Click the to save your favorite tours then click here to compare them & to get notified when they go on sale.
Inspiring, forward-facing, and always fascinating, China is a must-see on any world traveler’s bucket list. A nation ready to lead the world into the future, it is easily one of Asia’s most exciting destinations! China is, among all else, enormous. It is so large that its sheer size can daunt even experienced world travelers. There is a world of things to see and do, limited only by your imagination and sense of adventure. Climb a mountain, trawl for treasure at a labyrinthine outdoor market, indulge in a lengthy spa massage, dine at a Michelin-starred restaurant, or take a week to do nothing but tour world-class museums - do one thing, or do them all!
You’ll encounter any number of “big name” attractions on your visit—Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City, the Terracotta Army of Xi’an—but you may be surprised by the fact that the standouts of your vacation are those delights you didn’t see coming. Gilded pagodas tilt towards the heavens, unnamed markets sing with the occasionally shrill, always-changing song of humanity, and blue-green rivers wait to lazily drift you towards another fantastic adventure.
China is delightfully accessible to Western travelers, with plentiful convenient transportation options and every technological advancement and amenity. The food is almost beyond description… come ready to slurp some noodles and conquer mountains of perfectly-sauced meat and vegetables! A full fifth of the world’s population lives in China, meaning that there is no excuse not to make new friends.
Top China Sights
An enormous, sophisticated cosmopolis, Beijing is in every way an international city. The list of headliner attractions here is dizzying: one could very easily limit their entire Chinese tour to the capital and never grow bored. You’ll find ancient marvels like the Forbidden City, the Temple of Heaven, the Summer Palace, and the Ming Tomb, which have survived centuries and dynasties alike. Featuring heavily in more recent history is Tiananmen Square, the world’s largest public square, which is ringed by landmarks and monuments. A number of extraordinary museums are here (the Palace Museum, the National Museum, the Military Museum), the eating, shopping, and accommodations are exceptional, and the arts scene is booming. An exhilarating whirlwind of life and culture, Beijing is never, ever boring.
The capital of ancient China for over a thousand years, Xi’an is awash with fascinating history and touts a stylish, modern flair all its own. Premier among the city’s many fascinations are the renowned Terracotta Warriors, uncovered beneath the earth in a field by a farmer in the 1970s. Today, the three-pit army of clay soldiers is one of the country’s most iconic attractions. Take a dip in the Huaqing Hot Springs, which have been in public use for almost fifteen hundred years, walk or bike the Xi’an City Wall, check out the ancient Big Goose Tower, or enjoy panoramic city views from the Bell and Drum Towers on opposite sides of Xi’an. Shop the bazaars for souvenirs, including gorgeous authentic calligraphy scrolls.
China’s largest city shares prominence with Beijing; just about every visitor makes at least a stop here. The Jade Buddha Temple and Shanghai Bund are important landmarks, along with bustling Yuyuan Gardens, and the Oriental Pearl Tower. Don’t miss the chance to take tea at a traditional tea house, a quintessentially Chinese experience. Indulge in Chinese cooking or language lessons, shop Nanjing Road for couture and eclectic boutiques, or stop in on the Urban Planning Museum for a look at where Beijing is going, and how it is growing. For some sun and fun, hit Shanghai City Beach—swimming, boating, water-skiing, and beach volleyball can all be found in abundance, and there’s annual kite-flying and music festivals! In addition, the beach is lined in a boardwalk packed with entertainment, dining, and nightlife options.
To dispel one myth straight away: no, you cannot see it from outer space! Still, China’s monumental structural achievement is no less awe-inspiring, majestic, or seemingly endless for this bit of celestial urban legend. The monolithic structure was actually built in four stages, over hundreds of years by emperors of different dynasties. It can be visited in any of several locations over its thousands of kilometers of length, some of which are in much better states of repair than others. Hike the restored surface of the wall for excellent views of the countryside, along with a bit of vigorous exercise! You can also visit the Great Wall Museum, or even take in a bit of tobogganing on the downhill run near Mutianyu.
The gorgeous green mountains of Guilin are the stuff of which picture postcards are made. Situated on the scenic and tranquil Li River, natural wonders of all sorts abound here. Explore caves, fascinating rock formations, and all sorts of native stone. The Longji rice terraces of Longsheng must be seen to be believed. These intricately-terraced rice paddies make whorls and ripples of the hillsides into which they are carved. In the city, the Moon and Sun Pagoda is a landmark affording excellent views, and Central Square is a scenic, entertaining meeting place. Don’t miss Elephant Trunk Hill, a natural marvel that has become something of a Guilin icon, and the astounding limestone formations inside Reed Flute Cave
Yangtze River Cruises
The mighty Yangtze ranks among the largest rivers on Earth, coming in behind only the Nile and Amazon in terms of length. Wending thousands of kilometers through mountain ranges, gorges, dams, and countryside, it nearly bisects China from west to east. Cruising is an exciting, novel way to see the sights and take in the full diversity that China has to offer. The ultimate in adventure and romance, the voyage promises to be unforgettable whether undertaken by lovers, families, seniors, or singles.
|Primary Airports: Beijing Capital International Airport (PEK), Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport (CAN), Shanghai Pudong International Airport (PVG), Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport (SHA)|
|Government: Socialist Republic|
|Currency: Renminbi (RMB)|
|Population: 1,361,910,000 (2013 est.)|
|Electricity: 220V/50Hz (European, American, or Australian plug)|
|Time Zone: UTC +8|
China Travel Reviews
An amazing sight to see individual faces on each warrior. Traces of colour on some statues left. Enjoy the archaeology, but I also enjoyed seeing a mother and chidren playing by a fishpond, an old man smoking an ornate pipe. Photos of royal tombs, the avenues of statues are amazing (watch out as there are restrictions),but do not overlook the astounding sights of local peoples. I also picked up some lovely folk embroidery and some wonderful paper cut tigers from an old man weilding scissors and red paper.
A Year Abroad in China
R. K. Arecol
During the school year of 2013-2014, I had the chance to teach English in the city of Ningbo. The city itself was pleasant, if a little dense, and I was given an apartment to share with a colleague. We were situated near the city center, with major modern and cultural shopping centers right nearby, and within walking distance of the foreign district. I had opportunities to explore the city and travel to wonderful sightseeing locations like the Chengdu Panda Base and the prestigious Beijing University. I worked with my local community to take part in gaming events and cosplay conventions, and spent my breaks getting to know China by sightseeing, learning the language, and most especially, trying new foods.
On my street, there were plenty of restaurants ready with great food and service. Beneath my apartment were several seafood places, coffee shops, and specialty places for sit-down dinners. Around the corner were convenient cafeterias and inexpensive snack shops for a bite after day's end. My favorite was a short-order place near my part-time job in Yinzhou district. Their eggplant and beef dishes were to die for, and they loved making things extra spicy for me.
I would definitely recommend China as a place to visit. The differences in culture, even between cities, are so vast that it really feels like a world apart. History and modern advancement grow side by side, and the cuisine is a delight. I plan to return soon, so maybe I'll see you on your journey.
Back to the Future
After months of waiting, my wife and I received the call: we were approved to adopt our baby daughter from China and needed to make our travel plans ASAP. My wife, father in law and I coordinated with the Chinese adoption agency liaison to coordinate our trip, which would include sightseeing in Beijing, a trip to the Great Wall, a flight to Nanchang in Jiangxi province, where the orphanage was located, then an overnight stay in Guangzhou before traveling to Hong Kong for our flight back to the States. As we were both at least 3rd generation Chinese Americans, we were eager to connect with our heritage while preparing for our family future.
Arriving in Beijing, Tiananmen Square was eerily quiet, and the air already boasted a smog worse than in L.A. My wife and I joined the thousands of people performing their taiji exercises the next morning, a quiet oasis away from the traffic and bustle of China’s capital and center of political power. Being foodies, we were eager to sample the cuisines from the different Chinese cities we visited: the maotai wine in Beijing went down raw like moonshine, but the food became more familiar the further south we went.
Nanchang was reminiscent of an industrial city like Detroit, with several motorbike factories and new construction buildings with workers scaling the bamboo scaffolds like spiders on a cobweb. We were introduced to our baby daughter and prepared for her first flight as we looked forward to Guangzhou. Probably the most commercialized Mainland city on our trip, we relished the exquisite Cantonese food and shopping selections available in stores ranging from Macy’s sized multi level venues to tiny kiosks. Next stop was Hong Kong, then a flight back to the good old USA. All told, 8 days.
A whirlwind trip, to say the least. When my daughter has graduated college, maybe we will take a trip to revisit these locales, along with the many new sights that China will offer.
Two Weeks in Shanghai and Hangzhou
I spent nearly two weeks exploring the Chinese city of Hangzhou, bookended by a few days in Shanghai. Shanghai reminded me of New York City - it is very modern, and home to some fine dining and impressive architecture. The Financial District of Pudong across the Hungpu River is particularly impressive, and the Bund Sightseeing Tunnel is a fun way to get across the water. Hangzhou was really the highlight of the trip - it is wealthy in pagodas, temples, and extensive parks where the trees are decorated at night with colored lights. The centrally located West Lake was my favorite location to explore. I travelled both by water taxi to the various islands (save at least a whole day for this - there's a lot to see), and by foot over the massive causeways that span the lake. Rumor has it that The Sudi Causeway can make people fall in love if they cross together. True or not, Sudi was a very romantic location at sunset. After a long day, I generally spent time in one of the ubiquitous tea houses and then hit up the massive outdoor night market for some souvenir shopping. I went in July, during the height of summer heat, but I've been told that the best time to visit Hangzhou is in the spring as it is cooler, and the cherry trees by the lake will be in bloom.
Notable Travel Experiences in China
Several years ago I was fortunate enough to find myself traveling to China. This trip came up on short notice and I did not have a great deal of time to research the situation. As an American who had never visited China, I had nothing to go on except my preconceived notions. I flew from the US to Shanghai, and then went on to the provincial capital of Guangzhou in southeast China. My first pleasant surprise was language. In Shanghai many people speak English so there is no problem at all communicating or getting around. The city is incredibly impressive: Big, Bold, and New with glinting skyscrapers everywhere. The people are outgoing and friendly, always happy to practice their English. At Guangzhou the same openness and friendly spirit prevailed. Visiting the many markets in this city was an experience I’ll never forget. If you like to eat delicious and different types of food, then a visit to China is for you. I was amazed the wide variety of fare prepared and enjoyed in every place I visited. For me, the seafood and vegetable dishes were the best. They were far more varied and tasty than the typical Chinese food served in many Chinese restaurants in America. I have gone back to China after this first trip and can recommend this country as an excellent travel destination.
Bucket list basics in Asia
A different world on planet earth
exploring the Great Wall is a must I recommend guided service getting there as driving would be a challenge with the language barrier.
Temple of Heaven was also breathtaking. We were traveling in Oct and the weather was perfect!
A Trip Back in Time in Beijing
Before we settled down and started a family, my husband and I took the trip of a lifetime to Asia. One of the most fascinating places that we visited was Beijing, China. Visiting China is like stepping into another world. Beijing is so steeped in history it is mind boggling. Our favorite sites we visited were the Ming Tombs, the Forbidden City, and the Great Wall. The Ming Tombs are located at the base of a mountain 31 miles northwest of Beijing and contain the mausoleums of 13 emperors of the Ming Dynasty who ruled China from 1368 until 1644. The elaborate architecture and history of these tombs made for an interesting day. The Forbidden City is located in the heart of Beijing. It was the former imperial palace, home to 24 emperors from 1420 until 1911 and is completely surrounded by a moat. Walking among the courtyards, building and museums located in the Forbidden City allowed us to walk back in time to a way of life and history that is so different from anything we’d ever seen. There are many sections of the Great Wall of China within a day’s drive of Beijing, but we visited the Badaling Great Wall located about 43 miles north of Beijing. Although quite touristy, it was still a thrill to stand on top of the Great Wall and look at this amazing structure snaking along the countryside. A trip to Beijing is like step back into history.