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Panda and Yangtze cruise

Beijing - Xi'an - Chengdu - Chongqing - Yangtze River cruise - Yichang - Suzhou - Shanghai

Chengdu giant pandas

Guaranteed departure dates with minimum of 2 passengers

A group tour combining the highlights of any tour to China, with a chance to see the country's famous giant pandas in Chengdu and take a leisurely cruise on the Yangtze River through the imposing Three Gorges. Optional extension to Hong Kong.

A select group tour based on top city 4- and 5-star hotels and 5-star Yangtze cruise boat, with most meals included and with cultural evening shows. All cabins on the boat have private balconies.

Hotels awarded TripAdvisor's Certificate of Excellence.

Day 1  Depart London Heathrow or regional airports.

Day 2  Arrive Beijing. Met on arrival and transfer to the Holiday Inn Express Dongzhimen, popular with westerners, or similar. Rest of the day free.

Day 3  Start the day with a visit to Tiananmen Square, followed by the Forbidden City - the complex of buildings in the heart of Beijing that was the centre of power for China's rulers for over 400 years. Explore both the grand halls and some of the smaller rooms and courtyards that housed the imperial family. Then visit the imposing Temple of Heaven where emperors prayed for good harvests. Also visit a shop selling freshwater pearls. In the evening enjoy the warm atmosphere of a welcome dinner featuring that delicious local delicacy Peking duck. (B, L, D)

Day 4  Full day excursion to the Great Wall at Mutianyu, about 1.5 hours drive north of Beijing. The wall here is not so busy at some other sections and is very scenic as its winds its way down the mountainside. Includes cable car up to the wall. Walk along part of the wall and explore the many fascinating aspects of this iconic symbol of China's past. En route to the wall pass the 2008 Olympic stadium, known as the 'Bird's Nest' and the 'Water Cube' - the national aquatic centre. Also visit a workshop carving items from jade, a stone of special significance to the Chinese. After dinner enjoy a colourful and energetic kung fu show displaying martial arts. (B, L, D)

Day 5  Visit to the beautiful gardens and pavilions of the Summer Palace on the outskirts of Beijing, where emperors relaxed away from the summer heat of the capital, before transfer to railway station for high-speed 'bullet train' to Xi'an, capital of China for many centuries. Transfer to the 4-star Somerset Xindicheng Xi'an Hotel or similar. (B, L)

Day 6  Full day excursion to the Terracotta Army, created by China's first emperor over 2,000 years ago to guard his tomb for eternity. Return to Xi'an city to see the Grand Mosque and the atmospheric streets of the surrounding Muslim Quarter, originally settled by Arab and Persian traders over 1,000 years ago. Also visit a workshop creating replica warriors using traditional techniques. Enjoy a 'Tang Dynasty' music and dance show in the evening evoking the sights and sounds of old China, together with a delicious speciality dumpling dinner. (B, L, D)

Day 7  Transfer to airport for early flight to Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province. Excursion to Leshan to view the imposing Giant Buddha at Leshan, one of the world's largest Buddha statues carved from a cliff overlooking the Min River in the 8th century AD, a feat that took 90 years to complete. Return to Chengdu to stay at the 4-star Yinhe Dynasty Hotel or similar. (B, L)

Day 8  Excursion to the Panda Research Base on the outskirts of Chengdu dedicated to conserving this endangered species where many pandas are kept in semi-naturalistic surroundings and which runs a successful breeding programme. After lunch, transfer to railway station to join your high-speed train to whisk you through the countryside on the two-hour journey to Chongqing. Transfer to your 5-star Yangtze cruise boat Victoria Jenna from American Victoria Cruises for departure later than evening. (B, L)

Day 9 to 10   Yangtze River cruise downstream through the dramatic and beautiful Three Gorges, including shore excursion to Shibaozhai and a trip in small boats through the narrower gorges of the Goddess Stream, one of the Yangtze's tributaries. (B, L, D)

Day 11  Yangtze River cruise, including shore excursion to the impressive ship elevator at the Three Gorges Dam. Arrive Maoping dock and transfer to Yichang around lunchtime. Transfer to airport for flight to Shanghai, the economic powerhouse of modern China. Met on arrival and transfer to 5-star Sunrise on the Bund Hotel or similar. (B)

Day 12  Full day city sightseeing tour of Shanghai, to include the Yu Garden - a traditional house and garden in old China town district; the famous Bund or waterfront with its European-style former banks and trading houses; and the Shanghai Museum with its rich collection of art and antiques. Then take a boat trip on the Huangpu River that flows through Shanghai, giving you the best view of the city's modern striking skyline. (B, L)

Day 13  Travel to the nearby city of Suzhou, famous for its silk industry and the many classic Chinese gardens created by cultured officials and merchants. Visit one of the best gardens: the Garden of the Master of the Nets, before visiting the silk spinning factory to discover the processes of ancient and modern silk production. End your visit by taking a short boat trip on Suzhou's picturesque canals. Return to Shanghai. (B, L)

Day 14  Transfer to airport for flights back to UK, arriving later the same day. (B)

EXTENSION TO HONG KONG - please ask for prices

Day 14  Transfer to airport for flight to Hong Kong and transfer to Eaton Hotel (4 star) or Harbour Grand Kowloon Hotel (5 star) in Kowloon. (B, L)

Day 15  Half day tour of Hong Kong Island, to include Victoria Peak and Aberdeen Harbour. Afternoon free. (B)

Day 16  Transfer to airport for flight back to UK, arriving later the same day or early the following morning depending on airline schedules. (B)


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