American breakfast daily, 9 lunches, 6 dinners including a welcome dinner in Beijing and a farewell dinner in Shanghai
Inside visits and special features are shown in UPPERCASE in the tour description.
ARRIVE IN BEIJING, CHINA. Welcome to China! Hotel rooms are available for mid-afternoon check-in.
BEIJING. Your full-day sightseeing starts with a visit to TIAN’ANMEN SQUARE, the largest public square in the world. Next, explore the FORBIDDEN CITY, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the world’s largest palace complex. Once the home of China’s great emperors, today it showcases ancient Chinese architecture, landscaped gardens, and displays of rare art and artifacts. Enjoy lunch in a local restaurant, followed by free time to explore on your own. This evening, savor a special [LF] PEKING DUCK WELCOME DINNER. (B,L,D)
BEIJING. GREAT WALL EXCURSION. The GREAT WALL OF CHINA once stretched 4,000 miles across China’s barren northern terrain from the Bohai Sea to the Gobi Desert. Head north to a village where the Great Wall is well preserved and walk along the wall to enjoy sweeping vistas of this mammoth fortress. Return to Beijing for some time at your leisure. Tonight, you may choose to attend a performance of the Peking Opera, a traditional form of Chinese theater, or attend the Legend of Kung Fu Show, with a fusion of kung fu, dance, and acrobatics. (B,L)
BEIJING–XI’AN. This morning, visit the TEMPLE OF HEAVEN and enjoy a rickshaw ride through one of Beijing’s [LF] HUTONGS, the city’s ancient alleys. Experience life in this historic neighborhood as you are invited into the courtyard of a family’s home to learn more about their life. A short flight brings you to Xi’an.
XI’AN. One of the largest and wealthiest cities in the world when China dominated the silk trade, Xi’an today is an archaeological treasure trove. Sightseeing begins with the enormous tomb of China’s first emperor, Qin Shi Huangdi, accidentally discovered by local farmers in 1974. Marvel at the legion of TERRACOTTA WARRIORS that has been guarding the burial site for 2,000 years. During lunch, enjoy a NOODLE-MAKING DEMONSTRATION by a master chef and learn how Chinese noodles are made by hand. Next, visit the DAYAN PAGODA, built in 652 AD. This evening, attend the “Tang Dynasty” DINNER SHOW, featuring a colorful assemblage of classical performances. (B,L,D)
XI’AN–CHENGDU. This morning, visit the Xi’an City Wall South Gate and attend a traditional Chinese CALLIGRAPHY CLASS. You may see some local residents practicing morning tai chi. Next, travel by BULLET TRAIN to Chengdu, capital of Sichuan province and known for its flavorful food.
CHENGDU–CHONGQING (EMBARKATION)–YANGTZE RIVER CRUISE. Start your day with a visit to the [LF] GIANT PANDA RESEARCH BASE and marvel at these beautiful animals. After lunch, transfer to the train station and board your BULLET TRAIN to Chongqing, China’s capital during World War II. Upon arrival, transfer to the port and board your ship for a 3-night cruise through the breathtaking Three Gorges of the Yangtze. (B,L,D)
CRUISING: SHIBAOZHAI. The morning is at your leisure to enjoy a variety of onboard activities. You may choose to start your day with a tai chi session on the Sun Deck or simply relax and enjoy the scenery. After lunch, take a WALKING TOUR of Shibaozhai with its 400-year-old, 12-story, red-wooden pagoda perched high on a cliff side. This evening, the Captain hosts a welcome party, followed by dinner and a special performance by the ship’s crew. (B,L,D) Note: Depending on river conditions, an alternate shore excursion may be offered.
CRUISING: QUTANG GORGE–WU GORGE–GODDESS STREAM. Again, enjoy the morning at your leisure on the ship. You may choose to take an optional shore excursion to Fengdu, known by many Chinese as the “Ghost City,” to visit the mountaintop shrines. Later in the morning, sail downstream through the first and second of the three gorges—Qutang Gorge, the shortest but most dramatic gorge, and Wu, known for its quiet beauty and forest-covered mountains. You can nearly touch the perpendicular walls rising from the riverbanks as your Captain negotiates this narrow gap. After lunch, disembark for a BOAT EXCURSION down Goddess Stream. Along the way, see picturesque scenery and the mysterious hanging wooden coffins. Before returning to your ship, you will also board a wooden boat on a smaller section of the stream, where the crew will sing songs as you glide across the stunning deep emerald-green waters surrounded by densely forested hills. (B,L,D) Note: Depending on river conditions, the boat excursion may be on the Shennong Stream.
CRUISING: (DISEMBARKATION) THREE GORGES DAM SITE–YICHANG–HANGZHOU. This morning, visit the THREE GORGES DAM SITE, the largest dam of its kind in the world. After lunch in Yichang, board your flight to Hangzhou. (B,L)
HANGZHOU. Enjoy a full day tour of Hangzhou, one of China’s seven ancient capitals. Start with a visit to LINGYIN TEMPLE followed by FEI LAI FENG, a unique mountain famous for a cluster of caves with hundreds of unique stone buddha statues. After lunch, be transported back in time during a WALKING TOUR along Hefang Street. End the day with a CRUISE on West Lake, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with its collection of ancient bridges, causeways, temples, and palaces. (B,L)
HANGZHOU–SHANGHAI. Transfer to Shanghai, where you will start your sightseeing with a stroll along the Bund, the city’s riverfront boulevard lined with historic buildings, housing, banks, and trade houses. Then, visit YU YUAN GARDENS, dating back to the Ming Dynasty, and a SILK FACTORY to learn about the silk-making process. Stop at a local restaurant for lunch featuring [LF] XIAOLONGBAO, Shanghai’s most famous dish. These tasty soup dumplings are handmade with at least 18 intricate folds to close the top. The broth is the star so, to avoid wasting a single drop, gently pick up the dumpling, dip in sauce, and transfer to a Chinese soup spoon. Next, make a small hole to release the steam and allow the broth to cool. After it cools, sip up the broth and then swallow the dumpling. The remainder of the day is at your leisure. You may consider joining an optional tour to see a spectacular acrobatic show. (B,L)
SHANGHAI. This morning, take a WALKING TOUR of the former French Concession, once Shanghai’s leading residential and retail area. Today, the qualities that made the area so popular endure—from quaint, tree-lined streets and exquisite architecture to charming shops and fashionable restaurants and bars. Along the way, see the famous Art Deco Cathay Theatre, explore the narrow lanes of Xintiandi, and visit Fuxing Park, where locals play chess, dance, practice tai chi, and more. The afternoon is at your leisure. This evening, your Tour Director hosts a special farewell dinner.
SHANGHAI. Your tour ends with breakfast this morning.