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China Tours from the USA

Written by Chris QuanUpdated Jan. 15, 2021

China and the United States face each other across the Pacific Ocean.

China, with its ancient architecture, long history, colorful culture, and beautiful natural scenery is ready for your visit.

Here, we have given you a travel guide about China tours from the USA.

Where to Go — Popular Destinations Among American Tourists

Similar to America, China is a vast land with diverse landscapes. Apart from the different landscapes, the profound Chinese culture is also a big draw for American tourists.

Here, we will introduce the most popular destinations among American tourists.

Beijing, Shanghai, Xi'an, and Hong Kong are the most common cities for American tourists to visit.

  • Beijing, as the capital of China, is the best city to learn about China.
  • Shanghai, as an international metropolis, attracts American tourists with its modernity and colonial history.
  • Xi'an is the representative city to experience China's ancient civilization.
  • Hong Kong, with its flexible visa policy, is one of the gateway cities for American tourists to start a China tour.
The Forbidden City, BeijingThe Forbidden City, Beijing

Besides these cities, there are other cities favored by American tourists. They are Chengdu, Guilin, Suzhou, Hangzhou, and Tibet.

  • Chengdu is home to lovely pandas.
  • Guilin is famed for its unique karst landscape and countryside scenery.
  • Suzhou and Hangzhou enjoy beautiful water towns, lakes, and classical gardens.
  • Tibet boasts its original highland scenery.

We have also included some other destinations for American tourists who seek unconventional routes. Yunnan and Guizhou have special Chinese minority customs, charming natural scenery, and a favorable climate.

Best Times to Go


The best times to visit China are spring (April–May) and autumn (September–October).

Temperatures in spring average 10–23°C (50–73°F). Autumn in China has the best weather conditions — temperatures average 15–27°C (59–81°F) and there is less rain than in spring or summer.

The summer vacation time in America is similar to that in China. China's summer vacation is from the middle of July to the end of August.

Many American families choose to travel to China with their children in the summer vacation. In this case, we recommend a private tour, which will help you avoid the crowds.

May, September, October, and some public holidays, such as National Day from October 1st to 7th and Labor Day from May 1st to 3rd, are in high season. If you plan to travel in these periods, you'd better book your hotels and tickets in advance.

Chinese New YearYou can experience strong festival atmosphere if you come in Chinese New Year.

If you are a Chinese culture lover, you can travel to China during Chinese festivals to experience the cultural atmosphere in-depth.

Chinese New Year (the Spring Festival) is a good opportunity as it is the grandest traditional festival in China.

There are many interesting minority festivals in southwest China. Guizhou is recommended for a Chinese minority experience.

Direct Flights from the USA to China

The journey from the USA to China takes about 12–15 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
Washington, DC Beijing, Hong Kong Daily flights to Beijing
New York Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou Daily
Los Angeles Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Changsha, Jinan Daily flights from Los Angeles to Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Hong Kong
Chicago Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong Daily
San Francisco Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Hong Kong, Chengdu, Xi'an, Hangzhou, Qingdao Daily direct flights from San Francisco to Beijing, Shanghai, and Hong Kong
Seattle Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Hong Kong Daily direct flights from Seattle to Beijing, Shanghai, and Hong Kong
Boston Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong Daily direct flights from Boston to Beijing and Hong Kong
Detroit Beijing, Shanghai Daily
Houston Beijing Flights on Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays
Dallas Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong Daily
Honolulu Beijing, Shanghai Daily direct flights from Honolulu to Shanghai (except Wednesdays)

Visa-Free China Tours from the USA

Normally, American citizens need a visa to travel around China. We recommend VisaHQ, which provides a fast, efficient service at a very competitive price.

However, 24-hour, 72-hour, and 144-hour visa-free policies adopted in many areas in China enable a visa-free China tour from the USA.

According to the terms of the visa-free policies, travelers must transit between Chinese mainland and a third destination. Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan are visa-free for American people and are considered as third regions for transit purposes.

Therefore, you can make the most of traveling to Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan, and combine more than one visa-free policy.

Here are two sample tours, for inspiration, for a China tour that lasts for 1 to 2 weeks without a visa:

  • US – Beijing/Tianjin (4 days, 144-hour visa-free transit) – Hong Kong (2 days) – Shanghai/Suzhou/Hangzhou (6 days, 144-hour visa-free transit) – US
  • US – Hong Kong (2 days) – Beijing (3 days, 72-hour visa-free transit) – Macau (2 days) – Shanghai/Suzhou/Hangzhou (6 days, 144-hour visa-free transit) – Hong Kong (2 days) – Guilin (3 days, 72-hour visa-free transit) – US

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

Other Useful Travel Information

BeijingThe Great Wall, Beijing

Time Difference Between the USA and China

China only uses one time zone, GMT+8, although five different time zones exist in China. This is known as Beijing Time.

  • China's time is 13 hours before the time in Washington, DC
  • China's time is 16 hours before the time in Los Angeles
  • 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 US Dollars and Chinese Yuan

The current exchange rate is roughly: 1 USD = 6.893 CNY. You can check the real-time rate using 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 a pedestrianized street, you will need to prepare enough cash in Chinese currency.

Voltage Differences

China uses 220 V while America uses 110 V. The plug types are also different. When traveling to China, you will need to take both a voltage adapter and a plug adapter.

You can easily find these to purchase when you're in China. Most hotels will also be able to provide you with them for free during your stay. See China Power Supply and Adapters — How to Prepare Your Electrical Devices.

How to Use Your Cell Phone

There are four ways to use your cell phone in China:

  • Use international roaming
  • Purchase a Chinese SIM card
  • Buy/rent a Wi-Fi service
  • Use local free Wi-Fi

Check How to Use Your Cell Phone While Traveling in China to learn more.

Recommended Top 5 China Tours from the USA

BeijingThe Temple of Heaven, Beijing

1. Classic Wonders — Chosen by 83% of Clients

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

First-time travelers can refer to this itinerary, which gives you an insight into China's history and culture through visiting famous historical sites and special cultural experiences.

2. Chinese Immersion — Preferred by Families

  • Route: Beijing (4 days) – Xi'an (3 days) – Chengdu (2 days) – Shanghai (4 days)
  • Features: culture, education, pandas, fun, relaxation
XianHanfu experience in Xi'an

This family tour combines the needs of both parents and children.

Learn about China's traditional education system and the country's traditional national costume. See lovely pandas and have fun in Disneyland.

Throughout the trip, your guide will teach your children some simple Chinese and encourage them to communicate with local people.

Learn more details about our Chinese Immersion Tour.

3. Beautiful China and Holy Tibet — Seek Adventure

  • Route: Beijing (3 days) – Xi'an (3 days) – Lhasa (4 days) – Shanghai (3 days)
  • Features: adventure, fun, nature
TibetPotala Palace, Tibet

You will explore a mystical land — Tibet. It is a quiet place overflowing with rich Tibetan culture, vast grasslands, herds of cattle and sheep, blue skies, clear water, and fresh air.

Go to Everest Base Camp to experience the thin air. Visit Rongbuk Monastery – the highest temple in the world – that's near the base, and observe the hard lives of the monks and nuns there.

Walk clockwise and join the local people's kora (a circle for religion) in Barkhor Street. Have a picnic by Yamdrok Lake, one of the four holy Buddhist lakes in Tibet.

Check out our Beautiful China and Holy Tibet Tour for reference.

4. Eastern China Bullet Train Tour — No Need for a Visa

  • Route: Shanghai (2 days) – Suzhou (1 day) – Hangzhou (2 days)
  • Features: relaxation, classic gardens, water town

You can appreciate China's classical beauty and experience its high-speed trains in this trip.

Discover the story of Shanghai's rise and experience the city's historical past. Visit China's representative gardens to learn about the basic types of bonsai and discover Chinese life aesthetics.

Enjoy the leisurely lifestyle in Hangzhou. Explore Nanxun Water Town to observe the life there. See more details about our 5-Day Shanghai, Suzhou, and Hangzhou Bullet Train Tour.

5. Riches of China

  • Route: Shanghai (3 days) – Suzhou (1 day) – Hangzhou (1 day) – Guilin (3 days) – Xi'an (2 days) – Beijing (4 days)
  • Features: relaxation, culture, nature, history

You will see the combination of ancient and modern China in Shanghai and have many cultural experiences, such as a Chinese tea ceremony, Chinese medicine, and Kun opera, in Hangzhou and Suzhou.

Then you will be immersed in beautiful rural scenery in the Guilin area and end your journey in an atmosphere of history by exploring Xi'an and Beijing. Check the detailed schedule for our Riches of China Tour.

Tour China Your Way

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