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Experience the mystery and magic of China in this special fourteen day tour.

Spend time in the most cosmopolitan of China's cities, plus travel to beautiful smaller towns and villages, and add a relaxing river cruise along the Yangtze for good measure.

This gives you a great all-encompassing experience.

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Fourteen Day Grand China Tour and Cruise, June 08

Draft Day by Day Itinerary

Click the map to have a larger version open in a new window

China is a country the same size as the US, and while it isn't possible to see the entire country in two weeks, we think you'll agree that this tour is about as comprehensive as possible, while still being relaxed enough to be a vacation.

This is the itinerary for the June 2008 Grand China Tour and Cruise.

Please note this itinerary - particularly for the river cruise portion - is somewhat subject to weather conditions and may change to best reflect the weather and operational conditions at the time the cruise occurs.

Click here for the main details of this tour/cruise and the booking form to confirm your interest.


Day 0 (Tues or Wed, 17/18 June) :  Leave the US

Choose the airline you wish to take you to China today.

You should make your own arrangements to fly from the US to Beijing, perhaps leaving either Tuesday or Wednesday, so as to arrive into Beijing on or before Wednesday 18 June.

In most cases, if you leave the US in the morning of Wednesday, you'll get into China that same evening, but some flights will have you leaving late on Tuesday and arriving earlier on Wednesday.

Leave earlier if you wish to spend extra time in China before the start of the main tour


Day 1 (Wednesday 18 June) :  Arrive into Beijing

China - a land of exotic contrasts and mysteries - eagerly awaits your arrival

Your flight should arrive into Beijing, anytime today.

Make your own way to the hotel, and the rest of the day is at leisure for you to relax from your international flight.


Day 2 (Thursday 19 June) :  Beijing City Touring

The famous Gate on Tiananmen Square that leads in to the Forbidden City, still with a giant picture of Chairman Mao above the main entrance

The Temple of Heaven, a Taoist temple that the Emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties worshipped at

The Summer Palace is a sprawling complex of palaces, temples, covered and uncovered walkways, lakes, and natural beauty.

The new Birdsnest Stadium that is part of Beijing's development for the Olympics in August

Welcome to Beijing.

After breakfast at your hotel, today we offer you a full day tour around the main city sights.  Amongst other sights, you'll see the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square, the Temple of Heaven and the Summer Palace.  These sites have all been designated World Heritage sites.

But it won't all be ancient.  We'll also take you past the 'Birdsnest' - the distinctive main stadium for China's 2008 Olympic Games (don't worry - the Games don't start until 8 August so won't interfere with our travel plans in June).

We include a Chinese lunch on our tour, and offer an optional traditional 'Hot Pot' meal this evening at a Chinese restaurant just a few minutes walk from the hotel.

Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch


Day 3 (Friday 20 June) :  Beijing - Great Wall and Ming Tombs

One of the series of ceremonial buildings at the Tomb site we'll visit today.

We'll have a chance to go walking along the Great Wall for over an hour this afternoon.

Enjoy a Peking Duck dinner this evening at what is probably Beijing's best Peking Duck restaurant.

After breakfast today, we take you out of the city, traveling first to the region of the Ming Tombs.

This is a region carefully chosen by the Ming dynasty Feng Shui experts as being well suited for the colossal tomb complexes of their emperors, and we'll visit the most impressive of these tombs.  This has been designated a World Heritage site.

After an included Chinese lunch, we continue on to a section of China's Great Wall.  The Great Wall was built over a 2100 year project (and you thought your local freeway construction was slow) and is the longest man-made structure in the world, stretching some 4,000 miles.  It has also been designated a World Heritage site.

At its peak, over one million soldiers were stationed on guard on the wall, and a measure of the colossal nature of the project is the estimated 2 - 3 million workers who died during its construction.

You'll have a chance to walk along one of the best preserved sections of the wall.

Dinner this evening is special - we include a famous 'Peking Duck' dinner at perhaps the best Peking Duck restaurant in Beijing, the Da Dong Duck Restaurant.

Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch Dinner


Day 4 (Saturday 21 June) :  Beijing and fly to Xi'an

The Small Wild Goose Pagoda in Xi'an.

You've free time in Beijing today - perhaps walk along to the famous Silk Market, close to our hotel.  Note that this market sells very little silk, but just about everything else!

Later this afternoon we'll fly to Xi'an (airfare included).  This is a comfortable short flight of about 1hr 40 mins, and will be on either a modern Boeing or Airbus aircraft.

We'll transfer to our hotel in Xi'an upon arrival.

Included Meals: Breakfast


Day 5 (Sunday 22 June) :  Terracotta Warriors and on to Chongqing

Some of the 8.099 Terracotta Warriors, unearthed by chance by a local farmer in 1974, located just outside Xi'an.

The Conference Hall in Chongqing.

Xi'an, a city with over 3100 years of history, is one of the four great ancient capitals of China, serving as the capital for 13 dynasties of emperors.  It is also the eastern end of the Silk Road, made famous by Marco Polo.  More recently, it is the center for some of China's space exploration programs.

But, most of all, Xi'an is where the Terracotta Warriors were discovered, by chance, in 1974.  This collection of 8,099 figures was buried with a former emperor in 210 BC.  This has now been designated a World Heritage site.

Of course we visit these warriors, and then we have a chance to make our own pottery at a local pottery workshop.

After lunch, we fly on to Chongqing, another short flight (about 1 hr 10 minutes) and again on a modern western airplane.

We'll be transferred to our hotel where we spend one night.

Included Meals: Breakfast Lunch


Day 6 (Monday 23 June) :  Cruise Day 1 - Fengdu

Our traveling hotel and home for the next six days and nights, the recently rebuilt Victoria Prince.

One of Fengdu's 48 temples.

We'll transfer the short distance from our hotel to the cruise ship this morning, the Victoria Prince, then set sail shortly thereafter.

This afternoon we'll visit Fengdu, then reboard the boat and continue our cruise down the Yangtze River.

Most of Fengdu is being lost as part of the Three Gorges Dam project in China, but part will remain above water, and a complete new city has been built to replace those parts that are being submerged.

Fengdu (pronounced 'Fung Doo') is known as the 'Ghost City' to Chinese people, not due to a prevalence of ghosts everywhere, but due to a specific legend about two Han dynasty officials who became immortal through following Taoist teachings in the city.  Perhaps because of this, 48 temples are in the city.  We won't visit them all!

Included Meals: Breakfast Lunch Dinner


Day 7 (Tuesday 24 June) :  Cruise Day 2 - The Three Little Gorges

One of the Three Little Gorges on the Daning River

Beautiful layers of color at sunset over the Yangtze, sailing through the Wu Gorge

Today we'll travel off the ship to visit the Three Little Gorges.  As part of the massive hydro-electric power scheme and dam a bit further downriver, the water level in this area has risen an incredible 164 ft (50 m).

Our sidetrip up the Daning River to the Three Little Gorges gives us a feeling of traveling back in time.  Beautiful nature and stunning scenery abound, unspoiled by modern man and his conveniences.

Depending on weather and water level conditions, we sometimes visit the Shennong Stream instead, with four natural gorges and a similar abundance of beauty.

We continue our journey, sailing through the Three Large Gorges, and this evening our ship makes its way through the locks at the main dam site.

Included Meals: Breakfast Lunch Dinner


Day 8 (Wednesday 25 June) :  Cruise Day 3 - The Three Gorges Dam

The Three Gorges Dam, the largest hydroelectric power station in the world, and due to be fully operational in 2011.

A modern bridge across the Yangtze River in Yichang.

The Three Gorges dam is a stunning achievement, the second largest public works project in China after the Great Wall, and the largest hydroelectric power station in the world.  It was first proposed and planned almost 100 years ago, before finally being implemented in the 1990s and due to be completed in 2011.  It is sorely needed as a way to feed China's rapidly growing need for electricity.

This morning we tour the dam development, and then rejoin the ship, which has sailed on downriver to Yichang, marking our exit from the Three Gorges project.

Included Meals: Breakfast Lunch Dinner


Day 9 (Thursday 26 June) :  Cruise Day 4 - Wuhan

The Yellow Crane Tower in Wuhan.

A standard category cabin on our ship, Victoria Prince.

We'll enjoy a relaxed morning cruising along the Yangtze, and this afternoon will enjoy an excursion to Wuhan, and a visit to the Hubei Provincial Museum.

Wuhan is a large city (9 million people) and the capital of Hubei province, and is situated where the Han river joins the Yangtze.  Rather like Budapest, it is the union of three cities that were located side by side on the banks of the two rivers, and its name is formed from the first syllables of the three former cities (two of which were named Han-).  It was briefly the capital of China (in 1937).

The provincial museum has a fine collection of artifacts from ancient tombs.

Included Meals: Breakfast Lunch Dinner


Day 10 (Friday 27 June) :  Cruise Day 5 - Huangshan

The spectacularly beautiful Yellow Mountain.

The 'Treasure Hall of the Great Hero' partway up Jiuhuashan.

Today we take an excursion off the ship to Huangshan, also known as the Yellow Mountain.

Together with the Great Wall and the Yangtze river, this is probably one of China's 'big three' icons.  Its beauty has been depicted in countless paintings and photos.

Weather permitting, we'll tour of the Huangshan Scenic Area, where the region's 'Four Ultimate Beauties' are on display – the 'Sea of Clouds', the ancient green pines, fantastically shaped rocks, and steaming hot springs.

The region has been designated a World Cultural and Natural Heritage site.

We return to the ship this afternoon and continue along the Yangtze river.

Note - if weather precludes a visit to Huangshan, we will go instead to the similar mountain, Jiuhuashan (the name means 'Nine Glorious Mountains' and one of the four sacred mountains of the Chinese Buddhist faith).

Included Meals: Breakfast Lunch Dinner


Day 11 (Saturday 28 June) :  Cruise Day 6 - Nanjing

The Confucian Temple and nearby bazaar.

A nighttime scene in modern downtown Nanjing.  Yes, those are the Golden Arches on the left of the picture.

Nanjing was a former capital of China on several occasions, most recently and notably as capital of the Republic of China (1912 - 1949, which was then superseded by the People's Republic of China).

Nanjing's name means 'southern capital' - Beijing means 'northern capital' and one of the four great ancient capitals of China.  We visit three of the four on this tour - Beijing, Xi'an and Nanjing (the fourth is Luoyang).

We have a chance to explore this important city all day today.  Our touring includes a visit to Sun Yat-sen's mausoleum (392 stairs lead up to the vault itself - visiting the vault is optional).  Dr Sun is considered the Father of Modern China, having overseen the fall of the Qing dynasty in 1912 and founded the Republic of China.

Another highlight is a visit to a Qing dynasty style bazaar surrounding a Confucian temple.

After a fascinating day in Nanjing, our ship sets sail at 9pm to complete our journey to Shanghai.

Included Meals: Breakfast Lunch Dinner


Day 12 (Sunday 29 June) :  End of Cruise, Shanghai City Touring

The Bund with its classical European buildings on one side of the Yangtze river.

A view of Pudong - modern Shanghai on the other side of the Yangtze.

An evening stroll along Nanjing Rd, close to our hotel, and the Bund (also close) reveals the bright lights of downtown Shanghai.

Our ship arrives into Shanghai early this morning.

After breakfast we are met by a coach and taken for a tour around Shanghai, visiting such 'must see' sites as the Bund (grand buildings along the river front), the French Concession, the Yu Gardens, and the Jade Buddha temple, where we'll have a chance to sample (and buy!) some traditional herbal teas prepared by the monks that have claimed healing powers.

We then check into our very central hotel where we stay for the next two nights.

Included Meals: Breakfast Lunch


Day 13 (Monday 30 June) :  Shanghai region - Suzhou and Zhou Zhang

The classic gardens in Suzhou.

The 'Venice of the East' - Zhou Zhang.

Get up close to the machinery in a silk factory and learn how to quickly tell the difference between real silk and fake artificial fibers.

After breakfast this morning, we travel out of Shanghai city, to visit two very beautiful small towns.

Suzhou is renowned for the beauty of its classic gardens, and has earned the accolade of being named a World Heritage site as a result.

Zhou Zhang - sometimes called 'the Venice of the East' is a small and beautiful historic town, surprisingly made famous by a painting given by an American to China's ruler in the 1970s.  We'll take a cruise around its canals by hand poled boat.

Lunch today is at a working silk mill, and we'll see how silk is transformed from the material that forms a cocoon into the beautiful garments that result at the end of the process, and have a chance to buy from a huge selection of items in the factory outlet store - some seem to be well priced, others perhaps not so well priced.

We'll have a farewell dinner this evening where those not going on to Guilin tomorrow will have a chance to say their goodbyes.

Included Meals: Breakfast Lunch Dinner


Day 14 (Tuesday 1 July) :  End of Tour

Here's a popular souvenir - a carved stone signature stamp (or 'chop') with your name in Chinese characters.
This stamp shows my name (David) and in traditional complex letters rather than modern simplified ones.

Today is the end of the main tour, and after breakfast, you're free to extend your stay in Shanghai, to travel elsewhere, or to return back home once more.

Note, immediately below, details of our optional extension on to Guilin.

Included Meals: Breakfast


Extension Day 1 - Day 14 (Tuesday 1 July) :  Start of optional extension to Guilin


Guilin is set in an area of outstanding natural beauty.

If you choose our optional tour on to Guilin, you'll have free time in Shanghai for much of the day, and a chance to go on an optional walking tour along the Bund and some of the back streets, giving you a feeling for the amazing diversity that makes up Shanghai.

Later this afternoon, we'll fly the short (2 hr 20 min) flight to Guilin and then check into our hotel for the next two nights.

Included Meals: Breakfast


Extension Day 2 - Day 15 (Wednesday 2 July) :  Guilin

Beautiful karst hills from the Li River.

There's a timeless nature to the Li river and its beautiful scenery between Guilin and Yangshuo.

The area around Guilin and Yangshuo is some of the most beautiful in China.  Gentle karst (water soluble) hills, clear water, caves and beautiful scenery all merge poetically into a unique and uniform whole.

We'll take a cruise from Guilin along the Li river to Yangshuo, and then return back to Guilin by coach, giving us a great opportunity to see the outstanding beauty of this area.

Included Meals: Breakfast Lunch


Extension Day 3 - Day 16 (Thursday 3 July) :  End of Guilin extension

You're free to add still more to your China tour, anyway you wish.

Our time together in China comes to a close today.

You're free to extend your time in China or make any other arrangements you may wish.

If you need help arranging the airfare back from Guilin to a major international gateway city, we can assist there, too.

Included Meals: Breakfast

Click here for the main details of this cruise and the booking form to confirm your interest.


Originally published 18 Jan 2008, last update 30 May 2021

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