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13 Days Classic China Tour with Yangtze Cruise from $ 2,324

Travel China at Leisure

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Want to explore the most recommended highlights of China in a leisure way? This is the ideal trip which takes you to some of the most impressive destinations in China, including Beijing, Xian, Guilin, Shanghai, plus Yangtze River region. During this tour, you will not only uncover the best collections of historical sites, such as Forbidden City, Great Wall, Terracotta Warriors, etc., but also embrace the fabulous nature beauty of China, including the tranquil Guilin and the great Yangtze River.

Highlights of this tour:

  • Cover the best highlights of China in a pleasant and smooth itinerary full of diversities;
  • Immerse in the splendid history and culture of ancient China’s relic sites;
  • Please your eyes and mood with the peaceful scenery landscape in Guilin;
  • Enjoy a leisure onboard living on luxurious cruise on the beautiful Yangtze River cruise.

Basic Trip Information

Travel Route:
Beijing / Xian / Guilin / Yangshuo / Guilin / Chongqing / Yangtze Cruise / Yichang / Shanghai
Travel Length:
13 Days and 12 Nights
Tour Code:
CD-CCT-13
Group Size:
You, your family, friends or group
Experience:
ArchitectureCultureEcological
Departure:
Any day you want

Your tour - at a glance

Day 1~4 Arrival & Beijing Tour

Two full days and a half day sightseeing covering the grand Tiananmen Square, historical Forbidden City, spectacular Temple of Heaven, manmade wonder Great Wall of China, royal park Summer Palace, traditional Hutong, etc.

Day 5~6 Xian Tour & Flight to Guilin

One full day to visit the incredible Terracotta Warriors, leisurely walk on the Ancient City Wall and Muslim Quarter. Before leaving for Guilin, explore the Big Wild Goose Pagoda and Shaan’xi History Museum.

Day 7~8 Guilin Tour & Flight to Chongqing

Take a relaxing Li River cruise from Guilin city to Yangshuo old town, then explore the amazing countryside landscape around Yangshuo. Before departing to Chongqing, visit the famous Elephant Trunk Hill and Reed Flute Cave.

Day 9~11 Yangtze River Cruise

Board your ship in Chongqing, the rlaxing Yangtze River cruise starts. Explore the stunning scenery along Yangtze River, such as Three Gorges, Three Gorges Dam and interesting excurtions to Shibaozhai, Shennongxi Streem, etc. Also relax yourself with rich activities on board.

Day 12~13 Shanghai Tour & Departure

Experience the great contrast of Shanghai by visiting the traditional Yu Garden and Jade Buddha Temple, modern and prosperous Shanghai World Financial Center, Nanjing Road and the Bund, etc.

Full Itinerary Day by day

Day 1 Beijing Arrival

Ni Hao! welcome to Beijing, the iconic city and capital of China! You will be met by our local tour guide at the arrival hall of Beijing Airport and escorted to your downtown hotel by a private comfortable vehicle. The rest of the day is your own to relax. If you want to explore nearby areas, feel free to get some practical suggestions from your tour guide.

Arrival Ideals: At present, there are many international and domestic flights to Beijing. Besides, you can take a high speed train to this capital city from Shanghai (5-6 hrs), Xian (5.5 hrs), Guangzhou (8-9.5 hrs), etc.

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Day 2 Beijing (B, L)

After breakfast, start to explore the historical face of Beijing with a brief visit to Tiananmen Square, now the largest city plaza in the world. Tiananmen Gate on the northern side of the square was the site where Chairman Mao announced the establishment of the People's Republic of China. Stepping into the Tiananmen, you will see one of the world’s five most important palaces – the Forbidden City, a huge palace complex of more than 9,000 rooms where 24 emperors of the Ming and Qing Dynasties lived. Pass through various doorways in this magnificent structure to admire the beautiful and well preserved buildings decorated with yellow-glazed tile roofs, white marble bases and splendid colorful paintings.

After lunch, drive to the outskirts of Beijing to spend an enjoyable time in the Summer Palace, the largest and best-preserved royal garden in China. Stroll around ancient pavilions, mansions, temples, bridges and corridors while feasting your eyes on the vast lotus in Kunming Lake and the colorful paintings in the Long Corridor.

Optional activities: 1) You can watch a wonderful Kungfu Show in the Red Theater (Hong Ju Chang) which usually starts at 19:30; 2) Enjoy the classic Chinese art performance of Beijing Opera at Liyuan Theater between 19:30-21:00. 

  • Tiananmen Square Tiananmen Square
  • Forbidden City Forbidden City
  • Summer Palace in Beijing Summer Palace

Day 3 Beijing (B, L)

After breakfast, drive about 70km to witness one of the Seven Wonders of the World – the Great Wall. Visit the Mutianyu, a less crowded yet well-preserved segment of the Great Wall built in the Ming Dynasty. It will more than live up to all of your expectations! You can take a cable car or an enjoyable 40 minute walk to set your feet on the historic Great Wall. Then climb up its rising towers to enjoy scenic views of the wall as it wriggles along mountain ridges and you take brag-worthy photos.

Continue your trip to Ding Tomb, the mausoleum of a 13th century emperor of the Ming Dynasty. Follow your tour guide to observe its geomantic arrangement as well as visit the underground palace for a closer observation. Then drive back to Beijing City and take a short stop at the Beijing Olympic Village to view its famous Bird’s Nest and Water Cube from the outside.

Optional activity: After the whole day’s tour, treat yourself a great dinner to taste the famous Peking Roasted Duck at Quanjude.

  • Mutianyu great wall The Magnificent Mutianyu Great Wall
  • Ding Tomb Ding Tomb
  • Bird's Nest Bird's Nest

Day 4 Beijing & High Speed train to Xian (B,L)

After breakfast, drive to the imperial site of the Temple of Heaven. Originally a site used to pay homage to Heaven and pray for good harvests, it is now a bustling place where locals take part in traditional activities such as Tai Chi, dancing, kite flying, water calligraphy, and others.

Then get back to the central city to hop on a rickshaw to experience the Beijing Hutongs – small alleys made by neighboring quadrangle dwellings. Shuttle among different Hutongs to get a feel of the old Beijing life style, visit various antique shops and small boutiques, and truly feel the historical changes of Beijing.

Your Beijing tour is now about to end. Your tour guide will see you off at the Beijing West Railway Station for a high speed train trip to Xian (about 5 hours). You will be picked up by your tour guide at Xian North Railway Station and escorted to your hotel in Xian. The rest of the day is on your own to explore this ancient capital of China.

  • Temple of Heaven in Beijing Temple of Heaven
  • Hutong Hutong

Day 5 Xian (B, L)

After breakfast, drive about 40km to discover one of the greatest man-made wonders in the world - the Terracotta Warriors and Horses, built by the first emperor of China Qin Shihuang to protect him in his afterlife. Over 8,000 life-size warriors, horses and chariots, buried in 3 pits for more than 2,000 years until uncovered by a local farmer in 1974, form an ancient military army with complete battle units of infantry, cavalry, etc. Standing in front of these figures, one can’t help being amazed not only by the ambition of Emperor Qin Shihuang but also by the fabulous artistic skills of ancient Chinese artisans.

After lunch, return back to Xian take a wonderful stroll on the Ancient City Wall, the largest and best-preserved ancient city wall in China. Enjoy panoramic views of modern Xian while you leisurely examine this well-maintained city wall which is 12 meters high and 18 meters wide with a total circuit of nearly 14 kilometers. This visit is followed by a relaxing wander around bustling and lively Muslim Quarter, a place where you can try different local snacks and explore Muslim culture.

Optional activities: 1) Take a relaxing cycling on the Ancient City Wall; 2) Enjoy a wonderful Tang Palace Dance Show (usually from 8pm to 9pm) after a hearty dumpling dinner at a local restaurant.

  • Terra Cotta Warriors Terracotta Warriors
  • Ancient City Wall Ancient City Wall
  • Muslim Snack Street Muslim Community

Day 6 Xian & Flight to Guilin (B, L)

After breakfast, head to Da Cien Temple, a famous Buddhist sutra translation site during the Tang Dynasty. Big Wild Goose Pagoda is the most famous building in the temple. The pagoda, rising to a height of 64.5 meters, was built by the famous Buddhist master Xuanzang to preserve classic scriptures he bought back from India during the early Tang Dynasty. Xuanzang was the prototype character for Tang Seng in the famous Chinese novel “Journey to the West”. (Note: It costs an extra 30 RMB if you want to climb up the Big Wild Goose Pagoda)

Next is an educational visit to the Shaanxi History Museum where you can ramble in the modern exhibition halls to appreciate historic relics such as porcelains, paintings, and currencies dating from the Zhou to the Tang dynastic periods (1100BC to 907 AD).

The rest of today is free until you get escorted to catch a flight to Guilin (about 2hrs), the darling of tourists. You will be welcomed by local tour guide at airport, then be escorted to check in your hotel in Guilin City.

  • Big Wild Goose Pagoda Big Wild Goose Pagoda
  • Xian Shaanxi History Museum To Explore the Spectacular Heritages of Ancient China

Day 7 Guilin (B, L)

As the declaration in Chinese textbook” Guilin’s landscape is the best under heaven”, today you will explore this best landscape starting with a relaxing sightseeing cruise along the Li River from Mopanshan Pier to Yangshuo Town. Along the 84-kilometer cruise, dazzling scenery will overwhelm your eyes like a vast endless Chinese painting of winding river, green limestone karst mountains, fascinating countryside views.

After about 4 hours’ cruise, disembark in Yangshuo Town, and check in your hotel. Take a short break, immerse yourself into the stunning countryside views and relaxed atmosphere and be enthralled by the patches of paddy fields nestling under green hills and near the mirror-like river, with farmers cultivating the soil with their water buffalos.

This evening is for you to walk leisurely on the ancient West Street to experience how the western culture and Chinese culture perfectly and peacefully coexist here. Whether you want to enjoy a cup of drink in bar, taste some local food, or just experience the relaxing atmosphere, you get it here.

Optional activity: watch the splendid evening performance of Impression Liu Sanjie with the Li River itself as the stage, which was directed by famous director – Zhang Yimou (usually performs for an hour between around 19:45 and 22:20).

  • Li River Cruise in Guilin Painting-like Li River
  • Yangshuo Cycling Yangshuo Cycling
  • Old Alley in Yangshuo Yangshuo West Street

Day 8 Flight to Chongqing from Guilin (B, L)

After breakfast, transfer back to Guilin in a comfortable vehicle (1.5~2hrs). Then make a visit to the symbol of Guilin landscape - Elephant Trunk Hill. A giant rock hill vividly shapes like an elephant which is drinking water. Besides, there are many historical sites here for you to explore, such as stone carving, Buddhist temple, relic exhibition, etc. Then, drive about 7 kilometers to next attraction - Reed Flute Cave, a majestic underground palace with sparkling different colors. The magical Mother Nature condenses millions years of natural efforts to form the incredible stalactite, stalagmite, stone shield and stone waterfall of different sizes and shapes.

Lastly, your tour guide will take you to airport to catch flight to Chongqing (about 1.5hrs). After arrival the Chongqing Jiangbei Airport, you will be escorted to Chongqing Chaotianmen Port to board your Yangtze cruise ship during 18:00-20:00. Your lifetime Yangtze River cruise sails at 21:00! (Please note: the boarding time and pier change based on Yangtze cruise ships, water level, season and weather, etc. Your travel consultants will tell you the detailed time and pier before your boarding.)

  • Chongqing Chaotianmen Port Chongqing Chaotianmen Port
  • Reed Flute Cave Reed Flute Cave
  • Guilin Elephant Trunk Hill Guilin Elephant Trunk Hill

Day 9 Yangtze River Cruise (B, L, D)

In the morning, wake up leisurely and enjoy the gentle sunshine shining over the tranquil and beautiful Yangtze River. It will be colorful and interesting whether you decide to stay onboard or go ashore at river stops. 

Onboard you will enjoy different kinds of activities, like practicing Tai Chi on the boat’s sundeck, drinking a relaxing morning coffee, attending a Yangtze River history and culture lecture, or taking part in the Captain’s Welcome Party and evening shows. 

Next follow a local guide and make a shore excursion to Shibaozhai Pagoda, one of the “Pearls” of the Yangtze River. A gem of Chinese architecture, this 12-story, 18th century red wooden temple on the northern bank of Yangtze River is an architectural delight full of legends and beautiful stories. (Note: Comfortable shoes are highly recommended since there will be lots of stairs to climb up!)

Optional Excursion: Take a shore excursion to Fengdu Ghost City for an extra fee. Called the “City of Ghosts”, it is endowed with mysterious stories about underworld and cruel tortures and different kinds of devils and Chinese demons. Entering this ghost city, you will find many statues of demons and vivid scenes of their perfidious activities. (Note: Once again, the visit to Fengdu Ghost City requires much walking and comfortable shoes are again highly recommended!)

  • Relaxing Yangtze River Cruise A Lifetime Relaxing Yangtze River Cruise
  • Shibaozhai Pagoda Shibaozhai Pagoda

Day 10 Yangtze River Cruise (B, L, D)

Today you will sail through the spectacular Three Gorges while relaxing on the sun deck and soak up the breathtaking gorge scenery passing by as you drift through Qutang Gorge, Wu Gorge and Xiling Gorge respectively. 

In Wu Gorge you will take an enjoyable adventure to primitive Shennv Stream (Goddess Stream). Switch to a smaller boat to sail down this beautiful stream running in a narrow side gorge where you will have close-up views of high mountain peaks and hanging coffins on the steep cliff faces. After watching an entertaining music and dance show of local Tujia ethnic minority, sail back to your ship.

In the evening, you will firstly enjoy the Captain’s Farewell Party with all your mates onboard, and then watch the fascinating process of passing the ship through the Three Gorges Dam Five-stage Ship Locks at 23:00 PM.

Optional Excursion: Take a shore excursion to White Emperor City for an extra fee. Located at the entrance of Qutang Gorge, this excursion offers the best viewing spot to appreciate the magnificent Kuimen Gate. 

  • Qutang Gorge Qutang Gorge
  • Shennv Stream Shennv Stream

Day 11 Yangtze River Cruise & Flight to Shanghai from Yichang (B, L)

Today’s highlight is a morning excursion to Three Gorges Dam, the world’s largest hydropower project, located at the middle of Xiling Gorge near Yichang. You will marvel at this gigantic dam from different angles, learn more of the background history of the Three Gorges Dam Project and enjoy the surrounding beautiful landscape and scenery. 

After this excursion, it is back to your ship to continue your cruise to Yichang. Your ship will arrive at Yichang Port around 12:30 where you will go through a check-out procedure and disembark. You will be picked up by our local tour guide at the port and escorted to visit the Yichang Museum. From there you will drive to the Yichang airport and take your flight to Shanghai. 

After arrival in Shanghai, our local tour guide will pick you up at the airport, and escort you to your hotel for check in. The rest of the day is free for you to explore this cosmopolitan and lively city.

  • Three Gorges Dam The Magnificent Giant Three Gorges Dam

Day 12 Shanghai (B, L)

You will take a full day of sightseeing to explore both the past and present of Shanghai. Your first stop is Shanghai Museum, one of the Best Four Museums in China. This modern museum, with a round top and a square base which symbolizing the ancient Chinese perception of the world as "round sky, square earth", has collected many international-standard exhibits of bronzes, paintings, calligraphy, sculpture, ceramics, jade from more than 5,000 years ago to the Qing dynasty. Then you will take an interesting visit to Yu Garden, a shining star among all the ancient Chinese gardens in Jiangnan. This garden fully embodies the traditional design of Chinese architecture with jagged pavilions with elegant decorations, glittering pools with roving fish, and pine trees sprouting to the sky, all designed to refresh your mood and spirit. Adjacent to the garden is the Yuyuan Bazaar where you can savor tasteful local snacks and explore elaborate traditional Chinese handicrafts and art works. Next, you will drive several kilometers to enjoy a panoramic view of the modern face of Shanghai from the 100th floor (474m) of “the Eye of Shanghai” Shanghai World Financial Center

You will then be transferred to another popular landmark of Shanghai, Nanjing Road, a shopping paradise as well as a great place to take a wonderful walk to experience the modern atmosphere of the City. Lastly, you will stop at the Bund, originally a simple towpath for transporting goods but now transformed into a feverish trading district. You will stroll along the Bund, seeing and feeling the perfect fusion of Chinese and Western cultures while at the same time taking in the stunning Shanghai skyline with your own eyes! 

Optional activities: 1) Attend an entertaining Acrobatic Show, including breathtaking “balls of death” acts, chair balancing, hula hoops, juggling of benches, walking in the air, and other breathtaking performances (usually performed during 19:30~21:00); 2) Take a relaxing Huangpu River night cruise to see the city’s most significant edifices and streets sparkling under the atmospheric cover of darkness (about 50 minutes).

  • the Bund The Bund in Shanghai
  • Shanghai Yu Garden Shanghai Yu Garden
  • Shanghai World Financial Center Shanghai Full View from Shanghai World Financial Center

Day 13 Shanghai Departure (B)

Have you wondered why Shanghai developed into a modern, vibrant and cosmopolitan city from what was originally a shabby fishing village? This morning’s tour to Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Center will answer that question fully while also giving you an overview of the City’s ambitious plans for future. The Center is a fashionably designed modern museum, themed with “City, Citizens, Environment and Development”. Different usages of photography, models and interactive multimedia displays make your visit enjoyable and entertaining. The best features are the old rare photos of landmarks, such as the Bund, Nanjing Road, Yu Garden, during the international settlement, and the large scale model showing the detailed layout of Shanghai.

Next is a wonderful visit to Jade Buddha Temple, the site of the largest jade Buddha in the world and numerous religious artifacts, ancient statues and Buddhist scriptures. This peaceful kingdom of Buddhism hidden among modern blocks and dominating mansions is a great place for a nice break in this very busy city.

In the afternoon, your guide will escort you to the airport for your flight to next destination or home.

  • Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Center with Visitors Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Center with Visitors
  • Jade Buddha Temple Jade Buddha Temple
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