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Yangtze Sampler Small Ship Cruise + Tour (2019 Itinerary)

12 days

12 Day Small Group Cruise & Tour

Overall Rating
based on 144 Reviews

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Small Group Discoveries for World Travelers

+ Experience life as a city resident as you browse in a market for produce to bring to your hosts, a local Beijing family who will offer real personal insight into this rapidly evolving city.
+ Learn Tai Chi with a master as you join him for a private class at the Temple of Heaven.
+ Sail through the mighty Yangtze Gorges aboard our elegant all-balcony ship; your 4-night cruise will be enriched by our extensive shore excursions, onboard talks, and cultural demonstrations.
+ A Xian resident shares his lifetime of experience as you explore with him through a city market filled with exotic fare.
+ Sit down in one of Shanghai’s newly popular wine lounges and learn about China’s emerging taste for fine vintages… Enjoy a congenial luncheon and a glass of the house favorite.
+ Includes 4 UNESCO World Heritage sites c

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Day
1

You’ll be warmly greeted at the airport and escorted to the luxurious Fairmont Beijing Hotel. The rest of this day is yours to relax and enjoy as you wish.

Day
2

In + around Beijing c

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 ,a sprawling complex of palaces, courtyards and pavilions. At colorful local market, you’ll mingle with city residents and experience a slice of daily life as you help your guide to select some produce for a local family. Joining this family for lunch in their home, you’ll enjoy congenial conversation and gain real insight into Chinese traditions that still endure in this rapidly evolving city. Then hop aboard a rickshaw to explore the ancient streets of a Hutong, an ancient enclave of traditional courtyard homes. This evening, sit down to a festive Peking Duck Banquet with wine. Meals B+L+D

Day
3

Day 3 Great Wall + Summer Palace 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. Then 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.  Meals B+L

Day
4

Fly to Yichang + Embark your Yangtze Cruise c

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, 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. You’ll have time to settle in to your balcony stateroom and refresh before dinner is served in the Explorer’s elegant restaurant. Choose from a tempting array of international and regional Chinese dishes, accompanied by free-flowing wine.  This evening, the 7 Wonders of China documentary will be screened in the Tang Theater. Meals B+L+D

Day
5

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

Day
6

Up Shennong Stream + Through the Yangtze 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

Day
7

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 the Yangzi Explorer after breakfast and visit the Chongqing Zoo to see their marvelous Panda exhibit. Then transfer to the airport for your included flight to Xian, China’s ancient capital for 13 dynasties. At a bustling local market, an engaging Xian resident will share his lifetime of experience – offering a firsthand look into the culture of the city and the many exotic products for sale. Enjoy a dinner of savory dumplings, a regional favorite, and retreat to the 5-star Hilton Hotel, ideally located within the ancient city walls.  Meals B+D

Day
9

Discover the Terra Cotta Army c

Hilton Hotel - Xian, China

In 1974, local villagers digging a well stumbled upon what would ultimately become China’s greatest archaeological discovery… Thousands of life-sized terra cotta soldiers, horses and chariots that had been buried in perfect infantry formation to guard the tomb of an Emperor! This morning, we’ve arranged for you to meet with a local archaeologist – a great introduction to this World Heritage Site. Gaze upon this extraordinary terra cotta army as you learn about their history and discovery. Enjoy a festive lunch of regional cuisine as you watch a lively noodle-making demonstration. Then visit the old defensive walls that still surround much of Xian’s historic core and hear colorful stories about this ancient Imperial capital.  Meals B+L+D

We’ll take you to the airport today for your included flight to Shanghai. Upon arrival in this wonderfully cosmopolitan city, you’ll be met and escorted to the Fairmont Peace Hotel, a luxury landmark overlooking the historic waterfront Bund. Tonight, you’ll thrill to the daring feats and graceful artistry of the world-famous Shanghai Acrobats!  Meals B

Your comprehensive guided tour of Shanghai begins this morning along the historic Bund; in a city now renowned for its striking 21st-century skyscrapers, this elegant waterfront boulevard is still graced with architectural landmarks built by European and Japanese mercantile companies after the 1842 Treaty of Nanjing opened the city to international trade. Then stroll in Yu Yuan Garden, originally established in 1577 by a government officer as a tranquil retreat for his aging parents. At the highly regarded Shanghai Museum, you’ll find a vast collection of artifacts spanning millennia of Chinese culture, history and civilization – from ancient bronzes and celadon pottery to precious jade and exquisite Ming Dynasty furniture. At midday, we’ll leave the past behind to experience a thoroughly modern side of Shanghai at one of the city’s currently popular restaurants. Fusion cuisine, handcrafted cocktails and sommelier-curated wine lists are now as popular here as in any other world-class city. As we sit down to lunch accompanied by a glass of the house wine, restaurant staff will join us to offer insight into the city’s ever-changing food-and-wine scene.  Meals B+L+D

Day
12

Farewell to Shanghai

Transfer to the airport for your flight. 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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Day
1

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.

Day
2

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

Day
3

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.

Day
4

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

Guilin

Our 3-day FreeStyle Travel package includes a choice of fine hotels, daily breakfast, full day sightseeing with Li River cruise and private car airport transfers.

Lhasa

Our 4-day FreeStyle Tour includes a choice of fine hotels, 6 meals, extensive sightseeing with your own personal car, driver and guide and chauffeured airport transfers.

Be A Hong Kong Insider

Our resident guide will take you around town like a savvy insider to discover facets of Hong Kong which few visitors ever glimpse! We include transfers, a choice of fine city-center hotels, our exclusive Be a Hong Kong Insider full-day private tour, and more!

Yangtze River Cruise MapSearch

Save $1,000 Per Couple
+ $500 Solo

Pay in full at time of booking.

Be a Hong Kong Insider...
4 days from $1,359

We Include:
  • Shanghai to Hong Kong flight
  • 3 nights city-center hotel
  • Daily breakfast
  • Lunch at Jimmy’s Kitchen
  • Our unique Be a Hong Kong Insider full-day tour!

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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 >>

Occupancy

Trip Type

previous next
DepartureReturnFromAvailabilityDeparture Note
10 October 201921 October 2019$5,599Guaranteed
AccommodationPriceAvailability
Main Deck$5,599Guaranteed
Xiling Deck$5,699Guaranteed
Wu Deck Cabin$5,799Guaranteed
Wu Deck Suite$6,599Guaranteed
Qutang Deck Suite$6,799Guaranteed
Call for Details PhoneRequest a Quote Booking
17 October 201928 October 2019$5,599Guaranteed
AccommodationPriceAvailability
Main Deck$5,599Guaranteed
Xiling Deck$5,699Guaranteed
Wu Deck Cabin$5,799Guaranteed
Wu Deck Suite$6,599Guaranteed
Qutang Deck Suite$6,799Guaranteed
Call for Details PhoneRequest a Quote Booking

Ask about international air service on Cathay Pacific or United, 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.

Extra nights are available before or after your tour.

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!

Pay-In-Full

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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