Your journey gets to a relaxing start as your personal guide and driver take you to the hotel in a private car.
To stand on the Great Wall is a dream for many, and it does not disappoint. Mutianyu section is less crowded and has remarkable views, made special by the unusually large number of watchtowers in the surrounding mountains. A cable car provides a convenient route up.
Temple of Heaven is perhaps less well known, but culturally an important complex of circular ceremonial buildings set in beautiful parkland with ancient pine trees.
The Forbidden City is a treasure trove of architecture and beautiful artifacts created for the emperors. Tiananmen Square has an air of a place that has seen key events in history.
The Hutong Tour offers a glimpse into the world of courtyard houses along tree lined alleyways, a traditional Beijing way of life now slowly disappearing. A visit to a local family lets you see inside a home where generations have lived and understand what life is like in a hutong today.
In the morning your journey continues to Xi’an, another center of Chinese history. Shaanxi History Museum has an intriguing collection of artifacts from the early 13 dynasties of ancient China.
Xi’an City Wall is best explored on a bicycle, the 14km route is smooth and comfortable and the views of the old parts of the city quite spectacular. There is a rickshaw ride option as well.
Big Wild Goose Pagoda has been mentioned in ancient texts for centuries; the 7th century tower was built especially for Buddhist relics brought all the way from India.
The Terracotta Warriors and Horses must be seen to get the full impact of the achievement: thousands of statues, all with individual expressions and clothing. To one side the work goes on and more and more discoveries are made each year.
You will get to Yichang in time for lunch, and then your local guide will take you to the pier to board the boat for the Yangtze Cruise.
Xiling Gorge is divided in two by the Three Gorges Dam, so you will see the magnificent structure as you pass through the ship locks. There is also a chance to climb on the dam to view it closer.
The Shennong Stream is one of the tributaries of the Yangtze, and an enchanting place to spend a morning among the waterfalls, clear springs and limestone caves. Wu and Qutang Gorges are the backdrop to the rest of the day, the sheer cliffs majestically gliding past as you enjoy the views from the deck. White Emperor City is an optional visit to an old town now partially submerged under the river.
The crew’s performance ends the evening in a colorful show.
According to ancient legends, Fengdu Ghost City is where the King of the Dead lives. This eerie place has a cable car to take you to the top of a small mountain to see the views.
Captain’s Farewell Banquet and the Talent Show make sure the evening will pass quickly.
Today is dedicated to transfer to Chongqing and after lunch there to Lhasa, where you will be met and taken to your hotel by the local guide.
Potala Palace has a breathtaking presence in Lhasa: the red and white walls at the top of the famous steps seem to rise to the heavens. Jokhang Temple is the central worship place of Tibetan Buddhism; pilgrims throng in the halls and spill into the surrounding Barkhor Street, where this ‘saint’s road’ has been partially claimed by vendors selling anything from yak butter to souvenirs.
Norbulingka was the summer palace of the Dalai Lamas, and had exquisite gardens designed to display all the plants given to him as presents; the locals now go there for picnics at special times of the year.
Sera Monastery is the venue for the famous ‘daily debates’, where novice monks discuss Buddhist doctrine. Drepung Monastery was the original main palace of the Dalai Lamas before Potala was built; it still hosts the colorful Shonton Festival early part of August every year.
Flying to Chengdu will take most of the day with transfers in private vehicles in both cities. The evening is yours to recuperate from the drop in altitude.
Jinli Old Street was the commercial center of ancient Chengdu and has been sensitively restored to house colorful stalls and shops full of local produce.
Panda Breeding and Research Center is the home to the successful program, which has seen the number of these lovely animals multiply, and Panda Breeding Reserve is where the older pandas are taught to live in the relatively wild surroundings of the reserve.
Wu Hou Temple is a famous complex dedicated to a legendary general and his emperor. In the evening your guide takes you to the airport for your flight to Guilin. We will assist with all baggage and ensure you’re not just taken to the airport, but to the correct boarding area.
Good to Know:
There are several different programs for those wishing to hold baby pandas or be a Panda Keeper for a day, which all require booking in advance. Speak with your travel advisor if you would like more information.
Li River Cruise has made visitors to Guilin swoon over the mountains and bamboo groves for centuries. The winding river lets you see only one bend at a time, adding to the surprise element each time a new scene is revealed.
The natural wonders of Guilin are revealed today: Reed Flute Cave filled with stalactites and stalagmites, and Elephant Trunk Hill and Fubo Hill, the two best vantage points of the river.
A flight in the afternoon takes you to your last city in the tour, the exciting Hong Kong.
Your guide will pick you up from your hotel for an exploration of the Hong Kong Island: Victoria Peak is the starting point for the best views of the whole water front and harbor. The Peak Tram has taken visitors to the top for a century, and is part of the experience.
Aberdeen on the other side of the island has a charming harbor where some local people and expats live on boats; an interesting place to have a ride on the Sampan water taxis to see the abodes closer. The tour ends in Repulse Bay, where a wonderful beach on an exclusive residential area is open to all. Bring a picnic and enjoy the sand and sun.
Your driver will pick you up to take you to the airport at an agreed time; if your flight leaves later and you wish to do some shopping, just tell your travel advisor, we are flexible.