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China Tours from the UK

Written by Chris QuanUpdated Jan. 15, 2021

China lies in East Asia, on the west bank of the Pacific. The distance between the UK and China is 7,799 kilometers (4,846 miles). China is becoming a popular destination for UK tourists. Here, we will give you a guide on China tours from the UK.

Where to Go — Popular Destinations Among UK Tourists

BeijingThe Forbidden City, Beijing

Many UK tourists are fond of Chinese history and ancient culture. Beijing and Xi'an are two popular destinations, where you can experience traditional Chinese culture and customs, such as learning tai chi, painting opera masks, and trying on Hanfu.

Shanghai, Hangzhou, and Suzhou are also popular. They are the representative cities in eastern China.

Shanghai is known as the "Exhibition of the World's Architecture". Hangzhou and Suzhou display the charm of classical Chinese beauty with their original water towns and beautiful gardens.

Guilin, Huangshan, and Zhangjiajie attract UK tourists because of their special natural landscapes. A Yangtze River cruise is a leisurely way to travel that's preferred by UK tourists.

The scenery along the Silk Road is special for UK tourists. It's rare to see such sights in the UK. Glacial snow ridges and mysterious desert wonders coexist. Interesting, exotic, and ancient remains as well as strong minority customs can be found there.

Best Time to Go


The climate of China is different from that of the UK. The UK has a temperate maritime climate. In China, however, most cities have a subtropical monsoon climate and temperate continental climate.

The best time for UK tourists to visit China is in autumn (September to early November) as autumn has the best weather conditions with a lower amount of rainfall. Temperatures average 15–27°C (59–81°F).

Spring in China is warm although south and east China are rainy and wet. Temperatures average 10–23°C (50–73°F). Summer is hot and daily temperatures average 25–33°C (77–91°F). Winter is cold with average daily high temperatures of 8°C (46°F). In northern China, it's usually below zero.

Learn more about China's weather.

Direct Flights from the UK to China

The journey from the UK to China takes about 10–12 hours. The flight schedules below are for reference only. Please check the official website of each airline for the latest information and the airfares.

Departure City in the USA Arrival City in China Schedule
London Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Xi'an, Guangzhou, Sanya, Chengdu, Chongqing, Wuhan, Tianjin Daily flights from London to Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, and Guangzhou
Manchester Beijing, Hong Kong Daily flights from Manchester to Hong Kong

Apply for a China Visa

British citizens are required to obtain a visa to enter mainland China but can travel to Macau and Hong Kong without a visa for 180 days. Check our step-by-step guide to learn how to apply for a China visa.

Is there any way to visit China without a visa? Yes! British citizens can benefit from China's 24-hour, 72-hour, and 144-hour visa-free policies.

According to these visa-free policies, you can fly from the UK to the cities the visa-free policies apply to, such as Beijing, Shanghai, and Xi'an, and then fly to a third country within the time allowed.

If you want to tour China for longer, you can take advantage of traveling in Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan as these regions are considered to be third countries/regions for transit purposes and combine more than one visa-free policy.

Here is a sample tour for inspiration for a China tour of 1–2 weeks without a visa:

  • UK – Beijing (4 days, 144-hour visa-free transit) – Hong Kong (2 days) – Shanghai/Suzhou/Hangzhou (6 days, 144-hour visa-free transit) – UK

You can check here to learn more details about the 24-hour, 72-hour, and 144-hour visa-free policy rules.

Other Useful Travel Information

Time Difference Between the UK and China

China uses only one time zone, GMT+8, although five different time zones exist in China. This is known as Beijing Time. China is normally 8 hours ahead of the UK (UTC±0).

You can use our world clocks and time zone map tool to help you understand the time difference between your home and China.

Money Exchange for GBP and Chinese Yuan

The current exchange rate is roughly: 1 GBP = 8.475 CNY. You can check the real-time rate in our Chinese currency converter.

Nowadays, people in China use mobile payments more often than cash but cash still works in China. You can exchange money at the airport, branches of the Bank of China, and large hotels in China.

Some star-rated hotels and large department stores in China accept major credit/debit cards, such as Mastercard, Visa, JCB, and American Express. Foreign credit cards, however, are accepted comparatively rarely in China. If you want to shop in a snack street or pedestrianized street, you will need to prepare enough cash in Chinese currency.

Voltage Differences

China's voltage is 220 V / 50 Hz and the UK's is 230 V / 50 Hz. The slight difference in voltage can be negligible so you don't need a voltage adapter.

The plug type in China is different to the UK, however, so you need to take an adapter for your electronics. You can easily find one throughout China. Most hotels will also be able to provide you with one for free during your stay.

See China Power Supply and Adapters — How to Prepare Your Electrical Devices.

Top 5 China Tours from the UK

Here, we have detailed the top 5 China tours for UK tourists, which vary from culture to history to nature.

Xianthe Terracotta Army in Xi'an

1. The Golden Triangle

  • Route: Beijing (3 days) – Xi'an (2 days) – Shanghai (3 days)
  • Features: history, culture

It is the classic tour for first-time travelers and you will experience the historical atmosphere.

Step on centuries-old bricks on the Great Wall and appreciate the magnificent scenery from the wall. Walk in the Forbidden City to listen to the stories behind the old palaces. In Xi'an, visit the Terracotta Army and make a mini warrior as a souvenir.

PandaWatch lovely pandas in Chengdu

2. Yangtze River Cruise and Panda Family Tour

  • Route: Beijing (3 days) – Chengdu (2 days) – Yangtze River cruise (4 days) – Shanghai (3 days)
  • Features: relaxation, fun

Starting from Beijing, you will learn about Chinese history and have some cultural experiences, such as learning tai chi and painting a Beijing opera mask. After that, you will have a close encounter with some lovely pandas.

You will also have a leisurely and comfortable cruise on the Yangtze River. View the beautiful gorge scenery accompanied by the pleasant river breeze. Finally, end your trip with some relaxing city sightseeing in Shanghai.


3. China's Natural Wonders Discovery

  • Route: Beijing (3 days) – Xi'an (2 days) – Zhangjiajie (3 days) – Guilin (3 days) – Shanghai (3 days)
  • Features: nature, history

The best time for viewing natural scenery is from May to October.

After exploring the history of China in Beijing and Xi'an, you will be refreshed in Zhangjiajie and Guilin by the wonderful natural scenery.

You will marvel at the awesome towering geology and rich wildlife at Zhangjiajie National Forest Park. You will be excited when walking on the world's longest and highest glass-bottomed bridge at Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon. The stunning Li River, Longji Rice Terraces, and beautiful rural scenery in the Guilin area will also be unforgettable.

Nanxun Water TownMake Chinese writing brushes in Nanxun Water Town

4. Relaxing Eastern China Tour

  • Route: Shanghai (2 days) – Hangzhou (1 day) – Nanxun Water Town (1 day)
  • Features: relaxation, nature, water town

You don't need to apply for a visa for this trip. You will discover Shanghai's old and new sides.

Learn about the Chinese tea culture and enjoy beautiful lake views in Hangzhou.

Have fun in Nanxun Water Town — a less commercial water town with traditional Chinese culture. You can have a relaxing boat ride, see the traditional process for making Chinese writing brushes, and try making your own writing brush.

Yardang LandscapesYardang landscapes along the Silk Road

5. Silk Road Adventure

  • Route: Beijing (4 days) – Xi'an (2 days) – Dunhuang (2 days) – Turpan and Urumqi (3 days) – Shanghai (3 days)
  • Features: adventure, culture, history

Two thousand years ago, starting from prosperous Chang'an (now Xi'an) and crossing the desert, the Silk Road was the important channel of communication between China and Europe and Central Asia.

The Silk Road is overflowing with vast deserts, yardang landscapes, Buddhist caves, and the Uyghur culture.

Explore China Your Way

Just tell us your interests and needs, and we will tailor-make a unique tour for you. You will explore an authentic China with us. If you are not interested in the above tours, you can get some different ideas when you read about more of our China tours.

Start planning your tailor-made tour with 1-1 help from our travel advisors. Create Your Trip

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