The Essence of China – 11 Days

Day 1: Beijing

Arrive at Beijing International Airport. Meet your guide and driver and check into your hotel. Overnight.

Day 2: Beijing - Tian'anmen Square, Forbidden City, Hutong Tour, Welcome Dinner

Breakfast. Morning visit Tian'anmen Square, which is the city centre. Many key events affecting the whole country took place here. Visit Forbidden City, where the Emperors used to live with his many wives' It has the largest quadrangle in the world! Go on Tricycle Hutong tour to experience the daily life of Beijing residents, climb the Bell Tower. Enjoy a Chinese dumpling lunch with local dishes cooked by the housewife.

Tonight, enjoy a welcome dinner, serving the most famous meal in Beijing—Beijing Duck. Also see an exciting Chinese Acrobatic Show. Overnight.

Day 3: Beijing – Great Wall & Olympic Venues

After breakfast, meet your local guide and private driver in the hotel lobby, who will take you on a 2 hour drive to the Great Wall at Mutianyu. The Great Wall was built on high mountains. Take the cable car up to the wall. Walk for about half hour on the Wall, to arrive at "Wild Wall," a part that has not been restored for over 500 years.

Stop awhile at the Olympic Stadium, nicknamed 'Bird's Nest' and the National Aquatic Centre, panoramic also known as the "Water Cube." Rest of the day is at leisure. Overnight.

Day 4: Beijing - Xi'an – City Tour – Dinner & Show

Breakfast. Fly to Xi'an. Your local guide and driver will meet you upon arrival and take you to downtown. Xi'an is called the "Museum City". Visit the Shanxi Historic Museum, one of the best museums in China, with collections from 1.7 million years ago. Next, stop at the symbol of Xi'an, Big Wild Goose Pagoda, a well-preserved building and a holy place for Buddhists.

Tonight, enjoy a special dumplings dinner to taste more than 10 types of different dumplings. After dinner, enjoy the spectacular Tang Dynasty Show, with music and dance giving you an impressive view of ancient China 1400 years ago including its splendid history, brilliant arts, distinct traditions and customs. Overnight.

Day 5: Xi'an – Banpo, Terracotta Warriors & Great Mosque

After breakfast, visit a prehistoric settlement at Banpo, to see the life of the early settlement. Visit the Terracotta Warriors and Horses, the most significant archaeological excavations of the 20th century and a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site.

In the afternoon, drive to the Great Mosque, built in AD 742 for Muslim traders from Central Asia who settled in Xi'an. It is still an active place of worship today. This evening, enjoy an optional Chinese herbs feet massage. Overnight.

Day 6: Xi'an – Chongqing – Three Gorges Yangtze River Cruise

Breakfast. Visit Xi'an City Wall, the best preserved city wall in China. Enjoy a bird's eye view of this ancient city. Fly to Chongqing. Upon arrival, meet your local guide at the airport for transfer to Chongqing city. Time permitting, visit the pandas in the zoo. Enjoy one of the most famous cuisines in China—Chongqing Hot Pot. Transfer to the dock for your deluxe Yangtze River Cruise. Overnight on board.

Day 7: Fengdu Excursion

First stop is the town of Fengdu where you will enjoy shore excursion. Climb the many stairs to the Temple of the Emperor of Hell. This area is filled with temples and garish statues of demons and devils. See the partly-submerged rubble of the old town of Fengdu and the shiny new housing across the water, where the Fengdu inhabitants were re-housed. Join the Captain in the evening for welcome drinks and dinner. Overnight onboard.

Day 8: Three Gorges – Shore Excursion

Rise early this morning and be on deck as you sail through the towering cliffs and mountains of the gorges Qutang and Wu Gorge. In the afternoon, take smaller boats for a trip up a tributary of the river. An interesting 3 hour shore excursion, Shennong Stream is an area of the Yangtze that has changed considerably since the water level has risen. Where the gorge widens slightly, you transfer into smaller boats pulled by teams of "trackers" who wade thigh-deep through the water. Trackers were once the main method of pulling boats along parts of the Yangtze River. Later, enter Xiling Gorge. Overnight on board.

Day 9: Three Gorges – Yichang - Shanghai

Visit the site of the enormous Three Gorges Dam Project. At any given time, up to 30,000 labourers were involved in its construction. 1.3 million people were relocated. Return to the boat and sail for one and a half hours to Yichang. Disembark and transfer to Yichang airport for Shanghai. Arrive and check in at your hotel for overnight.

Day 10: Shanghai – Sightseeing Tour

After breakfast, visit Yu Garden, outside which is the Old Town. Enjoy a walking tour of the small alleys. Spot refurbished tenement homes with doors framed with large stones (Shi ku men), see 1st National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party, French Park and the St. Nicholas Church. The old residence of Zhou Enlai and the home of Sun Yat-sen are good examples of houses of the period - short and squat Shi ku mens hidden in twisty alleyways.

After lunch, drive to Shanghai Museum to learn about the history of its development from a pimping village in the last century to a modern metropolis. Enjoy a night cruise along the Bund, for a view evocative of the splendour and decadence of old Shanghai. Overnight.

Day 11: Shanghai

Breakfast. Check out and transfer to the airport.

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