As we all know Marco Polo went to China, becoming the first European to give a detailed description of the great Chinese civilization. But Marco Polo didn’t just go to China, he went to a China that was a part of the great Mongol empire, an empire that wiped clean the map of Eurasia in the thirteenth century, and inaugurated a new age. The Mongol dynasty in China reunified the north and south that had been divided for centuries, made Beijing the country’s capital , created the modern provinces of China, and introduced into the country religions and cultures—Muslim traders, Tibetan-style Buddhist lamas, and Mongol soldiers—that have formed part of China’s multi-ethnic nature to the present day. Modern China was made by the Mongol empire, and Marco Polo was there when it was being born, moving in elite circles where Mongol, Turkic, and Persian were more often spoken than Chinese. He praised the brilliance and abilities of the great Mongol Khan Kubilai, admired the hardiness of the Mongols, men and women alike, who had built the empire, and was dazzled by the wealth and sophistication he found among the Chinese inhabitants of “Taidu” and “Quinsai” (today’s Beijing and Hangzhou). Join us as we explore the world of Marco Polo and his legacy in China and Mongolia.

Brief Daily Itinerary

Day 1 – June 19, Wednesday. Arrive in Beijing

Arrive in Beijing, where you will be welcomed and transferred to your hotel to check in. Enjoy a welcome Peking Duck dinner at Xiao Wang’s Home Restaurant inside Ritan Park.
Beijing, the center of China’s politics and culture since the time of Kubilai Khan in the 13th century, showcases China’s best art and imperial culture. In addition, today’s Beijing offers an excellent performance community, and a healthy variety of fine dining establishments. (Novotel Xinqiao Beijing (4-star), Superior Room Dinner)

Day 2 – June 20, Thursday. Beijing

This morning, we will visit a Lama Temple (Yonghe Gong). Tibetan Buddhism was introduced into China under the Mongol empire and took root in succeeding centuries thanks to patronage by Mongols, Manchus, and Chinese Buddhists. This Lama Temple, the center of the Mongolian and Tibetan Buddhist communities in Beijing today, once served as the royal residence of the Qing Dynasty Emperor Yongzheng before he took control, and was later converted to a royal temple of Tibetan-style Buddhism. The temple houses a 26m tall sandalwood statue of Buddha and a number of other precious treasures, and its buildings were constructed in a harmonious combination of Han, Tibetan, as well as Mongolian and Manchu styles.
After lunch at a nice local restaurant, we will drive to the outskirts of Beijing, and visit the Great Wall at Juyongguan. About 15 km. long, the Great Wall at Juyongguan is situated in a green and steep valley. This strategic valley was repeatedly defended against Mongol invaders who sought all sorts of way to get through it or around it. One of its highlights is the well preserved Yuntai (literally, Cloud Platform), the remaining marble foundation of a tower from the late Mongol Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368). Inside its arched doorway, there are precious and beautiful carvings of Buddhist figures and symbols, as well as Buddhist scriptures written in six different languages: Chinese, Sanskrit, Mongolian, Tibetan, Tangut, and Uyghur Turkic. (Novotel Xinqiao Beijing (4-star), Superior Room Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)

Day 3 – June 21, Friday. Beijing/Chifeng

This morning, we will go for a leisurely stroll on Tian’anmen Square, and tour the Forbidden City – the Imperial Palace of the Ming and Qing dynasties, rebuilt on the site of the palace of Kubilai Khan. Located in the center of Beijing’s axis, the Forbidden City is an unrivaled masterpiece of imperial Chinese architecture. During a span of five centuries (1416-1911), 24 emperors from the Ming and Qing dynasties lived and ruled the country from here. If time permits, we will pay a visit to the imperial garden – Jingshan Park, and walk up the Jingshan Hill for a stunning panorama of the Forbidden City and the modern high-rises around the old city.
After lunch at a nice local restaurant, we will visit Beijing Capital Museum. With its magnificent architecture, abundant exhibitions, advanced technology and complete functions, the large and modern Capital Museum has greatly contributed to titles that Beijing has received, such as “famous historical and cultural city”, “cultural center” and “international metropolis,” and ranks among the first class museums both at home and abroad. The story of Beijing as China’s capital is inseparable from the story of Inner Asian conquerors who repeatedly established dynasties here. If time permits, we will head for a visit to Beihai Park. Northwest of the Forbidden City, Beihai Park is one of the best preserved imperial gardens in China. The beautiful lakes and waterways were laid out by a Turkic architect under Kubilai Khan and today, inside the park, you can still find many historical traces from the Yuan, Ming and Qing Dynasties.
In the late afternoon, we will transfer to the airport for the flight to Chifeng. After checking in, we will enjoy a buffet dinner at the hotel. (Wanda Realm Hotel Chifeng (local 5-star), Deluxe Room Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)

Day 4 – June 22, Saturday. Chifeng

After breakfast, we will visit the nearby Chifeng Museum. Chifeng Museum is an outstanding museum displaying the mixed nomad and sedentary cultures of Inner Mongolia, China’s Mongol autonomous region. It houses the most important collection of remains from the Neolithic Hongshan culture, dating back over 6,000 years. Follow the story of this region of
contending cultures and empires, told through exhibitions of splendid artifacts from the Kitans (ancient cousins of the Mongols who founded the powerful Liao dynasty in Inner Mongolia and North China), remains from the Mongol empire, and rich jewelry and clothing from the area’s Mongol princes who ruled their fiefs as descendants of Chinggis (Genghis) Khan all the way into the twentieth century.
This afternoon, we will drive to Ningcheng County (100km /~2hrs) and visit the site of “Middle Capital” of the Kitan Liao dynasty. Built in the year 1007 at the height of the empire as the second capital of the Liao Dynasty, today only three pagodas and some city wall ruins are preserved at this site. The well-preserved Daming Pagoda, also locally known as “Big Pagoda” or “White Pagoda”, is a magnificent octagonal pagoda, with thirteen levels of eaves. Standing about eighty meters tall, it is the largest surviving ancient pagoda from the Liao dynasty. You will also visit the other architectural masterpieces, including the nearby small pagoda built in 1163 during the succeeding Jin dynasty. Return to Chifeng in the late afternoon.
This evening, we will have dinner at a popular hotpot restaurant, featuring organic vegetables and meat from its own ranch. (Wanda Realm Hotel Chifeng (local 5-star), Deluxe Room, Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)

Day 5 – June 23, Sunday. Chifeng /Xanadu /Xilinhot

Early this morning, we will drive to the site of Shangdu, Marco Polo’s “Xanadu” (290km /~6hrs).
We will spend the afternoon touring the urban layout of Shangdu, Kubilai Khan’s “Upper Capital,” and learn the history of the Mongol Empire in China and its unique synthesis of Mongol, Chinese, and Middle Eastern political traditions. Shangdu served as the first capital (1263-1273) of Kubilai Khan and from 1274 on, was the summer capital (12741364) of the Yuan Dynasty. In 1369 Xanadu was occupied and garrisoned by the army of the ethnic Chinese Ming dynasty who garrisoned the site until around 1430. Today, only the ruins remain, with visible remnants of some earthen walls, the brick platform base, and grassy mounds that were once the palace and temple buildings. The site of Xanadu (along with the Xanadu Museum) was only recently opened to the public (in 2011), and was listed as a UNESCO site in 2012.
Afterwards, we will continue our drive to Xilinhot (Shiliinhot) (260km /~4hrs), the seat of Xilingol (Shiliingol) League in Inner Mongolia. (Yuanhe Jianguo Hotel Xilingol (local 5-star), Guest Room Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)

Day 6 – June 24, Monday. Xilinhot /Beijing /Hangzhou

Transfer to the airport, and fly to Hangzhou via Beijing. Hangzhou, a city of “Heaven on Earth”, captures the essence of the beauty of mountains and water, as well as the harmony of green nature and fine living. It was the capital of South China from 1125 to 1276 when it was conquered by the Mongols. The Mongols took the city peacefully and it continued to be southern China’s greatest metropolis throughout the Mongol Yuan dynasty, famed in European, Arab, Persian, and of course Chinese accounts. Marco Polo’s account of Hangzhou’s wonders will be our constant companion as we tour the city.
Upon arrival, transfer to the hotel to check in, and have the rest of day free for leisure. Dinner will be arranged at a nice local restaurant. (Lakeview Hotel (local 4-star), Lake View Room Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)

Day 7 – June 25, Tuesday. Hangzhou

This morning, we will visit the China National Tea Museum and gain an in-depth knowledge of the tea-making process and China’s venerable tea culture. Afterwards, we will head to the Longjing tea village. There, we will taste tea at a local family home, and have an easy hike around the tea plantations if energy permits.
After lunch at a nice local restaurant, we will visit the famed Linyin Temple (literally, the Temple of the Soul’s Retreat). Right next to Linyin Temple is Feilai Peak, which has hundreds of ancient Buddhist statues carved on its cliff. Here, Buddhist clerics under the Mongols carved Tibetan-style Buddhist figures for the first time in South China. If time permits, we will take a leisurely walk at the secluded Yongfu temple. (Lakeview Hotel (local 4-star), Lake View Room Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)

Day 8 – June 26, Wednesday. Hangzhou/Yangzhou

Visit the Phoenix Mosque this morning, still functioning as a center of prayer for Hangzhou’s Muslims. Muslims first appeared in China during the Tang Dynasty (618 – 907). In 1281, after the Mongol empire reunified North and South China, a new mosque was built on the site. After a restoration project during the late nineteenth century, it was called the Phoenix Mosque due to its resemblance to a flying phoenix. One of the four major ancient mosques in southeast China’s coastal areas, the mosque boasts exquisite samples of stone-carved Arabic calligraphy dating from the Mongol Yuan, Ming, and Qing dynasties. Afterwards, tour the West Lake which Marco Polo so admired, and have a private paddle boat ride on the lake. After lunch at nice local restaurant, we will drive to Yangzhou. Upon arrival, transfer to your hotel to check in. (Crowne Plaza Yangzhou (5-star), Superior Room Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)

Day 9 – June 27, Thursday. Yangzhou

This morning, we will visit the Marco Polo Memorial Hall. During Marco Polo’s 17 years in China, scholars believe he served as a salt official in Yangzhou from 1282 to 1284. With valuable pictures and notes, the memorial hall commemorates Marco Polo’s adventures as well as his contributions. Afterwards, we will visit the Lu’s Salt Merchant Residence for its splendid architecture and exquisite brick carvings, especially its well-preserved archways and library. Built in late Qing Dynasty, the Lu’s Salt Merchant Residence is impressive and largest of its kind in Yangzhou. The Salt Monopoly was one of imperial China’s main financial resources, and was described in detail by Marco Polo in his writings.
After a dim sum lunch at a nice local restaurant, we will visit Ge Garden. During the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), wealthy salt merchants in Yangzhou began to construct gardens and residences, and Ge Garden is a fine example of the private gardens and residences which were built during that period. Ge Garden is one of the most exquisite and unique classical gardens in China, known especially for its rock layouts which simulate and create different scenery of the four seasons.
Afterwards, we will take a leisurely stroll along the Slender West Lake. Considered the soul of Yangzhou’s charm, Slender West Lake is known for its picturesque and idyllic scenery, many unique arch bridges over the waterways, and picturesque gardens and historic buildings along its bank. Enjoy dinner at a nice local restaurant by the Slender West Lake. (Crowne Plaza Yangzhou (5-star), Superior Room Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)

Day 10 – June 28, Friday. Beijing

After breakfast this morning, transfer to the airport and fly to Beijing. Upon arrival, transfer to hotel to check in. The rest of the day is allocated to free time. A farewell dinner, before we leave China for Mongolia, will be arranged at a branch restaurant of Haidilao Hot Pot, one of the most famous hot pot restaurants in China, known for its outstanding hospitality and its authentic Sichuan cuisine. (Novotel Xinqiao Beijing (4-star), Superior Room Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)

Day 11 – June 29, Saturday. Beijing en-route to Mongolia

This morning, transfer to the Beijing Railway Station for your international train to Ulaanbaatar (Ulan Bator) (provisional train schedule, K3, 11:22 /15:20+1, departing on every Wednesday in 2017). Dinner is served aboard. (Breakfast)

Day 12 – June 30, Sunday. Mongolia / Choir

In the morning, we will watch the famous Gobi Desert go by our windows until we disembark at the small town of Choir. From here, we will meet our Mongolian drivers and transfer to a ger camp at the picturesque Gun Galuut Nature Reserve. In the afternoon, we will visit a traditional Mongolian family and experience the generosity and hardiness that Marco Polo admired in the Mongols. Also, enjoy riding Mongolian horses. Overnight in gers. (Ger Camp; B, L, D)

Day 13 – July 1, Monday Tonyukuk Monument / Ulaanbaatar

In the morning, we will begin traveling north to Ulaanbaatar. En route, we will stop at a vast statue of Chinggis (Genghis) Khan, erected by a private businessman as a symbol of both national pride and as an inspiration to the Mongols. It is the largest equestrian statue in the world. We will follow with a field visit to one of the earliest inscriptions of nomadic empires in Mongolia, the funerary inscription of the general Tonyukuk written in Old Turkic. Tonyukuk’s Turkic-speaking dynasty ruled Mongolia before the great Mongol empire and his inscription details his accomplishments as well as his advice to the nomads which came after him. Continue driving until we arrive at Ulaanbaatar and check-in to your hotel. In the evening, enjoy a dinner at a fine local restaurant. Overnight at hotel. (Hotel Blue Sky or similar; B, L, D)

Day 14 – July 2, Tuesday Ulaanbaatar

In the morning, we will visit Gandan Monastery, the seat of Buddhism in Mongolia. Next, visit the National History and Fine Arts Museums, where we will see some of the unique finds of Mongolia’s flourishing archeological expeditions, in addition to one of the greatest collections of Tibetan-style Buddhist art in the world.
The remainder of the afternoon is left free for last minute shopping and sightseeing. In the evening, enjoy a traditional Mongolian performance followed by a farewell dinner at a fine local restaurant. A group picture will be taken in front of the Marco Polo statue, newly erected in front of the Louis Vuitton Building located next to Ulaanbaatar’s Chinggis Khan Square. Overnight at hotel. (Hotel Blue Sky or similar; B, L, D)

Day 15 – July 3, Wednesday. Farewell

In the morning, transfer to the airport for your departure to home. (Breakfast )

Trip Highlights:

  • Explore China and Mongolia as Marco Polo did
  • Visit some of Chinese and Mongolian most famous historical and natural monuments
  • Enjoy meeting ordinary Chinese and Mongolian people and learn about their culture
  • Visit Chinese less visited and unknown towns which played important historical roles
  • Explore Mongolia’s diverse and rich flora and fauna at Gun Galuut Nature Reserve
  • Enjoy traveling by train on the Trans-Mongolian railway.

Post-Trip Naadam Festival Extension

Why not extend your journey and witness Mongolia’s largest summer festival, the Naadam games? Each year, Mongolians celebrate their age old festival for two days in the middle of July. Our trip takes you to Lake Hovsgol, where the games are much more authentic and personal than the big city ones. Naadam Festival is an occasion for re-unions and big feasts and is a chance to capture Mongolian culture and traditions at its best.

Trip Date: July 3 – 12, 2018; Price: from $2,600; 

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Trip Date:

June 19 – July 3, 2024

6-9 travelers:

$7,370 per person, standard twin occupancy

10-12 travelers:

$6,590 per person, standard twin occupancy

13 and more travelers:

$6,370 per person, standard twin occupancy

Single supplement:

$950 per person

Post-Trip Lake Hovsgol Extension

Why not extend your journey and explore Mongolia’d highest national park and roof of Mongolia. The majestic Altai Tavan Bogd, or the “Five Peaks of the Altai Mountains”, located on the very edge of the western border with Russia and Kazakhstan. It is home to the local kazakh who came to settle in the area in the late 1800. Kazakhs train Golden Eagles for hunting and Kazakh embroideries are some of the finest in Central Asia. During this trip, we will also meet and explore the ethnic Uriankhai and Tuvan nomads and learn how archery is still practiced among them. Come to explore this unique land while enjoying trekking at this majestic national park.



Beijing Novotel Xianqiao

Located in Chongwenmen in Beijing’s city center, Novotel Beijing Xinqiao is just a short walk away from the Forbidden City, Tian’anmen Square, the Temple of Heaven and Wangfujing pedestrian street. Metro Lines 2 and 5 are right in front of hotel.


Hotel Ulaanbaatar

Hotel Ulaanbaatar is conveniently located in downtown Ulaanbaatar and is a well established accommodation with its 20th century characte-ristics and friendly staff. All major attractions of UB are located within walking distance from the hotel.


Ger camps

During the rest of the expedition in Mongolia, we will be staying at tourist class, cozy ger camps with western bathroom and restaurant facilities. Most visitors find staying in gers as one of the highlights of their trip to Mongolia.

Land Transportation:

Land transportation is provided by Toyota Land Cruiser jeeps seating  3 passangers per vehicle. Some roads can be bumby and hard but our drivers are some of the most experienced and reliable in the country.