China, Tibet, and the Yangtze River
This distinctive small group journey combines a special visit to remote, spiritual Tibet with a memorable cruise on the Yangtze, China’s fabled “long river.” Adding grace notes to this highly popular itinerary: intriguing Beijing, the extraordinary Terra Cotta Warriors of Xian, and cosmopolitan Shanghai. East meets West in a joyful convergence.
Depart U.S. for Beijing , China
We arrive in the Chinese capital and transfer to our hotel. After time to relax, we embark on a brief walking tour. Dinner tonight is on your own.
After this morning’s briefing about the journey ahead, we begin our discovery of this 2,000 year-old-city at vast Tiananmen Square, and the Forbidden City, seat of imperial power from 1368-1911. Tonight we enjoy a traditional Peking Duck dinner at a local restaurant. B,D
This morning we enjoy a small group highlight, as we ride rickshaws through Beijing’s ancient back alleys (hutongs) and glimpse the traditional communal lifestyle with a home visit. Then we stop at Olympic Park, site of the 2008 Olympic Games. This afternoon we head to the Mu Tian Yu section of the legendary Great Wall, which stretches more than 5,500 miles. B,L,D
This morning we tour the splendid Temple of Heaven complex, where China’s rulers once worshipped. This afternoon we visit the Summer Palace, the former royal retreat now a lovely park. B,L
We fly this morning to Xian, a provincial backwater until the accidental discovery of the Terra Cotta Warriors in 1974. Upon arrival we visit the Yangling Mausoleum, a Han Dynasty tomb dating to 153 ce. After lunch at a local restaurant we tour Xian’s impressive nine-mile city wall and moat. Tonight we enjoy a special dumpling dinner. B,L,D
Our day begins with a visit to the revered Small Wild Goose Pagoda (c. 652 ce). After lunch we tour the museum housing the army of 7,000 life-sized Terra Cotta Warriors that had lain buried and forgotten for more than two millennia. B,L,D
This morning we tour the Shanxi Provincial Museum, with an acclaimed collection of historic and cultural artifacts. We eat lunch in a local restaurant then visit a farming village where we have an opportunity to meet the villagers. B,L
Early today we fly to Lhasa, Tibet’s capital and the only major city of this Chinese province that covers an area as large as Western Europe. On the way to our hotel we visit with a Tibetan family in their home. Since the altitude here is approximately 12,000 feet above sea level, we spend the remainder of the day acclimating. B,L,D
Our tour begins in the heart of the old city at Jokhang, Tibet’s holiest temple, built in 647. Surrounding Jokhang is Barkhor, a plaza lined with chanting monks, street performers, and vendors. Later we tour the summer palace of the Dalai Lamas at Norbulinka; tonight, we enjoy dinner at a local restaurant. B,L,D
Opened to foreigners only since 1984, Tibet is a profoundly spiritual place where Buddhism has infused all aspects of life for 13 centuries. We see evidence of this at the vast 17th-century Potala Palace, with 200,000 Buddha images and 1,000 rooms. This afternoon we visit the vast Sera Monastery. B,L,D
We fly today to Chongqing, where we visit the local zoo to see the beloved pandas. B,L,D
Today’s excursion features the Dazu Rock Carvings dating back more than a millennium – and now a UNESCO World Heritage site. These cliffside carvings reflect Buddhist teachings and tenets of Confucianism. Tonight we board our river ship and set sail downstream. B,L,D
Yangtze Cruising – Shibaozhai or Fengdu
Prized for its haunting natural beauty, the Yangtze is one of the world’s longest and busiest rivers. This afternoon we visit either the Red Pagoda in Shibaozhai or Fengdu’s “ghost city.” B,L,D
Yangtze Cruising – Qutang Gorge/ Wu Gorge/Small Gorges/Xiling Gorge
Today we pass through narrow Qutang Gorge, followed by tranquil Wu Gorge. Then we board a small sampan for a cruise through the stunning Small Gorges, among the most spectacular sights of our trip. This afternoon we enter 42-mile Xiling Gorge. B,L,D
Yangtze Cruising – Three Gorges Dam/ Shanghai
After visiting the site of the immense Three Gorges Dam, we continue on to Yichang, where we disembark and transfer to the airport for the flight to Shanghai, the “Paris of the East.” B,L
Our day begins with a walking tour of the Xin Tian Di shopping and entertainment area of reconstituted traditional homes. We continue on to beloved 16th-century Yu Yuan Gardens then after lunch together we tour the acclaimed Shanghai Museum of ancient Chinese art and artifacts. Tonight we dine on our own then attend a lively acrobatics show. B,L
This morning we visit the Bund, the mile-long riverside embankment where foreign investors once held sway. Then the remainder of the day is at leisure. Tonight we toast our China adventure at a farewell dinner. B,D
Depart for U.S.
We depart Shanghai for our return flight to the U.S. B
Meet Your Trip Host
As CEO and President of the Alumni Association since 1994, Steve Grafton has always believed that you must be relevant to your audience in order to have value. It is that belief that guided him in creating an organization that is today focused on connections and success for all 575k+ alumni, as well as a supporting partner of the University. From the LEAD Scholars program to developing upcoming online communities organized around interests, identities, etc. to launching an education portal that puts U-M educational resources at alumni fingertips, Grafton is transforming the Alumni Association to be one that is of utmost relevance for U-M’s Leaders & Best. Hailing from Mississippi State University where he earned a BS in Political Science and a Masters in Public Policy, Grafton has been a past President of the Council of Alumni Association Executives (CAAE); Chair of the Advisory Council for the U-M Museum of Natural History; and a member of the Provost’s Committee on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. He has also served as executive director of the Mississippi State University Alumni Association, and as legislative director for U.S. Sen. John Stennis, D-MS. Grafton and his wife, Carol, are proud parents to two Michigan alumni.
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