Xanadu – a world that has in many ways has already disappeared.
The final point on Marco Polo’s route in his quest from the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem to the site of Shangdu (Xanadu) – a fantasy destination for some. Venture north to Inner Mongolia where you will witness rare cultural performances in the spectacular grasslands, dine on traditional local foods before reaching the site of Xanadu – the site of which encompasses the remains of Kublai Khan’s legendary capital city, designed by the Mongol ruler’s Chinese advisor Liu Bingzhdong in 1256. Over a surface area of 25,000 ha, the site was a unique attempt to assimilate the nomadic Mongolian and Han Chinese cultures. From this base, Kublai Khan established the Yuan dynasty that ruled China over a century, extending its boundaries across Asia. From here, you will visit ancient counties, home to many ethnic minority groups and witness time frozen traditions and ancient farm techniques. A journey for the true history buff who can use their imagination.
This morning you will depart from your Beijing hotel and head to Taipusi Qi, 330km to the northwest of Beijing. Taipusi Qi has a picturesque tourism zone known as ‘Taipusi Qi Yumayuan’ which is well known for its mesmerising Baolage Grassland (part of the world famous Xilingol Grassland). Upon arrival at Gongbaolage Grasslands, you will receive a welcoming ceremony – you will be warmly welcomed by the local colourfully dressed Mongolians. They will present each of you with a silver cup of wine and Hada (white or blue silk scarves which are tokens of greetings in Inner Mongolia ).
After lunch, you will watch the traditional Mongolian wrestling (subject to local schedules) and horse racing performances before continuing on to Zhenglan Qi, a famous historical city in Inner Mongolia also known as the Plain Blue Banner. (B,L,D)
Overnight in Mingzhu Hotel or similar
After breakfast, you will visit the Shangdu (Xanadu) Museum 5km south of the site of Xanadu. It is a two-story building with four exhibition halls, a video room, antiques room and arts & crafts section. The museum is focused on the Yuan Dynasty culture, Shangdu (Xanadu) as well as Zhenglan Qi as the main body. The museum has a rich collection of valuable antiques from the Yuan Dynasty in addition to the collections from local government and the Inner Mongolia Association of antiques and artefacts.
From here, you will visit the site of the Yuan Dynasty Upper Capital (Shangdu or Xanadu). In 1260, Kublai Khan, grandson of Genghis Khan, established the summer capital at Upper Capital, about 20km northeast of Plain Blue Banner (Zhenglan Qi). When the Yuan Dadu Capital was founded at Yanjing (present Beijing City) in the year of 1264, the imperial system of inspection tour between the two capitals was formed. Upper Capital and Dadu (Grand Capital) became two alternate capitals for the Great Yuan Dynasty, spanning the 108-year reign of 11 emperors in succession.
In this period the Yuan empire controlled a vast territory and thrived, becoming a great power and ushering the new era of the Chinese ancient history and the world history of nomadic nations. Marco Polo, his father and uncle arrived in Shangdu (Xanadu), in 1275 when Marco Polo was at the age of 21. Marco Polo met Kublai Khan soon after arriving in Shangdu.
The religious debate that took place here resulted in the dissemination of Tibetan Buddhism over north-east Asia, a cultural and religious tradition still practised in many areas today. The site was planned according to traditional Chinese feng shui in relation to the nearby mountains and river. It features the remains of the city, including temples, palaces, tombs, nomadic encampments and the Tiefan’gang Canal, along with other waterworks.
Enjoy Jinlianchuan Prairie (part of the world famous Xilingol Grassland) where the Yuan Dynasty Upper Capital was built. There are yellow flowers and many other kinds of unknown flowers all over the mountains and plains. The Jinlianchuan Prairie is the most beautiful grasslands in Inner Mongolia. It is rich in edible and medicinal plants such as the fern, day lily.
From here, you will drive to Duolun County. 34km southeast of Xanadu. Duolun County is an ancient county with ethnic groups composed of Han Chinese, Hui, Uygur, Tibetan. Animal husbandry is its main business including cattle cattle, horse and donkeys. Its farming includes wheat and potatoes. It has some fascinating historical sites and temples which you will have time to explore. (B,L,D)
Overnight in Duolun Hotel or similar
After breakfast, you will visit Huizong Temple. Huizong Temple was originally built in Duolun by the Kangxi emperor in 1711, and it was staffed by monks from the 120 banners of Mongolia. In the past Duolun (Dolonnor) was also nicknamed ‘Lama miao’, or ‘Lama temple,’ named after the many temples located there. One of the two famous temples is Huizong Temple (Koke Monastery).
You will then visit Shanxi Guild Hall. In the Qing Dynasty, Emperor Kangxi, under the request of the dukes in Mongolia, permitted the merchants from inland China to set up business channels here in Duolun and gave preferential policies to the inland merchants who would do business in Duolun. Thus, numerous businessmen from Beijing, Shanxi, Shaanxi and Shandong flooded Duolun which formed a large team of businessmen travelling in Mongolia. Today, its glorious past can be found from the well preserved Shanxi Guild Hall.
Following lunch, you will drive back to Beijing where you will be dropped at your hotel (not included) on arrival. (B,L)
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**Please note that this tour can be organised on request for private departures.
* Pricing is subject to change at anytime until full payment has been received.
* A minimum of 2 adults is required to guarantee this departure.
A non-refundable deposit of $1000 AUD per person is required to secure your place. Final payment is due no later than 60 days prior to departure. Travel insurance is mandatory for travelling with Crooked Compass. For full terms and conditions, please click here.
This category of tours involves light trekking, walking, cycling, rafting or kayaking for a few hours each day with a small amount of inclines and declines. You will require a reasonable level of fitness and good health to participate. It is important to note that due to the nature of some of our trips, they may take place in remote areas (with basic facilities) and can involve long travelling days on various modes of transport.
Suggested preparation : At least 3 months prior to departure, it is recommended that you undertake aerobic exercise (this may include jogging, cycling or fast walking) for 30 minutes, three times a week. It is also advised to walk on variable terrain and in variable weather conditions. For a cycling adventure, road cycling twice a week is recommended and for adventures which involve paddling and kayaking, it is important to gain confidence and rhythm rather than speed prior to departure.
This category of tours involve trekking, kayaking and cycling for period of 6 to 8 hours a day at a fairly consistent pace. Ideal for people looking to slightly increase the heart rate. For our moderately rated tours, you must have a good level of fitness and also be in good health. It is also important to be prepared for variable weather conditions. Altitude may also come into play. This category of tours may involve visiting remote areas where facilities can be quite basic. Accommodation may also involve camping, homestays or basic accommodation where facilities may not be considered of western standards. To enjoy this style of travel, it is suggested for travellers to have a reasonable level of fitness and health, a positive attitude, as well as a fairly active lifestyle. An open mind is also required.
Suggested preparation: At least 3 months prior to departure, it is recommended that you undertake 45mins – 1 hour of aerobic exercise, three to four times a week. Some potential exercises that could be beneficial include hill walking with a backpack on over variable terrain and weather conditions, as well as running and cycling dependent on the activity you plan on undertaking.
This category of tours involves trekking, kayaking, cycling or other adventure activities in remote areas for up to 8 to 10 hours a day. It is important to note that with the remoteness of some regions comes a variety of other challenges such as variable weather conditions, accommodation as well as facilities. You must have an excellent level of fitness and good health to be able to partake in this category of tour. You must have confidence in your own ability and be in good physical condition. Includes extended periods of endurance.
Suggested preparation: At least 3 to 4 months of strenuous exercise, four times a week. When preparing for treks it would be beneficial to participate in hill walks with a weighted day pack (approximately 5-8 kg) once a week for aerobic fitness and strengthening of leg muscles. It is also important to do this on variable terrain to prepare for challenging adventures. When preparing for cycling adventures, regular bike riding (at least 4 to 5 times a week for 1-4 hours is essential). It is also important to cycle on uneven surfaces or even participate in other aerobic exercises such as running or swimming to build up strength and stamina. Altitude may also be a factor in these tours.
This category of tour often involves extreme trekking, cycling or other extreme adventure activities. It is important to expect remote and poorly defined tracks and to be prepared for variable weather conditions for 10 to 12 hours per day (may sometimes be more depending on weather and altitude). These adventures are suitable for travellers who have prior experience in strenuous travel and activities, are extremely fit and have excellent health. It is also important to note that some of the terrain on these adventures will involve trekking in snow, at high attitude levels and may require technical equipment.
Suggested preparation: It is important to note that physical fitness should be an ongoing activity, commencing around 5-6 months prior to departure, or even before if you have no prior fitness. Exercise should focus on building maximum endurance and stamina. Four to five hard sessions of 40-60 mins per week should be completed and can include exercises such as going to the gym, running, swimming or cycling to focus on building aerobic stamina. It could also be beneficial to prepare by hiking on rough terrain, in extreme weather conditions or partake in altitude training.