Opening Hours: | Weekdays: 9:00am to 6:00pm | Weekends: 10:00am-4:00pm |
0208 102 8970
enquiries@kreativecruises.com
Duration: 17 days
Location: China, Asia
Price: from £2849pp
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Since the days of Marco Polo, China has fascinated our western minds in the most compelling way. The country’s immense size, almost unimaginable wealth and other-worldly culture have together woven an intoxicating and quite irresistible spell.

But the Chinese today are living through an astonishing transformation. As well as being justly proud of their long history and unique cultural legacy, they’re keen to show you their huge achievements as a rapidly growing world superpower..

 

Features

    • A comprehensive tour of China visiting its greatest cultural legacies, iconic monuments, astounding palaces and astonishing scenery
    • Staying in hand-picked four-star hotels
    • Enjoy our five-star Yangtze River Cruise through the breathtaking Three Gorges, including full-board
    • Travel through the world’s largest ship locks of the Three Gorges Dam
    • Visit the amazing Forbidden City, the seat of Imperial power for 500 years and the world’s largest concentration of preserved ancient wooden buildings
    • Marvel at the exquisite symmetry of the Temple of Heaven and the imperial gardens at the Summer Palace in Beijing
    • Tour old Beijing’s historic quarters by cycle rickshaw
    • Visit the astonishing Great Wall of China, the only man-made monument visible from space
    • See the world-famous Terracotta Warriors and it’s less visited underground museum
    • Watch baby pandas at play at the Chengdu Panda Research Centre
    • Travel of the world’s fastest train in Shanghai
    • Enjoy the bright lights and shopping of Shanghai
    • See the man-made wonder of the Longshen Rice Terraces
    • Cruise the world-famous Li River surrounded by thousands of shimmering limestone peaks
    • Option to visit one of China’s unspoilt water villages in the Yangtze River delta
    • Daily breakfast and thirteen meals included plus a Peking Duck banquet
    • Escorted by our experienced tour manager
    • Return scheduled flights

    Selected departures up to October 2017 & March to October 2018


 

 

Itinerary

Day 1

You should arrive at the airport to take your overnight flight to Beijing via Shanghai.

Day 2

Transfer to our hotel, the four-star superior Central Hotel for one night with breakfast. This evening we enjoy a fascinating stroll along the colonial ‘Bund’, Shanghai’s riverside promenade.

Day 3 – Beijing

Our first stop today is at Tiananmen Square, the largest in the world. Opposite is the Gate of Heavenly Peace, the entrance to the Forbidden City, where Chairman Mao announced the birth of the People’s Republic in 1949. Through the central arch, once reserved solely for the emperor himself, lies a different world. Spread over 250 acres, with 9,999 rooms, this, the world’s largest palace complex, was the seat of imperial power for 600 years. Next, just below the Drum Tower, our cycle rickshaws await! This city still has its ‘Hutongs’, translated as alleyways, consisting of traditional one storey houses built around historic courtyards – still staggeringly housing 20% of Beijing’s residents, it’s a fast disappearing way of life in the modern city. Pedalling through these maze-like alleys, there is a very real sense of being transported back in time. After lunch we have a leisurely visit to the great Temple of Heaven. The park surrounding the temple is full of locals, playing board games, dancing, playing music and singing. This full and fascinating day is rounded off with an optional visit to a performance of the famous Kung Fu show.

Day 4 – Great Wall of China & Beijing

Today is one of the tour’s highlights as we drive towards the mountainous areas to the north and the aptly named Great Wall of China. The section you’ll see is at Mutianyu, a popular spot, but much less visited by the masses, so you can experience it at its best. Approaching, we pass through farms, fruit orchards and then in the distance, we catch our first glimpse of the amazing Great Wall snaking like a sinuous dragon’s tail along the forested ridges above. The views from the top are simply superb: endless folds of hills and mountains in all directions – a wild landscape, as untamed as when the wall was built. Returning to Beijing we visit the vast Summer Palace and take a relaxing boat ride on the huge man-made lake at its centre, overlooking 300 acres of beautiful formal gardens. This evening we enjoy the classic local dish in one of Beijing’s best restaurants: a Peking Duck banquet which in this, its purest form, takes chefs five years to learn the roasting process and 15 years to master it!

Day 5 – Xian

After breakfast saying goodbye to Beijing, we take our short flight to Xian which prior to Beijing and two centuries before Homer’s ‘Odyssey’, was the centre of Chinese culture for over 2,000 years, plus the start of the exotic Silk Route to the west. Our first stop is the city’s imposing Ming Dynasty walls, 60ft thick, 40ft high and stretching for nine miles! We stay two nights at the four-star Xian Garden Hotel or Days Inn Hotel Xi’an.

Day 6 – Terracotta Army

Another of the tour’s highlights is today’s visit to the stunning Terracotta Army. The first Qin Emperor united China’s warring factions and began the construction of the Great Wall. His mausoleum took 11 years to build but intriguingly the great earthen mound that covers it still remains unexcavated. Guarding it was his Terracotta Army. Drawn up in traditional battle order, the vanguard consists of rows of archers and crossbowmen, followed by columns of infantry and chariots. Staggeringly, each figure is unique, lifelike and realistic, some even have potbellies! This evening you have the option to see the spectacular Tang Dynasty show, which interprets ancient Chinese myths through dance and music.

Day 7 – Hang Yang Ling tomb & Guilin

This morning is at leisure before our short flight to Guilin. On the way to Xian airport we visit the remarkable Hang Yang Ling tomb and Underground Museum – which imaginatively displays some of the 40,000 funeral objects unearthed around the tomb of the first Han Emperor. Our hotel for two nights in Guilin is the four-star Bravo Hotel.

Day 8 – Li River

After breakfast we board our comfortable excursion boat for our cruise down the Li River – simply one of the most stunningly beautiful river journeys in the world. Majestically rising from the flat rice paddies surrounding the river, are literally thousands of conical-shaped limestone peaks and pinnacles covered in verdant tropical forests. A magical, fairytale landscape which has been celebrated for thousands of years by the greatest Chinese painters and poets. There’s always something interesting round every bend: you’ll see farmers tending their fields, swaying bamboo groves and water buffalo cooling off in the river. After our included lunch on board, you’ll have some free time to wander around the picturesque riverside town of Yangshuo. Its pedestrianised main street is lined with a variety of al-fresco cafés, restaurants and shops.

Day 9 – Longshen rice terraces

This morning we drive out of Guilin to see another of China’s great, but not so well-known, man-made wonders: the Longshen rice terraces. For hundreds of years the ethnic Yao tribes have carved thousands of rice terraces into the steep hills, covering every fold of the landscape. The road narrows so we transfer to smaller vehicles taking you to the start of a long pathway to one of the best viewpoints. This couldn’t be more removed from today’s busy urban centres, giving you a fascinating glimpse into the real China of yesteryear. There are plenty of steps to climb but also lots of small stalls to stop for a drink and breather, absorbing these incredibly stunning views. For those a little less energetic, the locals will carry you (at extra charge) in a bamboo sedan
chair!
In the late afternoon we return to Guilin, flying to Chengdu in Sichuan province staying two nights at the Tibetan-themed four-star Minshan Lhasa Hotel. Dinner today is included at your hotel.

Day 10 – Chengdu Panda Research Centre & Jin Li Street

Spread out over 200 acres, the Chengdu Panda Breeding & Research Centre has been beautifully landscaped with bamboo-shaded pathways leading to the large panda enclosures. It is the largest such centre in China and now houses over a hundred of these wonderfully photogenic creatures. One of the most popular stops is at the baby panda enclosure where there will usually be 3-4 youngsters playing, eating and climbing over specially constructed bamboo frames. You will also see the lesser-known arboreal red pandas, with their red and white faces and bushy stripy tails. After a light lunch at the centre, we return to Chengdu to walk through its main attraction, Jin Li Street, a recreation of a traditional shopping street, with plenty of local handicrafts and places to sit down and relax with some local green tea or coffee.

Day 11 – Chongqing & RV Century Sun

Today we experience a different mode of travel – on one of China’s new high-speed express trains for the two-hour journey to Chongqing. Travelling up to 195 kph, with lovely views of rolling hills and farmland, we soon arrive at Chongqing, which claims to be the world’s largest municipality, with a staggering 32 million inhabitants – that’s half the population of the entire UK! After a short tour of the city we board our river ship, the five-star RV Century Sun for our relaxing three night cruise.

YANGTZE THREE GORGES CRUISE – RV Century Sun

This five star, 428-foot long river cruiser has 153 well-appointed outside cabins over four decks and offers a one-sitting restaurant, gift shops, a cigar lounge, library, and hair-salon, plus a spacious sundeck with bar and 360-degree views. There are also massage rooms, a small fitness area, spacious observation lounge and bar. Full board is included, buffet-style for breakfast and lunch, whilst dinner normally includes a wide variety of both western and Chinese dishes. Tea, coffee and soft drinks are included with meals. The cabins are a very spacious 26 square metres and well-appointed, with twin beds (doubles on request), bathroom, TV with BBC World and HBO, phone, safe, air-conditioning and large sliding glass doors leading to a small balcony. Onboard activities start with early-morning complimentary tea, coffee and pastries followed by tai chi on the sundeck and mah-jong classes, acupuncture and herbal medicine, plus other aspects of Chinese culture.

Day 12 – Fengdu ‘Ghost’ City & Shibaozhai pagoda

After breakfast there is an optional visit to Fengdu ‘Ghost’ City or participate in some of the various activities on board. This afternoon we visit the remarkable Shibaozhai pagoda – rising twelve stories up a sheer cliff face, this delicate temple is an architectural jewel and inspirational for generations of artists.

Day 13 – Qutang & Captains Dinner

Today we enter Qutang, the first Yangtze gorge, continuing through the Wu Gorge just before lunch. This afternoon we transfer to a smaller riverboat for a leisurely cruise upstream on one of the Yangtze’s Lesser Three Gorges, the Shennv or ‘Goddess’ Stream. This is a newly opened & less visited 15-km long tributary of the Yangtze with some truly spectacular views through very narrow gorges, surrounded by pristine jungle-clad sheer cliffs rising up to 3300ft. Tonight it’s the Captain’s Farewell Banquet followed by dancing in the lounge. Afterwards, head out on deck to watch the ship passing through the five massive ship locks and watch in awe as the vast steel doors close behind us and our ship perceptively descends.

Day 14 – Three Gorges Dam & Shanghai

Cruising downstream through the lower Xiling gorge towards the massive Three Gorges Dam, you must visit the viewing platform and fully appreciate the colossal size of this mammoth project. Disembarking at Yichang, we fly to Shanghai – an economic powerhouse since the British and French forced trading concessions from the Chinese back in the 19th century, its trade in opium, silk and tea, rapidly made it Asia’s most dynamic city. This remarkable city has risen again, becoming an extraordinary blend of colonial and ultra-modern. We stay three nights in the aptly named five-star Central Hotel, located right on Nanjing Road, just a ten minute stroll from the Bund (the famed waterfront) and People’s Square.

Day 15 – Shanghai

This morning we have a short tour of the principal sights, including the Jade Buddha temple and the Yuyuan Gardens in the old quarter, passing by the old British Consulate, the Bund’s oldest building. This evening you have the option to attend the world-famous Shanghai Acrobatic Show.

Day 16 – Free Day, Shanghai

Today is free for some personal shopping or exploration. Why not have a leisurely walk through the former French Concession and admire the pre-war neo-classical mansions? Or browse for big-name brands along iconic Nanjing Road? Alternatively you have the option of a half-day visit to the nearby village of Zhujiajiao, criss-crossed by numerous canals, it has survived the upheavals of the last century and is now the quintessential Chinese ‘water village’, full of traditional shop-houses, cobbled streets and ancient arched bridges.

Day 17

This morning we catch the world’s fastest train, the Maglev, on our way to Shanghai’s Pudong airport for our direct flight home, arriving home later the same day.


 

 

Dates, Prices & Accommodations

Selected departures march 2017 to September 2018
Based on London Heathrow and Dublin departures

DATE DEPARTURE TIME DEPARTURE POINT ACCOMMODATION PRICE(PP) FROM
13 Mar 2018 15:50 Dublin Airport See Itinerary £2,893.00
29 May 2018 15:50 Dublin Airport See Itinerary £3,193.00
11 Sep 2018 15:50 Dublin Airport See Itinerary £3,593.00

 

 

 

DATE DEPARTURE TIME DEPARTURE POINT ACCOMMODATION PRICE(PP) FROM
10 Oct 2017 21:00 London Heathrow Airport See Itinerary £2,999.00
17 Oct 2017 21:00 London Heathrow Airport See Itinerary £3,199.00
13 Mar 2018 21:00 London Heathrow Airport See Itinerary £2,699.00
03 Apr 2018 21:00 London Heathrow Airport See Itinerary £2,879.00
01 May 2018 21:00 London Heathrow Airport See Itinerary £2,999.00
15 May 2018 21:00 London Heathrow Airport See Itinerary £2,999.00
29 May 2018 21:00 London Heathrow Airport See Itinerary £2,999.00
12 Jun 2018 21:00 London Heathrow Airport See Itinerary £2,999.00
24 Jul 2018 21:00 London Heathrow Airport See Itinerary £3,299.00
28 Aug 2018 21:00 London Heathrow Airport See Itinerary £3,399.00
04 Sep 2018 21:00 London Heathrow Airport See Itinerary £3,399.00
11 Sep 2018 21:00 London Heathrow Airport See Itinerary £3,399.00
09 Oct 2018 21:00 London Heathrow Airport See Itinerary £3,139.00
16 Oct 2018 21:00 London Heathrow Airport See Itinerary £3,099.00
23 Oct 2018 21:00 London Heathrow Airport See Itinerary £2,949.00
30 Oct 2018 21:00 London Heathrow Airport See Itinerary £2,799.00

 

 

 

 

Price Includes

The price of this holiday is per person, based on two people sharing a twin room and includes: scheduled flights to Beijing and from Shanghai; 15 nights accommodation in four-star hotels including 3 nights on board a five-star Yangtze cruise ship; daily breakfast, 9 lunches & 5 dinners; all tours and entrance fees as described: guided tours of the Forbidden City & Tiananmen Square, Temple of Heaven, Summer Palace, rickshaw tour of the Hutongs, the Great Wall, Terracotta Warriors, Wild Goose Pagoda, the Underground Museum, Li River cruise, Yangshuo walking tour, Longshen Rice Terraces, Chengdu Panda Breeding Centre, all mentioned shore excursions on Yangtze cruise, Shanghai; four domestic flights and one rail journey; all transfers and hotel porterage of one item of luggage per person; services of an experienced Riviera tour manager.

N.B. Itinerary may be subject to change depending on domestic flight timings and Yangtze & Li river water levels. Meals in China: all included lunches and dinners are Chinese meals and are set menus of several courses and dishes shared around tables of 6-10 persons, one local beer or soft drink is normally included as is unlimited Chinese tea; breakfasts are buffet style with western food options. Hotel beds can be ‘firm’ in China and rooms are normally twin-bedded; requests for double beds cannot be guaranteed.

NOT INCLUDED: China visa.


 

Accommodation Details

Beijing – the four-star Mercure Downtown (www.mercure.com) is located to the east of Tiananmen Square, close to Beijing’s central business district. The hotel has two restaurants: an all day dining buffet and a la carte restaurant with western and Asian cuisine with an open kitchen, as well as a Cantonese restaurant. There is also a friendly bar in the main lobby area. Leisure facilities include a large indoor heated pool, fitness centre, steam bath and jacuzzi. The 373 comfortable air-conditioned rooms all have shower, hairdryer, minibar, safe, flat-screen TV, tea/coffee-maker and free wifi.

Xian – The Days Inn (www.daysinn.co.uk/hotels/china/xian/days-hotel-and-suites-xinxing-xian) is located in the Business District and near the Terracotta Army, this hotel provides luxury accommodation and easy access to local restaurants and attractions.   There is a bar/lounge for drinks and coffee shop for snacks, there is a nice restaurant that offers local and international cuisine.  Wifi is available in the lobby areas only.  The 320 rooms of the hotel are well furnished and have all the modern facilities including air-conditioning, minibar, safe, fridge, and tea /coffee making facilities.

Guilin – the four-star Bravo Hotel (www.guilinbravohotel.com/) is centrally located close to Guilin’s main shopping and pedestrian areas and overlooks the attractive Ronghu Lake. The city’s night market is about a 10 minute walk away and there are also some pleasant paths along the tree-shaded lakeshore which is beautifully lit at night. The hotel’s Patio Café offers all-day dining with Chinese and western cuisine and there are also two speciality Chinese restaurants. Facilities include a lobby bar (with free wifi), small open-air pool and fitness centre. The 329 rooms (some with lake view, which cannot be guaranteed) all have bath, shower, hairdryer, air-conditioning, safe, minibar and satellite TV.

Chengdu – the four-star Minshan Lhasa Hotel (www.mslshotel.com/en/index.php) is located in the centre of Chengdu and has a strong Tibetan theme to its decor, especially in the main restaurant, with its large scale model of the Potala Palace. The 161 air-conditioned rooms have shower, hairdryer, minibar, TV and free wifi.

Shanghai – the five-star Central Hotel (www.centralhotelshanghai.com) is most aptly-named as it’s located in a prime position right on Nanjing Road, the Oxford street of Shanghai and the pedestrianised thoroughfare that links People’s Square with the Bund, the colonial centre of the city. Rising 27 stories above the bustling streets below, the hotel has an elegant lobby bar and an excellent all day dining café with a wide selection of western and Asian cuisine, as well as highly-regarded Chinese restaurant specialising in local Shanghai cuisine. The 313 air-conditioned rooms are very comfortable and have bath/shower, hairdryer, safe, TV, minibar, tea/coffee-maker and offer spectacular views of the Shanghai skyline.


 

Overview

2017 is a great time to visit as it marks 30 years since The Great Wall of China became a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

Since the days of Marco Polo, China has fascinated our western minds in the most compelling way. The country’s immense size, almost unimaginable wealth and other-worldly culture have together woven an intoxicating and quite irresistible spell.

The Chinese today are living through an astonishing transformation. As well as being justly proud of their long history and unique cultural legacy, they’re keen to show you their huge achievements as a rapidly growing world superpower. China has always been a nation of superlatives. The most populous on earth, it’s also the fourth largest. Silk, tea, paper money, porcelain and gunpowder all originated here. Effectively closed to outsiders for most of its history, China has developed its own unique character, language and society.

At the heart of Beijing lies the Imperial Palace. Collectively called the ‘Forbidden City’, it contains a staggering 9,999 rooms. Adorned with paintings of dragons and phoenixes, carvings and inscriptions, it’s crowned by typically Chinese turned-up roofs with gold-hued tiles. Tiananmen Square, the final resting place of Chairman Mao, holds a staggering 600,000 people. The Summer Palace and Temple of Heaven are stunning in their simplicity and laden with symbolism. And beyond the city lies the stupendous Great Wall, the largest structure ever built by man and one of the new seven wonders of the world.

Two centuries before the founding of ancient Rome, Xian was already a world-class city and gateway to the Silk Road. Home to over a dozen dynasties, it houses the extraordinary Terracotta Army. First discovered by farmers digging a well, the life-size and remarkably preserved warriors all have their own individual features. They’ve guarded the tomb of the first Qin Emperor for more than two millennia.

Guilin has some of China’s most breathtaking scenery. Beautifully set around four lakes and two rivers, it’s surrounded by the karst limestone scenery of lush forest-covered peaks and pinnacles. You’ll also visit the extraordinary Longshen Rice Terraces, carved into the hills in their thousands over centuries by the hands of Yao tribesmen.

In Chengdu, you’ll see some of the world’s most endangered and enchanting animals – Panda bears. This is the leading Panda research and breeding centre in China. We’ll visit them in the morning while they’re still active, and before they sleep for the rest of the day after eating their fill of bamboo.

Our three-day cruise on the Yangtze is a welcome change of pace as our five-star ship, the RV Century Sun, navigates through the spectacular Three Gorges. Shanghai, China’s wealthiest city, is an intoxicating mix of colonial tradition and modern economic dynamism. The riverside Bund became one of the greatest trading centres of the world. Today this lovingly restored waterfront contrasts with the forest of skyscrapers that cover the skyline.

China is also home to one of the world’s great cuisines – with the ubiquitous Peking Duck from the north, chillies from the west and fruit and carp from the sub-tropical climate of the south. Real Chinese food is both a revelation and a gourmet paradise. In Britain our standard greeting is ‘How are you?’ In China, it’s ‘Have you eaten today?’

This tour is a remarkable journey of discovery of one of the world’s most ancient cultures, aspects of which are almost beyond our comprehension, blended with a remarkably stunning topography and a staggering pace of modernisation.


 

 

Visa & Health

All British passport holders require a single-entry 30-day China tourist visa which costs £30 per person, plus a £36 service charge for personal applications or a £54 service charge for postal applications. Visas are processed via the China Visa Application Service Centres in London, Manchester or Edinburgh. Full details are available on www.visaforchina.org. Please ensure your passport is valid for at least 6 months from date of travel and has at least one blank page. Visa fees are subject to change without notice and non-refundable.

Whilst care has been taken to ensure that the information provided relating to visa requirements is true and correct at time of publication, changes in requirements after the time of publication may impact on the accuracy of this information. Therefore, whilst we strive to provide the most up-to-date information, we strongly suggest that you re-confirm requirements with the relevant embassy prior to application.

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