Journey through a land of contrasts—skyscrapers and ancient temples, serene gardens and bustling city streets—to discover the heart of this ever-changing country. From China’s staggering architectural monuments—the Forbidden City, Summer Palace and Great Wall—to the natural beauty of the Yangtze River’s Three Gorges, this itinerary introduces a discerning traveler to China’s highlights.
Arrive at the Beijing Airport. If your cruise/tour package includes a group arrival transfer or if you have purchased a private arrival transfer, you will be greeted by a Uniworld representative and transferred to your luxury hotel.
Your adventure begins with two quintessential experiences in China’s capital city. Off limits to commoners for 500 years, the Forbidden City was once considered the cosmic center of the universe (and for good reason, as you’ll see for yourself). Peking duck is another cultural gem you’ll experience today, a dish originally prepared for Chinese emperors. The political and cultural capital of China and home to more than 20 million people, Beijing exemplifies everything visitors find most intoxicating about China: Spectacular ancient monuments contrast with ambitious modern high-rises, and traditional crafts flourish alongside booming international businesses. Exquisite art, stunning UNESCO sites, serene parks and teeming streets all contribute to the unique flavor of this astonishing city.
Certain images immediately spring to mind when you think of China. Panda bears. Tea houses. The Great Wall. Believe it or not, all three of these are on today’s agenda, as well as a rickshaw ride through the city’s ancient hutongs. Be sure to charge up your camera and get ready to experience some truly epic bucket list moments.
Beijing, Fly to Xi’an
Leave the hustle and bustle of Beijing behind today and head north to the serenity of the Summer Palace, home to one of China’s most beautiful classical gardens. From there, plunge into the past in China’s first capital, Xi’an, where you’ll be treated to a traditional (and incredibly labor intensive) dumpling banquet. You have one more special excursion to enjoy in Beijing this morning, then you’ll fly to Xi’an for the next leg of your Chinese adventure.
Xi’an’s terra-cotta army has been called the 8th wonder of the world, and it’s certainly the most extraordinary archeological find of the 20th century. Prepare to be amazed! You’ll also visit one of the holiest Buddhist temples in China, and enjoy a traditional Tang Dynasty dinner show with fabulous food, music and flamboyant costumes.
The imperial capital for 10 ancient dynasties, Xi’an achieved its greatest renown under the Tang Dynasty (AD 618-907), when it was a great international metropolis and the eastern terminus of the legendary Silk Road. Today it is the capital of Shaanxi Province and most famous for a museum devoted to the Terra-cotta Warriors and Horses. Of course you will visit this amazing archaeological find, but your day incorporates two other special Xi’an attractions.
Cruising the Yangtze River, Shennong Stream
Today will be a highlight of your journey—a full day cruising the Yangtze River’s mystical, beautiful and completely mesmerizing Three Gorges, with scenery that has captivated artists and poets for thousands of years. The Yangtze is the third-longest river in the world (only the Nile and the Amazon are longer), and the days you spend onboard your luxurious ship will show you some of its most beautiful sights. The river itself, deep and powerful, busy and serene, will work its enchantment as it carries you past bucolic fishing villages, hillside rice paddies, ancient cliff carvings and historic temples. Relax and prepare to be dazzled.
After days of pandas, ancient warriors and timeless Chinese landscapes, Shanghai and its futuristic skyline can be something of a shock to the system. Yet beyond the building boom and the avant-garde architecture, you can still find traces of Shanghai’s colorful and fascinating colonial-era history. Enjoy a taste of both old and new today, as well as dim sum and a performance by the gravity-defying Shanghai acrobats. Nearly 24 million people live in Shanghai, China’s largest city. An international economic hub, it has drawn entrepreneurs from all over the world for 150 years. But while Shanghai may be the “city of the future,” you can still find remnants of its history in Old Town and the area known as the concessions, which were controlled by European interests in the 19th century.
Check out of your hotel and transfer to the Shanghai Pudong International Airport for your flight home, or extend your trip with a memorable optional extension in Hong Kong.