Comprehensive in scope yet briefer in duration than many China tours, this relaxed, well-paced journey combines monumental Bejing, a cruise on the fabled Yangtze River, fascinating Xian, and cosmopolitan Shanghai. Traveling in your prized small group of no more than 24 guests, you will have the good fortune to meet local people and to experience a host of China’s highlights, both ancient and of the moment.
Depart U.S. for Beijing, China
We arrive in the Chinese capital and transfer to our hotel. After time to relax we meet our tour director for a walking tour of the area surrounding our hotel. Dinner is on our own.
After this morning’s briefing with our tour director, we begin our discovery of this 2,000-year-old city at vast – and infamous – Tiananmen Square, and the Forbidden City, seat of imperial power during the Ming and Qing dynasties (1368–1911). Tonight we enjoy a traditional Peking Duck dinner at a local restaurant. (B,D)
Our day begins with a rickshaw ride through Beijing’s ancient back roads and alleys (hutongs). Here we visit the home of a local family for a rare glimpse of the traditional communal lifestyle that is fast disappearing. Then we make a brief photo stop at Olympic Park, site of the 2008 Olympic Games. This afternoon we encounter the Great Wall, the incredible collection of ancient defense installations (and UNESCO World Heritage site) that stretches more than 5,500 miles and where we visit the Mu Tian Yu section by cable car. (B,L,D)
You will have the good fortune to meet local people and to experience a host of China’s highlights, both ancient and of the moment.
This morning we tour the splendid Temple of Heaven complex where China’s emperors once worshipped. Later this afternoon we tour the Summer Palace, the former royal retreat with beautiful gardens and temples that is now a park attracting both visitors and locals. (B,L)
This morning we fly to Xian, once among the world’s greatest cities that devolved into a provincial backwater until the accidental discovery of the Terra Cotta Warriors in 1974 – considered among the most significant archaeological finds of the 20th century. This afternoon we tour Xian’s impressive nine-mile city wall and moat. Tonight we enjoy a special dinner of traditional Chinese dumplings. (B,L,D)
Our day begins at Small Wild Goose Pagoda (c. 652 CE), among China’s most acclaimed Buddhist temples. After lunch we visit the museum housing the renowned Terra Cotta Warriors, the more than 7,000 life-sized soldiers created to guard China’s first emperor in the afterlife. We see these astounding pieces, each with an individually sculpted face, standing in military formation in three separate vaults. The entire complex is now a UNESCO World Heritage site. (B,L,D)
This morning we fly to Chongqing, where we visit the zoo housing the beloved pandas. Following dinner at a local restaurant, we board our Victoria Cruises ship and set sail this evening. (B,L,D)
Yangtze Cruising – Shibaozhai or Fengdu
Prized for its haunting natural beauty, the Yangtze is one of the world’s busiest and longest (3,600 miles) rivers. As we cruise along this storied waterway, this afternoon we visit either the Red Pagoda in Shibaozhai or the “ghost city” of Fengdu, with its complex of shrines, temples, and monasteries. (B,L,D)
Yangtze Cruising – Qutang Gorge/ Wu Gorge/Small Gorges/Xiling Gorge
It’s a day of beautiful scenery as we first pass through narrow Qutang Gorge, smallest of the Yangtze gorges, followed by tranquil Wu Gorge. Then we board a small sampan for a cruise through the stunning Small Gorges. Flanked by sheer cliffs and steep mountains, the Small Gorges recall scenes from ancient Chinese scroll paintings. Back on board our Victoria Cruises ship, late this afternoon we enter 42-mile Xiling Gorge, with its swift rapids and churning whirlpools. Tonight we enter the locks of the immense Three Gorges Dam. (B,L,D)
Yangtze Cruising – Three Gorges Dam/Shanghai
We tour the site of the immense Three Gorges Dam Project this morning then continue cruising to Yichang. Here we disembark and fly to Shanghai, the “Paris of the East.” Dinner tonight is on our own in this cosmopolitan city. (B,L)
Our day begins with a walking tour of the Xin Tian Di shopping and entertainment area of reconstituted traditional homes. We continue on to beloved 16th-century Yu Yuan Gardens, whose plantings, courtyards, and pavilions create the illusion of mountains, caverns, and lakes. After lunch together we tour the acclaimed Shanghai Museum of ancient Chinese art and artifacts. Tonight we dine on our own then attend an acrobatics show. (B,L)
This morning we visit the Bund, the mile-long riverside embankment where foreign investors – and their buildings – once held sway over Shanghai. Still one of the city’s most popular attractions, the Bund draws visitors and locals alike. Then the remainder of the day is at leisure; your tour director will help you find your way from here, perhaps to the bustling Nanjing Road shopping district … to the Oriental Pearl TV Tower for a bird’s-eye view of this dynamic city … or to a scenic boat ride along the Huangpu River that bisects Shanghai. Tonight we toast our China adventure at a farewell dinner. (B,D)
Depart for U.S.
We depart Shanghai for our return flights to the U.S. (B)
Please note: This trip involves full days of sightseeing and significant amounts of walking on stairs and uneven surfaces. You should be in good physical condition to enjoy the tour to its fullest.