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3-Week Must-See Places China Tour Including Holy Tibet

A Grand Exploration of China

It's complicated for first-timers to plan a once-in-a-lifetime 3-week China tour, especially when it includes remote Tibet. This itinerary is a solution with the must-see places and historical sites connected in an easy and comfortable way. Contact us and we'll tailor it to your interests and needs.

Day 1-3Beijing - Forbidden City, Great Wall, Hutong
Day 4-5Xi'an - Terracotta Army, Big Wild Goose Pagoda
Day 6-9Lhasa - Potala Palace, Norbulingka, Lake Yamdrok
Day 10-12Chengdu / Leshan - Panda Base, Giant Buddha
Day 13-15Zhangjiajie - Hallelujah Mountain, Grand Canyon
Day 16-18Guilin / Yangshuo / Longsheng - Li River Cruise
Day 19-21Shanghai - The Bund, Shanghai Tower, Yu Garden

Suggested Route of China Tour including Tibet

Suggested Route of China Tour including Tibet

Tour 'Wow' Points

Unlock the Royal Secrets Behind the Walls of the Forbidden City

You would not only visit the former imperial palace with nearly 600 years of history but also hear stories about eight members of the royal family who led legendary and bittersweet lives.

the Forbidden City
the Forbidden City

Walk Along the Iconic Historical Landmark — the Great Wall

With a round-trip ride by cable car, you would be escorted to the platforms that have a wide visual field whilst benefiting from fewer tourists and not much walking.

the Great Wall
the Great Wall

Make Your Own Little Warrior near the Terracotta Warriors Museum

After visiting the Terracotta Warriors Museum, you would have an opportunity to make your own little warrior with the guidance of a local artisan.

Terracotta Warriors Museum
Terracotta Warriors Museum

Take In the Fascinating Combination of Spiritual Significance and Breathtaking Landscapes in Lhasa

The iconic Potala Palace, Jokhang Temple, numerous monasteries, and Yamdrok Lake would introduce you to Tibetan rituals, architecture, and scenic beauty.

the Potala Palace
the Potala Palace

Observe Pandas in a More Relaxed and Natural Environment

Capture the moments when those fluffy giant pandas eat bamboo, climb trees, or stretch their bodies.

Pandas in Chengdu
Pandas in Chengdu

Be Inspired by the Floating Mountains in a Place of Wonder

Zhangjiajie seems to defy gravity as its enchanting sandstone pillars rise dramatically from the earth, once providing inspiration for the movie Avatar.

Zhangjiajie National Park
Zhangjiajie National Park

Explore a Rural Village and Live There Like a Local

Relax in the countryside by the picturesque Li River. You would experience real rural life with your tour guide, such as shopping in a local market and writing Chinese calligraphy.

Guilin Rural Village
Guilin Rural Village

Travel Through Time from Historical Sites to Towering Skyscrapers

Combining historical gardens and ultra-modern buildings, Shanghai would offer you an immersive experience as you wander through the city and listen to the stories behind it.

Shanghai City
Shanghai City

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Suggested Itinerary

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

Day 1Beijing Arrival | Airport Transfer

Welcome to China! Upon landing, your tour guide and driver would meet you at the airport and transfer you to your hotel.

Day 2Beijing | The Forbidden City and the Temple of Heaven
Breakfast & Lunch

You would start with the Forbidden City, a massive palace complex with nearly 600 years of history. It covers an area of about 73 hectares (180 acres) and contains over 980 surviving buildings with over 8,700 rooms. Your tour guide would take you to the most typical sections but with fewer tourists, and tell you stories about the royal family that happened exactly where you would be standing.

After having some delicious Chinese food for lunch, you would visit the Temple of Heaven in the afternoon. The temple is known for its unique and intricate architecture. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, it would offer you profound insights into China's religious practices during the imperial era.

Day 3Beijing | The Great Wall and Hutongs
Breakfast & Lunch

You would explore the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall, which offers stunning panoramic views of the surrounding landscape. The round-trip cable car ride would help to save your energy and time compared with climbing up the mountainside to the wall. Walk leisurely along the wall's pathways and touch bricks that are connected with China's imperial past.

Hutongs are narrow alleys that are commonly found in Beijing. They are not just for sightseeing travelers who wander along the streets — with us, you would visit a family that has lived in a hutong house for generations. Nothing would help you to understand a foreign country's culture more than visiting a locals' house and conversing with them.

Day 4Beijing to Xi'an | The Summer Palace and a Bullet Train
Breakfast & Lunch

The Summer Palace is one of the most well-preserved imperial gardens in the world. It covers a huge area and includes a combination of traditional Chinese architecture, landscaped gardens, pavilions, temples, bridges, and a large lake. It is admired for its beauty and cultural and historical significance.

Next, you would depart from Beijing Railway Station and travel to Xi'an Railway Station on a high-speed train that only takes 4 hours to travel a distance of 1,209 km (751 miles).

Day 5Xi'an | The Terracotta Army and an Ancient Pagoda
Breakfast & Lunch

The Terracotta Warriors Museum is a collection of life-sized clay sculptures depicting the armies of the first emperor of China. Could you imagine making a little terracotta warrior of your own? A local artisan would help you to make it as a special handmade souvenir.

You would head to the Muslim Quarter and Big Wild Goose Pagoda in the afternoon. You could challenge yourself to a food adventure in the Muslim Quarter, where the air is infused with the fragrance of local snacks.

Day 6Xi'an to Lhasa | Boarding for Lhasa

For you to acclimate and avoid altitude sickness, your tour guide would pick you up from the airport, help you to check in, and let you rest in the hotel.

Day 7Lhasa | Experience Tibetan Buddhism
Breakfast & Lunch

You would start your Lhasa trip from Norbulingka, a Tibetan palace that consists of beautiful gardens, luxurious buildings, pavilions, and other architectural elements.

Drepung Monastery is 6 km (4 miles) away from Norbulingka. It is one of the three great monastic universities in Tibet. The most important Tibetan festival, Shoton Festival, is held there annually in late summer.

Have you seen monks debating before? In Sera Monastery, you would see monks engaged in a lively exchange of questions and answers. It is a unique and vibrant expression of the Tibetan Buddhist culture, helping monastic students to sharpen their knowledge and critical thinking skills.

Day 8Lhasa | Lhasa City Highlights
Breakfast & Lunch

As the most famous site in Tibet, the Potala Palace is always full of tourists. To take great pictures of the palace, your tour guide would escort you to an area with amazing views and fewer crowds.

Next, you could experience real Tibetan life as you visit Jokhang Temple and walk to Barkhor Street afterward. There are numerous tea houses, restaurants, and stalls along the streets. Pilgrims walk in a clockwise direction around Jokhang Temple, spinning prayer wheels and prostrating themselves as a form of devotion.

Day 9Lhasa | Yamdrok Lake
Breakfast & Lunch

Yamdrok Lake is one of the most beautiful and sacred lakes in Tibet. Its turquoise waters, surrounded by snowcapped mountains and vast grasslands, create a breathtaking landscape.

Your tour guide would prepare a picnic for you at the side of Yamdrok Lake if the weather permits. You could take your time at the holy place.

Day 10Lhasa to Chengdu | Flight to Chengdu

This would be a transfer day from Lhasa to Chengdu with a 2-hour flight.

Day 11Chengdu | Meet Pandas and Chengduers
Breakfast & Lunch

The giant pandas are ready to meet you at the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding! There are about 200 pandas, including adults and cubs, at this location. The base has a recreated a (small-scale) natural habitat for these fluffy balls of fun.

You could immerse yourself in the atmosphere of a city park to witness the lifestyles of the locals. Chengdu has been deemed the happiest city in China to live in based on an annual urban survey. You would see its people having tea, playing mahjong, or doing square dancing leisurely in the park. Visitors can't fail to be infected by their happiness.

Day 12Leshan | The Leshan Giant Buddha
Breakfast & Lunch

It takes about 2 hours to get to the Leshan Giant Buddha from Chengdu. You would explore the area via both a cruise and walkways to fully appreciate its scale.

Not only known for its Buddha statue, Leshan is also renowned as a food paradise. You wouldn't want to miss out on the spicy and flavorsome cuisine, such as spicy Sichuan skewers, sweet-skinned duck, and Qiaojiao Beef Soup Pot.

Day 13Chengdu to Zhangjiajie | Tianmen Mountain

After an early flight from Chengdu to Zhangjiajie, you would start a half-day trip to Tianmen Mountain in Zhangjiajie in the afternoon.

Tianmen Mountain offers a range of fascinating sights and experiences, such as Tianmen Cave, the longest cableway, a glass skywalk, and a cliff-hanging walkway.

Tianmen Cave is the symbol of Tianmen Mountain. It's an impressive opening in the mountainside and accessible via a long staircase or a cable car ride.

Zhangjiajie Glass Bridge is located at the mountain's summit. Walking on this transparent walkway would provide you with a thrilling experience and remarkable views.

Day 14Zhangjiajie | Hallelujah Mountain
Breakfast & Lunch

You would see some of the area's most notable attractions in Yuanjiajie Scenic Area of Zhangjiajie. Avatar Hallelujah Mountain is located there. Be amazed by its towering height and marvel at the stunning views from the top. These views have been admired by millions of international travelers.

Tianzi Mountain offers panoramic vistas of Yuanjiajie. Its peaks are characterized by their unique shapes, resembling human figures, animals, and mythical creatures.

To avoid too much hiking, you would take the Bailong Elevator, the world's tallest outdoor elevator, to reach the mountain peaks. You would enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding landscapes as you ascend or descend.

Day 15Zhangjiajie | Walking on the Glass Bridge
Breakfast & Lunch

Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon is famous for the world's longest glass bridge that stretches across it. It offers an adventurous experience of walking on a transparent pathway. The tranquil surroundings and lush vegetation in the canyon create a beautiful picture of natural wonders.

Baofeng Lake is located in the canyon. It is a crystal-clear reservoir surrounded by picturesque mountains. The serene beauty evokes peaceful and joyful feelings.

Day 16Zhangjiajie to Guilin | Reed Flute Cave

Your transfer from Zhangjiajie to Guilin would start early in the morning because there are only early high-speed trains on this route. If you would like to set off later, you could transfer from Zhangjiajie to Changsha, and then head to Guilin.

Arriving in Guilin in the afternoon, you would be escorted to Reed Flute Cave, which is full of awesome rock formations, stalactites, stalagmites, and other intricate calcite deposits. Geologists say these formations have been sculpted over millions of years by flowing water. It's worth a visit for cave enthusiasts.

Day 17Guilin | The Longji Rice Terraces
Breakfast & Lunch

The Longji Rice Terraces are located in Longsheng County, Guilin. The awe-inspiring terraced fields are Longsheng's most iconic attraction. They offer stunning views throughout the year, no matter whether it's a planting season or a harvesting season.

You would have an opportunity to hike in Ping'an Zhuang Village, a minority village nestled amid the rice terraces, for 1½ hours. It's a wonderful place to explore and learn about the ethnic culture and local traditions.

Day 18Guilin | A Li River Cruise to Yangshuo
Breakfast & Lunch

Taking a cruise from Guilin to Yangshuo is the best way to enjoy the scenic beauty along the Li River. As you sail along the Li River, you would be surrounded by breathtaking karst mountain formations. Be sure to take some great photos of you in these surroundings, which resemble a classical Chinese painting.

After arriving in Yangshuo, you would go to a rural village to experience authentic life in the countryside. Have you shopped in a local market without any language support? Have you written a Chinese couplet before? All of these experiences would be unique ways to enhance your trip.

Day 19Guilin to Shanghai | Arrive in Shanghai

You would head to Shanghai late in the afternoon after a chance to fully relax in a rural hotel beside the Li River. You could enjoy a lovely, lazy day there.

Day 20Shanghai | The Bund and Yu Garden
Breakfast & Lunch

The last stop of your trip is Shanghai, an international metropolis with a rich history and traditions.

You would not only see the historical buildings along the Bund but also hear some stories about each landmark from your knowledgeable tour guide.

Yu Garden was built in the 16th century as a private retreat. The garden beautifully combines elements of traditional Chinese art, architecture, and natural scenery. It provides insights into traditional Chinese architecture and offers a glimpse into the past.

Day 21Shanghai | Farewell

It's time to say goodbye! Your tour guide and driver would take you to the international airport smoothly and in good time. We welcome you back to explore more places in China next time!

Hotel Selection

—the Icing on the Cake

Boutique hotels are recommended to enrich your travel experience.

Hotel room in Beijing
the balcony of the hotel
a roof bar with a great view

Tour Price

FromUSD 5,649p/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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