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Yangtze Downstream Discovery - 13 Days / 12 Nights


Beijing, Xian, Chongqing, Yangtze Cruise, Suzhou, Shanghai

Yangtze Downstream Discovery - 13 Days / 12 Nights

Day 1 Beijing

Arrive in Beijing after your flight, where we will greet and escort you to your hotel.

Day 2 Beijing (AB, L, D)

Begin your journey today in Beijing by visiting the sites of the 2008 Olympic Games, such as the Bird's Nest and Water Cube for outside viewing. The intricately built Bird's Nest cost approximately $480 million to build and seats roughly 91,000 spectators. The stadium was built with massive steel structures overlapping and intertwining each other, creating an image of a gigantic bird's nest which embraces and nurses human beings. The Water Cube, originally home to the swimming events during the Olympics, is truly a fascinating sight. Its translucent color-shifting building combines modern technology with Chinese traditional values. Now, one part of it has been turned into an indoor water park, where swimmers shoot down colorful tubes into pools of water. Popular Science magazine chose the Water Cube as the "Best of What's New" in 2006. After, enjoy a visit to the Summer Palace and Pearl Factory. The Summer Palace, located in the northwest suburban Beijing, is the largest and best-preserved imperial garden in China. Its Chinese name, YiHeYuan translates as "Garden of Nurtured Harmony" or "Garden for Maintaining Health and Harmony". The Summer Palace is a virtual museum of traditional Chinese garden arts with natural landscape of hills and open water combined with rocks, trees, pavilions, palaces, temples, paths and bridges, forming a harmonious and poetic ensemble of outstanding aesthetics. Next, we visit the Pearl Factory and discover the beauty and importance of these delicate gems in Chinese culture. Pearls were valued for four thousand years in China and the people in China have been culturing and harvesting quality pearls for over two thousand years. Take a look around and observe these lustrous elegant pearls in all shapes, sizes and colors!

Day 3 Beijing (AB, L, SD)

Today, see the Tiananmen Square, Forbidden City and Temple of Heaven. Tiananmen Square is located at the center of Beijing and is the largest square in the world. The Five-Star Red Flag flutters high above the mid-point of the square's north side. Every day, at dawn and dusk, the Guards march in unison to the foot of the flagstaff to hoist or lower the National Flag, which is saluted upon by on-lookers. Explore the Forbidden City Imperial Palace, also known as "Gugong". It was the imperial residence and center of the kingdom throughout the reign of 24 emperors. 14 in the Ming and 10 in the Qing dynasty resided and ruled from this palace for 491 years until Puyi, the last emperor of the Qing dynasty and of China. It is now the largest and best preserved ancient architecture in China. Visit the Temple of Heaven, often considered the quintessential Chinese temple as it incorporates some of the finest architecture found anywhere in the nation, without using a single nail! Capture awing photos as you observe this extraordinary temple. In the evening, enjoy a Peking Duck Banquet. If you'd like, this can be replaced with alternative meals.

Day 4 Beijing (AB, L, D)

Today you will visit the Great Wall followed by the jade factory and the Lama Temple. The Great Wall (Wanli Changcheng) literally means the Ten Thousand Mile Wall and is the greatest fortification in ancient China. The Great Wall of China is the longest man-made structure in the world. It was built by various dynasties over 2000 years ago to protect China's northern boundary. The way the imposing Badaling Great Wall climbs up and down and twists and turns along the high mountain ridges helps make it one of the eight great wonders of the world. Then, explore the Jade Factory. Stretching 9,000 years back, jade has been present in Chinese art, culture and history. These milky green stones were used for personal adornment by kings and the imperial, as well as utilitarian and ceremonial objects. View a vast collection of beautiful and fascinating jade pieces. From there, make your way to have lunch at a local restaurant. Then, return to the city to visit the Lama Temple (Yonghe Temple). The Lama Temple was built initially in 1694 during the Qing Dynasty, this building was the residence of Emperor Yongzheng when he was just a prince. However, in 1744 the Qing Dynasty formally changed the status of the dwelling to that of a lamasery, and so it became the national centre of Lama administration. After dinner, enjoy a spectacular Kung Fu show for some evening entertainment. Chinese Kung fu also called "martial art" is a traditional Chinese sport developed over a long history of time. Having been developed for a thousand years, it has become a precious cultural treasure displaying the art of attack and defense in a series of intricate hostile body movements.

Day 5 Beijing - Xian (AB, L, SD)

Take a Hutong (a neighborhood) Tour in the morning before catching an afternoon flight to Xian. Hutongs are traditional narrow streets or alleys most commonly found in Beijing. Old traditional alleyways and courtyard homes once covered all Beijing before the modernization of the city. Take a ride through the zigzagging hutongs by pedicab as you explore the authentic traditional homes. We then make our way to our flight to Xian. In the evening, enjoy the Tang Dynasty Show, a spectacular performance with ancient music and dance that oriented during the Tang Dynasty more than a thousand years ago, followed by a Special Chinese Dumpling Banquet. Xian is well-known for its dumplings. Dumplings can be steamed, boiled, fried or roasted and come with various fillings in different kinds of shapes. They can create a truly delicious cultural experience.

Day 6 Xian (AB, L, D)

Spend an exciting day as you visit the Terracotta Warriors excavation site, one of the most significant archaeological discoveries in the world. The site measures 16,300 square meters and contains 7,300 warriors, horses, and chariots arranged in battle formations within 3 different pits. Each warrior is uniquely and intricately crafted, making it hard to believe that these warriors were built over 2,000 years ago to guard the First Emperor in his afterlife. After lunch, continue your tour by visiting the Big Goose Pagoda and the Ancient City Wall. The Big Goose Pagoda was originally built in 652 AD. The Big Goose Pagoda is one of the most famous Buddhist pagodas in China and is filled with ancient artifacts. One of the pagoda's many functions was to hold sutras and figurines of Buddha that were brought to China from India by the traveling Buddhist translator Xuanzang. The temple complex in which the Big Wild Goose Pagoda is located is filled with beautiful gardens and stunning architecture, too. Xian is also one of the few cities where the original city walls are well-preserved and still visible. Visit the Ancient City Wall, which encircles and protects the ancient part of Xian and is one of the largest ancient military defense systems in the world. The massive city wall measures 12 meters tall, with a width of 12 - 14 meters at the top and 15 - 18 meters at the base. The ancient City Wall features a series of watchtowers, turrets, crenels and gate towers, all surrounded by a moat. Visitors are often baffled by the sheer grandness and simplicity of the Ancient Wall.

Day 7 Xian - Chongqing (AB, L, D)

Fly into Chongqing where we'll visit the General Joseph Stillwell WWII Museum and a Panda Garden before boarding 5-star Century Legend Cruiser. Chongqing is the largest municipality located in southwest China with the largest diverse population in the country. In fact, Chongqing was temporarily the capital of the Republic of China during WWII. That's when General Joseph Warren Stilwell was chief commander of US forces in the China-Burma-India Theatre. The General Joseph W. Stilwell Museum was founded in his memory for having contributed a great deal to the Chinese people especially in aiding their victory against the Japanese invaders. After, you'll watch and observe furry black and white pandas at the Panda Garden. View these precious childlike giant pandas as well as other animals in the Chongqing Zoo. If the pandas aren't out, poke your head in the office behind the English introduction board and ask the zoo warden if he'll feed them. Sometimes that's all it takes!

Day 8 Yangtze Cruise (AB, L, D)

Today's excursion is to the Shibao Zhai, located in Yuyin Mountain on the northern part of the Yangtze River. It is 164 feet tall and in the shape of an imperial seal. Built during the Ming Dynasty, the Shibao Zhai consists of a gate, pavilion and temple. Inside the pavilion, there are steles and inscriptions of past dynasties on each floor. You can also admire the amazing Yangtze River from the windows of each floor. As the higher floor is reached, the space becomes narrower. Upon arriving at the top of the pavilion, there is a flat stone dam. Here stands the ancient 'Lanruo Temple' at the highest point of the temple. A mural depicting the story of Nv Wa patching up the sky can be seen in the main hall of the temple. The so-called Rice Flowing Hole can be seen at the rear hall. According to a legend, rice once flowed from the hole every day after the temple was built. A greedy monk wanting more rice to flow from the hole made it larger, and from that day on, no more rice appeared! It is the tallest specimen of ancient architecture with the most stories in China and reputed as one of the eight fantastic examples of architecture in the world. Later, enjoy the Captain's Welcome Party and Welcome Crew Show in the evening.

Day 9 Yangtze Cruise (AB, L, D)

Today's shore excursion consists of the Lesser Three Gorges: Qutang Gorge, Wu Gorge and Xiling Gorge. Qutang Gorge is the shortest and most majestic of the three Gorges. In the northern part of the river is the Kui Gate. The Wu Gorge is the second of the three but is famous for its elegance. Along the Wu Gorge, there are twelve peaks on each bank. Among the twelve, the Goddess Peak is the tallest and most notable, as it is the first peak to welcome the sun's glow and say farewell to its afterglow, giving it the name "Wangxia Peak". Xiling Gorge is the longest among the three and along it, you may see streams, springs, stones, and karst caves. Also excursion through the Shennong Stream where we take a small peapod boat out on to some tributaries. The stream borders the Wu and Xiling Gorge and has four of its own natural gorges: Chengnong, Mianzhu, Yingwu and Longchang (each possessing unique characteristics.)

Day 10 Yichang - Shanghai (AB, L, D)

You have a shore excursion to the Three Gorges Dam. The Three Gorges Dam is a hydroelectric dam that spans the Yangtze River by the town of Sandouping, located in Yiling District, Yichang, Hubei province, China. The Three Gorges Dam is the w orld's largest power station in terms of installed capacity 22,500 MW. Afterwards, we arrive in Yichang. Later, we take a flight to the grand city of Shanghai.

Day 11 Shanghai - Suzhou (AB, L, D)

Enjoy your day by visiting Tiger Hill, Lingering Garden and Silk Factory No.1 in Suzhou before returning to Shanghai in the afternoon/evening. Tiger Hill is the most famous scenic spot of Suzhou, inspiring artists and poets with its marvelous picturesque scenery. Tiger Hill is a great place to sightsee, where you can find pagodas, temples, canals, gardens, ponds, bonsai collections and more. Enjoy its rich history and legend. Legend says that King He Lu was a collector for the finest swords and is believed to have 3,000 swords buried along with him. On the third day after the burial, a white tiger appeared to guard the tomb, hence the name Tiger Hill. Next take a stroll through the Lingering Garden. As one of Suzhou's classical gardens, it reflects the ancient Chinese proverb that says: "in Heaven there is Paradise; on earth, Suzhou." That proverb is indicative of the ancient Chinese desire to create a version of Heaven here on earth, by controlling and perfecting nature. The "bonsai" or Chinese "Penjing" is the ultimate manifestation of this desire to control and mimic nature. The Lingering Garden is truly heaven on earth. Next, you'll take a visit to Silk Factory No. 1, on this tour; you will learn the whole life cycle of the silkworm. Silk is a delicate fabric elaborately made of natural protein fibrin of pods. The fascinating silk-making process is that the silkworm creates its cocoon out of a single silk thread that is continuous for approximately 3,600 feet. China is the earliest country raising silkworms and weaving silk, with a history over 6,000 years long. Return to back to Shanghai. If you would like us to arrange your evening entertainment, we recommend a Shanghai harbor cruise or Shanghai Acrobat Show at an additional cost.

Day 12 Shanghai (AB, L)

Today, visit the Pearl TV Tower in the Pudong section and stroll through the Yu Yuan Gardens and the surrounding Old Shanghai District. Without a doubt Shanghai's most recognized landmark is the Oriental Pearl TV Tower. The Pearl TV Tower measures at a height of 4698 meters (almost 3 miles) and is the world's 3rd tallest TV and radio tower. Travel up and down the tower in a double-decker elevator that can hold up to 50 people at a rate of seven meters (almost 23 feet) per second. The Yu Yuan Garden is a famous classic garden, located in the heart of Shanghai's Old District. Considered one of Shanghai's highlights, it was originally built in the 16th century and displays an exquisite layout as well as beautiful, picturesque scenery. Here you will find classical numerous rock and tree garden areas, ponds, bridges and pavilions. Enjoy the modern style architecture and spectacular views of Shanghai. On a clear day, you can see all the way to the Yangtze River. Lunch is followed by a walk along Nanjing Road and the waterfront Bund to view the majestic city skyline. In the Old Shanghai District, a great number of small streets and lanes are present, and vendors sell their traditional Chinese products and goods to the tourist and local people. Stroll through the Old District and experience the Chinese culture. After lunch, enjoy a walk along Nanjing Road and the Bund. The Bund is a symbol of Shanghai and an epitome of Shanghai's modern history. Stroll through this colonial riverside of Old Shanghai and view the dozens of historic buildings lining the Huangpu River. 52 high rises of all styles in the West showcase the art of world architecture and history of contemporary Shanghai. Visit Nanjing Road, China's premier shopping street stretching 3.4 miles long. Enjoy the modern, vibrant and eclectic street filled with shops, eateries, restaurants and more. Nanjing Road starts at the Bund in the east and ends in the west. It is a must-see metropolitan destination for shoppers from all over the world!

Day 13 Shanghai (AB)

Enjoy this last morning in Shanghai to the fullest before we escort you to the airport to catch your flight back home.

AB:American Breakfast B:Breakfast L:Lunch
D:Dinner SD:Specialty Dinner

This itinerary is subject to change due to circumstances beyond our control including: weather, airline schedules, cruise itinerary changes, boat changes, etc.

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