With two weeks you can plan a diverse vacation that covers every major area China, plus the Tibetan Plateau. A highlights tour would include the historic sights of ancient capitals like Beijing, Xi'an, and Luoyang. A more rounded itinerary would feature not only historic sights like the Forbidden City, Great Wall of China, and Terracotta Army, but you could spend time with giant pandas in Chengdu and experience Tibetan culture in Lhasa. The five itineraries below offer all these options and many more.

Itinerary #1: China's Ancient Capitals & River Cruise

Not only does this two-week itinerary include visits to China's historic capital cities of Beijing, Zhengzhou, Luoyang, & Xi'an, but you'll also take a stroll along the Great Wall and round out the trip with a cruise down the Yangtze River.

Enjoy a cruise down the Yangtze
Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrival in Beijing Beijing
Day 2 Beijing City Tour Beijing
Day 3 Great Wall Guided Tour Beijing
Day 4 Summer Palace Tour - Train from Beijing to Zhengzhou Zhengzhou
Day 5 Zhengzhou to Luoyang - Shaolin Temple Tour Luoyang
Day 6 Tour Longmen Grottoes - Transfer to Xi'an Xi'an
Day 7 Xi'an Highlights Tour - Optional Cooking Class Xi'an
Day 8 Xi'an to Chongqing - Three Gorges Cruise: Day 1 Yangtze River Cruise - Day 1
Day 9 Three Gorges Cruise: Day 2 Yangtze River Cruise - Day 2
Day 10 Three Gorges' Cruise - Day 3 Yangtze River Cruise - Day 3
Day 11 Three Gorges Cruise: Day 4 - Train to Shanghai Shanghai
Day 12 City Tour of Shanghai Shanghai
Day 13 Zhujiajiao Water Town Shanghai
Day 14 Departure from Shanghai  


You'll arrive in Beijing and acquaint yourself with China's most historic sights on day two. This includes the Forbidden City, a vast network of temples dating to the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). On day three you'll take a guided tour of the Great Wall and walk the ancient ramparts and watchtowers. The next day you'll head to the Summer Palace. This lakeside royal retreat with impressive gardens was a favorite of emperors of the Qing Dynasty during the 1800s. Later you'll take a train to Zhengzhou.

This is where you'll find the most famous monastery in China: Shaolin Temple. Buddhists here have honed their prowess in martial arts over the centuries, and you'll tour the facilities on day five and see a kung-fu performance. Later, you'll transfer to Luoyang. This city in Henan province was the capital of China for over 1,000 years until the 10th century. You'll tour its famous Longmen Grottoes, a network of ancient caves and Buddha statues carved out of cliffs along the Yi River.

Then it's off to Xi'an, another of China's historic capitals. On day seven you'll visit its most famous archeological site: the Terra Cotta Army. This collection of life-size warrior sculptures dates to 210 BCE and is incredibly well preserved.

On day eight you'll transfer to the Yangtze River where you'll embark on a four-day journey. During your time on this first-class riverboat, you'll pass through towering canyons and end the trip at the Three Gorges Dam, the largest hydroelectric power plant in the world. Then you'll catch a flight to Shanghai where you'll spend the remainder of your vacation on city tours of this exciting metropolis plus take a day trip to a nearby river city so romantic it's known as the "Venice of Asia." Learn more

Itinerary #2: From Beijing to Shanghai & Everything in Between

This 14-day itinerary covers some major cities in China, like Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu, and Xi'an, but rounds out the highlights with cultural excursions, active adventures, and even a trip to Disneyland.

See giant pandas up close in Chengdu
Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrival in Beijing Beijing
Day 2 Beijing City Tour Beijing
Day 3 Great Wall Guided Tour Beijing
Day 4 Visit the Temple of Heaven - Train from Beijing to Xi'an Xi'an
Day 5 See the Terracotta Army - Evening Cooking Experience Xi'an
Day 6 Visit Xi'an's Muslim Quarter - Train from Xi'an to Chengdu Chengdu
Day 7 Visit Leshan Giant Buddha Chengdu
Day 8 Chengdu Panda Base & City Tour - Fly to Guilin Guilin
Day 9 Li River Cruise to Yangshuo Yangshuo
Day 10 Cycling & Rafting Tour Near Yangshuo Yangshuo
Day 11 Country Village Tour - Fly from Guilin to Shanghai Shanghai
Day 12 City Tour of Shanghai Shanghai
Day 13 Family Day at Disneyland Shanghai Shanghai
Day 14 Departure from Shanghai  


Upon arrival in Beijing, you'll spend the first few days getting acquainted with China's capital. This includes a city tour of the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square, the largest city square in the world. Moreover, you'll visit the Temple of Heaven, Beijing's most famous religious complex and a place where emperors came for centuries to pray for a good harvest. You'll also make the pilgrimage to the Great Wall for a guided tour.

Day four you'll take a train to Xi'an to see the Terracotta Army plus the city's historic Muslim Quarter. Following this, you'll visit the home of a family who will teach you how to prepare traditional dumplings. On day six you'll transfer to Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province. Besides spicy cuisine, Chengdu is known for its giant panda breeding center, which you'll get to visit. You'll also tour Leshan Giant Buddha, a massive Buddha sculpture that stands 233 feet (71 meters) and dates to 713 ACE. 

On day eight you'll fly to Guilin, a river city in southern China relatively close to Hong Kong. This is one of the country's great romantic destinations, as the Li River runs from Guilin into rural countryside dotted with towering karst mountains, fertile grasslands, and bright green rice paddies. You'll take rafting tours around the country villages here followed by a flight to Shanghai on day 11. For three days you'll get to relax, go shopping, and then cap the trip with a day at Disneyland Shanghai. Learn more

Itinerary #3: Beijing to Shanghai Winter Tour

China isn't one of the first destinations most westerners think of when considering a two-week winter holiday, but it should be. Both Beijing and Shanghai are beautiful in winter, and the city of Harbin is home to the largest ice/snow sculpture festival in the world. 

The ice sculptures of Harbin, lit up after dark
Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrival in Beijing Beijing
Day 2 Beijing City Tour: Architectural Highlights Beijing
Day 3 Beijing City Tour: Famous Historical Sites Beijing
Day 4 Fly from Beijing to Harbin Harbin
Day 5 Explore Harbin - Fly to Zhengzhou Zhengzhou
Day 6 Drive from Zhengzhou to Luoyang Luoyang
Day 7 Explore Longmen Grottoes - Train to Xi'an Xi'an
Day 8 Xi'an City Tour with Terra Cotta Warriors Xi'an
Day 9 Fly from Xi'an to Guilin Guilin
Day 10 Yangshuo Day-Trip  Guilin
Day 11 Fly from Guilin to Shanghai Shanghai
Day 12 Shanghai City Tour Shanghai
Day 13 Zhujiajiao Water Town Shanghai
Day 14 Depart Shanghai  


You'll arrive in Beijing in time to see the snows falling over the rooftops of the Forbidden City. You'll also be treated to the beautiful hazel hues of the surrounding dry foliage as you walk along the Great Wall of China. After touring Beijing's landmarks, you'll fly to Harbin, located in northeastern China, on day four. This is the country's premier winter destination, as here you'll find the International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival, a massive showcase of entire villages made of ice that light up at night.

On day five you'll partake in the festivities before heading south to Zhengzhou, followed by a tour of the Shaolin Temple the next day. After transferring to Luoyang, on day seven you'll explore Longmen Grottoes and then hop a train to Xi'an. Besides the Terracotta Army, you'll visit another historic sight: Giant Wild Goose Pagoda. This impressive seven-story Buddhist temple was built in the 7th century, supposedly over the site of an omen from the heavens involving a wild goose that fell from the sky.

Day nine you'll fly to Guilin and take a boat ride down the Li plus visit fascinating natural attractions like Reed Flute Cave, a massive limestone cavern. Then it's off to Shanghai where you can visit some of the city's prized public spaces, like Yu Garden and the waterfront Bund neighborhood. Day 13 you'll take a canal ride in the water town of Zhujiajiao, and on day 14 you'll return home. Learn more

Itinerary #4: China & Tibet

Despite the historic tensions between China and its western neighbor, the autonomous region of Tibet, it is indeed possible to combine these two areas into a single two-week adventure.

Potala Palace, in  Tibet's capital of Lhasa
Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrival in Shanghai Shanghai
Day 2 Shanghai City Tour Shanghai
Day 3 Fly from Shanghai to Chengdu Chengdu
Day 4 Chengdu Panda Base & City Tour Chengdu
Day 5 Flight from Chengdu to Lhasa Lhasa
Day 6 Lhasa Walking Tour Lhasa
Day 7 Tour of Lhasa's Religious Sites Lhasa
Day 8 Day Trip to Yamdrok Lake Lhasa
Day 9 Fly from Lhasa to Xi'an Xi'an
Day 10 Xi'an Highlights Tour Xi'an
Day 11 History & Culture Tour of Xi'an - Train to Beijing Beijing
Day 12 Beijing City Tour Beijing
Day 13 Great Wall Guided Tour Beijing
Day 14 Departure from Beijing  


This time you'll arrive in Shanghai where you'll ease into your cultural adventure with a tour of the city's neighborhoods and famous landmarks. One place you'll visit is the Jade Buddha Temple, which was built in the 19th century and houses two large sculptures of Buddha made entirely of jade. On day three you'll fly to Chengdu to visit the giant panda breeding center, tour historic neighborhoods like Kuanzhai Alley, and sample some extra spicy Sichuan hot pot. 

On day five you'll fly to the Tibetan Plateau and the historic and religious capital of this region, Lhasa. The name translates to Place of the Gods, and at an elevation of 11,990 feet (3,656 meters), you'll certainly feel close to them. There's a lot of history and culture here, which you'll see over a few days of city tours and day trips to sacred lakes. You'll visit the iconic Potala Palace, the former winter palace of the Dalai Lama, plus various monasteries, some of which date to the early 15th century.

On day nine you'll fly from Lhasa to central China and Xi'an. Upon arrival, you can walk the ramparts of the large stone defensive walls that date to the 14th century and protected the city for hundreds of years. After seeing the major sights, including the 8th-century Great Mosque, you'll leave Xi'an for Beijing on day 11. Here the historic landmarks of China await, from Tienanmen Square to the Forbidden City to the Great Wall. On day 14 you'll depart. Learn more

Itinerary #5: Yunnan & Sichuan Culture & Nature

Ancient Chinese and Tibetan cultures merge on this 14-day cultural excursion into southern China and the Tibetan plateau, where towering mountain peaks hide fertile valleys home to ancient villages and historic Buddhist temples.

Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, outside Lijiang
Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrival in Beijing - Optional Street-Market Tour Beijing
Day 2 Fly from Beijing to Lijiang Lijiang
Day 3 Shangri-La Day Tour Shangri-La
Day 4 Yunnan Full-Day Tour - Transfer to Dali Dali
Day 5 Tour Dali & Erhai Lake - Transfer to Kunming Kunming
Day 6 Stone Forest Tour - Fly from Kunming to Chengdu Chengdu
Day 7 Chengdu to Xinduqiao Xinduqiao
Day 8 Xinduqiao to Yading Nature Reserve yading
Day 9 Yading Nature Reserve Full Day Tour yading
Day 10 Riwa to Xinduqiao - Tour Daocheng County Xinduqiao
Day 11 Xinduqiao to Danba - Tour Tagong Danba
Day 12 Danba to Mount Siguniang - Tour Zhonglu Village Siguniang Mountain
Day 13 Mount Siguniang Tour - Transfer to Chengdu Chengdu
Day 14 Fly from Chengdu to Beijing - Departure  


You’ll arrive in Beijing and can spend the first evening munching on street food at Wangfujing Street, one of the city’s biggest night markets. The next day you’ll fly to Lijiang, in southern China’s Yunnan province, at the doorstep to Tibet. Lijiang dates back over 1,000 years and was a major stop on the ancient tea trading route. Surrounding Lijiang are snow-capped mountain peaks and unspoiled protected areas, like Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, which you’ll see on a tour.

A benefit of visiting Yunnan is you can acquaint yourself with the ethnic minority groups who comprise its residents. In Lijiang, for example, you’ll visit Dyan. This is the historic city center, home to the Naxi people who live in traditional mud and timber homes. After Lijiang, on day three, you'll visit Shangri-La, located in the Tibetan prefecture of Diqing. Nestled in a mountain valley, Shangri-La's is the very picture of its namesake utopia at the center of the 1933 novel Lost Horizon

Besides touring Shangri-La's monasteries, you'll head to nearby Pudacuo National Park, home to Shudu Lake, home to expansive mountain plateaus. Day four you’ll transfer to the town of Dali, and beyond touring its 8th-century Old Town, you'll visit natural attractions like river gorges. Then you'll head north into Sichuan province and its capital of Chengdu, but not before stopping at Stone Forest, which comprises 150 square miles of towering limestone rock formations.

On day seven you’ll leave Chengdu and the Chinese lowlands for the Tibetan highlands and Xinduqiao, a town in far-west Sichuan surrounded by incredible landscapes and sleepy Tibetan towns. These include the mountainous Yading Nature Reserve and the town of Litang, home to the Thubchen Choekhorling Monastery, a massive temple founded by the third Dalai Llama in 1580.

Day 10 you’ll go beyond Yading Nature Reserve, traveling along the Sichuan-Tibet Highway to Daocheng County, where you can enjoy more Tibetan culture and incredible mountain landscapes. After a couple days visiting local villages, you’ll arrive at Mount Siguniang, a group of snowcapped peaks sacred to the Tibetan people. It’s the perfect place for a nature hike, which you’ll enjoy before transferring to Beijing and returning home on day 14. Learn more

More Great 14-Day China Itineraries

Looking for more inspiration for your China trip? Check out these other 14-day China itineraries, ranging from active, to cultural, to luxury, or family-friendly trips.

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Map of 14 Days in China - 5 Unique Itinerary Ideas
Map of 14 Days in China - 5 Unique Itinerary Ideas