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

12-Day Beijing, Xi'an, Yangtze River, and Shanghai Tour

Majestic China

During this 12-day tour, you can not only explore the "golden triangle" of China — Beijing, Xi'an, and Shanghai — for China's splendid history, ancient culture, and modern miracles, but also experience the most magnificent gorges of China with a relaxing cruise on the famous Yangtze River.

This is a nice choice for first-time visitors who would like to cover the cultural beauty and the natural beauty of China. Besides the must-sees of each place, it also includes some specially designed experiences to enrich your private China tour, such as a night tour of the Great Wall, learning to make a terracotta warrior, and an in-depth tour of the Bund.

Beijing-Xi'an-Yangtze-Shanghai Tour Map

Beijing Xian Yangzte Shanghai tour map

Tour 'Wow' Points

Discover the Chinese Emperors' Lives in the Forbidden City

Visit 12 selected places in the complex to discover the deep secrets of the imperial families, while typical group tours only visit six spots briefly.

Forbidden City
The hidden hall in the palace

See the Great Wall Tastefully Lit at Night

Stay overnight in a beautiful water town at the Simatai section of the Great Wall. Appreciate stunning views of the Great Wall by night and walk on the most picturesque Great Wall section at Jinshanling

Night view of the Great Wall
walking on the Great Wall at night

Make a Terracotta Warrior with Your Own Hands

Visit a local artisan and learn to make a warrior from the same local clay as the Terracotta Army in his/her authentic cave dwelling, which is a disappearing opportunity.

Terra-Cotta Amy
Making a clay warrior

Witness the Most Famous Three Gorges of China

Tour the Yangtze River and enjoy the magnificent landscapes along it in a relaxing way.

Yangtze River gorge
Shennv stream

Feel the History and the Rise of China on the Bund

Discover unique sites along the Bund that are difficult to find by yourself. Touch Shanghai's antique heritage and listen to the stories about their past.

The old building on the Bund
Skyscrapers in Shanghai

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 1 Arrival in Beijing

Your personal guide will meet you in the arrival hall. A comfortable private car and experienced driver will be ready and waiting to take you to your hotel.

DAY 2 Beijing | The Emperor Tour

Visit Tian'anmen Square before entering the Forbidden City. Explore hidden halls for a deeper understanding of the history and dodge the crowds, besides the must-see six halls on the central axis that are most tour groups only imperial palace experience. Your guide will bring things to life in a way that guide books just can't.

Enjoy a Peking roast duck lunch and then visit the Temple of Heaven in the afternoon.

DAY 3 Beijing | Summer Place and Night Tour of Simatai

Explore the Summer Palace in the morning. Experience the luxury and relaxing life of the royal family in ancient times.

Head for Gubei Water Town at the foot of the Simatai Great Wall after lunch. When you get to the town, your personal guide will show you around to enjoy architecture with an authentic Chinese style.

Ascend to the Wall by cable car at night. Enjoy the stunning night views of the Great Wall and the water town.

DAY 4 Beijing to Xi'an | The Picturesque Jinshanling Great Wall

Drive from Simatai to Jinshanling in the morning. The Jinshanling section is regarded as the most magnificent section of the Great Wall and it's less crowded. Take a cable car up to the wall. You will see both well-preserved original relics of the Ming Great Wall (1368–1644) and an authentically restored section.

Transfer back to Beijing city and catch a bullet train to Xi'an in the late afternoon. Your personal local guide and driver in Xi'an will meet you at the train station exit.

DAY 5 Xi'an | The Terracotta Warriors and Horses

Start your morning with a tai chi session on Xi'an's City Wall, following a local master's introduction. This is optional. You may prefer a walk or biking. Let us know what you would like to do.

Xi'an's highlight comes next: the Terracotta Army. Discover the army's secrets with the help of your guide. How were the warriors made? How are they preserved? What were their original colors?

Then your guide will bring you even closer to the warriors as you learn how to make miniature versions from a local family at their traditional cave dwelling.

DAY 6 Xi'an to Chongqing Flight | Three Gorges Museum

Take a morning flight to Chongqing. Visit the Three Gorges Museum to learn interesting facts about the three gorges and the greatest dam project before boarding the cruise in the evening.

DAY 7 Yangtze Cruise | Ghost City and Gorges Gateway

Enjoy tai chi morning exercise if you would like to (available every day).

Take a shore excursion to Fengdu Ghost City in the morning. There are many buildings built according to traditional Chinese geomancy and statues and artwork reflecting Chinese people's imaginations of the netherworld.

Enjoy the cultural activities on the ship in the afternoon and a night show — War Fires of the Three Kingdoms (optional) after dinner.

DAY 8 Yangtze Cruise | Gorgeous Gorges Large and Small

If you are interested in Chinese calligraphy and history, the optional excursion to White Emperor City is a nice choice. See 10-yuan banknote scenery, calligraphy inscriptions dating back centuries, and a famous fortress.

Cruise through the spectacular Qutang Gorge and the magnificent Wu Gorge at noon.

Enjoy a shore excursion to Shennv Stream in the afternoon, where you will take a boat to discover this tributary of the Yangtze River, with its clear water that runs southwards through deep and narrow gorges.

Enjoy the Crew Cabaret and Talent Show after dinner on the ship.

DAY 9 Yichang Arrival | Yichang to Shanghai by Bullet Train

Disembark in the morning, and then join the shore excursion to the Three Gorges Dam. Getting access to the platform right by the dam, you will enjoy the magnificent scenery of the Yangtze River and the supper project of China.

You will be transferred to the tourist center in Yichang city after the tour. Your private guide and driver will wait for you there and will transfer you to the railway station on time for your bullet train journey to Shanghai.

Note: The shore excursions in the itinerary are arranged by Century Cruises. They could vary depending on the cruise you choose.

DAY 10 Shanghai | City Tour

Start your Shanghai tour with Yu Garden, which is an elegant classical garden hidden among high buildings. You will hear interesting stories about its former owner and learn why its dragon wall almost killed its former owner.

Then, walking along the Bund, you will learn about the history of Shanghai behind its important old buildings. Feel Shanghai's rise to prominence.

End your tour with a visit to Shanghai Tower, the tallest skyscraper in Shanghai. Enjoy spectacular bird's-eye views of the city.

DAY 11 Shanghai | Zhujiajiao Water Town Tour

Enjoy a relaxing water town tour near Shanghai. Take a small boat to cruise along the canal with traditional houses on the banks. Experience the famous Jiangnan ('Yangtze South') culture and the traditional lifestyle of this area.

After traveling around China for 11 days, you might want to do something that's relaxing or "icing on the cake" at the end of your tour. You will have some free time in the afternoon. Your guide will be happy to arrange activities according to your wishes no matter whether you want to relax, experience Shanghai fashion, appreciate art, explore folk customs, shop, or any of many other options.

DAY 12 Depart Shanghai

Your guide and driver will escort you to the airport in plenty of time. Your guide will help you check-in and see you off at the correct security gate.

Hotel Selection

—the Icing on the Cake

Boutique hotels are recommended to enrich your travel experience.

Hotel room in Beijing
The lodge of the hotel in Xian
the hotel on the Bund
From USD3,100p/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

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