Highlights of China Great & the Yangtze 2017

Highlights of China & the Yangtze


Day 1: Beijing

A Uniworld representative will greet you at the airport and transfer you to the Ritz-Carlton, a luxury oasis in the heart of Beijing.

Day 2: Beijing

FEATURED EXCURSIONS: The imperial heritage of China's capital: Forbidden City and Peking Duck lunch

Delve into the grandeur of imperial China on your first full day in Beijing. Tiananmen Square, the centre of modern-day civic life in the city, is your gateway to the Forbidden City, the vast complex of palaces, gardens and offices that housed China’s emperors for 500 years. Here bureaucrats and concubines schemed for power and artisans created treasures of the Qing and Ming dynasties. Savor a treasure of a different kind over lunch—Peking Duck, served to emperors since the 13th century—and wonder at the Temple of Heaven, a UNESCO-designated site where the emperors performed the rituals that guaranteed the empire’s safety. (Uniworld has arranged a surprise here that lets you experience a cherished local custom.)

Day 3: Beijing

FEATURED EXCURSIONS: Culture, history and intrigue: pandas, hutongs, teahouse and Welcome Dinner at the base of the Great Wall

Start the day with smiles from the giant pandas at the zoo before exploring the labyrinthine alleyways of the residential neighborhoods—known as the hutongs—dating back 500 years. Explore the area near the Forbidden City, first via rickshaw and then by sitting down for lunch with a local family. Two towers mark the neighborhood; one, a 600-year-old bell tower, hosts a traditional tea ceremony that will remind you of tea’s central place in China’s culture. Cap off your day with another unforgettable highlight: the Great Wall, the legendary ramparts that protected 4,000 miles of China’s ancient borders—followed by a Welcome Dinner with complimentary wine at the base of the Great Wall itself.

Day 4: Beijing, fly to Xi'an

FEATURED EXCURSIONS: Grace and art—Beijing’s Summer Palace and Xi’an’s traditional dumpling banquet

Emperors fled the summer heat to relax by the shores of Kunming Lake, where they created a Qing Dynasty garden that embodies the highest achievement in Chinese landscape design. Stroll the inviting Long Corridor, admiring the bridges and temples that adorn the man-made lake, and drift over its peaceful waters in a boat that offers ravishing views. Empress Cixi’s (the Holy Mother) marble boat, “moored” on the lake, is the only sign the lake ever had a naval function, though legend says that Emperor Qianlong observed naval maneuvers on it. 

From Beijing, you’ll fly to the ancient capital of Xi’an, where you’ll settle into the serene Shangri-La Xi’an hotel and enjoy a traditional dumpling banquet.

Day 5: Xi'an

FEATURED EXCURSIONS: China’s first capital—Terra-cotta Army, Big Wild Goose Pagoda and Tang Dynasty dinner show

Twenty-two centuries ago, Emperor Qin Shi Huang unified a huge swath of the country (and gave it his name)—and he intended to keep what he conquered, even in the afterlife. He created an astonishing Terra-cotta Army to guard his tomb, which laid undisturbed until the 20th century. Only about 8,000 of the UNESCO-designated Terracotta Warriors and Horses have been excavated, and they still stand in battle formation to face his long-dead enemies at the museum dedicated to this amazing archaeological discovery. From the battlefields, seek peace and pleasure at the serene seven-story Big Wild Goose Pagoda, sacred to Buddhists since the seventh century; legend states if you throw a coin through the pagoda’s windows, it will bring you good luck—give it a try. A lovely traditional dinner and a cultural performance that re-creates the music, folk dances and gorgeous silk costumes of the Tang Dynasty provide the perfect ending to a day in China’s ancient capital.

Day 6: Xi'an, fly to Chongqing, cruising the Yangtze River

Cherished for 10,000 years, jade is valued for both its intrinsic beauty and its symbolic meaning. Watch artisans carving intricate designs. Transfer to the airport and fly to Chongqing, where you’ll board your ship and settle into your Executive Suite.

Day 7: Cruising the Yangtze River, Shibaozhai

FEATURED EXCURSION: The Three Gorges—the Yangtze’s fairytale landscape

Limestone cliffs sheathed in greenery loom above the water; mountains wreathed in mist tower in the distance; every view of the Three Gorges is a picture straight out of China’s iconic watercolor illustrations—breathtaking, ethereal and unforgettable. A stop at Shibao Pagoda, built into the side of a steep hill that is now an island as a result of rising waters from the Three Gorges Dam, offers you a colorful encounter with some unusual legends. Later, enjoy the Captain’s Welcome Reception with complimentary wine, giving you a chance to mingle with your fellow passengers.

Day 8: Cruising the Yangtze River, Goddess Stream

FEATURED EXCURSION: The magical Goddess Stream

Float through one of the world’s most exquisite landscapes: The pristine turquoise waters of the Goddess Stream shimmer and bubble around your small boat and sheer cliffs rise high overhead. The day offers one of China’s most amazing contrasts, for your ship will leave these peaceful waters to navigate the enormous Three Gorges Dam locks. Bid adieu to the river with a Farewell Dinner.

Note: Due to water conditions, we may substitute a Shennong Stream boat tour if the Goddess Stream is not available.

Day 9: Cruising the Yangtze River, Yichang, fly to Shanghai

FEATURED EXCURSION: Natural Wonders of Yichang: The dam, caves & cliffside eats

Today, you’ll disembark in Yichang and explore the renowned Three Gorges Dam, the largest hydropower project ever undertaken. Then, you’ll head for Sanyou Cave, known for its incredible scenery, at the northern edge of the Xiling Gorge. Cap off an adventure-filled day with a meal at Fangweng, a cliffside restaurant. Then fly to Shanghai, where you’ll check into the Waldorf Astoria Shanghai on the Bund.

Day 10: Shanghai

FEATURED EXCURSIONS: Spectacular skyscrapers, famous dim sum and acrobats

Past, present and future combine on the exciting, busy streets of Shanghai. Astonishing skyscrapers soar far overhead, and the Bund, Shanghai’s famed waterfront promenade, reminds you that this city, once known as the “Paris of the Orient,” was the West’s gateway to China. Do a little last-minute shopping while taking in the spectacular views. Could you leave China without a traditional dim sum lunch? It’s waiting for you at your hotel. Cap off your journey with one last highlight experiencing spinning plates, flying knives and whirling Hula-Hoops as agile acrobats dance across swaying tightropes and perform death-defying leaps as the famous Shanghai acrobatic troupe performs their gravity-defying routines.

Day 11: Depart Shanghai

Transfer to the airport for your flight home, or continue your adventure with a memorable optional extension in Hong Kong.