giant pandas

China Essence with Yangtze Cruise

408: 16 Days Private Tour of Beijing - Xian - Guilin - Yangshuo - Guilin - Chengdu - Chongqing - Yangtze River Cruise - Yichang - Shanghai
Tour Type: Private Tour, any parts of the itinerary can be customized
Guide & Driver: English-speaking guide, experienced driver with an air-conditioned vehicle

  • Must-see sights in China - Mutianyu Great Wall, Forbidden City, Terracotta Army, Giant Pandas.
  • Enjoy the breathtaking landscape along Li River & escape from the bustling city life.
  • Unwind with a Yangtze River cruise tour & see the Three Gorges.
  • Enjoy a la carte meals at superb restaurants & taste authentic Chinese food.
From USD3499USD3149Free Inquiry
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Day 1 Arrival in Beijing
Welcome your arrival anytime at the airport and transfer to hotel.
Upon landing in Beijing, our guide will pick you up at the Arrival Hall of the airport after you collect your luggage and clear Customs, and then transfer you to the hotel for check-in by an air-conditioned private car. There is no arranged activity for the rest of the day, so you can have a good rest to get over the jet lag and recover from the long journey.
Day 2 Beijing
Visit Tian’anmen Square and Forbidden City; enjoy a la carte welcome lunch with Peking Roast Duck; further explore royal culture at Yonghe Temple and Temple of Heaven. (B+L)
Visit Mutianyu Great Wall
This morning, you will be guided to Tian’anmen Square first to take good pictures of Tiananmen Tower, Monument to People's Heroes, and Memorial Hall of Chairman Mao on the square. Behind the Tian’anmen Tower is the grand Forbidden City. As the royal palace for 24 emperors during the Ming and Qing dynasties (1368 - 1911), it has a lot to offer to its visitors. Wandering among these crimson halls, you can easily imagine the luxury life of the royal families, and learn some stories and history even from some details. For instance, in the plaque hanged on the Gate of Thriving Imperial Clan, you can find an arrow stuck. Where was it from? In 1813, the Tianli Society, gathered congregation for an uprising in Beijing. Supported by the coordinated action of some eunuchs, they attacked the Forbidden City, and rushed through the Outer Court unexpectedly. With only one hundred and dozens of rebels, they were beaten outside the gates of the Inner Court. The arrow was left on Gate of Thriving Imperial Clan when clearing the field, for Emperor Jiaqing (1760 - 1820) took it as a warning for later generations.

★ Travel Different
► There are many visiting routes in the Forbidden City. Our experienced guide will lead you to sightsee along the most popular and classical one connecting all essential palaces.
► We guarantee that you will have at least 2 hours inside the royal palace, so as to look around at ease instead of in a hurry.

At noon, we will arrange an a la carte welcome lunch at an elegant restaurant. It is valued at CNY150.00 per person and included in our price. We highly advise you to try their speciality, Peking Duck.

After that, continue to explore Yonghe Temple, also known as Lama Temple. It is the most revered Tibetan Buddhist temple outside Tibet. Today’s last stop will be Temple of Heaven, which was the place for emperors to offer sacrifices to the heaven. The most eye-catching architecture there is the Altar of Prayer for Good Harvests, which you may have seen before in the media.

Meals: Western buffet breakfast, A la carte welcome lunch
Day 3 Beijing
Visit Mutianyu Great Wall by round-way cable car; drive by Bird’s Nest; then take a rickshaw ride through Hutong alleys and visit a local family in a traditional courtyard house. (B)
Enjoy a Hutong Rickshaw Tour
Our guide and driver will come and pick you up after breakfast, and then escort you to Mutianyu Great Wall, which is famous for dense watchtowers along the ramparts.

★ Travel Different
We will arrange the cable car ride for you for both ways, so you can have more sightseeing time up on the Great Wall. There are also other options to get up and down: chairlift and toboggan. The toboggan, with a total length of 1,580 meters (1,728 yards), is the longest slide in Asia. If you prefer them, we will arrange it per your request.

After getting down, have lunch on your own. Restaurants are available at the mountain foot. If you need any assistance, just turn to the guide.

After lunch, drive back to downtown to visit Shichahai Hutong area, with a short stopover at Bird's Nest well-known for its unique appearance. Specially, a rickshaw ride and a family visit will be arranged in the Hutong alleys for you to experience old Beijingers’ life in depth.

Meals: Western buffet breakfast
Day 4 Beijing - Xian
Visit Summer Palace; take a high speed train to Xi’an and transfer to hotel. (B)
Having spent a challenging day, we will arrange a leisurely tour to Summer Palace this morning. It was the summer resort of imperial family during the Qing Dynasty (1644 - 1911), mainly consisting of Kunming Lake and Longevity Hill. It is quite easy to take some beautiful photos in this scenic place even for green hand. The best sites for photography include Kunming Lake opposite to Tower of Buddhist Incense, Seventeen-Arch Bridge, Marble Boat, and Long Gallery.

Your private tour in Beijing will end at this point. Our guide and driver will escort you to the railway station, and assist you to get onboard the high speed train to Xi’an. Running at the top speed of 350km/h (217 mph), China’s high speed trains are among the world’s fastest and most advanced. It takes 4.5-5.5 hours to run to Xi’an from Beijing and it’s always our routine to book those with shortest travel time for our guests. Upon arrival, you will see our Xian guide waiting for you at the station, who will then transfer you to the hotel.

Meals: Western buffet breakfast
Day 5 Xian
Visit Terracotta Army and the discoverer's home; try your hand to make a mini terracotta figure; explore Shaanxi History Museum. (B)
Terracotta Warriors
Today’s visit to Terracotta Army Museum will definitely leave you with long-lasting memories. Terracotta Army is the funeral object of Emperor Qin Shi Huang (259 - 210 BC), including more than 8,000 life-sized pottery soldiers and over 100 chariots. The facial shapes, expressions, and postures of these figures are diverse from each other. Aren't you curious why they were made? The large number of exquisite terracotta figurines is a replacement of burying the living with the dead. The state of Qin was the first to abolish the human sacrifice system officially in law in ancient China, and the descendant of Qin rulers, Emperor Qin Shi Huang, had these terracotta figurines to replace the sacrificial humans.

At noon, have lunch at one of the restaurants outside the museum on your own, and the guide will assist you with ordering.

★ Travel Different

► Learn the Discovery of Terracotta Army at the Discoverer’s Home
The Terracotta Army was discovered by Mr. Yang Zhifa in 1974 when he was digging a well. What’s more? After lunch, join us to visit Mr. Yang’s home and listen to him or his families telling more stories about the discovery. You will also see the hue digging the first terracotta figure out from the underground.

► Enjoy the Fun of Making Terracotta Figures
Next, the guide will escort you to a nearby workshop, where you can try to make a mini terracotta figure on your own under the guidance of an artisan and with the assistance of different molds. In about 40 minutes, you can have your own unique clay figure and bring it home as a wonderful souvenir for the Terracotta Army tour.

Then you will be transferred back to downtown to visit Shaanxi History Museum. Over 370,000 rare relics dated from the Prehistoric Times 1.7 million years ago to 1840 are displayed in the three main exhibition halls. Finally, your guide will escort you back to the hotel.

Meals: Western buffet breakfast
Day 6 Xian - Guilin
Visit City Wall and connect with local people at City Wall Park; visit Great Mosque and taste Xi’an snacks in Muslim Quarter; explore Han Yang Ling Museum; then fly to Guilin and transfer to hotel. (B+L)
Bicycle Riding on the City Wall
This morning, visit City Wall Park at first. You will meet the locals doing their regular morning exercises and having fun there. It will be interesting to follow them to practice Tai Chi, watch them singing Qin Opera and more. Then ascend the City Wall, which is the best-preserved ancient city wall of China with a history of over 600 years. You may rent a bike to ride on the broad wall if feel interested.

After that, follow our guide to Great Mosque, the only mosque in the world that is in traditional Chinese architectural style. The neighboring Muslim Quarter is bustling with various snack booths and restaurants and it surely will be regretful leaving with empty stomach. Around noon, we will serve you a local flavored lunch at a noted restaurant there, for you to try various local snacks and famous dishes based on your preference.

In the afternoon, drive to visit Han Yang Ling Museum - Yangling Mausoleum of Han Dynasty. There, you can go underground to have a close look at the unearthed mausoleum through glass floor. The world’s earliest tea leaves, recognized by Guinness World Records, is another highlight there, which can be dated back to 2,100 years ago.

Then, you will be transferred to the airport for an onward flight to Guilin. On arrival, our local guide will meet you outside the Arrival Hall of the airport. After greeting you warmly, he or she will escort you to the hotel to check in.

Meals: Western buffet breakfast, Local Flavor lunch
Day 7 Guilin - Yangshuo
Enjoy a Li River cruise tour from Guilin to Yangshuo; cycle or hike leisurely in Yangshuo countryside. (B+L)
Li River Cruise
Li River is the best of Guilin landscape and your private Guilin tour will start from a Li River cruise. As the ship sails forward, the picturesque scenery of green hills and clear water will make you feel like being inside a landscape scroll painting. Lunch will be served onboard, but it is suggested you pack some snacks in case the box meal is not to your taste.

★ Yangshuo Countryside Cycling Tour
After about four hours' cruise journey, you will disembark in Yangshuo. The guide will then accompany you to appreciate the rural landscape by bike for about an hour. We choose bike because it is energy-saving and you can stop anytime to add more photos to your travel album. If you are not good at cycling, we can also arrange to travel around by car; or the guide can accompany you to hike around if you prefer it.

Spend one night in Yangshuo.

Meals: Western buffet breakfast, Lunch
Day 8 Yangshuo - Guilin
Enjoy morning leisure time in Yangshuo; have a fantastic full view of the Li River from Xianggong Hill on the way back to Guilin, and then visit Elephant Trunk Hill. (B)
Yangshuo Rural Scenery
This morning will be left for your own arrangement.

Recommended Activities:
You may take a stroll on West Street and enjoy the fun of shopping for some souvenirs full of local ethnic minority features; enjoy rock climbing on one of those strange hills; or have fun drifting along Yulong River… Around noon, find yourself a nice restaurant and try some local dishes like Beer Fish, rice noodles and Fried Li River Shrimp.

In the afternoon, drive back to Guilin. En route, pull over and climb up to Xianggong Hill to have an amazing full view of the Li River, which is astonishing beyond expectation. Arriving in Guilin, visit its natural landmark, Elephant Trunk Hill, named so because it just looks like an elephant drinking water with his truck from the river.

Meals: Western buffet breakfast
Day 9 Guilin - Chengdu
Fly to Chengdu and transfer to hotel; experience slow-paced life of Chengdu people at Xiaojiahe Community. (B)
As scheduled, you will move on to the next destination, Chengdu after breakfast. Your guide and driver will transfer you to the airport and help you board the plane. At the time of landing, you will be warmly greeted by your Chengdu guide.

★ Experience Slow-paced Life of Chengdu People at Xiaojiahe Community
Chengdu people enjoy their life at a slow pace, which is yearned for by many. After picking you up, the guide will escort you to Xiaojiahe Community to spend a leisurely afternoon like the locals do. At first, try some delicious Chengdu dishes at Yongle Restaurant at your own expense, which has been continuously serving the neighbors for over 20 years. It is always busy and bustling. If you prefer others, our guide can give recommendations based on your preference. After, go to a local vegetable market, where nearby residents shop for not only vegetable, but also meat, seafood, fruit, seasonings and more for daily meals. Following, the guide will lead you to Xiaojiahe river bank after walking for about 15 minutes. There, you will see locals playing mahjong or cards, enjoying tea, or chatting with each other. We will serve you a cup of coffee, specially in a traditional tea bowl with a cover. Having it in hand, you can join in the locals to have fun. When the tour ends, we will transfer you to the hotel.

Meals: Western buffet breakfast
Day 10 Chengdu
Visit Giant Panda Base, Wide and Narrow Alleys, and Jinsha Site Museum; see the unique Chinese matchmaking corner at Renmin Park. (B)
Cute Giant Pandas
A journey to Chengdu is not complete without seeing the lovely giant pandas. Today, your guide will firstly accompany you to see these adorable animals from very close range at Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding. After, you will be guided to Wide and Narrow Alley. It actually consists of three parallel alleys, all lined with traditional Chinese style folk yards and full of snack stores and restaurants. We suggest you to have lunch there.

In the afternoon, pay a visit to the Jinsha Site Museum with the company of your guide. The museum was built on the ruins of the capital city of the Kingdom Shu back in the 12th century BC. A large number of ivories, gold articles, and jade wares were unearthed there, including the most prominent Gold Foil of the Sun God Bird.

★ Marriage Market in People’s Park
This day will draw to an end with a visit to the Marriage Market in People’s Park. Here, the background information of the singles and their expectations for the other half are listed on papers and displayed. Read some “posters” with the help of the guide, to learn this unique and interesting way of matchmaking.

Meals: Western buffet breakfast
Day 11 Chengdu to Chongqing by High Speed Train
Take a high speed train to Chongqing; visit Ci Qi Kou Village, and then board Yangtze River cruise ship. (B+D)
Shennong Stream Excursion
After having breakfast, pack your luggage and check out, then our guide will escort you to railway station for your onward high speed train to Chongqing. Upon arrival, our local guide will pick you up at the railway station and accompany you to visit Ci Qi Kou (Porcelain Village), the best-preserved traditional block in the city. There, you will see many traditional style residences. It is also a food paradise offering all local featured snacks and dishes. You may try some as lunch.

★ Enjoy Cruise along Yangtze River Three Gorges
Then, the guide will transfer you to the port and help you board the Yangtze River cruise ship. In the next 3 days, the ship will sail downstream to Three Gorges Dam, via Three Gorges - the essential and most beautiful section of the mighty Yangtze. A detailed day-by-day schedule will be provided and the cruise guide will also brief the itinerary before it sets sail.

For New Century Cruises passengers, tonight after buffet dinner, you may get dressed to have fun at Captain’s Welcome Party. Dinner is not served on President Cruises. So we recommend you to try some local dishes in downtown before getting onboard. Our guide will be glad to assist.

Meals: Western buffet breakfast, Buffet dinner on New Century Cruise
Day 12 Yangtze River Cruise
Take an onshore excursion; enjoy your leisure time on board or participate in some cultural activities. (B+L+D)
If getting up early, you may go to the deck to attend a Tai Chi class. Following the professional master, you will learn more moves than in the City Wall Park in Xi’an. At around 08:30, disembark and join the cruise guide to visit Fengdu Ghost City, the nether world built according to Chinese legends. It has a history of nearly 2,000 years. The afternoon will be free for you to have fun on the cruise ship. You may take a seat on the sundeck to appreciate the scenery while bathing in the sunshine, or attend some cultural activities offered onboard.

For those taking President Cruises, you will be free to enjoy yourself till around 16:30, when the cruise guide will accompany you to Fengdu Mount Shuangguishan National Forest Park. After returning, the captain will hold a party to welcome you, and the staff will give fantastic performances.

Meals: Western buffet breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 13 Yangtze River Cruise
Admire Yangtze Three Gorges and take an onshore excursion. (B+L+D)
Today's Yangtze River cruise will be highlighted by the superb view of the Three Gorges. It is advised you go to the deck and admire the rolling steep cliffs while the ship drifting through deep gorges. The ship will sail through Qutang Gorge at around 11:00-11:30, and Wu Gorge at 13:15-13:30. Arriving at the border of Wu Gorge and Xiling Gorge, change to a smaller motorized boat to enjoy a 3-4 hours' cruise along Shennv Stream, which is like a jade ribbon traversing among green mountains. After you get back, the ship will then continue sailing through the Xiling Gorge.

Meals: Western buffet breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 14 Yichang - Shanghai
Disembark from cruise ship and visit Three Gorges Dam; take a high-speed train to Shanghai and transfer to hotel. (B)
At around 08:00 to 08:30, the ship will dock at Maoping Pier in Yichang. Please complete the check-out procedures in advance. The cruise guide will lead you to view Three Gorges Dam, one of the world’s greatest water conservancy projects, in different angles.

After the excursion, the cruise ship company will send you to Three Gorges Tourist Center in Yichang city. Our local guide will meet you there and accompany you to the railway station and assist you to check into the high speed train to Shanghai. Upon arrival in about 6H15M, you will meet your Shanghai guide waiting for you at the station. He or she will send you to the hotel for a good rest.

Meals: Western buffet breakfast
Day 15 Shanghai
Visit Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Hall, Yu Garden and adjacent Yuyuan Bazaar; enjoy a la carte farewell lunch; cruise on Huangpu River and have a leisurely stroll on the Bund; then explore old cultural block of Tianzifang. (B+L)
The Bund Area
This wonderful day will begin from Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Hall. You will see many models of the city’s landmarks and learn how the city looked like in the past and will look like in the future. Then you will be guided to Yu Garden to appreciate traditional exquisite pavilions, bridges, corridors, rockeries and pools inside. Getting out, immerse in the bustling Yuyuan Bazaar for a while.

Around noon, we will serve you an a la carte farewell lunch (valued at CNY150.00 per person and included in our price) at a famous restaurant, which provides delicious Shanghai cuisine and Cantonese cuisine.

In the afternoon, the guide will firstly accompany you to enjoy a Huangpu River cruise, a terrific way to admire the cityscapes, including towering skyscrapers on the east bank, western style buildings on the west bank and various bridges over your head. Following the cruise, you will have some free time to explore the Bund on the west bank and see the 19th century western-style buildings at a close range. At last, stroll around in Tianzifang, a cultural block transformed from an old and broken residence area. You will feel the artistic atmosphere of Shanghai to the full extent here.

Meals: Western buffet breakfast, A la carte lunch
Day 16 Departure from Shanghai
Transfer to airport and see you off there; a pleasant trip home! (B)
Your wonderful China tour package will round off at this point. Our guide and driver will come and meet you at the appointed time, and then transfer you to the airport. Bon voyage!

Meals: Western buffet breakfast
B-- Breakfast L-- Lunch D-- Dinner
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This trip can be customized to meet your individual needs!
DestinationsLuxury HotelsStandard Hotels
BeijingHotel New Otani Chang Fu Gong Beijing New World Centre Tongpai Hotel
XianCrowne Plaza Xi'an Holiday Inn Xian Big Goose Pagoda
GuilinShangri-La Hotel Guilin Bravo Hotel
YangshuoAmari Yangshuo Hotel Green Lotus Hotel
ChengduGrand Hyatt Chengdu Holiday Inn Chengdu Oriental Plaza
Yangtze RiverNew Century Cruises with balconyPresident No.7/No.8 with balcony
ShanghaiRenaissance Shanghai Yu Garden Hotel Ocean Hotel Shanghai
Special Deal
10% off - book 60 days before, 5% off - book 30 days before
Tour Prices with Luxury Hotels
2-3 travelers4-5 travelers
USD4499 USD4049USD4119 USD3709
Tour Prices with Standard Hotels
2-3 travelers4-5 travelers
USD3869 USD3479USD3499 USD3149
  • Prices are per person on twin sharing basis.
  • The prices in red reflect 10% discount.
  • Any part of the itinerary e.g. tour length, activities & hotels can be tailored to your individual interests.
Price Includes
  • Domestic airfares & train fares
  • Hotel accommodation with breakfasts
  • A la carte lunches as itinerary specifies
  • Private English-speaking guides
  • Private drivers & air-conditioned vehicles
  • Entrance fees to tourist sites
  • Yangtze River cruise with full board
Price Excludes
  • International airfares
  • Entry Visa fees
  • Personal expenses
  • Tips or gratuities for guides and drivers
Why Travel With Us