Indulge in the bold and spicy flavours of local cuisine as you Dive Into Culture and learn about regional cooking practices at the Museum of Sichuan Cuisine. Learn how to crush chilli into powder using a Qing Dynasty pestle and mortar, then view ancient kitchenware, books and manuscripts faithfully recording the history of Sichuan culinary cultures.
Immerse yourself in the intoxicating scents wafting through Restaurant Alley then, pay tribute to the Kitchen God before attempting to create your own culinary magic with the guidance of a local chef. Stomach and soul sated after a delicious encounter with Chengdu, you'll have an afternoon to relax, explore further or perhaps take the opportunity to do some shopping. (B/L)
Rub shoulders with the locals during a visit to People's Park with its beautiful Chinese gardens, lake and tea houses. Gain insights into the day-to-day lives of the locals who spend their free time in tranquil surrounds indulging in a leisurely game of mah-jong, a quiet nap or neck massage. Venture to lively Jinli Old Street next, crossing beneath the imposing archway into a world of intricate handicraft, paintings and calligraphy.
Stroll along the narrow street whose façades were modelled on the architectural style of a traditional old town in western Sichuan Province, then transfer to the railway station for a high-speed bullet train ride to Chongqing. Here, you'll enjoy a city orientation tour with dinner before boarding your Yangtze River Cruise. (B/RD) Stay: Victoria Jenna or Victoria Sabrina
Connect with your exquisite natural surrounds as you cruise gently down the Yangtze to the imposing Three Gorges. Squeeze through the narrow Qutang Gorge, admiring its dramatic vistas, before your journey takes you through Wu Gorge, renowned for its quiet beauty, forest-clad mountains, and cliffs so sheer the sun barely penetrates their precipices and finally, Xiling Gorge.
A small motor boat will ferry you through the magical landscape of the Goddess Stream, a tributary of the Yangtze – its limestone cliffs covered in greenery provide a tranquil backdrop for your relaxing encounter with this mighty river. (B/L/D)
Shanghai's famous ‘Bund' waterfront is the first stop on a day of sightseeing with a Local Specialist. Admire the ornate neoclassical colonial buildings and skyscrapers that have sprung up from this former marshland, then Dive Into Culture during a visit to a silk museum. Embrace the tranquillity of the famous Yu Garden next, with its pavilions, halls, rockeries, ponds and cloisters.
Then, enjoy some free time for a local lunch of soup dumplings perhaps and shopping in the Old Town, a treasure trove of winding streets and vibrant markets that was once enclosed by the ancient walled city of Shanghai. Our final stop this afternoon is a visit to the Jade Buddha Temple, built in 1928 after the original temple was destroyed during the revolution that overthrew the Qing Dynasty. Admire the beauty of its precious jade Buddha statues made out of crystal-clear white jade, before you settle into an evening performance by the world-renowned Shanghai Acrobatic Troupe. (B)
Ascend to the 88-storey Jin Mao Tower for panoramic views of the skyscrapers that loom over the most populous city on earth. Then embark on a walking tour with a Local Specialist through the Shanghai French Concession, for an exhilarating encounter with the opulent age of French colonial China. Wander through the narrow alleyways, past elegant villas and apartments dating back to the early 1900s when the territory was proclaimed a French settlement.
Later this morning, you'll see where the First Conference of the Communist Party took place in Xin Tian Di, whose charming antique façades hide a 21st century world of bars, cafés, boutiques and theme restaurants. Enjoy the rest of the afternoon at leisure, letting the sights and sounds of Shanghai infuse every sense or consider joining an Optional Experience. Say a fond farewell to newfound friends this evening during a Farewell Dinner. (B/FD)