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18-Day Xian, Zhangjiajie, Guilin, Dujiangyan, Chengdu, Shanghai and Suzhou Tour

Written by Mike HoUpdated Apr. 10, 2024

Classic Panda and China Natural Wonders Tour

Explore the ancient wonders of Xian, witness the surreal landscapes of Zhangjiajie, and cruise the picturesque Li River in Guilin. Visit the remarkable Dujiangyan irrigation system, encounter adorable pandas in Chengdu, and experience the modernity of Shanghai. Immerse yourself in the classical charm of Suzhou's gardens and water towns. This carefully curated journey offers an ideal blend of history, nature, and culture.

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

Experience Taking Care of a Cute Panda

make panda cakes

Explore the Awe-inspiring Longji Rice Terraces

Longji Rice Terraces

Marvel at the Stunning Hallelujah Mountain in the Movie "Avatar"

Hallelujah Mountain

Enjoy a Peaceful Boat Ride Through Zhujiajiao Water Town

Zhujiajiao Water Town

Visit the Beautiful Traditional Gardens of Suzhou

Suzhou Gardens

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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 Xi'an Arrival

Your private guide will be ready to meet and greet you at the arrival hall in Xi'an. 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 Xi'an | The Terracotta Warriors and Horses

Discover the Terracotta Warriors and Horses: Unearth a fascinating piece of history at the Terracotta Warriors and Horses. This remarkable discovery, accidentally found in 1974, boasts an army of over 7,000 soldiers, archers, horses, and chariots, all meticulously crafted for battle. These lifelike figures have been guarding Emperor Qin's tomb since 210 BC. You'll marvel at their uniqueness as you explore the three protected pits within massive hangars. Located just 1.5 hours from Xian, this site also features an exceptional museum and an informative film detailing the vaults' historical significance. Feel free to capture photos (without flash) and be sure to wear comfortable walking shoes for your adventure.

Ancient City Wall Exploration: The ancient city wall, a testament to centuries gone by, offers a unique glimpse into the past. Constructed in the 13th century on the foundations of the original Tang Forbidden City that encircled the city center, it remains one of the oldest and most well-preserved city defenses worldwide. You have the option to walk the full 14km circuit or, for a small additional fee, rent a bike (CNY 40 per person) or an electric cart (CNY 80 per person). Whichever you choose, you'll enjoy breathtaking views of the city on either side as you traverse this historic landmark.

Craft Your Own Terracotta Warrior in a Cave Dwelling: Step into the shoes of an artisan at a cave dwelling family workshop in the countryside. Here, you'll learn the intricate art of crafting Terracotta Warriors, just as they were made in ancient times. Discover the secrets behind their life-sized creation and unravel the most challenging steps in their production process. This interactive experience not only provides insight into the detailed procedure but also offers a chance to connect with the locals who continue this time-honored tradition.

DAY 3 Xi'an | Big Wild Goose Pagoda

Cooking Dumplings: Experience the art of making Chinese dumplings, known as Jiaozi, during this interactive cultural activity. You'll be warmly welcomed into a local family's home, where you'll have the opportunity to learn the secrets of crafting these delicious treats. This hands-on experience not only teaches you the basics of dumpling making but also immerses you in the local way of life. The entire process takes approximately 1 to 2 hours, giving you a taste of authentic Chinese cuisine and culture.

Shaanxi History Museum: Delve into China's rich history at the Shaanxi History Museum, considered one of the nation's finest. Housed in grand Tang-style buildings, this museum features four major galleries showcasing an expansive and meticulously curated collection. While most item labels are in English, some exhibit information may not be, but your guide will assist you. Be sure to wear comfortable walking shoes for your visit.

Famen Temple: Located west of Xian city in Fufeng County, Famen Temple boasts a history spanning 1,700 years. This Buddhist temple, mentioned in records dating back to 67 AD, is home to a 13-story brick pagoda within its monastery. In a remarkable discovery, the pagoda collapsed during rainfall in August 1981, revealing a thousand-year-old underground vault filled with 2,400 treasures from the Tang and earlier dynasties. Among these treasures are gold and silver utensils, glazed wares, porcelains, pearls, precious stones, textiles, and religious artifacts. One standout is a Buddha finger bone, gifted to a Tang dynasty emperor.

Big Wild Goose Pagoda: Explore the historical and spiritual significance of the Big Wild Goose Pagoda, a prominent Buddhist site located within the beautiful Da Ci'en Temple grounds. This simple yet elegant brick pagoda dates back to the 7th century and was constructed to house the precious Buddhist scriptures brought from India by Xuanzang, also known as Tripitaka. Wander through the temple complex, where you'll discover grand halls adorned with magnificent Buddhist statues and intricate murals.

DAY 4 Xi'an to Zhangjiajie | Hanyang Tomb

Hanyang Tomb: Venture to the Han Yang Ling Museum, situated in the northern outskirts of Xi'an, near the Wei River, just about 20 km from the city center. This underground museum offers a captivating glimpse into the figurines from a Han Dynasty emperor's tomb, which existed a century after the famed Terra Cotta Warriors. While these clay figures are smaller than life-size and less detailed, the museum's presentation is both fascinating and uncrowded. You can observe the figurines from various angles through glass floors and enjoy a unique perspective on this historical treasure. Conveniently close to the airport, it's an excellent stop for those with limited time.

Muslim Quarter: Discover the vibrant culture and flavors of Xi'an's Muslim Quarter, a bustling enclave located just 100 meters west of the Bell Tower in downtown Xi'an. This 500-meter-long avenue, paved with bluestones, is lined with a diverse array of stalls, souvenir shops, cafés, and bars, primarily run by the local Muslim community. It's a hotspot for tourists, especially those from overseas, looking to shop, dine, and experience the unique blend of Chinese and Islamic influences in this lively neighborhood.

DAY 5 Zhangjiajie | Zhangjiajie National Forest Park

Zhangjiajie National Forest Park: Explore the captivating beauty of Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Hunan province. Marvel at the pillar-like rock formations, sculpted over years by nature's artistry. This lush park encompasses Yuanjiajie, Yangjiajie, Jinbian Stream, and Wulongzhai, providing a glimpse into the rich cultures and folklore of Tujia, Bai, Miao, and Hui ethnic groups in neighboring villages.

Mt. Tianzishan: Mt. Tianzishan offers four breathtaking natural wonders: misty peaks, sunrise vistas, moonlit nights, and snow-covered winter landscapes. The mountain boasts over 80 natural viewing platforms to soak in the awe-inspiring scenery. Take a cable car ride to Tianzi Mountain, ensuring you avoid peak hours for a more relaxed experience.

Bailong Sightseeing Elevator: Embark on an exhilarating journey with the Bailong Sightseeing Elevator, the world's tallest and fastest of its kind. Soar 335 meters high in one of the four transparent elevators, providing unrivaled views of the Sandstone Peak Forest. Your ascent to the mountaintop takes a mere 2 minutes, but be sure to plan your visit to avoid lengthy queues during busy times.

Yuanjiajie (including the Hallelujah Mountains): Discover the wonders of Yuanjiajie, nestled in the northern corner of Zhangjiajie National Park. Explore attractions like Ecstasy Spot, Backyard, and First Bridge, with the iconic Hallelujah Mountain, reminiscent of the floating rocks in "Avatar." Capture stunning photos of the 'First Bridge in the World' from the 'Viewing Bridge Platform' (Wangqiaotai). For fewer crowds and optimal photography opportunities, visit in the late afternoon. From here, venture to Tianzi Mountain and Yangjia Valley, completing your adventure.

DAY 6 Zhangjiajie | The Grand Canyon with Glass Bridge

Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon with Glass Bridge: Explore the recently developed marvel of Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon, a pristine natural paradise where mountains, streams, caves, cliffs, and lush forests converge. This scenic wonderland is also home to the world's longest and highest glass bridge. Experience the thrill of walking on this transparent marvel, suspended 300 meters above the ground—it's an adventure you won't forget! If you prefer not to venture onto the glass bridge, an alternative route is available to explore this incredible attraction.

Baofeng Lake: Nestled within a mountainous basin, Baofeng Lake offers a tranquil escape amidst breathtaking landscapes. A convenient shuttle bus transports you to the lake's pier, where you'll embark on a serene 30-minute wooden boat ride. Drift along the crystal-clear waters, surrounded by picturesque hills of various shapes. During your journey, savor traditional songs performed by local minority artists, adding a touch of cultural richness to your experience.

DAY 7 Zhangjiajie to Guilin | Tianmen Mountain

Tianmen Mountain (Tianmen Cave) with Glass Walkway and Cable Car: Discover the heart of Zhangjiajie at Tianmen Mountain, the region's highest peak. Marvel at the breathtaking landscapes featuring ancient trees, karst formations, and winding roads etched into the cliffside. Ascend to the mountaintop aboard the world's longest cable car, a 30-minute journey from the city center. Brace yourself for an exhilarating experience on the Tianmen Mountain Glass Walkway, one of the world's highest observation platforms, extending boldly from a sheer 1,430-meter cliff. This 1.6-meter-wide, 60-meter-long glass pathway offers an adrenaline-pumping adventure with unobstructed views of the mountains below, drawing comparisons to the famous Grand Canyon Skywalk in Arizona, USA.

Yellow Dragon Cavern: Explore the fascinating depths of Yellow Dragon Cavern, an expansive underground wonder spanning 7.5 kilometers across four levels. This extraordinary cave system showcases a mesmerizing array of stalactites and stalagmites, dramatically illuminated by an array of colorful lights.

DAY 8 Guilin to Longsheng | Longsheng Rice Terraces

Longsheng Rice Terraces & Cultural Delights: Embark on a captivating journey to the renowned Longji Rice Terraces, a stunning manmade wonder in Guilin. These terraces, stretching across 66 square kilometers, were ingeniously constructed 600 years ago by local minority communities. The view from the mountaintop resembles dragon's ribs, earning it the name 'Dragon's Backbone' (Longji).

Our destination is Ping'an Zhuang Village, home to over 50 families and situated at varying elevations between 300 and 1,100 meters above sea level. Expect moderate walking and stunning vistas. Visitors typically walk up numerous steps for about an hour to reach the summit, where you'll capture panoramic views of these magnificent terraces.

For a more leisurely experience, sedan chairs are available for an additional fee, or we can arrange a car to transport you directly to the summit (excluding Chinese national holidays).

Culinary Discovery: Bamboo Stuffed Rice: Delight in Longji's culinary traditions with a hands-on experience making Bamboo Stuffed Rice, a local delicacy infused with fresh bamboo flavors. Learn from a local family as they share their culinary expertise and offer a glimpse into their traditional wooden home and way of life.

DAY 9 Guilin to Yangshuo | Li River Cruise

Li River Cruise: Embark on an unforgettable Li River Cruise, a scenic four-hour voyage aboard a 4-star boat. Glide along the picturesque river, surrounded by breathtaking limestone peaks, lush bamboo groves, and idyllic rural scenes.

Marvel at farmers tending to rice paddies and water buffaloes cooling off in the river. Keep an eye out for fishermen on bamboo rafts and perhaps even the famous cormorant fishermen. Depart from various wharves, chosen based on seasonal river conditions.

Our selected 4-star boat offers the best experience, accommodating around 80 passengers and providing a delightful buffet or semi-buffet lunch. Enjoy the pinnacle of Li River cruising with us.

DAY 10 Guilin to Chengdu | Xianggong Hill

Yangshuo Countryside Exploration - Embrace Nature's Beauty: Immerse yourself in the serene charm of Yangshuo's countryside, celebrated for its picturesque landscapes, whimsical hills, and the unhurried pace of local farming life. Here, you'll encounter breathtaking vistas adorned with karst peaks, lush rice fields, crystal-clear waters, and swaying bamboo groves.

While communing with nature, delve into the local way of life by visiting a nearby village. Your knowledgeable guide will lead you through the village, offering insights into rural living. This 1.5-hour excursion spans a cycling journey of 10-12 kilometers. If biking isn't your preference, fear not; you can opt for an electromobile or private car at no additional cost to explore the area.

Xianggong Hill - Sunrise Splendor: Located just 28 kilometers north of Yangshuo near Putao Town, Xianggong Hill stands as one of the region's prime spots for capturing breathtaking photographs, especially during sunrise. A mere 20-minute ascent brings you to the summit, where you'll witness the Li River meandering around a sharp bend, amidst a backdrop of awe-inspiring karst formations. This vantage point promises a visual spectacle like no other.

DAY 11 Chengdu to Dujiangyan | Dujiangyan Irrigation System

Dujiangyan Irrigation System: Start your day by visiting the Dujiangyan Irrigation System, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This ancient irrigation system, built over 2,000 years ago, is still in use today and has played a crucial role in Sichuan's agriculture.

Erwang Temple: Visit Erwang Temple, located near the Dujiangyan Irrigation System. This temple is dedicated to the two legendary figures who designed the irrigation system, Li Bing and his son.

Mount Qingcheng: After lunch, head to Mount Qingcheng, another UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most famous Taoist mountains in China. You can take a cable car or hike up the mountain.

DAY 12 Dujiangyan to Chengdu | Dujiangyan Panda Base

Dujiangyan Panda Base: Start your day by visiting the Dujiangyan Panda Base. Here, you can see adorable giant pandas and learn about conservation efforts to protect this endangered species.

Hot Springs: Spend your afternoon relaxing in one of the hot springs near Dujiangyan. Some popular options include Lidui Park Hot Springs or the hot springs at the Qingcheng Mountain area.

DAY 13 Chengdu| The Panda Breeding and Research Center

Panda Breeding and Research Center - Panda Paradise: Located just 6 miles north of Chengdu City, the Panda Breeding and Research Center is a sanctuary for giant pandas, red pandas, and other endangered species. Explore the nursery, where a highly successful breeding program is underway, amidst the tranquil bamboo groves and shaded walkways. Witness these charismatic creatures at rest and play, and don't miss the informative Panda Museum. Note: To avoid the crowds during the peak months of July and August when domestic students are on summer break, consider an early start at 7:00 am.

Jinli Old Street - A Glimpse of Ancient Splendor: Step into history at Jinli Old Street, once the vibrant heart of ancient kingdoms. Lovingly restored in traditional Sichuan style, this picturesque street exudes charm and vitality. Stroll through its bustling lanes, where you can sample local arts and crafts, traditional Chinese goods, delectable food, and even enjoy a unique local-style Starbucks.

Local Tea House in People's Park - Savor Tranquility: Escape the city's hustle and bustle within the serene confines of People's Park. Here, amidst bonsai gardens, tranquil lakes, rockeries, and historical monuments, you'll discover the cherished tradition of Chengdu: the local tea house. Join the locals in sipping tea, a pastime that retirees often indulge in, spending hours chatting and enjoying each other's company for a nominal fee. You can also treat yourself to a local massage, rounding out your immersion in Chengdu's leisurely pace of life.

DAY 14 Chengdu to Shanghai | Wu Hou Temple

Wu Hou Temple: Step into history at Wu Hou Temple, a serene sanctuary dedicated to Zhuge Liang, the revered military strategist celebrated in "The Romance of the Three Kingdoms." Surrounded by peaceful gardens, this complex offers insights into Zhuge Liang's life and legacy. Explore halls honoring him and his emperor, Liu Bei, view impressive statues, and visit a small museum. The iconic red wall leading to Liu Bei's tomb adds to the charm.

Wenshu Monastery:Discover the tranquility of Wenshu Monastery, a vast Zen Buddhist temple with a lively atmosphere. Explore beautifully adorned halls showcasing artworks and statues. Don't miss the vegetarian restaurant and teahouses, where you can enjoy a meal or soak in the ambiance of devoted worshippers. Experience both serenity and vibrancy at this remarkable complex.

DAY 15 Shanghai | Yuyuan Garden and the Bund

Yuyuan Garden: Step into the heart of old Shanghai as you visit Yuyuan Garden, a Ming Dynasty-era private garden built in 1559. Wander amidst its classic Chinese architecture, encompassing rockeries, pavilions, ponds, and meandering corridors. Surrounding the garden is a bustling marketplace offering local snacks, handicrafts, antiques, and souvenirs, along with renowned traditional eateries.

The Bund: Stroll along the iconic 1.5-kilometer-long promenade on the western bank of the Huangpu River. Admire the "architecture gallery" with 52 impeccably preserved European-style buildings. Once the epicenter of trade and commerce in old Shanghai, today the Bund is a dynamic hub featuring futuristic developments, stylish restaurants, upscale shops, and vibrant bars that offer a plethora of day and nighttime activities.

Shanghai Old Street: Immerse yourself in the nostalgia of old Shanghai by exploring its well-preserved historic residential homes and narrow alleyways. These lanes provide a glimpse into the daily lives of local residents, transporting you back to a bygone era. Additionally, numerous shops and stalls sell antiques, crafts, and souvenirs, making it an ideal spot for mementos.

Oriental Pearl TV Tower: Behold one of the world's tallest TV towers, the Oriental Pearl TV Tower, known for its distinctive spherical design. Situated across the river from the Bund, this iconic structure graces the skyline of the east bank. On the tower's first floor, you'll find the Shanghai History Museum, featuring four major exhibition units that delve into the history of Shanghai, from its ancient past to modern times. Please note that during the tourist high season (July-September), long queues of up to an hour may be expected.

DAY 16 Shanghai to Suzhou | Zhujiajiao Water Town

Zhujiajiao Water Town: Explore the enchanting Zhujiajiao Water Town, shaped like a delicate fan, steeped in centuries of history. Wander alongside serene lakes, where you'll encounter architectural marvels from the Ming and Qing Dynasties. Admire the 36 ancient stone bridges that have retained their timeless charm. This tour encompasses eight captivating attractions, including the historical Post Office, Yanyitang Art Gallery, Chenghuang Temple, Shanghai Handicraft Exhibition Hall, and more.

Former French Concession Precinct: Embark on a captivating walking tour through the former French Concession, an area encompassing iconic streets like Huaihai Road, Fuxing Road, and Taikang Road. Here, you'll encounter historical landmarks such as Sun Yat-sen and Zhou Enlai's former residences, Fuxing Park, Moller Villa, and the Notre Dame Cathedral. Delight in the timeless allure of over century-old French colonial-style buildings. On sunny days, the shadows of the Chenar trees create a romantic ambiance, while at night, cafes, bars, and restaurants beckon with the aroma of coffee.

Xintiandi: Nestled amid towering skyscrapers in the city center, Xintiandi is a bustling urban tourist hotspot infused with Shanghai's rich history and culture. The Shikumen buildings of Shanghai Xintiandi have been transformed into a dynamic hub, boasting world-class dining, shopping, and entertainment options. Immerse yourself in this lively district, teeming with international-standard restaurants, boutiques, cafes, and bars.

Zhujiajiao Boat Ride: Don't miss the chance to embark on a scenic river cruise through the heart of the ancient town. Glide along tranquil waters for a delightful 10-15 minute journey, allowing you to soak in the town's picturesque views from a unique perspective.

Tianzi Fang: Located on Taikang Road within the former French Concession, Tianzi Fang was once a labyrinthine residential area. Today, it has transformed into a trendy district, blending well-preserved Shikumen architecture with art galleries, bistros, coffee shops, craft stores, and creative art studios. Explore this vibrant enclave that marries tradition with contemporary artistic expression.

DAY 17 Shanghai to Suzhou| The Humble Administrators 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.

DAY 18 Shanghai Departure

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

Tour Price

FromUS4,500 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-73

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