Best of China

  • Trip Type: Journeys
  • 12 Days | Beijing to Shanghai
  • Group Size: Max 15

Trip Details


Mix the bustle of China’s metropolises with the tranquility of rural life on a 12-day adventure. Explore hidden corners of Beijing’s Forbidden City. Cycle along ancient city walls and learn about Xi’an’s famed terracotta soldiers. Enjoy a sunset cruise on the gorgeous Li River. Meet and interact with Shanghai’s celebrated acrobats, and watch them train. Along the way, discover how China’s many contrasts make it one of the world’s most intriguing places.

Trip Highlights

    • Bicycle atop the city walls of Xi’an before facing its ancient army of terra-cotta warriors.
    • Walk along the Great Wall, taking in magnificent views, and hike through the Guilin countryside.
    • Go behind the scenes at the historic Gao's Grand Courtyard House and interact with local artists.
    • Wake early for a private Tai Chi class led by a local expert. Learn the basic principles of this ancient practice and discover firsthand why it’s revered for such health benefits as stress relief, improved balance, and overall well–being.

Itinerary - 12 Days

Day 1 — Beijing

Arrive at any time. Arrival transfer is included. Enjoy a first taste of Chinese cuisine with a welcome dinner of Peking duck. (1D)

Days 2, 3, & 4 — Beijing

Explore the highlights of Beijing, including Tiananmen Square and the lavish Forbidden City, a UNESCO World Heritage site spanning more than 800 palaces, temples, government buildings, and homes. Visit the stunning Temple of Heaven and its surrounding grounds, which offer a chance to watch locals practicing tai chi, water calligraphy, and other activities. Then set off on an excursion to the Great Wall, one of the greatest structures ever built. Take a walk along the 500-year-old Mutianyu section, and spend time exploring the towers. If you wish, hop in a toboggan and ride alongside this architectural marvel, taking in spectacular mountain views. Later, enjoy a walking tour of some of the city’s traditional hutong neighborhoods. Then catch an overnight train to Xi’an. (3B)

Days 5 & 6 — Xi'an

Arrive in the ancient Chinese capital of Xi’an, once the eastern terminus of the Silk Road. Set out to experience the city like the locals do with a bike ride atop the ancient walls. Then enjoy a unique, behind-the-scenes experience at the historic Gao’s Grand Courtyard House. Visit backstage, interact with local artists, and enjoy a performance of shadow puppetry. In the evening, delve into the bustling alleyways of the Muslim Quarter, perusing colorful shops and food stalls selling naan, kebabs, and an array of sweets. The next day, encounter Xi’an’s famed terra-cotta warriors, an army of life-size soldiers that stand guard outside the tomb of China’s first emperor, Qin Shi Huang. Learn about the discovery and excavation of these archaeological treasures. Then have lunch in the farming village where the artifacts were found. (2B, 1L)

Days 7 & 8 — Guilin/Yangshuo

Fly to Guilin and immerse yourself in the local culture. Trek through the countryside, passing through villages and rice fields, and enjoy a relaxing cruise on the Li River. (2B, 1D)

Day 9 — Yangshuo

Rise early for a private Tai Chi class with a local expert. Then take an easy cycling trip through the countryside, passing rice paddy fields and striking karst mountains. Later, learn how to prepare local cuisine at a cooking school and enjoy the results for dinner. (1B, 1D)

Days 10 & 11 — Shanghai

Fly to the vibrant metropolis of Shanghai and take an orientation walk through the historic Bund area. Enjoy free time to explore this vibrant city on your own. Opt to visit Yuyuan Gardens, the Shanghai Museum or this evening catch the famed Shanghai acrobats performance. (2B)

Day 12 — Shanghai

Depart at any time. (1B)

Related Trips

Offered in partnership with G Adventures, our National Geographic Journeys line blends fun, hands-on exploration, meaningful encounters with people and cultures, and more free time and choices—with the structure and security of traveling in a small group.


  • May 13 - 24, 2018 (sold out)
  • Jun 10 - 21, 2018
  • Jun 24 - Jul 05, 2018
  • Jul 01 - 12, 2018
  • Jul 15 - 26, 2018
  • Aug 05 - 16, 2018
  • Sep 02 - 13, 2018
  • Sep 16 - 27, 2018
  • Oct 07 - 18, 2018
  • Oct 14 - 25, 2018
  • Mar 17 - 28, 2019
  • Apr 07 - 18, 2019
  • Apr 21 - May 02, 2019
  • May 12 - 23, 2019
  • Jun 30 - Jul 11, 2019
  • Jul 14 - 25, 2019
  • Aug 18 - 29, 2019
  • Sep 01 - 12, 2019
  • Sep 15 - 26, 2019
  • Oct 06 - 17, 2019

Trip Cost

Price From


Activity Level


Travelers should be in good health and comfortable walking or standing for extended periods of time. Daily activities may include city walking tours, visits to sites, game drives, or easy hikes, with options for more physical activities such as hiking, kayaking, snorkeling and biking.

Click here for a description of all activity levels.

Contact Us: 1-800-281-2354

Call to speak with a specialist about this trip.

My Own Room

During your trip, sometimes it's just more convenient and comfortable to have your own room. That's why we offer the "My Own Room" option - a single room all to yourself.

My Own Room Option: From $669

What's Included

Arrival transfer, internal flights, transport between destinations and to/ from included activities, and activities as listed in the itinerary. The optional Beijing kung fu show and Li River light show are at an additional cost.

Comfortable, mid-range hotels (10 nights), soft sleeper overnight train (1 night)

Meals Included
11 breakfasts, 1 lunch, 3 dinners. Allow an additional $325–425 for meals not included.

Private bus, plane, boat, train

Optional Experience

You can do whatever you wish during your free time on tour, but if you're in need of suggestions, we've got them. Details about any optional experiences for this trip will be available during the booking process. Please note, these are at an additional cost.