Experience the ancient capitals of China, regarded as the cradles of Chinese civilization. You'll also explore the longest river in Asia on a luxurious river cruise which takes you to one of the world's largest dams. This tour is a great balance of history, breathtaking views, and insight into Chinese culture.

Highlights

  • Visit four ancient capitals: Beijing, Zhengzhou, Luoyang, Xian
  • Stop at the Longmen Grottoes in Luoyang
  • Take a 5-star Yangtze River Cruise
  • Visit Zhujiajiao Water Town

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrival in Beijing Beijing
Day 2 Beijing City Tour: Famous Historical Sites Beijing
Day 3 Beijing City Tour: Architectural Highlights Beijing
Day 4 Beijing to Zhengzhou, China's Ancient Capital Zhengzhou
Day 5 Zhengzhou to Shaolin Temple to Luoyang Luoyang
Day 6 Luoyang to Xian, Stopping at Longmen Grottoes Xi'an
Day 7 Xian to Chongqing, Yangtze River Cruise (Day 1)  
Day 8 Yangtze River Cruise (Day 2)  
Day 9 Yangtze River Cruise (Day 3)  
Day 10 Yichang to Shanghai Shanghai
Day 11 Shanghai City Tour Shanghai
Day 12 Zhujiajiao Water Town Shanghai
Day 13 Farewell from Shanghai!  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival in Beijing

The Forbidden City in Beijing
The Forbidden City in Beijing

Arrive in Beijing by international flight, our car will pick us up and transfer to our hotel. In the evening we take a visit to Wangfujing Street.

Day 2: Beijing City Tour: Famous Historical Sites

Tiananmen Square
Tiananmen Square

Your first stop is the Summer Palace which was used as the royal family’s "Palace to avoid the heat" in summer. Then drive to visit the impressive Tiananmen Square where most of the national ceremonies are held. From the square, you can walk to the splendid Forbidden City.

Arriving at the largest imperial palace, people are often impressed by the high red walls and a large number of buildings with golden roofs. You can take a famous Rickshaw Hutong Tour & Local Family Visit. Hutongs are traditional alleyways that made up Beijing’s old city planning. The rickshaw ride takes you on an immersive tour to get a wonderful glimpse into yesterday’s world, the old way of life and traditional Beijing culture, and see the dramatic changes the city has undergone.

Day 3: Beijing City Tour: Architectural Highlights

Mutianyu Great Wall
Mutianyu Great Wall

Today, you'll first visit the fascinating Mutianyu Great Wall. You can take the cable car up and then walk down. The wall was constructed from the 7th century onward to protect the Chinese empire from invaders; it remains an unmissable part of the overall China experience. Then, you'll drive to Olympic Park to see the modern masterpiece — Bird Nest & Water Cube — from the outside. At night, you can then end the day with the Kong Fu Show at the red theater.

Day 4: Beijing to Zhengzhou, China's Ancient Capital

Temple of Heaven
Temple of Heaven

First, you'll visit the Temple of Heaven, where the emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties worshipped the Gods of Heaven. From there, head to the Pearl Market where you’ll find nearly all the things you want to buy. Then you'll transfer to station for the bullet train to Zhengzhou.

Arriving in Zhengzhou, the capital city of Henan Province, you'll find yourself in the geographical center of China. It is renowned as one of the eight historical capitals: 3600 years ago, Zhengzhou was the capital of the Shang Dynasty (1766 BC - 1050 BC). During the following dynasties, it served as the capital four times. It is considered to be the cradle of China's civilization.

Day 5: Zhengzhou to Shaolin Temple to Luoyang

Shaolin Temple
Shaolin Temple

In the morning, visit the Henan Museum built in 1927, one of the oldest and largest museums in China, before heading to the Shaolin Monastery. Known for countless Kung Fu films, the Shaolin Temple was founded in the 5th century and is a Chan Buddhist temple that has long been famous for its association with Chinese martial arts and particularly with Shaolin Kung Fu. If time permits, you can watch the Shaolin Kongfu performance.

You can also stop at the Pagoda Forest, another highlight and graveyard of the Shaolin Temple. Housing the tombs of eminent monks from different historical periods, it is the largest pagoda forest in China. 

Afterward, it's a two-hour drive to Luoyang which lies in the west of Henan Province. Luoyang served as the center of politics, economy, and culture in China for 1,500 years and was the capital city since the Xia Dynasty (2070–1600 BC) — 105 emperors of 13 dynasties set their capitals in Luoyang during China’s history. 

Day 6: Luoyang to Xian, Stopping at Longmen Grottoes

Longmen Grottoes
Longmen Grottoes

Visit Longmen Grottoes, one of China’s four famous ancient grottoes — the Longmen Grottoes, the Mogao Grottoes, the Yungang Grottoes, and the Maijishan Grottoes. Longmen Grottoes was built in the 5th century and took 400 years to complete. It has the largest number of statues among the four and has collections of ancient Chinese art of calligraphy. UNESCO states that the site is "an outstanding manifestation of human artistic creativity" and includes the Longmen Grottoes on its World Heritage List.

You'll then take the bullet train to Xian, home of the Terracotta Warriors and a 'living history museum' full of historical and cultural relics. You can also visit the Muslim Quarter; there are around ten mosques in the area, among which the Great Mosque is the most famous and popular.

Day 7: Xian to Chongqing, Yangtze River Cruise (Day 1)

Terracotta Warriors
Terracotta Warriors

Today, drive one hour to the suburbs to marvel at the powerful Qin Terracotta Warriors. It is a collection of terracotta sculptures depicting the armies of Qin Shi Huang, the first Emperor of China. It is a form of funerary art buried with the emperor in 210–209 BCE for the purpose of protecting the emperor in his afterlife. The figures vary in height according to their roles (the tallest being the generals), as well as warriors, chariots, and horses.

Then, you'll drive back to the city and visit South Gate Old City Wall, which is the most complete city wall that has survived in China, as well being one of the largest ancient military defensive systems in the world.

In the evening, transfer to the airport and take the flight to Chongqing. Meeting with your guide and driver, you'll be taken to the Yangtze River Cruise Ship. En route, you will have a view of the Chongqing Hongya Cave located on the bank of Yangtze River.

Day 8: Yangtze River Cruise (Day 2)

Yangtze River Cruise
Yangtze River Cruise

Enjoy the cruise on a luxurious boat. You'll have a buffet breakfast and optional shore excursions to choose from, such as the Fengdu Ghost City tour or the Shibao Village tour.

Day 9: Yangtze River Cruise (Day 3)

Little Three Gorges
Little Three Gorges

Today, you can visit the White Emperor City, pass through the Qutang and Wu Gorge, and visit Shennv Stream. At the end of the day, enjoy a farewell party on the boat.

Day 10: Yichang to Shanghai

Three Gorges Dam
Three Gorges Dam

Today, you'll experience one of the largest dams in the world — the Three Gorges hydroelectric dam that spans across the Yangtze River near the of Sandouping. Arriving at the Yichang port, your guide and driver will pick you up and transfer you in time for your flight to Shanghai.

Day 11: Shanghai City Tour

Yu Garden
Yu Garden

Today, you'll first visit Yu Garden before exploring the nearby markets. In Yuyuan, you can see the sophisticated design and fine layout of pavilions, halls, rockeries, ponds, and cloisters. Then, visit the Shanghai Museum which specializes in ancient artworks of China, especially bronze ware, chinaware, calligraphies, and paintings.

Afterward, take a walking tour of Nanjing Road and The Bund to enjoy the modern view of Shanghai. In the evening, take an elevator up to the TV Tower for an amazing view over Shanghai.

Day 12: Zhujiajiao Water Town

Shanghai Zhujiajiao town
Shanghai Zhujiajiao town

Visit the beautiful Water Town of Zhujiajiao by boat before driving back to Shanghai and Tianzifang, a historical living quarter that has evolved into a modern leisure area with interesting coffee shops. You can stop by the silk factory before transferring back to your hotel. In the evening, you can enjoy an acrobatic show, one of the most popular forms of entertainment in Shanghai.

Day 13: Farewell from Shanghai!

The Bund
The Bund

You'll have some free time in the morning before being transferred to the airport for your departure flight.

Alice
Written by Alice Fu, updated Mar 18, 2019