Classic China

Duration: 17 days

Highlights: For the first-time visitor to China “Classic China” is an ideal introduction to the country providing a balance overview that highlights China’s magnificent history, exquisite art heritage, rich culinary traditions and the exciting changes sweeping the country today.

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Itinerary

Day 1 - Arrive Beijing

Capital of China for over 700 years Beijing is your gateway to the many wonders of the country.  Today, a thriving metropolis of over 20 million residents, Beijing is the political and cultural heart of the nation. 

Upon arrival today you will be met and transfer to your elegant hotel, ideally located in the city centre within close proximity to the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square.

Overnight: The Peninsula Beijing

 

Day 2 - Beijing

This morning you meet your guide and set off on an orientation tour of Beijing that starts at the magnificent Temple of Heaven.  Considered the jewel of Ming period (1368 – 1644) architecture, the temple grounds also draw scored of local residents who come to sing, dance, meet friends and enjoy this wondrous site.

Continue to the Hongqiao Market, a bustling kaleidoscope of commerce that features a stunning array of goods on sale.

Following lunch in a local restaurant visit Tiananmen Square the true heart of the city.  Here the past, present and future of China merge in this monumental symbol of national unity.

From the Square you will walk into the Forbidden City once the centre of imperial power for the last two dynastic periods of Chinese history:  the Ming (1368 – 1644) and Qing (1644 – 1911) dynasties.  Since 1925 the palace has served as the National Palace Museum, the world’s largest museums of Chinese art and antiquities.  More than 1.2 million treasures are held in the galleries and vaults of the Forbidden City.

This evening enjoy a dinner at one of the city’s finest and most authentic Peking Duck restaurants.

Overnight: The Peninsula Beijing

Meal Plan: B,L,D

 

Day 3 - Beijing

This morning transfer overland to the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall.  Located to the northeast of the city, the Mutianyu section of the Wall is said to be the most scenically stunning as the Wall rides the craggy peaks of the Yan Mountains.  This part of the Great Wall was rebuilt and strengthened to ward of attacks from marauding armies of Mongol soldiers, defending the access to Beijing.  You will have time to walk along the ramparts of the Wall enjoying the panoramic views and deep sense of historic wonder.

Following lunch continue on to the Ming Tombs which lie one hour from the Great Wall.  Thirteen of the 16 tombs are located in a picturesque region between the Yan Mountains and the Ming Tombs Reservoir which is believed to be favoured for its “feng shui”.  You first walk the Sacred Way a one-kilometre long passageway over which the emperor’s body passed on the way to its final resting place. You will also visit the Chang Ling Mausoleum where the body of the third emperor of the Ming dynasty is buried.   The passageway is lined with a series of majestic statues of animals, mythological creatures, military dignitaries and high court officials. 

Overnight: The Peninsula Beijing

Meal Plan: B,L

 

Day 4 - Beijing - Xian

This morning, visit the ethereal Summer Palace, the largest imperial garden in China and where you will first walk through part of this glorious imperial compound before enjoying a private boat ride on Kunming Lake (water levels permitting).  The Empress dowager, Ci Xi (1835 – 1908) loved the Summer Palace and spent more time here than at the Forbidden City.

After lunch at a local restaurant, you will be transferred to the Beijing West Train Station where you board your high-speed bullet train from Beijing to Xi’an arriving in the late afternoon.

Enjoy the remainder of the day at leisure.

Overnight: The Ritz Carlton, Xian.

Meal Plan: B,L

 

Day 5 - Xian

The morning is spent at one of the single greatest archaeological sites on earth, the Terra-Cotta Warriors and Horses Excavation often said to be the most important archaeological discoveries of the 20th century.  Visit the three excavation pits as well as the Bronze Chariot Museum which showcases two bronze chariots which were part of the funerary objects buried with the Qinshihuangdi, the first emperor of the Qin dynasty (221 BCE – 210 BCE).

Following lunch at a restaurant near the archaeological site transfer to the city where, this afternoon, you first visit the beautiful Great Mosque of Xi’an and the surrounding old city quarter with its bustling food stalls and shops.  You then visit the Small Wild Goose Pagoda a historic landmark dating to the Tang dynasty (618 – 907) considered the “Golden Age” of ancient Chinese history.   Your afternoon ends with a visit to the Ming period City Wall, one of the only extant city walls left in China.

Overnight: The Ritz Carlton, Xian

Meal Plan: B,L

 

Day 6 - Xian - Shanghai

This morning enjoy a visit to the Shaanxi Provincial Museum, one of the finest provincial museums in China.  The museum collection spans more than one million years of history and over 90% of the artifacts and treasures on view were excavated in Shaanxi province considered one of the most important cradles of early Chinese civilization. 

This afternoon, following lunch, prior to your flight to Shanghai you will visit the Han Yangling Museum and excavation site a remarkable series of ancient tombs dating to the reign of Han Jingdi, the fourth emperor of the Western Han dynasty (206 BCE – 8 AD).

Later this afternoon you will fly from Xi’an to Shanghai where, on arrival, you are met and transferred to your hotel.

Overnight: The Peninsula Shanghai

Meal Plan: B,L

 

Day 7 - Shanghai

This morning you will meet your guide and set off on a full-day tour of Shanghai beginning with an orientation tour of different city neighborhoods.  This will include the lovely former French Concession noted for its elegant villas and gardens, a reminder of another time and place.  You will also follow the circuitous lanes and alleys of the “Old Town” the historic heart of Chinese Shanghai.  Here, more than 600 years ago the city flourished as a busy trading centre.  Your walk through the old town will include a visit to the magnificent Yu Garden, an exquisite 16th century scholar’s garden. 

This afternoon, following lunch, you visit the Shanghai Museum, regarded as one of the world’s five best museums of Chinese art and antiquities. 

Your afternoon ends with a walk along the historic riverside promenade known as the “Bund”.  The name is actually an Anglo-Indian term that refers to a “quay” or “embankment” but now includes the riverfront area of Shanghai.  The Bund is the most ideal place to appreciate the marvel that Shanghai has become – on one side is the sweep of historic buildings that recalls the city’s treaty port past while the Pudong side (the eastern bank) represents Shanghai, city of tomorrow.

This evening, enjoy a dazzling display of spectacular agility when you attend a performance by the Shanghai Acrobatics Troupe, recognized as the world’s most exciting acrobatics performance.

Overnight: Peninsula Shanghai

Meal Plan: B,L

 

Day 8 - Shanghai - Zhujiajiao - Shanghai

Spend the morning in the charming river town of Zhujiajiao a classic example of the canal towns that dotted the landscape of the Yangzi River Delta.  With more than 1,000 structures dating to the Ming (1368 – 1644) and Qing (1644 – 1911) dynasties and closed to vehicle traffic, a visit to Zhujiajiao transports the visitor into a world of wonder.

Return to Shanghai for lunch and this afternoon take a trip to the top when you visit the observation deck of the new Shanghai Tower (632 metres or 2,073 feet), the second tallest building on earth.  From the observation deck’s platform at 562 metres (1,843 feet) you can take in the sweeping panorama of today’s Shanghai.

This evening enjoy dinner in one of the city’s most elegant restaurants.

Overnight: Peninsula Shanghai

Meal Plan: B,L,D

 

Day 9 - Shanghai – Yichang - Yangzi River

Later this morning you will transfer to the Shanghai Airport where you board your flight to Yichang, the thriving port city located in Hubei province along the banks of the mighty Yangzi River, the world’s third longest river at 6,300 kilometres (3,915 miles). 

On arrival into Yichang you are transferred to the cruise pier where you will board the M.S. Yangzi Explorer .  After checking in and freshening up you can enjoy some time on one of  the ship’s spacious decks taking in the lovely river scenery.

Tonight, following dinner, you will be invited to attend a ship and safety briefing.

Overnight: Sanctuary Yangzi Explorer

Meal Plan: B,L,D

 

Day 10 - Yangzi River

This morning disembark from the ship and enjoy a visit to the Three Gorges Dam Site and Exhibition Centre.  The dam, the largest on earth, spans 2,335 metres (7,660 feet in length and stands 181 metres (594 feet) in height and represents the single biggest engineering feat on earth.  While the move to lessen the country’s reliance on coal for the generation of electricity the construction of the dam did result in the loss of 13 cities, 140 towns, 1,352 villages, over 600 industrial factories and more than 1,200 archaeological projects (due to submersion from the rising water levels).

Return to the ship and then set sail on your upstream journey to Chongqing your port of disembarkation and the largest municipality in China with a population of more than 33 million.

After setting off form Yichang the ship will sail through the Xiling Gorge - the longest of the three main Gorges, measuring some 76 kilometres (47 miles) in length. You can join the other passengers on the deck to listen to running commentary being given by the cruise director.  The Xiling Gorge is renowned for its swirling currents and expansive views.

Overnight: Sanctuary Yangzi Explorer

Meal Plan: B,L,D

 

Day 11 - Yangzi River (sailing upstream to Chongqing)

This morning disembark from the ship and enjoy an excursion up the Shennong Stream, a tributary of the Yangzi.  You first board a private ferry and travel up the Shennong Stream to a boat station where you change to traditional local “pea pod” boats crewed by the Tujia people who were once the trackers who pulled the great trading junks up through the treacherous three gorges.  Today the local trackers re-enact this tradition as they pole and pull the local boats along the crystalline waters through a verdant world of forests and towering cliffs.

Before returning from Shennong Stream we will visit a traditional trackers village, where you will have a chance to experience traditional rural life in China today.  

This afternoon, guests are encouraged to appreciate the scenery from the Sun Deck as we sail through the spectacular Wu Gorge and Qutang Gorge, complimented by informative commentary given by the ship’s knowledgeable cruise director.

Overnight: Sanctuary Yangzi Explorer

Meal Plan: B,L,D

 

Day 12 - Yangzi River (sailing upstream to Chongqing)

Today you will have the option of selecting your shore excursion.  You can consider a visit to one of the most secretive projects in China, the “816 Underground Project” or the White Crane Ridge Underwater Museum and a local village market.

The 816 Underground Project is the world’s largest artificial military cave which began over 50 years ago and involved more than 60,000 workers on the project.  The complex is located near Jianzishan a mountainous region of dense forests.  The 17 military caves were constructed over a period of more than 50 years. 

The remarkable White Crane Underwater Museum (included from May to September) is situated 148 feet under the river.   The museum provides a unique look at a series of ancient rock cravings that were submerged with the flooding that resulted from the construction of the Three Gorges Dam which was completed in 2009.  Following your visit to the museum you continue on and spend some time in the local market which offers colourful insight to the lives of the local community.  The warm climate and ample rainfall results in a cornucopia of fruit and vegetables grown around the region.

This evening join the passengers and crew for a sumptuous farewell dinner followed by a musical performance in the ship’s Explorer Bar.

Overnight: Sanctuary Yangzi Explorer

Meal Plan: B,L,D

 

Day 13 - Yangzi River - Chongqing Yangshuo 

This morning arrive into Chongqing where, after disembarking from the ship, you are met and enjoy some sightseeing before transferring to the Chongqing Airport and boarding your flight to Guilin.

After arriving at the Guilin Airport you are met and transferred to Yangshuo and you lovely hotel.

Overnight: The Banyan Tree, Yangshuo

Meal Plan: B,L

 

Day 14 - Yangshuo

This morning you are met by your guide and first enjoy the beauty of Yangshuo’s landscape when you board a private local boat and travel between Xingping and Yangti considered the most beautiful part of the river.   Return to Yangshuo and enjoy a visit to the bustling market on West Street and this afternoon, following lunch, you visit the ancient village of Fuli renowned for its traditional handicraft traditions.  This evening you attend a performance of “Liu San Jie” the enchanting sound and light spectacular directed by Zhang Yimou, celebrated film director and the man behind the stunning opening and closing ceremonies at the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics.

Overnight: The Banyan Tree, Yangshuo

Meal Plan: B,L

 

Day 15 - Yangshuo - Guilin - Hong Kong

After meeting your guide this morning enjoy an orientation tour of Guilin that will include a number of iconic natural landmarks.  Explore the ethereal forest of stalagmites and stalactites in the Reed Flute Cave and climb the top of Fubo Mountain which affords you a sweeping panoramic view of the surrounding countryside.

Late this afternoon, you will be transferred to the Guilin Airport for your flight to Hong Kong. 

After arriving into Hong Kong and clearing arrival formalities you will be met and transferred to your lovely hotel.

Overnight: The Peninsula, Hong Kong

Meal Plan: B,L

 

Day 16 - Hong Kong

This morning meet your guide and enjoy an orientation of Hong Kong Island that introduces you to the many and diverse faces of the city.  You begin with a guided walk in the historic Sheung Wan District famed for its dried foods and herbal medicine shops, pharmacies and markets.  Then continue on to the Man Mo Temple, the oldest Daoist temple in Hong Kong and a rich reminder of the philosophical traditions of Hong Kong.  You change the scenery when taking the Peak Tram from the Central District up to the summit of Victoria Peak where you can enjoy the stunning panorama of the city.  Your morning ends with a ride in a traditional sampan through the waters of Aberdeen home to the Tanka Fishing people, a reclusive group of fisherman who once numbered more than 500,000 but today are a quickly vanishing way of life.

Enjoy a traditional Dim sum lunch and then you will be transferred back to your hotel where you will enjoy the afternoon at leisure.

Overnight: The Peninsula, Hong Kong

Meal Plan: B,L

 

Day 17 - Depart Hong Kong

Today, at the appointed time, you meet your guide and transfer to the Hong Kong International Airport by one of the Peninsula Hotel’s legendary Rolls Royce. 

On arrival at the airport your guide will assist you with the check-in for your departure flight.

Meal Plan: B

 

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