Giving to
Bryn Mawr

Katharine Houghton Hepburn Center


June 11 – 24, 2014

We invite you to join us on this comprehensive tour of China that combines monumental Beijing, a cruise on the fabled Yangtze, fascinating Xian, and cosmopolitan Shanghai. Traveling in a small group you will meet local people and experience a host of China’s highlights both ancient and of the moment.

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Preliminary Itinerary
(please click on location to reveal details)


DAY 1: Depart U.S. for Beijing, China

This morning, you’ll depart the U.S. for Beijing with a connecting flight in either Vancouver or Toronto, Canada.

DAY 2: Arrive Beijing

You’ll arrive in the Chinese capital mid-afternoon where you’ll meet your Odysseys Unlimited Tour Director and transfer directly to the hotel. There's time to unpack and enjoy a short rest before joining your tour director for a brief walking tour of the area. This evening you are free to dine on your own at the hotel or at one of the many local restaurants.

Accommodations: Renaissance Beijing

DAY 3: Beijing

This morning we meet with our Odysseys Unlimited Tour Director and fellow travelers for an information briefing about the journey ahead. Then we set out to visit Tiananmen Square – the Gate of Heavenly Peace – in the very heart of the city. It’s a vast area said by some to be the greatest public square on earth. It was also the site of several infamous uprisings in China’s 20th-century history, including the eight rallies that began the Cultural Revolution in 1966 and the student protests in 1989. Next we move on to the Forbidden City, which operated as the seat of power during five centuries of Chinese dynasties. Imperial and impressive, the Forbidden City boasts three great ceremonial halls and three principal palaces where the extravagant living quarters housed more than 34 successive emperors. Early this afternoon we return to our hotel where you are free to enjoy lunch on your own. Tonight we gather together for a welcome dinner of traditional Peking Duck.

Accommodations: Renaissance Beijing; Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

DAY 4: Beijing/Great Wall

First we enjoy a fascinating small group highlight: a tour of Beijing through the city’s ancient back alleys called hutongs. We’ll travel by rickshaw down these back streets and tiny alleyways to witness a way of life that is fast disappearing in modern-day China. As more and more modern apartment complexes are being built, the communal lifestyle that you’ll see on today’s tour is becoming obsolete – and may soon disappear entirely. Our visit with a Beijing family in their home here offers us a glimpse of this time-honored tradition. After lunch together at a local restaurant, we drive past Olympic Park to view the Bird’s Nest and Water Cube stadiums that were used during the 2008 Summer Olympics. As we continue on, we visit the only manmade structure on earth that is visible from space: the Great Wall of China, which stretches some 2,480 miles across the country. It was also one of history’s most time-consuming projects: construction began in the 5th century BCE and finished in the 16th century CE. We’ll be concentrating on Mu Tian Yu, a scenic and less crowded section of the Great Wall, where we take a cable car for the brief ride to the highest restored portion. It’s a breathtaking sight, one you won't soon forget. Late this afternoon we return to our hotel and enjoy dinner together there this evening.

Accommodations: Renaissance Beijing; Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 5: Beijing

Today’s touring begins this morning at the Temple of Heaven, among China’s most beautiful shrines, with two circular ceremonial buildings crowned with blue tile roofs. After the tour here, you have an option to visit a pearl shop featuring a demonstration on fresh water pearls. Those who are not interested in the demonstration can enjoy a walk through a nearby farmers market and park. After lunch at a local restaurant we travel to the Summer Palace, the former royal retreat that is now one of the loveliest spots in Beijing, a park for both visitors and local citizens, with a large lake, imperial pavilions, and palaces. Tonight you are free to dine on your own.

Accommodations: Renaissance Beijing; Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

DAY 6: Beijing/Xian

Early this morning we depart for the airport for the 90-minute flight to Xian, home of the world-renowned Terra Cotta Army, arriving mid-day. Once among the world’s greatest ancient cities, Xian devolved into a provincial backwater until the accidental discovery in 1974 of the great army of hand-carved warriors that had been buried for centuries. Upon arrival, we enjoy lunch at a local restaurant before gathering together for a tour of the impressive nine-mile city wall and moat, one of the largest surviving ancient military defense systems in the world. Following the tour, we visit the Shanxi Provincial History Museum, a striking Tang-Dynasty style pavilion housing a collection of 113,000 historic and cultural artifacts unearthed in nearby Shanxi. This evening we enjoy a Tang Dynasty show and dinner.

Accommodations: Sheraton Xian North City Hotel; Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 7: Xian

Our day begins with a visit to the Wild Goose Pagoda, built in 652 CE and noted as a symbol of Xian, prized especially for its architectural beauty. From here we drive to a store that sells jade. We learn what constitutes good jade and the difference between jade and jadeite, before we are left to browse. For those who do not wish to browse, we return to the Old town and city wall for a time. After lunch at a local restaurant, where we enjoy a lunch of traditional Chinese dumplings, we venture to the astounding Terra Cotta Warriors, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Created to guard the tomb of Emperor Qin Shi Huang who ascended the throne in 246 CE, this is one of China’s most memorable sights. Discovered by a fortuitous accident in 1974, the terra cotta soldiers rest in three massive vaults, the largest consisting of more than 1,000 figures in battle formation. The figures each stand about five feet tall; each head and face is different, and the mass-produced bodies are clad in knee-length battle tunics. The soldiers once carried actual weapons, including swords, spears, and crossbows that have long since been plundered. A smaller vault holds four groups including men with crossbows, charioteers, infantry, and cavalry in many positions, including one particularly striking figure of a cavalryman leading a horse. And in the final vault we see what appears to be battle headquarters, with an honor guard and animal bones indicating that the area was used for animal sacrifices. We view the open vaults from above while standing on a series of walkways then visit the remarkable museum nearby which houses the two famed bronze chariots unearthed in 1982 – and which we can see up close here. After returning to our hotel late this afternoon, we enjoy a Western-style buffet dinner there tonight.

Accommodations: Sheraton Xian North City Hotel; Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 8: Xian/Chongqing

This morning we transfer to the airport for the one-hour flight to Chongqing. Called the Mountain City, Chongqing is surrounded by hills in a most scenic setting. After lunch together and if time permits, we visit the Chongqing Zoo to see the beloved pandas, and the Stilwell Museum dedicated to World War II General Joseph Stilwell. After dinner in a local restaurant, we board our Victoria Cruises premier ship. Tonight we set sail down river – for good luck, as the Chinese do.

Accommodations: Victoria Cruises Premier Ship; Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 9: Yangtze Cruising – Fengdu

It’s one of the world’s classic voyages: sailing the fabled Yangtze River. The river’s source is in the mountains above Tibet, and it receives some 700 tributaries during its 3,600-mile course through China. The third longest river in the world, the Yangtze continues to serve as a major waterway for boats, barges, and fisherman, as it has for more than 1,000 years. Early this morning we disembark for exploration of the “Ghost City” of Fengdu, significant for its preservation of Chinese afterlife culture. Fengdu’s otherworldly associations date back nearly two thousand years to two imperial court officials who journeyed to nearby Mt. Minshan to practice Taoist teachings and, as legend has it, ultimately achieving immortality. Their combined surnames, Yin and Wang, translate to “King of Hell”, and this title birthed the city’s ensuing fascination with the supernatural. After returning to the ship for lunch together, this afternoon a river guide tells us about the Yangtze and the Three Gorges Dam. Later we enjoy a talk on Chinese medicine. Tonight we enjoy a Captain’s Welcome Dinner on board as we cruise downstream.

Accommodations: Victoria Cruises Premier Ship; Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 10: Yangtze Cruising – Qutang Gorge/Lesser Gorges/Wu Gorge/Xiling Gorge

This morning we traverse the first of the Yangtze’s fabled Three Gorges, Qutang, known for the sheer, dramatic precipices lining either side of the-five-mile long passageway. Following lunch on board, our ship docks mid-day in Wushan for the Shennong Stream, where we disembark and board a smaller ferry boat for an excursion along the Daning River, a Yangtze tributary that is home to the stunning Lesser Gorges. Here we can see rock walls up close, along with monkeys playing in the treetops, and ancient coffins and calligraphy etched into the rocks. Back on board our Yangtze ship late this afternoon, we resume cruising and enter 25-mile Wu Gorge. With precipitous peaks often enshrouded in clouds and rich vegetation clinging to the slopes that flank the water, Wu Gorge is considered the most beautiful of the Three Gorges. Then we reach the western section of 42-mile Xiling Gorge, with swift rapids and churning whirlpools. Partway through our voyage through Xiling Gorge we approach the locks of the Three Gorges Dam; once the lockmaster determines our entry time, we commence our three-hour transit of the world’s largest hydroelectric dam. We dine tonight on board our ship.

Accommodations: Victoria Cruises Premier Ship; Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 11: Yangtze Cruising – Three Gorges Dam Site/Xiling Gorge/Disembark/Shanghai

Early this morning we disembark to tour Sandouping, site of the immense Three Gorges Dam. We see and learn about this incredible project from an observatory overlooking the site. The idea for this massive (and controversial) dam was born nearly a century ago, though it was just recently completed. Some five times larger than Hoover Dam, the Three Gorges Dam is the largest of its kind, with walls reaching more than 600 feet high and 6,500 feet in length. The subsequent lake is now the world’s largest reservoir, stretching all the way to Chongqing and providing as much as 10 percent of China’s hydroelectric power. Centuries old villages are now submerged, and several “new towns,” or relocated villages have been created throughout the region. Even though the dam project is complete, the Gorges can soar as high as 3,000 feet, and you’ll have the opportunity to see this fabled landscape as we cruise, the majestic vertical cliffs reaching toward the sky, a land steeped in mystery and legend. It’s an extraordinary opportunity to look to China's past and future and know that you’ve been here at a crossroads in its history. Following our tour we return to the ship mid-morning and resume cruising through the eastern section of Xiling Gorge. After lunch we arrive in Yichang, where we disembark again and travel to the airport for our flight to Shanghai. After checking in at our hotel, you are free for dinner on your own. Please note: Because of very limited flights from Yichang to Shanghai, our group may travel by motorcoach to Wuhan and then fly to Shanghai.

Accommodations: Hilton Shanghai; Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

DAY 12: Shanghai

During the 20th century Shanghai gained notoriety as the “Paris of the East,” the stronghold of European life in Mainland China; a bustling modern metropolis where economics ruled. But after the rise of communism and the expulsion of foreigners, Shanghai slowed down considerably. Now, however, it is thriving once again, and is again among China's, indeed Asia’s, fastest growing cities. Our exploration of this vibrant city begins this morning with a walking tour of the Xin Tian Di area. Originally a neighborhood of old Shikumen (a type of housing found only in Shanghai) that has been developed into boutique shops and restaurants, the area now is enjoyed by both locals and tourists alike. We continue on to the scenic pools and walkways of 16th-century Yu Yuan Gardens, in the heart of Shanghai’s diminishing Old City, whose six sections comprise a harmonious whole. Created as a private garden, Yu Yuan was opened to the public only in 1961, and today ranks as one of Shanghai’s most popular attractions. After lunch together at a local restaurant, we tour the acclaimed Shanghai Museum of ancient Chinese art, known especially for its collections of bronzes, ceramics, paintings, and calligraphy. Dinner is on your own this evening, followed by a show of traditional Chinese acrobatics.

Accommodations: Hilton Shanghai; Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

DAY 13: Shanghai

This morning we tour the Bund, Shanghai’s bustling riverfront boulevard that once was the center of European influence in the Far East. The afternoon is at leisure to explore on your own or for last-minute shopping; your tour director can offer suggestions. For those interested, you can visit a silk shop demonstration. Tonight we enjoy a farewell dinner together at our hotel.

Accommodations: Hilton Shanghai; Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

DAY 14: Depart for U.S.

If you’re returning today to the United States, you will transfer to the airport for your connecting flight (via Vancouver or Toronto) to the United States.

Meals: Breakfast


DAY 14: Shanghai/Nanjing, China

This morning we leave Shanghai by train for the 1½ -hour journey to Nanjing, capital of China’s Jiangsu Province. Fortuitously located in the Yangtze River Delta’s economic zone, Nanjing has been an important economic and political center for more than 2,500 years – including serving as the capital of six different dynasties. While later serving as capital of the Republic of China (1911 to 1949), Nanjing suffered one of the world’s most catastrophic invasions in 1937 when the Japanese, after capturing Shanghai, murdered thousands of locals in what is now known as the “Nanjing Massacre.” Left devastated and nearly destroyed, Nanjing has slowly rebuilt itself and its economy to become inland China’s largest port and East China’s second largest commercial center. We spend two days exploring Nanjing, one of the Four Great Ancient Capitals of China along with Beijing, Xian, and Luoyang.

Upon arrival, we enjoy lunch together at a local restaurant and then visit China Gate, the southern gate of Nanjing begun in 1366. The project took 21 years to complete; a granite base and brick walls combine with sections of an earlier city wall from the Tang dynasty to create the world’s most complex city gate structure. Legend has it Shen Wanshan, a Ming dynasty leader, buried his cornucopia (Jubao Pen in Chinese), or treasure-gathering jar, beneath the gate, causing it to be known as Jubao Gate until it was renamed China Gate in 1931.

Our next stop is Confucius Temple, built in 1034 and also known as Fuzi Miao. The temple served as a sanctuary for those wishing to demonstrate their respect for Confucius, the great philosopher and educator of ancient China. Late this afternoon we check in at our hotel and enjoy dinner together there this evening.

Please note: Due to limited train porters, in addition to your one piece of checked luggage, you will need to bring a smaller, soft-sided duffel-type bag for your two-night stay at Nanjing. This additional bag should be small and flexible enough to fit inside your checked luggage (or you can use your carry-on luggage as your small bag). Your checked bag will be held in safe keeping in Shanghai until you meet up with it prior to departing from the Shanghai airport.

Accommodations: Sheraton Kingsley ; Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 15: Nanjing

Our full-day of touring begins at the Dr. Sun Yat-sen Mausoleum, commemorating the “Father of the Modern China.” After leading the Nationalist party and revolutionary movement that overthrew the Qing dynasty in 1911, Sun became provisional president when the Republic of China was declared in 1912. Before passing away in 1925, Yat-sen shared many of his republican and modernizing ideas which became known as the “Three Principles of the People: Nationalism, Democracy, and the People’s Livelihood” and the basis of the China’s modernization during the 1980s. Next we travel to the foot of Nanjing’s Mount Purple-Gold to visit the 14th-century burial tomb complex of the founder of the Ming Dynasty Zhu Yuanzhang and his wife, Empress Ma. A UNESCO World Heritage site comprising temples, pavilions, statues, and more amidst a peaceful wooded landscape, the tomb ranks as one of China’s most impressive and important historical sites.

Following lunch at a local restaurant, we visit the Nanjing Memorial, the museum dedicated to the 300,000 victims of the massacre. Opened in 1985 on the site of a mass burial ground where many of the killings took place, the museum features historical records, architecture, sculptures, and videos of the era, and of the atrocity. After this sobering experience, we return late this afternoon to our hotel. Dinner is on your own this evening.

Accommodations: Sheraton Kingsley; Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

DAY 16: Nanjing/Shanghai/Depart for U.S.

This morning we make the 1½-hour rail journey back to Shanghai. Upon arrival we board a motorcoach that will bring us to the Shanghai airport, where you will connect with your return flight to the United States.

Meals: Breakfast

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Cost and Program Inclusions

Los Angeles/San Francisco Washington, D.C. Land Only
Per person, double occupancy $4,469 $4,969 $3,595
Optional Post-Tour Extension

SHANGHAI - On Your Own (3 days/2 nights) includes 2 nights’ accommodations at Shanghai Hilton (Deluxe); 2 meals (2 breakfasts); Transfer to airport.

Included Features:
  • Exclusive departure for Bryn Mawr College
  • Small group size limited to 24 guests
  • Round-trip air transportation; all flights within itinerary
  • 12 nights’ accommodations in listed properties
  • 29 meals: 12 breakfasts, 9 lunches, 8 dinners
  • Extensive sightseeing as described in day-by-day itinerary, including all entrance fees
  • Services of a dedicated Odysseys Unlimited Tour Director
  • Private motorcoach transportation throughout the trip
  • Luggage handling for one bag per person
  • Gratuities for local guides, dining room servers, airport and hotel porters, and all drivers
Please Note

This trip involves full days of sightseeing and significant amounts of walking on uneven terrain, with as much as two to three miles altogether on touring days. Be prepared for many stairs; ramps are not common in China.

We will do our best to adhere to our printed itinerary. Occasionally, though, unexpected obstacles, and opportunities, may arise that will force us to deviate from the itinerary as written. We would ask you to be open-minded and flexible should we vary the itinerary slightly. In addition, please note that airline schedules are subject to change. We will provide you with updated flight information closer to your departure.

For Land Only Guests

If you choose to purchase Odysseys Unlimited’s Classic China & the Yangtze tour as “land only,” you will be making your own international air arrangements and will join the tour at the first hotel.

While airport transfers and luggage handling at the arrival and departure airports are not included when you purchase a tour as land only, you are welcome to join our motorcoach transfer to the hotel. This service will be provided to you on a complimentary basis.

To join in the transfer, you must be at the Beijing airport concurrent with the group of arriving Odysseys Unlimited guests. Look for our representative holding an Odysseys Unlimited sign and you will be directed to the motorcoach. Please note that you must be present when the coach is preparing to leave.

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Faculty Study Leader

Sharon Ullman
Professor of History at Bryn Mawr College
Sharon Ullman

Leading our trip will be Sharon Ullman, Professor of History at Bryn Mawr College. Professor Ullman received her PhD from the University of California Berkley. Ullman specializes in 20th-century America with an emphasis on popular culture and gender. She is the author of Sex Seen: The Emergence of Modern Sexuality in America and Sexual Borderlands: Constructing an American Sexual Past (with Kathleen Kennedy). Her current research project, Brainwashing: The Anxious Mind of Cold War America is under contract to NYU Press. Her courses include such topics as the history of sexuality, the culture of the cold war, and film and national identity.

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Renaissance Beijing

36 Xiaoyun Road Chaoyang District
Beijing, 100027 China
Phone: 011-86-10-646-89999
Fax: 011-86-10-646-89913

Ideally located in the heart of the city, the Renaissance Beijing is just a few minutes away from the Embassy District. Hotel amenities include a restaurant, café, lounge, fitness center, sauna, Internet access, laundry and dry cleaning services, beauty salon, and indoor pool. Air-conditioned guest rooms have private bath with hair dryer, in-room safe, mini-bar, TV, and phone.

Sheraton Xian North City Hotel

No. 32 Wei Yang Road
Xian, Shaanxi 710014, China
Phone: 011-86-29-8886-6888
Fax: 011-86-29-8629-2775

Opened in February 2012, the Sheraton Xian North City Hotel stands outside of Xian’s North Gate, just minutes from the old city. This contemporary-style hotel offers three restaurants and a lounge, fitness center with indoor pool, Internet access, laundry and dry cleaning services, and hair salon. Air-conditioned guests rooms have private bath with hair dryer, tea- and coffee-making facilities, in-room safe, mini-bar, TV, and phone.

Victoria Cruises Premier Ships

With the largest fleet to ply the Yangtze, Victoria Cruises is the leader in Yangtze River cruising. All premier ships that we use are air-conditioned and carry 198-308 passengers. All cabins are outside, non-smoking, and 155 square feet with private bathroom with bathtub and shower, balcony, and satellite TV. Hair dryers are available upon request. The ships offer breakfast and lunch buffets and classic Chinese dinner banquets, reading room, fitness area, gift shop, and beauty salon. On-board activities include lectures on Chinese history and culture, Tai Chi lessons, calligraphy demonstrations, and traditional entertainment in the evening. Victoria Cruises offers a comprehensive Yangtze experience, with multi-lingual cruise directors and informative river guides.

Hilton Shanghai

250 Hua Shan Road
Shanghai, China 200040
Phone: 011-86-21-6248-0000
Fax: 011-86-21-6248-3868

This 43-story hotel in Shanghai’s commercial district offers a variety of amenities, including laundry/valet service, barbershop and beauty salon, gift shop, elevators, Internet access, several restaurants and lounges, and safety deposit boxes. The hotel also has a health club with fitness center, indoor pool, spa, sauna, steam bath, and massage service. Air-conditioned guest rooms have private bath with hair dryer, sitting area, mini-bar, in-room safe, TV, and phone.


Sheraton Nanjing Kingsley Hotel & Towers

169 Hanzhong Road
Nanjing, Jiangsu 210029
Phone: 011-86-25-8666-8888
Fax: 011-86-25-8666-9999

Standing on the banks of the Yangtze River and located just minutes from Nanjing’s shopping district, several restaurants, and the Hanzhong city gate, the Sheraton Nanjing Kingsley Hotel & Towers offers a restaurant, two bars, and two lounges; Internet access; safe deposit boxes; laundry service; fitness center; sauna; massage treatments; and indoor heated pool. Air-conditioned guest rooms have private bath with hair dryer, tea- and coffee-making facilities, mini-bar, TV, and phone.