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Home China Travel Guide How to Plan a Family Trip to China? – A Step-by-step Guide

How to Plan a Family Trip to China? – A Step-by-step Guide

Planning a family trip to China? That’s a fantastic idea! China is always among the top destinations for families thanks to its vast territory, diverse culture, profound history, stunning landscapes, fascinating foods, etc. Whether you are traveling in China with babies, kids, or elders, you’ll find age-appropriate attractions and activities in this diverse country.

Scroll down to read our step-by-step guide on how to plan a family-friendly trip to China. We have covered all the essential concerns, such as the recommended durations, budget, top cities and attractions, practical tips, etc. Some hand-picked China family tours are also listed for your inspiration.

Why Have a Family Trip to China?

Immersing in a Different Culture

To travel in China with kids allows a rare chance to witness some ancient traditions that have shaped one of the oldest civilizations in the world. From the Great Wall and Terracotta Warriors and Horses to the exquisite Suzhou Gardens and time-honored Buddha Grottoes, there are countless sites revealing the culture of thousands of years old.

Exploring Iconic Landmarks

China is home to some of the world’s most renowned attractions, including the monumental Great Wall, the grand Forbidden City, awe-inspiring Terracotta Warriors and Horses, Panda Base in Chengdu, Li River in Guilin, the stunning Yellow Mountain, Avatar Mountains in Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, and the skyline along the Bund in Shanghai.

Chengdu Pandas
Baby Pandas in Chengdu

Engaging in Fun and Learning

A travel to China will reward your a series of enjoyable and educational activities that both you and your kids will love. You can expect to follow a local master to craft a mini terracotta warrior, experience a kung fu class, go for a bike ride or a rafting adventure in the countryside, and even learn to cook a local dish. Don’t miss out on incredible shows and performances such as acrobatics, the captivating Peking opera, and thrilling kung fu shows.

Various Culinary Delights

China boasts the vast culinary landscape,  with its diverse flavors vary from region to region. Wheat and meat dishes are popular in north and west China; the central region like Sichuan and Guizhou is dominated by hot spicy dishes; people in east part of the country like fresh, light seafood meals, while in south China, mild dishes and dim sum are more beloved.

Top Places to Go for a Family Trip to China

Below are the top recommended destinations for family travel to China, especially if you and your family are traveling to China for the first time. These places offer some of the most classic cultural immersions, historical heritages, natural landscapes, outdoor adventures, and culinary delights. You can also expect some unique experiences you have never encountered in other parts of the world before.

Beijing:

The capital and political heart of China, offering experiences of of the country’s imperial past at the Forbidden City, Temple of Heaven, Summer Palace, Great Wall, etc. Visitors can also take a traditional rickshaw ride to glimpse into the everyday lives of local Beijingers and their traditional courtyard residences in the Beijing Hutongs.

Beijing Temple of Heaven
Temple of Heaven

Xi’an:

Once served as the capital for 13 dynasties in China’s history, Xian is endowed with rich historical and cultural marvels, including the world renowned Terracotta Army, Ancient City Wall, Big Wild Goose Pagoda, Bell and Drum Tower, Shaanxi History Museum, etc. The city is also known for its diverse foods, with the Muslim Quarter the top place to savor authentic local food and life.

Shanghai:

The largest and most prosperous city in China which beautifully balances modernity and tradition. It’s where you can not only encounter the colonial buildings and skyscrapers along the Bund, and also experience the antique beauty of Yuyuan Garden and Zhujiajiao Water Town. Families with kids should not miss the Shanghai Disneyland and Shanghai Circus World.

  • Shanghai Disneyland Park

Shanghai Disneyland Park

Guilin:

A Li River cruise from Guilin to Yangshuo allows you to appreciate the stunning karst landscape and countryside scenery at ease. Families with children will love to cycle in Yangshuo to see its rural scenery and ethnic life.

Chengdu:

No one can resist the adorable pandas in Chengdu and the captivating Sichuan opera. Those traveling to China with elders will love the laid-back lifestyle and tea culture of Chengdu. Food lovers should not miss to try its savory and spicy food.

Yangtze River:

Recommended for the multi-generational families, a Yangtze River cruise trip allows to marvel at the stunning natural beauty of China at a leisurely pace. Many ashore activities are included.

Zhangjiajie:

The cloud-kissing karst pillars in Zhangjiajie National Forest Park are inspirations of Hallelujah Mountains in the movie Avatar. Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon Glass Bridge and the skywalks on Tianmen Mountain are for those who like thrilling outdoor adventures.

Zhangjiajie National Forest Park
Zhangjiajie National Forest Park

 

How Long to Plan for a Family Trip to China

Generally, 12-14 days is the recommended duration which allows you and your family to explore the country’s key cultural and natural attractions at a leisurely pace, and meanwhile, try an array of experiences and activities. During this duration, you can explore the most classic cities like Beijing, Xian, Shanghai, Guilin, and Chengdu.

If you are limited in time, we recommended to spend 6-8 days exploring the Golden Triangle cities: spend 3-4 days in Beijing, 2 days in Xi’an, and 1-2 days in Shanghai.

Extended trips lasting 3 weeks or more will allow you to delve deeper into the country’s nature, culture, and history. You can extend your trip to Zhangjiajie, Hangzhou, Suzhou, Huangshan Mountain, and even venture to the remote ancient Silk Road or Tibet.

Recommended China Family Tours

Best Time for a Family Trip to China

Thanks to the vast territory and diverse landforms, China encompasses various climates and weather patterns. In general, spring (April–May) and autumn (September–October) are the times when most regions enjoy pleasant weather and vibrant scenery. (See also How to Plan a Spring Trip to China?)

The ideal time for China travel with family also depends on your preferences and the places you plan to visit. For instance, Harbin in northeast China stands out for its annual International Ice and Snow Festival from mid-December. China’s festivals like the Chinese New Year, Mid-Autumn Festival, and Dragon Boat Festival are the time to experience colorful celebrations.

July to August is the summer vacation for students in China, with most attractions seeing more crowds. If planning a China trip during this period, please expect higher prices for accommodations and transportation and longer wait times for popular sites.

Estimated Cost for a Family Trip to China

The actual expenses for your family trip might differ based on your preferences, traveling periods, travel styles, etc. A rough estimate is that a 10-day private tour for a family of four (2 adults and 2 kids) would cost around $ 7000-8,000. Below is a breakdown of the some average expenses:

  • Accommodation: about $38 to $380 per night with an average of $69;
  • Meals:about $23 per person per day on average;
  • Intracity transportation: about $16 per person per day;
  • Entrance fees & activities:$ 60-150 per person per day;
  • Intercity transportation: For example, from Beijing to Shanghai, a high-speed train ride costs about $ 83-97for a second-class seat per person, and a flight will cost about $83-150 per person for economic class seat.

Good to know:

Since cashless payment methods are ubiquitous in China, to ensure a smooth travel experience, it’s recommended to familiarize yourself on how to pay in China before your trip to China.

Accommodation Tips for a Family Trip to China

From luxury international brands to boutique hotels and guesthouses featuring authentic local feel, China offers a diverse array of hotels catering to different preferences and styles. Below are some practical accommodation tips for families with babies or kids:

  • Choose hotels with family rooms or adjoining rooms: Usually, 4 or 5-star hotels in China offer family rooms with extra beds that can accommodate two adults and two kids. Or, you can choose adjoining rooms which means you and your kids’ room are connected by a door.
  • Reputable hotel brands are more recommended: both international and domestic brands are okay. The chain hotels are more likely to maintain high stadard services, and commonly provide kid-friendly facilities.
  • Try some boutique hotels with local charm:For a unique and personalized lodging experience and an experience of local charm, boutique hotels are also a great option.
  • Book in Advance, Especially During Peak Seasons: China is a popular destination throughout the year, especially during national holidays and summer and winter holidays. During these peak seasons, hotels tend to fill up quickly or charge higher rates.
Tiananmen Square Beijing
Tiananmen Square in Beijing

Essential Tips for Traveling China with Baby/Kid

  • Health and Safety: carry basic medicines for your baby/kids as medical practices may differ in China;
  • Pack layers of clothing for easy adaption to changing weather conditions.
  • A baby sling is recommended for easy movement in crowded areas.
  • There are nursing rooms available in airports and big supermarkets, but it is still less common in China.

Related Readings for Your Smooth Travel to China

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