Luxury China Adventure Sept 9-23,2014

15 Day Luxury Adventure
$6495 per person double occupancy

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This five city tour plus river cruise adventure starts with the imperial wonders of Beijing, continues to the dynastic capitol of Xian, then we fly to the subtropical timeless beauty of Guilin, cruise down the Yangtze River and finally conclude in the ultra-modern city of Shanghai. Complimentary day trip to the cities of Suzhou & Tongli available from Shanghai.

The package does not include the international flight to/from China nor does it include the airport to hotel transfer. The "Land Only" package does include all domestic transportation and transfers within China, but does not include the Shanghai to Beijing flight at the conclusion of the tour. Our "Land Only" package start in Beijing on September 10th (Day 2) and conclude in Shanghai on September 23rd (Day 15).

Day 1 - Sept 9th: Depart USA
Depart USA on International Flight
Your exotic journey to China begins as your international flight departs the USA from LAX Airport at 1:20 pm enroute to Beijing. Arrive in Beijing the next day at 5:00 pm. You lose a day as you cross the International Dateline. You'll recover this day on your return trip.

Day 2 - Sept 10th: Beijing
Hotel: JW Marriott Hotel Beijing
Arrive in Beijing in the late afternoon. Meet your local representative and transfer to your hotel in the heart of Beijing. Your hotel is conveniently located near Beijing's major shopping malls, upscale restaurants, and tourist attractions. Relax and enjoy the evening in China's historic and vibrant capital city.

Day 3 - Sept 11th: Beijing
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
Start your day with a hearty breakfast and a tour briefing for the entire day.

  • Tiananmen Square is the world's largest public square. It is 100 acres surrounded by many historical buildings, museums and Communist monuments, including Mao's Mausoleum. You can walk through the Gate of Heavenly Peace, under the famous portrait of Chairman Mao, to enter the Forbidden City, the symbolic center and monument to dynastic China, from which 24 emperors of the Ming and the Qing Dynasties ruled for nearly 500 years.
  • The Forbidden City, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is the world's largest palace complex and China's most magnificent imperial architecture, consisting of many buildings with 9,999 rooms, on a 250-acre compound, protected by a 20-foot-wide moat and a 32-foot-high wall. Now known as the Palace Museum, the Forbidden City was the exclusive domain of the imperial court and dignitaries where outside visitors were forbidden for 5 centuries. Here you will explore the imperial treasures in the grand palaces and pavilions, exquisite courtyards and gardens in what was once the residence of China's emperors.
  • Stroll through the local ancient neighborhoods and we will visit a local market and meet a local family where we will have a cooking demonstration and enjoy the lunch that we can take part in preparing.
  • In the afternoon, visit the Beijing Panda Center. Zoos around the world that receive Pandas have usually started their life in Sichuan Province where 800 of the world's 1,000 remaining giant panda reside. They are cleared thru the Beijing Panda Center. Giant Panda is officially considered "National Treasure" by Chinese government and is often used to cultivate relationships with other countries with "Panda Diplomacy".
  • We will return late afternoon to the hotel and assemble for our group welcome dinner.

Day 4 - Sept 12th: Beijing
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

  • Morning: After Breakfast we travel by luxury motor coach to the Sacred Way Ming Dynasty Tombs. The finest imperial tomb architecture that include 36 massive stone sculptures of Lions, Elephants and other animals both real and mythical.
  • Afternoon: Lunch at the renowned Jade center before driving through the mountains to reach China's most recognized monument, the Great Wall. The Great Wall winds through China's northern mountain ranges from the Yellow Sea to the Gobi Desert, a distance of over 3500 miles.
  • Late Afternoon: At this section of the wall you will learn the history of this engineering marvel. You can ride a gondola up to the highest point for an extraordinary views of the valley below, and/or explore its impressive watchtowers, ramparts, carriageways at your own pace. You can take a toboggan ride that was made for the Olympics down the mountain to where you started.

Day 5 - Sept 13th: Beijing - Xian
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

  • Morning: Visit the Temple of Heaven, the largest temple complexes in China, a superb example of Chinese architectural and symbolism. The Temple of Heaven is perhaps the finest expression of this mixing of complete opposites.
  • Early Afternoon: Visit the Summer Palace. Considered the finest Chinese imperial garden, the Summer Palace spans over 700 acres with beautiful views, temples, pavilions, palaces and halls including the renown and superbly painted "Long Corridor".
  • Late Afternoon: Transfer to airport for flight to Xian, located in the yellow river watershed. Xian is one of the birthplaces of civilization. It has seen 3,100 years of development and 11 dynasties, giving it equal fame, by the United Nations world heritage organization, (UNESCO) with Athens, Rome and Cairo as one of the four major ancient civilization capitals.

Day 6 - Sept 14th: Xian
Hotel: Sheraton Xian North
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

  • Morning: Travel to modern China's greatest archaeological discovery—The Terra Cotta Warriors and Horses, which silently guarded the tomb of China's First Emperor for over 2,200 years. The extensive excavation, still in progress, has yielded over 6000 life-sized terra cotta warriors, each individually sculpted, with the physical characteristics of the humans they were modeled after. Archers, infantrymen, horses and bronze chariots have also been unearthed, but it's only a fraction of the total buried there to protect the tomb of the first Qin emperor. A Circle Vision documentary is available on site. Lunch at a local restaurant and see a noodle making demonstration.
  • Afternoon: Visit a Yao Dong, this is a cave dug into mountainsides with a signature arched front. Usually, one family unit consists of three arched openings, and the units are interconnected inside. Outside of the cities of this region, some 90% of the rural population lives in yaodongs.
  • Evening: Attend a feast of culinary and cultural delights with a special Dinner followed by a fascinating Tang Dynasty stage show where you can travel back in time to the world of China's Golden Age, a period of prosperity and exceptional creativity lasting 300 years.

Day 7 - Sept 15th: Xian - Guilin
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

  • Morning: Tour the Wild Goose Pagoda, a Tang Dynasty landmark. This astounding seven-story pagoda was constructed in 652 AD to house the Buddhist scrolls brought back from India by the monk, Xuan Zang, who translated them into Chinese. He also wrote the classic, The Journey to the West which highlights his pilgrimage to India.
  • Afternoon: Walk to the heart of the city. In the center of Xian, visible everywhere from the surrounding city walls, are the city's two Ming Dynasty treasures, Bell and Drum Towers. Built in 1384, the Bell Tower, in which a great bell once rang at dawn, is a classic example of Ming architecture. It consists of a triple-eaved, two story wooden pavilion resting on a square brick platform 100 ft. high, accented by four grand archways. Across the square from the Bell Tower is the rectangular Drum Tower, where a drum is beaten daily at sundown. First erected in 1380, the Drum Tower has become the gateway to Xian's old Muslim quarter and its historical mosque.
  • Late Afternoon: Fly to Guilin.

Day 8 - Sept 16th: Guilin
Hotel: Guilin Downtown Sheraton
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

  • Morning & Afternoon: Hiking tour to Long Sheng's spectacular Dragon Spine Rice Terraces. Over the centuries, the Zhuang and Yao minorities have sculpted 2,000 feet peaks with remarkable step-like terraces for growing rice in the hilly areas of Southwest China. This has created landscapes of immense beauty. We will hike between the villages following tiny stone paths carved out by the local people where life has remained unchanged for thousands of years. This journey is rarely included in a conventional itinerary.

Day 9 - Sept 17th: Guilin to Chongqing – Yangtze Cruise
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

  • Morning (after breakfast) and Afternoon you will see one of China's most amazing natural landscapes. We take a scenic ride thru the countryside to reach the pier where we embark on a 40 mile local river boat tour through the picturesque limestone pinnacles own the winding Li River. It has been written by philosophers to be the best scenery under heaven. Its misty limestone peaks rise from the earth as trees in a forest, and surround the city like mountains floating on air. We conclude this trip in the town of Yangshuo a town of haunting beauty.
  • Late Afternoon: Board domestic flight from Guilin to Chongqing for evening boarding of your luxurious cruise ship for the 3-night cruise down the Yangtze River. The Yangtze River originates on the Tibetan Plateau and traverses a distance of 3900 miles before flowing into the East China Sea, at Shanghai. It is the third longest river in the world, after the Amazon and the Nile. With over 700 tributaries, the Yangtze River has been the lifeline for China for millennia.

Day 10 - Sept 18th: Yangtze Cruise
Victoria Cruises: Victoria Katarina

  • From your private balcony, you watch the great Yangtze flow lazily to the east. Your ship docks at Shibaozhai (Stone Treasure Stronghold), a rural river town, for an included shore excursion to the 400-year-old, 12-story wooden pagoda, known as the Shibaozhai Temple. This colorful structure, built without nails, hugs one side of the Jade Seal Hill.
  • Its tall yellow entrance gate is decorated with lions and dragons and etched with an inscription inviting the visitors to climb the ladder and ascend into a "Little Fairyland".
  • Your cruise continues in the afternoon and enters 1st of 3, the Qutang Gorge, the shortest, narrowest and probably the most fascinating of the three, noted for its fantastic scenery resembling an elegant Chinese painted scroll.
  • Dinner tonight is Captain's welcome banquet.

Day 11 - Sept 19th: Yangtze Cruise

  • Another day of incredible views awaits you upon entering the #2, Wu Gorge. The softly layered peaks form a surreal backdrop as the ship courses through the rugged canyons. So sheer are the cliffs that it is said the sun rarely penetrates. Wu Gorge, celebrated for its twelve misty peaks soaring above, has been the inspiration of Chinese painters and poets throughout the centuries. The most famous is Goddess Peak, which resembles the figure of a maiden kneeling in front of a pillar. She is believed to be the embodiment of Yao Ji, the 23rd daughter of the Queen Mother of the West. Yao Ji, accompanied by 11 fairy handmaidens, was sent to oversee the Jade Pool of the Western Heaven, and end up staying there to protect the boats from the dangerous rapids. These 12 maidens became the 12 sentinel peaks of Wu Gorge.
  • We disembark to a peapod boat for a trip up the crystal-clear Shennong Stream to experience the excitement and awe of bygone days of river travel in China. See the ruins of the ancient plank road along the cliff face as well as the coffins of the Ba people suspended from the cliffs above. The contrasting heights of these gorges and the narrowness of the river make this area one of the most dramatic scenes in the world.
  • Tonight dinner features local cuisine and enjoy onboard entertainment.

Day 12 - Sept 20th: Yangtze Cruise - Three Gorges Dam – Shanghai

  • Enter the 3rd and spectacular Xiling Gorge. Choose your vantage point as the ship transits the five stage shiplocks, the largest shiplock in the world. The ship makes a brief stop at Sandouping, the site of modern China's most ambitious engineering project – the construction of the Three Gorges Dam and Hydroelectric Power Plant. View the current phase of this 17 year project. When completed, the dam will be 610 feet high and over a mile wide. The hydro electrical power plant will be driven by the world's largest turbines and have the generating capacity of 18 nuclear power plants. A reservoir 372 miles long will be created, with the end result of displacing 1.5 million people, submerging 1000s of their towns and villages and wiping out numerous archaeological sites. Whole cities have been relocated, precious topsoil brought to higher elevations and centuries-old lifestyles altered forever.
  • The cruise disembarks at Yichang, the terminus of our Yangtze cruise, we board a flight to Shanghai, China's vibrant financial and artistic center. Shanghai, literally means "above the sea", is China's largest and most dynamic city, with a population of 18 million. In the 13th century it became a minor county seat and so it remained until the mid-19th century when British commercial ambitions led to war with China. The ensuing Treaty of Nanking allowed the British to trade freely from certain ports including Shanghai. The city soon became an outpost of glamour, high living, and ultimately decadence. In the 1930s, Shanghai is renowned as "the Pearl of the East". Upon arrival, transfer to our hotel and enjoy the evening at leisure.

Day 13 - Sept 21st: Shanghai
Hotel: Shanghai Marriott Hotel City Centre

In 1949, the communist took over and Shanghai was stripped of its grandeur. In 1990, the Pudong area across the river from the Bund was declared as a special economic zone, and a revival started for the city.

  • Morning: Today we take you to futurist Pudong New Developing Area. Transformed from once fertile farmland, this new area is rapidly becoming the symbol of modern China with its clusters of shinning metal and glass skyscrapers of world class hotels, international financial institutions, and commercial centers towered above the Huangpu River. We visit the 88th floor of the Jinmao Tower, the third tallest building in China. At 1,380 feet, it is the world's fifth tallest building, as well as home to the world's tallest hotel - the Grand Hyatt Shanghai. From its lofty platform, you enjoy a stunning view of Shanghai.
  • Afternoon: Tour the People's Square and the famed Shanghai Museum, an unique and inspiring piece of architecture, home to more than 120,000 cultural relics of ancient China, including a priceless collection of jade, bronze, ceramics, paintings, furniture, etc.
  • Evening: Dinner, and then we attend a performance of the world famous and unforgettable of the Shanghai Acrobats.
  • Night: We go to the Xin Tian Di for a leisurely night out. Literally meaning "New Heaven Earth", it is Shanghai's trendiest destination. This 2-block complex of high-end restaurants (some of Shanghai's best), bars, shops, and entertainment facilities, mostly lodged in refurbished traditional Shanghainese shikumen (stone-frame) housing, is the first phase of the Taiping Qiao Project, an urban renewal project. Busloads of domestic Chinese tourists traipse through in the evenings, Western visitors feel like they've never left home, and hip young Shanghainese flood here to enjoy the good life they feel they're due.

Day 14 - Sept 22nd: Shanghai (Free day or Complimentary day tour to Suzhou & Tongli)

  • Option 1: Enjoy a full day at leisure to explore this magnificent city on your own. You will be provided with a specially prepared orientation list. We can stroll through the Old Shanghai bazaar, shop at Nanjing Road's emporiums, or visit any of the many museums in the city.
  • Option 2: Take a luxury Motor Coach to the City of Suzhou; China’s artistic center for over 1,000 years. A city of Gardens, traditional silk manufacturing and canals. Tongli is a typical water village.

Day 15 - Sept 23rd: Journey Home

Depart Shanghai as you board the Maglev, the world's fastest train using magnetic levitation, for your trip to the Pudong International Airport. The Maglev travels at a speed of 300 mph and covers the 20 mile distance in less than 8 minutes!

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