou, to eat in Guangzhou, and to die in Liuzhou." The second one refers to the wide variety of ingredients incorporated in Guandong Cuisine- "Anything that walks, swims, crawls, or flies with its back to heaven is edible." After arrival at the airport and dealing with immigration procedures, meet the local guide and drive to the city center. Check-in at the hotel (check-in at 14:00, earlier check-in subject to availability or supplemental charges), and visit the Chen Clan Ancestral Hall, a meticulously decorated complex dated back to the late 19th century. It was initially built to house the youngsters of the Chen Clan as they were preparing for the imperial exams but now serves as the Guandong Folk Art Museum. From here, head to a local Cantonese restaurant for the first impression of Guandong Cuisine, followed by a stroll along Baoye Road to enjoy some authentic food street. Then, late in the evening, revert to the hotel for the first night of this China culinary tour.
DAY 2, 22 JUNE 2023. DRAGON BOAT FESTIVAL AT SHUNDE
Take the approximately one hour's drive out of Guangzhou to the city of Shunde, known throughout the country as the 2nd best culinary city in China (after Chengdu). During the annual Dragon Boat Festival, the small villages surrounding Shunde are conducting a traditional village banquet, where food is prepared and served to hundreds of people through the streets and at local restaurants. Join the locals as they prepare for dinner, help them cook, and then join the crowds as they eat, drink, and celebrate this annual local festival. This is a great chance to get hands-on experience with local food, mingle with the locals, and learn food ethics and traditions. Early in the afternoon, drive back to Guangzhou, and head straight to Shamian Island. Shamian is one of few foreign colonies that thrived during the 19th century along China's eastern coastal line. A walk along the old allies feels like a throwback to old-times Europe. Next, proceed to Qingping Market, notoriously known as one of the wildest markets throughout China. This is where the famous quote of Prince Phillip, the Duke of Edinburgh, comes to reality: "If it has four legs and is not a chair, has wings and is not an aeroplane, or swims and is not a submarine, the Cantonese will eat it." Qingping is mainly a market of traditional-Chinese medicinal supplies but also of some culinary ingredients most Westerners would consider off-limits. The market is likely to change its face in post-COVID-19 reality, but it will still be a vibrant place for unique fresh produce and other food supplies. From the market, continue to Xiguan, the old residential area for prosperous Chinese merchants that were involved in the import and export business of Guangzhou, and later, in doing business with the foreigners working in Shamian, just across the Pearl River. Roam the narrow alleys and visit some of the beautifully preserved houses; some go back to the Ming Dynasty era. Wrap up the day in a local restaurant for another taste of Cantonese Cuisine.
DAY 3, 23 JUNE 2023. CANTONESE COOKING AND FLIGHT TO CHENGDU
This morning, skip the hotel's breakfast and take out to the streets of Guangzhou early in the morning, to join the locals as they stop for a traditional breakfast on their way to work. Sit by the street corner, grab a tiny stool, and enjoy morning Yam Cha (morning tea) with Dim Sum and other traditional southern-Chinese morning delicacies. After this very local breakfast, join a local chef for a tour through the morning fresh-produce market. The chef would introduce the staple ingredients utilized in Cantonese Cuisine before joining him in his kitchen for a few hours' cooking class. After enjoying lunch at the restaurant, take a short walk along Shangxiajiu pedestrian street before driving to the airport for the afternoon flight to Chengdu, the provincial capital of Sichuan. Arrive in Chengdu, meet the local guide, and drive to the city center to check in at the hotel and spend the first night in Sichuan.
DAY 4, 24 JUNE 2023. SICHUAN CUISINE
For centuries, the plains surrounding Chengdu are known as the Land of Abundance, for the fertile soil and the production of raw food materials, giving Chengdu its nickname- The Pantry of China. Known for its bold and spicy flavors, Sichuan cuisine, in its milder form, makes the vast majority of Chinese food outside China. For the coming two days, explore the ingredients, dishes, and secrets of local Cuisine. Begin the day at the Wu Kuai Shi Market. This wholesale market is the source of tea, spices, and herbs to most food outlets throughout this city of well over 16 million people, and the colors and fragrance are on a par scale! Then, slightly intoxicated from the overwhelm of smells and sights, drive to the Sichuan Cuisine museum at Pixian. Here, enjoy an interactive experience, including an explanation of the origins of Sichuan cuisine and some hands-on experience with local traditional food. End the visit with local tea and snacks before reverting to Chengdu to visit a museum dedicated to the history of Shuijingfang- a famous rice liquor (Baijiu) produced in Sichuan for well over 600 years. The Chinese love their Baijiu, and the one from Sichuan is considered a real treat! After a short tasting session, head to a restaurant to enjoy a traditional Sichuan Hot Pot dinner before driving back to the hotel.
DAY 5, 25 JUNE 2023. ALL ABOUT TEA
Drive out of Chengdu to Pujiang, a region famous for its fragrant tea. Once in Pujiang, it is time to roll up the sleeves and get busy at the tea plantation. After some instructions and demonstrations by the farm staff, begin harvesting, then taking the fragile leaves to the workshop to process, roast, and package the final product. From here, proceed to a home of a local family for a much-deserved traditional lunch. In the afternoon, pause by an ancient teahouse in Peng Zhen, a vivid testimony to the old teahouse tradition of Sichuan province, through which the ancient Tea and Horses Road has traversed. Visiting Peng Zhen teahouse is a real journey back in time, to days when teahouses were the center of the community. This particular one retains an atmosphere that is quickly disappearing with modernization and advancement. In the evening, revert to Chengdu and attend a Sichuan opera show. Sichuan opera, often referred to as the 'face-changing opera,' is a masterful display of trickery and skill. The performing actors change their beautifully decorated masks at an unbelievable speed, much to the crowd's awe.
DAY 6, 26 JUNE 2023. BY BULLET TRAIN TO XIAN
The city of Chengdu is world-renowned for its Panda Research and Breeding Base, one of the world's most important centers for wildlife research, breeding, and conservation. Begin the day with a visit to the research center to watch the pandas and learn about the conservation efforts. Then take to the lanes of old Chengdu, beautifully preserved and reconstructed to retain the unique architecture and ambiance of the Ming and Qing Dynasties era. Back then, Chengdu was an important trade hub on the Tea and Horse Route. The ancient trade route through which precious tea was taken from the fertile plains of mainland China to Tibet, then exchanged for valuable Tibetan horses. Stroll along the old lanes and enjoy a light lunch comprised of local snacks sold off food vendors. Then take to Chengdu train station for a lightning-fast bullet train ride at speeds of up to 300 km/h (186 mph). Disembark the train in Xian, meet the local guide and drive to the hotel in the city center.
DAY 7, 27 JUNE 2023. SHAANXI CUISINE
Though not one of the Eight Classic Chinese Culinary Schools, Shaanxi Cuisine, often referred to as Qin Cuisine in honor of the first emperor to unify China, is a fusion of Imperial Cuisine with influences of the large Muslim community inhabiting the city. It comprises flavors brought over from the neighboring provinces- Shanxi and Sichuan, and food often recognized with the Central Asian Muslim republics. It is the melting pot where East-Asian flavors meet Middle-East ingredients for a culinary experience very different from the rest of the country. But before attending to the culinary side of things, begin the day with a visit to the pinnacle of historic sites in the area- the Xian Terracotta Army site. This massive UNESCO World Heritage site, spanning approximately six square km (2.3 square miles), is only a small part of the entire necropolis built as the last resting place of Emperor Qin Shi Huang. It houses some 8000 terracotta-made soldiers representing the Qin army, including terracotta horses, bronze chariots, and a wide array of weapons. They were all created and placed to accompany Emperor Qin on his journey back to Heaven after perishing from earthly life. After touring the historic site, enjoy a lunch of hand-pulled La Mian noodles, a dish typical to the Muslim communities throughout North-Western China. After lunch, visit the Shaanxi History Museum, one of the top 10 museums in the country, with its magnificent display of Tang Dynasty relics. The Tang era considered to be one of the Golden Ages of Chinese civilization. During Tang, art, philosophy, and technology reached new heights, impacting Chinese culture to our days. From here, take to the Muslim quarter for a stroll along its lively food street, boasting food stalls of mesmerizing colors, fragrances, and flavors. End the walk through the Muslim quarter at the Great Mosque, Chain's largest mosque, and a beautiful fusion of Chinese and Muslim architecture dating back to the Ming Dynasty. Early in the evening, take to a local restaurant for a dumpling cooking class- another dish synonymous with Xian. End the cooking class with a fantastic dumpling dinner before reverting to the hotel for the second night in Xian.
DAY 8, 28 JUNE 2023. FROM XIAN TO QUFU
Leave Xian rather early in the morning with a bullet train ride to Qufu, a city in the eastern Shandong province and the birthplace of Confucius, the famous Chinese philosopher. Since his days, back in the 6th century BC, Confucius's teachings have shaped the Chinese mindset and ethics to these very days. Upon arrival in Qufu, and after setting in the hotel, visit the main sites related to the great scholar's life- Confucius Temple, his mansion, and the cemetery where he is buried. All three are listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. End the day with a Confucius-style banquet. In the Analects of Confucius, the collection of quotes of the ancient influencer, there is a particular reference to food, how it should be prepared, consumed, and how it influences one's mental and physical wellbeing. Being a major political figure in his lifetime, Confucius has hosted many imperial officials at his residence. Hence, Confucian Cuisine brings in much of the Imperial Cuisine of the time with a twist derived from the philosopher's views on culinary as a whole.
DAY 9, 29 JUNE 2023. FROM QUFU TO TAI'AN
Following yesterday's Confucius Mansion Banquet, join a local chef for a cooking class following the dishes and principles applied throughout the meal. After the self-prepared lunch, leave Qufu and drive to Tai'an to visit a local brewery. The city of Tai'an is adjacent to Mt. Tai, one of China's Five Great Mountains, all highly revered and of great historical and religious significance. As the most eastern of the "Great Five," the mountain is associated with sunrise. Hence, with all significant beginnings like birth, new ventures, marriage, and renewals. In the evening, attend a performance depicting the Grand Worship of Heaven and Earth performed on Mt. Tai, and then drive to the hotel for the night.
DAY 10, 30 JUNE 2023. FROM TAI’AN TO JINAN
Shandong Cuisine, traditionally known as Lu Cuisine, is one of the Eight Culinary Traditions of Chinese Cuisine and one of the even earlier and more traditional Four Great Traditions. Shandong Cuisine is known for its wide selection of raw materials, especially seafood, and its delicate and fresh flavors. After breakfast at the hotel, take to Mt. Tai to tour this sight of great importance. Records show that no less than seventy-two emperors have visited the mountain in their lifetime, a clear indication of the significance of this holy site. It was also a pilgrimage site for poets, writers, and painters that came to be inspired by its unique natural features. Next, revert to Tai'an for a lunch of tofu and local beer before leaving the city and drive to Jinan, the provincial capital. After setting in the hotel, take an afternoon walk through Baotu Spring Park, the best known of the 72 artesian springs bubbling throughout the city. Continue to the Black Tiger and Pearl springs before enjoying a Shandong cuisine dinner in a local restaurant, followed by a walk through Furongxiang and Kuanhouli food streets for some local snacks.
DAY 11, 01 JULY 2023. TO BEIJING
Leave Jinan and drive to White Cloud Lake to visit a farm where lotus plants are grown. The lotus, and especially its flowers and stems, are a common ingredient in Chinese Cuisine. The sight of the lotus plants floating over the lake creates a beautiful view. See how the plants are handled, processed, and packed. After lunch, drive to another farm where leek is grown. Zhangqiu leek is famous for its sheer size and its delicate, somewhat sweet taste. End the tour around Zhangqiu in a workshop famous for its woks. The Wok is an essential utensil in the Chinese kitchen, and Zhangqiu is renowned for its high-quality, handmade woks. Finally, revert to Jinan in time to hop on board the bullet train to Beijing. Arrive in the Chinese capital, meet the local guide, and drive to the hotel in the city center.
DAY 12, 02 JULY 2023. BEIJING CUISINE
Though Beijing Cuisine is also not one of the Eight Traditional Schools of Chinese Culinary, this city of imperial significance has developed its unique flavors. With chefs, ingredients, and dishes brought from all throughout the country to serve the Imperial Court, kitchens in Beijing have turned into the literal melting pot of all Chinese Culinary Schools. New recipes were made here; amid these, probably the best-known is Beijing Roast Duck. At the same time, dishes from other parts of the vast country were given a local interpretation. Leave the hotel very early in the morning to have a traditional street-style breakfast. Stop by small food vendors selling baozi, wontons, and Jianbing, drink soy milk, and enjoy a taste of the primary staple food enjoyed by many of the 24 million people calling Beijing 'home'. End this breakfast, and walk to a fresh produce market to meet a local chef for a guided tour. Continue to the chef's own restaurant for a few hours' cooking class. After lunch with the chef, continue on a walking tour through some of the city's vibrant food streets where people stop by all day long to enjoy local delicacies such as Zhajiang noodles and Gulou steamed bread. Continue walking past the narrow alleys of the Hutongs- the ancient residence of Mandarins and others served in the Imperial Court. These uniquely shaped neighborhoods are a reminder of how most of Beijing looked like only 100 years ago. End the Hutong walk in a local family's house for a traditional Beijing dinner and a chance for a relaxing drink and conversation with the hosts.
DAY 13, 03 JULY 2023. BEIJING SIGHTSEEING
No tour to Beijing is complete without a visit to the Great Wall of China, and this tour is not an exception. Drive out of town for a walking tour to take in the sheer magnitude of this formidable structure that repeatedly failed to fulfill its purpose of stopping the barbarian clans from the north to invade the Middle Kingdom. Then, revert to the city for an enjoyable walk through the vast Summer Palace- the refuge for the Imperial family during the hot summer days of Beijing. Walk through the halls, along the world's longest decorated corridor, and through the beautiful Suzhou street. After a day full of walking and physical activity, get a well-deserved afternoon Imperial Tea Break. Then enjoy an Imperial Banquet in one of Beijing's best renowned Imperial restaurants to enjoy some of the most sumptuous dishes that were served to the emperor back in the days.
DAY 14, 04 JULY 2023. DEPARTURE FROM BEIJING
Begin the last day of this China culinary tour with a visit to Xinfadi, Beijing's largest vegetable market. From the very early morning hours, fresh agricultural produce is flowing into this vast market. Food vendors and homemakers flock here to purchase the freshest ingredients for their restaurants, food stalls, and small shops throughout town. Continue walking through the Forbidden City, probably the most important historic site within the city center, which was forbidden to all but the Imperial family and those serving in the Imperial court. For lunch, enjoy the dish probably most recognized with Beijing Cuisine- Beijing Roast Duck, including a peek behind the scenes to the process of roasting, cutting, and serving the duck. End the tour of Beijing with a visit to the Silk Market- a great place to find and purchase anything from Chinese souvenirs to affordable merchandise. From here, drive to the airport for the international departing flight out of China.
Dates & Pricing
21st June, 2023–4th July, 2023
- $3,633 Per Person (For a group of 6 or more)
- $891 Single Room Supplement
Rates for China culinary tour are quoted in US Dollars.
- Note: China private culinary tour rates are valid all year round, but are not valid for trips that occur (in whole, or in part) during Chinese national holidays:
New Year (1-3 Jan 2022)
Chinese Spring Festival (31 Jan-6 Feb 2022)
Qingming Festival (1-5 Apr 2022)
Labor Day Holiday (30 Apr-2 May 2022)
Dragon Boat Festival (3-5 Jun 2022)
Mid-Autumn Festival (10-12 Sep 2022)
National Day Holiday (1-10 Oct 2022)
[email protected] reserves the right to change China culinary tour prices and programs due to changes in flight schedule, changes in airfares, and other local circumstances.
Prices are based on twin share occupancy.
Rates for private groups of 2 travelers and above:
2 travelers- US$4,985/ person
4 travelers- US$3,938/ person
For private tours not conducted during the dates indicated above, the Shunde Village Banquet might not be available, as this taking place traditionally during the Dragon Boat Festival. If you do wish to take China culinary tour on other dates, please consult with us, and we would make our best to find a similar opportunity for such a local experience.
- 1 domestic flight: Guangzhou/Chengdu by economy class
- 3 bullet train rides: Chengdu-Xian-Qufu; Jinan-Beijing
- Accommodation at hotels selected including breakfast
- Transfer by private A/C vehicle
- Meals as indicated in the program
- Cooking classes, banquets, and visits as per program
- English speaking guide for each area as per program
- Entry fees for all sightseeing as mentioned on the program
- All shows as per program
- International travel to Guangzhou and from Beijing
- Travel insurance
- PCR/COVID tests, or any tests that might be required for international or domestic travel
- Expenses that might incur due to the results of COVID tests before, during or after the tour
- Chinese tourist visa
- Excess luggage
- Gratuities to local service providers
- Expenses of personal nature (food and drinks beyond those provided, laundry, etc.)
- Anything not clearly mentioned in the program
- Guangzhou – Dongfang Hotel 4-star
- Chengdu – Tibet Hotel 4-star
- Xian – Grand Noble 4-star
- Qufu – Shangri-la 5-star
- Tai’an – Ramada Plaza 5-star
- Jinan – Sofitel Jinan Silver Plaza 5-star
- Beijing – Park Plaza Wangfujing 4-star
Note: the listed hotels are tentative. Final hotel list shall be confirmed upon placing a booking and paying a deposit.
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