17 days in China would allow you to have an in-depth travel experience.
You could cover the most popular cultural and natural destinations, including China's top landmarks and some relaxing outdoor activities.
You could also choose to visit some off-the-beaten-track routes for more unique experiences.
1. The Most-Chosen 17-Day China Itinerary
If it is your first time to visit China and you want a highlight-rich and leisurely travel experience, this itinerary is suitable for you.
This itinerary covers major destinations in Chinese cities such as Beijing, Xi'an, and Shanghai. Additionally, it doesn't miss out on the best scenic cities like Guilin and Zhangjiajie.
Furthermore, for those interested in delving deeper into Chinese culture and exploring ancient towns, Pingyao Ancient Town is also included.
- Days 1‒2: Shanghai
- Day 3: Suzhou
- Day 4‒6: Guilin
- Days 7‒10: Zhangjiajie
- Days 11‒13: Xi'an & Pingyao
- Days 14‒17: Beijing
You will first experience the collision of modern and traditional China in Shanghai through a visit to the Bund. Next, you will proceed to Suzhou. Suzhou's gardens are classic representatives of Chinese gardens.
At the next stops in Guilin and Zhangjiajie, you will appreciate the beauty of China's landscapes. In Guilin, you could slow your pace and enjoy stunning countryside views while doing some relaxing outdoor activities with your kids or partner, such as taking a bamboo raft and walking between the paddy fields.
In Zhangjiajie, you could see Hallelujah Mountain and other pillars that helped provide the inspiration for Avatar. Its gorgeous steep trails are excellent for hiking.
The highlight of Xi'an is visiting its top attraction — the Terracotta Warriors, which could be complemented with a special hands-on experience of making your own clay warrior. It would allow you to better understand the history and artisan-ship behind the Terracotta Army.
With a trip to Pingyao Ancient Town, you could see many ancient buildings and also find the earliest bank in China.
Finally in Beijing, leave your footprints on the Great Wall and explore China's imperial past in the Forbidden City. For more authentic ways to experience local life, taking a rickshaw to visit the hutongs, visiting a local market, or visiting a local family and chatting with the host are all good ideas. We could arrange them for you.
2. 17 Days in China with a Panda Experience
If you want pandas on your 17-day-in-China to-do list, you could consider this itinerary. This itinerary also includes a short trip to Lhasa.
- Days 1‒4: Beijing sightseeing with must-see landmarks, a hutong tour, and some cultural experiences
- Days 5‒6: Xi'an (the Terracotta Warriors, museums, and a food tour)
- Days 7‒8: Lhasa (monasteries, the Potala Palace, and Barkhor Street where to see Tibetan life)
- Day 8: Chengdu with a panda trip
- Days 10‒12: Shanghai (the Bund, Yu Garden, and a water town exploration)
- Days 13‒15 Yangtze River cruise with shore excursions
- Days 16‒17: Guilin sightseeing with a relaxing countryside lifestyle experience
With this 17-day itinerary, you could enjoy a leisurely Yangtze River cruise to slow down and appreciate the stunning natural scenery and other attractions along the Yangtze River.
You could also go to Chengdu to see the adorable pandas. If you want to encounter them closely, we could arrange a panda keeper program for you. You may need to add one more day for that where you could go into pandas' bedrooms for daily cleaning duties, make their favorite cakes, watch them being fed, and get a souvenir certificate.
Incredible scouting trip for future visits to Chengdu and China
Working with Daisy from China Highlights was an excellent experience. She went out of her way to accommodate us and provided exceptional personal care while in Chengdu. What a dedicated travel guide.more
Nov 2023, Thebigoak
Chengdu city was interesting
Chengdu city was interesting, Helen is very helpful, kind.She was speaking in english wery well and understandable. We got a lot of information from the city and experiences there! Thanks for her help and time!more
Nov 2023, Csernakne Agi
Panda Volunteer Programme
Highly recommend the Panda Volunteer Programme in Dujiangyan! Our guide Daisy, was really lovely, very knowledgeable and fun! She knew the base incredibly well and made everything super easy. Daisy had lots of insider knowledge and could point out all the panda quirks, which made the experience incredibly fun. We had an extra day in Chengdu and Daisy was helpful with suggestions on the best times and way to visit each attraction. Even though she was only booked for yhe panda experience, she was happy for us to contact her the following day if we had any questions/issues!more
Nov 2023, D V
One of memorable experience of our visit to China
I strongly recommend this program for anyone plan to visit China, specifically Chengdu. Our guide Helen warmly took care of us. 3 nights of staying in Chengdu are enough for visiting key sites specifically Panda Research Center and Leshan Giant Buddha. We definitely looking forward to revisit Chengdu for our future China’s exploration. China Highlight will surely our pick for guided tour service.more
Nov 2023, Karn T
Hi, all, just wanted to take a quick moment from our trip in China to thank our guide, Henry Li, for being such an amazing source of information and help during our stay in Chengdu. Henry went above and beyond the basics extending himself by working to solve any issues that might have otherwise hampered out enjoyment. Simply put, he is knowledgeable, kind, extremely helpful and he can take you to the best hotpot in Chengdu. His English is excellent and so easy to understand. You should really see if he is available for your next rip to Chengdu.more
Oct 2023, Pennie B
Visit to Chengdu
My wife and I visited Chengdu and were met by our guide, Helen, the moment we got off the train. Helen was excellent looking after us for a couple of days whilst taking us to visit the Giant and Red Panda Sanctuary, walking around the city, assisting us with places to eat. Helen was extremely knowledgeable of the places we visited and has excellent english, we will be going back in the future and would definitely request Helen as our guide againmore
Oct 2023, Kevin Bennett
Helen is the best Panda tour guide going around!
I had a fantastic Panda tour with Helen in Chengdu City. From the moment she picked me up, my energy was low from a heap of travelling, but Helen quickly brought me up a notch with her breathtaking passion for Pandas. Not only did she provide a fantastic experience accommodating my every need, but she was also a genuinely kind and joyful company to tour the city with. I can't recommend Helen enough - you won't regret it!more
Sep 2023, Isaac C
Incredible 2 day tour of Jiuzhaiguo
Our tour guide Mary spoke perfect English, was so nice to us and took us to all the best sights in Jiuzhaiguo. It was an unforgettable tour with incredible views!more
Sep 2023, Declan O
Viaje a Chengdu con China Highlights y su guía Pablo.
Visitamos Chengdu y otras ciudades chinas con China Highlights en un viaje que nos organizó la magnífica Juana Pan. Al llegar a Chengdú nos estaba esperando Pablo, nuestro guía en espa?ol que nos llevó al hotel y nos instaló. Al día siguiente fuimos a ver el Gran Buda de Leshan y, aunque lamentablemente no pudimos hacer el viaje en barco que teníamos contratado debido a las condiciones atmosféricas, Pablo nos llevó a la cima de la monta?a desde donde pudimos admirar esta gran belleza. Después, hicimos una rica comida típica y caminamos por las calle de la ciudad y al día siguiente la visita nos llevó a callejear por sus calles antiguas, sus templos y vistamos el curioso "mercado de matrimonios" dentro del parque del pueblo. En definitiva una experiencia gratísima y que Pablo nos descubrió. Gracias Pablomore
Aug 2023, Eco C
Perfect tour in Chengdu
Been in Chengdu for a couple of days with my wife and my daughter 2 years old. We have been guided by Henry Lee, a very professional and competent touristic guide that have organized perfectly our short journey in Chengdu. Highly Recommended.more
Aug 2023, Adriano C
2 Fantastic Days in Chengdu with Helen
We had an amazing couple of days in Chengdu as part of our 2 week holiday in China. Helen was our tour guide and she was fabulous!! She had so much passion for her job it was infectious!! We went to see the pandas and Helen was able to navigate the site to ensure we were able to see the various panda houses and try and minimise the waiting time, we then experienced very local Sizhuan Opera which was intriguing and very entertaining. The following day we went to the peoples park which was very interesting and Helen was able to give us the background to the park and introduced us to some amazing activities and encourage us to participate. Our last stop was the Wenshu Monestry which was beautiful and again Helen was very knowledgable and led us around the monestry with great explanations behind what we were seeing. Helen also took us to some fabulous local restaurants and we ate incredibly well. Thank you Helen for making the few days in Chengdu so special and we will for sure be back!!more
Aug 2023, Sandra
Qingcheng Mountain Your Chengdu
I booked a tour with China Highlights to visit Qingcheng Mountain. Aaron was a brilliant tour guide! It was great to visit the birthplace of daoism- the temples were breathtakingly beautiful and the atmosphere was serene. Aaron was incredibly knowledgeable about the mountain, and was a really helpful guide for my stay in Chengdu!more
Aug 2023, Stuart
Chengdu Guide was Awesome!
Our guide, Helen, made our time in Chengdu terrific! She was very knowledgeable and got us to everything we wanted to see efficiently. She knew all the "insider tips", like which restrooms to use to avoid long lines, excellent food for lunch, etc. Helen was very flexible and changed our itinerary so we could see an additional site. She even entertained our six year old so we could enjoy more of a museum. Definitely NOT her job, but greatly appreciated! Helen was awesome and we would recommend her VERY highly!more
Jul 2023, Suzann Demianew
Best guide in Chengdu
Our expert guide in Chengdu, China, was Helen. She was just totally amazing! She had lots of energy and was able to get us everywhere we wanted to go. She was very flexible and changed the itinerary to add an additional site. That meant she and our driver had an extra long day. She really knew all the sights and little things like which bathrooms to use to avoid long lines. Restaurants she took us to had very tasty food. Could not have had a better guide. I highly recommend Helen!more
Jul 2023, Suzann D
We spent few wonderful days at Chengdu as part of our China trip. Our guide - HenryLi from China Highlights did a wonderful job and everything went as planned in the itinerary. Henry answered all our questions was flexible and made sure all our needs were met. I would highly recommend China Highlights and if you are going to Chengdumore
Jul 2023, Viki B
Best Tour of Chengdu
In July, we went to Chengdu as a part of our large tour of China. We went to see the pandas, visited a Sichuan Opera, and toured the local streets of Chengdu with traditional Sichuan Cuisine. Our guide Helen was very helpful during this trip. She was always trying to get us to places on time and made sure we did everything we could. This was especially helpful during our stop to see the pandas as it was really crowded and busy. In addition to this trip, she was able to get us last-minute tickets to visit an authentic opera with famous face-changing masks. During our car rides, she was very informative, making sure we had all the information about the beautiful city. We recommend staying there for more than a day as there are more things to do other than seeing the pandas. Helen was very attentive and always cheerful. We definitely recommend her for people who want to be more knowledgeable of Chengdu and want someone who is very caring towards their needs.more
Jul 2023, Jimena M
Helen wad fantastic!
Helen in Chengdu was absolutely fantastic! She is very knowledgeable, speaks English well and is very active. She was flexible, practical and ready to make changes. She offered various extra options and was very sweet with my child.Highly recommended!more
Jul 2023, Chiara G
Chengdu more than pandas
Our family of 4 including 2 teens visited Chengdu. I just want to say that we did much more than the Panda activities. Our favourite one was cooking and talking with a local family in their house. We had a hands on cooking experience. It was fun, relaxing and got us to catch a bit of real chinese lifestyle. Our guide Alex was so great at arranging this! He understood our preferences in all the trip. We had a great time. By the way I accidentally lost my phone one day. Sharon (the planner girl) and Alex solved the situation in no time. More than I expected from an agency. 5 out of 5.more
Jul 2023, gilberto b
Jiuzhaigou/Huanglong in Sichuan is a must visit!!!
my mom and I had a fantastic time in Chengdu visiting the city, Leshan Big Buddha and Panda Conservation. But the best part of the trip was travelling to Jiuzhaigou and Huanglong (these two scenic spots are a MUST visit!!!) Our guide Mary was fantastic! We highly recommend her. She was accommodating, knowledgeable, and super friendly. She even helped carried our heavy water bottles for us (thank you so much). I highly highly recommend her and would seek her out again if I go again!more
Jul 2023, Sandy
Custom Chengdu with great guide!
Our guide Jason was a joy to travel with! He answered our million and one questions that had nothing to do with our itinerary, made us comfortable in unusual situations, was flexible, and made sure our every need along the way was met. We had a great time and would highly recommend China Highlights—and if you’re going to Chengdu, definitely request Jason as your guide.more
Jun 2023, Renata R
3. A 17-Day China Itinerary with Tibet
If you want to make your 17-day itinerary more focused on Tibet, you could see this option.
With this 17-day itinerary, you could spend 8 to 10 days exploring Tibet in combination with "the Golden Triangle":
- Days 1‒4: Beijing with iconic landmarks and cultural experiences
- Days 5‒6: Xi'an with a visit to the Terracotta Warriors
- Days 7‒15: Tibet with Lhasa highlights and Everest Base Camp
- Days 16‒17: Shanghai with a Bund trip and free time activities
In Tibet, go to the iconic Potala Palace, visit famous and less-traveled monasteries, meet locals and see their daily life in Barkhor Street, have a picnic by on a Yamdrok lakeside, and go to Everest Base camp, leaving your footprints on "the roof of the world".
If you are interested in the Tibetan lifestyle, we can arrange for you to visit a local Tibetan family. You could talk to the host (with our guide's interpreting) about the family's life and help them with farming work.
Please note: Tibet Entry Permits are a must for foreign travelers to visit Tibet. They should be applied for at least 2 weeks in advance. We can handle it for you when you book a tour with us.
4. A 17-Day China Tour of the Silk Road
The Silk Road is a great choice if you prefer an off-the-beaten-path route, especially if you are interested in ancient grottoes, deserts, and Xinjiang with its exotic culture and unique landscapes.
10 to 11 days would be on the Silk Road with 5 to 6 days in Beijing and Xi'an:
- Days 1‒2: Urumqi sightseeing with a cruise on the Heavenly Lake
- Days 3‒4: Turpan (ancient ruins and cities, caves, and a visit to a local family)
- Days 5‒6: Dunhuang (Buddhist grottoes, dreamy desert, and a remote section of the Great Wall)
- Days 7‒9: Jiayuguan & Zhangye (see the end of the Great Wall and the "rainbow mountains" — a unique Danxia landform)
- Days 10‒12: Xi'an sightseeing
- Day 13: Pingyao Ancient Town
- Days 14‒17: Beijing sightseeing
The highlights of this itinerary are absolutely the scenery and cultural vibe along the Silk Road.
In Zhangye and Dunhuang, you would see marvelous landscapes with unique Danxia landforms and a beautiful oasis. Ride a camel through dunes in the pristine desert. Visit the old Mogao Caves to see fine murals and learn about how Buddhism entered China.
In Xinjiang, enjoy stunning scenery at Heavenly Lake and go to Urumqi's largest bazaar to feel the buzz of exotic life in the city furthest from the sea.
In Turpan, explore the ancient Gaochang Ruins, an important Silk Road city founded in the first century B.C. Discover the charming Tuyoq Village, with its vineyards and ancient mudbrick houses. Don't miss tasting the sweet grapes and melons — regional specialties.
You can find more itinerary ideas on our 17 Days in China: Top 9 Tours and Itineraries
How Much Does 17 Days in China Cost?
For a private tour of 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, for a couple, a 17-day private tour may cost about US$7,500–12,000 in total. You could also invite your friends and their partners to join the trip. The cost would become more affordable with a larger group.
For a family of four, it may cost about US$14,000–19,000. Kids under 10 usually get 30–50% off. (International airfares are not included.)
The cost of flights from the U.S. or Europe to China varies a lot depending on when you fly and which airline you use, from around US$1,200 to US$3,000 for an economy round trip.
The Peak Season May Increase the Cost
Peak tourist times in China are the first weeks of May and October (China's two golden weeks), summer holidays, and Christmas and New Year holidays.
The biggest price difference between the off and peak seasons is in the price of hotels and airfares. Their prices can go up by 50 to 100%.
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)
Tour China with Us
Our tours are personalized. We would create an itinerary according to your travel duration, interests, group size, and any other requirements.