Covering four amazing cities: Nanjing, Suzhou, Hangzhou and Shanghai, this 8-day journey is for you to discover the rich history, culture, and natural beauty of eastern China. Follow our professional guide to delve deep into the historical relics and cultural attractions in Nanjing, one of the Four Great Ancient Capitals of China. Experience the classical gardens and traditional waterside architecture in Suzhou. Be amazed by the breathtaking West Lake, tea culture, and many more cultural heritages in Hangzhou. In the prosperous Shanghai, admire the blend of modern and colonial architecture and experience the fusion of East and West.
The itinerary is packed with ancient temples, mausoleums, gardens, folk residences, water towns, modern skyscrapers, museums, and local markets. Also, you’ll get a chance to experinece the convenience and comfort of traveling by high-speed train between the cities.
2. Visit the best cultural marvels in Nanjing, one of the Four Great Ancient Capitals of China which once served as the capital of six ancient dynasties.
3. Explore the elegant gardens, streets along ancient canals, and silk culture in Suzhou.
4. Marvel at the West Lake and experience tea culture in Hangzhou.
5. Meet both the ancient colonial architecture and modern skyscrapers in Shanghai, and feel its fusion of East and West.
- Day 1: Nanjing Arrival
Welcome to Nanjing, the ancient capital of six dynasties and a modern metropolis. Upon arrival, your guide and driver will greet you at the arrival hall of the airport. You will sit in our private air-conditioned vehicle and be transferred to the hotel for check-in.
The rest of the day is free for you to relax in the hotel or explore the city on your own.
Accommodation: in Nanjing
- Day 2: Nanjing Exploration (B)Sun Yat-sen Mausoleum, Ming Xiaoling Mausoleum, Confucius Temple, Qinhuai River area
Embark on your cultural exploration of Nanjing after breakfast at your hotel. Your first destination is Zhongshan Ling (also known as the Sun Yat-sen Mausoleum), the final resting place of Dr. Sun Yat-sen, the father of modern China and the leader of the 1911 Revolution. You will ascend 392 stairs to pay homage to the magnificent tomb and enjoy a vista view of the city.
Next, you will visit the Ming Xiaoling Mausoleum, the tomb of Zhu Yuanzhang who was the first emperor of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). A UNESCO-listed imperial tomb, Xiaoling is one of the largest of its kind in China and invites visitors with its Sacred Way, a long path lined with stone statues of animals and officials, and the Dismounting Arch, a huge gate that marks the entrance to the tomb area.
After that, head to the Confucius Temple (aka Fuzimiao), home to a complex of buildings dedicated to Confucius. You will visit the main hall where a statue of Confucius is enshrined and 38 mural paintings depicting his life story are displayed. Your professional guide will introduce the imperial examination system in ancient times, which was based on Confucian teachings and used to select officials for over 1,000 years.
Then, you will gain insights into local life in the Qinhuai River area. This area is known as the birthplace of Nanjing’s culture and history and has become the most scenic spot of the city. Here you can either walk along the riverbanks to admire many historical buildings, such as the Zhanyuan Garden, the Bailuzhou Park, and the Zhonghua Gate, or seek local snacks and souvenirs at the night market. To appreciate the scenery in a more leisurely way, you can hop on a colorfully decorated boat to sail along the ancient rivers (optional, at your own expense).
After the sightseeing, get back to your hotel.
Accommodation: in Nanjing
- Day 3: Nanjing Exploration & High-speed Train to Suzhou (B, L)Xuanwumen Section of Nanjing Ancient Wall, Niushoushan Forest Park
After breakfast, enjoy a stroll on the Xuanwumen Section of Nanjing Ancient Wall, a part of the longest city wall in China, built in the 14th century. During the leisure walk on top of the city wall, you will meet the historic Xuanwu Gate, one of the original thirteen gates of the wall, admire the city view from a different perspective, and marvel at the scenic Xuanwu Lake.
Next, be transferred to the Niushoushan Forest Park, a cultural park featuring Buddhist culture and architecture. Visit the underground Usnisa Palace that houses the Buddha’s parietal relic and many other statues and Buddhist relics. Another highlight of the park lies in the Grand Zen View, a large-scale Chinese landscape painting that depicts the history and development of Buddhism in China. The painting covers an area of 1,000 square meters and with 12 scenes and over 1,000 figures on it. Also, don’t miss the scenery from the top of the 7-story Foding Pagoda on the East peak of Niushoushan.
After the tour, you will be escorted to the railway station to catch the high-speed train (about an hour) to Suzhou. Enjoy the rest of the day on your own after hotel check-in.
Accommodation: in Suzhou
- Day 4: Suzhou Exploration - High-speed Train to Hangzhou (B, L)Lingering Garden, Shantang Ancient Street, Tiger Hill, Suzhou No.1 Silk Factory
After breakfast, visit the UNESCO-listed Lingering Garden, one of the four famous classical gardens in China. Being built in the Ming Dynasty, this garden features exquisite architecture, elegant rockeries, serene landscape, and a unique collection of scholar stones, ancient bonsai trees, and various pavilions and halls.
The next stop is the vibrant Shantang Ancient Street, a historic street along the Shantang River that dates back to the Tang Dynasty. Being lined with various snack and handicraft stalls, folk museums, the opera stage, and ancient residences, a leisure stroll along the street will give you a good sense of local life, culture, and snacks. Optionally, you can also take a cruise on a traditional wooden boat to sail along the ancient canal and experience the charm of old Suzhou.
A visit to the Tiger Hill is waiting for you in the afternoon. The hill is regarded as a symbol of Suzhou, and your guide will introduce its charming legends and history. Also, you will follow your guide to visit many cultural and natural attractions in this scenic area, including the leaning pagoda of the Yunyan Temple, the tomb of King He Lu, the sword testing stone, and the Lu Yu well.
The last stop today is the Suzhou No.1 Silk Factory, a working factory and a museum where you can learn about the history and culture of silk in Suzhou. You will be led to see the old silk-spinning machines in action, learn how silk is made from silkworms to products, and browse the various silk items for sale.
After that, be escorted to the railway station to catch your high-speed train to Hangzhou. Check into your hotel, and enjoy the following time on your own.
Accommodation: in Hangzhou
- Day 5: Hangzhou Natural & Cultural Exploration (B, L)West Lake, Feilai Peak, Lingyin Temple, Meijiawu Tea Village
Start your day with a visit to West Lake, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a symbol of Hangzhou’s culture and history. The lake is divided into five sections by three causeways and is home to numerous temples, pagodas, gardens, and islands. You will take a 45-minute cruise on the picturesque lake to view the islands, pagodas, bridges, and gardens from a different angle, and witness the Three Pools Mirroring the Moon, a famous attraction being printed on the one yuan back note.
After the cruise, take a leisurely walking or sightseeing vehicle to see more of the ten scenic sites of West Lake, including Su Causeway, and Leifeng Pagoda.
After the sightseeing, visit Feilai Peak (aka the Peak Flown From Afar), a limestone mountain with hundreds of ancient Buddhist carvings and statues. You will be amazed by the amazing sculptures of various Buddhas and bodhisattvas and the natural beauty of the caves and rocks.
Move on to the nearby Lingyin Temple, one of the oldest and most famous Buddhist temples in China dating back to 328 AD. The temple is related to the Chan sect of Buddhism and with frequent Buddhist ceremonies and rituals. You will be impressed by the largest Buddha Sakyamuni (19.6 meters high) in the lotus position.
Following the temple, drive to Meijiawu Tea Village, one of the main places where West Lake Dragon Well tea is produced with a history of over 600 years. The West Lake Dragon Well tea is considered among the finest teas in all of China. Taste the fresh and aromatic tea while your guide introducing the tea culture and history of Meijiawu.
Optional activity in Meijiawu Tea Village: If you like, you can visit a local family to gain insight into the intricate art of tea-making, from handpicking tea leaves to the delicate art of stir-drying them. To enhance your understanding, you can also observe a traditional tea ceremony, and taste some local tea foods.
After the visit, be escorted back to your hotel.
Accommodation: in Hangzhou
- Day 6: Hangzhou - Wuzhen Water Town - Shanghai (B, L)Wuzhen Water Town, West Scenic Area of Wuzhen
After breakfast at your hotel, hop on our private vehicle and embark on your drive to Wuzhen Water Town (about 50 miles away), one of the top six ancient water towns south of the Yangtze River, boasting a history of over 1,300 years.
Today, you will mainly explore the popular West Scenic Area of Wuzhen, an area with about 0.6 square kilometers with many historical and cultural attractions. Visit Wuzhen Grand Theater where various performances, such as acrobatics, opera, dance, and drama are showcased. Get to the Footbinding Museum to discover the history and culture of footbinding, a practice that involves wrapping and breaking young girls’ feet to make them smaller. Look into local life at Wuzhen Water Market which sells fresh and dried seafood, vegetables, fruits, and other local products. These are just some of the things you can see and do, more highlights of the water town include the Hundred-Bed Museum, the Folk Custom Museum, the Shadow Play Theatre, the Indigo Fabric Workshop, and the Wedding Museum, etc.
After your time in Wuzhen Water Town, be transferred to the railway station to catch your high-speed train to Shanghai. Your local guide and driver will pick you up at the arrival hall and help you check into your hotel in the downtown area after arrival.
Accommodation: in Shanghai.
- Day 7: Shanghai Exploration (B, L)Shanghai Museum, Wukang Road, Shanghai World Financial Center, Nanjing Road, The bund
After breakfast, your guide and driver will pick you up at the hotel, and escort you to Shanghai Museum, one of the best museums in China. You can marvel at the exquisite collection of bronze, ceramics, paintings, calligraphy, jade, coins, and other relics that span over 5,000 years of history, and gain insight into the different dynasties, ethnic groups, and regions that shaped China’s civilization.
Then, have a leisure walk at the historic Wukang Road in the former French Concession area. This area is rich in diverse buildings in Baroque, Art Deco, and Spanish architecture styles. Follow your guide to encounter these European-style buildings and learn about stories of the celebrities who once lived here. You can also relax for a while in one of the chic cafes, restaurants, and shops along the road.
Next, visit the Shanghai World Financial Center, the second-tallest skyscraper in Shanghai. A high-speed elevator will take you to the observation decks on the 100th floor for a bird’s eye view of the city and the nearby Huangpu River. If you like, challenge the glass skywalk on this highest observation deck in the world.
The following time is for your leisure walking tour at Nanjing Road and the Bund. Nanjing Road is one of the most popular shopping streets in Shanghai which is lined with hundreds of stores selling famous brands, local products, and souvenirs, and stalls of traditional snacks and street food. The bund is the most iconic landmark of Shanghai. It’s a waterfront promenade with various colonial-era buildings, showcasing the contrast between the old and the new, as well as the fusion of the East and the West.
Optional activity (with extra payment): Before getting back to your hotel, you can take a night cruise on the Huangpu River to admire the illuminated buildings on both sides of the river.
Accommodation: in Shanghai
- Day 8: Shanghai Departure (B)
Have the morning free to relax or do some last-minute sightseeing in Shanghai before your driver picks you up at your hotel and transfers you to the airport for your departure flight.