Classic Yangtze River Cruise Tour with Guilin

13 Days Beijing-Xi’an-Guilin-Yangshuo-Chongqing-Yangtze River Cruise-Yichang-Shanghai

Have you ever heard that Guilin’s scenery is the best in the world? If you are interested in it, you have to join this Yangtze Tour from Guilin. Here, you will not only admire the beautiful Li River but also fully feel the uncanny workmanship of nature. Then, boarding on a cruise ship at Chaotianmen Wharf in Chongqing, your 13 days China tour with the Yangtze River cruise will come to its highlight. It’s known that the Yangtze River is the third-longest river in the world and the Three Gorges along the Yangtze River will bring you a visual feast. As the world’s largest river in water power, Chinese people attach importance to the Yangtze River. The Three Gorges Dam project – the world’s largest hydropower project plays an important role in Chinese people’s daily lives. Don’t you want to see the Yangtze River with your own eyes? What are you waiting for? Come and join in this Three Gorges river cruise in China!

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Day by Day Itinerary
Day 1 Beijing
You will arrive in Beijing and your guide will take you to the hotel for a good rest

Welcome to Beijing! Your guide will wait for you at the airport with your name sign. After being greeted, you will then be transferred to the hotel to check in. Beijing is the first stop of your 13-day Yangtze River Cruise Tour. With a total area of 16,410.54 square kilometers and a total population of more than 21,893,000, Beijing is not only the capital but also the cultural and political center of China. And many important events are carried out in Beijing, and the most famous one is the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. Today you can schedule your own time. You can choose to have a rest in the hotel or to have a visit by yourself.

Option 1: If you want to go out in the evening, you can choose to visit Wangfujing Street. Do you know how its name comes? In the Ming (1368-1644) Dynasty, there were 10 palaces for the princes, so it was called Wangfu Street (wangfu means “the prince’s palace”). Then, because there was a well on the street, it was renamed Wangfujing Street (jing means “well”) in 1905. And now it has been the most famous commercial street in Beijing, in which you will see some luxury stores and buy some flavored snacks as well, such as Beijing Roast Duck, deep-fried tripe, candied haws, and so on.

Option 2: If you are willing to relax in the evening, you can go to the Sanlitun Bar Street, where there are a lot of unique bars, such as CLUB MIX, Destination, Trinity Club, and so on. The business hours of the bar street are from the afternoon to the early morning of the next day. You can experience Beijing’s nightlife here.

Option 3: In the evening, you can visit Qianmen Street. Qianmen Street has a long history, which has gathered numerous time-honored Chinese brands, such as Quanjude Roast Duck Restaurant, Zhangyiyuan Tea Shop, Ruifuxiang Silk Store, and so on. You can choose to buy some unique products with Chinese characteristics and bring them back to your country as souvenirs for your friends.

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

After breakfast, you will come to Tian’anmen Square. It covers an area of 440,000 square meters, which can accommodate 1 million people for grand gatherings. A flagpole stands in the north of Tiananmen Square, and a flag-raising ceremony is held here every morning. The total height of this flagpole is 32.6 meters, but do you know why the national flag only rises to 28.3 meters? The reason is that the Communist Party of China was born in July 1921, and the People’s Republic of China was founded in October 1949. The two dates are 28 years and 3 months apart, so the flag is raised to 28.3 meters, symbolizing the respect and commemoration of the birth of the CPC and New China. Around the base of the flagpole, there are 56 yellow copper piers connected by the fence, which symbolizes the unity of 56 ethnic groups. As you can see, every number in the building has its own special meaning.

Next, you will come to the Forbidden City (closed each Monday) by passing through the Tian’anmen Gate Tower. Covering an area of about 720,000 square meters, the Forbidden City is the palace of the 24 emperors of the Ming and Qing (1636-1912) Dynasties and is considered as one of the top five palaces in the world. When you have a close-up view of the main palaces along the central axis of the Forbidden City, you will find that they are huge and spacious. In such a magnificent building, how did the royal members keep warm in winter at that time? In the Qing Dynasty, the stove was a common heating tool. And these stoves were often made exquisitely, highlighting the nobility and luxury of royal families, and the purified charcoal was generally used as the fuel, which can burn for a long time without smoke. In addition, royal families used special hand-hold stoves and foot stoves to warm their hands and feet to spend the cold winter.

After lunch, you will visit the Temple of Heaven, a place where the emperors worshipped the god and prayed for the abundance of grains in the Ming and Qing Dynasties. In ancient Chinese cosmology, the sky was round the earth was square. When you visit the Temple of Heaven, you will find many details that embody this cosmology. For example, the north wall of the Temple of Heaven is round and the south wall is square; in the Temple of Heaven, the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests, the Imperial Vault of Heaven, and the Circular Mound Altar are round in appearance; the inner wall of the Circular Mound Altar is round and the outer wall is square. Can you find other details?

After driving northwest for about an hour, you will get to the Summer Palace, 30 kilometers away from the Temple of Heaven. It was a royal garden in the Qing Dynasty. The Summer Palace, Chengde Mountain Resort, Humble Administrator’s Garden, and Lingering Garden are known as the top four famous gardens in China. When you visit the Summer Palace, you will see the Long Corridor, which is 728 meters long and is hailed as the No.1 corridor in the world. It is supported by 548 pillars with numerous beams. There is a colorful painting on each beam. The contents of the paintings are mostly landscapes, flowers and birds, and plots of the four classic Chinese novels. Ancient Chinese painters condensed thousands of years of Chinese history and culture on this long corridor with their exquisite painting skills.

Option 1: Have you ever heard of Chinese Kung Fu? If you are interested in it, in the evening, you can go to the Red Theatre to watch a Kung Fu show – Legend of Kung Fu. The show has won high praise from more than 100 foreign leaders and diplomatic envoys. The showtime is generally at 19:30, and each show lasts for 1.5 hours. If in the peak season, there will be an additional show at 17:15.

Option 2: If you want to relax and entertain in the evening, you can go to Houhai. You can find small restaurants here to taste flavored snacks in Beijing, such as braised boiled meat, Beijing-style barbecue, cooked tripe of sheep or swine, and so on. Besides, you can go to the bar street at Houhai to entertain yourself.

Forbidden City
Tian'anmen Square
Day 3 Beijing
Chang Tomb, Mutianyu Great Wall

Today, the first stop is the Chang Tomb. Built in 1409, it is the tomb of Emperor Zhu Di (the third emperor of the Ming Dynasty) and his empress. Do you know how its name comes? “Chang” has two meanings, because it has two pronunciations in Chinese, “Chang” and “Zhang”. First of all, “Zhang” means the elder. As the first emperor of the Ming Dynasty to move the capital to Beijing, Zhu Di built the fabulous royal palace, the Forbidden City. He owned the nation’s wealth and possessed supreme power. He also wanted his tomb to be the grandest one to manifest his authority when he died. As the first builder of the Ming Tombs, he was a pioneer and should of course be respected as an elder. Besides, “Chang” means “a peaceful death”. He hoped to have a peaceful death here, watching his descendants ruling this land continuously.

After lunch, continuing to drive northeast 40 kilometers for about one hour, we will get to the Mutianyu Great Wall. With a total length of 5,400 meters, the Mutianyu Great Wall is the longest section of the Great Wall in China. When you come here, there are 3 ways of ascending the Great Wall for you to choose from. The first one is to take an open-air chairlift back and forth. But if you pursue excitement and fun, you can choose another way, taking a chairlift up the Mutianyu Great Wall and taking a toboggan down. For the elders, we recommend the third way, taking a cable car back and forth. The cable car is enclosed, which is more suitable for the elderly.

Option 1: If you are energetic in the evening, you can consider going to the Silk Street Market. Silk Street Market is closed late at night, so you can enjoy shopping here. The goods here are dazzling, and you can buy some unique handicrafts, silk scarves, bags, and so on.

Option 2: If you feel tired after today’s visit, you can choose to do a foot massage. For traditional Chinese medicine, it is believed that there are many acupuncture points on the sole of a human foot, which correspond to internal organs. Doing foot massage can dredge the meridians, promote blood circulation and relieve fatigue.

Chang Tomb
Mutianyu Great Wall
Day 4 BeijingXi’an
Beijing to Xi'an by train

After breakfast, you will be transferred to the train station and take the estimated train G571 09:22/15:06 to Xi’an. Xi’an covers an area of 10,108 square kilometers and has a population of 12,952,907. It is a famous historical city in the world, enjoying equal status with Cairo, Rome and Athens. When you get to Xi’an, your local tour guide will wait for you at the train station and escort you to the hotel.

Option 1: If you are eager to visit some attractions in Xi’an alone, the Grand Tang Mall will be the best choice. It’s all known that Tang culture has played an important role in Chinese culture since the Tang Dynasty is the most prosperous in China’s history. The Grand Tang Mall is a modern interpretation of great Tang culture. Here, you can see many historical figure sculptures, and you can also see some exquisite performances at night, which is sure to be a feast for your eyes.

Option 2: How can you miss delicious snacks when you come to Xi’an? If you want to taste the local snacks of Xi’an, you must come to the Muslim Quarter. This is a paradise for those who like to taste flavored snacks. You must taste Biangbiang Noodles and Pita Bread Soaked in Lamb Soup.

Day 5 Xi’an
Terracotta Warriors and Horses Museum, Big Wild Goose Pagoda, City Wall

After breakfast, driving 38.9 kilometers northeast for about an hour, you will reach the Terracotta Warriors and Horses Museum. When you come here, you must be amazed at this magnificent sight. As we all know, the Terracotta Warriors and Horses has been honored as the eighth wonder in the world. Why Qin Shihuang (the first emperor of ancient China) built the Terracotta Warriors and Horses? The reason was that Qin Shihuang hoped an army to protect his tomb after his death. Hailed as Napoleon of China, Qin Shihuang brought the country to great unity. He also hoped that after his death, he would command thousands of troops to fight against the enemies in the underground world as well.

Then you will visit the Big Wild Goose Pagoda, one of the major buildings in Xi’an. Apart from appreciating this Buddhist pagoda, you can also take a walk around the North Square. The North Square of Big Wild Goose Pagoda is 218 meters wide and 346 meters long. In the square, there is the largest musical fountain in Asia. There are 22 kinds of fountain landscapes, such as lotus shape, butterfly shape, and so on. And they are the newest fountain landscapes with the highest technology launched in China.

The last stop today is the City Wall, the largest and best-preserved ancient city wall in China. The area enclosed by the City Wall is the ancient city and the area outside the City Wall is the outer city. The difference between them is that there are no skyscrapers inside the City Wall, but there are many skyscrapers and other modern buildings outside the City Wall. You can feel the collision of past and present when you stand on the City Wall. What’s more, it has attracted many famous people to come here. For example, President Clinton came to Xi’an and went up the City Wall when first visiting China.

Option: If you want to visit other attractions, you can go to the Tang Dynasty Palace to watch a large-scale performance – the Empress of the Great Tang. Based on Wu Zetian’s (the only female emperor in ancient China) whole life, this show has reproduced the glorious scene of the flourishing age of the Tang Dynasty (618-907). You can taste dumplings after this show as well.

Terracotta Warriors and Horses Museum
Big Wild Goose Pagoda
Day 6 Xi’anGuilin
Shanxi History Museum, and take a flight to Guilin

Today the first stop is the Shaanxi History Museum. When you enter the museum, you will feel as if you have traveled to the Tang Dynasty. And you can see the historical traces of the Tang Dynasty everywhere. Here, you can admire more than 1,000 pieces of cultural relics of the Tang Dynasty unearthed in Hejiacun Village in the southern suburbs of Xi’an. The museum has displayed more than 30 sets of jades and gems, and also exhibited 466 gold, silver, and copper coins. By admiring the rare legacy of the great Tang Dynasty, you can imagine how prosperous the Tang was.

Then, you will visit a local family to learn to make Chinese pasta such as noodles and dumplings and learn the pasta culture of Shaanxi Province. After that, you will have lunch with the family.

After lunch, you will take the estimated flight 3U3269 15:45/18:10 to Guilin. Covering a total area of 27,800 square kilometers, Guilin is a renowned international tourist city in the world. When you get there, your tour guide will transfer you to the hotel to check in.

Shaanxi History Museum
Shaanxi History Museum
Day 7 GuilinYangshuoGuilin
Guilin to Yangshuo by cruise ship, Li River Cruise, Yangshuo West Street, and drive back to Guilin

Have you ever heard a Chinese saying that Guilin’s scenery is the best in the world and the Li River’s scenery is the epitome of Guilin’s landscape? After breakfast, you will head to the Mopanshan Pier for the Li River Cruise. It’s 35 kilometers (about 1 hour drive) southeast of Guilin. The Li River Cruise is 164 kilometers in length, and the 83 kilometers from Guilin to Yangshuo is the essence of the Li River and is considered as the most typical karst landscape. The Li River combines lush mountains, lucid waters, and beautiful stones. Cruising on the Li River, you will feel as if you were in a Chinese landscape painting. Besides, the Li River has a stunning view of the Yellow Cloth Shoal. The Yellow Cloth Shoal is chosen as the background pattern of 20 Yuan banknote. If you have one, you could take it out and have a look.

You will have lunch on board due to the long journey. In the afternoon, you will reach Yangshuo and disembark to visit Yangshuo West Street. With a history of more than 1,400 years, Yangshuo West Street is the oldest and the most prosperous street in Yangshuo. With a total length of about 800 meters, the marble-paved street is lined with antique buildings with strong local characteristics on both sides. These old buildings are quite historical, and they all highlight the features of folk houses in northern Guangxi, which have grey tiles, sloping roofs, wooden doors and windows, and hanging balconies. In addition, other ancient buildings such as the Ming City Wall, old temples, former residences of celebrities, and memorial halls are also preserved here. It must be a worthwhile trip. After visiting Yangshuo West Street, you will be driven back to your hotel in Guilin to have a good rest.

Li River Cruise
Yangshuo West Street
Day 8 GuilinChongqing
Guilin to Chongqing by flight

After breakfast, you will be transferred to the train station and take the estimated train D1782 10:05/15:31 to Chongqing. And your tour guide will prepare the lunch for you.

Chongqing is the starting point of your Yangtze River Cruise Tour. When you get to Chongqing, your tour guide will pick you up at the train station and take you to the Chaotianmen Wharf. Driving northeast for about 20 kilometers (about half an hour), we will get to the Chaotianmen Wharf. Then, you will get on a cruise ship to visit the Yangtze River. Please note that the Yangtze River Cruise ship stops boarding at 20:30 and leaves the wharf at 21:00. And the tour guide will disembark after helping you complete the formalities. On the cruise ships, there are restaurants offering Chinese and western buffets with a variety of dishes, shopping areas, bars, foot massage service, and other entertainment equipment. What do you know about the Three Gorges of the Yangtze River, the highlight of the Yangtze River Cruise? The Three Gorges of the Yangtze River, namely Qutang Gorge, Wu Gorge, and Xiling Gorge, have played an important role in Chinese history. To a large extent, the Three Gorges protect the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River from floods. Besides, the hydropower development of the Three Gorges is an important milestone in China’s sustainable development process, especially the development of clean energy.

Day 9 Yangtze River Cruise
Shibaozhai Pagoda, Fengdu “Ghost City”

In the morning, you can sleep until you wake up naturally. After getting up, you can have a buffet breakfast. This morning, there is no tight schedule, so you can plan your own time as your will. You can participate in the Tai Chi activities on the ship, which can be helpful to strengthen your body. If you want to have a quiet morning, you can just read a book on the deck and have a cup of coffee. Not only can you enjoy the beautiful natural scenery of the Yangtze River, but also you can relax and enjoy yourself.

Today, you will have a shore excursion at Shibaozhai Pagoda, one of the eight fantastic buildings in the world. Do you want to know the origin of its name? Located on the north bank of the Yangtze River in Zhongxian County of Chongqing, Shibaozhai Pagoda was built based on a huge stone. It was said that this stone was a colorful stone left by Nuwa (the Goddess of Creation in Chinese legend) that was quite precious, so it has been called “Shibao”, meaning the treasure of stone. At the end of the Ming Dynasty, an insurrectionary army led by Tan Hong occupied this place and claimed to be the king. At that time, people called the place where the army was stationed “zhai”. Therefore, it has been named Shibaozhai.

If you want to learn something about China’s ghost culture, there’s an optional shore excursion to visit the Fengdu “Ghost City” that you can choose. It is up to you to visit it or not. If you are interested in it, you just need to pay the extra fee to the shipping company on board. The “Ghost City” is located in Fengdu County, with a history of more than 2,000 years. Although it is called a “Ghost City”, there is no ghost at all. It is most famous for various underworld-style buildings and ghost-shaped statues. Therefore, it has always been regarded as the hometown of the ghost. You will walk through the “Gate of Hell” to have a look at the “Palace of Hell”. You will be amazed by China’s profound and complete ghost culture. What you need to pay attention to is that different cruise ships pass by different attractions and the attractions you will visit is subject to the actual booking.

In the evening, there will be a captain’s welcome reception, so enjoy this wonderful night!

Fengdu "Ghost City"
Shibaozhai Pagoda
Day 10 Yangtze River Cruise
Qutang Gorge, Wu Gorge, Goddess Stream, Xiling Gorge

In the morning, you will enjoy a buffet as your breakfast. After breakfast, you can participate in the Tai Chi morning exercises. As a kind of Chinese Kung Fu, Tai Chi is not fierce but much softer, compared with Shaolin Kung Fu. Tai Chi has the effects of activating the self-repair system, dredging the meridians, and relaxing the body. Practicing Tai Chi is good for your health, why not try it?

Today you will pass through the Three Gorges of the Yangtze River. You will first reach Qutang Gorge. With a length of 8 kilometers, Qutang Gorge is the shortest among them. It is famous for its grandness and steepness. Some of the peaks here are as high as 1,500 meters, standing straight into the sky. The river channel in Qutang Gorge is narrow and the narrowest part is only tens of meters, which adds to the majesty of the peaks on both sides.

Next, you will get to Wu Gorge. With a total length of 46 kilometers, Wu Gorge is famed for its twists and turns. When you arrive here, you will be attracted by the Twelve Peaks of Wushan Mountain on both sides of the Yangtze River. Among them, the Goddess Peak is the most famous peak. Do you know how its name comes? According to the Chinese legend, there was a kind-hearted fairy named Yao Ji. One day, when she got to the Wushan Mountain with her eleven sisters, she found that Da Yu (a hero of flood control) was trapped in the flood when he was dredging the river channel, so she decided to help him. She assisted Da Yu in breaking the boulders blocking the river and dredging the river channel, which made the flood flow to the sea. In order to ensure the safety of the people, Yao Ji came here every day, standing on the Wushan Mountain to supervise the river water and pray for the people. Over time, she turned into a peak, hence the name Goddess Peak. Besides, you will take a small boat to visit the Goddess Stream. The Goddess Stream is a tributary on the south bank of the Yangtze River. With a total length of 15 kilometers, the stream is shallow and narrow with steep peaks on both sides. It is inaccessible for big ships, so you will take a cruise along the Goddess Stream by small boat. You will marvel at the extraordinary craftsmanship of nature when you see the untraversed valley with lush forests.

Finally, you will reach the Xiling Gorge. With a length of 66 kilometers, Xiling Gorge is the longest one. There is a small gorge, named Dengying Gorge, which is renowned for its shadow. When the sun goes in the west, four stones’ shadows are like the four protagonists in the Journey to the West, which is stunning.

In the evening, there will be a farewell dinner and performances given by the crew. Enjoy it!

Goddess Stream
Xiling Gorge
Day 11 Yichang-Shanghai
Three Gorges Dam Site, and take a train to Shanghai

Today, you are going to visit the Three Gorges Dam Site, which is the main project of the Three Gorges Hydropower Station, the largest hydroelectric power project in the world today. Do you know why such a large dam should be built here? It is related to the flooding of the Yangtze River. According to the record, the flood of the Yangtze River was first seen in 185 BC, and it has occurred tens of thousands of times since then. To better control the flood and protect the people nearby, the government decided to a dam in the Yangtze River. Located at the boundary of the upper and middle reaches of the Yangtze River, the Three Gorges regions have abundant water resources. Therefore, the Three Gorges Dam was born here based on its natural advantage.

Today, there is an additional shore excursion, which means you could board a sightseeing ferry sailing through TGP Ship’s elevator if you pay an extra fee. You can stand on the deck of the ferry and witness how the ferry moves up and down by taking the ship elevator.

After visiting, you will be taken to the Yichang Three Gorges Center Cruise Terminal and then transferred to the train station. You will take the estimated train D354 14:46/22:21 to Shanghai. When you arrive in Shanghai, your tour guide will wait for you at the train station and send you to the hotel to have a rest. As one of the most prosperous cities in China, Shanghai is the last stop of the Yangtze River Cruise Tour. You will visit the major buildings in Shanghai and enjoy its unique scenery.

Three Gorges Dam Site
Three Gorges Dam Site
Day 12 Shanghai
Yu Garden, Shanghai Old Street, Shanghai Tower, Nanjing Road, the Bund

In the morning, you will come to the Yu Garden (closed each Monday), which is a classic garden built in the Ming Dynasty. On holidays, more than 300,000 people come to visit the Yu Garden. It is particularly worth mentioning that on November 5, 2019, President Xi Jinping and his wife Peng Liyuan met with French President Macron and his wife in the Yu Garden. Mr. and Mrs. Macron appreciated the beauty of Yu Garden and watched the Yue Opera performance here. The two couples once sat in Yuhua Hall and talked with each other cordially.

Then, you will visit Shanghai Old Street, which has witnessed the development of Shanghai from the Ming and Qing dynasties. And now, there are many of China’s time-honored brands, such as Deshun Restaurant, Dingniangzi Cloth Store, Xishi Tofu Shop. Strolling on the street, you will feel as if you were back to the old Shanghai more than one hundred years ago.

In the afternoon, you will come to the Shanghai Tower. It is the tallest skyscraper in China and there is the fastest elevator in the world. The elevator can directly reach the sightseeing observatory on the 119th floor at a speed of 18 meters per second, which means that it only takes 55 seconds. Do you want to have a try?

The next stop of this afternoon is Nanjing Road, which is the earliest commercial street in Shanghai. When it comes to Nanjing Road, everybody in Shanghai knows Paramount Hall, a well-known comprehensive entertainment place in Shanghai. It was the landmark of Shanghai’s nightlife in the 1920s and 1930s. At that time, only the top celebrities were eligible to come here, such as Chiang Kai-shek and his wife, comedy master Chaplin, etc. And now the Paramount Hall is still there, showing the glory in the past.

How can you miss the Bund when you come to Shanghai? The Bund is a perfect place to admire the views on both sides of the Huangpu River. On the Bund, there is a renowned attraction, Bund Lover’s Wall. Actually, it was built along the river to protect people from flooding. However, it has been the most romantic place here since the 1970s. The colorful flowers on the wall add a romantic atmosphere to the Bund. Many young couples date and take photos here. It can be said that the Bund Lover’s Wall has contained many memories of the youth. You can take some photos here with your significant person. It must be an unforgettable memory.

Yu Garden
The Bund
Day 13 Shanghai
Your tour guide will transfer you to the airport and you will fly back to your sweet home

Today, your journey will come to an end. Your tour guide will transfer you to the airport and see you off there. I hope this journey can leave you an unforgettable memory.


 Author: Lin Shuyun

 Proofreader: Vivian Zhou

This tour ends here
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