China with Yangtzee River Cruise
Day 01 (FRI) ARRIVE BEIJING
Today you fly to Beijing, without a doubt, the cultural and historic heart of modern China. Capital of China for over 700 years beginning with the Yuan dynasty (the Mongol period) in 1279 the city - despite its population of 10 million - still retains the atmosphere of its imperial past. Upon arrival, you are met and escorted to the opulent Palace Hotel, located in the center of the city.PALACE HOTEL
Day 02 (SAT) BEIJING
This morning, your sightseeing begins with a visit to the Forbidden City (today the National Palace Museum). The Forbidden City was once the imperial residence of the emperors and their families from the early 1400's until 1911. You will then climb Coal Hill for a breathtaking view of the Imperial Palace. Enjoy a delicious lunch of Imperial Court food in a lovely setting at Fangshan Restaurant in Beihai Park.
This afternoon you will visit the Temple of Heaven, an exquisite example of a Chinese wooden building, constructed without the use of a single nail as well as an outstanding example of religious architecture. Each part of the building is deeply symbolic. It was here that the Emperor came twice a year, once to offer thanks for a successful harvest and then to ask that the coming harvest be blessed as well. Continue sightseeing with a visit to the Liulichang area, an interesting group of restored shops and galleries. Next stop will be Tiananmen Square, the largest public plaza on earth and the site of the mausoleum of Mae Zedong. Tonight attend an evening performance of the Beijing Opera. PALACE HOTEL (B, L)
Day 03 (SUN) BEIJING
Today you will visit the Great Wall of China at Jinshinling. You will have the chance to trek to the section of the Wall at Simatai. Scholars estimate that the Great Wall once stretched in a continuum for 31,250 miles from the Yalu River in the northeast to Xinjiang in the northwest, passing through an expanse now covered by 16 Chinese provinces. Today it measures 3,750 miles from the Shanhaiguan Pass near the Bohai Sea to the Jiayuguan Pass in the Gobi Desert. The wall's construction began during the Warring States (403-221 BC) period, when separate sections were built in scattered strategic areas. Following China's unification under the first Qin emperor, Shi Huang Di (221-210 BC), 300,000 men--many of them political prisoners whose bodies are buried in the wall--were put to work connecting the segments into one huge rampart of stone and earth.This evening, you will have dinner at the exclusive China Club Restaurant.
PALACE HOTEL (B, L, D)
Day 04 (MON) BEIJING / XIAN
You will be transferred to the airport this morning for your flight to the ancient city of Xian. On arrival, you will be met and transferred to your hotel. Once the largest city in the world, Xian served as the capital of eleven Chinese dynasties.This afternoon you will visit the archeological excavation of the First Emperor of China's army of terra cotta soldiers and horses. Continue sightseeing with a visit to the massive City Wall.
SHANGRI-LA GOLDEN FLOWER HOTEL (B)
Day 05 (TUE) XIAN / CHONGQING
This morning you will visit the Shaanxi Museum, the finest museum of Chinese history in Asia. The museum houses a fantastic collection of ancient artifacts, including sandstone and granite animal figures, Tang Dynasty stone friezes, bronzes, Neolithic pottery and jewelry. You will then visit the Great Mosque, located in the fascinating Muslim Quarter. Following lunch, you will be transferred to the airport for your flight to Chongqing. On arrival, you will be met and transferred to your hotel.
HARBOUR PLAZA HOTEL (Five Doubles - Executive floor) (B)
Day 06 (WED) CHONGQING / DAZU / CHONGQING
This morning you depart by road for Dazu, one of China's most important Buddhist Art sites, located 160 kilometers (100 miles) northwest of Chongqing. The drive winds through the undulating hill country terraced and planted in rich paddies of rice. Farm villages interspersed with bamboo thickets dot the area, a picturesque scene of rural life in Sichuan. The hilly topography of the Dazu area effectively shielded the vast repository of cave art from the outside world until 1982 when a road was completed linking the region to Chongqing. Today some 50,000 stone carvings, located in 40 sites, are open to the public for viewing. Carved over a period of 400 years (892 - 1300), this catalogue of Buddhist statuary is a remarkable record of Buddhism's growth and importance in ancient China. The highlight of an excursion to Dazu is the 250-meter long "Buddha Crescent" at Beishan (North Mountain) which contains over 10,000 sculpted figures. This stunning collection of statues took 250 years to carve, (900 - 1150) and is considered one of the most outstanding examples of Buddhist cave iconography in China. You will be driven back to Chongqing late this afternoon. HARBOUR PLAZA HOTEL (B, L)
Day 07 (THU) CHONGQING / YANGZI RIVER
This morning you will tour Chongqing, Sichuan's dynamic Yangzi River port. Its hilly topography and narrow, winding alleys lend it a slightly medieval air, especially the city's old quarter.Later today, you will be taken to the pier to board your Yangzi River cruise ship. Enjoy dinner and overnight on board. Later this evening your ship lifts anchor and begins its downstream journey.
M.S. EAST KING (B, L, D)
Day 08 (FRI) YANGZI RIVER
Continue your downstream journey on the Yangzi River eastward to the city of Yichang. This afternoon, depending on the water level you may make one of two shore excursions, either to Shibaozhai (Precious Stone Fortress), a gem of Chinese architecture, or to Wanzian, where you visit a silk factory and local market.
M.S. EAST KING (B, L, D)
Day 09 (SAT) YANGZI RIVER CRUISE / YICHANG
Today you begin the dramatic descent through the rapids of the Yangzi Gorges. The Qutang, Wu and Xiling Gorges are magnificent in their solemn sun-filtered depth. Once through the treacherous shallows and rapids of the ochre-colored river, you will see the Yangzi expand and broaden out into a flat muddy band which washes the fields and fills the irrigation ditches as it passes. Enjoy an excursion by longboats up the Shennong Stream, a tributary of the Yangzi and traditional home of the Tujia minority. Return to the boat and cruise through the Xiling Gorge. This afternoon, stop at the Three Gorges Dam project, the world's largest dam construction project, slated to go into operation in 2009. This evening, you pass the Gezhouba Dam, before arriving in the port of Yichang, where you overnight on the ship.
M.S. EAST KING (B, L, D)
Day 10 (SUN) YICHANG / SHANGHAI
This morning you disembark in Yichang, which lies at the eastern exit of Xiling Gorge in West Hubei. You are met and driven to the airport for your flight to Shanghai. On arrival in Shanghai, you will be met at the airport and transferred to your hotel. This afternoon you will begin to explore Shanghai. Visit the Shanghai Art Museum, now ranked as the most outstanding museum in China. Housed in a former British bank, the museum has recently refurbished two of its three floors, exhibiting a stunning collection of Shang and Zhou period bronze artifacts (16th century - 7th century BC) as well as an extensive exhibition of porcelain. The museum was recently gifted with a large collection of Ming porcelains belonging to a private collector in Hong Kong. Your next stop will be the Bund, the city's famous waterfront that is still faced with stately European buildings. This evening, attend a performance of the famous Shanghai Acrobatic Show.
PORTMAN RITZ CARLTON HOTEL (Five Doubles - Normal floor deluxe room) (B)
Day 11 (MON) SHANGHAI
Begin your sightseeing in Old Town, a warren of winding alleys, row housing and quaint shop fronts. Visit the Yu Garden, a 16th century Ming period private garden/residence. You also stop at the Dong Tai Street market followed by lunch at the Lubulang Restaurant. This afternoon you will visit the Children's Palace, a center for children with exceptional abilities where you might see athletic demonstrations or musical performances. Later visit the Jade Buddha Temple. Your final stop today will be Nanjing Road, Shanghai's bustling shopping street.
PORTMAN RITZ CARLTON HOTEL (B, L)
Day 12 (TUE) SHANGHAI / GUILIN
This morning's flight takes you to the lovely city of Guilin. On arrival, you will be met at the airport and transferred to your hotel. This afternoon you will begin to explore Guilin with a visit to the Reed Flute Cave. Of the many caves in the Guilin area, Reed Flute (in the northwestern suburbs) is the most famous. Its name derives from the reeds at its entrance, which were once used to make flutes as well as to conceal the cave's mouth. First discovered during the Tang Dynasty, the cave was a frequent refuge for the local populace seeking to escape bandits and the ravages of war. A 165 ft. path winds past unusual stalactite and stalagmite formations. The underground path opens out onto a terrace, which affords a panoramic view of the surrounding mountains, farmland, and river courses. Your next stop will be at Fubo Shan, one of the city's most interesting hills. From here there is a magnificent view of the region. You will then have the opportunity to rent bicycles, if you wish. This evening, view night cormorant fishing - the unique practice of using trained birds to help the local fishermen. Watch the cormorants as they swoop down to catch fish for their trainers.
SHERATON HOTEL (Five Doubles - Normal floor river view room) (B)
Day 13 (WED) GUILIN / KUNMING
Today you enjoy a cruise on the Li River, traveling from the Bamboo River landing pier to the charming farming village of Yangshuo. While passing some exquisite scenery, enjoy a tasty lunch of fresh fish and other local favorites. Spend time wandering through Yangshuo's markets before returning by road to Guilin. Later today you will be transferred to the airport for your flight to Kunming. On arrival, you will be met and transferred to your hotel.
BANK HOTEL (Five Doubles - Executive floor) (B, L)
Day 14 (THU) KUNMING / STONE FOREST / KUNMING
This morning, travel outside the city to visit the Stone Forest, located about 79 miles southeast of the city and is the most popular outing from Kunming. It is a strange place, with limestone pinnacles and rocks standing like petrified trees. The outcrops are not a fossil forest but the result of water erosion - just like the mountains of Guilin, except on a smaller scale. The area is the home of the Sani people, who delight in offering their handicrafts to visitors and often give song and dance performances in the local hotel. You will have the opportunity to do plenty of climbing here. Following a picnic lunch, return to the city and your hotel. Any option today would be to go golfing, instead of visiting the Stone Forest. There are some very good golf courses in the area. If you choose to golf, you will need to pay all expenses involved on the spot.
BANK HOTEL (B, L)
Day 15 (FRI) KUNMING / LIJIANG
This morning you are transferred to the airport for your departure flight to Lijiang. Upon arrival you are met and transferred to your hotel. Lijiang is the base of the Naxi minority, who are descended from Tibetan nomads and lived until recently in matriarchal families; the property was passed through the youngest female child. Men were in charge of gardening, music making and child-rearing. Spend the remainder of the day sightseeing. The old town is made up of a maze of cobbled streets, rickety old wooden buildings and gushing canals, resulting in a wonderful place to explore and become lost.
GRAND LIJIANG HOTEL (Five Doubles - Normal floor standard room) (B, L)
Day 16 (SAT) LIJIANG
Today travel to Tiger Leaping Gorge to see the mighty Yangzi River as it roars 4,000 meters (10,000 feet) below. Continue on to the village of Shigu (Stone Drum), which lies at the point where the Yangzi makes its great northward turn. Shigu is known as a crossing-point of the Red Army on its Long March.
GRAND LIJIANG HOTEL (B, L)
Day 17 (SUN) LIJIANG / DALI
You will be driven overland to Dali today. En route you will sightsee. Dali was once the seat of the 8th century Nazhao kingdom, then a People's Commune and today the center of a colorful minority region. On arrival, you will be taken to your hotel. This afternoon you will be taken on a boat ride on Erhai Lake. You will also visit some Bai village and markets.
ASIA STAR HOTEL (Five Doubles - Normal floor standard room) (B, L)
Day 18 (MON) DALI / KUNMING
Today you will fly back to Kunming. On arrival, you will be met and transferred to your hotel. This afternoon you will tour Kunming. Included in your tour are visits to Xishan Forest Park and Dian Chi Lake, which reflects the bright mountains surrounding the area.
BANK HOTEL (B)
Day 19 (TUE) KUNMING / HONG KONG
This morning you will be transferred to the airport for your flight to Hong Kong. (B)
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