China has diverse landscapes, time-honored history, splendid cultures, and adorable and precious animals. Then, what are the icons of China? What do you want to see for your first-time trip to China? The Forbidden City and Great Wall in Beijing, Terracotta Warriors in Xian, the Bund in Shanghai and the Giant Pandas in Chengdu are usually the classic symbols of China. How about spend two days in the typical Chinese-painting like natural scenery in Guilin and Yangshuo? If it meets your interests, this 12 days iconic China tour will be very suitable for you.
You’ll land in Beijing first to explore the imperial palaces, royal parks, majestic Great Wall and traditional Hutongs, arrive in Xian to see many ancient wonders like Terracotta Warriors and Giant Wild Goose Pagoda, and travel in Chengdu to have a close contact with giant pandas. Continue the relaxing journey to the natural paradise to fully appreciate karst landscape and idyllic rural scenery in Guilin and Yangshuo. Last but not the least, explore Shanghai - its cultural traditions are as remarkable as its modern development. Go and create your wonderful memories in China!
Beijing (4 Days)
Forbidden City, Mutianyu Great Wall, Tian’anmen Square, Summer Palace, Bird’s Nest and Water Cube, Temple of Heaven, Old Hutongs
Xian (2 Days)
Terracotta Warriors, Giant Wild Goose Pagoda, Ancient Wall, Muslim Quarter, Shaanxi History Museum
Chengdu (2 Days)
Chengdu Panda Base, Wenshu Monastery, Renmin Park, Jinli Old Street
Guilin & Yangshuo (2 Days)
Li River Cruise from Guilin to Yangshuo, Yangshuo Countryside, West Street, Elephant Trunk Hill, Reed Flute Cave
Shanghai (2 Days)
Shanghai Museum, Yu Garden, The Bund, Nanjing Road, Shanghai Tower
Nihao! Welcome to Beijing, the capital city of China! Upon your arrival at the airport/train station in Beijing, the tour guide and driver will meet and greet you at the exit, and then escort you to the well-selected hotel in downtown Beijing. The rest of the day is free on your own so you can have a good rest for the jet lag or explore by yourself around your hotel.
Beijing is well connected by air and high speed rail. There are two airports - Beijing Daxing International Airport and Beijing Capital International Airport operating many international and domestic airlines. Travelers can go to Beijing by air from most cities of China, like Hong Kong, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chengdu, Xian, Guilin, Hangzhou, Kunming, Wuhan, Xiamen, Guiyang, Chongqing, and Lanzhou. In addition, travelers can take the high speed train to Beijing from Xian (4-5 hours), Shanghai (4.5-6 hours), Zhengzhou (2.5-3 hours), Wuhan (4-5 hours), Harbin (5-5.5 hours), etc.
Free Time Ideas:
You are welcome to ask your tour guide for some useful tips to spend your free time based on your time and interest.
After breakfast, your guide will pick you up at your hotel and then head to Tian’anmen Square, which is the world’s largest public square and also the symbol of China. It has witnessed many big events in China over the past decades.
Walk across the square and you will visit the might and splendor of the awe-inspiring Forbidden City, the world’s largest palace complex and one-time home to 24 emperors of China. With over 8,728 rooms, the Forbidden City is not only China’s largest and best-preserved collection of ancient buildings, but also a city within the city, like the Vatican in Rome. Enter through Meridian Gate and visit along the central axis to ensure you won’t miss any highlighted palaces. You can admire its brilliant architecture and numerous ancient art treasures while listening to your guide and learning more about the emperors’ stories hidden inside the Imperial Palace. Later, take another 15-minute walk up to Jingshan Park, where you can have a magnificent panorama of modern Beijing and princely views over the russet roofs of the Forbidden City.
In this afternoon, enjoy the relaxing time exploring the ordinary local life through the old Hutongs. Take a rickshaw tour to travel through the narrow alleys with many featured shops standing on both sides.
Recommended Optional Activity: You can try the famous Peking Roasted Duck at Quanjude this evening.
In this morning, you will head northwest of Beijing (about 1.5-2 hours’ drive, 73km) to the Great Wall at Mutianyu. The Great Wall boasts a history over 2,000 years and stretches more than 3,000 miles across several provinces of northern China, making it one of the most impressive ancient masterpieces on the planet. Mutianyu Great Wall is connected with the Jiankou Great Wall in the west and the Gubeikou Great Wall in the east. Mutianyu is the longest and best fully-restored Great Wall with fewer tourists and is also famed for its 23 Ming-era watchtowers and stunning views. Take the cable car up to the 14th watchtower and then enjoy the memorable hiking time on the wall while visiting its western route. With the green pines and cypresses covering the surrounding area, and the winding wall standing majestically on the vast land, you will capture the most stunning natural scenery in this section. Challenge yourselves while climbing up to the 20th watchtower where you could fulfill your Great Wall dream. Cherish the chance and take photos as many as you like!
After the once-in-lifetime experience, head back to downtown Beijing and have the chance to take photos with the exterior of the Bird's Nest (Beijing National Stadium) and Water Cube (Beijing National Aquatics Center). They were both designed for the 2008 Beijing Olympics and used for the 2022 Winter Olympic Games.
After that, transfer back to your hotel and have a good rest tonight.
After breakfast, drive to the “Museum of Royal Garden” - Summer Palace, which used to be the resort for royal families to flee summer heat. The grounds, temples, gardens, pavilions, lakes, bridges, gate-towers, and corridors are a marvel of landscaping. Enjoy the leisure walk and take your time to appreciate the imperial architectures, hilltop views, and beautiful lakes, which offer a pastoral escape into the landscapes of traditional Chinese painting.
After the tour, you will be escorted to the train station for a high-speed train to Xian (about 4.5-5.5 hours). Welcome to Xian, the capital of 13 ancient China dynasties! Upon your arrival at the train station, the tour guide and driver will greet you at the exit, and then escort you to the hotel in Xian.
After breakfast, your guide and driver will pick you up at your hotel. Drive about 40km (about 1 hour) to uncover one of the greatest archaeological discoveries in the world - the Terracotta Army Museum, which was built by the first emperor of China - Qin Shihuang to protect him in his afterlife. There are about 8,000 vivid life-size Terracotta Warriors found so far. First, pay a visit to the largest and most imposing pit which is believed to contain over 6,000 terracotta figures of soldiers and horses. You will be amazed by the subterranean life-size army of thousands silently standing and guarding the emperor and also be awed by the fabulous artistic skills of ancient Chinese artisans. Next, move to another pit where you can feast your eyes with around 1300 warriors and horses. You can get to examine the ancient army array by visiting the kneeling and standing archers, the chariot war array and numerous troopers holding weapons, etc. (Note: If you are interested, you can learn how to make a mini terracotta warrior.)
After lunch, drive back to downtown to visit the Ancient City Wall (also known as the Fortification of Xian). The city wall is a kind of defensive structure in Ancient Times and represents one of the oldest, largest, and best-preserved Chinese city walls. Spend some time leisurely walking on the wall and enjoy its inner and outer walls, watchtowers, and moat, and have panoramic views of modern Xian. (Optional biking experience: If you want to cycle on the ancient city wall, please tell your ideas to your travel expert.)
Late in the afternoon, go to explore the vivid local life when you go to wander happily around the bustling and lively Muslim Quarter. It is a paradise mixed with different local snacks and Muslim culture.
This morning, your guide and driver will pick you up at your hotel and take you to visit Shaanxi History Museum. Regarded as “the Pearl of ancient dynasties and house of Chinese treasures”, it has collections of 130,000 historical artifacts, showing visitors a miniature overview of thousand years of Chinese history and the splendid ancient cultures of old times. Enjoy the educational visit while exploring historical relics ranging from bronze ware from the Western Zhou Dynasty, and terracotta figures, to gold and silverware and murals discovered in Tang tombs. Later, pay a visit to the Tang-style Giant Wild Goose Pagoda, the landmark of Xian situated in the Da Ci’en Temple.
After the tour, you will be escorted to the train station for a high speed train to Chengdu (about 3.5-4 hours). Upon your arrival in Chengdu, your guide will meet you at the exit of the train station and escort you to your hotel in Chengdu downtown area. The rest of today is free on your own to explore this laid-back city well known for Giant Pandas and Sichuan cuisine. The Sichuan hotpot and Sichuan Opera are highly recommended evening activities.
After breakfast, you are going to fulfill your panda dream with a 17-kilometer drive to Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding. Also called Chengdu Panda Base, accommodated over 100 pandas, it is the base with the largest population of captive giant pandas in the world. You will see giant pandas of different ages there. It’s great fun to watch them playing, eating, climbing, sleeping… If you come in autumn, you will have the chance to see the pink newborn giant panda cubs in the Sunshine Nursery House and the Moonlight Nursery House. Besides giant pandas, you can also meet the cute red pandas walking by your side in the Red Panda Playgrounds. Then follow your guide to discover more about panda’s secrets through the Panda Museum. (Note: Pandas like cool weather, so we advise you to arrive there early as pandas are more active in the morning.)
Later, be transferred to the best preserved Buddhist monastery in Chengdu - Wenshu Monastery to feel the peaceful atmosphere. Pay a visit to Chengdu’s Renmin Park to witness the city’s leisurely lifestyle and how the local people are doing. Order a cup of fragrant green tea while sitting in the time-honored tea-house, chat with your friends and see local playing mahjong and having fun. After that, return to Chengdu downtown for an relaxing stroll at Jinli Old Street. With a history over 1,800 years, it showcases the profound cultures of Ancient Shu Kingdom. Take a nice walk on the traditional stone-paved street full of delicious local snacks, delicate artifacts, interesting folk shows, etc.
After breakfast, you can explore on your own until your guide and driver escort you to the airport for your flight to Guilin (about 2.5 hours). Upon your arrival in Guilin, your guide will meet you at the exit of the airport and escort you to your hotel in Guilin downtown area. You will have free time after your hotel check-in. Taking a walk along the Binjiang Road and tasting the rice noodles are recommended activities for your leisure time.
“East or west, Guilin landscape is the best”. After breakfast, you will go to explore the most stunning natural scenery along the Li River, which is renowned as one of the “the world’s top 10 watery wonders” by National Geographic. Drive about 1 hour from your hotel to the pier and start a 4.5-hour relaxing sightseeing Li River cruise trip to Yangshuo. Along the 84-kilometer scenic cruise, you will feast your eyes with endless Chinese paintings of winding rivers, numerous green limestone karst peaks, grazing water buffalo, farmers working in the fertile fields, and idyllic villages nestled at the bases of the hills. (Note: Lunch is served on the cruise with simple local Chinese cuisine.)
After arriving in Yangshuo, the driver will pick you up from the dock and drive to your hotel in Yangshuo town for a short rest. Then it's a relaxing moment for an impressive exploration of the Yangshuo countryside with its beautiful rural landscape. You can either hop on a bike or rent an electric scooter to explore the postcard-like karst hills and rice paddies and pass by some tranquil villages. Let all the picturesque scenes please your eyes and your souls to the maximum for total relaxation.
Later, you will stroll leisurely along the West Street, which is the most prosperous area in Yangshuo. Restaurants, bars and souvenir shops along the street are always full of guests. It is a fusion of western culture and Chinese culture and it is the best place to spend your nightlife here. Whether you want to enjoy a cup of coffee, taste some local food or just throw yourself into the vivid atmosphere... all you can get.
Optional Evening Activity: If you are interested, you can enjoy the amazing evening performance called Impression Liu Sanjie with the Li River itself as the stage, directed by the famous director Zhang Yimou. It lasts about an hour, performed between 19:45 and 22:20.
After breakfast, transfer back to Guilin for further exploration. Start your visit to the Symbol of Guilin - Elephant Trunk Hill. Located on the intersection of Li River and Peach Blossom River, the Elephant Trunk Hill looks like a huge elephant drinking water in the river. And then you will pay a visit to the Reed Flute Cave, which is a classic scenic spot of karst landform. The amazing stalactites and stalagmites in the cave look like animals or plants. When the colorful neon lights are on, you will feel like walking in a crystal palace.
After the tour, you will be transferred to the airport for the flight to Shanghai (about 2.5 hours). Welcome to Shanghai, China’s most internationalized and vibrant city! Upon your arrival in Shanghai, your guide will meet you at the exit of the airport and escort you to your hotel in downtown Shanghai. You will have free time after your hotel check-in.
In this morning, you will head to Shanghai Museum for an awe-inspiring visit to view the finest collection of art and learn about profound Chinese history. Built in the shape of an ancient bronze cooking vessel called a ding, Shanghai Museum has a round top and a square base, symbolizing “round sky, square earth”. It contains 120,000 cultural relics which showcase incredible artifacts of Chinese art throughout 5000 years’ history. Immerse yourselves in the Exhibition Hall of Bronze and Ceramic to appreciate the elaborate bronzes and exquisite artifacts. You won’t miss the chance to enjoy the top treasures - Da Ke Ding (bronze food vessel over 3000 years ago), and Bianzhong of Marquis Su of Jin (ancient musical instruments). Next, move to Yu Garden, the most celebrated classical Chinese garden hidden in the bustling Shanghai downtown area. Enjoy a leisure walk and visit the Chinese architecture, and feast your years with exquisite sculptures and carvings. Yuyuan Bazaar outside the garden is a fun place to taste some local snacks as well as buy some traditional Chinese handicrafts and artworks.
After that, you will take a stroll along Nanjing Road Pedestrian Street, where lots of well-known brands, restaurants, cafes, souvenir shops, and towering buildings stand on both sides. Continue your walk to the Bund, the top 1 place to visit on the Shanghai bucket list. Reputed as “An Exhibition of International Buildings”, the Bund is a collection of 52 buildings in various international architectural styles. Overlook the amazing skyline and skyscrapers of the Pudong Area from the Bund. The last stop today is the Shanghai Tower, the tallest building in China and the second in the world, at a height of 362 meters. Ascents up to 546 meters over the 118th floor for a breathtaking panoramic view of modern Shanghai.
It is time to end your 12-day China tour. You will have some free time in Shanghai and explore more on your own till your guide escorts you to the airport/train station for your flight or high speed train to your next destination.
Thank you for choosing Asia Odyssey Travel for your China tour, and we are always here working for you and hope to see you again for your next trip to China/Asia!
(Based on a private tour for two people. Price varies depending on program, travel date, number of people.)
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