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
Explore a Top-Ranked Section of the Great Wall
Explore the Impressive Carvings of the Yungang Grottoes
Witness the Famous Three Gorges Dam of China
Why Choose Us
Your Wellbeing is Our Priority.
- 1-to-1 travel expert
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- Private Rides
Your Trip is Perfectly Planned.
- Less crowded
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- No cancellation fee (up to 22 days before departure)
- Free changes
Finish Your Booking in as Quick as 1 Day
2. Work out your unique plan with 1 to 1 expert advice
Olivia Tian, a sunshine tour guide!
In October, my friend Amy booked a tour with Chinahighlights, Olivia Tian was our guide in Beijing, she is such a sweet n happy person to be around, not only she gave us the best guide service, also very accommodating, alter the plan as per our interest, took us to very local shopping n food district. Above all, she takes awesome pics, very patient!! Thank you so much for such pleasant 5 days in BJ, look forward to see you when we are back in China, Olivia!!more
Dec 2023, Venture216019
One whole of a good experience !
Kevin was always making flexible arrangements for us making sure we meet our needs. Kevin also walked us to our desired restaurant daily making sure all are well before he left. Kudos to the whole team. Highly recommend ?more
Dec 2023, Cornelius C
China is Amazing Wonders that do not stop coming at you.Great country
Great job,Loved every minute of it,Ethan did an amazing job,True Ambassador of China,Just like the Chinese people,Friendly, dignified and hardworking,Very happy.China Highlights exceeded expectations and then some,I will never even think of travelling with another company.more
Dec 2023, Philip Sardar /Maps10321171537
Wonderful trip to Beijing and Xian
Had a great trip to bejing n xian. Our guide lily liu is so well versed in english and we have no worry here at all. We managed to dine in great halal restaurants though out our trip. Highly reccomended to all muslims travellers.more
Dec 2023, Efen Reyes
Great experience, highly recommended!
Additionally, she helped me with all my personal needs like getting a SIM card, finding an ATM, shopping, dining, checking in at the train station, hotel, suggested a couple additional very entertaining art events. Was also punctual and spoke good English.more
Nov 2023, Wayne S.
Excellent tour with Tom from China Highlights
We used China Highlights for the 3 days of our Beijing trip. Tom was a fantastic guide. Very knowledgable with excellent English. He was able to accommodate changes to our tour at short notice, allowing us to make the most of our limited time. Couldn’t recommend highly enoughmore
Nov 2023, Ross
Wow this tour was honestly the best tourI have ever taken! Our guide Simon Yao was simply superb! His English was excellent and he was very easy to talk to. He was personable and friendly but not overpowering or overbearing. Very knowledgeable about history. Thankfully the weather was good so we were not super hot !Finally at the wall we were amazed by it's beauty and grandeur. It really is something and pictures don't do it justice.more
Nov 2023, Annika M
Excellent two day visit to Great Wall
Our guide ‘Mark’ was incredible. So friendly, knowledgable and funny. The itinerary was perfect, we got to see two different parts of the Great Wall (one of which at night which was magical) and our hotel stay in Gubei was wonderful. Highly recommend to anybody visiting Beijingmore
Nov 2023, James_Wolstenholme
Great Experience from start to finish!
Jack was my guide and his local knowledge and English skills were fantastic. He was punctual, friendly and willing to flex as we went about our tour. Couldn’t recommend China Highlights more!more
Nov 2023, Scott Smith
Helen in Beijing - thanks for paying great attention to details, for your small surprises for the children every day, for selecting amazing restaurants, and leading wonderful walking tours. Your cheerfulness added to our enjoyment.more
Nov 2023, Kamila
Great day out with Mark, thanks China Highlights!
We did a 1 day private tour with China Highlights to see Tiananmen Square, Forbidden City, and the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall. Communication was great throughout - from trip planning/booking with Roger and from our guide Mark who contacted us the day before to confirm meet up time/location. Avoided a lot of the queues and definitely learned quite a bit of history from our guide Mark…thanks again! No language barriers/issues…highly recommended.more
Nov 2023, ykeezy
China Three (3) Cities Tours
To the tour guides, Ethan, Jason and Tony, you guys have made my visit an awesome and memorable experience. All the tour guides spoke english and communicated very effectively. They are knowledgeable about all the sites visited including, Great Wall of China, The Forbidden City, Panda Breeding and Research Center, Leshan Giant Buddha, Hallelujah Mountains, Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon and Glass Bridge, and Tianmen Mountain. The tour guides ensured I got the most out of my time I stayed in the various cities Beijing, Chengdu and Zhangjiajie.more
Nov 2023, Kadar
13 days in China
We booked a 13 day’s tour of China with China Highlights. Our travel advisor, Ms Leah Zhou organised an itinerary that suited what we wanted. She was really helpful and patient will all our needs. Leah helped us organised our 30th Wedding Anniversary Dinner and my 60th Birthday celebration?? in Beijing. For this to be possible, she had to liaise with our guide in Beijing. The flowers and cake were a real surprise. My husband and I, were really touched at the good service provided by China Highlights and Ms Leah Zhou. Thank you China Highlights and Ms Leah Zhou for your constant care of your customers. I will certainly recommend China Highlights to my friends.more
Nov 2023, Eda Adams
Perfect Beijing experience
Covering all major sights our exploration of Beijing and surroundings was flawless guided by Lily, along with her knowledgeable and balanced information on Chinas culture and history. In particular, Lily was able to adjust the tour according to personal preferences, e.g. focus on photography, as well as suggesting additional activities like an impressive authentic artistic show. I highly recommend China Highlights as China tour operator and Lily Liu as excellent guide regarding the Beijing area.more
Nov 2023, Perfect Beijing experience
Our first trip to Beijing
Our tour guide was Lucy Yubo. She was awesome. Very friendly, informative and passionate about her job. We really enjoyed her company and guidance.more
Nov 2023, Sreelatha Reddy
Anne and Bob’s tour of Beijing
We did the China Highlights tour of Beijing with our excellent guide Mark and his driver. We thoroughly enjoyed seeing the Beijing highlights including the Lama Temple, the Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City and the Lama Temple. The Summer Palace with the boat ride and the Garden of Virtue and Harmony were memorable also and the Mutianyu Great Wall was a highlight. We were impressed with Mark as a guide. He knew his history and he was kind and thoughtful. He took us to some excellent restaurants and we were introduced to some beautiful food. We enjoyed his company and will always remember him.more
Nov 2023, BendigoBob
Excellent end to end service
Helen is a positive, full of knowledge, experienced guide.She provided us an implacable service abd experience for 3 days .Highly recommendedmore
Nov 2023, Sariel Engel
Amazing Beijing Tour with Risa!
Risa gave us a wonderful tour of the city! She thoroughly explained the cultuaral importance of each exhibit while also educating us on the Chinese culture. Appreciated having this wonderful Beijing trip with Risa:)more
Nov 2023, Angelica M.
Amazing Beijing Tour With Risa!
We were very kindly received in Beijing by our tour guide Risa. She gave us a very thorough tour of the city and showed us wonderful places, while also explaining the important history/culture of China! Very beautiful city filled with many things to do and full of culture! This was very well planned and made it very easy for us to visit the city and foreigners:) Thank you Risa!more
Nov 2023, Angelica M
Do Beijing like a local
They organised my trip very quickly and efficiently. On the day, Anna was very friendly to me, my mum and my baby. Very accommodating to our needs. The car was immaculately clean and very comfortable. We visited everything we initially wanted and more. Also, Anna took us to the best meal we had in China. It makes a difference to have a local choosing the dishes!more
Nov 2023, Natali A
Itinerary Quick Look
Here is a suggested itinerary. We are happy to customize a tour according to your interests.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- 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