Experience China's most famous attractions on this two-week tour. Trek the Great Wall, explore the world's largest palace, view the 2,000-year-old Terracotta Warriors, admire pandas at Chengdu Panda Base, and visit the countryside in Guilin and Yangshuo. You'll end the trip in Shanghai, a mesmerizing modern metropolis.

Highlights

  • Hike along a section of the Great Wall
  • See the 2,200-year-old Terracotta Warriors in Xi'an
  • See pandas at the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding
  • Relax in Yangshuo's serene countryside with a Li River boat ride
  • Explore the modern metropolis of Shanghai

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Beijing Beijing
Day 2 Great Wall Hiking - Mutianyu Beijing
Day 3 Beijing City Tour: Famous Historical Sites Beijing
Day 4 Beijing - Xi'an by Plane Xi'an
Day 5 Xi'an Terracotta Warriors Tour Xi'an
Day 6 Xi'an - Chengdu by Bullet Train Chengdu
Day 7 Chengdu City Tour Chengdu
Day 8 Chengdu to Guilin by Plane Guilin
Day 9 Longsheng City Tour Guilin
Day 10 Yangshuo County Tour Yangshuo
Day 11 Guilin - Shanghai by Plane Shanghai
Day 12 Suzhou and Tongli Water Town City Tour Shanghai
Day 13 Shanghai City Tour Shanghai
Day 14 Farewell from Shanghai  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Beijing

Beijing's Forbidden City has 9,999 rooms
Beijing's Forbidden City has 9,999 rooms

Upon arrival at Beijing Capital International Airport, a private driver will pick you up from the airport, welcome you to China, and transfer you to your hotel.  

Time and energy permitting, you can take a guided evening visit to Wangfujing Street, a vibrant shopping area with a variety of shops, eateries, and boutiques that is also home to one of Beijing's famous night markets. Despite the multitude of modern shops and luxury brands, there are also a slew of traditional shops, which have been here for hundreds of years.

Day 2: Great Wall Hiking - Mutianyu

The hilly Mutianyu section dates to the Ming Dynasty
The hilly Mutianyu section dates to the Ming Dynasty

Today is an especially exciting day for those who have dreamed of experiencing the Great Wall of China, which stretches over 3,852 miles (6,200 km) through deserts, plains, hills, and oceans. Drive one-and-a-half hours to the Mutianyu Great Wall, a restored section of the wall that boasts majestic views of the Chinese countryside. Located in Huairou District within the city limits of Beijing, Mutianyu served as the northern barrier defending the capital and the imperial tombs. There are 22 watchtowers on this 7,381-foot (2,250 meter) section. When you arrive at Mutianyu, you can ride the cable car or take a chair lift up and then walk back down along the wall or take an adrenaline-fueled toboggan ride down from the wall.for a truly once-in-a-lifetime experience. The Great Wall remains an unmissable part of the overall China experience. 

From Mutianyu, you'll drive to Beijing's Olympic Park to see the exterior of a number of modern masterpieces built for the 2008 Summer Olympics, including the Bird's Nest and the Water Cube. 

Conclude the day with the Legend of Kungfu Show at Beijing's Red Theatre.

Driving time: 90 minutes
Driving distance: 36 miles (58 km)

Day 3: Beijing City Tour: Famous Historical Sites

Visit iconic sights like Tian'anmen Square
Visit iconic sights like Tian'anmen Square

In the morning, you will drive to visit the Summer Palace to admire the peaceful lakes, gardens, and palaces dating back to the Qing Dynasty. This was the royal family’s formal residence during the hot summer months, and you'll quickly see why they chose this beautiful area in northwest Beijing to escape the heat. During your tour, you will take a boat ride on the picturesque Kunming Lake.

Visit the impressive Tiananmen Square where most of China's national ceremonies are held. From the iconic square, you can walk to the splendid Forbidden City. The Forbidden City is a walled city filled with national treasures. This UNESCO-listed site is not only China's largest and best-preserved collection of ancient buildings but also the largest palace complex in the world. Prepare to be wowed by the sheer number of buildings with red walls and golden roofs.

See how locals live via a rickshaw hutong (alleyway) tour and local family visit. Hutongs, comprised of siheyuans (courtyard homes), once made up the majority of Beijing’s old city planning. The rickshaw ride takes you on an immersive tour to get a wonderful glimpse into traditional Beijing culture while also witnessing the dramatic changes the city has undergone in the last century.

Following the tour, return to your hotel, The evening is free for you to enjoy as you wish. We recommend dinner and a show; options include Peking opera, the breathtaking acrobats, or a kung fu show.

Day 4: Beijing - Xi'an by Plane

The Temple of Heaven was built in the 15th century
The Temple of Heaven was built in the 15th century

Visit the Temple of Heaven, where emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties worshipped. Spend two to three hours exploring the ancient buildings here. As you wander around the temple, it's not uncommon to see local residents doing taichi outside the temple.

Transfer to the airport to catch a plane to Xi'an, the capital of Shaanxi Province.

Once in Xi'an, you will visit Muslim Street in the Muslim Quarter of the city. Located next to the Drum Tower, Muslim Street has a vibrant local market that offers a wide selection of Chinese and Muslim food, goods, and gifts.

Travel time: 2 hours and 10 minutes
Travel distance: 661 miles (1,065 km)

Day 5: Xi'an Terracotta Warriors Tour

The 2,000-year-old Terracotta Warriors are a sight to behold.
The 2,000-year-old Terracotta Warriors are a sight to behold

One of modern history’s most magnificent archaeological sites, the Terracotta Warriors is an army of at least 7,000 soldiers, each with unique facial expressions and poised for battle, The army, part of a massive mausoleum to Qin Shi Huang, China's first emperor, is a form of funerary art buried with the emperor in 210-209 BCE and whose purpose was to protect the emperor in his afterlife.  En route, see skilled artisans at work at a Terra-cotta Factory. 

Then, you will drive back to the city and go to visit the Xian Historical Museum to see Little Goose Pagoda and take a calligraphy class at Yanyuan.

Tonight, take the opportunity to enjoy the cultural musings of the Tang Dynasty Show, a song and dance performance which reflects the rich cultural history and prosperity of the Tang Dynasty.

Driving time: 45 minutes
Driving distance: 25 miles (40 km)

Plan your trip to China
Customize your trip with help from a local travel specialist.

Day 6: Xi'an - Chengdu by Bullet Train

Walk or bike along the 8.7-mile (14 km) Xi'an city wall Old City Wall
Walk or bike along the 8.7-mile (14 km) Xi'an city wall

Begin the day with a visit to the South Gate of Xi'an's Old City Wall, one of the largest ancient military defensive systems in the world. Walk or bike on the wall, the most complete city wall that has survived in China, while taking in panoramic views of the entire city.

Next, transfer to the train station and take the bullet train to Chengdu. Make sure to look out the train windows to admire the spectacular Qinling Mountains, China’s natural boundary between the country’s north and south.

After arriving in Chengdu,  you will visit Jinli Ancient Street, a pedestrian street flanked by lanterns that harkens back to days gone by.

Travel time: 4 hours
Travel distance: 462 miles (743 km)

Day 7: Chengdu City Tour: Chengdu Panda Breeding Research Base, Wenshu Monastery and Kuanzhai Alley

Giant pandas are only found in central China
Giant pandas are only found in central China

Get up close to pandas at Chengdu Panda Breeding Research Base. Spend time exploring the complex, which replicates the natural habitat of China's giant pandas.

After lunch, drive back to the city to visit Wenshu Monastery. Initially built in the Tang Dynasty (618-907), Wenshu Monastery was once called Xinxiang Temple. In 1681, during the reign of Emperor Kangxi of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), Cidu, an accomplished Buddhist monk, came to the temple. He built a simple hut between two trees and for several years lived an ascetic life there. Legend has it when Cidu was being cremated; the statue of Wenshu (Bodhisattva Manjushri in Sanskrit) appeared in the flames; thereafter, Xinxiang Temple became Wenshu Monastery.

At last, you will drive to visit Kuanzhai Alley, which is comprised of 45 courtyards and three parallel ancient city alleys: Kuan Xiangzi (Wide Alley), Zhai Xiangzi (Narrow Alley), and Jing Xiangzi (Well Alley). The area is one of Chengdu’s historical and cultural reserves, together with Daci Temple reserve and Wenshu Monastery reserve. It is a microcosm of the city’s history and leaves a deep mark in people’s memories.

Day 8: Chengdu to Guilin by Plane

Elephant Trunk Hill has been a popular tourist destination since the Tang Dynasty
Elephant Trunk Hill has been a popular tourist destination since the Tang Dynasty

In the morning, you will drive to Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport for a flight to Guilin.

Upon arrival, your guide and driver will pick you up and drive you to visit the Reed Flute Cave. Inside this water-eroded cave are a spectacular world of various stalactites, stone pillars, and rock formations that have been created by carbonate deposition. Walking through the serried stone pillars lit by multi-color lights is an experience you won't soon forget.

After, you will drive to Elephant Trunk Hill, a rock formation that looks like an elephant drinking water where the Taohua River and Li River meet.

Travel time: 1 hour and 50 minutes
Travel distance: 695 miles (1,119 km)
Driving time: 40 minutes
Driving distance: 17 miles (28 km)

Day 9: Longsheng City Tour

Longsheng Rice Terraces resemble a dragon's scales
Longsheng Rice Terraces resemble a dragon's scales

You will drive to Longsheng today and visit the Longji Terraced Fields, a 41-square-mile- (66 sq km) mesmerizing terraced hillside first built in the Yuan Dynasty, and the Yao and Zhuang Minorities Villages to watch the Long Hair Show. Villagers her are known for their extremely long black hair, which extends 3.2 feet (1 m) or more.

Then, you will drive back to Guilin and walk around the Ronghu area and the Pearl Factory before returning to the hotel.

Travel time: 4 hours
Travel distance: 120 miles (193 km)

Day 10: Yangshuo County Tour

The Li River is commemorated on the back of the 20 Yuan bill
The Li River is commemorated on the back of the 20 Yuan bill

Today, you will drive to Yangshuo County to visit the Xingping Ancient Town. Located on the banks of the Li River, you will take an take an electrical bamboo raft trip down the river to admire the picturesque landscape that looks  like a scroll of a Chinese ink painting.

After a rest, we will visit the Moon Hill, part of the Guilin Mountains that has a prominent hole, and Big Banyan Tree, a massive 55-foot-high (17 m) and 22-foot-wide (7 m) tree planted during the Sui Dynasty that is as old as Yangshuo County.

Then, you will walk along West Street, the oldest street in Yangshuo with a history of more than 1,400 years that is populated with stores and restaurants. 

The day concludes with an evening performance of Impression Liu Sanjie, a legendary singer during the Southern Song Dynasty, The musical show takes place in a the world's largest natural theater with the Li River serving as the stage, the area's mountains serving as the backdrop, and daily weather enhancing the setting and mood.

Driving time: 1 hour and 10 minutes
Driving distance: 50 miles (81 km)

Day 11: Guilin - Shanghai by Plane

There is much to see and do in China's financial hub
There is much to see and do in China's financial hub

After breakfast in Guilin, you will be transferred to Guilin Liangjiang International Airport for your flight to Shanghai.

Upon arrival, you will be picked up and transferred to hotel before visiting Yuyuan Garden. Dating back to the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), Yuyuan Garden was owned by a government officer named Pan Yunduan who built the garden for his parents. Today, this tranquil, picturesque garden with charming pavilions and peaceful ponds attracts visitors and locals alike who come for the manicured gardens, handcrafts and souvenirs, and restaurants serving traditional items like Shanghai-style fried noodles, xiaolongbao (steamed soup dumplings), and shengjian bao (steamed buns). 

If there's time, you will take a walking tour of The Bund, a waterfront walkway populated with colonial buildings in central Shanghai, to enjoy spectacular views of Shanghai's Financial District, especially after dark. While here, walk along the picturesque avenues and check out cafes and restaurants, bars and breweries, clothing boutiques, art galleries, and antique stores.

Travel time: 2 hours and 5 minutes
Travel distance: 932 miles (1,500 km)

Day 12: Suzhou and Tongli Water Town City Tour

Known for its system of canals, Tongli is a town on the outskirts of Suzhou
Known for its system of canals, Tongli is a town on the outskirts of Suzhou

In the morning, you will drive to Suzhou, "the Venice of Asia" a short drive west of Shanghai. Suzhou is an ancient city founded in 514 BCE that sits on China's Grand Canal. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, you will visit the Humble Administrator's Garden; the garden demonstrates Chinese garden designers' adept skills for synthesizing art, nature, and architecture to create unique metaphysical masterpieces. 

Next, you will be transferred to the peaceful Tongli Water Town for a boat ride along the tree-lined canals that are flanked by old homes, ancient bridges, and flourishing gardens. 

Driving time: 1.5 hours
Driving distance: 70 miles (112 km)

Day 13: Shanghai City Tour

The 1,535-foot (467-meter) Oriental Pearl Tower is located on bank of the Huangpu River
The 1,535-foot (467-meter) Oriental Pearl Tower is located on bank of the Huangpu River

After breakfast, you will embark on a full-day excursion with a local guide starting with the Shanghai Museum, which specializes in ancient artworks of China, The museum's highlights include bronze ware, china, calligraphy, and paintings. Renovated in 1996, the museum is considered one of China's first world-class modern museums. 

Next, you will visit the most famous Buddhist temple in Shanghai, Jade Buddha Temple. Built between 1911 and 1918, the temple is home to 70 monks. Its exterior is a sight to behold and, inside, the centerpiece is a six-and-a-half-foot high (2-meter high) white jade sitting Buddha encrusted with jewels. 

Afterward, take a walking tour of Nanjing Road, the city's main shopping street and one of the world's busiest shopping areas. You will end the day with an elevator ride to the top of the Oriental Pearl TV Tower for an amazing bird's eye view over Shanghai.

Day 14: Farewell from Shanghai

Located on China's coast, Shanghai is the country's largest city
Located on China's coast, Shanghai is the country's largest city

On the morning of your departure, you will be picked up from your hotel in Shanghai and transferred to the airport for your departure home or to your next destination. 

Map

Map of Discover the Best of China: Beijing to Shanghai - 14 Days
Map of Discover the Best of China: Beijing to Shanghai - 14 Days
Alice
Written by Alice Fu, updated Feb 20, 2020