China Travel's Top Itineraries for Touring Different Parts of China

The following itineraries are perfect starting places for traveling in China. You can tailor them to your own needs or put them together to create a complete China Travel plan for your trip.

When planning a trip to China, visitors should ask themselves what they want out of a trip.

  • Do you just want to go to China and see the big sights?
  • Are you more adventurous and want to get into nature?
  • Were you hoping to mix cuisine into your travel?
  • Do you want to see the countryside and avoid big cities?
  • Are you active and want to include some trekking in your trip?

The answers to these kinds of questions will help you choose an itinerary that is perfect to what you are interested in and what you'd like to see and do.

  • 01 of 09
    tian'anmen gate beijing
    ••• The Tian'anmen Gate leading into the Forbidden City in Beijing. Photo by Sara Naumann. All rights reserved.

    This is a ten-day itinerary that takes visitors to China to the main "big five" sights that are on every first-time traveler's list. You'll see Beijing (the Forbidden City and the Great Wall), then on to Xi'an (the Terracotta Warriors). You'll then move on to the Yangtze River for the Three Gorges Dam cruise and wind up in Shanghai for the historic Bund and then some amazing food and city life.

    This is a very basic itinerary and can be used as a starting point for China Travel.

  • 02 of 09
    ••• Architecture within the Dufu Thatched Cottage Compound, Chengdu. Photo by Denise Gilman. All rights reserved.

    Chengdu is a big draw for first-time visitors to China. Answering the call of the Giant Panda, many China travelers want to visit Chengdu and Sichuan Province.

    There is a lot to see and do in the city of Chengdu and its surroundings. This article aims to explain what to do and how to do it so you can use your time in the region smartly and pack in as many sights as possible.

  • 03 of 09
    danxia landform zhangye gansu province
    ••• Beautiful colors made by sedimentation layers in the rock formations at Danxia Landform Park. Photo by Florian Naumann. All rights reserved.

    Gansu Province has so much to offer travelers to China it would be easy to spend an entire trip just exploring the province from north to south.

    In the north, visitors can travel the ancient Silk Road routes on the edges of the Gobi Desert, visit UNESCO-listed Mogao Caves and ride camels through the dunes. From there, travel the Silk Road's famous Hexi Corridor to visit the westernmost reaches of the Great Wall and other famous sights.

    In the center of Gansu, visitors can tour more Buddhist caves in Bingling and visit the fabulous provincial museum to see excavated Silk Road treasures.

    Farther south, one travels through largely Muslim counties until one reaches the Tibetan Autonomous Counties where Labrang Monastery is located. See ordinary Tibetans living in a beautiful landscape in this part of the southern portion of Gansu.

  • 04 of 09

    Itineraries for Visiting Guangzi Zhuang, Guilin and Yangshuo

    rice terraces in guangxi zhuang longji village
    ••• Rice terraces along the trek to Ping An Village, Long Sheng. Photo by Denise Gilman. Used with permission.

    Seeing the karst mountains in and around Guilin in the southern part of China is always a big draw for tourists. But there is a lot to see and do around the area and it's good to know what else you can add to this part of your trip. Your planned two days in Yangshuo could easily expand to five days in the region and you'd be on the go the entire time.

    Start in Guilin and travel north to the incredible rice terraces of Long Sheng. Then head south on the Li River and visit the area around Yangshuo where you can raft rivers, bike around the valleys between the mountains and even go spelunking if that's your thing.

    Continue to 5 of 9 below.
  • 05 of 09
    ••• A local tradition: buy a lock, have your family's or your lover's name inscribed and then lock it on the chain fence. Keep one key and throw the other. Photo property of Sara Naumann. All rights reserved.

    The Yellow Mountains (or Huangshan in Mandarin) are incredibly famous in China for the mountain and pine tree landscape. Going to the Yellow Mountain area is an easy addition to any itinerary, especially if you're going to be in Shanghai.

    Follow the steps in this article to hike the mountain, stay at the top for sunrise, head down the next day and then take in the UNESCO villages that dot the land around the scenic mountain area.

  • 06 of 09

    Tibet and the Everest Base Camp

    mt. everest from everest base camp tibet
    ••• The view of Mt. Everest from Everest Base Camp on the Tibetan side of the mountain. Photo by Sara Naumann. All rights reserved.

    If time allows, visiting the Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR) is a spectacular add to any itinerary to China. This article details an itinerary that takes travelers from Lhasa to the Everest Base Camp through Shigatse and Gyantse with incredible natural sights mixed with cultural Tibetan experiences.

  • 07 of 09

    Ningxia Hui Region - Wine and Ancient Sights Itinerary

    domaine chandon ningxia
    ••• The view of Domaine Chandon's vineyards from their terrace in Ningxia. Photo by Sara Naumann. All rights reserved.

    Ningxia is an interesting place. Many travelers would not put it on their first or even second China trip itinerary but it's worth a look. Very untraveled and not touristy, Ningxia is a place to discover the future meeting the past in China.

    Today, it is the largest wine producing region in China so wine tours are becoming something that travelers can experience. Ningxia has many ancient sights as well and mixing the two, along with a healthy dose of the local cuisine of lamb, can be a very interesting week.

  • 08 of 09
    rice fields outside xizhou, yunnan province
    ••• Blue skies over golden rice fields, Xizhou Town, Yunnan Province. Photo by Sara Naumann. All rights reserved.

    Yunnan Province in the south of China is another place that should be on every traveler's list if they've got the time and inclination to do some exploring.

    Incredibly diverse, travelers can experience various cultures: Tibetan culture in the northwest, Dai ethnic culture in Lijiang, Bai culture in Xizhou and many other ethnic minorities that populate the lush mountains and fertile valleys of this tea-producing region.

    Continue to 9 of 9 below.
  • 09 of 09

    Xinjiang and the Silk Road

    karakoram scenery
    ••• A snapshot on our way to Tashkurgan from Kashgar on the Karakoram Highway. Photo by Sara Naumann. All rights reserved.

    Xinjiang Autonomous Region is in China's far northwest. It's the home of the Taklamakan Desert and where the Karakoram highway starts (or ends, depending on your perspective). It's on the border between China and the Stans - so the culture is quite unique, the food very different from the rest of China and the landscapes and history, truly spectacular.

    Start in Kashgar, explore the Karakoram Highway, then make your way east to Urumqi and Turpan to explore the territory along the ancient Silk Road from west to east.