25 October 2016
You will be hard pressed to find a more rewarding and comprehensive tour of China's many highlights than this Deluxe Yangtse and Beyond 18 day journey. Beginning in the capital city Beijing, where you spend three days, you travel to Xian to see the famous Terracotta Warriors, to Guilin where you take a trip up the stunning Li River to Yangshou and to the Yangtse River where you embark on a cruise through the stunning Three Gorges. This wonderful tour ends in the buzzing city of Shanghai where you spend another three action packed days.
On arrrival you will be met at the airport by one of our tour representatives and driven to your hotel in the city. Relax after the flight then go out and explore on your own. Tonight you and the rest of your group will be met at the hotel by your tour leader for a special welcome dinner and a briefing about all the exciting things that you will be seeing and doing over the next 18 days.
This morning begin your exploration of this impressive capital city. Beijing, which means Northern Capital, is one of the great cities of the world. From 1,000 years of dramatic history to a dynamic modern metropolis, it offers a magnificent insight into China’s past and future. Walk through Tiananmen Square and through the beautiful Gate of Heavenly Peace and under the portrait of Chairman Mao to enter the splendid Forbidden City, the ancient city that was the sacred heart of the empire for more than 500 years and home to the Ming and Qing dynasty imperial courts. Then head into one of Beijing’s traditional lanes and have lunch at a family home before hopping on a rickshaw for a ride. Later take a short stroll to the famous Drum Tower to see a display.
Today travel to Mutianyu, 56 miles north-east of Beijing, to visit China’s most famous attraction – the Great Wall, which was built more than 2,000 years ago and extends 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. It is estimated that a million people were used at different stages during the construction periods and that thousands died building it. Ironically the wall never achieved its aim – to prevent invaders from the north. 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 completely balanced by wooden pillars. The temple is in a vast park and in the early mornings the area is alive with tai chi enthusiasts, elderly men practicing Chinese calligraphy, dancers and performers reciting Beijing opera. Next visit the magnificent Summer Palace which is filled with temples, pavilions, gardens and decorated corridors. Here you can take a cruise on Kunming Lake. After exploring the Summer Palace you will be transferred to the railway station for your bullet train to Xian. You will be met on arrival and transferred to your hotel.
This morning you will enjoy a tour of this culturally diverse and very exotic Chinese city. Xian is close to the banks of the Yellow River and has a history dating back to 1,000BC. The city served as the capital for China’s greatest emperor and was also the starting point for the world’s most famous trade route - the Silk Road. On today’s tour visit the Old City Walls before continuing on to the Big Wild Goose Pagoda. From this historic Buddhist site continue to the heart of Xian’s Muslim Quarter to visit the Great Mosque. This evening you have an opportunity to 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 the ancient arts of tai chi or calligraphy. Then a short drive east will take you to the truly remarkable Army of Terracotta Warriors - one of the most important archaeological discoveries 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 completely unique both in facial features and expression. After lunch you can visit a Terracotta Warrior Factory to learn more about the complex production process.
Today you are taken to the airport for your flight to Guilin, a city on the banks of the Li River and famous for its unique limestone hill landscape. Climb the stone steps to the top of Fubo Hill for 360 degree views over the rooftops and the surrounding mountains. This evening you can take a leisurely walking tour of the Central Square and lake area near the hotel which comes alive after dark.
Enjoy a wonderful day trip from Guilin to Longsheng to explore some of China’s beautiful rural countryside. Drive past some spectacular scenery of towering karst cliff landscapes and climb the winding road that snakes up the mountainside to an area that is home to various ethnic minority groups. Wander through the maze of little stone pathways and traditional wooden houses on stilts of the White Yao village, and take a short hike further up the mountain to admire some of China’s most spectacular rice terrace scenery. This area is known as the Dragon’s Backbone and features rows upon rows of rice terraces clinging precariously to the slopes of neighbouring mountain peaks and valleys.
This morning you go to the pier to board your boat for a wonderful journey along the Li River which takes you past tranquil farming and fishing scenes and picturesque villages. The main attraction, however, is the stunning limestone karsts that tower above the river creating a magical landscape. The unique and natural beauty of this region has for centuries been an inspiration to artists and poets alike. The small town of Yangshuo provides a contrast to the big Chinese cities you have just visited. Spend the afternoon walking the cobblestone streets, relax in a street side cafe, and enjoy the colourful atmosphere of this enchanting town. In the evening you can watch a performance of the brilliant light and sound show staged by villagers and fishermen on the river
Put on your cycling helmets today, pack your spirit of adventure and head out into Yangshuo’s beautiful countryside on bicycles. Explore local villages, rice paddies, lotus fields and fish farms on tracks and enjoy amazing images of rural life. The afternoon is free so you can visit the local markets or indulge in some shopping in the assortment of street side stalls. You may wish to brush up on your Chinese painting skills with a lesson, or if you are feeling energetic, climb Green Lotus Peak for some rewarding views across the town and surrounding karst landscapes.
You start today with a transfer to Guilin airport and a morning flight to Chongqing . On arrival you will be met and taken to the city and zoo for the chance to see Pandas and learn more about this busy port. This evening you will transfer to the river port to board your boat for your wonderful cruise through some of the Yangtze River's most spectacular landscapes. Your cruise to the famous Three Gorges departs Chongqing at around 9pm.
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 which 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 equally exciting 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 the Daning River. This area is not accessible to larger vessels, and features superb natural scenery. You will enter the third of the main gorges, Xiling Gorge, later in the day and this evening join the Captain's Banquet dinner. Tonight the cruise ship will pass through the massive five level ship lock and dock downstream of the mighty dam wall.
Early this morning visit the incredible site of the Three Gorges Dam Project. The scale of this project is enormous and at any given time up to 30,000 labourers were involved in its construction. Return to your cruise boat and continue sailing to Yichang, where you 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. It is a buzzing contemporary metropolis and on arrival you will taken to your hotel. Tonight you can head across the river to the business district of Pudong, and have magnificent views of Shanghai at night from the top of China’s tallest building – Shanghai World Financial Centre.
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 neo-classical 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. For lunch you can savour the famous local dumplings then pick up a souvenir in the bustling market area. Continue to the Shanghai Museum to learn all about the city's history then wander the surrounds of neighbouring People's Square - once the site of the Shanghai Racecourse but now a popular place to people-watch.
Head out to the suburbs of Shanghai to the charming old world atmosphere of nearby Zhujiajiao, a traditional water canal town. Here, you 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. Zhujiajiao's network of waterways, old wooden waterside houses, arch stone bridges and narrow lanes are the perfect setting for your peaceful canal cruise and stroll. Back in Shanghai, you visit the Jade Buddha Temple exploring the various halls and corridors then visit a silk factory. This evening you are off to the theatre to see the world famous Chinese acrobats in a mind-bending performance of skill and agility.
This morning learn more about the ancient Chinese practice of Feng Shui from a local expert then visit the lesser known Propoganda Poster Art Centre. Afterwards you veer off the typical tourist trail again and explore more of real Shanghai by taking a walking tour through the backstreets of the Chinese Old Quarter. Stroll through the colourful bric-a-brac market of Dongtai Lu where the stalls are lined with Mao memorabilia, lacquerware boxes, old lanterns, and bronzed antique replicas then finish your walk in the modern entertainment complex of Xintiandi. You have some free time in the afternoon to catch up on shopping before joining the rest of your group for a farewell dinner.
Today your fascinating 18 day tour through China comes to an end. Say farewell to your new found friends and spend some more time seeing the sights or shopping in Shanghai before you are picked up at your hotel and driven to the airport to catch an onward flight or begin your journey home. This Deluxe Yangtse and Beyond tour is a marvellous way to see all the highlights of this amazing country.
Deluxe fr £5036pp
Rates based on twinshare
International flights not included unless otherwise stated