China is an ideal travel destination for rich cultural experiences, adventurous activities, a safe environment, and numerous attractions suitable for families, making it an excellent choice for family vacations. This article provides travel info and sample itineraries to help you plan a perfect family trip with teenagers and younger kids, especially children aged between 10 and 17.
How Many Days to Spend on a Family Trip to China
To explore China's vast range of regions and rich cultures in a little depth, it is recommended to spend at least 2 weeks on a family trip to China. With about 2 weeks in China, you can cover the most famous cultural and natural highlights in China while taking part in various activities to enrich your knowledge of China and keep your children interested.
If you have longer for your holiday, such as 3 or 4 weeks, you would be able to explore more off-the-beaten-path routes with your children. However, if your vacation time is limited, 7 to 9 days are needed to cover China's top highlights in Beijing, Xi'an, and Shanghai.
Best Places to Visit for Families with 10–17-Year-Olds
For most first-time-to-China family travelers, Beijing, Xi'an, Chengdu, Guilin, Hong Kong, and Shanghai are the top destinations. These cities offer great opportunities for teenagers to learn more about Chinese history and culture, undertake adventurous outdoor activities, and enrich their knowledge about modern China.
If you are planning a trip to China in the summer holidays, you can extend your trip to other summer holidays destinations, such as Inner Mongolia or Tibet. The following are some sample tours for families with teenagers and slightly younger kids.
1. A Classic 12-Day China Tour Itinerary for Families with Teenagers
This tour covers China's famous Golden Triangle — Beijing, Shanghai, and Xi'an — and the picturesque karst landscape of Guilin as well as the homeland of giant pandas — Chengdu.
Days 1–4: Beijing
In Beijing, the Forbidden City is a must-visit, where teenagers can learn more about the history of the Ming and Qing dynasties (1368–1912). To help you get a better understanding of the 'Former Palace', our guide would lead you to different representative parts and explain their significance fully. Then you would have a rickshaw ride through the narrow alleys, plus a visit to a local family for a truly Beijing-ese experience. Enjoy authentic Chinese dishes for lunch at a popular local restaurant.
Another iconic landmark of Beijing is the Great Wall. For a family-friendly experience, our guide would take you to visit a less-crowded and well-restored Great Wall section — Mutianyu. If your children would like Great Wall hiking, however, we can arrange the top hiking route for you — from Jinshanling to Simatai — with your own private guide.
To help your teenagers get a deep knowledge of Chinese culture, we recommend that you spend some time on a Chinese cultural experience, such as tai chi exercises in the morning with a master, watching the Kung Fu Night Show, or joining a Chinese calligraphy course.
Days 5–6: Xi'an
In Xi'an, it takes a day for a good visit to the Terracotta Warriors and Horses. To help your teenagers gain a better understanding, our guide would take you to participate in a hand-made clay-warrior program, where you and your children would create your own unique warriors with local artisans and then take them home as a souvenir. You'd learn a lot about how the Terracotta Warriors were made over 2,000 years ago.
For the other day in Xi'an, we suggest you take a biking tour on Xi'an City Wall and a food tour in the Muslim Quarter to experience local culture and life. You can also join our Han-era (206 BC – 220 AD) clothing cultural activity. Put on traditional Hanfu clothing and take photos to give your young ones unforgettable memories and historical insights.
Days 7–8: Chengdu
In Chengdu, seeing the pandas is a must-do activity. To help you get a close-quarters experience of these adorable animals, we would arrange a Panda Keeper Program tour in Chengdu Panda Reserve. There you would do typical keeper activities, such as cleaning the panda enclosures, observing pandas 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...
Days 9–10: Guilin
Guilin is well-known for its beautiful karst landscape. You would take a Li River cruise from Guilin city to Yangshuo to enjoy breathtaking river-and-mountain views.
In Yangshuo, we have arranged many outdoor activities suitable for families with teenagers, such as kayaking, cave exploring, cycling around the villages, visiting local farmers, bamboo rafting, rock climbing, and more. Just let us know what you're interested in.
Days 11–12: Shanghai
In Shanghai, The Bund is a must, where you can see many skyscrapers built in the last few decades, and buildings of more-European styles dating back a century. To help you get a better understanding of Shanghai's impressive modernity and flourishing history, our private guide would take you walking around and inside the old buildings of the Bund.
For the rest of your time in Shanghai, you could take your teenagers to visit some of the huge range of themed museums and exhibitions.
2. A 13-Day Educational Family-Tour China Itinerary (Good for Young Mandarin Learners)
This itinerary is specially designed for children above 5th-grade (10-years-old), who are in a Mandarin Immersion Program at school. It is also good for families with teenagers who are interested in Chinese language and culture.
Days 1–4: Beijing
In Beijing, besides visiting the top attractions like the Forbidden City and the Great Wall, we would arrange a visit to Beijing's Temple of Confucius to help your children understand more about Chinese traditions and beliefs. Then pay a visit to the Imperial Academy to learn about China's traditional education system and listen to Dacheng Rites Music.
In the morning, we would arrange a tai chi class with a renowned local tai chi master. To help your kids improve their Chinese language skills, our guide would encourage them to talk in Chinese, such as talking to the waitresses in Mandarin and ordering food from a Chinese menu, as well as conversing with a hutong family while practicing Chinese calligraphy.
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
Days 5–6: Xi'an
In Xi'an, you would visit its iconic landmark: the Terracotta Warriors. To help you get a better knowledge of the awesome clay warriors, we would arrange a visit to a local cave dwelling, where you can make a little warrior of your own, with local clay and your local host's help.
On the second day in Xi'an, enjoy a bike ride on its City Wall, and then visit Big Wild Goose Pagoda, which is regarded as the starting point of the Silk Road. To help you engage in local life, we would arrange a visit to a local family home where you would learn how to make dumplings and have a family meal with them.
Days 8–10: Chengdu
In Chengdu, besides seeing pandas at the Breeding Research Base and the Giant Buddha in Leshan, we would arrange a little adventure at the last remaining farmer's market in Chengdu. You kids would learn to use Chinese to purchase some produce from the locals.
Days 11–13: Shanghai
In Shanghai, the final stop of this itinerary, you would visit the Bund and wander through alleyways to catch a glimpse of the lives of locals. Sit down for a break in a Michelin-starred restaurant and enjoy some delicious Shanghai snacks.
To keep a nice surprise for the end as a reward for your kids, we would arrange a visit to Shanghai Disneyland, where you could have some memorable family moments and enjoy fun experiences for a whole day and then fireworks in the evening.
3. 2-Week China Family Itinerary with Tibet
If Tibet is what your family and children dream of, then this tour itinerary would be good for you. In this 2-week itinerary, we would help you get excellent exposure to the Tibetan Buddhist culture and unspoiled plateau scenery.
- Days 1–4: Beijing (Visit must-sees such as the Great Wall and the Forbidden City.)
- Days 5–6: Xi'an (Have a visit to the Terracotta Army, a clay-warrior-making experience, and a food tour.)
- Day 7–11: Lhasa (see below for details)
- Day 12–14: Shanghai (Your exploration activities include a visit to the Bund and free time to explore on your own.)
In Lhasa, you would visit the Potala Palace. To help you get the best angles to shoot awesome Potala photos, our private guide would use his rich experience, and he'd help you find 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, where you can take part in their daily activities, including horse riding, milking yaks, printing prayer flags, and other things that the nomads do.
4. A 10-Day Imperial-and-Scenic China Family-Tour Itinerary with Hong Kong
This itinerary would allow your family to have experiences that would make the stories from history books come alive: see the Great Wall, the Forbidden City, the Temple of Heaven, and the Summer Palace. Then relax on Yangshuo's nature-filled trails before enjoying exciting Hong Kong's Ocean Park amusement area and other world class attractions.
- Days 1–4: Beijing (Visit the Forbidden City, Summer Palace, hutongs, and Great Wall.)
- Days 5–8: Guilin (Visit the highlights of Guilin and nearby Yangshuo county.)
- Days 9–10: Hong Kong
In Hong Kong, you would visit Ocean Park and Victoria Peak. In Ocean Park, you can take a raft ride through a jungle landscape. The park also has a lot of animal exhibits, including a giant panda habitat, a shark aquarium, and a sea lion show.
From Victoria Peak, the highest point on Hong Kong Island, you can have a bird's-eye view of Victoria Harbor and Hong Kong's captivating skyline. 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.
5. An 8-Day Inner Mongolia Summer-Vacation Itinerary (Good for Summer-Holiday Trips) — Off-the-Beaten-Track
If you are planning a summer vacation and are interested in nomadic life on the grasslands, then this summer tour itinerary would be good for you. With this 8-day private trip from Hohhot to Ordos, you would have the chance to experience local nomadic life and fantastic views on Huitengxile Grassland, then hike on majestic mountains and a volcano!
Days 1–3: Hohhot and Huitengxile Grassland
Take a 2-hour drive from Hohhot to Huitengxile Grassland and visit Huanghuagou ('Yellow Flower Valley') to appreciate multifaceted natural beauty — peculiar stones, unique peaks, and colorful alpine meadows. On the grassland, you would have the chance to enjoy Mongolian singing and dancing, and you could try Mongolian archery and wrestling. After an ethnic-flavor bonfire party in the evening, stay overnight in a traditional Mongolian yurt.
Days 4–5: Daqing Mountain and Baotou
Enjoy sunrise on the grassland. Then head to Daqing Mountain, where you would have a hiking tour for about 5 hours. You would pass ancient birch forests on the way to the top of Daqing Mountain, where you'd have a panoramic view of fantastic natural beauty. On the way to Baotou, spend some time to visit Intangible Cultural Heritage Town, where you can learn about Mongolian folk arts and handicrafts by experiencing Mongolian yurt building and erecting, dough making, paper cutting, and leather painting.
Days 6–8: Kubuqi Desert and Ordos
In Kubuqi Desert, you would visit the desert's 'Singing Sands' and enjoy a satisfying camel ride as you venture deep into the hinterland of Kubuqi Desert. With our special arrangements, you can enjoy a desert barbecue dinner while appreciating the stunning views of the desert sunset, followed by camping in the desert, and seeing an incredibly starry sky for an unforgettable wilderness experience.
In Ordos, you would visit Kangbashi District and enjoy the pleasant planned urban environment of Ordos City. Then spend some time at the Mausoleum of Genghis Khan — not his actual place of burial, which no one knows, but the impressive cenotaph devoted to the worship of the Mongols' hero.