Iconic China & the Magnificent Yangtze River
13 Night Itinerary
Cruise on the Yangtze River, through the Three Gorges landscape in 5* style, experience China's Imperial age wonders and go beyond the skyscrapers to uncover the real Shanghai
Guaranteed Price Quote
Contact us so we can provide a guaranteed price for this tour, based on your preference of hotels, transport, excursions and flights. We can modify and adapt this tour itinerary according to your preference or start afresh completely.
- 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 in 5* style
- 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.
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
Tuesday, 28 November 2023
Fly to Beijing
Depart from London or a choice of UK regional airports on a direct overnight flight to Beijing.
Wednesday, 29 November 2023
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.
Thursday, 30 November 2023
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.
Friday, 01 December 2023
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.
Saturday, 02 December 2023
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.
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.
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.
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.
Xi'an and the Terracotta Army - 2 Nights
Day 6 - Bullet Train to Xi'an
Day 7 - The Terracotta Army
Sunday, 03 December 2023
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.
Monday, 04 December 2023
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.
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.
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.
Chengdu & Panda Centre - 2 Nights
Day 8 - Bullet Train to Chengdu
Day 9 - Baby and Giant Pandas up close
Tuesday, 05 December 2023
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.
Wednesday, 06 December 2023
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.
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.
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.
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
Thursday, 07 December 2023
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.
Friday, 08 December 2023
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.
Saturday, 09 December 2023
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.
Sunday, 10 December 2023
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.
Yangtze River Cruises - First Cruise Vessel
The sister ships Century Sky & Century Sun offer some of the best value luxury cruising on the Yangtze River. Attentive service, a range of on-board cultural activities, excellent Chinese and western dining options and a varied itinerary make these good choices for your trip. 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.
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.
Yangtze River Cruises - Deluxe Cruise Vessel
The Sanctuary Yangzi Explorer is a luxury boutique cruise vessel which accommodates 124 passengers, much less than most other cruises along the river. The highest staff-to-guest ratio promises a more attentive and personal service, whilst the spacious and stylish cabins and suites offer wonderful retreats in which to relax and watch the dramatic scenery roll by from your private balcony.
On board cultural activities include calligraphy writing, Tai Chi, tea ceremonies and dumpling making, in addition to luxurious spa and beauty treatments. Watch inspiring lectures and traditional folk dancing performances in the theatre and enjoy delicious meals, freshly prepared with local ingredients by internationally-trained chefs, accompanied by an excellent choice of wines from the cellar.
The Yangzi Explorer sails in both directions between Chongqing and Yichang, on three and four night itineraries. Along the way you'll encounter the jaw-dropping Three Gorges scenery, remote communities and the magnificent Three Gorges Dam. See below for both itineraries.
Book the Sanctuary Yangzi Explorer more than three months in advance of sailing to receive an early-bird discount of up to 25%
Shanghai - 1 Night
Day 14 - Shanghai's local life and European heritage
Day 15 - Return flight to UK
Monday, 11 December 2023
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.
Tuesday, 12 December 2023
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.
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.
Multiple Travellers - Twin Room
Prices are a guideline and per person. Please request a quote for Special Events, Christmas, New Year's Eve & Easter.
- 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
Speak with a Specialist