Beijing-Xian-Lhasa-Tsetang-Shangri La-Lijiang-Kunming-Yangtze River Cruise-Shanghai 21- day luxury tour

Highlights:

  • On this luxury tour, in addition to the golden triangle of Beijing, Shanghai, and Xian, you’ll also get to see the China largely unseen by foreign travelers in southwestern China in the ethnic minority towns of Lijiang, and Shangri-La, where you’ll have a chance to go to authentic minority villages and see a unique perspective on life in these parts
  • You’ll get to visit the Tibetan capital of Lhasa, as well as the town of Tsetang, which is the cradle of Tibetan civilization
  • Cruise down the Yangtze River, China’s most important river, and home to the world’s largest dam, the Three Gorges Dam. You will also go on some fantastic onshore excursions to ancient towns and natural wonders

(B=breakfast, L=lunch, D=dinner)

Detailed itinerary:

Day 1 arrive in Beijing

Upon arrival at the Beijing airport, you will be me by your local English-speaking guide, and he/she will take you to your hotel, the Beijing International Hotel, a 5 star hotel located in downtown Beijing. If time permits, we can get started with some sightseeing, but if not, you are free to spend the night at your own leisure, and resting up for the days ahead.

Day 2 Beijing (B, L, D)

After breakfast in the hotel, we’ll make the short drive outside the city to the Great Wall at Badaling. Badaling was the first section of the Great Wall to be opened to the public in 1957, and is therefore the best known among visitors. Badaling was the site of U.S. President’s Richard Nixon’s visit to the Great Wall on his historic trip to China, and is a popular choice for celebrities, foreign dignitaries and leaders (U.S. President Obama visited Badaling in November of 2009). Badaling also offers incredible views of the wall winding and twisting along the hills. After a delicious lunch we will make the short journey by minibus to the Ming Tombs.

The Ming Tombs, about 50 km/31 miles from Beijing, are where 13 emperors of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) are buried. This site was carefully chosen for its feng shui principles by the third Ming emperor Yongle (who also moved the capital from Nanjing to Beijing and began construction on the Forbidden City). The tomb we will visit, Dingling, is the tomb of the Wanli Emperor. It is the only one of the Ming Dynasty Tombs to have been excavated. It also remains the only imperial tomb to have been excavated since the founding of the People's Republic of China. After viewing the tombs, we will head to the “Shenlu”, or the Spirit Way. The Spirit Way leads into the complex, lined with statues of guardian animals and officials, with a front gate consisting of a three-arches, painted red, and called the "Great Red Gate". The Spirit Way, or Sacred Way, starts with a huge stone memorial archway lying at the front of the area. Constructed in 1540, during the Ming Dynasty, this archway is one of the biggest stone archways in China today.

For the evening you will enjoy a delectable dinner o Peking Duck, Beijing’s signature culinary dish. Then, for the evening’s entertainment, you will be able to watch Beijing Opera (sometimes known as Peking Opera). Beijing Opera of China is a national treasure with a history of 200 years. In the 55th year of the reign of Emperor Qianlong of the Qing Dynasty (1790), the four big Huiban opera Troupes entered the capital and combined with Kunqu opera, Yiyang opera, Hanju opera and Luantan in Beijing's theoretical circle of the time. Over a period of more than half a century of combination and integration of various kinds of opera there evolved the present Beijing Opera. Beijing Opera is the most significant of all operas in China, and it has a richness of repertoire, great number of artists and audiences, that give it a profound influence in China and plays a large role in Chinese culture.

Day 3 Beijing (B, L, D)

After breakfast in the hotel we will head over to the center of Beijing, Tiananmen Square. The largest public square in the world, Tiananmen Square is seen as China’s political center. Its grounds have seen some turbulent moments, from the May 4th Movement of 1919 to the political turmoil of 1989. The south of the square is marked by the Chairman Mao Memorial Hall, while the center of the square is dominated by the Monument to the People’s Heroes, an imposing 10-story granite obelisk. To the east is the National Museum of China, and to the west is the Great Hall of the People, home to China’s legislative bodies. The north of the square is dominated by the Gate of Heavenly Peace, known for its iconic portrait of Mao Zedong, and is the national emblem of China.

After walking across the street, we will enter what is perhaps the greatest attraction in China, the Forbidden City. After walking across the square we will enter the Forbidden City (known in Chinese as Gu Gong), the largest surviving palace complex and the former home of the emperors of the Ming and Qing Dynasty. The Forbidden City is one of the greatest attractions in the world. Built by the third Ming emperor between 1406-1422, the Forbidden City served as the official residence to the Emperor of China until the last emperor, Puyi, was forced to evacuate in 1924. The Forbidden City is divided into two parts. The southern section, or the Outer Court was where the emperor exercised his supreme power over the nation. The northern section, or the Inner Court was where he lived with his royal family. Consisting of 980 buildings and with 8,707 bays of rooms, the Forbidden City is the best example of classical Chinese architecture in the world, and is a wonder to behold.

To continue our theme of imperial royalty, we’ll go from the Forbidden City to the royal family’s retreat from the Forbidden City, the Summer Palace. Being northwest of the city center, the Summer Palace has the largest royal park and being well preserved, the Summer Palace is ranked amongst the most noted and classical gardens of the world. In 1998, UNESCO listed it as one of the World Heritage Sites. Like most of the gardens of Beijing, it could not elude the rampages of the Anglo-French allied force of 1860 and was destroyed by fire. In 1888, Empress Dowager Cixi embezzled navy funds to reconstruct it for her own benefit, changing its name to Summer Palace (Yiheyuan). She spent most of her later years there, dealing with state affairs and entertaining.

Highlights not to be missed are climbing Longevity Hill, viewing the Empress Dowager Cixi’s extravagant Marble Boat, and talking a walk down Suzhou jie, a canal meant to resemble the beautiful river city of Suzhou.

Day 4 Beijing-Xian (B, L)

Following breakfast we’ll make the short drive to the Temple of Heaven park. The complex was visited by the Emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties for annual ceremonies of prayer to Heaven for good harvest. The Temple of Heaven park is best known for the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests, an iconic building famed for its magnificent triple-gabled circular roof. You will also have an opportunity to walk the same imperial walkway that the same emperors walked hundreds of years ago in their holy rites. You will also see Beijing’s senior citizens using the park grounds for everything from tai chi and ballroom dancing to bullwhip practice!

In the afternoon, you’ll be taken to the airport, and you will fly on to Xian, the capital of Shaanxi province in north-central China. Upon arrival you’ll be met at the airport by your local English-speaking guide. For your stay in Xian you will be lodging at the 5 star Sheraton Hotel.

Day 5 Xian (B, L, D)

Following breakfast you’ll then be taken to Xian’s greatest attractions, and one of the greatest sites in all of China, the Terracotta Warriors and Horses Museum. The Terra Cotta Warriors and Horses Museum is the result of the most significant archeological excavations of the 20th century. Work is ongoing at this site, which is around 1.5 kilometers east of Emperor Qin Shi Huang's Mausoleum. Upon ascending the throne at the age of 13 (in 246 BC), Qin Shi Huang, later the first Emperor of all China, had begun to work for his mausoleum. It took 11 years to finish. It is speculated that many buried treasures and sacrificial objects had accompanied the emperor in his after life. A group of peasants uncovered some pottery while digging for a well nearby the royal tomb in 1974. Life size terracotta figures of warriors and horses arranged in battle formations are the star features at the museum. They are replicas of what the imperial guard should look like in those days of pomp and vigor.

The museum is divided into three sections: No. 1 Pit, No. 2 Pit, and No. 3 Pit respectively. They were tagged in the order of their discoveries. No. 1 Pit is the largest, first opened to the public on China's National Day, 1979. There are columns of soldiers at the front, followed by war chariots at the back. No. 2 Pit, found in 1976, contains over a thousand warriors and 90 chariots of wood. It was unveiled to the public in 1994. Archeologists came upon No. 3 Pit also in 1976. It is the command center of the armed forces. It went on display in 1989, with 68 warriors, a war chariot and four horses.

Following our visit with the Terracotta Warriors, we’ll then step back to an even earlier time at the Banpo Neolithic Museum. Located in the eastern outskirts of Xi’an city, the Banpo Museum is the first prehistoric excavation site museum in China. Banpo (half slope) Village was a typical Neolithic Matriarchal community of the Yangshao (Respect Splendid) culture (5000-3000 BC) around 6000 years ago. The Yangshao culture was named after the first discovery of this civilization in Yangshao, Henan Province. About 400 sites of this type have been discovered around the Yellow River Basin, and the Banpo site is the largest one. The site was discovered in 1953 during the construction of a power plant. The excavation work lasted four years, and the Banpo site was first opened to the public in 1958. Since then, two million people have visited it.

For dinner, you’ll have a real treat in store for you in the form of the Tang Dynasty Music and Dance Show. The Tang Dynasty Music and Dance Show, a wonderful performance of the ancient music and dance, is a must when you visit Xian. The city, which was formerly known as Chang'an has a very long history, and was the imperial capital during 13 dynastic periods. Of these, the Tang Dynasty (618 - 907) was the most prosperous and glorious of all.

The Tang Dynasty Music and Dance Show is an outstanding exponent of this ancient stable and prosperous society, keeping alive its splendid culture and providing an insight into the peaceful life style of the period. As an art form, the show has its roots in folk fetes, when dances were first performed by people as part of rituals of prayer for a good harvest or a better life. Combining poetry with the skilled playing of musical instruments, singing, dancing and also stunning costumes, the modern presentation is certain to give you an impressive view of ancient China including its splendid history, brilliant arts, distinct traditions and customs.

Day 6 Xian-Lhasa (B, L, D)

After breakfast we’ll make the short drive to the Big Wild Goose Pagoda, a pagoda surrounded by a still functioning Buddhist temple (named Da Ci’en Temple). The Big Wild Goose Pagoda is one of the most famous Buddhist pagodas in China. The Pagoda was built in the Tang Dynasty (618-907) for the study of Buddhist scriptures. Although it has been attacked by centuries of weather, war and seismic activity, which destroyed most of the original material of the structure, a pagoda by this name and style still exists on the site. The Tang regime gave orders to build a chamber for the translation of Buddhist scriptures in an effort to have the then widely renowned Master Xuanzang agree to be the head of the temple. Xuanzang was a Buddhist monk who traveled to India, translated Sanskrit scriptures and developed theories of consciousness, karma and rebirth that were adopted by some later popular schools of Buddhism.

The hallowed pagoda is an architectural marvel. It was built with layers of bricks without any cement. The bracket style used in traditional Chinese architecture was also used in the construction of the pagoda. The seams between each layer of bricks and the " prisms' on each side of the pagoda are clearly visible. The grand body of the pagoda with its solemn appearance, simple style and high structure, is indeed a good example of Chinese traditional architecture.

Then you can unwind a bit by taking a leisurely stroll on the Xi’an City Wall. It's the most complete city wall that has survived in China, as well being one of the largest ancient military defensive systems in the world. Xi'an City Wall was erected in the 14th century Ming Dynasty, under the regime of Emperor Zhu Yuanzhang. When Zhu Yuanzhang captured Huizhou, long before the establishment of the Ming Dynasty, he was admonished by a hermit named Zhu Sheng, who told him to "build high walls, store abundant provisions and take your time in proclaiming yourself emperor." If you like, you have the option of renting a bike or a rickshaw on the wall in order to cover more ground in a shorter time.

In the late afternoon, you’ll be driven to the Xian airport, where you’ll fly on to Lhasa, the capital of Tibet. Upon arrival you’ll be met at the airport by your local guide. During your stay in Lhasa your lodging will be at the 5 star Brahmaptura Grand Hotel, which is the best hotel in the city. We suggest that for your first night here that you take it easy in order to acclimate yourself to the sharp change in altitude. For dinner, an a la carte meal will be arranged for you by a famous local restaurant.

Day 7 Lhasa (B, L)

Today will be a full day of touring the best sights in Lhasa. After breakfast, we will go to the Potala Palace, which is the most renowned highlight of Lhasa. The world famous Potala Palace is located on Moburi (Red) Mountain, to the west of old Lhasa. It is a huge treasure house of materials and articles from Tibetan history, religion, culture and art. The palace is widely known for the precious sculptures, murals, scriptures, Buddha statues, murals, antiques, and religious jewelry housed within. They are of great cultural and artistic value. In 1994, the Potala Palace was declared a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site. It was originally built in the 640s, during the reign of King Songtsan Gampo of Tibet. The Potala has been a sacred place for hundreds of years. Thousands of pilgrims from Tibet, other parts of China and abroad come every year to pay homage. Their devotion is shown by the difficult journeys they have to make to reach “the City of the Gods".

Then we will head over to the Sera Monastery, the last of the three principal Gelupka, or Yellow Hat, Buddhist monasteries to be built in Lhasa. The Sera Monastery has been listed as one of the China's National Cultural Relics since 1982. Sera comprises a great sutra chanting hall, a college and 32 sections. It once housed nearly 10,000 monks, and is proud of its glorious history during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). Sera means hailstone in Tibetan, and legend tells that it hailed during the foundation of this famous monastery.

In the afternoon we will get to visit Norbulingka, Tibet’s Summer Palace. Norbulingka was built in 1755 and became the place where the successors of the seventh Dalai Lama dealt with affairs, held celebrations, spent the hot season, rested and conducted religious activities. In mid-March every year, the Dalai Lama would move here from the Potala Palace, and stay until the end of October, when he would return to the Potala Palace. So, Norbulingka is called the Summer Palace and the Potala Palace the Winter Palace. The garden covers an area of 46 acres (19 hectares) and the palace has 370 rooms of different sizes. In the garden visitors can worship Buddha, relax and study the Tibetan-style palaces.

Day 8 Lhasa (B, L)

Following breakfast in the morning we will visit the Jokhnag Temple. Located in the center of old Lhasa city, Jokhang Monastery is the prime seat of the Gelugpa (Yellow) Branch of Tibetan Buddhism. It was originally built in 647 AD. It is said the site was chosen personally by the wife of King Songtsan Gampo, the Tang Princess Wen Cheng. The princess perceived Wutang, a lake in Lhasa, to be a “devil’s heart”, a source of evil, and had it filled in and the temple built on the site to counteract evil forces. It was built by craftsmen from Tibet, China and Nepal and thus features different architectural styles. Jokhang means "House of Buddha". Jokhang Temple is the spiritual center of Tibet and the holiest destination for all Tibetan Buddhist pilgrims.

A short walk from the Jokhang Temple is the Barkhor Bazaar. The Barkhor (pilgrims’ circuit) is found in the heart of Lhasa encircling the Jokhang Temple. It is the earliest remaining street in Lhasa. It bustles with activity and is always jam-packed with traders and hawkers. It is a "must" for souvenir-hunting tourists. Many people call the Barkhor "the window of Tibet" as it exhibits a typical Tibetan life. The old circumambulation circuit is always crowded with pilgrims from everywhere. Some are monks, and some are businessmen from Kham, a region encompassing East Tibet and part of Sichuan Province. Here you will find people from all over Tibet. You can experience different styles of dress and languages. Even the similar-looking clothes of the monks vary depending on the different branches of Buddhism they practice.

Following our walk through the Barkhor Bazaar we will pay a visit to the unusual and fascinating Tibetan Medicinal an Astrological Institute. The central herbal and traditional medicine centre in Tibet, the Institute treats around 500 patients/day (up to 1000 in winter). This is a fascinating introduction to Tibetan medicine, the ‘tree thangkas’ and traditions over 2000 years old that are still working today.

As you may know, Tibet has had an interesting and turbulent history. We will attempt to learn more about Tibet’s past at the Tibet Museum. An attractive modern building in Tibetan style, there’s a wonderful variety and quality of items on display here illustrating the rich history, traditions and customs of Tibet, both ancient and modern.

Next we’ll browse one of the signature products coming from Tibet, carpets, at the Lhasa Carpet Factory. The Lhasa Carpet Factory produces traditional Tibetan rugs that are exported worldwide through Guangzhou. Although the actual weaving and finishing is done by hand using old-style vertical looms, many of the stages of the process are now mechanized and the dyeing is not done at the factory. It is a modern factory; the largest manufacturer of rugs throughout Tibet employing some 300 workers. Traditionally Tibetan women were the weavers, men the spinners, but both work on the rugs today.

The factory has developed into the most productive in the Tibet Autonomous Region with an annual output of 30,000 miles of carpet. The rugs manufactured in Lhasa are typically smaller with bold designs and bright colors and a deep even, pile -about 60knots per square inch. Rug weaving is an ancient craft in Tibet but because it was not for sacred purposes it is not considered an art. As a result there are no rugs verifiable earlier than 1800.

Day 9 Lhasa-Tsetang (B, L, D)

Following breakfast we will get started on our drive to Tsetang. Tsetang is the birth place of earliest Tibetans and is the capital city of Lokha(Shannan prefecture), is 3600 m above the sea level. It is located in the middle reaches of the Brahmaputra river and has mild climate. Tsetang is 189km from the Lhasa, is the second largest town in the region and the third largest in Tibet.

The nearby Yarlung river scenic area is a national scenic park with Samye monastery, Yumnulakhang Palace, burial site for Tsanpo(kings) and tranduk monastery spotting the region. It is located between two mountain ranges, the great Himalayas at the northern sides and Nyanchen Tanggula mountain ranges to the south.

While the drive is a bit long, the scenery that we will see on the drive will be breathtaking, so it should keep you occupied. When we arrive in Tsetang we will first visit the Yumbu Lakang (the Yumbu Palace). Yumbu is Tibet's first palace. The palace was built for the 1st Tubo King Niechi in the Yalong River Valley. It is also called "the Mosher and Song Holy Hall", and is perched on the summit of the Jormo Zhaxi Ceri Mountain on the east bank of the Yarlung River.

We will also visit the nearby Tranduk Monastery, and then we will take a ferry across the Yarlong Tsangpo River in order to visit the Samye Monastery. The Samye Monastery is one of the oldest Tibetan Monasteries. It was built a little later than Jokhang and the main monastery built during the first flourishing period of Tibetan Buddhism which is of great significance in the development of Tibetan culture. The monastery was once ruined by Lang Darma (Lang Darma was an ancient Tibetan King who banned Buddhism and destroyed Buddhist temples). It has been damaged throughout repeated wars and remains the present scope, which should be well cherished. Located at the foot of Mt. Hepo Ri, on the north bank of the Yarlung Tsangpo River of Zharang County, Samye Monastery is about 38 kilometers from Tsetang. It’s one of the main scenic spots of the state-level scenic area – the Yarlung River Scenic Area.

For the night we will stay at the 3 star Tsetang Hotel, which is the best hotel in the city.

Day 10 Tsetang-Lhasa (B, L, D)

After breakfast we’ll get back in the car and make the drive back to Lhasa. Once we arrive you will be taken to the city airport, and you’ll make the short flight to Shangri-La, which is in the neighboring province of Yunnan. The mythical, yet real, Shangri-la, is the basis of much legend. The English writer, James Hilton’s legendary novel “Last Horizon” wowed readers with a paradise, characterized by snow-capped mountains, vast grasslands, lush vegetation, gorgeous gorges and idyllic lakes. We will spend the night at a local inn, and you are free to spend your night exploring this heaven on earth.

Upon arrival in Shangri-la you’ll be met by your local English-speaking guide, and you’ll be taken to your hotel, the 5 star Paradise Hotel. Dinner will be an assortment of local and traditional cusine.

Day 11 Shangri-La (B, L, D)

Following breakfast we will make the short drive to the Pudacuo Nature Reserve Park. This is a protected wetlands area that has a primitive forest of coniferous trees lakes, and lies 3,539 meters above sea level. Two lakes that accentuate the beauty of this park are the Shuda Lake and the Bita Lake. We will then follow this up with a visit to the Summer Pastures at Napa Lake, right outside Shangri-La.Several rivers flow into the lake, including the Naizi and Naqu Rivers. The lake is seasonal in that it is dry in the fall and winter seasons, naturally becoming part of the Yila Prairie. During this time, visitors can see many sheep and cows grazing in the lakebed.

After returning to the city we’ll next visit the Songzanlin Monastery. This Large Yellow Hat (Gelupa) Tibetan monastery has returned from the ashes and destruction that swept southeastern Tibet in the late 1950s and 1960s. Songsenlin was founded in the 17th century during the reign of the Great Fifth Dalai Lama, when the yellow Hat school came to full ascendancy in Tibet. It lies a few kilometers beyond the north end of town and you are encouraged to act respectfully.

The night is at your own leisure, but you can spend our evening exploring the old sections of Shangri-La. Here a large number of people perform the Tibetan folk dance Guozhuang. They all join hands, form a circle, and follow the principal dancer. The cheerful atmosphere may entice you to join them in the dance. Also you can pay a visit to the Tibetans' houses. In their houses, you can appreciate (for a modest fee) folk dance performances and taste the meat of baked lamb and yak.

Day 12 Shangri-La-Lijiang (B, L, D)

Today we will make our way to the town of Lijiang, in northern Yunnan province, but first we will stop at Tiger Leaping Gorge. Tiger Leaping Gorge is one of the world’s deepest gorges, and is tucked in between Jade Dragon Snow Mountain and Haba Mountain. At a length of 17km, Tiger Leaping Gorge is the birthplace of the ancient Lijiang culture, whose people lived in the many caves, big and small, in the side of Yulong Xueshan (Jade Dragon Snow Mountain). These caves were naturally formed houses. In some caves, rock paintings and artifacts shedding light on the life of these primitive peoples were found. The rock paintings have now become another attraction of Tiger Leaping Gorge. The gorge is regarded as one of the top ten hiking trails in China. At the mouth of the upper gorge, squeezed by the two snow-capped mountains and further blocked by the huge Tiger Leaping Boulder, the Golden Sand River is only 25 meters in width. The water there makes violent whirlpools and hits the banks so powerfully that soaring breakers are created. This really makes boating treacherous. However the high waves, soaring water, and the mountains shrouded with clouds and mist constitute the most magnificent scenes of the gorge and attract numerous brave explorers.

Then we’ll stop for some breathtaking views at the first bend of the Yangtze River. t is only about 50 kilometers or 30 miles away from Lijiang. It is called the “first bend” because the river makes a 90 degree turn from south to east within a distance of 1 kilometer. The place was important militarily because big armies crossed the river at that point, and it was a place where Tibetans came down to trade with the people living in the area. It is an interesting scenic area, and there is hiking and other outdoor activities in the area.

Before reaching Lijiang we’ll visit the Stone Drum Town. This town derives its name from a white marble carved monument in the shape of a drum, (diameter 15 m, thickness 0.7 m). This monument memorializes the victory and subsequent spread of power of Baizhuang, the Tusi of Mu Family of Lijiang, during the Jiajin years of the Ming Dynasty. This historically relevant stone monument was erected during one of the earliest periods in Lijiang. To the right of the monument is a lovely willow forest at its bank; while on the left flows the Chongjiang River. Spanning this river is the 17m long Tiehong Bridge, constructed of boards paved over iron chains, and with similar iron chains serving as fences on both sides. Stone Drum Town is a historically important town on the ancient trade route for tea and horses between inland provinces and Tibet. The town still features a flourishing trade fair, currently held every three days.

We’ll then reach the town of Lijiang, The cultural and historical attractions in Lijiang County are the Naxi and Bai towns and the ancient districts of the city of Lijiang. Three ancient districts of the city of Lijiang became a UNESCO World Heritage area in 1997.

You will be staying at the 4 star Jian Nan Chun Hotel.

Day 13 Lijiang (B, L, D)

Today you will have a full day to further investigate the town of Lijiang, and all the diverse culture and attractions it has to offer. First, you’ll have the opportunity to get better acquainted with the Naxi people at the village of Baisha. Baisha Old Town is one of the oldest towns in Lijiang. It is the earliest settlement of the Naxi people and is the birthplace of "Tusi", chief of the Mu clan. In the town there are many ancient buildings built during the Ming Dynasty, including Dabaoji Palace, Liuli Temple, and Wenchang Palace. The well-known Baisha Frescoes are located in Dabaoji Palace. Because of the white sand on the ground, the town was named "Baisha", which means "white sand". In the Naxi language, it is called "bengshi". The architectural complex is made up of two parts, folk residence and cultural sites. The folk residence is called "pengshizhi" which in the local language means "Baisha Streets". The streets all go from south to north. In the center of the old town there is a square where three thoroughfares intersect. Houses and small stores stand on the both sides of these streets. A crystal clear stream winds around all the houses flowing through the small town from north to south.

The center of town features a beautiful rendering of frescoes religious frescoes. The 44 pieces of Baisha frescos were drawn in the early Ming Dynasty. Most of the paintings are about religious stories of Taoism, Buddhism, and Tibetan Buddhism. The murals embody the artistic characteristics of the Naxi, Tibetan, Han and Bai ethnic groups. Among them the paintings about Kwan-yin and Sakyamuni are the most famous ones. Now Baisha Frescos, also known as Lijing Frescos have become precious data for the study of China's history of arts and religions.

Well next explore another minority village at Yuhu, the last village in the Lijiang Basin at the foot of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain. The houses were made of a unique stone called "monkey head" by Naxi people. The stone is something between stone and mud. With the reflction of the stone on the snow mountain, houses made of “monkey head" look even more natural and beautiful.There is a Yuhe Lake beside the village. Water in this lake comes from he melted snow in the mountains. The holy water from this holy mountain of the Naxi makes this small village very mysterious. That is why Joseph Rock chose this place to live in when he came in 1922. He lived in Lijiang for 27 years. We can still find houses and things that he used when he lived in Yuhe Village.

From 1924, a great number of photos and articles that he had taken and written about Lijiang were published in National Geography, an authorative magazine in the U.S. He introduced the wonderful scenery of west Yunnan to the western countries, as Rock loved Lijiang very much. He wrote to his friends before his dying in 1962 that he'd rather die in the flowers of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain in Lijiang than lie alive on his sickbed in Hawaii.

You have the rest of the afternoon to walk around the old town of Lijiang. The old town is made up of three old districts that retain a special character of Naxi and Han construction and Naxi customs, arts and culture. It was a former trading town and a stop for traders carrying goods on the “Chama Road” trails. It was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997 following an earthquake and reconstruction in 1996 that returned the city to a more ancient look. The UNESCO description says: “The Old Town of Lijiang, which is perfectly adapted to the uneven topography of this key commercial and strategic site, has retained a historic townscape of high quality and authenticity.

For the evening, along with dinner you will get to enjoy a traditional performance of Naxi music and dancing at the Dongba Palace.

Day 14 Lijiang (B)

Today will be a free day for you to further explore Lijiang. You can return to the old own, or if you wish you can pay a visit to the Dongba Museum, located in nearby Dongba Village. The museum is built completely according to the traditional life style of the Naxi Minority. You can feel the traditional atmosphere of national culture from the layout of its yard, building facilities, tools and details of life. The daily life in Dongba Village truly represents the life of Dongba, Naxi Minority. There are three Dongba Masters in the village, namely, Yangjiwen, Heliming and Hezhenwei. Now, several Dongba students are learning Dongba culture from the old Dongbas. On March 5th of the lunar calendar, Dongbas from the whole Naxi district gather, holding the annual Dongba Shenluo Fair at the Dongba Shenluo Temple.

For lunch and dinner you might want to try some of the delicious and protein-rich Naxi cuisine.

Day 15 Lijiang-Kunming (B, L)

After breakfast you will be driven to the Lijiang airport, and you will fly to Kunming, the capital of Yunnan Province. Your guide will meet you once you land. For your time in Kunming you will be staying at the 5 star Harbor Plaza hotel, but you will get to do some sightseeing today, with your first stop being a little outside the city at the Stone Forest Scenic Resort.

Being one of the National Scenic Resorts in China, the Stone Forest Scenic Resort is 83km from Kunming and has a complete range of karst formations. Among the most wonderful attractions in this area are the following eight scenic spots: Large & Small Stone Forests, Naigu Stone Forests, Large & Small Zhiyun Caves, Qingfeng Cave, Long Lake, Moon Lake, Fairy Lake, Feilong Falls. Standing upright in the Stone Forest are innumerable cliffs and peaks, lofty and majestic, steep and precipitous, charming and enchanting.

From afar, it really looks like a dense forest but as you walk closer, you will find "trees" are all slender stone pinnacles. The sight is vast covering some 350 kilometers. The Yi and Sani ethnic group who live there are hardworking and good at singing and dancing. Their folklore and culture are colorful and multifarious, backed up by a long history.

Next, you can try your hand at local shopping at the city market. The flower markets in Shangyi Street are quite famous. The florists there sell their wares by weight, so one can buy as little as a single rose. There is a flower & bird market in Jingxing Street, with numerous market stalls and shops run by ethnic minorities where one can buy all manner of ethnic handicrafts, including flowers and even live birds. Kunming is renowned for its handicrafts such as ivory carvings, wood carvings, Burmese jade and other stone items. The food specialty shops of Kunming also offer many unique food and health-food items (aka Medicinal Foodstuffs) that are not available elsewhere in China, including tropical fruits.

It is not unheard of to get something on less than 50% of the original asking price by bargaining. If you need some help your guide will be happy to help you out!

Day 16 Kunming-Chongqing-Yangtze River Cruise (B, L, D)

You will be taken to the Kunming airport, and from there you will fly to Chongqing, in order to get to your Yangtze River cruise. Upon arrival at the airport you’ll be met by your guide, and he’ll take you to your Yangtze Cruise luxury ship. You will have a welcoming dinner on the cruise ship, and you will spend your night on the ship. You’ll have the rest of the night to walk around the ship.

Day 17 Yangtze River Cruise (B, L, D)

At 8:00am you’re your ship will depart from the harbor, and your cruise down the mighty Yangtze River will begin. Yangtze cruise ships travel slowly for passengers to enjoy the beautiful scenery. Broadcasts from the ship’s PA system transmits information on shore excursions or from guest lecturers to your cabin, ensure that you will not miss a chance to see any special scenery; even if you are relaxing in your cabin.

After breakfast on the ship you’ll take a visit onshore in order to visit the Ghost City of Fengdu County. It used to be a burial area with scores of temples and shrines and a small ancient town. Due to the construction of the 3 Gorges Dam, the ghostly city is underwater. However, a hill and dozens of temples remain in the big artificial lake behind the dam. So that part can still be visited. It is a large burial and temple area. The area above the “Door of Hell” remains. It is interesting that Chinese have traditional conceptions of hell that are somewhat similar to Western ideas. At the site, people can see statues and frescoes about hell with brightly painted images of demons and other eerie items.

You can spend the rest of the day enjoying the scenery from the cruise ship, and in the evening a dinner will be held aboard the cruise ship.

Day 18 Yangtze River Cruise (B, L, D)

Today on your cruise you will be visiting Badong county, a bright pearl inlaid along the corridor of the Splendid Yangtze River, so as to be one of the highlights of the Yangtze Three Gorges cruise, and almost all cruise ships stop here for a shore excursion.

You will take a small junk boat from the cruise ship in Badong to Shennong Stream. Shennong Stream is a tributary of the Yangtze River, and its fast-flowing, crystal clear water runs southwards through deep gorges. The stream races past large and small karst caves, flocks of swallows, sheer cliffs, deep gorges, waterfalls, three-colored springs, rapids, the ancient plank path, a suspended coffin in the cliff, groups of ancient tombs and marvelous karst formations. There are displays of Chinese art and of artifacts saved from the construction of the 3 Gorges Dam and the artificial lake. It instructs on the 3 Gorges region, the 3 Gorges Dam, the history of Chongqing and the surrounding area, Chinese history, and prehistoric times.

You’ll also sail into the western section of Xiling Gorge, the longest of the Three Gorges (at 66 kilometers, compared to Wu Gorge at 44 kilometers and Qutang Gorge at 8 kilometers). Xiling Gorge was renowned for its winding waterway that suddenly narrowed into treacherous rapids or skirted over dangerous shoals. In spite of the risks (Xiling Gorge was dubbed as a "death passage"). Ships were compelled to pass through its waters regularly, as there was little alternative. It was also for this reason, among many others, that the Three Gorges Dam project was justified. It has turned what was once a "death passage", where many ships went aground, and some even completely destroyed, into a gent waterway whose surface today more fittingly be compared to the placid waters of a lake. Xiling Gorge is the last of the Three Gorges as one sails down from this stretch of the Yangtze, and it marks the end of the narrow, twisting and turning corridor that has been so treacherous in the past.

In the evening, various shows and performances will be held in the cruise ship. These include costume shows, magic shows, traditional Sichuan Opera, and magical Mask Changing.

Day 19 Yangtze River Cruise-Yichang-Shanghai (B, L, D)

In the morning you will arrive at the enormous Three Gorges Dam. Construction was begun in the 80's, and was completed in 2008. It backs up the Yangtze River for 550km, making it the world's largest dam. Due to the fact that the water rises to a level of 185m behind the dam, millions of people have had to be resettled, bridges moved and historical relicts secured. The energy production capabilities of the dam are estimated at 84.7 billion kilowatts, equivalent to 18 nuclear reactors. The three single stage locks guarantee that ship traffic is not delayed.

The Three gorges Dam is the largest water conservancy project undertaken by man, and various Chinese officials have dreamed about the project for hundreds of years. It is 2,335 meters wide on the top, and 130 meters wide at the bottom. The views from the top of the dam are stunning, so don’t forget to bring your camera!

You will then arrive in Yichang, where you will be met and taken to the airport by your guide. You will fly on to Shanghai, and when you arrive you’ll be met by your English-speaking guide. For your stay in Shanghai you’ll stay in the 5 star Grand Pacific Hotel.

After a bit of relaxing at the hotel, your first stop on today’s touring will be the Bund, Shanghai’s most famous and recognizable landmark. The Bund is a waterfront embankment and has been regarded as the symbol of Shanghai for hundreds of years. It affords marvelous views across the river of the Pudong district and its numerous towers. The most famous and attractive sight which is at the west side of the Bund are the 52 various buildings of different architectural styles including Gothic, Baroque, Romanesque, Classicism and the Renaissance.

Across the river we’ll visit he Oriental Pearl TV Tower, the most distinctive landmark of the Shanghai skyline. From the top of the tower you can get marvelous views of the Bund and the east bank of Shanghai.

Day 20 Shanghai (B, L, D)

Following breakfast, we’ll start our day in Shanghai with a visit to the Jade Buddha Temple. The Jade Buddha Temple is one of the richest and most frequented Buddhist Temples in Shanghai. Jade Buddha Temple in Shanghai is an active temple, with 70 resident monks at the last count. The 70 monks who live and work there can sometimes be seen worshiping. inside, the centerpiece is a 1.9-meter-high white jade Buddha, which was installed here after a monk brought it from Burma to Zhejiang Province in 1882. The seated Buddha, encrusted with jewels, is said to weigh about one thousand kilograms. A smaller, reclining Buddha from the same shipment lies on a redwood bed. In the large hall are three gold-plated Buddhas, and other halls house ferocious-looking deities. Artifacts abound, not all on display, and some 7,000 Buddhist sutras line the walls.

Afterward you’ll have a chance to stroll along Yuyuan Garden. Yuyuan Garden is a famed classical garden, and even though it may be small, it contains numerous pavilions, halls, rockeries, ponds and cloisters, and all have unique characteristics. There are six main scenic areas in the garden: Sansui Hall, Wanhua Chamber, Dianchun Hall, Huijing Hall, Yuhua Hall and the Inner Garden. Each area features several scenic spots within its borders.

Following a Chinese lunch we’ll cap off our day of touring with a visit to the city premier museum, the Shanghai Museum. The Shanghai Museum is a world famous museum of ancient Chinese art and culture. The exterior design of the round dome and the square base symbolizes the ancient idea of a round heaven and a square land. The museum is divided into eleven galleries and three exhibition halls. The eleven Galleries cover most of the major categories of Chinese art: Ancient Bronze, Ancient Ceramics, Paintings, Calligraphy, Ancient Sculpture, Ancient Jade, Coins, Ming and Qing Furniture, Seals, and Minority Nationalities. The museum is a wonderful primer on ancient Chinese culture, and is a must-see when coming to Shanghai.

In the evening in addition to a splendid dinner if Shanghai cuisine, you’ll be treated to a performance of Chinese acrobatics.

Day 21 depart Shanghai (B)

After breakfast, you’ll be transferred to the airport, and you will fly on to your next destination, ending your journey through China.