Capital Cities and Karst Mountain Hamlets

In this itinerary students will visit some of the major sites in China, experiencing both bustling metropolis’ and quiet villages seemingly trapped in time. They will be immersed in Chinese family life, and act as cultural ambassadors during their days at school. Each day will have set learning objectives, along with activities and goals that will guide the students through their journey.

Capital Cities and Karst Mountain Hamlets
Capital Cities and Karst Mountain Hamlets
Capital Cities and Karst Mountain Hamlets
Capital Cities and Karst Mountain Hamlets

USA – Beijing

Flight from USA to Beijing


Arrive in Beijing. Dinner near hotel at a Lanzhou La Mian, (hand pulled noodle) restaurant.


Up the Meridian Line from 天坛 to 天安门: We’ll start the morning at the Temple of Heaven where students will be able to participate in morning exercises with the locals. After visiting the temple we will have a group lunch at a small restaurant featuring typical Beijing dishes. Afterwards we will go north to visit one of the largest squares in the world, Tian An Men square. Finally we’ll pass through the “heavenly gate” and visit some of the 9,999 and ½ rooms of the Forbidden City where the emperors dating back to the Ming Dynasty used to reside. Dinner will be as a group in a Beijing dumpling house in the hutongs (old Beijing alleyways.)


Along the Great Wall: Today we leave early for the Great Wall of China. We visit MuTian Yu which is a mix of restored and preserved, featuring stunning views, less crowds than other sections, and an alpine slide to cruise to the bottom! Lunch will be in a local village near to the wall. When we return in the evening we will go as a group for the famed Beijing duck.


Return to the original capital “长安”: We leave early by train to Xi’an. Upon arriving in Xi’an we will explore the hustle and bustle of the Muslim market where students will try some of Xi’an’s most famous “snacks” for lunch. After which, we will visit the largest mosque, and see a traditional shadow puppet show with a local shadow puppet maker in one of the old houses in the Muslim Market. Following the show, students will be able to make their own shadow puppet under the guidance of the local shadow puppet maker.


Terracotta Soldiers: Today we’ll visit the internationally renowned Terracotta Soldiers, and mausoleum of the first emperor of China, Qin. Dinner will see us back in the Muslim market for Da Pan Ji, (Big Plate Chicken) a Uyghur specialty from the north west.

Xi’an-Hu County

Farmer Painters and Village Schools: In the morning we’ll head to Hu County to spend time with a master Shaanxi Farmer Painter, Mr. Zhang Qing Yi. There we will learn his art, and spend time in his traditional family home. After lunch with him and his family, we’ll head north of Xi’an to SanYuan county to spend the afternoon with students at the local village primary school. Dinner will be in SanYuan with our new friends, following dinner we will head back to Xi’an.

Xi’an – Zunyi

Into the karst mountains of Guizhou: We’ll start out early to take a bullet train to Zunyi, Guizhou. We will have a group lunch in town to discuss any last minute questions students may have about their home stay experience, or any cross cultural concerns they may have. In the afternoon we will meet at the partner school and do some icebreaker games before students head back with their host families to their homes

Zunyi Homestay

Homestay: Students will live for one week with a Chinese family. Zunyi is not a major tourist city so the students are able to get into the rhythm of daily life with their families. The town is a model green city and very clean. It is largely dominated by the central river and pedestrian streets so it is very safe as well. During the homestay, students will spend their time either attending class with their host sibling, or going on cultural excursions as a group. Each student will be paired with a host sibling their same age and gender, and all meals will happen with the host families. Cultural excursions during this portion of the program include: Visiting the Sea of Tea where students will pick tea with the local farmers, visiting Hai Long Tun, a 9th century fortress and UNESCO World Heritage Site, and climbing to the top of Jin Ding mountain, a Buddhist temple where we can learn more about the monks hermetic lifestyle.

Zunyi – Beijing

Beginning the journey home: We will convene at our partner school to say goodbye to our host families as a group, then head to the airport to go back to Beijing. Once we arrive we’ll pack our bags and begin preparing for the travel home.


Bargaining and reflecting: Today, in the morning, we will visit one more school so that the students are able to develop ideas about life as a student in China in three different contexts, in a rural setting, a provincial city, and in the Capital. Following lunch with our new friends, students will have an opportunity to test their hand at bargaining at one of the Beijing flea markets so that they have some souvenirs to bring home. In the evening we will have a Mongolian style HotPot and reflect on the experience before we pack our bags for the travel home.

Beijing – USA

Flight Home!

The estimated cost for this 15 day trip is $3200-$3500, depending on final international flight taxes and fuel surcharges.
What’s Included:

  • All international and domestic airfare
  • All meals
  • All local transportation, including but not limited to, domestic flights, trains, and charter buses.
  • All centrally located hotels, based on twin shares, except during the family stay portion of the program.
  • Travel Insurance for all participants
  • 1 TIE Trip Leader
  • 1 Additional TIE Chaperone for every 12 participants

Up to 4 meetings with a TIE expert at your school to inform and assist parents and students with everything they need to know prior to travel including;

o insurance, health, safety, and connectivity

o visas and visa applications

o cross cultural communication and what to expect in the homestay

o day of departure and packing, as well as any other concerns that parents or students may have prior to travel.

What’s not included

  • Visas $140 (if participants apply in person at the consulate, use of a third party will increase this amount)
  • Vaccinations (the CDC recommends typhoid for certain parts of China. This is not required, families will need to decide with their health provider what is best for them.) $90-$200 (depending on the health provider)