11 Nights | Highlights of China & the Yangtze
A spellbinding odyssey through five thousand years of Chinese culture and history.
Your journey begins in Beijing at the huge Tiananmen Square, a nearly hundred-acre site that has witnessed a staggering number of major historic events. Explore the Forbidden City, once off-limits to all but the Emperor’s inner circle, an enormous complex that was China’s seat of power for nearly five hundred years. Enjoy a rickshaw ride through the city’s hutongs—old neighborhoods with labyrinthine lanes—and dine at the home of a local family.
Take an exhilarating walk along the two-thousand-year-old Great Wall, its ancient stones worn smooth over many centuries. Return to the city and visit the Temple of Heaven—an ornately decorated and ingeniously designed wooden pagoda—and take an excursion to the Beijing Zoo, home to delightful giant pandas. Fly to the ancient capital of Xi’an to see the Terra-cotta Warriors and Horses, an eight-thousand-strong stone army keeping vigil over the grave of China’s first emperor. You will also visit the Big Wild Goose Pagoda, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the country’s holiest Buddhist temples.
China’s natural wonders are just as amazing as its man-made marvels. Revel in the stunning scenery along the Yangtze River and its Three Gorges, famous for their dramatic cliffs, mist-shrouded peaks, and jade green water. Go ashore for an up-close look at the Shibao Pagoda and its elaborately carved wooden entrance. Take a small riverboat along the Shennong Stream—a Yangtze tributary—for a more intimate perspective of this unspoiled region. Your trip concludes in Shanghai, a place known for its skyscrapers and acrobats, museums and teahouses, and many lingering echoes of its colonial past.
Who will enjoy this cruise/tour
Our most concise itinerary in China, this 11-day journey from Beijing to Shanghai is ideal for travelers eager to sample all the highlights of the region—such as the Forbidden City, the Great Wall, giant pandas, and Terra-cotta Warriors. This cruise/tour also features the breathtaking natural beauty of the Three Gorges, observed on a 4-day cruise down the Yangtze River.
A Uniworld representative will greet you at the airport and transfer you to the sumptuous Ritz-Carlton, Beijing.
Featured Excursions: Tiananmen Square, Forbidden City, hutongs tour with home-hosted lunch, and Peking Duck Welcome Dinner with complimentary wine
Your first full day in Beijing takes you to Tiananmen Square, which is the center of modern civic life in Beijing. The square is surrounded by monuments to Chairman Mao and the Communist revolution that transformed China following WWII. You’ll stroll though the square and enter the UNESCO-designated Forbidden City, the nearly two-hundred-acre precinct of China’s historic emperors. Begun in the 15th century, the complex grew to encompass palaces and gardens, quarters for the imperial family, and offices for bureaucrats. This vast compound houses many treasures of the Qing and Ming dynasties.
Your next stop takes you to the traditional residential neighborhoods of Beijing, the hutongs, which you’ll tour in the most traditional way—via rickshaw. You’ll also be invited to share lunch with a local family. Later, enjoy a Welcome Dinner of succulent Peking duck, a signature dish of the city, served with wine.
Featured Excursions: The Great Wall and kung fu show at Beijing’s Red Theatre
Walk along a section of the legendary Great Wall, a UNESCO-designated site that has been one of the man-made wonders of the world since its construction began in the sixth century to keep out invaders from the north. Back in Beijing, spend the evening enjoying a spectacular show that combines kung fu prowess with acrobatics and dance; it’s the best performance in town.
Beijing, fly to Xi'an
Featured Excursions: Temple of Heaven and Beijing Zoo with giant panda visit
Start the day touring the Temple of Heaven, a UNESCO-designated site completed in the 15th century. A masterpiece of architectural and landscape design, it influenced architecture throughout China for centuries. Next, you’ll visit the giant pandas at the Beijing Zoo. After lunch, you’ll fly to the ancient city of Xi’an, where you’ll settle into the serene Shangri-La Xi’an hotel.
Featured Excursions: Museum of the Terra-cotta Warriors and Horses, City Wall, and Tang Dynasty dinner show
Twenty-two centuries ago, China’s first emperor, Qin Shi Huang, was entombed with a vast army of warriors and horses made of clay. The large UNESCO-designated tomb complex lay undisturbed until the 20th century, when it became one of the most astonishing archaeological finds ever recorded. Only about eight thousand of the life-sized Terra-cotta Warriors and Horses have been excavated; no one knows for sure how many more figures remain concealed. You’ll visit the museum where some of these figures are exhibited and learn how they were created. Then you’ll see the massive defensive wall built around Xi’an by the first Ming emperor in the 15th century. In the evening, indulge in a lovely traditional dinner—complete with chou-jiu, a milky rice wine served warm—and a cultural performance that re-creates the music, folk dances, and traditional costumes of the Tang Dynasty.
Xi'an, fly to Chongqing, cruising the Yangtze River
Featured Excursion: Big Wild Goose Pagoda and traditional dumpling banquet
Visit the seven-story Big Wild Goose Pagoda, sacred to Buddhists since the seventh century; tradition says that throwing coins from the pagoda’s windows brings good luck. Enjoy a sumptuous dumpling banquet before flying to Chongqing, where you’ll board your comfortable ship.
Cruising the Yangtze River, Shibaozhai
Featured Excursion: Shibao Pagoda
Although the Yangtze is almost 35 hundred miles long, the 75 miles known as the Three Gorges is famous for its matchless scenery. Every view is a picture straight out of China’s iconic watercolor illustrations. The ship will stop at Shibao Pagoda, a colorful temple built into the side of a steep hill that is now an island as a result of rising waters from the Three Gorges Dam. Enjoy a Captain’s Welcome Reception with complimentary wine in the evening.
Cruising the Yangtze River, Shennong Stream
Featured Excursion: Explore Shennong Stream
You’ll get a close-up view of the breathtaking landscape as you board a small boat and cruise along the Shennong Stream, a tributary to the Yangtze. Later in the day, your ship will navigate the enormous Three Gorges Dam locks. In the evening, a Farewell Dinner with complimentary wine will be served.
Note: Due to water conditions we may substitute a Lesser Gorges boat tour for the Shennong Stream boat tour.
Cruising the Yangtze River, Yichang, fly to Shanghai
Featured Excursion: Three Gorges Dam
Before you disembark in Yichang, you’ll visit the world’s largest hydroelectric project, the Three Gorges Dam, which is designed to control flooding on the Yangtze and provide electrical power to a vast swath of the country. Its location has caused controversy, but its scale is a tribute to the nation’s ambition. Then you’ll catch a flight to Shanghai, where you’ll settle into your room at the elegant Waldorf Astoria Shanghai on the Bund and relax over a delicious dinner at your hotel.
Featured Excursions: Shanghai city tour, dim sum lunch, and Shanghai Acrobats performance
Stroll along the Bund, Shanghai’s famed waterfront promenade, and admire the view of the Pudong district with its spectacular skyscrapers. After savouring a tasty and traditional dim sum lunch at the Waldorf Astoria Shanghai on the Bund, you’ll have time to browse through the district’s shops. In the evening, be dazzled by the world-renowned Shanghai Acrobats.
Transfer to the airport for your flight home, or continue your adventure with one of our memorable optional extensions.
You will visit the following 5 places:
Chongqing, formerly known as Chungking, is a major city in southwestern mainland China and one of the five national central cities. Administratively, it is one of the People's Republic of China's four direct-controlled municipalities (the other three are Beijing, Shanghai and Tianjin), and the only such municipality in western China. The municipality was created on 14 March 1997, succeeding the sub-provincial city administration that was part of Sichuan Province. In 2007, the municipality of Chongqing had a population of 31.4 million. It has jurisdiction over 19 districts, 17 counties, and four autonomous counties. With an area of 82,300 km² (31,800 mi²), it is the largest direct-controlled municipality, larger even than one province and an autonomous region, as well as Taiwan. It is possibly the world's largest municipality by population and one of the largest by area.
Xi'an is the capital of the Shaanxi province, and a sub-provincial city in the People's Republic of China. One of the oldest cities in China, with more than 3,100 years of history, the city was known as Chang'an before the Ming Dynasty. It is one of the Four Great Ancient Capitals of China, having held that position under several of the most important dynasties in Chinese history, including Zhou, Qin, Han, Sui, and Tang. It is the eastern terminus of the Silk Road and home to the Terracotta Army. Xi'an is, for certain, one of the most popular tourist destinations among foreign travelers. A tour to Xi'an is something that any tourist to China would not want to miss, as it serves as a window on China's ancient civilization.
Beijing is a metropolis in Northern China, and the capital of the People's Republic of China. It is one of the most populous cities in the world. Governed as a municipality under direct administration of the central government, Beijing borders Hebei Province to the north, west, south, and for a small section in the east, and Tianjing Municipality to the southeast. As the last of the Four Great Ancient Capitals of China, Beijing has been the political center of the country for much of the past eight centuries. Beijing has a glorious past, but is by no means stuck in the past. Standing side-by-side with old Beijing's crimson palace complexes are the city's modern buildings, the super-modern Olympic Village, with the Bird’s Nest Stadium and Water Cube; the dazzling shopping malls in Wangfujing Street and the colorful entertainment center of Houhai. The city is renowned for its opulent palaces, temples, parks, gardens, tombs, walls and gates, and its art treasures and universities have made it a center of culture and art in China!
Yangtze River is the largest in China and the third largest in the world after the Nile in Africa and the Amazon in South America. It is about 3,964 miles in length. It stretches across eleven provinces and cities from west to east, including Qinghai, Tibet, Sichuan, Yunnan, Chongqing, Hubei, Hunan, Jiangxi, Anhui, Jiangsu and Shanghai. Finally it pours into the East China Sea at Shanghai.
Shanghai is the cool, confident face of modern China, and its energy is infectious. Located in the Yangtze River Delta in East China, Shanghai sits on the south edge of the mouth of the Yangtze in the middle portion of the Chinese coast. Shanghai is a popular tourist destination renowned for its historical landmarks such as The Bund, City God Temple and Yu Garden as well as the extensive Lujiazui skyline, many skyscrapers, and major museums including the Shanghai Museum and the China Art Museum. It has been described as the "showpiece" of the booming economy of mainland China. Go to its heart, The Bund, to watch ships on the river and marvel at the huge variety of architectural styles on display, or watch the crowds go by in People's Square!