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How to Spend 19 Days in China in 2024/2025 (Top 5 Options and Costs)

Written by Mike HoUpdated May. 29, 2023

China is a charming travel destination with a long history, rich culture, fabulous landscapes, and delicious food. With 19 days in China, you could have a deep travel experience covering 5–7 cities. Below are some of the tour options that we recommend based on our 25 years in the business.

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1. A Classic 19-Day China Tour Itinerary for First-Timers

For most first-time travelers to China, we recommend combining China's historical and cultural cities with beautiful natural wonders to create a variety of life-long memories. The top 4 must-visit destinations in China are Beijing, Xi'an, Guilin, and Shanghai, which would take you about 10 days to visit. For the other 9 days, we recommend "panda-ville" Chengdu in the west and Hangzhou, Suzhou, and Huangshan (the Yellow Mountains) to explore classical eastern China.

Days 1–4: Beijing

Beijing Forbidden City

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In Beijing, spend 2 days to explore the iconic attractions — the Forbidden City, Summer Palace, and Temple of Heaven. To save time and get a better knowledge of the Forbidden City, our guide would find the best way for you to visit and lead you to some off-the-beaten-track areas of interest.

One day is needed to visit the Great Wall. For a better experience, our guide would usually take you to the less-crowded and fully-restored Mutianyu Great Wall section. If you would like to hike on the Great Wall, our guide would typically arrange a hiking trip from Jinshanling to Simatai — two adjacent Great Wall sections. At Jinshanling, you can enjoy a beautiful sunset on a clear day surrounded by well-preserved watchtowers and wall remnants joining them. You could even a have a picnic on the Great Wall.

For a special experience and a less-crowded environment, we recommend you take a night tour at Simatai, the only section open at night. When the weather's clear, you could enjoy romantic moments when the Great Wall is soaked in starlight.

Families with teenagers, we recommend you spend a day having a Chinese cultural experience to learn more about Chinese culture. Do tai chi exercises in the morning with a master and join a Chinese calligraphy course, for example.

Days 5–6: Xi'an

Xian terracotta warriors

In Xi'an, most visitors spend a day with the Terracotta Warriors, Xi'an's must-visit attraction. To help you get a better understanding of the Terracotta Army's history and how it was made two thousand years ago, our private guide would take you to a local business that makes terracotta warriors in the original way. There you can make a unique warrior with your own hands and bring it home as a souvenir.

The other day in Xi'an could be a relaxing one, though still filled with history and culture. Riding a bike on the medieval City Wall, and head over to the Muslim Quarter to taste local cuisine and snacks in the markets.

Days 7–8: Chengdu

Chengdu panda reserve

In Chengdu, the hometown of giant pandas, join our one-day Panda Keeper Program tour to get close to those adorable animals in the Panda Reserve. Our guide will help you get the most out of your time as a volunteer, cleaning the glass of their enclosures, making their favorite cakes, and seeing how they are fed in the program.

Chengdu is famed for its cuisine. Try Sichuan cuisine (hot pot) and enjoy some free time in a traditional teahouse. If you are interested in Chinese cooking, we can arrange a food tour or cooking class in Chengdu to help you learn some basic skills and knowledge.

Days 9–11: Guilin

Guilin landscape

Renowned for its beautiful karst landscapes, Guilin is one of the top destinations for China first-timers. In Guilin, spend a day on a Li River cruise from Guilin city to Yangshuo to enjoy the breathtaking river-and-mountain views.

In Yangshuo, we can arrange a biking tour to explore the beautiful paddy fields in the countryside. Visit a local farmer's house and experience their life and farming activities, such as feeding water buffaloes, planting, or harvesting according to the season.

If you are visiting Guilin in autumn, then spend a day at Longji Terraced Fields to view the golden rice tiers and experience interesting minority traditions.

Days 12–13: Hangzhou

Hangzhou west lake

Hangzhou is best known for its picturesque West Lake, which is surrounded by elegant gardens, temples, and historical buildings. Our guide would arrange a boat tour of the lake, a visit to famous Leifeng Pagoda, or a stroll through the gardens of nearby Guozhuang Village.

Days 14–15: Suzhou

Suzhou gardens

In Suzhou, people are wowed by its beautiful gardens, classical Chinese architecture, and historical canals. Our guide would take you to the UNESCO World Heritage site — the Classical Gardens of Suzhou — to appreciate beautiful combinations of art and nature. Humble Administrator's Garden, Lingering Garden, and Master of the Nets Garden are some of the most famous ones.

If you are interested in Chinese silk products, Suzhou is the right place for you. We can arrange a short visit to the Silk Museum, where you could see the process of silk-making or purchase souvenirs made of silk.

Days 16–17: Huangshan (The Yellow Mountains)

Huangshan (The Yellow Mountains)

Known for its unique and beautiful scenery, Huangshan deserves two days. Take a cable car to view the abundant breathtaking views of imaginatively-named rocks and trees. To help you experience local life there, we recommend visiting Bishan Village and staying in a typical Hui-style inn (where you could enjoy quiet moments with your partner). In the morning, have a walk around its idyllic countryside to breathe the fresh air and enjoy the picturesque village views.

Days 18–19: Shanghai

Shanghai the Bund

As the last stop on this trip, Shanghai offers a vast choice of entertaining activities to wind down. Shanghai's must-visit attraction and locale is the Bund, which offers incredible views of the contrasting city skylines.

Join our in-depth culture discovery tour for more stories and secrets behind the old buildings of the Bund. Our local guide would help you get a better understanding of Shanghai's impressive modernity and flourishing history.

In your last days in China, make full use of your time to relax fully or do activities you are interested in, such as shopping, visiting museums, drinking coffee on top of the skyscrapers, or just having a rest in a top Chinese spa treatment hall.

2. A 19-Day China Tour Itinerary with Holy Tibet

If Tibet is your dreamland or bucket-list trip destination, then you may like this itinerary, which combines five of the top China destinations with more-adventurous Tibet.

  • Days 1–4: Beijing
  • Days 5–7: Lhasa
  • Days 8–9: Xi'an
  • Days 10–12: Zhangjiajie
  • Days 13–15: Guilin
  • Days 16–19: Shanghai

It will take you about 3 days to explore the highlights of Lhasa. More days would be needed if you are interested in visiting Everest Base Camp.

In Lhasa, the capital of Tibet, our private guide would introduce you to the best ways to explore and get to know the Potala Palace. Spend some leisurely time wandering around Barkhor Street — see devout Buddhists praying and experience the buzz of local Tibetan life. If you are interested in rural Tibetan life in remote areas, we can arrange a visit to a Tibetan village in the hills.

There, live the life of a Tibetan nomad for a day. Take part in their daily activities, including horse riding, milking yaks, printing prayer flags, and other things that the nomads do.

It's important to remember that visiting Tibet requires a travel permit, which can only be applied for by an approved travel agency. Also, some areas are restricted for foreign travelers and require additional permits, which we could also obtain.

3. A 19-Day China Tour Itinerary with Picturesque Yunnan

If you are interested in China's diversified minority culture and natural sightseeing, then you will like this itinerary, which combine the top destinations and the picturesque Yunnan.

  • Days 1–4: Beijing
  • Days 5–6: Xi'an
  • ays 7–10: Yunnan
  • Days 11–14: Guizhou
  • Day 15: Fenghuang Ancient Town
  • Days 16–19: Shanghai & Suzhou

As one of the popular travel destinations in China, Yunnan is renowned for its picturesque landscape and diversified minority culture. In this itinerary, you will visit Kunming and Lijiang.

In Kunming, spend a day to visit the Stone Forest, which is a geological wonder with towering limestone formations that resemble trees, animals, and other shapes.

Spend two or three days in Lijiang, which is renowned for its UNESCO World Heritage Site, Lijiang Old Town. You can see many ancient buildings, canals, and old streets. Another famous attraction in Lijiang is the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, where you can see beautiful mountain ranges and stunning views.

You will also discover Guizhou, a less-visited destination. There you could explore its vibrant ethnic villages and traditions.

4. A 19-Day China Tour Itinerary with a Yangtze Cruise: Best for Retired Couples

If you are looking for a more-relaxed and romantic trip after retired, then this itinerary would be good for you. We select from the best star-rated Yangtze cruise ships as well as lining up some delightful destinations in this trip to help you create romantic memories in China.

  • Days 1–4: Beijing (see above for details)
  • Days 5–8: Xi'an (as above)
  • Days 9–11: Chengdu (as above)
  • Days 12–17: Chongqing and a Yangtze Cruise
  • Days 18–19: Shanghai(as above)

In Chongqing, spend a day to explore some of the top attractions in the city and have a hot pot dinner. The second day, you will take a Yangtze Cruise ship from Chongqing to Yichang. During the trip , you will see the breathtaking engineering of the Three Gorges Dam and learn about Chinese customs and traditions, as ships provide onboard activities, such as tea ceremonies, calligraphy lessons, and a Chinese medicine workshop.

5. A 19-Day China Itinerary with a Silk Road Adventure

If you are interested in Silk Road history and culture, then this itinerary will be good for you. In this itinerary, you will visit the top destinations and the silk road cities of China.

  • Days 1–5: Beijing (see itinerary 1 above)
  • Days 6–8: Xi'an (as above)
  • Days 9–10: Zhangye
  • Days 11–13: Dunhuang
  • Days 14–19: Xinjiang (Turpan, Urumqi, Kashgar)

In Zhangye, which is home to the Rainbow Mountains, you will have a chance to take a camel ride along the ancient trade route that connected China to the West to experience ancient Silk Road trade life.

In the city of Dunhuang, you will visit Mogao Caves, where you would see a stunning array of ancient Buddhist art, including murals, statues, and colorful frescoes. Our guide could lead you to visit some that are not open to the general public.

In Xinjiang, visit the city Turpan, Urumqi, and Kashgar to learn more about Uygur culture, by seeing the traditional music and dance performances, as well as visit bustling bazaars and markets. You'll also have the opportunity to try a variety of Xinjiang cuisine, such as Uighur and Kazakh dishes.

Cost for 19- Day Tour in China

The cost for a China tour during peak season is quite different from the off season. Prices in the peak season can be 50 to 100% higher than the low seasons.

For example, the flight price from the U.S. or Europe to China varies a lot depending on the travel time and airline you use, which is usually from around US$1,200 to US$3,000 for an economy round trip.

The peak travel times in China are on the first weeks of May and October (China's two golden weeks), summer holidays, and Christmas and New year holidays.

For most visitors who book a private tour with us 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 19-day tour for two people would cost about US$8,400–13,300. A tour for a family of four may cost US$11,800–18,600 (kids under 10 get 30–50% off). Your international flights are not included in this price.

How to Travel around China

It is convenient travel through the whole country by flights or high-speed trains in China. Most of the tourist cities are connected by high-speed rails and airports.

If you book a tour with us, we will arrange the suitable travel routes according to your preferences, 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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