12 Days A Close Encounter with Pandas

During the 12-days tour, you will visit Beijing, Shanghai and the Terracotta Warriors of Xi'an, and have a close encounter with giant pandas in Chengdu.

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12 Days A Close Encounter with Pandas

  • beijing
  • xi'an
  • chengdu
  • shanghai

12 Day

$ Call

Itinerary Highlights

    One-day Panda Keeper Program at Dujiangyan Panda Base in Chengdu — the sweet memory of a lifetime

    Relax on the luxury Yangtze River cruise and see different scenery every day

    Be amazed at a less-crowded part of the Great Wall by combining effort-saving cable car rides with moderate hiking

    Listen to stories about the Forbidden City and the Chinese royal family

    Discover the charm of the Terracotta Warriors in Xi’an, a World Heritage Site

    Explore the modern and traditional Shanghai lifestyle

Day 1 China’s First Impression: Beijing
Hotel: Beijing Hotel (4-star/5-star) Meals:Dinner

Your private guide will be ready to meet and greet you at the arrivals hall. A comfortable private car (non-smoking) with an experienced driver will transfer you directly to your hotel. Your guide will help you to check-in.

Day 2 Beijing: The Three Great Sights of Beijing
Hotel: Beijing Hotel (4-star/5-star) Meals:Breakfast , Lunch & Dinner

Experiences on the day include the classic, epic sites of Beijing. The Forbidden City was home to 24 emperors and to the imperial palace where treasures are housed and history has occurred; the grand Tian’anmen Square is the largest city square in the world and has been witness to many major historical events; and, after spending half a day walking around those two sites, you will get on a rickshaw to the hutongs to discover the traditional local lifestyle.

Day 3 Beijing: The Great Wall and the Temple of Heaven
Hotel: Beijing Hotel (4-star/5-star) Meals:Breakfast , Lunch & Dinner

Freshen up in the morning and start the day at the Temple of Heaven, which was the place for where the emperor prayed for good weather and a good harvest. Interact with the locals and join in with different morning exercise groups to experience their healthy lifestyle. Then continue to the Great Wall at Mutianyu, a less-crowded section of the Great Wall good for leisurely walks, passing through watchtowers and presenting a superb view as the wall snakes across hills and mountains. The autumn colors are especially good for photography, as is the winter snow.

Day 4 Traditional Architecture and Contemporary Art, and Flight to Xi'an
Hotel: Xi'an Hotel (4-star/5-star) Meals:Breakfast , Lunch & Dinner

Compare traditional and contemporary art by visiting the Summer Palace and the 798 Art District in one day.

Walk around the tranquil Summer Palace at a leisurely pace, and enjoy the royal garden that was designed almost 300 years ago. Take a pleasant boat ride on the lake and have a stroll in the long corridors to view the exquisite paintings on the ceilings. Immerse yourself in traditional Chinese architecture.

As a new landmark of urban culture, the 798 Art District presents contemporary art trends in China. Linger around exhibition halls displaying different styles or have a cup of coffee at the shop with its artistic ambience.

In the evening, you will be driven to the airport and fly to Xi'an.

Good to Know:

There is a postal system called the ‘798 Art and Travel Post’, which displays a panda logo. It operates on a concept completely opposite to that of express post. Customers can send postcards there that will be delivered at some specified time in the future. Send a card to yourself now and get it in 10 years’ time.

Day 5 Xi'an: Terracotta Warriors and Horses, and Flight to Chengdu
Hotel: Chengdu Hotel (4-star/5-star) Meals:Breakfast , Lunch & Dinner

This day includes all the highlights of Xi’an. The Terracotta Warriors and Horses, with each figure being unique, have guarded Emperor Qin's tomb since 210 BC. Have a silent conversation with these figures that are 2,200 years old. The arranged lunch will let you experience traditional Hunan and Sichuan cuisine.

The Big Wild Goose Pagoda, a simple, elegant brick pagoda built in the 7th century, stands in the grounds of the attractive Da Ci'en Temple.

If you are interested in Chinese history and would like to explore more historic sites, you are suggested to spend one more day in Xi'an to discover the Ancient City Wall, Shaanxi History Museum, and the Muslim Quarter.

In the evening, you will be taken to the airport by your guide for the flight to Chengdu.

Day 6 Chengdu Highlight: One-Day Panda Keeper Program
Hotel: Chengdu Hotel (4-star/5-star) Meals:Breakfast , Lunch & Dinner

Dujiangyan Panda Base is now the only base in China to offer the Panda Keeper Program and the opportunity to cuddle a panda for photos (though this comes at an extra charge). It takes about1½ hours by car to get there from the hotel. This unique one-day tour will invest your time in having a close encounter with the lovely giant pandas.

Under the guidance of English-speaking staff, you will clean the panda enclosures, feed the pandas from a very short distance, watch panda movies, and make cakes for the treasured creatures. Have a Chinese lunch with staff in their canteen.

This one-day close encounter with pandas makes for the memory of a lifetime.

Good to Know:
China Highlights will help you obtain the health certificate that the base requires and, after the volunteer program, you will receive a certificate from the CCRCGP (China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Pandas). To guarantee the safety of volunteers, pandas are kept in their ‘superior room’ with air-conditioning rather than in the wild. Enjoy the close and personal panda touch.

If you are a Kung Fu Panda fan, Mount Qingcheng, about 40 minutes’ drive from Dujiangyan CCRCGP, is recommended as an optional add-on. Mount Qingcheng, an important Taoist holy site, was chosen as the setting for Kung Fu Panda 3. See the inspirational backdrop of this top panda movie, and discover the essence of Taoism. Usually volunteer programs finish at about 3:00 pm (and can become repetitive in the afternoon). So for this panda-related option, it is suggested you finish your volunteer work early, at lunch, and visit Mount Qingcheng in the afternoon. This involves a lot of walking, so please prepare well for the visit.

Day 7 Half-Day Tour in Chengdu and HSR to Chongqing
Hotel: Chongqing Hotel (4-star/5-star) Meals:Breakfast , Lunch , Dinner

Chengdu is a paradise of pandas; you will find lots of things related to the panda-theme. During the day, you will continue to enjoy the cute panda world.

Panda Post in Chengdu is the only postal service in the world with the giant panda as its theme. You can buy many things featuring the giant panda, from stamps, postcards, albums, and envelopes to toys and souvenirs and can post the lovely postcards to anywhere in the world.

Created by the internationally renowned artist Lawrence Argent, a gigantic panda sculpture weighs 13 tons and is 15 meters tall. Climbing on the wall of the Chengdu International Finance Square (Chengdu IFS) on Chunxi Road, this massive panda has become a trendy landmark of Chengdu.

In the afternoon, your guide and driver will transfer you to the railway station to catch the HSR (high-speed rail) to Chongqing. Your guide in Chongqing will meet you at the exit and take you to the cruise dock, helping you to check-in at the luxury New Century Legend Ship that departs at 9:00pm.

Day 8 Yangtze River Cruise: Shibaozhai
Hotel: Century Legend Meals:Breakfast , Lunch & Dinner

Enjoy the scenery of riverbanks passing by during the leisurely morning. In the afternoon, a short visit to Shibaozhai — a magnificent red pavilion providing a walkway to the top of a solitary hill — allows for spectacular views of the area. An optional tour to Fengdu Ghost City awaits those who are interested in mystical matters.

A welcome banquet and party ends the day, while you glide along the glistening river.

Day 9 Yangtze River: Gorges and Shennong Stream
Hotel: Century Legend Meals:Breakfast , Lunch & Dinner

Qutang and Wu Gorge, two of the magnificent three gorges, , are passed through this morning, so be ready with a camera. The wonder of engineering, the vast ship locks, and the majesty of nature present themselves to you as you sit back and relax.

The afternoon is dedicated to visiting Shennong Stream, which has rushing waterfalls and an ancient plank path leading to suspended coffins in a cliff. You also have the option of visiting White Emperor City.

In the evening, the ship’s crew will present a performance for your entertainment.

Day 10 The Three Gorges Dam and Flight to Shanghai
Hotel: Shanghai Hotel (4-star/5-star) Meals:Breakfast , Lunch & Dinner

The Three Gorges Dam is the highlight of the day, and a visit to the top of the dam gives you some great photo opportunities. Seeing is believing, and you will learn more about the world’s biggest hydroelectric project. After arriving in Yichang, you will be taken to the airport for a transfer flight to Shanghai. Sometimes only flights at night are available, you are suggested to take a half-day tour in Yichang. Your guide in Shanghai will escort you back to your hotel for a good rest. Good to Know: In winter, usually from December to March, the water level of the Yangtze River is quite low, so the sailing schedule is unstable. In these months you are recommended to change the Yangtze River cruise to a trip to Guilin and Yangshuo, which are famous for their unique scenery, and have lots of interesting activities to keep your children entertained.

Day 11 Shanghai Highlights
Hotel: Shanghai Hotel (4-star/5-star) Meals:Breakfast , Lunch & Dinner

The Shanghai World Financial Center observation deck, which use to be the tallest in the world at 474m above ground level, starts your day with the best views of the city. The Jade Buddha Temple and Yuyuan Garden provide a taste of traditional Chinese garden architecture, while Yuyuan Market is a 'heaven' for tasting Shanghai’s snacks.

Day 12 Shanghai Departure
Hotel: None Meals:Breakfast , Lunch & Dinner

Your private car, driver, and guide will transport you to the airport and take you all the way to the security gate for your convenience. Relax all the way to the airplane with us.

Service Included:

Entrance to attractions listed in the itinerary

Meals mentioned in the itinerary

Private transfers between the airport or railway station, attractions, ports, and hotels

Private local English-speaking tour guide and driver service (excluding tips which may be given at your own discretion)

Hotel accommodation with breakfast and service fee

Specified flights, trains, and cruise

Service Excluded:

International flight to and out of China;

Domestic flight/train. (We can provide you the domestic flight/train ticket booking service at the BEST discount price, please contact us our travel experts for the details.)

Tips to tour guide and driver, you are suggested to tip them 7 USD/day in total.;

Personal expenses, like laundry, phone call, snacks, soft drinks (please do the best to avoid the alcoholic beverages during your Tibet trip), optional tour activities, etc.

    Trip Tip

    Optional Activities

    Extras such as those below are not included in the itinerary or tour price, so you will need to pay separately. Ticket prices often depend on the seating arrangements. Ask your guide to book tickets if you want to see any of the following:

    Beijing — Legend of Kungfu Show

    Xi’an — Tang Dynasty Cultural Show, with or without the Dumpling Banquet

    Chengdu — Sichuan Opera including face-changing, taking photos with a panda at Dujiangyan Panda Base

    Yangtze Cruise — Excursion to Fengdu Ghost City and White Emperor City

    Shanghai — Chinese Acrobats Show

    About the Panda Keeper Program

    As the first tour company in China to operate the program, China Highlights has developed stable relationships with the Dujiangyan Panda Base. Sometimes the program is subject to change due to circumstances beyond our control. Usually we are able to get first-hand information that is very helpful for your tour arrangement. Your early booking (at least two weeks before departure) helps us to guarantee the availability of the program. Sometimes the activities listed in the description will be adjusted according to the health conditions of the pandas. Your kind understanding and cooperation is greatly appreciated.

    Cuddle a Panda and Take Photos

    A donation program that allows you to take pictures with a panda next to you for about a minute is not included in the Panda Keeper Program. It is only available in the Dujiangyan Panda Base and the donation expected is around 1,800 yuan per person (as of July 2015). Only 30 tourists are allowed to take close-up photos with the pandas each day.

    Please take enough CNY cash with you, as payment by a non-Chinese credit card is not accepted there.

    Trivia About Pandas

    A panda defecates 40 times a day.

    Pandas walk slowly but they can climb trees that are over 20 meters high. Their running speed is faster than Liu Xiang, the Chinese 110-meter hurdler.

    The biting force of pandas is next only to that of the polar bear.

    It costs as much as 100,000 yuan (US$16,260) per month to raise one panda.

    More Trip Information

    Want to learn more about this trip? Please click here to see details about traveling in China, booking, payment and responsible travel.

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