As you arrive in the capital city of Beijing, China's long-time seat of power, we’ll meet you and get you settled in at your opulent hotel.
After your welcome briefing, find you inner peace during a private tai chi lesson with a master instructor at the ancient Temple of Heaven. Try not to lose concentration in Beijing’s most beautiful example of classical Ming period architecture. After lunch, explore the imperial grandeur of the Forbidden City and take in the history of Tiananmen Square. Tonight, there’s a very special welcome dinner at your hotel.
At the perfectly preserved Mutianyu section of the Great Wall of China, you can climb the ramparts or enjoy a cable-car ride to take in the sweeping countryside vistas of a true Wonder of the World. Returning to Beijing, you’ll enjoy a pedicab journey through the city’s hutongs. These ancient alleyways wind their way through neighbourhoods dating back to China's dynastic period.
Fly to Xi’an, a city cloaked in over 3,000 years of history. Once the most eastern stop on the Great Silk Road, Xi’an became a melting pot of Middle Eastern and Asian influences. After lunch, you can visit the old city quarter with its teeming markets and beautiful Great Mosque. This 14th-century national heritage site delightfully blends classic Chinese temple architecture and central Asian embellishments.
Today, accompanied by an on-site archaeologist, you’ll visit the excavation site of the Terracotta Warriors. This 8,000-strong, life-size army, complete with horses and chariots, was created during the Qin Dynasty to protect China's first emperor in his afterlife. Lunch will include an exclusive Chef's Table demonstration of the art of dumpling making. At Xian's impressive ancient city wall you can cycle along the ramparts.
Fly to Chengdu, the charming capital of Sichuan Province. Immerse yourself in the area’s unique culture at the People's Park, where locals play traditional instruments, practice calligraphy and engage in tai chi. Observe a traditional tea demonstration and learn about ancient match-making techniques still in use today. Tonight there’s a local culinary treat for dinner: a genuine Sichuan hot-pot.
At the Chengdu Panda Breeding and Research Centre, you’ll see these adorable creatures roaming freely in their natural habitat. After a high-speed train ride through the Chinese countryside to Chongqing, your river cruiser, Yangzi Explorer awaits. For three nights you can enjoy a Yangtze River tour to Yichang. Float past the stunning Three Gorges region and enjoy the night’s entertainment in the ship's Tang Theatre.
Start your morning with traditional Chinese exercises to work up an appetite for breakfast. A shore excursion to Fengdu will give you insight into the lives affected by a thriving village that was relocated to make way for the Three Gorges Dam Project. After a chance to learn all about Chinese traditional medicine and reflexology, you’re invited to attend your Captain's Reception.
The Yangzi Explorer navigates the Qutang and Wu Gorges to anchor at Badong, where you’ll board a ferry and travel up the Shennong Stream. The scenic Bamboo Gorge can be experienced from a ‘pea-pod’ boat poled by a skilled Tujia boatman. This local minority is renowned for their boat-building skills, and the boat-trackers can lend incredible insights into life on the Yangtze. Tonight, there’s a ‘Taste of China’ dinner with on-board entertainment.
At the Three Gorges Project Dam Site and Exhibition Centre you’ll be astonished by the world's largest dam and its impact. Just imagine the resettlement of 1.2 million residents of the cities submerged behind the 600 foot engineering marvel. You’ll disembark in Yichang around midday, and fly to Shanghai this evening where you’ll stay in an elegant hotel on the city's historic Bund.
Explore dynamic Shanghai, where modern skylines meet classic street markets and gardens. You can contrast the city experience with that of charming, rural Zhujiajiao. This is a traditional water village harkening back to China's imperial past, where you can glide along the canal on a sampan. Tonight, a sundowner at the House of Roosevelt prepares you for a performance by the Shanghai Acrobatics Troupe.
Step out of your hotel and you are on the beautiful Bund, Shanghai's most popular promenade. Walk a little further to stroll the streets of Old Town and visit the 16th-century Yu Garden, landscaped with picturesque pavilions and streams. This afternoon, you’re invited to explore the studios and galleries of the M-50 Contemporary Art District.
After breakfast, transfer to the airport to depart for home, freshly stocked up with indelible memories of China and the Yangtze. Or, if you want to experience more of the endless Asian possibilities of Shanghai, maybe you could consider a Hong Kong post-tour extension.