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Itinerary & Activities

Itinerary Map
(click for larger version)
Itinerary map of China  Tibet Discovery

Days 1 - 2

Depart on your overnight flight from the US to China. Upon arrival in Beijing, we are welcomed by our Wendy Wu representative and transferred to our hotel.

Beijing is the capital of the People's Republic of China and the nation's most important center for economy, education and international trade. With its unequaled wealth of history, Beijing served as the center for the many different empires and cultures that ruled China and has been the heart of politics and society throughout its long history. The ancient monuments and the stories of days gone by make this dynamic and modern city a destination not to be missed.

Accommodation: Jiangxi Grand Hotel or Similar

Day 3

This morning we will walk through the expanse of Tiananmen Square, where we will pass Chairman Mao's Mausoleum. Built on Mao Zedong's orders, Tiananmen Square is said to hold a capacity crowd of over one million.

Next we will walk through the outer gates of the Imperial Forbidden City, the sacred center of the Chinese empire for 500 years and home to both the Ming and Qing dynasties. We walk through this royal complex from the south gate at Tiananmen, named Gate of Heavenly Peace, through to the north gate at Shenwumen, named Gate of Divine Might. We can explore the outer courts, the courtyards and the private residences within the Forbidden City.

From here we visit the 15th century Temple of Heaven, one of the more perfect examples of Ming architecture, set among a 660 acre park with four gates set at each point of a compass. Walking through the park we will see the many groups of local people that gather here every day to sing folk songs, practice tai chi and sword dancing, play chess or just come to sit and chat. You can watch or participate in a dance class.

Our evening entertainment tonight is an exciting Chinese acrobatics performance, where we will see gravity-defying acrobatics, contortionists, juggling, plate spinning acts and more. This evening our dinner will include a sample of the most renowned local delicacy, Peking Duck.

Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Peking Duck Dinner
Accommodation: Jiangxi Grand Hotel or Similar

Day 4

It is often quoted in Beijing that you have not been to China until you have climbed the Great Wall. Stretching from the Shanhaiguan Pass on the east coast to the Gobi Desert in the west, it is more than 4,000 miles long. Walk along the wall, admire the panoramic views and reflect on the immensity of the material and labor required for its construction.

After lunch, we will visit the Jade Factory and Showroom. From here we head to the Summer Palace, a retreat for emperors during the Ming and Qing dynasties, the most notorious of which is Empress Dowager Cixi. Popularly known as the dragon lady, the empress spent money reserved to commission a modern navy on embellishment of the royal garden. However, she did restore the large marble boat that sits at the edge of the beautiful Kunming Lake, which occupies three quarters of the park's expanse.

Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodation: Jiangxi Grand Hotel or Similar

Day 5

This morning we will transfer to the airport for our flight to Xian. Upon arrival we will check into our hotel.

Xian, which means Western Peace, is located on the banks of the Yellow River and has a history dating back to 1000BC. It once rivaled great cities such as Constantinople and Rome in size, culture and development and was also the starting point for the famous trade route, the Silk Road, a caravan passageway which carried not only silks, ceramics and spices but also led to an exchange of cultures, technologies and ideas. Buddhism brought from India during the Tang Dynasty (618-907AD) was perhaps one of the most influential of the religions to travel along this famed road into Xian.

In the evening we enjoy a performance of music and dance dating back to the Tang Dynasty while feasting on a sumptuous Shui Jiao dumpling dinner, a specialty of the region.

Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Shui Jiao Dumpling Dinner
Accommodation: Golden Flower Hotel or Similar

Day 6

We start our day with a visit to the famous UNESCO World Heritage listed Terracotta Warriors and Horses. One of the most significant archaeological discoveries of the 20th century, this unearthed terracotta army is comprised of over 7,000 soldiers, horses and chariots. The army was built in life-sized form by thousands of workers and designed by the self-proclaimed Emperor Qin Shi Huang to defend himself in his afterlife. The word China derived from his name and he is acclaimed by Chinese historians to have unified the rival lands of China into a single empire after defeating his enemy states and standardizing the systems of currency, writing and measurement.

On our return to Xian we stop at the Xian Art Ceramics and Lacquer Exhibition where replicas of the warriors are made before visiting the Ancient City Wall, a 500-year-old barricade built to protect the city. Standing the test of time, it is one of the only walls in China to remain intact.

Later we will stroll through the lively Muslim Quarter, exploring the many narrow laneways of the interesting Islamic food markets.

Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodation: Golden Flower Hotel or Similar

Day 7

Today we will fly to Lhasa where we will be met at the airport by our Tibetan Local Guide and transferred to our hotel for the next three nights.

As we approach Lhasa city, we will see the high burgundy, ochre and white walls of the Potala Palace soaring above the city. This magnificent site has greeted visitors to Tibet’s capital in the same way for the last four centuries. With a population of more than 200,000, Lhasa is the largest city in Tibet and sits at an altitude of over 12,000 feet. It is also the world's highest capital and the name Lhasa translates to ‘place of the gods’. It is here we can discover some of the most significant temples and monasteries of Tibetan Buddhism, filled with ornamental, mystical treasures still visited by the faithful every day.

The remainder of the day is free at leisure to allow us to acclimatize to the altitude and prepare for our explorations at the Roof of the World.

NOTE: Lhasa is located at an altitude of 12,000 feet. All passengers should rest and stay well hydrated to acclimatize to the higher altitude. Please refer to the tour dossier for more information.

Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodation: Tibet Hotel or Similar

Day 8

Today’s sightseeing begins where the true spiritual heart of Lhasa lays, at the Jokhang Temple, built in the 7th century by the first King of Tibet, Songtsen Gampo (630 to 649AD). Jokhang means Chapel of the Jowo, referring to the statue of Buddha Sakyamuni brought to Tibet as part of the dowry of Gampo's Chinese wife, Princess Wencheng. The Jowo is the most revered object in Tibet, making Jokhang the most sacred and active temple. We will explore the halls and chapels among a line of pilgrims from all over Tibet, who murmur their prayers and touch their foreheads to the statue.

The Barkhor, which encircles the Jokhang, is the holiest of Lhasa's pilgrim circuits (or koras). Thousands of pilgrims from all over Tibet come to circumnavigate the Barkhor each day. Their traditional dress, the market stalls selling religious trinkets and the sound of chanted prayers all create the atmosphere of a medieval carnival. It is here, while walking around the Barkhor within the alleys of Lhasa's old town that visitors usually fall in love with Tibet.

In the afternoon we take a short drive from the city into the low lying hills which surround Lhasa to the Sera Monastery. This is an important monastic college of the Gelugpa (Yellow Hat) sect.

Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodation: Tibet Hotel or Similar

Day 9

Today we tour the Potala Palace, the official winter residence of the Dalai Lama. Its grand scale and dominance over the city's skyline reflects the Dalai Lama's former position as the center of the Tibetan faith and politics.

The first king of Tibet, Songtsen Gampo (630 to 649AD), introduced Buddhism to Tibet and built the palace here on the summit of Marpo Ri Hill in the 7th century. This palace had fallen to ruins by the time the 5th Dalai Lama moved his capital to Lhasa during the 1640s and began building the Potala's White Palace. The Red Palace was completed in 1700 and coincided with the announcement of the 5th Dalai Lama's death. In one of the intrigues of Tibetan history, historians agree that he actually died many years before and that fact was concealed, perhaps in fear of attack against the incomplete palace.

We explore this architectural wonder which has hundreds of rooms filled with intricate shrines and stunning frescoes.

We then visit Norbulingka, also known as the jewel park and the summer residence of the Dalai Lama. Here we will enjoy a leisurely tour of the complex of palaces, chapels and gardens.

This evening we will enjoy a traditional Tibetan dinner and dance performance.

Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Tibetan Dinner
Accommodation: Tibet Hotel or Similar

Day 10

This morning we transfer to the airport, driving through the Kyi Chu Valley. Upon arrival at the airport we will board our flight to Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan Province.

Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan Province, has developed into a large and modern city, yet within the crooked backstreets we will still find all the charms of the old China. Wander among the traditional wooden houses and bustling street markets, through the aroma of Sichuan spices cooking and the chatter of old men walking with their caged birds. Upon arrival we will transfer to our hotel for an overnight stay.

This afternoon we will visit the Jinli Old Street, one of China's oldest commercial streets. It is a delightful reminder of China's past and a great place for people to see Sichuan's customs and folk art. There are many craft stores for us to browse along the street.

For our dinner this evening we will enjoy sumptuous Sichuan cuisine.

Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Sichuan Cuisine Dinner
Accommodation: Chengdu Tianfu Sunshine Hotel or Similar

Day 11

Sightseeing today begins with a visit to the famous Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding. Opened to the public in 1995, the reserve has a museum, research facility and a protected wilderness and breeding area. The panda has become one of the most adored animals in China and noted as the cute and memorable mascot for the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). We explore the grounds with a chance to see some of the animals up close and learn more about this region's endangered species.

Later we will drive to Chongqing where we will board our Yangtze River cruise vessel for the next three nights.

Chongqing is a city perched on the steep hills overlooking the confluence of the Jialing and the Yangtze rivers. It is the chief industrial center of south western China, producing approximately one fifth of Sichuan’s industrial output. Chongqing has been reshaped by the Three Gorges Dam Project, which now allows larger sea-going vessels to sail all the way upriver to China’s most famous waterfront mountain city.

We will be taking an amazing journey along China's Yangtze River, which is undeniably one of the world's great and legendary waterways. This 3,900 mile river has its origins high up in the snow covered mountain of Tanggula Shan in the south western Qinghai Tibet Plateau and runs into the ocean at Shanghai. It is estimated that this river has more than 10 percent of the world's population living along its banks.

NOTE: Shore excursions are subject to change depending on local conditions.

Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodation: Five-star Yangtze Cruise Ship

Day 12

Today’s program may include a shore excursion to Fengdu, an ancient ghost city on the banks of the Yangtze River. Fengdu is the original and supposedly haunted ghost town themed on numerous legends and folktales. Here we visit the temples dedicated to the underworld and heaven. We can also participate in several tests and tasks to help predict our future, fidelity and fortune.

Upon returning to the cruise vessel, continue cruising overnight.

Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodation: Five-star Yangtze Cruise Ship

Day 13

Continue cruising through the shortest, but the most dramatic of the Three Gorges, Qutang Gorge. Today’s program may include a shore excursion to the Goddess Stream.

Enter a series of narrow gorges with steep cliffs and lush scenery. Transfer between the ship and a smaller ferry to travel up the Goddess Stream tributary. We then transfer from the ferry onto the small peapod rowboats to experience the tradition of the local boatmen or trackers.

Goddess Stream, also known as Shennv Xi in Chinese, flows from the southern bank of the Yangtze opposite Goddess Peak. Board a smaller craft for a ride of about 9 miles each way to view the beauty of its narrow gorges. Once just a stream, the Three Gorges Dam raised the water level to 230-330 feet in depth, depending on the season. Surrounded by beautiful peaks, this region also has many protected species. Keep a look out as we may be lucky enough to spot monkeys, mountain goats, deer or boar. The area is also famous for its tea, named Longevity Tea or Mountain Tea.

In the evening, sail through the Three Gorges Dam ship locks.

Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodation: Five-star Yangtze Cruise Ship

Day 14

This morning we visit the site of the Three Gorges Dam. Commenced in 1994 and completed in 2009, the Three Gorges Dam is the largest water conservancy project ever undertaken. The Dam is located near Sandouping, which is in the middle of the Xiling Gorge, the longest of the Three Gorges. The Three Gorges Dam is 7,660 feet long, 600 feet high, 60 feet wide on the top and 430 feet wide at the bottom. The dam has raised the river to a level of 575 feet above sea level, creating a 372 mile long reservoir, with 1.5 million people relocated. The building of this huge dam was for the purpose of flood control, electricity, navigation and irrigation.

We will then disembark our cruise and transfer to Yichang airport for our flight to Shanghai. Once known as the Paris of the East, Shanghai has emerged, yet again, as one of Asia's most influential cities. Prior to communist arrival in 1949, Shanghai was a city with European-style mansions and was the most important trading port in Asia. Today it presents a blend of the modern and traditional cultures. Modern skyscrapers intermingle with 1920s shikumen buildings. This combination is what attracts millions of visitors each year.

Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodation: Regal Shanghai East Asia Hotel or Similar

Day 15

We start our sightseeing today in the Old Town (Yuan Bazaar) of Shanghai, where cobbled streets are lined with traditional shops selling herbal medicines, handicrafts, Chinese tea and a variety of tantalizing snacks. We take a relaxing walk through moon gates and latticed pavilions in the peaceful Yu Gardens, the inspiration for willow patterned china.

We continue touring to the historical riverfront area known as the Bund. Recognized as Shanghai's former Wall Street, the Bund is home to an impressive collection of buildings from the early trade houses of the 1850s to the glamorous Art Deco modernism of the 1920s.

Next we view the superb antiquities and fine arts at the Shanghai Museum and wander the surrounds of the neighboring People's Square.

We will also visit a local Silk Museum and Showroom.

In the evening we will enjoy a cruise on the spectacular Huangpu River to view the picturesque nightscape of this exciting city.

This evening we will enjoy traditional Shanghai cuisine for dinner.

Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Shanghai Cuisine Dinner
Accommodation: Regal Shanghai East Asia Hotel or Similar

Day 16

Today our group tour arrangements end. Transfer to the airport to board your flight back to the USA.

Included Meal: Breakfast


Things to Know

Preparing For Your Trip
  • Make Sure to Bring All of Your Important Documents: Passport, Foreign visa (if applicable), Itinerary, Trip confirmation, Airline ticket, Drivers license, Credit cards, Travel documents.

  • Vaccinations Are Required for Entry to Some Countries. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) can provide you their recommendations for vaccinations and other travel health precautions for your trip abroad.

  • Are You Taking Any Prescriptions or Other Medications? Pack enough to last your entire trip, including some extra in case you are unexpectedly delayed.

  • Insurance: Purchase travel insurance to cover yourself against unexpected situations. You never know when something might happen, so always be prepared.
While Traveling
  • Keep an eye on your belongings. Do not leave your belongings unattended in public spaces

  • Always have local cash. Not every place takes credit cards.
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