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

13-Day Shanghai, Chengdu, Xian, Pingyao and Beijing Tour

Chinese Culture and Panda Tour

Immerse yourself in the vibrant energy of Shanghai's modern metropolis before encountering adorable giant pandas in Chengdu. Explore the ancient wonders of Xian, including the Terracotta Army, before stepping back in time in the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Pingyao. Finally, discover the cultural and historical treasures of Beijing, from the majestic Great Wall to the iconic Forbidden City.

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

Explore a Top-Ranked Section of the Great Wall

walking on the Great Wall

Make a Mini warrior with a Local Artisan Family

Learn to make a clay warrior

Enjoy a Peaceful Boat Ride Through Zhujiajiao Water Town

Zhujiajiao Water Town

Discover real reviews of Highlights Travel Family's best-rated service across trusted platforms.

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 Zhujiajiao Water Town

Experience the allure of The Bund, a historic embankment along the Huangpu River. Marvel at the well-preserved European-style buildings that line its promenade, offering a glimpse into Shanghai's trading past. Immerse yourself in the vibrant atmosphere that now defines The Bund, with its modern developments, chic restaurants, upscale shops, and lively bars. Be sure to visit in the afternoon or evening to witness the enchanting lights that illuminate the area.

Visit the impressive Shanghai World Financial Center, a soaring skyscraper that serves as a symbol of Shanghai's prosperity. Take in awe-inspiring views from its observation deck, the highest in the world, and explore the diverse offerings within the building, including hotels, apartments, restaurants, shopping malls, and offices.

Indulge in a Zhujiajiao Boat Ride, where you can peacefully glide along the water and admire the town's scenic highlights. Discover historical attractions such as the ancient pharmacy, Post Office, art galleries, temples, museums, and gardens during the 20-minute ride. Allow the intimate setting of the boat to provide a personal experience of this charming water town.

DAY 3 Shanghai| Yuyuan Garden and Shikumen

Explore the enchanting Yuyuan Garden, a meticulously designed private garden showcasing classic Chinese architecture. Immerse yourself in the peaceful ambiance as you admire the rockeries, pavilions, ponds, and corridors. Don't miss the bustling marketplace surrounding the garden, offering a blend of culinary delights, handicrafts, and souvenirs.

Visit the revered Jade Buddha Temple, home to invaluable Buddha statues carved from precious white jade. Experience the vibrant atmosphere as worshippers and visitors gather, immersing yourself in the spiritual energy the temple offers.

Take a leisurely stroll through Shanghai's Old Street, where well-preserved traditional houses and narrow lanes transport you to the bygone era of the city. Engage with local life and explore the various shops and stalls, filled with antiques, crafts, and souvenirs, allowing you to discover unique treasures.

Experience the distinctive Shikumen style of housing and witness its evolution from residential neighborhoods to modern gathering places filled with bars, tea houses, and entertainment centers. Don't miss the opportunity to glimpse into the past at Wu Li Xiang, an exhibition that showcases the furnishings and essence of traditional Shanghainese homes.

DAY 4 Shanghai to Chengdu | The Maglev Train

Experience the world's only commercial Maglev (magnetic levitation) rail system, offering a thrilling ride reaching speeds of up to 430 km/hr on the 7-minute journey between Pudong International Airport and Longyang Station. While the Maglev train provides a speedy transfer, it is important to note that it does not take you directly to the main attractions in Shanghai. It is recommended to schedule the Maglev train ride for a different day, separate from your arrival, to avoid the inconvenience of carrying your bags onto the train or waiting for transportation at the other end.

DAY 5 Chengdu | Dujiangyan Panda Keeper Program

Engage in the unforgettable One Day Dujiangyan Panda Keeper Program Tour. Begin your day with a hotel pickup in Chengdu and arrive at the Dujiangyan Panda Base. Together with professional panda keepers, partake in activities such as cleaning enclosures and feeding the pandas, gaining firsthand experience in caring for these national treasures. Explore the panda base, enjoy a documentary screening, learn to make panda cakes, and receive a certificate for your meaningful participation. Your guide will be there to assist you throughout the day. Indulge in this unique opportunity to connect with these adorable creatures and contribute to their well-being.

DAY 6 Chengdu | Panda Breeding and Research Center

Begin your day by visiting the captivating Wenshu Monastery, a lively Zen Buddhist temple boasting majestic halls adorned with exquisite artworks and curios. Delight in the popular vegetarian restaurant and bustling teahouses, where you can immerse yourself in the vibrant atmosphere.

Next, visit the renowned Panda Breeding and Research Center, a sanctuary for giant pandas and other endangered species. Observe these gentle animals at rest or play, stroll through bamboo groves, and discover the highly successful breeding program at the nursery. Gain insights into the panda world at the informative panda museum. Please note that interactive activities with the pandas are temporarily closed for their protection.

Conclude your day at Jinli Old Street, a restored ancient street offering a glimpse into the region's rich history. Indulge in the local arts, crafts, and Chinese goods available, and savor the diverse culinary delights, including traditional Sichuan delicacies. Enjoy the lively ambiance of this charming street and make sure to visit the unique Starbucks branch that reflects the local style.

DAY 7 Chengdu to Xi'an | The Big Wild Goose Pagoda

Explore the magnificent Big Wild Goose Pagoda, a significant Buddhist site standing within the beautiful Da Ci'en Temple grounds. Built in the 7th century, this simple yet elegant brick pagoda was constructed to house the Buddhist scriptures brought back from India by the renowned monk Xuanzang (Tripitaka). Marvel at the historical and cultural significance of this sacred structure. The temple complex also features several grand halls showcasing impressive Buddhist statues and intricate murals.

DAY 8 Xi'an | The Terracotta Warriors and Horses

Discover the incredible Terracotta Warriors and Horses, an army of over 7,000 meticulously crafted figures guarding Emperor Qin's tomb since 210 BC. Witness the ongoing excavation in three protected pits, explore the museum, and capture photos (no flash). Wear comfortable shoes.

Experience the well-preserved Ancient City Wall, one of China's oldest defenses. Walk, rent a bike (CNY40 per person), or take an electric cart (CNY80 per person) along the 14km circuit for panoramic city views.

Immerse yourself in the vibrant Muslim Quarter, a lively 500-meter street near the Bell Tower. Explore unique stalls, souvenir shops, cafes, and bars run by the Muslim community.

DAY 9 Xi'an to Pingyao | Pingyao Ancient Town

Explore Pingyao Ancient Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of China's best-preserved ancient towns. Enclosed within the Ming Dynasty city wall, this charming town features remarkably well-preserved buildings from centuries ago. Take a leisurely stroll or rent a bike to explore the area. Immerse yourself in the traditional Chinese arts of paper cutting and witness the craftsmanship of lacquerware and other traditional handicrafts.

Visit Rishengchang, the first and largest draft bank in China established in 1823. Known for its global business connections, the bank thrived for over 100 years. Located on West Street in Pingyao Ancient Town, explore the exhibitions to learn about its historical significance, development, and management.

Discover the Ancient City Wall of Pingyao, which dates back nearly 3,000 years and reflects the city's rich history. This well-preserved wall showcases the original construction from the early Ming Dynasty. Enjoy the simple yet delicate architectural style of the wall, with a circumference of approximately 6,163 meters and a height ranging from 6 to 10 meters. Experience the daily life of local people and tourists as they pass through the six city gates.

DAY 10 Pingyao to Beijing | Wang's Family Compound

Explore the vast and magnificent Wang's Family Compound, a courtyard complex that showcases the distinct style of north China folk houses. Marvel at the intricate decorations and hierarchical design, with 123 courtyards and 1,118 rooms open for tourists. The carvings and statues hold symbolic meanings and tell intriguing stories.

Visit the ancient Shuanglin Temple, also known as "Double Forest Temple," just a short drive from Pingyao Ancient Town. Experience its rich history with ancient locust trees, stone steles, and over 2,000 well-preserved colored-painting mud sculptures that depict vivid scenes and figures.

DAY 11 Beijing | The Forbidden City

Discover the grandeur of the Forbidden City, the vast imperial complex that housed emperors from the Ming and Qing dynasties. Explore the world's largest and best-preserved ancient imperial architectural marvel, with its impressive halls, gates, and intricate gardens. Uncover the treasures of ancient China through permanent and temporary exhibitions. Please note that alcohol and drinks are not permitted inside, but they can be purchased on-site.

Visit the Temple of Heaven, a sacred Taoist complex built in the 15th century. Witness the beautifully designed buildings and immerse yourself in the vibrant atmosphere of the surrounding park. Experience the local culture as elderly residents gather to sing, exercise, and practice tai chi. Enjoy a leisurely walk through the serene grounds, covering approximately 1-1.5 kilometers.

DAY 12 Beijing | The Mutianyu Great Wall

Experience the picturesque Mutianyu section of the Great Wall, known for its restored architecture and scenic beauty. With a convenient 1.5-hour drive from downtown Beijing, it is the top-ranked section on TripAdvisor. Enjoy a round-trip cable car ride to save time and explore the wall at your own pace. Hike the stunning "golden route" between the 14th and 23rd watchtowers, taking approximately 2 hours. Afterward, descend by bus and return to our vehicle.

Summer Palace with Boat Ride and the Garden of Virtue and Harmony (2 hours): Discover the splendid Summer Palace, China's largest and best-preserved royal park, located just outside downtown Beijing. Immerse yourself in its natural beauty and rich cultural significance during a leisurely 2-kilometer walk. Marvel at the horticultural wonders that have influenced Chinese landscape design for centuries.

DAY 13 Beijing Departure

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

Tour Price

FromUS3,250 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-26

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.
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