Day 1 UK - Shanghai
Depart on your flight to Shanghai today.
Day 2 Shanghai
On arrival in Shanghai, we will transfer you to your hotel, where you'll stay for three nights.
Shanghai by night is dazzling and at its heart is the Huangpu River, with its constant and extraordinary stream of water traffic.
This evening after dinner, why not join our optional cruise along the Huangpu River. Sights you'll see include the Yangpu and Nanpu Bridges, the Monument to the People's Heroes, the Bund, the Oriental Pearl TV Tower, the Wu Song ancient gun fort relics and the Pudong Business District, which boasts a dramatic skyline.
Day 3 Shanghai
Shanghai is also pretty special by day too, and offers many sightseeing possibilities. Your included tour squeezes plenty in, with highlights including the thronging shopping thoroughfare of Nanjing Road, the world's longest shopping precinct. You'll also see the classic Yu Yuan Gardens, visit the ornate Jade Buddha Temple and stroll along the Bund - the city's famous riverside boulevard which is lined with magnificent former colonial buildings.
Here you will enjoy an afternoon tea, an English tradition immensely popular in Shanghai.
This evening you have a chance to watch the incredible Shanghai Acrobats, and you'll even have the chance to meet them if you join this amazing optional excursion, which also includes dinner.
Day 4 Suzhou
You're going to spend the day exploring Suzhou, which is located on China's historic Grand Canal. This beautiful 2,500-year-old city is famed for its landscaped gardens and traditional architecture, and many of the gardens you will see date back as far as the 10th century and are still intact. As you wander around you'll see narrow canals crossed by stone bridges and lined with rickety wooden houses. You'll also take a boat trip on the canal to see this historic town from a different perspective.
The Humble Adminstrator's Garden, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is one of the most famous and best-preserved gardens in China, and we will visit this today after a rickshaw ride through Suzhou's winding lanes.
Another highlight today will be a visit to the Institute of Silk Embroidery, where you will see artists at work creating elaborate pieces which can take months, even years to complete.
Day 5 Yangtze Cruise
Today we board a high-speed train to Yichang, which gives you the opportunity to sit back, relax and take in the views. On arrival we will transfer to the pier where we'll board our ship and embark on a scenic Yangtze River cruise. One of the Victoria fleet, your comfortable vessel has been specially designed to navigate the Yangtze and is your base for the next four nights.
Relax on board this evening and discover great facilities which include a restaurant, reading room and beauty salon. Your outside cabin has a private balcony offering wonderful views.
Day 6 Yangtze Cruise
Today you'll cruise through the magnificent Three Gorges region, where we will stop for shore excursions including the Three Gorges Dam, the largest hydroelectric dam in the world. An optional shore excursion is available to the recently-completed unique ship lock with a ship lift, the worlds largest.
If river conditions are favourable, a further optional excursion will be available - 'Tribe of the Three Gorges', which will give you a fascinating glimpse of the traditions and culture in this part of China.
On board the ship this evening, enjoy the captain's welcome dinner and entertainment.
Day 7 Yangtze Cruise
If you wish, you can start the day with a Tai Chi session on board the ship. We'll then transfer to another vessel, which will enable us to cruise through the picturesque Goddess Stream, which flows into the Yangtze.
Back on the ship, we'll sail into the tranquil beauty of the Wu Gorge, famed for its forest-covered mountains and sheer cliffs, then through the Qutang Gorge. Although this is the smallest of the three, measuring just 500 feet wide and five miles long, it's also the most dramatic. River conditions permitting, you might be tempted to join an optional shore excursion to White Emperor City. This ancient temple located on the top of a mountain affords spectacular views. Round off the day with dinner and a cabaret show.
Day 8 Yangtze Cruise
Today you'll step ashore to visit the Jade Emperor Scenic Area, a sacred site that features a 100-foot-tall statue depicting the Jade Emperor, an important deity in Chinese Taoism, as well as more than 200 additional Taoist and Buddhist sculptures.
Later, an optional shore excursion will take you to Fengdu Ghost City, known for its shrines, temples, statues and monasteries dedicated to the afterlife.
This evening join your captain for a farewell banquet on board the ship.
Day 9 Chongqing - Chengdu
Today you'll disembark the ship in Chongqing and set off to explore further by land. You'll start with a visit to Ciqikou Old Town, whose history can be traced back more than 1,700 years. During the Ming and Qing Dynasties it was known for its production of porcelain, and more than 20 ancient kiln sites have been discovered here. Its houses also date back to the Ming and Qing Dynasties, so admire incredible architecture made from bamboo and timber. The village is also a great place to watch local women at work in embroidery workshops and to stop for tea, as there are more than 100 tea bars to choose from. You'll also see the Guild Hall, a magnificent complex of houses, prayer houses and shops built by immigrants during the Qing Dynasty.
We'll then transfer you to the railway station where we'll board a high-speed train and journey to Chengdu.
Day 10 Chengdu
Your day begins with a fantastic tour of the Chengdu Panda Breeding Research Centre to view these endangered creatures. We visit in the morning as this is when the pandas are at their most active, when they feed and play.
The afternoon will be spent exploring Jinli Street, where you can sample local delicacies and visit tea houses and silk workshops. You will also find many restaurants serving Sichuan snacks, including San Da Pao, a sweet treat made from rice drenched in syrup, so why not give it a try.
This evening, if you want to soak up more of China's traditions, you've the option to attend a Face Changing Show, which features a number of different acts performing opera, music, comedy, fire-breathing, puppetry and the famous face-changing act, which has to be seen to be believed. Performed in a traditional tea house, dinner is also included.
Day 11 Chengdu - Xian
We make our way by high-speed train to Xian today, the 'City of Eternal Peace' and home of the famous Terracotta Army. Your sightseeing begins right away with a visit to the Tomb of Emperor Jingdi, also known as Hanyangling, where you can see small clay figures of people, animals and warriors discovered here.
Next, we'll visit the ancient and beautifully preserved City Wall, where we will board buggies which will take us from the south gate to the east gate.
After checking into your hotel there will be the chance to discover Xian by night on an optional excursion. You will see the Bell Tower and the Drum Tower which are both beautifully illuminated, providing a lovely setting for the many traditional restaurants and modern shopping malls of the area. You will also visit the west gate of Xian's City Walls before we drive to the Big Wild Goose Pagoda. Here you'll be able to watch the locals who come to dance here in the squares, as well as a colourful dancing fountain. We also include a visit to the Muslim Market, famous for its many food stalls, each selling its own specialties, so why not try one of the dishes on offer.
Day 12 Xian
Today's the day that you are going to see one of the world's most remarkable sights, the Terracotta Army at Li Shan Mountain. Discovered in the 1970s by farmers digging a well, this collection of at least 6,000 life-size terracotta figures was interred in 200 BC with the first Qin emperor. The warriors, representing individuals of the Imperial Guard, are grouped in battle order, rank by rank. Some are mounted on horse-drawn chariots and others are armed with spears, swords and crossbows. This dazzling display of Chinese military power is quite simply breathtaking.
We will also visit the Green Tea House, where there may be an opportunity to meet one of the farmers who discovered the warriors. After lunch we will return to Xian where the rest of the day is at leisure, and you can choose to explore the City Walls by bicycle if you wish.
After a special dumpling dinner, there's the option to see a Tang Dynasty show. This is listed as one of the top 10 things to do in Xian and is performed by the world-renowned Shaanxi Song and Dance Troupe, so comes highly recommended.
Day 13 Xian - Beijing
An exciting way to start the day is by taking a high-speed train to Beijing. This is a city of bustling street markets, ancient temples and exquisite palaces, which stand beside the vast 20th century civic buildings created by Chairman Mao and his people. With three nights here, there's plenty of time to discover all its highlights. Today you'll visit the Summer Palace and, if weather conditions are favourable, you'll enjoy a cruise on Kunming Lake.
We'll get together this evening for dinner in one of the city's restaurants. If you wish, you can also attend an optional Kung Fu show, which tells the story of a young boy who dreams of becoming a Kung Fu master, and the many difficulties he encounters on the road to enlightenment.
Day 14 Beijing
The chance to walk along the ramparts of the Great Wall of China at Badaling, one of the world's most iconic sights, is an incredible start to your day. Here, you can explore at your own pace, walk between the wall's watch towers or simply take in the breathtaking scenery.
Day 15 Beijing
You can cross another of China's iconic highlights off your list today, as we head to Tiananmen Square. This is bordered by the Qianmen Gate, the Great Hall of the People and the Gate of Heavenly Peace. We'll go through the gate, which forms the entrance to the incredible Forbidden City, to admire the magnificent buildings that house the Imperial Palace.
The afternoon is free for you to explore Beijing at leisure, or perhaps join our optional excursion to discover the city's hutongs on a walking tour. These narrow streets are formed by ancient residences built around courtyards and we'll have the chance to visit local families to see how they live in this traditional way.
Later this evening we'll meet up again for a farewell dinner of Peking duck.
Day 16 Beijing - UK
Today we'll transfer you to the airport for your flight back to the UK.
Please note: To introduce you to China's many sights, our itineraries are very full with some early starts and long days, but they are also extremely rewarding.
TAILOR YOUR TRIP
Victoria Cruises: Cabin Upgrade
Enhance your cruise with an upgrade to a Promenade deck cabin with amenity package or Executive Suite for a supplement. Amenity package and suite facilities include choice of two dining rooms (dependent on the vessel), free tea and coffee, complimentary 'Happy Hour' before dinner and use of the Executive Lounge. Please speak to a Holiday Advisor for details.