China's Yangtze by Small Ship | insightCuba

You are here


China's Yangtze by Small Ship

12 Days / 11 Nights

  • Beijing
  • Juyong Pass & The Great Wall
  • Yichang
  • Yangtze River 
  • Fengdu
  • Xian
  • Shanghai

Visit the Great Wall | Cruise the Yangtze River and Three Gorges Dam | Shop at a Farmer's Market with a Local Family | Learn Tai Chi with a Master at the Temple of Heaven | Dine with a Famous Chef | 4 UNESCO World Heritage Sites

Map of China
Blend the beauty of the Yangtze with the splendors of Beijing on this voyage through the heart of China. Experience the day-to-day pleasures of city life as only a resident of Beijing can. Visit with local hosts, who welcome guests for lunch and a rickshaw tour of a hutong, or traditional district, of this metropolitan city. Guests will also enjoy a Peking duck banquet, and explore iconic sites such as the Great Wall, the Forbidden City, the Summer Palace, the Temple of Heaven and more.Your journey also includes a cruise along the Yangtze River, that visits the famous Three Gorges Dam, sails through the Xiling Gorge, and takes visitors along Shennong Stream by sampan. The 12-day adventure doesn’t stop there. Visitors also see the pandas in Chongqing Zoo and fly to Xiang for a stop in with the Terra-Cotta Warriors before wrapping up in another metropolitan stronghold — Shanghai.
Accomodations and Deck Plan for the Yangzi Explorer:

Three Gorges Dam China
Beijing, China and the Forbidden City
Day 1

Welcome to Beijing! You’ll be met on arrival and escorted to the luxurious Fairmont Beijing Hotel.The rest of this day is yours to relax and enjoy as you wish.

Forbidden City, Beijing, China, bridge and canal
Day 2

Stand in Tiananmen Square and admire the architectural landmarks that surround one of the world’s grandest public plazas. Then follow in the footsteps of Ming Dynasty Emperors on an expertly-guided tour through the magnificent Forbidden City ,a sprawling complex of palaces, courtyards and pavilions. At colorful local market, you’ll mingle with city residents and experience a slice of daily life as you help your guide to select some produce for a local family. Joining this family for lunch in their home, you’ll enjoy congenial conversation and gain real insight into Chinese traditions that still endure in this rapidly evolving city. Then hop aboard a rickshaw to explore the ancient streets of a Hutong, an ancient enclave of traditional courtyard homes. This evening, sit down to a festive Peking Duck Banquet with wine. 

Meals | Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Great Wall of China
Great Wall & Summer Palace
Day 3

Juyong Pass was recognized very early in China’s history as a site of great strategic importance and indeed this section of the thousands-mile long Great Wall  is one of only three that were recognized by military leaders as being practically impregnable. Today, as you walk atop this ancient defensive structure, your expert guide will be on hand to enrich your exploration with dramatic stories and legends of the great battles that were waged here. Then tour the resplendent Summer Palace, erstwhile seasonal retreat of China’s emperors. Set on wooded hills surrounding a tranquil lake, this assemblage of pavilions, palaces and gardens offers a fascinating look into Imperial life long ago. 

Meals | Breakfast, Lunch

MS Yangzi Explorer Suite
Yichang / Yangtze River
Day 4

This morning, you’ll enjoy a guided tour of the Temple of Heaven; it’s a resplendent example of Ming Dynasty design and engineering that also offers fascinating insight into ancient Chinese beliefs in numerology and cosmology. The temple’s tranquil grounds are the perfect place for our specially arranged private class with a Tai Chi Master. After sightseeing, we’ll take you to the airport for your included flight to the river city of Yichang. On arrival, you’ll be escorted to the pier to board the Yangzi Explorer, China’s finest river ship. You’ll have time to settle in to your balcony stateroom and refresh before dinner is served in the Explorer’s elegant restaurant. Choose from a tempting array of international and regional Chinese dishes, accompanied by free-flowing wine.  This evening, the 7 Wonders of China documentary will be screened in the Tang Theater.  

Meals | Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Tai Chi aboard the MS Yangzi Explorer
Three Gorges Dam
Day 5

Early risers can start the day with invigorating Tai Chi exercise before an expansive buffet breakfast. A relaxing morning onboard offers a chance to relax on your private balcony, attend an informative talk on Chinese traditions, or indulge in a treatment at the shipboard spa. After lunch, you’ll step off  ship to visit the Three Gorges Dam; stretching more than 3,300 yards across at the top and towering over 600 feet, this massive construction project took 17 years to complete! It’s still the world’s largest hydro-power dam and this afternoon’s guided tour explores its far reaching impact upon the geography, archaeological sites, industries, and residents of the region. Back onboard, you can enjoy a lecture on traditional Chinese medicine. Later, the Yangzi Explorer will navigate through Xiling Gorge, the longest of the river’s Three Gorges. Then as the river widens and sweeps through groves of orange and pomelo trees, you’ll experience the tranquil side of life along China’s mightiest river. Tonight’s Captain’s Welcome Reception is followed by dinner and then entertainment in the Tang Theater.

Meals | Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Qutang Gorge on the Yangtze River, Three Gorges
Yangtze River Gorges
Day 6

If you wish, you can join fellow passengers for early morning Tai Chi before breakfast is served. Then step off ship for an unforgettable journey up Shennong Stream. You’ll explore this spectacular region in traditional sampan boats poled by Tujia boatmen. The landscapes here are unrivalled, encompassing crystalline rushing waters, dense forests and towering rock formations. As you venture upstream, you’ll espy coffins stowed high within the limestone cliffs that tower above you – a legacy of the region’s earliest inhabitants. Before returning to ship, you’ll visit a nearby village to experience life in a rural community. After lunch, you’ll want to be on your balcony or with fellow passengers on the Sun Deck as the Yangzi Explorer navigates Wu Gorge, renowned for massive cliffs that rise sharply from the river. Later, our ship cruises through spectacular Qutang Gorge, the narrowest of the river’s Three Gorges.  Then enjoy a demonstration of traditional Chinese arts and crafts before sitting down to another elegant à la carte dinner accompanied by free-flowing wine.

Meals | Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Old fishing boat on Yangtze River near Three Gorges Dam
Day 7

A delightful morning onboard our 5-star ship is yours to do as you wish. You might learn about China’s thriving pearl industry or attend a workshop on traditional Chinese painting and calligraphy. After lunch, you can tailor your touring with the included excursion of your choice:


The 816 Underground Project: This unique tour takes you underground into a vast cavern that was built by more than 60,000 laborers as part of a top-secret military project. Initiated in the 1960’s and designed to house China’s first nuclear reactor, construction was halted after 17 years before the project’s completion. The tunnels and cavern remained a closely guarded secret for nearly 50 years until the Government revealed its presence in 2002.


The White Crane Ridge Underwater Museum: Venture close to 150 feet under water to see what lies beneath the surface of the Yangtze River. You’ll discover ancient rock carvings from the Tang Dynasty that were permanently submerged after the construction of the Dam and also learn about the Yangtze’s flora and fauna. Before returning to ship, you’ll spend time with local farmers and other residents at a lively market filled with a wide variety of fish, meat, produce and Fuling’s famous pickles.


Note: Today’s morning at leisure and your choice of an included afternoon excursion applies to cruises from May to September. Guests on our other sailings will visit the 816 Underground Project in the morning and the White Crane Ridge Underwater Museum in the afternoon. 

Meals | Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Ancient Xian bell tower
Fly to Xian
Day 8

Disembark the Yangzi Explorer after breakfast and visit the Chongqing Zoo to see their marvelous Panda exhibit. Then transfer to the airport for your included flight to Xian, China’s ancient capital for 13 dynasties. At a bustling local market, an engaging Xian resident will share his lifetime of experience – offering a firsthand look into the culture of the city and the many exotic products for sale. Enjoy a dinner of savory dumplings, a regional favorite, and retreat to the 5-star Hilton Hotel, ideally located within the ancient city walls. 

Meals | Breakfast, Dinner

Terra Cotta Warriors in Xian
Xian and the Terra Cotta Army
Day 9

In 1974, local villagers digging a well stumbled upon what would ultimately become China’s greatest archaeological discovery… Thousands of life-sized terra cotta soldiers, horses and chariots that had been buried in perfect infantry formation to guard the tomb of an Emperor! This morning, we’ve arranged for you to meet with a local archaeologist – a great introduction to this World Heritage Site. Gaze upon this extraordinary terra cotta army as you learn about their history and discovery. Enjoy a festive lunch of regional cuisine as you watch a lively noodle-making demonstration. Then visit the old defensive walls that still surround much of Xian’s historic core and hear colorful stories about this ancient Imperial capital. 

Meals | Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Shanghai market
Day 10

We’ll take you to the airport today for your included flight to Shanghai. Upon arrival in this wonderfully cosmopolitan city, you’ll be met and escorted to the Fairmont Peace Hotel, a luxury landmark overlooking the historic waterfront Bund. Tonight, you’ll thrill to the daring feats and graceful artistry of the world-famous Shanghai Acrobats! 

Meals | Breakfast

Shanghai, Yu Yuan gardens
Day 11

Your comprehensive guided tour of Shanghai begins this morning along the historic Bund; in a city now renowned for its striking 21st-century skyscrapers, this elegant waterfront boulevard is still graced with architectural landmarks built by European and Japanese mercantile companies after the 1842 Treaty of Nanjing opened the city to international trade. Then stroll in Yu Yuan Garden, originally established in 1577 by a government officer as a tranquil retreat for his aging parents. At the highly regarded Shanghai Museum, you’ll find a vast collection of artifacts spanning millennia of Chinese culture, history and civilization – from ancient bronzes and celadon pottery to precious jade and exquisite Ming Dynasty furniture. At midday, we’ll leave the past behind to experience a thoroughly modern side of Shanghai at one of the city’s currently popular restaurants. Fusion cuisine, handcrafted cocktails and sommelier-curated wine lists are now as popular here as in any other world-class city. As we sit down to lunch accompanied by a glass of the house wine, restaurant staff will join us to offer insight into the city’s ever-changing food-and-wine scene.  

Meals | Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Shanghai dancers with fans
Farewell to Shanghai and China
Day 12

Transfer to the airport for your flight.

Meals | Breakfast

Activities in this itinerary should be considered a sample only. Final itineraries are sent to guests one to two weeks prior to departure.

Fairmont Beijing

The Fairmont Beijing Hotel brings unprecedented luxury and hospitality offering guests a distinctive stay right in the heart of China’s modern capital business center. Located in the central business district, our distinctive collection of comfortable and contended guest rooms, top-end spa treatments, gym facilities and award-winning restaurants allow our globe-trotting guests to enjoy opulence from all aspects, while on their journey in China’s capital. Continuing The Fairmont Hotel’s global brand of unique hospitality excellence, The Fairmont Hotel Beijing has been recognized in various awards and accolades over the past few years, including Beijing’s Best Business Hotel by TTG Asia 2012, Trip Advisor’s Number One Hotel in 2012, Traveler’s Choice Award in 2013 for Luxury, and Traveler's Choice Award in 2014 for Romance and Luxury. 

Hilton Hotel Xi'an

Tang Dynasty artwork and contemporary style blend beautifully at this new deluxe hotel, ideally located downtown within the ancient walls of the city.

Fairmont Peace Hotel Shanghai

Now a member of prestigious Fairmont Hotels, this historic landmark on the Bund has been splendidly renovated and is once again the city’s premier luxury address.

Yangzi Explorer

With only 58 beautiful staterooms, the all-balcony Yangzi Explorer is the most intimate ship on the river. An elegant single-seating dining room features fine international cuisine including wine with lunch and dinner. Enjoy expertly guided, small-group shore excursions, relax in the Explorer Lounge, and refresh in the spa. To enhance your voyage, the Explorer offers a comprehensive and enriching onboard cultural program.

  • Exclusively escorted sightseeing

  • Expert native guide

  • 7 nights in handpicked luxury and deluxe hotels

  • 4 nights, all-inclusive, in a balcony cabin on the MS Yangtze Explorer including fine dining and wine with lunch and dinner

  • 27 meals featuring international and Chinese cuisine including 11 breakfasts, 8 lunches and 8 dinners

  • Small group size, never more than 16 guests

  • All entrance fees to scheduled activities and events

  • All on-tour transportation including airport transfers and all 3 internal flights

  • Luggage handling, hotel taxes & service charges, and all airline fees & fuel charges for all included flights

  • 24-hour emergency customer service hotline

*Trip-cancellation coverage available for an additional fee through Allianz.

DateDouble Occupancy
(per person)
Single Occupancy
 Main Deck Cabin - $5,299   
 Xiling Deck Cabin - $5,399   
Mar 21 – Apr 1, 2019Wu Deck Cabin - $5,499   
 Wu Deck Suite - $6,299   
 Qutang Deck Suite - $6,499   
 Main Deck Cabin - $5,599   
 Xiling Deck Cabin - $5,699   
Apr 11 – Apr 22, 2019Wu Deck Cabin - $5,799   
 Wu Deck Suite - $6,599   
 Qutang Deck Suite - $6,799   

Single Supplement Pricing:


Sep-Oct 2018
and Apr 2019

Mar 2019
Main Deck Cabin$2000$1800
Xiling Deck Cabin$2070$1900
Wu Deck Cabin$2240$1980
Wu Deck Suite$2450$2700
Qutang Deck Suite$2550$2880

SAVE $600 per couple or $300 solo on this tour when you pay-in-full at the time of booking.

Twitter Feed

  1. 🇨🇺See #Cuba through its people:
  2. 🇨🇺 Our 'Weekend in Havana Tour' is far more than a mere brush with exotic culture – it’s a full-on immersive discov…
  3. We've been providing legal travel to #Cuba for US citizens for over 15 years! Our knowledge of the area & relations…
Follow @insightcuba

Request your FREE Brochure!

Sign up for News & Offers