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.
This packed itinerary covers many of China's highlights, starting in Beijing with a tour of the Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, and the Great Wall. Then take a bullet train to Xi'an to see the famous Terracotta Army before heading to Guilin for river excursions in a paradise setting. End your trip in metropolitan Shanghai and explore its Bund waterfront, peaceful Yu Garden, and bohemian Tianzifang neighborhood.
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 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.
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.
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...
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...
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...
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...
Bike around southwest China on this tour of Yunnan region. Start in the appropriately-named Shangri-la, then bike to Bai Shui Tai. From here, you'll spend some days biking and hiking the magnificent Tiger Leaping Gorge before setting out to the area surrounding the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain. The tour ends in the historic town of Dali. Besides astonishing landscapes, this cycling tour will take you through historic rural villages, and introduce you to various Chinese minority cultures.
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). The Chinese New Year starts on February 12 in 2021 and February 1 in 2022. 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.
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Fantastic! · China - Jan 8 - Jan 15, 2020
I had a great time in China. My tour guides were great! Shout out to the guides Yan, Fish Lee, and Run for the great service. Also, the drivers got us to each location safe and sound and they are very much appreciated. I really enjoyed all of our sightseeing locations. One of my most memorable activities was the dumpling making class in Xi’an. The local family was very nice and cooked some very delicious dishes for us. Great hospitality! Overall, I had a very positive experience booking with KimKim, who referred us to Peicy, our travel consultant, and I am looking forward to our next trip!
Awesome Family Adventure in China! · China - Dec 11 - Jan 6, 2020
Peicy helped us organized a fantastic 4 weeks trip to China. This was not an easy task as there were 7 of us in the group, ages 11 to 91. We covered four provinces with one plane ride and many train journeys including an over night train. It was flawless. We loved the hotels that she arranged for us in many great places. They were all unique and allowed for very easy walk to food and sites. I speak fluent Chinese, so do my parents who came in the trip. Her recommendation for places where we... read more
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