The Best of China

China’s vast territory means that travellers will not want for spectacular sites – on the contrary, it can be tricky narrowing down which of its attractions to visit first. This 19 day itinerary allows travellers to explore the best of China; from city life to countryside living and experiencing this rich culture.

During this holiday, you will visit Beijing and Shanghai, two of the country’s metropolises steeped in history as well as the Tibetan countryside in Xiade, make friends with pandas in Chengdu, admire the impressive Terracotta Warriors and much more. This comprehensive introduction to China will definitely leave you wanting more!

Day 1: Arrival into Beijing

Upon arrival into China’s capital city, you will be met by a representative and transferred to your hotel, the Regent Beijing located within proximity of the legendary Forbidden City.

You will have the remainder of the day at leisure to explore the surroundings or just relax.

In the evening, enjoy the Flying Acrobatics show, one of the city’s most popular evening entertainments, which mingles traditional Chinese acrobatic arts and modern technology.

Stay: Regent Beijing

Day 2: Exploring Tian’anmen Square and the Forbidden City

In the morning, you will explore the Tian’anmen Square, the largest public square in the world and site of many important events in Chinese history.

From here, you will move to the impressive Forbidden City and learn more about the Ming and Qing dynasties as well as the 9,999 different rooms that make of up the City.

The remainder of the day is at leisure

Stay: Regent Beijing

Day 3: Traditional tour of Beijing

Today, explore Beijing’s hutongs by pedicab. Hutongs are a type of narrow streets or alleys, commonly associated with the ancient capital city. The oldest Hutongs in Beijing are dating back to the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368) when Mongols made the city as their capital. Since the mid-20th century, the number of Beijing hutongs has dropped dramatically, and today some have been designated as protected areas in an attempt to preserve this aspect of Chinese cultural history.

Then, you will visit the Gulou, the Drum Tower where during the Ming Dynasty, the city marked the hours of the day with the rumbling of drums. The tower faces the Zhonglou, the Bell Tower, and gives visitors a glimpse of ancient Beijing.

You have the rest of the day at leisure. For dinner, we recommend sampling the famous Beijing roast duck at the Duck de Chine – delicious!

Stay: Regent Beijing

Day 4: Excursion to the Great Wall

The Great Wall is one of the country’s most important symbols, and today you will half a full day to explore this impressive structure and learn more of its history. After a 2 hour stroll, you will enjoy a picnic on the Great Wall.

Stay: Regent Beijing

Day 5: Experiencing the Summer Palace

After breakfast, you will be transferred to your next accommodation in Beijing, the Aman Summer Palace, located just 15km northwest of Beijing’s city centre and adjacent to the East Gate of the iconic Summer Palace. The property is housed in a section that was used by guests of the Summer Palace awaiting an audience with the Empress Dowager Cixi at the turn of the 20th century.

Later on during the day, you will explore the glorious Summer Palace. Once a simple Imperial garden, the site was completely renovated by Emperor Qianlong during the 18th century to become one the most important sites of the capital. Back in the day, the members of the Imperial Court would flee the summer’s insufferable heat in the Forbidden City to lounge on the Palace’s immense lawn.

Stay: Aman at the Summer Palace

Day 6: From Beijing to Xi’An

You will depart Beijing and be transferred to the airport to catch your flight. Upon arrival in Xi’An, you will be met at the airport and transferred to your hotel.

Once you have settled in, you will head out on a bike tour of Xi’An. This one hour excursion will allow you to discover and glide through Xi’An without traffic jams and crowds and you will be able to admire the city’s impressive ramparts, built during the Ming Dynasty.

Then, you will take part in a Calligraphy Course, one of the bedrocks of Chinese culture and a truly artistic pursuit in the Small Wild Goose Pagoda.

Stay: Sofitel Xi’An

Day 7: Highlights of Xi’An tour

Just 45 minutes away from the city, lies another of the country’s most famed sites, the Terracotta Warriors. In 1974, a few farmers stumbled upon the Warriors by accident; they had just discovered one of the greatest archeological finds in history.

The statues are separated into 3 different pits and there is also a small museum on site that houses two splendid bronze chariots. Later on, you can head to one of Terracotta Factories in Xian where you can see how they are made and even make terracotta warrior statuettes on your own.

Xi’An is a city of many cultures, with numerous Muslim merchants from Central Asia following the Silk Road and passing through the city, and leaving their influence as you will see whilst visiting the Chinese-style Mosque and vibrant neighborhood.

Stay: Sofitel Xi’An

Day 8: From Xi’an to Xiahe

You will depart early to catch your flight to Xiahe. Once there, a representative will meet you and transfer you to your hotel.

Norden Camp is located on the Tibetan Plateau, within the Tibetan Autonomous Kanlho Prefecture of China’s Gansu Province, at 3,200 meters above sea level and bordered by a meandering river, this 11-hectare campsite on pastoral grasslands doubles in winter as a grazing area for sheep and yaks.

Whilst staying in Norden Camp, you are free to enjoy the numerous activities that the property offers.

Stay: Norden Camp

Day 9 – 10: Time at leisure in Nordem Camp, Xiahe

Enjoy the following activities:

  • Guided visit to Labrang Monastery
  • Visit with a local nomad family
  • Hiking
  • Birdwatching
  • Horseback riding
  • Outdoor camping
  • Make your own yak products
  • Evening bonfire/star gazing
  • Lunch at monk’s house

Stay: Norden Camp

Day 11: From Xiahe to Chengdu

Your journey to Chengdu starts off with a 4 hour drive to Langzhou. About half the journey is through Lingxia which is China’s Muslim (Hui) community, a landscape of rolling hills dappled by mosques — each one different, some very Chinese and others more like out of Arabian Nights. It is a beautiful drive with lots to see on the way.

From Lanzhou, you will catch your flight to Chengdu, where you will be transferred to your hotel upon arrival.

Once in Chengdu, you will experience a Sichuan opera performance (around 90 minutes) consisting of skits making references to Chinese history and literature, featuring dancers, singers, acrobats, fire-eaters or experts of “face changing” a very local art. Before the show you will have the chance to meet the artists putting on their makeup.

Stay: Temple House

Day 12: Tour of Chengdu and panda breeding excursion

In the morning, you will visit the Panda Breeding Centre that boasts just under 100 pandas, making it the largest centre for Pandas in captivity in the world.

In the afternoon, visit the Wenshu Temple (or Manjushri to the Indians), the best preserved Buddhist temple in Chengdu that still boasts a large number of worshippers. Enjoy a cup of tea in the House of Tea next door (the city has many such establishments and this is one of the most popular). After your tea, stroll through the People’s Park, a perfect example of the parks where the Chinese practice Tai-Chi, Kungfu, sword dance, meditation, dance, gymnastics — all activities that they consider essential to their well-being.

Sichuan cooking is one of the eight major strands of cooking in the country, and is famous for being very spicy. For dinner, try the famous the Sichuan spicy hotpot! The broth is infused with lots of aromatic spices, fiery chili oil and tongue-numbing Sichuan peppercorn.

Stay: Temple House

Day 13: Day at leisure in Chengdu

Today, you are free to roam the city or just relax in the hotel.

Stay: Temple House

Day 14: From Chengdu to Shanghai

You will be transferred from your hotel to the airport to catch your flight to Shanghai.

On arrival, your local guide will assist you in getting onto the Maglev, an electro-magnetic train of the latest fashion, which will take you straight into the heart of Shanghai. The train can go up to 430 km/ hour, and you can see the speed on a small monitor on each train car. Your luggage will be taken to your hotel separately and once you arrive at Longyang station, you will start your explorations of Shanghai.

Start off with the Pudong district, once a marsh with farmers and buffalos and today one of the world’s most important business centers. Next, make your way to the nearby neighborhood of Lujiazui, the epicenter of some of the most famous buildings. You will visit the Shanghai World Financial Center (the city’s tallest building) and enjoying the sprawling view of the city from the world’s highest panoramic terrace.

Then, take the famous Bund Sightseeing Tunnel which crosses the Huangpu River to reach Puxi in a couple of minutes, and from there discover the Bund, the city’s famous walkway along some of Puxi’s historical buildings with European influence.

Next, explore the famed Nanjing Road with its colorful signs and crowd of locals and tourists corresponding perfectly with the image of a modern Asian capital. After your stroll through Nanjing Road, you will be transported back to your hotel.

Stay: The Puli Hotel and Spa

Day 15: Museum, Art and Temples in Shanghai

Your day starts off with a visit to China’s best museum for Asian artifacts, the Shanghai Museum. The museum also holds Qing Dynasty jade and furniture, Buddhist sculptures and other Chinese artifacts. Your guide will give you the option of using excellent audio guides for your visit.

After, head to the Jade Buddha Temple, the most well-known temple the city has to offer and which attracts crowds of visitors each day. The famous jade statue was one of 5 such examples brought back from Burma by a monk from Putuoshan (an island just offshore from Shanghai).

You will finish your day by the visit of M50. China has become over the years a major center of contemporary art in the world. As Beijing and its famous 798 Art District, the M50 (located at No. 50 Moganshan Street in the north of the city) is one of the strongholds of the Chinese art scene. And in the same way as Beijing, the complex is located in abandoned industrial buildings that are part of the charm and aesthetics of the place.

Stay: The Puli Hotel and Spa

Day 16: Exploring Old and New Shanghai

Start off your day with a visit to the French concession where renovated colonial residences are nos restaurants, bars and diverse boutiques. This quarter still hints at a time when the Chinese law did not rule supreme and gangsters, mafia, opium sellers, prostitutes and voyagers converged to explore new adventures and profits.

You will then pass through Xintiandi, a completely restored neighborhood now considered one of the animated centers of the city. You will end your walk through the Concession by traversing Tianzifang, a maze of alleyways and lanes, with restaurants, boutiques and small galleries full of authentic and current art.

The day turns towards the old town, mostly restored today, but where you can still see some lilongs (which are equivalent to Beijing’s hutongs) where local Shanghainese discuss nothing and everything and laundry dries outdoors on clotheslines. This is also the neighborhood with the famous Yu Garden with its excellent example of Chinese art in gardens of the region.

Stay: The Puli Hotel and Spa

Day 17: From Shanghai to Hangzhou

In the morning, you will be transferred to the train station to catch your train to Hangzhou, once described by Marco Polo as Heaven on Earth.

Your local representative will transfer you to your hotel and then you will be taken on a tour of Hangzhou by bike. The peaceful bike ride around the area will let you explore one of the most famous and picture-perfect symbols of traditional China. The curved bridges lead to small islands in the heart of the lake, and there you can discover, amongst other things, the charmingly romantic Quyuan gardens.

Stay: Four Seasons Hangzhou

Day 18: Highlights of Hangzhou

Today, you will visit the Lingyin Temple, one of the best known Buddhist temples in the entire country, as well as the adjacent tea plantations, the other speciality of the region of Zhejiang and home to Longjing tea — one of the most prized and expensive teas in the world. The bright green tea fields are often planted at high altitude and in perfectly designed plots straddling the mountain edges creating a true visual spectacle.

After, you will head to the Huqingyu Tang Museum of Chinese Medicine, which is found in the Huqingyu pharmacy built in the 19th century. Chinese medicine is a fundamental and fascinating part of Chinese culture, and learning about it is fascinating. If you don’t already know about this type of medicine, it will make you abandon all sense of western logic.

Stay: Four Seasons Hangzhou

Day 19: Departure

In the morning, you will depart Hangzhou and make your way back to Shanghai to catch your return flight home.


Duration Description Overnight
Day 1: Arrival into Beijing Regent Beijing
Day 2: Exploring Tian’anmen Square and the Forbidden City Regent Beijing
Day 3: Traditional tour of Beijing Regent Beijing
Day 4: Excursion to the Great Wall Regent Beijing
Day 5: Experiencing the Summer Palace Aman at the Summer Palace
Day 6: From Beijing to Xi’An Sofitel Xi’An
Day 7: Highlights of Xi’An tour Sofitel Xi’An
Day 8: From Xi’an to Xiahe Norden Camp
Day 9 – 10: Time at leisure in Nordem Camp, Xiahe Norden Camp
Day 11: From Xiahe to Chengdu Temple House
Day 12: Tour of Chengdu and panda breeding excursion Temple House
Day 13: Day at leisure in Chengdu Temple House
Day 14: From Chengdu to Shanghai The Puli Hotel and Spa
Day 15: Museum, Art and Temples in Shanghai The Puli Hotel and Spa
Day 16: Exploring Old and New Shanghai The Puli Hotel and Spa
Day 17: From Shanghai to Hangzhou Four Seasons Hangzhou
Day 18: Highlights of Hangzhou Four Seasons Hangzhou
Day 19: Departure



  • Accommodation in selected hotel as mentioned
  • Daily Breakfast
  • Fullboard basis at Norden camp
  • Selected dinners with tours
  • English speaking guide without shopping
  • Tours and transfers as mentioned by private air conditioned vehicle
  • Entrance fees for mentioned visits
  • Domestic flights — Economy Class: Beijing – Xi an, Xi an – Xiahe, Lanzhou – Chengdu, Chengdu – Shanghai
  • Train tickets from Shanghai to Hangzhou with business class

Not Included

  • International Flights
  • Travel Insurance (Compulsory)
  • Visa as necessary
  • Tips and Gratuities
  • Drinks/water at included lunches and dinners
  • Meals not mentioned in inclusions above
  • Accommodation early check in / Late check out
  • Personal expenses
  • All other items and travel components not mentioned in inclusions


1- Beijing 2- Xi'An 3- Xiahe 4- Chengdu 5- Shanghai 6- Hangzhou

From USD 7,163 per person based on two guests travelling

Notes on our prices

  • This price guide provides you with a broad indication of how much to budget for your holiday.
  • Prices are generally based on two people travelling together (unless stated otherwise) on a shared room basis.
  • Prices can fluctuate depending on season, standard of accommodation, excursions selected (private versus shared) etc.
  • This basic structure works very nicely, but don’t forget that Lightfoot Travel can provide a range of experiences and we tailor-make each itinerary based on your travel requirements. Get in touch to start planning your perfect trip with your own travel consultant