With your own personal car and driver and our expert native-born guide, we promise a deeper and more intimate look into the history and 21st-century vibrancy of Beijing, Xian and Shanghai. Highlighting this journey are a 2-night stay at the luxury Shangri-La Hotel in Chengdu and our special Panda Encounter experience at Dujiangyan Panda Center.
Day 1 – Welcome to Beijing
On arrival at the airport, you’ll be warmly greeted and escorted by private car to the 5-star Fairmont Beijing Hotel.
Day 2 – Beijing’s Imperial Highlights
After breakfast, your private car, driver and guide will be waiting to show you the Imperial highlights of the capital. Marvel at the grandeur of Tiananmen Square, one of the largest plazas in the world, and then follow in the footsteps of Ming Dynasty emperors on your privately guided tour of the Forbidden City #WHS#. Your exploration of the palace’s many courtyards, residences, halls and pavilions includes the historically significant Hall of Mental Cultivation; built in the 16th century, it was the site of private audiences and state affairs during the Qing Dynasty and served as the exclusive residence for eight emperors. Your touring continues this afternoon at the Summer Palace #WHS#, the erstwhile seasonal retreat of China’s ruling families. Meals B+L
Day 3 – The Great Wall + Hutongs of Beijing
With fewer visitors and stunning scenery, the more remote Mutianyu section of the Great Wall #WHS# promises a more authentic and rewarding experience. This particular stretch of this ancient defensive structure is set against a dramatic mountain backdrop and has been meticulously restored. It also features a number of impressive watchtowers. After lunch, you’ll return to Beijing to explore by rickshaw through one of the city’s last remaining Hutong districts, an old neighborhood of narrow streets and traditional courtyard homes. It’s a genuine experience of what much of the city was like before its rapid modernization over the past few decades. Tonight’s dinner features Peking Duck, a classic Chinese specialty. Meals B+L+D
Day 4 – Fly to Xian
You’ll be chauffeured to the airport for your included flight to Xian, China’s ancient capital for thirteen dynasties. At the Hanyangling Museum, a unique subterranean exhibit hall allows you to closely observe an archaeological excavation that has unearthed priceless tomb artifacts from the Han Dynasty. Enjoy a 2-night stay at the deluxe Hilton Hotel, ideally situated within the city’s ancient walls. A+R guests will enjoy upgraded accommodations in an Executive Room that offers access to the Executive Lounge for evening cocktails. Meals B
Day 5 – Terra Cotta Warriors + Touch Antiquity
This morning, you’ll stand in awe before the thousands-strong Terra Cotta Army #WHS#, buried long ago to guard the tomb of China’s first emperor. Your personal guide is on hand to illuminate the amazing history of this ancient burial site and the dramatic story of its discovery by local farmers in 1974. Back in the heart of the city, the bustling market near the historic Drum Tower is one of the best places in Xian to shop for colorful souvenirs and to sample regional specialties like grilled lamb or fried rice with pickled cabbage.
Then continue to the Xian City Museum for our exclusive Touch Antiquity experience… Donning special white gloves, you’ll be able to handle and examine priceless ancient artifacts as a museum curator offers insight into their provenance and historic significance. Tonight’s dinner offers a chance to sample savory dumplings, a regional culinary specialty. Meals B+L+D
Day 6 – By High Speed Rail to Chengdu
After breakfast, your private car and driver will take you to the station to board the train to Chengdu. Inaugurated at the end of 2017, this brand new High-Speed Rail service has reduced the travel time from nearly 15 hours to less than 5 hours. Traveling at speeds up to 155 mph, you’ll enjoy premium Executive Class seating for this exciting and scenic journey. On arrival in Chengdu, you’ll be met and chauffeured to the 5-star Shangri-La Hotel.
Later this afternoon, your personal car, driver and guide will be available to show you their city. We suggest you head to one of the city’s popular parks for tea; joining residents for this relaxing ritual is a wonderful way to experience local life. Later you might explore along Kuan Xiangzi and Zhai Xiangzi, two city streets that offer a look into Chengdu’s history – and vibrant modern life. Here you’ll find centuries-old teahouses, lodgings and traditional courtyard homes that have been splendidly restored; today, they are home to popular cafes, restaurants, boutiques, shops and even pubs and nightclubs. Meals B+L
Day 7 – Our Special Panda Encounter Experience
After breakfast, your driver and guide will take you to the Dujiangyan Panda Center for our special Panda Encounter. Taking you behind the scenes, this unforgettable experience offers a rare and unique opportunity to learn about Giant Pandas as you join the Center’s staff to participate in their care and feeding. You’re sure to get close to these amazing creatures – figuratively and literally – as you help to clean their enclosures and prepare their food. Educational sessions and time to explore the grounds of the Panda Center complete this morning’s Panda Encounter.
After some leisure time this afternoon, tonight’s Hot Pot Dinner showcases this favorite Sichuan specialty. Afterwards, you’ll enjoy VIP seating for an evening at the Sichuan Opera, an ancient art form where the performers use lightening-fast mask changes to show different emotions; it is not uncommon for some skilled actors to change masks more than 10 times in 20 seconds. Meals B+L+D
Day 8 – Onward to Shanghai
Your private car and driver will take you to the airport for your included flight to Shanghai. Upon arrival, you’ll be met and escorted into the heart of the city where you’ll check in to the Fairmont Peace Hotel, a luxury Art Deco landmark overlooking the historic waterfront Bund. Meals B
Day 9 – Full Day Private Sightseeing
Today’s sightseeing tour with your personal car, driver and guide will explore the history and vibrant modern spirit of this cosmopolitan city. You’ll drive along the Bund, Shanghai’s historic waterfront boulevard graced still with architectural landmarks built by international companies at the beginning of the 20th century. You’ll explore the historic and now-bustling French Concession with its tree-lined streets and graceful architecture and wander through Yu Yuan Garden, built by a Ming Dynasty court official for his aging parents. In Xintiandi, you’ll find handsome old stone buildings that have been renovated to house some of the city’s most popular boutiques, galleries and cafes. This evening, you’ll dine at one of our favorite restaurants in this cosmopolitan city. Meals B+L+D
Day 10 – Departure
After breakfast, your private car and driver will take you to the airport for your onward flight. Meals B