We organized this 7-day journey to introduce tourists to some of the most beautiful parts of China, from the ancient capital Beijing to the modern metropolis Shanghai and the classical gardens and water towns in Suzhou and Zhouzhuang. It is no doubt a perfect blend of the past and present, the elegant and the fashionable, the imperial and the folk of China.
You’ll have a chance to delve deep into the splendid history and culture of China when visit the iconic sites such as the Forbidden City, the Great Wall, and the Bund. The tour also offers a chance to enjoy the poetic and peaceful atmosphere of the Jiangnan area, with visits to the exquisite Suzhou gardens and the charming Zhouzhuang water town.
2. Experience the thrill of walking on Mutianyu Great Wall, and admire stunning views of the surrounding mountains.
3. See the diversity of Shanghai by visiting its historical landmarks, modern skyscrapers, cultural museums, and lively markets.
4. Feel the tranquil scenery of Suzhou, appreciate the elegant gardens, and experience the silk culture.
5. Relax in the scenery and cultural charm of Zhouzhuang Water Town, and see the quaint and graceful buildings and the colorful local culture.
- Day 1: Beijing Arrival
Welcome to Beijing, the capital of China. Upon arrival, our guide and driver will be ready to welcome you at the airport or train station. You will sit in our private air-conditioned vehicle and transfer to your hotel in the downtown area for check-in.
The rest of the day is free for you to explore the nearby area or relax in your hotel. Your guide will also be glad to suggest some evening ideas if you need them.
Accommodation: in Beijing downtown
- Day 2: Explore Beijing’s Landmarks & Imperial Splendor (B, L)Tiananmen Square, Forbidden City, Jingshan Park, Summer Palace
Enjoy a fascinating exploration of Beijing's historical treasures today. After breakfast at your hotel, start your exploration at Tiananmen Square, the largest square in the world and the place where many important events and celebrations of modern China were held. If you can get up early, you can witness the flag-raising ceremony here.
Following the square, walk to the Forbidden City which is a stone’s throw away. You can follow your professional guide to walk into this majestic imperial palace of the Ming and Qing dynasties, marvel at its exquisite artistry, and gain insights into the royal life of the former emperors.
After the Forbidden City, you’ll enjoy a short visit to Jingshan Park, a former imperial garden that offers a panoramic view of the Forbidden City and the cityscape of Beijing. Also, its possible to encounter some locals practicing tai chi, dancing, or singing in the park.
A visit to Summer Palace awaits you in the afternoon. Designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Palace stands as a testament to China's cultural legacy and natural beauty. It invites you to cruise along the serene Kunming Lake, stroll beneath the intricately painted Long Corridor, or arvel at iconic landmarks such as the Marble Boat and the Seventeen-Arch Bridge.
After the visit, return to your hotel and enjoy the evening at your leisure.
Optional activities for your evening (at your own expense):
To enhance your experience, you can either enjoy the Kungfu Show at the Red Theatre, showcasing the extraordinary skills of martial artists or immerse yourself in the traditional arts at Liyuan Theatre with a Beijing Opera performance.
Accommodation: in Beijing
- Day 3: Explore More of Beijing’s Marvels (B, L)Mutianyu Great Wall, Sacred Way, Bird’s Nest, Water Cube
Today will be a day filled with exploration and awe-inspiring wonders.
After breakfast, your guide and driver will pick you up at your hotel and transfer you to the Mutianyu Great Wall, one of the best-preserved sections of the Great Wall known for its breathtaking vistas. You can take a cable car to the most beautiful section, then enjoy a hike and be captivated by panoramic views, stretching across majestic mountains and valleys. Or hike up and down if energy permits.
After the Great Wall hiking and sightseeing, venture to the Sacred Way, a path adorned with statues that leads to the Ming Dynasty Imperial Tombs. The tomb complex is where 13 emperors and their consorts were buried. Your guide will introduce you to the history and culture of this imperial dynasty that ruled China for nearly 300 years.
Accommodation: in Beijing
- Day 4: Beijing Exploration & Fly to Shanghai (B, L)Temple of Heaven, Beijing Hutongs
Enjoy breakfast in your hotel. Then, start today with a visit to the Temple of Heaven, where the emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties worshipped heaven and prayed for good harvests. Follow your guide to marvel at the splendid architecture and discover the symbolism behind its layout. The nearby park is also a popular place for locals to do various activities, such as tai chi, dancing, and playing chess. You can wander around and touch the locals and their lives.
Next, it’s time to glimpse into the old neighborhoods in ancient Beijing Hutongs. You will hop on a traditional rickshaw and ride through some famous Beijing hutongs, to see the authentic life of ordinary Beijingers. You will see the siheyuan, and the courtyard houses that are typical of the hutongs, and learn about the culture and history of the residents.
After the hutong tour, your guide and driver will escort you to the airport for your flight to Shanghai. Upon arrival, your local guide and driver will greet you and take you to your hotel in downtown Shanghai. The rest of the day is free for you to explore the city on your own.
Accommodation: in Shanghai
- Day 5: Shanghai Exploration (B, L)Shanghai Museum, Wukang Road, Shanghai World Financial Center, Nanjing Road, the Bund
The first stop today is the Shanghai Museum. Housing over 120,000 pieces of collections like ancient bronzes, ceramics, paintings, calligraphy, jade, and coins, the Shanghai Museum is a treasure trove of Chinese art and culture. A professional guide will introduce you to the various exhibits and displays, and help you gain a deeper understanding of the history and evolution of Chinese civilization.
After that, enjoy a leisure walk along Wukang Road, a historic road in the former French Concession area of Shanghai, which is known for its diverse and graceful architecture of the 37 protected buildings. Marvel at the various architectural styles including Mediterranean, French Renaissance, English, and Art Deco, and learn about the stories and legends of the celebrities who once lived there.
Afterward, visit the Shanghai World Financial Center, the second-tallest skyscraper in Shanghai and the fifth-tallest in the world. You will take a high-speed elevator to the observation decks on the 100th floor and enjoy a breathtaking view of the city and the Huangpu River. If you like, go challenge the glass-bottomed skywalk on the 100th floor.
The following time is for you to enjoy a walking tour at Nanjing Road and the Bund, the most famous and popular areas in Shanghai. Nanjing Road is a famous shopping street with a variety of shops, malls, restaurants, and entertainment venues. And the riverside the Bund is a boulevard along the Huangpu River, standing out for contrast between the colonial and modern buildings of Shanghai. You will also experience the charm and vitality of the city as you interact with the locals and tourists.
After the walking tour, be escorted back to your hotel.
Recommended evening activity (at your own expense): If you want to see the most stunning night view of Shanghai, you can take a cruise to sail along the Huangpu River and admire the dazzling lights and reflections of the landmarks on both sides.
Accommodation: in Shanghai
- Day 6: Shanghai to Suzhou (B, L)Lingering Garden, Shantang Ancient Street, Tiger Hill, Suzhou No. 1 Silk Factory
After breakfast, a 1.5-hour drive will take you to Suzhou, the city famous for its ancient gardens, canals and silk industry.
Your first stop in Suzhou will be the Lingering Garden, one of the most famous gardens in China. Being originally built in 1593 during the Ming Dynasty, the garden now covers an area of 23,300 square meters, and invites tourists with its elegant design, exquisite buildings, rockeries, ponds, and flowers, making it a fascinating tapestry of harmony between nature and culture.
After the sightseeing, enjoy a leisurely walk on the Shantang Ancient Street, a historic street along the Shantang River that is lined with traditional houses, shops, restaurants, and bridges, and reflects the old lifestyle and charm of Suzhou. Here you can see many scenic spots, savor local snacks, pick up some souvenirs, or cruise on the canals to admire the sights in leisure.
In the afternoon, you’ll visit Tiger Hill, where many historical and cultural sites are waiting for your discovery. A top highlight here is the Tiger Hill Pagoda, the symbol of Suzhou and the oldest pagoda in the city. The pagoda stands 48 meters high, and tilts 3.59 degrees to the northwest, thus being called the Leaning Tower of China. Besides the pagoda, other historical sites you can see here include the Sword Testing Stone, the Sword Pool, the Lu Yu Well, and the Verdant Mountain Villa on the hill.
Following on the itinerary is a visit to Suzhou No. 1 Silk Factory, a century-old state-owned factory that produces silk products. Your guide will introduce you to the history and culture of silk in Suzhou, and you’ll also get a chance to learn about the process of silk making from silkworms to products. You can buy some silk items as souvenirs here if you like.
Drive back to Shanghai after today’s trip.
Accommodation: in Shanghai
- Day 7: Zhouzhuang Water Town - Shanghai Departure (B, L)Historical and cultural sites in Zhouzhuang Water Town
After breakfast, you’ll embark on a half-hour drive to Zhouzhuang Water Town. As one of the best-preserved ancient towns in China, Zhouzhuang is known for its elegant bridges, quaint courtyards, and charming waterways. You can expect to see many famous historical and cultural sites here, including:
- Double Bridge: dating back to over 400 years ago, this pair of ancient stone bridges are a symbol of Zhouzhuang. The two bridges cross each other, forming a key-like shape.
- Shen’s Residence: A grand mansion built by the richest man in the Ming dynasty - Shen Wansan. This architecture features exquisite carvings, paintings, and furniture.
- Cultural Street: A vibrant street lined with shops selling various folk crafts, it is the place to seek paintings, calligraphy, embroidery, pottery, and various local delicacies.
- Old Drama Stage: Traditional Kunqu opera and folk performances are held regularly on this wooden stage. Don’t miss it if you want to watch Kunqu, an old form of Chinese opera that has been listed as a UNESCO intangible cultural heritage.
Above are just some of the recommended sites in Zhouzhuang, your guide will lead you to discover more gems and life here.
Optional activities in Zhouzhuang (with extra payment, about CNY 100 per person): You can take a boat to enjoy the scenery of the water town from a different perspective, and appreciate the architecture and lifestyle of the locals.
After Zhouzhuang sightseeing, your guide and driver will escort you back to the airport or train station in Shanghai for your departure flight or train. Your 7-day China trip ends here.