Discover China’s ancient history and fascinating culture on this delightful river cruise vacation. Sightseeing with a Local Guide shows you the highlights in Beijing, Xi’an, and Shanghai, with inside visits that include the Forbidden City, Imperial Palace, Great Wall, Sacred Way of the Ming Tombs, the Terracotta Warriors, Dayan Pagoda, the Bund, and Yu Yuan Gardens. Enjoy an acrobatic show, participate in a calligraphy class, visit lacquer and cloisonné workshops, and attend a noodle-making demonstration. You’ll also tour the ancient hutongs by rickshaw and visit a silk factory. Enjoy a performance of the Peking Opera, “The Tang Dynasty” dinner show, and an authentic Peking Duck dinner. On your 3-night river cruise along the majestic Yangtze, see the impressive Three Gorges Dam site. Fly to Guilin, one of China’s most beautiful areas, and experience a leisurely cruise on the Li River and a visit to the Reed Flute Caves. Then fly to Hong Kong for three overnights that include a cable car ride up Victoria Peak for panoramic views. Drive by Repulse Bay, a popular beach area, then to the Aberdeen fishing village for a sampan ride on the harbor. Free time on your own gives you a chance to explore the many markets, taste some authentic Chinese food, listen to the sounds of the city, or take an optional excursion. It’s a memorable vacation sure to leave you with many photos and stories to share back home.
Day #1 Arrive in Beijing, China. Welcome to China’s capital city. Hotel rooms are available for mid-afternoon check-in.
Day #2 Beijing. Your full-day sightseeing starts with a visit to the FORBIDDEN CITY and its IMPERIAL PALACE, once the home of China’s great emperors. Nearby is 100-acre TIAN’ANMEN SQUARE, the largest public square in the world. Enjoy lunch in a local restaurant and continue to the former SUMMER PALACE, a complex of pavilions, temples, and galleries set among beautifully landscaped grounds and situated on Kunming Lake. This evening, enjoy a special PEKING DUCK WELCOME DINNER in a local restaurant. (B,L,D)
Day #3 Beijing. 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. Then, visit a CLOISONNÉ WORKSHOP and see local artisans use the techniques of this ancient art form to turn pieces of copper into colorful decorative items. After lunch in a local restaurant, take a leisurely walk down the SACRED WAY of the Ming Tombs and marvel at the impressive hand-carved stone statues. Tonight, experience local culture at the PEKING OPERA, including a behind-the-scenes look at the colorful makeup being applied to the performers. (B,L,D)
Day #4 Beijing–Xi’an. This morning, enjoy a rickshaw ride through one of Beijing’s HUTONGS, the city’s ancient alleys. Experience life in this historic neighborhood as you are invited into the courtyard of a family’s home for tea. Later, fly to Xi’an. This evening, enjoy the “Tang Dynasty” DINNER SHOW featuring a colorful assemblage of classical performances. (B,D)
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 a LACQUER WORKSHOP followed by DAYAN PAGODA, built in 652 AD. (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 before boarding the Century Paragon for a 3-night cruise through the breathtaking Three Gorges of the Yangtze. (B,L,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)NOTE: Depending on river conditions, an alternate shore excursion may be offered.
Day #8 Cruising: Qutang Gorge–Wu Gorge–Shennong Stream. Again, enjoy the morning at your leisure on the ship. You may choose to take an optional shore excursion to Baidi Cheng, known as the “White Emperor City,” to see the Baidi Temple. 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 the Shennong Stream. Along the way, see four natural gorges and the mysterious hanging wooden coffins. Before returning to your ship you will also take a SAMPAN RIDE on a smaller section of the stream, where the sampan crew will sing songs as you glide across the stunning deep emerald-green waters surrounded by densely forested hills. This evening, join the Captain for a special Chinese-style farewell banquet. (B,L,D)NOTE: Depending on river conditions, the boat excursion may be on the Daning River.
Day #9 Cruising: Three Gorges Dam Site–Xiling Gorge–Yichang (Disembarkation)–Shanghai. This morning, visit the THREE GORGES DAM SITE, the largest dam of its kind in the world. Afterward, sail through Xiling Gorge, the last of the three gorges, before bidding farewell to your ship’s crew in Yichang. After lunch in Yichang, transfer to the airport for your flight to Shanghai, China’s most populous city and center of trade and industry. (B,L)
Day #10 Shanghai. Your sightseeing starts at the YU YUAN GARDENS, dating back to the Ming Dynasty. Then, stroll along the Bund, the city’s riverfront boulevard lined with historic buildings, housing, banks, and trade houses. Visit a SILK FACTORY to learn about the silk-making process. After lunch in a local restaurant, visit the SHANGHAI MUSEUM. This evening, your Tour Director hosts a special farewell dinner followed by a spectacular ACROBATIC SHOW. (B,L,D)
Day #11 Shanghai–Guilin. Today, fly to Guilin, one of China’s most beautiful areas. (B)
Day #12 Guilin. Limestone mountains, their needle peaks hidden in mist, rise from the green plain surrounding Guilin. The scene conveys a sense of mystery that artists have tried to capture for centuries. Savor unique vistas during a leisurely CRUISE on the Li River and enjoy a light lunch. Tonight, you may choose to join our optional trip to see trained cormorants dive for fish, the traditional Lijiang fishing method. (B,L)
Day #13 Guilin–Hong Kong. Enjoy the morning at leisure in this charming town. Sightseeing begins with the famous REED FLUTE CAVE with its unusual stalactite and stalagmite formations. Then, visit a local TEA FARM for a hands-on demonstration of the tea-making process followed by a tea ceremony. Later, fly to Hong Kong. (B,L)
Day #14 Hong Kong. This morning’s sightseeing begins with a CABLE-CAR RIDE up Victoria Peak for panoramic vistas of this one-of-a-kind port city. Drive by Repulse Bay, a popular beach area, then to the Aberdeen fishing village for a SAMPAN RIDE on the harbor. Next stop is STANLEY MARKET, a narrow street jammed with stalls offering clothing, arts, and crafts. Tonight, consider an optional sunset cruise on Hong Kong’s magnificent harbor. (B)
Day #15 Hong Kong. Take advantage of a full free day to explore this exciting city. You may wish to join one of our optional excursions to view the giant Buddha on the island of Lantau or to learn about Hong Kong’s history before the British colonized the area. Shopping is a highlight of Hong Kong with markets, malls, and shops to fit any taste and budget. Your local host will be happy to suggest ways to make the most of your day. (B)
Day #16 Hong Kong. Your vacation ends with breakfast this morning. (B)