Sophia's Travel AKA Jewish Travel Agency is proud to present our Jewish Heritage China tour. Bejing - Harbin - Xian - Kaifeng - Shanghai

Explore China’s Jewish past

Our special designed tours of Jewish Heritage in China, we will take you to China’s historic Jewish hubs of Tianjin, Harbin, Kaifeng, and Shanghai.  Jews and Judaism have a long history in China and while much of that is indeed confined to history, proud architectural testaments and small Jewish communities can still be found 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 descent. Harbin, a mere stone’s throw away from Russia (well, perhaps slightly further than that), 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 to as long as 1,000 years ago 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. 

There you will visit the former Shanghai Jewish Ghetto and the Ohel Moshe Synagogue.  We have designed these tours  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 leisurely shopping and walking tour in the hotel surroundings, which will not involve any motorized transport.  

On Saturday, you will take a heritage walking tour through the city, which will also 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 of course, Experience China Differently!

Itinerary

Day 1. Bejing

Arrive at Beijing Capital Airport. Meet and greet with Beijing guide and transfer to hotel, Check in.

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Hotel Opposite House

Day 2 Bejing

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 neighborhoods. 

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

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Hotel Opposite House

Day, 3, Bejing       
Make your way along the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall before enjoying an exhilarating toboggan ride downhill (Optional!) . A gourmet picnic lunch on the wall, Back in town late afternoon. Enjoy the rest of the day at your leisure.

Hotel Opposite House

Day 4, Bejing, Shabbat.  Leisure day on your own. 

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Day 5. Beijing to Tianjin to Harbin

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.

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Hotel Shangri La Harbin

Day 6, Harbin

 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 neighboring 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

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Hotel Shangri La Harbin

Day 7. Harbin to Kaifeng

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

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New Century Grand Hotel, Kaifeng

Day 8, Kaifeng

Visit with Jewish family in Kaifeng 

-        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 of 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 flavors of Kaifeng’s famous night market to try out street snacks, such as peanut cakes!)

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New Century Grand Hotel, Kaifeng

Day 9, Kaifeng - Xian - Shanghai

-          Enjoy a scenic drive through Chinese countryside to Zhengzhou (1.5 hr)

-        Take high speed rail to Xi’an (2.5h) and stand before the unflinching, eternally-stationed Terracotta Warriors Army

Transit to Xi'an Xianyang International Airport to catch early evening flight to Shanghai

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The Peninsula Shanghai

Day 10, Shanghai

With your Jewish expert, Dvir Bargal, 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

-        Take a walk down the elegant tree-lined streets of the French Concession, awash in old-world residential charm

Wander the maze of pavilions and arched bridges of Yu Garden, the most complete classical garden in urban Shanghai

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The Peninsula Shanghai

Day 11, Shanghai, Shabbat

Enjoy this day at your leisure (Recommended activities below)

-        In observance of Shabbat, explore the Shanghai Museum and its dynamic history, only walking distance from the hotel

-        Watch the reflections of the jewel-encrusted Shanghai cityscape as you take a stroll along the Bund

Note: there will be no guide and private car service 

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Day 12, Shanghai - departure

Jewish Expert:  Dvir Bargal is 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.

Accommodations:

Opposite House, Bejing: One of the most acclaimed new hotels in Beijing, the Opposite House is a modern boutique featuring contemporary, minimalist designs, and offering luxury amenities and services in the heart of the Sanlitun Embassy neighborhood. Feel at ease while lounging in your beautifully designed room or take a leisurely stroll through the tree-lined Embassy District. If you want to feel the pulse of the city, take a short walk to Sanlitun, Beijing’s “happening” shopping district.

Shangri-La Hotel Harbin . Scenically situated along the Songhua River, the Shangri-La Hotel Harbin overlooks its glittering waters, especially beautiful during sunset. Only walking distance away from the Russian-infused Central Street, Stalin Park, and the Songhua River pedestrian walkway, Shangri-La gives its visitors the perfect location to experience the “Ice City.” After a day of exploring Harbin, enjoy the hotel’s fine dining at its café and restaurants, and after why not take a splash in its heated pool? Acclaimed for boasting premium service, soak in the number of luxurious comforts that the Shangri-La Harbin has to offer!

New Century Grand Hotel Kaifeng. An unexpected gem, the New Century Grand Hotel Kaifeng is a local 5-star hotel located in the city center. The architecture is delicately designed to exhibit both Kaifeng’s ancient past and China’s rapidly modernizing present, giving off a sense of fengshui. With international restaurants, workout facilities, and a swimming pool, the New Century Grand Hotel Kaifeng offers a number of high quality amenities and human comforts that will make your stay comfortable in China’s ancient capital.

The Peninsula Shanghai. Located directly on the Bund, this five-star hotel is

decorated in the 1930s old Shanghai style to honor it's past. The original hotel, originally closed down by the government, has made a glamorous return. With beautiful new accommodations and world-class service, this hotel is a complete package. The hotel offers good Western and Eastern style dining options, as well as luxurious comfortable rooms.