A Jewish Heritage Tour of China
12 days from £6,400 per person
Explore China’s Jewish past on this special Jewish Heritage Tour that will take you to China’s historic Jewish hubs of Tianjin, south of Beijing; Harbin, in the far northeast; Kaifeng and Xi’An in central China; and Shanghai, on the east coast of China. Jews and Judaism have a long history in China and while much of that is now confined to history, proud architectural testaments to their presence still stand today.
In Tianjin, a city with a distinct European feel as a result of its colonial past, you will visit the Tianjin Jewish Synagogue and former Jewish residences. As in Harbin and Shanghai, the majority of Jews in Tianjin were of Russian extraction. Harbin, which is not far from Russia, is home to East Asia’s largest synagogue, which houses an impressive collection of relics from Harbin’s previously vivacious Jewish community. The Kaifeng Jews are perhaps the most famous and oldest of all the Jewish communities in China, dating back 1,000 years to the time of the Northern Song Dynasty. The Kaifeng Jews largely assimilated into Chinese society and married local Chinese, becoming indistinguishable in appearance from Han Chinese. Highlights of the Kaifeng leg of the tour include the Jewish Stone Monuments and Teaching Torah Lane.
Shanghai, today known as a bustling, cosmopolitan metropolis, was once home to a thriving Jewish community that numbered as many as over 20,000 and was a safe haven to those fleeing Nazi persecution. You will visit the former Shanghai Jewish Ghetto and the Ohel Moshe Synagogue. You will be guided by Mr Dvir Bargal, a long-time resident of Shanghai and a celebrated journalist and documentary filmmaker. His past professional works include documentaries depicting places as far ranging as the Silk Road to the coastline of Israel. In addition, Dvir also regularly submits articles to both international and China-based lifestyle magazines including Masa Archer, Globes, City Weekend, That’s Shanghai, Voyage, Oriental Art and Traveler. Dvir is originally a native of Israel and received his degree at Tel Aviv University.
We have designed this tour to ensure that you are seeing the best Jewish sites at intervals of travel that are in accordance with the Jewish faith. In Beijing, for example, we suggest planning your trip to arrive in time to reach your hotel before sunset on Friday; the next morning you will take a leisure shopping walking tour in the hotel surroundings, which will not involve any motorised transport. After Beijing, you will spend nights in Harbin and Kaifeng, and arrive in Shanghai on Thursday evening. On Saturday, you will take a heritage walking tour through the city, which will not involve any motorized transport.
Come with us on a life-changing experience, guided by our top Jewish experts and guides, staying in carefully selected luxury hotels in each location and experience China differently!
12 days from £6,400 per person
- Day 1 - The Opposite House - Beijing
WEDNESDAY – Arrive in Beijing and transfer to your hotel. Spend the rest of day at leisure.
- Day 2 - The Opposite House - Beijing
THURSDAY – From Tiananmen Square, enter the Forbidden City, where emperors ruled, concubines fluttered their fans, and eunuchs schemed for five hundred years. Enjoy special access to the lavish sitting rooms and living quarters of Chonghua Palace, normally closed to the public. Have lunch at The Temple before visiting Beijing’s antiquated and interwoven hutong neighbourhoods. Visit a traditional siheyuan and try your hand at various traditional Chinese activities, ranging from calligraphy to Chinese yo-yo.
- Day 3 - The Opposite House - Beijing
FRIDAY – Make your way along the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall and enjoy a gourmet picnic lunch on the wall. Head back to Beijing late afternoon and spend the rest of day at leisure.
- Day 4 - The Opposite House - Beijing
SATURDAY – Celebrate Shabbat with a day of rest, exploring the trendy Sanlitun area.
- Day 5 - Shangri-La Harbin - Harbin
SUNDAY – Catch an early morning high-speed rail to Tianjin, and spend the day exploring its colonial past; its historic foreigner district, The Five Avenues, Tianjin Jewish Synagogue and Xiaobailou District. Take a late afternoon flight to Harbin.
- Day 6 - Shangri-La Harbin - Harbin
MONDAY – Visit Harbin Jewish New Synagogue, the largest Jewish synagogue in East Asia, and check out its impressive collection of relics from Harbin’s previous Jewish community. Explore the Old Synagogue, now a café and hostel, and the neighbouring old Jewish school and hospital. Stroll through the European-influenced Central Street, including Jewish architectural wonders, such as the old Jewish Bank and the delicately beautiful St. Sophia’s Orthodox Church. Drive to the Huangshan Jewish Cemetery (30-45 min), relocated from the old foreign district in 1958 to Harbin’s eastern countryside.
- Day 7 - New Century Grand Kaifeng - Kaifeng
TUESDAY –Visit the Unit 731 Museum, a historical site that was once a Japanese concentration camp, to get a sense of China’s perspective of World War II. Spend the afternoon exploring Harbin’s Old Quarter, once the Russians and Jewish quarter. Catch an evening flight to Henan Province’s capital, Zhengzhou and transfer to Kaifeng, one of China’s ancient capitals.
- Day 8 - New Century Grand Kaifeng - Kaifeng
WEDNESDAY – This morning visit the Jewish Museum and the Kaifeng Municipal Museum, travel to the original site of Kaifeng Synagogue, built in 1163 AD, but later destroyed during the flood or 1849, and stroll through what was the Jewish Quarter, now called Teaching Torah Lane. Spend the rest of day at leisure - we recommend exploring the flavours of Kaifeng’s famous night market to try out local street snacks!
- Day 9 - The Peninsula Shanghai - Shanghai
THURSDAY – Enjoy a scenic drive through the Chinese countryside to Luoyang (2.5 hr) and take the high speed rail to Xi’an (1h) to visit the eternally-stationed Terracotta Warriors. Catch an early evening flight from Xi'an to Shanghai.
- Day 10 - The Peninsula Shanghai - Shanghai
FRIDAY – Visit the site of former Shanghai Jewish Ghetto in Hongkou District set up during World War II and the Ohel Moshe Synagogue. Drop by the Children’s Palace, once the mansion of a Jewish family from Baghdad, and wander the maze of pavilions and arched bridges of Yu Garden, the most complete classical garden in urban Shanghai. Enjoy evening drinks and dinner on the Bund.
- Day 11 - The Peninsula Shanghai - Shanghai
SATURDAY – In observance of Shabbat, enjoy a historical walking tour through the elegant tree-lined streets of the French Concession, awash in old-world residential charm. Spend the afternoon at leisure.
- Day 12 - In transit.
SUNDAY – Transfer to the airport for your onward flight home.
- Mr Geoffrey Johnson, India
- Matthew Nicklin, North India
- Mr David Wallace, North India
- Mr Richard Stoughton, Sri Lanka
- Jaime Benitez, South India
- Anonymous, India
- Krista Weir, Sri Lanka
- Matthew Annable, Rajasthan, India
- Leslie Siben, India
- Mr & Mrs Manson, North India