China Highlights City and Zhangjiajie Combo

Zhangjiajie Sunkiss © Andy Beales
CHT-SC-02: 15-Day Beijing, Xi’an, Zhangjiajie, Yangtze Cruise, and Shanghai Tour
From: $2,898
Photography Nature Cruise Family Hiking Culture

Visit China’s golden triangle, and take in some amazing natural scenery at Zhangjiajie and the Yangtze River.


  • Explore All Beijing Highlights including the Great Wall
  • Immerse yourself with the Ancient Terracotta Warriors
  • Avatar’s Hallelujah Mountains’ inspiration at Zhangjiajie
  • Suspended Glass Walkway — almost a mile high!
  • Observe the three gorges from the relaxing Yangtze River Cruise

Tour Summary

What's Included

  • Entrance to attractions listed in the itinerary
  • Meals mentioned in the itinerary
  • Private transfers between the airport, attractions, ports, and hotels
  • Private local tour guide and driver service throughout the tour (except on the Yangtze River Cruise)
  • Hotel accommodation with breakfast
  • Specified flights, trains, and Yangtze River Cruise

Price Per Person in US Dollars

Nov.1 - Mar. 31 Deluxe Class Superior Class
2-5 Persons $3469 $3169
6-9 Persons $3179 $2849
Apr.1 - Oct.31 Deluxe Superior
2-5 Persons $3649 $3419
6-9 Persons $3349 $3099

Suggested Itinerary

Day 1 Beijing Arrival

Whenever your flight lands your tour guide will be waiting for you at the arrival hall of the airport, greeting you with a smile and name plate. Transfer to your hotel by private van and driver.

Day 2 Beijing: Tian’anmen Square, the Forbidden City and the Hutongs
The Forbidden City © Natasha Luo

You will visit iconic sights of the city: Tian’anmen Square and the Forbidden City.
Tian’anmen Square at the heart of Beijing is the largest city square in the world, the witness of many major historical events. Walking northward from the square you will enter the Forbidden City, the imperial palace where treasures are hidden and history happened.

Have lunch at a popular local restaurant, where your guide will help you order dishes to ensure an authentic Chinese flavor.

In the afternoon hop on a rickshaw to explore the charming hutongs (‘lanes’) — traditional Beijing neighborhood areas.

Day 3 The Great Wall and Temple of Heaven
Mutianyu Greal Wall © David Zhou

This less-crowded Mutianyu section of the Great Wall offers superb views, as it snakes across mountains. After driving for about 2½ hours from Beijing city center, you will take a shuttle bus to the foot of the mountains. Cable cars are available to take you to a good section (avoiding climbing on steep steps), where you can walk along the wall and enjoy the view. You can descend by cable car, or walk along the wall for about an hour to descend by chairlift.

After lunch at a nearby restaurant, drive back to the city and visit the Temple of Heaven, where ancient emperors held grand ceremonies to pray for good harvests. You will see local people enjoying leisure time inside the park, singing, dancing, and playing chess or musical instruments.

Day 4 The Summer Palace; Flight to Xi’an
The Summary Palace

In the morning walk through the Summer Palace, an enormous park with pavilions, vividly-painted corridors, temples, and lakes surrounded by hills.

After lunch, transfer to the airport for your flight to Xi’an. Upon arrival in Xi’an, meet your guide at the arrival hall and go to your hotel by private van and driver.

Day 5 The Terracotta Warriors; Evening Flight to Zhangjiajie
The Terracotta Army

Drive about one hour to the outskirts of Xi’an and admire the formidable underground army of Terracotta Warriors, which has been guarding ‘First Emperor’ Qin for over 2,000 years. Back in the city, walk on the ancient city wall, which divides the city into its inner and outer parts. Riding a bike on the massive wall is recommended.

Dinner is according to your own arrangement. Feel free to ask your tour guide for some insider recommendations. Transfer to the airport for your evening flight to Zhangjiajie. Upon arrival, meet your guide at the arrival hall for your transfer to a Zhangjiajie city hotel.

Good to Know:

  • Most flights land at Zhangjiajie at night, sometimes very late, so we use a hotel in Zhangjiajie city upon your arrival, and on days 7 and 8. You should leave big suitcases in the city hotel and only take what you need for two days (one night) in the national park.
  • To avoid waiting in long queues, your Zhangjiajie guide might suggest you get up early or alter your attraction schedule. Please kindly understand and cooperate.

Day 6Zhangjiajie National Park: Tianzi Mountain and Yuanjiajie
Yuanjiajie © David Zhou

Breakfast at a 4-star hotel at Zhangjiajie is very basic, so our guide will prepare bread, coffee, and fruit for you.

Zhangjiajie National Forest Park is located in Wulingyuan Scenic Area, about 40 minutes drive from the city. Tianzi Mountain and Yuanjiajie are the most classic and popular sights of Zhangjiajie.

Take the cable car up Tianzi Mountain, and see through the glass below large areas of grotesque sandstone peaks thrusting up from the ground.

Have a simple lunch on the mountain. If you prefer, we can arrange to have lunch at a McDonald’s on the mountain, and have a break in the air-conditioned building.

The namesake and inspiration of Avatar’s Hallelujah Mountain is located in Yuanjiajie Scenic Area, which you will visit in the afternoon after taking a shuttle bus from Tianzi Mountain.


For getting back to the foot of the mountain, besides taking the cable car, there is also an option of taking Bailong Elevator, a glass elevator built on the side of a cliff, taking only 2 minutes. If you are interested, tell your tour guide in advance so that he/she can arrange to avoid long queues, which might take you 2 hours.

Day 7 Yangjiajie in Zhangjiajie’s National Park
Yangjiajie © Rebecca He

Yangjiajie Scenic Area is a relatively recently developed area in Zhangjiajie National Forest Park. With less people and pristine natural beauty, it takes a bit of an adventure to climb up and down the steep and sometimes narrow steps for the superb view. You will need to climb for about 1 hour, besides taking a cable car, to get up and down.

If you do not want to walk so much, we recommend Gold Whip Stream for a pleasant stroll along the stream, surrounded by grotesque rocks. You might see some monkeys there. Please don’t touch or scare them for safety reasons, but giving them food is ok.

Day 8 Tianmen Mountain and Zhangjiajie Old Courtyard
Glass Walkway © Meimei Li

Tianmen literally means ‘Heaven’s Gate’, and Tianmen Mountain does match its name. With an altitude of 1,518 meters (4,980 feet), its scenery is often locked in mist in the morning. Besides its beautiful scenery, it will make your heart beat fast as you walk across its glass walkway, suspended 1,430 meters up; ride the world’s longest cable car from city to mountain top; and take a vehicle down the curvy mountain road of ‘99 Bends’.

Tianmen Cave, a 30-meter-high, doorway-like hole in the mountain, can be reached by climbing 999 steps, if you’d like the challenge.

You will get back to the foot of the mountain at around 2 pm in the afternoon. After a late lunch enjoying local specialty mushroom hotpot, visit Tian Family Folk Mansion on the way back to the city.

Zhangjiajie Old Courtyard has a history of almost 1,000 years. Once owned by an imperial official, it retains its original Tujia minority architecture, and has some interesting exhibitions of ethnic life.

Good to Know:
Show Opportunity: Tianmen Foxy Fairy is an outdoor musical telling an old Chinese love story, with Tianmen Mountain and its deep valleys as the backdrop. It has received good reviews on TripAdvisor. The show is on every night. If you are interested, please ask your guide to book tickets for you, at extra cost.

Day 9 Zhangjiajie to Yichang by Train; Board Your Yangtze River Cruise
Yangtze River Scenery

Transfer to the train station for your Yichang-bound train (K1474, departing at 09:15 and arriving at 14:18). To ensure the most comfort for your China train experience, we book soft-sleeper carriages, where 4 people share a cabin.

Upon arrival at Yichang Train Station, meet your local guide for your port transfer, and board your Yangtze River Cruise, which embarks at 21:00.

Good to Know
There’s no dressing code for Yangtze River cruise, wearing comfortable clothing for traveling is completely fine.

Day 10 Yangtze River Cruise
The Three Gorges Dam © Veerchina

Tai chi exercise led by a teacher is offered in the early morning every day.

Sail through the first gorge — Xiling Gorge, and pass through the five-step ship lock and have a shore excursion to the world-famous Three Gorges Dam site.

In the evening, a welcoming banquet is held, hosted by the captain. There’s no dress code for the Yangtze River cruise; wearing comfortable clothing for traveling is completely fine.

Day 11 Yangtze River Cruise

Take a shore excursion to visit Shennong Stream in small wooden boats, and see the mountain and water scenery more intimately. The cruise procedes through Wu Gorge and Qutang Gorge.

You have the option of visiting White Emperor City (280 yuan  per person extra), the source of inspiration for many ancient Chinese poets. Enjoy some interesting performances presented by the ship crew in the evening.

Day 12 Yangtze River Cruise

You will have a shore excursion to Shibaozhai, a craggy hill by the Yangtze with a red pavilion and a walkway to the temple at the top of the hill. The Captain’s Farewell Banquet is held in the evening.

Day 13 Arrive in Chongqing; Flight to Shanghai

The cruise will dock at Chongqing port at around 9 am. Your local tour guide will pick you up from the port for your airport transfer and flight to Shanghai. Upon landing in Shanghai, your Shanghai tour guide will meet you at the arrival hall for your hotel transfer and a good rest.

Day 14 Shanghai City Highlights
The Bund

Shanghai’s charm of mixed cultures will be unveiled during your visit to the essential highlights of the city — the classical landscape garden of Yu Yuan; the Oriental Pearl TV Tower with a history museum on the lower floor; and the Bund, where architecture of various Western styles are gathered.

Lunch is at a famous Old Shanghai Restaurant, where authentic Shanghai flavor is served in an old-fashioned dining environment.

Day 15 Shanghai Departure

Your tour guide, driver, and van will pick you up from your hotel for your to the airport transfer and flight. The guide will accompany and assist you as far as the security check, and then wave goodbye.

Our Staff's Feedback after Taking This Tour

I saw many were traveling as a family when I was taking this tour with my colleagues. I missed my 4-year-old son. He loves watching the movie Avatar, and I am sure he will be very happy if he ever comes to Zhangjiajie. One day I will take my son and husband to see these beautiful places together. - Website Editor Ruru Zhou

Trip Notes

Tailoring your tour

This tour is very flexible. You can alter the itinerary, extend or shorten it to suit your price, interest and schedule. Feel free to tell us your requirements, and we are happy to help you arrange with our professional knowledge and experience.

About Accommodation in Zhangjiajie

Star-rated hotels in Zhangjiajie might not be up to the standard of those in big cities like Beijing and Shanghai. The hotels we use in the tour are carefully selected based on criteria like hotel environment, location, service, and previous customer feedback.

There are some hostels in the national park, with very basic facilities. If you would like to stay in a local guesthouse, we can arrange it. In this way you can save time on transportation, avoid tourist groups, and also cut the cost.

About Food in Zhangjiajie

Restaurant and cuisine choices are very limited in the national park. We will find the best available, but it is also suggested that you bring some snacks. Local villagers sell water and food like fruits and corn on the mountains, which are good to try while you climb the steps.

Breakfast at a 4-star hotel at Zhangjiajie is very basic, so our guide will prepare bread, coffee, and fruit for you.