Fly to Shanghai, China’s largest city, then transfer to your hotel.* See the modern financial district juxtaposed with the older sections of the city.
This morning, tour Old Shanghai and travel along the elegant Bund, stopping to admire some of its historic buildings and city views. After lunch in a local restaurant tour the Shanghai Museum. Dine in a local restaurant before seeing the world-famous Shanghai Acrobatic Troupe show from the best seats in the house. (B, L, D)
Day 3Shanghai & Wuhan
After breakfast, prepare for your flight to Wuhan. Once there, visit the Hubei Provincial Museum, where you hear the music of ancient bronze bells, then transfer to your ship, docked close to Wuhan’s historic waterfront. You are welcomed aboard with a Western meal, and set sail this evening. (B, L, D)
Today, visit an elementary school sponsored by Viking River Cruises. You are greeted and entertained by the children, then return to your ship. For the next 150 miles, you travel the most scenic stretch of the Yangtze through a spectacular series of limestone ridges known as the Three Gorges. (B, L, D)
Day 5Three Gorges & Three Gorges Dam
This morning, cruise through Xiling Gorge, the longest of the Three Gorges. After lunch, disembark for a tour of the Three Gorges Dam where you learn about this immense engineering masterpiece and what it means for the Chinese people and the Yangtze. Return to your ship and sail through the five-stage locks of the Three Gorges Dam. Dock overnight at Badong. (B, L, D)
Day 6Three Gorges & Lesser Three Gorges
During breakfast, cruise through Wu (Witches) Gorge, renowned for its magnificent scenery. Then, board a smaller boat for an excursion through the Lesser Three Gorges. Along the way, see fascinating sites including the hanging coffins of the Ba people and the ancient plank road carved into the cliffside. Return aboard for lunch, then spend the afternoon sailing through Qutang Gorge, the shortest, narrowest and most spectacular of the three large gorges. Dinner aboard. (B, L, D)
This morning, visit Shibaozhai Temple, a 12-story pavilion built in 1650. Tour the pavilion and temple before returning aboard for lunch. Cruise along the Yangtze through the night. (B, L, D)
Day 8Chongqing & Xian
After breakfast, disembark and enjoy a brief tour of Chongqing, the largest city in western China and an important inland port. Visit the Chongqing Zoo to see the giant pandas and other exotic species. After lunch in a local restaurant, fly to Xian, key city of the Tang Dynasty. From 618 to 907 A.D., this dynasty presided over one of China’s most glorious cultural periods, spreading its influence throughout Asia into Europe and Africa. This evening have dinner and relax at your hotel. (B, L, D)
In the morning, tour the mausoleum where Emperor Qin Shi Huang was laid to rest over 2,000 years ago. See the thousands of life-sized terra cotta warriors, archers, infantrymen and horses that were buried with him; walkways provide a bird’s-eye view of the entire necropolis where the Terra Cotta Army was discovered in the 1970s. Each man and horse is molded with its own distinctive features. After lunch, you have free time to further explore Xian. This evening, you may choose to dine surrounded by the song and dance of this colorful era. (B, L, D)
Day 10Xian & Beijing
Today, fly to Beijing, China’s imperial capital, whose rich history dates back more than 3,000 years. Check in to your hotel and dine there; free time this evening. (B, L, D)
After breakfast, travel to nearby Badaling Hills. There, you behold one of the most impressive and best-preserved sections of the Great Wall of China—a 4,000-mile-long series of sandstone and earthwork fortifications built and maintained between the 5th century B.C. and the 16th century A.D. that is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Explore its winding pathways and marvel at the panoramic views from its ramparts.
After a lunch of local specialties, walk along the Sacred Way, a tree-lined avenue guarded by massive sculptures of elephants, lions and camels leading to the Ming Dynasty tombs. This evening, dine at a local restaurant and relax at your hotel—or, enjoy an optional Peking duck dinner, the region’s famous dish. (B, L, D)
This morning visit the enormous Tiananmen Square, which can accommodate over 1,000,000 people. Then, tour Beijing’s Forbidden City, a UNESCO World Heritage Site; made up of nearly 1,000 buildings, it is the world’s largest surviving palace complex. Walk its grounds among the opulent palaces, pavilions, courtyards and imperial gardens within the 26-foot-high walls.
After lunch in a local restaurant, take some free time to explore Beijing on your own or do some shopping. Or, you may choose to tour the Summer Palace, a 700-acre complex of elegant buildings and gardens (complete with man-made Kunming Lake) frequented by the Imperial Court when they wanted to escape the bustle of Beijing. Enjoy your final dinner this evening, or attend an optional Peking opera, a form of traditional Chinese theater. (B, L, D)
After breakfast, check out of your hotel and proceed to the airport for your return flight.* Or, continue your China journey with an escorted land program that includes 1 night in Guilin and 3 nights in Hong Kong. Spend a relaxing day along Guilin’s scenic Li River, then sightsee and shop in fabulous Hong Kong. (B)