This packed itinerary checks off China's top cultural and natural highlights. Visit Beijing to see the Forbidden City and hike along the Great Wall, then take the bullet train to Xi'an to see the Terracotta Warriors. Visit Guilin to see the world's tallest Buddha and enjoy Yangshuo's serene countryside. Tour Chengdu's panda research station before finishing your trip in metropolitan Shanghai.
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September and October are the best months to visit China, when weather is predictably sunny and mild. One exception is the first week of October, when the National Day holiday closes businesses and brings domestic tourists out in droves to popular vacation spots. Spring (April-June) also brings pleasant weather to most of the country, but keep in mind that this is the rainy season for southern China. Winter travel can also be lovely—in January and February, travelers will enjoy ice & snow sculptures in Harbin and many celebrations of the Lunar New Year all over the country.
Where should you go?
For first-timers, a comprehensive tour of China's top sites is recommended—this might include Beijing, Xian, Guilin, and Shanghai. With extra time (see below), you can observe giant pandas and try traditional Sichuan cuisine in Chengdu. The southwestern Yunnan Province is another gem, where you can discover ancient towns hidden in the region's remote corners.
Travelers wanting a deeper dive will have no shortage of options for getting off the beaten path. Consider a cultural excursion to visit the minority community of Guizhou or take a historical journey into Pingyao and the Shanxi Province of northern China. Other places of interest include Shangdong Province, where you can visit Qufu, the hometown of Confucius, and the many heritage sites of Henan Province. For instagram-worthy pictures, beeline to Yellow Mountain and Zhangjiajie, two of China's most photogenic spots.
How many days do you need?
Five days is enough for a whirlwind of China's urban highlights. You can pay quick visits to Beijing and Shanghai, China's political capital and commercial center respectively. If you're more interested in history, combine Beijing with cultural treasure trove Xian instead. A 10-day tour offers a more reasonable pace and many more options—you can easily cover Beijing, Xian, Guilin, and Shanghai (or swap Guilin for Chengdu). Even more ideal is spending 2 weeks or more, allowing for deeper dives into areas of interest and extra time for hidden gems. Add a trip to Suzhou, take a Yangtze River cruise—options are endless, and trips can be tailored to your interests.
Getting Around China
Flying is the quickest way around the country. China’s massive airports offer dozens of daily nonstop flights to cities all over the mainland and Hong Kong. That said, by the time you factor in security screening and travel time to and from each airport—the airports in both cities are outside the city center—it's often easier and more reliable to take the train. Learn more
Go on an adventure at the top of the world and let ancient Tibetan myths and mysteries enchant you. This 6-day tour includes a thorough cultural and historical exploration of Tibet's capital, Lhasa, and surrounding areas. You'll also get a taste of nature with a trip south to the pristine freshwaters of Yamdrok Lake.
Make the most of your time in Chengdu in Southwest China on this 4-day itinerary. See the Giant Leshan Buddha and Mt. Emei Buddhist sites, then wander through the historic city to see local life and catch a performance at the Sichuan Opera. End your trip with a visit to the Panda Research Base to see the famous animals up-close.
This packed itinerary checks of China's top cultural and natural highlights. Visit Beijing to see the Forbidden City, historical Tiananmen Square, and the nearby Great Wall of China. Take the bullet train to Xi'an to see the Qin Terracotta Warriors, then head to Guilin for nature and local culture. End your trip in the metropolitan Shanghai and explore its busy Nanjing Road and The Bund waterfront, as well as peaceful Yuyuan gardens and artsy Tianzifang neighborhood.
Experience the ancient capitals of China, regarded as the cradles of Chinese civilization. You'll also explore the longest river in Asia on a luxurious river cruise which takes you to one of the world's largest dams. This tour is a great balance of history, breathtaking views, and insight into Chinese culture.
This 8-day tour to Beijing, Xian, and Shanghai shows off China's highlights at a relaxed and comfortable pace. Start in Beijing to see Tiananmen Square and the Great Wall of China, then continue to Xi'an to see the Muslim Quarter and the Terracotta Warriors. End your trip in metropolitan Shanghai to see the modern Bund waterfront, ancient Yu Gardens, and historic French Concession.
April showers bring May flowers, making China a kaleidoscope of colors in May. Temperatures and crowds increase, particularly the first week in May, a week-long workers’...
July is hot—literally and figuratively—but its cities come alive with festivals, food, and fun. The extra daylight ensures jam-packed days to explore by land or water. Beat the...
As the calendar year comes to a close, winter begins in China. As temperatures drop, so do the crowds and prices, making this the perfect season to take an extended trip to...
Timing is everything. Unless you want to partake in the world’s largest migration, it’s best to time your trip before or after Spring Festival, the Chinese New Year, a two-week...
April is marked by rain showers and cherry blossoms, signaling spring in here. April straddles the tourist shoulder season and peak tourist season, which picks up in May. It’s an ideal time to explore China without the crowds and cold.
Once the new year’s celebrations wind down, it is shoulder season in China. Unless you want to partake in the world’s largest migration, it’s best to time your trip before or after Spring Festival, the Chinese New Year, a two-week festival that sometimes occurs in February (timing is based on the lunar calendar). Most businesses close during the holiday as those who can afford it head home for the holidays. Traveling post-holiday can be a bargain. Those brave enough to face the fierce cold that blankets much of China in February are rewarded with a spectacular winter wonderland.
Many parts of China are thawing out from below-freezing temperatures as spring beckons. Shoulder season continues, making this an ideal time to visit China's most sought-after destinations before the high tourist season begins and travel costs go up.
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Need to go back to this strange and mysterious country · China - Oct 15 - Oct 24, 2019
Hello Kim Kim
The trip in itself was unusual to the places where general visitors go to .that said the trip schedule was excellent in its execution. From arriving at Beijing Four days of non stop activity with our Guide Tom. to the Bullet Train to Zibo ( I have to compliment the Chinese railway , a pleasure to ride on a fantastic train in total comfort ) Meeting Chris who was the most enlightened guide that my Grandson has met .
Then to Qingdao where we met Eden , I personally had an... read more
Chengdu City & Pandas - 4 Days · China - Oct 9 - Oct 12, 2019
I have recently returned from the 4 day Chengdu tour and I cannot recommend it highly enough.
The service provided by KimKim was first class from the minute I enquired about the tour on-line, Lemon my first point of contact was very helpful with any questions or concerns I had,
Andie the tour guide and my driver were both excellent and their local knowledge made the trip extra enjoyable.
The highlights were definitely seeing the Giant Pandas which I personally feel was one of the best... read more
China · China - Sep 16 - Oct 2, 2019
Could not recommend Kim Kim enough, service start to finish was 1st class