Top 10 China tours 2024/2025 for first visits and returns: embark on a lifetime experience. Learn more

20-Day Beijing, Pingyao, Xian, Guilin, Zhangjiajie and Shanghai Tour

Classic Chinese Culture and Natural Wonders Tour

Immerse yourself in the rich history of Beijing, explore the ancient city of Pingyao, marvel at the Terracotta Warriors in Xian, and cruise along the Li River in Guilin. Discover the surreal landscapes of Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, known as the inspiration for Avatar's Pandora. Finally, soak in the modernity of Shanghai's skyline and culture. This comprehensive journey showcases China's diversity, from its iconic landmarks to its 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

Explore the Awe-inspiring Li River in Guilin

Guilin landscape

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

Hallelujah Mountain

Make a Mini warrior with a Local Artisan Family

Learn to make a clay warrior

Enjoy a Peaceful Boat Ride Through Zhujiajiao Water Town

Zhujiajiao Water Town

Discover real reviews of Highlights Travel Family's best-rated service across trusted platforms.

Trip Advisor certificate of 2024 Tour Review

Itinerary Quick Look

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

DAY 1Beijing 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 Forbidden City

The Forbidden City - A Journey Through Imperial China: Your adventure begins at the iconic Forbidden City, nestled in the heart of Beijing. This sprawling complex served as the imperial palace for 24 emperors during the Ming and Qing dynasties. As you step through its imposing gates, you'll be transported back in time to an era of grandeur and opulence. Marvel at the vast square, majestic halls, and intricate gardens, all meticulously preserved for your exploration. Discover both permanent and temporary exhibitions that house invaluable treasures of ancient China. Your leisurely 2-hour stroll (approximately 2 kilometers) through the Forbidden City is graded as a moderate walk.

Tiananmen Square: Venture to Tiananmen Square, the largest city square in Beijing. Named after the Tiananmen (Gate of Heavenly Peace) to the north, which separates it from the Forbidden City, this vast plaza holds deep cultural significance. It's witnessed key events in Chinese history and stands as a symbol of national pride. Surrounding the square are awe-inspiring landmarks, including the Heavenly Gate, museums, government buildings, and Chairman Mao's Mausoleum.

Hutong Tour in Dongcheng District: Take a step back in time with a captivating Hutong Tour in Dongcheng District. These historic alleyways, adorned with traditional single-story courtyard houses, are disappearing at a rapid pace. Hop on a rickshaw for a one-hour guided journey through narrow alleys, immersing yourself in the authentic charm of old Beijing. You'll also have the unique opportunity to visit a local family, gaining insights into the courtyards' diverse histories and architectural nuances.

DAY 3 Beijing| The Temple of Heaven

Temple of Heaven - A Ming Dynasty Marvel: Start your journey at the awe-inspiring Temple of Heaven, a complex of Taoist buildings dating back to 1420 during the Ming Dynasty. This historical site served as a sacred ground for emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties, who conducted annual ceremonies to pray for bountiful harvests. As you explore the park surrounding the temple, you'll witness the vibrant life of locals. In the morning, the elderly gather here to sing, exercise, and practice Tai Chi. This serene oasis spans 273 hectares in the heart of Central Beijing, offering an easy 1-1½ hour walk through its picturesque landscapes.

Mutianyu Great Wall - A TripAdvisor Favorite: Embark on an unforgettable adventure to the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall, ranked as the top Great Wall section on TripAdvisor. Here, you'll encounter breathtaking scenery and beautifully-restored architecture. Known for its child-friendly accessibility, this section is just a 1.5-hour drive from downtown Beijing. In 1986, a 2½-kilometer stretch was meticulously restored, preserving its historical grandeur.

To maximize your time, we've arranged a round-trip cable car to transport you to and from the Wall, eliminating the need for a 40-minute climb. Once atop the Wall, enjoy free time to explore, following your guide's insightful introduction. Hike along the "golden route" between the 14th and 23rd watchtowers, considered by hikers as "the most beautiful and interesting part of the Great Wall." This invigorating journey takes about 2 hours to complete. Descend and take a convenient bus transfer back to our vehicle.

DAY 4 Beijing | The Lama Temple

Lama Temple - A Tibetan Treasure: Our adventure begins at the vibrant Yonghe Lamasery, a Tibetan Buddhist temple renowned as the largest and most famous outside of Tibet. This active temple welcomes throngs of devotees seeking blessings and good fortune, filling its beautiful halls and courtyards with spiritual energy. Marvel at the world's largest wooden statue, the Matreiya Buddha, and explore captivating Tibetan exhibitions that reveal the depth of this ancient culture.

Summer Palace with Boat Ride and the Garden of Virtue and Harmony: Venture to the northwest of Beijing to discover the enchanting Summer Palace, located just 9 miles (15 kilometers) from the bustling downtown area. This sprawling royal park, the largest and best-preserved in China, is a testament to the grandeur of Chinese horticulture and landscape design. Often referred to as 'The Museum of Royal Gardens,' it beckons with its natural beauty and cultural significance.

DAY 5 Beijing to Pingyao | The Pingyao Ancient Town

Pingyao Ancient Town - A Historic Gem: Kick off your exploration in Shanxi Province at Pingyao Ancient Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of China's best-preserved ancient towns. Encircled by Ming Dynasty city walls, it houses centuries-old buildings from the Ming and Qing Dynasties. Roam its cobblestone streets on foot or by bike, discovering traditional Chinese crafts like paper cutting and lacquerware production. As night falls, immerse yourself in the town's enchanting ambiance with its glowing red lanterns and vibrant bars.

The City God Temple - A Sacred Sanctuary: Embark on a journey to Pingyao's southeast to explore the City God Temple, spanning 7,320 square meters. This Ming Dynasty temple, rebuilt in the Qing Dynasty, stands out with its unique dedication to the city god, the god of wealth, and the kitchen god. Discover the spiritual heritage of ancient China as you delve into the intricate details of this sacred site.

DAY 6Pingyao | Ancient City Wall and Mingqing Street

Ancient City Wall - Timeless Heritage: Our journey through Pingyao begins at the Ancient City Wall, a nearly 3,000-year-old marvel. This well-preserved relic retains its original appearance from the early Ming Dynasty, several centuries ago. The construction, though simple, showcases exquisite craftsmanship. Stretching over 6,163 meters, with heights ranging from 6 to 10 meters, the wall features six city gates. Each day, both locals and tourists traverse these gates, immersing themselves in the charm of this ancient town.

Rishengchang Former Bank - A Legacy of Prosperity: Established in 1823, Rishengchang was China's first and largest draft bank of its time, renowned for its slogan "Hui Tong Tian Xia," signifying "business connecting the whole world." Situated on West Street within Pingyao Ancient Town, this historic institution operated for over a century. Explore its development and management through engaging exhibitions, gaining insight into its impact on commerce.

Mingqing Street - Bustling Historic Thoroughfare: Embark on Mingqing Street, the vibrant South Avenue of Pingyao Ancient Town, flanked by well-preserved Ming and Qing Dynasty buildings. This bustling 800-meter-long thoroughfare boasts over 100 shops, restaurants, and bars. Here, you can shop for affordable souvenirs, admire ancient architecture, glimpse local life, and even learn traditional handicraft techniques.

Pingyao Ancient Yamun - A Glimpse into Official Life: Located in the heart of Pingyao Ancient City, the over 600-year-old Yamun served as the workplace for officials and the site for handling prisoners in ancient times. As one of China's top four well-preserved ancient yamuns, it offers a captivating window into Pingyao's rich history and culture.

Armed Escort Company Museum - Guardians of Commerce: Discover the Armed Escort Company Museum along South Avenue, covering over 2,000 square meters. Here, engaging exhibitions trace the emergence, development, management, and operation of this ancient business, underscoring its pivotal role in promoting commerce. Delve into the stories of its founders and renowned martial arts legends.

DAY 7 Pingyao to Xi'an | Shuanglin Temple

Shuanglin Temple - A Glimpse into History: Our journey begins with a 20-minute drive from Pingyao Ancient Town to the enchanting Shuanglin Temple, also known as the "Double Forest Temple." With a history spanning 1,500 years, this sacred site is a treasure trove of ancient wonders. Explore the temple grounds adorned with ancient locust trees, steles, and frescoes. Don't miss the highlight: over 2,000 vivid and well-preserved colored-painting mud sculptures that will transport you through time.

Wang's Family Compound - A Grand Legacy: Today, we venture to the magnificent Wang's Family Compound, a vast courtyard complex set against a panoramic backdrop. Covering a sprawling 250,000 square meters, with 45,000 square meters open to visitors, this compound boasts 123 courtyards and 1,118 rooms. Immerse yourself in the quintessential features of northern Chinese folk houses. The intricate building designs and ornate decorations reveal the strict social hierarchy of the era, while the carvings and statues unveil a myriad of intriguing stories.

DAY 8 Xi'an | Terracotta Warriors and Horses

Terracotta Warriors and Horses - A Timeless Army: Our adventure begins with a visit to the awe-inspiring Terracotta Warriors and Horses. Discovered by chance in 1974, this remarkable army, consisting of over 7,000 soldiers, archers, horses, and chariots in full battle regalia, has stood guard over Emperor Qin's tomb since 210 BC. Each figure is a unique masterpiece, and the meticulous restoration and ongoing excavation take place in three pits, each protected within enormous hangars. Located just 1.5 hours from Xi'an, you'll also explore an excellent museum and enjoy a captivating film recounting the history of these ancient vaults. Don't forget your camera (no flash) and wear comfortable walking shoes to fully embrace this captivating experience.

Big Wild Goose Pagoda - A Sacred Relic: Our journey continues with a visit to the Big Wild Goose Pagoda, a prominent Buddhist site set amidst the picturesque Da Ci'en Temple. This elegant brick pagoda, built in the 7th century, was constructed to house Buddhist scriptures brought back from India by Xuanzang, also known as Tripitaka. Explore the temple's expansive grounds, where you'll discover grand halls adorned with magnificent Buddhist statues and captivating murals.

DAY 9 Xi'an | The Han Yang Ling Museum

Explore the Han Yang Ling Museum: Our final day takes us to the hidden gem of Xi'an, the Han Yang Ling Museum, situated in the northern suburbs beside the Wei River, just 20 kilometers from the city center. This underground museum houses a captivating collection of figurines from a Han Dynasty emperor's tomb, dating back a century after the Terracotta Warriors. While these clay figures are smaller than life-size and less detailed, they offer a unique perspective on history. The figures are thoughtfully displayed in underground pits, allowing you to walk above and view them through glass floors. You can also admire them from different angles. As an added convenience, the museum is conveniently located near the airport.

Dumpling-Making Experience: Today, immerse yourself in local culture with a hands-on dumpling-making experience. Jiaozi, or dumplings, filled with a delightful mix of meat and vegetables, are a beloved Chinese dish. You'll be welcomed into a local home, where you'll learn the art of dumpling-making from friendly hosts. This interactive experience not only teaches you the basics of dumpling preparation but also offers insight into local customs. The entire process takes approximately 1 to 2 hours, providing a tasty and cultural adventure.

Xi'an Night Tour - Embrace the City's Charms: As the sun sets, we embark on a unique evening adventure to experience Xi'an from a different perspective. Our night tour takes you to the Tang Dynasty Culture Square and Nanhu Lake, away from the ancient city wall. Stroll through this newly developed area, where modernity and history converge. Admire the vibrant, colorful lights, traditional lanterns, and even a sculpture of a Tang Dynasty giant potato. Learn about the intriguing stories behind the upscale residences in the Beverly of Xi'an area, all built within the last decade.

DAY 10 Xi'an to Guilin | The Ancient City Wall

Discover the Ancient City Wall: Our journey begins with a visit to Xi'an's Ancient City Wall, a remarkable testament to history and architectural prowess. This well-preserved defense system, constructed in the 13th century on the foundations of the original Tang Forbidden City, encircles the city center. You have the option to explore this 14-kilometer-long masterpiece on foot, or for an additional fee, rent a bike (CNY40 per person) or an electric cart (CNY80 per person). As you traverse the wall, marvel at the panoramic views of the city, a perfect introduction to Xi'an's rich heritage.

DAY 11 Guilin | Reed Flute Cave

Reed Flute Cave: Begin your journey at the enchanting Reed Flute Cave, Guilin's largest and most awe-inspiring cavern. This 240-meter-long cave is adorned with mesmerizing stalactites, stalagmites, and intricate formations that resemble various animals and plants. Your guided tour lasts 40 minutes.

Elephant Trunk Hill: Visit the iconic Elephant Trunk Hill, a natural wonder symbolizing Guilin. It stands 55 meters tall and offers breathtaking views of the Li River. Explore its caves and enjoy the serene atmosphere.

Daxu Ancient Town: Discover Daxu Ancient Town, known for its well-preserved historic buildings and traditional culture. Walk along charming bluestone pavements and soak up the town's rich heritage during a 2-hour exploration.

East-West Lane (Dongxi Xiang): Conclude your trip with a visit to "East-West Lane," a beautifully restored historical street in Guilin. Marvel at ancient city walls, historic buildings, and local shops, all showcasing the city's Ming and Qing dynasty heritage.

DAY 12 Guilin to Yangshuo | Li River Cruise

Li River Cruise from Guilin to Yangshuo (4-Star Boat): Embark on an unforgettable 4-hour cruise along the Li River from Guilin to Yangshuo. Prepare to be captivated by breathtaking scenery at every turn. Amidst dramatic limestone peaks, you'll witness bamboo groves, rice paddies tended by farmers, and water buffaloes cooling off in the river. Keep an eye out for fishermen on bamboo rafts and the elusive fishing cormorants. Our 4-star boat offers comfort and includes a buffet or semi-buffet lunch, ensuring a delightful journey.

West Street of Yangshuo: Explore West Street, also known as Foreigners' Street, a charming locale with over 1,400 years of history. This vibrant street has earned its nickname because of its appeal to international visitors. Here, you'll find a fusion of Chinese and Western influences in the bars, hotels, internet cafes, and handicraft shops. Immerse yourself in the unique blend of cultures that defines West Street.

DAY 13 Yangshuo | Yulong River

Bamboo Rafting on the Yulong River: Embark on a tranquil bamboo rafting adventure along the Yulong River, a journey that lasts approximately 40-50 minutes (duration varies with the season and water levels). As you glide along the gentle currents, you'll be surrounded by breathtaking scenery, including karst peaks, emerald rice fields, and lush bamboo groves. The serenity of this experience allows you to fully appreciate the wonders of nature as you leave the modern world behind, one bend in the river at a time.

DAY 14 Guilin to Zhangjiajie | Yangshuo Countryside Visit

Yangshuo Countryside Exploration: Experience the picturesque beauty of Yangshuo's countryside, where stunning karst peaks, lush rice fields, and serene waters await. This 1.5-hour excursion covers 10-12 kilometers, either by bicycle, electromobile, or private car, depending on your preference. As you immerse yourself in nature, you'll also get a glimpse of local life with a visit to a charming village. Your knowledgeable guide will introduce you to the rural way of living.

DAY 15 Zhangjiajie | The National Forest Park

In Zhangjiajie, you will visit the National Forest Park, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Marvel at the unique pillar-like formations shaped by erosion over time. Explore the park's vast forest-covered area, including Yuanjiajie, Yangjiajie, Jinbian Stream, and Wulongzhai. Immerse yourself in the local culture by visiting nearby villages inhabited by Tujia, Bai, Miao, and Hui people.

Please note that accommodations and meals in mountain areas like Zhangjiajie and Huangshan are simple. Adjust your expectations accordingly for the best experience. Get ready to be captivated by the breathtaking landscapes of Zhangjiajie National Forest Park.

DAY 16 Zhangjiajie| The Grand Canyon with Glass Bridge

Today, our guide will lead you to visit Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon, which is a stunning natural attraction that has recently been developed into a wonderland for visitors. It offers a combination of majestic mountains, flowing streams, intriguing caves, towering cliffs, and lush forests. One of the highlights of this scenic area is the world's longest and highest glass bridge. Imagine the thrill of walking on this bridge, suspended 300 meters above the ground! It's definitely an experience you wouldn't want to miss during your tour.

If walking on the glass bridge isn't your cup of tea, don't worry. We have an alternative route that allows you to still enjoy the attraction without stepping on the glass bridge. However, if you decide to take on the adventure, please note that for safety reasons, carrying a camera on the bridge is not allowed. You can, however, bring your cellphone or GoPro to capture those unforgettable moments.

DAY 17 Zhangjiajie to Shanghai | Tianmen Mountain

Visit the Tianmen Mountain, the awe-inspiring heart of Zhangjiajie! As the highest peak in the area, this majestic mountain offers unrivaled views of ancient trees, stunning karst formations, and scenic roads carved into cliff sides. Hop on the world's longest cable car ride, a thrilling 30-minute journey from the city center, and ascend to the mountain's summit.

At 1430 meters above ground, you'll find the renowned Tianmen Mountain Glass Walkway, a remarkable observation platform that extends from a sheer cliff. This narrow 1.6-meter-wide, 60-meter-long glass walkway offers brave souls not only breathtaking views of the mountains below but also the exhilaration of treading nervously above such heights. Some have even likened this experience to the famous 'skywalk' at the Grand Canyon in Arizona, USA.

Don't miss the chance to explore this remarkable natural wonder in China. Savor the beauty and thrill of Tianmen Mountain, an experience that will leave you with unforgettable memories.

DAY 18 Shanghai| The Bund and Zhujiajiao Water Town

Experience the allure of The Bund, a historic embankment along the Huangpu River. Marvel at the well-preserved European-style buildings that line its promenade, offering a glimpse into Shanghai's trading past. Immerse yourself in the vibrant atmosphere that now defines The Bund, with its modern developments, chic restaurants, upscale shops, and lively bars. Be sure to visit in the afternoon or evening to witness the enchanting lights that illuminate the area.

Visit the impressive Shanghai World Financial Center, a soaring skyscraper that serves as a symbol of Shanghai's prosperity. Take in awe-inspiring views from its observation deck, the highest in the world, and explore the diverse offerings within the building, including hotels, apartments, restaurants, shopping malls, and offices.

Indulge in a Zhujiajiao Boat Ride, where you can peacefully glide along the water and admire the town's scenic highlights. Discover historical attractions such as the ancient pharmacy, Post Office, art galleries, temples, museums, and gardens during the 20-minute ride. Allow the intimate setting of the boat to provide a personal experience of this charming water town.

DAY 19 Shanghai| Yuyuan Garden and Shikumen

Explore the enchanting Yuyuan Garden, a meticulously designed private garden showcasing classic Chinese architecture. Immerse yourself in the peaceful ambiance as you admire the rockeries, pavilions, ponds, and corridors. Don't miss the bustling marketplace surrounding the garden, offering a blend of culinary delights, handicrafts, and souvenirs.

Visit the revered Jade Buddha Temple, home to invaluable Buddha statues carved from precious white jade. Experience the vibrant atmosphere as worshippers and visitors gather, immersing yourself in the spiritual energy the temple offers.

Take a leisurely stroll through Shanghai's Old Street, where well-preserved traditional houses and narrow lanes transport you to the bygone era of the city. Engage with local life and explore the various shops and stalls, filled with antiques, crafts, and souvenirs, allowing you to discover unique treasures.

Experience the distinctive Shikumen style of housing and witness its evolution from residential neighborhoods to modern gathering places filled with bars, tea houses, and entertainment centers. Don't miss the opportunity to glimpse into the past at Wu Li Xiang, an exhibition that showcases the furnishings and essence of traditional Shanghainese homes.

DAY 20 Shanghai Departure

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

Tour Price

FromUS5,000 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-57

Your 1:1 travel consultant will reply within 1 working day.

Number in your group

What's your hotel choice?

I am also available on:

Start planning your tailor-made tour with 1-1 help from our travel advisors. Create Your Trip

Sign up to Our Newsletter

Be the first to receive exciting updates, exclusive promotions, and valuable travel tips from our team of experts.

Click to Sign up

Why China Highlights

Customize Your Tour

Customize Your Tour

  • Travel Advisors Rooted in China
  • Instant Response, No More Waits!
  • Direct Connections, Supreme Values
Maximize Your Flexibility

Maximize Your Flexibility

  • Your own personal guide and ride.
  • Explore at your own pace.
  • Unparalleled flexibility, impossible on a group tour.
Ensure Your Satisfaction

Ensure Your Satisfaction

  • The Top 20% nationwide guides at your service.
  • 20% more space on your group's transportation.
  • 24/7 emergency support.
Live Your China Story

Live Your China Story

  • Authentic local culture and lifestyles.
  • Understand the culture by living it.
  • Uncover fascinating histories and witness New China.
China Highlights logo
Trip Advisor rating Rated 5 out of 5 | 98.8% Excellence
China Highlights International
Travel Service Co., LTD
Featured on
China Highlights was featured on these medias.

Address: Building 6, Chuangyi Business Park, 70 Qilidian Road, Guilin, Guangxi, 541004, China