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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, 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

1,482 Reviews

  • Excellent 1,075
  • Great 387
  • Average 16
  • Disappointing 3
  • 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 fantastic insight into a beautiful country!

Festivals of Bhutan

5.0
April 2017
Exodus Travels
Recommend: Yes
Bhutan is probably the most beautiful country I have visited. It has such a rick landscape and culture, which is mostly unspoiled by tourism.
Reaching Tiger's Nest Monastery

Sangay was brilliant and a true advocate for his country - his passion for Bhutan (and Bhutanese food!) was very clear!

Take your hiking boots for the treks.

Go to Bhutan - very much recommended!

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Mountains,Temples and Mystics

Mountains, Temples & Hill Stations

5.0
April 2017
Exodus Travels
Recommend: Yes
A fantastic trip which covered so many religions, landscapes and local rituals. An off the beaten yrack tour with a lot to offer.
Definitely The Golden Temple in Amritsar closely followed by the Delai Lamas temple in McCleod Ganj.

Phillippa was fantastic. Her knowledge of the area was outstanding. She was always helpful and organised.

Do this trip. You won't regret it.6

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Nanda Devi and Milan Glacier

Nanda Devi & Milam Glacier

4.0
February 2017
Exodus Travels
Recommend: Yes
A very good trip. Harder than the original trip notes suggested, but the grade has been increased to 5 now which is a better indication of the effort required. You will need to do some fitness training before you go. One member of our team was very unfit and this caused significant problems for our guide and the rest of the group.
The days spent at Nanda Devi base camp. Amazing views and a very atmospheric location.

Rajeev, was an excellent leader. He looked after the group well and had to deal with a very challenging situation when 2 members of the group struggled to keep up ( one became unwell a couple of days in but the other person was unfit and probably should not have joined !).

As with all trips of this type, it's a remote area, make sure you're fit and prepared for some level of hardship. If you're not up for it , don't go !!

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An arduous but very enjoyable trek.

Nanda Devi & Milam Glacier

4.0
February 2017
Exodus Travels
Recommend: Yes
This trek is very challenging and not in my opinion moderate. Rajeev our trek guide was professional, friendly, knowledgeable about the area and great company. He led us at our pace which really increased our enjoyment of this remote, stunning locality. His staff were well led, happy and all very keen to enhance our enjoyment.
Also Drew, his sidekick was friendly and full of facts about this area as well. Both worked together for our enjoyment and to get the most out of this trek.
I would definitely recommend this trek....but remember it is challenging.
Seeing Nanda Devi and all the peaks, also the stunning scenery.

As I have said, Rajeev was friendly, professional and great company.

Get fit before you travel.

A fabulous trek, with great people.

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5.0
February 2017
Exodus Travels
Recommend: Yes
The superb, unspoilt Himalayan landscape was more than adequate reward for some long days of walking.
Sunrise over Nanda Devi on a virtually cloud-free morning was pretty spectacular ....

Superbly led by Valerie Parkinson and the excellent local leaders Rajeev and Dhruv

Get as fit as possible - I was a little apprehensive when I saw the revised trip notes, and made sure I was fit before we left the UK - this meant that I could enjoy the fantastic scenery. The trip notes were a good predictor of the terrain and our training in the Lake District was very good preparation.
Poles are essential for the steep descents

Excellent, varied and plentiful food, as always with Exodus camping trips in India - not one of our group of 13 had any stomach problems at all.

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Top Tour Operators and Travel Companies


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 a trip through the dreamscape of China.

The contrast between the modern and the ancient is stark in many countries, 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 choice of tour operators capable of unrolling the enigmatic scroll of China and translating its ancient script.

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

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