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15-Day Shanghai, Beijing, Xi'an, Chengdu, Guilin, Hangzhou, Huangshan, Suzhou Tour: Explore China's Best-Kept Treasures

Classic China History and Nature Tour

Embark on an unforgettable 15-day journey through the heart of China with our Shanghai, Beijing, Xian, Chengdu, Guilin, Hangzhou, Huangshan, Suzhou Tour. Immerse yourself in the rich cultural heritage of these vibrant cities, from the modern skyscrapers of Shanghai to the ancient wonders of Xian's Terracotta Army.

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

Make a Mini warrior with a Local Artisan Family

Learn to make a clay warrior

Explore the Awe-inspiring Li River in Guilin

Guilin landscape

Explore the Famous Yellow Mountain in Huangshan

Yellow Mountain

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Itinerary Quick Look

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

DAY 1 Shanghai Arrival

Your private guide will be ready to meet and greet you at the arrival hall in Shanghai. 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 Shanghai| The Bund and Yuyuan Garden

Immerse yourself in the charm of the Huangpu River while strolling along the 1.5-kilometer-long embankment known as The Bund. On its western side, you'll find a captivating "architecture gallery" boasting 52 well-preserved old European style buildings. As night falls, witness the enchanting transformation of The Bund into a magical spectacle.

Shanghai the Bund

Step back in time as you visit Yuyuan Garden, situated in the heart of Shanghai's historic quarter. This beautiful garden was originally built as a private retreat in 1559 during the Ming Dynasty, showcasing authentic Chinese classic architecture and style. The expansive complex spans 2 hectares and features stunning rockeries, elegant pavilions, peaceful ponds, and charming corridors.

Shanghai Tower Rising majestically in the city skyline, the Shanghai Tower claims its place as the world's second-tallest building. Soaring 632 meters (2,073 feet) high, this architectural masterpiece is a must-visit attraction for any Shanghai traveler. Ascend to the top and marvel at the breathtaking views of the city below, which will leave you spellbound. The Shanghai Tower stands as an iconic symbol of the city's modernity and should not be missed during your visit.

DAY 3 Shanghai to Beijing| the Summer Palace

Discover the beauty of China's largest and best-preserved royal park, the Summer Palace. Located 9 miles (15 kilometers) northwest of downtown Beijing, this majestic landmark is a must-visit for US travelers. Stroll through its stunning gardens and immerse yourself in the rich cultural heritage that this 'Museum of Royal Gardens' offers. Prepare for a 2-kilometer walk, taking approximately 2 hours, to explore this enchanting oasis of tranquility and admire its captivating architecture. Unforgettable experiences and breathtaking views await you at the Summer Palace.

DAY 4 Beijing | The Forbidden City and Mutianyu Great Wall

Begin your adventure at the renowned Forbidden City, a testament to imperial grandeur and architectural mastery. Home to 24 emperors during the Ming and Qing dynasties, this monumental complex will leave you in awe. Marvel at the massive square, regal halls, and ornate gates, contrasting with serene gardens and charming courtyards.

Beijing Forbidden City

Next, head to Tiananmen Square, the heart of Beijing and witness to significant moments in Chinese history. Admire the iconic Tiananmen Gate ("Gate of Heavenly Peace") that separates the square from the Forbidden City. Marvel at the imposing government buildings, museums, and Chairman Mao's Mausoleum.

Embark on an extraordinary journey to the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall, one of the most remarkable attractions in Beijing. Revel in the awe-inspiring scenery and beautifully-restored architecture that make it the top-ranked section on TripAdvisor. Easily accessible with a 1.5-hour drive from downtown Beijing, this child-friendly section offers diverse ways to explore.

DAY 5 Beijing to Xi'an | The Ancient City Wall

Explore the ancient city defenses that date back to the 13th century and are still remarkably intact. The walls, ramparts, gates, and watchtowers surround the city center, creating a fascinating historical experience. You have the option to take a leisurely walk or enhance your adventure by renting a bike (CNY40 per person) or an electric cart (CNY80 per person) to travel the full 14km circuit. Whichever mode of transportation you choose, you'll enjoy breathtaking views of the city on either side.

Visit this significant Buddhist site located within the serene grounds of Da Ci'en Temple. The Pagoda, constructed in the 7th century, showcases simple yet elegant brick architecture. Its purpose was to house Buddhist materials brought back by Xuanzang (Tripitaka) from his renowned journey to India. In addition to the Pagoda, the temple complex boasts several grand halls adorned with magnificent Buddhist statues and captivating murals.

DAY 6 Xi'an | The Terracotta Warriors

Immerse yourself in ancient history as you visit the Army of Terracotta Warriors and Horses. Discovered in 1974, this incredible army of over 7,000 unique figures has guarded Emperor Qin's tomb since 210 BC. Explore the three pits, visit the museum, and capture photos (no flash).

Xian terracotta warriors

Afterward, satisfy your taste buds at A Wa Shan Zhai Restaurant (Qinling Branch), specializing in delicious Hunan and Sichuan cuisine. Don't forget comfortable walking shoes for this unforgettable UNESCO World Heritage Site visit.

DAY 7 Chengdu | the Panda Breeding and Research Center

Located just 6 miles north of Chengdu City, the Panda Breeding and Research Center is a must-visit destination for any traveler to China. This remarkable facility is not only home to adorable giant pandas but also red (or lesser) pandas and other endangered species.

Chengdu panda reserve

During your visit, explore the nursery where you can witness the highly successful breeding program in action. Stroll through picturesque bamboo groves and shady walkways as you observe the pandas at rest or play. Don't miss the opportunity to visit the panda museum, where you can delve deeper into the fascinating world of these gentle giants and gather valuable information about their habits and conservation efforts.

DAY 8 Guilin to Longsheng| Longji Rice Terraced Field

Located 5 kilometers northwest of Guilin city, the Reed Flute Cave is Guilin's largest and most impressive cave. At 240 meters long, the tour covers about 550 meters of this magical underground world filled with stunning stalactites, stalagmites, stone pillars, stone curtains, and unique flora and fauna in beautiful colors and shapes. The guided visit lasts for 40 minutes, so watch your step as you navigate the dimly lit cave. Your guide will provide illumination with electric torches.

Longji Rice Terraces

Don't miss the Longji Rice Terraces, one of China's most impressive man-made wonders near Guilin. These dragon-like terraces, known as the "Dragon's Backbone" (Longji), offer breathtaking views from the mountains. Just a 2½-hour drive from Guilin, the terraces span over 66 square kilometers (25 square miles) and were built by local minority groups over 600 years ago. Immerse yourself in the beauty of this harmonious blend of centuries-old cultural heritage and stunning natural landscapes.

DAY 9 Guilin to Yangshuo | Li River Cruise

Embark on an unforgettable 4-hour cruise from Guilin to Yangshuo along the stunning Li River. Marvel at limestone peaks, bamboo groves, farmers tending rice paddies, and water buffaloes cooling off in the river. Keep an eye out for fishermen on bamboo rafts and perhaps even catch a glimpse of the rare fishing cormorants. Enjoy the comfort and buffet/semi-buffet lunch aboard our selected 4-star boat, accommodating up to 80 passengers.

Discover the idyllic beauty of Yangshuo's countryside, featuring captivating karst peaks, rice fields, and serene waters. Immerse yourself in local life by visiting a village along the way. Experience the tranquility of this picturesque region and gain insight into the daily rhythm of the locals during this 2-hour exploration.

DAY 10 Hangzhou | The West Lake

Discover the grandeur of Lingyin Temple, one of China's most significant Buddhist sanctuaries. Founded in 328 AD, this temple houses pagodas, grottoes, and a rich history. Marvel at Feilai Feng, an impressive grotto site featuring engraved Buddha images.

Hangzhou west lake

Experience the serenity of West Lake, a symbol of Hangzhou's beauty. Explore the enchanting Fairy Island, known for the captivating Three Pools Mirroring the Moon. Meijiawu Tea Village offers a tranquil retreat where you can savor the renowned Longjing Tea, one of China's finest green teas. Immerse yourself in Hangzhou's cultural heritage and natural wonders.

DAY 11 Huangshan | Hongcun Village

Explore a hidden treasure (Hongcun village), just 10 kilometers from Yixian County. This 800-year-old village is nestled in the foggy Yellow Mountains and resembles a breathtaking landscape painting. Famous for its appearance in "Crouching Tiger and Hidden Dragon," the village boasts a picturesque moat, traditional streets, and open houses. Don't miss Tunxi Ancient Street in the old city of Tunxi, where you can stroll among well-preserved shops, capturing the essence of a bygone era. Discover the beauty, history, and artistic inspiration that await you in these remarkable destinations.

DAY 12 Huangshan | The Yellow Mountain

Explore the mesmerizing Yellow Mountains in Anhui Province, hailed as "the loveliest mountain in China." Marvel at the granite peaks, unique rock formations, hot springs, and waterfalls spread across its 1,200 square kilometers. Your private tour begins with a pick-up from your accommodation and a one-hour drive to the South Gate of Huangshan Scenic Area. Note that certain attractions may be closed from December to March due to snow.

Yellow Mountains

Journey to the mountaintop via the Yungu Cable Car and savor panoramic views. Spend time in the enchanting West Sea Grand Canyon before descending. Prepare for an unforgettable experience amidst nature's wonders.

DAY 13 Huangshan to Suzhou | North Sea and Yungu Cable Car

Start your day with an early rise to capture the breathtaking sunrise at Refreshing Terrace, a spot highly recommended by our previous visitors to the Yellow Mountains. After enjoying a delicious breakfast at the hotel, embark on a scenic walk to Lion Peak. Along the route in the North Sea area, marvel at the captivating Dawn Pavilion, Stone Monkey Watching the Sea, and the varied shapes of majestic pine trees.

For a panoramic view, climb up to Beginning-to-Believe Peak and admire the Mushroom Pavilion in all its glory. Conclude your exploration of the Yellow Mountains with a memorable journey on the Yungu Cable Car.

Tips: If visiting the Mutianyu section, we recommend using walking sticks, especially for those with weaker legs or balance, as it can be helpful on some parts of the wall.

DAY 14 Suzhou | Lingering Garden

Discover the charm of Suzhou, renowned for its exquisite gardens. Begin your journey at the captivating Lingering Garden, a masterpiece of architecture and art. This elaborate garden is designed to be savored slowly, with a series of beautifully landscaped sections, each representing a different season. Explore the covered walkways, intricately carved corridors, and perfectly positioned pavilions that offer enchanting views and perspectives of this extraordinary garden.

Next, immerse yourself in the historical wonders of Tiger Hill. Rising 36 meters above the ground, this large hillock encompasses an area of 14,100 square meters. As you ascend the hill, you'll encounter remarkable historical sites dating back 2,500 years, tracing the ancient roots of Suzhou.

Tongli Watertown

Embark on a delightful visit to Tongli, a town steeped in over a thousand years of history. Experience the legacy of the Ming and Qing dynasties as you explore the town's numerous gardens, temples, ancestral halls, and the former residences of eminent figures.

DAY 15 Suzhou to Shanghai Departure

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

Tour Price

FromUS3,750 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-14

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