China’s Four Elements: Beijing, Xi’an, the Yangtze and Shanghai

China’s Four Elements:
Beijing, Xi’an, the Yangtze and Shanghai

  • 11 Days
  • From : Beijing
  • To : Shanghai
  • Private
  • Guide : English
  • Minimum age : 10 Years Old

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Famous in China and beyond, the Yangtze River is the longest river in Asia and the third longest in the world. Much like the other Chinese icon – The Great Wall – the Yangtze not only traverses a great distance but also attracts countless visitors each year. As one of the highlights of China’s vast and diverse natural landscape, the Yangtze offers a gentle pace much at odds with the often frenetic flow of modern Chinese cities such as Beijing and Shanghai. Experience this contrast and come to appreciate just some of the many facets of the Chinese nation with nights in modern Shanghai, the mix of old and new in Beijing and the ancient and enchanting Xi’an. From world class nightlife to ancient history, the appeal of modern day China grows by the day.

TOUR HIGHLIGHTS

Great Wall: Stroll along the restored Badaling section and see how the undulating wall disappears into the horizon ahead of you.

Forbidden City: Discover the majesty of the walled imperial precinct, which was exclusively reserved for China’s royalty for centuries.

Great Mosque of Xi’an: Hidden in the Muslim Quarter of Xi’an, this is an extremely rare piece of Islamic-Chinese architecture.

Terracotta Army: Pay homage to the immortal clay warriors unearthed after 2,000 years guarding China’s first emperor.

The Bund: Shanghai’s riverfront promenade is packed with an eclectic range of buildings from the European colonial period.

French Concession: Explore the elegant boulevards and leafy residential streets of Shanghai’s former French sector.

Chongqing City: Located on the banks of the Yangtze, the 14-storey Hongyadong tower is a must-see.

The Yangtze River: The longest river in Asia and third longest in the world, the Yangtze carries you on an eternal journey through China’s heartland.

What’s included?

TOUR GUIDE:

  • Operated with English-speaking tour guide

ACCOMMODATION: 

  • 7 nights’ accommodation
  • 3 nights on a full-board basis in a four-star Yangtze cruise vessel in Twin Rooms with bath or shower/W.C.

MEALS: 

  • 10 Breakfasts
  • 7 Lunches on days 2-5, 7, 8 and 10
  • 3 Dinners on days 6-8 

TRANSPORT:

  • Shared transfer from Beijing Airport to hotel in Beijing 
  • Air-conditioned coaches throughout the tour
  • 2nd class seat on the bullet train from Beijing – Xi’an on day 4 (No guides and Porterage is not included) 
  • 2nd class seat on the bullet train from Xi’an – Chongqing on day 6 (No guides and Porterage is not included) 
  • 2nd class seat on the bullet train from Yichang – Shanghai on day 9 (No guides and Porterage is not included)
  • Shared transfer from hotel in Shangai to Shangai Airport

ENTRANCE FEES AND ACTIVITIES: 

  • All entrance fees and activities mentioned in the itinerary: Badaling section of the Great Wall tour and Ming Tombs on Day 2; Tiananmen Square, Forbidden City, Temple of Heaven and pearl market on Day 3; Terracotta Warriors Museum tour, Big Wild Goose Pagoda visit and Jade Factory on Day 5; Mosque and Muslim market visit on Day 6; Shibaozhai Pagoda on Day 7; Yu Garden visit, Jade Buddha Temple tour and Silk Factory visit on Day 10.

OTHER:

  • Meet & Greet at Beijing International Airport on day 1

Exclusions

  • International flight tickets and airport taxes or China visa fees (if any)
  • Travel Insurance
  • Expenses of personal nature like tipping, laundry, telephone/fax calls, alcoholic/non- alcoholic beverages, camera/video camera fee at monuments, medical expenses or items not stated explicitly in the programme
  • Any visit not mentioned in the programme
  • Optional tours and activities
  • Tips for guides and drivers

Please note

  • Day 4: Estimated departure time from Beijing Train Station at 15:45  to Xi’an arriving  21:25.
  • Day 6: Estimated departure time from Xi’An Train Station at 12:00 to Chongqing arriving 17:07
  • Day 9: Estimated departure time from Yichang Train Station at 14:14 to Shanghai arriving  22:38
  • Please check the China tourist visa requirements with your local embassy or authorities
  • Trains are subject to change due to the adjustments of the schedule
  • Please note that local conditions prevalent at the time of travel may result in modifications to the tour contents without prior notice

What do I need to bring?

Comfortable and light clothing is best suited to travel in the warm months and warm clothing in the colder months in China. Visitors should not wear sleeveless shirts, shorts, short skirts or sparse clothing when visiting temples, religious or official buildings. Sun protection, sunglasses and a hat can be very useful during your stay.

Accommodation options

ACCOMMODATION OPTIONS 

Day 1-3 Beijing:

  • Standard Hotel Category = Dongfang Hotel or similar 3*

Day 4-6 Xi’an:

  • Standard Hotel Category = Le Garden Hotel or similar 3*

Day  7-9 Yangtze River Cruise:

  • Standard Hotel Category = Yangtze River Cruise 

Day  10-11 Shanghai:

  • Standard Hotel Category = Holiday Inn Express Zhabei or similar 3*

Cancellation policy

    Once ordered, this tour cannot be cancelled or refund or amended at any circumstances.

Day 1 :  ARRIVAL BEIJING

Upon arriving at Beijing Capital International Airport, a representative will greet you at the airport and you will be transferred to the city where you will meet your local guide in the hotel lobby. In the afternoon, there is an optional excursion to the Summer Palace and Kunming Lake. This spellbinding complex was where China’s emperors and their families would retreat from the heat and intrigues of the Forbidden City. Here they could relax in the lavish pavilions of Longevity Hill, meditate in the temples and stroll through the landscaped gardens around Kunming Lake. The manmade lake has three islands, believed to represent the ‘three fairy islands of the Eastern Sea’; one of the islands can be accessed by a sensational seventeen-arch bridge. The vast and sumptuous Summer Palace provides a range of striking views and boasts beautifully decorated buildings and courtyards which are charged with history. The grandeur of the structures is matched only by their wonderfully evocative names, such as the Temple of Buddhist Virtue, the Hall of Jade Ripples and the Cloud-Dispelling Hall.

Overnight in Beijing. 

Day 2 :   BEIJING: THE GREAT WALL

Enjoy breakfast at the hotel before departing for a visit to the Badaling section of the Great Wall. This stretch of the wall was built in 1505 in the strategically important Guan Valley to keep out the Mongol hordes from the north. Nowadays, it is one of the most popular sections of the Wall among tourists. Reconstructed to replicate its original appearance, Badaling gives you a realistic view of the Great Wall’s sheer size. Next, journey further into China’s past with a visit to the Imperial Tombs of the Ming Dynasty, around 45 km north of Beijing in a valley below the Jundu Mountains. The location was specifically chosen for its harmonious environment, and the tombs were designed in an arc form to ward off evil spirits. This monumental and serene complex is accessed through the imposing Great Red Gate and the 7-kilometre Sacred Way, lined with statues of guardians including camels, elephants, lions, soldiers and imperial chamberlains. Explore the Changling Tomb, the final resting of the Yongle Emperor, considered one of China’s greatest rulers. Stop for photographs at Beijing Olympic Park on the way back to the hotel.

Overnight in Beijing.

Day 3 :  BEIJING: SIGHTSEEING TOUR

Start the day with breakfast at the hotel then prepare for a full day tour of Beijing’s most famous landmarks. Start in the enormous Tiananmen Square, one of the world’s largest urban plazas. Stroll from Tiananmen Gate to Meridian Gate, which leads to the Forbidden City. Enter the Forbidden City and take in the sheer majesty of this incomparable treasure which was closed to commoners for centuries. Construction began in the early 15th century and it was meticulously designed to be in harmony with philosophical, religious and hierarchical principles. All the roof tiles were yellow, the emperor’s colour, and no other building in Beijing could be taller than the Forbidden City. Explore this beguiling UNESCO-listed World Heritage Site and marvel at the magnificent temples, halls, pavilions, palaces and courtyards. Enjoy a local lunch after the visit. Then head on to Jingshan Park, which stretches out over the manmade 45-metre-high hill of the same name. It is the highest point in Beijing and was built as a private garden for emperors and their families. The views over the Forbidden City and the rest of the capital are breath-taking. End the tour with a visit to the Temple of Heaven and the pearl market. 

Overnight in Beijing.

Day 4 :  BEIJING – XI’AN

Wake up to breakfast at the hotel. Start the day with a tour of Beijing’s ‘Hutongs’, intricate alleyways formed by lines of traditional courtyard residences. Today’s tour will be done in style, not walking, but aboard a nifty pedal-powered rickshaw. People say that the real culture of Beijing lies in the culture of the Hutong and as you travel around the narrow streets, you will gain a true insight into the traditional lifestyle of ordinary families in Beijing. Stop at a local house at lunchtime and join the family for an authentic Beijing meal. There will be a real sense of congeniality and a whole array of different dishes to try! After eating, take a leisurely stroll around the popular Houhai Lake, a large artificial lake located in northern downtown Beijing surrounded by willow trees, bars, cafes, teahouses and restaurants. Later in the afternoon, bid farewell to Beijing and transfer to the train station to catch the high-speed train to Xi’an. Arrive at Xi’an railway station and transfer to your hotel for the night.

Overnight in Xi’an.

Day 5 :  XI’AN

Breakfast at the hotel is followed by a trip to the countryside on the outskirts of Xi’an to visit a priceless treasure that was unknown to humanity until some farmers stumbled upon it four decades ago: the Terracotta Army. What they encountered has since become a global phenomenon, and parts of this impressive army are exhibited all over the world. There are thousands of armed warriors, each one different from the next, lined up in rows according to military rank, as well as hundreds of horses and chariots at the site in Xi’an. The figures were made by an army of artisans and were buried with Qin Shi Huang, the first emperor of China, who died in 210 BC. To see them all before your very eyes is a truly unforgettable experience. The afternoon’s activity is an excursion to the Big Wild Goose Pagoda, built during the Tang Dynasty in the seventh century. It has been expanded and renovated many times, but its main purpose of housing Buddhist scriptures brought back from India by the travelling monk, Xuanzang, has remained the same. Visit a Jade factory on the way back to the hotel.

Overnight in Xi’an.

Day 6 :   XI’AN – CHONGQING – YANGTZE RIVER (CHONGQING)

After breakfast at the hotel, enjoy a morning tour of Xi’an’s Muslim quarter. Within the city walls and to the northwest, stands the great Mosque and the Muslim market. The Great Mosque is one of the oldest, largest and best-preserved Islamic mosques in China. The architecture is a blend of Chinese and Islamic tradition, and it comprises a stone gateway and a carved wooden interior with high ceilings to offer worshippers a space in accordance with their religious devotion. In the past, the Muslim market was served by the Silk Road bringing fine fabrics, exotic goods and perhaps even religious influence from far beyond the borders of the mighty Chinese empire. Nowadays, it remains a feast for bargain hunters and those wanting to sample some of the popular local foods. After shopping for souvenirs, depart for Chongqing via the high-speed train, where we will embark on a river cruise on the Yangtze River. If time allows, enjoy the delights of Chongqing as the evening approaches and then board your Yangtze River cruise for the next leg of the journey.

Overnight in a cabin aboard a Yangtze River cruise.

Day 7 :   YANGTZE RIVER CRUISE DAY 1

Enjoy breakfast aboard the boat. This morning, the cruise departs from Chongqing. Enjoy a guided tour of the Yangtze River, the longest river in Asia and the third-longest in the world. The river travels through a vast changing landscape of natural beauty and passes various important cultural and historical monuments and sites. In the afternoon, stop at Shibaozhai, a hill set in stunning scenery on the banks of the river. This rocky and craggy outcrop has extremely steep sides and is approximately 200 metres tall. Visit the Shibaozhai Pagoda, a Qing dynasty wooden masterpiece built precariously onto the side of the rock face. Take the opportunity to stretch your legs and climb the twelve floors of the red-coloured pagoda for spectacular views of the river below and beyond, before returning to the boat for the onward journey. Lunch and dinner will be served on board the boat.

Overnight in a cabin aboard a Yangtze River cruise.

Day 8 :  YANGTZE RIVER CRUISE DAY 2

Start the day with breakfast on board the cruise. Today we will enter the Three Gorges section of the Yangtze, the most scenic navigable sections of the river. First, we will pass through Qutang Gorge, the most dramatic of the gorges, where river travels through a narrow sluice between sheer limestone cliffs. Continue on to Wu Gorge, which is known as the ‘witches gorge’ because of its depth and twisting nature. It is bordered by agricultural land that overhangs at almost impossible angles. In the afternoon, tour the Lesser Three Gorges, one of the highlights of any Yangtze river cruise. The Lesser Three Gorges mark your progress along the Yangtze and invite you to look up and appreciate the vegetation growing on the rock walls above your head. When in season, a species of mountain flower can be seen covering the highest sides of the gorges, welcoming you as you pass. Lunch and dinner will be served on board the boat.

Overnight in a cabin aboard a Yangtze River cruise.

Day 9 :  FINISH YANGTZE RIVER CRUISE IN YICHANG – SHANGHAI

Wake up to breakfast on board the cruise ship. This morning, the cruise will reach one of China’s greatest pieces of modern engineering, the Three Gorges Dam. The Three Gorges Dam is the largest hydroelectric power station in the world, it has 22,500 megawatts of installed capacity, it stretches for over 2 kilometres and has a height of 181 metres. It dwarves even the most sizeable of cruise ships. The five-stage ship locks to the side of the dam are no less impressive. Take a moment to stand in awe of these huge feats of engineering. Your Yangtze River cruise will then reach its final destination in Maoping Port where you will disembark for the next section of this journey through four of China’s top locations. Transfer to the train station to catch the high-speed train to Shanghai, arriving in the evening. Upon arrival in Shanghai railway station, transfer to your hotel in the ‘pearl of the east’ and enjoy a good night’s sleep.

Overnight in Shangai.

Day 10 :  SHANGHAI: SIGHTSEEING TOUR

Breakfast at the hotel is followed by a guided morning stroll through Shanghai’s old town, which has survived China’s impressive modernisation over the last two decades. Huddled beneath the modern high-rises, the narrow streets of the earthy old city offer an astonishing contrast to the glistening new Shanghai. In the heart of the old city is Yu Garden, a classical Chinese garden crammed with richly decorated pavilions, halls, towers, rockeries and ponds, some dating from as far back as the Ming Dynasty four centuries ago. It is a tranquil spot away from the modern pace of life in this city of over 24 million people. Have lunch at a local restaurant and then visit the Jade Buddha Temple, where you can admire jade, marble and gold Buddha statues. Next, visit The Bund, the riverside quay crammed with historic buildings ranging in style from neo-classical to art deco. The most eye-catching structures include the Customs House and the China Bank of Communications Building. Visit a silk factory and Nanjing Road, Shanghai’s pedestrianised commercial hub, where thousands of shoppers are dwarfed by the neon signs and the skyscrapers of modern Shanghai. 

Overnight in Shanghai.

Day 11 :  DEPARTURE SHANGHAI

Savour your final breakfast at your hotel then prepare to check out of your room at the scheduled time and transfer to Shanghai Airport for your onwards or return flight. Although this is the last day of your 11-day tour through some of the most fascinating cultural, historical and modern wonders of Beijing, Xi’an, the Yangtze and Shanghai, we are sure that your memories of this fascinating country will last you a lifetime.

Breakfast included.