China Tours

China Highlights are China Specialists and all about 'Discovery Your Way!' Offering custom-designed, flexible and unique China tours with your own private car, driver and guide, you'll not only tour China, but experience it in an individual way.

As the first "ABSOLUTELY NO SHOPPING" China tour operator, we lead the industry again to upgrade all our tours to "No Shops, No Factories, No Detours!". With this policy, you will no longer need to worry about the awkwardness, hassle, over-charging, and time-wasting of guided shopping visits. Click here to know more.

China tour: 1st trip
China tour return trip
Yangtze Cruise
China tour themes
Tibet tours
Family tours

1st Time China Tours

First Time China Tour Routes

China is unbelievably large! You would need months to do it justice. Travel blogs and resources like the Lonely Planet often advise to focus on one region, or if this is your second trip just a couple of provinces. This is sound advice, and the north 'Golden Triangle' region is the perfect area for a first trip.

Naturally most China tours for a first time visitor include Beijing, Xi'an, Shanghai, and Guilin. The sights, history, and wonders of Beijing and Xi'an are the perfect contrast to the picture-perfect rice terraces of Guilin, added to by the thriving modern Shanghai.

Gateway City: Think outside the box!

2013 and 2014 has seen the rise of many more international airlines starting to use gateway cities beyond the normal three: Beijing, Shanghai, and Hong Kong. You're find deals in Guangzhou, Chengdu and just this week Finnair flying into Xi'an from Helsinki. Don't assume you're restricted to the main hubs. Our tours can start from any city. In fact 90% of our tours are customized to our traveler's needs.

How Long to Visit?

We recommend at least 8 days, but a 14-day tour will allow you to step out of the classic three cities (The Golden Triangle) to experience both a cruise on the Yangtze river and see the magical scenery of Guilin.

Best China Tours for a First-Timer

These recommended tours all feature on the 'Top 10 China Tours' list, and 80% of people who buy these top 3 are first time visitors. These China tours include the classic sights, but work in personal touches and experiences that make your first trip to China even more memorable. They are popular for good reasons.

Planning Tip: Our travel advisors can adjust these best sellers, adding unique experiences, customized to your dates, gateway city and interests.

How to Plan a China Tour

Our China guide has some practical articles and advice on planning your first trip to China. Take a look at ‘How to Plan a First Trip to China’.  Also see ‘5 Top Tips for a First Trip to China’ Our Travel Advisors are happy to chat and work with you to create the perfect trip. There is no commitment to book.

Dates to Avoid Visiting China

Here are some dates to avoid when planning 2014 China tour. You can find weather information here.

Uniquely Customized to Suit You!

Here's a few things to inspire you, and show you what we can do. We create unique journeys for each customer. Talk to a travel advisor today and put us to the test!

  • Beijing Opera Show Beijing Opera Show
  • Beijing Kung Fu Show Kung Fu Show
  • learn paper cutting Learn Paper Cutting
  • Create My Trip
80% of first-timers take these tours, or use them as a starting point in tailor-making their tour.
$719 The Golden Triangle Forbidden City 8 Days
Beijing, Xi'an, Shanghai
$1399 Classic Wonders Yangshuo Countryside Cycling 11 Days
Beijing, Xi'an, Shanghai
+ Guilin and Yangshuo Scenery
$1689 Hidden Treasure Yongding Tulou 11 Days
Beijing - Xi'an - Guilin/Yangshuo - Xiamen - Shanghai Tour

China Tours By Popular Theme

China Highlights provides over 40 types of private China tours to suite various your interests and circumstances. Tours are also available to extend your trips to China's neighbor countries. Remember, we can easily customize an existing China tour to meet your needs.

Return Trip to China

Second Trip to China

Since this is your second trip to China your probably already visited the most popular attractions in Beijing, Xi’an and Shanghai.

Return to the ‘Middle Kingdom’

Zhongguo (China) directly translates as middle kingdom, which seems appropriate considering its vastness and diversity. As you move beyond iconic China and venture beyond the classic routes and attractions, China reveals herself like a magical kingdom ready to be explored.

Good to know
We want to show you the other side of China, the side large group tours and overseas operators don’t. You’ll not just ‘tour’ China, but touch it in a personal way with us your local China experts since 1959.

Inspiring Destinations

Stand on the lofty heights of the Tibetan plateau or relax aboard a luxury train winding along the ancient Silk Road, sip tea on a private balcony on a luxury Yangtze Cruise, enjoying the scenery, or take a road trip to Shangri-La, the rice terraces and minority culture of China’s southwest.

If floating down the Li River on a bamboo raft is more your style, you’ll get a chance to capture the dramatic Chinese karst mountain peaks as they cut through the mist like something out of a classic Chinese painting. The area also offers the Dragon’s Backbone rice terraces and numerous fascinating minority areas.

China Tour Focus

The challenge about a second China tour is deciding where to go. The famous travel guides often advise a second tour to focus on just one or two provinces. This is good advice but we recommend you first decide on the key sights and design your tour in that region. Here is an example:

E.g. The Panda Research Center as a main focus
“If the Panda protection project is on the top of your list you could focus on Chengdu, home to the pandas. As it’s a central city you have three great options. 1) To go east on a Yangtze River cruise towards Shanghai, and visit the ancient water towns that surround it. 2) Go west and visit Tibet. Chengdu is also a popular and convent gateway to the Tibetan plateau. 3) Go south to Guilin for the rivers, mountains and terraces.”

Don’t let the planning stress you out, you’re at an exciting stage, standing at a frontier with adventure just waiting to be mapped out. We’re the local experts and here to help you.

How Many Days Do You Need

The average second trip length ranges from 12 to 14 days. However, already some difficult choices present themselves, and a cheeky third tour starts to appear on the horizon.

If this is likely to be your last trip to China, most people can cover what they feel is most interesting to them in 20 to 22 days. You would need 4 to 6 weeks to cover everything, ranging from the northern Silk Road region to Tibet and the south western area of China, which includes Guilin, Guizhou and Yunnan.

Popular Focuses, Regions and Days

This useful table gives a rough overview of the time needed by area.

Major Focus & Region Est. Days
Tibet & Gateway City 5-7
Yangtze Cruise + Pandas 7-8
Silk Road – Deserts & Minorities 8-10
South West Guilin, Shangri-La, Guizhou 10-12
South West + Tibet or Yangtze 14-16
Silk Road Deserts & Tibet 14-16
South Region, Silk Road, Tibet 25-28

When planning a second trip there is lots to consider and chat about. Our Travel Advisors are happy to chat and work with you to create your perfect trip.

We offer unlimited changes and tailoring of your itinerary, there’s no commit to book!

Beyond Ordinary Experiences

Here’s a few ideas that show just some of the experiences we can offer you to make your trip extra special.

  • Tang Dynasty Show Tang Dynasty Show
  • in-depth visit to old valleys In-Depth Visit to Old Valleys
  • learn Chinese cooking Learn Chinese Cooking
  • kayaking in Yangshuo Yangshuo Kayaking
  • Create My Trip
88% of our returning customs selected or tailored these tours.
1 Yangtze & Tibet Memory Tibetan woman with her baby 16 Days
Beijing, Xi'an, Shanghai
+ Yangtze Cruise and Tibet
2 World Heritages Discovery Lijiang Ancient Town 15 Days
Shanghai, Xi'an, Beijing, Chengdu
+ Kunming, Lijiang, Shangri-la
3 The Tracks of Marco Polo Jiayuanguan Pass 17 Days
Xi'an, Lanzhou, Jiayuguan, Dunhuang, Turpan, Urumqi, Kashgar
4 Three Gorges with HK Yangtze River Scenery 14 Days
Beijing, Shanghai, Guilin, Hong Kong
+ Chongqing, Yangtze Cruise