You will be greeted at the airport before your overnight flight direct to Shanghai.
Transfer to our hotel, the four-star superior Central Hotel for one night with breakfast. This evening we enjoy a fascinating stroll along the colonial ‘Bund’, Shanghai’s riverside promenade. Tonight we enjoy a pleasant and informal welcome dinner, where you’ll have the opportunity to get to know your tour manager and other like-minded travellers exploring the world on their own.
This morning you experience a thrilling ride on China’s new 186mph high speed train service to Beijing. On arrival we transfer to our hotel, the four-star Mercure Downtown for three nights with breakfast.
Our first stop is at Tiananmen Square and the Gate of Heavenly Peace, the entrance to the Forbidden City, where Chairman Mao announced the birth of the People’s Republic in 1949. Through the central arch you enter a different world: spread over 250 acres, with 9,999 rooms, this was the seat of imperial power for 600 years. After lunch we continue our tour with a visit to the great Summer Palace. This evening we have the option to attend a Kung Fu show, with dinner.
Today is one of the highlights of the tour as we head towards the Great Wall of China at Mutianyu. Although a popular spot, it’s much less visited by the masses. As we approach, your first sight of the Great Wall is as it snakes along the forested ridges above – a wild landscape, as untamed as when it was built. After lunch we visit the great Temple of Heaven in Beijing: the park surrounding is full of locals playing board games, dancing, exercising, playing music and singing – a glimpse of the real Beijing. This evening we enjoy the classic local dish: a Peking Duck banquet.
This morning we fly to Xian. On the way from Xian airport we visit the remarkable Hang Yang Ling tomb and Underground Museum which displays some of the 40,000 funeral objects and statues unearthed around the tomb of the first Han Emperor. We then see the city’s imposing Ming Dynasty walls, 40ft high and stretching for nine miles. Prior to Beijing, Xian was the centre of Chinese imperial power for over 2,000 years, as well as the start of the famed Silk Route to the West. We stay two nights with breakfast at the four-star Tianyu Gloria Grand Hotel.
Another highlight is today’s visit to the stunning Terracotta Army. The first Qin Emperor united China’s warring factions and began the construction of the Great Wall. Guarding the tomb itself is his Terracotta Army. Drawn up in traditional battle order, the vanguard consists of rows of archers and crossbowmen, followed by columns of infantry and chariots. Each figure is unique, life-size and lifelike – a unique experience! Lunch is included today.
Today we fly to Guilin. We see another of China’s great wonders: the Longshen Rice Terraces. Over hundreds of years the ethnic Yao tribes have cut thousands of rice terraces into the steep hills and over every fold of the landscape. Our hotel for two nights in Guilin is the four-star Bravo Hotel with breakfast. Dinner is included tonight.
We board our excursion boat for a cruise down the Li River. This has to be one of the most beautiful river journeys in the world: rising from flat rice paddies around the river are thousands of conical-shaped limestone peaks and pinnacles covered in verdant tropical forests. After lunch on board, you’ll have some free time in the picturesque riverside town of Yangshuo before returning to Guilin.
We fly to Chengdu for one night at the four-star superior Tianfu Sunshine Hotel with breakfast. This afternoon we walk through Jin Li Street, a recreation of a traditional shopping street, with plenty of local handicrafts and places to sit down and relax with some local green tea or coffee.
Spread over 200 acres the Chengdu Panda Breeding & Research Centre has been beautifully landscaped with bamboo-shaded pathways leading to the large panda enclosures. One of the most popular stops is at the baby panda enclosure where there will usually be 3-4 youngsters climbing over specially constructed bamboo frames. We experience one of China’s high-speed express trains for the 2hr journey to Chongqing where we board our river cruise ship and home for the next three nights, the five-star RV Century Sun.
After breakfast there is the option to visit Fengdu, the ‘Ghost’ City, or participate in some of the various activities on board. In the afternoon we visit the remarkable Shibaozhai Pagoda, rising twelve stories up a sheer cliff face, this delicate structure is the architectural jewel of the Yangtze.
Today we enter Qutang, the first Yangtze gorge, continuing through the Wu Gorge just before lunch. This afternoon we transfer to a smaller riverboat for a leisurely cruise on one of the Yangtze’s Lesser Three Gorges, the narrow Shennv or ‘Goddess’ Stream. Tonight it’s the Captain’s Farewell Banquet followed by dancing in the lounge.
We continue our cruise downstream through the Xiling Gorge towards the Three Gorges Dam, visiting the viewing platform from where the colossal size of the project can be appreciated. We disembark at Yichang, have lunch and fly to Shanghai in the afternoon. Our hotel for two nights is the four-star superior Central, right on Jiujiang Road, a 10-minute stroll to the Bund and People’s Square.
This morning we have a short tour of the principal sights, including the Jade Buddha temple and the Yuyuan Gardens. We’ll pass the British Consulate, the oldest building on the Bund, plus the former headquarters of the famous trading house of Jardine Matheson. This evening you have the option to see the world-famous Shanghai Acrobatic show.
This morning we catch the world’s fastest train, the Maglev, on our way to Shanghai’s Pudong airport for our direct flight home, arriving later the same day.