Day 1 UK - Beijing
We'll fly to Beijing today, arriving on day 2.
Day 2 Beijing
Beijing is an exceptional city, a huge sprawling metropolis bursting with ancient history and contemporary culture. Our introduction starts with a visit to the Summer Palace, a former royal garden set in beautiful grounds, which you can explore.
Day 3 Beijing
We'll discover more of Beijing today on a full-day tour. At the heart of the city is Tiananmen Square, a site of huge cultural and political significance, bordered by the Qianmen Gate, the Great Hall of the People and the Gate of Heavenly Peace.
We'll also visit the Forbidden City, where you can marvel at the Imperial Palace. Our visit concludes with a visit to the Temple of Heaven before we return to the hotel.
This evening you can get out and about and explore Beijing at your own pace. Alternatively, we offer an optional walking tour along the city's narrow streets and alleys known as hutongs. In these traditional residential areas, we will visit local families and learn about their day-to-day lives. We'll then head to a restaurant for a dinner, included in the optional excursion.
Day 4 Great Wall of China
Today you'll visit one of the world's most iconic sites, the Great Wall of China. We'll head to a lesser-known section of the wall at Mutianyu, and one of the best ways to appreciate its magnificence is from above, we'll take a cable car ride. From this vantage point the views of the wall and the surrounding countryside are spectacular. Up here, you can also take the opportunity to walk along part of the ramparts, or simply take it all in.
This afternoon, we'll return to Beijing for time at leisure. However, if you want to discover more, why not join an optional excursion to the Yonghe Lamasery. This renowned Lama temple houses a treasure trove of Buddhist art, including sculptured images of gods, demons and Buddha, as well as Tibetan-style murals.
We'll round off the day with a special Peking duck dinner.
Day 5 Beijing - Xian
An exciting experience awaits us today as we journey to Xian by a high-speed train.
On arrival, we'll visit the Tomb of Emperor Jingdi, also known as the Yangling Mausoleum. In this underground museum, which is also a working excavation site, we'll see hundreds of terracotta figures and clay animals that were buried with the fourth emperor of the Han Dynasty.
Day 6 Xian
Xian, often referred to as the 'city of eternal peace', was once the flourishing capital of China. It is here that the first Qin emperor was interred in 200 BC with at least 6,000 life-size terracotta figures, and we will visit this impressive site today. The warriors, representing individuals of the Imperial Guard, are grouped in battle order, rank by rank. Some are mounted on horse-drawn chariots and others are armed with spears, swords and crossbows. This dazzling display of Chinese military power is quite simply breathtaking.
We'll also visit a remodelled green tea house, where there may be an opportunity to meet one of the farmers who discovered the warriors back in the 1970s when they were digging a well.
Next, we will head to Xian's beautifully preserved City Walls, where a buggy will take us from the south gate to the east gate.
Dumplings are a staple food in Chinese cuisine and this afternoon you will have the chance to make some with the guidance of an expert. Keeping to the theme we will gather this evening for a traditional dumpling dinner. Later, you have the opportunity to join an optional excursion to watch the famous Tang Dynasty show. The show you will see is performed by the world-renowned Shaanxi Song and Dance Troupe, the largest performing group in Western China, and promises to be truly entertaining.
Day 7 Xian - Chengdu
We'll travel by high-speed train again today as we journey to Chengdu. Our tour here starts with a visit to a traditional tea house where we'll sample some jasmine tea.
Our next stop is Jinli Street, one of the city's main streets. Here you can try local delicacies and visit tea houses and silk workshops.
Alternatively, if you want to soak up more of China's traditions, you've the option to attend a face-changing show tonight, with dinner included. This spectacle features performances ranging from opera to comedy and, of course, the famous face-changing act, which has to be seen to be believed.
Day 8 Leshan
Leshan is a must-see location thanks to its wonderful lush scenery and the famous Leshan Giant Buddha, that casts his gaze over the Minjiang and Qingjiang Rivers. It is the tallest Buddha in the world and was carved out of the cliff by a monk of the Tang Dynasty in around 713 AD. We'll see this today on a tour, which also includes a cruise on the Minjiang River offering an alternative view. If you wish, an easy climb will take you to the top of the mountain where you will find yourself parallel to this magnificent statue.
On our way back to the hotel we'll visit the nearby Lingyun temple, and this evening we'll enjoy a regional speciality, a Sichuan hotpot.
Day 9 Chengdu - Chongqing
A fantastic morning tour takes us to the Chengdu Panda Breeding Research Centre to view these endangered creatures. We'll learn all about China's national treasure, and if we're really lucky we might get to see some baby pandas.
Next, we'll transfer by train to Chongqing, and enjoy a short sightseeing tour before we'll board our ship and embark on a scenic Yangtze River cruise. One of the Victoria fleet, your comfortable vessel has been specially designed to navigate the Yangtze and is your base for the next three nights.
Relax on board this evening and discover great facilities which include a restaurant, reading room and beauty salon.
Day 10 Yangtze Cruise
Today you'll step ashore to visit the Jade Emperor Scenic Area, a sacred site that features a 100-foot-tall statue depicting the Jade Emperor, an important deity in Chinese Taoism, as well as more than 200 additional Taoist and Buddhist sculptures.
Later, an optional shore excursion will take you to Fengdu Ghost City, known for its shrines, temples, statues and monasteries dedicated to the afterlife.
Day 11 Yangtze Cruise
If you wish, you can start the day with a Tai Chi session on board the ship. Today we'll enter the Three Gorges, one of nature's most extraordinary sculptures, starting with one of the most dramatic gorges, Qutang Gorge. Then we'll pass through the tranquil beauty of the Wu Gorge, famed for its forest-covered mountains and sheer cliffs. We'll then transfer to another vessel, which will enable us to cruise through the picturesque Goddess Stream, which flows into the Yangtze.
River conditions permitting, you might be tempted to join an optional shore excursion to White Emperor City. This ancient temple located on the top of a mountain affords spectacular views.
Day 12 Yichang - Shanghai
After disembarking the ship this morning, we'll take a tour of the Three Gorges Dam site. We'll then transfer to Yichang and take a high-speed train to Shanghai.
Day 13 Shanghai
Shanghai is the fastest-developing city in China, with a rich history embedded in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and we'll discover its highlights on today's included tour.
The maze of streets in the Old Town form a stark contrast with modern Nanjing Road, and as we stroll we'll also see the ancient Wu Xing Ting Teahouse, the classic Yu Yuan Gardens and the beautiful Jade Buddha Temple.
At the city's heart is the Huangpu River, with its constant stream of water traffic. On a cruise we'll take in views of the architecture that lines its banks, including the Yangpu Bridge, Nanpu Bridge and famous sites such as the People's Hero Monument, the Bund and the Oriental Pearl TV Tower. Look out too for the dramatic skyline of the Pudong business district and the Wu Song ancient Gun Fort relics.
By night, Shanghai is a culinary delight, with all sorts of local and international food on offer and plenty of exciting entertainment which you can enjoy at leisure.
Alternatively, why not watch the famous Shanghai Acrobatics Show. The troupe was founded in 1951, and people from all over the world come here to witness the gravity defying stunts and amazing feats of balance and strength they perform. A night to remember is promised if you choose to join this optional excursion, which also includes dinner.
Day 14 Shanghai - at Leisure
There is so much to see in Shanghai and you can spend today exploring independently or with your travelling companions. Nanjing Road is awash with sparkling shopping malls and boutiques selling all manner of goods and is a great place to visit and maybe pick up some souvenirs. The Bund is also a good place to head to - this famous riverside boulevard is lined with colonial-style buildings.
If you'd rather join an organised trip, why not come on a visit to the ancient water town of Zhujiajiao to see the 36 stone bridges which were built during the Ming and Qing Dynasties.
In the evening, we will gather as a group for a farewell dinner. Afterwards, why not join our optional excursion, which gives you the chance to appreciate Shanghai's stunning skyline beautifully illuminated. We'll head to the landmark Jin Mao Tower, which gives a birds eye view of Shanghai City.
Day 15 Shanghai - UK
Today we will transfer you to the airport for your flight back to the UK, arriving later the same day.
Please note: There are so many aspects of China to experience and to ensure you see the best of the country this tour will be very full with long rewarding days.
Please note: Due to regular maintenance on the ship locks at the Three Gorges Dam, river traffic through the locks can be restricted.