Fly to Shanghai, China’s largest city, then transfer to your hotel. See the modern financial district juxtaposed with the older sections of the city.
This morning, tour Old Shanghai and travel along the elegant Bund, stopping to admire some of its historic buildings and city views. Spend some time at the exquisite Yuyuan Garden, dating back to the Ming Dynasty. After lunch in a local restaurant, tour the Shanghai Museum. Dine locally before seeing the world-famous Shanghai Acrobatic Troupe from the best seats in the house. (B, L, D)
After breakfast, prepare for your flight to Wuhan. Upon arriving, transfer to your ship docked close to Wuhan’s historic waterfront. You are welcomed on board with a Western meal. (B, L, D)
Today visit the Hubei Provincial Museum, where you hear the chimes of ancient bronze bells and view fascinating relics from 400 BC. Return to the ship and set sail this evening. (B, L, D)
After a morning of sailing, arrive in Jingzhou. Visit an elementary school sponsored by Viking River Cruises where you are greeted and entertained by the children. (B, L, D)
This morning, cruise through Xiling Gorge, the longest of the Three Gorges. After lunch, 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. Return to your ship and sail through the 5-stage locks of the Three Gorges Dam. Dock overnight at Badong. (B, L, D)
During breakfast, cruise through Wu (‟Witches”) Gorge, renowned for its magnificent scenery. Then, board a smaller boat for an excursion through the Goddess Stream. Along the way, see fascinating sites including the hanging coffins of the Ba people and the ancient plank road carved into the cliffside. Return on board for lunch, then spend the afternoon sailing through Qutang Gorge, the shortest, narrowest and most spectacular of the three large gorges. Dine on board. (B, L, D)
This morning, visit Shibaozhai Temple, a 12-story pavilion built in 1650 along the Yangtze. Tour the pavilion and temple before returning on board for lunch. Enjoy Yangtze River scenery as you cruise this afternoon and through the night. (B, L, D)
After breakfast, disembark and enjoy a scenic drive through the steep hillsides of Dazu. Then after lunch in a local restaurant, visit the Dazu Stone Carvings, a spectacular collection of elaborate sculptures etched into the rock faces of mountainsides. Throughout this expansive UNESCO World Heritage Site, some 50,000 statues and 100,000 Chinese characters seem to emerge from the cliff sides. After time to explore this remarkable site, return to Chongqing. (B, L, D)
After breakfast, stop at the General Stilwell Museum, where you can learn more about the American general’s stormy relationship with Chiang Kai-shek and the Allies during World War II. After lunch, fly to Lijiang, which boasts one of China’s most unique Old Towns. (B, L, D)
Arise in Lijiang today, renowned for the canal-lined warrens and intimate enclaves of its remarkably preserved Old Town. After breakfast, visit the former residence of Dr. Joseph Rock, a famed explorer and botanist of the 1920s who first introduced Lijiang’s Naxi culture to the world through his writings and photographs. The remainder of the day is yours to explore this charming city, once the center of silk embroidery and a major stop on the famed Tea Horse Ancient Road. (B)
Enjoy another free day exploring the atmospheric streets and lovely waterways of Lijiang’s Old Town. Lunch is included at a local restaurant. This afternoon, transfer to the airport for your flight to Chengdu. Upon arrival, visit a teahouse to experience the age-old custom of drinking tea while locals play mahjong before you enjoy dinner at a nearby restaurant. (B, L, D)
After breakfast, visit some of Chengdu’s most famous residents at the Panda Base. Here, you have a chance to see these incredible creatures in their natural habitat. After lunch, explore the Sanxingdui Museum, a repository of cultural and historic relics of gold, jade, stone, bronze and more. After dinner, attend the Sichuan Opera for an unforgettable evening marked by dramatic music, colorful costumes, fire-breathing and bian lian, or face-changing. (B, L, D)
Fly to Xian this morning after breakfast and arrive in time for lunch at a local restaurant. Xian was a key city of the Tang Dynasty. From 618 to 907 AD, this dynasty presided over one of China’s most glorious cultural periods, spreading its influence throughout Asia into Europe and Africa. Visit the South City Gate and City Wall to witness remnants of its power. Enjoy dinner this evening at a local restaurant. (B, L, D)
After breakfast, tour the mausoleum where Emperor Qin Shi Huang was laid to rest over 2,000 years ago. See the thousands of life-sized Terra Cotta Warriors, archers and infantrymen that were buried with him, each man and horse molded with its own distinctive features. Walkways provide a bird’s-eye view of the entire necropolis where the Terra Cotta Army was discovered in the 1970s. After lunch, you have free time to further explore Xian. This evening, you may choose to dine surrounded by the song and dance of this colorful era. (B, L, D)
Today, fly to Beijing, China’s imperial capital, whose rich history dates back more than 3,000 years. Check in to your hotel and dine there; enjoy free time this evening. (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)
This morning visit the enormous Tiananmen Square, which can accommodate over 1 million people. Then, tour Beijing’s Forbidden City, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Made up of nearly 1,000 buildings, it is the world’s largest surviving palace complex. Walk its grounds among the opulent palaces, pavilions, courtyards and imperial gardens within the 26-foot-high walls.
After lunch in a local restaurant, take some free time to explore Beijing on your own or do some shopping. Enjoy your dinner this evening, or attend The Legend of Kung Fu for a beautiful display of this performance art, which has roots that date back 4,000 years. (B, L, D)
After breakfast, check out of your hotel and proceed to the airport for your return flight. Or, continue your China journey with 3 nights in Hong Kong. (B)