Unearth Chinese legends and spiritual citadels as you make yours way through China’s imperial cities to the Tibetan center of Lhasa. Afterwards, discover pastoral bliss as you cruise gently down the Yangtze river, finally ending your tour in eclectic Shanghai.
The energetic megacity of Beijing is a rich tapestry of the old and new, where imperial palaces, museums and buzzing ancient alleyways rub shoulders with cutting edge architecture, new shopping malls and modern buildings.
Temple of Heaven and Forbidden City Tour Start early on this fascinating tour of the UNESCO World Heritage sites of the Temple of Heaven and the Forbidden City. Walk through the gates of the Temple of Heaven to chance upon Beijing residents engaged in their daily exercise regimen. Marvel at the simple yet elegant structure of the temple before you enter it. This temple with its abundant esoteric symbolism was a favorite with Ming and Qing dynasty rulers, who considered themselves messengers from heaven and sought to communicate with God from here. Afterward, stroll into the Forbidden City – restored in 2008, this palace complex has regained its vibrant colors that make for a mesmerizing contrast against the blue sky. Explore the sprawling complex in three parts, starting with the official spaces. Listen to your expert guide narrate anecdotes about the opulent ceremonies and important government meetings that these walls have witnessed. Saunter on to the imperial lodges surrounded by exquisitely beautiful gardens. Soak in the splendid sight before you amble over to the public areas where the temples and libraries can be found. Familiarize yourself with the legends associated with the construction of this magnificent complex before you climb up an artificial hill. Savor fabulous views of the compound and all of its 9,999 buildings before you make your way to the exit gate. (Full Day; Time: 0800 hrs; Private Activity & Transfers; Fitness Level: Easy. Please bring along your passport on the day of the tour to clear security. This tour must be booked at least two weeks in advance and once the booking is done, the date cannot be changed or modified.)
Classic China: Great Wall and Summer Palace Discover the iconic landmarks of China on this all-day excursion out of Beijing. After an early breakfast at your hotel, drive out to the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall of China in the company of your local, English speaking guide. Enjoy a cable car ride, or stroll up to the top of the wall if you wish, picking up interesting bits of history along the way. Internalize the legends and folklores born of this historic Great Wall, as you take in the majestic sweep of the land stretched out before you. Don’t forget those magical photo ops of the Wall in the early morning light. Enjoy a delicious picnic lunch at the site, if you wish, before driving back to Beijing to visit the spectacular Summer Palace. Originally built as the royal gardens, the Emperor Qianlong had it redesigned. Stroll among the pretty lakes, pagodas and pavilions, visiting all the popular palace sights. After a day of exploring the architectural heritage of the Beijing region, return to your hotel. (Full Day; Time: 0800 hrs; Private Activity & Transfer; Fitness level: Easy; Please wear comfortable walking shoes).
Xi’an is represented around the world by its timeless army of terracotta warriors, each man distinct from his brother beside, before or behind him. Such meticulous craftsmanship often makes one seriously wonder if they were not an army of actual warriors turned into stone by an ancient curse from the gods!
Discover Hidden Treasures of Xi’an Discover Xi’an, one of the oldest cities in China, highlighted by treasures of the ancient world. Following a half-hour drive to Xianyang, explore the Museum of the Terracotta Army – one of the greatest archaeological finds in recent history. Traversing the different tiers of excavated pits, see thousands of life-size terracotta statues of warriors and horses featuring incredible details that seem to protect the tomb of Qin Shi Huangdi. Learn about the legends and stories surrounding the region and the birth of Chinese civilization. Drop by the museum to see some amazing artifacts including two bronze chariots, before making your way to Xi’an. Hopping on a bike or a cart, weave through the bustling town. Stop by a few of Xi’an’s highlights, including the Bell and Drum Towers, nestled amid the towering ramparts originally built by the Ming dynasty. Visit the Muslim Quarter in the old town and understand the historical influence of the Silk Road that has made Xi’an a vibrant cultural center. See the Grand Mosque and other buildings that blend Islamic architecture and Chinese symbolism. Before returning to your accommodations, settle down for supper and savor the superb flavors courtesy of street hawkers at the colorful night market. (Full Day; Time: 0800 hrs; Private Activity & Transfers; Lunch included; Fitness level: Moderate).
The center of the Tibetan Buddhist world for over a millennium, Lhasa (‘Place of the Gods’) remains largely a city of our mystical imagination. The Potala Palace soaring above the city and the whitewashed old Tibetan quarter still preserves a bit of traditional Tibet.
Highlights of Lhasa Soak yourself in the mysticism that defines Lhasa! Marvel at the impressive Potala Palace set atop Marpo Ri hill which was built by the fifth Dalai Lama in the 17th century. Surrounded by 7th century architectural marvels that form a part of the complex today, this World Heritage site is at the very heart of Tibetan cultural heritage. Visit the ancient Jokhang Temple right in the center of Old Lhasa, an exquisite amalgam of ancient Indian, Tibetan and Nepalese design and architectural elements. Direct your steps towards the more than 200 year old UNESCO World Heritage site of Norbulingka or ‘jeweled garden’ – an ideal example of Tibetan palace architecture. Set amid lush gardens, this summer palace of the Dalai Lama also served as a religious and administrative center. Spend your evening ambling around the streets of the bustling Barkhor Bazaar as locals go about their daily lives amid shops laden with jewelry, artifacts, masks and other souvenirs. (Full Day, Time of Day: Morning; Private Activity & Transfers; Fitness Level: Easy; Please bring comfortable walking shoes. Please note that climbing the steps of the Potala Palace can be tiring due to the thin level of oxygen.)
Drepung Monastery and Sera Monastery Tour Experience the otherworldly life of Tibetan monks! The Drepung and Sera Monasteries are two of the three great universities to follow the Gelug or Yellow Hat school of Tibetan Buddhism that the Dalai Lama belongs to. Many believe the Drepung Monastery to be named after a famous Indian Stupa where the Buddha taught the Kalachakra Tantra. Admire historical relics, Buddhist scriptures and beautiful stone art and paintings around this monastery. The Drepung was home to the early Dalai Lamas until the 17th century when the fifth Dalai Lama built the new Potala Palace. On your trip back, visit a traditional Tibetan home and share a delicious meal of the region’s ubiquitous meat-filled dumplings. After lunch, head to one of Tibet’s best-preserved monasteries – the Sera Monastery. A much later addition in the 15th century, the Sera was rebuilt by the Chinese government after the Cultural Revolution of the late 1960s. It now serves as a functional monastery famous for heated debates on Buddhist philosophy among resident monks! (Full Day, Private Activity & Transfers; Meal included: Tibetan dumplings; Fitness Level: Easy; Please bring comfortable walking shoes)
Cruising down Asia’s longest river is an experience of a lifetime, especially the picturesque stretch between Chongqing and Yichang. You have the option of choosing either a four-day downstream cruise or a more leisurely five-day upstream riverboat trip on the Yangtze.
Century Glory Cruise: Chongqing to Yichang (4 Days / 3 Nights) Embark on a leisurely cruise down the Yangtze, Asia’s longest river, in a comfortable ship halting en route to explore historical and cultural landmarks. Day 1: Board the ship at Chongqing Chaotianmen Port and participate in the safety briefing before you head to your private cabin. Settle into your ensuite cabin with elegant décor and modern amenities. Step onto your private balcony to enjoy splendid views of the river as the ship sets sail. Afterward, head to the sun deck for the captain’s welcome reception. Socialize with fellow guests and savor a delicious dinner before you turn in for the night. Day 2: After a hearty buffet breakfast, set out on the optional shore excursion to Fengdu Ghost City, a cluster of monasteries and shrines related to the afterlife set on Ming Mountain. Or, you could choose to stay onboard and also attend a cultural lecture. Relish a buffet lunch and rest awhile before heading out in the afternoon to explore Shibaozhai Pagoda, an ancient architectural wonder. Having worked up an appetite, return to the ship for a sumptuous buffet dinner. Unwind as you watch a cabaret show before retiring to bed. Day 3: After your morning Tai Chi session and breakfast, you could go on the optional shore excursion to White Emperor City. Or, you could choose to stay on board and soak in the sun out on the deck. Later, savor splendid views of the scenic landscape as you cruise through Qutang Gorge, the most spectacular of the Three Gorges, and past Kui Gate. After lunch, relax as you sail along the beautiful landscape to pass through Wu Gorge and reach Shennv Stream. Soak in the tranquility of this picturesque spot on a shore excursion. Relish a delicious dinner and sit back to watch the Yangtze Pirate Night Show before you retire to your cabin. Day 4: Fuel up with a hearty breakfast before you go ashore at Maoping port on the excursion to Three Gorges Dam. You can also choose the additional option of experiencing the ship lift at the dam site. Get a good look at the magnificent dam, which is also the world’s largest hydroelectric station, from different viewpoints and visit the Gorges Exhibition that outlines the history of the structure. Then, head to the Yichang Three Gorges Center cruise terminal for your onward journey. (4 Days/3 Nights; Breakfast and Activities Included; Fitness Level: Easy. The optional shore excursions are available at an additional cost.)
The busy and dynamic Shanghai is China’s biggest city and a global financial hub. The Bund, a waterfront promenade lined with colonial era buildings lies at the heart of the city.
Journey Across Time From Bund to Pudong Get ready for a fascinating stroll from the past to the present during this half-day Shanghai tour. Start your journey at the historic riverside walkway, famous as the Bund, where western traders arrived in early twentieth century China. Take in the colonial architecture of heritage buildings that once served as foreign consulates, international hotels and trading houses. Learn from your experienced guide how the grand avenue fell to neglect during the Chinese Civil War and then later of restoration projects which revived its historic importance. Next, walk through Bund Sightseeing Tunnel to cross the Huangpu River to emerge into a striking different world – that of uber modern Pudong district. Marvel at towering skyscrapers and glitzy buildings as you hear the story of Pudong’s incredible transformation from marshy fields to a glittering downtown. Explore the hip Lujiazui neighbourhood boasting of some of the most famous buildings in the country, such as the Oriental Pearl TV Tower, Jin Mao Tower and Shanghai Tower, the tallest building in China. Before heading back, consider taking the high speed elevator to the 118th floor observation terrace for stunning panoramas of the city. (Half Day; Times: 0800/1300 hrs; Private Activity & Transfers).
Vintage Bike Ride in Shanghai Discover little known neighborhoods and quiet alleyways on this cycling tour of the more tranquil parts of town on vintage bikes. Drive down to Xintiandi District and meet your English speaking guide at a local café for a tour brief. Set out to explore the city on your vintage vehicles, riding past the tree-shaded boulevards of the French Concession, admiring the area’s rich architecture. Ride over to Fuxing Park and watch residents exercise, meditate and even dance early in the morning. Stop by a street-side food stall for a delicious morning snack. Ride over to a local wet market, soaking in the sights and sounds of the city. Enjoy cycling down the city’s narrow alleyways or lilongs, which mirror the hutongs of Beijing. Soak in the quintessential spirit of the city and its residents in these colorful and lively warren of lanes that hold the local community together. Come across an old Taoist temple within a tranquil neighborhood, discovering the simple life of the local monks and their unique philosophy, before returning to your hotel. (Half Day; Time: 0800 hrs; Private Activity & Transfer; Snacks and beverages included; Fitness level: Easy; Please note that only children above 12 yrs are permitted on this tour and special bikes available for children).
Your guide will meet you at your hotel and accompany you to Shanghai airport in a private vehicle
Price & Inclusions
Option 1 From $ 6,790 /person
Prices are in USD and exclude international flights. This trip price is based on low season rates for accommodation and other applicable services, and may change depending on availability, currency fluctuations and number of people traveling together. For high season prices, please contact us with your exact travel dates and preferences.
Accommodation in one double room for 15 days / 14 nights.
Meals as indicated
Economy flights for all sectors :
Xi’an – Lhasa
Lhasa – Chongqing
Yichang – Shanghai
The following train journeys in the highest class available :
Beijing – Xi’an
All activities as listed :
Beijing: Temple of Heaven and Forbidden City Tour
Beijing: Classic China: Great Wall and Summer Palace
Xi’an: Discover Hidden Treasures of Xi’an
Lhasa: Highlights of Lhasa
Lhasa: Drepung Monastery and Sera Monastery Tour
Yangtze River Cruise: Century Glory Cruise: Chongqing to Yichang
Shanghai: Journey Across Time From Bund to Pudong
Shanghai: Vintage Bike Ride in Shanghai
All activities specified in the itinerary, including entrance fees, accompanied by your tour guide
Organization and fees for your visa to Bhutan & China/Tibet
A high-quality air conditioned vehicle with chauffeur for the activities specified in the itinerary
All airport and hotel transfers as indicated above
Your Trip Coordinator: a 24/7 point of contact, supporting you during your trip
Welcome kit including all important documents and information regarding your itinerary
Fees and taxes
Tips, additional meals and personal expenses
Travel, health and cancellation insurance
International airfare (from your home country to your destination and return)