Day 1Arrive in Beijing, China
Welcome to China’s capital city. Hotel rooms are available for mid-afternoon check-in.
Your full-day sightseeing starts with a visit to the FORBIDDEN CITY and its IMPERIAL PALACE, once the home of China’s great emperors. Nearby is 100-acre TIAN’ANMEN SQUARE, the largest public square in the world. After lunch, enjoy some time at your leisure. This evening, enjoy a special PEKING DUCK WELCOME DINNER at an award-winning restaurant in your hotel. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
The GREAT WALL OF CHINA once stretched 4,000 miles across China’s barren northern terrain from the Bohai Sea to the Gobi Desert. Head north to a village where the Great Wall is well preserved, and walk along the wall to enjoy sweeping vistas of this mammoth fortress. Tonight, attend a performance of the PEKING OPERA, a traditional form of Chinese theater, including a behind-the-scenes look at the colorful makeup being applied to the performers. Alternatively, you may choose to attend the LEGEND OF KUNG FU SHOW. Here the performers use a fusion of kung fu, dance, and acrobatics to tell the story of a monk who studies Buddhism and kung fu his whole life and eventually becomes a Zen master. (Breakfast, Lunch)
This morning, visit the TEMPLE OF HEAVEN and enjoy a rickshaw ride through one of Beijing’s HUTONGS, the city’s ancient alleys. Experience life in this historic neighborhood as you are invited into the courtyard of a family’s home for tea. Later, fly to Xi’an. (Breakfast, Dinner)
One of the largest and wealthiest cities in the world when China dominated the silk trade, Xi’an today is an archaeological treasure trove. Sightseeing begins with the enormous tomb of China’s first emperor, Qin Shi Huangdi, accidentally discovered by local farmers in 1974. Marvel at the legion of TERRACOTTA WARRIORS that has been guarding the burial site for 2,000 years. You will also enter the VIP VIEWING AREA for an up-close view of these life-size statues. During lunch, enjoy a NOODLE-MAKING DEMONSTRATION by a master chef and learn how Chinese noodles are made by hand. Next, visit the DAYAN PAGODA, built in 652 AD. This evening, enjoy the “Tang Dynasty” DINNER SHOW featuring a colorful assemblage of classical performances. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
This morning, visit the Xi’an City Wall South Gate and learn to write like a local during a traditional Chinese CALLIGRAPHY CLASS; you may even see some locals practicing their morning tai chi. This afternoon, fly to Lijiang, home to the Naxi people, one of China’s minority ethnic groups. (Breakfast)
This morning, take a WALKING TOUR through Lijiang’s medieval Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site surrounded by 16,000-foot-plus mountains. Then, visit the MUSEUM OF NAXI DONGBA CULTURE to learn about the ancient culture, or Dongba, of the Naxi people, which consists of hieroglyphs, scripture, paintings, music, and dance. Here you will also have a SPECIAL INTERACTION WITH A DONGBA PRIEST who will provide insight on the Naxi culture and give a brief lesson on their hieroglyph language. Lastly, stop at BLACK DRAGON POOL with stunning views of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain. Dinner tonight is a fascinating experience at a local Old Town restaurant. (Breakfast, Dinner)
This morning, take a short trip outside of Lijiang to the 18,464-foot-high Jade Dragon Snow Mountain. Here you will witness the impressive LIJIANG IMPRESSION SHOW, created by the co-director of the 2008 Beijing Olympics Opening Ceremony. The show features over 100 horses and 400 costumed actors, representing 10 ethnic groups, performing folk songs, dances, and local rituals. Afterward, hike to a mountain meadow for a closer view of the mountain. Late in the day, fly to Guilin (via Kunming), one of China’s most beautiful areas. (Breakfast, Lunch)
Limestone mountains, their needle peaks hidden in mist, rise from the green plain surrounding Guilin. The scene conveys a sense of mystery that artists have tried to capture for centuries. Savor unique vistas during a leisurely CRUISE on the Li River and enjoy a light lunch. Then, visit a local TEA FARM for a hands-on demonstration of the tea-making process, followed by a tea ceremony. Tonight, you may choose to join our optional trip to see trained cormorants dive for fish, the traditional Lijiang fishing method. (Breakfast, Lunch)
Day 10Guilin–Chongqing (Embarkation)–Yangtze River Cruise
Today, take a morning flight to Chongqing, China’s capital during World War II. Upon arrival, eat lunch at a local HOT POT restaurant, then visit a local ZOO to see pandas as well as the STILLWELL MUSEUM. After dinner, board the Century Legend for a 3-night cruise through the breathtaking Three Gorges of the Yangtze. Join your traveling companions for a PRIVATE WELCOME RECEPTION including cocktails and snacks. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Day 11Cruising: Shibaozhai
The morning is at your leisure to enjoy a variety of onboard activities. You may choose to start your day with a tai chi session on the Sun Deck, take a swim in the pool, or simply relax and enjoy the scenery. After lunch, take a WALKING TOUR of Shibaozhai with its 400-year-old, 12-story, red wooden pagoda perched high on a cliff side. This evening, the Captain hosts a welcome party, followed by dinner and a special performance by the ship’s crew. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)NOTE: Depending on river conditions, an alternate shore excursion may be offered.
Day 12Cruising: Qutang Gorge–Wu Gorge–Shennv Stream
Again, enjoy the morning at your leisure on the ship. You may choose to take an optional shore excursion to Baidi Cheng, known as the “White Emperor City,” to see the Baidi Temple. Later in the morning, sail downstream through the first and second of the three gorges—Qutang Gorge, the shortest but most dramatic gorge, and Wu, known for its quiet beauty and forest-covered mountains. You can nearly touch the perpendicular walls rising from the riverbanks as your Captain negotiates this narrow gap. After lunch, disembark for a BOAT EXCURSION down the Shennv Stream. Along the way, see picturesque scenery and the mysterious hanging wooden coffins. Before returning to your ship you will also board a wooden boat on a smaller section of the stream, where the crew will sing songs as you glide across the stunning deep emerald-green waters surrounded by densely forested hills. This evening, join the Captain for a special farewell dinner. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)NOTE: Depending on river conditions, the boat excursion may be on the Daning River.
Day 13Cruising: Three Gorges Dam Site–Xiling Gorge–Yichang (Disembarkation)–Shanghai
This morning, visit the THREE GORGES DAM SITE, the largest dam of its kind in the world. Afterward, sail through Xiling Gorge, the last of the three gorges, before bidding farewell to your ship’s crew in Yichang. After lunch in Yichang, transfer to the airport for your flight to Shanghai, China’s most populous city and center of trade and industry. (Breakfast, Lunch)
Start your day with a stroll along the Bund, the city’s riverfront boulevard lined with historic buildings, housing, banks, and trade houses. Then, visit YU YUAN GARDENS, dating back to the Ming Dynasty, and a SILK FACTORY to learn about the silk-making process. For lunch, a traditional DIM SUM feast awaits. Meaning “to touch your heart,” dim sum was originally a snack but has transformed into a full meal with a wide variety of steamed dumplings, spring rolls, and more. Afterward, enjoy time at leisure. This evening, be entertained by a spectacular ACROBATIC SHOW. (Breakfast, Lunch)
This morning, visit the SHANGHAI MUSEUM, with stunning displays of ancient bronze, jade, and ceramics. Then, take a WALKING TOUR of the former French Concession, once Shanghai’s leading residential and retail area. Today, the qualities that made the area so popular endure—from quaint, tree-lined streets and exquisite architecture to charming shops and fashionable restaurants and bars. Along the way, see the famous Art Deco Cathay Theatre, explore the narrow lanes of Xintiandi, and visit Fuxing Park, where locals play chess, dance, practice tai chi, and more. The afternoon is at your leisure. This evening, your Tour Director hosts a special farewell dinner at your hotel. (Breakfast, Dinner)
Your vacation ends with breakfast this morning. (Breakfast)