Take your kids to China, a nation of ancient history and modern wonders. Your family will be immersed in Chinese culture and visit the country's most famous sights, including the Great Wall, the Forbidden City, and the Terracotta Warriors. This tour also includes family-friendly activities for families to learn and experience China's treasures.

Highlights

  • Explore Beijing's 9,999-room Forbidden City
  • Hike and Toboggan ride Mutianyu Great Wall
  • See the 2,200-year-old Terracotta Warriors in Xi'an
  • See pandas at the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding
  • Enjoy a cruise along the peaceful, picture-perfect Li River

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Beijing Beijing
Day 2 Beijing City Tour Beijing
Day 3 Great Wall Hiking and Toboggan - Mutianyu Beijing
Day 4 Beijing - Xi'an by Train Xi'an
Day 5 Xi'an Terracotta Warriors Tour Xi'an
Day 6 Xi'an City Tour and Xi'an - Chengdu by Train Chengdu
Day 7 Leshan Giant Buddha Tour Chengdu
Day 8 Chengdu City Tour and Chengdu - Guilin by Plane Guilin
Day 9 Guilin - Yangshuo by Li River Cruise Yangshuo
Day 10 Yangshuo County Tour Yangshuo
Day 11 Longsheng City Tour Longji
Day 12 Guilin - Shanghai by Plane Shanghai
Day 13 Shanghai City Tour Shanghai
Day 14 Shanghai Disneyland Shanghai
Day 15 Farewell from Shanghai  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Beijing

Beijing offers a mix of the old and the new | Photo taken by Shiru H
Beijing offers a mix of the old and the new | Photo taken by Shiru H

Upon arrival at Beijing, your private tour guide will warmly greet you at the airport and then transfer to your hotel. The remainder of the day is yours to rest and relax. For dinner, consider eating traditional dumplings and stroll Wangfujing, a vibrant shopping area with a variety of shops, eateries, and boutiques that is also home to one of Beijing's famous night markets. Be sure to sample tanghulu, sugar-coated skewers of fresh fruit.

Day 2: Beijing City Tour

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

Your family will be picked up and drive to China’s most famous square: Tiananmen Square, which is the heart of Beijing and the world's largest city center square. From the iconic square, you can walk to the splendid Forbidden City. The Forbidden City, a walled city filled with national treasures, has a long history of more than 500 years. 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 and listen to legendary stories from within the walls of this palatial imperial palace. Your guide will customize a walking route for your family based on your physical conditions and interests.  

Next, you will sample Peking duck for lunch. A royal dish in ancient Beijing, Peking duck is a slow-roasted duck served with paper-thin pancakes, thinly sliced scallions and cucumbers, and drizzled with hoisin sauce.

In the afternoon, you will embark on an educational Hutong (alleyway) tour.  The hutongs are unique street designs that feature old, crisscrossing narrow paths flanked with siheyuans (courtyard homes), which once made up the majority of Beijing’s old city planning. Your family will have a chance to join in one of the cultural immersion classes like painting a Peking opera mask, learning Chinese calligraphy, or making Chinese knots.

Day 3: Great Wall Hiking and Toboggan - Mutianyu

Mutianyu Great Wall has a cable car, chair lift, and toboggan
Mutianyu Great Wall has a cable car, chair lift, and toboggan

Today, you will see one of world’s most important cultural and historical legacies: the Great Wall. 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 take a ride on the cable car to the top or take a chair lift up. Along the way, enjoy the spectacular mountain view and get to know how this magnificent structure was made. Your family will depart down the wall via an adrenaline-fueled toboggan ride for a truly once-in-a-lifetime experience. After lunch, you will drive back to Beijing.

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

Day 4: Beijing - Xi'an by Train

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 time exploring the ancient buildings here. As you wander around the temple, it's not uncommon to see local residents doing taichi outside the temple. If there is time, you will visit a bustling local market in Beijing, Panjiayuan Market, an open-air antique market.

In the afternoon, you will transfer to the train station to catch either a high-speed train or an overnight sleeper train to Xi'an. The high-speed train is the most efficient option between Beijing and Xi'an even though the travel time is twice or three times as long. More than RMB220 billion was spent to build China's high-speed rail system—the largest in the world—that crisscrosses four provinces.

Travel time: 4.5 hours (high-speed train); 15.5 hours (overnight train)
Travel distance: 661 miles (1065 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.  

After a visit to the Terracotta army northeast of Xi'an, you will visit a local cave dwelling where your family will learn to make a Terracotta Warrior replica.  After driving back to downtown Xi'an, your family will visit a local family and learn how to make dumplings or Chinese noodles before enjoying your first DIY Chinese meal.

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 City Tour and Xi'an - Chengdu by Train

From atop Xi'an's Old City Wall, you can get picture-perfect panoramic views
From atop Xi'an's Old City Wall, you can get picture-perfect panoramic views

After breakfast, you'll head out and visit Xi'an's most historic sights. Your first stop is the city center and the famous Fortifications of Xi'an. These stone walls were commissioned in the late 14th century by Zhu Yuanzhang, the first emperor of the Ming Dynasty, to protect the city. They run a length of 8.7 miles (14 km) in a rectangular pattern and are the most well-preserved ancient walls in all of China. The best way to experience tour these ramparts is on a bicycle ride, which you can do if weather permits. 

Later you'll visit the city's historic Muslim Quarter. 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. There are historic homes here than line the narrow streets, which are home to the Hui, ethnically Chinese people who follow the Muslim faith. The neighborhood tour includes a visit to The Great Mosque, which was built in 742 during the Tang Dynasty and is the largest mosque in China. It survived the Cultural Revolution virtually unscathed and remains an outstanding Chinese re-interpretation of an Islamic place of worship. Indeed, the façade looks more like a Chinese temple than any mosque you'll find in the Arab world. 

After touring the Muslim Quarter and enjoying lunch at a local restaurant, you will head to the railway station and catch a four-hour train ride southwest to Chengdu, the capital of China's Sichuan Province famous for its spicy food.

Upon arrival at the train station, a guide will meet you for the transfer to your hotel. If you really want to test your tolerance for heat, head to a local restaurant for a dinner of spicy hot pot. This dish is a communal cauldron of rich broth infused with numbing chili peppers.

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

Day 7: Leshan Giant Buddha Tour

The stone Leshan Giant Buddha is a UNESCO world heritage site

After breakfast, transfer to visit Leshan Giant Buddha, which was first built in the Tang Dynasty.  This is the largest stone-carved statue of Buddha in the world.  You will get to see and climb the 233-foot (71-meter) Leshan Giant Buddha, a statue of Maitreya in sitting posture that has been carved into a cliff. Facing the river, the Buddha has symmetrical posture and beautiful, solemn stillness that you will witness from a river cruise that is included in the tour.

After driving back to Chengdu, you will be taken downtown to take a family photo with the largest panda sculpture in the world and can have time to mail a souvenir postcard at the Panda Post Office.

Driving time: 2 hours
Driving distance: 115 miles (186 km)

Day 8: Chengdu City Tour and Chengdu - Guilin by Plane

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

Besides the spiciness of its food,  Sichuan Province is also known for giant pandas, whose native environment is the highland bamboo forests of central China. These threatened animals are the icons of the region. 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.

The city tour includes a visit to 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.

After the city tour, you will drive to Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport for a flight to Guilin.

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

Day 9: Guilin - Yangshuo by Li River Cruise

Set sail on a bamboo raft in Yangshuo
Set sail on a bamboo raft in Yangshuo

Guilin is a particularly beautiful city in China's south. Not only are there green mountains surrounding the metropolitan area, but there are four lakes in the city center that join with the Li River and Peach Blossom River. During the scenic boat trip, you'll pass incredible scenery like towering limestone mountains, bamboo groves, traditional villages, and bucolic farmland dotted with grazing buffalo. The ship will stop at Yangshuo, 40 miles (64 kilometers) south of Guilin,. 

From the dock in Yangshuo, you will transfer to your hotel for check-in, after which you can choose from a variety of family-friendly activities, including a Chinese cooking class, a calligraphy and brush-painting lesson, or a kungfu course.

Travel time: 4 hours
Travel distance: 50 miles (81 km)

Day 10: Yangshuo County Tour

The Yangshuo countryside is one of the most beautiful in China
The Yangshuo countryside is one of the most beautiful in China

After breakfast, drive you out of the town and cycle to the countryside of Yangshuo to see the stunning scenery, rice paddies, water buffalo and local farmer’s life. The tour includes a visit to Xingping Ancient Town and a relaxing farmer-driven bamboo raft trip down the Yulong River to admire the picturesque landscape that looks like a scroll of a Chinese ink painting. After lunch and a short rest, drive back to hotel and enjoy the pool.

Day 11: Longsheng City Tour

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

After breakfast, you will be transferred to Guilin, and visit 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 lunch, you will drive to the spectacular Longji Terraced Fields, a 41-square-mile- (66 sq km) rice terraces in Longsheng. The hillside was first built in the Yuan Dynasty, 

After you will walk along a paved path for about 30 minutes to your guesthouse at Ping'an Village. Your guide will show you around to take photos and view the sunset if weather permits.

Driving time (Yangshuo to Guilin): 1 hour and 10 minutes
Driving distance (Yangshuo to Guilin): 50 miles (81 km)
Driving time (Guilin to Longsheng): 2 hours
Driving distance (Guilin to Longsheng): 62 miles (100 km)

Day 12: 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, you will walk about 30 to 40 minutes along a country path to an ancient Zhuang village to see a 100-year-old wooden house. You will have a chance to chat with the local villagers and learn about the lifestyle of this ethnic group in China. 

After, you will transfer to Guilin Liangjiang International Airport for your flight to Shanghai. Upon arrival, you will be picked up by your guide in Shanghai and transferred to hotel.

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

Day 13: Shanghai City Tour

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

After breakfast, go to The Bund, a waterfront walkway populated with colonial buildings in central Shanghai. The tour includes viewing the promenade and witnessing the old and new Shanghai from each side of Huangpu River.  Then your family will visit an AI-powered store to experience a new retail model newly developed in the city.  

After lunch, drive to visit the 2,073-foot-hight (632 m) Shanghai Tower, a 128-story mega skyscraper with the world's highest observation deck. You will take an elevator ride to the observation deck for an amazing bird's eye view of Shanghai before your transfer back to the hotel for rest and relaxation.

Day 14: Shanghai Disneyland

Shanghai Disneyland includes Adventure Isle, Pixar Toy Story Land, Fantasyland, Gardens of Imagination, Mickey Avenue, Tomorrowland, and Treasure Cove
Shanghai Disneyland includes Adventure Isle, Pixar Toy Story Land, Fantasyland, Gardens of Imagination, Mickey Avenue, Tomorrowland, and Treasure Cove

In the morning, drive to Shanghai Disneyland for a full day of fun at 'the most magical place on Earth.' The theme park, which opened in 2016, is the first Disney Park to incorporate Treasure Cove, a pirate-theme land and the only one to have a TRON rollercoaster ride. Your family will stay overnight at the enchanting Shanghai Disneyland Hotel or the whimsical Toy Story Hotel, both are adjacent to the park.

Driving time: 40 minutes
Driving distance: 18.5 miles (30 km)

Day 15: Farewell from Shanghai

Shanghai is a bustling metropolis that is a mix of old and new | Photo taken by Nino C
Shanghai is a bustling metropolis that is a mix of old and new | Photo taken by Nino C

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 Classic China Family Trip: Beijing, Shanghai, Xi'an, & More - 15 Days
Map of Classic China Family Trip: Beijing, Shanghai, Xi'an, & More - 15 Days
Yi
Written by Yi Yang, updated Feb 20, 2020