The Majestic Yangtze

11 Days Beijing-Xi’an-Chongqing-Yangtze-Yichang-Shanghai

Eight days of ancient culture and modern miracles. Have more personal touch with your guide and driver. The Essence of China is there to be discovered alongside the world phenomenon of "New China".

Map of Beijing-Xian-Shanghai
  • Comfort Trip
  • Discovery Trip
  • Essential Trip
Full Itinerary
Day 1 Arrival in Beijing

Hotel: Crowne Plaza Hotel Beijing Chaoyang U-Town (Superior Room)(TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence 2015)

Your personal guide will meet you right in the arrivals hall, ready and on time. A comfortable private car and experienced driver will be ready and waiting to take you to the hotel.

Good to Know:

Evening Ideas: Your guided from about 9 to 5 and evenings are free time. Your guide can give you some ideas to discover more.

Day 2 Beijing

Hotel: Crowne Plaza Hotel Beijing Chaoyang U-Town (Superior Room)

After the buffet breakfast your personal car, driver and guide arrive prepared with drinks, snacks, and map, ready to maximize your time in Beijing.

First, visit Tiananmen Square before entering the Forbidden City (Also called the Palace Museum & Imperial Palace). Hear the echo of another world, symbolism is everywhere. Your guide will bring things to life, in a way guidebooks just can’t.

Photograph the old lanes and courtyard houses, but first order some dishes with your guide at the best Traditional Restaurant, Courtyard 7. Enjoy a rickshaw ride or cycle while you explore the Hutongs. There’s still time to visit a family who’ve lived in the Hutongs for generations, offering a wide perspective of Beijing.

Good to Know:

  • Courtyard 7 Restaurant – 'Traveler's Choice of 2012' Rated 4/5 on Trip Advisor
  • Hutong Family Visit – Highly recommended in feedback as 'making Hutongs special'.

Free-time Ideas:
1. The Best Acrobatics Show in Beijing. Chaoyang Theatre has breathtaking performances making this Beijing's #1 attraction after the Great Wall. If you wish to go, you guide can help you buy tickets.
2. Lao She Teahouse's performances include story-telling, shadow-plays and more. Packed with tourists but interesting, although a little expensive.

The Forbidden City The Forbidden City
Day 3 Beijing

Hotel: Crowne Plaza Hotel Beijing Chaoyang U-Town (Superior Room)

Stroll with locals among the ancient trees that surround the Temple of Heaven. Try Tai Chi (or just watch) under the guidance of your teacher. You'll discover the Temple of Heaven, which was a place the emperor sacrifice to 'the most-high God in heaven' for a good harvest. The Round Altar, Echo Wall and Imperial Vault of Heaven are the rated as must see; we will cover these and more. It's on every top 10 Beijing list for good reason.

Next we'll drive up into the mountains to a farmhouse garden restaurant, famous for its rainbow trout & salmon which you can catch yourself. A short drive along the mountain backbones and you'll arrive fresh & ready to climb the Great Wall of China (Mutianyu section), in a less crowded area with the most spectacular views.

Good to Know:

  • Ranked No. 1 – Mutianyu ranks No.1 of 900+ Beijing attractions on TA.
  • "A Guide is Essential" – Beijing's Expat Travel Writer Sara Naumann recommends using a guide, even for an independent traveller. She also picks Mutianyu "the views are awesome…"

Free-time Ideas:
1.DaDong the most famous place for roast duck, best to reserve. Ranked #8 of 3695. Rated 4.5/5.
2. A former 1920's US Embassy (Litigation Quarter of Beijing) is just a thing for a special occasion. They offer world class dinning at China prices, if you prefer an alternative to Chinese food.

Mutianyu Great Wall The Mutianyu Section of the Great Wall
Day 4 Beijing to Xi'an by flight

Beijing's Summer Palace is a large park with pavilions and beautifully painted corridors, temples, among lakes and surrounded by hills. Historically the emperor's summer retreat, it's a charming place to explore before taking a large dragon boat tour across the lake. After a fair well lunch with your guide at this charming traditional restaurant, famous for its Sichuan food, in just a few hours you'll be in Xi'an, meeting your local Xi'an expert guide.

Good to Know:

  • Boat Tour – Most tour companies don't include these things as standard, we do.
  • The Best Guides – Some use Beijing guides in Xi'an, our guides are local experts focused on their city.

Free-time Ideas: On arrival in Xi'an we typically recommend hotels in view of the Bell Tower. A great location for many reasons but also perfect for a self-guided stroll. Your find many guide books recommend just visiting the outside, so we leave this for your own time. Preserving guided time for Xi'an's very best.

Summer Palace The Summer Palace
Day 5 Xi'an

You have the included option to start your morning with a Tai Chi session on Xi'an's City Wall, following a local master's introduction. The highlight comes next, the Terracotta Warriors.

Enjoy lunch a place known nationwide for its Hunan & Sichuan dishes. After lunch, visit one the best museums in China –Shaanxi History Museum, where our Xian tour guide would narrate the core of Chinese history.

Good to Know:

  • No Tricks (Big vs. Little Goose Pagoda) – Look closely at other companies and large group tour operators and you'll see they take you to the free Little Goose Pagoda, -experience.
  • Variety of Flavors – We not only choose the best authentic (non-tourist) local restaurants but we select different styles of cooking throughout the trip. Experience the wide flavors of China.

Free-time Ideas: A Peking Duck Banquet or some fine dining would be a beautiful ending to this amazing.
1. Xi'an's Tang Dynasty Music and Dance Show features on many 'Top 10 's' and your guide can help you buy a ticket.
2. A cost free alternative is a relaxing evening stroll in the parks and grounds of the Big and Little Goose Pagoda. They look beautiful at night.

The Terracotta Army The Terracotta Warriors and Horses
Day 6Xi'an to Chongqing by Flight

After breakfast, you'll head to Chongqing by air. On arrival we will make a trip to Ciqikou Old Town.

After lunch at Caixiangyuan Restaurant we'll go to the Three Gorges Museum. Afterwards take in the charm of this mountain city, before the cruise sails in the evening.

Good to Know:

Yangtze Cruise

Yangtze River Cruise
Day 7Yangtze Cruise

After breakfast climb up through the cloud into the surreal atmosphere of the Fengdu Ghost City, hanging in the mist. The atmosphere has a spooky draw for China tours, also offering an interesting place to take some pictures. Today the ship's crew will offer you a formal welcome banquet and an optional party with great food and drink.

Good to Know:

  • Caring Extras – Our customers receive a welcome fruit basket and complimentary bottle of water each day. We ensure you receive the best care on the ship. Our recommended ships are inspected by our staff and have great food, cabins, internet, laundry services, doctors, and great customer feedback.

Free-time Ideas: Relax with 'River Town – Two years on the Yangtze', an enjoyable award winning book written by an American teacher. Amazon Paperback(not on Kindle), while enjoying the ships Happy Hour.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and dinner on the ship.

Fengdu Ghost City Fengdu Ghost City
Day 8Yangtze Cruise

Take the small boats deep into the gorges, see beyond the main river. Doubtlessly, the perfect natural beauty makes the best setting for your China holiday. Enjoy it!

By taking these smaller boats you can get deeper into nature. The shallow water and tradition means they are hand pulled boats, and the strength and muscles of your boat men are a spectacle to admire as much as the narrow beautiful gorges.

Good to Know:

  • Boat Pulling – is a top experience. All excursions are included, but you're not obligated to go.
  • Scenery & Excursions – is announced in English, see our full feature – How to plan a Yangtze River Cruise.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and dinner on the ship.

Day 9Yichang, Yichang to Shanghai by flight

In Yichang, you'll have the chance to visit the Three Gorges Dam, the largest water containment project ever undertaken. In the afternoon, a flight will take you to Shanghai. Just in time to catch the neon lights lighting up. Capture the city's glamour through your lens and feel the city's pulse.

Good to Know:

  • The Three Gorges Dam – It generates as much power as 10 nuclear power stations, and is 10 times longer than the Hoover dam. Even non-engineers find this amazing, and worth the visit.

Free-time Ideas: The Bund is the perfect evening walk and a chance to test your photography skills with an amazing night-cityscape. When the lights turn off at 10pm walk over to Glamour for a classy evening drink.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch is not included.

Three Gorges Dam Three Gorges Dam
Day 10Shanghai

Today worlds collide, starting at the history exhibition (under the TV tower) watch Shanghai literally rise, at nearly 500m it's a breathtaking panoramic view from the Oriental Peal TV Tower. Lunch is arranged at Old Shanghai. After lunch, take a relaxing walk to ancient Yuyuan Garden, followed by the Bund, a must-see colonial waterfront area.

Good to Know:

  • Old Shanghai has been serving traditional Shanghai food for 130 years.
  • Changes – Customize this trip to suit you. E.g. A history and art fan might like to visit Shanghai Museum; it's rated by many as the best Museum in China.

Free-time Ideas:
1. Chinese Massage – Recommended for integrity and quality, Shanghai Massage & Spa Guide.
2. Authentic Shanghai Jazz – Ignore the guide books Peace Hotel tip, JZ club is a local's choice, the music is as good as the peace hotel but wins with its charming ambience.

The Yuyuan Garden The Yuyuan Garden
Day 11 Depart Shanghai

Your car, driver and our guide will be ready and waiting at your hotel to get you to the airport on time. Sit back and relax, they will help you check-in and escort you to the correct security gate. We take the stress out of travel, so you can just take the tour.

Discovery Trip Summary

Day 1-3 In Beijing

A comfortable and stress free private transfer will take you to the hotel. Enjoy Beijing’s highlights including the Forbidden City. Get more personal touch in local hutong. Have a walk on wild and original Great Wall.

ACCOM: Hotel - 3 nights

Day 4-5 In Xi'an
Day 6-9 In Chongqing/on Yangtze River Cruise
Day 10-11 In Shanghai
Full Itinerary

The tour combines eleven days of ancient culture and modern miracles with Yangtze River Cruise for you to relax.

Day 1Arrive in Beijing

Your tour guide will be ready waiting at the arrival hall with a name plate, then transfer to your hotel by private car and driver.

Day 2 Beijing Classics

Stroll around Tian’anmen Square before entering the Forbidden City. This world cultural heritage served as the office and residence place for 24 emperors in ancient times. In the afternoon, hop on a rickshaw or ride a bike to through Hutong, Beijing’s old neighborhood area. Visit a friendly local family and have a breezy chat to get to know about their life.

Hutong family visit Visiting of a Hutong Family
Day 3 Trip to the Great Wall

In the morning, have a relaxing stroll along the central axis of Temple of Heaven. In ancient times, it was the place of worship for emperors to pray for good harvest. Now it is the gathering place for local people to pass their leisure time, such as singing, dancing, and playing musical instruments. Of course the ancient buildings such as the Round Altar, Echo Wall and Imperial Vault of Heaven are another highlight of Temple of Heaven.

In the afternoon, visit the Great Wall of China at Mutianyu Section in the outskirts of Beijing. This section provides spectacular views and is less crowded.

Mutianyu Great Wall Mutianyu Section of the Great Wall
Day 4 Summer Palace; Beijing to Xi’an Flight

Summer Palace is a charming garden used as the summer retreat for ancient emperors and imperial family. Take a boat tour on the lake is a relaxing experience. After lunch, transfer to the airport for your flight to Xi’an. Meet your local guide at the arrival hall and transfer to hotel.

The Summer Palace The Summer Palace
Day 5 Terracotta Warriors Tour

Learn Taichi in early morning on the ancient city wall to kick start today, then transfer to visit Terracotta Warriors Museum, the magnificent army buried underground for over two thousand years. Continue to admire precious unearthed exhibitions at Shaanxi History Museum.

The Terracotta Army The Terracotta Army
Day 6 Xi’an to Chongqing Flight; Board Yangtze River Cruise

In the morning, take flight to Chongqing and visit Ciqikou Old Town before boarding Yangtze River cruise. Ship & Cabin – This tour includes a cabin with a balcony. Watch our video guide to choosing a cruise ship or read top four ships preferred by western customers. Top for 2013 – Five Highly Recommended Cruises & Top Three Luxury Yangtze Cruises.

Day 7 Yangtze River Cruise

Taichi class is arranged early morning on the cruise deck, join in if you feel interested. Today’s shore excursion will take you to Fengdu Ghost City, said to be the place of belonging for people’s soul after death. You will be impressed by the surreal atmosphere. A welcome banquet is held by the captain in the evening.

Good to Know: There is no specific dress code for the cruise and the banquets onboard. Wearing your usual clothes that are fit for travel and shore excursions is ok.

Yangtze Cruise Yangtze Cruise
Day 8Yangtze River Cruise

As the cruise sails pass the three gorges – Wu Gorge, Qutang Gorge and Xiling Gorge, relax yourself on the balcony or the deck and enjoy the natural scenery. Later take a small boat for shore excursion beyond the main rivers deep into the gorges, to explore what the nature has to offer.

lesser three gorges The Lesser Three Gorges
Day 9 Arrival in Yichang and Flight to Shanghai

The magnificent Three Gorges Dam stand in front of you as you take today’s final shore excursion. Later disembark the cruise, meet your guide and transfer to take afternoon flight to Shanghai. Upon arrival, your guide in Shanghai will be ready to pick you up and transfer to hotel.

Day 10 Shanghai City Highlights

China’s most prosperous city is a charming mixture of the old and the new, the east and the west. Enjoy Shanghai’s skyline on the sightseeing floor of Oriental Pearl TV Tower, and visit an interesting little museum about Shanghai history down the tower. Continue to Yuyuan Garden with 400 years of history, a private garden dotted with antique houses, pavilions, rocks and plants.

In the afternoon, visit Nongtang – the traditional neighborhood of Shanghai, sip tea and chat with a local family to know about their daily life. Today’s tour is wrapped with a relaxing stroll along the Bund by Huangpu Lake.

The Yuyuan Garden The Yuyuan Garden
Day 11Depart Shanghai

Your tour guide, car and driver will pick you up on time from your hotel to the airport for your flight home. The guide will help you with the luggage and check-in, and accompany you till the point of security check and wave goodbye.

Essential Trip Summary

Day 1-3 In Beijing

A warm welcome in Beijing airport with private transfer to hotel. A free day for your own Beijing travel plan. Walk on a wild Great Wall from Simatai West to Jinshanling.

ACCOM: Hotel - 3 nights

Day 4-5 In Xi'an
Day 6-9 In Chongqing/on Yangtze River Cruise
Day 10-11 In Shanghai
Full Itinerary

Enjoy Yangtze River Cruise with a wide variety of tourist attractions, scenery, and culture along its length. You will not miss the essence of China by visiting Beijing, Xi’an and Shanghai.

Day 1 Arrive in Beijing

Your personal tour guide will wait for you at the arrival hall of Beijing airport, an transfer to your hotel by private car.

Day 2 DIY Beijing City Highlights

This is a free day for you to explore the city. Visit the world’s largest city square – Tian’anmen Square, before entering the Forbidden City, the imperial palace of 24 Chinese emperors. Stroll at traditional hutongs. Have a cup of coffee at Houhai.

Wangfujing Night Market Wangfujing Night Market
Day 3Hiking at Gubeikou Section

Your guide meet you at hotel lobby and head to Gubeikou section which is much less crowded with spectacular views. It is about 6 km(3-4 hrs' Hiking). Only partly restored, it's less crowded, and provides a unique view of the Wall, watchtowers and magnificent scenery.

Gubeikou Great Wall Hiking on the Great Wall
Day 4Beijing to Xi’an by Train

Free day time in Beijing to discover more. The Temple of Heaven, the Summer Palace are recommended. In the afternoon or at night, catch a train to Xi’an. Upon arrival in Xi’an, meet your guide at the exit and transfer to hotel.

Summer Palace The Summer Palace
Day 5 Terracotta Warriors Tour

In the morning you will have an option to learn Taichi on the ancient city wall to kick start today. Followed by today’s highlight, a visit to the Terracotta Warriors and Horses Museum. This magnificent underground army has been guiding the Emperor Qin Shihuang for over two thousand years. After lunch, visit Shaanxi History Museum to see the precious exhibitions that would narrate the core of Chinese history.

The Terracotta Army The Terracotta Army
Day 6 Xi’an to Chongqing by Flight; Board Yangtze River Cruise

Take morning flight to Chongqing, and after arrival you have free time to taste the flavor of the spicy city and buy some snacks and drinks to prepare for the cruise, before boarding the Yangtze River cruise in the evening.

Day 7Yangtze River Cruise

Today’s shore excursion to Fengdu Ghost City will impress you with the surreal atmosphere. In the evening, a welcome banquet is held by the captain.

Fengdu Ghost City Fengdu Ghost City
Day 8 Yangtze River Cruise

Enjoy the natural scenery as the cruise sails ahead, passing Qutang Gorges, Wu Gorge and Xiling Gorge. Shore excursion today will take you beyond the main river by small boats deep into the gorges.

Three Gorges Dam Three Gorges Dam
Day 9Arrival in Yichang and Flight to Shanghai

In the morning visit the magnificent Three Gorges Dam before you disembark from the cruise. You will be met after getting off the cruise and transfer to the airport for afternoon flight to Shanghai. After arriving Shanghai, your guide and driver will escort you to your hotel.

Day 10Free time in Shanghai

It is convenient to travel in Shanghai on your own. You are suggested to visit the must-see attractions of Shanghai, China’s most prosperous city. Enjoy breathtaking panoramic view over the city skyline at Oriental Pearl TV Tower. Down the tower there is an interesting museum introducing Shanghai’s history, relax yourself and admire China’s classical landscape garden at Yuyuan Garden, stroll along the Bund, a must-see colonial waterfront area by Huangpu Lake.

The Bund The Bund
Day 11 Depart Shanghai

Your tour guide will wait for you at the hotel lobby on time, and transfer to the airport for your flight back home. He/she will accompany you till the point of security gate and wave goodbye.

Trip Notes

Useful Information for Traveling in China

What’s the difference between 3, 4, and 5 -star hotels?
We usually arrange centrally-located and Western-standard hotels. Five-star hotels are usually palatial with huge lobbies and comfortable rooms, their standards not quite matching the best of Paris or New York, but very close. Four-star hotels have quality facilities, but are not as luxurious as five-star hotels. Three-star hotels meet the needs of most Westerners, but breakfasts have less choice.

We also recommend some courtyard hotels or Chinese-style hotels with local features and architecture. These hotels have a good ranking, or positive feedback from our customers, and TripAdvisor.

Usually hotels in big cities, small cities, and rural areas are a bit different, even if they have the same star level. We try to use the best available hotel in each place.

What are train conditions like in China?
A soft sleeper is recommended for overnight and long-distance travel. Each soft sleeper compartment is enclosed, and contains four bunks, two on each side. The bunks are wider and more comfortable than hard sleepers, with decent bedding. Soft sleeper compartments may vary between trains. You may have both over-head storage and under-bed storage, or just under-bed storage.

For short distance train travel, G and D high-speed trains are recommended. G trains are the fastest trains in China, with a speed of 250 km/h to 400 km/h, and their prices are highest.

Currency Exchange

As currency exchange rates in China fluctuate, we suggest you refer to the following website for daily exchange rates: www.xe.com. In 2015 the yuan (NCY or RMB) has been around 6.2 USD (6.1–6.3 USD), and the HKD (Hong Kong Dollar) has been more stable around 7.75 USD (7.74–7.77 USD). There are many ATM machines that accept both Visa and Master card, but these are limited to cities. We also recommend the use of cash and travelers checks in USD currency. Major credit cards are accepted in most shops, but they may charge a 2–4% transaction fee.

Tipping

It is customary to tip service providers in the travel industry in Asia, depending on the service. Tipping is expected — though not compulsory — and shows an expression of satisfaction with the people who have assisted you on your tour. Recommendations for tipping drivers (3 USD per person per day as a guideline) and local guides (8 USD per person per day as a guideline) would depend on the quality and length of the service.

Food

Eating is an important part of your China experience. Generally breakfasts are included in the itinerary and offered by hotels. China Highlights recommends local Chinese restaurants that are popular with local people for lunch. You can order dishes with the help of your guide. We usually leave dinner for your own choice — Western food can be found in most large cities.

If you are vegetarian or you are looking for e.g. halal food, please feel free to inform your travel advisor, who can arrange a restaurant to fit your needs.

Vehicles

We use comfortable sedans or vans with air-conditioning. The comfort and safety of our customers is of utmost importance, so we ensure that all of the vehicles we use are well maintained and always very clean. Our drivers take pride in their vehicles.

Responsible Tourism:

Environment

    We encourage our staff to reduce the use of paper, and fax machines and copying machines. Instead of using printed paper, we send documents by Wechat or QQ. We send orders and bills to local suppliers by our online system, which saves lots of paper.

    CH usually uses cars or vans with low exhaust emissions. Our light vehicles damage the village roads less. We understand that it is hard work for villagers to build/maintain their roads.

    We do not recommend customers use disposable chopsticks and disposable bathroom supplies.

    Community

    We make use of local suppliers and services. These include locally owned and family run accommodation, local drivers, locally produced and prepared food. This ensures that the local economy is supported. We also only employ local guides. We do visit local community projects and remote schools where our contributions are greatly appreciated.

    Our guides teach customers some short phrases in the local language, translate, and suggest customers show their photos to local people, particularly if they take photos together. They also remind customers not to step into rice fields to protect crops, especially when they are taking photos.

    We have had an excellent long-term relationship with our guides and suppliers and this helps to stabilize their income generation and so helps to create a more sustainable future.