Sail up the Yangtze River, down the Li River and see the beauty of Beijing, Xian, Shanghai, Guilin and Hong Kong
Shan Shui (mountain-water) refers to a style of Chinese painting using a brush and ink that involves or depicts idyllic scenery or natural landscapes. Mountains, rivers, and often waterfalls are prominent in this art form.
Shan Shui painting first rose to prominence during the 5th century AD. These landscape paintings are usually centered on mountains which have long been considered sacred places in China, viewed by people as the homes of immortals and thus, closer to the heavens.
When Chinese painters create Shan Shui works, they do not try to present an image of what they have seen in nature, but what they have thought about nature. Whether the painting accurately depicts the scenery is immaterial; more important is “Yi Jing” – a desired imagery of nature.
19 Days - Download 4 page pdf – Shan Shui Tour
At Access China Tours, all of our China tour packages include all land prices, private accommodation, transportation, expert guides and most meals in China.
Included meals follow the day’s description and accommodation (B – Breakfast, L – Lunch, D – Dinner).
Scroll down for the tour’s price and dates. For more information, please see What is Included in ACT’s tours.
Day 1 Depart North America
Fly to China from your nearest airport. Cross International Date Line.
Day 2 Arrive Beijing
Arrive at Beijing Capital Airport, one of the world’s largest and most modern. You are met by Access China Tours service staff and transferred to your luxury hotel in downtown. Meet your fellow travelers and tour manager at the Evening Reception for a brief tour orientation.
Hilton Beijing Wangfujing (Evening Reception)
Day 3 Beijing
After breakfast, begin touring with a walk in Tiananmen Square, the world’s largest public plaza. Stop by the futuristic National Performing Arts Center. Next, tour the Forbidden City, magnificent imperial palaces of the Ming and Qing emperors for half a millennia. After lunch, explore Beijing’s old “Hutongs” – traditional courtyard houses built along narrow alleyways. Climb up the Drum Tower and Bell Tower and visit a private home of a local resident. Return to the hotel for refreshing before going out to a local restaurant for a welcome banquet featuring Peking Duck, the capital’s signature dish.
Hilton Beijing Wangfujing (B-L-D)
Day 4 Beijing
Visit the Temple of Heaven early this morning and observe Beijing residents doing traditional Taichi and other exercises in the exquisite parklands. Behold the beautiful Hall of Prayers, one of four UNESCO World Heritage sites you will visit in Beijing. Stop by the lively Silk Market, a bustling place where buyers and vendors bargain over clothes, accessories, bags, and traditional arts and crafts. After lunch on your own, go to visit the enchanting Summer Palace, the renowned imperial retreat of the Qing dynasty royals. The thousand beam painting Long Corridor, Marble Boat, Seventeen-Arch Bridge, and Longevity Hill are all structures of grace and beauty. Enjoy a boat ride on the vast yet tranquil Kunming Lake.
Hilton Beijing Wangfujing (B-D)
Day 5 Beijing
Today’s highlight is your excursion to the extraordinary Great Wall of China. Explore the remote and rugged Mutianyu section, a breathtaking area where the Wall winds across the lofty ridges of steep mountains. Enjoy lunch in a mountain village restaurant. Chat with locals as you walk through hillside orchards. Return to the hotel, and the rest of the day is free for your own exploration or relaxation.
Hilton Beijing Wangfujing (B-L)
Day 6 Beijing – Xian
This morning, transfer to the airport. Visit the trendy 798 Art Complex on the way to view some Chinese modern art created by Beijing’s newest artists. Fly to Xi’an, the ancient capital of Qin Dynasty and many of the following dynasties. After refreshing in the hotel, go to visit the massive ancient City Walls and a nearby city market. Tonight, enjoy a special Xi’an Cuisine Dinner in an elite local restaurant.
Sofitel on Renmin Square (B-D)
Day 7 Xian
A morning excursion takes you to the magnificent 2,200-year-old Terracotta Warriors of China’s first Emperor, Qin Shihuang, discovered in 1974 by farmers digging in the earth. This archaeological excavation site is an amazing exhibit of more than 7,000 unique ancient terracotta statues. Upon returning to the city, visit the elegant Big Goose Pagoda which has survived centuries of war and earthquakes. Tour the exquisite Xian History Museum for its wonderful collection of historic relics spanning almost 3,000 years. In the evening, enjoy a Special Dumpling Dinner followed by the Tang Dynasty-Style Stage Show.
Sofitel on Renmin Square (B-L-D)
Day 8 Xian – Shanghai
At the terminus of the Silk Road, visit the Great Mosque and the Muslim market. Then, transfer to the airport for an afternoon flight to Shanghai. On the way, visit the remarkable Yangling Archaeological Site Museum which displays priceless antiquities found in the Han imperial tomb. Upon arrival in Shanghai, the financial center and largest port of China, take the Maglev Train at 430 kph to the city and transfer to the hotel by vehicle. The evening is free and dinner is on your own.
The Peninsula Shanghai (B-L)
Day 9 Shanghai
Visit the exquisite Yuyuan Garden this morning and the European Art-Deco architecture of the Bund. In the afternoon, view the Shanghai Museum, whose galleries contain world-class collections of ancient art and artifacts dating back for centuries. Wander the former French Concession, represented by the leafy Fuxing Park and colonial era architecture. Stop at Xintiandi, a redeveloped neighborhood with trendy pubs, coffee shops, restaurants, and chic stores frequented by Shanghai’s new wealthy citizens. After dinner, go to a Shanghai theater to enjoy a fantastic Acrobatic Show.
The Peninsula Shanghai (B-L-D)
Day 10 Shanghai
Visit the World Finance Building, China’s tallest in Pudong District. Stop by Ohel Moshe Synagogue to reflect upon the scarcely reported history of Jews living in China. Finally, visit the awesome Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Center for a prediction of the city’s future development. The afternoon is free for you to explore cosmopolitan Shanghai on your own. Tonight, you are treated to a delicious Shanghai Cuisine Dinner in a fine local restaurant.
The Peninsula Shanghai (B-D)
Day 11 Shanghai – Yichang
After breakfast, take a morning excursion to Zhujiajiao, a traditional waterway town criss-crossed by canals, rivers, and bridges. Its narrow streets are lined with charming Qing-era buildings. Transfer to the airport and take an afternoon flight to Yichang. Board the cruise ship after a city tour and a local cuisine dinner. Sailing begins after boarding.
Victoria Jenna (B-L-D)
Day 12 Yangzi River Cruise
The mighty Yangzi River ranks third in length among the world’s rivers. Originating in the Geladandong Snow Mountains on the Tibet-Qinghai Plateau, the Yangzi River joins the East China Sea near Shanghai after an epic 6300-kilometer long journey. Take a morning excursion to Three Gorges Dam, the world’s largest hydroelectric project and engineering marvel which has caused much debate.
Later in the day, your cruise ship sails through Three Gorges Shiplocks and Xiling Gorge, the first and longest. Sailing upstream, you will have plenty of time to admire the spectacular geology of the region from the ship’s viewing decks and your own private balcony. Tonight, you are invited to the Captain’s Cocktail Reception and to enjoy a Welcome Dinner.
Victoria Jenna (B-L-D)
Day 13 Yangzi River Cruise
The extraordinary Three Gorges of the Yangzi River (also spelled Yangtze) began to form 70 million years ago when two mountain ranges collided and the river gradually eroded the gorges into their present state. Sail through the Qutang and Wu Gorges. Before the dam was built, sailing in the gorges was quite dangerous as low water frequently presented hazards to shipping. When sailing up the tributary Daning River on a smaller motor boat, you may get to see a few of the ancient “hanging coffins” on cliffs placed by local Tujia people in the Lesser Gorges.
Victoria Jenna (B-L-D)
Day 14 Yangzi River Cruise
The Yangzi River, cradle of Chinese civilization, not only possesses remarkable natural beauty but also great cultural and historical significance. The towns along its banks are infused with legends and history. Your port of call today is either Fengdu or Wanxian, depending on the docking conditions. Both towns have a rich history, active markets, hillside temples and interesting local culture. A Farewell Banquet and Crew Talent Show tonight conclude the memorable Yangzi Cruise experience.
Victoria Jenna (B-L-D)
Day 15 Chongqing – Guilin
The cruise ends in Chongqing. Transfer to the airport and fly to Guilin, one of China’s most beautiful cities. Check into your hotel for a short rest. In the afternoon, visit Fubo Hill for a grand view of the city and its stunning landscape. Later, enter Ludi Cave to see a variety of illuminated stalagmites and stalactites. This cave inspired Amy Tan to write the book “The Hundred Secret Senses”. The rest of the day is free for your own relaxation.
Shangri-La Hotel Guilin (B-L)
Day 16 Guilin – Longsheng
Travel by vehicle to the mountainous Longsheng region to see beautiful rice terraces and villages of ethnic Dong and Yao peoples, two of China’s fifty-five minority ethnic groups. Some moderate climbing is involved, and you will need some comfortable walking shoes. For those who cannot hike for long, sedan-chair service is available. Return to Guilin by vehicle and enjoy a Sichuan Cuisine Dinner in a local restaurant.
Shangri-La Hotel Guilin (B-L-D)
Day 17 Guilin – Hong Kong
Board a cruise boat on the charming Li River for the ultimate Shan Shui experience. The cruise will give you a chance to savor the unique views of the area’s extraordinary landscape of sheer limestone peaks and meandering rivers, which have inspired thousands of famous Chinese scroll paintings. Disembark in Yangshuo, a foreigner-friendly town with boutique hotels, souvenir shops selling traditional ornaments, jewelry, paintings of peaks, and restaurants serving international foods. Stop by a small village to meet local farmers and hear stories of their lifestyles before returning to Guilin and boarding a late afternoon flight to Hong Kong, Asia’s busiest port and major financial center.
Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong (B-L)
Day 18 Hong Kong
Hong Kong (“Fragrant Harbor” in Chinese) has always been inextricably linked to Mainland China through family ties, trade, economy, and traditions. Although ceded back to China in 1997, the British legacy is still quite apparent due to the 155 years of colonial rule and continued business ties. Take a guided tour of Hong Kong Island. Ascend to the Victoria Peak by cable car for a spectacular view of the harbor, hills and masterpieces of modern architecture. Later, visit the south side of the island and the fishing Village of Aberdeen, where lifestyles seem unchanged for centuries. Finish the tour at the bustling Stanley Market. The afternoon is free for exploration. English signage and shopping opportunities abound in the Pearl of the Orient.
Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong (B)
Day 19 Return Home
Transfer to the airport for your homebound flight. Arrive in North America on the same day. (B)
19 Days (Tour Code-SYZ)
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