I have to start ou by saying that the Viking River Cruise Roof of the World is not just a cruise, but a land expedition as well. This is NOT a trip for anyone who has trouble walking or is disabled. China is NOT a handicapped accessible country.
We started out with a grueling 16 hour flight from the New York area and flew into Beijing. We were met by our Viking Guide, Terry Lei and I cannot say enough good things about our guide! His English was flawless, his sense of humor great and his knowledge astounding.
We had three days in Beijing where. We went to Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City there was a alot of walking and then after a local lunch we went to the Summer Palace which was incredible but entailed a lot more walking. That night we had dinner in our hotel and I should mention all our hotels were 5 star hotels and simply the best after walking all day!
With the exception of your hotels, you MUST carry your own toilet paper and hand sanitizer with you at all times! Restaurants, public buildings, etc DO NOT have toilet paper, and often did not have soap or paper towels to dry your hands.
Up early the next day and off to The Great Wall at Badaling and much to my surprise involved walking up lots of steps and very steep inclines. The wall offers incredible views and it was just amazing ro see. Another local lunch and then we went to the Ming tombs started in 1436 there are 36 huge stone statues. You walk the length of the Sacred Way. Yes, there has been lots of walking!
Dinner was Peking Duck and then the Peking Opera. Fantastic!
Net day up early once again to the Hutong Alleys, we rode a rickshaw and had a lovely visit with a local family.
we saw the Great Wall- which had a considerable amount of walking mostly uphill and up fairly steep stairs. We also visited Tianamin Square and the forbidden City
Then we flew about 1 /2 hours to Xian. here we finally had a few hours to rest before we went to dinner and saw the Tang Dynasty Show. Another wonder experience. Up early and off to see the Terra Cotta Warriors.I cannot even begin to tell you how fantastic this was and the buildings housing the warriors are HUGE!
Local dim sum dinner and then off to Xian's night market. Back at our hotel quite late but had to get up at 4:30AM to catch our flight to Lhasa, Tibet.
A 4 1/2 hour flight later saw us land in Lhasa. We were told to take diamox (prescription) 48 hours before getting to Tibet, some did, some did not, we all felt the altitude. Two people in our group needed medical assistance ( our guide Terry) was on call for all of us 24/7. The next morning all but one of our 16 were able to ontinue. But you DO KNOW you are not breathing right. Hotels have oxygen in all the rooms. To Jokhang Square and the Palace. More walking and we all were going slow do to the elevation. It is. 12500 feet. Highest city in the world. Lots of great shopping for prayer wheels, prayer beads and scarves. then to the Sera Monestary some of our group opted to stay in the bus rather than walk up the steep hill to the monastery itself. Lots of pilgrims and monks here. Dinner at the Mad Yak where we were treated to another show that was quite interesting.
Net day the Potola Palace once home of the Dali Lama. Beautiful building with 365 steep steps o the top. Lots of our group did not make it, steps were steep, uneven and you were constantly short of breath due to the elevation.
Got to relax at a local families home where we were served yak butter tea and snacks. Then off to the Museum.
Now we fly 3 hours to Chongquing where we board our cruise down the Yangtze River. Now here is where I get a bit critical. once the bus stops, you take your carry ons and climb down 86or so steps to the water level then you walk across floating pontoons to board the ship. REALLY.
the locals actually carry your suitcases on their backs, one at a time down the steps and across the pontoons to the ship.
Honestly, there must be a better way! The Emerald ship itself was fine, staterooms were fairly roomy and every room has a balcony. I was a bit disappointed in the cruise lines dinner selections, we had already had several days of local Chinese food and I had hoped that there would be more food to choose from they did offer chicken Breast, but other than that food served was Chinese. (not Americanized Chinese food either).
The cruise was relaxing and every day we had some shore tour, temples, schools, three gorges dam and locks, a secondary cruise on the Daning River.
Our guide stayed with us the entire cruise also.
The cruise part was five days and we ended the cruise in Wushan and then flew to Shanghai.
Shanghai was one of the highlights that I did not expect. Just and incredible city.
We extended our cruise with a side trip with Viking and our tour guide also. Flew to Guilin where we went on another river trip on the Li River. Then we flew to Hong Kong.
21 days and 9 flights later we were tired and ready to head home. The trip was fatastic and I think everyone that is able bodied should do this. But there is a LOT of walking a LOT of steps and the altitude posed a problem for everyone in our group some more than others but we all felt it!
Would go on another Viking Tour in a minute. Loved Viking!