Imperial China and the Yangtze
Discover China's treasures, including the Forbidden City, the Terra-Cotta Warriors, and Yu Yuan Gardens, on a classic journey through China's Middle Kingdom and a three-day cruise on the Yangtze River.
WHAT OUR TRAVELERS SAY
This tour was fantastic and very enriching. This was the best way to see a country as vast and with such deep history as China.”
China is a tour that is packed with history, historic sites and incredible scenery. Love the trip!!!”
A great trip for the educated and culturally curious!”
Previous Journeys Traveler
- A Tailor-Made Journey to India and Nepal
- The Forbidden City: Official Spaces and Private Quarters
- Journey from Bangkok to Bali: Following the Spirits
- Haydn Seek
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.
From the ancient Terra-Cotta Warriors of Xi’an to modern, bustling Shanghai, explore China in depth on our tour of the Middle Kingdom, featuring many World Heritage sites. In the capital city of Beijing, tour the Forbidden City, the National Museum, and Temple of Heaven, and walk along a secluded section of the Great Wall. You’ll also meet a family in Beijing and feast on a traditional Peking duck dinner. Then fly to the ancient city of Xi’an, located at the eastern terminus of the Silk Road, to see the extraordinary Terra- Cotta Warriors and visit the Great Mosque and a Buddhist temple. Enjoy the breathtaking landscape of the Yangtze River with its many dramatic gorges, and learn about the strong impact of the Three Gorges Dam on modern China during a leisurely three-day cruise. Conclude in the dazzling commercial capital of Shanghai to view the impressive art collections of the renowned Shanghai Museum and meander the peaceful Yu Yuan Gardens
Days 1-2 — Depart the U.S. for Beijing, China
Depart the U.S. for China. Upon arrival the following day in Beijing, transfer to your hotel. After time to relax, meet your tour director for a walking tour of the area surrounding the hotel. Dinner 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 where emperors lived and ruled. Tonight, savor a traditional Peking duck dinner. The next day begins with a rickshaw ride through Beijing’s hutongs, or old neighborhoods, where you’ll visit the home of a local family for a rare glimpse of the traditional communal lifestyle that is quickly disappearing. In the afternoon set out for the enigmatic Great Wall, a World Heritage site. At Mu Tian Yu, take a cable car up to the partially reconstructed ramparts and walk along this seemingly endless fortification. Your last day in Beijing begins with a visit to the Temple of Heaven complex where Chinese emperors once worshipped. In the afternoon enjoy a visit to the National Museum of China, the country’s grand repository of its cultural artifacts and history. (3B,2L,2D)
Days 6-7 — 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. Xi’an regained world prominence in 1974, when the renowned Terra-cotta Warriors were accidentally discovered by local farmers. Tour the impressive nine-mile city wall and moat, and visit the Great Mosque of Xi’an. Tonight, enjoy a special dinner of traditional Chinese dumplings. The next morning, visit the Small Wild Goose Pagoda (ca. A.D. 652), a graceful Buddhist temple notable for its statues and stelae. 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. See these outstanding pieces, each with an individually sculpted face, standing in military formation in three separate vaults. (2B,2L,2D)
Day 8 — Chongqing
Fly to Chongqing, a bustling port city on the Yangtze River. Upon arrival, visit the zoo housing the beloved pandas. Following dinner at a local restaurant, board your Victoria Cruises ship and begin your cruise this evening. (B,L,D)
Days 9-10 — The Yangtze
Prized for its haunting natural beauty, the 3,600-mile long Yangtze is one of the world’s longest and busiest rivers. Visit one of its most popular towns, the “ghost city” of Fengdu. Tonight enjoy the Captain’s Welcome Dinner. The next morning traverse Qutang Gorge, followed by tranquil Wu Gorge. Scenes from ancient Chinese scroll paintings come to life as you take a small ferry along the Daning River to the stunning Small Gorges. Back on board the ship in late afternoon, reach the scenic western section of 42-mile Xiling Gorge, famed for its swift rapids and churning whirlpools. Later tonight, enter the locks of the Three Gorges. Later in the evening, enter the locks of the Three Gorges Dam for the fascinating three-hour transit. (2B,2L,2D)
Day 11 — 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 cruising through Xiling Gorge and Gezhouba Dam to Yichang, where you’ll disembark and fly to Shanghai, China’s dazzling commercial capital. (B,L)
Days 12-13 — Shanghai
Take a walking tour of the Xin Tian Di neighborhood, and stroll through peaceful Yu Yuan, a traditional Chinese garden and gathering place. Devote the afternoon to gazing upon 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. The remainder of the day is at leisure to experience bustling Nanjing Road, cruise the Huangpu River, or get a bird’s-eye view of the city from the Oriental Pearl TV Tower. Tonight, toast your adventure at a farewell dinner. (2B,1L,1D)
Day 14 — Depart Shanghai for the U.S.
Board your flight, arriving in the U.S. the same day. (B)