China, the Yangtze River& Hong Kong - Westbound    *alt*

17 days, from £4340
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Picture China tours that take you behind the scenes at ancient treasures, exotic gardens, architectural masterpieces and compelling UNESCO World Heritage Sites like the Forbidden City, the Great Wall and the Terra Cotta Warriors... include a memorable 4-night cruise through the Yangtze River's Three Gorges aboard the Yangzi Explorer... and are filled with exclusive experiences ranging from an insider experience in Beijing's hutongs - including a visit with a local family. Travel by rickshaw in Beijing, by sampan in Shennong Stream, via funicular up Victoria Peak in Hong Kong, and by gondola and on foot along the Great Wall. Meet a conservation expert at the Terra Cotta Warriors museum in Xi'an, and families at a Three Gorges Dam relocation village along the Yangtze. There's no end to the enriching discoveries you'll make on Tauck's comprehensive China tours!


 Day 1 Welcome to Hong Kong

Tauck's China tour begins at InterContinental Hong Kong. A transfer is included upon your arrival from Hong Kong International Airport to the InterContinental Hong Kong, in the heart of the city's bustling Kowloon waterfront. Please join us this evening for a welcome reception followed by dinner.

 Day 2 Hong Kong from many perspectives

You'll experience Hong Kong from different perspectives this morning - by ferry, via double-decker bus, and on a funicular tram ride up Victoria Peak. After lunch at a local dim sum restaurant, take a crash course in Hong Kong's cultural, archaeological, and natural history with a visit to the renowned Hong Kong Museum of History. This remarkable harbor city is yours to explore as you please for the rest of the day and evening.A Your hotel is in the Kowloon section, home to many shops and markets. Dinner is on your own tonight.

 Day 3 History in Hong Kong & on to Shanghai

Fly to Shanghai, China's great seaport at the mouth of the Yangtze - and one of the country's most cosmopolitan cities - where you'll spend the next three nights of your China tour at the Fairmont Peace Hotel, Shanghai's luxurious Art Deco landmark. Dine at your hotel this evening.

 Day 4 Yu Gardens, the Bund & more in Shanghai

Today you'll explore Shanghai's famous waterfront Bund. First up, visit the historic and harmonious Yu Gardens, whose original grounds and temple date back to the 1550s; the word yu translates to "peace and health." Pathways wind through rock gardens and bamboo stands, and stone bridges cross pools filled with bright carp. Have lunch today at the charming "M on the Bund" - and then tonight, watch from premium seating as the daring acrobatic performers of Shanghai's acclaimed ERA show entertain you. A day to remember... a China travel experience to savor.

 Day 5 Shanghai past to future & a dining treat

Your China tour continues when you get a good introduction to Shanghai at the Shanghai Urban Planning Center showcasing the city's future urban development through detailed models and multimedia displays. Explore the center's exhibits on this historic port city's past, present and future, including a mock-up of 1930s Shanghai; a huge model of what the city might look like in 2020; a 360-degree, 3-D film and more. Then tour the Shanghai Museum, displaying 120,000 works of art and artefacts. After lunch on your own in the Xintiandi neighborhood, you'll have time to explore the area - and on a guided walk, learn about its vanishing traditional stone-gated shikumen homes. This evening, a special experience - dinner at the wonderful restaurant Jean Georges Shanghai, known for its cuisine and views.

 Day 6 A flight to Yichang & your Yangtze cruise

Fly from Shanghai to Yichang and board the Yangzi Explorer this afternoon to continue your China tour with a memorable four-night cruise through the Three Gorges of the mighty Yangtze River. Dine a la carte aboard ship this evening before setting sail on your cruise, bound upstream (westbound) to Chongqing.

 Day 7 The Three Gorges Dam and Xiling Gorge

As your China tour continues, visions of knobby, mist-shrouded mountains steeped in the mystique of old China surround you along the Yangtze aboard the recently renovated Yangzi Explorer, one of the finest and roomiest ships on the river. Tour the largest hydroelectric project on Earth, the Three Gorges Dam, prior to sailing through Xiling Gorge, largest of the Three Gorges. During today's cruise, enjoy afternoon tea aboard ship, meet the Yangzi Explorer's Captain and crew at the Captain's welcome reception followed by dinner a la carte, and attend an entertaining show performed by the crew.

 Day 8 Pavilions and pagodas along the Yangtze

View centuries-old pagodas and temples built against steep-sided cliffs, ancient roads and terraced fields along the river's edge as you continue your Yangtze cruise today. Disembark for a Shennong Stream excursion aboard a traditional sampan poled by a Tujia boatman, then re-board Yangzi Explorer for this afternoon's cruise of Wu and Qutang gorges, both equally breathtaking. Shipboard activities range from a dumpling-making lesson to a documentary film screening after dinner a la carte tonight.

 Day 9 Yangtze cruising and a relocation village

Continue your China tour with a shore excursion to Fengdu, China's ancient "Ghost City," or the remote village of Wanzhou (depending on river conditions), and a visit to a "relocation village" to meet local farmers and villagers whose traditional homes and land were affected by the Three Gorges Dam project. Shipboard diversions on the final day of your cruise include a calligraphy and brush painting demonstration, an introduction to the ancient game of mahjong, and a Mandarin language lesson, followed by an on-board farewell dinner.

 Day 10 Chongqing to Guilin & a canal cruise

Disembark Yangzi Explorer in Chongqing this morning and fly to Guilin, among China's most picturesque places, whose landscapes have inspired poets and artists for centuries. After checking in and relaxing at bit at your hotel, the Shangri-La Hotel, Guilin, set out on an evening cruise through the center of the city along its delightful canals. As you cruise, you'll pass under bridges built to resemble some of the world's most famous spans, including San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge and the Tower Bridge in London; enjoy a demonstration of cormorant fishing along the way. Dinner is a la carte this evening at your hotel.

 Day 11 A Li River cruise & a cooking lesson in Guilin

Spend the morning on a private Tauck cruise along the storied Li River today; feast your eyes and your soul on tranquil groves, fishermen on bamboo rafts, breathtaking limestone peaks and views of traditional village life that seem to be lifted from an ancient Chinese scroll painting! Following your cruise, attend a cooking lesson on local cuisine - then eat what you helped make for lunch! Have dinner this evening at your hotel in Guilin.

 Day 12 On to Xi'an, once capital of ancient China

Fly to the ancient city of Xi'an; set at the eastern end of the Silk Road, it's one of the country's oldest cities and served as the capital during the Han, Qin, Tang and other early dynasties. Upon arrival you'll visit an amazing place - the Han Yang Ling Underground Mausoleum. Known locally as "the most underrated tomb in Xi'an," it was undisturbed for about 2,100 years before opening to the public in the last decade. You'll find an amazing collection of cultural relics in this unique underground "museum" that depict life as it was during the Western Han Dynasty. Dine at your leisure at the hotel this evening.

 Day 13 Terra Cotta Warriors & Shaanxi history

Get the inside story of Xi'an's amazing Terra Cotta Warriors - 8,000 individualized, life-size terra cotta statues of soldiers who stood guard at the underground tomb of Qin Shi Huangdi, China's first emperor, for more than 2,000 years - as you visit the site today with Tauck. They were discovered by farmers digging a well in 1974, and are now a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site! View the incredible statues, tour the site's museum, and get the scoop on future plans for their preservation during a talk with one of the museum's leading staff members. Enjoy a traditional dumpling lunch at a local restaurant. Continue on to the Shaanxi History Museum, whose splendid collection of more than 350,000 artefacts illustrates the story of ancient China's feudal dynasties, many of which had their capitals here in Xi'an.

 Day 14 From ancient X'ian to modern Beijing

The final segment of Tauck's memorable China tour commences as you fly from the ancient capital of Xi'an to Beijing - arriving midday in this remarkable city that's been at the center of Chinese life for centuries, and serves as the capital of the People's Republic today. After lunch, a local expert shares insights on the city's centuries-old hutongs - unique traditional neighborhoods threatened by ongoing urban development - and leads you on a private tour of a hutong, where you'll ride a rickshaw and visit a local family in their hutong home. The last three nights of Tauck's China tour are spent at The Waldorf Astoria Beijing in the heart of the city; dine at your choice of the hotel's four restaurants this evening.

 Day 15 Along the Great Wall of China

Besides being the only man-made structure visible from space, the Great Wall of China tops most travellers' lists of the Earth's must-visit places. And today, you'll not only visit it, but experience it in more ways than one - exploring its Badaling section, walking down to the bottom along an ancient stone path, and having lunch with views of this architectural wonder spread out all around you at the Commune by the Great Wall where you'll have lunch. The rest of your afternoon and evening are free to explore as you wish in Beijing; have dinner on your own tonight.

 Day 16 Forbidden City to Tiananmen Square

To Tauck, travel means more than simply seeing each destination - and today on your China tour, you'll explore the delicate balance between Beijing's past, present and future at some of the capital's landmark sites. Begin with a grand example of traditional Chinese architecture - Beijing's Temple of Heaven, a round, three-tiered wood structure intricately decorated with gold leaf and colourful designs; try to imagine a long-ago time when the emperor and his entourage would travel here in secret processions from the Forbidden City to hold solemn ceremonies asking the gods for a bountiful harvest. Learn the moves from the locals as you take part in a Tai Chi racquet lesson in one of the Temple's beautiful parks. After lunch at a local restaurant, you'll explore the legendary Forbidden City itself, where Imperial China's emperors dwelt for centuries; tour the Hall of Supreme Harmony, the Hall of Middle Harmony, the Hall of Preserved Harmony, the Hall of Mental Cultivation, the Imperial Garden and more. Just beyond the Forbidden City, continue to Tiananmen Square, a witness to much of modern Chinese history and home to Mao Zedong's mausoleum; view his portrait hanging above the "Gate of Heavenly Peace." Join us this evening for our farewell reception and dinner at the Waldorf Astoria Beijing.

 Day 17 Bound for home

Tauck's China tour ends in Beijing. Your grand China travel adventure ends in Beijing, where you'll catch your return flight home. A transfer is included from Waldorf Astoria Beijing to Beijing Capital International Airport; you should allow 3 hours for flight check-in.