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Best of China with Yangtze Cruise

15 Days from $5,454 per person

Style: First Class | Pace: Active

Discover the cityscapes of Beijing and Shanghai, Xi'an's Terracotta Warriors and the rare giant pandas of Chengdu on this mesmerizing encounter with China, which includes a leisurely cruise along the Yangtze River.

Travel to Asia often requires an overnight flight. Please arrange for flights to arrive on or before Day 1.

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Overview

Discover the cityscapes of Beijing and Shanghai, Xi'an's Terracotta Warriors and the rare giant pandas of Chengdu on this mesmerizing encounter with China, which includes a leisurely cruise along the Yangtze River.

Travel to Asia often requires an overnight flight. Please arrange for flights to arrive on or before Day 1.

  1. Journey to the "Northern Capital"—a land of emperors, epic monuments and the cultural heart of China. On arrival in Beijing, you'll be transferred to your hotel where you can relax before meeting your Travel Director for a Welcome Reception drink and local appetizers.

    meal(s):Welcome Reception
    hotel:Novotel Peace
  2. Surround yourself with the grandeur of Beijing's landmark Great Hall of the People, Qianmen Gate and the mausoleum of Mao Zedong as you walk through one of the world's largest public areas, Tiananmen Square. Delve into China's imperial heritage, passing the south gate into the frozen-in-time Forbidden City—once home to emperors and their households and today a UNESCO World Heritage Site. After lunch, indulge in a relaxing foot massage at the Foot Reflexology Center to ease you into an evening at leisure or consider joining an Optional Experience.

    meal(s):Buffet Breakfast, Lunch
  3. The iconic Great Wall of China beckons this morning—its stone ramparts and walls snaking thousands of miles into the distance to defend the empire against nomadic invaders since 5th century B.C. The afternoon is yours to enjoy on your terms. Consider strolling through the imperial gardens of the Summer Palace or visit one of the outdoor markets. This evening, indulge in a Regional Meal of succulent Peking Duck for dinner—a must during any visit to Beijing.

    meal(s):Buffet Breakfast, Regional Meal
  4. Navigate the ancient alleyways of the courtyard Hutong residences, weaving through lively neighborhoods on the back of a traditional rickshaw. Stop at the home of a local family where you'll connect with locals, enjoying a Be My Guest lunch of traditional Chinese cuisine, then visit a nearby tea house. Here, you'll delve into the art of chayi, joining a Local Specialist who'll share first-hand the age-old ritual of tea-making. Leave Beijing behind, bound for Xi'an, an ancient departure point on the Silk Road.

    meal(s):Buffet Breakfast, Lunch
    hotel:Wyndham Grand Xi'an South
  5. Engage with the children and teachers of a local primary school (during term-time) where you will learn a few words of Chinese and make a difference by donating much-needed supplies. Next, descend into the subterranean tomb of Emperor Qin Shi Huang to view his legendary army of Terracotta Warriors and Horses, followed by a delicious traditional meal of Chinese noodles. Your final stop today is to a Jade factory where you'll admire the favored stone of emperors, more precious to the Chinese people than gold.

    meal(s):Buffet Breakfast, Lunch
  6. This morning, your choice of activities gives you an opportunity to join a Local Specialist in their T'ai Chi practice or embark on a cycle tour around part of the ancient City Wall of Xi'an. Get stuck in to the ancient art of dumpling making next, with an opportunity to sample the juicy results for lunch, then transfer to the railway station for your high-speed bullet train trip to Chengdu. On arrival in the hometown of the giant panda, you'll check in to your hotel and savor the leisurely pace of local life on your terms.

    meal(s):Buffet Breakfast, Lunch
    hotel:Crowne Plaza
  7. Indulge in the bold and spicy flavors of local cuisine as you dive into culture and learn about regional cooking practices at the Museum of Sichuan Cuisine. Learn how to crush chili into powder using a Qing Dynasty pestle and mortar, then view ancient kitchenware, books and manuscripts faithfully recording the history of Sichuan culinary cultures. Immerse yourself in the intoxicating scents wafting through Restaurant Alley then, pay tribute to the Kitchen God before attempting to create your own culinary magic with the guidance of a local chef. Stomach and soul sated after a delicious encounter with Chengdu, you'll have an afternoon to relax, explore further or perhaps fit in some last-minute shopping.

    meal(s):Buffet Breakfast, Lunch
  8. Dive into culture and delve into local cooking practices at the Museum of Sichuan Cuisine, where you'll view ancient kitchenware, books and manuscripts recording the history of Sichuan culinary cultures. Visit Restaurant Alley, then pay tribute to the Kitchen God before attempting to create your own culinary magic with the guidance of a local chef.

    meal(s):Buffet Breakfast, Lunch
  9. Rub shoulders with the locals during a visit to People's Park with its beautiful Chinese gardens, lake and tea houses. Gain insights into the day-to-day lives of the locals who spend their free time in tranquil surrounds indulging in a leisurely game of mah-jong, a quiet nap or neck massage. Venture to lively Jinli Old Street next, crossing beneath the imposing archway into a world of intricate handicraft, paintings and calligraphy. Stroll along the narrow street whose façades were modeled on the architectural style of a traditional old town in western Sichuan Province, then transfer to the railway station for a high-speed bullet train ride to Chongqing. Here, you'll enjoy a city orientation tour with dinner before boarding your Yangtze River Cruise.

    meal(s):Buffet Breakfast, Dinner
    hotel:Victoria Jenna (cruise ship)
  10. Disembark this morning for a short visit to Shibaozhai to admire its 12-story cliff-top temple, built in the 19th century. Stretch your legs and climb up to the temple, tackling the red pavilion which leans against the side of the steep peak, now an island due to the rising waters of the Three Gorges Dam. Return to the Yangtze, cruising to Fengdu's 'Ghost City' to explore the mystical shrines, temples and monasteries that are dedicated to the afterlife.

    meal(s):Buffet Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
  11. Connect with your exquisite natural surrounds as you cruise gently down the Yangtze to the imposing Three Gorges. Squeeze through the narrow Qutang Gorge, admiring its dramatic vistas, before your journey takes you through Wu Gorge, renowned for its quiet beauty, forest-clad mountains, and cliffs so sheer the sun barely penetrates their precipices. A small motor boat will ferry you through the magical landscape of the Goddess Stream, a tributary of the Yangtze—its limestone cliffs covered in greenery provide a tranquil backdrop for your relaxing encounter with this mighty river.

    meal(s):Buffet Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
  12. We disembark the ship in Yichang, where we'll get a close-up view of the world's largest hydroelectric project, the Three Gorges Dam. Witness this engineering marvel first-hand as you tour the colossal dam that was designed with great expense for the dual purpose of generating power to fuel China's economic growth and control flooding on the Yangtze. After lunch, visit the Yichang Museum with its collection of more than 30,000 cultural relics before continuing to Riverside Park, which has peace as its central theme. Later, you'll have some time for shopping and a bite to eat at Wanda Plaza before transferring to the airport for your evening flight to Shanghai.

    meal(s):Buffet Breakfast, Lunch
    hotel:The Portman Ritz-Carlton
  13. Shanghai's famous 'Bund' waterfront is the first stop on a day of sightseeing with a Local Specialist. Admire the ornate neoclassical colonial buildings and skyscrapers that have sprung up from this former marshland, then dive into culture during a visit to a silk museum. Embrace the tranquillity of the famous Yu Garden next, with its pavilions, halls, rockeries, ponds and cloisters. Then, enjoy some free time for a local lunch of soup dumplings perhaps and shopping in the Old Town, a treasure trove of winding streets and vibrant markets that was once enclosed by the ancient walled city of Shanghai. Our final stop this afternoon is a visit to the Jade Buddha Temple, built in 1928 after the original temple was destroyed during the revolution that overthrew the Qing Dynasty. Admire the beauty of its precious jade Buddha statues made out of crystal-clear white jade, before you settle into an evening performance by the world-renowned Shanghai Acrobatic Troupe.

    meal(s):Buffet Breakfast
  14. Ascend to the 88-story Jinmao Tower for panoramic views of the skyscrapers that loom over the most populous city on earth. Then embark on a walking tour with a Local Specialist through the Shanghai French Concession, for an exhilarating encounter with the opulent age of French colonial China. Wander through the narrow alleyways, past elegant villas and apartments dating back to the early 1900s when the territory was proclaimed a French settlement. Later this morning, you'll see where the First Conference of the Communist Party took place in Xin Tian Di, whose charming antique façades hide a 21st-century world of bars, cafés, boutiques and theme restaurants. Enjoy the rest of the afternoon at leisure, letting the sights and sounds of Shanghai infuse every sense, or consider joining an Optional Experience. Say a fond farewell to newfound friends this evening during a Farewell Dinner.

    meal(s):Buffet Breakfast, Farewell Dinner
  15. Our epic encounter with China at its end, take a transfer to the airport for your onward flight.

    meal(s):Buffet Breakfast
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  • 30 Day Refund Guarantee

    We promise you’ll enjoy a stress-free travel experience from the minute you start your vacation planning or we’ll refund your deposit. Make your reservation with a $350 deposit. If you change your mind for any reason within 30 days of booking, we’ll offer you a full refund.

  • Add air to your reservation

    Let our Air Specialists handle your air reservations. We have direct access to the most current airfare routes and prices, so you’ll get the best value available when we book your flights. We never charge a booking fee and you’ll enjoy the flexibility to pay for air 60-90 days prior to departure.

  • Intra-Air Included

    Prices include economy airfare for any intra-trip flights required by this itinerary. For trip specific terms and conditions, please refer to the Dates & Prices tab.

  • Important Visa Information

    Visas are required for this trip. Please speak to your Travel Specialist at time of booking to assess your specific requirements.

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  • Definite Departure
  • Special Rate Solo Rooming
Start Date Return Date Price Discount Availability Price
Special Rate Solo Rooming
24 Mar 19 7 Apr 19 $5,995$5,454pp Early PaymentPay by Jan 17 Request Quote Book Now
14 Apr 19 28 Apr 19 checkmark $6,250$5,684pp Early PaymentPay by Jan 17 Request Quote Book Now
28 Apr 19 12 May 19 checkmark $6,250$5,684pp Early PaymentPay by Jan 17 Request Quote Book Now
12 May 19 26 May 19 checkmark $6,250$5,684pp Early PaymentPay by Jan 17 Request Quote Book Now
26 May 19 9 Jun 19 $6,250$5,684pp Early PaymentPay by Jan 17 Request Quote Book Now
Special Rate Solo Rooming
9 Jun 19 23 Jun 19 checkmark $5,995$5,454pp Early PaymentPay by Jan 17 Request Quote Book Now
23 Jun 19 7 Jul 19 $5,995$5,454pp Early PaymentPay by Jan 17 Request Quote Book Now
7 Jul 19 21 Jul 19 $5,995$5,454pp Early PaymentPay by Jan 17 Request Quote Book Now
21 Jul 19 4 Aug 19 $5,995$5,454pp Early PaymentPay by Jan 17 Request Quote Book Now
4 Aug 19 18 Aug 19 checkmark $6,250$5,684pp Early PaymentPay by Jan 17 Request Quote Book Now
8 Sep 19 22 Sep 19 checkmark $6,250$5,684pp Early PaymentPay by Jan 17 Request Quote Book Now
22 Sep 19 6 Oct 19 checkmark $6,250$5,684pp Early PaymentPay by Jan 17 Request Quote Book Now
6 Oct 19 20 Oct 19 $6,250$5,684pp Early PaymentPay by Jan 17 Request Quote Book Now
13 Oct 19 27 Oct 19 $6,250$5,684pp Early PaymentPay by Jan 17 Request Quote Book Now
  • Special Rate Solo Rooming: These departures include a discount on standard single supplement.

Price is per person and is based on two people sharing a twin bedded room. Single rooms are available at a supplement.

Single Room Supplement: from $2,300.

Flights: Prices include internal airfares and taxes for flights from Beijing to Xi'an, Xi'an to Shanghai, Shanghai to Yichang and are accurate as of 1 June 2018.

Visas are required for this trip. Please speak to your Travel Specialist at time of booking to assess your specific requirements. Visas cannot be issued upon entry to the country.

AARP Members are entitled to an exclusive Member Benefit Discount on all Grand European Travel vacations. Plus receive a free travel gift! Call Toll Free: 1-866-847-3858 for details.

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  • Professional Travel Director Professional Travel Director
  • Sightseeing with Local Experts Sightseeing with Local Experts
  • VIP Access VIP Access
  • WIFI on Coach and in Hotels WIFI on Coach and in Hotels
  • Cultural Enrichment Cultural Enrichment
  • Expertly Selected Hotels Expertly Selected Hotels
  • Hotel Tips Hotel Tips
  • Most Meals Most Meals
  • Personal Flight Options Personal Flight Options

Meal Summary

14 buffet breakfasts, 9 lunches, 5 dinners.

Included Highlights

CONNECT WITH LOCALS

  • Visit and have lunch with a local family in their home in one of Beijing's hutongs and gain a fascinating behind-the-scenes glimpse into their lifestyle.

DIVE INTO CULTURE

  • Indulge in a foot massage at the Foot Reflexology Center
  • Discover the traditions and techniques of dumpling making, indulging in an opportunity to sample them
  • Learn about Sichuan cuisine at a cooking class in Chengdu and taste some of your creations.

LOCAL SPECIALIST

  • In Xi'an, Chengdu, Shanghai

MAKE A DIFFERENCE

  • In Xi'an, you'll get to know the students and teachers at a local primary school and find out how your visit helps support their education in the local community.
  • Visit the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding and learn how your visit contributes to their conservation efforts.

Sightseeing Highlights

  • City Tour of Beijing, Xi'an, Chengdu, Shanghai
  • Visit Tiananmen Square, Forbidden City, Temple of Heaven, the Terracotta Warriors in Xi'an, the Jinmao Tower in Shanghai, the Great Wall of China
  • See local people practicing T'ai Chi in the morning, the Shanghai Acrobats
  • Cruise the Yangtze River
Request a Quote
  • 30 Day Refund Guarantee

    We promise you’ll enjoy a stress-free travel experience from the minute you start your vacation planning or we’ll refund your deposit. Make your reservation with a $350 deposit. If you change your mind for any reason within 30 days of booking, we’ll offer you a full refund.

  • Add air to your reservation

    Let our Air Specialists handle your air reservations. We have direct access to the most current airfare routes and prices, so you’ll get the best value available when we book your flights. We never charge a booking fee and you’ll enjoy the flexibility to pay for air 60-90 days prior to departure.

  • Intra-Air Included

    Prices include economy airfare for any intra-trip flights required by this itinerary. For trip specific terms and conditions, please refer to the Dates & Prices tab.

  • Important Visa Information

    Visas are required for this trip. Please speak to your Travel Specialist at time of booking to assess your specific requirements.

Print Itinerary

Reviews

Trip not yet reviewed
Request a Quote
  • 30 Day Refund Guarantee

    We promise you’ll enjoy a stress-free travel experience from the minute you start your vacation planning or we’ll refund your deposit. Make your reservation with a $350 deposit. If you change your mind for any reason within 30 days of booking, we’ll offer you a full refund.

  • Add air to your reservation

    Let our Air Specialists handle your air reservations. We have direct access to the most current airfare routes and prices, so you’ll get the best value available when we book your flights. We never charge a booking fee and you’ll enjoy the flexibility to pay for air 60-90 days prior to departure.

  • Intra-Air Included

    Prices include economy airfare for any intra-trip flights required by this itinerary. For trip specific terms and conditions, please refer to the Dates & Prices tab.

  • Important Visa Information

    Visas are required for this trip. Please speak to your Travel Specialist at time of booking to assess your specific requirements.

Print Itinerary
  • U.S. citizens traveling to China must have a current passport that is valid for six months beyond the conclusion of their trip. You can find information on how to apply for a passport here, and how to renew a passport here. Travelers visiting China will also need an entry visa.  We will send you application forms to complete to obtain your visa prior to departure. Visa costs and entry requirements can change at any time. Please visit travel.state.gov to learn more.

  • The currency in China is the Renminbi (RMB).  Yuan is the name of a unit of the renminbi currency – something may cost one yuan or 20 yuan.  The most convenient way to obtain cash is to use your ATM card at local banks in China. We recommend you also bring a valid credit card for purchases while you are traveling.  It is important that you inform your financial institutions of your travel plans before you leave home so they don’t flag your purchases as potentially fraudulent charges.

  • One of the most enjoyable parts of traveling is sampling the local cuisine.  The history of Chinese cuisine dates back thousands of years and varies by region.  You’ll discover an array of specialties with the country’s “Eight Cuisines” – Anhui, Cantonese, Fujian, Hunan, Jiangsu, Shandong, Sichuan, and Zhejiang.  Staples foods include rice, noodles and vegetables such as bok choy, bean sprouts, and watercress.  Dishes are usually flavored with things like fresh ginger, garlic and scallions, as well as chilies and dried mushrooms.

  • We suggest bringing a variety of comfortable clothes that can be layered to give you many options for how to dress in China’s various climates. A lightweight jacket will come in handy and study walking shows are recommended for sightseeing excursions. Keep in mind that your shoulders and legs should be covered while visiting religious sites. For more helpful information please refer to our Packing Tips & Packing List.

  • In China it is not common practice to leave a tip when dining out.

    At the end of your guided vacation, it is customary to offer your motor coach driver and Travel Director a gratuity.  We recommend the equivalent of $4 per person/per day for your driver and $6 per person/per day for your Travel Director.  Recommended gratuity for a Local Host and Local Specialist is the equivalent of 1-2 dollars per person, paid at the conclusion of each guided visit.  A convenient option is to prepay your tips before your departure.

  • Baggage on our trips is restricted to one large suitcase per person with dimensions not exceeding 30x19x10 inches and a maximum weight of 50 pounds. You are also permitted one piece of hand luggage, which should be small enough to fit under your coach seat or on the small overhead shelf compartment. Please note that luggage with an adjustable handle and wheels will not fit in the overhead compartment of the coach. Hotel porterage is included in your vacation.

  • You will need to be comfortable on your feet, walking and standing for up to three hours in various weather conditions.  All of our vacations involve walking, often on cobblestone and uneven surfaces in historic city centers.  In order to get the most out of your vacation you need to be able to comfortably walk 1-3 miles unassisted in one day, be in good condition and be able to keep pace with the group. 

    If you need any medications, it is important that you bring enough to last you the whole trip and keep them in your carry-on bag while you travel.

  • We highly recommend our optional Travel Protection Plan, which allows you to cancel for any reason up to 24 hours before departure. The plan also includes trip interruption, baggage loss or delay, and medical and emergency assistance. Click here for a summary of coverage details, terms and conditions.

Request a Quote
  • 30 Day Refund Guarantee

    We promise you’ll enjoy a stress-free travel experience from the minute you start your vacation planning or we’ll refund your deposit. Make your reservation with a $350 deposit. If you change your mind for any reason within 30 days of booking, we’ll offer you a full refund.

  • Add air to your reservation

    Let our Air Specialists handle your air reservations. We have direct access to the most current airfare routes and prices, so you’ll get the best value available when we book your flights. We never charge a booking fee and you’ll enjoy the flexibility to pay for air 60-90 days prior to departure.

  • Intra-Air Included

    Prices include economy airfare for any intra-trip flights required by this itinerary. For trip specific terms and conditions, please refer to the Dates & Prices tab.

  • Important Visa Information

    Visas are required for this trip. Please speak to your Travel Specialist at time of booking to assess your specific requirements.

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