Best of China

National Geographic Journeys, Beijing to Shanghai

Image by G Adventures

Tour description provided by G Adventures

Mix the bustle of China’s metropolises with the tranquility of rural life on a 12-day adventure. Explore hidden corners of Beijing’s Forbidden City. Cycle along ancient city walls and learn about Xi’an’s famed terracotta soldiers. Enjoy a paddle on the gorgeous Li River. Along the way, discover how China’s many contrasts make it one of the world’s most intriguing places.

What’s included

  • Your Journeys Highlight Moment: Chinese Shadow Puppetry, Xi'an Your Journeys Highlight Moment: Tai Chi Class, Yangshuo Your G for Good Moment: Jia Community Restaurant, Yangshuo Your Foodie Moment: Central Chinese Cooking Class - Yangshuo, Yangshuo Your Discover Moment: Shanghai
  • Arrival transfer
  • Visit Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City, and the Temple of Heaven
  • Visit Beijing's traditional hutongs
  • Excursion to the Great Wall
  • Xi'an Muslim quarter orientation walk
  • Cycle along the Xi'an city walls
  • Terracotta warriors tour
  • Lunch in a local village
  • Li River boat ride
  • Walk through the countryside with village visits
  • Shanghai orientation walk
  • Internal flights
  • All transport between destinations and to/from included activities


  • Walk the great wall and cycle along the xi'an city walls
  • Explore beijing's traditional alleys and backstreets known as hutongs
  • Enjoy a performance of shadow puppetry
  • Face the terracotta warriors and visit the farming community where they were discovered
  • Learn to cook local specialities at a rural cooking school


Day 1 Beijing (1D) Arrive at any time. Arrival transfer included. Enjoy a first taste of Chinese cuisine with a Peking Duck welcome dinner. Included Activities: Arrival Day and Welcome Meeting Transport: Private Vehicle
Day 2 Beijing (1B) One of the greatest structures ever built, the Great Wall was constructed in stages over 2,000 years. This massive structure stretches 6,000km (3,728 mi) westwards from the sea to western China. The section we visit is called Mutianyu and is one of the best preserved Ming Dynasty sections reachable from Beijing. Included Activities: Great Wall Mutianyu Visit Transport: Private Vehicle
Day 3 Beijing (1B) Today we delve into the history of Beijing, visiting the dramatic Forbidden City and the immense Tiananmen Square. Hear tales of emperors and their concubines, a long crafted culture and rich tradition. Witness how ancient Chinese customs are still valued today, while also blended with modern technology and western influences. Visit the Temple of Heaven and its surrounding grounds, full of locals whiling the hours away practicing water calligraphy and Tai Chi, playing cards, and walking pet crickets, all with the colourful Temple of Heaven in the background. Take a walking tour featuring some of Beijing's traditional alleyways and backstreets known as hutongs. Opt to pre-book the Beijing Kung Fu Show on the checkout page to include this optional activity on your tour or ask your GCO or travel agent for assistance. Additional Notes: Please note that the timing of included activities can change and will be spread out over the course of days 2-4. Included Activities: Tiananmen Square Forbidden City Tour Temple of Heaven Hutong Walk Transport: Private Vehicle
Day 4 Beijing/Xi'an (1B) Accommodation this evening will be in Soft Sleeper train cars which have 8-9 compartments per cabin. Each compartment includes 4 beds (two upper and two lower beds) and a sliding door which can be locked. Beds include a quilt, pillow, sheet, and reading lamp with space for luggage in each compartment. Transport: Basic overnight train (beds) (12.00-15.00 hours)
Day 5 Xi'an (1B) Arrive in the ancient Chinese capital and traditional silk road terminus, Xi'an, in the morning. We will be met and transferred to our hotel. After settling in, we will gather for an inner city bike ride along the 14km (9 mi) of ancient city walls. In the evening, explore the multicultural feel of the Muslim Quarter with shopping lanes and street-side food stalls selling naan, kebabs, and a fine array of sweets. Opt to try some of the best street food in China – the spicy beef and lamb kebabs are always a favourite. Included Activities: Muslim Quarter Orientation Walk Chinese Shadow Puppetry Cycling Xi'an City Walls
Day 6 Xi'an (1B, 1L) Visit the famed Terracotta Warriors — the archaeological wonder built over 2,000 years ago to protect the tomb of Emperor Qin Shi Huang. Afterwards, head to a local village and enjoy lunch. Opt for a Defachang Dumpling Banquet in the evening. Included Activities: Terracotta Warriors Guided Tour Village visit and lunch Transport: Private Vehicle
Day 7 Yangshuo Countryside (1B, 1D) Fly to China's lush southwest to experience rural culture and the unique limestone karst scenery of the Yangshuo area. Enjoy a traditional dinner at a G Adventures-supported restaurant where rural women are working to create new opportunities for their families. Also enjoy a relaxing float on a local boat on the Li River, then transfer to a local hotel in the countryside. Included Activities: Li River Boat Jia Community Restaurant Transport: Plane (1.75-2.00 hours) Private Vehicle (1.50-2.00 hours)
Day 8 Yangshuo Countryside (1B, 1D) Trek through the beautiful countryside, passing through villages and rice and fruit fields. Later, try preparing local cuisine at a cooking school and enjoy the results for dinner. Included Activities: Countryside Walk Central Chinese Cooking Class - Yangshuo Transport: Private Vehicle
Day 9 Yangshuo (1B) Enjoy a free afternoon, which you can choose to spend relaxing. Later on, opt to experience some of Yangshuo's vibrant nightlife. Included Activities: Tai Chi Class
Day 10 Yangshuo/Shanghai (1B) In a great day of contrasts, you'll awake overlooking the rural countryside and finish the day in the heart of China's bustling metropolis, Shanghai. Cosmopolitan Shanghai is a mesmerizing array of old and new, from the 19th century Asian-infused Victorian and early 20th century Art Deco architecture to the bold 21st century futuristic skyline additions. Included Activities: Orientation Walk of the Bund Transport: Private van transfer to airport and private bus from airport to hotel. Plane (2.00 hour(s))
Day 11 Shanghai (1B) Enjoy free time to explore this vibrant city on your own. Opt to visit Yuyuan Gardens, the Shanghai Museum, or catch the famed Shanghai acrobats in performance this evening.
Day 12 Shanghai (1B) Depart at any time. Included Activities: Departure Day