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Top Trip Memories
  • Standing face-to-face with thousands of life-sized, individualized clay warriors excavated from the vast necropolis of China’s First Emperor in Xi’an.
  • Viewing and walking on the Great Wall to discover how steep it is (and, if you visit at some locations, how much of it now lies in ruins).
  • Sailing down the Li River from Guilin through an unearthly landscape of sheer cliffs and peaks that resemble a dreamy ink-brushed scroll.
  • Cruising through the remains of the Three Gorges on the Yangtze River and visiting the huge hydroelectric dam that partially submerged them.
  • Window shopping the length of Shanghai’s Nanjing Road, China’s premier commercial avenue since colonial days, from Jade Buddha Temple to the Bund.
  • Riding a cable car to the top of Mt. Huangshan (Yellow Mountain) for breathtaking views of swirling mists, odd rock formations, and some of its 70 peaks.
  • Circumnavigating the entire city wall of Xi’an by bicycle, then surveying the intimate street life of the city within.
  • Reaching two fabled oases on the Silk Road: Urumqi (China’s Timbuktu) and Kashgar, site of one of Asia’s largest outdoor markets and camel bazaars.
  • Getting lost and lost again in the natural labyrinth of the Stone Forest outside of Kunming in the far western province of Yunnan.
  • Summiting Mt. Tai at sunrise, where Confucius observed, “The world is small,” and Chairman Mao proclaimed, “The East is Red.”
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Tour Tips
  • When choosing a tour to China, consider how much free time is allowed, especially in cities, where the chance to walk the streets and observe daily life can be an unforgettable experience.
  • Resident tour guides are your best resource for insights into modern Chinese life, and the best of them are bright, sophisticated, willing to answer your hard questions and eager to find out more about you.
  • Request or procure a multiple-entry 10-year China tourist visa (which became available late in 2014), making a return visit easier and cheaper.
  • Jet lag is a reality for most travelers to China. Try to fly in at least a day ahead, if possible, so that you can begin your tour at full strength.
  • Early spring and late fall are the best times to travel in most parts of China—less hot and crowded. Southern China is much warmer than the North in winter months.
  • Learning a few Chinese phrases can go a long ways in smoothing your way, even on a tour. Being able to say “Hello,” “Good-bye,” and “Thank you” opens doors, while “Yes,” “No,“ and “How much is this?” in Chinese make shopping (and fending off vendors) much easier.
  • After you’ve arrived…
  • Credit cards will be all you need for most purchases, and ATMs are widely available in cities, but street markets and village shops usually require local currency.
  • If you’re venturing outside the main cities, be sure to carry tissues, hand sanitizers and other hygienic devices. China has modernized rapidly, but it is still a developing nation.
  • Most Chinese are frank and outgoing, rather than reserved. Few topics are taboo these days, especially among young people, but certain topics of conversation -- such as Tibet, the Dalai Lama, Hong Kong elections, abortion, Taiwan -- can be unfruitful.
  • Jokes and puns, however, are popular, as is Western pop culture, including music, films and designer clothes.
  • Wear sturdy, comfortable walking shoes, since you’ll want to see as much as possible on foot.
  • Given the air pollution and dusty (sometimes unclean) conditions, choose serviceable outdoor attire by day. Touring China can be more a ramble through the outback than a stroll through a shopping mall.
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China Travel Reviews & Ratings
4.7 out of 5

100%

recommend

1,475 Reviews

Excellent 1,024 Great 332 Average 3 Disappointing 1 Terrible 1

Rating Details

Value
4.7 Guide
4.7 Activities
4.7 Lodging
4.7 Transportation
4.7 Meals
4.7
Tour Reviews

A Himalaya Journey. Amritsar to Leh

A Himalayan Journey - Amritsar to Leh

5.0 July 2017 Exodus Travels Recommend: Yes I was very pleased with the whole trip. The tour leader went beyond his
duties I'm sure to accommodate 9 Western individuals. The scenery was
spectacular!
Visiting Dharamsala,. home of the Dalai Lama. A dream for so long. Also the
many monasteries we visited as well as meeting so many beautiful Tibetan
people. An inspiration in themselves.


I thought he was very patient, kind and put up with an at times difficult mix
of people. He was very knowledgeable.
He worked hard.


The altitude affected quite a few people in different ways. One person had to
be transported down to lower altitude.It's hard to know if you'll be affected
but those on altitude medication seemed to suffer the least if at all.
Do some walking training beforehand. There's not a huge amount of walking but
what there is involves steepness, altitude and stairs at times.


I would suggest a daily roster on seating in bus. There was some antagonism
created when people wanted to sit in particular seats. The leader would also
have to accomodate those who suffer motion sickness as well.


Read more

I had a great trip! Everything was well organized and my guide was good at his job.

China Adventure

4.0 January 2017 G Adventures Recommend: Yes I had an unforgettable experience! I felt safe under the guidance of my tour leader and his local insight and knowledge helped me get a much better feel for the country than I would have on my own. I made some great friends! And would definitely recommend G Adventures to my friends and family. Read more

A China Wish List

China to Myanmar: Yunnan to Yangon

5.0 January 2017 Myths and Mountains Recommend: Yes Being surrounded by many Chinese people of all ages at the "English Corner" in Guillin behind the public library along the river. The people were so friendly and wanted to practice their English with us and learn about us. It was 60 minutes of intense transglobal connectivity. Read more

Amazing days of wonderful excursions

The Mekong: From Laos To China

5.0 January 2017 Pandaw Recommend: Yes Just got off a fantastic trip on the Red River on RV Angkor Pandaw. It was an amazing 10 days of wonderful excursions, delicious food & an AWESOME crew. THE guides Tifo &Vu were so knowledgeable & informative as well as being wonderful, warm & courteous. The ship crew headed by Purser Saroun were absolutely outstanding! I highly recommend this trip. It was our first with Pandaw & look forward to taking another one soon. Read more

Amazing scenery, great group and perspective unlike common ones mostly assosiated with Nepal

Nepal: Himalaya Highlights

5.0 December 2016 G Adventures Recommend: Yes Amazing scenery, great group and perspective unlike common ones mostly assosiated with Nepal
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Classic Itineraries

China in 1 Week

If you have only one week in China, be sure to see Beijing and Shanghai. The former is known for its historical richness and the latter epitomizes modernity in China. Hit the major highlights like the Terracotta Warriors and hike the Great Wall.

Day 1-2, Shanghai: Stroll along the Bund and Pudong Districts, visit Yu Garden, take a boat ride down Huangpu River, and visit the Propaganda Museum.

Day 3-4, Xian: See the Terracotta Warriors and Emperor Qin Shi Huang’s mausoleum, walk along the Silk Road, visit the Bell and Drum Towers, and shop in the Muslim Quarter.

Day 5 -7, Beijing: Hike along the Great Wall, see the Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, National Museum, and Temple of Heaven.

See All One Week China Itineraries

China in 2 Weeks

If it will be your first time traveling to to China you must see the bustling cities and the serene countryside. Visit Beijing, Xian (Terracotta Warriors), Shanghai, and Guanxi province (known for the picturesque regions of Yangshuo and Guilin). 

Day 1-4, Beijing: Forbidden City, Great Wall of china (Simutai or Badaling), Temple of Heaven, Summer Palace, and Tiananmen Square.

Day 5-7, Xian: Xian is one of the best preserved walled cities. See the UNESCO world heritage site of Emperor Shi Huang’s Terracotta Warriors. Walk through the Muslim quarters and try the kebabs at the food stalls.

Day 8-11, Yangshuo/Guilin (Guanxi province): See the Elephant Trunk Hill, Reed Flute Cave, and cruise down the Li River on bamboo raft. This region is known for its serene rice paddies and karst mountains.

Day 12-14, Shanghai: Shanghai is known for its eclectic architecture, blending the old (Old Town “Nanshi”) and the new (Shanghai World Financial Center). Stroll along the Bund and Pudong District, see Yu Garden (Yu Yuan), and take a boat ride along Huangpu River. 

See All Two Week China Itineraries

China in 3 Weeks

Three weeks in China will give you the opportunity to explore the breadth and diversity of the Middle Kingdom’s rich culture, history, wildlife, and terrain.

Day 1-3, Beijing: See the Great Wall of China, Forbidden City, and Tiananmen Square.

Day 4-6, Shanghai: Walk along Nanjing Road, see the Bund, Pudong district, Yu Garden, and the Shanghai Museum.

Day 7-8, Xian: See the Terracotta Warriors, the Great Mosque, and stroll through the Muslim Quarters.

Day 9-13, Emeishan: Hike along one of China’s four sacred buddhist mountains, visit a tea plantation, and see one of the largest carvings of Buddha in the world.

Day 14, Chengdu: (Note that this is a great option if you love pandas!) Get up close and personal with the giant pandas of the world famous Panda Breeding Center.

See All Three Week China Itineraries

China Trips & Tour Advice

China is the world’s most populous nation, and has rapidly emerged as the powerhouse of Asia. It's the region’s largest economy, second only to the U.S. But China is also a treasure-house of art and artifacts, temples and tombs, walls and cities stretching back 3,000 years. The attractions are many, the nation vast. Let Stride be your guide in selecting the best tours to China.

The contrast between the modern and the ancient is stark in many countries, as you would see on trips to Thailand or South Korea, but in China it takes on monumental dimensions. At every turn the world’s oldest continuous civilization collides with the 21st century’s most explosive economy, producing moments of bewilderment, but also of insight.

At one end of the street is the serene temple where Buddhism was born in China; at the other end, a traffic jam of raucous Volkswagens and Buicks. These jolting juxtapositions of past, present and future are abundant in the three places you should visit first in China: the modern capital of Beijing, the ancient capital of Xi’an and the capital of China’s economic future, Shanghai.

Beijing: The First Must-Do

Beijing is first on the list because nowhere else has so much survived that defines Chinese civilization -- and survived on such a monumental scale. The Great Wall is an emblem of all that China was throughout its history of dynasties, and it can be viewed and walked upon at several points north of the modern capital, foremost at Badaling where most tourists go, but notable too are the less visited sections at Mutianyu and Simatai.

Nearly as colossal is the Forbidden City, the lavish royal residence of Ming and Qing Dynasty rulers. The Forbidden City fronts Tiananmen Square, the world’s largest public square and site of Chairman Mao’s mummified remains.

Also flanking the square is the National Museum of China, the mainland’s largest repository of imperial treasures. There are legions of other sites to see in Beijing, too -- the splendid Summer Palace, the Temple of Heaven, the Ancient Observatory, the Ming Tombs, the traditional hutongs (alleyways), Olympic Park and the up-to-the-minute 798 Art District.

Ancient Xi’an

Westward and deep into China’s interior is Xi’an, China’s ancient capital spanning a dozen dynasties, including the first. Here Emperor Qin Shi Huang unified China in 221 BC and constructed the underground Army of Terra-cotta Warriors guarding his tomb. This site has become China’s foremost archaeological attraction and a top stop on the world tourism list.

Not to be missed in Xi’an, too, are its Ming Dynasty city walls, the towering Big Goose Pagoda (AD 652), the Great Mosque, an array of ancient Buddhist and Daoist temples and two museums: the Shaanxi History Museum, with its exceptional displays of terra-cotta warriors and Tang Dynasty arts, and the Forest of Steles Museum, with its incomparable collection of engraved stone tablets.

Ultra-Modern Shanghai

In stark contrast with Xi’an, there’s Shanghai, China’s boomtown, where skyscrapers serve as 21st century pagodas and high-end shops and restaurants give the city an international flare.

Historical treasures remain here and there -- especially in the fine Shanghai Museum and on the grounds of the splendid Yuyuan Gardens -- and there are still some interesting architectural reminders of Shanghai’s colonial days in the French Concession, along Nanjing Road and particularly along the Bund river promenade. But be prepared to be blown back by Shanghai’s very modern, frenetic pace, its arrogant attitude, and its grand and grandiose shopping outlets.

The Should-Do Spots

Beijing, Xi’an and Shanghai are must-dos, but there are plenty of should-dos, too. These include the panda preserves of Chengdu, the uncanny karst scenery of Guilin, and the remoter Shangri-Las of Yunnan Province, Mongolia, the Silk Road and Tibet. 

For those touring China’s major cities, however, the most notable extension is a cruise on the Yangtze River, where two top Western operators, Viking River Cruises and Victoria Cruises, provide excellent voyages through the heart of the Middle Kingdom.

For many visitors to China, booking a tour from an experienced operator makes sense, saving time and effort while delivering quintessential sights and experiences. Stride gives you a wide choice of China escorted tours, capable of unrolling the enigmatic scroll of China and translating its ancient script.

Important Information for Traveling to China

Capital city‎: Beijing

Dialing code‎: ‎+86

Language‎: ‎Mandarin

Currency‎: CNY

Related Guides

Continent:             

Asia

Local Attractions:  

Great Wall of China, Forbidden City, Terracotta Army, Mount Huang, Li River Cruise, Leshan Giant Buddha and Many More

Top Activities:      

Explore Culture, River Cruises & History Sightseeing

Similar Destinations:                    

Cambodia, Thailand, Burma, Vietnam

Additional Resources

Useful Links

Visa Information

  Visa Needed? Link
US  Y Visas to China for United States Citizens
UK  Y Visas to China for United Kingdom Citizens
CA  Y Visas to China for Canadian Citizens
AU  Y Visas to China for Australian Citizens
NZ  Y Visas to China for New Zealand Citizens
IN  Y Visas to China for Indian Citizens

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