Highlights of China with Yangtze Cruise

13 Days, from AU $4,747

Yangtze River

Summer Palace, Beijing

 Daning River, Wushan

Skyline of Shanghai

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Travel from Beijing to Shanghai via Xian and a luxury Yangtze River Cruise. Starting with Beijing, explore Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden Palace and the Great Wall. Then to historic Xian with its army of Terracotta Warriors, before cruising the mighty Yangtze River with its dramatic scenery and the Three Gorges Dam. End your trip in Shanghai with its contrast of colonial-styled buildings and modern skyscrapers, including a visit to the ancient town of Suzhou famous for its silk, gardens and canals.

Our Highlight itineraries cover the key attractions at a relatively quick pace. Enjoy them as they are or extend them to create your perfect holiday. Discuss itinerary options and extensions with our Asia Travel Experts.

Suggested Itinerary

Day 1: Beijing

You will meet your guide on arrival, transfer and check-in to your hotel. During the drive your guide will provide an introduction to Beijing, answer any questions you have, and make arrangements for the following day. Enjoy free time for the remainder of the first day.

Beijing has served as the capital of China for over 800 years and is the second largest city by population. Home to the sprawling Forbidden City, the Temple of Heaven and the Summer Palace, as well as the most popular spot to visit the world famous Great Wall.

Beijing has many great restaurants and bars. Ask your guide for personal recommendations.

Itinerary Option: If you’re arriving to Beijing in the morning, discuss additional Day 1 activities with our staff.

Day 2: Beijing

Today you'll visit historic Tiananmen Square, the largest public square in the world. Followed by a visit to the sprawling Forbidden City that dominates central Beijing, as it has done since it was it was completed in 1420 AD. This amazing complex is divided into political, living and entertainment areas, and is a highlight of any trip to China.

In the afternoon visit the Summer Palace, with its lush gardens and lakes it is easy to understand why it was a favoured place for emperors to relax.

Tonight you are treated to Beijing's world famous dish, Peking Duck.

Interesting Forbidden City Trivia:

  • The Forbidden City consists of 980 buildings with 8,886 rooms.
  • The city is built on the site of the former Mongol Yuan Dynasty Imperial City that was destroyed following the founding of the Ming Dynasty.
  • In the Second Opium War of 1860 the British and French forces forcefully occupied the city temporarily.
  • From its overall layout to the smallest detail, the Forbidden City was meticulously planned to reflect philosophical and religious principles, and to symbolise the majesty of Imperial power.
  • Your guide will explain as to why particular colours were chosen, why particular statuettes line the sloping roof ridges, and how the use of numbers influenced the layout and design of the complex.

Day 3: Beijing

Head out to visit the Ming Tombs built for thirteen emperors of the Ming Dynasty (1368 - 1644 AD) and its Sacred Way, also known as the Way of Spirit. From there travel northeast to the Great Wall built to protect China from invasions from the north, namely the Mongolians and Manchurians. Climb the wall at the Mutianyu section followed by a barbecue lunch at a local restaurant.

Day 4: Beijing

This morning visit China’s largest temple and altar complex as well as the city’s symbol, the Temple of Heaven, built in the Ming Dynasty and surrounded by purpose designed parklands. Afterwards grab a bargain or simply window shop at the famous Hongqiao Pearl Market or Silk Alley.

In the afternoon explore Beijing's hutongs, or old residential laneways, that are slowly disappearing to redevelopment. Visit a family's hutong residence to see how Beijing locals have lived for centuries. Visit the Bell or Drum Tower, which once formed a section of Beijing's city walls, and were used to announce the time of day to residents.

Take a bullet train to Xian where you will meet your guide on arrival. Your guide will provide an introduction to Xian, answer any questions you have, and make arrangements for the following day. Enjoy free time for the remainder of the first day.

Well established two centuries before the founding of Rome, Xian was the capital of China throughout a number of important dynasties. When trade via the Silk Road began in the Han Dynasty (206 BC - 220 AD) Xian was the capital and at the eastern junction of the route. The introduction of exotic Chinese goods to the rest of the world started at Xian.

Having grown progressively through several ruling dynasties, Xian, known as Chang'an in the mid seventh century, was the largest city in the world before it was devastated at the end of the Tang Dynasty. However, the city was rebuilt during the Ming Dynasty with the new city wall completed in 1370 based on the inner palace walls of the Tang Dynasty city. The Ming Dynasty walls are well preserved and can be circumnavigated on foot or bicycle.

Itinerary Option: For the adventurous, you can save money and catch an overnight sleeper train from Beijing to Xian rather than flying. Discuss itinerary options with our staff.

Day 5: Xian

Today you will visit Xian's Muslim quarter to see the Chinese styled Great Mosque which was founded in 742 AD, when Xian was the largest city in the world and home to many thousands of foreigners. In this fascinating area you'll notice that many of the residents come from mixed ethnic backgrounds possibly dating back to the early days of the Silk Road traders. Some of the Islamic-Chinese food you'll see in the market and on restaurant menus is unique to this region.

Explore Xian's ancient city walls. At 12 metres high and 12-18 metres thick they are the best preserved in China.

Each warrior, horse and chariot of the famed Terracotta Warriors is unique, having been intricately created by hand in 209 BC, over two thousand years ago, and rediscovered by accident in 1974. We've all seen them on television, but nothing can prepare you for the awesome scale of over 8,000 life-sized models, complete with armour, weapons, and individual facial features. Truly something that has to be seen to be appreciated.

To complete your introduction to Xian, enjoy the Tang Dynasty Dinner Show in the evening.

Day 6: Xian

Visit the Provincial Museum to learn the history of Xian and the ancient Silk Road. Visit the Big Wild Goose Pagoda which was initially built in the seventh century to house Buddhist scriptures brought back from India by pilgrims.

Enjoy free time for the rest of the day

Day 7: Chongqing

Take a morning flight to Chongqing and your guide will greet you at the airport. Chongqing is the most important city in China’s southwest region with the Chongqing province having a modest population by Chinese standards of 28 million people. Chongqing has been known by many names throughout its two thousand year history, with the current name being eight hundred years old.

Perched beside the Yangtze River which has always been the lifeblood of the city, modern day Chongqing is a large industrialised city and the gateway to Yangtze River tourism.

With your guide, climb Liangjiang Pavilion in Eling Park to view the panoramic vista of the city, planned to be one of the world's biggest in the future. Stroll through the old town of Ciqikou, formally a busy port on the Jialing River before it flows into the mighty Yangtze at Chongqing. Ciqikou, also known as Little Chongqing, grew famous for its fine porcelain production from the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) onwards.

Learn about the Three Gorges Dam project at the modern Three Gorges Museum, a must before your cruise. In the evening board your Victoria Cruise ship to start your three night cruise.

Perhaps start your cruise with cocktails on deck, or maybe knocking out a few reps in the gym or a foot massage to unwind.

Itinerary Option: For Panda lovers, visit the Panda display in Chongqing zoo instead of visiting the Eling Park lookout and the old town of Ciqikou. Discuss itinerary options with our staff.

Day 8: Yangtze River Cruise

Wake up to dramatic scenery of the mighty Yangtze River, and meander to your buffet breakfast with its ever changing view outside.

The Yangtze River is the lifeblood of central China and grows in volume as it travels down from the snowy Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau. The river has been the inspiration of poets and painters, and the centre of interior Chinese commerce for several millennia. Your luxury river cruise ship sails through the most dramatic scenery that the river has to offer with the imposing cliffs of the Three Gorges and the backdrop of snow capped mountain ranges.

Today take a shore excursion to Shibaozhai, with its impressive wooden pagoda, appropriately named “The Pearl of the Yangtze". Depending on river conditions, an alternate excursion may be substituted to Fengdu, also known as the 'Ghost City' with its two thousand years of history on the north bank of the river. The site combines the cultures of Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism with the mystique of ghosts, as portrayed by the sculptures of demons and devils.

Take time to watch the changing scenery from the deck, the cosy lounge or your private cabin balcony. In the evening attend the Captain’s welcome cocktail party.

Day 9: Yangtze River Cruise

This morning you'll sail through the Qutang Gorge, the first of the three Yangtze gorges and famous for dramatic scenery. Later continue to the 25-mile long Wu Gorge which is known for its quiet beauty, forest-covered mountains, and cliffs so sheer that the sun barely penetrates the precipices. Transfer to another vessel for a relaxing excursion through the attractive gorges of Goddess Stream. Depending on river conditions, an alternate excursion may be substituted to the gorges of Shennong Stream. Enter Xiling Gorge, the longest (41 miles) and the deepest of the Three Gorges. In the evening, sail through the Three Gorges Dam ship locks.

A highlight of the trip is watching these huge ships go through the five level ship lock, several ships at a time.

Enjoy the farewell banquet for your last evening aboard.

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Day 10: Yangtze River Cruise

This morning your ship arrives at the monstrous and highly controversial Three Gorges Dam, which required relocating 1.5 million people, and submerging 13 cities. Whatever your views, one can only marvel at the scale of this engineering feat.

You will be met on shore around noon and fly to Shanghai. Your guide will provide an introduction to Shanghai, answer any questions you have, and make arrangements for the following day.

Shanghai is China's largest and most prosperous city, consuming countryside and ancient villages in its relentless growth outwards and upwards. Coming to prosperity as a trading concession for European and North American merchants, today the city is one of the world's greatest trading hubs and financial centres. If Beijing and Xian are China's living museums, then Shanghai is an insight into the future of this amazing country.

Shanghai has a multitude of restaurants and bars and some of the world's best shopping. The centre of Shanghai is accessible, safe and fun to walk around, if not a little crowded during the day. Ask your guide for advice and personal recommendations.

Interesting Three Gorges Dam Trivia:

  • The last of the 32 generators went live at the Three Gorges Dam Hydroelectric power station in July 2012.
  • Full capacity is 22,500 Megawatts, which is almost double the second largest power station in the world (Itaipu hydroelectric in Brazil and Paraguay), which is five times the largest power station in Western Europe (Drax, in North Yorkshire), over eight times Australia's largest (Eraring in Lake Macquarie, north of Sydney), and over double New Zealand's combined power generation.
  • However, this is only a small fraction of the power produced by China's 620 coal fired power stations. (Statistics as at 03-2013).

Day 11: Shanghai

Following breakfast, accompany your guide for a visit to China's premier museum, the Shanghai Museum, which covers the history of China from ancient times to the modern age. Afterwards visit to the Jade Buddha Temple, and the Yu Garden and Bazaar.

Walk the streets of the former British and French concessions established under the Treaty of Nanking, following the first opium war in 1842. The settlement was established north of the original Shanghai city walls and today makes up part of the riverfront referred to as the Shanghai Bund, or embankment, still home to many grand buildings from that period.

Directly across the river is Pudong, the contrasting new Shanghai which serves as the modern financial and commercial centre. The CBD in Pudong sprang up in the 1990s where agricultural villages once stood. Growing at a stagging pace, Shanghai is the largest city centre in the world and is still the fastest growing city in the world too.

Leaving the former British and French concessions, travel to Pudong and ascend China's tallest building, the Shanghai World Financial Centre. Enjoy the panoramic views of Shanghai and the Bund back across the river.

To complete your introduction to Shanghai, in the evening, enjoy the world famous Acrobatic Show at the Centre Theater.

Day 12: Shanghai

After breakfast travel west of Shanghai to the ancient town of Suzhou famous for its silk, gardens and canals. Explore the famed Garden of Humble Administration and the Master of Nets Garden. Enjoy a short cruise on the Grand Canal, an ancient engineering marvel that enabled waterborne transportation between Beijing and Shanghai. Later visit a silk factory to understand more about this remarkable fabric that featured prominently in the history of relations between the east and west.

Day 13: Shanghai

On your last day enjoy free time until your departure transfer.

Personalise Your Trip

Phone now to discuss options to personalise your itinerary.

Ideas to upgrade and extend your itinerary:

  • Beijing: Attend a martial arts show at the Red Theatre.
  • Xian: Spend longer in Xian and cycle around the city walls and further explore the Muslim quarter.
  • Shanghai: Spend extra days in Shanghai to enjoy the waterfront, restaurants, night life and shopping, and better gain an insight into the China of tomorrow.
  • Shanghai: Travel to one of China's famous water towns on a day trip from Shanghai.
  • Shanghai: Travel to the ancient town of Suzhou, famous for its silk, gardens and canals; and take a short cruise along the Grand Canal, one of the ancient wonders of Chinese engineering.
  • Shanghai: China's most dramatic mountain wilderness scenery, Mount Huangshan (Yellow Mountain) is close to Shanghai.

The Cruise Ships

GetAboutAsia uses a modern fleet of ships which are some of the best on the Yangtze and represent good value for our customers. Feature highlights:

  • American owned and geared toward western tourism.
  • Modern ships, superiorlevel accommodation, and great facilities.
  • Cabins have fantastic views, private balconies, private bathrooms with bathtub and shower.
  • Buffet breakfast, lunch and dinner with western and Asian cuisines.
  • Ships include a beauty salon, gym, laundry, internet and business facilities.
  • Entertainment including movies, lectures, cabaret shows and tai chi.

The actual ship depends on the date of departure. Cabin upgrades are available. Our staff can provide more additional information.

Victoria Cruises, as used by GetAboutAsia for Yangtze River cruising.

Travel Styles

All Get About Asia trips have been designed to make sure you have an unforgettable travel experience. We have developed several trip styles to cater for our diverse range of travellers. Read what your ideal Get About Asia experience might look like here.

Superior:from AU $4,747
Deluxe:from AU $5,367

All GetAboutAsia prices are based on twin share and depend on availability and season. All our itineraries can be customised including international flights and extra nights. For questions or further information, Enquire Now!

Important Information

Accommodation:

Hotels each night of the itinerary except for 3 nights aboard your Victoria Cruise Ship. All GetAboutAsia accommodation is handpicked by us. Upgrades are available for this itinerary.

Inclusions:
  • All breakfasts at your hotel or aboard your cruise ship each morning.
  • All airport transfers.
  • All Internal airfares and transport on tour.
  • All itinerary attractions including fees or permits.
  • Professional tour guides for all airport pickups, day tours and activities.
  • Dinner as indicated on trip notes, including all meals on your luxury Yangtze cruise ship. We do not include dinner where it is practical for you to make your own choices, as we find that GetAboutAsia customers prefer the freedom of eating what they want, which is one the of joys of travelling.
Notes:

This trip package includes 3 internal flights (Beijing - Xian, Xian - Chongqing and Chongqing - Shanghai) which retail at about 200AUD per flight.

Price Dependent:

Availability of accommodation and season.

Trip Information

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"It all went well and was a most enjoyable trip. Every day in China was an eye opener and such a dramatic change since I worked there back in 1980. All arrangements, hire cars, guides and hotel bookings all went perfectly. Very impressed with service and experience. " — Mr and Mrs Clark, Bribie Island, May 2018

"The non-restored old parts of the wall were by far the most amazing part of the trip! I think even one day trekking an old section is totally worth it for anyone going to the Great Wall of China . It’s such a different feel to the touristy restored sections. The trek was amazing and we loved everything about it. Calf muscles were happily burning!!!" — Catherine & James, Sydney & Scotland, October 2017

"Thanks for organising the tours in China. We did enjoy the entire experience > travel & sightseeing. We loved the mountains near Guilin, high speed trains were efficient and all guides helpful. The Bravo hotel in Guilin was the best." — Mr and Mrs Fernandez, Sydney, NSW, November 2015

"It is not very often we go to the trouble to write a review on our holidays however we felt in this instance we should make a few comments. The service and assistance both here and whilst away provide by GetAboutAsia was excellent and could not have been any better. Also the guide was excellent and we can definitely recommend GetAboutAsia for anyone wishing to travel to China." — Steve Potter, Western Australia, June 2015

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