You will arrive in Beijing in the safe knowledge that your guide will be there to meet you and take you to your hotel in a private car. You will be given a cell phone so you can keep in touch with the guide at all times. Pocket Wi-Fi service goes where you go and makes sure you stay connected.
On your first day you explore the glorious past of Beijing. The vast Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square are justly regarded as the most famous imperial compounds in the world. The permanent and temporary displays of artifacts used by the emperors are an interesting addition to the day, ask your guide for more information.
The enchanting Hutong district is viewed on board a rickshaw, to reach more in a shorter time. A visit to a local family in one of the courtyard houses gives you an insider’s view to life here.
Your guide and driver take you to the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall, where the views are truly spectacular. Access is via a cable car, which gives you more time to spend on the top.
In the evening your taste buds are tickled by the world famous Peking Roast Duck.
Exploration of the ancient imperial life continues with a visit to the Summer Palace where the emperors escaped the heat among the lakes and hills. You will also visit the Temple of Heaven, where they prayed for bountiful harvest, but only on one special day each year.
In the evening you will catch a flight to Urumqi, where you will be met by your guide and taken directly to your hotel.
The appropriately named Heavenly Lake is a breathtaking mountain lake reflecting the surrounding peaks and meadows. A boat cruise lets you explore the vast expanse of it more efficiently. The local Uygur restaurant has authentic cuisine and a short performance during your lunch.
Back in the city, the Erdaoqiao Market is an exotic bazaar style place where anything you could imagine can be bought. Don’t forget to bargain, it is expected and part of the experience.
A morning flight takes you further into Uygur land, the oasis city of Kashgar.
Get a feeling of the Muslim culture, first in the 15th century Id Kah Mosque, still the centre of the local religious life, and then the nearby Zhiren Street, where all kinds of local products are made and sold. Even just browsing is an amazing insight into life here.
Lunch is traditional Muslim food; specialties include locally raised lamb and chicken.
Outside Kashgar is perhaps the best example of Islamic architecture in Xinjiang province, the Abakh Khoja Mausoleum. The beautifully decorated building has an impressive central dome. Among the tombs one is claimed to be of the famous Fragrant Concubine; ask your guide for more details.
Your guide and driver will take you to the Karakuli Lake. The views en route are fascinating, and the lake itself has amazingly clear reflections of the mountains surrounding it. A visit to a local Keerkezi family to share a cup of tea and snacks is a rare chance to get a glimpse of their life.
The day is spent crossing the vast expanse of Xinjiang, from Kashgar to Urumqi by car and then a flight to Xian. There you will be met and taken to your hotel by your local guide.
The main attraction of the day is the Terracotta Army, over 7000 soldiers, horses and chariots guarding Emperor Qin's tomb. New discoveries are being made every year, and the site is as much an active archeological dig as it is a museum and an exhibition.
After lunch of Sichuan and Hunan style dishes, you can rest while your driver takes you back to the city. A unique experience of a relaxing bicycle ride along the Xian City Wall, the best preserved of its kind in the world, can be substituted with a visit to the Bell Tower is weather is poor, or you would prefer it.
Big Goose Pagoda on the grounds of the charming Da Ci'en Temple offers a lovely view over the city and is considered as one of the must see sights in Xian.
The day is full of experiences: in the morning a flight to Chongqing, the land of Pandas, then a visit to the Panda Room in the Chongqing Zoo to see the delightful creatures in real life, followed by lunch and a stroll in the Goose Neck Park, where locals come to relax and practice music.
Ciqikou Old Town is also called the Porcelain Village, due to its ancient connections with this art form. The wares are still manufactured here and sold along the narrow streets and alleys. Try some of the local snacks; they are famous all round China.
In the evening you board the Yangtze River Cruise, and settle in for the journey.
A short shore optional excursion to the Fengdu Ghost City is available in the morning. A cable car takes you to the top of a mountain to admire the views in the distance.
There is a chance to learn some Taichi on board, if you would like to try this ancient form of exercise.
Welcoming Banquet and Dance in the evening is a lovely way to continue relaxing on board.
In the morning you can continue the Taichi exercises while gliding through the first two gorges, the Qutang and Wu Gorge. After lunch a half day excursion to the Shennong Stream, a tributary of the Yangtze, takes you to see the waterfalls and karst caves along it.
An optional visit to the Baidi City is available; it is an ancient town, which is now an island due to the water level rising after the Three Gorges Dam was built.
In the evening the crew’s performance provides the entertainment after dinner.
The cruise ends on arrival to the Three Gorges Dam, where you can go on the top to enjoy the views across the valley.
You will be taken to the airport in Yichang, where you board the plane to Shanghai.
The delightful Yuyuan Garden with its tranquil ponds and koi carp is a peaceful oasis in the middle of a busy market area. The Bund is a must see sight, here the European old architecture is mixed with ultra modern new buildings.
Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Hall shows you the future designs for the metropolis, while a visit to the viewing deck on the Shanghai World Financial Center gives you a bird’s eye view on the current layout.
Your guide and driver will be available to escort you to the airport to take the stress off until the last minute of your vacation.