Discover China Tour: Great Wall, Terracotta Warriors, Forbidden City & More

A 12 day trip to China 
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Experience the fascinating diversity of China by getting a taste of beautiful cosmopolitan cities and stunningly picturesque rural areas while immersing yourself in history during this captivating tour of the Middle Kingdom. Let your eyes sparkle in the bright lights as your mind becomes mesmerized in the shadows of some of the largest buildings in the world as you tour Shanghai and Beijing. Visit China’s most famous landmark: The Great Wall. Explore age-old temples and palaces. Walk the cobbled streets of ancient towns in Lijiang – weaving in and out of peaceful streams. Pick green tea from serene fields; enjoy restaurants that overlook ancient rooftops and mountains. And unwind as you walk through enchanting parks before cruising down beautiful lakes in Hangzhou and Xitang. 

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Most tours are customized for private travel.

General Information

Amazing view of the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain and the Black Dragon Pool, Lijiang
Ancient pavilion of Hangzhou
Blue Moon Valley in Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, Lijiang
Unique Experiences. Stunning Locations.;Custom Vacations by Competing Specialists.
a terracotta army figure against a red background
Detailed Itinerary

Places Visited 

Beijing, Forbidden Palace, Temple of Heaven, Great Wall of China, Li Yuan Theater, Summer Palace, Beijing Markets, Beijing Art Galleries, Lijiang, Jade Spring Park, Lijiang Old Town, Mu’s Residence, Baisha Village, Hangzhou, Longjing Mountains Tea Plantation, Peak Flown From Afar, Song Dynasty Town, West Lake, Xitang Ancient Tow, Shanghai, The Bund, French Concession, Shanghai Museum, Yuyuan Garden, Shopping and Art Districts

Departure Dates 

Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.

Detailed Itinerary 

Day 1: Beijing – Arrival in the Forbidden City

Offload your bags and unwind from your flight in the luxury surroundings of your premium hotel. Unpack a good amount of your luggage, as you will be exploring the fascinating surroundings of the country’s capital for the next four nights.

You can make the decision whether to head out for the evening and get your first glimpse and taste of the bustling streets and its restaurants and bars or dine in your hotel if you are still feeling a little jetlagged. At your request, you will have reservations at some of the top restaurants in the city – whether it’s local Beijing cuisine or dishes that you’re more used to eating at home – your needs will be catered for.

You will want to get your head down on that pillow at a reasonable time to recharge those batteries for the following day’s wonderful private tour of the city. Consider reading some of our travelers' China travel reviews, and gain further inspiration to perfect your own China itinerary. 

What’s Included: airport transfer, accommodation

Day 2: Beijing - Tour of the Forbidden Palace and Temple of Heaven

Prepare yourself for a day of fascinating history and stunning hilltop views as you embark on the first day of your private tour. Begin with the serene Temple of Heaven – a fascinatingly mystical building dating back to 1420 AD, where emperors visited to worship the heavens. In the surroundings of the temple, you will see the older generation partaking in their relaxing and gentle tai chi early-morning exercises - adding to the wonderful bliss this unique area possesses.

It’s afternoon, and time to visit the strikingly beautiful and historical Forbidden Palace – which was the home of many emperors during the Ming and Qing dynasties. Its name derives from the notion that individuals were not allowed to enter the palace without authorization from the emperors. This imperial palace is now known as the Palace Museum – and is one of the world’s most admired attractions.

After taking a break, you will make your way to the hilltop of the nearby Jingshan Park: one of the most beautiful yet little-known scenic spots of the city. It offers astounding panoramic views of the Forbidden City and the surrounding areas – and will truly take your breath away as the sun sets majestically over the imperial palace.

What’s Included: breakfast, tour, accommodation

Day 3: Beijing – Private Excursion to the Great Wall and Peking Opera Performance

The Great Wall of China: perhaps the most famous piece of man-made history in the world. Throughout today, you will have the opportunity to walk along the various sections of the magnificent structure while also soaking up the endless breathtaking views it has to offer. Begin at the Mutianyu section, the most restored part of the Wall, before moving onto one of the glorious forts: Juyongang.

Later in the evening, prepare to be dazzled as you head to the theater and witness the alluring and wonderful Peking Opera Performance. This glamorously unique show is cherished by the nation and dates back over 200 years. Sit back and let the performers astonish you in their traditional make-up and costume, with dancing, singing, acrobatics, and mime. Many of the stories told in the show relate to famous historical moments in ancient Chinese history, featuring emperors and generals.

What’s Included: breakfast, tour, performance ticket, accommodation

Day 4: Beijing – Tour of Summer Palace, Experience Local Markets and Visit Contemporary Art Galleries

Begin the day in perhaps the most serene setting in Beijing - the Summer Palace.  This imperial garden is widely regarded as the finest conserved in the world and is the largest of its kind in the Middle Kingdom. You will be enchanted by the waterways surrounded with beautiful arched bridges, luscious natural scenery, historic palace buildings and temples. There are market streets, waterside shops, and ancient theater stages that make up the different sections of these unforgettable gardens.

Later in the afternoon, you will have the chance to experience the famous Beijing Markets –getting a real taste of what it is like to barter with locals for whichever goods you desire. Visit silk, antique, pearl, and jewelry markets, among others, and indeed, you may scoop yourself some real bargains.

To finish the day, you will have the opportunity to visit Beijing’s contemporary art scene, which is gaining a well-respected worldwide reputation. There is a wide range of these galleries and centers that will undoubtedly keep your head tilt and turn, and your eyebrows rise as you make your way to each exhibition. 

What’s Included: breakfast, tour, accommodation

Day 5: Depart Beijing to Lijiang – Private Transfer to Airport and Flight

Unwind and reflect on your time in Beijing as you head south, to the city of Lijiang, in Yunnan Province. You will arrive at your luxury resort, with traditionally designed Chinese buildings amongst peaceful courtyards - situated at the foot of the mountains.

What’s Included: breakfast, transfer, accommodation

Day 6: Lijiang – Jade Spring Park, Lijiang Old Town Tour and Naxi Music Performance

Wake at the crack of dawn as you take a trip to the peaceful Jade Spring Park – with its pristine waters, dotted with singing birds and beautiful flowers. The surroundings are truly spectacular: temples, snow mountains and bridges grace your eyes as you make your way to this glorious area. You will visit the enchanting Longshan Temple, which sits at the center of the Spring Park.

Spend the afternoon taking walks along the mazy ancient cobbled streets and alleys of Lijiang Old Town, surrounded by peaceful canals glittered with flowers, water wheels, quaint teahouses and marvelous gift shops. Make your way to the top of the town and you will catch jaw-dropping picture-perfect rooftop views of the ancient buildings with an unforgettable backdrop of snow-tipped mountains. You can enjoy all of this while dining in one of the town’s restaurants. As the night sky descends, you will witness each and every narrow alley come alive with beauty as traditional Chinese lanterns illuminate the buildings and canals with shades of red.

With your eyes glistening from the night decorations, you will be treated to a unique experience with an ancient music performance from the native Naxi people. This extraordinary show consists of talented individuals playing ancient Chinese musical instruments, including the plectrum and flute – while dressed in their traditional costume. It is said this type of music might soon become extinct as only the older generation of men can perfect the techniques. So be sure to embrace this perhaps once-in-a-lifetime experience.

What’s Included: breakfast, tour, accommodation

Day 7: Lijiang – Mu’s Residence and Baisha Village

Begin the day visiting the magnificent Mu Residence – belonging to the Tusi (Tribal Leader) Mu - who ruled Naxi from 1271 until 1911. During the family’s ruling, their home was the hub of ancient Naxi’s financial prosperity, politics, and authority. Reconstructed in 1996, this wonderful palace provides a fascinating insight into how the family lived over generations. As you make your way through the residence, which covers eight acres of land, you will see gloriously decorated halls and pavilions, with the magnificent Shizi Mountain overlooking the establishment.

The afternoon will allow you the opportunity to get a real up-close insight into how the native Naxi people live today – as you visit the peaceful Baisha Village. Less commercialized than Lijiang Old Town, this village possesses a genuine feel, with a laid-back atmosphere created by the locals. You will catch a glimpse of famous murals - depicting the Buddha, plants, and animals, among others – dating back to 1644.

What’s Included: breakfast, tour, accommodation

Day 8: Lijiang to Hangzhou – Private Transfer to Airport and Flight

Kick back and relax as you board the plane and head east to the beautiful city of Hangzhou. Once described by the famous traveler Marco Polo as “The City of Heaven.” You will be situated at a tranquil five-star Hotel, wonderfully placed on the famously beautiful West Lake.

What’s Included: breakfast, transfer, accommodation

Day 9: Hangzhou – Tour of Tea Plantation, Buddha Caves, Town and Cruise on West Lake Followed by Evening Impression West Lake Performance

Morning tea, anybody? Today you will begin with a visit to the tranquil Longjing Mountains of Hangzhou, where China’s most highly regarded green tea is produced. As you explore the wonderful Longjing Village, you will witness local workers collecting tea along the near 800 acres of flawless grassy terraces that look truly breathtaking in their mountainous surroundings. The mazy walk through the village will charm you as you pass picturesque teahouses and slender staircases into the plantations. You will even get the chance, if you wish, to stand alongside the locals and pick your own tea.

After sipping your hot beverage, you will make your way to the spectacular Peak Flown From Afar. This gigantic limestone structure is made up of caves and outstanding carvings featuring hundreds of statues of Buddha, incredibly dating back to 907 AD. The sheer history and beauty of the Peak Flown From Afar will leave you in awe long after you have finished this stage of the tour.

Continuing with the theme of history, but with an utterly contrasting experience, you will visit the Song Dynasty Town. This spectacular theme park fantastically recreates the culture of the Song Dynasty era with theatrical performances (acrobatics and dancing), traditional customs (including matchmaking proposals where women would throw a ball into a crowd of men, who fought to capture it and therefore wed the lady!), ancient activities (torch and water-splashing festivals) and much, much more.

To perfectly conclude the day, you will take a boat cruise down the quaint West Lake. As you venture along, the stunningly beautiful gardens, pagodas, and temples will absorb your eyes, while your ears will be massaged by the peaceful sound of water gently splashing the side of the boat. Shadows of the willow trees along the waterside become stretched, and the glow of the fish dim as the night sky descends before the enchanting Impression West Lake Show begins.

Witnessing the West Lake Show is the perfect parting gift from Hangzhou. The beauty of the lake and its magical surroundings, combined with the setting of the stage on the fringes of the crisp water, creates a magical experience. Dancers appear as if they are gliding and jumping on the lake as the delightful music and lights are in tandem with their every move. The beautiful love story unfolds as perfectly as the flowers that grace the backdrop of its setting; making a memorable end to your stay in this serene city.

What’s Included: breakfast, transfer, tour, accommodation

Day 10: Hangzhou to Xitang – Tour of Xitang – Depart Xitang to Shanghai

Before hitting the bright lights of Shanghai, you will visit the heavenly ancient water town of Xitang. This delightful area, despite being a neighboring town to Shanghai, will appear a world away from the big city. Whether you make your way around by boat or foot, Xitang’s adorable features will seduce you.  Hundreds of narrow lanes and picturesque bridges link rivers, canals, streets, and houses together. Locals’ homes, shops, and fishing boats line each side of the waterways as you travel downstream and hear traditional folk songs echoing around the town.

Still dazzled from the tranquility of Xitang, you’ll make the short trip to Shanghai. Here, you will stay at another five-star luxury hotel that spectacularly overlooks the wondrous bright lights of the city.

What’s Included: breakfast, transfer, tour, accommodation

Day 11: Shanghai – Riverfront Bund, French Concession, Shanghai Museum, Yuyuan Garden, Art and Shopping Districts

Finish the tour in real style as you spend a day exploring the ins and outs of China’s largest and most populous city. Begin by strolling along The Bund, a glamorous promenade that stretches alongside the Huangpu River, boasting an abundance of stunning Western-style architecture. Glance across the river and you will see the world’s second-tallest building, the Shanghai Tower, with a backdrop of other magnificent skyscrapers.

Next, explore the stylishly renowned area that is the French Concession – where you may well believe you are, in fact, walking the streets of Paris. This extremely admired region is one of the most popular in the city among both natives and expats. Western-style houses, shops, cafes, bars and restaurants line the charming streets, which are hard not to fall in love with as you make your way around. There are historic buildings and neighborhoods featuring lavish mansions and villas – the most famous buildings have details displaying their intriguing history.

A visit to the Shanghai Museum of ancient Chinese art will leave you rubbing your eyes in disbelief as you stand meters away from unbelievably historic artifacts. This fascinating museum attracts visitors from all over the world, and possesses over one million objects. You will learn about the history of these captivating artifacts, which include sculptures, calligraphy, paintings, furniture and coins.

Stepping away from the modern buildings and shops, you will pay a visit to the luscious Yuyuan Garden. Originally built more than 400 years ago, it boasts stunning architecture and natural scenery that rivals most gardens in the Middle Kingdom. You will notice the walls are magnificently decorated with dragons as you make your way along the winding pathways.

Your trip to Shanghai will not be complete without visiting the city’s art and shopping districts. You will be inundated with a vast selection of shopping malls, open art studios and markets that are at your disposal. Whether you are looking to spend your time picking up some last-minute souvenirs, get a glimpse of the contemporary art scene or revel in the glitzy fashion retail areas - your needs will most certainly be catered for.

What’s Included: breakfast, transfer, tour, accommodation

Day 12: Shanghai - Departure

As you make your way to the airport, you will be looking back at the trip of a lifetime. Perhaps you’ll already be flicking through your photos in a nostalgic manner. One thing is for sure; you will cherish memories of this trip for years to come.

What’s Included: breakfast, airport transfer


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.