Cultural Diversity in Northern China – 16 days

This itinerary will take us through the northern areas of Manchuria, Inner Mongolia, and Shaanxi. Students will engage with local artisans learning various ancient art forms ranging from shadow puppetry to Shaanxi farmer painting. We will explore different minority cultures of the north of China, and will visit both booming cities, and remote villages seemingly trapped in time.

USA – Beijing

Flight from USA to Beijing


Arrive in Beijing. Dinner as a group near hotel.


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.

Beijing to ChengDe (homestay)

Kangxi’s Mountain Resort: We will depart Beijing in the morning by bullet train for ChengDe. 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.
Chengde is not a major tourist city so the students are able to really get into the rhythm of daily life with their families. English is also not very commonly spoken this far north and so the students are really able to thrive with their Chinese. Each student will be paired with a host brother or sister their same age and gender, and all meals will happen with the host families. While students will participate in daily life, they may also be brought by their families to the mini Potala Palace built for the Dalai Lama when he came to visit, or the Summer Palace, much larger than that in Beijing.

BaShang Grassland

In the land of Khans: Students will gather at the host school to say goodbye to their host brothers and sisters. We will then take a bus a couple hours north to the border of Inner Mongolia. Here we will walk in the footsteps of the Khans and the Mongol hordes that came down to China to establish the Yuan Dynasty. Lunch and dinner will be with local farming families out on the steppe.


Muslim Markets, and Shadow Puppets: We will head back to Chengde to transfer to Xi’An. Once we arrive we’ll spend the afternoon walking around the ancient city wall, and the Muslim Market. We will have a chance to meet with a local artist who will take us to a shadow puppet show, and then work with students to learn more about the art, and students will make their own shadow puppet.


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, SanYuan 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.


We’ll head back to Beijing by bullet train early in the morning. After which students will have one last chance to test their hand at bargaining in the flea market. Then we will head back to the hotel and pack for our departure the next day.

Beijing – USA

Fly Home!

The estimated cost for this 16 day trip is $3500-$3700, 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)