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.

Starting at: $5,584 * Includes airfare, taxes & all fees Make a Reservation Ask Us A Question or Call 855-330-1542
 The Terra-Cotta Warriors of Xi'an  The breathtaking gorges of the Yangtze River  A panoramic view of the Forbidden City  Beijing's Forbidden City  Temple of Heaven, Beijing  The legendary Great Wall of China  Mutianyu section of the Great Wall of China  China's Yangtze River  The renowned Shanghai Museum  Chinese jade chimera. Credit: Arthur M. Sackler Gallery  Pavilion in the Yu Yuan gardens of Shanghai  Yu Yuan (gardens) of Shanghai

Imperial China and the Yangtze

14 days from $5,584 | includes airfare, taxes and all fees

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.

or Call 855-330-1542

Tour Details

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.

- Dianne W.

China is a tour that is packed with history, historic sites and incredible scenery. Love the trip!!!

- Joan L.

A great trip for the educated and culturally curious!

- Previous Journeys Traveler

JOURNEYS DISPATCHES

See All Journeys Dispatches ››

Accommodations

* Click on hotel name to visit hotel web-site.

Wanda Vista Beijing Hotel

Beijing, China

Close to Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City, the Sofitel Wanda Beijing was designed to display the strong cultural links between France and China. Hotel amenities include four restaurants, bar, lounge, Fitness Center with massage and spa, and indoor pool. Air-conditioned guest rooms have private bath with hair dryer, in-room safe, mini-bar, Internet access, TV, and phone.

Number of nights: 4

Wyndham Grand Xi’an South

Xi'an, China

The Wyndham Grand Xian South blends traditional Chinese architectural influences with upscale, contemporary style.  Its surroundings echo the hotel’s connections to history and modernity, as it stands within walking distance of the Giant Wild Goose Pagoda as well as a 24-hour shopping mall.  This contemporary-style hotel offers two restaurants and a lounge, fitness center with indoor heated pool, hot tube, complimentary Wi-Fi Internet access, laundry and dry cleaning services, and hair salon.  Air-conditioned guests rooms have private bath with hair dryer, tea- and coffee-making facilities, in-room safe, mini-bar, TV, and phone.

Number of nights: 2

Yangtze Cruise

Victoria Cruises, China

With the largest fleet to ply the Yangtze, Victoria Cruises is the leader in Yangtze River cruising. All premier ships that we use are air-conditioned and carry between 218 and 378 passengers. All cabins are outside, non-smoking, and 155 square feet with private bathroom with bathtub and shower, balcony, and satellite TV. Hair dryers are available upon request. The ships offer breakfast and lunch buffets and classic Chinese dinner banquets, reading room, fitness area, gift shop, and beauty salon. On-board activities include lectures on Chinese history and culture, Tai Chi lessons, calligraphy demonstrations, and traditional entertainment in the evening. Victoria Cruises offers a comprehensive Yangtze experience, with multi-lingual cruise directors and informative river guides.

Number of nights: 3

The Kunlun Jing An Hotel

Shanghai, China

The 43-story Hilton Shanghai, set in the heart of the prestigious former French Concession, is within walking distance of the famous shopping areas of Nanjing Road and Huaihai Road and other attractions in the commercial and entertainment district. The 722-room hotel offers a variety of amenities, including eight restaurants and lounges, laundry/valet service, barbershop and beauty salon, gift shop, elevators, Internet access (surcharge), and safety deposit boxes. The hotel also has squash and tennis courts and a health club with fitness center, indoor pool, spa, sauna, steam bath, and massage service. Air-conditioned guestrooms have private bath with hair dryer, sitting area, mini-bar, in-room safe, TV, and phone.

Number of nights: 3

Activity Level

Activity Level 3:  Moderate / Active


Expectations: One of our Classic Land Journeys, this tour features visits to many cities, iconic sites, hidden gems, and various regions. Although comprehensive, it's not rushed, but well paced and finely tuned.

This tour features longer touring days with many full-day motor coach excursions, three different hotels, a three-night cruise on the Yangtze River, and three internal flights on regularly scheduled airlines. All hotels and the cruise ship are of a high quality level. However, this tour features an active pace in a sometimes challenging destination.

Expectations include morning, afternoon, and full-day excursions. Standing and walking for long periods of time during outdoor activities, city tours, and museum visits. Walking over more difficult terrain (e.g. cobblestones, city hills, uneven stairs without handrails, absence of elevators, sometimes rocky, uneven, slippery trails); sometimes longer walks to get to city centers where coaches prohibited. 

Some travellers may encounter respiratory issues in a few cities due to air quality. There is limited time at leisure during the day except when aboard your river cruise and a free afternoon in Shanghai.    

Appropriate for: Travelers who are physically fit, lead active lives, are comfortable participating in long days of activities, and expect some physical exertion. 

Tour Extension

Hong Kong Post-Tour Extension  4 Days, 3 Nights

Explore this dazzling Chinese city on your own: great shopping, a mouth-watering diversity of cuisine, and a vibrant city scene. Your tour extension price includes:

  • Air transportation Shanghai/Hong Kong inclusive of airline taxes and fees
  • 3 nights accommodations at Langham Place (Deluxe)
  • 3 meals: 3 breakfasts
  • Transfers to/from airport

Langham Place

Well located in the heart of Kowloon’s Mongkok neighborhood and surrounded by bustling markets and noodle shops, the contemporary Langham Place connects directly to both the Langham Place mall and Mongkok subway station. The 665-room hotel features four restaurants, including Michelin-rated Ming Court; a bar; Internet access; laundry and dry cleaning services; rooftop pool; fitness center with sauna and steam room; and full service spa. Air-conditioned guest rooms have private bath with hair dryer, in-room safe, coffee-making facilities, mini-bar, TV, and phone.

Testimonials

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.

- Dianne W.

China is a tour that is packed with history, historic sites and incredible scenery. Love the trip!!!

- Joan L.

A great trip for the educated and culturally curious!

- Previous Journeys Traveler
Reading List
Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China
By: Jung Chang
The story of three generations in twentieth-century China that blends the intimacy of memoir and the panoramic sweep of eyewitness history—a bestselling classic in thirty languages with more than ten million copies sold around the world, now with a new introduction from the author.An engrossing record of Mao’s impact on China, an unusual window on the female experience in the modern world, and an inspiring tale of courage and love, Jung Chang describes the extraordinary lives and experiences of her family members: her grandmother, a warlord’s concubine; her mother’s struggles as a young idealistic Communist; and her parents’ experience as members of the Communist elite and their ordeal during the Cultural Revolution. Chang was a Red Guard briefly at the age of fourteen, then worked as a peasant, a “barefoot doctor,” a steelworker, and an electrician. As the story of each generation unfolds, Chang captures in gripping, moving—and ultimately uplifting—detail the cycles of violent drama visited on her own family and millions of others caught in the whirlwind of history.
China Road: A Journey into the Future of a Rising Power
By: Rob Gifford
Route 312 is the Chinese Route 66. It flows three thousand miles from east to west, passing through the factory towns of the coastal areas, through the rural heart of China, then up into the Gobi Desert, where it merges with the Old Silk Road. The highway witnesses every part of the social and economic revolution that is turning China upside down.In this utterly surprising and deeply personal book, acclaimed National Public Radio reporter Rob Gifford, a fluent Mandarin speaker, takes the dramatic journey along Route 312 from its start in the boomtown of Shanghai to its end on the border with Kazakhstan. Gifford reveals the rich mosaic of modern Chinese life in all its contradictions, as he poses the crucial questions that all of us are asking about China: Will it really be the next global superpower? Is it as solid and as powerful as it looks from the outside? And who are the ordinary Chinese people, to whom the twenty-first century is supposed to belong? Gifford is not alone on his journey. The largest migration in human history is taking place along highways such as Route 312, as tens of millions of people leave their homes in search of work. He sees signs of the booming urban economy everywhere, but he also uncovers many of the country’s frailties, and some of the deep-seated problems that could derail China’s rise. The whole compelling adventure is told through the cast of colorful characters Gifford meets: garrulous talk-show hosts and ambitious yuppies, impoverished peasants and tragic prostitutes, cell-phone salesmen, AIDS patients, and Tibetan monks. He rides with members of a Shanghai jeep club, hitchhikes across the Gobi desert, and sings karaoke with migrant workers at truck stops along the way.As he recounts his travels along Route 312, Rob Gifford gives a face to what has historically, for Westerners, been a faceless country and breathes life into a nation that is so often reduced to economic statistics. Finally, he sounds a warning that all is not well in the Chinese heartlands, that serious problems lie ahead, and that the future of the West has become inextricably linked with the fate of 1.3 billion Chinese people.“Informative, delightful, and powerfully moving . . . Rob Gifford’s acute powers of observation, his sense of humor and adventure, and his determination to explore the wrenching dilemmas of China’s explosive development open readers’ eyes and reward their minds.” –Robert A. Kapp, president, U.S.-China Business Council, 1994-2004From the Hardcover edition.
Mao Zedong: A Penguin Life (Penguin Lives)
By: Jonathan D. Spence
A renowned expert on Chinese history turns his considerable talent and experience to the life of China's greatest modern leader--the enigmatic, mythologized, often maligned, and still-revered architect of Chinese Communism and the modern Chinese state.
DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: China
By: DK Travel
DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: China will lead you straight to the best attractions the country has to offer. This guidebook reveals the magnificence of China's greatest sights, including in-depth coverage of the Forbidden City and terra-cotta soldiers. It provides expert tips for visiting the Great Wall, cruising through the stunning Yangtze Three Gorges, and exploring the ultramodern cities of Shanghai and Hong Kong.Explore China's cultural heritage through richly illustrated features on everything from the Beijing Opera to Confucianism, calligraphy, and the cult of Mao.Discover DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: China.   • Detailed itineraries and "don't-miss" destination highlights at a glance.    • Illustrated cutaway 3-D drawings of important sights.    • Floor plans and guided visitor information for major museums.    • Guided walking tours, local drink and dining specialties to try, things to do, and places to eat, drink, and shop by area.    • Area maps marked with sights.    • Detailed city maps include street finder indexes for easy navigation.    • Insights into history and culture to help you understand the stories behind the sights.    • Hotel and restaurant listings highlight DK Choice special recommendations. With hundreds of full-color photographs, hand-drawn illustrations, and custom maps that illuminate every page, DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: China truly shows you this country as no one else can.Recommended: For a pocket guidebook to Beijing, check out DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Top 10 Beijing, which is packed with dozens of top 10 lists, ensuring you make the most of your time in the city.Series Overview: For more than two decades, DK Eyewitness Travel Guides have helped travelers experience the world through the history, art, architecture, and culture of their destinations. Expert travel writers and researchers provide independent editorial advice, recommendations, and reviews. With guidebooks to hundreds of places around the globe available in print and digital formats, DK Eyewitness Travel Guides show travelers how they can discover more.DK Eyewitness Travel Guides: the most maps, photographs, and illustrations of any guide.
Xi'an, Shaanxi and The Terracotta Army (Odyssey Illustrated Guides)
By: Paul Mooney
Situated in the distinctive landscape of northern China, Xi'an is among the great historic centers of the world—it is China's Luxor. This comprehensive guidebook leads the reader on a journey through the glorious ancient history of this urban center—fr
China - Culture Smart!: The Essential Guide to Customs & Culture
By: Kathy Flower
Culture Smart! China puts the latest dramatic changes into a historical context, explains deep-seated cultural attitudes, and guides the visitor through a maze of unfamiliar social situations. It will enable you to discover for yourself the warmth, intelligence, humor, and humanity of this extraordinary people. The spectacular Beijing Olympics of 2008 heralded China’s arrival as an economic superpower. When the world plunged into economic crisis, in China, too, factories closed, but most unemployed workers simply made their way back to the countryside. The patience, diligence, enterprise, and natural optimism that are part of the Chinese character helped tide it over the setback. New mega-cities sprang up, peopled by a generation of city dwellers, light years away from their parents’ rural world. The Chinese have always taken a long-term view of events. They are proud of their ancient civilization and their modern achievements. Among the young, educated, urban elite there is an eagerness to discuss issues that were formerly “off limits.”
Postcards from Tomorrow Square: Reports from China
By: James Fallows
“Americans need not be hostile toward China's rise, but they should be wary about its eventual effects. The United States is the only nation with the scale and power to try to set the terms of its interaction with China rather than just succumb. So starting now, Americans need to consider the economic, environmental, political, and social goals they care about defending as Chinese influence grows.” —from “China Makes, the World Takes”Since December 2006, The Atlantic Magazine's James Fallows has been writing some of the most discerning accounts of the economic and political transformation occurring in China. The ten essays collected here cover a wide-range of topics: from visionary tycoons and TV-battling entrepreneurs, to environmental pollution and how China subsidizes our economy. Fallows expertly and lucidly explains the economic, political, social, and cultural forces at work turning China into a world superpower at breakneck speed. This eye-opening and cautionary account is essential reading for all concerned not only with China's but America's future role in the world.
China: A Photographic Journey through the Middle Kingdom
By: Brand: Abbeville Press
A spectacular photographic tour of China's natural scenery and architectural landmarks, now available in a charming miniature edition. This attractive little volume takes us on a visual journey through the greatest splendors of China’s varied geography and the chief monuments of its 5,000-year-old civilization. Its 243 color photographs, which include 12 panoramic gatefolds, show us the country’s most famous landmarks—like the Forbidden City and the Great Wall—as we have never seen them before, and and introduce us to less familiar but just as fascinating sights, like the the multicolored travertine lakes of Huanglong Valley and the beautiful calligraphic inscriptions on the rugged rocks of Mount Taishan. Extended captions at the back of the book provide a concise introduction to the history and significance of each of the forty-four locales depicted, twenty-eight of which have been designated as World Heritage sites by UNESCO.
The Great Wall: China Against the World, 1000 BC - AD 2000
By: Julia Lovell
Legendarily 2,200 years old and 4,300 miles long, the Great Wall of China seems to make an overwhelmingly confident physical statement about the country it spans: about China’s age-old sense of itself being an advanced civilization anxious to draw a clear line between itself and the “barbarians” at its borders. But behind the wall’s intimidating exterior—and the myths that have built up around it—is a complex history that has both defined and undermined China. Author Julia Lovell has written a new and important history of the Great Wall that guides the reader through the conquests and cataclysms of the Chinese empire, from the second millennium BC to the present day.In recent years, the Wall has become an ever more potent symbol of Chinese nationalism, of a determination to resist foreign domination. But how successful was the Wall in reality, and what was its real purpose? Was it a precursor, albeit on a huge scale, of the Berlin Wall—a barrier designed to keep its population in as much as undesirables out? Lovell looks behind the modern mythology of the Great Wall, uncovering a three-thousand-year history far more fragmented and less illustrious than its crowds of visitors imagine today. The story of the Wall winds through that of the Chinese state and the frontier policy that defined it, through the lives of the millions of individuals who supported, criticized, built, and attacked it.
Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth, and Faith in the New China
By: Evan Osnos
Pulitzer Prize in General Nonfiction finalistWinner of the 2014 National Book Award in nonfictionAn Economist Best Book of 2014Winner of the bronze medal for the Council on Foreign Relations’ 2015 Arthur Ross Book AwardA vibrant, colorful, and revelatory inner history of China during a moment of profound transformationFrom abroad, we often see China as a caricature: a nation of pragmatic plutocrats and ruthlessly dedicated students destined to rule the global economy-or an addled Goliath, riddled with corruption and on the edge of stagnation. What we don't see is how both powerful and ordinary people are remaking their lives as their country dramatically changes. As the Beijing correspondent for The New Yorker, Evan Osnos was on the ground in China for years, witness to profound political, economic, and cultural upheaval. In Age of Ambition, he describes the greatest collision taking place in that country: the clash between the rise of the individual and the Communist Party's struggle to retain control. He asks probing questions: Why does a government with more success lifting people from poverty than any civilization in history choose to put strict restraints on freedom of expression? Why do millions of young Chinese professionals-fluent in English and devoted to Western pop culture-consider themselves "angry youth," dedicated to resisting the West's influence? How are Chinese from all strata finding meaning after two decades of the relentless pursuit of wealth? Writing with great narrative verve and a keen sense of irony, Osnos follows the moving stories of everyday people and reveals life in the new China to be a battleground between aspiration and authoritarianism, in which only one can prevail.
Understanding China: A Guide to China's Economy, History, and Political Culture
By: John Bryan Starr
In this succinct, modest, and refreshingly forthright book--now revised and updated for the new century--Starr introduces to the uninitiated reader the background, basic data, and issues at stake in China's crisis-ridden present and future.After ten years, John Bryan Starr has thoroughly revised and updated his classic introduction to the background of, the data about, and the issues at stake in China's present and future. In the new edition, Starr seamlessly weaves in additional material on the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, the Chinese government's ongoing efforts to curb the influence of the Internet, and the intensifying trade disputes between the United States and China. Succinct, modest, and refreshingly forthright, Understanding China remains a necessary guide for the uninitiated to everything from the Chinese economy and political system, to its intellectual freedoms and human rights, to its relationship with the rest of the world.
The Arts of China (An Ahmanson Murphy Fine Arts Book)
By: Michæl Sullivan
For the fourth edition of his much-heralded The Arts of China, last published in 1984, Michael Sullivan has thoroughly revised and expanded this classic history of Chinese art from the Neolithic period to the 1990s. He draws on archaeological discoveries in the last two decades of the twentieth century that have enriched scholars' understanding of both prehistoric and ancient Chinese civilizations. At the same time, research on more recent dynasties has led to fresh interpretations of well-documented historical events and artworks. Also, China's dramatic opening to the outside world since the 1980s has triggered an explosion of contemporary Chinese art, on which Sullivan is the foremost Western authority.Written in the engaging and lucid style that is Sullivan's hallmark, The Arts of China is readily accessible to general readers as well as serious students of art history. Discussing more than three millennia of Chinese artistic endeavor, Sullivan introduces not only artworks, but also the social, political, religious, and philosophical contexts in which they were created.This fourth edition has more than 380 illustrations; many are new and nearly half are in color. With this edition Sullivan has abandoned the Wade-Giles system of romanization in favor of the official Chinese Pinyin, now widely accepted by Western readers. These improvements assure that The Arts of China will remain the most comprehensive and widely read introduction to the history of Chinese art.
River Town: Two Years on the Yangtze (P.S.)
By: Peter Hessler
A New York Times Notable BookWinner of the Kiriyama Book PrizeIn the heart of China's Sichuan province, amid the terraced hills of the Yangtze River valley, lies the remote town of Fuling. Like many other small cities in this ever-evolving country, Fuling is heading down a new path of change and growth, which came into remarkably sharp focus when Peter Hessler arrived as a Peace Corps volunteer, marking the first time in more than half a century that the city had an American resident. Hessler taught English and American literature at the local college, but it was his students who taught him about the complex processes of understanding that take place when one is immersed in a radically different society.Poignant, thoughtful, funny, and enormously compelling, River Town is an unforgettable portrait of a city that is seeking to understand both what it was and what it someday will be.
Yellow River Odyssey
By: Bill Porter
Bill Porter follows the Yellow River, the world's sixth longest river, from its mouth to its source high in the Tibetan Plateau, a journey of more than three thousand miles through nine Chinese provinces. The trip takes the master translator into what was once the cradle of Chinese civilization and to the hometowns and graves of key historical figures such as Confucius, Mencius, Lao-tzu, and Chuang-tzu. Porter's depth of knowledge of Chinese history and culture is unparalleled. Yellow River Odyssey, already a bestseller in China, reveals a complex, fascinating, contradictory country. Porter masterfully digs beneath China's present-day materialism and the deep wounds of the Cultural Revolution to get at the roots of Chinese culture. And he does so with an ever-present wit and a keen eye for the telling detail. The book also includes more than fifty black-and-white photographs taken by Porter during his travels.Bill Porter is an award-winning author and translator also known by his pen name, Red Pine. He is considered one of the foremost translators of Chinese texts, especially Buddhist and Taoist poetry and sutras. His translation work includes major Buddhist texts such as The Platform Sutra, The Diamond Sutra, and The Heart Sutra as well as the best-selling poetry collections Taoteching and Collected Songs of Cold Mountain. He is also the author of Zen Baggage and Road to Heaven: Encounters with Chinese Hermits. Porter lives in Port Townsend, Washington.
The River at the Center of the World: A Journey Up the Yangtze, and Back in Chinese Time
By: Simon Winchester
Rising in the mountains of the Tibetan border, the Yangtze River, the symbolic heart of China pierces 3,900 miles of rugged country before debouching into the oily swells of the East China Sea. Connecting China's heartland cities with the volatile coastal giant, Shanghai, it has also historically connected China to the outside world through its nearly one thousand miles of navigable waters. To travel those waters is to travel back in history, to sense the soul of China, and Simon Winchester takes us along with him as he encounters the essence of China--its history and politics, its geography and climate as well as engage in its culture, and its people in remote and almost inaccessible places. The River at the Center of the World: A Journey Up the Yangtze, and Back in Chinese Time is travel writing at its best: lively, informative, and thoroughly enchanting.
China: A Traveler's Literary Companion (Traveler's Literary Companions)
By: Brand: Whereabouts Press
Whether revealing small-town superstitions or exposing Beijing’s underworld, these works of literary fiction offer insights to modern China and its myriad of social, cultural, and human concerns. An expansive country, China is made up of numerous ethnic groups with a dizzying array of local dialects and subcultures. In addition, China is experiencing staggering change, which is explored in contemporary literature. From the idyllic mountains of West Hunan to the picturesque water town of Zhejiang, from the high plateau of western Sichuan to the harsh landscape of the northeast — this compelling collection of short fiction represents the incredible diversity that is China.
Death of a Red Heroine (An Inspector Chen Investigation)
By: Qiu Xiaolong
Qiu Xiaolong's Anthony Award-winning debut introduces Inspector Chen of the Shanghai Police.A young “national model worker,” renowned for her adherence to the principles of the Communist Party, turns up dead in a Shanghai canal. As Inspector Chen Cao of the Shanghai Special Cases Bureau struggles to trace the hidden threads of her past, he finds himself challenging the very political forces that have guided his life since birth. Chen must tiptoe around his superiors if he wants to get to the bottom of this crime, and risk his career—perhaps even his life—to see justice done.
Chinese Wildlife (Bradt Travel Guide Chinese Wildlife)
By: Martin Walters
China is home to a variety of remarkable variety of unusual wildlife, many of which are rare and threatened species under conservation. This new wildlife guide provides a colorful introduction to the species of a country that is beginning to emerge as a fascinating destination for wildlife enthusiasts..Visitors can discover a range of habitats: the huge deserts of the northwest and the Tibetan Plateau, forested mountain slopes and the rivers, lakes and steamy tropical forests of the deep south. Interesting features on medicinal plants, rare cranes and, of course, the giant panda supplement animal and habitat listings.Accessible and beautifully illustrated, Chinese Wildlife will appeal both to the first-time visitor and the serious naturalist seeking a compact volume. And after the trip it will also make a great souvenir.
Travel Insurance

For the convenience of our travelers, Smithsonian Journeys includes an on-tour Provided Insurance Plan through Travel Guard with the price of your tour. This travel insurance plan includes On-tour medical evacuation insurance (up to $100,000), emergency medical expense coverage (up to $25,000), dental expense coverage (up to $500), travel medical assistance and worldwide travel assistance (U.S. Residents only, not including U.S. Territories). Travel must be more than 100 miles from the Insured’s primary residence.

In addition, you may want to consider purchasing travel insurance to protect your investment from unforeseen events, such as missed flight connections, lost luggage, and cancelled plans. There are many plans you can consider. For your convenience, you may visit www.TravelGuard.com/SmithsonianJourneys or call Travel Guard at 1.800.208.6142 to learn more.

Terms and conditions

Mission

Smithsonian Journeys engage travelers in the mission of the Smithsonian – “the increase and diffusion of knowledge.” Like the Institution, our tours enrich our guests’ lives and satisfy their curiosity about the world. Your participation benefits the work of Smithsonian’s 19 museums, National Zoo, and nine research centers, helping to preserve our national treasures and shape the future through science, research, and exhibitions.

What Is Included in the Tour Cost

  • Expertise of a Smithsonian Journeys expert, tour director and local guides throughout the tour
  • All gratuities for the expert, tour director, on-tour guides and drivers
  • On-tour medical evacuation insurance (up to $100,000), emergency medical expense coverage (up to $25,000), dental expense coverage (up to $500), travel medical assistance and worldwide travel assistance (U.S. residents only)
  • Pre-tour information, including a reading list
  • Transfers and luggage handling abroad (for air inclusive guests)
  • All on-tour transportation including flights within the itinerary, unless otherwise noted
  • All accommodations for the duration of the tour
  • Meals, as noted in the itinerary (B-breakfast; L-lunch; D-dinner)
  • All sightseeing and visits as noted in each itinerary
  • Airfare to/from your departure city, airline taxes, surcharges, and fees, which are subject to change until final payment is made (for air inclusive guests only)

What Is Not Included in the Tour Cost

  • Passport and all visa fees and photos; immunization(s); and any other travel documentation fees as required
  • Optional travel insurance, including cancellation/delay/lost baggage insurance (learn more at TravelGuard.com/SmithsonianJourneys)
  • Personal items, unless otherwise stated, such as wine, liquors, a-la-carte orders
  • Expenses incurred by our tour operator in making any individual travel arrangements in conjunction with the tour
  • Airline baggage and other airline fees and associated taxes, unless noted in Tour description
  • Transfers and baggage handling abroad when purchasing “land only” package
  • Communication Charges (e.g.: phone, internet, etc.)
  • Other items noted as optional or not specifically mentioned as included
  • Airfare from your hometown to your departure city (for air inclusive guests only).

Registration

To submit a reservation request, please use our secure online system at SmithsonianJourneys.org or contact a Cultural Travel Specialist, at 1-855-330-1542 Mon-Fri 9 am - 7 pm; Sat 9 am – 4 pm (Eastern Time). Submitting an online request does not guarantee space on a tour.  You will be notified by a Reservation Specialist of your status once your request has been received and processed.  Please note: No new registrations can be accepted within 30 days of most tours. Some tours are more restrictive; please see individual tour pages for these exceptions.

To complete your reservation, the following information is required.
In accordance with the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) Secure Flight program, for all international tours, passport information is required, including the following:   Full name as it appears on your passport, Date of birth, and Gender (for further information, please visit www.tsa.gov).

For tours that include round-trip international airfare: If you provide incorrect information to the ticketing agent, or if you use a different passport than originally cited, you will be responsible for charges associated with the ticket’s reissue.

Payments

A deposit of $500 per person for a land tour reservation, unless otherwise noted, is required to reserve a space on a tour.  All payments may be made by credit card or check to the tour operator.  Deposits are applied to final payment of the tour price.

Final payment is due 95 days prior to departure, unless otherwise noted.  Balance is due upon invoicing.  If full payment is not received by the final payment due date, your place cannot be guaranteed on the tour.

Late Registration

Any registration received within 95 days (180 for Alaska) of departure is considered “on-request” and is subject to specific confirmation. Some tours are more restrictive. Payment in full must be made immediately by credit card, or by check sent by overnight mail to the tour operator, before confirmation is possible.

Once confirmed, cancellation penalties apply as set forth below. If confirmation is not possible, all payments made will be refunded in full. Late registration confirmation procedures apply to any participant who is transferred from the wait list to the tour within the designated late registration period for that tour.

For additional information, please contact a Cultural Travel Specialist, at 1-855-330-1542 Mon-Fri 9 am - 7 pm; Sat 9 am – 4 pm (Eastern Time), or SJReservations@si.edu and SmithsonianJourneys.org.

A Note about Costs

All prices are based on two persons sharing a room/cabin. All prices are quoted in U.S. dollars. Tour costs are based upon current airfares, tariffs, currency values, and on the basis of a presumptive minimum number of participants. While we will do everything possible to maintain the listed prices, they are subject to change.   Due to fluctuations in oil prices, a fuel surcharge may be added to your tour fee (e.g. internal flights, cruises, etc.).  Details and costs will be advised prior to departure.

Wait List

If the tour of your choice is fully subscribed, you may choose to be placed on a waitlist by contacting a Reservation Specialist at 1-855-330-1542 Mon-Fri 9 am - 7 pm; Sat 9 am – 4 pm (Eastern Time), or SJReservations@si.edu. Individuals on the wait list will be contacted if space becomes available and can inquire about tour status by contacting a Reservation Specialist. If you choose to withdraw from a wait list, please notify us.  

Cancellation and Refund Policy

Following enrollment, a participant’s withdrawal from the tour for any reason, including, but not limited to, illness, injury, family engagements, work-related issues, or geopolitical concerns, etc., will be deemed a cancellation. Please understand that there will be no exceptions to our cancellation policy.

Per person cancellation fees are based on date of written notice to Smithsonian Journeys. Tour operator will refund on the following basis:

  • Cancellations within 7 days of booking:  Full Refund (unless it is within final payment date, 95 days before departure)
  • Cancellations after 7 days of booking:  Full Deposit Retained
  • Cancellations made within final payment date, 95 days before departure:  No Refund
  • Cancellation by Smithsonian Journeys:  Full Refund or Credit

Please understand that there will be no exceptions to our cancellation policy.

Smithsonian Journeys recommends that all participants purchase travel insurance.

If your flights are delayed or if for any reason you are prevented from joining the tour on the scheduled departure date and time, or if you choose to leave the tour early, we cannot provide a full or partial refund or credit toward a future tour.

Smithsonian Journeys reserves the right to cancel any tour due to low enrollment and when a U.S. Department of State Travel Warning is issued for the destination.

Air Service

For tours that include round-trip international airfare, rates are based on economy class from designated departure cities as shown.  Airfares from other cities are available upon request.  Airline upgrades at additional cost may be available on request for the international portion of your flight.  If an air schedule requires an overnight stay in a gateway city, the cost of the overnight will be at your expense.  For tours that include round-trip international airfare, the tour operator  will be happy to help with arrangements. Please note that seat assignments for your international flights is usually done at airport check-in. The tour operator is unable to guarantee any seat assignments.

When planning our tours that include international round-trip airfare, the tour operator contracts with those airlines that they feel provide the level of service, routings, and value necessary for your entire trip. While another airline may offer a more direct connection, it may be at a price unavailable at the lower group rates that enable us to offer you the best possible travel value. Please note that frequent flyer mileage credits are issued at the discretion of the airline(s) and may not be available for the flights on your tour. If you prefer to make your own airline reservations, “land only” pricing is available on most of our tours.

Air Service/Tickets Purchased Independently of the Tour

International and domestic air schedules are subject to change at any time. Tours can also be canceled due to low enrollments. If you make your own airline reservations, we recommend that you do not purchase nonrefundable tickets or tickets with high penalties for changes. 

We urge you to check airline cancellation penalties before purchasing airline tickets since international departure times and flights can change. Neither the Smithsonian Institution nor the tour operator accepts liability for cancellation penalties related to domestic or international airline tickets purchased independently in conjunction with a tour.

Travel Insurance- Cancellation/Delay/Lost Baggage

Smithsonian Journeys recommends that all participants purchase travel insurance.  Learn more at TravelGuard.com/SmithsonianJourneys.

Travel Documents and Information

Participants are responsible for obtaining any documents required for their participation in the tour such as a valid passport, all visas, vaccination certificates, and any other documents. If your tour requires a visa or other entry documents, we will send you the appropriate information after you make a reservation.  Failure to obtain documents does not negate the terms and conditions, and any extra costs incurred for rerouting or delay due to travel without the necessary documents will be the participant’s responsibility. If you are not a U.S. citizen, please contact your embassy or consulate to ensure you obtain the proper documentation.

For all international departures, a passport valid for at least six months after the completion of your tour, and with at least six blank visa pages, is required for U.S. citizens on all tours. The U.S. Department of State will no longer add visa pages into U.S. passports beginning January 1, 2016. The decision to discontinue this service was made to enhance the security of the passport and to abide by international passport standards. Beginning January 1, 2016, applicants in need of additional pages in their valid passports must obtain a new passport. For more information on how or where to apply, please visit Travel.State.Gov/ApplyEarly or call the National Passport Information Center toll-free at 1-877-487-2778/1-888-874-7793 (TTY/TTD).

For more information about traveling to destinations abroad, we recommend the “Learn about your destination” section on the U.S. Department of State travel website www.travel.state.gov.  For medical information, we recommend contacting the Centers for Disease Control at (877) FYI-TRIP or www.cdc.gov/travel

Physical and Medical Considerations

To enjoy the travel experience, participants should be in good physical and mental health. All tours require an element of walking (up to two miles per day over uneven terrain) and of climbing stairs, often without handrails. Participants should have sufficient stamina to keep pace with an active group of participants on long days of touring. If you have any questions about your ability to participate in a tour, please call us at 855-330-1542. Any physical condition, diet, or special request for accommodation must be identified in writing on the Personal Information Form when the reservation is made. Some tours have additional information regarding physical and medical considerations, which may be discussed with the Reservation Specialist at 855-330-1542.

Please be aware that health care standards, facilities, and services abroad may be different or even inadequate for treating certain health conditions.  It is essential that you inform us in writing (on the provided Personal Information Form) of any existing condition for which you may require medical attention or accommodation during the tour. We will make reasonable efforts to accommodate the needs of our participants; however, services of a personal nature cannot be expected or guaranteed. By forwarding the deposit for pre-registration or registration in full, you affirm that you do not have any physical or other limitations that would create a hazard for yourself or other participants or would require adjustments to the tour for other participants.

Itinerary or Tour Modifications

Smithsonian Journeys strives to improve tour itineraries and their features. If improvements can be made, or unforeseen circumstances beyond our control make changes necessary, at our sole discretion, we reserve the right to vary itineraries and to substitute elements of the tour.  These elements include, but are not limited to:  hotels, staff, speakers, experts, and services for any stated in the itinerary.

Every effort will be made to carry out the tour as planned but alterations may still occur after the final itinerary has been sent to you. Please note that weather and other conditions may force changes to the advertised sailing schedule on cruise tours. The ship’s captain has the authority to change the ship’s schedule.

Hotel Accommodations

Smithsonian Journeys chooses hotels based on a combination of location, service, atmosphere, and price. On adventure tours and tours in out-of-the-way places, best-available hotels are used.  Tour prices are based on two persons sharing a room with a bath.

Singles and Roommates

Hotel rooms are always reserved for single participants, however, the number of single rooms available on a tour may be limited. Therefore we recommend that you register early. Please note that a single supplement will most likely apply for a single room.  If you are traveling alone and wish to share a room/cabin, we will do our best to find someone of the same gender and smoking preference to share with you. If you are matched with a non-smoking roommate, it is mutually agreed that you cannot smoke in your hotel room/cabin. When a roommate cannot be found, a single supplement will be charged. Please note that the single rooms in many foreign hotels may be smaller than those to which you are accustomed.

Children

All tours except family journeys, are designed for adults. Some may be suitable for children 16 and older. Regardless of age, children must pay full price unless otherwise noted, moreover, a parent or guardian must accompany those under 18.

Special Travel Arrangements

Participants may wish to extend their stay in the group hotel after the tour. Our tour operators will work with you on these arrangements, dependent upon space availability.  . For participants using air, only post tour extensions are offered. Tour operator may be able to assist land only participants with pre-tour arrangements.

Should you decide not to participate in certain parts of the tour or use certain goods included in the tour, no refunds will be made for those unused parts of the tour or goods.

Dispute Resolution

If a complaint arises, the participant should first inform a member of the on-tour staff, so that the staff can attempt to rectify the matter. If the issue remains unresolved, the individual should submit the complaint in writing to Smithsonian Journeys within 30 days of the completion of the tour.

The Smithsonian Journeys staff will make a good faith effort to resolve any dispute.  In the event that the parties are unable to resolve the dispute, the parties may agree to use a method of non-binding Alternative Dispute Resolution to resolve the dispute.  In the event that the parties are unable to agree on the method of Alternative Dispute Resolution to use, or in the event that either party is dissatisfied with the outcome of that alternative dispute resolution method, such efforts shall not constitute a waiver by either party of the right to file suit.

Photography and Video

Participants on tour may be photographed or recorded (audio and video) for the educational and promotional purposes of the Smithsonian Institution and Smithsonian authorized third parties.  This content may be used in marketing publications and posted on websites to promote Smithsonian Journeys without compensation to the participant. Participants who prefer that their name, voice and/or image not be used must notify us in writing prior to the beginning of the tour.

Smoking Policy

 For the comfort of all participants, we ask that there be no smoking during all group activities, including excursions and meals. On certain cruises, there is no smoking aboard the ship. Your pre-tour bulletins will provide further information.

READ CAREFULLY: RESPONSIBILITY STATEMENT AND LIABILITY DISCLAIMER

Smithsonian Journeys tours are organized and administered by professional tour operators hired as independent contractors. The use of designated tour operators allows the Smithsonian to offer participants a wide array of educational travel opportunities. The tour operator acts only as an agent for the respective suppliers by making arrangements for transportation, accommodations, and other services. Neither the Smithsonian Institution nor the tour operator shall be held liable for personal injury, death, property damage or accident, delay or irregularity arising out of any act or omission of these suppliers. The Smithsonian Institution and the tour operator reserve the right, without penalty, to make changes in the published itinerary whenever, in their judgment, conditions warrant, or if they deem it necessary for the comfort, convenience, or safety of tour participants.

The Smithsonian Institution and its designated tour operator also reserve the right, without penalty, to withdraw the tour announced, to decline to accept any person as a participant in a tour, or to require any participant to withdraw from the tour at any time (including, but not limited for inappropriate, or offensive behavior) when such action is determined by tour staff to be in the best interests of the health, safety or general welfare of the tour group or the individual participant.

Dates, schedules, tour details, and costs, although provided in good faith based on information available at the time of publication on the website, in the brochure or catalog, are subject to change and revision.

AS A CONDITION OF ACCEPTANCE OF ANY APPLICATION, EACH APPLICANT MUST AGREE TO THE STATEMENT SET FORTH BELOW:

The undersigned has read carefully the Responsibility Statement and Liability Disclaimer set forth above, the schedule of activities for this tour, as well as the terms and conditions of application and participation as set forth in the tour materials, and recognizes and accepts any risk associated with the tour and the conditions, including the refund policy, set forth in the tour materials. The undersigned further acknowledges that there are many risks and uncertainties inherent in any travel tour, including but not limited to the hazards of various modes of transportation, forces of nature, acts or omissions of foreign governments, terrorism, war or insurrection, theft, illness, and damage to person or property due to the negligent acts or omissions of tour staff or others. In consideration of, and as part payment for, the right to participate in the tour, the undersigned, on behalf of himself, his dependents, heirs, executors, administrators and assigns, agrees to release the Smithsonian Institution, its Regents, officers, employees, representatives or agents, the United States, and the tour operator and its officers, employees and agents, from liability for personal injury, death, property damage or loss suffered by any person in connection with this tour, even if caused by the negligence (but not the reckless, willful, or fraudulent conduct) of tour staff or other related persons or entities. In addition, by registering for this tour, the applicant certifies that he or she is mentally and physically capable of full participation in this tour. By registering for a Smithsonian Journey, the participant agrees to the Responsibility Statement and Liability Disclaimer and the Terms and Conditions herein.