Classic Chinese Culutre and Natural Beauty Tour
17-Day Private China Tour: Shanghai– Suzhou– Guilin–Zhangjiajie–Xi'an–Pingyao–Beijing
Explore the vibrant cityscape of Shanghai, experience the classical beauty of Suzhou's gardens, and immerse yourself in the picturesque landscapes of Guilin. Marvel at the mystical beauty of Zhangjiajie, the inspiration behind the floating mountains in Avatar, and uncover the ancient wonders of Xian, home to the Terracotta Army. Step back in time in the preserved ancient city of Pingyao before concluding your adventure in the imperial grandeur of Beijing.
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
Explore the Awe-inspiring Longji Rice Terraces
Make a Mini warrior with a Local Artisan Family
Marvel at the Famous Hallelujah Mountain in the Movie "Avatar"
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Olivia Tian, a sunshine tour guide!
In October, my friend Amy booked a tour with Chinahighlights, Olivia Tian was our guide in Beijing, she is such a sweet n happy person to be around, not only she gave us the best guide service, also very accommodating, alter the plan as per our interest, took us to very local shopping n food district. Above all, she takes awesome pics, very patient!! Thank you so much for such pleasant 5 days in BJ, look forward to see you when we are back in China, Olivia!!more
Dec 2023, Venture216019
One whole of a good experience !
Kevin was always making flexible arrangements for us making sure we meet our needs. Kevin also walked us to our desired restaurant daily making sure all are well before he left. Kudos to the whole team. Highly recommend ?more
Dec 2023, Cornelius C
China is Amazing Wonders that do not stop coming at you.Great country
Great job,Loved every minute of it,Ethan did an amazing job,True Ambassador of China,Just like the Chinese people,Friendly, dignified and hardworking,Very happy.China Highlights exceeded expectations and then some,I will never even think of travelling with another company.more
Dec 2023, Philip Sardar /Maps10321171537
Wonderful trip to Beijing and Xian
Had a great trip to bejing n xian. Our guide lily liu is so well versed in english and we have no worry here at all. We managed to dine in great halal restaurants though out our trip. Highly reccomended to all muslims travellers.more
Dec 2023, Efen Reyes
Great experience, highly recommended!
Additionally, she helped me with all my personal needs like getting a SIM card, finding an ATM, shopping, dining, checking in at the train station, hotel, suggested a couple additional very entertaining art events. Was also punctual and spoke good English.more
Nov 2023, Wayne S.
Excellent tour with Tom from China Highlights
We used China Highlights for the 3 days of our Beijing trip. Tom was a fantastic guide. Very knowledgable with excellent English. He was able to accommodate changes to our tour at short notice, allowing us to make the most of our limited time. Couldn’t recommend highly enoughmore
Nov 2023, Ross
Wow this tour was honestly the best tourI have ever taken! Our guide Simon Yao was simply superb! His English was excellent and he was very easy to talk to. He was personable and friendly but not overpowering or overbearing. Very knowledgeable about history. Thankfully the weather was good so we were not super hot !Finally at the wall we were amazed by it's beauty and grandeur. It really is something and pictures don't do it justice.more
Nov 2023, Annika M
Excellent two day visit to Great Wall
Our guide ‘Mark’ was incredible. So friendly, knowledgable and funny. The itinerary was perfect, we got to see two different parts of the Great Wall (one of which at night which was magical) and our hotel stay in Gubei was wonderful. Highly recommend to anybody visiting Beijingmore
Nov 2023, James_Wolstenholme
Great Experience from start to finish!
Jack was my guide and his local knowledge and English skills were fantastic. He was punctual, friendly and willing to flex as we went about our tour. Couldn’t recommend China Highlights more!more
Nov 2023, Scott Smith
Helen in Beijing - thanks for paying great attention to details, for your small surprises for the children every day, for selecting amazing restaurants, and leading wonderful walking tours. Your cheerfulness added to our enjoyment.more
Nov 2023, Kamila
Great day out with Mark, thanks China Highlights!
We did a 1 day private tour with China Highlights to see Tiananmen Square, Forbidden City, and the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall. Communication was great throughout - from trip planning/booking with Roger and from our guide Mark who contacted us the day before to confirm meet up time/location. Avoided a lot of the queues and definitely learned quite a bit of history from our guide Mark…thanks again! No language barriers/issues…highly recommended.more
Nov 2023, ykeezy
China Three (3) Cities Tours
To the tour guides, Ethan, Jason and Tony, you guys have made my visit an awesome and memorable experience. All the tour guides spoke english and communicated very effectively. They are knowledgeable about all the sites visited including, Great Wall of China, The Forbidden City, Panda Breeding and Research Center, Leshan Giant Buddha, Hallelujah Mountains, Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon and Glass Bridge, and Tianmen Mountain. The tour guides ensured I got the most out of my time I stayed in the various cities Beijing, Chengdu and Zhangjiajie.more
Nov 2023, Kadar
13 days in China
We booked a 13 day’s tour of China with China Highlights. Our travel advisor, Ms Leah Zhou organised an itinerary that suited what we wanted. She was really helpful and patient will all our needs. Leah helped us organised our 30th Wedding Anniversary Dinner and my 60th Birthday celebration?? in Beijing. For this to be possible, she had to liaise with our guide in Beijing. The flowers and cake were a real surprise. My husband and I, were really touched at the good service provided by China Highlights and Ms Leah Zhou. Thank you China Highlights and Ms Leah Zhou for your constant care of your customers. I will certainly recommend China Highlights to my friends.more
Nov 2023, Eda Adams
Perfect Beijing experience
Covering all major sights our exploration of Beijing and surroundings was flawless guided by Lily, along with her knowledgeable and balanced information on Chinas culture and history. In particular, Lily was able to adjust the tour according to personal preferences, e.g. focus on photography, as well as suggesting additional activities like an impressive authentic artistic show. I highly recommend China Highlights as China tour operator and Lily Liu as excellent guide regarding the Beijing area.more
Nov 2023, Perfect Beijing experience
Our first trip to Beijing
Our tour guide was Lucy Yubo. She was awesome. Very friendly, informative and passionate about her job. We really enjoyed her company and guidance.more
Nov 2023, Sreelatha Reddy
Anne and Bob’s tour of Beijing
We did the China Highlights tour of Beijing with our excellent guide Mark and his driver. We thoroughly enjoyed seeing the Beijing highlights including the Lama Temple, the Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City and the Lama Temple. The Summer Palace with the boat ride and the Garden of Virtue and Harmony were memorable also and the Mutianyu Great Wall was a highlight. We were impressed with Mark as a guide. He knew his history and he was kind and thoughtful. He took us to some excellent restaurants and we were introduced to some beautiful food. We enjoyed his company and will always remember him.more
Nov 2023, BendigoBob
Excellent end to end service
Helen is a positive, full of knowledge, experienced guide.She provided us an implacable service abd experience for 3 days .Highly recommendedmore
Nov 2023, Sariel Engel
Amazing Beijing Tour with Risa!
Risa gave us a wonderful tour of the city! She thoroughly explained the cultuaral importance of each exhibit while also educating us on the Chinese culture. Appreciated having this wonderful Beijing trip with Risa:)more
Nov 2023, Angelica M.
Amazing Beijing Tour With Risa!
We were very kindly received in Beijing by our tour guide Risa. She gave us a very thorough tour of the city and showed us wonderful places, while also explaining the important history/culture of China! Very beautiful city filled with many things to do and full of culture! This was very well planned and made it very easy for us to visit the city and foreigners:) Thank you Risa!more
Nov 2023, Angelica M
Do Beijing like a local
They organised my trip very quickly and efficiently. On the day, Anna was very friendly to me, my mum and my baby. Very accommodating to our needs. The car was immaculately clean and very comfortable. We visited everything we initially wanted and more. Also, Anna took us to the best meal we had in China. It makes a difference to have a local choosing the dishes!more
Nov 2023, Natali A
Itinerary Quick Look
Here is a suggested itinerary. We are happy to customize a tour according to your interests.
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.
Shanghai Museum: Visit the renowned Shanghai Museum, displaying ancient Chinese art across eleven galleries and three exhibition halls. Explore a wide range of treasures, including bronzes, sculptures, paintings, ceramics, and Ming-Qing furniture. Don't miss the rare "transparent" bronze mirror from the Han Dynasty.
Jade Buddha Temple: Experience the revered Jade Buddha Temple, known for its two statues of Buddha carved from white jade. Witness the temple's vibrant atmosphere as monks, worshippers, and visitors gather.
Yuyuan Garden: Immerse yourself in the beauty of Yuyuan Garden, a Ming Dynasty private garden. Explore its classic Chinese architecture, rockeries, pavilions, ponds, and corridors. Don't forget to explore the bustling marketplace surrounding the garden.
Humble Administrators Garden: Explore the iconic Humble Administrators Garden, a stunning example of classical Chinese gardens. Spanning 5 hectares, this Ming Dynasty garden features a central pond surrounded by pavilions, terraces, chambers, and towers. Don't miss the Garden Museum and be prepared for a fair amount of walking in comfortable shoes.
Grand Canal Cruise: Experience the world's longest man-made waterway, the Grand Canal, on a motorboat cruise. Enjoy picturesque views of Suzhou's interconnected lakes and canals, showcasing the city's rich history and local life. Marvel at the bustling traffic and appreciate the significance of the original 'sea' silk road.
No.1 Silk Factory: Discover the art of silk production in Suzhou, renowned for its silk products. Visit the No.1 Silk Factory to witness the silk-making process and gain insights into China's silk history. Explore the showroom to admire and purchase beautiful silk items.
Zhengyang Pedestrian Street: Located in the heart of Guilin city, Zhengyang Pedestrian Street is a vibrant hub for both locals and tourists. Stretching 666 meters, this bustling street is surrounded by a wide range of amenities, including restaurants, hotels, theaters, stadiums, commercial facilities, and scenic spots. During the day, the street attracts crowds with its varied shops and eateries, while at night, it comes alive with a lively nightlife scene. Don't miss the opportunity to explore this energetic street during your visit to Guilin.
Yangshuo Countryside Visit: Explore the breathtaking Yangshuo countryside, known for its stunning karst peaks, rice fields, and tranquil farming life. During this 2-hour excursion, you'll have the opportunity to visit a local village and immerse yourself in the countryside. Choose to cycle (10-12 KM), take an electromobile, or use a private car at no extra cost.
Li River Cruise from Guilin to Yangshuo: Embark on a memorable 4-hour cruise along the Li River, passing magnificent limestone peaks, bamboo groves, and scenic surroundings. Immerse yourself in the picturesque landscape as you witness farmers tending to rice paddies and water buffaloes cooling off in the river. Look out for fishermen on their bamboo rafts and perhaps catch a glimpse of the famous fishing cormorants. Enjoy a buffet or semi-buffet lunch aboard the 4-star boat.
Minority Village and Longsheng Rice Terraced Field: Explore the awe-inspiring Longji Rice Terraces, a magnificent man-made wonder near Guilin. These terraces, resembling dragon's ribs, were created by local minority communities 600 years ago. Visit Ping'an Zhuang Village to witness the panoramic views of the terraces. Please note that moderate walking is required, and sedan chairs are available for an additional fee. Learn how to make Bamboo Stuffed Rice, a local delicacy, and immerse yourself in the village culture.
Enjoy a hassle-free journey from Changsha to Zhangjiajie (or vice versa) with our private transfer service. Your personal English-speaking tour guide, along with a comfortable car and driver, will pick you up directly from your hotel or the bus station in Changsha city area. The scenic ride covers a distance of approximately 380 km and takes about 4 hours. Sit back, relax, and let us handle the transportation while you focus on enjoying the journey.
In Zhangjiajie, you will visit the National Forest Park, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Marvel at the unique pillar-like formations shaped by erosion over time. Explore the park's vast forest-covered area, including Yuanjiajie, Yangjiajie, Jinbian Stream, and Wulongzhai. Immerse yourself in the local culture by visiting nearby villages inhabited by Tujia, Bai, Miao, and Hui people.
Please note that accommodations and meals in mountain areas like Zhangjiajie and Huangshan are simple. Adjust your expectations accordingly for the best experience. Get ready to be captivated by the breathtaking landscapes of Zhangjiajie National Forest Park.
Today, our guide will lead you to visit Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon, which is a stunning natural attraction that has recently been developed into a wonderland for visitors. It offers a combination of majestic mountains, flowing streams, intriguing caves, towering cliffs, and lush forests. One of the highlights of this scenic area is the world's longest and highest glass bridge. Imagine the thrill of walking on this bridge, suspended 300 meters above the ground! It's definitely an experience you wouldn't want to miss during your tour.
If walking on the glass bridge isn't your cup of tea, don't worry. We have an alternative route that allows you to still enjoy the attraction without stepping on the glass bridge. However, if you decide to take on the adventure, please note that for safety reasons, carrying a camera on the bridge is not allowed. You can, however, bring your cellphone or GoPro to capture those unforgettable moments.
Visit the Tianmen Mountain, the awe-inspiring heart of Zhangjiajie! As the highest peak in the area, this majestic mountain offers unrivaled views of ancient trees, stunning karst formations, and scenic roads carved into cliff sides. Hop on the world's longest cable car ride, a thrilling 30-minute journey from the city center, and ascend to the mountain's summit.
At 1430 meters above ground, you'll find the renowned Tianmen Mountain Glass Walkway, a remarkable observation platform that extends from a sheer cliff. This narrow 1.6-meter-wide, 60-meter-long glass walkway offers brave souls not only breathtaking views of the mountains below but also the exhilaration of treading nervously above such heights. Some have even likened this experience to the famous 'skywalk' at the Grand Canyon in Arizona, USA.
Don't miss the chance to explore this remarkable natural wonder in China. Savor the beauty and thrill of Tianmen Mountain, an experience that will leave you with unforgettable memories.
Discover the awe-inspiring Terracotta Army, accidentally unearthed in 1974. This incredible army consists of over 7000 unique soldiers, archers, horses, and chariots in full battle array. Guarding Emperor Qin's tomb since 210 BC, these life-sized figures are an incredible sight. Explore the three protected excavation pits, housed inside massive hangars, and learn about their history at the excellent museum nearby. Photography is allowed (without flash), so don't forget your camera. Wear comfortable walking shoes for the journey.
Additionally, don't miss the opportunity to visit a local family workshop in the countryside. Learn firsthand from skilled artisans the intricate process of creating Terracotta Warriors. Have a chance to interact with the locals and discover fascinating details about how these life-sized warriors were made in ancient times. Gain insight into the most challenging steps of the production process while enjoying a unique cultural experience.
Explore the Ancient City Wall: The impressive city walls, ramparts, gates, and watchtowers date back to the 13th century and offer a captivating glimpse into ancient China's city defense. Built on the foundation of the original Tang Forbidden City, this well-preserved structure encloses the city center. You can choose to walk or rent a bike or electric cart (additional cost) to enjoy a 14km circuit with stunning views of the city on both sides.
Experience China's Traditional Costume (Hanfu): Immerse yourself in Chinese culture by wearing Hanfu, the traditional clothing of the Han Chinese. Discover the rich history and significance of Hanfu during a one-hour guided tour in an ancient academy. Learn about different Hanfu styles and ancient etiquette. Afterward, take a break, sip a cup of tea, and even try your hand at movable type printing. It's a unique opportunity to indulge in something special and memorable.
Pingyao Ancient Town: Situated in the heart of Shanxi Province, this World Heritage Site is among China's best-preserved ancient towns. Enclosed by the well-preserved Ming Dynasty city wall, Pingyao is a treasury of Ming and Qing Dynasty architecture. Stroll or rent a bike to explore the town's narrow streets and marvel at the traditional buildings. Immerse yourself in Chinese culture by learning the art of paper cutting and witnessing the production process of lacquerware and other traditional handicrafts. In the evening, the town comes alive with the warm glow of red lanterns, creating a charming ambiance perfect for relaxing and enjoying conversations at the numerous bars.
Mian Mountain: Visit the birthplace of national cultural heritage, Mian Mountain. This mountain is renowned for its natural beauty and cultural significance, featuring relics tied to Cold Food, Buddhist, Taoist, and health preservation cultures. With 14 tourist areas and 400 attractions spread across 75 square kilometers, Mian Mountain offers a diverse range of experiences. Enjoy traditional activities and folk performances, immersing yourself in the local culture.
Qiao Family Compound: Explore the historic Qiao Family Compound, once the residence of Qiao Zhiyong, a renowned Chinese financier of the Qing Dynasty. With its construction dating back to 1756 and subsequent renovations, this compound stands as a well-preserved example of North China folk houses from that era. Admire its grand architecture and intricate decorations, which have attracted countless visitors over the years. Notably, the famous Chinese movie "Raise the Red Lantern," featuring Gong Li, was filmed at this location.
Rishengchang Former bank: Visit the Rishengchang Former Bank, established in 1823 as the first and largest draft bank in China during its time. It gained fame for its role in connecting businesses worldwide, earning the saying "Hui Tong Tian Xia." Located on West Street in Pingyao Ancient Town, this bank operated for over a century, witnessing the town's prosperity. Explore the exhibitions to learn about Rishengchang's development and management throughout its impressive history.
Explore the Forbidden City: Located in the heart of Beijing, the Forbidden City served as the imperial residence for 24 emperors during the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties. This magnificent complex is the largest and best-preserved ancient imperial architecture in the world. Marvel at the grand square, halls, and gates, as well as the intricate gardens, courtyards, and living quarters. The Forbidden City houses both permanent and temporary exhibitions, offering a glimpse into the treasures of ancient China. Expect about 2 hours of moderate walking (2 kilometers). Please note that starting from April 1st, 2013, the Imperial Palace is closed every Monday afternoon.
Visit Jingshan Park: Once a part of the Forbidden City, Jingshan Park underwent changes in the 1900s. Portions of the park were demolished to make way for a road, resulting in the loss of several gates and buildings between the park and the palace's rear entrance. However, the hill within Jingshan Park was created using earth excavated to construct the palace moat. On a clear day, climb the hill for breathtaking views of the Forbidden City and Beijing. It's a perfect spot to capture spectacular panoramic vistas.
Visit the Temple of Heaven: Built in 1420 during the Ming dynasty, the Temple of Heaven is a complex of Taoist buildings where emperors held annual ceremonies to pray for good harvests. The temple's park is lively, especially in the morning when local elderly people gather to sing, exercise, and practice tai chi. Covering 273 hectares in the southern part of central Beijing, you'll explore the park for about 1-1.5 hours (1.5 kilometers) with an easy-grade walk.
Explore the Mutianyu Great Wall: The Mutianyu section of the Great Wall is highly rated on TripAdvisor for its picturesque scenery and beautifully-restored architecture. It is particularly popular among families due to its child-friendly facilities and multiple visiting options. Located about 1.5 hours' drive from downtown Beijing, this section offers a fully restored 2.5-kilometer stretch.
To save time, we arrange a round-trip cable car ride for you instead of climbing the stairs (which takes about 40 minutes). Once on the Wall, you'll have free time to walk around and take in the stunning views. We recommend hiking the "golden route" between the 14th and 23rd watchtowers, recognized as the most beautiful and interesting section by avid hikers. The hike typically takes approximately 2 hours. Afterward, descend and take a bus back to our vehicle.
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.
Take a Hutong Tour in Xicheng District: Explore the historical maze of Hutong, a network of old alleyways with traditional single-story courtyard houses. Hop on a rickshaw for a ride through the narrow alleys and visit a local family. Then, take a walk on the Silver Ingot Bridge (Yinding Bridge) and discover the unique thresholds of the courtyards. It's a fascinating glimpse into Beijing's traditional neighborhoods.
Learn to Apply Facial Makeup for Peking Opera: Experience the art of applying facial makeup for Chinese traditional opera. This intricate art form showcases exquisite patterns of vibrant colors and delicate lines, achieved through brush painting and hand techniques. Under the guidance of an expert teacher, try your hand at applying makeup to a mask, and even choose the makeup for your favorite character. It's a truly immersive cultural experience.
Discover the Summer Palace with Boat Ride and the Garden of Virtue and Harmony: Located about 9 miles (15 kilometers) from downtown Beijing, the Summer Palace is China's largest and best-preserved royal park. Immerse yourself in the breathtaking natural landscapes and cultural wonders that have earned it the title of 'The Museum of Royal Gardens'. Explore the park on foot for approximately 2 kilometers (2 hours). Please note that certain areas, such as Longevity Hill and the opera recital area, may require an additional fee for entry.
Tips: Keep in mind that specific areas within the Summer Palace, such as Longevity Hill and the opera recital area, may require an additional payment for entry.
- 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-38