China is a vast country which many diverse cultures and stunning landscapes. In 17 days, you can discover many different parts of China - all highlights in one trip. Start in Beijing and end in Shanghai, and you will altogether visit 8 destinations including Xian, Tibet, Chengdu, Chongqing, and Yangtze River Three Gorges and Three Gorges Dam.
We have carefully selected all the must-see highlights of China for you to explore the soul of this ancient mysterious country. Indulge in the natural beauty, marvel at the rich culture and be awed of the incredible history and feel the mysterious Tibetan Buddhism culture of real discovery on the Roof of the World. Get into the Panda Kingdom, the real Hometown of Giant Pandas, for a close contact with the cute bears and their newborn baby pandas. The 5 star Yangtze River Cruise from Chongqing to Yichang through the central China along the beautiful Three Gorges serves as a relaxing break during a long China vacation, which is a can’t miss experience in China. Go with Asia Odyssey Travel and explore all the highlights of China!
Beijing (4 Days)
Forbidden City, Mutianyu Great Wall, Tian’anmen Square, Summer Palace, Bird’s Nest and Water Cube
Xian (2 Days)
Terracotta Warriors, Giant Wild Goose Pagoda, Ancient Wall, Muslim Quarter, Shaanxi History Museum
Lhasa (3 Days)
Potala Palace, Jokhang Monastery, Barkhor Street, Drepung Monastery, Sera Monastery
Chengdu (2 Days)
Chengdu Panda Base, Wenshu Monastery, Renmin Park, Jinli Old Street
Chongqing (1 Day)
Three Gorges Museum, Hongya Cave, E’ling Park, Chongqing Chaotienmen Port
Yangtze River Cruise (3 Days)
Three Gorges (Qutang Gorge, Wu Gorge and Xiling Gorge), Three Gorges Dam, Shibaozhai Pagoda, Shennv Stream
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.
Arrival Ideas: 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 Xian downtown to wander around at the Bell & Drum Tower Square, where the biggest and most intact Bell Tower and Drum Tower in China stands. Later, walk to the Great Mosque, a very special place made up of a group of buildings that include multi-story buildings, towers, pavilions and palaces with Chinese style decoration on the outside and Muslim style decoration on the inside. After the exploration, continue your visit to 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 lunch, pay a leisure 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.
After breakfast, you will have some free time in Xian and explore more on your own till your guide escorts you to airport for your flight to Lhasa (about 3.5 hours).
Tashi Delek! Welcome to Lhasa, the capital of the Tibet Autonomous Region! Upon your arrival at the airport in Lhasa, the tour guide and driver will meet you at the exit, and then escort you to the hotel in downtown Lhasa. You can have a good rest to get used to the altitude (3,650m) in your hotel and get ready to explore Lhasa with your guide the next day.
1. It is good to avoid the highland sickness by slow down, keep warm, drink some water frequently, no shower for the first one or two days, take it easy, and sleep well.
2. You should always follow your doctor’s advice on altitude according to your health condition.
3. Be sure to let your guide or the hotel staff know whenever you feel unwell or need help. The people there are always willing to help and good at dealing with altitude sickness.
Today you will explore Lhasa with two world heritages for its brilliant architectures, culture, and history, then you can stroll through the famous Barkhor Street with locals and experience the daily kora life of Tibetans.
In the morning, you can walk into Potala Palace, the traditional residence and winter palace of the Dalai Lama (1649-1959). It takes 365 steps from potala gate to reach the Red Palace which is the highest palace in the world at an altitude of 3700m. Through the principal halls, chapels, and shrines of past Dalai Lamas in the Red Palace, you will be astonished and touched by its remarkable paintings, gorgeous jeweled works, skilled carving, colorful ornamentation, and the mystery stories behind the treasures. Inside the Potala Palace you will meet lots of Tibetan pilgrims who come all the way from afar to this sacred site to pray as their life time destination. You can also ask your guide to share more information about Songtsen Gampo, the 33rd king of Tibet, who first build the Potala Palace in the 7th century for his marriage to Princess Wencheng of the Tang Dynasty.
Note: We will adjust the visit order due to the visiting time of your Potala Palace ticket. All visitors must visit the Potala Palace with a tour group while staying inside for an hour. No photo inside.
After exploring the Potala Palace Museum, the picture behind the 50 RMB, you can move to the 1300-year-old Jokhang Temple, the spiritual center of Tibet and a world cultural heritage site. It is said that the Jokhang Monastery is built for King Songtsen Gampo's two brides: Chinese Princess Wencheng and Nepal Princess Bhrikuti. "Jokhang" means "House of Buddha", it houses the statue of the life-size 12-year-old Sakyamuni which is the treasure of the Buddhism world. That is why Buddhist pilgrims take it as the holiest destination. The time seems to stand still when you watch them pray in front of the temple during the day and night.
Then you can take a walk to the busy Barkhor Street near the Jokhang Monastery, which was a place for Buddhists to do a kora (pilgrim circuit) in ancient times. Nowadays, it become a thriving local market where you can drink a pot of yak butter tea, dress in Tibetan clothes for photos, and pick up some local Tibetan, Nepalese, and Indian handicrafts and souvenirs.
Today you will enjoy the culture tour of Lhasa via a visit to two of the "great three" Gelug university monasteries of Tibet, the Drepung Monastery and Sera Monastery.
In the morning, drive about 35min (12km) to visit Drepung Monastery which was the largest Tibetan monastery (Gelug Sect, Yellow Hat) in Lhasa. It used to be Dalai Lama’s palace before he moved to the Potala Palace in the 17th century. Now it is famous for Drepung Shoton Festival held each August, people come to offer yogurt to the monks who finished the 100 days’ meditation while enjoying the grandest Buddha (thangka) unfolding ceremony. Besides the unique architecture and amazing buildings, you can watch monks debating in Tibetan Buddhism vibrant and active with expansive gestures, clapping, and stamping. After Drepung Temple, you will have about a 2-hour Tibetan culture tour, which includes an introduction, Tibetan incense making, and block printing.
In the afternoon, drive another 40min (14km) to visit Sera Monastery. Step on one of the most beautiful monastery compounds, and its white stone roads and walkways makes you feel almost Mediterranean. The highlight of Sera Monastery is watch the monks’ debate at around 15:00 - 17:00 (except Sundays). It is an interesting form of debate, you can see one monk, the questioner, standing while the answerer or group of answerers, sitting. The standing monk will ask question and slap his palms and stomp, each action has its special meaning, such as activating wisdom, and are not meant to be aggressive. After that, head back to your hotel.
Today is free for you to explore Lhasa city until your guide and driver escort you to the airport for your flight to Chengdu (about 2 hours).
Welcome to Chengdu! Upon your arrival in Chengdu, your guide will meet you at the airport 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, your guide and driver will pick you up at your hotel and transfer you to the train station for a high-speed train to Chongqing (about 1-1.5 hours). Welcome to Chongqing, the Mountain City of China! Upon your arrival in Chongqing, your guide and will meet you at the exit of the train station and take you to explore Chongqing.
The first stop is Three Gorges Museum. Appreciate the vast collection of more than 280 thousand pieces of precious historical relics and have a better understanding of the great Yangtze River and formation of the Three Gorges. Also, you can know the gradual thriving of Chongqing from thousand years ago to 20th century. After the visit, you can take photos in front of the People’s Assembly Hall which is outside of the museum.
After lunch, you will be escorted to take Chongqing Rail Transit Line 2 from Huanghuayuan Metro Station to Liziba Metro Station to look at the city’s prototype from a different angle. Then, get off to have the never-seen magic of the train going through a 11-storey block of flats, existing only in the fantastically structured Chongqing built against mountains. Later, move to E’ling Park and catch the impressive panorama of Chongqing city which has been highly praised as “Little Hong Kong” with its well-arranged row upon row of modern skyscrapers and two winding rivers surrounding.
In the late afternoon, it is time to visit Hongya Cave, the must-see highlight to appreciate the layers of featured Ba and Shu regional wooden tilted houses overlapped leaning the mountain up to 11 storeys, which looks quite glittery lit by the orange lights from nightfall. And continue to get up to the 11 level with vehicles and roads alongside to catch the sparkling nightscape of Jialing River and the nearby buildings with beautiful neon. After the tour, be transferred to the Chongqing Chaotianmen Port to board your 5-star cruise ship. Your memorable relaxing cruise journey starts at 21:00!
1. Please call the ship one day ahead or at least in the morning on the boarding day to have clear idea about which pier you are going to use;
2. All the times on the schedule are estimated ones which are subject to change due to weather and navigation conditions.
3. The boarding time and departure piers may change based on the ship line, water level, season, weather and other factors.
On this day, your cruise will sail peacefully along the Yangtze River. Wake up leisurely and enjoy the fascinating river view with misty or gentle sunshine shining over the river. Have your buffet breakfast and start your beautiful day. There are some activities well designed by the cruise that you can do shore excursions to visit traditional Chinese cultural sites or stay onboard to relax and learn some Chinese culture.
In this afternoon, you will follow a local English-speaking tour guide and make a shore excursion to Shibaozhai Pagoda, one of the eight extraordinary architectures in the world located in Zhongxian County. Climb up the 12-story red wooden pagoda and you can have a panoramic view of the Yangtze River. Or, you can take optional excursion to Fengdu Ghost City with extra fee in this morning. This ghost city is one large collection of temples, memorials and monasteries and you can know many legendary stories about underworld and different kinds of devils and Chinese demons.
Today, you will have a full day to view the beautiful Three Gorges. First, you will sail through Qutang Gorge which is celebrated for its magnificent, peculiar and precipitous scenery in the world. Marvel at the incredible Kui Gate. Next, go through Wuxia Gorge which is serene and secluded and presents a panorama of lovely scenery and then pass through Xiling Gorge well known for its rugged shoals and turbulent waters. Follow the guide’s live interpretation and appreciate the breathtaking scenery onboard.
In this afternoon, make a leisure shore excursion to Shennv Stream (Goddess Stream) in Wushan County. Switch to a smaller boat to sail down the primitive stream for a close look at the steep mountains and hanging coffins high on the cliffs. If you are interested, you can join local Tujia ethnic guide for singing and dancing performance. In this evening, enjoy the Captain’s Farewell Party with all your mates onboard and have a pleasant dinner together.
After breakfast, it is time to go through the check-out procedure and you’ll disembark at Maoping Port. The highlighted attraction today is the largest hydropower project in China - Three Gorges Dam. Catch the chance to view the dam and the system of locks. The body of the dam is immense with a height of 181 meters and spanning 2335 meters across the Yangtze River and 115 meters in width. (Optional experience: you can choose to sail through the world’s largest ship lift - Three Gorges Dam Ship Lift to very closely marvel at the huge dam which is a totally fresh and exciting experience for travelers.)
After the dam visiting, you’ll take the tourist bus arranged by the cruise company transferring you to Yichang Three Gorges Center Cruise Terminal around 12:30~13:30. In this afternoon, you will be escorted to the airport for a flight to Shanghai (about 2 hours). Upon arrival, your guide will meet you at the airport and escort you directly to downtown Shanghai.
Today you will spend the whole day feeling the perfect blend of the West and East in this “Paris of the East” by visiting brilliant museums, traditional Chinese-style gardens, modern skyscrapers, and exotic architecture.
First, 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 17 days 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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