Begin in Beijing and visit the Forbidden City, the wondrous Great Wall and the hutongs. In Xi’an, marvel at the Terra Cotta Warriors and enjoy special access to the Archaeological Research Institute. Experience an exclusive, behind-the-scenes day of volunteer work at the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding. Engage with local families in a relocation village along the Yangtze River. Cruise the Yangtze and savor the natural beauty of China’s gorges, then explore the Shanghai metropolis. You’ll have no doubt that this sleeping giant has awakened.
DAY 1 | Oct. 13. Depart your gateway city for Beijing, China
DAY 2 | Oct. 14. Beijing
Upon arrival, transfer airplanes and check in to the Hilton Beijing. Join your fellow travelers for a Welcome Reception.
DAY 3 | Oct. 15. Beijing
Excursion: Beijing. Explore Tiananmen Square, one of the world’s largest public spaces and the site of numerous momentous events in China’s history. Step inside the Imperial Palaces of the Ming and Qing dynasties, also known as the Forbidden City, a palace complex known for its architectural and artistic treasures. Experience the culture of the hutongs, Beijing’s labyrinthine streets lined with traditional courtyard residences, and meet a local family in their home.
Local Flavor: The painstaking preparation of Peking Duck once meant it was served only to the royal court. Savor this traditional dish during a meal at a Beijing restaurant. (B, D)
DAY 4 | Oct. 16. Beijing / Great Wall
Excursion: The Great Wall. Journey to Badaling to walk along the ramparts of the Great Wall, begun in the seventh century B.C. and completed over the course of 20 dynasties. Encounter the breathtaking view of the wall snaking along the surrounding hills.
Local Flavor: Enjoy a multicourse lunch at a restaurant near the Great Wall.
Excursion: Summer Palace. Explore the ornate imperial complex that was a favorite of Qing Dynasty Empress Dowager Cixi. Located on the banks of Kunming Lake, this royal retreat is renowned for its classical Chinese garden and collection of elaborate halls.
Optional Excursion: Acrobatics Show. Witness an engaging performance of Chinese dance, acrobatics and martial arts. (B, L)
DAY 5 | Oct. 17. Beijing / Xi’an
Excursion: Temple of Heaven. Step inside the 15th-century temple, used by emperors to pray for bountiful harvests, and stand on the Imperial Vault’s raised center stone, which was designed to channel the emperor’s voice directly to heaven. This afternoon, fly to Xi’an and check in to the Shangri-La Hotel. (B)
DAY 6 | Oct. 18. Xi’an
Excursion: Terra Cotta Warriors. Marvel at the 8,000 life-size soldier replicas — each with its own hairstyle and facial expression — that have stood guard for more than 2,000 years over the tomb of Qín Shi Huáng, the founding father of the Chinese empire. Spend the rest of the day at leisure.
Optional excursion: Tang Dynasty Dinner Show. Xi’an, cosmopolitan capital of the Tang Dynasty (618-907), was an important city on the Silk Road. Positioned on the crossroads of commerce and culture, Xi’an’s affluence and influence grew. The arts flourished as rulers embraced the many cultures introduced to the city. This excursion highlights the culture of this Chinese Golden Age. Try regional cuisine and enjoy the culture of this period in Chinese history. (B)
DAY 7 | Oct. 19. Xi’an / Chengdu
Excursion: Archeological Research Institute. Enjoy special access to the research institute that studies, excavates and preserves the ancient artifacts of China, and view acquisitions not on public display. This afternoon, fly to Chengdu and check in to The Ritz-Carlton. (B)
DAY 8 | Oct. 20. Chengdu
Excursion: Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding. Volunteer for a day at this nonprofit facility that focuses on research and conservation of China’s most iconic animal. Enjoy an exclusive, behind-the- scenes experience that includes feeding and baby-sitting the pandas. (B, L)
DAY 9 | Oct. 21. Dazu County / Chongquing
Excursion: Dazu Rock Carvings. Venture to Dazu County to see the colorful cliff carvings and rock statues begun during the ninth century Tang Dynasty and finished during the 13th century Song Dynasty. In the afternoon, continue to Chongquing and embark the Century Paragon. (B, L, D)
DAY 10 | Oct. 22. Yangtze Cruise / Shibao Pagoda
Excursion: Shibao Pagoda Relocation Village. When the Three Gorges Dam was built in the 1990s, displacing more than a million people whose homes would be submerged by the Yangtze River, the Chinese government also built relocation villages. Stop to visit one of the new communities and learn how the families are adapting. This evening, attend a Captain’s Welcome Dinner and a Welcome Show performed by the crew. (B, L, D)
DAY 11 | Oct. 23. Yangtze Cruise
Cruise through the Qutang and Wu gorges.
Excursion: Shennong Lesser Gorges. Board small boats to explore the soaring cliffs, thundering waterfalls and verdant bamboo groves of the Shennong Xi tributary. This evening, enjoy a Talent Show by the crew aboard the ship. (B, L, D)
DAY 12 | Oct. 24. Three Gorges Dam / Shanghai
Sail through the east section of the Xiling Gorge, the final of the Three Gorges.
Excursion: Three Gorges Dam. Visit this controversial dam, which is more than five times the size of the Hoover Dam. This afternoon, disembark in Yichang, fly to Shanghai and check in to the Fairmont Peace Hotel. (B, L)
DAY 13 | Oct. 25. Shanghai
Excursion: Shanghai. See the highlights of the city. Walk along the Bund, Shanghai’s iconic waterfront boulevard, and admire the striking Renaissance, baroque and art deco architecture. Stroll through the lush jasmine thickets of Yu Garden in the Old City.
DAY 14 | Oct. 26. Shanghai
Independent Exploration: The day is at leisure to explore Shanghai on your own. Your Travel Director can provide sightseeing, shopping and restaurant suggestions. This evening, gather with your fellow travelers for a Farewell Reception.
DAY 15 | Oct. 27
After breakfast, transfer airplanes to the airport for the return flight to your gateway city.