DAY 1, Thursday - Depart for China
Depart for China.
DAY 2, Friday - Arrive in Shanghai
Arrive in Shanghai, the thriving metropolis on China's eastern coast. This dynamic city is constantly changing and growing, with an unforgettable skyline. Remainder of the day is at leisure to rest, relax and acclimate to the time change.
DAY 3, Saturday - Shanghai City Tour
This morning, see some of the city's major highlights. Begin at the lively Bund, Shanghai's popular promenade; stroll along the park-like waterfront and experience the old world charm. After, on to the Jade Buddha Temple, one of the most active Buddhist temples in Shanghai, dating back to the Qing Dynasty. Return to the hotel late afternoon and enjoy the remainder of the day at leisure. Tonight, gather together at your hotel's restaurant for an orientation meeting with your Tour Manager about the exciting trip that awaits you, followed by a Welcome Dinner. (Breakfast, Dinner)
DAY 4, Sunday - Full Day in Shanghai
Today, is at leisure in Shanghai. Join the optional full day tour to Suzhou, including lunch and a cruise on the Grand Canal. Morning departure from Shanghai for the drive to Suzhou, known as the "Venice of the East". Upon arrival in this charming city, relax on a boat ride along the narrow waterways of the legendary Grand Canal. Later, walk along bustling Pingjiang Road, where the locals gather for entertainment and food and enjoy lunch at a local restaurant. Then, continue to the beautiful and fragrant Garden of the Master of the Nets, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Return to Shanghai later this evening. (Breakfast)
Optional: Full Day Suzhou with Lunch.
DAY 5, Monday - Fly to Yichang; Embark Cruise
Morning is at leisure for independent explorations in Shanghai. In the afternoon, visit the classical Yuyuan Garden in the Old Quarter, built during the Ming Dynasty, a quiet and serene sanctuary in this frenetic city, with its scenic pavilions, ponds, and streams. Afterward, continue to a silk carpet and embroidery shop in Shanghai to understand more about this ancient Chinese craft; see some of the beautiful creations, unusual styles and masterful techniques. Lunch is at a local restaurant. Later, transfer to the airport for the flight to Yichang, the second largest city in Hubei province after Wuhan, its capital. Upon arrival, continue to the port for embarkation on your cruise ship. This evening, you'll begin the scenic journey on the fabled Yangtze, the longest river in China and the third longest river in the world. You'll be warmly welcomed aboard by the friendly international staff. A memorable voyage awaits you. (Breakfast, Lunch)
DAY 6, Tuesday - Xiling Gorge
This afternoon, an optional tour to the Three Gorges Dam, the world's largest and most ambitious hydroelectric project ever undertaken by man, nearly six times the size of the Hoover Dam. In addition to producing electricity, the dam was constructed to increase the Yangtze River's shipping capacity and reduce the potential for floods. This project has forever changed the landscape surrounding the Yangtze River and has also forced the relocation of people who once lived along the river. Tour the massive site to see this impressive achievement of engineering. Following the visit, return to the ship as it cruises upstream and enters the dramatic Xiling Gorge, the longest and deepest section of the Three Gorges. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Optional: Yangtze River Shore Excursion Package - Three Gorges Dam.
DAY 7, Wednesday - Wu Gorge & Qutang Gorge
Awake this morning to beautiful vistas on the river. Sail through the Wu Gorge, famed for its magnificent Twelve Peaks. Today, your optional tour will take you either on a scenic journey up Shennong Stream, travelling in small boats between rolling hills and rocky cliffs or on a scenic journey up Shennv Stream, the journey is accompanied by local folk songs and dances. Continue through the Qutang Gorge, the smallest of the three gorges, flanked by lush terraced hillsides. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Optional: Yangtze River Shore Excursion Package - Shennv Stream or Shennong Stream
DAY 8, Thursday - Cruise to Shibaozhai
The ship arrives this morning at Shibaozhai, built during the Ming Dynasty. This pagoda is sometimes referred to as one of the eight construction wonders of the world, built into the side of a rocky cliff face and constructed without the use of nails. This vermilion 12-story pagoda stands impressively over 100 feet high. The optional tour highlights the main attraction of the temple, with its traditional Chinese design. The structure is inspired by the mountains with patterns and figures that vary from odd to extraordinary. Climb the stairs and experience the most spectacular sights of the valleys below. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Optional: Yangtze River Shore Excursion Package - Shibaozhai
DAY 9, Friday - Disembark Cruise; Fly to Xian
Disembark the Yangtze River cruise this morning in Chongqing, a major metropolis and one of the top emerging cities in China. Visit the Stilwell Museum, at his renovated former residence, dedicated to the General who was the Commander-in-Chief of Allied Forces in the China-Burma-India Theater. With the aid of General Stilwell, the Chinese people won the War of Resistance against the Japanese invaders. Transfer to the airport for the flight to Xian, ancient capital of eleven dynasties and an archaeological treasure trove. (Breakfast)
DAY 10, Saturday - The Terracotta Army
Morning visit to Xingqing Park, a hub of activity where you may have the chance to join the residents of Xian in their morning exercise, singing and dancing. Afterward, stop at a lacquer furniture shop to learn more about this technique. Lunch is a local restaurant. Then, an unforgettable experience! Visit the archaeological site of the magnificent Terracotta Warriors, a vast collection of life-size soldiers, horses and chariots that were entombed with China's first emperor, Qin Shi Huang. This world-famous site, discovered by local farmers in 1974, is still being discovered and excavated today, more than forty years since the time of its unearthing. This evening, an optional Tang Dynasty 6-course dinner followed by a historical dance performance by the Tang Dynasty Troupe. (Breakfast, Lunch)
Optional: Tang Dynasty Dinner with Entertainment.
DAY 11, Sunday - Flight to Beijing
Depart Xian on a flight to Beijing, sprawling capital of modern China. The afternoon is at leisure. Feel the pulse of this city of contrasts with its astonishing history and wondrous sights. Join the optional half-day Hutong Tour which begins with a rickshaw ride through the old narrow streets and alleyways. See the courtyard homes which once covered all of Beijing - only a few still survive today. Hear more about "old China" from a local family who will welcome you to their home. (Breakfast, Lunch)
Optional: Half Day Hutong Tour (PM).
DAY 12, Monday - Great Wall of China
An amazing day! Travel to the extraordinary 2000-year-old Great Wall of China, one of the most spectacular structures ever built by man, spanning nearly 4,000 miles of China's northern frontier. En route, stop at a local jade shop to admire wares crafted with one of China's most famous materials. Then it's time to climb the ramparts of this ancient wonder to view breathtaking mountain passes, plateaus, and grasslands from this 7th-century defensive fortification. Afterward, a relaxing lunch in a local restaurant. Drive via the site of the 2008 Olympics to see the National Stadium and the sprawling Olympic Village followed by a stop at the Beijing Zoo to see the famous Pandas - a must for all travelers to China. Tonight, enjoy dinner at a Beijing restaurant. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
DAY 13, Tuesday - Summer Palace and The Forbidden City
Start your day with a visit to a huge Tiananmen Square, the largest public plaza in the world built at the height of the Ming Dynasty. The square's Gate of Heavenly Peace was once used as a staging ground for imperial edicts and by Mao Zedong himself to declare the founding of the People's Republic in 1949. Next, enter the Forbidden City, which served as the Imperial Palace until 1912. The extraordinary and immense walled complex is truly a masterpiece of Chinese architecture; its complex consists of 800 buildings with more than 9,000 rooms. Then, continue to a local pearl shop to learn about the famous Chinese pearls. Have lunch at a local restaurant before continuing to visit the fabled Summer Palace, a resort of the Empress Dowager with its palace grounds, filled with a variety of picturesque gardens and architectural structures. Take a relaxing boat ride across the lake and enjoy the stunning scenery before strolling along the sprawling palace. Tonight enjoy a Farewell Dinner featuring China's famous Peking Duck. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
DAY 14, Wednesday - Flight to Hong Kong
Bid farewell to your Tour Manager as you depart Beijing on a flight to Hong Kong situated on China's south coast, known for its expansive skyline and deep natural harbor. Meet a local guide and transfer to your hotel in this extraordinary city. The rest of the day is at leisure to explore on your own - there are endless things to see and to do and to buy. This is also a great city for adventurous eaters - street vendors abound on every corner with a huge assortment of regional specialties ranging from fish balls to tofu. Of course, there are many upscale restaurants as well, dedicated to the finest gourmet cuisine. (Breakfast)
DAY 15, Thursday - Hong Kong City Tour
Begin the morning with a tour of Hong Kong Island. Ascend Victoria Peak for a panoramic view of the city and the harbor below. The Peak is the highest mountain on the island and home to a variety of birds and colorful butterflies. Continue to Stanley Market, a bargain hunter's paradise. Return along the coast of fashionable Repulse Bay and Deep Water Bay to Aberdeen Harbor, home to the floating fisherman's village. The remainder of the day is free to shop to your heart's content, or just "people-watch" from a local outdoor café. This evening, perhaps participate in the optional Hong Kong Harbour Cruise on a traditional Chinese sightseeing junk.* Marvel at the glittering panoramic views of the harbor. Afterward, enjoy a Cantonese dinner at a local Chinese restaurant. (Breakfast)
*If motorized sightseeing junk is not available, you will cruise on a modern double-decker sightseeing vessel.
Optional: Hong Kong Harbour Cruise & Dinner.
DAY 16, Friday - Full Day in Hong Kong
On your last day in Hong Kong at leisure, don't miss the optional full day tour to Lantau Island and the Po Lin Monastery. You'll discover pristine beaches, lush valleys, soaring mountains and spiritual enlightenment. Stop at the Tai O fishing village with its traditional houses on stilts before ascending to the Po Lin Monastery. This Buddhist monastery features the Giant Buddha, the tallest outdoor seated Buddha in the world. After a vegetarian lunch at a local restaurant, end the day with a spectacular ride aboard the Skyrail cable car (weather permitting) offering stunning views of the South China Sea. (Breakfast)
Optional: Full Day Lantau & Po Lin Monastery Tour with Lunch.
DAY 17, Saturday - Depart China
Your vacation ends today after breakfast. (Breakfast)