12-day Yangtze Explorer


Beijing – Xi’an – Chongqing – Yangtze Cruise – Yichang – Shanghai

This affordable luxury tour features China’s top three must-see cities plus a first class cruise through the mighty Three Gorges on the Yangtze River. Trip highlights include the Great Wall at Mutianyu, Forbidden City, The Terracotta Army and the famous waterfront promenade known as the Bund.

Important Features

  • Small group size – maximum 20.
  • Expert guides handpicked and trained by company owners.
  • Tips for local guides and drivers included.
  • Promenade or Bridge deck cabin with exclusive amenities during Yangtze cruise.
  • No annoying forced shopping stops.
  • Quality meals at non-tourist restaurants.
  • Unlimited supply of bottled water during group activities.
  • Complimentary Wi-Fi in all hotels.
  • Great Wall visit at Mutianyu including cable car rides.

Meal Code: B = breakfast / L = lunch / D = dinner

Scroll down for Dates, Prices and Hotel List.

Day 1/Thu: Departing for Beijing

Your China tour with air departs from a city of your choice. You’ll lose a day upon crossing the International Date Line.

Day 2/Fri: Arrival in Beijing

Meet the driver on arrival for transfer to the hotel. You’ll have the balance of the day at leisure. The guide will get in touch with you tonight.

Day 3/Sat: Beijing (B/L/D)

Capital of China, Beijing is a world-class cultural and educational centre with a population of 21.7 million (early 2017), ranking it China’s second biggest city behind Shanghai. Beijing is renowned for its opulent palaces, temples, and huge stone walls and gates – treasures that make it the most popular tourist city in China by the number of visitors it receives every year.

yangtze cruise china tourWe begin today with a visit to the Forbidden City. Officially known as the Palace Museum, the Forbidden City was the place where the emperors of Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1912) Dynasties lived and carried out their administration. Construction of the Forbidden City took 14 years (1406-1420) to complete. The complex consists of 980 buildings and covers 72 hectares or 180 acres. The Qing Dynasty was overthrown in 1912 but the royal family was allowed to continue to live in the Forbidden City till 1924, when the last emperor, Pu Yi, was driven out of the imperial palace. Declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1987, this is the largest collection of preserved ancient wooden structures in the world.

Next up is Tian’anmen Square. Located in the heart of Beijing, the square measures 880 metres from north to south and 500 meters from east to west. Said to be the largest public plaza in the world, Tian’anmen Square has the capacity to hold one million people. The imposing Tian’anmen Tower sits at the north end of the square while the Monument to the People’s Heroes dominates the centre. The square is flanked by The Great Hall of the People (west) and the National Museum (east). Chairman Mao’s Mausoleum and Qianmen (Front Gate) are located in the south of the square. One of the top 16 tourist attractions in Beijing, Tian’anmen Square is also the witness of the Chinese people’s great struggles for democracy and personal freedom since 1919.

yangtze river cruise china tours

Afternoon sightseeing at the Temple of Heaven, another UNESCO World Heritage Site. Situated in southeastern Beijing the Temple of Heaven is China’s largest extant sacrificial temple where, during the Ming and Qing Dynasties, the emperors conducted the elaborate and most exalted sacrifices addressed to “the Supreme Ruler of the Universe.” Construction of the temple started in 1406, during the reign of the Ming Emperor Yongle, and took 14 years to complete. The temple was expanded under the Qing emperors Qianlong (1736-1796) and Jiaqing (1796-1820). Occupying 2.73 square kilometres (roughly 1,700 by 1,600 metres), the area of the Temple of Heaven is more than twice that of the Forbidden City.

The famous Hongqiao Pearl Market, the largest pearl market in the world, is right across the street from the Temple of Heaven. Recommended by numerous guidebooks for freshwater pearls, Hongqiao teems with domestic and international shoppers. If you are interested, please ask the guide to drop you off there. However, you’ll need to get back to the hotel by taxi, which costs about 50 yuan or US$8.

Today we enjoy a delicious dinner at a popular Peking Roast Duck restaurant. Peking Roast Duck is a famous Beijing dish prized for the thin and crispy skin with authentic versions serving mostly the skin and little meat, sliced in front of the diners. The meat is wrapped in a thin layer of pancake (Chinese tortilla) together with shredded scallion, cucumber, and a sweet and salty sauce made of wheat flour. Condiments may also include pickled garlic and white sugar.

Day 4/Sun: Beijing (B/L)

After an early breakfast we embark on a full-day excursion to the legendary Great Wall at Mutianyu, 75km northeast of the city.

yangtze river cruise china toursZigzagging over 6,000 kilometres from east to west along undulating mountains, the Great Wall was built to hold off tribal invaders from the north. As history shows, the Wall failed the Chinese rulers miserably, especially in the case of Kublai Khan whose cavalrymen swept across China from the Mongolian steppe, thus the beginning of the Yuan Dynasty (1279-1368).

Construction of the earliest sections of the Wall started in the 7th century B.C. A major renovation started with the founding of the Ming Dynasty in 1368 and took 200 years to complete. The wall we see today in Beijing is almost exactly the result of this effort.

Day 5/Mon: Beijing – Xian (B/L/D)

We begin our sightseeing today with a visit to a traditional hutong neighbourhood. Hutong refers to an ancient alleyway with siheyuan or ”4-sided courtyard house” on both sides. The name hutong dates back to the Yuan Dynasty (1279 – 1368 A.D.). According to some experts, the word originated from the Mongolian language, in which it is pronounced as hottog and means “well.” In ancient times, people tended to gather and live around wells. So the original meaning of hutong should be “a place where people live around”.yangtze river cruise china tours

Next on our schedule is the Summer Palace, a well preserved UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site. The imperial resort was first named Garden of Clear Ripples, which was burnt down by the allied forces of Great Britain and France in 1860 at the end of the Second Opium War (referred to as Arrow War by the British). Reconstruction started 25 years later and was completed in 1895 when the name was changed to Yi He Yuan (Garden of Good Health and Harmony). The design gives prominence to Longevity Hill, and Kunming Lake south of the hill. The sprawling complex covers an area of 290 hectares and the buildings inside consist of over 3,000 bays.

We travel to Xian by the high-speed train (#G87, 14:00/18:23). The 4-hour-23-minute rail journey through fertile farmland dotted with villages provides the visitor an excellent way to enjoy the beautiful countryside. The track we travel on between Beijing and Zhengzhou is part of the new 2,298km high-speed railway linking Beijing and subtropical Guangzhou and is also the longest high-speed rail line in the world. In the past 20 years China has been on a building spree expanding the country’s rail network and upgrading existing railways. Its new high-speed rail service rivals France’s TGV and Japan’s “shinkansen” in terms of safety, speed, comfort and punctuality.

Day 6/Tue: Xian (B/L)

With a history going back over 3,000 years, Xian served as China’s capital of several ruling dynasties including the Han (206 BC – 220 AD) and the Tang (618 – 907). It is home of the famous Terracotta Army and the eastern terminus of the ancient Silk Road – a network of trade routes connecting China proper with regions as far as the Mediterranean beginning in the Second Century BC.

Morning visit to the Terracotta Army. Built on the excavation site, the museum is located 30km east of the city. Designed to follow the first emperor of the Qin Dynasty (221-206 BC) into eternity, the Terracotta Army represents one of the greatest archeological discoveries of the 20th Century.

After lunch we return to the city for a stroll on the ancient city wall. Declared a national treasure by the State Council in 1961, the wall first built in 1370 encircles an area of 14 square kilometres. It runs 13.7 kilometres long and measures 12 metres in height with a thickness at the base between 15 to 18 metres.

Day 7/Wed: Xian – Chongqing (B/L)

Morning sightseeing begins at Shaanxi Provincial Museum. The modern, well-organized museum was completed in 1992 and traces the history of Xian from prehistory to Qing dynasty (1644-1912). The extensive galleries and exhibitions offer the visitor an excellent introduction to the area that greatly improves understanding of the numerous historical sites in and around the city.luxury china tours 2019

We then visit the grand mosque in the old town centre and the adjacent Muslim bazaar. The mosque was established in the 8th Century but the majority of the complex was constructed in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). It was further expanded in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1912). Unlike most mosques in Middle Eastern or Arab countries, this mosque is completely Chinese in architectural style. It has neither domes nor traditional minarets.

This afternoon we ride the bullet train G1709(14:22/19:39) to Chongqing where we board the Yangtze cruise ship.

Day 8/Thur: Yangtze Cruise (B/L/D)

At 6,380km the Yangtze is the longest river in China and the third longest in the world after the Nile and the Amazon. The most impressive section of the Yangtze is the Three Gorges stretching 119km.

On today’s shore excursion we visit Precious Stone Fortress (shi bao zhai) built atop a hill overlooking the Yangtze. It was so named because the location was once used as a stronghold by a group of uprising peasants in mid-17th century. About one hundred years later a Buddhist temple was built on the hill. Several more decades passed before a staircase covered by a 9-storey wooden pagoda was added. In 1956, 10 years before the catastrophic Cultural Revolution started, the pagoda was expanded to the current 12 stories.yangtze river cruise china tours

Day 9/Fri: Yangtze Cruise (B/L/D)

Admire nature’s grandeur while sailing through spectacular Wu Gorge (45km) and Qutang Gorge (8km). Later this morning we hop on a small vessel to explore Goddess Stream. A tributary of the Yangtze, the emerald coloured stream traverses through narrow gorges walled by soaring cliffs.

Day 10/Sat: Yichang – Shanghai (B/L)

Morning visit to the Three Gorges Dam site. This is the largest hydroelectric dam in the world with a reservoir stretching hundreds of kilometres upstream.

We disembark the ship at noon and travel to Shanghai by high-speed train (6h 21m). Due to time constraint, we will not be able to have a proper lunch; instead, a lunch box would be provided for you to carry onto the train.

Day 11/Sun: Shanghai (B/L/D)

yangtze river cruise china tours

With a population of 24 million (2015), Shanghai is China’s biggest city, which delights the visitor with its futuristic skyline and historical landmarks. Rapid economic growth in the past 30 years has again turned Shanghai into a leading global city with significant influence in commerce, culture, finance, media, fashion, technology and transport.

We begin our day with a visit to Jade Buddha Temple located in an old neighbourhood. Later on we tour the famous waterfront promenade known as the Bund, and the Yu Garden in the old town centre. We wrap up the day with a drive through the glitzy financial district of Lujiazui on the opposite side of the Bund across Huangpu River.

Day 12/Mon: Returning Home (B)

Your tour ends this morning. Transfer to the airport any time for return flight. Guests flying back to North America will regain a day upon re-crossing the International Date Line, thus arriving home the same day as departing from Shanghai.

If you would like to extend your stay in Shanghai, we would be happy to make the arrangement. For additional sightseeing, we recommend Shanghai Museum and the Urban Planning Exhibition Center nearby. Shanghai Museum, a great place to explore on your own (audio guide available for a fee), is frequently cited by visitors as one of the best of its kind in China with a treasure trove collected from around the country.

Optional day trip to ancient Suzhou is also available upon request.

Contact us for printer-friendly PDF file

City Nights Hotel/Ship Category
Beijing 3 Sheraton Beijing Dongcheng luxury
Xian 2 Sheraton Xian Northcity luxury
Yangtze Cruise 3 Victoria Cruise luxury
Shanghai 2 Sheraton Shanghai Hongkou luxury
  • Price based on double occupancy. Payment by cheque or cash only.
  • Credit card not accepted except for deposit. See Terms & Conditions for details.
  • Scroll down for what tour prices includes and excludes.

Dates and Prices

Depart
(Thu)
Return
(Mon)
Land Only*
CA$/US$
Single Supplement
CA$/US$
   2019
Oct 17 Oct 28 $3499/$2630 $1260/$950
Oct 24 Nov 04 $3499/$2630 $1260/$950
Oct 31 Nov 11 $3499/$2630 $1260/$950
2020
Mar 19 Mar 30 $3499/$2630 $1260/$950
Mar 26 Apr 06 $3499/$2630 $1260/$950
Apr 09 Apr 20 $3499/$2630 $1260/$950
May 07 May 19 $3499/$2630 $1260/$950
May 14 May 25 $3499/$2630 $1260/$950
Jul 02 Jul 13 $3499/$2630 $1260/$950
Sep 03 Sep 14 $3499/$2630 $1260/$950
Sep 11 Sep 22 $3499/$2630 $1260/$950
Oct 08 Oct 19 $3499/$2630 $1260/$950
Oct 15 Oct 26 $3499/$2630 $1260/$950
Oct 22 Nov 02 $3499/$2630 $1260/$950
Oct 29 Nov 09 $3499/$2630 $1260/$950

* Land Only price excludes international airfare. Please contact us for a fare quote.

What the tour price includes:

  • Hotel accommodations.
  • Local transfers and inter-city transportation as specified.
  • Yangtze cruise fare with shore excursions.
  • 2nd class seat on high speed train wherever applicable.
  • Daily meals as specified.
  • Guided sightseeing and entrance fees per itinerary.
  • English-speaking guides throughout tour.
  • Tips for all local guides and drivers.
  • A full-time tour leader for groups with 10+ guests.
What the tour price excludes:

  • International airfare.
  • Passport and visa charges.
  • Tips for tour leader where applicable.  Our recommended amount is USD10  per day per guest.

Absolutely no hidden charge of any kind applies!

See Terms & Conditions for more information.