Arrive in Beijing
Tour begins: The Waldorf Astoria Beijing at 6:30 PM. Transfers are included from Beijing Capital Int'l Airport to the Waldorf Astoria Beijing. Join us for a welcome reception and dinner this evening.
The Great Wall & Beijing's Hutongs
They don't call it "The Great Wall" for nothing... Besides being the only man-made structure visible from space, the Great Wall of China tops most travelers' lists of the Earth's must-visit places. Take a walk atop the highest point of its Badaling section, then walk down to the bottom along an ancient stone path where you'll travel a short distance for lunch at the Commune by the Great Wall - enjoy the views of this architectural wonder surrounding you. This afternoon, gain some insights on the city's centuries-old hutongs - unique traditional neighborhoods threatened by ongoing urban development - when you take a private tour of a hutong - ride a rickshaw and visit a local family in their home.
This morning, visit a grand example of traditional Chinese architecture - Beijing's Temple of Heaven, a round, three-tiered wood structure intricately decorated with gold leaf and colorful designs; try to imagine a long-ago time when the emperor and his entourage would travel here in secret processions from the Forbidden City to hold solemn ceremonies asking the gods for a bountiful harvest. Learn the moves from the locals as you take part in a Tai Chi racquet lesson in one of the Temple's beautiful parks. After lunch at a local restaurant, you'll explore the legendary Forbidden City itself, where Imperial China's emperors dwelt for centuries; tour the Hall of Supreme Harmony, the Hall of Middle Harmony, the Hall of Preserved Harmony, the Hall of Mental Cultivation, the Imperial Garden and more. Just beyond the Forbidden City, continue to Tiananmen Square, a witness to much of modern Chinese history and home to Mao Zedong's mausoleum; view his portrait hanging above the "Gate of Heavenly Peace." Dine at your choice of fine restaurants at the hotel this evening.
Xi'an on the Silk Road
Board a flight to 3,000-year-old Xi'an, one of China's great ancient capitals. Upon arrival, you'll visit an amazing place - the Han Yang Ling Underground Mausoleum and museum. Known locally as "the most underrated tomb in Xi'an," it was undisturbed for about 2,100 years before opening to the public in the last decade. You'll find an amazing collection of cultural relics that depict life as it was during the Western Han Dynasty. Dine at your leisure this evening.
Take a high-speed train in First Class this morning from Xi'an to Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan Province. After lunch at your hotel in Chengdu, visit the ancient Buddhist Wenshu Temple to see its revered artworks, examples of calligraphy, and gardens. The temple is home to some 300 Buddha statues! Stroll down narrow Jinli Street, lined with tea houses and artisan shops, to get the feel of traditional provincial life. Dinner is served this evening at your hotel.
Pandas of Chengdu
Today enjoy a special experience learning about China's iconic Giant Pandas - and observing them in a natural setting. You'll have an opportunity to hold one, if you like - quite a photo op! During a visit to the Chengdu Panda Base, discover them living their lives in a quiet outdoor sanctuary, and hear about the breeding and conservation issues of this vulnerable species. Their home is a park-like landscape that simulates their natural environment - with wild bamboo, green lawns, rivers, lakes, rocky outcroppings, caves, and dens. Keep your eyes open for swans, peacocks, and butterflies as well. A hot pot lunch at a local restaurant is followed by tea tasting at People's Park. This evening discover one of China's oldest and most popular art forms, Sichuan Opera. The highlight of the performance is a magical skill called "face changing" that will have you on the edge of your seat.
Leshan and the Giant Buddha
Prepare to see what's likely to be the largest buddha you've ever encountered this morning. Head to Leshan for a brief boat ride along a river to the foot of the ancient Giant Buddha - an inspiring approach to a truly monumental sacred sculpture. The buddha is surprisingly detailed; there are more than 1,000 buns in its coiled hair! After lunch at a local restaurant, enjoy some free time in Chengdu.
Fly to Guilin and Yangshuo
A flight takes you to Guilin and your resort hotel in Yangshuo, nestled in a picturesque landscape of limestone mountains and rice fields. Go for a walk with a local guide in Yangshuo Town on the Li River. Enjoy dinner at your resort hotel tonight.
A cruise on the Li River
Spend the morning on a private Tauck cruise along the Li River, passing limestone peaks, bamboo groves, locals working in rice paddies, and water buffalo patrolling the fields. You'll see fishermen float by on bamboo rafts and get a glimpse of traditional village life. Afterward, a local chef gives a cooking lesson, and you can enjoy a lunch you help to make. Dinner is served at your resort hotel this evening.
Discovering Old Shanghai
Fly to Shanghai this morning, where you'll have some free time to discover fashionable Xintiandi. This sought-after historic neighborhood is good for walking and has been preserved intact with its characteristic 19th-century shikumen, traditional stone-gated homes, along narrow lanes. Dine at your hotel this evening.
In Shanghai, the Bund and Acrobats
The Bund on the waterfront in Shanghai is famous for its stretch of historic buildings in international architectural styles built as the headquarters of the western banks, hotels, clubs, businesses, and other organizations that thrived in China before the revolution. A guided visit along the Bund shows you both Shanghai past and present. Step further back in history, to the 16th century, in Yu Gardens, where pathways wind through rock gardens and bamboo stands, and stone bridges cross pools filled with carp; yu means "peace and health." Have lunch at a local restaurant. This evening enjoy premium seating at an acrobatic performance by Shanghai's acclaimed ERA troupe.
Shanghai past, present, and future
Get a good introduction to Shanghai at the Shanghai Urban Planning Center, showcasing the city's past and future urban development through detailed models and multimedia displays, including a mock-up of 1930s Shanghai; a huge model of what the city might look like in 2020; a 360-degree, 3-D film and more. Then tour the Shanghai Museum, displaying 120,000 works of art and artifacts. After lunch on your own in the Xintiandi neighborhood, explore the area as you please, then learn about its vanishing traditional stone-gated shikumen homes on a guided walk. Have dinner tonight at the wonderful restaurant Jean Georges Shanghai, known for its cuisine and views.
Welcome to Hong Kong
Fly from Shanghai to Hong Kong this morning, exploring the city as you wish for the rest of the day from your world-class hotel - The Ritz-Carlton, Hong Kong, located on floors 102-118 in the International Commerce Centre overlooking Hong Kong's Victoria Harbour in Kowloon, and offering spectacular panoramic views of the city.
Hong Kong from Many Viewpoints
Discover the city with a local guide today by ferry and double-decker bus. A funicular tram ride takes you up the mountain known as Victoria Peak, where the views are as impressive as the high-end residential properties! Have lunch at a local dim sum restaurant, followed by a guided visit to the Hong Kong Museum of History or free time. Your hotel is in the heart of the city, within easy reach of cultural sites and shopping of all kinds, from luxury stores to little shops selling everything from sneakers to silk. Join us at our farewell reception and dinner this evening in your hotel, overlooking Kowloon and Victoria Harbour.
Tour ends: Hong Kong. Fly home anytime; a transfer is included from The Ritz-Carlton, Hong Kong to Hong Kong International Airport. Please allow a minimum of 3 hours for flight check-in.