Itinerary #1: China's Highlights
This 10-day grand tour of China covers a diverse array of highlights, from Beijing and the Great Wall to the Terracotta Army of Xi'an, the terraced rice fields of Longshen, and the hotbed of commerce and culture that is Shanghai.
|Day 1||Arrival in Beijing||Beijing|
|Day 2||Beijing City Tour: Famous Historical Sites||Beijing|
|Day 3||Beijing City Tour: Architectural Highlights||Beijing|
|Day 4||Beijing to Xi'an by Bullet Train||Xi'an|
|Day 5||Xi'an Full-Day Tour||Xi'an|
|Day 6||Xi'an to Guilin||Guilin|
|Day 7||Longsheng Full-Day Tour||Guilin|
|Day 8||Guilin to Shanghai||Shanghai|
|Day 9||Shanghai City Tour||Shanghai|
|Day 10||Departure from Shanghai|
You'll arrive in Beijing and spend the first three days visiting the most historic sights. First, you'll head to the heart of the city and Tiananmen Square, the largest city square in the world. On the north end is an even bigger marvel of city planning: the Forbidden City. This temple complex and former home of China's emperors dates to 1415, during the Ming dynasty, and takes up a full 180 acres. After the Forbidden City, you'll take a pedicab tour of Beijing's ancient alleyway neighborhoods called hutongs.
The Beijing experience culminates on day three when you travel north of the city to the Great Wall of China. You'll hike or take a cable car up to the wall and walk atop its ramparts, passing watchtowers and enjoying the surrounding mountain scenery. Day four begins with a visit to the ancient Chinese holy site the Temple of Heaven, then you'll take a bullet train west to Xi'an, one of the Four Great Ancient Capitals of China. The city is most famous as being home to the Terracotta Army.
The Terracotta Army is a massive archeological site that was the mausoleum of Emperor Qin Shi Huang, founder of the Qin Dynasty. The thousands of life-size terracotta statues on display here represented his armies, and the process of building them took 40 years. On day six you'll head south from Xi'an for the river city of Guilin. Here you'll see natural marvels like the massive Reed Flute Cave, and travel down the Li River by boat.
One excursion you'll make on the Li is just south of Guilin, to Longshen. In this rural area, you'll see the famous green rice terraces hugging the mountainsides plus meet locals from nearby ethnic minority villages. On day eight you'll fly to the east coast of China and Shanghai. On a tour, you'll visit the Bund waterfront area, the commercial shopping district of Nanjing Road, and the pleasant Yu Garden, which dates back over 400 years. Day 10 you'll depart China. Learn more
Itinerary #2: China's Highlights & Yangtze River Cruise
This 10-day packed itinerary combines the highlights of China's historic cities with a multi-day cruise down the Yangtze, where you'll pass through incredible river gorges and tour abandoned waterfront towns.
|Day 1||Arrival in Beijing - Stroll Wangfujing Street||Beijing|
|Day 2||Great Wall Guided Tour & Olympic Park||Beijing|
|Day 3||Beijing City Tour - Train to Xi'an||Xi'an|
|Day 4||See the Terracotta Army - Xi'an Culture Tour||Xi'an|
|Day 5||Xi'an Bike Tour - Train to Chongqing - Three Gorges Cruise: Day 1||Yangtze River Cruise - Day 1|
|Day 6||Three Gorges Cruise: Day 2||Yangtze River Cruise - Day 2|
|Day 7||Three Gorges' Cruise - Day 3||Yangtze River Cruise - Day 3|
|Day 8||Three Gorges Cruise: Day 4 - Train to Shanghai||Shanghai|
|Day 9||Shanghai City Tour & Oriental Pearl Tower||Shanghai|
|Day 10||Departure from Shanghai|
The trip begins with your arrival in Beijing. On day two you'll not only tour the Great Wall but also visit Olympic Park, the massive athletics complex that was built specifically for the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics. After a city tour on day three that includes Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City, you'll hop a train to Xi'an. Over a couple of days, you'll visit the Terracotta Army and take a bicycle tour around the ancient city walls.
On day five you'll take a train to Chongqing, a large city on the Yangtze River. This is the starting point of a three-day cruise on a four-star riverboat. The ship will begin its eastward journey on day six, and there will be stops at old temples plus the "ghost city" of Fengdu, a city that was abandoned during construction of the region's famous hydroelectric dam. After passing through a number of beautiful river gorges, the cruise culminates with a tour of this dam on day eight.
After the river, you'll transfer to Shanghai for the final leg of the trip. Day nine you'll see all the city highlights, including Yu Garden, the Shanghai Museum (which houses an impressive collection of artifacts dating back to Neolithic times), and the most famous temple in Shanghai: Jade Buddha Temple. It was built in 1882 and features two large Buddha statues made from white jade. Finish the trip with some shopping in the glitzy, upscale shopping district of Nanjing Road. On day 10 you'll depart. Learn more
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Itinerary #3: Hong Kong, Chengdu, Zhangjiajie, & Guilin
This exploration of China begins in the global economic hub of Hong Kong and continues to Chengdu to spend time with giant pandas followed by a visit to Zhangjiajie's massive sandstone pillars and capped off with river adventures in Guilin.
|Day 1||Arrival in Hongkong||Hong Kong|
|Day 2||Day Trip to Macau||Hong Kong|
|Day 3||Fly from Hong Kong to Chengdu - Tour Jinli Street||Chengdu|
|Day 4||Chengdu Panda Base & Leshan Giant Buddha||Chengdu|
|Day 5||Fly from Chengdu to Zhangjiajie||Zhangjiajie|
|Day 6||Zhangjiajie Park Tour: Yuanjiajie & Tianzi Mountain||Zhangjiajie|
|Day 7||Zhangjiajie Park Tour - Glass Bridge & Tianmen Mountain||Zhangjiajie|
|Day 8||Fly from Zhangjiajie to Guilin||Guilin|
|Day 9||Yangshuo Day Trip||Guilin|
|Day 10||Train from Guilin to Hong Kong - Departure|
Upon arrival in Hong Kong, you can satisfy any shopping pangs right away by visiting major commercial enclaves like Peking Road and Kowloon City District. The glitzy life continues on day two with a ferry ride to Macau, the "Las Vegas" of China. Here you'll tour famous landmarks, markets, and stop in at the Venetian Resort for some fun and maybe a gondola ride. On day three you'll fly from Hong Kong to Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province.
Chengdu is a laid-back metropolis with much history and culture. Regarding culture, you'll get an eyeful on the afternoon of day four you travel to where the Min and Dadu rivers meet to see the Leshan Giant Buddha. Standing 233-feet (71-meters) high, this is the largest stone Buddha in the world. That morning, however, you'll enjoy an equally unique excursion to Chengdu Panda Base, the largest panda breeding and research center in the world. Here you can see giant pandas in a protected environment.
On day five you'll fly to Zhangjiajie, in northwest Hunan province. Your destination here is Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, a protected area home to towering sandstone pillars, many of which are well over 1,000-feet (300 meters) tall. The mountain scenery here is so otherworldly that it inspired the landscapes in the feature film "Avatar." Over a couple days, you'll explore the park thoroughly, both hiking along the streams at the base, ascending to the tops of a pillar, and walking across a glass bridge over a massive canyon.
Day eight you'll fly to Guilin and continue the outdoor excursions with visits to karst caves and boat rides down the Li River. A river trip on day nine takes you to rural Yangshuo County, where on the riverbanks you'll see towering limestone mountains, bright green rice paddies, and grazing buffalo. Day 10 you'll return to Hong Kong from Guilin and depart China. Learn more
Itinerary #4: China Cycling Tour from Guizhou to Guangxi
This southeastern China getaway eschews the major cities for a cycling adventure through the mountainous provinces of Guizhou and Guangxi, during which you'll stop in ancient villages and take river tours along the way.
|Day 1||Arrive in Guizhou - Cycle to Zhaoxing||Congjiang|
|Day 2||Combined Drive/Cycle Excursion to Liping||Liping|
|Day 3||Cycle to Dong Villages - Drive to Basha Miao||Basha|
|Day 4||Drive to Chengyang Village - Half-Day Cycling Tour||Sanjiang|
|Day 5||Hike the Longji Rice Terraces||Longsheng|
|Day 6||Cycle the Lingqu Canal||Xi'an|
|Day 7||Cycle to Haiyang Town - Cave Hike||Gaoshang|
|Day 8||Pro Cycling Route to Daxu - Ride to Xingping||Xingping|
|Day 9||Hike Up Xianggongshan Hill - Cycle to Yangshuo||Yangshuo|
|Day 10||Depart China|
You'll transfer from an international hub in China to Guizhou province by train, arriving at the railway station in Congjiang County. The adventure kicks off fast, as right away you'll meet your guide and hop on a bike. Then you'll ride to the mountain village of Zhaoxing, home to Dong ethnic minority people. The next three days you'll spend on combined cycling/driving trips to ever more remote, traditional villages that are surrounded by beautiful mountain scenery.
Day five you'll arrive in Longshen County, which is famous for its rich green rice terraces tilled into the sides of hills and mountains. You'll see these hypnotically beautiful landscapes when you embark on a day hike up a mountain, at the top of which you'll enjoy panoramic views of the terraces. Day six involves a 19-mile (30 km) ride along Lingqu Canal, located just outside the river city of Guilin. You'll be riding alongside ancient history, as this artificial canal dates all the way back to 214 BCE.
On day seven you'll drive to the town of Baishi and embark on another hike, this time to a massive karst cave. The next day you'll ride along a route used by professional cyclists to Guangxi. Your first stop here is Daxu, an ancient market town on the Li River that dates to the year 200 ACE. The trip culminates on day nine with a boat ride on the gentle waters of the Li followed by a hike up a hill for great views of the region's towering limestone peaks. On day 10 you'll depart China. Learn more
Itinerary #5: Holy Tibet
Get ready for 10 days in China and Tibet, which begins in Beijing and continues to the mystical city of Lhasa, the spiritual and religious capital of Tibet, before culminating at Mt. Everest, the tallest mountain in the world.
|Day 1||Arrival in Beijing - Stroll Wangfujing Street||Beijing|
|Day 2||Beijing Highlights Tour||Lhasa|
|Day 3||Temple of Heaven - Fly from Beijing to Lhasa||Lhasa|
|Day 4||Potala Palace & Lhasa City Tour||Lhasa|
|Day 5||Tour Lhasa's Religious Sites||Lhasa|
|Day 6||Drive from Lhasa to Shigatse - Sightseeing||Shigatse|
|Day 7||Shigatse to Tingri||Tingri|
|Day 8||Day Trip to Mt. Everest Base Camp||Tingri|
|Day 9||Drive from Tingri to Gyirong - Stop at Lake Paiku||Gyirong|
|Day 10||China to Nepal - Departure|
You'll arrive in Beijing and enjoy a highlights tour that includes the Forbidden City, Temple of Heaven, and the Great Wall of China. On day three, you'll fly west to the Tibet Autonomous Region and its capital, Lhasa. Located on the Tibetan Plateau at 11,450 feet (3,490 meters) altitude, Lhasa was established in 639 ACE by the founder of the Tibetan Empire. As the spiritual capital of Tibet, it was the home of the Dalai Lama until he fled the country during the 1959 Tibetan uprising against China.
You'll spend two days touring the famous sights in and around Lhasa. Naturally, you'll visit Potala Palace, the gargantuan, whitewashed fortress-palace that sits on a hill overlooking the city. Potala Palace served as the winter home of the Dalai Lama beginning in the 7th century and has changed little in the intervening centuries. You'll also tour nearby Tibetan pilgrimage sites like Barkhor Square and Jokhang Temple plus monasteries where you'll get to see monks debate the scriptures.
Day six you'll drive south from Lhasa to Tibet's second-largest city, Shigatse. On the way, you'll stop at Yamdrok Lake, a holy site that Tibetans believe can locate the Dalai Lama's eternal soul. On day seven you'll continue driving over mountain passes on the way to Tingri, a town that's the base for excursions to Mt. Everest. The next day you'll visit Mt. Everest Base Camp and see prime views of the world's tallest peak. You'll then continue on into Nepal, where you'll catch your flight home. Learn more
More Great 10-Day China Itineraries
Looking for more inspiration for your China trip? Check out these other 10-day China itineraries, ranging from active, to cultural, to luxury, or family-friendly trips.
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