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China Holidays

Iconic China & the Magnificent Yangtze River

13 Night Itinerary from  £3,901

Yangtze Tour

Cruise the Yangtze River through the Three Gorges landscape, experience China's ancient wonders, observe giant pandas in Chengdu and uncover the real Shanghai.

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Tour Route

Travel Highlights

  • Explore the capital Beijing and its fabled Forbidden City
  • Marvel at the Great Wall of China on a choice of excursions
  • Come face-to-face with the 8,000 strong Terracotta Army
  • Tour the Silk Road city of Xi'an and its vibrant Muslim Quarter
  • Come face-to-face with Chengdu's baby pandas
  • Journey down the mighty Yangtze River on a comfortable international river ship
  • Admire the mighty Three Gorges and discover life on the river
  • Be wowed by the bright lights and European heritage of Shanghai

This itinerary can be tailored to your preferences by our specialist advisors, who can provide a guaranteed price based on your choice of route, duration, flights, hotels, transport and excursions.

Tour Itinerary

5302 Beijing & Great Wall

Beijing & Great Wall - 4 Nights

Day 1 - Fly to Beijing

Day 2 - Welcome to Beijing

Day 3 - Temple of Heaven, Hutongs & Forbidden City Tour

Day 4 - Experience the Great Wall of China

Day 5 - At leisure 

  • Full Description
  • Accommodation

Thursday, 25 July 2024

Fly to Beijing

Depart from London or a choice of UK regional airports on a direct overnight flight to Beijing.


Friday, 26 July 2024

Welcome to Beijing

Arrive in Beijing in the morning where our guide will transfer to your hotel for a 4 night stay. You will receive a walking orientation tour around your hotel with our guide, familiarising you with the surroundings. The rest of the day is at leisure to relax, or you may prefer to add an afternoon tour.


Saturday, 27 July 2024

Temple of Heaven, Hutongs & Forbidden City Tour

We start early to visit the Temple of Heaven located in a delightful park. The Temple of Heaven, considered by UNESCO "a masterpiece of architecture and landscape design", was created as a place of learning about Chinese philosophical beliefs, cosmogony, art, dynastic politics and sacrificial rituals. In the park, you will gain insights into local life, as groups of elderly Beijing residents gather to take communal exercises, sing, socialise and play musical instruments. We continue to the Hutong district, where we explore the ancient narrow streets by foot and rickshaw and enjoy an included lunch at a family hutong home. In the afternoon, we visit Tiananmen Square and explore the mythical and vast Forbidden City, home to 24 Chinese Emperors. Here you can learn about China's dynastic past.


Sunday, 28 July 2024

Experience the Great Wall of China

Today we visit one of the wonders of the world, the Great Wall of China. We travel for 2 hours out of Beijing to a remote section of the wall where in the footsteps of soldiers from the Ming Dynasty, we hike a wild section away from the crowds. It is a unique experience where you will truly appreciate the full majesty of the Great Wall and savour stunning views of the surrounding mountains. We also visit the restored part of the wall at Mutianyu, allowing you a look at the Wall in its original state. Lunch is included.


Monday, 29 July 2024

At leisure

Today is at leisure.

We have a range of optional excursions you can book with your guide including a calligraphy or paper cutting class or perhaps attempt to cook the Chinese way by making some local dumplings.

Penta Hotel

Beijing & Great Wall - First Hotel

Described as a "neighbourhood lifestyle hotel", the Penta is a distinctive 4 star contemporary hotel, close to the Temple of Heaven and a short walk from the subway. The laid-back hotel offers 307 ensuite rooms in a minimalist style, including family rooms, as well as the use of bikes and maps to explore the local area. The heart of the hotel is the bustling Pentalounge; an all-encompassing café, deli, noodle bar, library and games area that provides a meeting place where guests and locals come and go.

5888 Penta Hotel

Hotel Cote Cour

Beijing & Great Wall - First Boutique

The Cote Cour is a renowned boutique hotel spread out around a traditional inner courtyard and nestled in one of the historic centuries-old Hutongs. Fully refurbished in 2016, the rooms and communal areas are decorated to a high standard with classic paintings, furnishings and details, evoking a deep connection with the long history of the structures. You will find all the modern amenities that you will need during your stay, as well as an attentive service, free internet access and bicycle hire.

Guests can relax on the rooftop space and perhaps choose to dine in the a la carte restaurant. For families, there is both a standard and deluxe family room on offer.

 

11924 Hotel Cote Cour

Regent Hotel

Beijing & Great Wall - Deluxe Hotel

A multi-award winning luxury hotel close to Tiananmen Square and shopping streets, providing guests with outstanding service in opulent surrounds. 500 spacious rooms and suites are elegantly finished in a traditional Chinese style, whilst floor-to-ceiling windows fill the rooms with natural light and afford panoramic views, including one of the Forbidden City from some. Connecting rooms are available for groups and there is a choice of renowned restaurants, as well as an indoor pool and wellness centre.

5889 Regent Hotel
5367 Xian And The Terracotta Army

Xi'an and the Terracotta Army - 2 Nights

Day 6 - Bullet Train to Xi'an

Day 7 - The Terracotta Army

  • Full Description
  • Accommodation

Tuesday, 30 July 2024

Train to Xi'an 

Transfer to Beijing West station for your high speed Bullet Train to the ancient city of Xi'an, a journey of some four and a half hours. Our guide will meet you on arrival and transfer you to your chosen hotel for a 2 night stay. Time at leisure in the afternoon. Once the starting point of the legendary Silk Road and a capital for eleven dynasties, Xi'an has retained a great deal of its mystique and boasts an impressive array of sights, which we will explore over the next two days. 


Wednesday, 31 July 2024

The Terracotta Army

We begin today with a visit to the famous Terracotta Army, just outside Xi'an. 8,000 individually sculptured clay warriors, horses and archers proudly stand shoulder-to-shoulder in three large excavated pits, protecting the tomb of China's first emperor, Qin Shihuang. At first it is the sheer number of warriors that is quite overwhelming, but you will soon notice the extraordinary level of detail with each figure seemingly sporting a different expression and hairstyle. It's not hard to imagine this as a real army in waiting, awakening at the slightest hint of danger. Afterwards we visit the home of the farmer who accidentally discovered the Terracotta Army.

After an included lunch, we return to Xian and explore the Muslim Quarter. We will also visit a traditional courtyard mansion, owned by a former official during the Ming Dynasty. Dating back 400 years, the property shows the wonderful architectural style of the time and offers cultural activities and demonstrations including shadow puppetry and paper cutting. There will also be time to explore the temple and lively food market. 

Mercure on Renmin Square

Xian & Terracotta Army - First Hotel

The Mercure hotel has become a fixture of Renmin Square, alongside landscaped gardens and historic buildings. With over 100 well-equipped and tastefully decorated rooms and suites and a wonderful location right in the heart of ancient Xi'an, this 4 star hotel is a popular choice amongst visitors. It is a 15 minute walk from the bustling markets of the Muslim Quarter and the Drum and Bell Towers.

The hotels own restaurant, serving Western, Chinese, Japanese and Moroccan dishes, as well as a café and bar is perfect for relaxing after a long day exploring the city.

5895 Mercure On Renmin Square

Sofitel on Renmin Square

Xian & Terracotta Army - Deluxe Hotel

This 5 star hotel curves gracefully along the side of the historic Renmin Square, right in the heart of this ancient city and within easy reach of the Bell Tower and Drum Tower, as well as the Great Mosque and the bustling night markets of the Muslim Quarter. 178 spacious rooms are equipped with modern facilities and special touches, such as the exclusive Sofitel MyBed and a luxurious rainforest shower.

The Sofitel has its own extensive landscaped gardens and its very own grand theatre. There is also a swimming pool, Jacuzzi and fitness centre, as well as a choice of three on-site restaurants, serving Mediterranean, Brazilian Barbecue and Cantonese food.

5894 Sofitel On Renmin Square
Chengdu

Chengdu & Panda Centre - 2 Nights

Day 8 - Bullet Train to Chengdu

Day 9 - Baby and Giant Pandas up close

  • Full Description
  • Accommodation

Thursday, 01 August 2024

Train to Chengdu & time at leisure 

Today take the high speed Bullet Train to Chengdu, where you will be met by your guide for the next few days and transferred to your hotel for a 2 night stay. The rest of the day at leisure, perhaps relax in the large People's Square, taking tea at one of the large outside teahouses and observing local life. South of the river is the lively Jinli Street, lined with traditional buildings and shops and stalls selling locally created artwork, handicrafts, paper cuts and calligraphy. This is a great place to spend the afternoon shopping for gifts and souvenirs. 


Friday, 02 August 2024

Baby & Giant Pandas up close 

No visit to Chengdu would be complete without going to the nearby Panda Research Base - there is simply no better place to see these charming and highly endangered animals in very close proximity. Designed to replicate the natural bamboo habitat of the panda to encourage breeding, the centre is respected the world over for its ongoing research and conservation efforts, not just for the giant pandas, but also for red pandas and black swans. We visit early in the morning to see the baby pandas at their most active, returning to the city at midday. Afternoon at leisure. 

Buddha Zen

Chengdu & Pandas - First Hotel

Located close to the Wenshu Yuan Monastery, this spiritually themed 4 star hotel aims to give visitors an insight into traditional Buddhist life. It offers 35 tranquil rooms and well-equipped rooms, all thoughtfully  decorated in an elegant style true to the spirit of the hotel. The courtyard-style building is filled with ancient paintings and statues each with small details that are full of hidden meaning.

The Buddha Zen also invites guests to take a traditional 'Zen' afternoon tea in the  Jian Cha Teahouse and unwind in the harmonious Zi Zai spa, havens of peace and tranquillity in one of China's biggest cities.

5885 Buddha Zen

The Ritz-Carlton

Chengdu & Pandas - Deluxe Hotel

As you might expect from a Ritz-Carlton, this hotel delivers luxury and service on an unparalleled level in Chengdu. Its collection of spacious and stylish rooms look out onto fine city views of Chengdu's skyscrapers and offer a host of facilities and features including:

  • Twice-daily housekeeping attention
  • LCD TVs (at least 42 inches)
  • Exclusive Asprey bath amenities
  • Blu-ray disc/DVD player
  • iPod/iPhone/iPad docking station
  • In-bathroom TV
  • Bathtub and separate shower
  • Illuminated cosmetic mirror, hair dryer and scale
  • TOTO intelligent toilet
  • Ritz-Carlton signature linens and feather bedding
  • Plush terry robes
  • Walk-in closet
  • Complimentary overnight shoeshine
  • Fully stocked mini refreshment bar
  • Complimentary high-speed wired- and wireless Internet access
  • Multi-line telephone with voicemail
  • Nespresso coffee machine
  • In-room safe

Guests can enjoy a choice of glamorous bars and four award-winning restaurants, including the renowned Li Xuan, which serves outstanding Cantonese & Sichuan-style cuisine. The large Ritz-Carlton Spa and Fitness Center complex includes an indoor swimming pool with underwater music and offers their signature tea-themed treatments.

5893 The Ritz Carlton
Victoria Jenna

Yangtze River Cruise - 4 Nights

Day 10 - Train to Chongqing, embark cruise ship

Day 11 - Excursion to Shibao Pagoda

Day 12 - Dramatic Three Gorges scenery

Day 13 - Three Gorges Dam, fly to Shanghai

  • Full Description
  • Accommodation

Saturday, 03 August 2024

Train to Chongqing, embark cruise ship 

Travel by train to Chongqing and embark your luxury cruise vessel, the Century Legend, for the start of your 3 night cruise (on a full board basis including all excursions) downstream on the mighty Yangtze River. The ship sets sail around 9:30pm. 


Sunday, 04 August 2024

Excursion to Shibao Pagoda 

Sit back and relax on the sun deck or observation lounge as you watch the beautiful and dramatic scenery pass by. Enjoy the on-board facilities, including cultural lectures, a library and Tai Chi classes. There is a delightful shore visit to the remote pagoda-like Shibao Zhai temple, sat in a cliff-face on a verdant island. Enjoy an evening dinner and cultural show.


Monday, 05 August 2024

Dramatic Three Gorges scenery 

The journey continues as the ship passes through the magnificent Qutang and Wu gorges, the first two of the famous Three Gorges. The landscape is marked by powerful steep mountainsides, covered in thick vegetation, which sink into the river and create a breathtakingly cinematic scene. In the afternoon, take an excursion to the beautiful and more remote Lesser Three Gorges, visiting either the Shennv Stream or Shennong Stream, before experiencing the Three Gorges Dam, lowering some 600 feet as you pass through a series of locks. 


Tuesday, 06 August 2024

Three Gorges Dam, fly to Shanghai 

The final day of the cruise starts with an excursion to see the Three Gorges Dam where you will learn about this remarkable feat of engineering. Disembark and drive to Yichang around lunch time. Transfer to the airport for your evening flight to Shanghai. There you will be met on arrival and transferred to your hotel for a 2 night stay.

Victoria Jenna

Yangtze River Cruises - First River Cruise

Established in New York City in 1993, Victoria Cruise Lines is a leading cruise operator on China’s majestic Yangtze River.

In 2024, Victoria Cruise Lines celebrates 30 years of operation, with a fleet of seven Five–Star vessels (as designated by the China Ministry of Culture and Tourism). Attractive public areas embody a modern blend of European and Asian design. The architecture emphasises spacious rooms with modern amenities, with private balconies, bathtubs, and cable TV. All ships are fully equipped with Wi-Fi and international telecommunications systems.

Inaugurated in 2009 and refurbished in 2018, the Victoria Jenna sets the standard for fine luxury river cruising.

Facilities include two restaurants, four elevators, a three-story atrium lobby, two lounges, three bars, a fitness centre, two full-sized lecture rooms, reading room, artist corners and gift shop.

Onboard entertainment includes activities geared towards showcasing the culture of China and its spellbinding Yangtze River – the world’s third–longest river, and the longest in Asia. Among the daytime pleasures: informative lectures, painting demonstrations, acupuncture demonstrations, Tai Chi as well as lessons in the Mandarin language, calligraphy, mahjong and the making of silk kites. In the evening in the elegant Yangtze Club, guests can delight in colourful cultural presentations, traditional fashion shows and the sounds of authentic Chinese music.

Victoria maintains an international clientele, and one unique feature of a Yangtze River cruise is that it affords the opportunity to meet people from all over the world, as well as local Chinese passengers. This makes for a more interesting cruise experience.

The Yangtze is one of the great river journeys of the world. A cruise on the Yangtze offers some magnificent scenery, interesting sightseeing and a chance to relax and unwind. With the completion of the Three Gorges Dam, the Three Gorges region has undergone historic changes, and travellers on the Yangtze now have a unique opportunity to witness this transformation. Entire new cities have been built above the old towns and villages along the water’s bank, but the scenery of the Three Gorges remains quite beautiful.

What’s included:

  • Complimentary morning coffee and tea service
  • Welcome Fruit Basket
  • Complimentary Wi–Fi service
  • Private shore excursions with 6 or more passengers in a particular group
  • Nightly turn down service with printed Daily Itinerary
  • Diet soda included for lunch and dinner
  • Coffee, tea and soft drinks available daily in the Executive Lounge, including Pepsi, Sprite and juice.
  • Complimentary “Happy Hour” one hour before dinner in the Executive Lounge (including House Wine, House Beer, and Soda)
  • Complimentary house wine and house beer offerings at dinner
  • Dining selection from two dining rooms on the Victoria Anna, Victoria Jenna, Victoria Katarina, Victoria Lianna, Victoria Sabrina, Victoria Selina and Victoria Sophia. This includes the main Dynasty Dining Room or the a la carte Western/Chinese Restaurant (choice of dining room to be made at the beginning of the voyage). The Dynasty Dining Room offers buffet breakfast, lunch and dinner daily, and the Captain’s Farewell Banquet on the final night of the voyage. The a la carte restaurant offers buffet breakfast and lunch, and an a la carte menu at dinner. The Luxury Amenities Program on the Victoria Grace offers a choice of buffet or a la carte dinner in the Dynasty Dining Room, and buffet breakfast and lunch.

The dining rooms have marvellous picture windows which invite the dramatic scenery of
the Yangtze indoors. The most of your time will be spent on a spacious sun decks, where the spectacular views of the passing scenery can be best observed. Each ship has a boutique, fitness room, reading area, laundry service, massage room, Wi-Fi, computer room, and health clinic with a trained doctor on board. 

See the video

Victoria Jenna

Century Paragon & Legend

Yangtze River Cruises - Deluxe Cruise Vessel

Century Paragon and Century Legend are deluxe sister ships that took their maiden voyages in 2013, making them amongst the newest cruise ships on the Yangtze River. We feel that they offer guests outstanding value for a luxury 5 star standard cruise. The staff are extremely helpful and attentive and there is a range of on-board cultural activities and facilities.  Chinese and western cuisine is served at meal times and the itineraries in both directions allow for a large degree of flexibility. All bedrooms come with ensuite showers, desk, seating area and a private balcony.

See below for images, cabins, deck plan and downstream and upstream itineraries.

9211 Century Paragon & Legend
Shanghai

Shanghai - 1 Night

Day 14 - Shanghai's local life and European heritage

Day 15 - Return flight to UK

  • Full Description
  • Accommodation

Wednesday, 07 August 2024

Shanghai's Local life and European heritage

Shanghai is China's most developed mega city, a futuristic metropolis symbolised by its forest of towering skyscrapers. However, if you know which street to turn down, you can still find relics of a bygone era and the occasional oasis of calm.

Our special tour introduces you to Shanghai's rich history and local life, starting at the classic Yu Gardens. We admire the European buildings of the riverside Bund area, once known as the "Paris of the Orient" and enjoy a scenic boat ride on the Huangpu River. Take an included lunch in the French Concession before discovering the traditional houses of Xintiandi, now converted into upscale shops, restaurants and bars. 


Thursday, 08 August 2024

Return flight to UK  

Your guide and driver will pick you up at your hotel and transfer you to the airport for your return flight to the UK arriving later the same day.

 

Shanghai Central

Shanghai -

This popular 4 star hotel is situated close to the Bund and the People's Square in downtown Shanghai. 280 rooms are well-presented and equipped with high quality modern facilities. Should you wish to dine in, the on site restaurants offer a choice between local Chinese and Cantonese dishes and western food. The hotel also boasts its own  sauna, gym, massage centre, bowling alley, tennis court and billiards room.

5728 Shanghai Central

Yangtze Hotel

Shanghai - Deluxe Hotel

The Yangtze ranks as one of Shanghai's most historic hotels, a former hangout for celebrities in its heyday. Originally built in the 1930s, today the Yangtze is among the city's best boutique hotels, with a great location on the expansive People's Square. Restaurants, pedestrianised shopping streets and the Grand Theatre are all within easy reach, as are the renowned museums and green spaces of the square and the shopping mall in Raffle's City. The Bund waterfront is a 10-15 minute walk away.

96 rooms are classically and thoughtfully decorated, with essences of Art Deco and classic Chinese decor throughout. They feature a number of mod-cons and many have balconies or terraces offering expansive views across the city, some towards the towers of the Pudong district. There are a number of welcoming cocktail or casual bars in which to unwind and three restaurants serving both international and Cantonese cuisine.

12365 Yangtze Hotel

Price Guidelines

Season
Travel Dates
Room Arrangement First
Multiple Travellers - Twin Room £3,901

Prices are a guideline and per person. Please request a quote for Special Events, Christmas, New Year's Eve & Easter.


What's Included

  • 15 days / 13 nights
  • International return flights (1 overnight)
  • 2nd class bullet train tickets
  • Internal flight as shown
  • 13 nights accommodation as shown on the itinerary
  • Including 3 night Yangtze River cruise on a full board basis including excursions
  • Meals as described in the itinerary
  • Transfers to and from airport
  • Excursions listed, all with expert, English-speaking guides and private vehicle
  • Prices are per person based on two sharing a room
  • Guideline price only - please request a bespoke itinerary for an accurate quote

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