China Highlights

Beijing & Yangtze River Cruise

This itinerary is for a past tour program.
Check out our current tour & cruise packages in China.

Chinese girls

Join us for ten wonderful days in China, including the Great Wall plus other Beijing sites and a cruise on the magnificent Yangtze River. As a desired travel destination, China is hot, and our prices are even hotter, representing incredible value for money even by Friendly Planet standards. But don't think you have to compromise on quality just because you've found a true bargain for your China vacation. You'll enjoy 5-star hotel and cruise accommodations, 17 meals, plenty of included touring and inexpensive optionals to round out your itinerary. Don't wait another minute to call and reserve your place if a China vacation is in your future. At prices this amazing, our tours will sell out fast!


Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Depart USA. Depart just after midnight aboard your Air China wide-body non-stop flight to Beijing.

China Highlights map Day 2: Arrive in Beijing. Arrive early this morning in Beijing, China's historic and cultural capital. You'll be met by your guide and transferred to Tian'anmen Square for a brief overview and a complimentary group photo. Afterwards you will proceed to the Lama Temple. The Lama Temple (or Palace of Peace and Harmony Lama Temple) is located in the northeast section of Beijing and features five large halls and five courtyards. The Temple houses a treasury of Buddhist art, Tibetan-style murals and has served as both an Imperial Palace as well as a lamasery (a monastery for Tibetan Buddhist monks).

Giant panda, China You will then proceed to your hotel in the center of Beijing, within short distance of Tian'anmen Square and the Forbidden City. After an orientation briefing by your guide, the rest of the day is yours to explore Beijing on your own. Or, take advantage of an optional afternoon tour which begins with lunch. Afterwards, onto the Summer Palace, the quintessential Chinese garden, an UNESCO World Heritage site ranked among the most noted classical gardens of the world. Continue your tour to the Panda Zoo, dedicated to the preservation of this endangered (and adorable) species of bear ($35 per person). Beijing International Hotel

MV President #3 Day 3: Beijing & Yichang. Enjoy a free morning to explore Beijing on your own. Your hotel is centrally located in the heart of Beijing, close to major attractions, restaurants and shopping streets. After lunch, you will be transferred to the airport for your flight to Yichang (or to Wuhan followed by bus transfer to Yichang), where you will embark on your Yangtze River cruise on the MV President #3 Splendid China Cruiser. Settle into your spacious outside cabin and enjoy dinner and entertainment onboard. MV President #3 River Cruise. Breakfast, lunch & dinner provided.

Three Gorges Dam & Yangtze River Day 4: The Three Gorges Dam & Xiling Gorge. Before setting sail for the Xiling Gorge, the first of the three famous gorges you'll visit during your cruise, you first have an opportunity to learn about the project to build a huge dam on the Yangtze River and see how it has advanced toward its projected 2009 completion date. The Three Gorges Dam on the Yangtze River, one of the largest construction projects ever undertaken by mankind, has been a dream for generations. The Chinese Government finally gave its approval to launch the project in 1992, some seventy years after Sun Yat-sen first proposed the idea. Once completed, it will provide China with tremendous power generation and flood control. Return to your river cruiser and begin your sail through the Xiling Gorge, longest and historically the most turbulent of the Yangtze gorges. Before the passage was made safe in the 1950s, 'the whole surface of the water was a swirling mass of whirlpools sucking the froth they created into their centers.' Xiling comprises seven small gorges and two of the fiercest rapids in the stretch of the Yangtze between Chongqing and Yichang. Captain's welcome banquet tonight. Breakfast, lunch & dinner provided.

Yangtze River Day 5: Shennong Stream, Wu Gorge & Qutang Gorge. After breakfast, visit Shennong Stream, a tributary of the Yangtze River. With crystal clear water, this stream flows swiftly from north to south through deep gorges. A sampan tour takes you on an exciting, high speed adventure along this newly opened unspoiled river. Return to your river cruiser and continue sailing to Wu Gorge, the most beautiful section of the Yangtze River, flanked by high peaks that are often capped by fog or clouds. The steep slopes of the gorge are green with trees and bushes but navigators from times past knew that the lovely scenery hid dangers, including whirlpools, quicksand and rapidly varying currents. Continue sailing to Qutang Gorge, known for its sheer and spectacular precipices and uniquely beautiful natural formations from every direction. Two mountains, the Red Passage Mountain to the north and the White Salt Mountain to the south, form the Kui Gate, a giant passage through which the tumultuous Yangtze bursts in an exciting rush of rolling and roaring water. Crew's performance party tonight. Breakfast, lunch & dinner provided.

Day 6: Shibaozhai. Today you'll visit the Shibaozhai, a gem of Chinese architecture. A red wood pavilion 12-storey high was built against a protruding 220-meter rectangular rock with sheer cliffs on the north bank. Talent show & farewell dinner party tonight. Breakfast, lunch & dinner provided.

Young Kung-Fu performers Day 7: Chongqing & Beijing You arrive Chongqing this morning and disembark the cruise ship, then transfer to Chongqing Airport for the flight to Beijing. Arrival and transfer to your centrally located hotel in Beijing. The balance of day is at leisure. This evening, why not join your fellow travelers for an optional Shaolin Kung Fu performance and delicious Peking Duck Dinner. China's rich tradition of martial arts spans four thousands years, with many distinctive and beautiful styles, each with its own set of techniques and ideas. Some mimic movements from animals and others gather inspiration from various Chinese philosophies, myths and legends. Such show boasts of its music, Kung Fu demonstration, special stage effects and moving story. Peking Roast Duck is a worldly known delicacy in Beijing, with tasty roasted duck meat accompanied with Chinese flavor dishes—a special treat for your oriental excursion to China ($46). Beijing International Hotel. Breakfast provided.

Forbidden City, Beijing Day 8: Beijing Enjoy a day to explore Beijing on your own. Your hotel is centrally located in the heart of Beijing, close to major attractions, restaurants and shopping streets. You can also choose an optional full day tour to the Forbidden City, located in the exact center of the ancient city of Beijing, where it served as the imperial palace during the mid-Ming and Qing Dynasties. Known as the Palace Museum today, its extensive grounds cover 720,000 square meters, 800 buildings and more than 8,000 rooms. The Forbidden City is listed by UNESCO as the largest collection of preserved ancient wooden structures in the world and was declared a World Heritage site in 1987.

Visit to Gaobeidian school After lunch, continue your tour to Gaobeidian Village, a local suburban community where you will find talented craftsmen practicing the ancient art of furniture making as well as other Chinese arts and crafts. You will enjoy demonstrations by various artists and artisans, and you'll even have an opportunity to try your own hand at making an original piece while being tutored by masters. Later, visit a typical Chinese primary school or kindergarten to see for yourself how children are taught in China. The highlight of this very special tour is an opportunity to join a village family in preparing and sharing a traditional Chinese dinner, and get the chance to join their evening entertainment such as folk dancing or singing in the evening. Chinese silk carpet or pearl presentation & shopping en route. ($43 per person including the family dinner.) Breakfast provided.

Great Wall of China Day 9: Great Wall of China & Ming Tombs. Depart after breakfast on a full day included excursion to the only man-made structure visible from the moon, the Great Wall of China, which follows a ridge of barren hills stretching at least 3.750 miles (6,000 km). Construction of Great Wall, which spanned more than two thousands years, began between the 7th and 6th century BC and continued through the Ming Dynasty. The Wall was originally built of stone, wood, grass and earth, but during the Ming Dynasty, bricks were produced in kilns set up along the wall. The bricks were transported by men carrying them on their backs or by donkeys, mules and even goats, which had bricks tied to their heads before being driven up a mountain. Enjoy an opportunity to mount the ramparts of this ancient wonder.

Chinese boys  Photo by Willem Proos
Chinese boys Photo by Willem Proos
Then you'll proceed to the Ming Tombs, burial site of 13 emperors of the Ming Dynasty. In over 200 years, between 1409 and 1644, tombs were built over an area of 40 square kilometers. Each tomb is located at the foot of a separate hill and is linked with the other tombs by a road called the Sacred Way. A massive stone archway, built in 1540 at the southern end of the Sacred Way, is decorated with designs of clouds, waves and divine animals. Jade manufacturing presentation & shopping en route to the Great Wall. Breakfast & lunch provided.

Temple of Heaven, Beijing Day 10: Beijing/Evening departure. Enjoy a day at leisure in Beijing to shop and explore on your own. Or join an optional tour to the Hutongs of Beijing—the ancient, labyrinthine alleys or lanes that are still an important feature in the urban landscape of Beijing, followed by the Temple of Heaven, the most holy of Beijing's Imperial temples, where Chinese Emperors came to worship heaven and to pray for a good harvest. You will also enjoy some free time for shopping at the famous Pearl Market before the included lunch ($55). In this afternoon, you'll be transferred to the airport to board your returning flight to the USA. Your exciting journey comes to an end as you arrive in the USA later today. Breakfast provided.


Destination FAQs

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