Yangtze River Cruise and Panda Family Tour
12-Day Beijing, Chengdu, Yangtze River Cruise, and Shanghai Tour
The megacities of Beijing and Shanghai combine their rich history with some very unique experiences: visit a local family in their classic hutong home and meet adorable pandas at the Panda Breeding Base. A leisurely cruise along the Yangtze rounds off the family vacation.
- Walk or hike on the Great Wall of China
- Be welcomed by a local family and enjoy dumplings with them
- Taste the delicious Beijing Roast Duck for dinner
- Meet the cuddly pandas in the Panda Breeding and Research Center
- Unwind during the Yangtze River cruise tour
- Test your courage at the glass sky deck on top of the highest building in Shanghai
About China Highlights
Since 1998 we've guided everyone ranging from US presidents, Australian Geographic and retired backpackers. Our goal is to create unique trips that take you off-the-beaten path, helping you discover China in a more authentic way. Our motto: "Discovery Your Way!"
A great tour
Our trip to Beijing was brilliantly organised and stress free. As usual with China Highlights our guide Ivy was really well prepared, knowledgeable and dealt with all the security, covid checks and tests etc. It made the trip really easy. more
Your family adventure starts with a reliable private pick-up service: your personal guide and driver will take you to your hotel in a private van. Your guide will assist you with the check-in and take any stress away.
Tian'anmen Square is now separated from the Forbidden City by a multi-lane street, but in ancient times it was part of the Imperial Court. The Heavenly Peace Gate at the southern end is similar to the palace buildings. The Palace Museum, as the Forbidden City is also called, has some very interesting exhibitions in the side courts.
Our ‘Hutong Experience' takes you to the narrow alleyways. During a visit to a local family, you will learn how to make dumplings and share a meal with them, while chatting about their life.
Good to know:
1. As well as making dumplings, many other interactive activities can be arranged in the hutongs area to enrich your day: learn traditional crafts like Chinese knot-tying and decorative paper-cutting, see a remarkable acrobatic display by a Chinese yo-yo master, and learn how to apply Beijing Opera facial makeup.
2. Night shows, such as the Kungfu Show at the Red Theater and the Acrobatic Show at Chaoyang Theater, are recommended to enrich your night. It is recommended to book with your guide a day before, or on the day, to allow flexibility.
The Mutianyu section of the Great Wall is our choice for this epic experience because it is not only less crowded than the Badaling section but also has the most watchtowers. They add a pleasing rhythm to the wall as it disappears into the distance. A cable car ride allows you to arrive fresh and you can spend as much time as you like on the top.
On the way back in your private car you can have a rest while digesting the satisfying lunch from a great local restaurant — one that has hosted world leaders. The famous Beijing Roast Duck awaits you for dinner, and your guide will show you how to savor it according to Chinese customs.
Good to know:
1. Want to spend more time on the Great Wall and make the most of your time? No problem! We can arrange a picnic lunch including sandwiches, bread, cake, fruit, and coffee or milk for you to enjoy on the Great Wall.
2. To make the Great Wall tour more memorable, taking a toboggan to slide down it is an exciting option when the weather is nice. You can control the speed and a helmet will be provided to ensure your safety.
After a morning flight to Chengdu, your local guide will take you to track down some pandas. Panda Post is the only postal service in the world with the giant panda as its theme, where you can buy everything featuring the giant panda, from stamps, postcards, albums, and envelopes to toys and souvenirs. You can post lovely postcards to anywhere in the world. It also offers a special service to mail a postcard to yourself 10 to 20 years in the future.
After authentic Chinese-styled lunch, you will be transferred to Chunxi Road to take photos with the largest Panda Sculpture in China. Created by preeminent artist Lawrence Argent, this climbing wall panda is called "I Am Here!" It will be an interesting experience to capture the moment with this trendy landmark of Chengdu.
Chengdu People's Park is arranged at the end of the day to have a deep breath of fresh air. Verdant trees and various flowers make the traditional pavilions and buildings much more graceful. You can join the local people to experience the bustle and chatter of a local teahouse in this area.
Visit the home of giant pandas at Panda Breeding and Research Center, in the outskirts of Chengdu. Visit the nursery to see the highly successful breeding program, among the bamboo groves and shady walkways, and to view the pandas at rest or play. There is a panda museum where you can learn some information about giant pandas.
After lunch, you will visit the Jinsha Site Museum to travel back in time to ancient Chengdu. Located in northwestern urban Chengdu, the Jinsha Site Museum has been hailed as one of the major archaeological discoveries in China in recent years, where the 3,000-year old Sun and Immortal Bird (the symbol of Chengdu) was discovered.
You will feel Chengdu's relaxation in Jinli Street, a commercial street with a history of over 2,000 years. In this 550-meter street, you will feast on numerous Sichuan-style snacks, bargain for stylish local crafts, and imagine the bustling of the past with the rows of ancient-styled buildings.
Good to know:
In order to protect the giant pandas from becoming infected with the canine distemper virus, all the panda bases stopped public interaction with the pandas from January, 2015. Dujiangyan Panda Base has reopened the volunteer program as well as the program to take photos next to a panda since March, 2015. If you would like to join the Panda Volunteer Program or take photos with a panda next to you, we are happy to arrange a day tour to Dujiangyan Panda Valley for you.
After a buffet breakfast in the hotel, your guide and driver will escort you to the railway station to catch the bullet train to Chongqing. It takes about two hours and your private guide in Chongqing will be waiting to transfer you to the pier to board the cruise.
Good to know:
Snacks and wine can be pricey on the cruise. If necessary, your guide can take you to a supermarket in order to purchase some snacks and drinks.
Enjoy the scene of riverbanks passing by in leisure in the morning. In the afternoon, a short visit to Shibaozhai — a magnificent red pavilion providing a walkway to the top of the hill — allows for spectacular views of the area. An optional tour to Fengdu Ghost City awaits those who are interested in mystical matters.
A welcoming banquet and party ends the day, while you glide along the glistening river.
Two of the magnificent three gorges, Qutang and Wu Gorge, are passed through this morning, so be ready with a camera. The wonder of engineering, the vast ship locks, and the majesty of nature present themselves to you as you sit back and relax.
The afternoon is dedicated to Shennong Stream, with rushing waterfalls and an ancient plank path leading to suspended coffins in the cliff. You also have the option of visiting the White Emperor City.
In the evening, the crew of the ship will entertain you with their performances.
Three Gorges Dam is the highlight of the day, and a visit to the top of the dam gives great photo opportunities. After arriving in Yichang, you will be taken to the airport for a transfer flight to Shanghai. Your guide in Shanghai will escort you back to the hotel for a good rest.
Shanghai is a collision of new and old. Visit the new part of Shanghai in the morning and go to the Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Hall to have a fascinating insight into Shanghai's future and the Shanghai World Financial Center which has the tallest glass observation deck in China. Lunch is a meal of Cantonese food in beautiful surroundings with a nice view over the Bund.
In the afternoon, travel back in time to the old part of Shanghai: the famous Yuyuan Garden that was built during the Ming Dynasty. A market street near Yuyuan Garden is an exciting experience where crowds of people buy local snacks, handicrafts, antiques, and souvenirs.
According to former clients' experiences, they highly recommend having a free day in Shanghai to shop in Nanjing Road or wander around the Bund, where the spectacular skyline is said to rival that of New York.
The following options are recommended to fill your free day:
Water town day tour: Dozens of picturesque water towns around Shanghai have inimitable scenery with their black-awning boats, arched bridges, tilted eaves, and their interesting local dialects. Zhujiajiao (40 minutes away) and Xitang (one hour away) are recommended. Choose one and escape into the tranquility of ancient China.
Day tour to Suzhou or Hangzhou: Hangzhou is one hour away via a high-speed train. It was considered to be like heaven on Earth in ancient China. It is famous for its picturesque view of West Lake. If you are interested in ancient Chinese gardens, Suzhou is only about 30 minutes away via a high-speed train or 90 minutes by private transfer. The ancient gardens in Suzhou represent the highest art and architecture of ancient China and you can also take a boat across the ancient Grand Canal.
-Local Interactive Options
Three-hour in-depth visit to Shanghai's old alleys: Experience the real lifestyle of the Shanghainese. Enjoy lunch and chat with some locals in their home. Visit the local market and even learn how to speak Shanghainese.
Two-hour Shanghai sidecar experience tour: In this fabulous and unique tour, you will discover Shanghai in a different and exciting way. The sidecar driver and guide will be a Westerner who has lived in China for years and can introduce you to Shanghai from different angles.
After a buffet breakfast at the hotel, your guide and driver will make sure you get to the airport on time and without any stress. Say goodbye to China and take the lovely memories home.
Good to know:
To experience the development of modern China, the Maglev Train is recommended as it is the fastest train in China. The average speed is 300 km/h (186 mi/h) and it takes only 10 minutes to reach Pudong Airport. The service runs between 6:45am and 9:40pm.
1. Tailoring your tour
This tour is very flexible. You can alter the itinerary, extend or shorten it to suit your price, interest and schedule. Feel free to tell us your requirements, and we are happy to help you arrange with our professional knowledge and experience.
(1) Hotels with a convenient location and swimming pool are recommended. Please note that a swimsuit/trunks and swimming cap are required to enter the swimming pool.
(2) If you prefer other hotel options: economical choices, Chinese-style hotels, home stay, apartment, or would like to book the hotels on your own, please feel free to inform us and we will be happy to adjust the details.
(3) Most hotels in China allow at most three people in one room. If there are more than three people in your group, we will check if there is family room available or do our best to arrange interconnecting rooms or adjoin rooms.
Lunches at popular local restaurants are included for you in order to taste authentic Chinese food. Your guide will assist you with ordering dishes loved by both adults and children. Most families enjoy eating local Chinese food as there is plenty of variety and different flavors, and the food is so much better and different from the Chinese food served back home. Some children may prefer Western food or have some special requirements for meals. Please inform us and we will do our best to cater to your needs
4. Car Seats, Stroller, and Baby Crib
To maximize the safety of your children, we can arrange for car seats to be fitted at your request during the private transfers in Beijing, Xi'an, Shanghai, Guilin, Chengdu, Hangzhou, and Suzhou. A baby stroller can be provided in Beijing, Xi'an, Shanghai, and Hangzhou. For a baby under two years old, we will inform the hotel to arrange a crib for you. No extra cost is needed. The number of car seats, strollers, and cribs are limited. Please inquire and confirm early to reserve them.
5. First Aid Kit
We all know how active kids can be. In case of some small injury, our guides will take a first aid kit with them during the tour, including alcohol prep pads, sterile gauze sponges, and bandages.