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China Delight Tour - 18 Days

Destination: Beijing - Xian - Chengdu - Chongqing - Yangtze River Cruise - Yichang - Shanghai
Duration: no date
Tour Code:
Transportation: Vehicle & Flight & Train
Best Travel Time:All Year
Price From
US$4580/persons
 
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Combining historical sites with natural wonders, this premium tour is sure to delight. Tour highlights include the Great Wall in Beijing, the Terracotta Army Museum in Xian, the Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding in Chengdu, all in addition to a relaxing first class cruise down the mighty Yangtze River. Optional day trip to Leshan Giant Buddha or Dujiangyan - both are UNESCO World Heritage Sites - can be arranged on request.
Full price of this tour (per person in US$):
Price Price Instruction
US$4580/persons 4580USD/Person

Day 1: Beijing Arrival
Welcome to Beijing! Meet your guide on arrival in late afternoon and transfer to the hotel. The balance of the day is at leisure.

 

Day 2: Beijing
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.

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. (B/L/D)

 

Day 3: Beijing
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.

Afternoon sightseeing at the Temple of Heaven, a 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 of its kind in the world, sits right across from the Temple of Heaven. The market is recommended in various guidebooks as a good place to buy fresh water pearls, a market segment dominated by the Chinese. 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 $8. (B/L)

 

Day 4: Beijing
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. (B/L)

 

Day 5: Beijing - Xian
Free morning to relax or explore on your own. We check out the hotel at noon and travel to Xian by the high-speed train. The four-hour-forty-minute rail journey cuts through fertile farmland dotted with villages, providing the visitor an excellent way to enjoy the beautiful landscape. The track we travel on is part of the new 2,298 km high-speed railway connecting Beijing and Guangzhou, the longest high-speed rail line in the world. The Chinese for the past 20 years have been on a building spree expanding the country's rail network and upgrading existing railways. This new rail service rivals France's TGV and Japan's "shinkansen" in terms of speed, comfort, cleanliness and onboard facilities.

Please note that the train ride may be replaced by air flight during and within 3 days before and after these Chinese public holidays: Spring Festival (Feb 19), Qingming (Apr 5), Labour Day (May 1), Duanwu (Jun 20), Mid-Autumn (Sept 27),  National Day (Oct 1-7) and New Year's Day. (B/D)

 

Day 6: Xian
Eastern terminus of the fabled Silk Road and one of the ancient capitals of China, Xian is home to the world famous Terracotta Army.

Morning visit to the Terracotta Warriors and Horses Museum. 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. The wall, declared national treasure by the State Council in 1961 under the premiership of Zhou Enlai, was started in 1370 during the Ming Dynasty, encircling an area of 14 square kilometres. The wall runs 13.7 kilometres long and measures 12 metres in height and 15 to 18 metres in thickness at the base.

Enjoy a delicious buffet dinner in the hotel. (B/L/D)

 

Day 7: Xian
Morning sightseeing begins with Shaanxi Provincial Museum. The modern, well-organized museum was completed in 1992 and traces the history of Xian from prehistory to Qing dynasty (1644-1911). 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.

We then visit the ancient 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 (1644-1911). Unlike most mosques in Middle Eastern or Arab countries, this mosque is completely Chinese in its architectural style. It has neither domes nor traditional style minarets.

We spend the rest of the day learning Chinese calligraphy and water-colour painting with a local artist. This is guaranteed to be a session filled with fun and laughter. (B/L)

 

Day 8: Xian - Chengdu
Free morning to explore on your own. We recommend Bell Tower and the Big Wild Goose Pagoda. You can reach both by Subway Line 2, which has a stop right next door to our hotel. Bell Tower is 3 stops away (8 minutes). The pagoda is 7 stops away plus a short taxi ride at the other end which costs about 15 Yuan (less than $3).

Late afternoon flight to Chengdu, capital of populous Sichuan Province. The urban area of the municipality houses 14 million with half of that within the city's nine districts and the remainder in the surrounding regions. Chengdu is one of the most important economic, transportation, and communication centres in Western China and was recently named China's 4th most livable city by China Daily, the country's largest English newspaper by circulation. The fertile Chengdu Plain, on which Chengdu is located, is also known as the "Country of Heaven", a phrase also often translated as "The Land of Abundance". The discovery of the Jinsha site suggests the area of Chengdu had become the centre of the Bronze Age Sanxingdui culture around the time of the establishment of the state of Shu, prior to its annexation by Qin in 316 BC. The city was named "Chengdu" when it was founded more than 2000 years ago, and the name has remained the same till the present day. (B/L)

 

Day 9: Chengdu
Morning sightseeing at Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding. The giant panda, unrelated to lesser or red panda, is a bear native to south central China, living in mountainous regions. It is easily recognized by the large, distinctive black patches around its eyes, over the ears, and across its round body. Though it belongs to the order Carnivora, the panda's diet is over 99% bamboo. The giant panda has an insatiable appetite for bamboo. A typical animal eats half the day - a full 12 out of every 24 hours - and relieves itself dozens of times a day. Giant pandas are solitary creatures. They have a highly developed sense of smell that males use to avoid each other and to find females for mating in the spring. After a five-month pregnancy, females give birth to a cub or two, though they cannot care for both twins. The blind infants born white weigh only 5 ounces (142 grams) at birth and cannot crawl until they reach three months of age. The panda is a conservation reliant endangered species. Recent statistics show that 239 pandas living in captivity inside China and another 27 outside the country. Estimates of the wild population vary from 1,000 to as high as 3,000. Some reports also show that the number of pandas in the wild is on the rise.

We spend the most of the afternoon at Jinsha Museum built on the excavation site. A significant archeological discovery in modern China, construction workers chanced upon it in February 2001. The site flourished around 1000 BC and shares similarities in burial objects with the Sanxingdui site located 50 km from Chengdu. Ivory, jade artifacts, bronze objects, gold objects and carved stone objects were found at the site. Unlike the site at Sanxingdui, Jinsha did not have a city wall. Jinsha culture (1200¨C650 BC) is believed to be a final phase of Sanxingdui culture and represents a relocation of the political center in the ancient Shu Kingdom.

Later today we visit Wangjiang Park (wang jiang means river view) and the vibrant Kuanzhai (wide and narrow) Lane. (B/L)

 

Day 10: Chengdu
Today is a free day to explore on your own. Chengdu is abundant in culturally and historically important attractions and institutions worth your time. Sichuan Museum, Du Fu Thatched Cottage Museum (Du Fu was Tang Dynasty poet), Temple of Marquis Wu are just a few of them. A full day excursion to Leshan Giant Buddha or Dujiangyan - two UNESCO World Heritage Sites - is also an excellent option; please ask us for a price quote. For evening entertainment we recommend the traditional face mask changing performance. And don't forget to try out the tasting menu at one of the popular local restaurants featuring the best of Sichuan cuisine! (B)

 

Day 11: Chengdu - Chongqing
We depart for Chongqing aboard high speed train this morning arriving the river port city in 2 hours. Our city tour of Chongqing includes People's Square, the zoo, and Stilwell Museum built on the site of the former U.S. military headquarters in China during World War II. We board Victoria Cruises' Jenna (the newest among the U.S. cruise operator's fleet of seven) after a delicious dinner of Sichuan cuisine. (B/L/D)

 

Day 12: Yangtze Cruise
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 a relocation village built for locals affected by the construction of the Three Gorges Dam. Please note that at the cruise line's discretion the village visit may be substituted with Fengdu Ghost City. The Ghost City is a Buddhism and Taoism-themed tourist project rebuilt in the 1980s with extensive murals and sculptures depicting life in the Next World. (B/L/D)

 

Day 13: Yangtze Cruise
Admire nature's grandeur while sailing through spectacular Wu Gorge (45km) and Qutang Gorge (8km). Later this morning we navigate Shennong Stream on a small vessel. Originating in the southern slopes of Shennongjia Nature Reserve, the crystal clear river twists and turns 66 kilometres through forested mountains before emptying into the mighty Yangtze. Please note this excursion may be replaced with a similar one on Daning River, another Yangtze tributary. (B/L/D)

 

Day 14: Yichang - Shanghai
Morning visit to the Three Gorges Dam site. Construction of the dam started on December 14, 1994 with completion date set for 2009. Due to additional projects such as the underground power plant with six additional generators, the dam did not become fully operational until the end of 2011. The dam raised the water level the third time to 172.5 metres by the end of 2008. The Chinese government estimated the cost of the construction to be $27 billion while some Chinese scholars and international organizations estimated the actual cost could be as high as over $80 billion. The project upon completion will become the largest hydroelectric dam in the world with a reservoir stretching hundreds of kilometres upstream. We disembark in Yichang around noon and fly to Shanghai after lunch. (B/L)

 

Day 15: Shanghai
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 sightseeing today begins with a walk on the Bund, a waterfront promenade famous for its landmark neoclassical buildings of European style. We then visit Shanghai Museum, Jade Buddha Temple and Yu Garden in the old town centre. Evening entertainment is a dazzling acrobatic show. (B/L/D)

 

Day 16: Shanghai - Suzhou - Shanghai
Enjoy a full-day excursion to Suzhou today.

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.

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. (B/L/D)

 

Day 17: Shanghai
Today is a free day to explore on your own. Our recommendations include Jinmao Tower, the Maglev train, French Concession (extra-jurisdictional territory from 1849 to 1946) and the popular evening cruise on Huangpu River to enjoy the city's spectacular neon-lit skyline. The new bullet train system has made it possible to explore a number of popular destinations near Shanghai such as Hangzhou and Nanjing without overnight stay. For more information, please feel free to ask your tour leader or local guide. (B)

 

Day 18: Shanghai Departure
Spend the morning packing and relaxing. Transfer to the airport to board return flight departing in the afternoon. (B)

 

 

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