China has a very deep and diverse culture. Such a different country is both extremely appealing and a daunting prospect for many travelers.
A tailor-made tour of China created by experts is the best option if you are looking for an in-depth discovery in China. You will enjoy an authentic travel experience going beyond guidebooks and immerse yourself in the destinations you are interested.
Without spending time on research, booking and organization, you can enjoy your time in China to the utmost. You can travel at a flexible and relaxing pace.
Here is your guide to bespoke China tours: from top places to visit to tips and suggested tailor-made vacation itineraries.
The Top 5 Places to Visit on a Tailor-made Tours to China
China is rich in attractions, from cultural heritage and natural parks to ethnic villages and uniquely Chinese treasures. Wherever you go, a tailor-made trip is an advisable option. The following five cities are best visited on a custom tour.
The big draw of Beijing is its splendid culture underneath the surface of its great collection of historical sites, such as the Great Wall, the Forbidden City, and the Temple of Heaven. The large-group tours that include just a cursory glance at the grand attractions do not reveal the real charm of the imperial city.
Beijing is a place where you should slow your pace. Dive into the city’s epic history, explore its traditional hutong areas, and discover the culinary delights.
Inspiration for a Tailor-Made Vacation in Beijing
1. Discover the hidden secrets of the Forbidden City: The Forbidden City is often crowded with tourists who usually follow the same routes and visit the same halls. Our bespoke Emperor’s Tour can take you to go beyond the touristy routes, escaping to the tranquil side halls where you can listen to the hidden stories, such as what the lives of the emperors’ wives were like.
2. Take a romantic night tour of the Great Wall: Most visitors visit the Great Wall in the daytime. Our night tour of the Simatai section will provide you with an exclusive experience that’s away from the crowds and lets you soak in the serenity of this ancient wonder.
We have handcrafted many more sample Beijing itineraries, which can be customized based on your interests.
What do you expect from a Xi'an tour — to see the Terracotta Army and the Ancient City Wall? There’s so much more in Xi’an than just these attractions.
If you don’t want to rub shoulders with crowds of people at the Terracotta Army and end your tour with just some hastily-taken pictures, a tailor-made tour is a better option, which can include more authentic experiences.
Inspiration for a Tailor-Made Tour in Xi’an
1. Make a terracotta warrior with local artisans: You could just visit a factory or souvenir shop and bring back some (mini) terracotta warriors as souvenirs... However, your tour could be much more interesting and authentic if you visit a disappearing cave dwelling and learn how to make clay figurines from a local shokunin family.
2. Hanfu costume experience: Apart from learning about China's traditional national costumes in an ancient academy, the experience of trying on a Hanfu will leave you with some special photos as a memento of your trip.
See our 3-Day Essence of Xi'an Tour including these two exclusive experiences.
3. Shanghai, Suzhou, and Hangzhou
You might think that Shanghai is a developed international metropolis and it is not a problem to tour there on your own. You’d be right and wrong.
If you are satisfied with a simple glance at the skyline, high-rise buildings, and shopping areas, you can visit the area on your own or join in a seat-in-coach tour. Beyond the regular attractions, a private tour with an expert local guide can lead you to discover more hidden gems in the modern city.
Inspiration for a Tailor-Made Tour in Shanghai
1. Visit the former Jewish settlement and learn about the stories relating to Jews and Shanghai.
2. Indulge in an evening tour of bustling Shanghai in a private convertible jeep; or wander through the alleyways in old Shanghai to catch a glimpse of the locals' lifestyles.
3. You might never have heard about taking a night tour of the Master of the Nets Garden in Suzhou and might have no idea about where the best tea plantation is or where you can learn the process for making tea. A tailor-made tour can add these activities to your itinerary and offer you more colorful cultural experiences. See more of our spotlight experiences.
Guilin is a leisurely destination with a stunning karst landscape and idyllic countryside. A rushed large group tour is not a good way to explore this city, and an independent tour is limited to those who just look for the places mentioned in the guidebooks.
A private tour is a perfect combination as it allows you to explore the city at your own pace and shows you different facets of the city, which has more than just natural scenery.
Inspiration for a Tailor-Made Vacation in Guilin
1. Be a Chinese villager in Yangshuo: You will experience what it's like to be a local villager working in the fields and see the real China.
2. Discover the folk culture of South China in Daxu: Escorted by a personal tour guide, you will have the chance to see old residential houses, experience traditional Chinese medicine, and visit an elderly gentleman's house.
See more Guilin tours for inspiration.
Tibet is very different from the other parts of China, from the landscape, culture, and religion to travel requirements. A Tibet Travel Permit is required if you visit Tibet. You need to book a tour with an agency like us who will help you to apply for the permit.
A private and customized tour gives you a better guarantee of having a comfortable and smooth tour. Your professional guide will tell you how to prevent altitude sickness, recommend restaurants based on your requirements from authentic local food to halal food, and lead you to the best place for shooting pictures of Mount Everest.
See our Tibet tours for inspiration.
Useful Tips for Planning Your Tailor-Made Tour of China
1. How many days are suitable for a vacation in China?
Deciding the duration of your tailor-made tour depends on how many destinations you are going to visit. We suggest you take at least a week for your first trip to see the highlights in Beijing, Xi’an, and Shanghai.
Four to five more days are required if you would like to extend your tour to Guilin and Chengdu. A month-long tour could take you to some remote places, such as Yunnan, Guizhou, and Tibet.
2. How to make the most of your vacation time?
The choices of experiences are diverse in such a big country. You are recommended to have a tour that mixes attractive natural landscapes, cultural landmarks, authentic cultural encounters, and experiences unique to China, such as seeing giant pandas.
Here is a sample itinerary for inspiration: 13-Day Private Tour: Beijing – Xi'an – Chengdu – Yangtze Cruise – Shanghai.
3. What is the best time to visit China?
It depends on which parts of China you would like to visit. For the culture-oriented destinations, such as Beijing and Xi’an, you can visit all year round; for the scenery-oriented places, such as Guilin and Zhangjiajie, spring and autumn are good times.
4. Which internal transport options are recommended — train journeys or flights?
It depends on the distance you will travel. For most cities, flights and bullet train journeys are both great options. If the journey time is similar, taking a bullet train is a better choice because it is more comfortable, punctual, and time-saving.
See more detailed information in our article: How to Plan a First Trip to China — 7 Easy Steps.
What You Can Expect from Our Tailor-Made China Tours
Our tailor-made vacations are bespoke trips crafted to suit your interests and requirements. You are the boss who decides what’s on the itinerary, when to start your tour, and how long you want to spend in each place. By personalizing a tour in this way, you create a trip that’s totally unique to you.
Your Customized Itinerary
No matter whether you are looking for a relaxing tour for your family, a time-smart trip, or an adventurous exploration, you will have an itinerary designed to please you.
We offer fully-customized itineraries tailored to meet your goals, interests, and needs. All you need to do is to give us your requirements. You can make unlimited changes to the itinerary, even during your trip in China.
Our tailor-made tours allow you the freedom to decide the travel dates. You are free to change the dates even when the booking has been completed.
Your Own Schedule and Pace
As the itinerary is tailored to you, you are the key to controlling the schedule and pace on each day. You can decide to start the tour later or earlier and can decide to spend more time in the attractions you like and less time in other attractions.
An Expert Local Guide with Insider Knowledge
With our tailor-made tour, your private guide is selected and matched to you according to your requirements.
For different requirements, we can arrange guides who have specialist knowledge in different fields. We have history experts, panda experts, photography experts, and so on.
Flexible Accommodation Options
Do you want to stay in a hotel with a swimming pool, a beautiful view, or a central location? With tailored travel, you have complete freedom to choose any element of your accommodation, from the location and style to the budget.
Flexible Transport Options
With bespoke tours, you have control over the modes of transport, such as flights or train journeys between cities, your preferred airline, the time you depart, and the cabin class.
According to your group size and requirements, we can arrange a vehicle that’s suitable for you, from a minivan to a luxury car.
À La Carte Meals
You can explore your interests in authentic local Chinese food in our tailor-made trip.
The meals included in our China tours are à la carte, while group tours only offer set menus without any choices.
Whether you prefer local Chinese food, vegetarian, halal, kosher, or gluten-free, all your dietary requirements can be taken care of by our experienced private guides.
Let’s Tailor-Make a China Tour for You
We, at China Highlights, specialize in tailor-made holidays and our experienced travel consultants can help you customize your perfect holiday in China. From special excursions to fully personalized travel itineraries, we can help you create your dream China tour.
Let us know your requirements to see what we can do: inquiries are free.
These most-selected itineraries could give you a starting point for your trip:
- Classic Wonders— 11-day private tour: Beijing–Xi'an–Guilin/Yangshuo–Shanghai
- The Golden Triangle— 8-day customizable tour: Beijing, Xi'an, and Shanghai
- Find more ideas on our page China tours for 2019.