Day 1 ARRIVE IN BEIJING, CHINA.
Welcome to China! Hotel rooms are available for mid-afternoon check-in.
Day 2 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 largest palace complex in the world. 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)
Day 3 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)
Day 4 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. (B)
Day 5 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)
Day 6 XI’AN–CHONGQING (EMBARKATION)–YANGTZE RIVER CRUISE.
This morning, visit the Xi’an City Wall South Gate and learn to write like a local during a traditional Chinese CALLIGRAPHY CLASS; you may even see some locals practicing their morning tai chi. Next, fly to Chongqing, China’s capital during World War II. Visit a local ZOO to see pandas prior to boarding your cruise ship for a 3-night cruise through the breathtaking Three Gorges of the Yangtze. (B,D)
Day 7 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, take a swim in the pool, 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)
Depending on river conditions, an alternate shore excursion may be offered.
Day 8 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)
Depending on river conditions, the boat excursion may be on the Shennong Stream.
Day 9 CRUISING: (DISEMBARKATION) THREE GORGES DAM SITE–YICHANG–SHANGHAI.
This morning, visit the THREE GORGES DAM SITE, the largest dam of its kind in the world. After lunch in Yichang, transfer to the airport for your flight to Shanghai, China’s most populous city and center of trade and industry.
Day 10 SHANGHAI.
Start your day 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. For lunch, stop at a local restaurant 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)
Day 11 SHANGHAI.
This morning, visit the SHANGHAI MUSEUM, featuring stunning displays of ancient bronze, jade, and ceramics. Then, 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.
Day 12 SHANGHAI.
Your tour ends with breakfast this morning. (B)