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15-Day Chengdu, Yangtze River, Zhangjiajie, Xian and Beijing Tour

Written by Mike HoUpdated Apr. 10, 2024

Yangtze River Cruise and Panda Tour

This 15-day suggested itinerary covers different elements of China: the historical heritage sites, natural scenery, unique culture, and adorable giant pandas. It makes an ideal tour for first-time visitors who are panda fans or those traveling with children.

The itinerary below is only one possibility. Tips to tailor-make your trip are offered as inspiration. Send us details of your preferences and our travel experts will customize this trip to suit your interests, tastes, and budget.

Tour 'Wow' Points

Find the Hidden Halls in the Forbidden City

 Forbidden City

Make a Mini warrior with a Local Artisan Family

Learn to make a clay warrior

Experience Taking Care of a Cute Panda

make panda cakes

Witness the Famous Three Gorges of China

Yangtze River gorge

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Itinerary Quick Look

Here is a suggested itinerary. We are happy to customize a tour according to your interests.

DAY 1 Hong Kong to Chengdu

Your private guide will be ready to meet and greet you at the arrival hall in Chengdu. A comfortable private car with an experienced driver will transfer you directly to your hotel. Your guide will help you to check-in.

DAY 2 Chengdu| The Panda Breeding and Research Center

Embark on an unforgettable journey in Chengdu with our one-day tour. Start by visiting the Panda Breeding and Research Center, where you'll witness the highly successful breeding program amidst bamboo groves. Explore the panda museum to learn more about these fascinating animals. Afterwards, immerse yourself in the vibrant atmosphere of Jinli Old Street, sampling local snacks and discovering traditional architecture.

Don't miss the chance to visit the iconic "I Am Here" Panda Sculpture, a massive art installation that has become a trendy landmark. Indulge in the unique experience of Panda Post, where you can purchase panda-themed items and even mail a postcard to your future self.

End your day with a sizzling culinary adventure by trying the famous Sichuan Hotpot. Let your taste buds be tantalized by the numbingly spicy flavors of this traditional Chengdu cuisine. Our knowledgeable guide will be there every step of the way, ensuring you make the most of your trip. Prepare for an enchanting journey filled with giant pandas, cultural delights, and unforgettable experiences.

DAY 3 Chengdu| The New Century Global Center

Head to the New Century Global Center, Chengdu's extraordinary gift to the world. As the largest freestanding building globally, This architectural wonder houses a vibrant city within, featuring businesses, offices, shopping malls, theaters, and even two five-star hotels. Families will find the New Century Global Center particularly appealing, offering a plethora of entertainment options for children. They can enjoy a unique indoor beach experience at Paradise Island, complete with a wave pool.

Additionally, an indoor ice-skating rink, a bowling alley, and a children's play area are available, ensuring a fun-filled day for everyone. Don't forget to catch a kid-friendly movie at the large cinema, catering specifically to younger audiences. Located just 30 minutes away from Chengdu City Center, the New Century Global Center awaits, promising mesmerizing sights and exciting activities that will leave you with cherished memories of your time in Chengdu.

DAY 4 Yangtze River | The Century Victoria Cruise

Start your day with a delightful morning coffee, tea, and pastries. Engage in a revitalizing Tai Chi exercise session. Indulge in a delicious breakfast buffet. Embark on a mesmerizing shore excursion to Fengdu Ghost City (Included) and immerse yourself in its unique cultural offerings. Relish a satisfying lunch from the buffet. Delight in a delectable buffet dinner. Immerse yourself in the captivating night performance of "The War Fire of Three Kingdoms Show" in Zhongxian County.

DAY 5 Yangtze River | The Century Victoria Cruise

Enjoy your moning coffee, tea, and pastries followed by Tai Chi exercise. Breakfast (Buffet): Enjoy a variety of dishes.You can take other optional Tour: Visit the White Emperor City for CNY 290 per person. Or juse enjoy the scenic cruising: take in the stunning Qutang Gorge and Wu Gorge views.

DAY 6 Yangtze River | Three Gorges Dam

Today you will embark on a fascinating shore excursion to visit the Three Gorges Dam Site. Please note that the golf car fee of CNY10 per person is not included in the tour. After the excursion, transfer to Yichang by bus.

Optional Tour: If you choose to take the optional tour, disembark at Maoping Pier and enjoy a scenic sail through the Ship Lift (additional fee of CNY290 per person). Afterwards, take a bus to the Three Gorges Dam Site.

DAY 7 Zhangjiajie | The National Forest Park

In Zhangjiajie, you will visit the National Forest Park, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Marvel at the unique pillar-like formations shaped by erosion over time. Explore the park's vast forest-covered area, including Yuanjiajie, Yangjiajie, Jinbian Stream, and Wulongzhai. Immerse yourself in the local culture by visiting nearby villages inhabited by Tujia, Bai, Miao, and Hui people.

Please note that accommodations and meals in mountain areas like Zhangjiajie and Huangshan are simple. Adjust your expectations accordingly for the best experience. Get ready to be captivated by the breathtaking landscapes of Zhangjiajie National Forest Park.

DAY 8 Zhangjiajie| The Grand Canyon with Glass Bridge

Today, our guide will lead you to visit Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon, which is a stunning natural attraction that has recently been developed into a wonderland for visitors. It offers a combination of majestic mountains, flowing streams, intriguing caves, towering cliffs, and lush forests. One of the highlights of this scenic area is the world's longest and highest glass bridge. Imagine the thrill of walking on this bridge, suspended 300 meters above the ground! It's definitely an experience you wouldn't want to miss during your tour.

If walking on the glass bridge isn't your cup of tea, don't worry. We have an alternative route that allows you to still enjoy the attraction without stepping on the glass bridge. However, if you decide to take on the adventure, please note that for safety reasons, carrying a camera on the bridge is not allowed. You can, however, bring your cellphone or GoPro to capture those unforgettable moments.

DAY 9 Zhangjiajie | Tianmen Mountain

Visit the Tianmen Mountain, the awe-inspiring heart of Zhangjiajie! As the highest peak in the area, this majestic mountain offers unrivaled views of ancient trees, stunning karst formations, and scenic roads carved into cliff sides. Hop on the world's longest cable car ride, a thrilling 30-minute journey from the city center, and ascend to the mountain's summit.

At 1430 meters above ground, you'll find the renowned Tianmen Mountain Glass Walkway, a remarkable observation platform that extends from a sheer cliff. This narrow 1.6-meter-wide, 60-meter-long glass walkway offers brave souls not only breathtaking views of the mountains below but also the exhilaration of treading nervously above such heights. Some have even likened this experience to the famous 'skywalk' at the Grand Canyon in Arizona, USA.

Don't miss the chance to explore this remarkable natural wonder in China. Savor the beauty and thrill of Tianmen Mountain, an experience that will leave you with unforgettable memories.

DAY 10 Xi'an | Terracotta Army

Discover the awe-inspiring Terracotta Army, accidentally unearthed in 1974. This incredible army consists of over 7000 unique soldiers, archers, horses, and chariots in full battle array. Guarding Emperor Qin's tomb since 210 BC, these life-sized figures are an incredible sight. Explore the three protected excavation pits, housed inside massive hangars, and learn about their history at the excellent museum nearby. Photography is allowed (without flash), so don't forget your camera. Wear comfortable walking shoes for the journey.

Additionally, don't miss the opportunity to visit a local family workshop in the countryside. Learn firsthand from skilled artisans the intricate process of creating Terracotta Warriors. Have a chance to interact with the locals and discover fascinating details about how these life-sized warriors were made in ancient times. Gain insight into the most challenging steps of the production process while enjoying a unique cultural experience.

DAY 11 Xi'an | The Ancient City Wall

Explore the Ancient City Wall: The impressive city walls, ramparts, gates, and watchtowers date back to the 13th century and offer a captivating glimpse into ancient China's city defense. Built on the foundation of the original Tang Forbidden City, this well-preserved structure encloses the city center. You can choose to walk or rent a bike or electric cart (additional cost) to enjoy a 14km circuit with stunning views of the city on both sides.

Experience China's Traditional Costume (Hanfu): Immerse yourself in Chinese culture by wearing Hanfu, the traditional clothing of the Han Chinese. Discover the rich history and significance of Hanfu during a one-hour guided tour in an ancient academy. Learn about different Hanfu styles and ancient etiquette. Afterward, take a break, sip a cup of tea, and even try your hand at movable type printing. It's a unique opportunity to indulge in something special and memorable.

DAY 12 Beijing | The Forbidden City

Explore the Forbidden City: Located in the heart of Beijing, the Forbidden City served as the imperial residence for 24 emperors during the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties. This magnificent complex is the largest and best-preserved ancient imperial architecture in the world. Marvel at the grand square, halls, and gates, as well as the intricate gardens, courtyards, and living quarters. The Forbidden City houses both permanent and temporary exhibitions, offering a glimpse into the treasures of ancient China. Expect about 2 hours of moderate walking (2 kilometers). Please note that starting from April 1st, 2013, the Imperial Palace is closed every Monday afternoon.

Visit Jingshan Park: Once a part of the Forbidden City, Jingshan Park underwent changes in the 1900s. Portions of the park were demolished to make way for a road, resulting in the loss of several gates and buildings between the park and the palace's rear entrance. However, the hill within Jingshan Park was created using earth excavated to construct the palace moat. On a clear day, climb the hill for breathtaking views of the Forbidden City and Beijing. It's a perfect spot to capture spectacular panoramic vistas.

DAY 13 Beijing | The Temple of Heaven and Mutianyu Great Wall

Visit the Temple of Heaven: Built in 1420 during the Ming dynasty, the Temple of Heaven is a complex of Taoist buildings where emperors held annual ceremonies to pray for good harvests. The temple's park is lively, especially in the morning when local elderly people gather to sing, exercise, and practice tai chi. Covering 273 hectares in the southern part of central Beijing, you'll explore the park for about 1-1.5 hours (1.5 kilometers) with an easy-grade walk.

Explore the Mutianyu Great Wall: The Mutianyu section of the Great Wall is highly rated on TripAdvisor for its picturesque scenery and beautifully-restored architecture. It is particularly popular among families due to its child-friendly facilities and multiple visiting options. Located about 1.5 hours' drive from downtown Beijing, this section offers a fully restored 2.5-kilometer stretch.

To save time, we arrange a round-trip cable car ride for you instead of climbing the stairs (which takes about 40 minutes). Once on the Wall, you'll have free time to walk around and take in the stunning views. We recommend hiking the "golden route" between the 14th and 23rd watchtowers, recognized as the most beautiful and interesting section by avid hikers. The hike typically takes approximately 2 hours. Afterward, descend and take a bus back to our vehicle.

Tips: If visiting the Mutianyu section, we recommend using walking sticks, especially for those with weaker legs or balance, as it can be helpful on some parts of the wall.

DAY 14 Beijing | Hutong Tour and Summer Palace

Take a Hutong Tour in Xicheng District: Explore the historical maze of Hutong, a network of old alleyways with traditional single-story courtyard houses. Hop on a rickshaw for a ride through the narrow alleys and visit a local family. Then, take a walk on the Silver Ingot Bridge (Yinding Bridge) and discover the unique thresholds of the courtyards. It's a fascinating glimpse into Beijing's traditional neighborhoods.

Learn to Apply Facial Makeup for Peking Opera: Experience the art of applying facial makeup for Chinese traditional opera. This intricate art form showcases exquisite patterns of vibrant colors and delicate lines, achieved through brush painting and hand techniques. Under the guidance of an expert teacher, try your hand at applying makeup to a mask, and even choose the makeup for your favorite character. It's a truly immersive cultural experience.

Discover the Summer Palace with Boat Ride and the Garden of Virtue and Harmony: Located about 9 miles (15 kilometers) from downtown Beijing, the Summer Palace is China's largest and best-preserved royal park. Immerse yourself in the breathtaking natural landscapes and cultural wonders that have earned it the title of 'The Museum of Royal Gardens'. Explore the park on foot for approximately 2 kilometers (2 hours). Please note that certain areas, such as Longevity Hill and the opera recital area, may require an additional fee for entry.

Tips: Keep in mind that specific areas within the Summer Palace, such as Longevity Hill and the opera recital area, may require an additional payment for entry.

DAY 15 Beijing Departure

Our guide will help you transfer from your hotel to Beijing Capital Airport for departure with independentcar/van and guide.

Tour Price

FromUS3,750 p/p Based on a private tour for 2 people. Price varies depending on program, travel date, number of people and chosen hotel

Price includes:

  • Private air-conditioned business car with big windows and ample space
  • English speaking local guide
  • Activities, hotels, and meals listed in the itinerary
  • 24/7 helpline for while you are traveling

Tour code: cht-cx-1

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