Be met on arrival and transferred to your hotel. After settling in, the remainder of the day is yours at leisure to explore or relax. Later this evening, get to know your APT Tour Director and fellow travellers during a Welcome Reception. Stay Three Nights: Regent Hotel Beijing
Your sightseeing begins today with a tour of Tiananmen Square. Enlarged to four times its original size in the 1950s, Tiananmen is the world's largest city square. After the tour, head to the World Heritage-listed Forbidden City, the largest surviving palace complex on earth. Located within the Imperial City of Beijing, the Forbidden City was home to 24 Chinese emperors between 1420 and 1924. Entrance to the city was once at the sole discretion of the emperor, but today visitors are able to access this extraordinarily preserved site.
Enjoy time this afternoon at leisure, and this evening indulge in an authentic Peking Duck banquet served with all the traditional accompaniments. The origins of this world-famous dish date back to the Imperial era, when a variation was created for the Emperor of China in the Yuan Dynasty. Traditionally known as Shaoyazi, there is even a mention of this dish in the ancient 1330 text, Complete Recipes for Dishes and Beverages. (B/L/D)
Beijing, Great Wall of China
Today, set out for the Great Wall of China, which winds its way from the Yellow Sea up into the Gobi Desert
for more than 6,000 kilometres. Be captivated by the magnitude of this 8th-century monument as you wander along an unrestored and rarely visited stretch of the Badaling section, which is also the most complete section of the wall. Return to the hotel for afternoon tea. (B/L)
Freedom of Choice:
- Following dinner, you may choose to attend a fascinating Peking Opera show at Qianmen Liyuan Theatre, watch an exhilarating Kung Fu Show at the Red Theatre.
- At the Great Wall of China enjoy a delicious buffet lunch and free-flowing beverages overlooking the wall, prepared exclusively for APT guests.
Beijing, Yichang, Embark Ship
Enjoy lunch before transferring to the airport for an evening flight to Yichang. On arrival, transfer to the smallest, most exclusive and luxurious ship cruising the Yangtze River, the Sanctuary Yangzi Explorer. Settle into your suite as your ship sets sail. Stay Four Nights:
the luxurious Sanctuary Yangzi Explorer
Freedom of Choice:
- Choose to visit the Temple of Heaven and explore the main building. Perhaps visit the modern 798 Art Zone, an iconic contemporary art district in Beijing. Alternatively, head to the Hutong district by rickshaw and visit a local calligrapher's home.
Three Gorges Dam, Xiling Gorge
Cruise along the Yangtze River's most picturesque area, the spectacular Three Gorges region. Arrive at the Three Gorges Dam and take a tour of the Three Gorges Project and exhibition. Pass through the longest of the Three Gorges, Xiling Gorge, cruising through Yellow Ox Gorge and under Huangling Temple. After the Captain's Welcome Reception this evening, enjoy a special Welcome Dinner. (B/L/D)
Shennong Stream, Wu Gorge, Qutang Gorge
Disembark your ship at Badong and transfer by ferry to a traditional Chinese sampan (longboat). Absorb the serenity of the river and take in the rich surrounding forest and towering rock formations. Arrive at a local riverside village for a glimpse of traditional, rural Chinese life. See the local farms and tracker huts, and the ancient artefacts and customs still used today by the villagers. After lunch back on board, continue to the tranquil and spectacular Wu Gorge. Noted for its sheer peaks and towering cliff faces, the gorge is surrounded by the Wu Mountains.
Later, your ship will graciously glide between the Chijia Mountain and Baiyan Mountain to enter Qutang Gorge, the shortest and most dramatic of the Three Gorges. Also considered the most beautiful, the two peaks of Qutang Gorge rise up alongside the Yangtze River some 1,300 metres. As you cruise past the south bank, look out for the ancient inscriptions engraved into the white chalk cliff faces. This afternoon, there is the opportunity to attend a hands-on arts and crafts demonstration on board. This evening, indulge in a delicious dinner with your fellow guests. (B/L/D)
Fengdu or Relocation Tour
Rise early to participate in a Tai Chi class atop the ship's Observation Deck for a relaxing start to your day. Following breakfast, disembark in Fuling, a sleepy town along the Yangtze. Here, enjoy the extraordinary chance to visit the 816 Underground Project, an old nuclear site hidden in the mountains. Constructed in the 1960s when political tensions between the world's superpowers were at their height, this immense nuclear installation spans almost 12 miles, with more than 130 manmade roads and tunnels. This unique opportunity to explore the project affords a deeper insight into China's military and political history.
In the afternoon, choose from a range of activities. Perhaps attend a Chinese brush painting and calligraphy demonstration, learn how to play the ancient game of Mahjong, learn a few words of Mandarin, or participate in a dumpling making session run by the ship's chef. This evening, enjoy the Emperor's Farewell Dinner, a Chinese banquet feast. (B/L/D)
Following breakfast, disembark the luxurious Sanctuary Yangzi Explorer for the final time in Chongqing this morning. A strategic port since ancient times, Chongqing was established in the 11th century and has a dramatic history, having played a key role in World War II due to its mountainous landscape. Head to the Chongqing Zoo, where more than 200 varieties of wild and rare animals are on display, including the protected giant pandas. This beautiful creature is fast replacing the dragon as China's emblem and has been kept in zoos since the early Han Dynasty – over 2,000 years ago. Later, visit a local restaurant for lunch before transferring to the airport for your flight to Xi'an. Stay Two Nights:
Xi'an, Shangri-La Hotel (B/L/D)
Freedom of Choice:
- This evening, choose your dining experience. Siam Garden serves the finest traditional Thai cuisine in Xi'an prepared by a Thai master chef. Alternatively, enjoy authentic Cantonese cuisine from traditional dim sums to freshly made noodles at Tian Xiang Ge. This dining institution also serves famous dishes from other regions of China, including local Xi'an specialities. Otherwise, soak up the cosmopolitan atmosphere of Yi Cafe, presenting cuisine from China, South-East Asia and Europe.
Xi'an, Terracotta Army
Today you will discover the attractions of Xi'an, one of the oldest cities in China. The city was one of China's Four Great Capitals and is the eastern point of the famous Silk Road. Visit the ancient city wall, one of the largest military defensive systems in the world, constructed in the 14th century during the early Ming Dynasty. Afterwards, travel to a clay factory where impressive terracotta soldiers are still made today. Spend the afternoon at the Museum of Qin Terracotta Warriors and Horses and the Qin Shi Huang Mausoleum. (B/L/D)Freedom of Choice:
- This evening, enjoy a Tang Dynasty cultural performance and feast on a local dumpling dinner. Alternatively, you may like to embark on a tour of the Muslim Quarter, famous for its cultural atmosphere, filled with buildings from the Ming and Qing dynasties. Following your tour of this lively district, enjoy dinner at a local restaurant.
Transfer to the airport and fly to Shanghai. On arrival, ride the high-speed Maglev train and watch the onboard speedometer race towards an exhilarating 300 kilometres per hour. Check-in to your hotel overlooking the Huangpu River. From Jesuit cathedrals, Jewish synagogues and Buddhist temples to home-grown lòngtáng laneways and shíkùmén housing, with time at leisure you'll lift the lid to a treasure chest of architectural style in Shanghai. Stay Three Nights:
Shanghai, Fairmont Peace Hotel (B/D)
Freedom of Choice:
- In the evening, enjoy a delicious meal of Chinese cuisine at the Dragon Phoenix restaurant. Alternatively, you may wish to head to Lost Heaven, one of Shanghai's most awarded restaurants that specialises in the tribal cuisine of Yunnan province. Or for a western influenced seafood experience, Amanda Restaurant has a menu that is sure to inspire and delight.
This morning, be joined by a local guide for an orientation tour through downtown Shanghai. Stop at the Jin Mao Tower and take an elevator to the 88th floor to the viewing deck, where you will delight in panoramic views of the city. This evening, after dinner at your leisure, enjoy premium seating at a thrilling acrobatic show. (B/L)
Enjoy your selected Freedom of Choice activity this morning in Shanghai. Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant and time at leisure before returning to the city. This evening, savour a special Farewell Dinner. (B/L/D)
Freedom of Choice:
- Perhaps cruise the Huangpu River through the heart of the city, then explore Yu Garden and enjoy a traditional Chinese tea ceremony. Regarded as one of the most lavish gardens in China, Yu Garden was built over a period of 20 years by Pan Yunduan who wanted to impress his father, a high-ranking official in the Ming Dynasty. Following your tour, sit down to a dim sum lunch. Alternatively, you may prefer to join a walking tour through the French Concession area to finish in the Xintiandi district, an area abound with unique stores and restaurants. Your final option is a full day excursion to Jinxi, an ancient water town. Although only an hour from bustling Shanghai, Jinxi is worlds away in pace and serenity. Wandering through the covered corridors along the Jinxi River, you'll discover ancient bridges arching over the town's many water alleys.
Wake for the final time to the vibrant and bustling city of Shanghai. Enjoy a hearty breakfast at your hotel this morning. Your incredible journey through China draws to a conclusion following check out. Transfer to the airport on a private coach for your onward flight home. Sit back and relax, sift through the many photos you've taken along your trip and let the experiences from this journey etch across your memory forever. (B)