The Pursuit of Happiness

11 Days Beijing – Xi’an – Guilin/Yangshuo – Shanghai Private Family Tour

Designed for a family with teenagers and young kids, this 11-day tour includes the most classic destinations and unique family-friendly activities in each city.

Considering the different needs of parents and children, the tour balances the interests of two generations in an everyday itinerary. This is done by arranging both historical sights and fun activities, combining relaxation with new experiences, and filling every day with variety, so there’s something for everyone.

For example, each day we combine indoor and outdoor activities, so that your kids don’t feel too cooped up. We choose one large sight, like the Forbidden City, and one smaller place, like the hutongs, per day so that families with young children don’t get too tired. And we use each hotel for at least two nights to avoid frequent changes.

According to previous customers' feedback, usually, family tour customers need a complete package; therefore, for this tour we offer comfort and discovery travel styles with some differences, but if your family prefer the essential travel style that only require essential day tours, we can also tailor make tour for you. Take a look at these two styles to decide which one fits your needs.

Map of Beijing-Xian-Chengdu-Guilin-Hong Kong
  • Comfort Trip
  • Discovery Trip
Highlights for Comfort Trip
  • Listen to the stories behind the historical sites and try mask painting with a Chinese brush in the hutongs
  • Admire the majestic Great Wall and experience a toboggan ride, which is ranked as the premier activity in Beijing on TripAdvisor
  • Immerse yourself in the mystery of the Terracotta Warriors of Xi'an and learn how to make terracotta figurines with pottery clay
  • Be a guest of a local family and learn how to make different shapes of dumplings
  • Enjoy a picturesque Li River Cruise and have fun biking and rafting in the Yangshuo countryside
  • Taste the modern and traditional flavors of Shanghai
Suggested Itinerary for Comfort Trip
Day 1 The First Leg: Beijing

Hotel: Crowne Plaza Hotel Beijing Chaoyang U-Town (Superior Room)(TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence 2015)

Private Airport Transfer
After a long journey on the airplane, you will arrive in Beijing. Your local tour guide, driver, and a well-maintained private non-smoking van will be waiting for you upon arrival. Your guide will assist you with your luggage at the airport and take you to your hotel.

A Leisurely Recovery
Your afternoon or evening is free for you to recover and relax. Feel free to ask your guide what there is to do nearby if you want to take a walk or discover parts of the area on your own.

Day 2 The Forbidden City and Peking Opera Mask Painting

Hotel: Crowne Plaza Hotel Beijing Chaoyang U-Town (Superior Room)
Meals provided: breakfast and lunch

Experiences on the day include the classic, epic sites of Beijing. The Forbidden City was the imperial palace that was home to 24 emperors. It is where treasures are now housed and history has occurred. The grand Tian'anmen Square is the largest city square in the world and has been witness to many major historical events.

After spending half a day walking around those two sites, you will get on a rickshaw to the hutongs to discover the traditional local lifestyle. The interesting activity of the day for the children is to learn how to do Peking Opera mask painting with a soft Chinese brush.

The Forbidden City
Day 3 The Great Wall and Quanjude Roast Duck

Hotel: Crowne Plaza Hotel Beijing Chaoyang U-Town (Superior Room)
Meals provided: breakfast, lunch, and a roast duck dinner

Wake up in the morning and start the day at the Temple of Heaven, which was a place for the emperor to pray for good weather and a good harvest. Interact with the locals and join in with different morning exercise groups to experience their happy lifestyle.

Avoid the rush hour in the morning, and then continue to the Great Wall at Mutianyu. This is a less-crowded section that allows for leisurely walks along it, passing through the watchtowers, and presenting a superb view as it snakes across the hills and mountains. For family fun, you can have a picnic lunch on this World Wonder and take a toboggan sled down it, which was the choice of President Obama's family in 2014.

End the wonderful day by having a roast duck dinner at Quanjude Restaurant and share your happy experiences of the day.

The Mutianyu Great Wall and roast duck
Day 4 The Summer Palace and Olympic Stadiums, and Flight to Xi'an

Hotel: Wyndham Grand Xi'an South (Superior Room) (TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence 2015)
Meals provided: breakfast and lunch

Spend the morning relaxing in the Summer Palace, which consists of gardens and lakes. Take a boat ride across a lake and explore the Garden of Virtue and Harmony to take you further into China's history.

Located at the north end of the central axis of Beijing City, the Olympic Stadiums contain a national museum, exhibition area, the Olympic Village, and the Olympic competition venues. Approximately 31 venues were used in the Beijing Olympics, including the National Stadium, the Bird's Nest, and the National Aquatics Center. The kids will have fun exploring the park and you can take a look at the great architecture.

You will catch a flight to Xi'an at night or in the late afternoon.

The Summer Palace
Day 5 See the Terracotta Warriors and Go Biking on the Ancient City Wall

Hotel: Wyndham Grand Xi'an South (Superior Room)
Meals provided: breakfast and lunch

This day includes the highlights of Xi'an. The Terracotta Warriors and Horses, with each figure being unique, have guarded Emperor Qin's tomb since 210 BC. Have a silent conversation with these figures that are 2,200 years old. With the background knowledge, the kids will have an opportunity to try their hand at making small terracotta figurines with pottery clay in a workshop, and can take them home as special gifts for their friends.

Another highlight is the outdoor activity of cycling around the Ancient City Wall. The wall encircles the city and is perfect for seeing an overview of Xi'an.

The Terracotta Warriors
Day 6 Make Dumplings with a Local Family and the Flight to Guilin

Hotel: Shangri La Hotel Guilin (Deluxe Room) (TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence 2015)
Meals provided: breakfast and lunch

As one of the best museums in China, Shaanxi History Museum provides a perfect overview of Chinese history, and parents should not miss it. The museum houses over 370,000 items including murals, paintings, pottery, and coins, as well as bronze, gold, and silver objects.

Have a special lunch at a local family's house. The friendly hosts will teach you how to make different shapes of dumpling from dough. Enjoy the interaction with these people and the dumplings you make.

In the afternoon, you will visit the Big Wild Goose Pagoda that was built in 652 AD. The Chinese-style architecture combined with historic Buddhist statues, murals, and scriptures is complemented by the best panoramic view over Xi'an.

Before leaving Xi'an, walk around the Muslim Quarter to find local snacks. Take a flight to Guilin at night.

The Big Goose Pagoda
Day 7 Say Hello to Giant Pandas and Learn the Chinese Language and Painting

Hotel: Shangri La Hotel Guilin (Deluxe Room)
Meals provided: breakfast and lunch

All activities for this day are arranged in Guilin City. Discover the mysterious Reed Flute Cave with a torch and use your imagination to see these living stalactites and stalagmites. Then head to the Seven-Star Park to meet two pandas — Fengyi and Meixin — who come from Chengdu. The park is the biggest one in Guilin, so enjoy a pleasant stroll on the grass or in the shade of the osmanthus trees.

As important parts of Chinese culture, painting and the language both reflect Chinese philosophy. Take a two-hour lesson at the Chinese Language Institute to learn more about China. Experienced English-speaking teachers will fully communicate with the kids and adjust the lessons according to their interests.

giant panda and reed flute cave
Day 8Li River Cruise and Bamboo Rafting

Hotel: Yangshuo Green Lotus Hotel (Deluxe Room)
Meals provided: breakfast and lunch

Enjoy the stunning natural beauty of the Li River as you cruise from Guilin to Yangshuo, which takes about four hours. Get your camera ready and record the unforgettable scenery and moments. You will reach Yangshuo Wharf, near the bustling West Street, at approximately 1:30pm. A Chinese buffet lunch is included. Families are recommended to take some snacks and cards or games for the children due to spending half a day on board.

One-Hour Bamboo Rafting on the Yulong River
After arriving in Yangshuo County and completing the check-in process at your hotel, it is time to stretch your legs and do an outdoor activity. Recognized as the best river view of Yangshuo, the Yulong River is a perfect place for bamboo rafting. Enjoy a close experience with the clear water.

Good to Know:
Impression Liu Sanjie is a quality outdoor performance that is highly recommended for your evening. Put together by the famous Chinese director Zhang Yimou, the show is set on the Li River with karst peaks as its backdrop, featuring magnificent folk music and dancing. Due to weather conditions it may not be included as part of the itinerary, so ask your guide to check the availability on that day.

the li river cruise
Day 9Biking in the Villages of Yangshuo

Hotel: Radisson Blu Hotel Shanghai New World (Superior Room) (TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence 2015)
Meals provided: breakfast and lunch

With your guide's help, rent bicycles from West Street and get ready for about two hours' biking in the villages. Pass through rice paddies, vegetable fields, and an orchard, and take photos with water buffalos. Pay a visit to a local farmer's family and get to know some traditional farm tools that have been used for generations.

Head to Guilin Airport in the afternoon and catch a flight to Shanghai.

Good to Know:
Mountain bikes, ordinary bikes, and bikes for children are available. You can also choose tandems if there is someone who cannot ride a bike, or for very young kids.

biking in yangshuo
Day 10 Shanghai — Metropolis of the East and West

Hotel: Radisson Blu Hotel Shanghai New World (Superior Room)
Meals provided: breakfast and lunch

Shanghai's colonial legacy combined with Chinese culture has created a unique fusion of East and West, including ancient architecture to modernistic buildings. You will visit the Yuyuan Garden, located in the center of Shanghai's old city. Just outside the tranquil garden is the busy Yuyuan Market where lots of snacks and souvenirs are available.

After the market, you will head to the Oriental Pearl TV Tower, where you can get a magnificent view of the city's ever-changing modern skyline and the kids will have fun in the wax museum on the first floor. Then relax at the Bund to look at the high buildings on the other bank of the river.

The Yuyuan Garden
Day 11Shanghai Departure

Meal provided breakfast

It is the last day of the family tour. Get everything packed, both in the suitcase and in your memory. Your children are lucky to have the opportunity to travel to China when they are very young and to see the oriental nation in its booming days.

Highlights for Discovery Trip
  • Enjoy historical sites, traditional Chinese architecture, and try mask painting with a soft brush in the hutongs
  • Hike across the most beautiful part of the Great Wall with a professional hiking guide
  • Admire the Terracotta Warriors of Xi'an and learn how to make terracotta figurines with pottery clay
  • Be a guest of a local family and learn how to make different shapes of dumplings from dough
  • Feast your eyes during the picturesque Li River Cruise and have fun working in fields with farmers in the Yangshuo countryside
  • Discover the modern and traditional styles of Shanghai
Suggested Itinerary for Discovery Trip

Compared with the “comfort style” tour, the “discovery style” includes some active arrangements for energetic children, such as hiking on the Great Wall and working with farmers in the fields in Yangshuo. Discover the Chinese culture with family members.

Day 1 Arrival in Beijing

Hotel: Grand Mercure Beijing Central (Standard Room)

When your international airplane lands in Beijing, there will be a smiling face waiting for you. Your guide and driver will meet you at the arrival hall and escort you directly to your hotel. The rest of the time is for you to relax and get ready for the coming days.

Day 2 Attractions on the Axis and Peking Opera Mask Painting

Hotel: Grand Mercure Beijing Central (Standard Room)
Meals provided: breakfast and lunch

Wake up in the morning and start the day by visiting attractions on the axis: Tian'anmen Square and the Forbidden City. The grand Tian'anmen Square is the largest city square in the world and has been witness to many major historical events. The Forbidden City was the imperial palace and home to 24 emperors. It is where treasures are now housed and history has occurred.

In the afternoon, ride a rickshaw and visit a local family to get a more personal experience of the hutongs, a maze of historic alleyways and single story traditional courtyard houses. Learning to apply facial makeup for the Beijing Opera is a fun way to experience the local culture.

The forbidden city
Day 3 Hiking the Great Wall from Simatai West to Jinshanling

Hotel: Grand Mercure Beijing Central (Standard Room)
Meals provided: breakfast and lunch

The Hike of a Lifetime
A fascinating day for the outdoor enthusiast! Your guide will meet you at the hotel lobby after you have had breakfast and then you will travel to the Great Wall, between Jinshanling and Simatai West. This section of the Great Wall covers some wilder parts with reinforced, partial restorations and full restorations, giving you the full flavor of the Great Wall. It takes approximately three to four hours to hike and then you will have lunch in a local farmer's courtyard.

Good to Know:
Compared with the Jiankou to Mutianyu section, the hiking route needs less physical expenditure, which is suitable for a family with kids. Among our previous customers, the youngest child who took the hiking route was five years old.

The Great Wall Hiking from Jinshanling to Simatai West
Day 4 More Highlights in Beijing and Overnight Train to Xi'an

Overnight: Train (Soft Sleeper Cabin)
Meals provided: breakfast and lunch

In the morning, visit the Temple of Heaven, which was a place for the emperor to pray for good weather and a good harvest. Interact with the locals and join in with different morning exercise groups to experience their happy lifestyle.

Continue exploring the highlights of Beijing. The Summer Palace is an enormous park with pavilions, vividly painted corridors, and temples. It is set among lakes and surrounded by hills. It was originally the imperial court's summer retreat, and still makes a nice place to escape the heat of the summer. The children may like to take a boat ride on Kunming Lake.

Then, pay a visit to the Olympic Stadiums where the kids will have fun exploring and you can take a look at the great architecture.

Prepare some snacks and water for the overnight soft sleeper train to Xi'an.

The Temple of Heaven
Day 5 Making Terracotta Figurines and Biking on the Ancient City Wall

Hotel: Grand Noble Hotel (Superior Room)
Meals provided: breakfast and lunch

This day includes the highlights of Xi'an. The Terracotta Warriors and Horses, with each figure being unique, have guarded Emperor Qin's tomb since 210 BC. Have a silent conversation with these figures that are 2,200 years old. With the background knowledge, the kids have the opportunity to try their hand at making small terracotta figurines with pottery clay in a workshop, and can take them home as special gifts for their friends.

There is an outdoor activity of cycling around the Ancient City Wall that is another highlight. The wall encircles the city and is perfect for seeing an overview of Xi'an.

The Terracotta Army
Day 6 Make Dumplings with a Local Family and Flight to Guilin

Hotel: Guilin Bravo Hotel (Standard Room)
Meals provided: breakfast and lunch

As one of the best museums in China, Shaanxi History Museum provides a perfect overview of Chinese history, and parents should not miss it. The museum houses over 370,000 items including murals, paintings, pottery, and coins, as well as bronze, gold, and silver objects.

Have a special lunch at a local family's house. The friendly hosts will teach you how to make different shapes of dumpling from dough. Enjoy the interaction with these people and the dumplings you make.

In the afternoon, you will visit the Big Wild Goose Pagoda that was built in 652 AD. The Chinese-style architecture combined with historic Buddhist statues, murals, and scriptures are complemented by the most panoramic view over Xi'an.

Before leaving Xi'an, walk around the Muslim Quarter to find local snacks. Take a flight to Guilin at night.

muslim quarter
Day 7 Meet Giant Pandas and Take a Chinese Language and Painting Lesson

Hotel: Guilin Bravo Hotel (Standard Room)
Meals provided: breakfast and lunch

All the activities of this day are arranged in Guilin City. Discover the mysterious Reed Flute Cave with a torch and use your imagination to see these living stalactites and stalagmites. Then head to the Seven-Star Park to meet two pandas — Fengyi and Meixin — who come from Chengdu. The park is the biggest one in Guilin, so enjoy a pleasant stroll on the grass or in the shade of the osmanthus trees.

As important parts of Chinese culture, painting and the language both reflect Chinese philosophy. Take a two-hour lesson at the Chinese Language Institute to learn more about China. Experienced English-speaking teachers will fully communicate with the kids and adjust the lessons according to their interests.

giant panda and reed flute cave
Day 8Li River Cruise and Working in a Field with Farmers

Hotel: Yangshuo Mountain Retreat (Mountain View Standard Room)
Meals provided: breakfast and lunch

Enjoy the stunning natural beauty of the Li River as you cruise from Guilin to Yangshuo, which takes about four hours. Get your camera ready and record the unforgettable scenery and moments. You will reach Yangshuo Wharf, near the bustling West Street, at approximately 1:30pm. A Chinese buffet lunch is included. Families are recommended to take some snacks and cards or games for the children due to spending half a day on board.

Three-Hour Farming Experience with a Local Family
Agriculture is an important part of Yangshuo. Take part in a traditional farming activity to experience the local farmers' lives by joining in with their daily jobs in a rice field, fruit garden, and vegetable field. Much different from modernized cultivation, the traditional way gives an opportunity to have a better understanding of Chinese culture.

The Li River Cruise
Day 9 Cycling Through the Villages of Yangshuo

Hotel: The Bund Hotel Shanghai (Superior Room)
Meals provided: breakfast and lunch

With your guide's help, rent bicycles from West Street and get ready for about two hours' biking in the villages. Pass through rice paddies, vegetable fields, and an orchard, and take photos with water buffalos. Pay a visit to a local farmer's family and get to know some traditional farm tools that have been used for generations.

Head to Guilin Airport in the afternoon and catch a flight to Shanghai.

Good to Know:
Mountain bikes, ordinary bikes, and bikes for children are available. You can also choose tandems if there is someone who cannot ride a bike, or for very young kids.

Biking in Yangshuo
Day 10 Shanghai: A Blend of Eastern and Western Cultures

Hotel: The Bund Hotel Shanghai (Superior Room)
Meals provided: breakfast and lunch

China's biggest and most prosperous city oozes an atmosphere of vitality, and it rivals New York and Paris in terms of modernity. You will visit the Yuyuan Garden, located in the center of Shanghai's old city. Just outside the tranquil garden is the busy Yuyuan Market where lots of snacks and souvenirs are available.

After the market, you will head to the Oriental Pearl TV Tower, where you can get a magnificent view of the city's ever-changing modern skyline, and the kids will have fun in the wax museum on the first floor. Then relax at the Bund and look at the high buildings on the other bank of the river.

Oriental TV Tower
Day 11 Shanghai Departure

Meal provided: breakfast
Have breakfast in your hotel and pack everything, including a good mood. This is the end of your family vacation in China. Transfer directly to Shanghai Pudong International Airport for your departure flight. Bon voyage!

What's Included
  • Entrance to attractions listed in the itinerary
  • Meals mentioned in the itinerary
  • Private transfers between the airport or railway station, attractions, ports, and hotels
  • Private local English-speaking tour guide and driver service (except tips based on your willingness)
  • Hotel accommodation with breakfast and service fee
  • Specified flights, trains, and Cruise
Trip Notes

Extension based on the tour

Extend the tour:

  • Yangtze River Cruise: add 4–5 days (Chongqing to Yichang or vice versa)
  • Chengdu: add 2–3 days — visit a panda research center, the Giant Buddha, and Mt. Emei
  • Suzhou and Hangzhou: add 2–4 days — visit scenic gardens, West Lake, and water towns
  • Hong Kong: add 2–3 days — visit Victoria Peak, Disneyland, and have a day's tour in Macau

Optional Activities

It must be clearly understood that enjoying these extras is your own decision. They are not included in the itinerary or tour price, so you will need to pay for them separately. The ticket price depends on the seating arrangements. Ask your guide to book tickets if you want to see any of the following:

  • Beijing — Legend of Kungfu Show
  • Xi'an — Tang Dynasty Cultural Show or plus Dumpling Banquet
  • Yangshuo — Impression Third Sister Liu Night Show on the Li River (outdoor)
  • Shanghai — Chinese Acrobats Show

Family-Friendly Hotels

According to previous family tour customers' feedback and comments on TripAdvisor, all of the hotels we have recommended are family-friendly ones that meet the following four standards:

  1. Hotels with a central and convenient location to make sure families have easy access to the supermarket, restaurants, and pharmacy.
  2. Indoor or outdoor swimming pools are available. Please note that a swimsuit/trunks and swimming cap are required to enter the swimming pool.
  3. Hotel rooms are spacious enough for an extra bed, or offer connecting rooms or adjoining rooms.
  4. A Western and Chinese buffet breakfast is available.

Food for Children

Lunches at popular local restaurants are included for you in order to taste authentic Chinese food.

Your guide will assist you with ordering dishes loved by both adults and children. Most families enjoy eating local Chinese food as there is plenty of variety and different flavors, and the food is so much better and different from the Chinese food served back at home.

Some children may prefer Western food or have some special requirements for meals. Please inform us and we will do our best to cater to your needs. Usually, dinner is not included but your guide will be happy to give recommendations for dinner and will tell you how to get to the closest Pizza Hut, McDonalds, and KFC.

Car Seats, Strollers, and Baby Cribs

To maximize the safety of your children, we can arrange for car seats to be fitted at your request during the private transfers in Beijing, Xi'an, Shanghai, Guilin, Chengdu, Hangzhou, and Suzhou. A baby stroller can be provided in Beijing, Xi'an, Shanghai, and Hangzhou. For a baby under two years old, we will inform the hotel to arrange a crib for you. No extra cost is needed. The number of car seats, strollers, and cribs are limited. Please inquire and confirm early to reserve them.

First Aid Kit

We all know how active kids can be. In case of some small injury, your guide will take a first aid kit with them during the tour, including alcohol prep pads, sterile gauze sponges, and bandages.

Useful Information for Traveling in China

What's the difference between 3, 4, and 5 -star hotels?
We usually arrange centrally-located and Western-standard hotels. Five-star hotels are usually palatial with huge lobbies and comfortable rooms, their standards not quite matching the best of Paris or New York, but very close. Four-star hotels have quality facilities, but not as luxurious as five-star hotels. Three-star hotels meet the needs of most Westerners, but breakfasts have less choice.

We also recommend some courtyard hotels or Chinese-style hotels with local features and architecture. These hotels have a good ranking, or positive feedback from our customers, and TripAdvisor.

Usually hotels in big cities, small cities, and rural areas are a bit different, even if they have the same star level. We try to use the best available hotel in each place.

What are train conditions like in China?
A soft sleeper is recommended for overnight and long-distance travel. Each soft sleeper compartment is enclosed, and contains four bunks, two on each side. The bunks are wider and more comfortable than hard sleepers, with decent bedding. Soft sleeper compartments may vary between trains. You may have both over-head storage and under-bed storage, or just under-bed storage.

For short distance train travel, G and D high-speed trains are recommended. G trains are the fastest trains in China, with a speed of 250 km/h to 400 km/h, and their prices are highest.

Currency Exchange
As currency exchange rates in China fluctuate, we suggest you refer to the following website for daily exchange rates: www.xe.com. In 2015 the yuan (NCY or RMB) has been around 6.2 USD (6.1–6.3 USD), and the HKD (Hong Kong Dollar) has been more stable around 7.75 USD (7.74–7.77 USD). There are many ATM machines that accept both Visa and Master card, but these are limited to cities. We also recommend the use of cash and travelers checks in USD currency. Major credit cards are accepted in most shops, but they may charge a 2–4% transaction fee.

Tipping
It is customary to tip service providers in the travel industry in Asia, depending on the service. Tipping is expected — though not compulsory — and shows an expression of satisfaction with the people who have assisted you on your tour. Recommendations for tipping drivers (3 USD per person per day as a guideline) and local guides (8 USD per person per day as a guideline) would depend on the quality and length of the service.

Vehicle
We use comfortable sedans or vans with air-conditioning. The comfort and safety of our customers is of utmost importance, so we ensure that all of the vehicles that we use are well maintained and always very clean. Our drivers take pride in their vehicles.