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 the worlds largest ship lift.
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 on board.
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 our last dinner in China of Peking duck.
Day 16 Beijing - Tokyo
We will transfer you to the airport today for your flight to Tokyo. After time to settle in, why not head out for stroll to get your bearings.
Day 17 Tokyo
Your explorations of Japan begin here in dazzling Tokyo and take you first to the Meiji Jingu Shrine. This collection of buildings and tranquil grounds is dedicated to the first emperor of modern Japan. Next we'll transfer to the district of Asakusa, where you'll visit the fascinating Sensoji Buddhist temple, and head to the vibrant Nakamise shopping street.
In the afternoon we're going to visit the Tokyo Tower and make a stop close to the spectacular Imperial Palace. This is the main residence of the Emperor of Japan, so make sure you bring your camera! Tonight we'll head to a restaurant for a welcome dinner.
Day 18 Hakone & Mount Fuji
A spectacular sight awaits us today, as we journey to Hakone. This is the gateway to Mount Fuji, Japan's highest mountain, and the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park. The scenery here is breathtakingly beautiful and we'll take a cable-car ride over the Owakudani Valley to admire views of mountains, sulphur hot springs and crystal-clear Lake Ashi.
The lake formed thousands of years ago in the crater of a dormant volcano, and we'll take a tranquil and scenic cruise across its waters. At the hot springs, you'll have a chance to try the local delicacy of 'black eggs'. Cooked in the sulphur, eating just one egg is believed to add seven years to your life! We'll also make a photo stop at a great spot close to Mount Fuji, so you can capture its stunning beauty if the weather is on our side.
Day 19 Tokyo - Takayama
Your next base is Takayama, and a day of discoveries starts with a visit to the ancient and perfectly preserved Matsumoto Castle. Set against the stunning backdrop of the Japanese Alps, it's the country's oldest five-tiered wooden castle and has been designated a National Treasure of Japan.
In the afternoon we're going to tour Daio Wasabi Farm to see how Japanese horseradish is grown. The farm has a number of large fields where the wasabi plants grow and we will admire them from specially designed walking trails. To round off your visit, why not treat yourself to a wasabi-flavoured ice cream!
Day 20 Takayama
Our day out today starts early at Miyagawa morning market, where you'll see and even sample the region's exotic fruit and vegetables. We'll then have the chance to see a traditional house and enjoy some free time in Takayama.
One of Japan's most scenic areas is Shirakawago, located along the Shokawa River. We'll head here later to take in wonderful sights of pine-covered mountains and centuries-old thatch-roofed farmhouses.
Day 21 Takayama - Kyoto
A journey by train this morning takes us to Nagoya, where we board one of Japan's famous Bullet Trains bound for Kyoto. We'll start the sightseeing as soon as we arrive in historic Kyoto. It's filled with fascinating temples, ancient buildings and splendid gardens, and we'll see highlights including Nijo Castle, built in 1603 for the first Shogun of the Edo Period. We'll also admire the Sanjusangendo Temple, the longest wooden building in Japan, which houses 1,001 unique carved statues of Kannon, the Goddess of Mercy.
Day 22 Kyoto
We'll start the day by viewing the Kinkakuji Temple with its Golden Pavilion. Next we're heading to the beautiful district of Arashiyama today, where a rickshaw ride through a bamboo forest promises to be an exhilarating experience. Sit back and enjoy the sight of the towering stalks swaying gently in the wind and casting shadows on the path. A sushi-making demonstration and lunch are also included before an afternoon of exploration in Nara. This historic city is where we'll find the Todaiji Temple, one of the most famous in Japan, and the Deer Park with its hundreds of free-roaming deer - you can even purchase crackers to feed them. We'll also visit Kasuga Taisha, the most celebrated shrine in Nara.
Day 23 Kyoto - at Leisure
How you spend today in Kyoto is entirely up to you. You could take part in a Kendo lesson, a modern martial art which uses bamboo swords, or maybe enjoy a more genteel experience, a tea ceremony. Kyoto is the birthplace of this traditional ceremony and there are a number of places which offer you a chance to experience it for yourself.
If you fancy a spot of retail therapy, Downtown Kyoto has plenty to offer, including department stores and a wonderful food market. Alternatively, you could opt to learn more about Japanese culture on a Kimono-wearing experience.
Day 24 Kyoto - Hiroshima
We're taking another Bullet Train today, and this time it will transport us to Hiroshima. This city is infamous as the target of the first-ever atomic bomb, dropped by the US at the end of the Second World War.
You'll tour this rebuilt city and nearby Miyajima Island, taking in views of the beautiful Itsukushima Shrine, a UNESCO-listed site built over water. You'll also see the Peace Memorial Park, a vast area of open land dedicated to the promotion of world peace, and the Atomic Bomb Dome. This building stood at the epicentre of the devastating bomb blast and has been preserved as a lasting reminder of that tragic event.
Tonight we'll get together for a farewell dinner. We'll head to a restaurant and try okonomiyaki, savoury pancakes served with a variety of toppings including seafood, vegetables, pork and noodles.
Day 25 Hiroshima - Osaka
Osaka is the final destination of your tour, and you'll journey here by road, so this morning is all about relaxing and admiring the view from your window. You'll spend the rest of the day discovering Osaka Castle and the Floating Garden Observatory at the top of the Umeda Sky Building.
Day 26 Osaka - UK
Your hotel is located close to the city's main shopping and entertainment district, so there's plenty to keep you busy today. Make your way to the upmarket stores along Midosuji Street, the so-called Champs-Élysées of the East. Later, we'll transfer you to the airport for your flight back to the UK.
Days 27 - 26 UK
You'll arrive back in the UK today.
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.