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How to Plan a 10-Day Itinerary in China (Best 5 Options)

Written by Chris Quan Updated Apr. 11, 2023

China is a country that offers a wealth of unique and unforgettable experiences for travelers.

With 10 days to spare, you could explore 3 or 4 cities. In this article, we'll provide you with five of the best options for a 10-day itinerary in China, including popular combinations and off-the-beaten-path destinations.

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1. A Classic 10-Day China Itinerary for Couples and Families

For first-time visitors, we recommend visiting Beijing, Xi'an, Guilin, and Shanghai. These four cities offer the best opportunities to explore China's top attractions, rich culture, and stunning natural scenery:

  • Days 1‒3: Beijing
  • Days 4‒5: Xi'an
  • Days 6‒8: Guilin
  • Days 9‒10: Shanghai
Map of a classic 10-day China itinerart

In Beijing, explore the most authentically-restored section of the Great Wall — the Mutianyu Great Wall. For a special experience, pay a night visit to the Simatai section, which is the only part open at night. If you love hiking, we can also arrange a Great Wall hike for you — Jinshanling to Simatai is best for hiking.

If you're traveling with kids and want to give them some cultural experience, we can arrange a family tai chi exercise in the morning with a master or you could learn Chinese calligraphy together.

In Xi'an, visit the Terracotta Warriors and try to make your own clay warrior with local artisans. You'll learn about how the Terracotta Warriors were made 2,000 years ago and create your own unique warrior to take home as a souvenir. Enjoy a food tour of the Muslim Quarter and bike around the old city on the ancient city wall.

In Guilin, relax on a Li River Cruise and enjoy its stunning karst landscapes, and the Li River cruise is the best way to enjoy the spectacular limestone peaks. Go to Yangshuo, the tourism-magnet town near Guilin.

There you could go bamboo rafting, cycle around the village, and meet the local people. If you're celebrating a special occasion, we could arrange a romantic riverside candlelit dinner for you.

In Shanghai, enjoy an in-depth culture discovery tour of the Bund. Step into the Bund's old buildings, where you could touch and feel their charm and learn about the history behind them.

The rest of your time in Shanghai is flexible according to your preferences, whether it's shopping malls, spa treatments, or a visit to some of Shanghai's iconic skyscrapers…

Our tours are ready to be personalized. We can craft a trip based on your interests and needs. Just contact us.

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2. A 10-Day China Itinerary with Pandas

If pandas are a must-see for you, and you want to get the most out of your 10-day first China trip, you should check out this itinerary:

  • Days 1‒3: Beijing
  • Days 4‒5: Xi'an
  • Days 6‒7: Chengdu
  • Days 8‒9: Guilin
  • Day 10: Shanghai
Map of a 10-day China itinerary with pandas

This itinerary is more varied and adds a trip to Chengdu to see pandas.

We can arrange a Panda Keeper Program to let you observe them closer. In the program, you will clean the glass of their enclosures, see them being fed, and make their favorite cakes.

If you want to experience the laid-back lifestyle of Chengdu, go to People's Park, where you can relax in a teahouse, see local people dancing and singing, and explore its interesting "marriage market".

If you are interested in this itinerary, check out our 12-Day Beijing–Xi'an–Chengdu–Guilin/Yangshuo–Shanghai Tour.

3. A 10-Day China Itinerary with Holy Tibet

If you have a passion to see Tibet on your first trip to China, then this itinerary is recommended for you. This itinerary covers China's top cities (Beijing and Shanghai) and the heart of Tibet — Lhasa:

  • Days 1‒3: Beijing
  • Days 4‒8: Lhasa
  • Day 9‒10: Shanghai

In this itinerary, besides visiting the top famous cities, you would go to Tibet. The four days in Tibet will allow you to visit its essential highlights.

There, you could visit the famous Potala Palace, the emblem of Tibet. Go to Barkhor Street, where you can watch pilgrims doing their prostrating obeisances. And appreciate a different way of life in a Tibetan folk house.

If you want to explore more unique places in Tibet, you may need 2 or 3 weeks. See our 2-Week China Itineraries for Couples and Families and How to Plan a 3-Week Itinerary in China (Best 3 Options & Costs).

4. 10 Days in China, including Hong Kong, for Families

If you want a more relaxed pace of travel, you could consider this combination. This itinerary is especially suitable for families with kids:

  • Days 1‒4: Beijing
  • Days 5‒8: Guilin
  • Days 9‒10: Hong Kong
Map of a 10-day China itinerary with Hong Kong

All these three destinations are kid-friendly. It not only covers the cultural experience like visiting China's top attractions — the Forbidden City and the Great Wall in Beijing, but the itinerary also offers more opportunities to enjoy the outdoors with children in Guilin.

Hong Kong, an international transit hub, besides having many kid-friendly attractions, can also facilitate greater flight choices.

5. 10 Days on the Silk Road — Explore West China

If you have been to first-tier cities like Beijing and Shanghai and want an off-the-beaten-track route this time, you could consider exploring the Silk Road:

  • Days 1‒2: Lanzhou
  • Day 3: Xiahe
  • Days 4‒5: Zhangye
  • Day 6: Dunhuang
  • Days 7‒10: Xinjiang (Turpan & Urumqi)

In this itinerary, you will explore deeper into West China to see its ancient caves, and various landscapes, and learn about its minority culture.

In Lanzhou, you could visit the Bingling Temple Grottoes, which can only be accessed by boat. In Xiahe, the less-visited destination along the Silk Road, you could enjoy the stunning grassland view. In Zhangye, you would enjoy its unique danxia ('red-cloud') landforms.

In Dunhuang, you could see a section of the Great Wall built in the Han Dynasty era (206 BC – 220 AD), which is as old as today's extant Great Wall gets, and visit the most famous Mogao Caves.

For something a bit special, we could arrange a practical experience for gaining greater insight into the celebrated Buddhist cave art: recreating a Mogao mural on a mud slab with your own hands.

In Xinjiang, you could see the pure mountain views and learn about Uyghur culture and the architectural features of West China by visiting its old towns and bazaars.

Costs for 10 Days in China

For a private tour in China, the average cost per day is about US$220–350 per person, including flights/trains within China, 4- or 5-star hotels, lunches, attractions, guides, and private transport.

Thus, a 10-day tour for two people would cost about US$4,500–7,000. A tour for a family of four may cost US$8,000–10,000 (kids under 10 get 30–50% off). These prices do not include international flights.

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How to Travel Around China

Air travel and high-speed rail are the main modes of travel and also the most convenient options for intercity connections. Almost every major city is connected by high-speed rail and an airport.

When booking with us, let us know your travel preferences, and we will arrange the best travel routes for you, seamlessly booking the flight/train tickets you need.

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Whether you're interested in history, culture, or natural beauty, there's something for everyone in China. Let's create your dream trip! All our tours can be customized. Just contact us.

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