Although still a developing country, senior travelers will find that the large cities and many of China's top tourist attractions are becoming ever more accessible to them.
Here is a complete China guide for senior travelers, including where to visit and recommended China tours.
- Recommended Destinations for Seniors
- Best Times for Traveling
- Transportation, Accommodation, and Dining
- Private Tour or Group Tour
- What to Carry
- Recommended China Tours for Seniors
Recommended Destinations for Seniors
We have handpicked the following cities that are suitable for senior travelers considering three major factors: safety, a comfortable environment, and senior-friendly activities.
As China’s capital, Beijing has convenient transportation, historical attractions, and senior-friendly activities.
Seniors can visit the Great Wall and we recommend the Great Wall at Mutianyu. You can take a cable car or chairlift up and down. It is a wheelchair-friendly section of the Great Wall and the path is smooth.
Learn tai chi in the Temple of Heaven with local retired people. Learn Chinese calligraphy in the hutongs. Take a stroll in the Forbidden City where 24 emperors lived to discover their stories. Take a boat ride on Kunming Lake to have a rest and watch a traditional Chinese performance in the restored theater in the Summer Palace.
As one of the most developed cities in China, Shanghai attracts senior travelers because of its colonial history, a mix of Western and Eastern architecture, and convenient transportation.
Take a relaxed Huangpu River cruise to see different types of buildings on both sides. Wander through alleyways to get a glimpse of the locals' lives. Pay a visit to a Jewish ghetto, which preserves the precious historical memories of what life was like for Jews in Shanghai during WWII.
Xi’an provides historical attractions and cultural experiences, which can be helpful for senior travelers to learn about Chinese history and culture.
Learn about the first Chinese emperor’s history by visiting the Terracotta Army and making a mini warrior. Visit a local family and make dumplings with them. Listen to their stories for a taste of the locals' real lifestyles. Feast your eyes in Shaanxi History Museum where the collections range from the times of ape-men to the Qing Dynasty before the Opium War in 1839, and from large bronze wares to exquisite golden carvings.
Hangzhou is a leisurely city. It is popular among many elderly tourists for its West Lake scenery and relaxing experiences.
Wander alongside West Lake and hear the story about an ancient Chinese foodie who invented the most famous dish in Hangzhou - Dongpo pork. Enjoy some peace and quiet by taking a rowing boat on West Lake. Have afternoon tea, resembling the G20 first ladies’ high tea, by the lakeside.
Suzhou is reputed as being the “Venice of the East”. Its traditional Chinese classic gardens and quiet water towns are the biggest attractions for senior travelers.
Visit one of China's top four gardens – the Humble Administrator's Garden – to see the unique Chinese garden art and learn how Chinese people placed the pavilions, galleries, rockeries, flowers, and trees perfectly in the limited space. Enjoy a cozy time in Tongli Water Town: take a small boat along the canal, stroll around to see the ancient architecture, and learn about the traditional culture.
Guilin enjoys beautiful natural scenery and is a good place to enjoy the relaxing countryside life. Senior travelers can learn what being retired and countryside life are like in China.
Take a slow Li River cruise to appreciate Guilin's unique karst landscape, see what it's like to be a local villager working with a water buffalo, and go to a local market to see what China’s countryside markets are like in Yangshuo. Enjoy a peaceful time and the gentle breeze as you sit on the balcony in your hotel, drink a cup of tea or coffee, and overlook the distant landscape.
A Yangtze cruise is an ideal way to travel for elderly people who can’t take too many flights or walk very much. It is a leisurely and comfortable sightseeing tour.
Learn tai chi or practice yoga on the sundeck accompanied by the pleasant river breeze. Drink a cup of coffee on your private balcony, chat with people from all around the world, have a nap to refresh yourself, and attend lectures held on the ship to learn about Chinese tea, jade, pearls, Chinese painting, and the Chinese language.
Chengdu is home to giant pandas. If you have never seen a real panda before, you should have a panda tour in your retirement.
You can get close to pandas and observe them eating bamboo and climbing trees. If you are under the age of 70, you can have the chance to be a cute panda’s keeper for one day. Feed them with your own hands at a very close distance, watch a special documentary movie about a panda's life cycle, and make panda cakes in different shapes.
Best Times for Traveling
China shows different faces all year round although the best times for traveling are spring (April–May) and autumn (September–October). During these two periods, the weather will not be too hot or too cold. Senior travelers have less possibilities of getting sick. The scenery in spring and autumn is also the best.
See more on the Best Times to Travel to China.
Transportation, Accommodation, and Dining
Senior travelers have special requirements for accommodation, transportation, and diet due to their physical conditions. Therefore, we will give you some suggestions on these aspects.
China has a developed transportation network. You can choose the appropriate type of transportation according to your own physical condition. If you need to avoid taking too many flights, you can take bullet trains and cruises into consideration.
Bullet trains run smoothly and are fast. Cruises are very popular among senior tourists. Enjoy the scenery quietly on a cruise ship and take tours ashore in various port cities.
For city transportation, taking a taxi is comfortable and convenient. The most hassle-free and secure way to travel is to book a private tour. A private driver and guide will wait for you at your hotel and drive you around wherever you want to go in an air-conditioned car.
See more on the Best Ways to Go to China and Travel Around.
We recommend senior travelers stay at a central location to make evening and morning free-time activities as convenient as possible. We suggest staying at international-style large hotels, as they have softer beds, showers, and lifts.
Feel free to contact us and tell us your special requirements about the hotel, such as a king-size bed, twin beds, a suite room, a standard room, and separate dry and wet areas in the bathroom. Our travel advisor is happy to give you some suggestions.
Read more on How to Choose a Hotel in China.
As senior travelers’ stomachs are more easily upset by local food, we recommend eating at the hotel, or a good restaurant, and avoiding eating street snacks.
Before traveling to China, you’d better ask your doctor for dietary advice so that you can avoid eating foods that may be bad or insensitive to your health. Tell your guide your dietary requirements so that he/she can select the right restaurants for you.
Our restaurant selections ensure you can eat plenty of delicious, authentic, and healthy food. It has been said that in China you can eat well without putting on weight!
Private Tour or Group Tour
We believe that a good tour for senior travelers is to visit where they want to go in happiness and comfort. This means you don’t have to work hard to keep up with the group and get tired, you can just travel at your own pace. Therefore, we recommend a private tour for you.
What You Can Expect from Our Private Tour
Having served thousands of satisfied senior customers, you can be sure you are in good hands with us.
- Relaxed-pace itinerary: Our itineraries for senior customers are designed with a relaxed pace, tried and tested to suit senior customers.
- Detail and clarity: We do our best to provide as much detail as possible, explained clearly, so that you know what to expect.
- All our tours are fully customizable to your requirements, so if any day on your itinerary seems a bit too packed, or if there is something that you would particularly like to do or spend more time on, let your travel advisor know. Unlimited consultancy for free!
- Considerate of your needs: Guides are chosen for clear English, and stronger male guides can be selected for help with luggage, etc. If you need your guide or driver to help you carry luggage, a suggested tip is 10 yuan per piece of luggage.
- Well-located accommodation: We arrange your accommodation so that you can have a good and enough sleep and conveniently find things to do in your free time near your hotel.
What to Carry
- Customers should buy insurance, and carry the insurance policy and company's phone number.
- Carry relevant medical records and medication.
- Carry family members' contact details.
- When out doing free-time activities carry your hotel's business card.
- Don't carry too much money (about 2,000 yuan is usually enough). You can always change money at your hotel or nearest Bank of China and ask for your guide's help if need be.
Recommended China Tours for Seniors
It is not easy for senior travelers to make a China tour independently, but just tell us your requirements and interests and we'll tailor-make a tour to suit you. You could use our recommended China tours for senior travelers as a starting point:
- The Golden Triangle: An 8-day private tour to discover China’s history and development in Beijing, Xi’an, and Shanghai.
- Classic Wonders: An 11-day private tour to enjoy a cozy time in Beijing, Xi’an, Guilin, and Shanghai.
- Bullet Train Tour: A 5-day private tour to see the classic beauty of China in Shanghai, Hangzhou, and Suzhou.
- A Yangtze Cruise to let you enjoy a relaxing and pleasant tour without too many flights and walking.