Ancient relics, modern marvels, incredible moments... Every exquisite temple, every precious icon, every delicate pagoda in China rewards with the richness of a cultural legacy stretching across thousands of years and a vast, emerging land whose splendor staggers the imagination... and every new encounter with this ancient civilization – today the economic engine of the world – evokes a sense of wonder.
Mist-blanketed limestone peaks stand like sentinels along the Li River, greeting all who cruise its placid waters. Meandering across mountains and valleys, the Great Wall invites you to stroll atop stonework that transcends the centuries; climbing to the top of this wonder of the world is an unforgettable experience. Tranquility and a deep spirituality still have their place in this teeming land... find them among the pavilions of Shanghai’s Yu Gardens, before the altar of Beijing’s sublime Temple of Heaven, and in the otherworldly landscapes of the Three Gorges – also home to the greatest modern engineering project on Earth. Secrets of life at both ends of the spectrum are revealed within the inner sanctum of the Forbidden City, where mere mortals dared not go... and inside one of Beijing’s traditional hutongs, where the warmth of a family sharing a vanishing way of life in their private home stirs the soul.
Arrive in Beijing
Tour begins: 5:00 PM at the The Peninsula Beijing. A transfer is included upon your arrival from Beijing Capital International Airport to The Peninsula Beijing in the heart of the city. Meet your traveling companions at our welcome reception and dinner in your hotel.
The Great Wall & Beijing's Hutongs
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. Enjoy dinner as you please tonight in Beijing.
Temple of Heaven to Tiananmen Square
This morning, visit 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." Following this, 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. After lunch at a local restaurant, 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 lesson in one of the Temple's beautiful parks. Dine at your choice of fine restaurants at the hotel this evening.
Fly to Xi’an and Visit an Underground Museum
Begin today with a morning flight from Beijing to the ancient city of Xi'an; set at the eastern end of the Silk Road, it's one of the country's oldest cities and served as the capital during the Han, Qin, Tang and other early dynasties. Upon arrival you'll visit an amazing place – the Han Yang Ling
Underground Mausoleum. 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
in this unique underground "museum" that depict life as it was during
the Western Han Dynasty. Dine at your leisure at the hotel this evening.
Terra Cotta Warriors & Muslim culture in Xi'an
Get the inside story of Xi'an's amazing Terra Cotta Warriors – 8,000 individualized, life-size terra cotta statues of soldiers who stood guard at the underground tomb of Qin Shi Huangdi, China’s first emperor, for more than 2,000 years – as you visit the site today with Tauck. They were discovered by farmers digging a well in 1974, and are now a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site! View the incredible statues, tour the site's museum, and get the scoop on future plans for their preservation during a talk with one of the museum's leading staff members. After a local lunch, explore the history of Islamic culture in China with a visit to a Muslim street and an ancient mosque in Xi'an.
On to Guilin & a Li River cruise
Fly to Guilin, among China's most picturesque places, whose landscapes have inspired poets and artists for centuries. Shortly after your arrival, spend the afternoon on a private Tauck cruise along the storied Li River; feast your eyes and your soul on tranquil groves, fishermen on bamboo rafts, breathtaking limestone peaks and views of traditional village life that seem to be lifted from an ancient Chinese scroll painting! Check in at your mountain resort and enjoy the evening as you please, dining at leisure at your choice of restaurants at the hotel.
Yangshou, Fuli village & a cooking lesson
Morning activities in Yangshuo County include a stop in the ancient, artistic village of Fuli on the Li River, to explore its market and attend a Chinese fan making demonstration; a look at a "new socialism" village; and a visit to Yangshuo Town. Next, you can choose between lunch at your hotel, or a cooking lesson on regional cuisine at a nearby cooking school, where you'll eat what you helped make for lunch! Enjoy some free time as you wish; have dinner tonight at a choice of restaurants at your Banyan Tree resort near Guilin.
Chongqing / Embark Your Yangtze Cruise
Following a morning's travel from Guilin to Chongqing (by either air or high-speed rail, depending on schedules and availability), visit the Chongqing Zoo to see their celebrated giant pandas. Then board the newly renovated Yangzi Explorer for a memorable three-night cruise through the Three Gorges of the mighty Yangtze River. Dine aboard ship this evening before setting sail on your cruise.
Yangzi Explorer & shore excursion choices
Visions of knobby, mist-shrouded mountains steeped in the mystique of old China travel with you as you experience the Yangtze from dawn to dusk aboard the recently renovated Yangzi Explorer, one of the finest and roomiest ships on the river. Enjoy a range of activities aboard ship today, including Tai Chi exercises and an introduction to Chinese healing practices. Arrive in Fuling, where you will visit the 816 Underground Project, an underground nuclear installation that is one of the world’s largest artificial military caves. Return to the ship midday for an afternoon cruising the Yangtze. This evening, meet the Captain at a welcome reception, followed by dinner and a choice of The Three Kingdoms Open Air Show or a cultural performance by the ship's crew.
Cruising the Three Gorges
While cruising the Yangtze, view centuries-old pagodas and temples built against steep-sided cliffs, ancient roads and terraced fields along the river’s edge. Today you'll navigate through Qutang and Wu Gorges, explore Shennong Stream on a private Tauck shore excursion via sampan, and enjoy shipboard activities including a calligraphy lesson as Yangzi Explorer cruises through Xiling Gorge, largest of the Three Gorges, this afternoon and evening.
Three Gorges Dam & On to Shanghai
Sail into Yichang through a series of locks adjacent to the site of the Three Gorges Dam, one of the world’s largest construction projects. Disembark and fly to Shanghai this morning, one of the country’s most cosmopolitan cities, where you'll spend three nights at the Fairmont Peace Hotel. Following lunch at a local restaurant, join your local guide this afternoon for a walking tour of Shanghai's historic waterfront, the Bund, followed by some free time. Dine tonight at your choice of restaurants at your hotel.
In Shanghai, the Bund and Acrobats
Today you'll further explore Shanghai's famous waterfront Bund. First up, visit the historic and harmonious Yu Gardens, whose original grounds and
temple date back to the 1550s; the word yu translates to "peace and
health." Pathways wind through rock gardens and bamboo stands, and stone bridges cross pools filled with bright carp. Have lunch today at the charming "M on the Bund" – and then after a free afternoon, watch from premium seating tonight as the daring acrobatic performers of Shanghai's acclaimed ERA show entertain you. A day to remember... an experience to savor.
The Past Meets the Future in Shanghai
You'll get a fine introduction to Shanghai at the Shanghai Urban Planning Center, a dramatic five-story glass building showcasing the city's future urban development through detailed models and multimedia displays. Explore the center's exhibits on this historic port city's past, present and future, 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 as you please in the Xintiandi neighborhood, you'll have time to explore the area – and on a guided walk, learn about its vanishing traditional stone-gated shikumen homes. This evening, a special experience – dinner at the wonderful restaurant Jean Georges Shanghai, known for its cuisine and views.
Welcome to Hong Kong
A morning flight takes you to legendary Hong Kong. Spend the rest of the day and evening exploring the city as you please from your brand-new luxury hotel – Rosewood Hong Kong, situated in the former New World Centre complex on Hong Kong's Victoria Harbour.
Hong Kong from Many Viewpoints
You'll experience this fascinating city from different perspectives today – by ferry, by double-decker bus, and on a funicular tram ride up Victoria Peak, then have lunch at a local restaurant. The rest of the day is yours to explore the city as you please, or join our local guide for a visit to the Hong Kong Museum. Hong Kong abounds with street stalls selling everything from sneakers to silk, tropical birds to exotic fish; your hotel is close to the heart of this shopper's paradise. We invite you to join us and celebrate an incredible China travel experience at our farewell reception and dinner tonight.
Tour ends: Hong Kong. Catch your return flight home. A transfer is included from Rosewood Hong Kong to Hong Kong International Airport; you should allow a minimum of 3 hours for flight check-in.