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12-day Panda Keeper and Classic Wonders

Panda Keeper and Classic Wonders

Cute pandas and certain historic sites are unique resources in China. This tour features Chengdu, the homeland of giant pandas, but also includes the famous Golden Triangle — Beijing, Shanghai, and Xi'an. The Great Wall, the Forbidden City, the Terracotta Warriors, the Bund and picturesque karst landscape in Guilin and Yangshuo are all yours to see.

Beijing-Xi'an-Chengdu-Shanghai Tour Map

Beijing Xian Chengdsu Guilin tour map


  • Explore a less-crowded part of the Great Wall
  • See how the thousand-year-old Terracotta Warriors come alive
  • Be a panda keeper for a day to experience taking care of a panda
  • Enjoy a relaxing Li River cruise to Yangshuo
  • Admire the charming mix of ancient and modern in Shanghai

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Suggested Itinerary

Day 1Beijing Arrival

Your private guide will be ready to meet and greet you at arrivals. A comfortable private car (non-smoking) with an experienced driver will transfer you directly to your hotel. Your guide will help you checkin.

Day 2Beijing Highlights
Breakfast & Lunch

Today's experiences include the classic, epic sights of Beijing: the Forbidden City, home to 24 emperors and its newly exhibited Qing Dynasty royalty treasures; the enormous Tiananmen Square; and a rickshaw ride through the narrow alleys plus a visit to a local family make for a truly special experience. Enjoy authentic Chinese dishes for lunch at a popular local restaurant.

Optional Activities:

Night shows, such as the Kung Fu Show at the Red Theater or the Acrobatics Show at Chaoyang Theater, are recommended to enrich your night. You're recommended to book with your guide a day before, or on the day, to allow flexibility.

The Forbidden City The Forbidden City
Day 3A Day on the Great Wall

Arrangements for today day make for the experience of a lifetime, the chance to walk the Great Wall of China! Your guide and driver will take you out of Beijing and onto some beautiful country roads before you reach a section of the Great Wall called Mutianyu. We select this section with the highest density of watchtowers (great for photography) and a cable car, giving you maximum time to walk, and for some insights into this area's unique battlement outcrops. After a visit on the wall we'll arrange a well-deserved lunch to follow your visit to the wall.

Tips for visiting

  • Most customers find that two hours on the wall is plenty, but you are welcome to spend longer. Just let your guide know on day 2, so we can plan around traffic and offer our best advice.
  • There is an optional toboggan ride down, popular with past customers of all ages.
The Great Wall at Mutianyu The Great Wall at Mutianyu
Day 4Summer Palace and Flight to Xian
Breakfast & Lunch

The garden and lakes of the Summer Palace are a beautiful part of Beijing. We'll take a boat ride over to the palace, and explore the Garden of Virtue and Harmony. After lunch your drive and guide will escort you to Beijing Airport, ensuring you're at the right terminal and gate for your onward flight to Xi'an.

Your local Xi'an guide and driver will be ready and waiting at Xi'an airport arrivals.

Summer Palace Summer Palace
Day 5Terracotta Warriors and the Ancient City Wall
Breakfast & Lunch

One of the best ways to see Xi'an is from the ancient city wall. The wall is massive. It's tall and so wide we can enjoy a rickshaw, cycle or walk around this marvel of ancient engineering.

After lunch we'll drive you out to the Terracotta Warriors, where your guide will unlock some fascinating insights that few visitors notice.

The Terracotta Warriors The Terracotta Warriors
Day 6Silk Road History & Flight to Chengdu
Breakfast & Lunch

The Muslim Quarter in Xi'an is an area you may not have heard of, but is has often been a highlight for our past clients. This unique area is a melting pot of Silk Road history, offering you a chance to explore a unique local mosque and try some ethnic food.

There is still time to see for one of China's most unique pagodas, the brick pagoda know as Big Wild Goose Pagoda, including its charming surrounding gardens. Then it's on to the airport for your flight to Chengdu, home of the pandas.

Our local guide and driver will transfer you from the airport to your hotel, helping with luggage and the check-in process.

The Big Goose Pagoda The Big Goose Pagoda
Day 7Panda Hometown: One-Day Panda Keeper Program
Breakfast & Lunch

Dujiangyan Panda Base is now the most popular panda base in China offering the Panda Keeper Program. It takes about 1½ hours by car to get to Dujiangyan from the hotel. This unique one-day tour will enable you to have a close encounter with the lovely giant pandas.

Under the guidance of English-speaking staff, you will clean the panda enclosures, see the pandas close-up, watch panda movies, and make cakes for the treasured creatures. Have a Chinese lunch with staff in the canteen.

This one-day close encounter with pandas makes for the more wonderful memories.

China Highlights will help you obtain the health certificate that the base requires and, after the volunteer program, you will receive a certificate from the CCRCGP (China Conservation and Research Center for Giant Pandas). To guarantee the safety of volunteers, pandas are kept in their 'superior room' with air-conditioning rather than in the wild.

Panda Keeper Program Panda Keeper Program
Day 8Half-Day Panda Tour in Chengdu and Flight to Guilin
Breakfast & lunch

Chengdu is a paradise of pandas; you will find lots of things related to the panda-theme. During the day, Today you will continue to enjoy the cute panda world.

Created by the internationally renowned artist Lawrence Argent, a gigantic panda sculpture weighs 13 tons and is 15 meters tall. This massive panda has become a trendy landmark in Chengdu, climbing on the wall of the Chengdu International Finance Square (Chengdu IFS) on Chunxi Road.

After lunch you will go to Chengdu People's Park to have a deep breath of fresh air. You can join the local people to experience the bustle and chatter of a local teahouse in this area.

Kuan-Zhai Lane (or Wide and Narrow Alley) is an ancient street with hundreds of years' history combined with modern elements.

This evening we will transfer you to the airport for your onward flight to Guilin, land of rivers and dramatic mountains.

Labrang Monastery Jinli Old Street
Day 9Guilin: Relaxing Li River Cruise from Guilin to Yangshuo and Countryside Tour
Breakfast & lunch

A tranquil four-hour cruise on the Li River offers great views of the bamboo forests and limestone peaks, the scenery immortalized by Chinese artists down through the centuries. Exploring the countryside continues with a bike ride along small roads and lanes surrounded by paddy fields and orchards, away from traffic and crowds. A visit to a local farmer's home lets you see how people really live in these rural areas.

Enjoy staying a night in this beautiful countryside town, explore west street and try some street food on offer.

About cruise

Your luggage will be transferred directly by private van and driver from Guilin to your hotel in Yangshuo. Your personal guide will accompany you on the cruise and take care of you.

Currently, either 3-star or 4-star riverboats are available for the Li River cruise. The 3-star boats are cheaper, but have less-modern facilities. Their seat-spacing is narrower and the lunch on board is simpler. The 4-star boats are better. We will only use the relatively new 4-star boats, which serve a buffet lunch.

The Mountains and the Li River The Mountains and the Li River
Day 10Yangshuo: Chinese Cooking Class and Flight to Shanghai
Breakfast & lunch

In the morning, your guide can show you around the local food market — the hub around which life revolves in Yangshuo. All the food is fresh, even the chickens are still flapping in their cages. A cookery class helps you discover how those delicious dishes develop their flavor, as you see which vegetables and meat are used, cook with the teacher, and then taste the results. You even get the recipes to take home.

This afternoon we'll transfer you to the airport directly from Yangshuo, ensuring you are at the right terminal and gate for your Shanghai flight.

Chinese Cooking Class Chinese Cooking Class
Day 11Shanghai: Panoramic View Over the City and Bustling Market Street
Breakfast & lunch

Shanghai is a fusion of old and new. Shanghai World Financial Center which has the tallest glass observation deck in China. Lunch is a meal of Cantonese food in beautiful surroundings with a nice view over the Bund.

Half-Day Customized Icing-on-the-Cake Experience

After traveling in China for around 10 days, you might want to do something different at the end of your tour. Do you want to have some relaxation time? Do you have any unfulfilled trip wishes? In the magic city of Shanghai, your private guide will make your wishes come true!

Whether you want to relax, experience fashion, appreciate art, explore folk customs, or shop; from having fun in fancy bar to exploring an art center, trying nail beauty, testing your popularity in the marriage market, or just buying some lovely gifts, we will make it happen. Just tell us what you're interested in.

If you don't know what you want, just let your guide make the arrangements. You will not be disappointed!

The Bund The Bund
Day 12Shanghai Departure

Today is your final day and we allow you time to explore or relax by yourself. If you have a late evening flight and want a guide today just ask your travel advisor. As at every city, your private guide, driver and car will escort you to the airport and ensure you are at the correct gate.

Trip Notes

1. Tailoring Your Tour

This tour is very flexible. You can alter the itinerary, extend or shorten it to suit your budget, interests and schedule. Feel free to tell us your requirements, and we'll be happy to help you arrange accordingly.

2. Panda Keeper Program

As the first tour company in China to operate the program, China Highlights has developed a stable relationship with the Dujiangyan Panda Base. Sometimes the program is subject to change due to force majeure. Usually we are able to get the first-hand information necessary to arrange your tour. Your early booking (at least two weeks before departure) is useful in facilitating the availability of the program. Sometimes activities listed in the tour description will be adjusted according to the health of the pandas. Thanks for your understanding.

If your time is limited, and you can only join in with morning activities, the price will still be the same.

3. Children as Panda Keepers

Panda volunteers should be between 10 and 70 years of age. Though the pandas look harmless, they are actually carnivores. Parents must prevent their children from coming into direct contact with the pandas. The cost for children 12 years old and above is the same as the cost for adults.
If your children are between 2 and 9 years, you can still take them with you during the program. The children should not enter the room where the panda cage is, but they can watch you clean the cage, which takes around 30 minutes. Your guide will help you take care of children.

If your children are under 2 years old and you yourself take care of them throughout the day, no additional fee is charged.

Tour Price

FromUS2,959 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

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

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