Southeast Asia Tour: China’s Maritime Silk Road

Tour Southeast China from Shanghai to Macau along the Maritime Silk Road of the South China Sea

With Dr. Andrew R. Wilson


To Be Announced


17 Days


To Be Announced

Why take Far Horizons’ Southeast China Tour?

  • Tour Southeast China tour with Dr. Andrew Wilson, an award-winning expert in Asian history and Great Courses lecturer
  • Tour six UNESCO World Heritage Sites
  • Cruise into the world’s longest man-made grand canal
  • See Kaiping Diaolou, touted by CNN as China’s unsung historic treasure and designated UNESCO World Heritage.
  • See the recently excavated 13th century Yuan Dynasty Water Gate while touring Shanghai
  • Limited to a maximum of 14 participants
China's Maritime Silk Road Tour
(click to enlarge)

The Southeast China Tour Daily Schedule

Day 1: Depart the USA.
Day 2: Arrive Shanghai.
Day 3: Visit Yuan Dynasty Water Gate Museum during a tour of Shanghai.
Day 4: Transfer to Suzhou with a city tour.
Day 5: Tour Suzhou, Tongli village.
Day 6: Drive to Hangzhou. Jiangnan Canal and Canal Museum.
Day 7: Hangzou city tour.
Day 8: Transfer to Huangshan. Xidi and Hongcun Villages.
Day 9: Yellow Mountain.
Day 10: Transfer to Xiamen. Gǔlàng Yǔ Island.
Day 11: Quanzhou city tour.
Day 12: Fujian Tulou, or hakka houses.
Day 13: Fly to Guangzhou with city tour.
Day 14: Kaiping Diaolou.
Day 15: Transfer to Hong Kong with city tour.
Day 16: Macau city tour.
Day 17: Return to the USA.

For more than a thousand years, Southeast China has been a place where cultures collide, economic systems combine and immigrants and natives compete. Contrary to the ‘Unchanging China’ that we read about in old textbooks, Far Horizon’s carefully-crafted, 16-day Southeast China tour from Shanghai to Hong Kong seeks to uncovers the diversity, modernity and innovation of this land, which has been a crossroads of commerce and culture for centuries.

China-Hongcun-Village-bridge-tour-far-horizonsJoin only 13 others to visit seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites: the Grand Canal, the world’s longest man-made waterway more than 1,000 miles in length; Xidi and Hóngcūn villages, merchant communities  that flourished for centuries, leaving them rich in traditional Chinese architecture; Fujian Tulou, the huge, round mud-brick ‘apartment’ houses several stories tall; Huangshan Mountain scenic area; Kaiping Diaolou, multi-storied fortified watchtowers built by wealthy Cantonese emigres who brought their fortunes home; and Macau’s Old Town, where colonial architecture displays four centuries of Portuguese rule.  And along the way visit some of China’s greatest cities and trading ports:  Hangzhou, a city that Marco Polo described as the greatest emporium in the world; Suzhou, crisscrossed by canals and home to some of the best preserved gardens of the Imperial Period; and finally Shanghai, Quanzhou, Xiamen and Guangzhou, where the China market plugged into the global maritime economy and from whence millions of Chinese merchants, students and laborers shipped out to seek their fortunes overseas.

Tour Leader

Southeast-China-Maritime-Silk-Road-Tour-Shanghai-Macau-wilson-andrewDr. Andrew Wilson is on the faculty of the Strategy and Policy Department at the United States Naval War College, the world’s oldest and most prestigious center for senior military education.   A China historian, he received a B.A. in Asian Studies from U. C. Santa Barbara, and earned his Ph.D. in History and East Asian Languages from Harvard University.  He has published numerous articles and books on Chinese maritime history, Chinese emigration, Sino-Western conflict and cooperation in maritime Asia, as well as on Chinese military history and China’s strategic culture.  For the last three decades he has been traveling to and studying in China, Taiwan and the Chinese communities in Southeast Asia and has taught courses in Chinese history and Chinese emigration at Wellesley College and at Harvard. Dr. Wilson has just finished writing a new 24-lecture series for The Great Courses (formerly the Teaching Company) entitled Daily Life in Imperial China. He is excited to share his research with you on that topic, and on many others, during this exciting adventure from Shanghai to Macau.  More than just an historian and veteran traveler, Dr. Wilson is also an expert in strategic thought and is the Naval War College’s Philip A. Crowl Professor of Comparative Strategy.  An award-winning educator and dynamic lecturer, he has been invited to speak at numerous military colleges and civilian universities in the U. S., has lectured on strategic theory and international security in nearly two dozen countries on six continents, and has contributed to the curriculum of military colleges all over the world.  Among his other recent projects with The Great Courses are Masters of War: History’s Greatest Strategic Thinkers and The Art of War.  Professor Wilson’s written work also includes essays on Chinese sea power and Chinese naval modernization and an edited volume entitled China’s Future Nuclear Submarine Force.  Dr. Wilson’s extensive knowledge of Chinese and Asian history, language and culture make him an ideal study leader.  He looks forward to sharing his thoughts on China’s dynamic interactions with the wider maritime world: past, present and future.

Southeast China Tour Itinerary

(B) breakfast, (L) lunch, (D) dinner


Southeast-China-Maritime-Silk-Road-Tour-Shanghai-Macau-Hangzhou-BuddhaDay 1: Depart the USA.

Day 2: Arrive to Shanghai, China’s biggest city and a global financial hub. Overnight for two nights in the Anting Villa Hotel, a 4-star European-styled garden hotel located on a quiet street in the heart of the former French Concession.

Southeast-China-Maritime-Silk-Road-Tour-Shanghai-Macau-old-ShanghaiDay 3: The morning is free to relax after the long flight with lunch on our own. In 2006, archaeological excavations revealed a 13th century Yuan Dynasty Water Gate that was hailed one of China’s top ten discoveries of that year. Water gates were built to dam and wash away the silt that had built up in the water due to the rising tides of the sea. When the tide came in, the gate was closed to stop the water and silt outside, and when the tide went out, the gate was opened to release fresh water from the river to wash away the remaining silt. This water gate is recognized as among the biggest and best preserved Yuan Dynasty sites of its kind ever discovered in the country. Opened to the public in December 2012, we will visit the Yuan Dynasty Water Gate Museum, which is built on top of the site of these relics. Gather this evening for our Welcome Dinner. (B/D)

Southeast-China-Maritime-Silk-Road-Tour-Shanghai-Macau-Suzhou-garden-gateDay 4: This morning we transfer from Shanghai to Suzhou and spend the day exploring this city that is known for its graceful classical gardens. The Humble Administrator’s Garden is part of UNESCO’s Classical Gardens of Suzhou, and is considered to be the finest in southern China. This was the site of the residence of Suzhou notables since the 2nd century AD, and a Ming Imperial Inspector designed the present complex when he retired from public life in 1509. The garden contains numerous pavilions and bridges set among a maze of connected pools and islands. Hanshan Temple is a Buddhist Temple and Monastery just outside Suzhou. Originally built more than 1,000 years ago, the present buildings are excellent examples of Qing Dynasty architecture. In the afternoon, we will go to the No.1 Silk Factory to learn about the silk-making process and then stroll along the scenic 800-year old Pingjiang Road, that is a traditional cobblestone path alongside a canal. Overnight in Suzhou for two nights in the historic Pingjiang Lodge, housed within a series of houses. Part of this hotel was once the residence of the Fang Family in the Ming Dynasty. Dinner is on our own this evening. (B/L)

Southeast-China-Maritime-Silk-Road-Tour-Shanghai-Macau-SuzhouDay 5: Begin today at the Suzhou Museum, with displays of ancient Chinese art and cultural relics. Then spend the rest of the day exploring Suzhou’s three most important icons. Rising seven stories towards the sky, Ruiguang is a brick octagonal pagoda located in the Panmen Scenic Area. In 1978, many cultural artifacts were discovered within a secret recess in the building. The images of the Buddha, volumes of scripture, wood carvings and other treasures are now in the Suzhou Museum. The Pan Men Gate is an historic landmark. Located on the Grand Canal, this 2,500 entrance was originally part of the city walls. Wu Gate Bridge was erected in the Song Dynasty and rebuilt in Qing Dynasty. It is the highest single span stone bridge existing in the city. Located on the outskirts of Suzhou, Tongli has incorporated its rivers, streets, bridges, homes and gardens into a perfect water village that is more than one thousand years old. It has been called ‘the Oriental Venice’ due to its unique scenery. (B/L/D)

Southeast-China-Maritime-Silk-Road-Tour-Shanghai-Macau-Fengshan-Water-GateDay 6: Drive to Hangzhou, a city with a history that spans several thousand years. In the 12th century this ancient city, known as Lin’an, was capital of the Southern Song Dynasty until it was besieged and captured by the advancing Mongol armies of Kublai Khan in 1276. Excavations have uncovered some of the city’s ancient past. The southern most section of the Grand Canal, the Jiangnan Canal, is the oldest canal in the world and is still in active use. More than 1,000 miles in length, it is theworld’s longest man-made waterway and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We will board a vessel for a short cruise to gain a panoramic view of the landscape of this amazing channel and take time to enter the recently created Canal Museum. Our last stop will be to see the 17th century Gongcheng Bridge built during the Ming Dynasty and the longest arched bridge in Hangzhou. Overnight in Hagzhou for two nights in the 4-star Tea Boutique hotel. (B/L/D)

Southeast-China-Maritime-Silk-Road-Tour-Shanghai-Macau-Pagoda-Six-Harmonies-HangzhouDay 7: Hangzou is filled with history. Lingyin Temple is one of the largest and wealthiest temples in China. Originally founded in 326 AD, the complex has been rebuilt no less than sixteen times since then. The front hall, and former entrance, is a huge double-eaved building that is larger than the main hall at many temples, at least 60 feet tall. The principal Buddha here is Maitreya or Milefo, the Laughing Buddha. The Six Harmonies Pagoda is a masterpiece of Song and Ming architecture. Octagonal in shape, the exterior appears to be thirteen stories, but in reality there are seven interior levels. A spiral staircase leads to the top floor and each of the seven ceilings is incised with intricate bird and flower designs. End the day on the ancient street of Qinghefang, a small microcosm of Hangzhou’s past with architecture dating back to the Ming and Qing Dynasty. It is the location of many famous century-old shops and we will have time to explore including a visit to Huqingyu Pharmacy, or Hu Qing Yu Tang, a Chinese traditional medicine pharmacy. Based on the pharmacopoeia of the Song Dynasty imperial family, it began business in 1874. Also along the street, we will stop at a traditional tea house to be hosted at a tea ceremony. (B/L/D)

Day 8: Depart Hangzhou for Huangshan. After lunch, we will drive to Xidi and Hongcun, part of the ‘Ancient Villages in Southern Anhui’ UNESCO World Heritage Sites that still feature the traditional architecture and layout of villages that originated between the 14th and 20th centuries. Encircled by jade hills with two streams flowing through the village, Xidi has more than one hundred well-preserved wooden dwellings from the Ming and Qing dynasties and many are open to the public. The buildings are in elegant colors with gable decorated with carvings. In scenic Hóngcūn, townspeople diverted water via small canals into their court yards, turning their houses into verdant gardens. The layout was reputedly designed in the shape of a cow and to conform to feng shui ideas. Overnight tonight in Zhang’s Mansion, a simple but interesting accommodation housed within a 300-year-old government officer’s mansion in Hóngcūn. (B/L/D)

Southeast-China-Maritime-Silk-Road-Tour-Shanghai-Macau-Huangshan-MountainDay 9: The Yellow Mountain, or Huangshan Mountain, is one of China’s most beautiful national parks. Designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is celebrated for its dramatic soaring granite peaks emerging out of a sea of clouds. In order to enjoy the magnificent scenery, we will board a cable car to climb towards the summit, walk some of the trails, and revel in our lunch with views. In the afternoon, we will drive to Huangshan and overnight in the 5-star Crowne Plaza Huangshan Yucheng Hotel. (B/L/D)

Day 10: Our morning train ride takes to Xiamen, a deep water port city located on two islands. Formerly known as Amoy, it was a foreign concession from 1903 to World War II. We will cross by ferry to stroll along the streets of the tiny island of Gǔlàng Yǔ, once the colonial home of Europeans and Japanese. The seaside gardens, meandering alleys and beautiful European-style villas ooze an old-world charm rarely seen in Chinese cities. Overnight in the 4-star Millenium Harbour View Hotel in Xiamen for two nights. (B/L/D)

Southeast-China-Maritime-Silk-Road-Tour-Shanghai-Macau-chinese-boysDay 11: Quanzhou was established in 718 on the Taiwan Straits in the South China Sea, and has been an important port for more than one thousand years. We will spend the day exploring this vital historic and cultural city. The exhibits within the Quanzhou Maritime Museum paint a vivid portrait of overseas trade throughout the past centuries. Built between 1053 and 1059, Luoyang Bridge spans the Luoyang River, which flows into the Straits, and is China’s oldest bridge constructed of stone beams. Assembled of granite, it features ship-like piers and a unique method of reinforcing the foundation. One of the four major mosques along the coastal area of Southeast China, Qingjing Mosque exhibits an interesting combination of Islamic architecture combined with traditional Chinese style. Inscriptions in the interior proclaim that it was established in 1009 during the Song Dynasty. With features of both Hinduism and Buddhism, Kaiyuan Monastery was started during the Tang Dynasty and is the largest in Fujian Province. Twin pagodas, the highest in China, dominate the complex and behind the main hall there are columns with fragments from a Shiva temple built in 1283 in the South India style by the Tamil community in Quanzhou. Today it is the home of more than eightymonks and the site of a vibrant devotional life. Dinner is on our own this evening. (B/L)

Southeast-China-Maritime-Silk-Road-Tour-Shanghai-Macau-Fujian-TulouDay 12: We will travel out of Xiamen into Fujian province to view the peculiar hakka, round or square buildings usually made of rammed earth and three or four stories tall that were constructed to house multiple families. Almost fifty of these huge ‘apartment houses’ were constructed between the 15th and 20thcenturies in the mountainous areas in south western Fujian province. Designed to prevent attack from brigands, these unique Fujian Tulou are designated UNESCO World Heritage. Overnight for one night in Guest House 1949, with very simple facilities but with a private toilet and shower in each room. (B/L/D)

Day 13: This afternoon’s flight takes us from Xiamen to Guangzhou, also known as Canton, the largest and most flourishing industrial and foreign trade center in south China. Founded in 214 BC on the banks of the Pearl River which flows into the South China Sea, this port city has been a launch pad for international trade and cultural exchanges making it a crucial stopover to understand what shapes modern China. In the afternoon, we will gain an overview of this important city, beginning with a walk through Huangpu, the ancient seaport since the Song dynasty. Between 1757 and 1842, it was the only Chinese port open to foreign trade and was the center of opium smuggling. The illegal opium contraband eventually led to the Opium Wars and forced open more Chinese seaports to foreign trade. Before opium smuggling, Huangpu was the departure point of the maritime Silk Road. Most of the historical buildings of Huangpu are ancestral halls, also called lineage temples. We will walk Beijing Road, a pedestrian street that is the main shopping area and has existed for almost one thousand years. Overnight in the Holiday Inn Shifu Hotel in Guangzhou for two nights. Dinner is on our own this evening. (B/L)

Day 14: Today’s all day exploratory jaunt takes us to Kaiping Diaolou, touted by CNN as China’s unsung historic treasure. Designated a UNESCO World Heritage Property, More than 1,800 multi-storied defensive houses dot the rice fields around the city. These watchtowers were built in the beginning of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) as a defensive response to continuous brigand raids. At the beginning of the 20th century, many natives of Kaiping went overseas to work. Eventually they returned with newly acquired riches and built towering mansions with flamboyant Western touches incorporated into the architecture. (B/L/D)

Day 15: We travel by train from Guangzhou to Hong Kong and spend the afternoon viewing this beautiful city. We will board the iconic tram system, one of the oldest forms of public transit in the city, for our trip to the upper levels of Hong Kong Island and Victoria Peak for the stunning views of the city and surrounding waterways. We will join the local residents on the longest outdoor covered escalator in the world, constructed in 1993 to provide a better commute by linking areas within the Central and Western Districts of Hong Kong. Along the way, we will view the old Central Police Compound. Overnight in the Indigo Hotel for two nights. Dinner is on our own this evening. (B/L)

Day 16: By ferry, travel across the Pearl River Delta to Macau, a former Portuguese overseas territory. Our all-day walking tour will be of the Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which reflects a 450-year history that has created one of the most captivating places in the world. From the 16thto the 20th centuries, Portuguese Macao was the epicenter for foreign traders and missionaries, and the result can be seen in the fusion of different cultures that characterize the historic zone. There are many reminders of Macao’s heyday. St Paul’s Catholic Church was built in 1602, but a fire in 1835 has left only the still impressive, carved stone façade. The Jesuit College of St. Paul, the first Western college in the Far East, was built next door and missionaries studied Chinese here before serving at the Ming Court in Beijing as astronomers and mathematicians. To learn about the history of the 450-year-old former colony, enter the Macao Museum, housed in a former military base built by Jesuits in the 17th century, and adjacent to the Ruins of St Paul’s. Return to Hong Kong this evening for our Farewell Dinner. (B/L/D)

Day 17: Return to the USA. (B)

Tour Cost

To Be Announced


CALL (per person, double occupancy) includes round-trip international flights from SFO; one internal Chinese flight; all hotels; meals as noted; entry fees; tips and gratuities to the guide and driver; and all ground transportation. 

Southeast-China-Maritime-Silk-Road-Tour-Shanghai-Macau-Huang-shan-yellow-MountainCost Does Not Include: The tax-deductible donation check for $150.00; passport or visa fees; airport taxes; food, alcoholic beverages and other drinks not on the regular menu; laundry; excess baggage charges; telephone, fax or email charges; or other items of a personal nature.

Single Supplement: CALL. Should a roommate be requested and one not be available, the single supplement must be charged.

Fuel Surcharges: Far Horizons must pass on price increases when additional fuel charges are levied.

Donation Checks: As a tour company that benefits from the cultural and natural riches of our destinations, we have a policy of donating to the scientific and cultural projects and museums we visit. This has created a bond between Far Horizons and the academic and local communities. We ask that each participant write a check to the noteworthy project we designate. The donation amount is $150.00 per person and is made by check directly to the donation project. Note that the donation is required as part of your registration for the trip and that it is non-refundable. We will be designating a donation project for this trip shortly.


A deposit of $500.00 is required along with a separate check made out to the donation project is required, as well as your completed and signed registration form. Final payment is due 90 days before departure.  Upon receipt of your deposit and registration form, you will be sent a reading list and a tour bulletin containing travel information. Click here to download our Registration Form.

Cancellation and Refunds

Cancellations received in writing at least 90 days before departure will result in an administrative fee of $300.00.  Cancellations received less than 90 days prior to departure will not receive a refund. If for any reason you are unable to complete the tour, we will not reimburse any fees. Registrants are strongly advised to purchase travel insurance that includes trip cancellation upon registration.

Private Tours of Archaeological Sites

The private tours of archaeological sites and talks by specialists are scheduled in advance and include a donation to each. Specialists working at these sites are excited about showing their work to interested enthusiasts. However, please be aware that there may be times when the director or a member of the staff may not be onsite when our groups arrive due to other commitments.

Travel in China

We will often travel through unpredictable territory with a will of its own. If its itinerary changes… so does ours! We will journey into the areas of China where the hotels and transportation may not be up to western standards. Changes in both accommodations and flight times may occur, and there may be times when no bellhops are available. During several days we will be walking over uneven terrain for a mile or more. Participants, unassisted, must be able to walk on rough trails and keep up with group members. A good book to read while riding the train and waiting in airports, a flexible attitude, team spirit and a good sense of humor are helpful! If you have any concerns about your ability to manage this tour, please feel free to call Far Horizons with any questions you may have.


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