Fly to Beijing, China’s imperial capital whose rich history dates back more than 3,000 years, then transfer to your hotel.* After check-in, you have free time to relax or explore.
After breakfast, visit massive Tiananmen Square, then see the Forbidden City with its elegant palaces, pavilions and landscaped gardens, once open only to nobility. Enjoy a free afternoon before tasting some local specialties at dinner, or attend The Legend of Kung Fu for a beautiful display of this performance art, which has roots that date back 4000 years. (B, L, D)
After breakfast, travel to the Badaling Hills. There, you behold one of the most impressive and best-preserved sections of the Great Wall of China. This 4,000-mile-long series of sandstone and earthwork fortifications was built and maintained between the 5th century BC and the 16th century AD, and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Explore its winding pathways and marvel at the panoramic views from its ramparts.
After a lunch of local specialties, visit the Sacred Way, a tree-lined avenue guarded by massive sculptures of elephants, lions and camels leading to the Ming Dynasty tombs. This evening, dine at a local restaurant and relax at your hotel, or enjoy an optional Peking duck dinner, the region’s famous dish. (B, L, D)
See traditional Chinese life during your rickshaw tour along Beijing’s hutongs (narrow alleyways).† After lunch, fly to Xian, China’s legendary home of the Tang Dynasty from 618 to 907 AD. Tonight, opt to experience the glory of this era at a banquet with traditional song and dance, or enjoy dinner at your hotel. (B, L, D)
†Rickshaw tour available only on Beijing to Shanghai itinerary direction.
Today, tour Xian’s archaeological wonder: thousands of life-sized Terra Cotta Warriors buried with Emperor Qin Shi Huang, each soldier and horse molded in incredible detail. Tonight’s activity is a nighttime marketplace tour. (B, L, D)
This morning you’ll have free time in Xian. As always, your Program Director can help you plan your activities. After lunch, fly to Lhasa, the economic, spiritual and cultural center of Tibet. Experience Tibetan life with a family-hosted tea followed by dinner at a local restaurant. (B, L, D)
Today, visit 1,300-year-old Jokhang Temple. After a local lunch, explore the maze-like Barkhor Market in Old Lhasa and tour the Tibetan Museum to learn about the area’s history and culture. Tonight, enjoy a traditional Tibetan dinner. (B, L, D)
This morning, tour the 13-story Potala Palace, home of the Dalai Lama. Later, visit Sera Monastery, an active temple with monks in training. Lunch and dinner are in local restaurants. (B, L, D)
Today, fly to Chongqing, gateway to the Yangtze, to board your ship and enjoy a Western dinner. (B, L, D)
After a morning of scenic cruising along the Yangtze, tour the 12-story Shibaozhai Temple, an impressive example of Qing Dynasty architecture set on the banks of the river. Dine aboard. (B, L, D)
For the next 150 miles, travel the most scenic stretch of the Yangtze as it forces its way through a spectacular series of limestone ridges known as the Three Gorges. During breakfast, cruise through Qutang Gorge, the shortest, narrowest and most spectacular of the three large gorges. Then, board a smaller boat for an excursion through the Goddess Stream. Sail through these remarkable canyons flanked by towering cliffs. Along the way, see fascinating sites including the hanging coffins of the Ba people and the ancient plank road carved into the cliffside. Return aboard for lunch, and spend the afternoon sailing through Wu (‟Witches”) Gorge, renowned for its magnificent scenery. Dinner is served aboard. This evening, sail through the 5-stage locks of the Three Gorges Dam. (B, L, D)
This morning, disembark for a tour of the Three Gorges Dam, where you learn about this immense engineering masterpiece and what it means for the Chinese people and the Yangtze. Lunch and dinner are served aboard while you cruise through Xiling Gorge, the longest of the Three Gorges. (B, L, D)
This morning, arrive in Jingzhou, where you visit an elementary school sponsored by Viking River Cruises. You are greeted and entertained by the children, then return to your ship for scenic cruising. (B, L, D)
After breakfast, disembark in Wuhan. Visit the Hubei Provincial Museum where you hear the music of ancient bronze bells and view relics from 400 BC. Return to your ship for dinner on your final night on board. (B, L, D)
After breakfast, disembark in Wuhan. Fly to Shanghai, China’s largest city and one of the world’s most important ports. Here, you can see the modern metropolis of the financial district juxtaposed with the older sections of the city. Check in to your hotel. (B, L, D)
Today, tour Old Shanghai and the riverfront Bund district lined with banks and customs houses. After lunch, visit the Shanghai Museum; see its ancient ceramics, bronzes, calligraphy and other artifacts. Dine in a local restaurant, then admire the dexterity of Chinese acrobats at a performance. (B, L, D)
After breakfast, check out of your hotel and proceed to the airport for your return flight.* Consider extending your China journey with 2 extra nights in Shanghai to further explore this fascinating city, or 3 nights in Hong Kong. (B)