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23-Day China Culture, History, and Natural Tour

China Tour Blend of Culture, History, and Natural Beauty

Immerse yourself in the rich history of Beijing, witness the pandas in Chengdu, and journey to the mystical city of Lhasa. Discover the ancient Terracotta Warriors in Xian, explore the surreal landscapes of Zhangjiajie, and experience the modernity of Shanghai. Hike the stunning Huangshan Mountains, cruise the Li River in Guilin, and end your adventure in vibrant Hong Kong. This comprehensive tour offers a diverse blend of culture, history, and natural beauty.

The itinerary below is only one possibility. Tips to tailor-make your trip are offered as inspiration. Send us details of your preferences and our travel experts will customize this trip to suit your interests, tastes, and budget.

Tour 'Wow' Points

Find the Hidden Halls in the Forbidden City

the Forbidden City

Experience Taking Care of a Cute Panda

make panda cakes

Witness the Famous Potala Palace

Potala Palace

Marvel at the Famous Hallelujah Mountain in the Movie "Avatar"

Hallelujah Mountain

Explore the Awe-inspiring Li River in Guilin

Guilin landscape

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Trip Advisor certificate of 2023 Tour Review

Itinerary Quick Look

Here is a suggested itinerary. We are happy to customize a tour according to your interests.

DAY 1 Beijing Arrival

Your private guide will be ready to meet and greet you at the arrival hall in Beijing. A comfortable private car with an experienced driver will transfer you directly to your hotel. Your guide will help you to check-in.

DAY 2 Beijing | Tiananmen Square and Hutong

Hutong Tour - Time Travel: Embark on a Hutong Tour in Xicheng District, a one-hour exploration of Beijing's vanishing historic alleyways. Hop on a rickshaw for a ride through narrow alleys, visit a local family, and stroll along the Silver Ingot Bridge, discovering the unique courtyards along the way.

Tiananmen Square - Icon of Chinese History: Visit Tiananmen Square, Beijing's iconic city square at the heart of the city. Named after the Gate of Heavenly Peace, it's rich in historical significance. Explore the square's grandeur, surrounded by landmarks like the Forbidden City's Heavenly Gate, museums, government buildings, and Chairman Mao's Mausoleum.

DAY 3 Beijing| The Forbidden City

The Forbidden City - An Ancient Wonder: Explore The Forbidden City, Beijing's historic heart, home to 24 emperors during the Ming and Qing dynasties. This grand imperial complex boasts ornate halls, serene gardens, and invaluable exhibitions. Enjoy a 2-hour stroll (2 kilometers) in this well-preserved wonder.

Lama Temple - Tibetan Splendor: Experience Tibetan culture at Yonghe Lamasery, the largest Tibetan Buddhist temple outside Tibet. Admire the world's largest wooden statue, the Matreiya Buddha, and delve into Tibetan exhibits.

Summer Palace - Garden of Elegance: Visit the Summer Palace, China's largest imperial garden, including the impressive Garden of Virtue and Harmony, once a theater for the Empress Dowager. Explore this historical site and its magnificent wooden stage.

DAY 4 Beijing | The Temple of Heaven

Temple of Heaven - Ming Dynasty Tranquility: Visit the Temple of Heaven, a serene complex from the Ming dynasty where emperors prayed for bountiful harvests. Witness locals practicing tai chi and enjoy a leisurely walk in the vibrant park.

Olympic Stadiums - Modern Marvels: Explore the Beijing Olympic Park, home to iconic venues like the Bird's Nest and Water Cube. While you won't enter the stadiums, you can appreciate their impressive architecture and surrounding park.

Simatai Great Wall Night Tour - Illuminated Adventure: Embark on a unique night tour of Simatai Great Wall, where Towers 5 and 6 are lit up for a breathtaking experience. Cable cars are available for convenience.

Gubei Water Town - Scenic Retreat: Head to Gubei Water Town, nestled near the stunning Simatai Great Wall. Spend the night amidst traditional courtyard-style buildings, enjoying the mesmerizing views of the illuminated Great Wall.

DAY 5 Beijing to Chengdu | Simatai Great Wall

Simatai Great Wall's Ming Dynasty Legacy: Journey from Beijing: Embark on a morning adventure from central Beijing, traveling for about 2½ hours to reach the awe-inspiring Simatai Great Wall. Renowned for preserving its authentic Ming Dynasty (1368–1644) character, this section promises an immersive experience in China's storied past.

Historical Exploration: Delve into history as your guide leads you on a 3-hour trek covering approximately 5 kilometers round-trip. While the hike is moderate, some sections feature steep ascents and descents. Alternatively, opt for a cable car ride up and savor a leisurely 1-hour walk back down, spanning 2-3 kilometers. Simatai's watchtowers, rich with historical significance, offer insight into China's resilient heritage. The stunning natural surroundings, highlighted by a serene lake, provide a captivating backdrop for your descent. The Simatai Great Wall Day Tour promises a diverse blend of history, nature, and adventure, ensuring an unforgettable experience that leaves you with cherished memories and a deep appreciation for China's cultural heritage.

DAY 6Chengdu | Panda Breeding and Research Center

Immerse in Art and Spirituality: Start your Chengdu adventure at the serene Wenshu Monastery. Explore its artfully adorned halls housing a rich collection of Buddhist artifacts. This Zen Buddhist temple offers a blend of spirituality and artistry.

Pandas and Culture: Visit the Panda Breeding and Research Center, just 6 miles north of Chengdu City, to see giant pandas and other endangered species amid bamboo groves. Explore the nursery and panda museum. Note, some panda activities might be closed during peak months.

Jinli Old Street and Panda Post: Wander through the restored Jinli Old Street for local crafts and treats. Then, visit the unique Panda Post, where you can send a postcard to your future self, featuring the beloved giant pandas. Prices vary for postcards and mailing services. Enjoy Chengdu's spiritual, wildlife, and cultural treasures on this enriching tour.

DAY 7 Chengdu to Lhasa | The Norbulingka

Norbulingka: Discover the splendor of Norbulingka, meaning "Jeweled Garden." Originally built as a summer retreat for the Dalai Lama, this architectural gem evolved into a hub for both government and spiritual matters. Delve into Tibet's rich history and culture at Norbulingka.

DAY 8 Lhasa| The Potala Palace

Potala Palace: Explore the magnificent Potala Palace, once the winter refuge of the Dalai Lama. This awe-inspiring complex boasts intricate corridors, stairways, vibrant murals, and priceless antiques. Ascend to the Red Palace, witness pilgrims' offerings, and explore mausoleums. Don't miss the iconic golden roof group.

Old Barkhor Street: Embark on a captivating walking tour through Old Barkhor Street. Visit Jokhang Temple, follow pilgrim paths, and explore traditional workshops. Witness Thangka artistry and visit the Ani Tsangkhung Nunnery. Discover local craftsmanship at Dropenling Handicraft Development Center.

DAY 9 Lhasa to Xi'an | Sera Monastery

Sera Monastery: Nestled in Lhasa's northern suburbs, Sera Monastery is a complex comprised of four key structures, including the Great Assembly Hall and three colleges. Established in 1419 by Jamchen Chojey, a disciple of Tsongkhapa, its name, "Sera," derives from the wild roses adorning its surroundings. This sacred site hosts the renowned daily debates among monks, offering unique insights into Buddhist doctrines. Don't miss the debates, held every day except Sundays at 15:00. While photography is restricted during debates, you can discreetly snap photos with your cell phone. Immerse yourself in this spiritual experience, but remember to maintain a respectful silence during the debates.

DAY 10 Xi'an | Terracotta Army

The Terracotta Warriors and Horses: Unearthed by chance in 1974, the Terracotta Army comprises over 7,000 soldiers, archers, horses, and chariots, meticulously crafted to protect Emperor Qin's tomb since 210 BC. Each figure boasts a unique design, and ongoing excavation and restoration efforts are visible in the three protective pits, enclosed within vast hangars. Located just 1.5 hours from Xi'an, this archaeological wonder also houses an exceptional museum and an informative film detailing its history. Feel free to take photographs (sans flash), and ensure you wear comfy walking shoes for your visit.

Craft Your Own Terracotta Warrior in a Cave Dwelling: Immerse yourself in the creative process by visiting a rural cave dwelling family workshop. Here, you'll learn the ancient art of crafting Terracotta Warriors from a skilled local artisan. Discover the intricacies of this lifelike art form, from its historical significance to the most challenging steps in its creation. Gain a deeper understanding of the craftsmanship involved and engage in a meaningful interaction with the local community.

DAY 11 Xi'an to Zhangjiajie | The Ancient City Wall

Ancient City Wall: Xi'an's ancient city wall, with its walls, ramparts, gates, and watchtowers, stands as one of the world's oldest and most intact city defenses. Erected during the 13th century atop the original Tang Forbidden City foundations, it encircles the city center. You can explore the entire 14-kilometer circuit on foot or opt to rent a bike (CNY 40 per person) or an electric cart (CNY 80 per person) for an enhanced perspective of the cityscape on either side.

Experience China's Traditional Costume (Hanfu): Immerse yourself in Chinese culture by wearing Hanfu, the traditional clothing of the Han Chinese. Discover the rich history and significance of Hanfu during a one-hour guided tour in an ancient academy. Learn about different Hanfu styles and ancient etiquette. Afterward, take a break, sip a cup of tea, and even try your hand at movable type printing. It's a unique opportunity to indulge in something special and memorable.

DAY 12 Zhangjiajie | National Forest Park

Zhangjiajie National Forest Park: Discover the enchanting Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, a renowned gem nestled in Hunan province. Recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1992, this natural wonderland boasts iconic pillar-like formations sculpted over countless years by the forces of erosion. With lush forest covering over 90% of the area, your adventure spans Yuanjiajie, Yangjiajie, Jinbian Stream, and Wulongzhai. Dive into the rich tapestry of Minority cultures and folklore by venturing into nearby villages inhabited by the Tujia, Bai, Miao, and Hui people, offering captivating side trips that enhance your experience.

Mt. Tianzishan: Prepare to be awestruck by the four natural spectacles of Mt. Tianzishan: the ethereal mist enveloping its peaks, the breathtaking sunrise and moonlit nights, and the snow-dusted winter landscapes. Your journey unfolds on more than 80 natural platforms, each offering a magnificent vista. Ease into the experience by taking a cable car ride to Tianzi Mountain and relish the views on your way up. Keep in mind that during peak hours, wait times for the cable car can stretch up to an hour, so consult your guide to plan your visit during quieter times.

Bailong Sightseeing Elevator: Ascend to new heights aboard the Bailong Sightseeing Elevator, a marvel that stands as the world's highest and fastest sightseeing elevator. Gaze upon the mesmerizing Sandstone Peak Forest as you ascend 335 meters with the capacity to transport 3,000 people per hour in its four transparent elevators. The breathtaking journey to the mountaintop takes a mere 2 minutes. Be mindful that during busy periods, wait times for the elevator can extend to 2 hours, so coordinate with your guide to optimize your visit.

Yuanjiajie (Including the Hallelujah Mountains): Yuanjiajie, nestled in the northern corner of Zhangjiajie National Park, beckons with its mystical allure. Explore attractions like the Ecstasy Spot, Backyard, and First Bridge, with the renowned Hallelujah Mountain, an homage to Avatar's levitating rocks. Capture captivating images of the 'First Bridge in the World' from the 'Viewing Bridge Platform' (Wangqiaotai). For the best photography opportunities, venture there around 5:00 PM when the crowds thin. From Yuanjiajie, you can also access Tianzi Mountain and Yangjia Valley. Highlights include the First Bridge in the World, Hallelujah Mountain, and the Viewing Bridge Platform.

DAY 13 Zhangjiajie to Shanghai | Zhangjiajie Glass Bridge

Zhangjiajie Glass Bridge: Prepare for an unforgettable adventure on the Zhangjiajie Glass Bridge, a marvel that holds the titles of the world's longest and highest glass bridge. Perched an astonishing 300 meters above the ground, this transparent pathway offers a heart-pounding experience like no other. As you step onto the glass-bottom bridge, thrill-seekers and nature enthusiasts alike will be captivated by the awe-inspiring vistas below. It's a must-do highlight of your journey!

Tianmen Mountain (Tianmen Cave): Experience the heart and soul of Zhangjiajie at Tianmen Mountain, the region's loftiest peak. Here, nature reveals its grandeur through ancient trees, karst formations, and winding roads etched into the cliffside. A 30-minute cable car ride from the city center, boasting the world's longest cable, transports you to the mountain's summit. Marvel at the breathtaking scenery that unfolds before your eyes. For an adrenaline rush and panoramic views, brave the Tianmen Mountain Glass Walkway, an observation platform that extends a daring 1,430 meters above the ground.

DAY 14 Shanghai | Yuyuan Garden and the Bund

Yuyuan Garden: Explore the heart of Shanghai's old quarters at Yuyuan Garden, a timeless masterpiece from the Ming Dynasty, founded in 1559. Spanning 2 hectares, this private garden boasts classical Chinese architecture, including rockeries, pavilions, ponds, and meandering corridors. Surrounding the garden, a lively marketplace offers local treats, handicrafts, antiques, souvenirs, and beloved time-honored restaurants.

Shanghai Bund: Embark on a journey through Shanghai's rise, beginning at the Bund, where foreign settlers first arrived centuries ago. Each historic building holds a chapter of the city's golden age. Wander through charming alleyways, dine at a Michelin-starred restaurant, and savor local snacks. Experience Chinese-style takeout ordering. Board a public ferry to cross the Huangpu River, transitioning from old Shanghai to the modern Pudong New Area. Ascend Shanghai Tower, the city's tallest skyscraper, for breathtaking panoramic views. With a 2.4-kilometer walk, enjoy rest stops and delicious snacks along the way.

DAY 15 Shanghai | Zhujiajiao Ancient Town

Tianzi Fang: Explore Tianzi Fang, nestled within the former French Concession on Taikang Road. What was once a labyrinthine residential area has transformed into a trendy district adorned with well-preserved Shikumen architecture. Stroll through this vibrant neighborhood, where you'll find art galleries, cozy bistros, charming coffee shops, unique craft stores, and creative art studios.

Zhujiajiao Ancient Town: Immerse yourself in the history of Zhujiajiao Water Town, a picturesque fan-shaped destination steeped in centuries of tradition. Meander along cobblestone streets lined with architectural treasures from the Ming and Qing Dynasties. Marvel at the 36 stone bridges that have retained their timeless charm. Your tour includes four captivating attractions: Tongtianhe, an ancient pharmacy; the historic Post Office; Yuanjin Temple; and Kezhi Garden.

Zhujiajiao Boat Ride: Don't miss the chance to embark on a peaceful river cruise through the heart of Zhujiajiao's ancient town. This leisurely 10-15 minute journey allows you to soak in the town's enchanting scenery, all from the comfort of your boat.

DAY 16 Shanghai to Huangshan | Yellow Mountains

Yellow Mountains: Your journey begins as our guide and driver pick you up from your hotel, railway station, or airport. You'll be escorted to the South Gate at Huangshan Scenic Area, approximately a one-hour drive. Note that some attractions may be closed from December to March due to snowy weather, but your guide will adjust the itinerary to ensure you experience the best of the Yellow Mountains.

Hiking Adventure from Yungu Temple: After a hearty breakfast, prepare for an exciting day of hiking. Your trek begins at Yungu Temple, covering a distance of about 10.5 kilometers (6.5 miles) over approximately six hours. Along the way, you'll ascend the mountains via the Eastern Steps, passing stunning natural formations like the Stone Table and the peak of the Immortal Pointing the Way. Reach the White Goose Ridge and continue your hike towards the Flying-over Rock and the Bright Top, with approximately three more hours of trekking in the afternoon. Witness the breathtaking sunset at the Cloud-dispelling Pavilion, a true highlight of your Yellow Mountain adventure.

DAY 17 Huangshan | West Sea Canyon

West Sea Canyon Hiking: Embark on an exciting 12.5-kilometer (7.8-mile) hike lasting about five hours. Start your day with a breathtaking sunrise at the Refreshing Terrace before descending into the stunning West Sea Grand Canyon. This trek includes key highlights like the 1st ring, 2nd ring, Button, Plunk Way, and Fairy-Walking Bridge. Your guide will arrange a flexible lunch stop, and you'll end the hike at Baiyun/Tianhai Hotel for a buffet dinner. If you prefer a shortcut, take the West Grand Canyon Monorail, a quick 893-meter (0.6-mile) ride that we've arranged for your convenience.

DAY 18 Huangshan to Guilin | Tunxi Ancient Street

Discover Tunxi Ancient Street, nestled in the heart of old Tunxi city. This well-preserved historic street features hundreds of charming shops housed in elegant, vintage buildings. Take a leisurely stroll through this time-honored area and keep an eye out for unique bargains and souvenirs.

Next, embark on a thrilling descent from the Yellow Mountains, covering approximately 12 kilometers (7.5 miles) in six hours. Start your day with a mesmerizing sunrise at Bright Top, then trek to the One Hundred Ladders and the Jade Screen Pavilion, where you'll encounter the iconic Greeting-guests Pine. Continue your journey to the majestic Celestial Capital Peak for about two hours before descending to Lima Temple at the base, a final two-hour hike. Enjoy the scenic beauty and exhilarating adventure as you explore this natural wonder.

DAY 19 Guilin | Longji Rice Terraces

Longsheng Rice Terraces & Local Delights: Today, we venture to the awe-inspiring Longsheng Rice Terraces, often called the 'Dragon's Backbone.' Constructed by local minority communities 600 years ago, these terraces sprawl across 66 square kilometers (25 square miles) in a dragon-like formation along steep mountainsides.

Our destination is Ping'an Zhuang Village, perched at elevations ranging from 300 to 1,100 meters above sea level. The journey involves a moderate hike, taking about an hour, where you'll be rewarded with panoramic terrace views. Sedan chairs are available for those who prefer an easier ascent or car transfers can be arranged upon request (except during Chinese national holidays).

Immerse yourself in local culture as you learn the art of making Bamboo Stuffed Rice, a delicious dish infused with bamboo's unique flavor. Interact with a local family, explore their traditional wooden house, and discover the culinary secrets of this regional delight.

DAY 20 Guilin to Yangshuo | Li River Cruise

Li River Cruise: Embark on a memorable Li River Cruise from Guilin to Yangshuo (4 hours) on a 4-star boat. Admire dramatic limestone peaks, bamboo forests, rice paddies, and water buffaloes. Look out for fishermen and the famous cormorant fishing. Enjoy a buffet or semi-buffet lunch on board.

Yangshuo Countryside Visit: Experience the charm of Yangshuo's countryside, known for its stunning karst landscapes, lush rice fields, and local life. Explore a nearby village with your guide, offering insights into rural Chinese culture. You can choose to bike (10-12 km), use an electrombile, or take a private car.

DAY 21 Guilin to Hong Kong | Yulong River and Silver Cave

Silver Cave: Venture to Silver Cave, a captivating national 4A-rated scenic area located 85km from Guilin's center and 20km from Yangshuo. Marvel at the blend of natural beauty and human-made landscapes that epitomize Guilin's charm.

Bamboo Rafting on Yulong River: Embark on a 40-50 minute bamboo rafting adventure (duration varies with season and water levels) along the Yulong River. Be enchanted by the stunning scenery featuring karst peaks, rice terraces, crystal-clear waters, and lush bamboo groves. The gentle river current ensures a serene and picturesque journey. Note: Children under 7 years old or below 1.1 meters in height and adults over 70 years old are not permitted on the bamboo rafts.

Live Like a Local: Immerse yourself in the life of a Chinese villager. Begin your morning with hands-on experience in the fields, working alongside local farmers. You might assist in cutting grass for their herds or plowing the fields, offering a genuine glimpse into rural Chinese life. Later, hop on a ferry and ride a local farmer's taxi (a three-wheeled motorbike) to Fuli's local market.

DAY 22 Hong Kong | Victoria Peak

Victoria Peak: Ascend to Victoria Peak, an iconic Hong Kong landmark, now a high-end residential area. The Sky Terrace atop the peak offers unparalleled city vistas. Enjoy a one-way Peak Tram ride, an intriguing 8-minute journey providing fantastic views of the city's skyscrapers.

Aberdeen Fishing Village: Immerse yourself in the unique fishing village culture of Aberdeen, renowned for its seafood and traditional lifestyle. Opt for a sampan ride (additional HK$10-12 fee) for a closer look at this captivating way of life.

Stanley Market: Head to Stanley Market, nestled near the beach. Once a fishing village, it's now a bustling market offering a variety of goods, from Chinese-style artworks and silk fabrics to antiques and oversized clothing.

TSL Jewelry Factory: Your final stop is the TSL Jewelry Factory, where you can browse a selection of exquisite, high-quality jewelry.

DAY 23 Hong Kong Departure

Our guide will help you transfer from your hotel to Hong Kong Airport for departure with independentcar/van and guide.

Tour Price

FromUS5,750 p/p Based on a private tour for 2 people. Price varies depending on program, travel date, number of people and chosen hotel

Price includes:

  • Private air-conditioned business car with big windows and ample space
  • English speaking local guide
  • Activities, hotels, and meals listed in the itinerary
  • 24/7 helpline for while you are traveling

Tour code: cht-cx-64

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