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A Jewish Heritage Tour of China

13 days from £5,725 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! 

If you'd like to see similar tours, take a look at our other suggested Active Holidays and Family Holidays itineraries.

Itinerary details

13 days from £5,725 per person

  • Day 1 - In Transit
    TUESDAY - Take an overnight flight to Beijing.
  • Day 2 - The Opposite House - Beijing
    WEDNESDAY – Arrive at Beijing Capital Airport. Meet and greet with Beijing guide and transfer to hotel. Check in and refreshments.
  • Day 3 - 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. If interested, enjoy special access to the lavish sitting rooms and living quarters of Chonghua Palace, normally closed to the public. Rest your legs with a lunch break at The Temple before touring 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. Savor a Peking Duck dinner at a renovated siheyuan.
  • Day 4 - The Opposite House - Beijing
    FRIDAY – Make your way along the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall before enjoying an exhilarating toboggan ride downhill. A gourmet picnic lunch on the wall. Back in town late afternoon. Enjoy the rest of the day at your leisure.
  • Day 5 - The Opposite House - Beijing
    SATURDAY – Celebrate Shabbat with a day of rest and walking leisure tour in trendy Sanlitun area.
  • Day 6 - Shangri-La Harbin - Harbin
    SUNDAY – Take morning high-speed rail to Tianjin. Be introduced to Tianjin’s colonial past at The Five Avenues, its historic foreigner district. Visit Tianjin Jewish Synagogue. Discover previous Jewish residences while strolling through Five Avenues and Xiaobailou District. Take late afternoon flight to Harbin.
  • Day 7 - 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 vivacious Jewish community. Check out 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. Stand in awe at the delicately beautiful St. Sophia’s Orthodox Church. Drive to the Huangshan Jewish Cemetery (30-45 min), relocated from old foreign district in 1958 to Harbin’s eastern countryside. Taste test China’s northeastern cuisine with friend sweet pork, candied sweet potato and other delicious dishes!
  • Day 8 - New Century Grand Kaifeng - Kaifeng
    TUESDAY – Understand China’s perspective of World War II at the Unit 731 Museum, a historical site that was once a Japanese concentration camp (45 min drive). Enjoy a Russian-infused lunch. Explore Harbin’s Old Quarter, once the residence for Russians and Jews, now still keeping to its original architecture but aged through the years. Catch an evening flight to Henan Province’s capital, Zhengzhou. Transfer from Zhengzhou Xinzheng International Airport to Kaifeng, one of China’s ancient capitals.
  • Day 9 - New Century Grand Kaifeng - Kaifeng
    WEDNESDAY – Visit the Jewish Museum located in Kaifeng’s Jewry. Take a look at the Jewish Stone Monuments in the Kaifeng Municipal Museum. Travel to the original site of Kaifeng Synagogue, built in 1163 AD, but later destroyed during the flood or 1849. Stroll through what was the Jewish Quarter, now called Teaching Torah Lane. Enjoy the rest of your day at your leisure (we recommend exploring the flavours of Kaifeng’s famous night market to try out street snacks, such as peanut cakes!)
  • Day 10 - The Peninsula Shanghai - Shanghai
    THURSDAY – Enjoy a scenic drive through Chinese countryside to Luoyang (2.5 hr). Take high speed rail to Xi’an (1h) and stand before the unflinching, eternally-stationed Terracotta Warriors Army. Transit to Xi'an Xianyang International Airport to catch early evening flight to Shanghai.
  • Day 11 - The Peninsula Shanghai - Shanghai
    FRIDAY – Visit the site of former Shanghai Jewish Ghetto in Hongkou District set up during World War II. Pay your respects at the Ohel Moshe Synagogue. Drop by the Children’s Palace, once the mansion of a Jewish family from Baghdad). Wander the maze of pavilions and arched bridges of Yu Garden, the most complete classical garden in urban Shanghai. Watch the reflections of the jewel-encrusted Shanghai cityscape as you take a stroll along the Bund.
  • Day 12 - The Peninsula Shanghai - Shanghai
    SATURDAY – In observance of Shabbat, enjoy a historical walking tour through the French Concession, which will not involve any motorized transport. Take a walk down the elegant tree-lined streets of the French Concession, awash in old-world residential charm. Enjoy the rest of the afternoon at your leisure.
  • Day 13 - In Transit
    SUNDAY – Transfer to airport for your flight home.
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My favourite thing is to go where I've never been.
Diane Arbus

Without question, you put together the best trip I have ever taken. We were shown around like visiting dignitaries, the hotels were fantastic and the itinerary was just right. Everybody I know will hear about how amazing Ampersand is!
- Leslie Siben, India
Difficult to articulate just how good the service from you and your team really was. We know you will continue to do well and hope we have the chance to seek your assistance again before long.
- Mr & Mrs Manson, North India
Ampersand’s details preparation, attention to detail and interaction before and during our trip show exactly why good travel agents have a role in today’s internet/direct booking age. Shalmali was a delight to work with – before and during our trip.
- Mr David Wallace, North India
We had a wonderful holiday - everything was perfect. Thank you for helping us to make a thoughtful plan to enjoy and make most out of our trip. The places we visited, the guides, the transportation and driver, the hotels selected... Everything was great!
- Jaime Benitez, South India
Everything you did for us whilst we were away was hugely appreciated, and Ampersand has been exemplary in every way. I'll always recommend you!
- Mr Richard Stoughton, Sri Lanka
So many highlights to choose from! The hotels were amazing but Maya Villa was a highlight… I loved just hanging out in the hammock reading my book and watching the peacocks chase the cows!
- Krista Weir, Sri Lanka
I thought the Ampersand team was outstanding. We couldn’t have hoped for anything more.
- Mr Geoffrey Johnson, India
I had a very lovely time and was looked after splendidly. My first visit to India could not have been better, save for being longer! But I shall return at some point and I shall look to you to make the arrangements.
- Matthew Nicklin, North India

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