15 Days Essential China Odyssey 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 15 days’ trip – modern Shanghai, ancient capitals Beijing and Xian, beautiful Guilin and Yangshuo, Panda’s hometown, holy land Tibet…
- Start your China trip from Shanghai and end at Beijing, making fully use of these two cities’ convenient international arrival/departure;
- Enjoy a leisure cruise along the picturesque Li River and beautiful Yangshuo Countryside landscapes in Guilin;
- Spend some happy time with the adorable Giant Pandas in Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding;
- Explore the sacred landmarks in the holy city Lhasa, such as Potala Palace, Jokhang Temple, Sera Monastery, etc.
- Visit the world-famous Cultural Heritage Sites in Beijing and Xian, such as Great Wall, Forbidden City, Terracotta Warriors, etc.
- 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 Shanghai
Welcome to Shanghai, the China’s most cosmopolitan city. Your private tour guide and driver will meet you at the airport or train station, and escort you to your hotel in downtown. The rest of the day is free for you to have fun and relax.
Day 2 - Shanghai ( B, L )
Today, your wonderful Shanghai journey starts with a visit to Shanghai Museum, resembling an ancient Chinese Ding vessel with round dome and square earth base which symbolizes the Chinese philosophy. It is one must-see attraction in Shanghai famed for its countless treasured cultural collections, including bronze, ceramics, paintings, calligraphy, jade, seal and some other shining exhibits, tracing back to as long as 5,000 years ago. This charming museum will guide you through the craft of millennia as well as the pages of Chinese history.
Your next stop in Shanghai is Yu Garden. The private garden built in Ming Dynasty fully shows the architecture and design style of classical Chinese gardens with delicate pavilions, clear ponds and artificial hills. Next, you will walk leisurely through the Yuyuan Bazaar which is full of tasteful local snacks and elaborate traditional Chinese handicrafts and art works, and locates right next to the Yu Garden.
After exploring Chinese old history and classical garden architecture in Shanghai, you will drive to Lujiazui and take a look at Shanghai at present. If the weather is clear, ascending to the tallest skyscraper in Asia – Shanghai Tower and overlooking from the view deck on the 126th floor, a prosperous and majestic Shanghai will reveal its true face in front of you.
Then, stroll along Nanjing Road, you will be surprised how this paradise for shoppers satisfy your shopping demand. At the east end of the road appears the famous Bund, the symbol of Shanghai situated in the river bank of Huangpu River. Walk along the Bund, feel the perfect fusion of Chinese culture and Western culture, and seize the stunning Shanghai skyline with your own eyes.
Optional Recommended Night Activity: take an enjoyable ship cruise on the Huangpu River to enjoy the beautiful night view of Shanghai.
Day 3 - Flight to Guilin from Shanghai ( B, L )
The first place to visit for today is the Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Center where multiple media, such as photography, models, videos, machines, etc, are used to help visitors to learn about the past history, present facts and future plan of Shanghai. Then come to the next site – Jade Buddha Temple which has the largest jade Buddha in the world and numerous religious artifacts, ancient statues and Buddhist scriptures. It is a pure land hidden in the crowded and modern metropolis. In this Chinese Zen-Buddhist temple, you can take a view of the featured Song-style architectures and watch the people praying – quite distinctive from the atmosphere of Tibetan monasteries you will see.
In the afternoon, you will go to catch your flight to Guilin.
Day 4 - Guilin ( B, L )
Today’s Guilin vacation will be started with a leisure cruise on the poetic Li River. You will board the cruise ship at Mopanshan Pier on the upper stream of Li River, then cruise about 4 hours to the Yangshuo Town on the downstream. While enjoying the relaxing cruise, you will also be presented by an amazing visual feast of the most beautiful Karst landscape in China just like a painting – the lively Li River wriggling among lovely limestone hills with green trees and leading you to the romantic scenery of Yangshuo.
Disembark at Yangshuo Town. After getting some rest, go outside to explore the idyllic Yangshuo countryside by taking a sightseeing minibus or riding a bicycle. March along Shilihualang (means 10 miles gallery in Chinese), be enthralled by the patches of paddy fields nestling under green hills and near the mirror-like river, with farmers cultivating the soil with their water buffalos. While in the evening, you can stroll along the West Old Street, witnessing how the western culture and Chinese culture perfectly and peacefully coexisting here.
Day 5 - Guilin & Flight to Chengdu ( B, L )
Today you will drive back to Guilin City to visit the landmarks and catch your departing flight. First attraction is the Elephant Trunk Hill, the symbol of the city, a rock mountain shaping like an elephant drinking on the Li River. Next attraction is the magical Reed Flute Cave, a majestic underground palace, where condenses millions of years’ natural efforts to form the incredible stalactite, stalagmite, stone shield and stone waterfall of different sizes and shapes.
After the tour, be escorted to the airport to catch your flight to Chengdu, the hometown of the cute Giant Panda. Upon arrival, you will be met by local tour guide at the airport and be transferred to your hotel in a private vhicle. The rest of today is free for you to relax in this leisure city.
Day 6 - Chengdu ( B, L )
Chengdu has three famous features – Giant Panda, History and Leisure Living Pace. Today, you will go to explore these tree features one by one. First is to visit the lovely Giant Pandas in Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding, which is the No. 1 thing to do in Chengdu. You will leave your hotel early and drive about 30 minutes to the panda base so that you can catch up the great moments of pandas, such as feeding, playing, climbing tree, etc. There are different enclosures for pages of different ages, such as all around to see baby pandas, 1 year-old pandas, teenage pandas, and older pandas. Beautiful walking paths will lead you to visit the enclosures from one to next. Enjoy the happy time with pandas.
The second place to visit is the sacred Wenshu Temple which is hidden peacefully among the modern mansions. This temple is the most popular Buddhist temple in Chengdu region. It has beautiful traditional ancient architecture. The atmosphere is calm and quiet, some people are praying. There is a little garden and the monastery is very colorful and decorated.
Lastly, you are going to explore the leisure living peace of locals at Renmin Park and Jinli Street. Renmin Park, or People’s Park is the place for locals to go for a relaxing walk, meet friends, or have a cup of tea. While Jinli is the “street of tourists”. You can wander on the traditional old street to absorb the special atmosphere of Chengdu, taste local snacks, watching a performance, etc.
Optional Recommended Night Activity: watch an fascinating show of traditional Sichuan Opera & Face Changing Performance in a local theatre.
Day 7 - Flight to Lhasa from Chengdu
You will be free until your local guide escorts you to the airport for your flight to Lhasa (about 2 hours flight). Remember to look out the window! Along the way you’ll be treated to breathtaking views of Tibet’s snow-capped mountains.
After arrival at your hotel, the rest of the day is free for you to explore the local areas and acclimatize yourself to the air, temperature and high altitude of Lhasa.
High Altitude Acclimation Tips:1) go for some leisure walking to acclimate the high altitude but avoid strenuous activity after arrival; 2) you’d better not have bath, in case of catching a cold; 3) drink more water, and have some fruit; 4) have a good rest.
Day 8 - Lhasa ( B )
Start today’s Lhasa exploration with an exciting visit to the landmark – Potala Palace which is regarded as one of the most beautiful architectural building in the world. You will climb up the palace along the zigzag stone paths with white-and-red walls to the top of the palace where you can not only appreciate the exotic Tibetan-style architecture, but also get a great view of Lhasa’s urban areas, then walk into the inner space of Potala Palace to explore the stately chapels and learn about the history of the palace.
Continuing your exploration, you will then get to Jokhang Templewhich is considered as the spiritual heart of Tibetan Buddhism. Each day, there are thousands of pilgrims coming from different places in Tibet to the temple to worship to the Buddha. This temple is also known as the “house of Buddha” because it keeps the precious Jowo Rinpoche, the life-sized (5 foot/1.5m) image of the Shakyamuni at the age of 12. The last site for today’s exploration is the famous Barkor Street. It is a circular and wide street encircling the Jokhang Temple. The local people like to walk on the street for several circles usually in the late afternoon as a daily tradition of pilgrimage. The street also has many shops selling a wide variety of traditional Tibetan goods, religious items and handcrafts.
Tips of today: 1) there are 1,080 steps up to climb to the top of Potala Palace, so don’t walk in a rush, which may cause high altitude sickness; 2) taking photos is not allowed inside the palace; 3) today you will be mainly outside, please bring some water, a hat, sun cream, and sun glasses with you.
Day 9 - Lhasa ( B )
After breakfast, you will firstly go to visit the beautiful Norbulingka which used to be the former summer palace of Dalai Lamas in the ancient time, and now is a public park. It is famous for its Potrang, the private palaces of former Dalai lamas with grandiose Tibetan architecture style. Next, drive several kilometers to the western outskirts of Lhasa to visit Drepung Monastery. Drepung, in Tibetan, means “prosperity”. Since its establishment, Drepung Monastery has always been one of the most important Buddhist monasteries in Tibet. In its heyday, there were more than 10,000 monks lived and studied in the monastery. Throughout its history, many important and famous Tibetan leaders used to study here, especially the Dalai Lamas. So Drepung Monastery is also respectfully known as the “Mother School of Dalai Lamas”.
In the afternoon, you will be taken to another famous monastery in Lhasa – Sera Monastery. It is famous for the spectacular “Buddhism Debating”. As a daily routine, the monks gather in a courtyard, and debate on the Buddhist doctrines with supplemented gestures, which is thought to be helpful to facilitates better comprehension of the Buddhist philosophy to attain higher levels of study. After enjoying the “Buddhism Debating”, you will be transferred back to the city. The rest time is your own free time to rest.
The Etiquette of Visiting Monastery: 1) you shouldn’t wear short and uncover shoulders; 2) taking off your sunglasses and hat before entering the chapels; 3) taking photos is usually not allowed inside the chapels.
Day 10 - Flight to Xian from Lhasa ( B )
Today is free for you until you are transferred to the airport in time for your flight to Xian. Upon arrival in Xian, your local guide will meet and escort you to your hote, and the rest of today is free at your leisure to explore this great ancient capital city.
Day 11 - Xian ( B, L )
After breakfast, drive about 1.5 hours to witness the magnificent man-mad wonder – the Terracotta Warriors and Horses, which were interred to protect Qin Shi Huang (the first Emperor of China) in his afterlife. Over 8,000 life-sized terracotta warriors and horses with different looks and numerous bronze weapons compose a large-scale army system to reappear the majestic momentum of the Qin Army 2,000 years ago.
In the afternoon, drive back to Xian city to visit the Ancient City Wall, the largest and best-preserved ancient city wall in China. Built in Ming Dynasty as a military defense, the wall’s top is wider than its height to allow the army drill. Stroll on the top of the ancient wall and observe the modern Xian, emerge yourself in the charm of this ancient capital. Your next place is to go is the nearby Muslim Quarter, a place to satisfy your stomach with various delicious local foods and snacks. It is also a wonderful place for a leisure walking around.
Optional Recommended Activity: 1) biking for a while on the Ancient Great Wall; 2) enjoy a wonderful performance of Tang Palace Dancing Show (usually from 8pm to 9pm).
Day 12 - High Speed Train to Beijing from Xian ( B, L )
In this morning, you will firstly make a visit to the Big Wild Goose Pagoda. This earliest and largest square pavilion style pagoda built in Tang Dynasty is a seven-layered pagoda with a height of 64.5 meters. The pagoda was first built to store the Buddhist sutras brought back from the Ancient India by Xuanzang (the prototype character of Tang Seng in the novel of Journey to the West).
After that, move to Shaanxi History Museum, where collects over 370,000 pieces cultural relics of different dynasties, including bronzes, Chinaware, gold and silver wares, grave frescos, currencies of various dynasties, etc.
In the afternoon, be escorted to the train station to take a high speed train to Beijing.
Day 13 - 13 Beijing ( B, L )
China has more than 4000 years’ history of Imperial Social System. While Beijing is the best place in China to experience the magnificent history and culture of ancient China. Today your guide will pick you up in the hotel after your breakfast, then start the wonderful ancient China culture and history tour!
You will firstly get to the world’s largest plaza – Tian’anmen Sqaure. The grandiose Tianmen Gate was the place where the chairman Mao announced the establishement of the People’s Republic of China to the world. Passing through Tiananmen Gate, you will enter the splendid Forbidden City, the previous home to 24 emperors of Ming and Qing Dynasties for 600 years. Magnificent architectures, intricate ornaments and touching legends make it a must-see of China. In the afternoon, head to visit the stunning and exquisite Summer Palace, and be amazed at the vast ensemble of lakes, gardens, temples, and palaces, together as a masterpiece of Chinese landscape garden design. While in Qing Dynasty, it was the personal summer retreat for the royal families. It is made up of front hill, back hill and Kunming Lake. You will see splendid halls and pavilions in the front hill, while in the back hill, you will enjoy quiet and natural beauty.
After the sightseeing, you will be taken back to your hotel for rest.
Day 14 - Beijing ( B, L )
Hiking the Great Wall is one-in-a-lifetime thing to do for most travelers. Today, you are going to accomplish the Great Wall dream. You will be escorted about 70km from the downtown Beijing to the world-famous Mutianyu Great Wall which has fewer tourists compared with Badaling Great Wall. At the same time, it is the best Great Wall section to view the delicately beautiful scenery while appreciating the grandness of the Walls. After arriving at the ticket office, you will take a cable car to the walls of Mutianyu, and then hike about 2 hours on the Great Wall.
After the Mutianyu Great Wall hiking, you will drive back to the city. On route, take a sidetrip to the solemn Ming Tombs of ancient emperors in Ming Dynasty. Wander along the Sacred Road, a tranquil royal path featured with statues of divine animals and officials; also take an adventure to the mysterious Underground Palace. Before getting to your hotel, you will also make a stop at the Beijing Olympic Village to take some pictures of the world-famed “Bird’s Nest” and the “Water Cube” from the outside.
Optional Recommended Activity: enjoy a dinner of authentic Peking Roasted Duck at Quanjude Restaurant.
Day 15 - Beijing Departure ( B, L )
After breakfast, you’ll go to marvel at one of the greatest masterpiece in Chiense architecture history – the Temple of Heaven, where the ancient emperors used to preside at various rituals for a national good harvest in ancient times. Today, the outer area of the Temple of Heaven is a public park for locals to gather to play Taichi, fly kites, chatting… while the inner area is the historical site for tourists to learn about the ancient Chinese history and culture. Later move on to visit the most famous Hutongs which are some old alleys with traditional architecture originated from Yuan Dynasty (CD 1271~1368. Today, there are still many local Beijingers living in these old quarters, while in the Qing Dynasty (CD 1636~1912), there were even some noble royal families resided here. You can wander leisurely around these narrow alleys to experience the original features of people’s living in old time, or take a relaxing rickshaw through. Lunch will be arranged at a local family who lives in Hutong.
After the lunch, you will have some free time until be escorted to catch your flight/train to next destination.
Prices Start From
- 1-1 consultancy from an experienced travel expert
- Private air-conditioned business car with big windows and ample space
- English speaking local guide
- Activities, hotels, and meals listed in the itinerary
- 24/7 helpline for while you are traveling