12 Days China Odyssey Tour

Shanghai-Guilin-Chengdu-Lhasa-Xi’an-Beijing Tour

This is an in-depth China tour which will take you to not only learn about the fabulous Chinese culture and history, but also go to explore the heavenly natural landscape in China. The best highlights and all expected impressions of China are included in this 12 days’ trip – modern Shanghai, ancient capitals Beijing and Xian, beautiful Guilin and Yangshuo, Panda’s hometown, holy land Tibet…

  • Create beautiful travel memories experiencing the grandeur of China’s history, culture, natural wonders, and giant pandas

    If you’re looking for an opportunity to know China, you’ll want to savor every moment of this perfectly paced tour. Incorporating the very best highlights in must-see destinations Beijing, Xian and Shanghai, you’ll appreciate the balance of big city bustle with some of China’s most appealing natural wonders in Yangtze River cruising and a close encounter with the national treasure, the famous giant pandas.

    The adventure begins in bustling Beijing. Imposing, stately, and sophisticated, it’s easy to see why Beijing has retained its place as China’s capital. In your exploration of iconic landmarks like the Forbidden City, Summer Palace, and the Great Wall, you’ll discover that awe, wonder, and respect are justified. Travel by bullet train to Xian, the perfect contrast to Beijing. With its melting pot of cultures and food, and its history as the Silk Road starting point, Xian offers much for the curious. In Chengdu, enjoy Sichuan hospitality and try a traditional Shaanxi hotpot, but not before spending some quality time with the gorgeous giant pandas at the Dujiangyan Panda Base. Work as a panda keeper, and yes, even feed these famous locals. Spend three incredible days cruising the Yangtze River aboard a stylish river boat and sense the enchantment of the impressive gorges, mountains, and surrounding terrain that has inspired poets, philosophers and artists for millennia. Explore Shanghai old and new, walking The Bund, exploring Yuyuan Garden, Shikumen Museum, and Sinan Road in the Former French Concession.

    This is an exceptional tour that includes all 12 nights four and five star hotel and onboard accommodation; in country transfers; daily breakfasts and other meals as specified; local guides in every destination, and much more. Looking for once-in-a-lifetime? Discover it here.


  • Our 1-to-1 expert China consultancy with unlimited itinerary changes
  • Booking of China internal flights, trains, and cruises, per your preferences
  • Your own China-Highlights-trained, versatile and knowledgeable tour guide
  • Your own chauffeured and comfortable vehicle, chosen for ample space
  • Hand-picking of hotels for your requirements
  • Hotel breakfasts arranged, and local restaurant lunches ordered, to suit you
  • Entry to all attractions on your itinerary, with queues avoided wherever possible
  • Our 24-7 helpline for while you are traveling

1. Tibet Travel Permit

You will need a Tibet Entry Permit. Its cost is included in the tour quotation. Send your passport and China visa copies to us 20 days in advance, and we will apply for your permit once you book a Tibetan tour with us.

In our experience, we can virtually guarantee to get your permit during times when Tibet is open to foreign travelers.

2. Altitude Sickness

Before your trip, ask your doctor for any suggestions in relation to altitude sickness and take some medicine with you, just in case. The most popular altitude medicine among foreigners is Acetazolamide/Diamox.

We recommend that during the first 2 days after arriving in Tibet, you should keep warm, avoid taking a bath, and refrain from smoking or drinking alcohol.

Drink plenty of water (more than 4 liters per day) before you go out and when you have reached a higher altitude, and eat lots of vegetables and carbohydrates. Slow down, even if you feel energetic. Moving slowly is the best way to avoid altitude sickness.

If you don’t feel well after entering Tibet, go and see a doctor as soon as possible. There are doctors in major hotels in Lhasa, and you can call your tour guide for help at any time. We offer a free oxygen bag in the car.


Our English-speaking guides are natives of Tibet with good knowledge of Tibetan culture, history, and Buddhism. They are trained to offer a Western standard of service.

4. Customizing the Tour — According to Your Needs

This tour is very flexible. You can alter the itinerary, extending or shortening it to suit your price, interests, and schedule.

    Day 1 - Arrival in Beijing

    On arrival into Beijing Capital International Airport (PEK) or Beijing Daxing International Airport (PKX), you will be met by your dedicated tour guide outside the baggage claim area. On the way to your pre-booked four or five star inner city hotel, your guide will point out the highlights and history of Beijing. Spend the rest of the day exploring this incredible city.

    Meals included: None

    Day 2 - Beijing

    After breakfast today explore Beijing with your guide who will collect you from the hotel. Visit the world’s largest city square, Tiananmen Square. Make your way across the road to the magnificent Forbidden City, a culturally historic landmark in China, which was the former residence of Chinese royalty for five centuries. After the Forbidden City tour, exploration continues with a visit to the Summer Palace. Appreciate the beautiful gardens and imagine the lifestyle of royalty  and courtiers who enjoyed this summer resort during imperial times. A stopover at Beijing’s stadium and pool – the Bird’s Nest and Water Cube – built for the 2008 Summer Olympics and Paralympics – provides a modern contrast to China’s ancient history. Return to the hotel.

    Meals included: Breakfast

    Note: Your tour guide may adjust your itinerary due to closure of the Forbidden City each Monday.

    Day 3 - Beijing

    Before heading to the Mutianyu Great Wall, sample the famous local food market Sanyuanli where you can stock up on fruit and snacks for today’s trip. Continue on and enjoy the drive to explore the Mutianyu Great Wall, a less frequented part of China’s 1,400-year-old iconic landmark, located approximately 70 kilometres from Beijing. Take a pleasant and comfortable round-trip cable cartransfer over the picturesque scenery, then walk the wall to take in the Ming dynasty guard towers and sensational views. On return to the city in the afternoon, exploration continues with a visit to the Confucius Temple and Imperial College Museum. Stroll through Wudaoying Hutong and experience local life as you wander through quaint shops, enjoy a coffee, and gain an insider’s view of a real Beijing community.

    Meals included: Breakfast

    Day 4 - Beijing-Xi'an

    Start today with a visit to the remarkable Temple of Heaven, where emperors from the Ming and Qing Dynasties performed ceremonies and rituals to pray for good harvests and blessings for the country. Transfer to the Beijing West railway station and be checked in by your guide to travel by high speed rail train to Xian. Approximately a five hour trip, travelling at 300 kilometres per hour, you can relax and absorb the diverse landscape along the way. On arrival at the Xian North Station, your local tour guide will meet and escort you to your inner city four or five star hotel.

    Meals included: Breakfast

    Day 5 - Xi'an

    Today’s tour highlight is the world-renowned Terracotta Army. Recognized as the largest underground military base in the world, take in this extraordinary archeological discovery, which houses thousands of unique life-sized figures. Return to the city and explore Xian’s ancient City Wall, currently the largest and best-preserved wall of its type in China. Enclosing China’s former capital city and almost 14 kilometres long, enjoy your free time by exploring on foot or bicycle. For a change of pace, take in the quiet of Xian’s Great Mosque, located in the middle of the city’s old block. Built mid seventh century, the Great Mosque is the oldest and largest Islamic mosque in China. Mix with locals and find food of every flavor in Muslim Quarter, which is bustling with authentic eateries and travel souvenirs. Today’s final destination is Xian’s famous Bell Tower and Drum Tower Square. Return to your hotel for a relaxed evening or book a dinner, show, or both for an evening of entertainment.

    Meals included: Breakfast

    Day 6 - Xi'an-Chengdu

    After breakfast and check out from your hotel, the tour guide will take you to Shaanxi History Museum where you’ll discover over 370,000 relics of Chinese history. Take in the Big Wild Goose Pagoda, one of two iconic Buddhist pagodas in Xian. There may be an opportunity to explore the top of the pagoda and look out over Xian’s 1,400 years of history, before enjoying a contemplative walk through the temple and gardens. Following on from the morning’s activities, you’ll be driven to the railway station for your bullet train to Chengdu. On arrival in Chengdu, your local guide will meet and transfer you to your hotel, providing a brief introduction to Chengdu on the way.

    Meals included: Breakfast

    Note: Your tour guide may alter your itinerary as the Shaanxi History Museum is closed on Mondays.

    Day 7 - Chengdu

    Today, you will work as a panda volunteer when you visit the Dunjiangyan Panda Base. In your role, you will clean the indoor and outdoor enclosure, prepare food and feed pandas. Panda keepers will supervise your activities, with translation provided by your guide. A certificate will be provided as a memento from this very special day. At the conclusion of today’s excursion, you will be returned to your Chengdu Hotel.

    Meals included: Breakfast

    1. Panda Keeper Program has an age restriction from between 5 years to 80 years. For children under five years who are accompanied by an adult can take the standard panda tour in panda base, but due to restrictions they are not able to be a panda volunteer.

    2. As a maximum of 30 keepers are allowed each day, it is advisable that you book the program at least two weeks before departure. You will appreciate that sometimes adjustments may be made to the program due to pandas’ health condition. Accurate information about the program will be provided to you by our travel as soon as we are advised.

    3. Each volunteer panda keep applicant must provide a Physical Examination Record prior to commencement of the day’s activities.

    4. Panda keepers are strongly advised to be guided by their supervisors and should approach the animals with extreme caution and only under supervision. Though pandas look gentle, they are animals and their behaviour can be unpredictable.

    5. Panda keepers are not allowed to clean enclosures for panda mothers and babies but can help supervisors.

    Day 8 - Chengdu to Shanghai (Flight)

    Check out of your hotel and be taken by your guide to Jinli Street. Lined with unique regional street food and artisans, you’ll find yourself immersed in typical local culture and have the opportunity to sample traditional food snacks and meet local craftsmen. The final stop for today allows you to enjoy some leisure time in Wangjiang Pavilion Park.

    Then boarding the flight from Chengdu to Chongqing.

    Day 9 - Shanghai

    Shanghai is truly an international city and you’ll understand why when you start your day by visiting the Shanghai Museum, which is home to over 140,000 artifacts. You’re welcome to wander on your own or walk with your local guide as they share the Shanghai’s history and culture.

    From the Shanghai Museum, you’ll move on to The Bund. Without question, there are few places that capture the intersection of commerce and culture quite like this iconic streetscape. Famous for its location in proximity to the trading centre of Shanghai, the Bund is an outstanding example of colonial Shanghai . Classically beautiful buildings that overlook the Huangpu River add to the old world feel. While shopping may not be your priority, it’s hard to miss the busiest shopping precinct in China, Nanjing Road. A wander through this seemingly endless shopping precinct will open your eyes to shopping China-style. A place where big is better, you’ll find international brands and high street fashion stores pitched alongside quirky silk traders and tiny hole-in-the-wall shops selling every imaginable thing.

    For a total change of pace, you’ll welcome a visit to the Yuyuan Garden. Once the residence of a prestigious local merchant, Yuyuan Garden is thoughtfully designed and beautifully maintained. Here it is a quiet and tranquil and the ideal place to wander in contemplation and perhaps capture some beautiful images.

    From here you’ll face the bustle of Shanghai again as you stroll around the nearby Chenghuangmiao bazaars and make a worthwhile detour by visiting the Shikumen Museum in New Spot (XinTianDi)for a true taste of old world Shanghai. Be transported back to Shanghai of the 1920’s and gain an insight into the daily life of people involved in trade and commerce during the period of the Former French Concession.

    Make the most of your afternoon by wandering the quieter streets of Dongping Road or Sinan Roadin the Former French Concession, where you will find the essence of classic Shanghai captured in this historical retail and residential precinct. Wander past the former residences of famous Chinese politicians and artists and appreciate the architecture and gardens, the style of which date from the 1920s. Your day’s explorations concludes when you are returned to the hotel. Feel free to consult with your guide about options for dinner or and evening show.

    Meals included: Breakfast

    Note: As the Shanghai Museum is closed to public on Mondays, a visit to the Shanghai History Museum is arranged as an alternative.

    Looking for iconic Shanghai mementos to remember your travel adventure? Talk to your local guide. With personal knowledge of where to find silk, porcelain, and other treasures, your guide can save you time and ensure your purchase is authentic.

    Day 10 – Shanghai – Suzhou (High Speed Train)

    Some of China’s most beautiful historical sights are in close proximity to Shanghai, making it a wonderful launch pad for today’s exploreation. After checking out from the hotel, you’ll be transported to catch the high speed train to Suzhou, located approximately 100 kilometres away. On arrival in Suzhou, the city of gardens, you’ll commence the tour with a visit to the renowned and spectacular Humble Administrator’s Garden, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Despite its location in the heart of Suzhou, you’ll find a peaceful, contemplative environment reflected in the classically designed private garden. It is a photographer’s delight that offers a picturesque landscape of traditional architecture, hills, lawns, flowers and meandering streams that harmonize the natural and build environment in poetic elegance.

    Savor the artistic features and cultural values of the Master of the Nets Garden, a dainty, classical garden of exquisitely laid out pavilions, rockeries, corridors, bridges and ponds, all in breathtaking harmony. Traditional dwellings here date back to the Southern Song Dynasty of 1174. With awe-inspiring scenery like this, you’ll gather a trove of beautiful travel memories.

    Spend the afternoon exploring Tiger Hill, a large hill park steeped in legend and incredibly beautiful scenery. A particular feature is the leaning Tiger Hill Pagoda set in extensive gardens, trees and lawns scattered with antiquated pavilions and stoneware. Learn from your guide how the beauty and tranquility of the park belie its history.

    At the conclusion of today’s activities, you’ll be transferred to your Suzhou hotel to relax for the evening.

    Meals included: Breakfast

    Day 11 – Suzhou – Tongli - Shanghai (High Speed Train)

    After breakfast, check out from the hotel and then enjoy the drive to Tongli Water Town. It has become renowned for its well preserved old buildings, private gardens, temples and traditional dwellings. The town’s location, surrounded by five lakes, makes for charming water scenes and tranquil atmosphere. Feel free to wander the flagstone streets, or stop in at a simple teahouse for a traditional tea as you enjoy local melodies.
    At the end of the tour you will be transferred back to Suzhou and take high speed train to Shanghai. On arrival in Shanghai, your guide will escort you to your hotel. Enjoy a final free night, either by relaxing or taking advantage of the many unique cultural experiences on offer in Shanghai.

    Meals included: Breakfast

    Day 12 – Depart Shanghai

    Start your day at a leisurely pace until check out, at which time you’ll be collected by your guide and driven you to the airport for travel to your next destination.

    Meals included: Breakfast

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