Best of China & Yangtze Cruise

from$3699Tour + Flights 17days
  • Flights
  • Cruise
  • Coach
  • Transfers
  • Hotel
  • Meals
  • Guides
price per person, double occupancy,* based on Oct 27, 2019 departure from LAX

Check prices & book now

$400 Early Bird Discount. Expires Jan 24, 2019.*   All prices reflect savings.

Overview

Featuring Beijing & 4nt Deluxe Yangtze River cruise, plus Xi’an, Hangzhou & Shanghai. Stay in 5 star hotels throughout; optional extensions: Hong Kong or Tibet
Style Small Group TourTravel with a small, intimate group of 15-24 likeminded travelers escorted by an English speaking guide and/or tour manager for some or all of your journey. More of these packages
24 travelers max, dedicated tour escorts & guides throughout
Departures Scheduled Dates: 5 open departures, April – November 2019
Price Includes
  • Round trip flights from Los Angeles via Air China including fuel surcharges and taxes and fees
  • All intra-China flights, transfers and ground transportation
  • Deluxe and superior first class hotels
  • 4 nights deluxe Yangtze River cruise with outside balcony cabins and FREE upgrade to Bridge deck aboard MS Victoria Anna. Executive cabin amenities including: use of Executive lounge with hot, cold & soft drinks and complimentary Wi-Fi; Happy Hour cocktails before dinner, house wine and beer at dinner, dining selection of two restaurants, and more
  • 34 lavish meals, including 15 buffet breakfasts, 13 lunches & 6 dinners. Special meals include Mongolian Hotpot lunch in Beijing, Dumpling lunch in Xi'an, Peking Duck dinner in Beijing, and Tang Dynasty dinner in Xi'an
  • Private shore excursions during Yangtze River cruise
  • Tips on board the cruise to all staff (excluding river guide and cruise director)
  • Professional English-speaking tour director and local guides
  • Advanced audio headset guided tour system
Optional
  • Optional excursion to Suzhou
  • Optional post-tour extensions to Hong Kong or Tibet
Highlights
  • See the Temple of Heaven, Forbidden City & Tiananmen Square
  • Climb the Great Wall of China
  • Learn to draw Chinese characters during a private calligraphy lesson
  • Examine Xi'an's 2,200 year old Terra Cotta Army
  • Experience the beauty of West Lake
  • Ascend the Oriental Pearl TV Tower in bustling Shanghai
  • Enjoy deluxe amenities on board an unforgettable Yangtze River cruise
  • Marvel at the engineering wonder of the Three Gorges Dam
Departs Los Angeles (LAX), New York Kennedy (JFK) (flight schedule)
Themes History & CultureGrand ToursRiver Cruises
What to Expect Small groups guaranteed not to exceed 24 passengers. This moderately-paced, escorted tour includes a reasonable amount of walking and requires an average level of physical fitness. The Yangtze cruise portion of the tour may have up to 268 cruise passengers.
As Seen in
Chicago TribuneTravel World News

Prepare for your trip Already booked? Find everything you need to know before you go, including information about passport & visa requirements, flights, luggage, and more.


Best of China & Yangtze Cruise itinerary

For travelers yearning to experience a culture truly different from their own, China is an experience of a lifetime! Throughout its 5,000 year old history, this expansive nation has been a leader in technology and scientific discovery--it's the birthplace of moveable type, astronomy and spaghetti! Today, it is the third-largest nation in the world in size, bordered by 14 other countries and encompassing virtually every type of terrain imaginable. From ancient temples, serene monks and the quiet villages that dot the countryside to majestic cities, neon cities, and tech advances—China has topped “must visit” lists for centuries.

On our Best of China & Yangtze River Cruise small group tour you’ll experience the very best China has to offer with no compromises on quality and content. New for 2019, start your bucket-list trip by flying non-stop into Beijing for more than three days of guided touring with your local, English speaking expert guide. Walk the greatest Great Wall in the world. Wander a labyrinth of Terra Cotta soldiers, sample flavorful noodles and steaming dim sum, and reflect on history at the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square.  We’ve also added a stay in picturesque Hangzhou, the tea capital of China and a city Venetian explorer Marco Polo once called “the city of heaven.”  Then, board your deluxe river cruise ship and watch the world go by from your balcony as you sail the Yangtze River, taking in the stunning panoramas including the Three Gorges Dam and Xiling Gorge. If you've wanted to experience the best of China, from its most dynamic, modern cities to its timeless villages and breathtaking natural wonders, this is one trip you won't want to miss.

 

Dates, Prices & Options

Departure Dates & Prices

Early Bird Discount: Save up to $400 per person if you book by Jan. 24, 2019!
Departures & Prices, with flights
per person, double occupancy*
2019 DEPARTURES
Depart / Return Package Price Early
Bird
Early Bird
Good Thru
Your
Price
Departs: Sun, Mar 10, 2019
Returns: Tue, Mar 26, 2019
Mar 10 – Mar 26 $4099 Closed
Departs: Sun, Apr 7, 2019
Returns: Tue, Apr 23, 2019
Book by Thu, Jan 24, 2019 (midnight ET) to get the current early bird discount!
Apr 7 – Apr 23 $4199 –$400 Jan 24 $3799 Select
Departs: Sun, Apr 28, 2019
Returns: Tue, May 14, 2019
Book by Thu, Jan 24, 2019 (midnight ET) to get the current early bird discount!
Apr 28 – May 14 $4199 –$400 Jan 24 $3799 Select
Departs: Sun, May 12, 2019
Returns: Tue, May 28, 2019
Book by Thu, Jan 24, 2019 (midnight ET) to get the current early bird discount!
May 12 – May 28 $4399 –$400 Jan 24 $3999 Select
Departs: Sun, Sep 1, 2019
Returns: Tue, Sep 17, 2019
Book by Thu, Jan 24, 2019 (midnight ET) to get the current early bird discount!
Sep 1 – Sep 17 $4299 –$400 Jan 24 $3899 Select
Departs: Sun, Sep 15, 2019
Returns: Tue, Oct 1, 2019
Sep 15 – Oct 1 $4299 Closed
Departs: Sun, Oct 6, 2019
Returns: Tue, Oct 22, 2019
Oct 6 – Oct 22 $4299 Closed
Departs: Sun, Oct 27, 2019
Returns: Tue, Nov 12, 2019
Book by Thu, Jan 24, 2019 (midnight ET) to get the current early bird discount!
Oct 27 – Nov 12 $4099 –$400 Jan 24 $3699 Select

If you want a few extra days to explore on your own, we may be able to arrange for you to stay later than the scheduled dates, including extra hotel nights and separate airport transfers, for an additional charge. Ask us about prices and availability when (or after) you reserve. More information Want to extend your trip?

Options & Fees

Best of China
Rooming selection1
Double occupancy included
Single room supplement
Mar 10, 2019;  Oct 27, 2019 +$1349
All other departures +$1449

1. Reservations for triples are possible for this tour. On the cruise portion, passengers will stay in 1 double and 1 single cabin. Please contact our reservations team for pricing and availability.

Hong Kong Extension
Hong Kong Extension1
Sep 15, 2019 +$949
Apr 7, 2019;  Sep 1, 2019;  Oct 27, 2019 +$999
Mar 10, 2019;  Oct 6, 2019 unavailable
All other departures +$899
Rooming selection
Double occupancy included
Single room supplement
Mar 10, 2019 +$449
Apr 7, 2019 +$499
Sep 15, 2019 +$549
Sep 1, 2019;  Oct 27, 2019 +$599
All other departures +$399
Optional Excursions
Full Day Macau Tour with Lunch +$140

1. The Hong Kong extension requires that your flights be confirmed separately by the airlines, which typically takes 3 to 5 business days after you book. We will notify you immediately upon confirmation. This extension also requires a minimum of 2 passengers to operate.

Tibet Extension
Tibet Extension1
Apr 7, 2019 +$1899
Sep 1, 2019 +$2099
Mar 10, 2019;  Apr 28, 2019;  May 12, 2019;  Sep 15, 2019;  Oct 27, 2019 unavailable
All other departures +$1799
Rooming selection
Double occupancy included
Single room supplement
Sep 1, 2019 +$549
All other departures +$449

1. The Tibet extension requires that your flights be confirmed separately by the airlines, which typically takes 3 to 5 business days after you book. We will notify you immediately upon confirmation. This extension also requires a minimum of 6 passengers to operate.

China Visa Fee1
China Visa Fee (paid separately) +$239

1. All visitors to China must obtain a visa. Comprehensive visa instructions will be included in confirmation packets to all passengers.

So that we can offer you the best deals, our packages are, like most hotels and cruises, priced based on double occupancy rooms or cabins. We charge solo travelers an extra fee to cover the extra costs of single occupancy rooms or cabins. (Consider: if you booked a $200/night hotel room solo, you would pay the $200 yourself; but if a couple booked the same room, each one would pay only $100.) But you only pay extra for the rooms or cabins, nothing else, including meals, sightseeing, tips, etc.

Want to find a roommate and avoid single occupancy fees? We can help! Learn more
Why are single rooms more?

Flights & Departure Cities

Departure Airports
Los Angeles (LAX)1 included
New York Kennedy (JFK) unavailable

1. For flights from LAX, upgrades may be available to Premium Economy starting from $300 and to Business Class starting from $2,600. For actual prices and availability from this or other cities, please make your request during the reservation process so that our air team can check the availability and provide you with the exact rate for your chosen travel date. Rates and space are subject to availability with the airline, an increased deposit may be required to confirm a seating upgrade.

This package offers round-trip flights from the cities listed above, subject to availability. Please review the flight schedule, especially if you're booking connecting flights.

Want to fly from another city? Unfortunately, we don't offer flights from other cities, but you can book your own connecting flights.

How to Make a Reservation

To make a reservation, simply select an available departure date and reserve online using our secure booking system. Or call one of our travel specialists at 800-555-5765. But first, check out our Things to Know section.

We only require a per-person deposit payment, which you can pay with your credit card or PayPal account. This deposit will be applied towards the cost of your package, and is generally non-refundable. The balance is due 75 days prior to departure (or within 72 hours, if you're booking less than 75 days prior to departure), and can be paid by credit card, PayPal, check or money order.

Deposit
Deposit $300

Itinerary

Please note that the touring sequence may be modified based on the schedules of intra-China flights and other factors beyond our control. Your kind understanding and cooperation is highly appreciated during such situations.

Day 1: Depart USA

  • Depart the USA on your flight bound for Beijing

Day 2: Beijing

Accommodations: 4 nights Regent Beijing.

  • Upon arrival in Beijing, meet your guide and transfer to your hotel

Day 3: Beijing

Included meals: Breakfast, lunch & dinner.

  • Visit the Temple of Heaven
  • Special tai chi lesson in the park
  • Explore the Summer Palace
  • Join your fellow travelers for a Peking Duck dinner and Legend of Kung Fu show

Temple of Heaven, BeijingFull Day Itinerary: After breakfast, being your sightseeing of Beijing with a visit to the Temple of Heaven, a World Heritage Site. In ancient China, the Emperor of China was regarded as the "Son of Heaven," who administered earthly matters on behalf of, and representing, heavenly authority. To be seen showing respect to the source of his authority, in the form of sacrifices to heaven, was extremely important. The temple was built for these ceremonies, and each winter solstice the Emperor and all his retinue would move through the city to encamp within the complex, wearing special robes and abstaining from eating meat while personally praying to heaven for good harvests. The symbolic layout and design of the Temple of Heaven had a profound influence on architecture and planning in the Far East over many centuries. Next, enjoy a special lecture, class, and demonstrations of Chinese shadow-boxing in the park by a professional, English-speaking, licensed tai chi master.

Summer PalaceAfter lunch, enjoy some time at the Summer Palace, the quintessential Chinese garden, a UNESCO World Heritage site ranked among the most noted classical gardens of the world.

Later tonight, enjoy Beijing's most famous (and delicious) culinary treat - Peking Duck. Then join your fellow travelers for the Legend of Kung Fu show, a special Shaolin Kung Fu stage performance that blends music, martial arts, and a moving story

Day 4: Beijing

Included meals: Breakfast & lunch.

  • Stop at a jade factory for a demonstration and shopping
  • Explore the Great Wall of China
  • See the Sacred Way of the Ming Tombs

Great Wall of ChinaFull Day Itinerary:Depart after breakfast on a full day included excursion to the Great Wall of China. En route, enjoy a visit to a jade factory with a special presentation and time for shopping.

The Great Wall follows a ridge of barren hills and stretches at least 13,000 miles. Construction of the wall, which spanned more than two thousand years, began between the 7th and 6th century B. C. 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 carried by men, 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.

Ming TombsConclude your visit at the Sacred Way, an ancient road linking the Ming Tombs, the burial site of 13 emperors of the Ming Dynasty. A massive stone archway built in 1540 at the southern end of the Sacred Way, is decorated with designs of clouds, waves, and diving animals

Day 5: Beijing

Included meals: Breakfast & lunch.

  • Morning tour of Beijing's Hutongs and a Mongolian style hotpot lunch
  • Participate in a group photo at Tiananmen Square
  • Marvel at the ancient wooden structures in the Forbidden City

Girl selling trinketsFull Day Itinerary:This morning, explore the narrow streets and alleyways of one of Beijing's Hutong neighborhoods on a rickshaw ride. Next, enjoy a special Mongolian style hotpot lunch at a local restaurant. The hotpot tradition was adopted into the local cuisine during the Mongolian conquest in the 13th century and represents a significant cultural appropriation. The guide will dine with the group and explain the elements of this unique meal.

Continue to Tiananmen Square for a complimentary group photo. The square was originally built in 1417 during the Ming Dynasty. At 440,000 square meters, Tiananmen Square is the largest open square in the world. It was here that the People's Republic of China was proclaimed by Mao Zedong on October 1, 1949.

Forbidden City, BeijingThen, visit the Forbidden City, located at 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.

Day 6: Beijing & Xi'an

Accommodations: 2 nights Sofitel Xi'an on Renmin Square. Included meals: Breakfast & lunch.

  • Morning flight to Xi'an
  • See the Small Wild Goose Pagoda
  • Enjoy a demonstration of Chinese ceramics and furniture
  • Visit the city wall gate and explore this city's fortifications

Small Wild Goose PagodaFull Day Itinerary:This morning, transfer to the airport for the flight to Xi'an. After a delicious dumpling lunch, visit the Small Wild Goose Pagoda, located inside the Jianfu Temple complex. This important landmark is one of the best preserved Tang Dynasty Buddhist temples. En route, there will be a demonstration of Chinese ceramics and ancient furniture as well as time to shop.

Later, visit the city wall gate of Xi'an. Explore these massive fortifications, which represent some of the oldest and best preserved city walls in all of China. Then transfer to your hotel for check-in and remainder of the evening at leisure

Day 7: Xi'an

Included meals: Breakfast, lunch & dinner.

  • Learn about Chinese culture during a lecture at the Tang Dynasty Art Museum
  • Try your hand at Chinese calligraphy
  • Visit the famous Terra Cotta Army archaeological site
  • Enjoy a Tang Dynasty dinner show

Terra Cotta ArmyFull Day Itinerary:This morning, participate in a special lecture on Chinese arts and culture at the Tang Dynasty Art Museum. An expert will introduce you to the art of calligraphy and painting and demonstrate how to write Chinese characters on special rice paper. Each participant will practice the Chinese calligraphy with a brush and paper, and take home their artwork as a special souvenir.

Then, board your touring coach and drive to the site of the famous Terra Cotta Army, among the most important archaeological discoveries of modern times. Except for its old City Wall, some 8mi/12km around, Xi'an looks like any other large industrial city. However, it holds an important archaeological treasure: The Qin Army Vault Museum, home to an army of 2,200-year-old terra cotta soldiers unearthed 25 miles east of town.Tang Dynasty Dinner Show MusiciansMore than 8,000 life-size ceramic soldiers, chariots and horses have been uncovered - only a fraction of the total buried there to protect the tomb of the first Qin emperor. Each soldier is based on an actual person of the time, and all segments of Chinese society are represented.

This evening, join your fellow travelers at a Tang Dynasty dinner show

Day 8: Xi'an & Hangzhou

Accommodations: 2 nights Sofitel Hangzhou Westlake. Included meals: Breakfast & lunch.

  • Morning flight to Hangzhou
  • Learn about traditional Chinese medicine
  • Explore Qinghefang Old Street

HangzhouFull Day Itinerary:After breakfast, transfer to the airport for your flight to Hangzhou, one of China’s seven ancient capitals, dating back to the start of the Qin Dynasty in 221 B.C. When Marco Polo passed through this breathtakingly beautiful city in the 13th century, he described it as “the city of heaven.”

This afternoon, visit the Huqingyu Tang Chinese Medicine Museum. The museum was originally a pharmacy, founded by Hu Xueyan and opened in 1878, it is still a working clinic and dispensary today.  Learn about the origin of Chinese medicine, its famous doctors and the development of traditional pharmaceutics. Watch the staff demonstrate the traditional pharmaceutical processes and even try your hand at it! 

Next, explore the bustling Qinghefang Old Street, the epitome of historic Hangzhou as well, as a shopper's paradise! This pedestrian street has been considered the most prosperous commercial street in Hangzhou since ancient times. Here, you'll see hundred-year old shops, folk artists, and small stalls. This is a great place to find hand-crafted stone teapots, the famous local Longjin (Dragon Well) green tea, black paper and sandalwood hand fans, and perhaps even a chance at spotting the shop owners creating some of their wares! Most of the buildings that remain from yesteryear, date to the Ming and Qing Dynasty and are sure to provide the perfect photo-op for lovers of architecture. Qinghefang Old Street isn't just for shoppers, it is also a great place to taste traditional Hangzhou cuisine and other Chinese treats. Continue to your hotel for check-in and the evening at leisure.

Day 9: Hangzhou

Included meals: Breakfast & lunch.

  • Experience the beauty of West Lake on a walking tour and boat ride
  • Learn about the art of green tea
  • Enjoy a guided tour of the former residence of Hu Xueyan

West Lake, HangzhouFull Day Itinerary:This morning, head out for a walking tour around the picturesque West Lake, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the symbol of Hangzhou. You will feel like you have stepped into a painting as you take in the sights of the tree-lined banks, pagodas perched atop rolling hills, boats lazily drifting across the lake, half-moon bridges, and more. Next, enjoy a leisurely boat ride on the lake and enjoy one of the most beautiful sights in China from a different perspective.

Next you'll discover why Hangzhou is considered the Tea Capital of China as you continue on to the green tea hills and visit a working tea plantation.  A local expert will give an introduction to Chinese green tea and demonstrate how they carefully pick the leaves and brew them

Later, enjoy a guided tour of the former residence of Hu Xueyan, a notable businessman and high-level official in the imperial court. Built in 1872 using a combination of traditional Chinese and Western architecture, the mansion is a wonderful example of a traditional Chinese garden-style house. Each room is decorated with antique furniture, giving you the feeling of stepping back in time as you walk through the house. As you move through the house, your guide will tell you about the interesting life of Hu Xueyan and about his intricate house made up of over 20 buildings, towers, bridges, and gardens.

Day 10: Hangzhou & Shanghai

Accommodations: 3 nights Renaissance Yu Garden Hotel Shanghai. Included meals: Breakfast & lunch.

  • Board the bullet train to Shanghai
  • Balance of the day at leisure

Shanghai skylineFull Day Itinerary:After breakfast, transfer to the train station and board your bullet train bound for Shanghai. Upon arrival, be transferred to your hotel for check-in. The balance of the day is yours to enjoy at leisure.

Day 11: Shanghai

Included meals: Breakfast & lunch.

  • Wander the Yu Garden & Zhongshan Park
  • View some of Shanghai's iconic sites
  • Visit the Shanghai Museum of ancient Chinese art
  • Enjoy an exciting acrobatic show

Yu GardenFull Day Itinerary:This morning, depart on a full day tour including some of Shanghai's most fascinating places. Start at the Yu Garden, a classical Chinese garden with over 30 pavilions linked by a maze of corridors and bridges over ponds located in the center of the Old Town.  Continue on to view the Oriental Pearl TV Tower. Next, proceed to the Bund, also called Zhongshan Road, a famous waterfront that has been regarded as the symbol of Shanghai for hundreds of years. 

Later, visit the Shanghai Museum of ancient Chinese art, which possesses a collection of 120,000 precious works. Its rich and high-quality collection of ancient Chinese bronze, ceramics, paintings, and calligraphy is known throughout the world. See Zhongshan Park, named in honor of Dr. Sun Yat-sen. The picturesque and peaceful public park is a relaxing retreat for many residents of Shanghai. It is the perfect place to see people practicing tai chi and the visit is a great opportunity to interact with the locals. You'll also visit the Xintiandi area, famous for its pedestrian shopping streets and trendy restaurants.

Tonight, enjoy an exciting acrobatic show.

Day 12: Shanghai

Included meals: Breakfast.

  • Full day at leisure in Shanghai, or optional excursion to Suzhou

Gardens in SuzhouOptional Excursion: Full day Suzhou tour with lunch, $95 pp (purchased locally)Travel by motor coach to Suzhou, China's well-known "city of gardens". On this full day excursion including lunch, you will visit the Master of Nets Garden, explore a local market, take a ride by rickshaw for a tour of water town, visit a silk factory and embark on a boat ride through Suzhou's lovely canals. Return by motor coach to Shanghai later this evening.

Day 13: Shanghai & Yichang

Accommodations: 4 nights Victoria Anna. Included meals: Breakfast, lunch & dinner.

  • Morning flight to Yichang
  • Tour of Yichang with lunch
  • Board your deluxe Yangtze River cruise ship

Full Day Itinerary:This morning, transfer to the airport for a short flight to Yichang. Upon arrival, transfer to the city and enjoy a panoramic tour. After lunch, transfer to the pier to board your cruise ship, the Victoria Anna, the Yangtze's largest deluxe river cruise. Settle into your executive-level superior cabin with outside balcony and enjoy the upgraded executive-level services and amenities that are included.

Day 14: The Three Gorges Dam & Xiling Gorge

Included meals: Breakfast, lunch & dinner.

  • See the impressive Three Gorges Dam at Sandouping
  • Sail through the ship locks and the Xiling Gorge

Three Gorges Dam & Yangtze RiverFull Day Itinerary: 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 huge dam project built on the Yangtze River. The Three Gorges Dam at Sandouping is one of the largest construction projects ever undertaken by mankind, and 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, and was completed in 2006, and became fully operational in 2011. The dam produces electricity, increases the river's shipping capacity, and reduces the potential for floods downstream by providing flood storage space. Currently, the dam has generated enough electricity to cover more than one third of its cost. Return to your river cruiser and begin your sail through the ship locks and 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.

Day 15: Daning River "Small Gorges," Wu Gorge & Qutang Gorge

Included meals: Breakfast, lunch & dinner.

  • Take an excursion through the Daning River Small Gorges
  • Sail to Wu Gorge, the most beautiful section of the Yangtze
  • Continue to Qutang Gorge and the Kui Gate

Yangtze RiverFull Day Itinerary:After breakfast, take an excursion through the Danin River Small Gorges, which are narrower than the Three Gorges, but very impressive.

Depending on weather conditions, Shennon Stream may be substituted. With crystal clear water, this tributary of the Yangtze River 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.

Day 16: Shibaozhai

Included meals: Breakfast, lunch & dinner.

  • Visit Shibaozhai, a 9-story pagoda; or explore the ghost city of Fengdu

Shibaozhai PagodaFull Day Itinerary:Today you'll visit Shibaozhai, with its impressive 9-story wooden pagoda, appropriately named "The Pearl of the Yangtze." Shibaozhai is a steep rocky hill which resembles a colossal jade seal on the horizon. Legends attribute the creation of the hill to goddess Nuwo and her efforts to redecorate the sky. The temple at the top of the hill was built during the reign of the Emperor Qianlong and no nails were used during its construction. The red pagoda with a yellow entrance gate decorated with lions and dragons, hugs one side of the rock. As the base of the pagoda would have been beneath the water level of Three Gorges Dam, significant efforts were made to protect the area from rising water and preserve the historic site.

Depending on weather conditions, Fengdu may be substituted: Fengdu, known as a "ghost city," is popular today among tourists who come to visit the temples and shrines dedicated to the gods of the underworld. Known for its statues of ghosts and devils on Mingshan Hill, Fengdu was first described as a "City of Ghosts" in two ancient, classic Chinese works: "Monkey King" and "Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio." In keeping with the town's theme, landmarks bear thematic names such as "Last Glance at Home Tower," "Nothing-to-be-Done Bridge," and "Ghost Torturing Pass."

Day 17: Depart Chongqing/Arrive USA

Included meals: Breakfast.

  • Disembark in Chongqing
  • Transfer to the airport for your return flight via Beijing
  • Arrive in the USA later today

Hong Kong Optional Extension

Prepare to be dazzled by a breathtaking symphony of lights in cosmopolitan Hong Kong. City-lovers worldwide rank Hong Kong among their must-see destinations, and for good reason. A former British colony perched on the edge of mainland China, Hong Kong is a fascinating city of contrasts - a place where East meets West; where the modern blends with the traditional; where shiny skyscrapers stand next to narrow alleys crammed with traditional vendors' stalls; where new technology flourishes alongside ancient Chinese customs. With its glorious harbor, excellent shopping, renowned restaurants, and some of the best nighttime skylines in the world, Hong Kong has it all.

Day 17: Chongqing & Hong Kong

Accommodations: 3 nights The Mira Hotel, Hong Kong. Included meals: Breakfast.

  • Disembark in Chongqing
  • Fly from Chongqing to Hong Kong

Full Day Itinerary: After disembarkation in Chongqing, transfer to the airport for your flight to cosmopolitan Hong Kong. You'll be escorted to your luxurious hotel located in the bustling heart of Kowloon, near the scenic harbor and the "Golden Mile," Hong Kong's famous shopping district.

Day 18: Hong Kong

Included meals: Breakfast.

  • Morning tour of Hong Kong Island with peak tram ride
  • Afternoon at leisure for independent sightseeing

Victoria Peak tram, Hong Kong Full Day Itinerary:Your morning tour of Hong Kong Island features a ride to the top of Victoria Peak for a magnificent city and harbor view. Descend and continue to Repulse Bay and Aberdeen fishing village, a community of some 600 colorful floating homes. Conclude your tour with some time for shopping. The afternoon is yours at leisure for independent sightseeing in the city.

Tonight, we recommend an optional dinner cruise (purchased locally) aboard the Hong Kong Bauinia, where you'll enjoy a fabulous buffet dinner, live music, and stunning nighttime views of the glistening harbor.

Day 19: Hong Kong

Included meals: Breakfast.

  • Full day at leisure, or optional excursion to the former Portuguese colony of Macau

Full Day Itinerary: Enjoy a full day at leisure or take in the sights and sounds of Hong Kong on your own or shop to your heart's content. Alternatively, take advantage of an optional excursion to Macau!

Senado Square, MacauOptional Excursion: Full Day Macau Tour with Lunch, $140 pp The name “Macau” is derived from the name of a Chinese Goddess, popular among seafarers and fisherman, known as A-Ma or Ling-Ma. On this full day tour, you’ll be picked up at your Hong Kong hotel and taken to the ferry station where you’ll cast off bound for Macau. Your tour includes visits to some of Macau’s most popular sights: The statue of Kum Iam, Macau Tower and A-Ma Temple, just to name a few.  You’ll even get a chance to try your luck at one of Macau’s famous casinos. The tour also includes lunch and return transportation to  your hotel in Hong Kong. This is a regularly-scheduled, English-speaking bus tour and may have pick-up service from various hotels. Note: Men wearing shorts or children under 21 will not be permitted entry into casinos. 

Day 20: Depart Hong Kong/Arrive USA

Included meals: Breakfast.

  • Transfer to the airport for your return flight via Beijing
  • Arrive in the USA later today

Tibet Optional Extension

After your tour in China, why not take advantage of a unique opportunity to visit mysterious and exotic Tibet, located at the very rooftop of the world. For centuries, Tibet was an almost mythical land hidden behind the Himalayas, closed to outsiders and visited by only the hardiest explorers. Today, travelers can easily reach Lhasa, Tibet's capital and gateway to Tibet and experience a culture far different from our own. Here you will find kind, friendly, welcoming people, breathtaking vistas, and deeply spiritual rituals that are completely interwoven with the fabric of everyday life. It's an experience not to be missed.

The Tibet Extension requires a minimum of 6 passengers in order to operate at published prices. The high altitudes reached on this trip (Tibet is about 12,000 feet above sea level) and the amount of walking involved, often on uneven terrain, requires that you be in good physical condition to fully enjoy the trip. We strongly suggest that you consult a physician regarding any concerns prior to making a reservation.

Day 17: Chongqing & Tsedang

Accommodations: 1 night Tsedang Hotel. Included meals: Breakfast, lunch & dinner.

  • Disembark in Chongqing
  • Fly from Chongqing to Lhasa, continue by coach to Tsedang
  • See Tibet's very first monastery, Samye

YakFull Day Itinerary:After disembarkation in Chongqing, transfer to the airport for your flight to Lhasa. Upon arrival, be met by your local guide, board your touring coach, and set out for Tsedang. As you drive through open farmland, you'll arrive at Tibet's very first monastery. Samye, which is over 1,200 years old. The monastery combines the styles of China, Tibet, and India, and the layout was designed to represent the ideal universe described in Buddhist scriptures. Samye Monastery contains within and upon its walls many historic, religious, architectural and artistic examples from every period of Tibetan history. Its frescoes are well-known in the world for their wide variety of subjects, rich content and exquisite artistic detail.

Continue to Tsedang, Tibet's third largest city, and check into your hotel.

Day 18: Tsedang & Lhasa

Accommodations: 3 nights Shangri-La Lhasa. Included meals: Breakfast, lunch & dinner.

  • Morning visits to Yumbu Lhakang Palace and Traduk Monastery
  • After lunch, return to Lhasa

Young monkFull Day Itinerary:This morning, visit Yumbu Lhakang, the first palace and one of the earliest building projects in all of Tibet. Towering above the summit of Mt. Tashitseri on the east bang of Yarlung River, legend has it that Yumbu Lhakang was established during the 2nd century B.C. by members of Tibet's earliest religious sect, Bon, for the first Tibetan King, Nyetri Tsampo.

Our next stop is Traduk Monastery, another of the earliest Buddhist temples in Tibetan history. Built in 641 A.D., it is said that King Songtsan Gampo established the temple so that his kingdom might prosper. Later, Traduk Monastery became a royal winter palace filled with ancient relics and treasures.

After lunch, drive to Lhasa and check into your hotel.

Day 19: Lhasa

Included meals: Breakfast, lunch & dinner.

  • Explore Potala Palace, the winter palace of the Dalai Lama
  • Visit the Mentsekhang, the largest traditional hospital in Tibet
  • Stop at a Tibetan Nun Monastery
  • Visit a Tibetan carpet factory

Potala PalaceFull Day Itinerary:After breakfast, begin your exploration of Lhasa at the Potala Palace, winter palace of the Dalai Lama since the 7th century and probably the most revered and best known building in the land. Built at an altitude of more than 11,000 ft on the side of Marpo Ri, the Red Mountain in the center of Lhasa Valley, Potala Palace has vast, inward-sloping walls broken only in the upper parts by straight rows of many windows and flat roofs at various levels giving it a fortress-like appearance.

The palace complex, which includes the White Palace which was built for secular use and contains the living quarters of the Dalai Lama, offices, the seminary and the printing house. A central, yellow-painted courtyard known as a Deyangshar separates the living quarters of the Lama and his monks with the Red Palace, the other side of the sacred Potala, which is completely devoted to religious study and prayer. The Red Palace consists of a complicated layout of many different halls, chapels and libraries on many different levels with a complex array of smaller galleries and winding passages and other buildings.

Later, visit the Mentsekhang, the largest traditional hospital in Tibet and a major center of research, treatment, training and production of Tibetan medicine. You'll also visit a Tibetan Nun Monastery. Complete your touring with a visit to a carpet factory, where you can see how the magnificent and colorful Tibetan carpets are created (and where you can purchase and arrange shipping if you wish).

Day 20: Lhasa

Included meals: Breakfast, lunch & dinner.

  • Visit the Jokhang Temple Monastery
  • Explore the Norbulinka Palace gardens
  • Continue to Bakhor Street, the oldest street in Lhasa
  • Enjoy a dinner of mixed Tibetan and Chinese dishes

Jokhang temple roofFull Day Itinerary:This morning, visit the Jokhang Temple Monastery, founded in the 7th century. This exceptional Buddhist religious complex is the most celebrated temple in Tibet, attracting adherents of all the Buddhist sects as well as followers of Bon-Po, Tibet's indigenous religion. Proceed to the Norbulingka, the largest and grandest garden of the Tibet Plateau and the Dalai Lama's former summer palace. Constructed in the 18th century, this masterpiece of Tibetan art and its magnificent gardens are, today, a park open for the public to visit and enjoy.

Continue to Bakhor Street, the oldest street in Lhasa and a wonderful, colorful shopping area whose narrow streets are lined with shops, kiosks and vendor's Thangkas, prayer wheels, butter lamps, prayer flags, Tibetan joss sticks and other typical Tibetan goods. This is the best place to sharpen your bargaining skills, and even without the benefit of knowing the language, your cell phone calculator is all the equipment you'll need to buy souvenirs at bargain prices. This evening, join your fellow travelers for a dinner of mixed Tibetan and Chinese dishes.

Day 21: Depart Lhasa/Arrive USA

Included meals: Breakfast.

  • Transfer to the airport for your return flight via Beijing
  • Arrive in the USA later today

Hotels

Sofitel Hangzhou Westlake

Sofitel Hangzhou Westlake

Deluxe

The Sofitel Hangzhou Westlake Hotel is located along the graceful banks of the city's famed West Lake, close to the central business district.

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In the unlikely event that a particular hotel is not available, a similar or better hotel may be substituted.

Cruise Ship

Victoria Anna

Victoria Anna

The Victoria Anna has once again raised the bar for luxury cruising on the Yangtze River. It is one of the larger ships on the Yangtze, with a capacity of 268 passengers.

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