China is the perfect setting for a family adventure. Cruise along the Yangtze River, absorb Shanghai’s lovely Yu Garden, hold a panda and take a winding toboggan ride down a section of the Great Wall.
China is a vast and extraordinary country spanning thousands of miles from the deserts in the west to the ocean on the east. Culturally, China has one of the most rich and textured histories of all civilizations that encompasses over 5,000 years.
The Forbidden City, or Palace Museum, sits at the center of Beijing, directly north of Tiananmen Square where the famous portrait of Mao Zedong hangs on the palatial crimson wall. It was the imperial seat for Ming and Qing dynasty emperors from 1420 until 1912 when the last emperor, Pu Yi, abdicated.
The Great Wall winds its way across China covering over 5,500 miles (8,850 km). While the latest construction occurred after 1368 during the Ming Dynasty, construction of the Great Wall began over 2,000 years ago. In fact, the Great Wall is actually made up of a number of interconnecting walls spanning China that different dynasties and warlords constructed over the years.
Discovered in 1974 when a local farmer was digging a well, the terracotta army, buried in 210 BC with the first emporer of the Qin dynasty, is a breathtaking site. The thousands of life-size figures have individually unique faces and hair and armor styles appropriate to their rank. The museum of the Terracotta Army is located in Xi'An, Shanxi province.
Arrive in Beijing, China’s political and cultural hub.
Walk in the footsteps of emperors in the Forbidden City, the former Chinese imperial palace, home of the royal families and ceremonial and political center of Chinese government. Wander through Tiananmen Square, site of several key events in Chinese history – not to mention the world’s largest public plaza. This evening, gather for your welcome dinner.
Walk or take a cable car to the top of the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall; then, hop on a toboggan for an exciting ride down the curvy path. After lunch, pause to take photos of the Beijing National Stadium, also known as the “Bird’s Nest.” Proceed to the Temple of Heaven, climbing in a pedicab to thread your way through the winding lanes of a hutong (narrow alleyway) neighborhood. Later, watch the thrilling feats of daring kung fu masters during an evening performance.
Fly to Xian in western China, the start of the ancient Silk Road. Explore the ancient calligraphy of the Stone Tablets Forest, the largest library of engraved slabs in China. Later, climb an ancient gate of the City Walls, one of the few city walls remaining in China. This evening, enjoy dinner that includes a dumpling-making and noodle-throwing demonstration.
Examine the Terra Cotta Warriors, thousands of life-sized ceramic soldiers and horses “guarding” the tomb of China’s first emperor. The ancient burial site was discovered when Chinese peasants dug a well in 1974. Each soldier has a unique face, and there are more than 8,000 of them spread throughout the site. Then, make your very own miniature terra cotta soldier at a local pottery factory. Later today, fly to Chengdu, the capital of the Sichuan Province. The city’s traditional daub and wood houses recall Tudor England, while its flourishing markets are stocked with fragrant teas, oranges, herbal medicines and spicy chili peppers.
This morning, visit the Panda Research Center. Afterward, spend a relaxing afternoon at leisure. Later this evening, attend a family-friendly Sichuan Opera, the famous face-changing performance – one of China’s oldest, most treasured art forms.
Early this morning, noted masters give you a lesson in tai chi before you drive to the Dazu Caves and stop to visit a family home nearby. In Chongqing, board your luxury river cruiser for a three-night journey through the scenic Three Gorges.
Spend two adventurous days on the ship and exploring the shore. Meet a local family and pass through the world’s largest dam project. On board, a Children’s Activity Coordinator engages young guests with calligraphy and Mandarin lessons as well as crafts and games.
After an early lunch on board, disembark in Yichang. Later, fly to Shanghai.
Explore Shanghai, starting off for Pudong via the Bund Sightseeing Tunnel, which features a visual display of Shanghainese life. Ascend to the top of the World Financial Center, the tallest observatory in China at 1,555 feet. Walk along the Glass Skywalk, looking down from your perspective perched high above the streets of Shanghai. Back on the Puxi side of the river, wander through the streets of Old Town and visit the Yu Garden, adorned with pavilions and punctuated by streams and pools. Tonight, join your newly made friends for a farewell dinner.
After breakfast, transfer to the airport for your flight home.