19 Days Best of China and Tibet Tour with Yangtze River Cruise

Shanghai - Yangtze River Cruise - Chengdu - Lhasa - Xian - Beijing

From USD p.p

This is a cover-all itinerary that involves almost all the must-see sites of China: the Great Wall, the Forbidden City, the Temple of Heaven, the Terracotta Warriors, Tibet, Yangtze River and its Three Gorges, as well as the highlights in Chengdu and Shanghai. With this amazing tour, you can not only experience the ancient and modern China, but also enjoy a relaxing Yangtze River cruise along the longest and most spectacular river in China.

Your first destination of this tour is Shanghai, where you will visit the fascinating Yu Garden and stroll along the Bund. Then, you will fly to Yichang to start the once-in-a-lifetime Yangtze River Cruise. During your cruise time, you will discover the Three Gorges Dam, Lesser Three Gorges, Fengdu Ghost City, as well as the breathtaking scenery on the way. When in Chengdu, you will meet the adorable panda and experience a slower pace life like the locals. After that, you will discover the mysterious and unique culture of Tibet, by visiting the renowned Potala Palace, Jokhang Temple etc. Finally, you will get amazed by the Terracotta Warriors and Great Wall when touring Xi’an and Beijing.

Itinerary Day by Day

Day 1 Arrival in Shanghai

Welcome to Shanghai! Upon your arrival, your tour guide will meet you and escort you to your hotel. The rest of the day is for you to have a good rest or explore the surroundings on your own.

Stay overnight in Shanghai.

Day 2 Shanghai Sightseeing: Yu Garden, Yuyuan Bazaar, Shanghai World Financial Center, Nanjing Road, the Bund

Today, you will explore this classic and modern city of Shanghai. We will start with the fascinating Yu Garden, the original private residence of a senior Government administration in the Ming Dynasty. Neighboring to the Yu Garden, there is a lively market called Yuyuan Bazaar, where you can shop some specialties. Then we will move to Shanghai World Financial Center, the supertall skyscraper equipped with the highest sightseeing platform in the world.

In the afternoon, we will head to the renowned pedestrian street of Nanjing Road to take a nice stroll. You can enjoy the local snacks or shop some handicrafts and souvenirs, while appreciating those distinctive architecture. After that, we will enjoy another stroll along the Bund, where you will get amazed by the spectacular view of Huangpu River and dazzling light from buildings of Pudong.

Stay overnight in Shanghai.

Day 3 Flight to Yichang from Shanghai, boarding your Yangtze River Cruise Ship

Today, you will be escorted to Shanghai airport for the flight to Yichang. Upon arrival, you will be picked up by the local guide and then transferred to Yichang Port to board the ship. Your once-in-a-lifetime Yangtze River Cruise starts!

Stay overnight onboard your Yangtze cruise ship.

Day 4 Yangtze River Cruise: Three Gorges Dam

In the morning, you can wake up leisurely and enjoy the gentle sunshine shinning over the Yangtze River. The ship will first pass through the Xiling Gorge, which is the longest one among the Three Gorges, with the length of 76 km in total. The winding river and strange stones make Xiling Gorge is popular attraction along Yangtze River cruise.

In the afternoon, you will follow your local English-speaking guide and make a shore excursion to the famous Three Gorges Dam. As the largest and most complicated hydropower project in the world, Three Gorges Dam was designed and constructed for the benefits of flood control, river shipping, navigation etc. It is the place where you can get a comfortable sightseeing of natural flowers, flood discharging etc.

After that, the ship will sail through the five-stage Three Gorges Dam Ship Locks, the world’s largest ship lock system as tall as a high building of 40 floors.

In the evening, you can take part in the Captain’s Welcome Party which is well prepared by the cruise company. You can not only taste kinds of delicious food and drinks, but also have great fun with dance and music.

Stay overnight onboard your Yangtze cruise ship.

Day 5 Yangtze River Cruise: Lesser Three Gorges

Keeping sailing westwards, the cruise ship will head to the destination of today, the Lesser Three Gorges. As a popular place among tourists with superb natural sceneries, Lesser Three Gorges is situated on the Daning River which flows into the Yangtze River. Consisting of Longmen Gorge, Bawu Gorge and Dicui Gorge, the Lesser Three Gorges features rapids with clear green water, sheer cliffs and steep hillsides. Also, the surrounding forest is inhabited by monkeys and wild animals. After arriving at Wushan, the local guide will lead you to visit this beautiful place.

Stay overnight onboard your Yangtze cruise ship.

Day 6 Yangtze River Cruise: Fengdu Ghost City

Today’s highlight will be the shore excursion to the Fengdu Ghost City. Called “the Homeland of Divine Comedy in China”, Fengdu Ghost City is the only place to present the Chinese culture of the afterlife. There are buildings, structures, dioramas as well as statues, all related to the afterlife in hell. When visiting this city, you will know about the mysterious stories about the underworld and various kinds of devils and Chinese demons.

Stay overnight onboard your Yangtze cruise ship.

Day 7 Disembark at Chongqing, High speed train from Chongqing to Chengdu

In the morning, your ship will arrive at Chongqing Port, where you will go through the check-out procedures and disembark. Upon arrival, the local guide will pick you up and escort you to the train station for the train to Chengdu.

Stay overnight in Chengdu.

Day 8 Chengdu Sightseeing: Chengdu Research Base of Giant Breeding, Wenshu Temple, Renmin Park and Jinli Street

In the morning, drive to Chengdu Research Base of Giant Breeding, the home to giant pandas, where you will catch pandas' feeding time. They are at their most active, both Adults and Babies. There's a wealth of information and a panda museum in this 230-hectare park 10 km (6 miles) north of Chengdu. It takes about 2.5 hours to visit this site.

Then, you will visit some other highlights of Chengdu, including the Wenshu Temple, Renmin Park and Jinli Street. As the best-preserved Buddhist temple in Chengdu, Wenshu Temple is famous for its exquisite gardens and halls. Renmin Park is a beautiful city park often filled with locals, and you can enjoy a cup of tea to experience the slow life of Chengdu there. In the end of today, you will walk along the Jinli Old Street to fully appreciate Sichuan’s customs and folk arts.

Stay overnight in Chengdu.

Day 9 Free to Explore the City, then Board Train to Lhasa

The whole day is free for you to explore around the city. In the evening, you will be transferred to Chengdu Railway Station for the train to Lhasa. Your Tibet Permit will need to be checked before boarding.

Stay overnight on the train.

Day 10 Train to Lhasa, Scenery View of Tibet Railway

Today, you will spend the whole day on the train to Lhasa. It is quite a long journey from Chengdu to Lhasa, for about 36 hours in total. You will pass through two important provincial capital cities in northwest China, Lanzhou and Xining. Xining is known as the beginning of Qinghai-Tibet Railway.

You will witness the most beautiful scenery along Qinghai-Tibet Railway. From the deserts to massive grassland, snowy mountains to turquoise lakes, all these landscapes will continually appear and strongly appeal to your eyes.

Stay overnight on the train.

Day 11 Arrive in Lhasa

The Chengdu-Lhasa train will arrive in Lhasa at about 09:55 in the morning. Upon your arrival, your tour guide will hold a board with your name on it at the exit to welcome you. A private car will take you to the reserved hotel. You may view the Yarlung Tsangpo River (the longest and largest river in Tibet) and Lhasa River on their way to Lhasa.

Stay overnight in Lhasa.

Tips: If this is your first visit to Tibet, you will need to acclimatize to the increased elevation, to prevent altitude sickness. This is best done by resting in the hotel and minimizing any physical exertion.

Day 12 Lhasa Sightseeing: Potala Palace, Jokhang Temple, and Barkhor Street

Today, you’ll pay a visit to the famous Potala Palace, the world cultural heritage. You can explore its audience halls, the jeweled and Golden burial chortens (stupa Tombs) of past Dalai Lamas, and a tremendous number of Buddhist frescoes, Thangkas, combinations of mandala, etc.

Then tourists will head to the holiest temple in Tibet, the Jokhang Temple, built during Songtsen Gampo's reign by princess Wencheng of Tang dynasty, 647 A.D. Here you can observe sincere pilgrims making prostration in front of Jokhang Temple. While entering the temple, you can see the holiest statue of Buddha. Around the monastery is the famous Barkhor Street, where you can do the kora with pilgrims and locals. And then we’ll go to explore the old market and you may have the chance to see the traditional jewelry trading between people from different part of Tibet.

Finally, you’ll taste Tibetan tea with locals in the tea house and enjoy a welcome dinner at night.

Stay overnight in Lhasa.

After finishing the sightseeing, if time allows, you may go with tour guide to visit Tibetan handicraft art or Tibetan Traditional Medicine center. Besides, you can also choose to upgrade your tour to enjoy Tibetan Culture Show in the evening (fr. 60USD).

Day 13 Lhasa Sightseeing: Drepung Monastery and Sera Monastery

Today, you will visit two of the three prestigious Gelugpa monasteries in Lhasa, the Drepung and the Sera. Founded by Jamyang Choeje in 1416, Drepung Monastery is the largest monastery in Tibet. Situated at the foot of Gambo Utse Mountain, Drepung was once home to more than 10000 monks. Here you can see the biggest monastery kitchen inside and then pay a visit to the Buddhist Sculpture Carving near Drepung.

After having lunch, you’ll continue to visit the Sera Monastery, which was founded in 1419 by Tsongkapa's disciple Jamchen Choeje. The highlight is the monk debate held in the courtyard at around 3-5 in the afternoon. Besides, you can also see the colorful Rock Painting of Buddha and the three sand Mandalas and then visit the Tibetan scripture printing house.

Stay overnight in Lhasa.

Day 14 Flight from Lhasa to Xian

The guide will transfer you to the airport for your onward flight to Xi’an. After around 3 hours’ flying, you will land in Xi’an and be picked up by the local guide. Then the guide will take you to the reserved hotel. The rest of the day is for you to have a good rest.

Stay overnight in Xi’an.

Day 15 Xian Sightseeing: Terracotta Warriors and Horses, Ancient City Wall, Muslim Quarter

In the morning, you will visit the Museum of Terra-cotta Warriors and Horses, a must-see when in Xi'an. Around 8,000 ancient, life-sized figures were created to accompany the first Emperor of China to the afterlife and were part of his mausoleum. Each figure has a unique facial structure and expression as if they had been made from living people. The warriors were buried with the Emperor in 208BC and were not discovered until 1974.

After the warriors, you will head over to the Ancient City Wall of Xi'an for a leisure bicycle tour. The wall around the inner part of the city was built in the 14th century and is 14km long. It is an amazing example of ancient defensive structures. Then you will travel to the Muslim Quarter, the largest area of Muslim business in the city. It is the perfect place to buy souvenirs of Xi'an and China, with a wide range of local snacks and handicrafts.

Stay overnight in Xi’an.

Day 16 Xian Sightseeing: Big Wild Goose Pagoda, Shaanxi History Museum; High Speed Train to Beijing

Today, you will continue exploring this fascinating city of Xi’an. First, you will visit one of the most popular sites in Xi'an, the Big Wild Goose Pagoda. Built in 652, the pagoda is a repository of Buddhist figures and scriptures brought to Xi'an from India by, Xuanzang, the first abbot of Daci'en Temple.

Afterwards, you will head to Shanxi History Museum, where you can take in the glory and ancient history of China. The museum holds artifacts that date back as far as the Paleolithic era, up to the more recent Qing Dynasty. The museum is packed with thousands of exhibits from all periods of history, and is a busy, popular attraction.

Finally, the guide will take you to the railway station for your high-speed train to Beijing. On arrival, you will be picked up and transferred to your hotel.

Stay overnight in Beijing.

Day 17 Beijing Sightseeing: Tiananmen Square, Forbidden City, and Summer Palace

Today you will first visit the historic Tiananmen Square, which is the largest city square in the world and the spiritual heart of China, and then the magnificent Forbidden City which located in the center of Beijing and used to be the imperial palace of the Ming and Qing dynasties with a history of around 600 years.

In the afternoon, you will visit the fine Summer Palace. Summer Palace was an imperial summer resort of the Qing Dynasty. It is the most splendid classical garden in China.

Stay overnight in Beijing.

Day 18 Beijing Sightseeing: Mutianyu Great Wall, Ming Tombs, Bird's Nest and Water Cube from Outside

Today you will visit the majestic Mutianyu Great Wall. You will be taken on a group tour to the Great Wall, the most famous symbol of China and one of the world’s most remarkable architectural wonders. Then, tourists will visit Ming Tombs, the burial site of the emperor Wangli, the 13th emperor of the Ming Dynasty who ruled for 48 years until his death in 1620.

After that, you will be transferred back to the hotel in downtown area. On the way, you will witness the remarkable Bird's Nest and Water Cube from the outside. Both designed as the main stadiums of 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, they now become the popular landmarks of Beijing.

Stay overnight in Beijing.

Day 19 Beijing Sightseeing: Temple of Heaven, and Beijing Departure

In the morning, you will pay a visit to the Temple of Heaven, which is a royal sacred site where prayers for good harvests, prosperity and harmonious life are offered.

Then, the guide will transfer you to the airport or train station and help you get on board.

Service Inclusion

  1. Tibet Travel Permit and all other necessary permit to Tibet
  2. Domestic train/flight tickets as indicated in the itinerary, including Chongqing to Chengdu train ticket, Chengdu to Lhasa train ticket, Xi’an to Beijing train ticket etc.
  3. 5-day and 4-night Yangtze River cruise from Yichang to Chongqing
  4. All lodging listed in the itinerary. If you travel individually, you will need to share one room with another tourist. If you prefer to stay in one room by yourself, you will have to pay the single room supplement
  5. Meals listed in itinerary
  6. Entrance fees of all tourist sites listed in the itinerary
  7. Local tour transfer, comfortable tourist vehicle according to group size
  8. Excellent English-speaking tour guide in China tour and local Tibetan English-speaking guide in Tibet
  9. Tourist accident/casualty insurance
  10. One shared big Oxygen tank in the car
  11. First aid kit

Service Exclusion

  1. Chinese visa
  2. International flight to and out of China
  3. Domestic train/flight not listed in the itinerary. (We offer domestic train/flight ticket booking service, please contact our travel experts for the details.)
  4. Meals not specified the itinerary
  5. Tips and gratitude to tour guide and driver
  6. Personal expenses, like laundry, phone call, snacks, soft drinks, optional tour activities, etc.

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