Day 1 | March 31. Depart U.S. for Beijing, China
Day 2 | April 1. Arrive Beijing
We arrive in the Chinese capital and transfer to our hotel. After time to relax we meet our tour director for a walking tour of the area surrounding our hotel. Dinner is on our own.
Day 3 | April 2. Beijing
After the morning’s briefing with our tour director, we begin our discovery of this 2,000-year-old city at vast — and infamous — Tiananmen Square, and the Forbidden City, seat of imperial power during the Ming and Qing dynasties (1368-1911). In the evening, we enjoy a traditional Peking Duck dinner at a local restaurant.
Day 4 | April 3. Beijing / Great Wall
Our day begins with a rickshaw ride through Beijing’s ancient back roads and alleys (hutongs). Here we visit the home of a local family for a rare glimpse of the traditional communal life-style that is fast disappearing. Then we make a brief photo stop at Olympic Park, site of the 2008 Olympic Games. In the afternoon we encounter the Great Wall, the incredible collection of ancient defense installations (and UNESCO World Heritage site), that stretches more than 5,500 miles and where we visit the Mu Tian Yu section by cable car.
Day 5 | April 4. Beijing
In the morning we tour the splendid Temple of Heaven complex where China’s emperors once worshiped. Later in the afternoon we tour the Summer Palace, formerly the royal retreat with beautiful gardens and temples that is now a park attracting both visitors and locals.
Day 6 | April 5. Beijing / Xian
In the morning we fly to Xian, once among the world’s greatest cities that devolved into a provincial backwater until the accidental discovery of the Terra Cotta Warriors in 1974 — considered among the most significant archaeological finds of the 20th-century. This afternoon, we tour Xian’s impressive nine-mile city wall and moat. In the evening, we enjoy a special dinner of traditional Chinese dumplings.
Day 7 | April 6. Xian
Our day begins at Small Wild Goose Pagoda (c. 652 ce), among China’s most acclaimed Buddhist temples. After lunch we visit the museum housing the renowned Terra Cotta Warriors, the more than 7,000 life-sized soldiers created to guard China’s first emperor in the afterlife. We see these astounding pieces, each with an individually sculpted face, standing in military formation in three separate vaults. The entire complex is now a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Day 8 | April 7. Xian / Chongqing
In the morning we fly to Chongqing, where we visit the zoo housing the beloved pandas. Following dinner at a local restaurant, we board our Victoria Cruises ship and set sail this evening.
Day 9 | April 8. Yangtze Cruising – Fengdu
Prized for its haunting natural beauty, the Yangtze is one of the world’s busiest and longest (3,600 miles) rivers. In the morning, we visit one of its most popular towns, the “ghost city” of Fengdu. On board in the afternoon a river guide tells us about the Yangtze and the Three Gorges Dam then we enjoy a talk on Chinese medicine.
In the evening: Captain’s Welcome Dinner.
Day 10 | April 9. Yangtze Cruising – Qutang Gorge / Lesser Gorges / Wu Gorge / Xiling Gorge
After traversing Qutang, the shortest of the Three Gorges, mid-day we disembark in Wushan to board a small ferry for an excursion along the Daning River to the stunning Lesser Gorges. Lined with sheer cliffs and steep mountains, the Lesser Gorges recall scenes from ancient Chinese scroll paintings. Back on board our Yangtze ship late afternoon, we enter beautiful and tranquil Wu Gorge, then reach the scenic western section of 42-mile long Xiling Gorge, with swift rapids and churning whirlpools. Later tonight we enter the locks of the immense Three Gorges Dam.
Day 11 | April 10. Yangtze Cruising – Three Gorges Dam / Xiling Gorge / Shanghai
We tour the site of the immense Three Gorges Dam Project this morning then continue cruising through Xiling Gorge and Gezhouba Dam to Yichang. Here we disembark and fly to Shanghai, the “Paris of the East.”
Day 12 | April 11. Shanghai
Our day begins with a walking tour of the Xin Tian Di shopping and entertainment area of reconstituted traditional homes. We continue on to beloved 16th-century Yu Yuan Gardens, whose plantings, courtyards, and pavilions create the illusion of mountains, caverns, and lakes. After lunch together we tour the acclaimed Shanghai Museum of ancient Chinese art and artifacts. Tonight we dine on our own then attend an acrobatics show.
Day 13 | April 12. Shanghai
In the morning we visit the Bund, the mile-long riverside embankment where foreign investors – and their buildings – once held sway over Shanghai. The remainder of the day is at leisure. In the evening we toast our China adventure at a farewell dinner. (B,D)
Day 14 | Depart Shanghai