China is a fantastic destination for travelers who are interested in history, culture, food, adventure, and/or natural wonders. With 12 days in China, you could arrange to visit 4–5 cities. Below are some of the tour options that we highly recommend.
- A Classic 12-Day China Itinerary
- A 12-Day China Itinerary with Pandas
- A 12-Day China Itinerary with Holy Tibet
1. A Classic 12-Day China Tour Itinerary for Families and Couples
- Days 1‒4: Beijing
- Days 5‒6: Xi'an
- Days 7‒9: Guilin
- Days 10‒12: Shanghai
If you are visiting China for the first time, we recommend covering Beijing, Xi'an, Guilin, and Shanghai, which are rich in historical sights and natural highlights. Some of the top attractions in this itinerary are the Great Wall, the Forbidden City, the Terracotta Warriors, the Bund, the Li River, and Yangshuo's countryside.
Days 1–4: Beijing
Discover real reviews of Highlights Travel Family's best-rated service across trusted platforms.
First Trip to China
Ethan has been my tour guide for my four day trip to Beijing. He has been knowledgeable, polite, and most helpful. I was uncomfortable coming to China for the first time without speaking any Chinese at all. Ethan gave the tours, arranged for shows and literally took me to my seats. He also accompanied me to the train station to help figure my was around and help me find the correct train and car. I would definitely use China Highlights again in the future.more
Jan 2024, Megan Sandbothe
Beijing trip with Birthday surprise
Had a great time in Beijing with Bruce. On arrival he surprised me with a cake for my 30th Birthday which was a special touch. We toured the Great wall, Forbidden City and the Temple of Heaven as well as a few other items. Bruce was really knowledgeable (especially about the symbolism in the Temple of Heaven). He also coordinated gaining entry quickly and moving between locations efficiently. Highly recommend.more
Jan 2024, Sherpa325441
Making Family Memories in China
Our Beijing guide Mark was fantastic! He is so knowledgeable about the history of each place we visited and he was very helpful in getting us to hotels, train stations, restaurants, excursions, etc. He took away all of the travel-related stress that can come with a big trip and we are so thankful to him and China Highlights! My parents are hard to please and they also have been very happy with the hotels and unique activities.more
Jan 2024, rosequarose
Beijing dicembre 2023
Siamo stati 3 giorni a Beijing e grazie a Franco siamo riusciti a vedere e apprezzare questa magnifica città. Lui è sempre stato disponibilissimo, pronto ad aiutarci per ogni nostra necessità. Essendo difficile trovare persone che parlano Inglese ci ha spiegato anche come farci intendere senza problemi. Sempre molto premuroso, attento e preparato. Ci ha spiegato perfettamente tutte le peculiarità della città e ci ha fatto assaggiare ogni giorno piatti nuovi per apprezzare la cucina cinese.more
Jan 2024, Michele Azzoni
Terry the best!
I had an awesome time in Beijing, Terry is the best not only guided us, it felt like I was being invited for a trip for an old family member, he was so caring for our needs as a big family group, learned our habits, likes and dislikes on the first day and accommodated us. I strongly recommend taking the tour with him, you will not regret itmore
Jan 2024, HugoA@732hugoa
Greatest Asian Experience
China Highlights organized the trip of a life time for my family with teens, from Japan, through Thailand to China. They were flexible and accommodating of our preferences, fast to react when there was a glitch, passionate and knowledgeable of everything we were seeing.All local guides, from Lena in Tokyo, Denis in Kyoto, Tom in Bangkok, Kai in Phuket, Martin in Hong Kong, William in Guilin, Linda in Zhangjiajie, to Jessie in Beijing, did their best to make sure everything went smoothly and to adjust to my teens' additional requests.more
Jan 2024, Gadjanov Dian
Viagem dos sonhos com nosso guia Terry
Servi?o impecável! Me baseei nas avalia??es e n?o me arrependi. Transporte pontual e responsável. Todo o processo de compra muito bem conduzido. Muito bem planejado. Perfeito do início ao fim. Por fim, o mais importante: o nosso guia Terry. Absolutamente perfeito. O tempo todo preocupado com o nosso bem estar. Cuidou de tudo, se preocupou com tudo. Talvez o guia mais atencioso q já vimos em nossas viagens, principalmente cuidando da crian?a pequena que nos acompanhava. ele nos proporcionou uma experiência inesquecível. Quem for comprar, n?o hesite, pois foi um sonho de viagem, gra?as a eles.more
Jan 2024, Mr s@k89Rsmrs
Best of the Best
We visited Beijing with guide Mark, Xi’an with Jenny, Guilin with Frank, and Shanghai with guide Kris. Each guide was so unique but they all had in common a passion for their city and a true kindness. They were early for all of the airport and train station pickups and helped us so much checking into hotels and flights. We tried so many different foods special to each region and appreciated the great recommendations from the guides. The activities we did were a combination of “must-see” sites like the Great Wall, Forbidden Palace, Teracotta soldiers, and participating in local arts like shadow puppetry, fan making, and seeing cultural shows.more
Jan 2024, Rose A
Ski trip to Thaiwoo Ski resort & Beijing Tour
Our Beijing Tour guide Terry, who is very experience and able to explain the history of China. We went to forbidden city, Tiananmen and hutong walking area and took us to a very delicious dumpling restaurant. His English is perfect and very kind to kids also.The trip went smoothly and everything was very well organized, good communications. kids had a lot of fun. Highly recommended for China Highlight when travel to China , Terry - Beijing Tour & Ryo at Thaiwoo ski resortmore
Jan 2024, Explorer00356257314
Bejing for 3 days
We spent 3 days in Beijing and our guide, Ethan, was immediately courteous, punctual and full of advice on Chinese customs and habits. When it came to telling us the history of places and monuments, he always gave complete and exhaustive explanations.more
Jan 2024, Matteo Giudici Turati
3 GG a Pechino
Abbiamo visitato con lui e il driver (ottimo anche lui), la città proibita,il tempio del paradiso, piazza tiennamen e la grande muraglia......stra consiglio Ethan come guida.more
Jan 2024, Matgiu
Great experience in cold Beijing
Bruce was excellent in taking us around Beijing. He was very knowledgeable with the history and the details of each attraction. He knew all the ins and outs and didn’t have to queue where everyone had to. He was also patient with us being a bit older and less than fit especially going up the Great Wall. I would highly recommend Bruce to anyone who wants to do a private tour.more
Dec 2023, sgwelly
Ethan was amazing! He showed us all the detailed attraction and gave us all the useful information and also suggest us places to go. He was really supportive and make our trip unforgettable!more
Dec 2023, Alessandra
First private tour with China Highlights.
The tour guides were all knowledgeable and efficient in taking guiding us through many remarkable historical or natural sites.more
Dec 2023, Catherine W
Terry is the best Tour Guide
Our tour guide Terry was absolutely fantastic. His attitude was amazing, he was very patient with us and the best thing he gave us was his wealth of knowledge when it came Chinese History. This knowledge is exactly why we wanted to visit China and through his words we found it very easy to immerse ourselves in the beautiful architecture and scenery we found ourselves in.more
Dec 2023, sajjads@680sajjads
Best tour experience!
We booked a tour with Terry for the forbidden city, Tiananmen Square and the Great Wall of China. Terry went above and beyond in providing us with an amazing experience. He spoke fluent English and educated us on the history of the places we visited and answered every question we could think of. He was extremely helpful and friendly and made an amazing trip even more enjoyable.more
Dec 2023, 598ishamams
4 days in Beijing
Jack was welcoming and warm when we arrived at Beijing airport tired late at night. He was diligent and hardworking taking us around the many historical landmarks in Beijing. Whilst it is cold in winter (and we caught the first snow!), it was very enjoyable visiting Mutianyu because there were no crowds.more
Dec 2023, Catherine Wong
Great places, great food
We visited the Great Wall, The Southern Gong Lane, the Forbidden City, the Temple of Heaven and the Summer Palace. Amazing places. Our guide, Jeffrey was excellent. The driver was also helpful. The selected halal restaurants are so good with lots of delicious meals to choose.more
Dec 2023, Farid S
Had an awesome trip with Helen as our tour guide in Beijing and Tianjin. She is such a warm personality and highly motivated guide (recommendable!). Also appreciate the little Christmas gift that she gave to us.more
Dec 2023, Ang
5-star experience in Beijing
Kitty spoke good English and was very knowledgeable. She provided great insights on the places we visited and went the extra mile to help us with our requests on shopping, massages and even to arrange a last minute acrobat show.Both Kitty and Mr Ho were very accommodating to the changes we made in our itinerary during the trip, and Kitty was very caring - she gave me a scarf as I had forgotten to bring mine, and even bought me medication when I was feeling under the weather.more
Dec 2023, sharon
Spend 2 days exploring the top attractions, including the Forbidden City and the Great Wall. For a better experience, we recommend you visit a less-crowded Great Wall section — Mutianyu, as this section is fully-restored and easy-walking. But, if Great Wall hiking is what you want to do, you could walk our most-asked-for hiking route — from Jinshanling to Simatai — with your own private guide.
For a special experience, you could take our Great Wall night tour at the Simatai section, which is the only section open at night. Get there in the late afternoon and enjoy a sunset view from the Wall, and we could even arrange a romantic picnic dinner on the Great Wall! Families with teenagers, we recommend you spend some time on a Chinese cultural experience to learn more about Chinese culture, such as tai chi exercises in the morning with a master or joining a Chinese calligraphy course.
Days 5–6: Xi'an
Xi'an is famed for its Terracotta Warriors and Horses. To help you gain a better understanding of this unique attraction, we recommend our hand-made clay-warrior program. Create your own unique warrior with local artisans and then take it home as a souvenir. You'll learn a lot about how the Terracotta Warriors were made over 2,000 years ago.
You can also join our Han-era (206 BC – 220 AD) clothing cultural activity. Put on traditional Hanfu clothing and take photos to give you an unforgettable memory and historical insight.
For families with teenagers, we recommend you take a biking tour on the Xi'an City Wall and a food tour in the Muslim Quarter to experience local culture and life.
Days 7–9: Guilin
Known for its beautiful karst landscape, Guilin is the best place to see a "living Chinese landscape painting". A top highlight of Guilin touring is the Li River cruise from Guilin city to Yangshuo, when you would enjoy breathtaking river-and-mountain views.
In Yangshuo, we have arranged many outdoor activities suitable for families: cycling around the villages, visiting local farmers, bamboo rafting, rock climbing, and more.
If you are visiting Guilin in autumn, then spend a day in Longji Terraced Fields Scenic Area to view the golden tiers of paddy fields and experience the interesting minority life and culture in local villages around harvest time.
Days 10–12: Shanghai
In Shanghai, most travelers visit The Bund, where you can see many skyscrapers and buildings of different styles dating back a century.
On our in-depth culture discovery tour, our private guide would take you walking around the old buildings of the Bund to help you get a better understanding of Shanghai's impressive modernity and flourishing history.
For the rest of time in Shanghai, you are free to do a vast choice of entertaining activities, such as shopping, visiting museums, drinking coffee on top of the skyscrapers, or just having a rest in a top Chinese spa treatment hall.
If you are interested in this itinerary, check out our 12 Days Classic China Tours
2. A 12-Day China Tour Itinerary with Pandas
Pandas are among the favorite animals of many people. If seeing pandas in their hometown is one of your bucket list experiences, this itinerary would be good for you. You can always see a number of pandas in Chengdu, whereas there would only be one or two at most in zoos in your own country. In this itinerary, we include Chengdu, alongside the other top destinations — Beijing, Xi'an, Shanghai, and Guilin.
- Days 1–3: Beijing
- Days 4–5: Xi'an
- Days 6–7: Chengdu
- Days 8–10: Guilin
- Days 11–12: Shanghai
As activities in other destinations could be the same as in the above trip itinerary 1, we just include Chengdu trip details below.
Join our Panda Keeper Program tour to get a close quarters experience with these adorable animals in Chengdu Panda Reserve. Our guide would help you join in the program activities, such as cleaning the panda enclosures, seeing them being fed, and making their favorite cakes.
During the rest of your time in Chengdu, visit Jinli Ancient Street, where you can try delicious Sichuan hot pot, or have a rest at a teahouse...
If you are interested in this itinerary, check out our 12-Day Beijing–Xi'an–Chengdu–Guilin/Yangshuo–Shanghai Tour.
3. A 12-Day China Family Tour Itinerary with Hong Kong
Besides visiting the iconic attractions and enjoying the outdoors in some of the most popular destinations with families, we include Hong Kong in this itinerary, as there are so many kid-friendly attractions and entertainment activities there. Here are some brief itinerary details for this 12-day China tour with Hong Kong.
- Days 1–4: Shanghai
- Days 5–6: Huangshan
- Day 7: Hangzhou
- Days 8–10: Guilin
- Days 11–12: Hong Kong
In Hong Kong, you could visit Ocean Park, where you can take a raft ride through a jungle landscape among many other rides. The park also has a plethora of animal exhibits, including a giant panda habitat, a shark aquarium, and a sea lion show.
For most children, it would be a happy ending to finish with Hong Kong Disneyland, where you can view spectacular fireworks shows, parades, and live performances featuring beloved Disney characters. See How Long to Spend in Hong Kong
If you are interested in this itinerary, please contact us for a Tailor-made Tour.
4. A 12-Day China Tour Itinerary with Tibet
As "the holiest place in China", Tibet is one of many travelers' bucket-list trip destinations. In this itinerary, we include Beijing, Xi'an, and Shanghai to help you visit the top tourist places of China as well as your dreamed-of destination — Tibet.
- Days 1–4: Beijing
- Days 5–6: Xi'an
- Days 7–9: Lhasa, Tibet
- Days 10–12: Shanghai
In this itinerary, we include the capital of the roof of the world, Lhasa, to help you fulfill your Tibetan dream, a land renowned for its awe-inspiring mountainous landscape, rich cultural heritage, and unique architecture.
Pay a visit to the most iconic attraction in Lhasa — the Potala Place, which is also the holiest place for Tibetan Buddhists. Wander around one of the oldest streets in Lhasa — Barkhor Street, and watch pilgrims doing their prostrating obeisances, see locals performing a kora with their prayer wheel rituals, and try delicious local food at the street market.
You could get more itinerary ideas on our 12 Days in China: Top 10 Tours and Itineraries
Costs for 12-Day Tour in China
The cost for China tour depends on your type of accommodation, transportation choices, time of travel, service level, and activities selected. For example, the flight ticket price from the U.S. or Europe to China varies a lot depending on the travel time and the airline you use. It is usually from around US$1,200 to US$3,000 for an economy round trip.
The peak travel times in China are the first weeks of May and October (China's two golden weeks), summer holidays, and Christmas and New Year holidays. Prices can go up by 50 to 100% in peak season periods.
For most visitors who book a private China tour with us, 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 12-day tour for two people would cost about US$5,300–8,400. A tour for a family of four may cost US$9,000–14,300 (kids under 10 get 30–50% off). Your international flights are not included in this price.
Our refund policy minimizes the monetary risk to you when booking: you'll receive a 100% refund of any payments made to China Highlights if you cancel up to three weeks before departure. (See more details.)
How to Travel Around in China
It is convenient travel throughout the whole country by flights or high-speed trains. Most of China's tourist cities are connected by high-speed rail and airports. If you book a tour with us, we will arrange the best travel route according to your personal interests and budget, seamlessly booking the flight/train tickets you need.
Tour China with Us
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.