Note: The itineraries presented are subject to modification due to water levels, closures because of public holidays or other uncontrollable factors. Every effort will be made to operate programs as planned, but changes may still be necessary throughout the cruise. This day-to-day schedule is subject to change. Your final day-to-day schedule will be provided onboard on the first day of your cruise/tour.
DAY 1: Beijing
Arrive in Beijing and be greeted by a Uniworld representative who will escort you to the opulent Ritz-Carlton, Beijing.
DAY 2: Beijing
Your adventure begins with two quintessential experiences in China’s capital of Beijing. Off limits to commoners for 500 years, the Forbidden City was once considered the cosmic center of the universe (and for good reason, as you’ll see for yourself). Peking Duck is another cultural gem you’ll get to experience today, a complex dish originally prepared for Chinese emperors. The political and cultural capital of China and home to more than 20 million people, Beijing exemplifies everything visitors find most intoxicating about China: Spectacular ancient monuments contrast with ambitious modern high-rises, and traditional crafts flourish alongside booming international businesses. Exquisite art, stunning UNESCO sites, serene parks, and teeming streets all contribute to the unique flavor of this astonishing city.
The imperial heritage of China’s capital – Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City and Peking Duck lunch with afternoon Temple of Heaven visit and Tai Chi class
DAY 3: Beijing
Today is a Bucket List Moment kind of day, as you stand at last atop China’s most iconic site—the Great Wall. The views are spectacular! You’ll also have tea at a traditional teahouse and take a rickshaw ride through the city’s ancient hutongs—historic neighborhoods that date back to the 15th century—where you will have lunch with a friendly local family at their home.
Culture, history and intrigue: hutongs, teahouse and the Great Wall
DAY 4: Beijing, Fly to Xi’an
Leave the hustle and bustle of Beijing behind today and head north to the serenity of the Summer Palace, home to one of China’s most beautiful classical gardens. From there, plunge into the past in China’s first capital, Xi’an, where you’ll be treated to a traditional (and incredibly labor intensive) dumpling banquet. You have one more special excursion to enjoy in Beijing this morning, then you’ll fly to Xi’an for the next leg of your Chinese adventure.
Grace and Art: Beijing’s Summer Palace and Xi’an’s traditional dumpling banquet
DAY 5: Xi’an
Xi’an’s famous terra-cotta army has been called the 8th wonder of the world, and it’s certainly the most extraordinary archeological find of the 20th century. Prepare to be amazed! You’ll also enjoy a traditional Tang Dynasty dinner show with fabulous food, music and flamboyant costumes. The imperial capital for 10 ancient dynasties, Xi’an achieved its greatest renown under the Tang Dynasty (AD 618-907), when it was a great international metropolis and the eastern terminus of the legendary Silk Road. Today it is the capital of Shaanxi Province and most famous for a museum devoted to the Terra-cotta Warriors and Horses.
China’s First Capital: Terra-cotta Army and Tang Dynasty dinner show
DAY 6: Xi’an, Fly to Lhasa
Today you’ll fly to Lhasa, the ancient cultural and religious epicenter of Tibet, where the majestic Himalayan peaks will make you feel like you’re on top of the world—figuratively and literally—in the world’s highest capital city. Upon arrival in Lhasa, you’ll check in to the Shangri-La Lhasa Hotel, where dinner comes with amazing views of the world’s highest city.
DAY 7: Lhasa
Enter the hushed inner sanctum of the spiritual heart of the city, Lhasa’s holiest temple, where you will have a rare opportunity to gaze upon the most sacred icon of Tibetan Buddhism—an ancient statue of the Buddha that legions of devout pilgrims journey vast distances to see in person. High on the Tibetan Plateau, Lhasa, the cultural and historical capital of Tibet, is both a thriving modern town and a mystical destination of pilgrimage.
Otherworldly Jokhang Temple and Tibet Museum
DAY 8: Lhasa
The enormous hilltop Potala Palace is the first thing visitors see in Lhasa, and today you’ll have a chance to actually venture inside within this vast and well-preserved site. It is said to contain a thousand rooms, including the private rooms where the Dalai Lama himself once resided. Later, visit Sera Monastery, an active place of worship and study with an amazing collection of Buddhist art.
Place of the Gods: Potala Palace and Sera Monastery
DAY 9: Lhasa, Fly to Chongqing (Embark), Cruising the Yangtze River
The word of the day is “panda.” Pandas are one of China’s most beloved (and adorable) cultural symbols, and you’ll get to see some of these gentle giants today at the Chongqing Zoo. Check out of your hotel and fly to Chongqing, the booming capital of western China. Although Chongqing is a major metropolis, the area is known chiefly for its mountainous landscape and the dense forests that shroud temples, tombs and caves. Your elegant ship, the Sanctuary Yangzi Explorer, awaits you here.
Giant Pandas visit at Chongqing Zoo
DAY 10: Cruising the Yangtze River, Shibaozhai
Do you believe in magic? The bright red Shibao Pagoda was originally built into the side of a mountain peak, but that peak became an island after the completion of the Three Gorges Dam. Step ashore to do some exploring, perhaps climbing to the top to ensure that all your dreams come true (or so an ancient legend says). Relax and prepare to be dazzled as your ship carries you through some of the most glorious scenery in the world. Limestone cliffs, sheathed in greenery, loom above the water; mountains, wreathed in mist, tower in the distance. The river itself, deep and powerful, busy and serene, will work its enchantment as it carries you past bucolic fishing villages, hillside rice paddies, ancient cliff carvings and historic temples.
Fuling: “816 Underground Project”
DAY 11: Cruising the Yangtze River, Shennong Stream
Today will be a highlight of your journey—a full day cruising the Yangtze River’s mystical, beautiful and completely mesmerizing Three Gorges, with scenery that has captivated artists and poets for thousands of years.
The magical Shennong Stream
DAY 12: Cruising the Yangtze River, Yichang (Disembark), Fly to Shanghai
The Three Gorges Dam was a hugely expensive and controversial undertaking, a project that involved relocating entire villages threatened by the rising waters of the Yangtze. The dam itself is an engineering marvel that you can see from a breathtakingly up-close perspective today.
Powering China’s Future: Three Gorges Dam
DAY 13: Shanghai
After days of panda bears, ancient warriors and timeless Chinese landscapes, Shanghai and its futuristic skyline can be something of a shock to the system. Yet beyond the building boom and the avant-garde architecture, you can still find traces of Shanghai’s colorful and fascinating colonial-era history. Enjoy a taste of both old and new today, including the city’s famous delicacy—dim sum—and a performance by the gravity-defying Shanghai acrobats. Nearly 24 million people live in Shanghai, China’s largest city. An international economic hub, it has drawn entrepreneurs from all over the world for 150 years. But while Shanghai may be the “city of the future,” you can still find remnants of its history in Old Town and the area known as the concessions, which were controlled by European interests in the 19th century.
Spectacular skyscrapers, famous dim sum and acrobats
DAY 14: Depart Shanghai
Check out of your hotel and transfer to the Shanghai Pudong International Airport for your flight home, or extend your trip with a memorable optional extension to Hong Kong.