China tour of the Great Wall, top China attraction
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China - Best Tours & Trips 2019

China is the world’s most populous nation, and has rapidly emerged as the powerhouse of Asia. It's the region’s largest economy, and 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.
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Travel Style

Trip Type Trip Type Classic Tour Groups are between 25-60 people, typically ~30-40. Usually there will be many opportunities to split off and enjoy meals and excursions in smaller groups. This is the most economical way to travel, saving up to 40% versus booking the same itinerary yourself.
Small Group Guided Experiences Small groups are usually defined as between 10 and 24 travelers, often less. If you're the kind of person who enjoys more intimate experiences and personal service this is a good choice. All else being equal you will pay a premium for this style vs a larger group tour.
River Cruise These vessels are smaller than most ocean cruisers, limiting which amenties are available. Passenger counts can vary. One of the biggest advantages of a river cruise is the ability to dock at smaller ports and local villages.
Small Ocean Cruise Small ship cruises usually have a max passenger count of 500. The primary purpose of these trips is to spend time off the vessel in local ports (e.g. Mediterranean) or experiencing nature (e.g Galapagos or Antarctica). Cabins can vary from budget to luxury.
Private Tour Private tours give you the undivided attention of a guide, and often involve special access to sites and unique experiences not available to larger groups. This is a great option for families, couples, and small friend groups. Expect to pay a bit more for the extra service.
Independent Package A travel company plans your itinerary and arranges all the logistics including lodging, local activities, and transportantion. You have the flexibility of a solo trip while still getting the convience and time savings of expert planning. Get 90% of the benefits of a tour, without a guide.
Vacation / Holiday Package Similar to a self guided tour, this usually involves a home base, such as a hotel or resort, with packaged activities and day tours as a part of the stay.
Large Ocean Cruise This is the "floating city" experience, with multiple ways to enjoy your vacation aboard the ship as much as on land. Ships are multiple floors, provide several activities, culinary, and shopping options. They often make fewer stops and have less time available for shore excursions.

Itinerary Focus

Lodging Level Lodging Level Camping Typically involves most nights sleeping in tents (sometimes permanent tented sites) or in rustic cabins and lodges.
Basic - 2 star You'll stay in no-frills, but clean and comfortable, hotels or guesthouses. A 'Basic' trip might also involve a few nights of camping.
Value - 3 star Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels.
Premium - 4 star 3 to 4 star western hotel equivalents. While not all lodging will be 'luxury' they will be quite comfortable by western standards.
Luxury - 5 star The highest level of comfort and service. All accomodations are in four or five star hotels, boutique lodges or high-end homestays.

Price From*

$ 0 $ 10,000+

Price Per Day

Trip Length


Physical Level Physical Level Very Easy Minimal walking - motor vehicles available for all major parts of trip.
Easy Normal generally flat walking in urban or suburban environments.
Moderate Walking or physical activity half to most of day - no carrying equipment.
Strenuous All or most of day hiking or biking, hills included.
Extreme Very challenging all day hiking and backpacking carrying significant equipment.

Travel Theme

Travelers Age

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Rivers & Seas

Cities & Attractions


Solo Friendly Solo Friendly Good for Singles Trips that specifically cater to travelers looking to meet other singles.
No Single Supplement Trips where single supplement is usually not required for solo travelers.


Flights & Transport

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Top China Experiences and Attractions

Top China Experiences

Standing face-to-face with thousands of life-sized, Terra Cotta Warrior statues excavated from the vast necropolis of China’s First Emperor in Xi’an

Taking a long walking tour of the Great Wall of China

Sailing down the Li River from Guilin through an incredible landscape of sheer cliffs and peaks, resembling a dreamy ink-brushed scroll

Exploring the Forbidden City

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

Experiencing the uniqueness of Beijing

Circumnavigating the entire city wall of Xi’an by bicycle, then exploring the city within

Cruising through the remains of the Three Gorges on the Yangtze River and visiting the huge hydroelectric dam that partially submerged them

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China Trip Reviews

950 China Tour Reviews - Summary 99% Recommend

4.8 out of 5
Excellent 743
Great 186
Average 15
Disappointing 2
Terrible 4

Tour Reviews Write a Review

Fabulous Tibetan tour to Everest Base Camp

  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0

We have been fortunate to travel many places around the world, but Tibet counts as one of the most touching, authentic, and moving travel experiences that we've had.

Our family of four (including two children, ages 9 & 12) booked a 8 day tour which included Lhasa and several other cities and major sights on a round trip to Everest Base Camp. Great Tibet Tour worked with us on our itinerary and provided us options that worked for children.

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Operator Great Tibet Tour


  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0

They took very good care of me as I was a woman traveling alone, never once did I worry about a thing. It was extraordinary. I am using them again to go to Japan.

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Operator Alexander + Roberts

TAKE THIS TRIP!!! Unbelievable!

Zegrahms Expeditions Company Reviews
  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0

Sunday, 22 July... SVALBARD, Norway. Halfway between the top of continental Norway & the North Pole!

We disembarked & are now back to civilization! WOW!
What a FANTASTIC adventure on the ship Ocean Adventurer!

Once again, Zegrahm delivered! Cruise Director & Expedition Leader executed an unforgettable adventure! SUPERB lectures on ship & field trips from the guest experts in their fields... history of polar explorations... geology... birds... polar bears & other animals!

We saw several polar bears, groups of walrus, one very photogenic seal, reindeer, Arctic fox, a BLUE WHALE (largest of ALL whales!)... & a gazillion birds!

Our small ship was indeed able to circumnavigate the Svalbard (Spitsbergen) archipelago... 3 cheers to our Russian captain! The staff on board were FANTASTIC! And the best food I've had on any ship!

Mostly great weather... quite fortunate! Out on the Zodiacs (rubber rafts), I wore almost everything in my suitcase, in layers all at once, hoping to stay warm & dry... followed by VERY LONG hot showers once back on the ship, while I thawed out!

If you have an interest in polar adventure, TAKE THIS TRIP!!! Unbelievable!

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Operator Zegrahms Expeditions

Precisely what I wanted

  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0

I got what I wanted. I wanted to see the ethnic groups -- not the Han or the Viet. That was what I got to see. Precisely what I wanted. Thanks.

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Operator Myths and Mountains

Imperial China and Yangtze River Cruise

  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0

An excellent introduction to China covering a number of the very diverse
facets of the country.
I am inspired to return to China to explore other aspects of the country. In
particular the Great Wall trek.
I would recommend travelling with a group, such as Exodus. It is not the
easiest country to get about in. There is very little English spoken and most
of the signs are in Chinese only. Our tour leader took care of
The Great Wall was great, the Three Gorges cruise on the Yangtze, the cycling
in the country amongst the limestone karsts, amazing landscape. There were a
number of other WOW factors not least of which was the food.

Leon was excellent: very knowledgeable about all the areas that we visited,
he was helpful on a personal level as well as to the group particularly when
it came to ordering food where the menus were only in Chinese. He was well up
to the standard of tour leaders that I had come to expect of Exodus.
His English was excellent also.

Travelling in China could be a bit of a challenge particularly as there is
little English spoken and much of the signs even at airports and railway
stations are in Chinese. Having a competent Chinese speaker with you, such as
we had, made life much easier.

The trip was billed as 1 leisurely. I think a 2 grading would be more exact;
the steps up to the great wall and later on up to the Moon Rock were
something of a challenge for some.

Keep your eyes open and look for quaint English translations of signs.

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Operator Exodus Travels

Hong Kong and Macau Experience

  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0

My tour guide was simply very professional, knowledgeable and friendly. She was a very nice person to work with!

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Operator Trafalgar

China Tours and Travel Guide

China Attractions & Landmarks Guide

China video

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.

Food in China

Chinese food is an extremely popular cuisine in the western world, but beware that “westernized” Chinese food is nothing like the traditional offerings you’ll encounter in China. Some things you absolutely won’t find while traveling in China  include Sweet & Sour Pork, Beef & Broccoli, Orange Chicken, and Fortune Cookies (yes!).

Food in China is a point of reservation for some travelers. Similarly to traveling in India, those with weaker stomachs may take much longer to adjust to the food, and it’s true that not everything will sit well.

Traveling with a tour in China is one of the best ways to ensure you eat in reputable establishments, as well as help you explore new tastes you might not otherwise eat simply because you don’t know what you’re ordering!

Here are some top dishes to try while you’re traveling in China:

1. Hairy Crab - despite the unappetizing name, this delicacy is one of the most popular items in Shanghai’s street food scene. It has a short season, so be sure to taste it if you can (and also be aware if you see it in the off-season). The best time to find it is in the Autumn for about three months. They are small - so you have to do some work for not much payoff amount-wise. But the meat is rich and very flavorful.

2. Cantonese BBQ - A Hong Kong street food staple, this is definitely an enticing meal option. Traditional meats include chicken, goose, and pork.

3. Chilled Sichuan Beef - One of the more recognizable Chinese regional cuisines by name, “Sichuan” is most commonly connected with spicy food, commonly meat based. The chilled version is a local treat found in Chengdu, where your China tour will highlight the best of Sichuan cuisine. Served with cilantro and hot chili oil this chilled beef combines wonderful flavors for a spicy pick-me-up.

4. Bamboo - Not just an aesthetically pleasing natural landscape, bamboo is also featured in many Chinese meals. In the region of Anhui especially, this hearty stalk is often used in savory dishes, especially soups and stews. Bamboo has a crunch texture and the flavor is often likened to corn.

5. Soup Dumplings - Steamed dumplings are an everyday staple in Chinese home cooking. The dough is wrapped tightly, containing broth inside, along with pork and a delicious blend of spices. They are served extremely hot, so be prepared to wait a bit before enjoying, or risk burning your tongue!  

Etiquette in China

The Chinese are infamous for having a complex and highly nuanced social and cultural structure. It’s easy to offend while traveling in China and their expectations of proper etiquette can be intimidating. However, they also have a wonderful sense of humor and are welcoming to people visiting their country, so simply being polite will go a long way.

Having a local tour leader in China is one of the best ways to avoid being unintentionally rude as you travel through the country, especially if you are visiting more rural areas. They will highlight certain conventions such as how introductions are made (typically younger people are introduced first to older members of the party, males are introduced first, and hosts are introduced to guests first).

Gift giving is a very important ritual in China. If you are a guest in somebodys home, it is customary to bring a small gift as a token of your appreciation. Many tours in China feature a homestay, where travelers can live with a family and learn more about local life and culture; having a gift to present will help you get off on the right foot (unless you bring a clock!).

Business travelers will learn Chinese etiquette rules very quickly. One of the more commonly talked about rules is one must accept business cards with two hands. And punctuality is extremely important, in both business and personal settings.

Important Information for Traveling to China

Capital city‎: Beijing

Dialing code‎: ‎+86

Language‎: ‎Mandarin

Currency‎: CNY

Related Guides



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

Top China Travel Companies

Things to Know Before You Go

Tours to China usually visit the heavy hitters, such as the Great Wall, and major sites in Beijing. However, the benefit of going on a China tour is the opportunity to venture out to the countryside, get a glimpse of rural Chinese life, and the amazing ancient natural landscapes.

What to expect from a China Tour

Culturally, there are many nuances to Chinese life that will come to life as you travel through, and some things may be difficult to adapt to. Traveling on a tour in China will not only enhance your experience, it will help with the language barrier, and you’ll learn more about local life, bringing these many nuances to light in a safe and comfortable way.

History tours are a great way to gain a deeper understanding of Chinese culture, but they can only go so far. Try to book a tour that visits local establishments and villages as well as cities.

Here are a few unexpected cultural differences you can expect on your first trip to China:

  • Toilet paper. The majority of public restrooms (with the exception of higher-end restaurants and hotels) don’t carry toilet paper, and so you may want to carry around your own packet, or some tissues.
  • Service. The expectation that you will be waited on hand and foot is a uniquely American ideal. In China, like many other places, service is not quite so good. On a similar note, the Chinese do not tip, and won’t expect them from you.
  • Spitting. You might be shocked the first time you see an old Chinese man hock a loogie onto the street, but the Chinese do not use tissues. In fact, they are equally disgusted by the way that we Westerners “keep” our mucus!
  • Small talk. In most Western cultures, having a conversation with a stranger about your marital status, economic status, or personal history can seem incredibly invasive; these topics are not off limits for the Chinese.

Affordable Asia & Traveling China on the Cheap

There are two general, competing views on traveling to China:

  1. Buying a flight to Asia is really expensive, and so is having a decent vacation in one of China’s crowded, rapidly expanding cities.
  2. Traveling Asia is really cheap, and China is no exception, from its abundant street food and mass production.

The truth actually lies somewhere in between. If you want to live life to the fullest in one of China’s premiere cities -- Beijing, Shanghai, or Hong Kong -- eating like a king, and then resting your weary bones in a luxury hotel, you can expect to pay similar prices to any big Western city.

There are, however, ways to travel China affordably. Here are some of our recommendations:

  • Step outside the cities. As is the case any other country, prices in big cities (especially touristy ones!) are significantly higher than anywhere else
  • Public transportation. China not only has a cheap and effective taxi system within its cities, but an effective and very affordable rail system. If you plan to travel within the country, a ticket on a sleeper train will not only save you the cost of a hotel room, it will be at least half the price of a flight!
  • Check your credit card fees. This rule stands for all international travel -- make sure you are using a credit card with minimal, or no, international fees when making payments. Or sign up for WeChat, which is the most common method of payment in China, and only uses your phone.
  • Eat like the locals. Not only is this food likely to better, and is guaranteed to be authentic, eating Chinese food in China is much cheaper than eating any other foreign food. When in Rome! Another tip if you are eating a single portion of food, ask for your meal “xiao pan.” This will cut the size of meal, and reduce the price as well.

All China tours, river cruises, expedition cruises, and adventure trips. Find the best guided trips and expert planned vacation and holiday packages. Average rating of 4.8 for all China trips.

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