BEIJING, XIAN, SHANGHAI, GUILIN, YANGTZE RIVER CRUISE AND HONG KONG
How can you begin to discover a country so vast, so ancient, so diverse? Our China tour with Yangtze River cruise doesn’t waste a moment, ensuring that you’ll experience the most intriguing, renowned sights on what is truly a trip of a lifetime. Count on your smarTours® guides to navigate the innumerable details of travel in China and add nuanced narrative to everything you’ll see—from Tiananmen Square to the Terracotta Army, the Great Wall to giant pandas. We’ll break the trip to meander along the fabled Yangtze, China’s longest river, on a scenic four-night cruise. And we’re not done yet! We wisely complete this escorted package with a visit to colorful, hectic, exciting Hong Kong.
For COVID-19 updates, please scroll down to our Before You Depart section.
Did you know that you can make this tour private? Find out about pricing and options for groups of 10 or more travelers.
- 2 Nights in Shanghai
- 3 Nights in Beijing
- 2 Nights in Xian
- 4-Night Yangtze River Cruise
- 2 Nights in Guilin
- 3 Nights in Hong Kong
- Round-trip airfare from the Los Angeles (flights from New York-JFK at additional cost) (passengers may also book this tour without flights)
- Airfare taxes, fees & fuel surcharges
- All intra-China flights and ground transportation
- Accommodation at deluxe hotels
- Deluxe Yangtze River cruise aboard Victoria Cruises Premier ship in outside cabin with picture window and private balcony.
- 35 meals: 16 full-buffet American breakfasts, 10 lunches, and 9 dinners
- Comprehensive sightseeing tours, admission fees included
- All shore excursions
- English-speaking Tour Director and local guides
Click the Day by Day itinerary above (or swipe on mobile devices) to see the experiences that await on each day of your tour.
Day 1: Depart U.S.
Take off in the afternoon on a nonstop flight to Shanghai. Airfare from U.S. is included in your tour package.
*Passengers who did not purchase flights will join the tour in Shanghai on Day 2.
Day 2: Arrive in Shanghai
After crossing the International Date Line, you’ll arrive late afternoon in the “Paris of the East.” After being greeted at the airport, you’ll be escorted to your hotel, getting a first glimpse of this dynamic city, which blends a seaport legacy with sleek 21st-century architecture. This evening, your Tour Director hosts a welcome briefing.
Crowne Plaza Fudan Hotel or similar
Day 3: Shanghai
We’ll start the day like the locals do—with morning exercise. Ours will be in the form of a guided stroll along the Bund, the bustling Huangpu River waterfront, followed by a walk through Yu Yuan Garden. Take a deep breath and enjoy the rockeries, pavilions, and sculptures of this classical Ming Dynasty-era garden, which was created over 400 years ago to be a happy, tranquil place for the owner’s parents. The remainder of the day is free for exploration at your own pace. (You might sample the Nanxiang Steamed Buns!) We’ll gather for a buffet dinner at the hotel, followed by an optional mesmerizing acrobatic show.
| Breakfast, Dinner
Day 4: Shanghai/Beijing
A morning visit to the acclaimed Shanghai Museum introduces us to amazing ancient Chinese art and artifacts, from bronze and jade to calligraphy and coins. After lunch, we’ll fly to the capital city Beijing, which so mesmerized the world during the 2008 Summer Olympics. Our hotel is centrally located in downtown Beijing, with easy access to Tiananmen Square, the largest public square in the world.
Capital Hotel or similar | Breakfast, Lunch
Day 5: Beijing and The Great Wall
Beijing and The Great Wall
Today, encounter one of the world’s wonders: the legendary Great Wall, which stretches nearly 4,000 miles across China and was built more than 2,300 years ago. After you take the cable car up to the Great Wall, you’ll have plenty of time to explore this UNESCO World Heritage Site, and take in the vistas before heading to the Summer Palace, a former royal retreat of the Empress Dowager. Later on, join your fellow travelers for an evening banquet. On the menu: the celebrated Peking duck!
| Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 6: Beijing
Take advantage of a free day to explore Beijing as you wish. On an optional Hutong and Temple of Heaven excursion, you’ll explore the city’s ancient back alleys via rickshaw before enjoying lunch with a local family in their home. Last stop on this smarTours option: a visit to the Ming Dynasty masterpiece, the Temple of Heaven.
Day 7: Beijing and Xian
A visit to Beijing isn’t complete without seeing Tiananmen Square. Surrounded by impressive buildings and monuments, this vast square is a prime people-watching spot. We’ll then join a local expert to discover the Forbidden City, the largest ancient palatial structure in the world and home of 24 emperors throughout the Ming and Qing dynasties. It is a true architectural masterwork and home to the National Palace Museum. Later, we’ll catch our flight to Xian, ancient capital of China over 11 dynasties and historic gateway to the silk trading route.
Grand Mercure Xian Renmin Square or similar | Breakfast, Lunch
Day 8: Xian & Terracotta Army
Ready to see one of the greatest discoveries of the 20th century? You’ll be amazed by the Terracotta Army, an afterlife (and life-sized!) army of warriors, chariots and horses built over 2,200 years ago to guard the tomb of Emperor Qin Shi. This architectural treasure was unearthed in 1974 after being discovered by local farmers. Fun fact: each of the 8,000 soldiers differs in gestures and facial expressions. Our next stop is the Tang Art Museum, where we’ll view intriguing exhibits and demonstrations of Chinese culture, including folk arts, ancient painting works and calligraphy. We’ll have worked up an appetite, and good thing, because tonight’s dinner is all about dumplings, a delectable local specialty. A Tang Dynasty folklore show ends the night on a spectacular note.
Grand Mercure Xian Renmin Square or similar | Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 9: Xian/Yichang/Yangtze River Cruiser
After a short flight to Wuhan, we’ll transfer to Yichang in the western Hubei Province. This is the gateway to the Yangtze River Gorges. We’ll board our luxurious river cruiser later today and settle in our spacious cabins before setting sail late tonight.
Victoria Cruises Premier Ship | Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 10: Yangtze River Cruise
Awesome scenery? Check. Amazing views? Check. Architectural feats? Check. (Plus, a toast with the captain!) Our first full day of cruising includes a stop at Sandouping village to visit and learn about the ongoing Yangtze Dam project, the world’s largest hydroelectric power project. You may consider an optional New Ship Lift tour offered by the cruise ship through the Three Gorges ship-locks towards the long, twisting passage of Xiling Gorge, where you’ll sight rushing rapids, weathered peaks, mysterious caves, and temple landmarks. Tonight, enjoy the Captain’s cocktail reception.
| Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 11: Yangtze River Cruise
If yesterday wasn’t unforgettable enough, our cruise continues through the famous Three Gorges, undoubtedly the most scenic section of the Yangtze. We’ll sail through the misty Wu Gorge in the shadows of 12 soaring peaks. But we haven’t had our fill of gorges! In Wushan, we’ll board a smaller boat for a breathtaking excursion up the Shennong Stream to see the Three Small Gorges. Prepare to be awed by lofty cliffs, emerald water, lush vegetation and quite possibly a troop of monkeys on the river banks!
| Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 12: Yangtze River Cruise
On our cruising today, we’ll visit the Jade Emperor Scenic Area in Fengdu. Located on the northern side of the Yangtze, this sacred site features the largest image of the Jade Buddha in the world. In the event that the ship is unable to visit Fengdu, dock in Shibaozhai to see “The Pearl of the Yangtze,” a magnificent pagoda built without nails and considered one of China’s architectural gems. (Note: Shore excursion is subject to change due to water level.) Our last night aboard the ship features a farewell banquet and cultural show.
| Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 13: Arrive in Chongqing/Disembark Ship/Guilin
We’ll bid farewell to river cruising in the mountain city of Chongqing, a modern river port with an ancient history spanning 3,000 years. Delight in a visit to the Chongqing Zoo where you’ll see the adorable Giant Pandas. Later, board a high-speed train to Guilin, home to the magnificent karst limestone formations, mist-covered hills and bamboo groves that have inspired Chinese art through the ages.
Guilin Bravo Hotel or similar | Breakfast, Lunch
Day 14: Guilin & Li River Cruise
Towering limestone pinnacles and misty waters create a storybook setting for a leisurely cruise on the Li River. We’ll see everything from water buffalo and rice paddies to fishermen on bamboo rafts. A stop in the bustling market town of Yangshuo affords free time to explore and shop. Join your fellow travelers tonight for a special dinner.
| Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 15: Guilin/Hong Kong
This morning, we’ll visit Reed Flute Cave, called “The Palace of the Natural Arts” for its stunning rock formations. (One even looks like the Statue of Liberty!) Lighting lends a magical, neon atmosphere to the cave. Later, we’ll take the bullet to Hong Kong. Here, we’ll transfer to our hotel in the heart of bustling Kowloon, near the majestic harbor promenade.
Regal Kowloon Hotel or similar | Breakfast
Day 16: Hong Kong
Take a ride to the top of Victoria Peak for spectacular city and harbor vistas. Our morning Hong Kong tour also includes a visit to vibrant Stanley Market (bargains await!), scenic Repulse Bay and the exotic Aberdeen floating fishing village. The afternoon is at leisure for shopping or independent exploration. Be sure to sample the amazing array of delicacies in this culinary mecca.
Day 17: Hong Kong
Experience the true “East Meets West” flavor of Hong Kong with a free day. You can also join an optional excursion via high-speed turbojet ride to Macau, a fascinating city that was once under Portuguese rule. Here the European/Mediterranean influence is evident in its fortresses and churches, yet it exudes a strong Chinese heritage. Macau is also Asia’s gambling capital if you are so inclined! This evening, enjoy a farewell dinner.
| Breakfast, Dinner
Day 18: Hong Kong/U.S.
Following breakfast, we’ll transfer to the airport for the return flight to the U.S. Your China journey ends as we touch down later today.
*The tour will end for passengers who did not purchase flights on Day 18 in Hong Kong.
We are working diligently to secure future tour dates and pricing for this itinerary. Please fill out the "Request a Future Date" form linked below and we will notify you once dates are available.
Optional Tours Customize your trip with these optional tours.
Enhance your trip with our recommended optional tours. Indicated optional tours are available to pre-book when you reserve your trip and can be added to your reservation up to final payment. This is the best option to guarantee your spot on your preferred optional tour! Optional tours require a minimum number of participants. Optional tours are non-refundable unless they do not operate.
Some optional tours can be purchased in-destination and may cost extra. The payment methods and currency information to purchase tours in-destination will be provided on final documentation.
Shanghai Acrobats Performance
- From approx. $65 Per Person
Delight in the amazing skills of this renowned troop during an evening performance.
AVAILABLE TO PRE-BOOK!
Full-Day Hutong (Old Beijing) & Temple of Heaven Tour with Lunch
- From approx. $75 Per Person
Go behind-the-scenes for an unforgettable tour of Hutong, the old city of Beijing. You’ll ride on a traditional three-wheel cycle (rickshaw) through the labyrinth that comprises this quarter. Walk along ancient back alleys and see where ordinary citizens live side-by-side with gracious old estates once owned by Beijing’s old aristocracy. After an included lunch with a local family, visit the Temple of Heaven, a masterpiece of architectural harmony and precision.
AVAILABLE TO PRE-BOOK!
Macau Day Tour with Lunch
- Hong Kong
- From approx. $101 Per Person
Travel to Macau, formerly under Portuguese rule, and you’ll be struck by the clear European/Mediterranean influence with its beautiful fortresses and churches yet its simultaneous Chinese heritage. Your visit today includes A-Ma Temple, Mount Fortress, Section of the Old Walls, Nam Van Lake and the ruins of St. Paul Cathedral. Time to try your luck at the Casino before returning to Hong Kong later this afternoon.
AVAILABLE TO PRE-BOOK!
Crowne Plaza Shanghai Fudan
Modern conveniences, near the Bund and Yu Yuan Garden and Bazaar.
No. 199, Handan Road, Shanghai 200433, China
With landscaped gardens and traditional Chinese furnishings, this centrally located yet tranquil hotel is within walking distance of Tiananmen Square. Tea house and Korean spa.
3 Qian Men East Street, Beijing 100006, ChinaWebsite
Grand Mercure Xian Renmin Square
Located within walking distance of historic sites, this chic hotel features traditional Chinese décor with modern touches, as well as landscaped gardens. Café on property.
319 Dongxin Street, Shaanxi Province, 710004, Xian, ChinaWebsite
Victoria Cruises operates one of the newest fleets of luxury cruisers on the Yangtze River. Your included air-conditioned cabin has a picture window and balcony facing the river, two lower beds, and a private bath. Superb facilities include a restaurant featuring delicious cuisine, bar, viewing lounge, gift shop, and a fitness center. On-board activities include demonstrations, lectures, and local entertainment. Victoria Cruises was recently voted as one of USA Today’s 10 Best Readers’ Choice Cruise Lines!
*Note interior design and decor may vary slightly from images and diagrams below.
Superior Cabin (Included)
This cabin is approximately 224.64 sq. ft including a private balcony, private bathroom with bathtub, and access to WiFi.
This cabin is located on either the Bridge Deck or Observation Deck and is approximately 333.47 sq. ft including a private balcony and private bathroom with bathtub, and access to WiFi.
This cabin is available on request. This cabin is located on the Promenade Deck and features a separate seating area, private balcony, private bathroom with a bathtub and access to WiFi.
Amenities Package Upgrade Includes:
– Welcome fruit plate in cabin
– Private lounge access offering daily coffee, drink, and snacks
– Complimentary WiFi service
– Dining selection from two dining rooms (a la carte menu for dinner in the Top of the Yangtze Dining Room; a la carte dinners include wine, beer, and assorted soft drinks)
– Complimentary happy hour in the Executive Lounge prior to dinner
– Nightly turn-down service
– Confirmation on the Promenade Deck or higher (usually Bridge Deck)
Guilin Bravo Hotel
Just a 10-minute walk to town center and night market. Outdoor pool, fitness center, well-appointed rooms.
14 South Ronghu Road, Guilin, Guangxi, ChinaWebsite
A TripAdvisor Award of Excellence recipient, this luxury hotel is set in Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong’s renowned shopping and entertainment district. Views of Victoria Harbour or city.
71 Mody Road, Tsimshatsui, Kowloon, Hong Kong
Departing the U.S.: For the safety of everyone in the group, smarTours has implemented COVID-19 travel requirements which apply to all tours regardless of destination. To learn more, click here.
Please note destination entry requirements are changing rapidly. smarTours will communicate entry requirements in your Tour Documents 10-14 days prior to departure. For up-to-date information, please click the links below.
- Entry requirements
- State Department Travel Advisory Updates (China, Hong Kong)
- Center for Disease Control Updates & Information (China, Hong Kong)
Your departure flights from the U.S. and back are on China Eastern Airlines. You are expected to arrive at your gateway airport no later than 3½ hours before your scheduled departure time.
Please make sure to allow sufficient time for clearing immigration and customs if you are planning a connecting domestic flight. We recommend at least 3½ hours. Please keep in mind that flight schedules are always subject to change.
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ADVANCE SEAT ASSIGNMENT
China Eastern Airlines does not assign seats in advance. Seat assignments can only be arranged at the airport upon check-in, and smarTours is not involved with assigning seats. If you have a preferred seating choice, please make sure you check-in for your flight as early as possible.
International flights to/from the U.S. are not included. Land-only travelers are responsible for arranging the entry and exit flights, as well as their arrival and departure transfers. smarTours cannot be held responsible for any damage caused by air schedule changes and delays. Unused land services are non-refundable.
Main Tour: Land-only services start upon independent check-in at Shanghai hotel on Day 2 of the itinerary listed on the tour page. Land-only services end after breakfast at Hong Kong hotel on Day 18 of the itinerary listed on the tour page. Please note that smarTours will provide the invitation letters for the specific dates of our tour. If you plan on arriving earlier or staying in the country after the end of our tour, you will be responsible for securing your own invitation letter for the extra time spent in the country.
PASSPORT AND VISA INFORMATION
Travel to China requires a passport valid for at least 6 months after the date of travel. American citizens require a visa to enter China. Non-U.S. citizens should check with their respective consulates as to the most current visa requirements to all their travel destinations. Passengers traveling to China need to have individual visas stamped in their passports. To obtain an individual visa for China, please follow one of the following:
If you prefer to apply for your visa directly with the Chinese Consulate, you will have to apply in person. Chinese Consulates do not accept mailed-in visa applications. Please contact the Chinese Consulate nearest your area for visa requirements and application forms and fees.
If you do not reside close to a consulate, we suggest that you use a visa service to facilitate the processing of the visa. We recommend using CIBT. Please use the following link to download instructions and forms at http://www.cibt.com/home.aspx?Login=50002.
If you do not have access to a computer, and you are not able to apply for your visa in person, please contact CIBT to have a form mailed to you. If you plan to use the services of CIBT and have any questions regarding the application, please call them directly at 800-406-1523.
We recommend that you apply for the visa in person or through CIBT, at least 45-50 days before your scheduled departure to China. If you apply earlier, your visa may expire by the time you are scheduled to take your trip!
PLEASE NOTE: An invitation letter addressed to the Chinese Consulate will be e-mailed to you approximately 50 days prior to your departure date. This invitation letter will include the addresses and telephone numbers of the hotels and land operator in China. You will need to print this invitation and present it with your China visa application. When you send us your final payment, please make sure you provide us with your correct e-mail address on your tour registration form. Also, please note that visa procedures may change at any time. You should check directly with the consulate, or if using CIBT online at www.cibt.com, for the most up-to-date instructions before submitting your paperwork. Please remember that it is your responsibility to obtain the necessary travel documents before the trip.
TICKETS AND FINAL DOCUMENTS
Your airline tickets along with final instructions and additional travel tips will be sent to you 7–10 days before the scheduled departure of your tour.
Immunizations are not currently required. However, you may wish to consult your personal physician or local public health authorities about their suggestions.
You may expect temperatures averaging in the 50s in March and November; 60s in April; 60s and 70s in May, September and October; and 80s in June through August. Hong Kong temperatures are warmer.
The hotels on this tour offer dining choices ranging from cafes/coffee shops to specialty restaurants. Average cost for dinner (excluding drinks) at a coffee shop is about $15–$20 per person. Your hotel will accept credit cards for your non-included meals.
CREDIT CARDS AND LOCAL CURRENCY
Hotels and some stores accept major credit cards. However, for “street shopping” you will need local currency or U.S. Dollars. Your hotels will be able to exchange cash to local currency. It is recommended that you bring along cash in small denominations.
Each passenger may bring one piece of checked-in luggage (suitcase) max. 44 pounds, and one carry-on not exceeding 18”x10”x8”. We recommend that you do not overpack and that you take a variety of casual separates with climate and comfort in mind.