Yangtze River & Tibet 2017 - 17 Days
Day 1 - Depart US to ShanghaiMeals: In-flight Meal
Embark on a memorable journey when you board China Eastern's non-stop flight to Shanghai via Airbus A330 featuring personal entertainment system for each passenger. En route, cross the International Dateline and lose one day.
Flight Detail: SFO to Shanghai is 14.5 hours non-stop. LAX to Shanghai is 14.5 hours non-stop. JFK to Shanghai is 15 hours non-stop.
Day 2 - Arrive BeijingMeals: In-flight Meal
Your connecting flight from Shanghai (Pudong) will land in Beijing. You will be greeted by our experienced tour guide(s) outside the customs and they will transfer you to your hotel. 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.
Flight Detail: Shanghai to Beijing is 2 1/2 hours.
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, you will visit a pearl factory before 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. You will return back to the hotel where you will have the evening free to explore the city’s vibrant nightlife and street market culture.
Day 4 - 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.
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.
Day 5 - Beijing to Xi'anMeals: Breakfast
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, a plane will then whisk you away to your next destination of Xian, which was the ancient capital for 11 dynasties and east end of the Silk Road. It was the world's most open and prosperous ancient international metropolitan with a population of 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.
Day 6 - Xi'anMeals: Breakfast, Lunch
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. Afterwards, you will have the rest of the evening free to explore the city on your own.
Day 7 - Xi'an to LhasaMeals: 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. Then we will fly to 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 8 - 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 9 - 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 10 - Lhasa to ChengduMeals: Breakfast
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 11 - Chengdu to ChongqingMeals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
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. After lunch, you will take a fast train to 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. After dinner, board your ultra luxurious 5-star cruise ship operated by President Cruises. All cabins are outside with a private balcony. Sail set in the evening.
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 12 - 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 are 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. There will be a Captain's Welcoming Dinner and evening entertainment.
Day 13 - Yangtze RiverMeals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
In the morning, sail through sail through Qutang Gorge, the shortest (5 miles), narrowest (500 feet) and most dramatic one. Then sail through Wu Gorge, which is 25 miles long and well known for its 12 forest-covered peaks and quiet beauty with ever-changing scenery. After lunch, experience a once in a lifetime adventure when you transfer to a small riverboat and cruise up the tributary Shennong Stream. A Farewell Dinner is planned for tonight.
Day 14 - Yichang to Wuhan to ShanghaiMeals: Breakfast, Lunch
After breakfast, 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. Board the ship to sail through Xiling Gorge (the longest at 41 miles). Disembark in Yichang and take a fast train to Wuhan. Afterwards, fly to Shanghai.
Day 15 - ShanghaiMeals: Breakfast, Lunch
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 16 - 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 17 - Depart Shanghai to USMeals: Breakfast
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: Shanghai to SFO is 14.5 hours non-stop. Shanghai to LAX is 14.5 hours non-stop. Shanghai to JFK is 15 hours non-stop. You will arrive back in the USA on the same day.