Land of Pandas
2-Week Private Tour: Beijing – Xi'an – Chengdu –Yangtze Cruise – Shanghai
This 13-day suggested itinerary covers different elements of China: the historical heritage sites, natural scenery, unique culture, and adorable giant pandas. It makes an ideal tour for first-time visitors who are panda fans or those traveling with children.
The itinerary below is only one possibility. Tips to tailor-make your trip are offered as inspiration. Send us details of your preferences and our travel experts will customize this trip to suit your interests, tastes, and budget.
Tour 'Wow' Points
Find the Hidden Halls in the Forbidden City
Visit 12 selected places in the complex to discover the deep secrets of the imperial families, while typical group tours only visit six spots briefly.
Explore a Top-Ranked Section of the Great Wall
Walk leisurely through the watchtowers, enjoying a superb view of the Mutianyu Great wall snaking across the mountains.
Make a Mini warrior with a Local Artisan Family
Visit a local artisan and learn to make a warrior from the same local clay as the Terracotta Army in his/her authentic cave dwelling, which is a disappearing opportunity.
Experience Taking Care of a Cute Panda
Make panda cakes with your own hands and clean the enclosure for pandas.See how the keeper feed a panda at a very close distance
Witness the Famous Three Gorges of China
Tour the once-treacherous-and-taxing-but-now-tamed-and-tranquil middle reaches of the Yangtze River and enjoy the magnificent landscapes along it in a relaxing way.
Have a Time Travel on the Bund of Shanghai
Experience the charm of old Shanghai during an in-depth Bund visit and Feel the speed of China's development.
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98.8% positive customer reviews among 10,000+
I had an amazing two trips on the Great Wall and the Forbidden City with the guide Ivy during my stay in China. She was very helpful and answered all of our questions with an enthusiastic approach. I have nothing to say but to highly recommend the trips they offer on the Great Wall hiking/camping and also the in-depth Forbidden City tour! Thank you Ivy and China Highlights.more
May 2023, Serhat Altay
Amazing First Time to Beijing with China Highlights
Tom, my private tour guide was there when I landed and accompanied me all the way through to sending me off at the airport after check-in at the end of my trip. Zhao the driver, who also did all the driving during my trip, was calm, confident and knowledgeable in taking us around. Both Tom and Zhao were punctual too. The Great Wall of China Hike I wanted to do started in a very remote, unrestored part of the wall. This would not had been possible without Tom problem solving many issues we had on the way up and I could not have done this on my own a a foreigner. It was well worth the effort and probably the highlight of my trip.The remainder of the tour around Tiananmen Square, Forbidden Kingdom and The Temple of Heaven was paired with a detailed commentary by Tom of which I learnt a lot.more
May 2023, Munsie
Beijing - city of surprises
A fantastic guide was waiting for us - Jack, who told all the stories with passion and commitment. He also fulfilled those wishes that were not in the plan. I highly recommend visiting Beijing with this guide.more
May 2023, Joanna i Piotr Kuzebscy
Liu Yuan was a superb guide and a lot…
Liu Yuan was a superb guide and a lot of fun to spend time with during my first visit to Beijing. It was a wonderful intensive three days.more
May 2023, Pam S.
Great weather and a good trip out with Lily!
Many thanks to my guide Lily for customising the trip to make it as efficient and enjoyable as possible. She arranged to start an hour earlier to beat the crowd and I got to enjoy the Great Wall before the crowd streamed in and while the weather was cool. I requested to switch the next attraction to visit from Temple of Heaven to Ming Tomb and she not only accommodated the prompt request, but made all the necessary arrangements even before the trip coordinator managed to reply! Kudos! Our driver was jovial and friendly, always on top of traffic conditions and took detours to beat slow moving traffic. Hassle free day and I wouldn’t have been able to cover the two attractions so easily and comfortably without them!more
May 2023, Meibao
This was our first time traveling to Beijing
This was our first time traveling to China, so we really wanted to experience some of the major historical sights of Beijing together with a tour guide. Our itinerary was very carefully planned out according to our interests and tailored to our needs. First, we went camping on the Great Wall and hiked from Jiankou to Mutianyu, and the next day we got an in-depth tour of the Forbidden City as well as a tour of the Temple of Heaven and a taiji experience in the gardens. Our tour guide, Ivy, was truly wonderful in preparing and organizing our personalized itinerary. She is very friendly and knowledgeable, and she was always able and willing to answer all of our questions. Ivy provided us with a truly amazing first visit to China and I would warmly recommend China Highlights for everyone who wishes to travel to China and I would especially recommend Ivy as a tour guide for your trips!more
May 2023, Annalina Wheeler
Tom is the BEST tour guide EVER!
Just had the most AMAZING tour with Tom. He was beyond knowledgeable, so generous with his time and made me feel so at ease which was super important as I am travelling by myself. Thank you Tom for the best day-you have totally made my China trip a fabulous experience, one I will never forget!more
May 2023, SHARRYN HINCHLIFFFE
Superb service and wonderful time in Beijing
Superb service from Jack who were with us for 4 wonderful days in Beijing. Jack was clearly knowledgeable about the history and able to deliver insight information to us about places. He was also kind and accommodating to my mother who has bad knees. Both China Highlights and Jack were flexible about the itinerary to ensure that we enjoy the best of Beijing. We'll definitely use China Highlights' services again for our next trip to China.more
May 2023, Chani
First time booking a trip with China Highlights and was fortunate to have Sunny as my private tour guide. We went to the Jinshanling section of the Great Wall, then arrived and walked around Gubei Water Town, and then visited the Simatai portion of the Great Wall at night. Was a very enjoyable trip as we were able to see a night time drone show in the sky, ride a private boat through the canals of the Gubei Water Town, and eat a delicious lunch at a local restaurant along the way. Sunny is super knowledgeable when it comes to the history of the Great Wall and took the time to explain various interesting facts and stories which made the trip very meaningful. The driver we had was also a very nice man who was always on time and eager to help. Was an unforgettable experience and would highly recommend Sunny and China Highlights :)more
May 2023, Allen C
Tour to the great wall from the airport
My guide Tom was ver kind and knowlegable, he explained everything to me about the great wall and even went out of his way to help me the next day at Bejings downtown! amazing service!!! thank you so much Tom!more
May 2023, Fer Villasefior
Great tour, fantastic guide!
This tour was fantastic! I loved hearing about the history of the Forbidden City and admiring the views at the Great Wall. William was a fantastic tour guide. We were a group of families with several young children, and he was very accommodating and flexible with timing and arrangements. I totally recommend this tour and William as a guide!more
May 2023, Ryan Corless
Four excellent sightseeing days in Beijing
We had wonderful four days in Beijing. The entire trip was tailored exactly to our wishes. From experiencing local food, to exploring the major sites of the city up to hiking the great wall of China. Additionally, we had two amazing guides Ina and Fan taking care of all the tickets and coordination required. Also, they could not only tell us everything about the sights we visited and give us an insight to local customs and traditions, but they did so in perfect German. The chauffeur service from Mr Chang was also excellent, getting us from A to B without any hazzle. The past couple of days were one of the most carefree trips we have had so far.more
May 2023, Katha
Great tour from William
Great tour organized by China highlights, our tour guide was William - his knowledge was impressive, his English was great and he was always on time. We did the four day tour including the wall and forbidden city - would definitely recommend to anyone looking for an English tour guide.more
Apr 2023, Lawrence
Beijing 2 day private tour
The tour itself was great, private driver to and from, my guide Ivy was great English speaking guide. She was very knowledgeable and passionate about her country. Was a great time exploring the Great Wall of china and then my second day did a city tour (forbidden city, hutong tour, summer palace). Felt extremely safe, and was confident having an English guide. Thank you china highlights. (Provide them what you want and they’ll make it happen). Prices are reasonable as I looked at a few places but for private tour, my own schedule, and confidence of getting around safely you can’t go wrong.more
Apr 2023, Mark
Everything was to the vest standard, the history all very well explained by the Tour Guide in Beijing, Ivy. Really enjoyed it, and appreciated the time.more
Apr 2023, Jonathan
Amazing Beijing Experience
I had an amazing time in Beijing and glad Tom was my tour guide. He went above and beyond and I’m truly grateful. Tom did all that he could to ensure my stay in Beijing for two days was pleasant and thanks to him, I say that it was. The driver was also nice and courteous, I called him Jon. The company is blessed to have a good tour guide like Tom on their team so if you are planning to come down to Beijing, make sure you ask for Tom. Thank you Christy and Kimmy for replying all my emails with questions that I had.more
Apr 2023, Pedro V
We had a great experience with China Highlights and Roger was highly efficient and helpful planning our itinerary exactly how we needed.more
Apr 2023, Brenda Sarmanho
Excellent service and tour guide!!
Excellent service and communication from the travel agent Roger Li and amazing tour and experience of Great Wall of China from our tour guide Amber. Highly recommended!more
Apr 2023, Evangelos Athanasopoulos
Maggie was such a tremendous help for…
Maggie was such a tremendous help for our recent Beijing trip. Very prompt and helpful in helping us plan and adjust/amend to our requests.more
Apr 2023, Hi
We travelled first to Beijing for a few days before moving on to Wuhan for the wedding and then for a few days in Guilin along with my son and daughter in law. It was a great trip and all went smothly with the help of the guides we had along the way. William in Beijing and Jenny in Guilin were excellent. Chas in HK was also very helpful in getting us to the right place and the right time to fly home.more
Apr 2023, Alan Harris
Itinerary Quick Look
Here is a suggested itinerary. We are happy to customize a tour according to your interests.
Your private guide will be ready to meet and greet you at the arrival hall. A comfortable private car with an experienced driver will transfer you directly to your hotel. Your guide will help you to check-in.
Wander through Tian'anmen Square, the largest city square in the world, and arrive at the Forbidden City, the largest imperial palace in the world. With the help of your private guide, have a little adventure in the previous home to emperors: find some interesting places you would never find by yourself and hide away from the noise of the tour groups.
Have the Beijing-Life discovery walk in the afternoon. You will skip the touristy hutong and explore a neighborhood to discover the ordinary people's lives from their religious beliefs, daily food, hobbies, housing issues and situation in retirement.
Freshen up in the morning and start your day at the Temple of Heaven, which was the place where emperors prayed for a good harvest. Interact with the locals and join them to experience their healthy lifestyle.
Then continue to the Great Wall at Mutianyu, which is the section ranked top on TripAdvisor among all the Great Wall sections for its picturesque scenery and beautifully restored architecture.
Walk around the tranquil Summer Palace at a leisurely pace and enjoy the 300-year-old royal garden. Take a pleasant boat ride on the lake and have a stroll in the long corridors to view the exquisite paintings on the ceilings.
Enjoy some Beijing roast duck for lunch. Watch the exquisite cutting skills of the chef, taste crispy duck skin, and learn how to eat it in the correct way.
In the afternoon, you will be driven to the airport for your flight to Xi'an. Your Xi'an guide will be waiting for you and will transfer you to your hotel.
Everything in Xi'an is about history. The Terracotta Army, with each figure being unique, has guarded Emperor Qin Shi Huang's tomb since 210 BC. Have a silent conversation with the warriors and listen to their stories spanning over 2,000 years.
Then discover a local craftsman's cave dwelling and learn how to make clay warriors with your own hands.
After lunch, return to the city area and visit the 600-year-old ancient city wall.
Discover more ancient history at Shaanxi History Museum and Big Wild Goose Pagoda, then head to the Muslim Quarter and wander through the alleys to taste the local Muslim cuisine. After lunch, hop onto a high-speed train for a 4-hour journey to Chengdu and experience the technological development of China.
Chengdu is the only place in the world where you can get close to giant pandas. Rather than just taking a glance at them in a zoo, you will get very close to these cuddly creatures and learn more about them during the Panda Keeper Program in Dujiangyan Panda Base.
Under the guidance of an English-speaking member of staff, you will clean the panda enclosures, see a panda be fed at a very close distance, watch panda movies, and make cakes for them. Have a simple Chinese lunch with the staff in their canteen. This highest-rated experience will provide you with the memory of a lifetime.
Start your day at Jinli Old Street where you can taste authentic local snacks. Try some famous foods, such as bean jelly in chili sauce, sweet potato noodles, and Sichuan-style wontons. If you are brave enough, try a rabbit's head in chili sauce.
When you've finished eating, visit the Rice Wine Museum, a restoration of an ancient Chinese brewery cellar. Guided by a bilingual expert, you will have the opportunity to find out how the ancient brewery works, before enjoying two complimentary glasses of rice wine.
Take the bullet train to Chongqing after the tour and then check-in for a Yangtze River cruise that departs at 9 pm.
Enjoy tai chi morning exercise if you would like to (available every day).
Take a shore excursion to Fengdu Ghost City in the morning. There are many buildings built according to traditional Chinese geomancy and statues and artwork reflecting Chinese people's imaginations of the netherworld.
Enjoy the cultural activities on the ship in the afternoon and a night show — War Fires of the Three Kingdoms (optional) after dinner.
If you are interested in Chinese calligraphy and history, the optional excursion to White Emperor City is a nice choice. See 10-yuan banknote scenery, calligraphy inscriptions dating back centuries, and a famous fortress.
Cruise through the spectacular Qutang Gorge and the magnificent Wu Gorge at noon.
Enjoy a shore excursion to Shennv Stream in the afternoon, where you will take a boat to discover this tributary of the Yangtze River, with its clear water that runs southwards through deep and narrow gorges.
Enjoy the Crew Cabaret and Talent Show after dinner on the ship.
Disembark in the morning, and then join the shore excursion to the Three Gorges Dam. Getting access to the platform right by the dam, you will enjoy the magnificent scenery of the Yangtze River and the supper project of China.
You will be transferred to the tourist center in Yichang city after the tour. Your private guide and driver will wait for you there and will transfer you to the railway station on time for your bullet train journey to Shanghai.
Note: The shore excursions in the itinerary are arranged by Century Cruises. They could vary depending on the cruise you choose.
Do more than just take one or two selfies on the Bund. Travel back in time to the golden age of the Bund in the 1920s during our In-Depth Bund Culture Discovery Tour. Go into some of the old Bund buildings and listen to their stories.
Enjoy lunch and ascend the tallest building in China — Shanghai Tower. From this building, which is the highest outside of Dubai, you will not only enjoy a panoramic view of Shanghai but will also see the future of China.
After traveling around China for 11 days, you might want to do something that's relaxing or "icing on the cake" at the end of your tour. You will have some free time in the afternoon. Your guide will be happy to arrange activities according to your wishes no matter whether you want to relax, experience Shanghai fashion, appreciate art, explore folk customs, shop, or any of many other options.
Your private car, driver, and guide will transport you to the airport and take you all the way to the security gate for your convenience. Relax all the way to the airplane with us.
—the Icing on the Cake
Boutique hotels are recommended to enrich your travel experience.