Travel Notices

A Taste of China

Historical Beijing & the Great Wall, Xi'an & the Terra Cotta Army, plus futuristic Shanghai; optional extensions: Yangtze Cruise or Hong Kong


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Style Small Group TourTravel with a small, intimate group of no more than 16 likeminded travelers (and often much fewer), escorted by an English speaking guide and/or tour manager for some or all of your journey. (Some exceptions, including special promotional packages, may accommodate up to 30.) More of these packages
Dedicated tour escorts & guides throughout
Departures Group Size 16 travelers max
Themes History & CultureBucket List
Activity Level Recreational
What to Expect This moderately-paced, escorted tour includes a reasonable amount of walking or hiking and requires an average level of physical fitness. Hong Kong is an independent/self-guided extension. Travel safely and confidently with our new health & safety protocols.
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China has become one of the most attractive travel destinations in the world, and you won't want to miss this wonderful opportunity to see the country's three most popular cities at an amazing tour price. You'll find impressive modern achievements within an ancient and incredibly rich culture whose recorded history dates back 5,000 years. Beijing, China's capital and, host of the 2008 Summer Olympics, and Shanghai, often called the "Paris of the East," are probably the most dynamic cities in the world. And Xi'an, which at first glance looks like any other large industrial city, is actually the site of one of the world's most important archaeological treasures: the army of 2,200-year-old terra-cotta soldiers including more than 8,000 life-size ceramic soldiers, chariots and horses buried there to protect the tomb of the first Qin emperor.

Package includes

  • Flights
  • Coach
  • Transfers
  • Hotel
  • Meals
  • Guides
  • Round trip flights from Los Angeles via Air China including taxes & fees
  • All intra-China flights and ground transportation
  • 8 nights in Deluxe and First Class hotels with private bath
  • 13 meals: 8 breakfasts plus 4 lunches and 1 dinner
  • Comprehensive touring program including entrance fees
  • Professional English-speaking tour director and local guides
  • Advanced audio headset guided tour system

Optional add-ons

  • Discounted optional tours package
  • Hong Kong Optional Post-Tour Extension
  • Yangtze Cruise Optional Post-Tour Extension

Why you'll love it

  • Wander through the serene Yu Garden, one of the oldest and must-see attractions in Shanghai.
  • Enjoy stunning views atop the Great Wall of China.
  • View the “Bird’s Nest”, Beijing’s spectacular Olympic stadium.
  • Explore the lovingly restored Forbidden City, the world's largest palace complex and UNESCO World Heritage site.
  • See historic Tiananmen Square, one of the largest city squares in the world.
  • Visit Xi'an's ancient Terra Cotta Army.

Itinerary at a Glance

A Taste of China map

Hong Kong Extension


Detailed Itinerary

Day 1 Depart USA

  • Depart the USA on your flight bound for Shanghai, China via Beijing
  • Passengers departing LAX must check in no later than 10:40 PM the night before!

Day 2 Shanghai

  • Arrive in Shanghai, meet your guide and transfer to your hotel

Juss Hengshan Hotel or similar

Day 3 Shanghai

  • Visit the Yu Garden in Shanghai
  • Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant
  • Balance of the day is at leisure, or join optional excursions

Juss Hengshan Hotel or similar Breakfast & lunch

Full Day Itinerary
Nanjing Road, Shanghai

This morning, visit one of Shanghai's oldest attractions, the Yu Garden. The garden was originally constructed in the 16th century, but the current layout was part of a five-year restoration project which began in the 1950's. After exploring the Yu Garden's impressive rockeries and pavilions, enjoy lunch with your fellow travelers. The balance of the day is at leisure in Shanghai to explore on your own.

Optional Excursion: Oriental Pearl TV Tower & Shanghai Museum (purchased locally), $50
Shanghai panorama

Begin your tour at the Shanghai Museum of ancient Chinese art, which houses a collection of 120,000 precious works. Next, get a panoramic view of the city atop the Oriental Pearl TV Tower, a unique architectural addition to the Shanghai cityscape and one of the largest radio and TV towers in the world. Other stops on this optional tour include the lively Xintiandi Bar Street and the picturesque French Concession.

Optional Excursion: Dinner and acrobatics show (purchased locally), $48

This evening, take advantage of an optional dinner followed by an exciting acrobatics show.

Day 4 Shanghai

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

Juss Hengshan Hotel or similar Breakfast

Optional Excursion: Full day Suzhou tour with lunch, $95
Gardens in Suzhou Photo by Robynne Hu on Unsplash

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 5 Shanghai & Xi'an

  • Transfer by maglev train to the airport for your flight to Xi'an
  • Upon arrival, transfer to your hotel for check-in
  • Balance of the day is at leisure or join an optional dinner show

Grand Mercure on Renmin Square or similar Breakfast

Full Day Itinerary

After breakfast, transfer by maglev train to the airport for your flight to Xi'an. Transfer to your hotel for check-in and enjoy the remainder of the day at leisure for independent exploration.

Optional Excursion: Dumpling Dinner and Tang Dynasty dance performance, $48
Tang Dynasty Dinner Show Musicians

This evening, enjoy an optional Dumpling Dinner and Tang Dynasty dance performance.

Day 6 Xi'an

  • Visit the famous Terra Cotta Army archaeological site
  • See the Big Wild Goose Pagoda and City Wall
  • Enjoy an included lunch at a local restaurant

Grand Mercure on Renmin Square or similar Breakfast & lunch

Full Day Itinerary
Terra Cotta Warriors, Xi'an

Today, board your touring coach and drive to the site of the famous 2,200-year-old Terra Cotta Army, among the most important archaeological discoveries of modern times. More than 8,000 life-size ceramic soldiers, chariots and horses have been uncovered, but it's 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. Learn more about this fascinating site during your visit to the Terra Cotta Warriors Museum.

Other stops on today's tour include the Big Wild Goose Pagoda and City Wall, followed by an included lunch. Time permitting, you'll also enjoy a chance to shop for ancient Chinese furniture or ceramics.

Day 7 Xi'an & Beijing

  • Fly from Xi'an to Beijing
  • Afternoon tour of Beijing's Hutongs
  • Visit a pearl factory for shopping then continue to dinner

Park Plaza Beijing Wangfujing or similar Breakfast & dinner

Full Day Itinerary
Hutong tour, Beijing

Transfer to the airport for your flight to Beijing, China's historic and cultural capital. Upon arrival, transfer to your centrally located hotel for check-in.

This afternoon you'll travel to the intricate maze of Beijing's Hutongs to explore the way the Chinese have lived for centuries. These ancient, labyrinthine alleys or lanes are still an important feature in the urban landscape of Beijing, where houses along Hutongs still occupy one third of the total area, providing housing for half the population and providing yet another example of Beijing as an ancient yet modern city. End your tour with a visit to an exquisite pearl factory and enjoy an included dinner.

Day 8 Beijing

  • See China's Olympic venues, the Bird's Nest and Water Cube
  • Stop at a jade factory for a demonstration and shopping
  • Explore the Great Wall of China
  • See the Sacred Way of the Ming Tombs

Park Plaza Beijing Wangfujing or similar Breakfast & lunch

Full Day Itinerary
Great Wall of China

Depart after breakfast on a full day included excursion to the Great Wall of China. En route, view the Olympic venues, the Bird's Nest and the Water Cube, and enjoy a visit to the jade factory with a presentation and some time for shopping.

The Great Wall follows a ridge of barren hills and stretches at least 13,000 miles. Construction of the Great 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.

Conclude 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 is decorated with designs of clouds, waves and divine animals.

Optional Excursion: Peking Duck dinner and Legend of Kung Fu show (purchased locally), $53

Tonight, enjoy an optional Peking Duck dinner followed by the Legend of Kung Fu show, a special Shaolin Kung Fu stage performance that blends music, martial arts, and a moving story.

Day 9 Beijing

  • See the Temple of Heaven, Tiananmen Square, and the Forbidden City
  • Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant
  • Afternoon at leisure

Park Plaza Beijing Wangfujing or similar Breakfast & lunch

Full Day Itinerary
Forbidden City, Beijing

Today's tour begins with the Temple of Heaven, the most holy of Beijing's Imperial temples. This is the place where Chinese Emperors came to worship heaven and to pray for a good harvest. Afterward, continue to historic Tiananmen Square. Proceed to 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.

After lunch at a local restaurant, enjoy the balance of the day at leisure.

Day 10 Depart Beijing/Arrive USA

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


Optional Excursions Package: $135

Save by pre-booking a discounted package of our most popular optional excursions:

  • Suzhou full day tour, including lunch (Day 4)
  • Xi'an Dumpling Dinner plus Tang Dynasty Dance Performance (Day 5)

You can book these excursions individually in China. But you can save if you purchase this special package ahead of time—with or before your final payment. These are not "seat in coach" excursions that pick up passengers at various hotels; all are operated for Friendly Planet groups only.

Yangtze River Cruise Extension

Extend your stay in China with an unforgettable 4-night luxury cruise on the Yangtze River from Yichang to Chongqing on board Victoria Cruise's deluxe river cruiser the Victoria Jenna. Plus, you'll experience a superior level of service and amenities with our included executive-level package upgrade.

Day 10 Beijing & Yichang

  • Afternoon flight to Yichang
  • Board your deluxe Yangtze River cruise ship
  • Enjoy an included dinner on board

Victoria Jenna or Victoria Katarina Breakfast & dinner

Full Day Itinerary
Victoria Katarina

Transfer to the airport for a short flight to Yichang. Upon arrival, transfer to board your cruise ship, the Victoria Katarina, one of the Yangtze's largest deluxe river cruisers. Enjoy dinner on board then settle into your superior cabin with outside balcony and enjoy the upgraded executive-level services and amenities that are included.

Note: Victoria Katarina will be used for the Apr 16, 2020 departure.

Day 11 The Three Gorges Dam & Xiling Gorge

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

Victoria Jenna or Victoria Katarina Breakfast, lunch & dinner

Full Day Itinerary
Three Gorges Dam & Yangtze River Photo by Rehman

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 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.

Note: Victoria Katarina will be used for the Apr 16, 2020 departure.

Day 12 Shennong Stream, Wu Gorge & Qutang Gorge

  • Take an excursion through the Shennong Stream
  • Sail to Wu Gorge, the most beautiful section of the Yangtze
  • Continue to Qutang Gorge and the Kui Gate

Victoria Jenna or Victoria Katarina Breakfast, lunch & dinner

Full Day Itinerary
Qutang Gorge, Yangtze River Photo by Tan Wei Liang Byorn

After breakfast, take an excursion through the Shennong Stream. With crystal clear water, this tributary of the Yangtze River flows swiftly from north to south through deep gorges. Board a ferry boat for a relaxing ride upstream. Then, switch into smaller wooden "pea-pod boats" for 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.

Note: Victoria Katarina will be used for the Apr 16, 2020 departure.

Day 13 Fengdu Relocated Village

  • Explore the Fengdu Relocated Village
  • Visit a local farmer's family

Victoria Jenna or Victoria Katarina Breakfast, lunch & dinner

Full Day Itinerary
Panoramic view of Fengdu

Today you'll explore the Fengdu Relocated Village. During the drive to the relocated village, appreciate the spectacular landscapes of the Yangtze River. Stop and visit a local farmer's family and learn how more than 1.4 million people left their homes and settled in the relocation village.  Before returning to the ship, spend some time wandering the town and exploring the local shops and markets.

Depending on weather conditions, Shibaozhai may be substituted: Shibaozhai, with its impressive 9-story wooden pagoda, is appropriately names "The Pearl of the Yangtze." Shibaozhai is a steep rocky hill which resembles a colossal jade seal on the horizon.

Note: Victoria Katarina will be used for the Apr 16, 2020 departure.

Day 14 Chongqing & Depart/Arrive USA

  • Disembark your cruise ship at Chongqing this morning
  • Visit the former headquarters of General Joseph W. Stilwell, now a WWII museum
  • Proceed to the Chongqing Panda Zoo to see the giant panda
  • Transfer to the airport for your return flight via Beijing
  • Arrive in the USA later today

Breakfast & lunch

Full Day Itinerary
Giant Panda

You arrive at Chongqing this morning, disembark the cruise ship and board your touring coach. Lunch will be provided at a local restaurant. Afterwards visit the former headquarters of General Joseph W. Stilwell, now a museum that pays tribute to the cooperation between the allied powers of the U.S. and China and their combined efforts against fascism during the Second World War. Next, you'll proceed to the Chongqing Panda Zoo to see the giant panda. Later, transfer to the airport for your return flight home via Beijing.

Hong Kong 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. With its glorious harbor, excellent shopping, renowned restaurants, and some of the best nighttime skylines in the world, Hong Kong has it all.

Day 10 Beijing & Hong Kong

  • Fly from Beijing to Hong Kong

The Royal Garden Breakfast

Full Day Itinerary
Nathan Road, Golden Mile, Kowloon ©

Transfer to the airport your flight to cosmopolitan Hong Kong. You'll be escorted to your luxurious hotel located in the heart of Kowloon, near the scenic harbor and the "Golden Mile," Hong Kong's famous shopping district.

Day 11 Hong Kong

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

The Royal Garden Breakfast

Full Day Itinerary
Victoria Peak tram, Hong Kong

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 Bauhinia, where you'll enjoy a fabulous dinner, live music, and stunning nighttime views of the glistening harbor.

Day 12 Hong Kong

  • Full day at leisure, or optional excursion to Hong Kong's largest island, Lantau

The Royal Garden Breakfast

Full Day Itinerary

Enjoy a full day at leisure to take in the sights and sounds of Hong Kong on your own or shop to your heart's content.

Optional Excursion: Full Day Lantau Tour with Lunch, $110
Tian Tan Buddha, Lantau Island

Visit Hong Kong's largest island, Lantau, lying at the mouth of the Pearl River. Depart your hotel this morning on a scenic drive to your first stop, the viewing platform of the Tsing Ma Bridge, the world's longest road/rail suspension bridge before continuing across it to Lantau Island. Spend time in Tai O Village to enjoy a short boat ride through this fishing village, and then explore its patchwork of old streets, small shops, shrines, and temples. Continue to the exquisitely built Po Lin Monastery where you will view the majestic bronze Buddha, and explore its museum. After lunch, take in the sweeping views of the lush terrains of Lantau from Ngong Ping cable car, a 5.7 km skyrail. Later, return to your hotel in Hong Kong.

Note: This is a regularly-scheduled, English-speaking bus tour and may have pick-up service from various hotels.

Day 13 Depart Hong Kong/Arrive USA

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


Hotels & Ships


Juss Hengshan Hotel
Juss Hengshan Hotel

The luxurious 5-star Juss Hengshan Hotel is ideally located on Hengshan Road with cafes, bars, exquisite shops and beautifully arranged gardens as well as various European style houses scattered along the dense boulevard. This impressive tree-lined promenade stretches to the two ends of the famous commercial and leisure center - Xu Jia Qui and Huai Hai Road.

More information

Grand Mercure on Renmin Square

More information

Park Plaza Beijing Wangfujing
Park Plaza Beijing Wangfujing
First Class

Park Plaza Beijing Wangfujing is a stylish haven right in the heart of Beijing's bustling cultural and business center.  The hotel is just minutes away from the Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, the Temple of Heaven, and also offers quick access to Beijing's main commercial, entertainment, and shopping districts.

More information

The Royal Garden
The Royal Garden

With its luxurious accommodations and stunning 17-story atrium, the Royal Garden Hotel is renowned for its unique architectural design, comfortable accommodations, personalized service, and above all, location, location, location. Centrally located in the heart of Kowloon, the Royal Garden Hotel provides easy access to the business and shopping area of Tsim Sha Tsui East and is close to public transportation. A variety of attractions, such as the Star Ferry, the Clock Tower, and the Museum of Art, are within walking distance from the hotel. Numerous shopping and dining venues are also nearby. The refined and elegant interior combines the best of both Eastern and Western detailing with contemporary setting in the public area.

More information

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

Cruise Ships

Victoria Jenna
Victoria Jenna

Victoria Jenna, inaugurated in 2009 and refurbished in 2018, sets the standard for fine luxury river cruising not just in China but throughout the world.

More information

Victoria Katarina
Victoria Katarina

Victoria Katarina set a new standard in cruise ship design for Yangtze River cruising when it was inaugurated in 2004. Refurbished in 2014, the premier ship was constructed with Victoria Cruises personal touches blending both modern and elegant architecture. 

More information

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