|21 Day China Panorama (2009)|
|Day 1: Depart USA|
Board Air China nonstop flight to Beijing. En route, cross the International Date Line. (IM)
Day 2: Beijing
Arrive in Beijing in the afternoon. Meet your local representative and transfer to your hotel at the heart of Beijing. Your hotel has prime location and is only a few minutes walk to the Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City, and the renowned Wangfujing shopping area. Relax and enjoy the evening in China's historic and vibrant capital city. Beijing Jianguo Garden Hotel
Day 3: Beijing
Tour Beijing's imperial treasures. First, Tian'anmen Square, the largest public square in the world, capable of holding one million people. Stroll across its vast expanse. An assortment of historical buildings, Communist monuments and huge museums, including Chairman Mao's Mausoleum, the Monument to the People's Heroes, and the Great Hall of the People - home of the National People's Congress, flank the Square. Walk through the Gate of Heavenly Peace, under the famed portrait of Chairman Mao, to enter the Forbidden City, a 9,999-room compound, where the 24 emperors of the Ming and the Qing Dynasties ruled the Middle Kingdom for nearly 500 years (1420-1911). Experience the architectural splendor of the palaces, ceremonial courtyards and private quarters. Lunch at a local restaurant. Then tour the idyllic Summer Palace, with its sprawling encampment of temples, pavilions, the marble boat, and the 728-yard Long Corridor. Enjoy a boat ride on Kunming Lake. (B,L,D)
Day 4: Beijing
In the morning, you visit the Temple of Heaven; this remarkable building is considered the supreme achievement of traditional Chinese architecture. During each winter solstice, the Ming and Qing emperors would perform rites and make sacrifices to Heaven praying for good harvest for their empire. The most striking edifice is the "Hall of Prayer of Good Harvests", which according to the emperor's Fengshui masters, is the exact point where heaven and Earth met. Built in 1420, this masterpiece of Ming architecture, features triple eaves, dramatically carved marble balustrades, and gorgeous glazed azure roof that symbolizes the color of heaven. Built without a single nails, this 120-foot-high structure is fixed by four inner pillars represent the seasons, and two sets of 12 columns denote the months and the traditional Chinese division of a day. Later you visit the "Bird's Nest" and Water Cube, the main 2008 Beijing Olympics venues.
Afterwards, you take a scenic drive through the countryside to reach China's most renowned monument - the Great Wall. The 'original' wall was begun in the 5th century BC to keep out foreign invaders. Construction continued for centuries, eventually linking up the walls of the former independent kingdoms. The Great Wall meanders through China's northern mountain ranges from the Yellow Sea to the Gobi Desert - a distance of over 3500 miles! Chairman Mao once said "You haven't walked on the Wall, you haven't been a good Chinese". Today you will have ample time to climb a section of the Great Wall and to get a sense of the enormity of this ancient edifice. In the evening, savor a specially prepared meal of Beijing Duck, cooked to crispy perfection.
Day 5: Beijing - Xian
Join our Culture InSitesT Program and experience the world of Beijing's Hutongs, via rickshaw. This network of courtyard homes and narrow lanes traditionally linked the old city. Tour the maze-like alleyways and neighborhood residences. See the locals as they go about their daily activities. Highlights include visits to a local kindergarten, to the 800-year-old Drum Tower and to a traditional courtyard style home. This unique tour concludes with a meal served at the home of a local family. After lunch transfer to the airport for a flight to Xian, an ancient capital and the historic gateway to the Silk Road. Xian was the capital of the Middle Kingdom for 11 dynasties. In a time when ancient Beijing was just a remote trading post, Xian was the capital of China and one of the world's largest and richest cities, with a population exceeding one million in the 10th century. Meet your local representative and transfer to your hotel. Enjoy your evening at leisure. Xian Titan Times Hotel (B,L,D)
Day 6: Xian
Today's excursion will take you 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. In 1974, a local farmer uncovered the first of three massive earth and timber vaults, while digging a well. 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. A Circle Vision documentary is available on site. After lunch at a local restaurant, see a noodle making demonstration. Later you take a walk through one of Xian's most fascinating areas - the Muslim quarter, to the 7th century Great Mosque. Stand in four beautiful courtyards of ancient trees, ornate arches and stone steles, the Mosque is the center of life for the Muslim community - the descendants of the merchants that ferried the religion into China along the ancient Silk Road. Tour the lovely and unusual area with bustling stalls and enjoy some of the best street food in China. Tang Dynasty (AD 618-907), traditionally regarded as the golden age of China, was a time of patricians and intellectuals, Buddhist monks and Taoist priests, poetry and music, song and dance - a period of peace and exceptional creativity lasting 300 years. This evening, you attend a feast of culinary and cultural delights with a special Dumpling (Dim sum) banquet followed by a fascinating Tang Dynasty stage show. Indulge yourself in this remarkable show and reinvent your China dream with a travel back in time to the world of China's Golden Age, then come back to the present with a greater understanding of this amazing time. (B,L,SD)
Day 7: Xian - Yangtze Cruise
This morning, tour the Wild Goose Pagoda, a Tang Dynasty landmark. This seven-story pagoda was initially constructed in 652 AD to house the Buddhist sutras brought back from India by the monk, Xuan Zang, who later translated them into Chinese. His pilgrimage to India is immortalized in the Chinese classic - The Journey to the West. Then fly to Yichang, in preparation for a memorable Yangtze River - Three Gorges cruise. Board the 5-star M.V. President I. Settle into your cabin and check out the numerous amenities on board. The Yangtze River originates on the Tibetan Plateau and traverses a distance of 3900 miles before flowing into the East China Sea, near 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 and major commercial thoroughfare in China for millennia. The ship will stay in port during the night and will sail early in the morning. M.V. President No. 1 (B,L,D)
Day 8: Yangtze Cruise
From your balcony, you watch the great Yangtze flow lazily to the east.The M. V. President I will make a stop at Sandouping, the site of modern China's most ambitious engineering project - the construction of Three Gorges Dam and its hydroelectric power plant. View the current phase of this 17-year project. When completed in 2009, the dam will be 610 feet high and over a mile wide. The hydroelectrical power plant will be driven by the world's largest turbines and have the generating capacity of 18 nuclear power plants. A reservoir 372-mile 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. Relax as your cruise continues. Choose your vantage point as the ship transits the five-stage shiplock and enters the spectacular Xiling Gorge - the first of the magnificent Three Gorges - for the next 150 miles, the Yangtze forces its way through a spectacular barrier of solid limestone ridges known as the Three Gorges. Attend the Captain's Welcome Banquet in the evening. (B,L,D)
Day 9: Yangtze Cruise
Another day of incredible views awaits you upon entering Wu Gorge. The softly layered peaks form a surreal backdrop as the ship courses through the rugged canyons. Wu Gorge, celebrated for its twelve misty peaks soaring above, has been the inspiration of Chinese painters and poets throughout the centuries. Transfer to the "Peapod" boat for an excursion to the Lesser Three Gorges or to the fabled Shennong Stream, depending on the water level. Notice 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 enjoy a dinner featuring local cuisine and onboard entertainment. (B,L,D)
Day 10: Yangtze Cruise
Your cruise continues into Qutang Gorge, the shortest and narrowest of the Three Gorges. Go out onto the deck to take in the natural beauty. Your boat then docks at Shibaozhai, a rural river town, for a shore excursion to see the 400-year-old, 12-story wooden pagoda, known as the Shibaozhai Temple. This structure, built without nails, was erected in two phases. The lower portion was built into the cliff face while the upper portion was built above the cliff-line. When the Dam is completed, the level of the Yangtze River is expected to reach the lower portion of this pagoda, so a water diversion project is under way to protect this historic landmark. Depending on water level, your cruiser may instead docks at Fengdu - China's "City of Ghosts", where you visit temples and shrines dedicated to the gods of the underworld. This is the place of final judgment in the Yangtze basin. Landmarks in the town bore horrific names - Ghost Torturing Pass, Last Glance at Home Tower, Nothing-to-be-done Bridge etc. Tonight, enjoy a Farewell Banquet and a cultural show onboard. (B,L,D)
Day 11: Chongqing - Hong Kong
Your remarkable Yangtze cruise concludes at the mountain city of Chongqing, China's largest city with a population of over 30 million. Enjoy a rare opportunity to see the Giant Pandas at the Chongqing Zoo. During WWII, Chongqing was China's wartime capital. U.S. General Stillwell was the Commander of the US Forces here. If time permits, you visit the former office and residence of General Joseph Stilwell, now a museum that is a moving testament to Stilwell and "Flying Tigers" and illuminates Chinese/American relations. Situated in China's most populous Sichuan Basin, Chongqing is also home to China's most notable Sichuan cuisine. At lunch, we arrange the special cooking demonstration for you to go inside the kitchen to see how the Chinese "Iron Chef" prepares your Suchuan-style lunch. Up to now at the half way point of this trip, you have toured China's historical capitals and a few traditional cultural centers along the Yangtze Valley. After lunch you board the flight to Hong Kong to see the other side of China with its amazing modernity and cosmopolitan culture. Hong Kong, ranked as world's freest economy since 1970, is China's dynamic financial center and home of the world's busiest port. The ex-British colony is known as the "Pearl of the Orient" and serves as a major gateway to China. After two-hour flight you land at Hong Kong Airport - world's busiest airport that costs more than $20 billion to build. Meet your local representative and transfer to your hotel centrally located in the Kowloon Peninsula's Tsimshatsui. With its unbeatable location, Salisbury Hotel gives you easy access to main business, shopping and entertainment this exciting city has to offer. At night, take a stroll along the famed Nathen Road where thousands of shops open till mid-night. Royal Plaza Hotel Hong Kong (B,L)
Day 12: Hong Kong
After breakfast, begin a half day tour of the city. Visit Victoria Peak, the summit of the Island and home to Hong Kong's elite. Get a panoramic view of the magnificent skyline of the Victoria Harbor, where ferries and pleasure junks glide by. At night, this scene is transformed into a spectacle of lights. Then see where Hong Kong plays and prays as you visit the beach of shrine-dotted Repulse Bay. Also tour the floating village of Aberdeen, before this area is abolished and becomes a distant memory. Thousands of people still live on the junks and sampans in the harbor. Their traditional lifestyle is in sharp contrast to the modern life style of those living in the high-rise communities that hugs the nearby hillsides. Later return to your hotel and enjoy the remainder of the day at leisure. You may enjoy a "high-tea" at the legendary Peninsula Hotel next door or shop until you drop at the seas of shops nearby. Your hotel overlooks Victoria Harbor; across the street are Hong Kong Cultural Center and Star Ferry - There's no better way to acquaint yourself with Hong Kong than to ride the cheapest cruise in China. The century-old green-and-white Star ferries weave between tugs, junks, and ocean-going vessels in a 5-minute harbor crossing to Hong Kong Island. In the evening, you can enjoy the spectacular show of "A Symphony of Lights" from your hotel room or at the Victoria Harbor across the street. The show is awarded the world's Largest Permanent Light and Sound Show by Guinness World Records, a nightly spectacle which combines interactive lights of 33 key buildings on both Hong Kong Island and Kowloon with musical effects to showcase the enchanting night view of the Victoria Harbor. (B)
Day 13: Kong Kong - Optional Macau
Hong Kong is a shopper's Mecca. Take advantage of your hotel's prime location and indulge yourself in a shopping spree at the countless shopping malls right outside your hotel. You may also want to join an optional day excursion to Macau. Literally, take a vacation from your vacation, as you experience the uniqueness of this former Portuguese colony, which is an hour's turbojet ride from Hong Kong. Macau was first settled by Portuguese merchants and Jesuits in the 1500s. The Jesuits were ousted in the 1800s, but the Portuguese remained in control until 1999, when the colony was handed back to China. Often referred to as the "Monte Carlo of the Orient", 24 hour gambling is Macau's major draw, as well as its unique cuisine and its quaint European ambience. Meet your local representative upon arrival. Visit the ruins of St. Paul's Cathedral, once a powerful presence. The crumbling façade is all that remains. Tour the beautifully tiled Largo do Senado, the main public square, an area of fountains, colonnades, and stately Portuguese architecture. Visit the A-Ma Temple, dedicated to the goddess of the sea, and for whom Macau was named. The temple is over 500 years old. After an included lunch, you will have the "chance" to go to the Casino Lisboa, Macau's largest casino. Take the turbojet back to Hong Kong and transfer to your hotel. (B)
Day 14: Canton - Guilin
Wrap up your exciting explorations at Hong Kong, you then travel by train for a 1 ½ hour ride to mainland China. You disembark at Canton, hometown of Cantonese culture and cuisine, for a short city tour before fly to Guilin. Canton, also known as Guangzhou, was the first Chinese city forced to open officially to foreign trade as a result of Opium War in 1860s; it was also earmarked by the post-Mao leader Deng Xiaoping as vanguard to China's modernization and benefited from China's Open Door policy after Cultural Revolution in 1976. You visit Dr. Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall and the avishly decorated Chen Family Temple if time permits. Later you board a 40-minute flight to Guilin to indulge yourself in China's most amazing natural landscapes. Guilin is celebrated for its picturesque karst limestone pinnacles and meandering Li River. An old Chinese saying describes Guilin's landscape as "the best scenery under heaven". Its misty limestone peaks "rise as suddenly from the earth as trees in a forest, and surrounding the city like mountains floating in an imaginary sea". Meet your local representative and transfer to your hotel in the heart of the city. Your hotel is located at the foot of Mount Laoren and surrounded by Osmanthus Lake, which is connected by Guilin's three major rivers to all five lakes in the area. At night, the hotel is lit up and spectacular views are reflected on the Lake Osmanthus. It's a place to relax yourself in the scenery only available on Chinese paintings, and it offers a perfect escapade after two weeks of group travel. Guilin Park Hotel (B,L,D)
Day 15: Guilin - Long Sheng
This part of the country encompasses China's most famous scenic landscapes. Before discovering the best treasures Guilin has to offer, we start an off-the-beaten-path hiking tour to Long Sheng's spectacular Dragon Spine Rice Terraces.
Over the centuries, the Zhuang and Yi minorities have sculpted 2,000 feet peaks with remarkable step-like terraces for growing rice in the hilly areas of Southwest China. This transformation over time has created landscapes of utility as well as immense beauty. In Spring, when the terraces are full of water, they resemble irregular silver ladders; and in autumn, when the rice ripens, the mountains turn into golden waves.
Visit the unique culture of local minorities and their villages where life has remained unchanged for thousands of years! we are able to hike between the villages following tiny stone paths carved out by the local people. This memorable journey is rarely included in the conventional itinerary.
Return to Guilin in the afternoon and tour the Reed Flute Cave, Nature's subterranean wonder filled with stalactites and stalagmites. The grand chamber known as the Crystal Palace, is an awesome spectacle, not to be missed.
Day 16: Li River Cruise - Yangshuo
A beautiful day waits! You take a scenic motor coach ride through the countryside, past lush green fields and rice paddies. Arrive at a local village and embark on a memorable Li River cruise. The 52-mile trip has countless twists and turns. The scenery is reminiscent of classical Chinese landscapes - bamboo groves, sleepy villages, fishermen on bamboo rafts, cormorants, water buffalo, soaring karst pinnacles and mist shrouded peaks... your cruise concludes at the famed Yangshuo, a small town, amidst a haunting and surreal setting.
Upon arrival, check into your hotel and enjoy a free afternoon to explore this fascinating town on your own. You may rent a tuk-tuk to visit local farmers' fields and homes, or take a bicycle to the Moon Hill. Yangshuos landscape of limestone hills, rice fields and lazy rivers is the very image of rural China. Taking a bike through this much-painted landscape provides a great way to experience the dramatic countryside, ancient villages and bustling local markets in a very personal way.
Tonight, you may attend an optional singing & lighting show "Liu Sa Jie" which was directed by Zhang Yimou who also choreographed the opening ceremony of 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Yangshuo Sovereign Hotel (B,L)
Day 17: Suzhou
Take a morning flight to Shanghai, then travel by deluxe motorcoach to the fabled water town of Suzhou. Suzhou is often referred, by the Chinese, as the "Venice of the East". It is a 2,500-year-old town renowned the world over for its traditional gardens, ancient canals and silk production. In 1997 Suzhou was designated an UNESCO World Heritage Site. The construction of the Grand Canal created a means whereby goods from this region could be transported to the Northern capital, Beijing, a distance of over 600 miles. With prosperity came prestige as merchants and artisans plied their trade; elaborate gardens were built. Visit the Garden of the Master of Fishing Nets, and experience all of the elements of a classical Chinese garden. In the afternoon, tour the Silk Spinning Mill, where you will learn how silk is created from the mulberry-munching silkworms to produce thread and fine cloth. Marco Polo once reported that so much precious silk was produced in Suzhou that every citizen was clothed in it. Enjoy the evening at your leisure. Your hotel is centrally located in the quaint old city and surrounded by art studios, silk shops, tea houses and handicraft stores. It's the place where you want to take an evening stroll on the street, enjoy bargain shopping or sip tea at a traditional tea house. Suzhou Nanlin Hotel (B,L,D)
Day 18: Tongli - Shanghai
Today, you travel to Tongli, another unique water village in the region. Reminiscent of scenes from traditional Chinese paintings, it is complete with canals, arched stone bridges, cobbled lanes, and tile-roofed wooden houses. Visit a courtyard mansion to learn about the lavish life style of its residents. Then, learn about traditional Chinese wedding customs at a local folklore museum. Take an exciting ride on a gondola and experience the charm of Tongli's waterways. You will have free time to browse and buy some local specialties along Old Street, which is lined with Ming style homes and storefronts. Later in the afternoon, you travel by motor coach to Shanghai and enjoy your evening at leisure Shanghai Skyway Landis Hotel (B,L,D)
Day 19: Shanghai
Shanghai is China's dynamic financial and artistic center. Instead of visiting gardens and temples again, we take you to some of Shanghai's modern landmarks. In the morning, you take a walk along the Bund, the elegant riverside promenade which symbolized European and foreign influence and affluence in the 1930s. See the ships and barges on the Huangpu River, en route to the sea or going upstream to the interior of China. The modernistic Oriental Pearl TV tower looms in the background redefining the skyline. Then we take you to the futurist Pudong New Developing Area. Transformed from once fertile farmland, this new area is rapidly becoming the symbol of modern China with its world class hotels, international financial institutions, and commercial centers. You also visit to the 88th floor of the Jinmao Tower, the tallest building in China. At 1,380 feet, it is the world's third 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. Later you have a traditional Mongolian BBQ Buffet lunch. In the afternoon, you visit People's Square and tour 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. After dinner, you attend an unforgettable performance of the Shanghai Acrobats. (B,SL,D)
Day 20: Shanghai
Today is a free day to explore this vibrant city on your own. You will be provided with a specially prepared orientation list. You can stroll through the Old Shanghai bazaar, shop at Nanjing Road's emporiums, or enjoy a nostalgic evening performance by the renowned senior citizen's Jazz band at the Peace Hotel. (B)
Day 21: Journey home
After breakfast, board the Maglev, the world's fastest magnetic levitation train, for your trip to the Pudong International Airport. The Maglev travels at a speed of 287mph and will cover the 20 mile distance in less than 8 minutes! * Maglev is available for San Francisco departures only. (B)
|Departures & Fares||Click fare to reserve|
|Departure - Return||San Francisco|
|Contact us if you need a roommate|
|03/28/2009 - 04/17/2009||$950|
|04/04/2009 - 04/24/2009||$950|
|04/11/2009 - 05/01/2009||$950|
|04/18/2009 - 05/08/2009||$950|
|04/25/2009 - 05/15/2009||$950|
|05/02/2009 - 05/22/2009||$950|
|05/09/2009 - 05/29/2009||$950|
|05/16/2009 - 06/05/2009||$950|
|05/23/2009 - 06/12/2009||$950|
|05/30/2009 - 06/19/2009||$950|
|06/06/2009 - 06/26/2009||$950|
|06/13/2009 - 07/03/2009||$950|
|06/20/2009 - 07/10/2009||$950|
|06/27/2009 - 07/17/2009||$950|
|07/04/2009 - 07/24/2009||$950|
|07/11/2009 - 07/31/2009||$950|
|07/18/2009 - 08/07/2009||$950|
|07/25/2009 - 08/14/2009||$950|
|08/01/2009 - 08/21/2009||$950|
|08/15/2009 - 09/04/2009||$950|
|08/29/2009 - 09/18/2009||$950|
|09/05/2009 - 09/25/2009||$950|
|09/12/2009 - 10/02/2009||$950|
|09/19/2009 - 10/09/2009||$950|
|09/26/2009 - 10/16/2009||$950|
|10/03/2009 - 10/23/2009||$950|
|10/10/2009 - 10/30/2009||$950|
|10/17/2009 - 11/06/2009||$950|
|10/24/2009 - 11/13/2009||$950|
|10/31/2009 - 11/20/2009||$950|
|11/07/2009 - 11/27/2009||$950|
*Prices reflect early booking discount of $200 per person on
select dates if you book by Oct. 31, 2008.
$200 deposit is required to
secure a reservation and payable by a credit card or personal
check. It makes no difference on the method of payment as
for the initial deposit. To take advantage of the cash discount
rate, you should pay the balance by personal check or money
order 50 days prior to departure date.
Rates are in U.S. fund, per person, based on double occupancy.
U.S.A. & China air taxes/fees and China visa handling fee
are extra. International air transportation is included except
for Land only package. Land Only Package includes all China
internal flights and transportation except for international
flights and airport/hotel transfers on arrival/departure date.
U.S.A. & China air taxes and fees: SFO: $615, JFK: $655, China Land Only: $195.
China Double Entry Visa handling fee: $150