Experience the magnificent grandeur of China during this 16-day National Geographic Expedition. From the infamous Great Wall to Xi’an’s terracotta warriors and the hundreds of places in the Forbidden City, there is a wealth to explore. Journey from Beijing to Xi’an and set sail along the Yangtze River before heading to Chongqing and Shanghai for a magnificent experience alongside our renowned National Geographic experts.

Trip highlights

Spend a day interacting with giant pandas at a research centre outside Chengdu, helping caretakers feed and care for the animals and learning about efforts to protect them.

Meet National Geographic grantees across China, and learn about the latest research related to the environment, wildlife conservation, and geology.

Cruise two of China’s most legendary waterways, gliding through the Three Gorges of the Yangtze River and the karst landscapes of the Li River.

Itinerary - 16 Days

1 Beijing, China

Arrive in Beijing and transfer to our hotel in the heart of the capital. Enjoy the remainder of the day at leisure.
The St. Regis Beijing

2 Beijing, China

Delve into imperial Beijing at the Temple of Heaven, a UNESCO World Heritage site surrounded by gardens. Try tai chi with a master practitioner before heading to a traditional hutong neighbourhood for a rickshaw tour. Stroll the vast and historic Tiananmen Square, and then navigate the 900-some buildings and temples of the Forbidden City. Visit with Friends of Nature, China’s oldest environmental organization, and meet with National Geographic grant recipient Boju Zhang to hear about his latest efforts to conserve air and water quality in the capital city. Tonight, feast on Peking duck with your fellow travellers.
The St. Regis Beijing (B/L/D)

3 Great Wall/Beijing

Step back in time at the less visited Simatai section of the Great Wall, which retains the fortification’s
original character. Glimpse old China in Gubei Water Town, where centuries-old houses line quartzite streets and waterways.
The St. Regis Beijing (B/L)

4-5 Xi’an

Ride first-class on the high-speed train to Xi’an, once the eastern terminus of the Silk Road and
the capital of China. On a special behind-the-scenes visit to the Institute of Archaeology— normally closed to the public—learn about the latest excavations and see the terra-cotta warriors up close. After breakfast, the next day, view the legendary terra-cotta army, composed of thousands of soldiers, chariots, and horses that were buried around 210 b.c. at the tomb of China’s first emperor, Qin Shi Huang. Later, walk or ride a bike atop the massive city wall. During free time, browse the maze of markets and sites in the Muslim Quarter.
Sofitel Xi’an on Renmin Square (Day 4: B/L/D; Day 5: B/L)

6 Yichang/Yangtze River

Fly to Yichang and set out on an afternoon city tour. Board our luxurious riverboat for a four-night voyage on the Yangtze through the breath-taking Three Gorges region.
Yangzi Explorer (B/L/D)

7-9 Yangtze River

On daily excursions, visit the world's largest engineering project at the Three Gorges Dam; venture into narrow tributaries by local sampan boat, taking in gorgeous scenery; and visit Fuling and the 816 Underground Project, the world's largest artificial military cave. Back on the ship, learn about traditional healing and local crafts, enjoy morning tai chi, and gaze at the dramatic gorges.
Yangzi Explorer (B/L/D)

10-11 Chongqing/Chengdu

Disembark in Chongqing and travel to Chengdu. Along the way, visit the Dazu Grottoes, a UNESCO World Heritage site where centuries-old rock carvings depict Buddhist, Confucian, and Taoist themes as well as scenes of ordinary life during the Tang Dynasty. Enjoy dinner in Chengdu tonight, savouring hot pot, a Sichuan favourite. Spend the next day at the Dujiangyan Giant Panda Base overseen by the China Conservation and Research Centre for the Giant Panda. We’ll have the chance to prepare meals and feed the pandas, help clean the enclosures, and hear about conservation efforts. Return to Chengdu for dinner.
The St. Regis Chengdu (B/L/D)

12-13 Guilin And Yangshuo

Fly to Guilin and descend into the Reed Flute Cave, a subterranean spectacle of stalactites and stone pillars. Continue on to meet Dr. Zhang Hai at the Karst Institute to learn about a National Geographic-funded project that creates 3-D surveys and models of China’s caves, and go for a short walk through the scenic forest around the Institute. The following day, embark on a cruise down the Li River. Glide beneath limestone pinnacles and terraced rice fields that have inspired Chinese artists for generations, and stop to browse antique and craft markets. Return to Guilin for an evening on your own.
Shangri-La Hotel Guilin (Day 12: B/L/D; Day 13: B/L)

14-16 Shanghai

Fly to bustling Shanghai and settle into our hotel. Begin the next day meandering among the pavilions, ponds, and zigzag bridges of Yu Garden, Shanghai’s celebrated classical Chinese garden, dating to 559. Peruse an intriguing range of antiques and goods at the Old Bazaar. Over lunch, meet with conservationist and wildlife photographer Jing Li, a National Geographic grantee working to conserve critically endangered birds in the greater Shanghai area. After lunch, zoom up to the observation deck of China’s tallest building, Shanghai Tower, for a superlative view of the skyline. Stroll neon-lit Nanjing Road and the historic Bund waterfront. Tonight, toast your Chinese adventure at a local restaurant. The following day, transfer to the airport for your return flight.
Fairmont Peace Hotel (Day 14: B/L; Day 15: B/L/D; Day 16: B)

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