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Historical China, Tibet + the Yangtze (2019 Itinerary)

16 days

Never more than 16 guests

Overall Rating
based on 94 Reviews

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Exclusive Sightseeing and Real Engagement

+ We take you deeper inside Tibetan life and culture... By special arrangement, you’ll spend time with a resident family, meet a local doctor, visit a Buddhist nunnery and join in an ancient rite of walking and prayer.
+ See China's panda bears and learn more about these remarkable animals.
+ Delight in the dramatic scenery of the Yangtze Gorges from the privacy of your own stateroom balcony.

Visit 6 UNESCO World Heritage Sites c

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Upon arrival, you’ll be warmly greeted and escorted to the 5-star Fairmont Beijing Hotel in the heart of the capital.


Beijing’s Imperial Highlights

The Fairmont - Beijing, China

Stand in Tiananmen Square and admire the architectural landmarks that surround one of the world’s grandest public plazas. Then follow in the footsteps of Ming Dynasty Emperors on an expertly-guided tour through the magnificent Forbidden City c, a sprawling complex of palaces, courtyards and pavilions. Hopping aboard a rickshaw is the best way to experience one of Beijing’s remaining Hutongs. Amidst the towering skyscrapers, office buildings and newly-built residential complexes, this old city neighborhood is still home to centuries-old, courtyard-style houses. After exploring its narrow lanes, you’ll sit down to lunch with a resident family in their home; this specially-arranged cultural encounter offers a personal look into daily life and some of the Chinese traditions that still endure in this modern capital.
Return to your luxury hotel in mid-afternoon so you’ll have time to rest and relax before this evening’s Peking Duck Banquet at Hua’s Restaurant.  Meals B+L+D


Excursion to the Great Wall c

The Fairmont - Beijing, China

Juyong Pass was recognized very early in China’s history as a site of great strategic importance and indeed this section of the thousands-mile long Great Wall is one of only three that were recognized by military leaders as being practically impregnable. Today, as you walk atop this ancient defensive structure, your expert guide will be on hand to enrich your exploration with dramatic stories and legends of the great battles that were waged here. Before returning to the city, you’ll stroll along the statue-lined Sacred Way at the Ming Tombs.
This evening is yours to dine as you wish. Here at the Fairmont, The Cut is an award-winning steakhouse with prime meats and fresh seafood. Or head to Lunar 8 for the finest in Asian cuisine - including regional northern Chinese dishes and classic Cantonese fare presented with a modern touch.  Meals B+L


The Panda Hall at Beijing Zoo + Summer Palace c

The Fairmont - Beijing, China

Today’s sightseeing begins at the Beijing Zoo where we’ll visit the world-famous Panda Hall. Covering nearly 2.5 acres, this world-class exhibit was built in 1989 to be aesthetically pleasing for visitors and – more importantly – to provide a safe and comfortable environment for these large, highly physical animals. After lunch, you’ll tour the resplendent Summer Palace, erstwhile seasonal retreat of China’s emperors. Set on wooded hills surrounding a tranquil lake, this assemblage of pavilions, palaces and gardens offers a fascinating look into Imperial life long ago. Tonight’s dinner at a popular local restaurant offers a firsthand experience of Beijing’s thriving culinary scene and the popularity of international, European-influenced cuisine.  Meals B+L+D


Tai Chi at the Temple of Heaven c + Embark Your Cruise

MS Yangzi Explorer

This morning, you’ll enjoy a guided tour of the Temple of Heaven; it’s a resplendent example of Ming Dynasty design and engineering that also offers fascinating insight into ancient Chinese beliefs in numerology and cosmology. The temple’s tranquil grounds are the perfect place for our specially arranged private class with a Tai Chi Master.

After sightseeing and lunch, we’ll take you to the airport for your included flight to the river city of Yichang. On arrival, you’ll be escorted to the pier to board the Yangzi Explorer, China’s finest river ship. Settle in to your stylish balcony stateroom as our cruise adventure begins. Meals B+L+D


The Immense Three Gorges Dam

MS Yangzi Explorer

Early risers can start the day with invigorating Tai Chi exercise before an expansive buffet breakfast. A relaxing morning onboard offers a chance to relax on your private balcony, attend an informative talk on Chinese traditions, or indulge in a treatment at the shipboard spa. After lunch, you’ll step off  ship to visit the Three Gorges Dam; stretching more than 3,300 yards across at the top and towering over 600 feet, this massive construction project took 17 years to complete! It’s still the world’s largest hydro-power dam and this afternoon’s guided tour explores its far reaching impact upon the geography, archaeological sites, industries, and residents of the region. Back onboard, you can enjoy a lecture on traditional Chinese medicine. Later, the Yangzi Explorer will navigate through Xiling Gorge, the longest of the river’s Three Gorges. Then as the river widens and sweeps through groves of orange and pomelo trees, you’ll experience the tranquil side of life along China’s mightiest river. Tonight’s Captain’s Welcome Reception is followed by dinner and then entertainment in the Tang Theater.  Meals B+L+D


The Yangtze’s Impressive Gorges

MS Yangzi Explorer

If you wish, you can join fellow passengers for early morning Tai Chi before breakfast is served. Then step off ship for an unforgettable journey up Shennong Stream. You’ll explore this spectacular region in traditional sampan boats poled by Tujia boatmen. The landscapes here are unrivalled, encompassing crystalline rushing waters, dense forests and towering rock formations. As you venture upstream, you’ll espy coffins stowed high within the limestone cliffs that tower above you – a legacy of the region’s earliest inhabitants. Before returning to ship, you’ll visit a nearby village to experience life in a rural community. After lunch, you’ll want to be on your balcony or with fellow passengers on the Sun Deck as the Yangzi Explorer navigates Wu Gorge, renowned for massive cliffs that rise sharply from the river. Later, our ship cruises through spectacular Qutang Gorge, the narrowest of the river’s Three Gorges. Then enjoy a demonstration of traditional Chinese arts and crafts before sitting down to another elegant à la carte dinner accompanied by free-flowing wine.  Meals B+L+D


Ashore in Fuling

MS Yangzi Explorer

A delightful morning onboard our 5-star ship is yours to do as you wish. You might learn about China’s thriving pearl industry or attend a workshop on traditional Chinese painting and calligraphy. After lunch, you can tailor your touring with the included excursion of your choice:

+ The 816 Underground Project: This unique tour takes you underground into a vast cavern that was built by more than 60,000 laborers as part of a top-secret military project. Initiated in the 1960’s and designed to house China’s first nuclear reactor, construction was halted after 17 years before the project’s completion. The tunnels and cavern remained a closely guarded secret for nearly 50 years until the Government revealed its presence in 2002.
+ The White Crane Ridge Underwater Museum: Venture close to 150 feet under water to see what lies beneath the surface of the Yangtze River. You’ll discover ancient rock carvings from the Tang Dynasty that were permanently submerged after the construction of the Dam and also learn about the Yangtze’s flora and fauna. Before returning to ship, you’ll spend time with local farmers and other residents at a lively market filled with a wide variety of fish, meat, produce and Fuling’s famous pickles.
Note: Today’s morning at leisure and your choice of an included afternoon excursion applies to cruises from May to September. Guests on our other sailings will visit the 816 Underground Project in the morning and the White Crane Ridge Underwater Museum in the afternoon.  Meals B+L+D


Disembark in Chongqing + Fly to Lhasa, Tibet

Shangri-La - Lhasa, Tibet

Enjoy a final buffet breakfast onboard before disembarking the Yangzi Explorer in Chongqing. You’ll be escorted to the airport for your included flight to Tibet. After arriving in Lhasa, you’ll spend some time with a family in their home, a wonderful introduction to the life, traditions and warmth of the Tibetan people. Then check in to the sophisticated, 5-star Shangri-La Hotel where you’ll have time to refresh before dinner.  Meals B+D


Your guided tour of this fascinating city begins after breakfast at Norbulingka, the summer palace of the Dalai Lamas. Built in the 18th century, this expansive palace complex encompasses tranquil wooded areas, landscaped garden grounds and lovely pavilions. You’ll also visit Jokhang Temple. Originally founded in the 7th century, this 4-story timber structure topped with gold remains an important pilgrimage site for Tibetan Buddhists. Nearby, you’ll have a chance to explore Barkhor Street with its lively and colorful markets. Then meet with a Tibetan doctor at one of the city’s hospitals and spend some time with a master Tangka painter in his studio. Both of these specially arranged people-to-people encounters promise an enriching and insightful look into Tibetan life and culture.  Meals B+L+D


Experience Kora + Tour the Potala Palace c

Shangri-La - Lhasa, Tibet

This morning, you’ll join local residents as they perform Kora. Observing and even participating in this ancient Buddhist rite of walking and prayer will give you an authentic experience of Tibet’s enduring spiritual traditions. Then tour the magnificent Potala Palace. Built on a mountain ridge in the heart of the Lhasa Valley, this was the winter palace of the Dalai Lama for more than 1,000 years. Continue with a visit to the Sera Monastery, founded in the 15th century, and Anicanggu – the only Buddhist nunnery in the old quarter of the city. This evening’s dinner features traditional Tibetan cuisine and a performance of song and dance.  Meals B+L+D


Fly to Xian, China’s First Capital

Hilton Hotel - Xian, China

After breakfast, we’ll take you to the airport for your included flight to Xian, the ancient capital of China for 13 dynasties. On arrival, you’ll be met and escorted to the deluxe Hilton Hotel. A+R guests enjoy upgraded Executive Rooms with high speed Internet and complimentary access to the Executive Lounge. After checking in, the balance of your afternoon and evening are at leisure to enjoy as you wish. With an enviable location inside the historic city walls, you’ll find Xian’s finest shops, restaurants and entertainment outside your front door.  Meals B


Touch Antiquity + The Terra Cotta Warriors c

Hilton Hotel - Xian, China

This morning, a specially arranged experience awaits you at the Xian Museum. China’s history, of course, stretches back for thousands of years and excavated relics now offer extraordinary insight into the culture, beliefs and daily lives of China’s ancient civilizations. This morning, you’ll join museum curators to literally Touch Antiquity – donning white gloves to hold and examine some of these ancient artifacts as these experts illuminate their historic significance and explain what they can teach us about ancient China.
After lunch, we’ll visit China’s greatest archaeological discovery, uncovered by local villagers in 1974. Stand in awe before the thousands of life-sized terra cotta soldiers and horses that were buried 2,000 years ago in perfect infantry formation to guard the tomb of an Emperor. With our expert guide at your side, this unforgettable visit offers a fascinating look into China’s ancient history. Back at the Hilton Hotel, the evening is yours to enjoy and dine as you wish.  Meals B+L

We include this morning’s airport transfer and your flight to Shanghai. On arrival, you’ll be escorted to the Fairmont Peace Hotel, the city’s storied Art Deco landmark. The balance of this day is at leisure to enjoy as you like. With our hotel’s prime location overlooking the historic waterfront Bund and close to bustling Nanjing Road, it’s easy to step out for your first taste of Shanghai’s cosmopolitan allure.  Meals B


Full Day, Small Group Sightseeing

Fairmont Peace Hotel - Shanghai, China

Today’s sightseeing begins along the Bund, home to impressive landmarks built more than a century ago by Japanese and European trading companies. Then delight in the beauty of Yu Yuan Garden, originally created by a Ming Dynasty court official as a retreat for his aging parents.  After lunch, you’ll visit the Shanghai Museum, highly regarded for its expansive collection encompassing thousands of years of Chinese arts and culture – including ancient bronzes, celadon pottery, precious jade and exquisite antique furniture. This evening, we’ll take you to one of our favorite Shanghai restaurants for a congenial Farewell Dinner.  Meals B+L+D


Depart Shanghai

We’ll take you to the airport today for your homeward flight or onward journey.  Meals B

Extend Your Trip

The Allure of Hong Kong

4-Day Pre-Tour Extension from $1,199

Enhance your travels through China and Asia with our signature Private Touring in Hong Kong. We include your choice of deluxe or luxury hotel, chauffeured transfers when you come and go, and our exclusive Hong Kong Insider sightseeing tour with your own personal guide.

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Welcome to Hong Kong

On arrival in Hong Kong, you’ll be warmly greeted and chauffeured into the heart of this vibrant and cosmopolitan city. Complimentary water and a refreshing towelette will be provided as your guide introduces you to their native city and answers any questions you might have. Upon reaching the city center, you’ll check in to your choice of hotel.


Be a Hong Kong Insider

This morning your guide, a savvy city resident, will be waiting to show you the highlights and hidden facets of their hometown. Your exploration begins as you board the iconic Star Ferry! Cross Victoria Harbor and take in the impressive city skyline as your in-the-know guide shares information and insight. Step off on Hong Kong Island for a walking tour through Central, the city’s bustling business and financial center. Marvel at striking architectural landmarks like I.M. Pei’s China Bank Tower and learn how ancient Feng Shui principles still guide Hong Kong’s urban planners and architects.

Hop aboard one of the city’s double-decker trams, an essential part of island life for more than a century, and then explore by foot in Sheung Wan where you’ll see traditional herbal markets and learn about Chinese medicine. Continue along world-famous Hollywood where generations-old shop houses have been transformed into some of the city’s trendiest cafes, galleries and boutiques. Visit Man Mo Temple, one of the oldest in Hong Kong, and then sit down to a traditional Dim Sum lunch in one of your guide’s favorite restaurants. Delve into layers of architectural and cultural history at the unique PMQ Complex, and then join city residents along Graham Street. For nearly 200 years, this is where locals have come to buy their daily staples – everything from fruits and vegetables to preserved tofu, duck eggs and condiments. At one of the many markets, you’ll pause to refresh with a glass of freshly-pressed sugar cane juice. End your sightseeing on a high note as you ride the Peak Tram to the top of Victoria Peak – where you’ll have breathtaking views of the city skyline, Victoria Harbor and distant vistas of green hills and offshore islands. After sightseeing, you’ll be escorted back to your hotel where the rest of the afternoon and your evening are at leisure to enjoy as you wish.  Meals B+L


Another Day in Hong Kong

This entire day is yours to enjoy as you wish. Your hotel’s central location, surrounded by shopping, dining and cultural attractions, makes it easy to explore at your own pace. If you prefer additional guided sightseeing, you can choose from a wide variety of available tours including these:

Kowloon Markets: This half-day tour takes you through the back streets of Kowloon to experience facets of daily life glimpsed by few visitors. Venturing through the busy streets of the Yau Ma Tei and Mong Kok neighborhoods, you’ll join ordinary citizens and professional florists as they browse and shop in the colorful flower market. Strolling in the Yuen Po Street Bird Garden, you’ll see men and their bird cages – and learn about this popular hobby. Accompanied by our in-the-know guide, you’ll also explore the Goldfish Market and the Ladies’ Market – a great place to shop for fashion and accessories. Finish up at Tin Hua Temple and the Jade Market where hundreds of merchants specialize in jewelry and carvings made from this revered green stone as well as fresh-water pearls.

Treasures of Kowloon: Spend a half-day with our expert guide delving into Hong Kong’s cultural heritage. Focusing on some of the principle landmarks and attractions in the Kowloon district, this guided tour includes Wong Tai Sin, a popular temple known for its fortune tellers. You’ll also explore Walled City Park, set on the site of a 19th-century Chinese garrison, and visit the Chi Lin Nunnery, an impressive Buddhist temple built in Tang Dynasty-style.

Hong Kong Island Foodie Tour: A must for culinary aficionados, this guided tour takes you down colorful side streets in the Hong Kong Island neighborhoods of Central and Sheung Wan. With our expert guide at your side, you’ll stop at a half-dozen places to sample authentic regional specialties like barbecue pork and wonton noodles. Along the way, you’ll learn how the area grew from a tiny fishing village into an international center for finance and trade. Tour begins and ends in Central on Hong Kong Island and lasts about 3.5 hours.

Cheung Chau Island: You’ll be met at your hotel and escorted to the pier to board the ferry to Cheung Chau Island. With no motorized vehicles allowed, Cheung Chau offers a chance to experience traditional village life away from the 21st-century rhythms of Kowloon and the bustling districts on Hong Kong Island. Fishing boats ply the harbor of Cheung Chau and the waterfront promenade is alive with local shops, seafood restaurants and family-run grocery stores. This 6-hour tour includes a tasting of Cheung Chau’s culinary specialties.

Curated Arts of Hong Kong: Accompanied by our specialist guide, this exclusive tour takes you to some of the city’s most highly-regarded galleries and artists’ studios where professional staff and gallery managers will offer insightful introductions to their current exhibitions and artists. This tour also visits Duddell’s, an innovative dining venue that brings in rarely-seen contemporary art work – most on special loan from private collections. This 3-hour tour includes roundtrip private transfers from your hotel.

Heritage Tour: This unique tour explores the legacy of the five great clans that played such an important role in the early days of Hong Kong - with some of the families, like the Tangs, tracing their arrival in the area to the 12th century. Tucked in amongst the modern apartment towers and busy highways of Kowloon and the New Territories, you’ll discover a virtual living museum where historic sites offer a glimpse into the life and culture of these long-ago, once-powerful families. Among the highlights, you’ll visit the walled village of Shan Ha Wai, tour the Tang-styled Buddhist temple at the Chi Lin Nunnery, and see the stately home built in 1865 by a descendent of the Man clan. A final stop at the Hong Kong Museum of History offers a great wrap-up of the history you’ve explored on this fascinating half-day tour.


Depart Hong Kong

Your car and driver will take you to the airport or cruise ship terminal for your onward journey.  Meals B

Private Tour Add-Ons


Delight in the intimacy and flexibility of having your own personal car, driver and expert guide as you tour ancient Lijiang, explore the ethnic cultures of Yunnan province and discover the magnificent landscapes of Zhongdian, the fabled land of Shangri-La!

China Group Tour MapSearch

Save $1,000 Per Couple
+ $500 Solo

Pay in full at time of booking.

Great Walls: Playing
Mahjong in Beijing

Stroll through any Beijing park, or venture down any hutong and you are sure to spot them right away: four players hunched over a square table with a mass of decorated tiles the rough size of dominos.  This is Mahjong, China’s... Read More >>

Silk Road Smorgasbord: Xian’s Muslim Quarter  

While known to many for its famed Terracotta Warriors, Xian is the oldest of China’s imperial capitals and was the origin of the great Silk Road, a vast network of trading routes which stretched from China... Read More >>

Join the Barkhor Kora
around Lhasa’s Jokhang

Tibet’s determined capital Lhasa boasts many attractions, but one of the best ways to explore this ancient city is to join in one of its oldest and most venerated rituals: the kora, a devotional circumambulation around Tibet’s premier shrine, the Jokhang... Read More >>


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DepartureReturnFromAvailabilityDeparture Note
02 October 201917 October 2019$7,499Sold Out
Main Deck$7,499Sold Out
Xiling Deck$7,599Sold Out
Wu Deck Cabin$7,699Sold Out
Wu Deck Suite$8,499Sold Out
Qutang Deck Suite$8,699Sold Out
Call for Details PhoneRequest a Quote Booking
23 October 201907 November 2019$7,499Guaranteed
Main Deck$7,499Guaranteed
Xiling Deck$7,599Guaranteed
Wu Deck Cabin$7,699Guaranteed
Wu Deck Suite$8,499Guaranteed
Qutang Deck Suite$8,699Guaranteed
Call for Details PhoneRequest a Quote Booking

Family + Friends

Travel is one of  life's most rewarding experiences, perhaps even more so when it's shared with those you love! Combine our limited-time pay-in-full discount with our Family & Friends offers and save even more:
  • Save $50 more per person when 3 guests go
  • Save $100 more per person with 4 people
  • Save $150 more per person with 5 people
  • Save $200 more per person with 6 or more people!


Save $1,000 per couple + $500 solo on all of our Small Group, Small Ship and Private Journeys when you pay-in-full at time of booking.

Book Your Air

Ask about international air service, including business class. See your travel agent or call us for current international airfare associated with this program. We offer both economy and business class fares. Prices are in U.S. currency and are per person based on double occupancy, unless otherwise noted. Availability is limited.

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