Leisure tour with Yangtze River Cruise

12 Days Beijing-Xi’an-Chongqing-Yangtze River Cruise-Yichang-Shanghai

This tour features the Yangtze River Cruise. With a total length of 6,387 kilometers, the Yangtze River ranks third in the world after the Nile in Africa and the Amazon in South America in terms of length. Yangtze River Cruise will start from Chongqing and end in Yichang. It is an ideal way to have in-depth sightseeing to the Yangtze River. Beyond that, you have the opportunity to admire the vivid history of China during the best Beijing and Xi’an tours designed for you. In the best China tour, you will uncover the solemn Forbidden City, conquer the magnificent Great Wall, embrace the stunning view of the Yangtze River, and explore the mysterious Terracotta Army. And this tour will end in the biggest city of China, Shanghai. The below itinerary will be the best travel tour to China that combined with both the amazing natural scenery and profound history of China.

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Day by Day Itinerary
Day 1 Arrival
Arrival in Beijing

After you land in Beijing, your Beijing local guide has been already waiting for you at the arrival hall of Beijing airport. And then you will go to the hotel and check-in.

Day 2 Beijing
Tian’anmen Square, The Forbidden City,Temple of Heaven, Summer Palace

After breakfast, your guide will pick you up from the hotel. Today you will visit Tian’anmen Square, the Forbidden City, Temple of Heaven, and the Summer Palace.

Tian’anmen Square is the place where the new China was born. The founding ceremony of the People’s Republic of China was held in Tian'anmen Square on October 1, 1949. After the founding ceremony of New China, the flag-raising ceremony is held every day in Tian'anmen Square. The time of raising and lowering the national flag in Tian'anmen Square is determined according to the sunrise and sunset time in Beijing. The specific time is specially calculated by Beijing Astronomical Observatory. Almost all Chinese people are patriotic, so many people come here every day to watch the ceremony everyday. No one won’t be moved by the solemnity of the scene of the flag-raising.

The Forbidden City (closed each Monday) is the physical evidence of the Chinese history of the Ming and Qing Dynasties. In the eighteenth year of Emperor Yongle (1420) in the Ming Dynasty, the palace in Beijing was completed. In the 25th year of Emperor Wanli (1597), a big fire destroyed the three main halls and the three main palaces in the Forbidden City. The restoration project was not completed until 1627. The Forbidden City was open to the public in 1925. If you come to China in winter, you will have the chance to see the Forbidden City covered by heavy snow. Standing under the corridor and looking out, you can imagine the people who used to live in the grand palace enjoying the view of snow just like you. They maybe happy, maybe yearning for freedom like the flying snowflake. The Forbidden City after the snow is also a wonderful place to take pictures.

In the afternoon, you will visit the Temple of Heaven. The design of the Temple of Heaven is based on the ancient Chinese doctrines of Yin and Yang and the Five Elements. Yin and Yang are two ancient Chinese philosophical concepts. The ancient people's understanding of "heaven" and the "relationship between heaven and man" were successfully expressed here. The Temple of Heaven in Beijing is one of the two heavenly altars in China. The other one is the Temple of Heaven in Xi'an, which was built in the Sui and Tang Dynasties. Your knowledgeable guide will show you where is the place for emperors to worship the god of heaven and pray for a good harvest. In addition to appreciating the ancient building here, you can also have a walk in the surrounding park. Here you can see lots of locals doing exercise, singing, playing a musical instrument, or playing poker.

On March 4, 1961, the Summer Palace was announced as the first batch of national key cultural relics protection units. The former name of the Summer Palace is Qingyi Garden. It used to be the place for emperors in the Qing Dynasty to escape the heat in summer. The Qingyan Boat is one of the must-sees in the Summer Palace. Walking through the Long Corridor, you will see this large stone boat. Qingyan Boat is the only building in Western-style in the Summer Palace. It was the place to free captive animals in the Ming Dynasty. When Emperor Qianlong of the Qing Dynasty repaired the Qingyi Garden, this place was changed to a boat. This boat was built to tell people that the water in the lake is flowing water, and you can take a boat tour here.

The Forbidden City
Summer Palace
Day 3 Beijing
Sacred Way, Chang Tomb, Great Wall, Mutianyu Great Wall

Today you will drive about 60 minutes and 45KM to visit Sacred Way. It is a leading road to the Chang Tomb. This road was a necessary route to the Ming Tombs to bury the emperors in the Ming Dynasty. Twelve pairs of stone animals and six pairs of stone figures stand on the Sacred Way. These stone animals and stone figures were called stone guards in ancient times. After the Ming Dynasty, they were called "Shi Xiang Sheng", which means stone statues. The ancient emperors believed that "death is the beginning of another life". And they thought that, after death, people still need everything in the underworld, such as clothing, food, housing, and transportation. Therefore, in the construction of the mausoleum, it was necessary to recreate the scenes of life before death. Stone figures and stone beasts were erected on both sides of the Sacred Way to show the majesty of the emperor's life. 

Then you will go to visit the Chang Tomb. Chang Tomb is the tomb of the third emperor of the Ming Dynasty, Zhu Di, and his empress. Zhu Di is also the first Emperor buried in the Ming Tombs. Chang Tomb has not been excavated, so today you will see is the palaces above the underground tomb. After entering the Chang Tomb, you will see the main palace, called the Ling'en Palace. The word "Ling" takes the meaning of "sacrifice and blessing", while the word "En" takes the meaning of "endless grace". And it is the main place to worship and sacrifice Zhu Di and his empress.

And then you will visit the Great Wall, which is the longest wall in the world. As one of the Seven Wonders of the Middle Ages in the World, it has a history of more than 2000 years. Today, you will visit the Great Wall at Mutianyu. The Mutianyu Great Wall is about 73 kilometers away from Beijing city center. The Mutianyu scenic area is full of mountains and the vegetation coverage rate is over 90%. The Mutianyu Great Wall is the essence of the Great Wall built in the Ming Dynasty. This section of the Great Wall is connected to Gubei Gate in the east and Juyongguan Pass in the west and has been a military stronghold to guard the capital Beijing since ancient times. With a long history and splendid culture, it enjoys the reputation of "among the Great Wall of China, Mutianyu section is the best" in China and abroad. Former British Prime Minister Major, former U.S. President Clinton, and Mrs. Michelle, wife of former U.S. President Obama, have all visited the Great Wall at Mutianyu. Now you have the opportunity like them. You can choose to climb up, or take the cable car or cable chair to ascend. After further exploration of the wall, you could descend the wall by toboggan, which will round off your Great Wall tour.

Option: Reward yourself with a Peking Roast Duck Dinner after conquering the Great Wall. Rolling the crispy roast duck skin, sliced scallion, and sweet sauce together inside a thin pancake, you will have an enjoyable dinner tonight.

Chang Tomb
Great Wall
Day 4 BeijingXian
From Beijing to Xian, City Wall

After breakfast, you will take the estimated flight MU2104 08:40/10:55 to Xi’an. After your arrival, your guide will take you to visit the ancient City Wall.

The original ancient City Wall has four main gates: Changle Gate (East Gate), Yongning Gate (South Gate), An Ding Gate (West Gate) and Anyuan Gate (North Gate). Since the beginning of the Republic of China(1912-1949), many new gates had been opened to facilitate access to the ancient city. And so far there are 18 gates in the City Wall. Through repeated repairs in the Ming and Qing dynasties, the ancient City Wall is still well preserved. In addition to appreciating the profound history, you can also rent a bike here. Riding on the wall and enjoying the fabulous city view in the meantime, this will be an unforgettable experience

City Wall
City Wall
Day 5 Xian
Terra Cotta Warriors and Horses Museum, Big Wild Goose Pagoda, Great Mosque, Muslim Quarter

This morning, your guide will pick you up at the hotel and go to visit the Terra Cotta Warriors and Horses Museum, Big Wild Goose Pagoda, the Great Mosque and Muslim Quarter.

First, you will drive about 1 hour and 45KM to visit the Terra Cotta Warriors and Horses Museum. It is an underground army built as funerary objects by Emperor Qin Shi Huang. He wanted to have the same power after death. How and when the huge army was found? In March 1974, a farmer discovered a terra cotta warrior while drilling a well in his farmland. According to records, before the Terra Cotta Army being excavated, they were originally colored. Most of the colors had fallen off when the warriors were unearthed. Then the terra cotta figurines turned into earthy colors, and only pictures of colorful figurines were reserved. The analysis of the colors on the terra cotta figurines provides valuable physical evidence for studying the clothing of the Qin Dynasty. You will learn more about the Terra Cotta Army from your knowledgeable guide.

After lunch, you will visit the Big Wild Goose Pagoda. In the third year of Emperor Yong Hui (652) of the Tang Dynasty, a five-story brick pagoda was built in the Ci'en Temple in Chang'an(ancient Xi’an). It was built for enshrining the Buddha statues, relics, and Sanskrit classics brought back by master Xuanzang from Tianzhu(ancient India). This pagoda was originally named Wild Goose Pagoda. In 707, another smaller pagoda at Jianfu Temple was built for the same reason, enshrining the Buddhist relics. To differentiate these two pagodas, the bigger one was renamed Big Wild Goose Pagoda, and the smaller one was named Small Wild Goose Pagoda.

The Great Mosque was built in the early Ming Dynasty. The total area of the temple is 13,000 square meters, with a construction area of about 6,000 square meters. It was listed as one of the world's Islamic cultural relics by UNESCO. It is a large-scale Islamic architecture but in Chinese traditional building style. The temple has four courtyards, and the layout is centering on axis architectures, supplemented by the symmetrical left and right buildings. This is the Chinese traditional layout of a big courtyard. Inside the temple, the pavilions and carved beams can be seen everywhere. You may see the Muslims worshiping here during your visit.

Muslim Quarter is famous as a food-centric neighborhood. Although it has been used as a tourist spot, local residents have always taken it as a major place to eat snacks, shop, and relax. Especially in the summer, there are more people eating and hanging around in the night market. In fact, the whole Muslim Quarter area is full of a variety of Halal restaurants and stalls, including many of the most recognized local long-established small stores. There is a small stall, named Laobai Jia, selling Chinese hamburger(stewed mutton in a baked bun) that was once interviewed by CCTV (China Central Television) because of its delicacy and popularity. If you find it, don’t miss it and just have a taste.

Night Option: Xi’an was named Chang’an in ancient times. In the Tang Dynasty, Chang’an was designated as the capital. After that, Tang culture became the most representative culture in Xi’an history. So, you could watch a Tang Palace Dancing and Singing Show(20:30-21:40) to appreciate the splendid culture of Xi’an. This show will follow a dumpling dinner.

Great Mosque
Terracotta Warriors and Horses Museum
Day 6 Xi’anChongqing/Yangtze River Cruise
From Xi’an to Chongqing, Hongya Cave, Yangtze River Cruise

This morning, you will take the estimated flight MU2661 8:00/9:30 to Chongqing. After arrival, you will go to visit Hongya Cave. After the sightseeing, you will board on the Chao Tian Men Dock, and begin your Yangtze River Cruise tour.

Hongya Cave, formerly known as Hongya Gate, is one of the ancient city gates of Chongqing, located on Cangbai Road, Yuzhong District, Chongqing. Hongya Cave is on the riverside area where the Yangtze and Jialing rivers meet. It was a huge grotto at the edge of the cliff under the rock outside Hongya Gate. It is said that there was a god in ancient times, with the name of Hongya Immortal who used to live here. Hongya Gate has long been destroyed, but most of the historical relics are preserved. Here you can also see lots of stilted buildings which are built on the riverside or cliffside.

The Yangtze River originates from the southwest side of the Tanggula Mountains in the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, the "Roof of the World". The mainstream flows through 11 provincial administrative regions in China. Finally, the Yangtze River flows into the East China Sea from the east of Chongming Island, and the total length is 6387 kilometers. The Yangtze River Cruise starts from Chongqing and ends in Yichang. In ancient China, when the emperor went on his southern tour, he rode on a wooden official ship with several floors on the Yangtze River. It was probably the earliest cruise ship in China, with no electric or gas power, relying only on wind and human power. Between Yichang and Chongqing, it took a month to cover the 500-kilometer voyage in ancient times, and now we need only 4 days.

Hongya Cave
Hongya Cave
Day 7 Yangtze River Cruise
Shibaozhai Scenic Area, Fengdu Jade Emperor and Fengdu Ghost City

Today, the cruise will pass by the Fengdu county and Shibaozhai Scenic Area. You will have the opportunity to visit Shibaozhai Scenic Area, Fengdu Jade Emperor and Fengdu Ghost City. At night, you could attend the Captain's Welcome Reception and have a buffet dinner on board.

Shibaozhai is a national AAAA-level tourist attraction, a national key cultural relic protection unit, one of the thirty best new tourist landscapes along the Yangtze River, one of the seven wonders of China on the Discovery Channel, and one of the eight wondrous buildings in the world. Shibaozhai is located on the north bank of the Yangtze River in Zhong County, known as the "Pearl of the Yangtze River". It was built by Tan Hong, a riser in the reign of Emperor Wanli of the Ming Dynasty. This place was repaired many times in the Qing Dynasty. Here you will see the stunning architecture leaning on a giant peak.

Fengdu Ghost City, also known as "Bazi Biedu" in ancient times, was established in the second year of the reign of Emperor He in the Eastern Han Dynasty. Till now, it has a history of nearly 2,000 years. It is located on the north bank of the Yangtze River, downstream of Chongqing City. The Ghost City is famous for its various netherworld buildings and statues. Inside the Ghost City, there are many buildings showing the netherworld, such as the Tianzi Palace(palace of Yama), the Naihe Bridge(a must-passed place before reincarnation), the Yellow Spring Road(the road to netherworld), and the Wangxiang Terrace(terrace in hell from which the dead can see their homes). It is a legendary ghost town as well as a treasure house of folk culture and art. The buildings in the ghost city integrates Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism. It is also one of the most famous human landscapes along the Yangtze River.

Fengdu Jade Emperor Sanctuary is located on the Five Fish Mountain, which is next to Ghost City Scenic Area. Five Fish Mountain is also known as Paradise Mountain in the west. The Jade Emperor Sanctuary is a famous historical site and it is restored on the original site of Wannian Temple, Magu Cave and Magu Temple on the Five Fish Mountain. According to Taoism, the Jade Emperor is the head of all gods and has the highest status and the greatest divine power. Westerners believe in God, and the Chinese believe in Jade Emperor. There is an old saying, “The Jade Emperor will bless you with long-lasting happiness and prosperity when you worship the Jade Emperor at the Jade Emperor Sanctuary.” The Jade Emperor Sanctuary is an important complement to the Ghost City.

Note: The excursions to Fengdu Ghost City and Shibaozhai are additional sightseeing tours.

Fengdu Ghost City
Day 8 Yangtze River Cruise
White Emperor City, Qutang Gorge, Wu Gorge, Shennu Creek

Today the cruise will pass by White Emperor City, Qutang Gorge, Wu Gorge, and Goddess Stream.

The White Emperor City is an ancient mountain city and was built in the late Western Han Dynasty(202 B.C. - 8 A.D.). Gongsun Shu, who built this city, occupied here as his base. He called himself the White Emperor, that’s why the White Emperor City is so named. White Emperor City has several city gates, include the East Gate, the Little North Gate, the Great North Gate, the Royal Palace Terrace Urn Gate (Sangho Gate), the Little West Gate, and the West Gate. The East and West Gates are near the Yangtze River. Today’s White Emperor City has been rebuilt many times in the past thousands of years. White Emperor City was a military fortress during the wars of Southern Song and Yuan dynasties. The topography of the mountain gives the White Emperor City a natural advantage in the war. The main building in the city is the White Emperor Temple. Inside the temple, there stand the statues of famous figures of the Three Kingdom Period, including General Guan Yu and Zhang Fei.

The Qutang Gorge is the first gorge among the Three Gorges you will see on the cruise. With its cliff-like banks and towering rock walls, it has been known since ancient times as "the most dangerous and majestic place in the world". There are many places of interest near the Qutang Gorge. In the upper reaches of the Gorge, there are the Fengjie Ancient City, the Eight Formations, the Windbox Gorge, and the Yufu Pagoda. On the north shore of the gorge, there is the White Emperor City, which has a large collection of cultural relics; on the south shore, there is the powdered wall with inscriptions all over the wall. Not far downstream of the Windbox Gorge, on the south bank, there is an oddly shaped peak that juts out of the river, known as "Rhinoceros Looking at the Moon".

The Wu Gorge is 46 kilometers long from Daning River to Guandu Pass, and is also known as the Great Gorge. There is a famous poem say, “The Wu Gorge is the longest one in the Three Gorges, and people will shed tears after the apes roaring three times.” It means that this gorge is long and deep, so the sounds of animals here are frightening sometimes. Wu Gorge is also a scenic wonderland with layers upon layers of mountains and peaks. The cruise travels through the Wu Gorge as if it were traveling through a winding gallery. 

Shennu Creek is located on the south bank of the Yangtze River. It is also known as "Beauty Creek" by locals. The creek is 15 kilometers long, with 10 kilometers of untouched primitive valleys. The upper reaches of the river are named Guandu River, while the lower reaches are named Ziyang River and Shennu Creek, which merge into the Yangtze River at Qingshi Town. The downstream of the river is still preserved in a more primitive natural appearance due to the rapid water surface and the narrow and shallow channel.

Note: The excursion to White Emperor City is an additional sightseeing tour.

White Emperor City
Goddess Stream
Day 9 Yangtze River CruiseYichangShanghai
From Yangtze River Cruise to Yichang, from Yichang to Shanghai, The Three Gorges Dam

You will disembark this morning. Then you will go to visit the Three Gorges Dam.

The Three Gorges Dam is based on the Three Gorges Project, the world's largest water conservancy project. With a total length of 3,335 meters and a crest elevation of 185 meters, and total project investment of 95.46 billion China Yuan, the construction of the Three Gorges Dam formally started on December 14, 1994, and finished on May 20, 2006. After the project was completed, there became a 600-kilometer-long reservoir, which is a rare landscape in the world. The Three Gorges Dam provides tourists with multi-functional services integrating excursions, science education, leisure, and entertainment. It has become a glamorous destination for many tourists.

After the visit, you will take a shuttle bus to Yichang. Then you will be transferred to the train station and take the estimated bullet train D953 14:47/18:53 to Shanghai.

After your arrival, your Shanghai local guide will be waiting for you at the railway station. Then you will be transferred to the hotel. Shanghai is the most developed and biggest city in China. Here you will see the highest building throughout China.

The Three Gorges Dam
The Three Gorges Dam
Day 10 Shanghai
Yu Garden, The Bund, Nanjing Road

Today is the first day of your Shanghai tour. This morning, your guide will meet you on time at the hotel lobby. Then you will go to visit the Yu Garden. Yu Garden(closed each Monday), with a history of more than 400 years, was born in the Ming Dynasty. With an area of more than 20,000 square meters, it is located in the bustling city center of Shanghai. Yu Garden ranks among the top five existing classical gardens in Shanghai. It is the only Chinese classical garden in Shanghai that has been announced as a national key cultural relic protection unit. During your visit to the garden, you may see an old ginkgo tree. It is said that this tree was planted by the owner of the garden in the Ming Dynasty. And it has a history of more than 400 years.

Then you will go to see the bund. The Bund was once the financial center of old Shanghai and China and even the Far East. It has been a symbol of Shanghai's development and prosperity for more than 100 years. The Bund architecture has a distinctive European neoclassical style. With a strong exotic atmosphere, the buildings are covered with various carvings and decorations in different styles. Looking across the Huangpu River from the Bund, you can see the Lujiazui Financial Center and the landmarks of Shanghai. You could also have an in-depth visit to one of the historical buildings on the Bund.

Then you will walk to Nanjing Road. With new commercial buildings and hotels rising up, the Nanjing Road has been changing all the time. Large commercial buildings interspersed with century-old stores and specialty stores can be seen everywhere. According to statistics, the daily passenger flow of Nanjing Road is over 1.7 million people. There are hundreds of thousands of products, including Shanghai local and the world’s brand-name goods. Several long-established specialty stores are particularly famous for their products. Shen Dacheng Dim Sum shop, famous for its authentic Shanghai dim sum, was established in 1875. Zhang Xiaoquan, the only Chinese well-known trademark in the scissors industry, was established in 1628.

At last, you will have a bird view of Shanghai city at Shanghai Tower. Shanghai Tower is the first building in the world that being built on a soft foundation with a weight of 850,000,000KG. With a height of 632 meters, it is the tallest building in China. In addition, Shanghai Tower is a building known for its environmental friendliness. Unlike traditional linear buildings, the exterior of the Shanghai Center is rotating and asymmetrical. This design greatly reduces the building's wind load and saves a lot on construction costs. It takes 6 years to build this large building. You will take the fastest elevator in the world go up to the observation deck on the 118th floor. Standing on the observation deck, you will enjoy the panorama of Shanghai, including the Huangpu River.

Free time ideas: If you would like to explore the local young people’s nightlife, you could go to the Hengshan Road Bar Street to have a drink. Or you could also go to the bar or pub on the Bund, like Bar Rouge and TOPS.

Shanghai Tower
Nanjing road
Day 11 Shanghai
Zhujiajiao Water Town, Jade Buddha Temple

After breakfast at the hotel, you will drive about 1 hour and 50KM to visit Zhujiajiao Water Town. Zhujiajiao Water Town has a long history with primitive folk customs and profound cultural accumulation. As early as 5,000 years ago, during the Liangzhu Period, there had been human activities already. As early as 1700 years ago, during the Three Kingdoms Period, it was a small village market. During the Wanli Period (1573-1620) of the Ming Dynasty, it had become a prosperous town market with many merchants. Nowadays, you can still see the ancient markets and buildings of the Ming and Qing Dynasties. There are also many famous places of interest such as the Fangsheng Bridge, the First Line Street, the Classical Plantation, the City God Temple, and the Yuanjin Temple. Here you will take a lazy boat tour, and enjoy the wonderful township view on the water. The boats here are rowed by man instead of a machine, so the tour will be quiet and leisure.

And then you will go back to Shanghai city and visit the Jade Buddha Temple. The Jade Buddha Temple is known for the two jade Buddha statues brought from Burma in the Qing Dynasty. In addition, the Bronze Buddha Statue in the Northern Wei Dynasty and Date Wood Guanyin Statue in the Ming Dynasty are worshiped in the temple.

Zhujiajiao Water Town
Jade Buddha Temple
Day 12 Departure
Fly back to your sweet home

Today you will say goodbye to China. Your guide and driver will escort you to the airport. And then you will fly back to your sweet home.

Editor: Summer Hou

This tour ends here
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