14-day Essential China

china vacation travel

Shanghai – Beijing – Xian – Guilin – Hong Kong

This affordable premium tour takes in China’s most popular destinations. Highlights include the Great Wall, Forbidden City, the Terracotta Army Museum and a cruise on picturesque Li River.

Important Features

china vacation travel

trip map – click for large view

  • Group size limited to 20.
  • Top guides handpicked by the owners of Laurus Travel.
  • No forced shopping stops.
  • Gratuities for local guides and drivers included.
  • Free in-room Wi-Fi in all hotels.
  • Quality meals in non-tourist restaurants.
  • Unlimited supply of bottled water during group activities.
  • Inter-city travel by bullet train except one city pair (Guilin/Xian).
  • Visits to side chambers in Forbidden City that most companies leave out.
  • Great Wall visit at Mutianyu including cable car.

Meal Code: B = breakfast / L = Chinese / D = dinner

Scroll down for dates, prices and hotel list.

Day 1/Mon: Departing Home City

The journey begins with your transpacific flight departing from a city of your choice. You’ll lose a day upon crossing the International Date Line.

Day 2/Tue: Arrival in Shanghai

Welcome to Shanghai! Your transfer from the airport to the hotel is included. Enjoy the balance of the day at leisure upon hotel check-in.

China vacation travel

China vacation travel

Day 3/Wed: Shanghai (B/L/D)

With a population of 24 million (2015), Shanghai is China’s biggest city. Rapid economic growth in the past 30 years has again turned Shanghai into a leading global city with significant influence in commerce, culture, finance, media, fashion, technology and transport. Today’s visitors to Shanghai are delighted by its futuristic skyline that blends so well with its treasured historical landmarks.

Our sightseeing today begins with a walk on the Bund, a waterfront promenade famous for its landmark neoclassical buildings of European style. We then visit Shanghai Museum, Jade Buddha Temple and Yu Garden in the old town centre.

Day 4/Thu: Shanghai – Beijing (B/D)

Free morning to relax or explore on your own.

We depart for Beijing by high-speed train #G4 (14:00/18:48).

Day 5/Fri: Beijing (B/L)

Capital of China, Beijing is a world-class cultural and educational centre with a population of 21 million (2013), ranking it China’s second largest city behind Shanghai. Beijing is renowned for its opulent palaces, temples, and huge stone walls and gates, treasures that make it the most popular tourist city in China by the number of visitors it receives every year.

China vacation travel

China vacation travel

We begin today with a visit to historic Summer Palace, a well preserved UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site. The imperial resort was first named Garden of Clear Ripples, which was burnt down by the allied forces of Great Britain and France in 1860 during the Second Opium War (referred to as Arrow War by the British). Reconstruction started 25 years later and was completed in 1895 when the name was changed to Yi He Yuan (Garden of Good Health and Harmony). The design gives prominence to Longevity Hill and Kunming Lake, south of the hill. The sprawling complex covers an area of 290 hectares and the buildings inside consist of over 3,000 bays.

After lunch we proceed to the Forbidden City. Also known as Palace Museum or Gu Gong in Chinese, the Forbidden City was the place where the emperors of Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) Dynasties lived and carried out their administration. Construction of the Forbidden City took 14 years (1406-1420) to complete. The complex consists of 980 buildings and covers 72 hectares or 180 acres. It exemplifies traditional Chinese palatial architecture and has influenced cultural and architectural developments in East Asia and elsewhere. Declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1987, this is the largest collection of preserved ancient wooden structures in the world.

We then proceed to Tiananmen (tian an men) Square nearby. Located in the heart of Beijing, the square is 880 metres from north to south, and 500 meters from east to west. Said to be the biggest of its kind in the world, Tiananmen Square has the capacity to hold one million people. Tiananmen (Heavenly Gate) Tower sites at the north end of the square while the Monument to the People’s Heroes dominates the centre. The square is flanked by The Great Hall of the People (west) and the National Museum of China (east). Chairman Mao’s mausoleum and Qianmen (Front Gate) sit in the south of the square. Considered one of the top 16 tourist attractions in Beijing, Tiananmen Square is also the witness of the Chinese people’s great struggles for democracy and personal freedom since 1919.

China vacation travel

China vacation travel

Day 6/Sat: Beijing (B/L)

Today we embark on a full-day excursion to the legendary Great Wall at Mutianyu, 75km northeast of the city. Zigzagging over 6,000 kilometres from east to west along the undulating mountains, the Great Wall was built to hold off tribal invaders from the north. Construction of the earliest sections of the Wall started in the 7th century B.C. A major renovation started with the founding of the Ming Dynasty in 1368 and took 200 years to complete. The wall we see today in Beijing is almost exactly the result of this effort.

Day 7/Sun: Beijing – Xian (B/L/D)

Our sightseeing today begins with a stop at a hutong neighbourhood. Hutong refers to an ancient alleyway with siheyuan or ”4-sided courtyard house” on both sides. The name hutong dates back to the Yuan Dynasty (1279 – 1368 A.D.). According to some experts, the word originated from the Mongolian language, in which it is pronounced as hottog and means “well.” In ancient times, people tended to gather and live around wells. So the original meaning of hutong should be “a place where people live around”.

Next we tour the Temple of Heaven, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Situated in southeastern Beijing the Temple of Heaven is China’s largest extant sacrificial temple where, during the Ming and Qing dynasties, the emperors conducted the elaborate and most exalted sacrifices addressed to “the Supreme Ruler of the Universe.” Construction of the temple started in 1406, during the reign of the Ming Emperor Yongle, and took 14 years to complete. The temple was expanded under the Qing emperors Qianlong (1736-1796) and Jiaqing (1796-1820). Occupying 2.73 square kilometres (roughly 1,700 by 1,600 metres), the area of the Temple of Heaven is more than twice that of the Forbidden City.

After lunch we depart for Xian by high-speed train #G87 (14:00/18:23)

China vacation travel package

China vacation travel

Day 8/Mon: Xian (B/L)

Eastern terminus of the fabled Silk Road and one of the ancient capitals of China, Xian is home to the world famous Terracotta Army.

Morning visit to the Terracotta Warriors and Horses Museum. Built on the excavation site, the museum is located 30km east of the city. Designed to follow the first emperor of the Qin Dynasty (221-206 BC) into eternity, the Terracotta Army represents one of the greatest archeological discoveries of the 20th Century.

After lunch we return to the city to visit the ancient grand mosque in the old town centre and the adjacent Muslim bazaar. The mosque was established in the 8th Century but the majority of the complex was constructed in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). It was further expanded in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). Unlike most mosques in Middle Eastern or Arab countries, this mosque is completely Chinese in its architectural style. It has neither domes nor traditional style minarets.

Day 9/Tue: Xian – Guilin (B/D)

Free morning to explore on your own.

Transfer to airport for our 2-hour late afternoon flight to Guilin.

Day 10/Wed: Guilin (B/L)

small group China tour | China vacation travel

China vacation travel

A small city by Chinese standards, Guilin has long been renowned for its unique scenery. The name Guilin literally means “forest of sweet osmanthus”, owing to the large number of fragrant sweet osmanthus trees in the city.

We begin today with a five-hour cruise down the Li River. The 83km stretch of the river between Guilin and Yangshuo affords breathtaking scenery as the river snakes through tall karst mountains, gigantic bamboo sprays, and picturesque villages — sights that have inspired countless poets and painters for generations.

Day 11/Thu: Guilin (B)

Today is a free day. Guilin is lovely place to explore on foot.

Optional Longji Hiking Excursion

For US$85 a person and subject to a minimum of 6 participants, we can offer a full-day hiking excursion to the terraced rice fields in Longji, lunch included. Located 80km (2 hours drive) to the northwest of Guilin, Longji, meaning dragon back, is famous for its terraced rice fields. Because the villages at Longji are in the jurisdiction of Longsheng County, the tourist attraction is often collectively referred to as Longsheng Terraced Fields. The scenery is arguably at its best in early May during transplanting and in late September right before harvest when the fields turn golden.

China vacation travel trips

China vacation travel

Built by local farmers of different ethnic groups from Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368) to Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), the mountainous fields cover a total area of 66 square kilometres, rising between 300 meters and 1,100 metres above sea level.

Day 12/Fri: Guilin – Hong Kong via Shenzhen (B/L/D)

Our morning sightseeing at the scenic Fubo Hill (63 metres above sea level) is followed by a visit to Guilin Tea Science and Research Institute. Founded in 1956, the state-owned institute and its experimental tea farm cover an area of 42 hectares, boasting 250 species of tea plants. The predecessor of the institute was said to be one of the tea suppliers to the imperial court during the Ming Dynasty. The farm sits on fertile soil ideal for tea growing. During harvesting season, the farm employs 150 workers full time to pick tea leaves. Each year the institute produces around 42 tons of organically grown tea of different flavours.

We board the high-speed train #G2905 (15:11/18:19) for Shenzhen and cross the border into Hong Kong after a quick dinner. We should arrive at the hotel around 10:30 PM.

China vacation travel package

China vacation travel

Day 13/Sat: Hong Kong (B/L)

Our full-day guided sightseeing begins with a ferry ride across Victoria Harbour from Tsim Sha Tsui to Central. The heart of Hong Kong’s business district, Central is home to the regional headquarters of many multinational financial services corporations. Consulates of many countries are also located in this area, as is the government of Hong Kong. The area, with its proximity to Victoria Harbour, has served as the centre of trade and financial activities from the earliest days of the British colonial era in 1841, and continues to flourish and serve as the administrative centre after the transfer of sovereignty to China in 1997.

We then walk 30 minutes (1.3 km) towards the tramway station on Garden Road and along the way stop for photos at interesting spots including the City hall, Bank of China Tower and HSBC Headquarters building. Reach Victoria Peak by the Peak Tram, a 1.4 km-long funicular railway opened in 1888. Also known as Mount Austin or The Peak among locals, Victoria Peak is located in the western half of Hong Kong Island with an altitude of 552 meters (1,811 feet). It offers sweeping views over Central, Victoria Harbour, Lamma Island and the surrounding islands.

Afterwards we drive to Repulse Bay for a leisurely stroll on the gorgeous beach. The villas perched high above the shoreline with spectacular view of the bay are owned by some of Hong Kong’s richest and most famous residents.

China vacation travel package

China vacation travel

Our final stop is Stanley market, which is a short drive from Repulse Bay. Stanley Market is a typical example of a traditional old open-air market in Hong Kong and a major tourist attraction well known for its bargains.

We return to the hotel before dinnertime. If you like, you can return to Victoria Peak for dinner at the Peak Lookout Restaurant, a popular place for dinner (reservation recommended). The menu is a combination of Chinese, American, Indian, and Southeast Asian dishes.

Day 14/Sun: Returning Home (B)

Transfer to the airport on your own for return home flight. The transfer is easier than you think and the guide will be glad to explain the details to you. Taxi to the airport costs about US$30 and is highly recommended for couples and families. The alternative is using the hotel’s free shuttle to get to the Airport Express Train Station in Tsim Sha Tsui and ride the dedicated train to the airport for $90 HKD (US$12). The train departs every 10 minutes between 6:00 AM and midnight, reaching the airport in 21 minutes.

Re-cross the International Date Line arriving home the same day.

Northbound itinerary for spring and summer

Contact us for printer-friendly PDF file

City Nights Hotel Category
Shanghai 2 Sheraton Shanghai Hongkou luxury
Beijing 3 Sheraton Beijing Dongcheng luxury
Xian 2 Sheraton Xian North City luxury
Guilin 3 Sheraton Guilin luxury
Hong Kong 2 Harbour Grand Kowloon luxury
  • Price based on double occupancy. Payment by cheque or cash only.
  • Credit card not accepted except for deposit. See Terms & Conditions for details.
  • scroll down for what the tour price includes and excludes.

2017 Dates and Prices

from Vancouver*
Land Only**
Single Supplement
Sep-04 Sep-17 $4600/$3599 $3799/$2990 $1199/$950
Oct-16 Oct-29 $4600/$3599 $3799/$2990 $1199/$950
2018 dates and prices for similar itinerary.

* Please contact us for prices with air from other cities.

** Land Only price does not include international air.

What the tour price includes:

  • International economy class air.
  • Hotel accommodations.
  • Local economy class air and ground transportation.
  • 2nd class seat on high speed train wherever applicable.
  • Daily meals as specified.
  • Guided sightseeing and entrance fees per itinerary.
  • English-speaking guides throughout tour.
  • Tips for all local guides and drivers.
  • A full-time tour leader for groups with 10+ guests.
What the tour price excludes:

  • Passport and visa charges.
  • Tips for tour leader where applicable – tipping the tour leader is completely at the guest’s discretion and our recommended amount is $5 to $10 USD per day per guest.

See Terms & Conditions for more information.