Cultural Excursion

Highlights of China

Beijing, China

We customize every trip

Prices From: $2,478 per person

This itinerary showcases some of the most famous and beautiful sights China has to offer. Begin in the capital city of Beijing where you will experience the cultural sights within the city as well as hike part of the Great Wall of China.

Meet the Terracotta Warriors and explore the varied districts and ancient history of Xian, then continue in Shanghai to tour a vibrant, modern city with a proud history.

This itinerary is a balanced mix of structure with plenty of free time to allow you to explore this extraordinary country at your own pace. Please see the attached day-by-day itinerary for all the details.

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1 - Beijing Arrival

Welcome to China! Upon arrival in the capital, you will be met and transferred to your local accommodations. At the airport please look for a representative of China Highlights holding a sign with your name on it in the Arrivals area. You will also be provided with your complimentary Chinese cell phone during your transfer.

Enjoy the afternoon today at your leisure!

Overnight: Spring Garden Courtyard Hotel

Day 2 - Beijing: Forbidden City And Tiananmen Square

Today your guide will meet you and take you on a tour of some of Beijing's more famous sites, beginning with the Forbidden City. The Forbidden City was home to 24 emperors between 1368 and 1911. This "city within a city" is the largest and the best preserved ancient imperial architecture complex in the world, with a great square, halls and gates that contrast with intricate halls, gardens, courtyards and quarters. The exhibitions, both permanent and temporary, are all important treasures of ancient China.

Near the Forbidden City is Tiananmen Square. Tiananmen Square is the largest city square in the center of Beijing, named after the Tiananmen (literally, Gate of Heavenly Peace) which sits to its north, separating it from the Forbidden City. As the world's largest city square and enduring symbol of China's national pride, it is surrounded by many imposing buildings including the Heavenly Gate, museums, government buildings and Chairman Mao's Mausoleum.

Finally, the day will end with a rickshaw ride through the maze of alleyways that make up the Dongcheng District. The single storey traditional courtyard houses of this district are quickly disappearing, though you will have the chance to visit with a family in one of them, and learn about life in modern Beijing. Lunch today will be served at a local restaurant.

Overnight: Spring Garden Courtyard Hotel (Breakfast, Lunch included)

Day 3 - Beijing: Great Wall & Temple Of Heaven

After breakfast, your guide will accompany you to the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall. This less-crowded section of the Great Wall is about a 2.5 hours' drive from downtown Beijing. A cable car takes you to a good section (avoiding a very steep climb), where you can walk along the wall, through the watch towers and enjoy superb views as it snakes across the hills and mountains. You can return by cable car, walk down or walk along the wall for about an hour to descend by chairlift.

You will return to central Beijing to visit the Temple of Heaven. Built in 1420 during the Ming Dynasty, the Temple of Heaven is a complex of Taoist buildings where emperors of Ming and Qing dynasties visited for annual ceremonies of prayer for good harvests. Lunch will be at a restaurant near the Great Wall, and dinner will be at a traditional roast duck restaurant.

Overnight: Spring Garden Courtyard Hotel (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner included)

Day 4 - Beijing - Xian

Before your flight to Xian later this afternoon, you will have a chance to visit the Summer Palace, as well as the exteriors of the Beijing Olympic Stadiums. The Summer Palace was the much-loved summer retreat of the Imperial families, the lovely landscaped gardens, halls, pavilions and corridors are set around the lake and rivers in natural harmony. It is the largest and best preserved imperial garden in China, and also a World Heritage Site.

Next you will visit the Olympic Bird's Nest and Water Cube. This area also contains the National Museum, exhibition area, Olympic Village and Olympic competition avenues. You will also visit Beijing's Lama Temple. The colorful Yonghe Lamasery is the largest and most famous Tibetan Buddhist temple outside Tibet. It's still very active, and the beautiful halls and courtyards are thronged with devotees come to worship or seek good luck.

Later, you will be transferred to the airport in good time to board your domestic flight to Xian. Upon arrival in Xian, you will be met and transferred to your local accommodations.

Overnight: Grand Noble Hotel Xian (Breakfast, Lunch included)

Day 5 - Xian: Terracotta Warriors

This morning your guide will drive you to visit the Terracotta Warriors. Discovered accidentally in 1974, this incredible army of over 7,000 soldiers, archers, horses and chariots in full battle array has guarded Emperor Qin's tomb since 210BC. Each figure is unique, and the painstaking repair and excavation continues in 3 pits which are protected inside huge hangars.

You will then continue onto Big Wild Goose Pagoda. A major Buddhist site, the simple, elegant brick pagoda stands in the grounds of the attractive Da Ci'en Temple. The Pagoda was built in the 7th century to house the Buddhist materials that Xuanzang (Tripitaka) brought back from his epic journey to India. All meals are included today, including a dumpling banquet for this evening's dinner.

Overnight: Grand Noble Hotel Xian (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner included)

Day 6 - Xian - Shanghai

After breakfast, you will visit Xian's Ancient City Wall. The walls, ramparts, gates and watchtowers form one of the oldest and most complete city defenses still around. Built in the 13th century on the foundations of the original Tang Forbidden City, the walls surround the city center. You will then explore the Shaanxi History Museum. The history of Shaanxi is said to be the history of China, and this museum is quite simply one of the nation's best. Four major galleries in large, Tang-style buildings house a vast and impressive collection, beautifully displayed.

Finally, you will visit Xian's Muslim Quarter. The Muslim quarter lies 100 meters west of the Bell tower in downtown Xian. The 500 meter-long avenue paved by bluestones is dotted with many unique stalls, souvenir shops, cafés and bars which are mostly run by local Muslims.

Near the end of the day, you will be transferred to the airport in good time to board your domestic flight to Shanghai. Upon arrival, you will be met and transferred back to your local accommodations.

Overnight: The Bund Hotel Shanghai (Breakfast, Lunch included)

Day 7 - Shanghai: Yuyuan Garden & The Bund

Today you will go on a full day and comprehensive tour of Shanghai, beginning at Yuyuan Garden located in the center of the city's old quarter. This was a private garden built in 1559 during the Ming Dynasty, with typical Chinese classic architecture and style. The garden is surrounded by a busy market place selling everything from local snacks, to handicrafts and antiques.

Next, you will visit the Bund. This 1.5 km-long embankment runs along the western bank of Huangpu River. On its west side is the "architecture gallery" with 52 well-preserved old European style buildings. Once the major trading and commercial center of old Shanghai, the Bund has now taken on a new vitality, with new developments, chic restaurants and plenty of nightlife! Next you will visit the Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibit, offering a fascinating insight into the future plans of the city.

Overnight: The Bund Hotel Shanghai (Breakfast, Lunch included)

Day 8 - Shanghai: Suzhou Day Trip

Today your guide and driver will drive you to nearby Suzhou, a wonderful day trip from Shanghai. Here you will tour the Humble Administrators Garden, the best representative of Chinese classical gardens. The focus here is on a central pond with pavilions, terraces, chambers and towers. Next you will visit Tiger Hill, also known as Surging Sea Hill. Ascending the hill, you will find a number of historical sites, includeing some from 2,500 years ago, which are as old as Suzhou itself. Built in the 10th century, the leaning Cloud Rock Pagoda stands at the top.

You will then visit the Grand Canal, which ranks alongside the Great Wall as the country's greatest engineering achievement. It is the longest man-made waterway in the world. As you cruise along the waterway in a motor boat, you will observe locals and Suzhou's network of lakes and canals. This afternoon you will return to Shanghai for overnight.

Overnight: The Bund Hotel Shanghai (Breakfast, Lunch included)

Day 9 - Shanghai Departure

Today you will be transferred to the international airport for your departure flight out of China!

Accommodation Information

Spring Garden Courtyard Hotel

Beijing Spring Garden Courtyard Hotel is a traditionally-restored Si He Yuan (a compound of houses around a square courtyard), which is representative of ancient Chinese culture and style. The hotel offers deluxe rooms that are well decorated. The buildings are of the Qing Dynasty style (300 years ago), which were elevated in stature from the Yuan Dynasty beginnings of over 600 years ago. There are many sites of interest nearby, including the Forbidden City, Bei Hai, and Hou Hai.

Grand Noble Hotel Xian

Grand Noble Hotel, Xian is a luxurious property offering comprehensive facilities and services for leisure and business stays. It is conveniently located in the commercial center, shopping and entertainment area of Xian’s downtown, neighboring a lot of popular tourist attractions. Only 40 minutes away from Xi’an Xian Yang International Airport and 5 minutes way from Xian Railway Station.

The Bund Hotel Shanghai

The Bund Hotel is located in the heart of sprawling Shanghai, a five minute walk from the "Bund" and "Pedestrian Street" of Nanjing Road and five minutes driving from the Pudong district. The hotel comes equipped to welcome business as well as pleasure travellers, so business centers and other modern facilities are at guests' disposal.


Region: Asia - North and East



Breakfast Breakfast

Day Tours Day Tours

Archeology Indigenous Archeology Indigenous

General Information

Price Includes

  • Accommodation as mentioned
  • Daily breakfast at hotels
  • Other meals if/where mentioned
  • All airport/hotel/rail station transfers by private vehicle
  • Guide and private vehicle as mentioned
  • Entrance fees for all sights as part of tours
  • Domestic transport (flights and rail) as mentioned:
  • * Beijing – Xian
  • * Xian Beijing
  • Luggage Transfers
  • Airport tax and fuel fees
  • Full support before, during and after your trip
  • *A Free CH cell phone package includes free rental for the cell phone and SIM card and at least 30 free minutes, delivery and collection in China. Return the phone to your guide when you depart.

Price Excludes

  • International flights (unless otherwise mentioned)
  • Domestic flights (own arrangements)
  • Travel insurance (recommended)
  • China Entry Visa Fees (required in advance)
  • Excess baggage charges
  • Meals not mentioned
  • Entrance fees for activities not included
  • Tips and gratuities to guides, drivers*
  • Expenses of a purely personal nature
  • Taxes & Fees
  • All other services not mentioned
  • * Unlike other travel agencies in China we pay the guides and drivers a base salary, and so you have no obligation to tip. However if you have received excellent service and wish to tip your guide/driver we recommend 80 to 150 RMB per day to a guide and half the amount to a driver; a separate offer to each is best.