17 Days China Yangtze Tour with Tibet & Giant Panda Visit

All about China Discovery

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Take a journey like no other. This 17-day tour offers you a chance to see the classical historical and cultural sights, and also admire the breathtaking scenery of this beautiful country. You are in the rhythm of a graceful melody feeling the authenticity, enthusiasm and magnificence China has to offer. It should be once-in-a-lifetime experience! Why not go right now?

Highlights of this tour:

  • Visit the essential Chinese cultural and historical sites, learn about China on the way;
  • Have close contact with the cute giant pandas and get a feel of leisure lifestyle of Chengdu;
  • Join the faithful Tibetans in discovering Lhasa, the holy land on the high plateau;
  • Relax with the beautiful scenery and leisure activities on the 5-day upstream Yangtze River cruise.

Basic Trip Information

Price:
from $2,855
  1. 1. This price is for one person, based on a group of 2 adults sharing one double-bed room in 4-star hotel and traveling in low seasons;
  2. 2. This price is subject to change according your traveling season, group size, hotel class, change of activities and possible fluctuation of currency exchange rate.
Travel Route:
Shanghai / Yichang / Yangtze Cruise / Chongqing / Chengdu / Lhasa / Xian / Beijing
Travel Length:
17 Days & 16 Nights
Tour Code:
CD-SY-17
Group Size:
You, your family, friends or group
Experience:
ArchitectureCulturePhotograph
Departure:
Any day you want

Your tour - at a glance

Day 1~2 Arrival & Shanghai Tour

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.

Day 3~6 Flight to Yichang from Shanghai & Board Yangtze Cruise

Explore the stunning scenery along Yangtze River, such as Three Gorges, Three Gorges Dam and interesting excursions to Shibaozhai Pagoda, Shennv Stream, etc. Also relax yourself with rich activities on board.

Day 7~8 Chongqing Disembarkation & High Speed Train to Chengdu

Take high speed train to Chengdu after your Yangtze River cruise. One full and half day in Chengdu to meet the cute Giant Panda, then enjoy leisure time in Wenshu Temple, Renmin Park and Jinli Old Street.

Day 9~12 Flight to Lhasa, Lhasa Tour & Flight to Xian

Two full days to explore the holy Lhasa, covering the grandiose Potala Palace, sacred Jokkang Temple, Barkor Street, delicate Norbulingka Park, and two major temples in Tibet – Drepung Monaster and Sera Monastery.

Day 13~14 Xian Tour & High Speed Train to Beijing

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

Day 15~17 Beijing Tour & Departure

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.

Full Itinerary Day by day

Day 1 Shanghai Arrival

Ni Hao! Welcome to Shanghai, the biggest metropolis of China!

Upon arrival, you will be met by local tour guide at the arrival hall of the airport and escorted to check in your hotel in downtown by a private comfortable vehicle. The rest of today is on your own to relax. If you want to explore nearby, feel free to get some practical suggestions from your tour guide.

Optional activity: Attend an entertaining Acrobatic Show, including and 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).

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Day 2 Shanghai (B, L)

After breakfast, your guide and driver will pick you up from your hotel to start your Shanghai exploration. The first stop is to visit 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. It is an ideal place to learn about the profound Chinese history and culture. To help you learn about the history and facts about the relics in the museum easily, an Audio Explanation Device will be prepared for you.

Then, 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.

After lunch, drive a few kilometers to Lujiazui Area of Pudong New District to visit “the eye of Shanghai” - Shanghai World Financial Center where you can have a panoramic view of the whole Shanghai and Huangpu River area. Ascend yourselves to 474 meters on the 100th floor to experience sky walk on the transparent glass-walled walkway and feel Shanghai lying under your feet and blue sky hanging above your head.

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 Evening Activity: 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).

  • Shanghai Museum Shanghai Museum - One of the Best Four Museums in China
  • Beautiful The Bund Beautiful International Buildings at The Bund
  • Classical Yu Garden in Shanghai The Tranquil Yu Garden with Classical Chinese Style to Relax

Day 3 Shanghai & Flight to Yichang (B)

Before your departure, you will make fully use of your time to explore two more great sites in Shanghai - the Urban Planning Exhibition Center and Jade Buddha Temple.

Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Center is a fashionably designed modern museum, themed with “City, Citizens, Environment and Development”. It vividly displays how Shanghai developed from a swampy fishing village into the most vibrant and biggest cosmopolitan city of China. 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.

Owning the largest jade Buddha in the world and numerous religious artifacts, ancient statues and Buddhist scriptures, the Jade Buddha Temple is a peaceful kingdom of Buddhism hidden among modern blocks and dominating mansions. 

In the afternoon, your guide will escort you to the airport for your flight to Yichang (2hrs). Upon arrival, you’ll be transferred to Yichang Three Gorges Center Cruise Terminal (or Yichang East Railway Station) for a bus arranged by the cruise company heading to Maoping Port for embarkation. Your lifetime Yangtze River cruise starts!

Embarkation Tips: (1) All the cruise companies will arrange free transfer service at Yichang Three Gorges Center Cruise Terminal or Yichang East Railway Station during 16:00~21:00. You could choose either one to take the tourist bus to Maoping Port. If you take a train arriving at Yichang East Railway Station, you can take the bus at the exit directly. (2) The boarding time and departure piers may change based on the ship line, water level, season, weather and other factors. Please pay attention to the important info your travel consultants sent to you before your boarding.

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

Day 4 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.

Today’s highlight is an afternoon 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. If you like, you can take an optional experience to sail through Three Gorges Dam Ship Lift, the largest and the most sophisticated ship lift in the world, which takes only 40 minutes with fresh insight into the dam project.

Optional excursion: take shore excursion to the Tribe of Three Gorges in the Xiling Gorge which charges extra fee. It has lovely scenes everywhere - waterfalls, boats, fishermen, laundry girls washing in the stream, a mock wedding ceremony…Take an easy boardwalk in the valley to enjoy impressive scenery and explore the life and customs of Bai people of this region.

  • Three Gorges Dam The Magnificent Giant Three Gorges Dam
  • Yangtze River Cruise Yangtze River Cruise
  • Relaxing Yangtze River Cruise A Lifetime Relaxing Yangtze River Cruise

Day 5 Yangtze River Cruise (B, L, D)

Today you will sail through the spectacular Three Gorges! You will relax 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). You’ll be switched 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. During this side trip you will be entertained with local music and dance offered by the Tujia ethnic minority.

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.

  • Gorgeous Three Gorges Scenery Gorgeous Scenery of Three Gorges
  • Shennv Stream Shennv Stream

Day 6 Yangtze River Cruise (B, L, D)

In this morning, you will 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!)

  • Shibaozhai Pagoda Shibaozhai Pagoda

Day 7 Chongqing Disembarkation & High Speed Train to Chengdu (B)

In the morning, your ship will arrive at Chongqing Chaotianmen Port around 09:00 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 Chongqing North Railway Station for a high speed train to Chengdu (about 1.5hrs).

Welcome to Chengdu, hometown of the Giant Panda! You will be met by our local tour guide at Chengdu East Railway Station and escorted to Jinsha Site Museum. Constructed on the Jinsha ruin site which reveals the unique bronze civilization of the mysterious ancient Shu Kingdom (approximately 2900 – 3200 years ago), Jinsha Site Museum conserves the original expansive site for sacrifice as well as numerous ivory tusks and gold artifacts, including the symbol of China Culture Heritage - the Gold Sun and Immortal Bird.

Optional activity: you can enjoy a delicious dinner of Sichuan cuisine at a local restaurant.

  • Jisha Relic Museum Jisha Site Museum

Day 8 Chengdu (B, L)

This morning you will make a memorable visit to the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding. This facility is not only the most important panda scientific research center in the world, but also the home for more than 100 Giant Pandas. You will walk at leisure through the bamboo-framed paths and closely observe giant pandas of different ages eating bamboos, playing with each other, tumbling, and climbing trees. Be sure to not miss the chance to watch female pandas nursing their cubs in the nursery rooms! There is also a very informative Panda Museum where you can learn more scientific facts about Giant Pandas. Following the visit to this Panda base, you will be taken to a hidden spiritual Buddhist temple in hustling downtown Chengdu, Wenshu Temple, where you will marvel at the exquisite Buddhist architecture, soak in the reverent atmosphere, and wander on the temple’s peaceful paths.

Chengdu is famous throughout China for its relaxing and leisurely pace and lifestyle, which will be demonstrated by a visit to the City’s Renmin Park. Sit down, order a pot of Chinese tea, have a casual chat with your friends and watch locals indulging themselves in different kinds of folk entertainment – napping, playing mahjong, disco dancing, and giving neck massages! Next will be an impressive visit to the famous Jinli Old Street. Time will steal away as you quietly walk on the lively streets full of delicious local snacks, delicate artifacts, interesting folk shows, and other activities.

Optional activity: In the evening, watch a wonderful performance at the Sichuan Opera which includes folk opera, face changing, fire spitting, rolling lights, and other delightful entertainment.

  • Mama and Baby of Panda Mama and Baby of Panda
  • Renmin Park in Chengdu Renmin Park in Chengdu
  • Wenshu Temple Wenshu Temple

Day 9 Flight to Lhasa from Chengdu (B)

Today is free until your guide escorts you to catch your flight to Lhasa (about 2hrs and 40mins). Upon arrival, a tour guide will pick you up at the arrival hall and escort you to your hotel in downtown Lhasa while you enjoy the stunning views along the Yarlong Tsangpo River.

After check in, the rest of the day is for you to acclimate to the high altitude and weather of Lhasa. You should avoid strenuous physical activities during this period since this may cause high altitude sickness.

  • Yarlong Tsangpo River Yarlong Tsangpo River

Day 10 Lhasa (B)

After breakfast, start an incredible day of exploration in Lhasa city. The grandiose Potala Palace will be the first site to discover. After more than 1300 years of historical changes, this colossal Palace still dominates the skyline of Lhasa city. The Palace is the political and religious center of Tibet and has served as the governance and preaching site for the Dalai Lama. Climbing up the sacred steps to the Red Palace and White Palace you will explore their marvelous interiors full of exquisite Thangkas, numerous Buddha statues, vivid wall paintings, and other works of Buddhist art.

In the afternoon, first visit the holiest Buddhist temple in Tibet, Jokhang Temple, where the 12-year-old-like Shakyamuni statue is consecrated. With a history stretching over 1,300 years, this temple combines the architecture styles of Tibet, China, Nepal and India. As a spiritual center of Tibet, Jokhang Temple attracts hundreds of devoted pilgrims to worship there every day. Outside the door of Jokhang Temple is the famous pilgrimage circle, Barkhor Street, where you can join faithful Tibetans in colorful attires walking the circle around Jokhang Temple.

  • Potala Palace Potala Palace: The World-Famous Landmark of Tibet

Day 11 Lhasa (B)

After breakfast, we start our day with a visit to the summer palace of the Dalai Lamas and also the largest Tibetan garden - Norbulingka Park. The luxuriant trees and flowers, cool ponds and comfortable palaces make Norbulingka the best place for a summer retreat. Then drive about 5km westward to Drepung Monastery. This monastery used to play a crucial role in Tibet Buddhism as the school of the Dalai Lamas. As you walk along, immense temples and chapels leap to your eyes one after another. In its heyday, more than 10,000 monks lived and studied in the monastery. Various Buddhist rituals are performed in the monastery during festivals, most famous being the ceremony of Buddha Display in the annual Shoton Festival.

We will then visit the featured six hundred year-old Sera Monastery, famous for its grand ceremony of Buddhist debating and its beautiful temples with sensational icons, murals and history.

  • Monks Debating at Sera Monastery Monks Debating at Sera Monastery

Day 12 Flight to Xian from Lhasa (B)

Today is free for you to explore Lhasa city until your tour guide transfers you to the airport for your flight to Xian (about 2hrs and 45mins).

Welcome to Xian, the ancient capital of China! You will be met by our local tour guide at the arrival hall of Xian Xianyang Airport and escorted to your downtown hotel in a private vehicle. The rest of the day is on your own to relax.

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Day 13 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.

In the afternoon, you will 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 Community, a place where you can try different local snacks and explore Muslim culture.

Optional activity: Enjoy a wonderful Tang Palace Dance Show after a hearty dumpling dinner at a local restaurant.

  • Terra-Cotta Warriors Amazing Terracotta Warriors with 2000 Years History
  • Visitor Riding on Ancient City Wall Visitor Riding on Ancient City Wall

Day 14 Xian & High Speed Train to Beijing (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 for you until get escorted to catch high speed train to Beijing (about 5hrs), the iconic city and the capital of China! You will be met by local tour guide at the Beijing West Railway Station and escorted to check in your hotel in downtown by a private comfortable vehicle. The rest of today is on your own to relax.

  • Big Wild Goose Pagoda Big Wild Goose Pagoda
  • Shaanxi History Museum Shaanxi History Museum

Day 15 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 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 on the vast lotus in Kunming Lake and the colorful paintings in the Long Corridor.

Optional activities: Option 1: In the evening you can watch a wonderful Kungfu Show in the Red Theater (Hong Ju Chang) which usually starts at 19:30. Option 2: Enjoy the well-known Beijing Opera at Liyuan Theater to appreciate this classic Chinese art performance, 19:30-21:00.

  • Beijing Fobidden City Forbidden City
  • Summer Palace in Beijing Summer Palace

Day 16 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’ll take a cable car to ascend the Great Wall, then hike the most beautiful and interesting part of Mutianyu. It's a wonderful experience to climb up its rising towers to enjoy scenic views and take brag-worthy photos of the wall wriggling along mountain ridges. After the exciting time, descend Mutianyu Great Wall by cable car. (Note: If energy permits, you can hike up or down which takes about 40 minutes to climb steps. Please tell your likes to your travel consultant.)

Continue your trip to Sacred Way, a 7-kilometer-long passage leading to the Imperial Tombs of 13 Emperors of Ming Dynasty. The Emperor, known as the Son of the Heaven, who came from Heaven to his country through the Sacred Way, also would return to Heaven through this road. Take a walk through the largest archway in China and Great Palace Gate and you’ll see the magnificent stone guard of 12 sets of mythical animals and 12 officials. 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 this whole day tour, treat yourself to a great dinner to taste famous Peking Roasted Duck at Quanjude.

  • Mutianyu Great Wall Green Mutianyu Great Wall during Summer Days

Day 17 Beijing Departure (B)

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, also pay a visit to a local family's home in the traditional Hutongs.

Your Beijing tour is now about to end. Your tour guide will escort you to the airport for your flight to your next destination or home.

  • Temple of Heaven Tour Temple of Heaven
  • Hutong Family Hutong
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