China's Ancient Cities and Celebrated Mountains
15-Day Beijing, Xian, Chengdu, Hangzhou, Huangshan and Shanghai Tour
The breathtaking scenery of the ancient mountains and towns has inspired generations of artists and poets. We have collected several of these pearls and strung them together with the best of the Golden Triangle: Beijing, Xi'an, and Shanghai.
- The Great Wall of China
- The Terracotta Warriors
- Mount Hua
- The largest Buddha in the world: Leshan Giant Buddha
- The Monastery of Ten Thousand Years on Mount Emei
- West Lake
- The sunrise and sunset on the Yellow Mountains
About China Highlights
Since 1959 we've guided everyone ranging from US presidents, Australian Geographic and retired backpackers. Our goal is to create unique trips that take you off-the-beaten path, helping you discover China in a more authentic way. Our motto: "Discovery Your Way!"
My Beijing tour was AMAZING
My Beijing tour was AMAZING! I visited Tiananmen Square, The Forbidden City [and Imperial Garden], The Temple of Heaven, The Great Wall (Day and night Tour) and finally the historic and breathtakingly beautiful Gubei Water Town. Thank you Chinahighlights for making my trip as enjoyable as possible and a huge THANK YOU to Yuan Yuan my tour guide, who was so informative, very patient and helpful and also incredibly funny! more
On arrival in Beijing, your guide, driver, and private car will be ready and waiting to transfer you to the hotel, assisting you with your luggage and check-in. This team will ensure your room is in order and will take care of you during your time in Beijing.
You will visit iconic sights of the city: Tian'anmen Square and the Forbidden City.
Tian'anmen Square at the heart of Beijing is the largest city square in the world and witness to many major historical events. Walking northward from the square you will enter the Forbidden City, the imperial palace where treasures are hidden and history has happened.
Have lunch at a popular local restaurant, where your guide will help you order dishes to ensure an authentic Chinese flavor.
In the afternoon, hop on a rickshaw to explore the charming hutongs (lanes) which are traditional Beijing neighborhood areas.
This less crowded Mutianyu section of the Great Wall offers superb views as it snakes across the mountains. After driving for about 2½ hours from Beijing city center, you will take a shuttle bus to the foot of the mountains. Cable cars are available to take you to a good section (avoiding climbing on steep steps), where you can walk along the wall and enjoy the view. You can descend by cable car, or walk along the wall for about an hour to descend by chairlift.
After lunch at a nearby restaurant, drive back to the city and visit the Temple of Heaven, where ancient emperors held grand ceremonies to pray for good harvests. You will see local people enjoying leisure time inside the park, singing, dancing, and playing chess or musical instruments.
After a buffet breakfast in the hotel, your driver and guide will escort you to Beijing Airport, ensuring you're at the right terminal and gate for your onward flight to Xi'an.
Once again, in Xi'an airport arrivals, your local Xi'an guide and driver will be ready and waiting.
After lunch at a popular Chinese restaurant, uncover the mystery of the underground army dated thousands of years ago at the Terracotta Warriors Museum and site.
Drive about 1½ hours to the outskirts of Xi'an and admire one of the most dangerous mountains in China: Mount Hua. You can reach the main peak by riding a cable car and starting the adventure to the North, East, and West Peak. After the tour, descend by cable car and your guide and driver will escort you back to the hotel in Xi'an.
One of the best ways to see Xi'an is from the ancient city wall. The city wall is massive; it is high and so wide that it is possible to ride a bike or walk across this marvel of ancient engineering.
Big Wild Goose Pagoda, an elegant brick pagoda built in the 7th century, has several large halls with some great Buddhist statues and murals.
After lunch we will drive you to the Shaanxi History Museum to unlock more of the fascinating history of ancient China.
Take an evening flight to Chengdu. Your guides in Xi'an and Chengdu will be there for you.
The Panda Breeding and Research Center is home to endangered giant pandas. The panda nursery is the highlight for many visitors.
After lunch at a local restaurant, visit the Wu Hou Temple to learn about "The Romance of the Three Kingdoms". The surrounding gardens and the beautifully decorated halls are delightful. Jinli Old Street has been fully restored in the Qing Dynasty style, and has a variety of interesting shops - even a Starbucks. This is an ideal place to explore, relax, and take photos.
Good to know:
Temporary suspension of panda photo and volunteer program. In order to protect the giant pandas from canine distemper infection, all the panda bases (Chengdu Giant Panda Breeding and Research Base, Bifengxia Giant Panda Base, and Dujiangyan Panda Valley) have suspended the program that allows visitors to take pictures holding a panda and the panda volunteer program since January 6, 2015. The reopening date is to be arranged.
You will be driven to Leshan City in the morning, which takes about two hours. After a short break and lunch, you will begin your journey to the Giant Buddha, which is about a 21-minute drive from downtown Leshan.
Construction of the Giant Buddha started in the Tang Dynasty (618–907) and it took 90 years to finish. The sitting Buddha statue is 71 meters high and is the largest existing Buddha statue in the world. You will take a cruise in order to see the huge statue.
You will spend a full day visiting Mount Emei. Mount Emei is one of the four famous Buddhist mountains in China. You can take a cable car to get up and down from the mountain. There you will enjoy the picturesque mountain scenery, experience the profound Buddhist culture, and might come across the monkeys (don't get too close to them for safety).
There are about 30 temples on the mountain, and the most renowned one is the Monastery of Ten Thousand Years. The temple was first built in the 4th century and was reconstructed in the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644).
After the tour, you will be transferred back to the hotel in Chengdu.
After a morning flight to Hangzhou, your guide will accompany you to Lingyin Temple and the nearby Feilai Feng (Flying Peak) Buddhist grotto. You will have lunch at a popular local restaurant. The Six Harmonies Pagoda is a graceful example of 1,000-year-old wood and brick structures.
West Lake has inspired poets and painters throughout the centuries with its beauty. Our guide will show you the best spots to take photos. Just let them know in advance if you are a keen shutter bug.
After lunch, your guide will take you to board the express bus to Huangshan, which takes approximately three hours.
Today you will spend a day and a night on the Yellow Mountains. It takes about one hour from central Huangshan City to reach the foot of the Yellow Mountains. Your appreciation of the graceful Yellow Mountains begins with the Yungu cable car (a round-trip cable car is included). Don't miss the magnificent scenery along your 10-minute journey.
Your guide, who spends over 200 days on the mountains every year, will customize the route for you.
For an energetic hiker in good shape: Descend the cable car, walk for about 40 minutes to arrive at the hotel, and see Harp Pine, Beginning-to-Believe Peak and Black Tiger Pine along the way. After buffet lunch at the hotel, explore the West Sea Grand Canyon. The whole hiking trip lasts for over three hours, covering the 1st ring, 2nd ring, and bottom of the canyon. If time and strength permit, you can further explore the Flying-over Rock and watch the sunset at Bright Top. It takes about 40 minutes to get from Bright Top back to the hotel.
For beginners, children, and senior citizens: Get off the cable car, walk for about 30 minutes to the hotel, and see Black Tiger Pine and Dream Flower Pine on the way. After buffet lunch at the hotel, walk to West Sea Grand Canyon. You can decide how long you would like to walk for: reaching the 1st ring and returning takes about two hours; reaching the 2nd ring and returning takes about 2 1/2 hours. Then enjoy the sunset at Cloud-dispelling Pavilion. It takes about 30 minutes to get back to the hotel.
Good to know:
Travel light! Please take a small bag or backpack for your overnight stay on the mountain. Your guide will assist you with storing your big suitcase in your hotel in Tunxi. You can collect it on your way back. You can also store the luggage at the foot of the mountain. The cost is about CNY20 (US$4) for each piece.
Rise early and take the chance to photograph the sunrise at Refreshing Terrace, which is highly recommended by our past customers who have visited the Yellow Mountains. After breakfast in the hotel, walk to Lion Peak to see the Dawn Pavilion, Stone Monkey Watching the Sea, and all shapes of pines along the route. Your discovery of the Yellow Mountains will finish with the Yungu Cable Car journey. Then it is time to enjoy an authentic Hui style lunch in a local restaurant.
Your guide will handle your luggage, transfer, and accompany you to the train station and take the bullet train to Shanghai.
Shanghai Museum is one of the best in the country, especially the exhibits of ethnic minorities' handicrafts. Yuyuan Garden in the old quarter is a classic example of Ming Dynasty architecture as well as a verdant garden. Enjoy local cuisine for lunch in a cozy restaurant.
The Oriental Pearl TV Tower ends the day with its fabulous views of the cityscape from the 360-degree glass viewing platform. Shanghai History Museum, on the first floor, tells the story of this magnificent city; if you would like to visit it, just tell your travel advisor.
Good to Know:
The Oriental Pearl TV Tower has a revolving restaurant at the top. If you are interested in booking a table for dinner, ask your travel advisor.
If your flight leaves late in the afternoon and you would like to fit in some shopping in this “Paris of the Orient”, tell your guide and we can organize your transportation to the airport for a suitable time. The guide will accompany and assist you as far as the security check, and then wave goodbye.
1. Tailoring your tour
This tour is very flexible. You can alter the itinerary, extend or shorten it to suit your price, interest and schedule. Feel free to tell us your requirements, and we are happy to help you arrange with our professional knowledge and experience.
2. About Accommodation in the Mount Emei and the Yellow Mountains
The star-rated hotels in the Mount Emei and the Yellow Mountains might not be up to the standard of those in big cities like Beijing and Shanghai. Due to the moist weather on the mountains, the rooms are sometimes humid. Despite the lack of choice, the hotels we use in the tour are carefully selected based on criteria like hotel environment, location, service, and previous customer feedback. Your guide will accompany you to check the room. If you are dissatisfied with the room and there are other rooms available, your guide will be happy to assist you with changing it.
3. About Food in the Yellow Mountains
In Tunxi and the surrounding villages, you can taste authentic Huizhou cuisine, which is known for its roasting, stewing, braising, and quick-frying. On the mountains, restaurants and cuisine choices are very limited. We will find the best available, but it is also recommended that you purchase some snacks before you start to ascend the mountains. Supplies are available on the mountains but the prices increase with the altitude, as they all need to be carried up by hand.
West Sea Grand Canyon, Celestial Capital Peak, and Lotus Peak usually close from December to March of the following year due to the snowy weather. The guide will adjust the itinerary to cover other highlights to make the most of your time.