Journey of a Lifetime 2017 - 29 Days
Day 1 - Depart US to BeijingMeals: In-Flight Meal
Embark on a memorable journey when you board Air China's non-stop flight to Beijing via Boeing 777 featuring personal entertainment system for each passenger.. En route, cross the International Dateline and lose one day.
Flight Detail: SFO to Beijing is 12 hours non-stop. JFK to Beijing is 13.5 hours non-stop. Air China's Flight Schedule
Day 2 - Arrive BeijingMeals: In-Flight Meal
Arriving at Beijing Capital International Airport Terminal 3 at 5:55 pm local time. You will be greeted by our experienced tour guide(s) outside the customs and they will transfer you to your hotel, located at the heart of Beijing. On the way to the hotel, your guide(s) will briefly introduce themselves to you and provide you with some important information regarding your trip.
Day 3 - BeijingMeals: Breakfast, Lunch
Enjoy a delectable American breakfast buffet before starting your day. A deluxe motor coach and your devoted tour guide(s) are ready for your memorable trip. Your first peek into the capital city of Beijing begins with a tour to the world's largest and renowned public square where many historical events once took place - Tiananmen Square. Around the vast square, you can see The Great Hall of People, holding the congress of the Communist Party and National People's Congress, History Museum, Military Museum and Monuments to the People's heroes. When available, you can visit Mao's Mausoleum, where his body is in a crystal coffin. Under the famous Mao's portrait, which is positioned at the center of "The Gate of Heavenly Peace" entrance, you will walk into the Forbidden City (also known as Imperial Palace), which holds 9,999 rooms. Experience the intricate architecture and exquisitely designed layout of these grand buildings once housed by Chinese Emperors who ruled during the period of the Qing and Ming Dynasties for almost 500 years (1420-1911). After lunch, the rest of the day is free to explore Beijing, which was rated as one of the top 12 cities in the world by Newsweek Magazine. You can visit to the Giant Panda Pavilion at the Beijing Zoo, take a visit to the Ming Dynasty Imperial Tombs, or test your bargaining skills at the Beijing Antique Market.
Day 4 - BeijingMeals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Enjoy a delectable American breakfast buffet before starting your day. A deluxe motor coach and your devoted tour guide(s) are ready for your memorable trip. Today, visit the Temple of Heaven, built during 1406 to 1420; it was used by Chinese Emperors of Ming and Qing dynasties to pray for bountiful harvests. The Temple of Heaven is a complex of Taoist buildings with some of the most exquisite architectures in Beijing. Capture the detailed essence of all the rich colors blended together on the hand painted tiles and roofing of the structures. This remarkable construction is pledged highest level of Chinese traditional architecture. Today, it has become a popular leisure activity center for the local elders. You will likely bypass people engaged in exercise, tai chi, martial arts, and Chinese opera, as you make your way from the tour bus to the main buildings. Afterwards, you will visit a pearl factory before lunch. After lunch, you partake in a tranquil visit to the picturesque landscape of the Summer Palace with historic temples, numerous pavilions, marble boat and famous 728-yard Long Corridor, situated on the man-made Kunming Lake. Later, you will capture the lifestyles of families residing within the Historic Hutong by rickshaw. The amazing gray brick courtyard residence is Beijing's oldest and remains infused with timeless culture and history. In the mid-1990's, most of the original Hutongs vanished rapidly and was substituted by high-rise buildings and commercial offices. You will then wrap up the evening with a delicious Peking Duck Dinner at one of the most prestigious restaurants in Beijing recognized for its specialty.
Day 5 - BeijingMeals: Breakfast, Lunch
Today you will begin the morning by setting out to the Sacred Way of the Ming Tomb. Located in the mountains according to Feng Shui principles, this imperial mausoleum is a site not to be missed. Tour the exterior portion of the tombs that include the "Spirit Way," a seven kilometer road lined with statues of mythical animals and officials to guard the 13 emperors buried in this necropolis. You will visit a jade factory on the way.
After lunch, you will travel to the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall of China, also considered as one of the greatest wonders of the world. This massive wall stretches well over 4,000 miles and once was used as the soldiers' safeguard to protect the Chinese empire's northern boarders against invaders. You then have the opportunity to climb up the mammoth sized wall at your own pace. Be sure to take in the experience and enjoy the breath-taking view from the top of one of the greatest achievements of civilization.
Day 6 - Beijing to UrumqiMeals: Breakfast, Dinner
Today you have a scheduled flight to Urumqi, widely known as "beautiful pasture" and also a major industrial center and the capital of Xinjiang Uygar Autonomous Region. Xinjiang is a large (comparable in size to Iran), sparsely populated area. There, you will not only observe Islamic culture of Uygar people and daily lifestyle of many other ethnic groups but also vast natural scenery and the Gobi Desert.
Day 7 - UrumqiMeals: Breakfast, Lunch
This morning will entail a full day of activities in Urumqi. The inland city is considered furthest away from the ocean and has also played an intricate role in the northern pathway of the Silk Road. You will start by visiting the surreal Heavenly Lake, local name Tian Chi, which is surrounded by the vastness of mountain peaks and alpine meadows. Thereafter, you will explore the nomadic Khazak community and witness the lifestyle of people who call this place home. In the afternoon, you will visit the International Grand Bazaar, which has a Middle-Eastern feel and is a highly frequented local hot spot for shopping at a bargain price.
Day 8 - Urumqi to TurpanMeals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Prior to your next visit to the city of Turpan, you will spend your last hours in Urumqi by touring the Xinjiang Autonomous Region Museum. The museum is worth a visit as the place hold interesting and rare visual exhibits highlighting the lifestyle of the minority groups of Xinjiang. Marvel at the exhibits and the local arts of the city. You will visit a carpet factory before your bus ride to Turpan, also known as Oasis in the Gobi Desert. You will be brought to the Jiaohe Ruins where the remains of ancient Chinese ruins are found along with ancient monastery and a palace. The Jiaohe Ruins is also a marked historical highlight recorded in the UNESCO World Heritage Site. Turpan, prevalent of grape orchards and fields of grains is considered the hottest place in China and has a record of having more than 100 summer days annually. The scorching weather tends to be beneficial for the growth of most of the city's fruits widely known as the "Hometown of Grapes" and an important producer of tasteful wine. In the evening you will be invited to see an exotic Uygar singing and dancing show.
Day 9 - TurpanMeals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Today's excursion entails a full day of visits to several main attractions. In the morning you will visit the Bezeklik Thousand Buddha Caves located in the legendary Flaming Mountain, where Monkey King was badly burned when he tried to extinguish the flame by using a false fan borrowed from Fan Princess. On the premises, there are 77 artificial caves and inside each cave is a mural of the Buddha painted on the ceiling along with hundreds of Buddhist sculptures and figures protected over hundreds of years. Thereafter, you'll visit the western front of the Flaming Mountain, where the Grape Valley lies. There are acres upon acres of sweet and delectable grapes that exist here. Next, awaits the Karez Underground Irrigation Channels, a 2,000-year-old system that its main function is to deliver water from nearby snow-capped mountains to Turpan and its agricultural fields.You will finish the day with a visit to a local Uygar People's Family to witness the daily lifestyle of the Muslims in Turpan.
Day 10 - Turpan to DunhuangMeals: Breakfast, Dinner
After breakfast, you will be transferred to the Turpan train station. You will take a fast train to Liuyuan. Upon arrival, a motor coach will transport you to the city of Dunhuang. After dinner, an entertaining Cultural Performance will end your magical day. Please note the cultural performance is subject to availability.
Day 11 - DunhuangMeals: Breakfast, Lunch
Today you will start your tour at the Mogao Grottos, also widely referred to as the "Caves of the Thousand Buddha." The cave that attracts swarms of tourists contains the most impressive and well-preserved examples of ancient Buddhist cave art aging over 1,000 years. The treasure house contains hundreds of sandstone caves holding more than 2,000 statues and 45,000 brilliantly bright paintings of Buddha and Chinese mythological figures. Afterwards, you will tour the Crescent Moon Lake in the Singing Sands Dunes. From a distance, make sure to keep your ears peeled for the whistling tunes among the sand dunes. The sounds are created by the winds cascading in a downward direction of the sand dunes at a low frequency mostly during dry and hot weather conditions. If you are feeling adventurous, take up on an optional camel ride.
Day 12 - Dunhuang to JiayuguanMeals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
After breakfast, travel by motor coach to Jiayuguan. In transit, you may have the opportunity to see a mirage. Upon arrival, you will visit the Jiayuguan Pass. At the base of Jiayu Mountains, situates the legendary Jiayuguan Pass, known as the most strategic point along the ancient Silk Road.
Day 13 - Jiayuguan to Xi’anMeals: Breakfast, Dinner
After breakfast, you will visit Jiayuguan Fort, the western end of the Great Wall of China. The whole fortress was built in 1372 during the Ming Dynasty and is encompassed by magnificently designed towers that exude landscape views from every direction. After lunch, fly to the next captivating and history-filled city of Xi'an. Xi'an was the ancient capital for 11 dynasties and east end of the Silk Road. It was the worlds most open and prosperous ancient international metropolitan with over a million before Beijing became the political and economic center of China. It has been also considered a favorite to tourists for experiencing and understanding of this amazing city with its glorious past and splendid progress of today. Make sure to get some rest and relaxation and prepare for the next day's adventure.
Day 14 - Xi'anMeals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Today you will be given ample time to tour the exhibit of the historical Terracotta Warriors belonging to the era when the infamous Emperor Qing Shihuang reigned. It was in 1974 when a farmer who was merely digging for water came across one of the biggest discoveries of the world which led to the massive excavation of an army of over 7,000 life-size Terracotta Warriors and horses molded by clay. Explore the vast sea of clay warriors in all three vaults. For the next 5 years, visitors will not only see the existing warriors and horses but might get lucky to witness some of the greatest new discoveries while the archeologists are digging the vaults in front of you. You will visit an art ceramics factory on the way to the Terracotta Warriors. Thereafter, you will visit the well-preserved emblem of Xi'an, the Wild Goose Pagoda. The towering 211.6 feet high structure completely made of bricks originated during the Tang Dynasty when Emperor Gaozong once reigned. The day will conclude with a tasteful and creatively prepared Dumpling Feast followed by an exquisite traditional Tang Dynasty Music and Dance Show. The rest of the evening is yours to enjoy!
Day 15 - Xian to Wuhan to YichangMeals: Breakfast, Dinner
Today, your tour will start with a spectacular city tour of Xi'an's Ancient City Wall. The City Wall is one of the oldest walls of any other city in China and was established during the reign of the first emperor who ruled during the birth of the Qing Dynasty. Afterwards, you will fly to Wuhan. Upon arrival in Wuhan, take a fast train to Yichang. After dinner, board your ultra luxurious 5-star cruise ship operated by President Cruises. All cabins are outside with a private balcony. All China Focus travelers also enjoys Executive Deck and Services, including cabins with better viewing, VIP area reserved for evening entertainment, complimentary unlimited wine, beer, and soft drink for lunch and dinner, and much more.
Yangtze River Disclosure: In case of upgrading or maintenance on the Three Gorges Dam ship locks, or if the flow of the river’s upper reaches exceed 40,000 cubic meter per second during flood season, cruise ships will embark and disembark at Maoping pier. The cruise ship company takes responsibility for transfer of passengers to the pier. Passengers will still have a shore excursion to visit the Three Gorges Dam site and see the spectacular view of the project parts and ship locks. Thank you for your understanding.
Day 16 - Yangtze RiverMeals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
In the morning, depart from Yichang and set sail into Xiling Gorge (the longest at 41 miles). Then take a land excursion to the Three Gorges Dam Site. It is the world's largest dam, 1.7 miles long and 220 feet high, and the largest electricity-generating plant of any kind. The dam body was completed in 2006. All of the originally planned components of the project were completed on October 30, 2008. The project produces hydroelectricity, increases the river's navigation capacity, and reduces the potential for floods downstream by providing flood storage space. From completion until September 2009, the dam has generated 348.4 TWh of electricity, covering more than one third of its project cost. There were over 1.2 million people who immigrated to other parts of the country in order to complete the project. In the afternoon, sail through the five-step ship lock. There will be a Captain's Welcoming Dinner and evening entertainment.
Day 17 - Yangtze RiverMeals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
In the morning, experience a once in a lifetime adventure when you transfer to a small riverboat and cruise up the tributary Shennong Stream. After lunch, Wu Gorge, which is 25 miles long and well known for its 12 forest-covered peaks and quiet beauty with ever-changing scenery. Then sail through sail through sail through Qutang Gorge, the shortest (5 miles), narrowest (500 feet) and most dramatic one.
Day 18 - Yangtze RiverMeals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
After practicing Tai Chi on the sundeck, take a land excursion to Shibaozhai, one of the gems of Chinese architecture along the Yangtze River. The 720-foot hill on the north bank can appear to resemble a jade seal. It is said that the hill was created by the goddess Nuwo while redecorating the sky. Atop the hill sits a temple built during the reign of Emperor Qianlong. In 1956, three more stories were added to this historic temple. Eventually, the rising water levels will surround the temple, which is preserved with a tiny dam, but left on an island. This magnificent pagoda, which no nails were used to build it, is appropriately named "The Pearl of the Yangtze". After the land excursion, there are various cultural programs you may attend on the ship. A Farewell Dinner is planned for the night.
Day 19 - Chongqing to LhasaMeals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
After breakfast, disembark in Chongqing, the world's largest city by population of about 30 million and the largest by area of 32,000 Square miles, the picturesque "Mountain City," previously known as China's wartime capital during the Second World War. Before flying to the capital of Tibet, Lhasa, marked as the "City of Sunshine" and also known as the highest city in the world, You will visit the Huguang Guild Hall, originally built in 1759 during the Qing Dynasty, used for people to pray for good harvest. It has now been renovated into a museum including temple, hall rooms, and opera stages; featuring local handcrafts, and performing arts. After lunch, fly to Lhasa. Lhasa, over 12,000 feet in elevation, is predominantly home to the Tibetans and the Hans. The remainder of the day is for relaxing and acclimatizing to the altitude.
Day 20 - LhasaMeals: Breakfast, Lunch
This morning, you will be visiting the famous Potala Palace, past residence of the revered Dalai Lama. King Songstan Gambo constructed the famed World Heritage Site in the 17th century. Gambo, founder of the Tibetan empire, was well known for his heroic movements and as a result became a nationally worshiped figure by the Tibetans. The current 13-story building today is converted into a museum, which comprise of over 200,000 statues, temples, shrines, and historical Tibetan materials and articles.
In the afternoon, take a stroll through Barkhor Street in the middle of old town. For over 1300 years, these are the same path that millions of pilgrims and travelers from all over the world have taken to the Jokhang Temple. As you walk through is ancient street, browse through the shops offering prayer wheels, scroll paintings, traditional clothing, and, maybe, you might find some religious artifact.
Day 21 - LhasaMeals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Today you will take a 70-mile scenic drive along Lhasa River and cross Tsangpo River (highest river in the world) to visit Yamdrok Yumtso, meaning Jade Lake. You will reach the highest altitude of your life at Khampa La Pass, 15,668 feet above sea level. You can see here the highest hydroelectric plant on the planet. You will enjoy the stunning beauty of the blue lake reflecting white clouds and snow-capped mountains; typical Tibetan shepherd villages and hot springs on this mystic plateau. You will have a picnic lunch here.
After returning to Lhasa, you will visit the 1,300-year-old Jokhang Temple, declared as an UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000. Built in 647, the temple has been a prime location considered sacred and holy to the Tibetans who have worshiped here. You will also find that in the temple sits the famous Sakyamuni Statue, believed to have been a key figure in Buddhism.
Day 22 - Lhasa to ChengduMeals: Breakfast, Dinner
This morning, visit the Drepung Monastery, which is the original home to monks before the Potala Palace. Enjoy the murals and the harmonious colors displayed on the building. After that, you will take a flight to Chengdu, the capital of the Sichuan Province and nicknamed the "Land of Milk and Honey." Chengdu is widely known as the city where the strong tradition of tea drinking still resonates.
Day 23 - Chengdu to GuilinMeals: Breakfast, Lunch
What would a trip to China be without a visit to see those adorable pandas? Tour the Panda Research Institute and Breeding Center (there are 102 pandas currently) to watch these lovable and charismatic creatures live their lives. You will get a glimpse of the pandas during feeding hours and see them indulge in their favorite past time- sleeping. People have the opportunity to take pictures sitting with the pandas or even holding the baby pandas at additional cost. You will keep these pictures as life-long memories. Then you will be transferred to the airport and take a flight scheduled for Guilin. Be prepared for a city recognized for its stunning landscapes and captivating lifestyles of the people who call this enchanting place "home." Tourists will regret missing the chance to soak in Guilin's most amazing beauty. Guilin is a must see!
Day 24 - Longsheng Day ExcursionMeals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
After breakfast, you will have a full day excursion to the Longsheng Rice Terraces. Longji is the home to thousands of Zhuang and Yao ethnic minority people. These indigenous people have lived there for thousands of years. It is said that a Zhuang family started to remove the stones to make the first rice terrace on the slope of Longji area one thousand years ago. Since then, thanks to the efforts made by their descendants, they had made 15862 pieces of terraced fields between Yuan dynasty (700 years ago) and Qing dynasty (about 100 years ago).
Today's excursion will take you to the Longji Ancient Village. There are about 1000 people in the village, almost all of them are Zhuang ethnic minorities. All of the houses are wooden structures, some over 100 years old. The first floor of the house is often used as bathroom and for keeping cattle; the second floor is kitchen, sitting room and living room; the third floor is for keeping rice and rice hays. There are also several historical relics of Qing dynasty including the stone bridge with carving of three fish sharing one head, indicating the union of the Han, Yao and Zhuang people. Today you will have a close look at the life of the native people who live in the mountainous area.
Day 25 - Guilin to YangshuoMeals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Guilin is said to be "the best scenery under heaven" for its unique limestone karsts creating the picturesque of the location. This city of surreal beauty is prevalent of aromatic Osmanthus trees and is famous for its hills along the Li River. You will embark on a memorable 3.5-hour Li River Cruise passing through the scenic landscape of Yangshuo. As the whimsical cruise docks, you will then hop on a trolley that will transport you to your hotel. Take a glimpse of the lush agriculture that surrounds you. The remainder of the day is free to explore on your own. If you are willing and ready to exit the door of your hotel, you will find yourself immersed in a market full of vendors anxiously waiting for you from all directions. Test you bargaining skills and have fun! There is also the option to rent a bicycle or a tuk-tuk to go around the countryside and get an up close and personal look at the hills of Yangshuo and the life of the Chinese residing in this city. Depending on the weather conditions, you will have the choice to partake in an evening show directed by the famous Zhang Yimou who designed the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Optional Tour Disclosure: The "Lui San Jie" evening show (aka The Impression Show) will not run if the weather does not permit. If the performance is available, the cost is US$40/person. The Impression Show is choreographed by Zhang Yimou who designed the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Day 26 - Guilin to ShanghaiMeals: Breakfast, Lunch
After breakfast, travel back to Guilin and enjoy a visit to the Reed Flute Cave. Pay attention to the music the vendors are making as they blow their flutes constructed from the actual reeds that grow outside the cave. Enjoy the radiating lights that illuminate the natural rock formation and stone pillars along the zigzag pathway within the cave. A Special Tea Banquet will be arranged for lunch. After lunch, you will take a brief tour of the famous Guilin Tea Research Institute. It was once the royal tea garden for the Ming Dynasty known for its high quality and health benefits. You will witness a demonstration of traditional tea manufacturing techniques done by hand. This evening, a flight to Shanghai awaits you as the day comes to a magical end.
Day 27 - ShanghaiMeals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
You will first begin the day with a walking tour along the world renowned Shanghai Bund. This landmark known for its district neo-classic architecture of 52 European style buildings not only lined the Huangpu River but once upon a time housed the most influential financial institutions including national banks that were considered part of the "Big Four." After lunch, your walking tour will then end in the old town of Shanghai, the most ancient area of the city, still maintaining its circular shape as it did centuries ago. You will have some time to explore this area on your own. At the old town of Shanghai, you would find the City God Temple, and the famous Yu Garden (Yuyuan). You will visit a Silk Museum during your walking tour as well.
Day 28 - ShanghaiMeals: Breakfast
Today is a free day to explore the vibrant culture and lifestyle of Shanghai. Indulge yourself by shopping at the stores along Nanjing Road, which is the main shopping street of Shanghai and one of the world's busiest shopping streets. If you're just looking for a relaxing time, stop by the famous Old Jazz Bar at Peace Hotel. Its open daily from 8pm to 2am where you can enjoy jazz music dating back to the 30's and 40's and experience specially prepared cocktails and Irish or Italian coffee. You can also visit the massive Shanghai Museum with a collection of over one hundred thousand ancient artifacts, arts, and cultural relics. Whatever you choose, you will enjoy the splendors of this magnificent city!
Day 29 - Depart Shanghai to USMeals: Breakfast, In-flight Meals
We hope you enjoyed your time in China and will be leaving this country with endless amounts of stories, memories, and captivating pictures of the entire journey. You will be transferred to the airport and Air China will take you home on the same day.
Flight Detail: 16-hour flight of Air China to SFO with stopover in Beijing. 17.5 hours to JFK with a stopover in Beijing. Your luggage will be checked through all the way from Shanghai to USA. You will arrive back in the USA on the same day.