Take in the highlights of Beijing, Xi'an, and Shanghai, including the Forbidden City, the Terra-Cotta Warriors, and Yu Yuan Gardens, and venture to Lhasa, set high on a Himalayan plateau for an insider's look at Tibet's Buddhist culture.

Starting at: $6,987 * Includes airfare, taxes & all fees Make a Reservation Ask Us A Question or Call 855-330-1542
 The Potala Palace in Lhasa  A panoramic view of the Forbidden City  The breathtaking gorges of the Yangtze River  Prayer flags in Tibet  Potala Palace, Lhasa  Prayer wheels at Lhasa's Potala Palace  Monks amid the mountain landscape of Tibet  Young Tibetan monks  Beijing's Forbidden City   The Great Wall of China  The Terra-Cotta Warriors of Xi'an  Detail of the Dazu Rock Carvings, a World Heritage site  China's Yangtze River  The renowned Shanghai Museum  Pavilion in the Yu Yuan gardens of Shanghai  Yu Yuan (gardens) of Shanghai

Classic China and Tibet

Featuring a Yangtze River Cruise

19 days from $6,987 | includes airfare, taxes and all fees

Take in the highlights of Beijing, Xi'an, and Shanghai, including the Forbidden City, the Terra-Cotta Warriors, and Yu Yuan Gardens, and venture to Lhasa, set high on a Himalayan plateau for an insider's look at Tibet's Buddhist culture.

or Call 855-330-1542

Tour Details

TOUR BROCHURE

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WHAT OUR TRAVELERS SAY

Best quality and attention to detail at a great price! 

- Dick S.

I met so many interesting people on this tour. We bonded exceptionally well with each other and with the study leader and tour director. I will certainly use Smithsonian in the future. 

- Mary Jeanne C.

This trip was so much better than our expectations (and they were high). My husband hesitates traveling abroad, but we both were totally captivated. Every night on tour, we celebrated the day!

- Christina T.

If you want to learn about the history, culture, and art of China and Tibet, I highly recommend this tour!

- Richard T.

Amazing journey! The quality of our expert and guide were unparalleled in our experience!

- Kathleen S.

This was our first organized tour, and we were a bit wary of how it would work. Our wariness was unwarranted. As the tour went on, we were happier and happier with our decision. We now fear that no future tour will measure up to this one.

- Jim S.

JOURNEYS DISPATCHES

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SPECIAL VALUE

This tour is specially designed for a small group of 16 to 24 Smithsonian travelers and offers outstanding travel value. Prices include airfare, airline taxes, fuel surcharges, and departure fees.

Overview

Immerse yourself in the cultural landscapes of China and Tibet! Our comprehensive journey features highlights of Beijing, Xi’an, and Shanghai, plus a Yangtze River cruise. You’ll also travel to the Himalayas for an insider’s look at Tibet’s Buddhist culture.

Highlights Include

  • Beijing: Explore legendary sites such as the Forbidden City, the Temple of Heaven, and the Great Wall—all World Heritage sites. You’ll also view the collections of the National Museum of China and take a rickshaw ride through Beijing’s hutongs, or old neighborhoods.
  • Xi’an: Witness the extraordinary Terra-Cotta Warriors and walk along the city’s ancient walls. Explore the treasures of the impressive history museum, and, at the Great Mosque, reflect on the eastern terminus of the Silk Road.
  • Lhasa, Tibet: See evidence of traditional Buddhism at the 17th-century Potala Palace (a World Heritage site), the vast Sera Monastery, and at Jokhang, Tibet’s holiest temple. You’ll also enjoy a specially arranged meeting with a Tibetan family in their home and visit Norbulingka.
  • Chongqing: Stroll through the local zoo, home to beloved pandas, and go beyond the city to the ancient Dazu Rock Carvings, a World Heritage site located nearby.
  • Yangtze River Cruise: Gaze upon panoramic views showcasing spectacular gorges that evoke scenes from ancient Chinese scroll paintings during a three-night cruise on the legendary Yangtze, prized for its haunting natural beauty. Plus, tour the immense Three Gorges Dam Project, one of the largest feats of modern engineering worldwide.
  • Shanghai: Discover the treasures of dynamic Shanghai during visits to the Shanghai Museum, with its renowned art collections, and the peaceful gardens of Yu Yuan. 

Best quality and attention to detail at a great price! 

- Dick S.

I met so many interesting people on this tour. We bonded exceptionally well with each other and with the study leader and tour director. I will certainly use Smithsonian in the future. 

- Mary Jeanne C.

This trip was so much better than our expectations (and they were high). My husband hesitates traveling abroad, but we both were totally captivated. Every night on tour, we celebrated the day!

- Christina T.

If you want to learn about the history, culture, and art of China and Tibet, I highly recommend this tour!

- Richard T.

Amazing journey! The quality of our expert and guide were unparalleled in our experience!

- Kathleen S.

This was our first organized tour, and we were a bit wary of how it would work. Our wariness was unwarranted. As the tour went on, we were happier and happier with our decision. We now fear that no future tour will measure up to this one.

- Jim S.

To see itinerary, please click on an option below.

Itinerary

Day 1 — Depart the U.S. for Beijing, China

Day 2 — Beijing

Upon arrival, transfer to your hotel. After time to relax, embark on a brief walking tour. Dinner tonight is on your own.

Days 3–5 — Beijing and the Great Wall

Begin your discovery of this 2,000-year-old city at Tiananmen Square, the symbolic heart of China. Explore the courtyards, halls, and passageways of the Forbidden City (a World Heritage site) where emperors lived and ruled. Tonight, savor a traditional Peking duck dinner. In the morning take a rickshaw ride through Beijing’s hutongs, or old neighborhoods, then set out for the enigmatic Great Wall (a World Heritage site). At Mutianyu, take a cable car up to the partially reconstructed ramparts and walk along this seemingly endless fortification. Your last day in Beijing tour the splendid Temple of Heaven (a World Heritage site) where emperors lived and ruled, followed by a visit to the National Museum of China, the country’s grand repository of its cultural artifacts and history. (3B,2L,2D)

Days 6–8 — Xi’an

Fly to Xi’an, the capital city of some of the most significant dynasties in Chinese history and the eastern terminus of the Silk Road. Upon arrival visit the Yangling Mausoleum, a Han Dynasty tomb dating to A.D. 153. After lunch, tour Xi’an’s impressive nine-mile city wall and the Great Mosque of Xi’an. Tonight enjoy a special dumpling dinner. The next morning visit the revered Small Wild Goose Pagoda (c. A.D. 652), a former center of Buddhist teaching. Devote the afternoon to the extraordinary Terra-Cotta Warriors, more than 7,000 life-sized soldiers created to guard China’s first emperor in the afterlife. Get a panoramic view of these individualized figures arrayed in military formation. The entire complex is now protected as a World Heritage site. On your last day in Xi’an, tour the Shanxi Provincial History Museum. After lunch at a local restaurant, visit a typical village where you’ll see the agrarian lifestyle up close.(3B,3L,2D)

Days 9–11 — Lhasa, Tibet

Fly this morning to Lhasa, Tibet’s capital city located on a Himalayan plateau at 12,000 feet. Stop to meet with a Tibetan family in their home and spend the remainder of the day acclimating to the high altitude. Opened to foreigners only since 1984, Tibet is a profoundly spiritual place where Buddhism has infused all aspects of life for 13 centuries. The next day visit Jokhang, Tibet’s holiest temple dating to 647, as well as the summer palace of the Dalai Lamas at Norbulinka. Enjoy dinner at a local restaurant. Your final day provides more perspective on Tibet’s ancient Buddhist culture by a visit to immense 17th-century Potala Palace which features 200,000 Buddha images and 1,000 rooms, some of which you’ll explore. You’ll also visit Sera Monastery, a vast complex devoted to Buddhist scholarship and teachings. (3B,3L,3D)

Day 12 — Chongqing

Fly to Chongqing, a bustling port city on the Yangtze River. Upon arrival, tour Chongqing’s zoo with its beloved pandas. Dinner tonight is at your hotel. (B,L,D)

Day 13 — Dazu, China and the Yangtze River

Today’s excursion features the Dazu Rock Carvings dating back more than a millennium and now a World Heritage site. These cliffside carvings reflect Buddhist teachings, tenets of Confucianism, and local folklore. Tonight board your river ship and set sail downstream. (B,L,D)

Days 14-15 — The Yangtze River

Prized for its haunting natural beauty, the 3,600-mile long Yangtze is one of the world’s longest and busiest rivers. This afternoon, visit either the “ghost city” of Fengdu or the Red Pagoda in Shibaozhai, built in 1816 and considered a gem of Chinese architecture. The next day pass through narrow Qutang Gorge then board a small sampan for a cruise through the stunning Small Three Gorges which invoke scenes from ancient Chinese scroll paintings. Back aboard your ship this afternoon enter tranquil Wu Gorge, considered the most beautiful of the Three Gorges. Lastly, cruise 42-mile Xiling Gorge. (2B,2L,2D)

Day 16 — Three Gorges Dam and Shanghai

During your final morning on the Yangtze, tour the immense Three Gorges Dam Project, one of the largest feats of modern engineering in the world. Continue to Yichang, where you’ll disembark and fly to Shanghai, China’s dazzling commercial capital. (B,L)

Days 17-18 — Shanghai

Begin your day with a walking tour of the Xin Tian Di shopping and entertainment district. Continue to peaceful Yu Yuan, a traditional Chinese garden and gathering place. Devote the afternoon to exploring the priceless collections of ancient Chinese bronzes, ceramics, and calligraphy at the acclaimed Shanghai Museum. Tonight, attend a lively Chinese acrobatics show. The next morning walk along the Bund, Shanghai’s broad and bustling riverfront boulevard, once the center of European influence in the Far East. During an afternoon at leisure, experience more of Shanghai’s vitality then toast your adventure at a farewell dinner. (2B,1L,1D)

Day 19 — Depart for the U.S.

Depart Shanghai for your return flight to the U.S. (B)