Beijing, Shanghai, Xian, Yangtze River Cruise, & Hubei, Home of Wonders
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Your magical journey to travel to the highlights of China and undiscovered Wuhan (in Hubei, Home of Wonders) begins this afternoon as you depart on your flight to Shanghai, China (via Beijing for 2017 departures).
Arrive in Shanghai.
After crossing the International Date Line you arrive this evening in Shanghai, often described as “Paris of the East”. An intriguing, dynamic city, today’s Shanghai weaves the seaport legacy of its past with impressive new 21st century architecture. Upon arrival, you’ll be greeted at the airport and escorted to your luxury hotel. This evening, your Tour Director hosts a welcome briefing. Courtyard Shanghai Central
Shanghai: The Bund & Yu Yuan Garden.
This morning embark on a guided stroll down the Bund, the bustling and exciting waterfront along the Huangpu River. Continue with a walk amidst the scenic ponds, colorful pavilions and walkways of the 16th century Yu Yuan Garden, a delightful reminder of old Shanghai. Afternoon return to hotel and the balance of the day is at leisure to explore at your own pace. This evening, enjoy a welcome dinner with your group. (B,D)
Shanghai/Chongqing/Embark Yangtze River Cruise.
After breakfast this morning, you’ll transfer to the airport and board a flight to Chongqing, a modern river port with ancient history spanning 3000 years. Upon arrival, you’ll embark your luxurious River Cruiser and settle into your spacious cabin. Set sail tonight on the mighty Yangtze River. Victoria Cruises Premier Ship (B,D)
Yangtze River Cruise.
Sail along the Yangtze River and enjoy your spectacular surroundings. Dock in Shibaozhai, known for its magnificent wooden Pagoda and appropriately named “The Pearl of the Yangtze”. The pagoda was built without nails and is considered one of the gems of Chinese architecture. (Note: Shore excursion is subject to change due to water level.) An additional optional shore excursion to Fengdu’s “Ghost City” is also available. (B,L,D)
Yangtze River Cruise: The Three Gorges.
An unforgettable day begins as you continue sailing through the Three Gorges. Proceed through the first two – Qutang Gorge and Wu Gorge. Qutang Gorge is the shortest (5 miles), narrowest (500 feet), and the grandest of them all. The 25-mile long Wu Gorge is known for its quiet beauty, forest-covered mountains, and cliffs so sheer that the sun barely penetrates the precipices. Then, board a smaller boat for a thrilling side trip through the magnificent gorges of Goddess Stream. Later, enter Xiling Gorge, the longest (41 miles) and the deepest of the Three Gorges. In the evening, sail through the Three Gorges Dam ship locks. An additional optional shore excursion is also available to White Emperor City (river conditions permitting), an ancient city overlooking the western end of Qutang Gorge. (B,L,D)
Disembark Yangtze River Cruise/Three Gorges Dam/Wuhan (Hubei).
This morning, disembark your Victoria Cruises ship and proceed to the Three Gorges Dam, the world’s greatest hydro-power project. You’ll then travel across a vast rural plain nurtured by the Yangtze River en route to Wuhan City. Steeped in thousands of years of history and rich cultural sites, Wuhan is the capital of Hubei, known as the Home of Wonders. You’ll check into your upscale hotel and enjoy an evening at leisure. Shangri-La Hotel Wuhan (B,L)
Wuhan: Life as a Local.
Wuhan is a truly special city for many reasons, including its geographical landscape. Sliced by rivers (notably the mighty Yangtze) and filled with lakes, Wuhan’s residents have been quite innovative in everyday life to harness the interesting landscape through everything from its cuisine to transportation. Today, you are invited to spend a day as a local of Wuhan. To start, you’ll go to the park along the Yangtze to practice Tai Chi with the local people. After, you’ll take the ferry from Hankou to Wuchang, when you’ll be able to see the Dragon-King Temple where local fisherman pray for safety. In Wuchang, you’ll immerse yourself in an exciting local produce market, and the local chefs will teach how to turn what you see (and buy) in the market into delicious Hubei cuisine. (B,D)
Wuhan: Hubei Provincial Museum & East Lake; Yellow Crane Tower.
Wuhan’s central location solidified its key role in Chinese history, with plenty of evidence woven into the fabric of the city. A visit to the Hubei Provincial Museum will walk through the history of this province, and the most exciting artifact is the 2000 year-old Chime Bells musical. Its music will surely touch your heart. Surrounding the Museum is East Lake, one of the oldest public parks in China and a personal favorite of Chairman Mao. A walk around the lake will take you back in time. Later, enjoy an evening at leisure. (B,L)
This morning, fly to Xian, ancient capital of China for eleven dynasties, home of many archaeological treasures, and historic gateway to the old silk trading route.Upon arrival in Xian, the first landmark you will encounter is the ancient city wall, the best preserved of its kind in all of China. Stroll through the lively Muslim Quarter and the bustling Islamic food market. Check into your hotel and enjoy an included dinner this evening. Titan Times Hotel(B,D)
Xian: Terra Cotta Soldiers.
On an included guided excursion visit one of the world’s most amazing archaeological discoveries: a life-size Terra Cotta Army of soldiers and horses guarding the tomb of Emperor Qin Shi. It was unearthed in 1974 after being buried with the first Qin emperor for 22 centuries! Later, visit the earliest and largest four-sided brick tower of the Tang Dynasty, the Great Wild Goose Pagoda. (B,L)
Xian/Beijing: Tiananmen Square & Forbidden City.
After breakfast, fly to Beijing, China’s lively capital and host to the 2008 Summer Olympics. Upon arrival, start your exploration of Beijing with a visit to the vast Tiananmen Square, surrounded by impressive buildings and monuments. It is an excellent spot for people watching! Later, discover with a local expert the Forbidden City, former seat of the emperors throughout the Ming and Qing dynasties. It is a true architectural masterpiece and home to the National Palace Museum. Check into your centrally-located hotel in Downtown Beijing and an enjoy an included dinner this evening. Capital Hotel (B,D)
It is often said that you have not been to China until you’ve climbed the Great Wall. On today’s exhilarating excursion, you’ll venture outside the city to the legendary Great Wall, which extends nearly 4,000 miles. Walk along the Juyong guan Pass and admire the panoramic views. Later, proceed to the Ming Tombs, burial site of 13 emperors of the Ming Dynasty. (B,L)
Today, you’ll visit the Summer Palace, a former royal retreat and now a lovely park that was constructed in the Jin Dynasty (1115-1234). The Summer Palace is the archetypal Chinese garden and is among the most noteworthy and classical gardens in the world. Later, visit the magnificent 15th century Temple of Heaven, where emperors went to worship heaven for good harvests. This evening, savor a special farewell dinner. (B,D)
Following breakfast, transfer to the airport for your return flight to the USA (via Shanghai on 2018 departures). Your memorable journey comes to an end as you arrive back in the U.S. later today. (B)
Your departure flights from the USA and back are on Air China. You are expected to arrive at your gateway airport, Los Angeles (LAX) or New York (JFK), no later than 3 ½ hours before your scheduled departure time.
Please make sure to allow sufficient time for clearing immigration and customs if you are planning a connecting fight. We recommend at least 3 ½ hours. Please note that flight schedules are subject to change without prior notice.
ADVANCE SEAT ASSIGNMENT
Air China does not assign seats in advance. Please note that smarTours is not involved with your seat assignment. It is between you and the airline! Seat assignment can only be arranged upon check-in at the airport.
PASSPORT AND VISA INFORMATION
Travel to China requires a passport valid for at least 6 months after the date of travel. American citizens require visa to enter China. Non U.S. citizens should check with the respective consulates as to the most current visa requirements to all their travel destinations. Passengers traveling to China need to have individual visas stamped in their passports. To obtain an individual visa for China, please follow one of the following:
PLEASE NOTE: An invitation letter addressed to the Chinese Consulate will be e-mailed to you approximately 50 days prior to your departure date. This invitation letter will include the addresses and telephone numbers of the hotels and land operator in China. You will need to print this invitation and present it with your China visa application. When you send us your final payment, please make sure you provide us with your correct e-mail address on your tour registration form. Also please note that visa procedures may change at any time. You should check directly with the consulate, or if using CIBT online at www.cibt.com, for the most up to date instructions before submitting your paperwork. Please remember that it is your responsibility to obtain the necessary travel documents before the trip.
TICKETS AND FINAL DOCUMENTS
Your airline tickets along with final instructions and additional travel tips will be sent to you 10 – 7 days before the scheduled departure of your tour. Please make sure to advise us in case your address changes.
Immunizations are NOT currently required; however, you may wish to consult your personal physician or local public health authorities as to their suggestions.
You may expect temperatures averaging in the 50’s in March and November, 60’s in April, 60’s and 70’s in May, September and October and 80’s in June through August.
The hotels used on this tour have several dining choices from coffee shop to specialty restaurants. Average cost for dinner (excluding drinks) in the coffee shop is about $15-20 per meal per person. Your hotel will accept credit cards for your non-included meals.
CREDIT CARDS AND LOCAL CURRENCY
Hotels and some stores accept major credit cards. However, for “street shopping” you will need local currency or U.S. Dollars. Your hotels will be able to exchange for you cash to local currency. It is recommended that you bring along cash in small denominations.
Each passenger may bring one piece of checked-in luggage (maximum 44 pounds) and one carry-on piece. Carry on must not exceed 18”x10”x8”. We recommend that you do not over-pack and that you take a variety of separates with climate and comfort in mind.