12-day Yangtze Explorer

Premium Yangtze Cruise plus the Great Wall, Forbidden City, Suzhou gardens & Shanghai Museum.

luxury China tour with Yangtze cruise

Beijing – Chongqing – Yangtze River Cruise – Wuhan – Suzhou – Shanghai

Rising in the Tanggula Mountains in west-central China, the Yangtze at 6,300km is the third longest river in the world behind the Nile and Amazon. During the 3-day downstream cruise aboard one of the best ships on the Yangtze, you’ll have three shore excursions that introduce you to historic sites as well as newly completed Three Gorges Dam.

Highlights of the Yangtze cruise tour also include the Forbidden City, the Great Wall at Mutianyu and traditional gardens on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Important Features

  • Group size limited to 20.
  • No forced shopping stops.
  • Gratuities for local guides and drivers included.
  • Promenade or Bridge Deck cabin with exclusive amenities during Yangtze cruise.
  • Free in-room Wi-Fi in all hotels and free Wi-Fi in executive lounge during cruise.
  • Quality meals at high-end, non-tourist restaurants.
  • Peking roast duck at a top rated restaurant.
  • Unlimited supply of bottled water.
  • Visits to side chambers in Forbidden City most tour companies leave out.
  • Great Wall visit including cable car.
  • Competitive airfares on direct flights to China from multiple cities for your most convenience.

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

Day 1/Thu: Departing Home City

The journey begins with your transpacific flight departing from a city of your choice. You’ll lose a day upon crossing the International Date Line.

Day 2/Fri: Arrival in Beijing

Welcome to Beijing! Meet your guide on arrival in late afternoon and transfer to the hotel. The balance of the day is at leisure.

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Yangtze cruise tour

Day 3/Sat: Beijing (B/L/D)

Capital of China, Beijing is a world-class cultural and educational centre with a population of 21 million (2013), ranking it China’s second largest 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.

Beijing was already a strategically important city in northern China for centuries when Kublai Khan decided to move his capital here from Karakorum in Mongolia. With the collapse of the vast Mongol empire in 1368 AD, Beijing, known as Da Du or Grand Capital at the time, lost its status as the country’s capital but soon regained it when the imperial court of the successive Ming Dynasty moved here from Nanjing. Beijing continued to serve as China’s capital after Manchu tribes dethroned the last emperor of the Ming Dynasty in 1644 and established the Great Qing Empire (Qing Dynasty), which lasted till 1911.

We begin today with a visit to Tiananmen (tian an men) Square. Located in the heart of Beijing, the square is 880 metres from north to south, and 500 meters from east to west. Said to be the biggest of its kind in the world, Tiananmen Square has the capacity to hold one million people. Tiananmen (Heavenly Gate) Tower sites 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 of China (east). Chairman Mao’s mausoleum and Qianmen (Front Gate) sit in the south of the square. Considered one of the top 16 tourist attractions in Beijing, Tiananmen Square is also the witness of the Chinese people’s great struggles for democracy and personal freedom since 1919.

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Yangtze cruise tour

After lunch we proceed to the Forbidden City. Also known as Palace Museum or Gu Gong in Chinese, the Forbidden City was the place where the emperors of Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) 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. It exemplifies traditional Chinese palatial architecture and has influenced cultural and architectural developments in East Asia and elsewhere. Declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1987, this is the largest collection of preserved ancient wooden structures in the world.

We conclude our sightseeing today with a visit to a 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”.

Today we enjoy a delicious dinner at high-end Beijing roast duck restaurant.

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Yangtze cruise tour

Day 4/Sun: Beijing (B/L)

Today we embark on a full-day excursion to the legendary Great Wall at Mutianyu, 75km northeast of the city. Zigzagging over 6,000 kilometres from east to west along the undulating mountains, the Great Wall was built to hold off tribal invaders from the north. 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 – Chongqing (B/L)

Morning sightseeing takes us to historic Jingshan Park for a panoramic view of the Forbidden City from above. The park to the north of the Forbidden City was part of the imperial palace in the old days, serving the royal families as a convenient site for farming, recreation and ancestor worshipping. The man-made hill (46 meters above ground, 89 meters above sea level) overlooks the Forbidden City and provides a great spot for bird’s-eye view of the surrounding area.

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 during 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 fly to Chongqing in late afternoon and transfer to Victoria Cruises’ Jenna (the newest among the U.S. cruise operator’s fleet of seven) on arrival.

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Yangtze cruise map

Day 6/Tue: 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 Shibaozhai or Shibao Pagoda – an impressive wooden pagoda built on a cliff overlooking the Yangtze.

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Yangtze cruise tour

Day 7/Wed: Yangtze Cruise (B/L/D)

Admire nature’s grandeur while sailing through spectacular Wu Gorge (45km) and Qutang Gorge (8km). Later this morning we navigate Small Gorges Goddess Stream (also called Shennv Stream) on a small vessel. A tributary of the Yangtze Reiver, this beautiful stream in many places is the color of jade and is overshadowed by mountains on either side.

Day 8/Thu: Yichang – Wuhan (B/L/D)

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

We disembark the ship around noon and travel to Wuhan by high-speed train (2 hours). Due to time constraint, we may not have time for a proper lunch; in that case a lunch box would be provided for you to carry onto the train.

Day 9/Fri: Wuhan – Shanghai (B/L/D)

Our first stop this morning is Hubei Provincial Museum, one of the best of its kind in China. If we are lucky, we may get to watch a live performance by musicians using a set of bronze chime bells replicated from originals made two and half millennia ago. The museum visit is followed by a stroll along scenic East Lake nearby.

We board the high-speed train G600 (15:01/19:13) for Shanghai after lunch.

Day 10/Sat: Shanghai (B/L)China tour package

Before 1949, Shanghai was widely known in the West as a city of quick riches and paradise of the adventurers. After four decades of anemic growth in a state planned economy, Shanghai is roaring back to recapture its position on the world stage. With a population of 23 million and rapid economic expansion in the last 20 years, Shanghai has again become a leading global city with significant influence in commerce, culture, finance, media, fashion, technology and transport.

Our full-day walking tour begins with a stroll through an old but vibrant neighbourhood near our hotel. We then proceed to the magnificent Shanghai Museum with a huge collection of national treasures collected from around the country.

After lunch, we walk to Yu Garden in the old town centre. The last stop of our schedule is the Bund, a waterfront promenade famous for its landmark neoclassical buildings of European style. The skyline of the glitzy buildings across the river in Pudong looks better in late afternoon and certainly works better for your camera!

Day 11/Sun: Shanghai – Suzhou – Shanghai (B/L/D)

Enjoy a full-day excursion to Suzhou today. We must leave the hotel no later than 7:00 AM so that we can return to Shanghai early and avoid being caught up in heavy traffic on the way back.

Eighty kilometers to the northwest of Shanghai, ancient Suzhou is most famous for its gardens, canals and silk industry. In late 13th Century a Venetian named Marco Polo visited Suzhou and he was very impressed by what he saw. He vividly described the prosperous silk making trade and dubbed Suzhou Venice of the East due to the small waterways crisscrossing the city. Our schedule today takes in historic Tiger Hill, Humble Administrator’s Garden and a short cruise on the Grand Canal. If time permits, we’ll stop by the silk spinning mill before returning to Shanghai.china tours to suzhou gardens and canals from toronto

Tiger Hill has been a popular tourist destination for hundreds, if not thousands, of years, as is evident from the poetry and calligraphy carved into the rocks on the hill. The hill is so named because it is said to look like a crouching tiger. Another legend states that a white tiger appeared on the hill to guard it following the burial of King Helu. The highlight here is the brick pagoda constructed between 959 and 961 AD as part of Yun Yan Buddhist temple. Because of its unintended tilt to one side (2.34 meters off towards northeast), the pagoda is also called by some China’s Leaning Tower of Pisa, except this one is 200 years older than the bell tower in Italy.

The traditional Humble Administrator’s Garden is a masterpiece listed by the UNESCO as a World Cultural Heritage Site with a style in sharp contrast with the Yu Garden of Shanghai.

Day 12/Mon: Shanghai – Home City (B)

Spend the morning packing and relaxing. Transfer to the airport to board return flight departing in the afternoon. Re-cross the International Date Line and arrive home the same day.

Contact us for printer-friendly PDF file

City Nights Hotel/Ship Category
Beijing 3 Sheraton Beijing Dongcheng luxury
Yangtze Cruise 3 Victoria Cruises Jenna luxury
Wuhan 1 Hyatt Regency Optics Valley luxury
Shanghai 3 Sheraton Shanghai Hongkou luxury

Dates and Prices

scroll down for what tour price includes and excludes

Land Only
Single Supplement
May-18 May-29 $2599/$1999 $1160/$890
May-25 Jun-05 $2599/$1999 $1160/$890
Sep-07 Sep-18 $2730/$2099 $1160/$890
Sep-14 Sep-25 $2730/$2099 $1160/$890
Sep-21 Oct-02 $2730/$2099 $1160/$890
Oct-05 Oct-16 $2925/$2250 $1160/$890
Oct-12 Oct-23 $2599/$1999 $1160/$890
Oct-19 Oct-30 $2925/$2250 $1160/$890
Oct-26 Nov-06 $2730/$2099 $1160/$890
Mar-29 Apr-09 $2795/$2150 $1160/$890
Apr-05 Apr-16 $2925/$2250 $1160/$890
Apr-12 Apr-23 $2925/$2250 $1160/$890
Apr-19 Apr-30 $2925/$2250 $1160/$890
Apr-26 May-07 $2925/$2250 $1160/$890
May-3 May-14 $2925/$2250 $1160/$890
May-10 May-21 $2795/$2150 $1160/$890
May-17 May-28 $2925/$2250 $1160/$890
May-24 Jun-04 $2795/$2150 $1160/$890

Contact us for more departure dates.

What the tour price includes:

  • Hotel accommodations.
  • Local economy class air and ground transportation.
  • 2nd class seat on high speed train wherever applicable.
  • Yangtze cruise fare with shore excursions.
  • Daily meals as specified.
  • Guided sightseeing and entrance fees per itinerary.
  • Airport transfers on arrival and exit if your dates correspond with tour schedule.
  • English-speaking guides throughout tour.
  • Tips for all local guides and drivers.
  • A full-time tour leader for group with 10+ guests – the tour leader may double as local guide wherever we see fit.
What the tour price excludes:

  • International airfare.
  • Passport and visa charges.
  • Tips for tour leader where applicable – tipping the tour leader is completely at the guest’s discretion and our recommended amount is $5 to $10 USD per day per guest.

When you deal with Laurus Travel, you don’t need to worry about hidden charges because there are none!

See Terms & Conditions for more.

Last update: 2017-Feb-17