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16-Day Beijing, Datong, Pingyao, Xian, Chongqing, Yangtze and Shanghai Tour

Yangtze River Cruise and Chinese Culture Tour

16-Day Private China Tour: Beijing– Datong– Pingyao–Xi'an–Chongqing–Yangtze Cruise–Shanghai

Immerse yourself in the imperial grandeur of Beijing, explore the ancient caves of Datong, and step back in time in the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Pingyao. Uncover the historic treasures of Xian, including the Terracotta Army, before embarking on a memorable Yangtze River cruise from Chongqing.

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

Explore a Top-Ranked Section of the Great Wall

walking on the Great Wall

Explore the Impressive Carvings of the Yungang Grottoes

Yungang Grottoes

Witness the Famous Three Gorges Dam of China

Three Gorges Dam

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Your Trip is Perfectly Planned.

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Your Booking is Risk-Free.

  • No cancellation fee (up to 22 days before departure)
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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| The Mutianyu Section of the Great Wall

Experience the picturesque Mutianyu section of the Great Wall, ranked top on TripAdvisor. Enjoy a round-trip cable car ride to save time and explore the beautifully-restored architecture. Hike the "golden route" between the 14th and 23rd watchtowers for approximately 2 hours before descending.

Summer Palace with the Garden of Virtue and Harmony: Visit the renowned Summer Palace, China's largest and best-preserved imperial garden. Explore the Garden of Virtue and Harmony, once a theater for the Empress Dowager, where Beijing Opera performances took place.

DAY 3 Beijing| The Forbidden City

Explore Tiananmen Square, the largest city square in central Beijing. Admire the iconic Tiananmen Gate, which separates the square from the Forbidden City. This historic square holds great cultural significance, having witnessed key events in Chinese history. Imposing buildings surround the square, including the entrance to the Forbidden City, museums, government buildings, and Chairman Mao's Mausoleum.

Step into the heart of Beijing to discover the majestic Forbidden City. This ancient imperial complex was the residence of 24 emperors during the Ming and Qing dynasties. Explore its vast courtyards, intricate halls, and beautiful gardens. The Forbidden City is the largest and best-preserved ancient imperial architectural complex in the world. Allow for a moderate 2-hour walk (covering approximately 2 kilometers) to fully immerse yourself in its treasures. The exhibitions, both permanent and temporary, showcase the rich heritage of ancient China.

Embark on a captivating Hutong tour, experiencing the historic alleyways and traditional courtyard houses of Beijing. Traverse the narrow alleys aboard a rickshaw, visit a local family, and cross the picturesque Silver Ingot Bridge. Gain insights into the unique characteristics of different courtyards. Explore Prince Gong's Mansion, an exquisite example of traditional Chinese architecture. Finally, take a stroll along Pipe Street (Yandaixiejie), soaking in the charm of this cultural neighborhood.

DAY 4 Beijing | The Ming Tombs

Take a stroll along the Sacred Way, a picturesque tree-lined path leading to the Ming Tombs. Admire the impressive collection of 12 sets of animal and human statues, including the striking Great Red Gate. Don't miss the marble memorial archway and the stele on the back of a tortoise.

Explore the Changling Tomb, the final resting place of Emperor Yongle and his empress from the Ming Dynasty. Built in 1413, this well-preserved mausoleum covers an expansive area of 100,000 square meters. Marvel at the magnificent architecture, vibrant color paintings on the ceiling, and the golden brick-paved earth. While the underground palace is not accessible, you will still have the opportunity to appreciate the grandeur and learn about Chinese Fengshui theory. This lesser-known tomb provides a fascinating glimpse into Ming emperors' legacies.

Visit the Temple of Heaven, a complex of Taoist buildings dating back to 1420 during the Ming dynasty. This site holds great cultural significance as emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties would come here annually to pray for bountiful harvests. Experience the vibrant atmosphere of the park surrounding the temple, with locals gathering in the mornings to sing, exercise, and practice tai chi. Covering an expansive 273 hectares in southern Central Beijing, take a leisurely walk for about 1-1½ hours (1½ kilometers). The walk is easy and offers a delightful exploration of this historical site.

DAY 5 Beijing to Datong | The Yungang Grottoes

Explore the impressive carvings of the Yungang Grottoes, a UNESCO World Heritage Site with 45 intact grottoes containing over 51,000 Buddhist statues and stunning murals. Visit the Yungang Exhibition Hall to see historical relics from the Northern Wei Dynasty.

Discover the well-preserved Huayan Temple, showcasing remarkable art from the Liao and Jin dynasties. Admire the intricate statues and vibrant frescoes from the Qing Dynasty.

Experience the wonder of the Hanging Monastery, a fascinating UNESCO site built into a vertical rock face. This monastery uniquely combines Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism. Note: The narrow and steep stairs may not be suitable for those afraid of heights.

DAY 6 Datong to Pingyao | Pingyao Ancient Town

Immerse yourself in Pingyao Ancient Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of China's best-preserved ancient towns. Explore the well-preserved buildings from the Ming and Qing Dynasties within the city walls. Experience traditional Chinese arts and crafts, stroll through the charming streets lit up by red lanterns in the evening, and relax in the local bars.

Walk along Mingqing Street, the bustling axis of Pingyao Ancient Town. Marvel at the well-preserved buildings and houses from the Ming and Qing Dynasties. Enjoy shopping for affordable souvenirs, observing local life, and discovering ancient handicraft techniques.

Visit the historic Rishengchang Former Bank, once the largest draft bank in China. Learn about its legacy and management through informative exhibitions.

DAY 7 Pingyao to Xi'an | The Ancient City Wall of Pingyao

Discover the time-honored Ancient City Wall of Pingyao, dating back 3,000 years and still showcasing its original Ming Dynasty appearance. This well-preserved 6,163-meter-long wall features six city gates, through which locals and tourists enter the ancient town.

Experience the splendor of Wang's Family Compound, an expansive courtyard complex with breathtaking views. This remarkable complex covers 250,000 square meters, reflecting the architectural charm of northern Chinese folk houses. With 123 courtyards and 1,118 rooms, it showcases strict hierarchy and intricate carvings.

City God Temple: Visit the captivating City God Temple, spanning 7,320 square meters and featuring Qing-style buildings. Originally constructed in the Ming Dynasty, it was rebuilt in 1864 after a fire. Unlike typical city god temples, it includes dedicated buildings for the city god, god of wealth, and kitchen god.

DAY 8 Xi'an| The Terracotta Warriors and Horses

Witness the remarkable Terracotta Warriors and Horses, guarding Emperor Qin's tomb since 210 BC. This army of over 7,000 soldiers, archers, horses, and chariots in battle formation is a stunning sight. Explore the three protected pits and visit the museum for an immersive historical experience. Remember to wear comfortable shoes and feel free to take photos without flash.

Experience the ancient defense system of the impressive Ancient City Wall. Dating back to the 13th century, it surrounds the city center with walls, ramparts, gates, and watchtowers. Enjoy a leisurely walk, rent a bike (additional cost), or an electric cart (additional cost) for panoramic views of the city on both sides.

DAY 9 Xi'an to Chongqing | Shaanxi History Museum

Visit the serene Big Wild Goose Pagoda, an important Buddhist site located within the beautiful Da Ci'en Temple grounds. Built in the 7th century, the elegant brick pagoda was constructed to safeguard Buddhist materials brought back from India by Xuanzang (Tripitaka) during his epic journey. Explore the temple complex, featuring impressive halls adorned with Buddhist statues and murals.

Immerse yourself in the fascinating history of Shaanxi, widely regarded as the history of China itself, at the magnificent Shaanxi History Museum. This top-tier museum showcases an extensive collection of artifacts housed in grand Tang-style buildings. Experience the vast and beautifully displayed exhibits, with most item labels in English. Feel free to seek assistance from your guide for further information. Comfortable walking shoes are recommended.

Explore the vibrant Muslim Quarter, located just 100 meters west of the Bell Tower in downtown Xi'an. This bustling 500-meter-long avenue is paved with bluestones and offers a variety of unique stalls, souvenir shops, cafes, and bars operated predominantly by Muslim locals. It's a popular spot for tourists, especially those from overseas, to shop and soak in the lively atmosphere.

Discover the remarkable Great Mosque, one of China's largest Islamic mosques, nestled in the heart of Xi'an's Muslim Quarter near the city center. This architectural masterpiece combines Chinese and Islamic influences, with courtyards aligned east to west, facing Mecca. Marvel at the beautifully adorned pavilions, halls, and gateways. The Great Mosque remains an active place of worship for the Hui descendants of Silk Road traders and travelers.

DAY 10 Chongqing and Yangtze Cruise | The Ciqikou Street

Experience the vibrant atmosphere of Ciqikou Street, a partially restored old area that retains its authentic charm as a bustling community. Explore the narrow streets and old wooden houses, showcasing the unimproved character furthest from the river. As you move closer to the river, discover craft and souvenir shops, teahouses, live music, and a wide variety of local food and snacks. Indulge in the local culinary delights as the locals are known for their love of food.

Delve into the fascinating history of the Yangtze River and the renowned Three Gorges Dam at the impressive Three Gorges Museum. Admire captivating stone and terracotta sculptures, intriguing artifacts, and remarkable artwork. The museum also features exhibits from the war years and hosts temporary exhibitions. Located across a lively square from the People's Hall, the museum offers a stunning setting resembling the Temple of Heaven.

DAY 11 Yangtze River Cruise | The Victoria Selina Cruise

Immerse yourself in the captivating history of Shibaozhai, also known as the Stone Treasure Fortress, located in Zhong County. This historic site, originally built in the Qing Dynasty in 1750, offers a unique experience that has evolved over time. Witness the magnificent wooden architecture standing on the riverside, gracefully perched upon a rectangular rock with sheer cliffs towering at a height of 56 meters. The 12-story structure is a treasure trove of interesting artifacts, with each floor dedicated to a famous general from the Three Kingdoms period (220-265 AD), a local scholar, or a renowned Chinese poet.

DAY 12 Yangtze River Cruise | The Goddess Stream

Embark on a tranquil and enchanting journey along the Goddess Stream, nestled between Qinshi Town and Feifeng Peak, opposite the Three Gorges. This hidden gem offers a secluded wonderland within the pristine beauty of the Yangtze River. Immerse yourself in the stunning natural scenery, surrounded by hundreds of majestic peaks. Explore the mysteries of the region as you discover historic relics, including intriguing coffins perched on the cliffs.

DAY 13 Yichang to Shanghai | The Three Gorges Dam

Visit the monumental Three Gorges Dam, the world's largest water conservancy project. Construction began in 1994 and was completed in 2009. This impressive dam stretches 2,335 meters in length, 185 meters in height, and offers picturesque photo opportunities from its top. Marvel at its engineering prowess and admire the incredible scale of this historic site.

DAY 14 Shanghai | The Yuyuan Garden

Explore the enchanting Yuyuan Garden, nestled in the heart of Shanghai's old quarters. Originally built in 1559 during the Ming Dynasty, this privately-owned garden showcases traditional Chinese classic architecture and style. Spanning across 2 hectares, the complex features serene rockeries, charming pavilions, picturesque ponds, and intricate corridors. Yuyuan Garden is surrounded by a bustling marketplace, offering a delightful array of local snacks, handicrafts, antiques, souvenirs, and renowned time-honored restaurants.

Stroll along the iconic 1.5-kilometer-long embankment of The Bund that hugs the western bank of the Huangpu River. On one side, marvel at the "architecture gallery" showcasing 52 beautifully preserved old European-style buildings. Once the heart of trade and commerce in old Shanghai, The Bund has transformed into a vibrant destination. Experience a blend of futuristic developments, trendy restaurants, high-end shops, and bustling bars, offering a wealth of attractions to explore. As night falls, The Bund transforms into a magical spectacle.

Step into the Jade Buddha Temple, a beloved Buddhist temple that dates back to 1918 and holds immense significance for the local community. Admire the temple's main treasures, two exquisite jade Buddha statues imported from Burma. Carved from rare single blocks of white jade embellished with precious stones, these statues are truly mesmerizing. As you explore, soak in the lively atmosphere filled with monks, worshippers, and visitors, adding to the temple's allure.

Embark on a Pujiang River Cruise during the day, offering an ideal vantage point to witness the harmonious blend of old and new Shanghai. Cruise along the Huangpu River, where you'll be captivated by the captivating view of both historic and modern cityscapes.

DAY 15 Shanghai | Shanghai Museum

Visit China's biggest and most esteemed museum, showcasing stunning collections of art, including bronzes, sculptures, ceramics, paintings, and more. Marvel at the impressive architecture and take your time to explore the extensive exhibits.

Explore the historic Former French Concession, home to iconic landmarks, charming streets, and French colonial-style buildings. Stroll through the area, taking in the rich history and enjoying the bustling cafe, bar, and restaurant scene.

Experience the trendy Tianzi Fang, known for its well-preserved Shikumen architecture, art galleries, craft shops, and cafes. Take a leisurely stroll through this creative neighborhood and soak in its vibrant atmosphere.

Discover Xintiandi, a lively tourist attraction blending Shanghai's modern skyline with its historical legacy. Explore the Shikumen buildings transformed into a multifunctional complex filled with restaurants, boutiques, and entertainment venues.

DAY 16 Shanghai Departure

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

Tour Price

FromUS4,000 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-29

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