China Trip of a Lifetime - Deluxe Group Tour

A 17 day trip to China 
4.73 out of 5 stars
143 reviews

This luxury escorted China group tour is filled with delightful and unique experiences, while staying at great hotels in great locations. It'll be led by a National guide, excellent local guides in each city, and an American escort who has been to China 46 times. The tour will be fresh and exciting, whether you're going to China for the first time or you've been there many, many times. It includes excellent 5-star hotels and the top boutique hotel in Pingyao.

The group size is limited to 20 but the tour is still amazingly under $5,000 per person for land, internal air, and many meals.

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General Information

Detailed Itinerary

Places Visited 

Shanghai: The East meets West City – We will visit the Bund, The Yu Yuan Gardens, the Shanghai Museum, the Jewish Synagogue Historic Memorial and the Private Lotus Shoe Museum (amazing!)

Suzhou: Incredible gardens: Master of the Net and the Humble Administrator’s Garden, and the Embroidery Factory where Eastern Masters do with thread what our Western Masters do with Oil Paint.

Zhou Zhuang: One of the beautiful little cities that turns back the clock, part of the “Venice of China” - gorgeous

Zhang Jia Jie National Park: One of the most beautiful areas in the world. This is where they filmed AVATAR’s background scenes. We are going in the Fall, where the colors should be gorgeous.

Xi’an: The amazing Terra Cotta Soldiers, the City Wall, the Shannxi Provincial Museum (which chronicles the dynasties of China in order by the rooms), the Scholar’s Home and Muslim Quarter and the world famous
Wild Goose Pagoda Water Show

Pingyao: A world Heritage ancient village with many beautiful and rich, historic sites. Also a tour of the Chinese countryside.

Beijing: The Great Wall, Forbidden City, Temple of Heaven, the 798 Art District, the Pian Gia Yuan Street Market, Hutong tour with special lunch, Olympic sites, Confucian Temple, Yong He Gong Lamasery

Departure Dates 

Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.

Detailed Itinerary 

Day 1

Fly to China! The adventure begins!
Today you will board your plane for your flight to China! This exciting adventure begins!

Day 2

Arrive in Shanghai – Transfer to the Hotel
You will arrive at Shanghai Pudong Airport. There you will meet your guide and be transferred to your hotel on the Yangpo River, just minutes from the Bund. The rest of the day is free.
EVENING: Welcome meeting.

Day 3

Shanghai – Yu Yuan Gardens & Museums (B, L)
Today your guide will meet you and you will be taken on a walking tour of the historic Jewish area of Shanghai. You will visit the synagogue, the old Jewish neighborhood and the small memorial which testifies of this time in history.
Then we will get on the bus and go to the classic Yu Yuan Gardens, which is a gorgeous example of a classic Chinese Garden. This area exits into the main shopping center of Shanghai. Shanghai is such a West influenced city that they call this area "China Town." After lunch, you will be taken to the world-class Shanghai Art Museum. This fantastic museum has a number of quality exhibits including an ancient coin collection and on the fourth floor an ethnic minority exhibit which features costumes, masks, and various implements and tools. Then we will take you to a Private Lotus Shoe Museum, which features tiny lotus shoes, as well as ancient worker boots, Qing Dynasty costumes and various ceramic curios. The Lotus shoe was a horrific practice as women bound their feet when they were children to keep them very small (which was considered a beautiful feature). However, the lotus shoes themselves are exquisitely beautiful, with elaborate embroidery on all sides, even often the bottom of the shoe. There is one set of shoes (pictured here) which actually had a small drawer to hold powder in the heel, a scrim on the bottom with stencil-like holes in the shape of a Lotus flower.
Evening Option: An evening exploring the Bund (no additional charge, you just pay for your own drinks, food, etc)

Evening Option: Shanghai Acrobats (tickets $25-35/person) includes transportation to and from the theatre

Day 4

Shanghai – Day Trip to Suzhou (B, L, D)
After breakfast we drive to Suzhou. Upon your arrival at Suzhou, we will visit the Garden of the Master of the Nets. Upon arrival at the Garden of the Master of the Nets, you will be surprised by its ingenious gardening in a compact space. Benefiting from its lettered masters, this garden has the most artistic and cultural relics. Then we will go to the grandiose Humble Administrator's Garden, which is the largest classical garden in Suzhou and praised to be one of the top four gardens in China. Then we will visit the Embroidery Factory, where Eastern Masters do with thread what our Western Masters do with Oil Paints. We can also make a brief stop at the Silk Factory which has many beautiful silk products, most notably their Silk Comforters which are made of layering of multiple silk worm cocoons spread across the entire length and width of the comforter. The result is quite remarkable. Finally we come to the Drive back to Shanghai in the late afternoon.

Evening Option: XinTianDi
(delightful club area) (no entrance fee – you just pay for your own drinks, food, etc.)

Day 5

Shanghai – Day Trip to Zhouzhang – Flight to Zhangjiajie (B, L)
Today your guide will meet you and you be taken to the water town of Zhouzhang. You will see some beautiful canals, classic small bridges and a glimpse into what life was like in older China. Then we will go to the airport for our evening flight to Zhangjiajie. Upon arrival we will be met by our guide and transferred to the hotel. The rest of the evening is free to enjoy the hotel and the city area.

Day 6

Zhangjiajie (TianMen Shan) – Tianmen Mountain Forest Park (B, L, D)
After breakfast, we will visit the Tianmen Mountain Cable Car. This is the longest and the fastest cable car in the world! You will be able to explore the Tianmen Mountain Forest Park. You will visit Tianmen Cave, the Guigu Wooden Walkways and the Temple of Tianmen Mountain. Afterwards we will return to the city via a road that has 99 hairpin turns from the mountain. After a lunch stop we will visit the Tu Si Museum of the Tu Jia people, which is an intriguing set of buildings, grounds and cultural exhibits – this is a very unique ethnic museum.

Dinner: Special Hunan Dishes (generally very spicy and delicious)

Day 7

Zhangjiajie – Tour Yuanjiajie and surrounds (B, L, D)
Today we will see some of the most amazingly beautiful sites that you will ever see in your life! After breakfast we will go up to Yuanjiajie by Bailong Elevator, to tour the back garden, Mihun Stage and Helong Park. We will walk along the trail where you can see this amazing area from the many vista points. The last and most amazing vista point is called the Emperor Mountain scenic area. We will then descend this “fairy land” by cable car. Then we will see the Ten-miles-Gallery of sights by a cable train. There are many highlights including Herb Picking Old Man, Three Sisters peaks, etc.

Day 8

Zhangjiajie – Tour and Boat on Baofend Lake – Flight to Xi’an (B, L, D)
After breakfast we will take you to see some of the most beautiful and tranquil sites. Admire the tall thin trees and a stream with dappled sun light breaking through to the canyon floor. This area includes the Golden Whip Stream, the Golden Whip Crag, the Magical Eagle Protecting the Whip and the Water Winding Four Doors. After we have seen this lovely canyon floor we will visit Baofeng Lake by boat for a tour of the natural views around it.

Then we will fly to Xi’an. Upon arrival you will be greeted at the airport and taken to your hotel the Hyatt Regency (aka Metro Park) inside the Xi’an City Wall.

Day 9

Xi’an – Shaanxi Provincial Museum & Muslim Quarter (B, L, D)
Today you will be taken on a tour of the Old City Wall and we will provide a nice lunch. Then you will go to the Shaanxi Provincial Museum, which is like walking through Chinese history as the rooms are arranged in chronological order, from the oldest dynasty to the most recent ones, as seen in the brass works, ceramics and various relics. You will also see the Bell Tower and the Drum Tower. Then we will take you the Muslim Quarter. If you want, you can visit an authentic historic scholar’s home and garden.

Dinner: At the famous De Fang Chang Restaurant (which serves delicious Dumplings with the special feature that the dumplings are shaped to represent the main ingredient inside the dumpling)

Day 10

Xi’an – Visit Terra Cotta Soldiers (B, L, D)
Today you will visit what has been called the "8th Wonder of the World" the Terra Cotta Soldiers Museum. You will then have lunch. You will also be taken to the interesting Terra Cotta Soldiers Replica Factory and store. This site not only has the replicas, but also the beautiful 3 Color Pottery, incredible Silk Rugs and some of China’s finest black lacquer furniture with with scenes laminated by semi-precious stones.

Evening: You will be taken to the Wild Goose Pagoda Water Show. This water show is the largest of its kind in China.

Day 11

Xi’an – Flight to Taiyuan – Drive to Pingyao – Evening Village Tour (B, D)
Today we will go to the airport to fly to Taiyuan. This is a small rural area, with some ancient villages and intriguing Chinese countryside. Upon arriving, we will be picked up and driven to Pingyao. Once there, we will transfer to our boutique hotel.

This evening we will go out together as a group for dinner and an evening tour of this quaint and fascinating village that dates back to ancient China.

Day 12

Pingyao – Tour of Pingyao (B, L)
We will see many delightful and beautiful ancient sites including Ming Qing Street (which has many interesting historic museums). Then we will visit the Temple of the City God on Nan Da Jie, from the Northern Song dynasty. On the eastern end of Xi Da Jie is Rishengchang, meaning "sunrise prosperity," China's first bank. What started out as a single businessman's efforts to safely manage the accounts of his widely spread company, became a private banking enterprise that caught on like wildfire – a similar phenomenon occurred in Europe at the end of the Middle Ages. Now converted into a museum, the head office was on this same site during the Qing dynasty. There are 21 buildings surrounding three courtyards. On either side of the front yard are the counters, main banking activities were carried out in the middle courtyard house, which functioned as an exchange center. We will also visit some of the beautiful ancient mansions outside of Pingyao, like the Qiao Family Courtyard House and the Wang Family Courtyard House.

Day 13

Pingyao – Tour of the Countryside – Flight to Beijing (B, L)
Today we will make our way to Taiyuan driving through the countryside and enjoy the sites all along the way. When we arrive in Taiyuan we will take a flight to Beijing. Upon arrival in Beijing, we will be transferred to our 5-star boutique hotel.

Evening: After dinner social time complete with wines and snacks.

Day 14

Beijing – Traditional Hutong & Forbidden City Tour (B, L, D)
In the morning we will visit a traditional Chinese Hutong. This is the traditional housing in old Beijing that generally consists of four small houses surrounding a court area with a high wall separating it from the narrow streets. The Hutong have been home to both the rich and the poor. We will start with a rickshaw ride through the old neighborhood and continue with a walking tour into the narrow streets of the Hutong. We will also visit the Prince Gong Palace in the Hutong. Afterwards, we will visit the home of a Hutong family; feel free to ask the family questions. These quaint dwellings are disappearing in the continual modernization of China. We will have lunch with the family in the Hutong House (home-made meal).
After lunch we will go to Tiananmen Square and then to the Forbidden City. In addition to seeing the buildings and grounds of the Emperor's palace, we will also see the Emperor's clock collection and the Qing Dynasty Jewelry, Robes and Relic collection (which Westerners rarely see).

Evening Option: Beijing Opera

Day 15

Beijing – Visit Olympic Statdium, Artist’s Colony & “District 798” – Drive to Mutianyu (B, L, D)
Today we will start the day take you for a brief view of the two main Olympic Stadiums, the Water Cube and the Bird’s Nest.
On the way out of Beijing we can stop at the 798 Artist’s District. This is a community of modern artists, with homes, art studios and display halls.

Afterwards, we will take you to the amazing Great Wall of China in Mutianyu. This area has far fewer tourists than the traditional site at Badaling. It is an amazing thing to be walking on the Great Wall of China. This delightful area to explore the Great Wall has two ways to ascend the wall, by foot or riding on the gondolas up to the Wall. This way, if you want, you can conserve your energy for running around on the Wall, if you want. You can descend the wall one of three ways, by foot, on the gondolas or on one-man toboggans. Then we will return to Beijing for a very special Dinner.

Evening Dinner: Special Sichuan Dinner with Face Changing (most dishes are spicy, but there will be some non-spicy dishes).

Day 16

Beijing – Visit Tibetan Lamasery & Temple of Heaven (B, L, D)
In the morning we will visit the Tibetan Yong He Gong Lamasery. After some time there we will walk to Confucian Temple. These are two sites that are not often visited. After lunch we will take you to the Temple of Heaven, which is where the emperor would go every year to commune with the gods for the harvest of China.

Afterwards we will visit the Pian Gia Yuan (2nd Hand Street Market) where Beijingers go to shop. This is an amazing cultural event that is only every Saturday and Sunday, where you can see hundreds of individual Chinese vendors selling everything from paintings, to furniture, to incredible hand embroidery to Beijing Opera costumes, chop stick collections, etc. etc. We will return to the hotel for a chance to relax.

Farewell Dinner: A special Pecking Duck dinner is included for tonight.

Day 17

Beijing – Transfer to Airport – Flight back to USA
Today you will be transferred to the airport for your flight back home with many wonderful memories!


Starting Price 

This trip is customizable for your private travel.

What's Included 

  • Accommodations
  • In-country transportation
  • Some or all guided tours and activities (dependent on season)
  • Expert trip planning
  • 24x7 support during your trip
The starting price is based on travel during the low season for a minimum of two travelers staying in shared 3-star accommodations. Please inquire for a custom trip quote based on your travel preferences and travel dates.

What's Not Included 

Not Included:
1. International Flights
2. Tips for guide & driver
3. Meals not listed
4. Touring or Activities listed as optional
5. International flight ticket and taxes
6. Travel Insurance
7. Chinese visa