Journey through a land of contrasts—skyscrapers and ancient temples, serene gardens and bustling city streets—to discover the heart of this ever-changing country. From China’s staggering architectural monuments—the Forbidden City, Summer Palace and Great Wall—to the natural beauty of the Yangtze River’s Three Gorges, this itinerary introduces a discerning traveler to China’s highlights.
|Multiple Departures||Multiple departures 11Apr20-10Oct20|
|Arrival Dates||Multiple arrivals from 21Apr20 to 20Oct20|
Sanctuary Yangzi Explorer
|Cruise Package Type||Cruise Only|
|Ports of Call Beijing, Xi'an, Chongqing, Shibaozhia, Goddess Stream, Yichang, Shanghai|
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2020 Early Booking Savings
Save 10% on select 2020 voyages when you book by 30Sep19 and pay in full at time of booking.
|Journey through a land of contrasts—skyscrapers and ancient temples, serene gardens and bustling city streets—to discover the heart of this ever-changing country. From China’s staggering architectural monuments—the Forbidden City, Summer Palace and Great Wall—to the natural beauty of the Yangtze River’s Three Gorges, this itinerary introduces a discerning traveler to China’s highlights. The unique experience that is China fills your senses from the moment you arrive: the sound of Mandarin in Beijing’s streets, the scent of delicate Xi’an dumplings, the detailing on terra-cotta figures that have survived for millennia. Simultaneously ancient and contemporary, China must be heard, seen and felt to be understood—and Uniworld’s experts will be on hand to guide you through this vast land, as you delve into China’s cultural legacy and timeless wonders.|
Day 1 – Beijing
Arrive at Beijing Airport. If your cruise/tour package includes a group arrival transfer or if you have purchased a private arrival transfer, you will be greeted by a Uniworld representative and transferred to your luxury hotel.
Day 2 – Beijing
Your adventure begins with two quintessential experiences in China’s capital city. Off limits to commoners for 500 years, the Forbidden City was once considered the cosmic center of the universe (and for good reason, as you’ll see for yourself). Peking duck is another cultural gem you’ll experience today, a dish originally prepared for Chinese emperors.
The imperial heritage of China’s capital—the Forbidden City and Peking Duck lunch
Delve into the mystique and majesty of China’s imperial legacy today, beginning in Tiananmen Square. The center of contemporary civic life in Beijing, the square was first laid out in 1651 during the reign of the first Qing emperor. Over the centuries the enormous square has been the scene of imperial ceremonies, political demonstrations, parades and, in 2008, the Olympic opening festivities. Now surrounded by Communist monuments, including Mao Zedong’s mausoleum (note the long line of people waiting to get in for a brief glimpse of the Chairman’s remains), it is the gateway to the Forbidden City. Take a moment to pose with your fellow guests for a complimentary group photo to commemorate your visit.
As you pass through Tiananmen Gate, also known as the Gate of Heavenly Peace, you step into one of Beijing’s treasures, the Forbidden City. For over 500 years the Forbidden City was home to the emperors and empresses of China, a place none could enter without imperial permission (hence its name), but in 1925 it became the Palace Museum—an institution noted for its unparalleled collections of Ming and Qing Dynasty treasures. The UNESCO-designated palace complex, with its temples, pavilions, courtyards and gardens (covering some 100 acres), offers visitors a glimpse into the lives and rituals of China’s imperial families, as well as some of the world’s most outstanding architecture and design.
Relax after your exploration of the Forbidden City with a festive lunch of Beijing’s succulent signature dish, Peking Duck. Emperors were the first to enjoy this classic preparation of slow-roasted, crispy-skinned duck; in fact, the first mention of this delicacy dates back to the imperial kitchens in 1330, and it became eponymous with Beijing—or Peking, as it was then known—in the 1450s.
Day 3 – Beijing
Certain images immediately spring to mind when you think of China. Panda bears. Tea houses. The Great Wall. Believe it or not, all three of these are on today’s agenda, as well as a rickshaw ride through the city’s ancient hutongs. Be sure to charge up your camera and get ready to experience some truly epic bucket list moments.Featured Excursions:
Culture, history and intrigue—pandas, hutongs, teahouses
Today’s sights encompass some of China’s most iconic images, from the smiling faces of giant pandas to the massive Great Wall. A stop at the panda habitat at the Beijing Zoo lets you see these charming—and endangered—creatures in a gardenlike setting before you expand your experience of the city’s traditional culture with a visit to the hutongs. These historic residential neighborhoods developed around the Forbidden City during the 15th century. Traditional multigenerational homes built around courtyards line the narrow lanes, along with tiny shops selling everything from luxury goods to everyday necessities. Not only are the sights along the winding streets fascinating, but you’ll get to see them in the most traditional way—via rickshaw. You’re in for another taste of tradition as you take a seat at a teahouse and breathe in the delicate aromas of China’s most famous export, savoring a cup of tea presented with graceful ceremony.
Though the Great Wall stretches 5,500 miles (8,850 kilometers) through northern China—for comparison purposes, remember that the United States is about 3,000 miles (4,828 kilometers) wide—part of it is surprisingly close to Beijing. You’ll head off to see the longest man-made structure on Earth this afternoon. The wall was begun in the third century BC as a way to keep out hostile invaders from the north; it proved so stalwart a defense that generations of warlords and emperors maintained and extended it, although it was never a continuous barrier. The section north of Beijing dates mostly to the Ming Dynasty. Now that its military purposes are firmly in the past, you may clamber up the steps and take a memorable walk along this UNESCO World Heritage Site. Its stone and tamped-earth pathway offers an extraordinarily peaceful and awe-inspiring setting with expansive mountain views.
Enjoy Welcome Dinner.
Day 4 – Beijing, Fly to Xi’an
Leave the hustle and bustle of Beijing behind today and head north to the serenity of the Summer Palace, home to one of China’s most beautiful classical gardens. From there, plunge into the past in China’s first capital, where you’ll celebrate your first night in Xi’an with a traditional (and incredibly labor intensive) dumpling banquet.
Grace and art—Beijing’s Summer Palace and Xi’an’s traditional dumpling banquet
Even emperors suffered in Beijing’s summer heat, so they built a lake just north of the city and then added a series of palaces and pavilions on the banks of that lake (it also provided water for the city), where they could enjoy cool breezes off the water. Over the centuries emperors turned their Summer Palace into one of China’s most beautiful gardens, incorporating elements from myth (the three islands in Kunming Lake represent the three divine mountains in the East Sea), philosophy and other exquisite gardens, including those in Suzhou. Stroll along the Long Corridor, decorated with some 14,000 paintings, and step aboard a small boat to float out onto the serene waters of Kunming Lake. As you take in the views of Longevity Hill, with its temples and pavilions, and the 17-arch bridge, you’ll see a perfect example of Chinese garden design.
Leaving Beijing behind, you fly south to Xi’an, China’s first capital, home to the Terra-cotta Army—and to one of China’s culinary delights. Check into your hotel and then savor a traditional Xi’an dumpling banquet. Traditionally reserved for special occasions (perhaps because making them can be so labor-intensive), each little dumpling is a delectable work of art—and, after all, your visit to Xi’an is surely a special occasion, so you deserve every one of the 16 different kinds of dumplings that will be served.
Day 5 – Xi’an
Xi’an’s terra-cotta army has been called the 8th wonder of the world, and it’s certainly the most extraordinary archeological find of the 20th century. Prepare to be amazed! You’ll also visit one of the holiest Buddhist temples in China, and enjoy a traditional Tang Dynasty dinner show with fabulous food, music and flamboyant costumes.
China’s first capital—Terra-cotta Army, Big Wild Goose Pagoda and Tang Dynasty dinner show
In 1974 a farmer digging a well stumbled upon one of the 20th century’s most astonishing archaeological finds: a massive army of terra-cotta figures that stand guard over the tomb of China’s first emperor, Qin Shi Huang (259-210 BC). Though thousands of members of this army have been excavated so far, many more remain; work uncovering the tomb complex continues—and the emperor’s tomb chamber is yet to be revealed. Terra-cotta acrobats, musicians and officials were also created to accompany the emperor in the afterlife; all are now on display at a museum devoted to this incredible find. Each life-sized figure is unique—no mass production for those ancient craftsmen!—and as you explore the museum, you’ll be amazed by the intricacy of the workmanship. This terra-cotta army was by no means Qin Shi Huang’s only bequest to China: It might be fair to say that he created the nation of China itself. He unified a vast swath of the country and established the administrative systems that governed China until 1911. In fact, he even gave his dynasty’s name to the nation. Qin is pronounced “chin,” and it is from this name that the modern word “China” comes.
Though the museum of the Terra-cotta Army may be Xi’an’s most famous destination, the Big Wild Goose Pagoda is its most iconic sight, and it’s also on your agenda for the day. One of the holiest Buddhist temples in China, Big Wild Goose Pagoda was built in the seventh century to house the Buddhist texts the temple’s abbot, Xuanzang, brought back from India, where he spent 16 years collecting them. He and his monks devoted many years to translating those texts into Chinese; their translations are still in use at the temple. Constructed of wood and white brick (all without mortar), the pagoda is an architectural wonder. It is located on the grounds of the still active Temple of Thanksgiving and boasts a park and large plaza where locals sometimes gather to fly kites. Remember to put a few coins in your pocket for this excursion—tradition says that throwing them through the pagoda’s window will bring you good luck. Who wouldn’t want to give it a try?
End your day with a colorful entertainment that pays tribute to the city’s history. Xi’an reached its apex during the Tang Dynasty, when Tang emperors laid out a city that became a model for Chinese urban development, so the era holds a special place in the hearts of Xi’an’s citizens. A traditional Chinese dinner, complete with a milky rice wine that is served warm, is accompanied by a lavishly staged cultural performance that draws on the music, folk dance and beautiful silk costumes of the Tang era. The performance you’ll see is rooted in early folk celebrations that honored the harvest, and it blends ancient music and movements to visually express the splendor of the Chinese civilization.
Day 6 – Xi’an, Fly to Chongqing (Embark), Cruising the Yangtze River
Before you leave Xi’an for Chongqing, you have one more expedition: a visit to the Jade Carving Center, or Jade Factory, as it’s also known. Jade has been cherished in China for 10,000 years; it is valued for its intrinsic beauty, of course, but it also has tremendous symbolic meaning. Watch artisans carving intricate designs and learn what to look for when buying this special stone.
Day 7 – Cruising the Yangtze River, Shibaozhai
Do you believe in magic? The bright red Shibo Pagoda was originally built into the side of a mountain peak, but that peak became an island after the completion of the Three Gorges Dam. Step ashore here to do some exploring, perhaps climbing to the top to ensure that all your dreams come true (or so an ancient legend says).
The Three Gorges – The Yangtze’s fairytale landscapesShibao Pagoda is a temple built directly into the side of a steep peak that is now an island, a result of the rising waters from the Three Gorges Dam. Painted a bright red (the color associated with happiness and good fortune) and featuring an elaborately carved entrance and unusual round windows, the 12-story pagoda is yours to explore. At one time the temple consisted of just the top three stories; the other nine stories were constructed essentially to house the ladder-like staircase that leads up to the top. It’s something of a challenge to climb, which may be why legend says reaching the top will make your dreams come true—by your being here, we’d like to think they already have. (Don’t worry—there’s another, less strenuous way to get to the top: You can take a path up the hill and cross a bridge to the temple.) Shibao Pagoda is, quite simply, magical.
Enjoy the Captain’s Welcome Reception before dinner.
Day 8 – Cruising the Yangtze River, Goddess Stream
Today will be a highlight of your journey—a full day cruising the Yangtze River’s mystical, beautiful and completely mesmerizing Three Gorges, with scenery that has captivated artists and poets for thousands of years.
The Magical Goddess Stream
Limestone cliffs, sheathed in greenery, loom above the water; mountains, wreathed in mist, tower in the distance. Every vista seems to be a traditional Chinese watercolor come to life. Climb aboard a small motorboat and enter a magical landscape as you drift quietly along the Goddess Stream, a tributary of the Yangtze that flows through some of the most extraordinary scenery in the Three Gorges region. Pristine turquoise waters shimmer and bubble between the sheer cliffs that rise high overhead. Mysterious traces of ancient peoples appear in the cliff faces, including coffins suspended among seemingly unreachable rocks. There are those who believe the goddess of the stream created some of the ravishing peaks you can see from your boat: Does Feifeng Peak look to you like a phoenix about to drink from the stream’s waters? Legend says that the goddess transformed a golden phoenix into the mountain. Whether you recognize a similarity or not, there’s no denying the enchantment of this region.
Note: Due to water conditions, we may substitute a Shennong Stream boat tour if the Goddess Stream is not available.
In the evening, you’ll savor a special Captain’s Farewell Dinner on this final night of your Yangtze River cruise.
Day 9 – Cruising the Yangtze River, Yichang (Disembark), Fly to Shanghai
The Three Gorges Dam was a hugely expensive and controversial undertaking, a project that involved relocating entire villages and submerged a number of cultural treasures behind the rising waters of the Yangtze. The dam itself is an engineering marvel, one that you can see from a breathtakingly up-close perspective today.Featured Excursions:
Powering China’s future—Three Gorges Dam
Today, you’ll disembark the ship in Yichang and explore the Three Gorges Dam on foot. Get ready for some spectacular views and the exhilarating roar of rushing water. Known the world over, the dam harnesses the power of the mighty Yangtze in order to provide electricity to ever-growing China; it is the largest hydropower project ever undertaken. Talk of building such a system first began in 1919, but it wasn’t until 1992 that the Chinese congress gave it the go-ahead. It opened in 2006, with the final generators being installed in 2012. The dam is also intended to control flooding on the Yangtze, which has been a severe problem for many centuries. It has not been without controversy, but it is an unparalleled expression of national ambition and a major new national landmark.
After your visit to the dam, you’ll fly to Shanghai, where you’ll settle into your room and relax.
Day 10 – Shanghai
After days of pandas, ancient warriors and timeless Chinese landscapes, Shanghai and its futuristic skyline can be something of a shock to the system. Yet beyond the building boom and the avant-garde architecture, you can still find traces of Shanghai’s colorful and fascinating colonial-era history. Enjoy a taste of both old and new today, as well as dim sum and a performance by the gravity-defying Shanghai acrobats.
Spectacular skyscrapers, famous dim sum and acrobats
Call it the once and future boomtown. Shanghai, China’s onetime window to the West, is once again its commercial capital, and this morning’s tour will take you to some of this engaging city’s most impressive sights. Begin with a ramble through Old Town—the original walled city, where you will find traditional tea houses, temples, narrow alleyways and markets—for a taste of historic Shanghai. When you stroll along the Bund, Shanghai’s famed waterfront promenade along the Huangpu River, you encounter the heart of the old colonial concessions: Buildings here pay tribute to the English, French or German consuls and businessmen who owned them. A plethora of art deco buildings demonstrate why Shanghai was known as the Pearl of the Orient in the 1920s. Today’s Bund features exuberant street life as well as beautiful architecture. It’s also an ideal spot for admiring the views of the Pudong district and its spectacular skyscrapers, among them the tallest building in Asia. What would a visit to Shanghai be without a traditional dim sum lunch? Relax at your hotel over a delectable selection of savory dumplings, steamed buns and rice noodle rolls with a variety of fillings, then go out and explore a little on your own. You might visit Yu Garden, a lovely traditional garden first laid out in 1559, or check out one of the nearby shopping streets for a taste of Shanghai’s famous shopping scene.
After dinner on your own, experience spinning plates, flying knives and whirling hula-hoops as agile acrobats dance across swaying tightropes and perform death-defying leaps. You’ll be truly dazzled as the famous Shanghai Acrobatic Troupe performs their astonishing, gravity-defying routines.
Day 11 – Depart Shanghai
Check out of your hotel and transfer to the Shanghai Pudong International Airport for your flight Home, or extend your trip with a memorable optional extension in Hong Kong.
Suite (301 sq ft – 28 sq m) with Private balcony, cozy sitting area, comfy robes and slippers, fine bath products, satellite TV, individually controlled air-conditioning, and mini bar
Grand Suite (1,140 sq ft – 106 sq m) with Private balcony, cozy sitting area, comfy robes and slippers, fine bath products, satellite TV, individually controlled air-conditioning, and mini bar
Sanctuary Yangzi Explorer
The newest ship on the Yangtze is a sanctuary of lavish features, with the largest cabins and suites on the river—all with private balconies, and a crew to guest ratio beyond compare (1:1 to be specific).
|River||Yangtze River, Li River|
|Suites||2 (420 sq ft)|
|Staterooms||6 (333 sq ft)|
Sanctuary Yangzi Explorer
Whether you've visited Europe once or a dozen times, you haven't really experienced the best of Europe until you've sailed with Uniworld Boutique River Cruises. Uniworld offers an exceptional vacation experience free of the stresses associated with today's travel. It combines the pleasure of discovering the multitude of charms and landmarks of different destinations with the same exquisite accommodations, award-winning hospitality, and world-class cuisine of a five-star boutique hotel. Uniworld, the pioneer in elegant river cruising, has been cruising the waterways of the world for more than 30 years. A Uniworld Boutique River Cruise combines the charms and landmarks of different des tinations with exquisite accommodation, award-winning hos pitality, and world-class cuisine of a five-star boutique hotel. Cruise the historic waterways of Europe, Russia, Egypt, China and Vietnam & Cambodia.
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Uniworld’s “Six-Star Experience” represents our core value: delivering the highest standards of EXCELLENCE in the six most important aspects of luxury river cruising. EXPERTISE—As a luxury river cruise line, Uniworld handles all aspects of our onboard operations— nautical, hospitality, and culinary. And with the synergy Uniworld shares with their award-winning sister company Red Carnation Hotels, which has over 50 years of experience owning and operating luxury boutique hotels, they have created the world’s ONLY floating luxury boutique hotels. SERVICE—“No request too large, no detail too small” is the credo of the Uniworld staff, who go above and beyond to create an extraordinary experience for their guests. LUXURIOUS SHIPS UNIQUELY DESIGNED—Uniworld’s one-of-a-kind, exquisitely appointed river cruise ships are each a work of art, designed to be as unique as our guests, and as inspiring as the destinations they visit. CULINARY—Uniworld has crafted a culinary experience for the most discerning of palettes to ensure every guest’s dining experience exceeds their expectations. With every meal onboard, guests are treated to a rich selection of complimentary craft and local beers, spirits, and distinctive wines chosen by our acclaimed sommeliers. CHOICE—Uniworld offers more European itineraries than any other river cruise line, and more options for guests to personalize their Uniworld river cruise with innovative onshore programs, including “Choice Is Yours,” “Go Active,” and “Gentle Walking” options. TRULY ALL INCLUSIVE RIVER CRUISING—Uniworld’s true all-inclusive European river cruises are perfectly planned to create the ultimate, stress-free, luxury river cruise experience.
Uniworld has crafted a culinary program for the most discerning of palettes to ensure every guest's river cruise dining experience exceeds expectations. Menus honour regional and seasonal specialties, in addition to offering old-fashioned comfort foods and lighter fare. You'll delight in the wonderful flavours of impeccably prepared meals on our river cruises by our culinary team using the freshest ingredients from farmers' markets and other local sources. And with every meal, be treated to a rich selection of craft and local beers, spirits, and distinctive wines chosen by our acclaimed sommeliers. EPICUREAN ADVENTURER PROGRAM™ Uniworld offers lovers of good food, craft beer, and wine the exclusive Epicurean Adventurer Program™, which is included at no extra charge in your cruise fare. This program is designed to take you deeper into the wonderful world of craft beer and wine, and expand your knowledge of its relationship with food. The Epicurean Adventurer Program is offered on 17 itineraries and includes a host of sumptuous treats.
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