20 January 2017
Here's a wonderful opportunity for the adventurous traveller to combine the Yangtse Gorges with China's classic highlights in one 11 day tour. Travelling by road, plane and boat you will uncover the cities, sites and scenery of China on this magical journey. Your tour begins in the capital Beijing, where you will get insights into the history and culture of this beguiling land, and ends in vibrant Shanghai, which today is a confounding mix of ancient and ultramodern. Along the way you will walk along the Great Wall, visit the amazing intricately carved Terracotta Warriors and enjoy the stunning views as you cruise down the spectacular Yangtze River as it winds through the Three Gorges.
On arrival at Beijing airport you will be met by one of our experienced tour representatives and taken to your city hotel which is in the Chaoyang district. Time to relax after the journey or go out and do some exploring on your own before an evening meeting with your tour leader and the rest of the group in the reception area of the hotel for welcome drinks and a tour briefing. In the evening why not go out and have your first genuine Chinese meal.
Begin your exploration of one of the great cities of the world. From one thousand years of dramatic history to a dynamic modern metropolis, Beijing offers a magnificent insight into China’s past and future. In the morning, walk through Tiananmen Square and pass through the beautiful Gate of Heavenly Peace and under the portrait of Chairman Mao to enter the splendid Forbidden City. Leave by the North Gate and visit one of Beijing’s few remaining ‘hutongs’ or traditional lanes in the backstreets. Have lunch in the home of a local family before taking a rickshaw ride around the area then stroll to the famous Drum Tower. In your free time this evening you can explore the Wangfujing night markets.
This morning travel to Mutianyu, 56 miles north-east of Beijing, to visit China’s most famous attraction – the Great Wall. It was built more than 2,000 years ago and stretches 3,107 miles from the Shanhaiguan Pass on the east coast to the Gobi Desert in the west. Take the cable car up to the Wall and take time to walk or climb sections admiring the panoramic views. Back in town this evening, you will have a chance to feast on Beijing’s famous roast duck for dinner.
See one of China’s most iconic temples, the sacred and architecturally unique Temple of Heaven, which is located within a vast park and in the early mornings the area is alive with tai chi enthusiasts, elderly men practising calligraphy, dancers and performers reciting Beijing opera. Then head to the Beijing Planning Exhibition Hall and see designs and models of the 2008 Olympic stadiums. In the afternoon drive to the north-west of the city and visit the magnificent Summer Palace, with its temples, pavilions, gardens and decorated corridors. End the day with an educational stop at a pearl factory. Tonight you will be taken to the airport for your flight to Xian.
Today enjoy a tour of this culturally diverse and very exotic Chinese city. Xian is located close to the banks of the Yellow River and has a history dating back to 1000BC. Xian was the starting point for the world’s most famous trade route - the Silk Road. Visit the impressive Old City Walls and the Big Wild Goose Pagoda. From this historic Buddhist site continue into the heart of Xian’s Muslim Quarter to visit the Great Mosque. Take some time to walk through this area and see its lively street markets. This evening you can sample Xian’s famous dumplings at a local restaurant.
Start today as the locals do, with a stroll through the park that wraps around the base of the city walls. Children and elderly alike are out doing their morning exercises, playing badminton, singing, or practising tai chi. Then take a short drive east to see the truly remarkable Army of Terracotta Warriors - one of the wonders of the 20th century. Still under excavation, these thousands of life sized terracotta warriors and horses were only unearthed in 1974 after being buried for 2,000 years. Each figure is unique both in facial features and expression. From here go to the airport for the flight to Chongqing where you pick up your boat for the full board three night Yangtze cruise.
Cruise downstream from Chongqing and pass small towns whose existence is tied to the waters of the Yangtze. Your first stop is at Shibaozhai, a 12 storey high red wooden pagoda. Shibaozhai dates back to 17th century and can be climbed via a spiral staircase. Since the completion of the Three Gorges Dam project in 2009 this site, which was once connected to the river bank, has been an island. This evening enjoy a buffet dinner on board. Depending on river conditions, Shibaozhai might be substituted by an excursion to Fengdu or Wanzhou.
Rise early today to admire the magnificent river landscapes as your boat passes through the towering cliffs and mountains of the first and second gorges, Qutang and Wu Gorge. In the afternoon transfer to small boats for a trip up the smaller gorges to Daning River. This area features superb natural scenery interspersed with local rural scenes. You will enter the third of the main gorges, Xiling Gorge, later in the day and this evening join the Captain's Banquet for dinner. Tonight your ship will pass through the massive five level lock and dock downstream of the mighty dam wall.
Early this morning take an excursion to the incredible site of the Three Gorges Dam Project. Return to your cruise boat and sail to Yichang, where you will disembark after lunch and take an afternoon flight to your final destination, Shanghai. Once known as the “Pearl of the Orient”, Shanghai today has emerged again as one of Asia’s most important cities. On arrival transfer to your hotel. Free time this evening to head across the river to the business district of Pudong, to take in magnificent views of Shanghai at night from the 100th floor observation deck of China’s tallest building.
Today your city tour will take you to the historical riverfront area known as the Bund - Shanghai’s former “Wall Street”. Home to an impressive collection of 1920s neoclassical buildings this area attests to Shanghai’s former greatness. From the Bund head to the Old Chinese Quarter and take a relaxing walk through the peaceful Yu Garden. Wander through neighbouring People's Square - once the site of the Shanghai Racecourse and now a popular place to people-watch. Tonight you are off to the theatre to see the world famous Chinese acrobats in a mind-bending performance.
Head out to the suburbs of Shanghai to the charming old world atmosphere of Zhujiajiao, a traditional water canal town dating back to the Ming and Qing dynasties. Here, you will visit some of the main sights such as the Yuanjin Monastery, Taoist Temple and the great Qing Post Office. Browse through small stores selling local produce and souvenirs along Great North Street. Back in the city you will veer off the tourist trail again and explore the backstreets of the Chinese Old Quarter. Finish your walking tour in the modern entertainment complex of Xintiandi. Tonight join the group for a farewell dinner to celebrate the end of a great journey.
Today your wonderful Three Gorges and China highlights tour comes to an end. Perhaps time for some last minute sightseeing or shopping before heading to the airport for your onward flight or journey home. You may, of course, want to stay on in Shanghai or take one of a number of other great tours around this fascinating country.
Standard Rate fr £3016pp
Rates based on twinshare
International flights not included unless otherwise stated