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16-Day Essential River Cruise Tour of China

Tour route: Shanghai - Suzhou - Yangtze River - Guilin - Xian - Beijing

  • Tour code: RiverTour-Watertown-05
  • Tour Style: Affordable Private Tour (No Join-in Group Tour).
  • Price inclusions: All transportation mentioned in itinerary (flight, train, ship, private car, etc.); private guides & drivers, hotels, meals (based on your meal plan), and all service charges & taxes.
  • Travel date: private tour with flexible travel date.
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  • Reviews(2599)
Day 1: Shanghai, Free Day

Say Hello to China. Upon your arrival at Shanghai, China's most cosmopolitancity, your personal guide will meet you and escort you to your hotel. The restof the day is yours to relax and recover from jetlag.

Day 2: Shanghai, Shanghai History Tour

After breakfast, you will head to the Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Center to glimpse at the promising future of Shanghai and then immerse yourself in the peaceful atmosphere of the famous Jade Buddha Temple.

Later, stroll along the city's lively waterfront, known as the Bund, experience China's shopping paradise the Nanjing Road. After, you will enjoy a bird's eye view of the modern Shanghai from Shanghai World Financial Center.

The recommended show of tonight is Acrobatics Show which will bring you a memorable night in Shanghai.

Day 3: Shanghai-Suzhou, Chinese Gardens & Grand Canal

After breakfast, you will be met and transferred to the railway station for the high speed train to Suzhou (about 0.5-h, no guide service on the train).

Upon your arrival, you will be met and transferred to have city tour in Suzhou includes: the Humble Adminstrator's Garden. Enjoy the gentle breeze while cruise on the Grand Canal. Later visit the No.1 Silk Factory to learn how the pure silk products are made from a small cocoon. Enjoy the Garden Show in the evening.

Day 4: Suzhou-Shanghai, Tongli Old Town

In the morning you will be driven to Tongli Water Town (20 minute drive from Suzhou). There you will pay a visit to the Garden of Seclusion and Meditations, the Pearl Pagoda, the Triple Bridge, and Ming and Qing Dynasty Street. After your trip to this beautiful village, you will be driven back to Suzhou railway station for the high speed train back to Shanghai.

Day 5: Shanghai- Yichang, Free Day

You will be free on thisday until your personal guide escorts you to the airport for your flight toYichang.

Upon your arrival in Yichang, be met and escorted to the dock to your Yangtse Cruise ship.

Day 6: Yangtze River Cruise, Three Gorges Dam

Sailing along the Yangtze River, you will see its amazing natural beauty and real China countryside views. Various onboard entertaining programs such as Taiji Lessons, Chinese Herbal Facial provide you an excellent access to appreciate Chinese culture.

There will be a shore excursion to the world-famous Three Gorges Dam, which is the world’s largest hydro-electric dam with extraordinary sights whatever your views on the project. After the excursion, return to yourship, have a rest and get ready to enjoy the Welcome Dinner Party hosted by the captain in the evening.

Day 7: Yangtze River Cruise, Shennong Stream or Lesser Three Gorges

The second full day onboard your cruise ship with a shore excursion to the tranquil waters of Shennong Stream or to the picturesque Lesser Three Gorges, which is decided by the ship company according to local weather conditions.

After the excursion, you will sail through the impressive Wu Gorge, a nice chance to take some marvelous photos.

Day 8: Yangtze River Cruise, Fengdu Ghost City

Today your ship will stop for the final shore excursion to Fengdu Ghost City, an age-old temple complex perched on cliffs above the river with commanding views. Inside the temple, you will see various precious sculptures, paintings depicting the Afterlife world and gain an insight of the mystic Chinese Ghost culture.

After the excursion, re-board your ship and enjoy yourself at the Farewell Dinner Party in the evening.

Day 9: Yangtze River Cruise, Chongqing-Guilin

After breakfast, you willdisembark the ship in Chongqing at 09:00 am and be picked up & transferred to the airport for your flight to Guilin.

Upon your arrival inGuilin, the most scenic city in China, your personal guide will meet you andescort you to your hotel. The rest of the day is free at your own leisure.

Day 10: Guilin-Yangshuo, Li River & West Street

Today's highlight is Li River Cruise. Starting at Zhujiang Pier, you'll cruise down the picturesque Li River until Yangshuo. En route, stunning limestone karst scenery, pastoral views of thriving groves, rice paddies, water buffaloes and working farmers make your trip relaxing & enjoyable. 

Early afternoon, disembark in Yangshuo and check into your hotel. Then you will be free to explore this wonderfully laid back town and its popular West Street. The night show Impression of Sanjie Liu is a not-to-miss optional activity for people in Yangshuo.

Day 11: Guilin-Xian, Elephant Trunk Hill, Fubo Hill & Reed Flute Cave

After a wonderful stay in Yangshuo, you will be transferred back to Guilin to have a essential city tour.

You will tour Elephant Trunk Hill, which resembles a remarkable stone elephant drinking water from Li River, climb on the legendary Fubo Hill, drop by a Pearl Museum and explore the fabulous Reed Flute Cave.

After the tour, take a flight to Xian and check into your hotel.

Day 12: Xian, Terracotta Warriors & City Highlights

The incredible Terracotta Warriors isyour first stop today. Discovered in 1974, the 6,000 life-sizeterra soldiers and horses are an amazing form of funerary art buried, with China’sforemost Emperor Qin Shihuang, to help rule another empire inthe afterlife. Then visit a Ceramic Factory to witness how these statues can be made. In the afternoon, you will visit the Ancient City Walls, the largest and best-kept city walls on earth, and the age-old Big Wild Goose Pagoda, which is the city symbol of Xian.

Tonight is free. You can consider to enjoy the famous Tang Dynasty Show as the night entertainment.

Day 13: Xian-Beijing, Free Day

You will be free to relax in your hotel or continue your exploration of this history-enriched city by yourself.

Then you will be escorted to the airport for your flight to Beijing, the dynamic capital of China.

Day 14: Beijing, City Highlights Tour

On this day you will first visit Tiananmen Square, the largest plaza on earth. Passing through Tiananmen Gate,then you will enter the splendid Forbidden City, China’s No.1 palace complex famous for its grand buildings, exquisite ornaments and priceless royal treasures. In the afternoon, you will marvel the spectacular Temple of Heaven, a holy royal temple where emperors in ancient times worshiped Heaven for a national good harvest.

Night option is Chinese Kung Fu Show which can let you know the charm of this martial art closely.

Day 15: Beijing, Great Wall Tour

No Beijing tour is complete without a visit to the Great Wall. Today you will tour the magnificent Great Wall,the 8th Wonder of the World. Walking on the venerable ramparts, you will be amazed at the unbelievable constructions and appealing landscape that surrounds the Wall.

Descending the Great Wall, you will stop by a Jade Gallery and then take a leisurely stroll along the Sacred Road, a royal path noted for vivid stone statues and afterlife stories.

Day 16: Beijing, Summer Palace/Departure

After breakfast, you will visit the exquisite Summer Palace. Built as a royal summer retreat in 1750, the Palace is one of the four most beautiful gardens in China.

In the afternoon, you will be escorted to the airport for your flight to your next destination.

Recommended Accommodation for Your Journey

It is no doubt your journey enjoyment will be increased by a good choice of accommodation. Our well-established network with key hotel chains around China will bring you more benefits of competitive rates and guaranteed hotel quality with availability.

Standard Tour ClassComfortable Tour ClassDeluxe Tour Class
ShanghaiGreenland Jiulong Hotel comfortable hotel star No.601 Liyang Road,Hongkou District, Shanghai 200080 China The Bund Hotel comfortable hotel star 525 Guangdong Road, Shanghai China The Westin Bund Center Shanghai deluxe hotel star No.88 Henan Middle Road, Bund Center, Huangpu District, Shanghai 200002, China
SuzhouGarden hotel standar hotel star 477, Liuyuan Road, Suzhou Garden Hotel(Louwailou Tower) comfortable hotel star 477#, Liuyuan Road, Suzhou, Jiangsu Province, China Suzhou Marriott Hotel deluxe hotel star 1296 Ganjiang Road West, Jinchang District Suzhou, Jiangsu Province P.R.C
GuilinHotel Universal standar hotel star #1 JiefangDong Road, Guilin, Guangxi, China 541001 Guilin Bravo Hotel comfortable hotel star No.14 Ronghu South Road, Xiangshan District, Guilin 541002, China Guilin Shangri-la Hotel deluxe hotel star 111 Huan Cheng Bei Er Lu, Guilin, Guangxi, 541004, China
YangshuoYangshuo New Century Hotel Principle Building comfortable hotel star Near Yangshuo Park, Pantao Road, Yangshuo, Guilin, Guangxi P.R, China. Green Lotus Hotel deluxe hotel star No.1 Guanlian Road Yangshuo Guilin Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region China 541900
XianSkytel Xi'an (Formerly Prince International Hotel) standar hotel star No.32 South Main Street, Beilin District, Xi'an 710001, China Grand Noble Hotel Xian deluxe hotel star 334 Dong Da Jie(East Street), Xian City, Shaanxi Province, China No. 334 East Street, Xian City, Shaanxi, P.R.C. 710001 Sofitel Xian on Renmin Square deluxe hotel star No. 319 Dongxing Road, Xian, China, 710004
BeijingDong Fang Hotel Beijing standar hotel star No. 11 Wanming Road ,Xuanwu District, Beijing ,China P.C.100050 Beijing Novotel Peace Hotel comfortable hotel star 3 Jinyu lane, Wangfujing, Beijing, 100006, China The Regent Beijing deluxe hotel star 99# Jinbao Road, Dongcheng District, Beijing, China

We pick Hotels for You Based on:
Location:most of properties we selected are either located in downtown area with main city attractions or close by main transportations. These conveniences will certainly improve your holiday experience.
Facility & Service Quality:all hotels are inspected strictly and regularly, must be with great performance on accommodating English speaking customers, and excellent feedbacks from our pervious clients as well.
Diversity for Choice: many styles and grades of hotels are available for different budgets, tastes and culture backgrounds.


Hotel criteria for each tour class

Hotel arrangement for Standard Tour Class

It will meet the basic requirements for a comfortable stay, good size and clean guest rooms with AC, TV, hot water, shower and private bathrooms. On-site restaurants with breakfast included and lunch or dinner at your own pick up. A small fitness center or spa can be expected.

Standar Hotel


Hotel Arrangement for Comfortable Tour Class

Normally you'll stay at formal and large hotels conveniently located with shopping, dining and entertainment facilities nearby. Quality service, fully furnished rooms, restaurants, room service, fitness center and swimming pool (in very rare cases there is no pool) all together offer an above-average accommodation experience. 
Usually good 4-star hotels are adopted or boutique hotels at request. Hotels best available will be arranged if no qualified choice, e.g. in remote area.

Comfortable Hotel


Hotel Arrangement for Deluxe Tour Class

Luxurious hotel with top-notch service and an extensive range of facilities for an excellent accommodation experience. Multiple restaurants on site with extensive menus for choice, room service available 24/7, fitness center and concierge service round out the experience. Hotels best available will be arranged if no qualified choice, e.g. in remote area.

Deluxe Hotel


Normally China Odyssey Tours provides two meals each day: Breakfast and Lunch. You will have the freedom to make your own dinner choice.


It is normally served at the hotel where you stay. Depending on the hotel, the breakfast would be in western style, Chinese style, or a combination.

A la carte lunch

When plan your lunches, we consider the balance of food quality, dining environment and tour convenience. We provide a la carte lunch in a local restaurant whenever possible. A la carte meal will give you an opportunity to eat at local restaurant, follow local customs, and taste local dishes. The a la carte allowance would be adequate for a decent meal in our recommended local restaurants, but varies from different restaurants and different cities. However in some remote regions where it’s simply hard to find a non-tourist restaurant, the meal could be arranged at a local tourist restaurant or a local family.

Your own dinner choice

Dinners will not be included in your meal plan unless you have that requirement. Enjoying the local food could be one of your best experiences in China. This is why we provide you this flexibility of food choice. Your private guide will always give you good suggestions based on your preferences.

If you have certain food allergies or special requirements such as vegetarian food, let us know. We will do our best to accommodate your needs.

Private Guide & Transfer

You will have a private tour guide, private driver, and an air-conditioned vehicle escorting you at every destination you travel. This will provide you with maximized personal care, security, and flexibility.

All of our tour guides are qualified professionals and registered English Speaking Tourist Guides in China who are reassessed annually. All of our tour vehicles are clean and in excellent condition, manned with licensed safe drivers.

Private Tour Guide

You will always be greeted punctually on arrival at each destination airport. At every departure, your guide will stay at your side until you have checked in and passed through the security checkpoint.

All of our travel guides in every destination are locals, who know the area well, they are very good at guiding you around and telling background stories of the tour sites, as well as showing you the secret spots for taking your best photos.

When changing your itinerary is needed due to unexpected reasons, your private tour guides will be more than accommodating in suggesting alternatives to ensure that you have a wonderful experience.

Private Transportation

With our comfortable and safe private transportation, your tour will be more relaxing and less tiresome, keeping you in the best spirits to make the most of your experience in China.

In every destination visited, your vehicle is air conditioned, clean, and expertly maintained. Your private driver is licensed, insured, and very experienced.

To maximize your comfort, we use vehicles with extra space for you and your luggage. Depending on how many are traveling together, we generally use sedans or mini vans (7 seats) for 4 people or less, large vans or small coaches (12-22 seats) for 5-12 people, medium coaches (33 – 37 seats) for 13 – 25 people, and large coaches (45 seats over) for more than 25 people.

Reviews on: Essential River Cruise Tour of China

Rating 4.8 - 2,599 Reviews
Customer Rating
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  • Very good47
  • Average0
  • Poor0
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2599 reviews sorted by date

Clients: Max G

Travel Consultant:
Wendy Wan
Our trip to China (Beijing, Xi'an, and Shanghai) through Odyssey Tours was wonderful--a trip of a lifetime! We worked with Wendy to plan our trip and Wendy was great. Wendy created the perfect itinerary for us. Through our back and forth emails she was able to pick up on just what we wanted and allowed us to customize our trip to see additional sights and to add extra days to visit with family. We wanted to experience the culture and we did! Plus, the Courtyard 7 hotel was the perfect place for us. So historic and we loved being in a hutong. The hotels in Xi'an and Shanghai were also great, and in safe and convenient locations.

We had a different tour guide and driver in each city. All were wonderful and went out of their way to make our trip special. Our flight was delayed in Chicago and Alice, our Beijing tour guide, was waiting for us at the airport at 11:30 pm--9 hours after our scheduled arrival and was terrific about picking us up at that late hour. Alice made sure to fit everything into our time in Beijing and included extra things. Alice has a keen interest in history and was great about explaining the history and culture of the area. I found she purposely built on what we learned the previous day and helped us to learn and make sense of everything. Alice was willing to start our tours early and never complained about staying longer than expected with us. Our driver, Mr. Lee, was exceptional. He also worked late sometimes to ensure we would arrive back to our hotel safely. Traffic was crazy in Beijing but I felt safe with Mr. Lee as our competent driver. He was very personable and we enjoyed each day with both Alice and Mr. Lee. I can't say enough good things about both of them.
Rating: December 12th, 2016

Clients: Max G

Travel Consultant:
Wendy Wan
Our trip to China (Beijing, Xi'an, and Shanghai) through Odyssey Tours was wonderful--a trip of a lifetime! We worked with Wendy to plan our trip and Wendy was great. Wendy created the perfect itinerary for us. Through our back and forth emails she was able to pick up on just what we wanted and allowed us to customize our trip to see additional sights and to add extra days to visit with family. We wanted to experience the culture and we did! Plus, the Courtyard 7 hotel was the perfect place for us. So historic and we loved being in a hutong. The hotels in Xi'an and Shanghai were also great, and in safe and convenient locations.In Xi'an, we were met by our tour guide, Eric. He was so warm and friendly and once again went out of his way to make our tour easy and special. Eric recommended great restaurants and activities for the evenings which enhanced our tour. He recommended the opera followed by the traditional 16 dumpling dinner, which we thoroughly enjoyed. Eric also has a strong interest in Chinese history and was able to help us navigate the sites quickly while telling us much more information than we could have discovered visiting historical sites and museums on our own. My husband forgot his bag at the Terracotta Warrior museum and Eric figured out a way to recover the bag. We were very grateful.
Rating: December 12th, 2016

Clients: JML1941

From: Canada

Travel Consultant:
Femando Shen
We enjoyed our visit to Guilin organized by Femando Shen of Odyssey Tours. The real highlight was the Li River cruise from Guilin to Yangshuo: we spent the entire 5 hour cruise on the upper d ck of the comfortable cruise boat enjoying the stunning scenery. This must be one of the most spectacular river cruises anywhere. Our hotel, The Golden Oriole, was excellent with a very good restaurant and in a great location. We very much enjoyed walking along the river and the lake from the hotel both in the early morning and at night to see all the activity there in this beautiful city park. Our guide Henry and driver were both very good, and we can highly recommend this company. We also visited the rice terraces at Longsheng, but found this was hardly worth the long drive to get there at this time of year.
Rating: December 11th, 2016

Clients: I3455TXmaryt

Travel Consultant:
Kyle Li
We had a two week trip in Vietnam and 8 days in China through China and Indochina Odyssey. Our tour coordinator was Kyle Li, the 2nd time we've worked with him. We can not say enough good things about this trip as well as the way Odyssey saw to our needs. Vietnam was just spectacular, wonderul scenery, delicious food and friendly people. The guides we had there, Han, Dins and Quanz were just so great in making this a smooth trip and helping us understand the culture and history better. I think I most enjoyed the days in NW Vietnam, trekking. We also enjoyed amazing highlights in Shanhai, Xian and Bejing with the Great Wall being just breathtaking. Our guides in China were Run, Kevin and Alice, all superb ambassadors for China. We are already discussing where our next adventure(s) in Asia will be, and we will be including Odyssey.
Rating: December 10th, 2016

Clients: Kwk6528

From: Singapore

Travel Consultant:
Alex Quan
Beijing is an interesting city with a mix of very modern facilities and buildings together with a lot of historical sites that are just a short drive or walk away. The sheer scale and majestic view of the Forbidden City and the Great Wall are a must for any first time visitors. There is even a toboggan ride down from the wall as an alternative to the chair lifts or cable car. Don't be mistaken, even after the ride up to the wall, the walk on the wall is still a big challenge for those who are physically challenged, Besides other sites like the Temple of Heaven and the Summer Palace, we also took a short rickshaw ride through the small alleys (Hudongs) to visit to a traditional household in Beijing. It was a good preview of how multi tier families used to live. Eye-opener for my kids (and us parents) from the modern and westernized cultures.

I must say I had my reservations about taking the internal flight to Xi'an but it turned out to be rather pleasant. Both airports were very modern and well equipped, Xi'an is the place of the famous Terracota warriors build by the first emperor of China. It was an hour ride out from the hotel but a trip that was worth the time. Again, it was an amazing sight seeing the scale of the tomb and wondering how did our ancestors manage such a feat. There was a smaller scale of the "great wall" build around the old city centre centuries ago. Cycling on top of the wall took over an hour but was a good chance to get a quick view of different angles of the city. At night, Xi'an is very colourful literally. The Bell and Drum Towers were lighted up and make fantastic photo stops.

It was was my kids' first time to China and they enjoyed the experience which was greatly enhanced by China Odyssey Tours. The tour coordinator Mr Alex Quan and our personal tour guides Ms Tracy Liu in Beijing and Ms Nancy Song in Xi'an made the trip very smooth and enjoyable. Everything was well coordinated from the moment we landed in Beijing until we left on the last day. The guides were very knowledgeable and the service was top notch. I would strongly recommend Odyssey to anyone visiting China and looking for a guided tour.
Rating: December 9th, 2016
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