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Beautiful China and Holy Tibet

Beautiful China with Holy Tibet

13-Day Private Tour: Beijing–Xi'an–Lhasa-Shanghai

Day 1-3 Beijing - Forbidden City, Great Wall Hiking
Day 4-6 Xi'an - Terracotta Army, Make a mini warrior
Day 7-10 Lhasa - Potala Palace, Yamdrok Lake
Day 11-13 Shanghai - The Bund Skyline, Ancient Garden

The sample itinerary below is only one version of the possibilities. Get involved and share your thoughts to make this journey unique.

You can read our tips for tailor-making your tour to help you start, and talk to your 1-1 travel advisor to personalize your journey.


  • Walk on the best-preserved section of the Great Wall.
  • Meet the Terracotta Army and make a mini warrior with a local family.
  • Pay your respects at the pilgrim's holy palace, the Potala.
  • Enjoy a picnic at the lakeside of one of the largest sacred lakes in Tibet.
  • Experience modernity and tradition in the most dynamic city, Shanghai.

About China Highlights

Since 1998 we've guided everyone ranging from US presidents, Australian Geographic and retired backpackers. Our goal is to create unique trips that take you off-the-beaten path, helping you discover China in a more authentic way. Our motto: "Discovery Your Way!"

Suggested Itinerary

Day 1Beijing Arrival

Landing in Beijing, you will be met by your private guide and driver who will transfer you to your hotel.

Your guide will assist you with your luggage and help you to check in at your hotel for a worry-free start to your stay.

Tips to Tailor-Make Your Tour

Worried about jet lag? You may start the tour with a relaxing free day to adjust.

Too excited to stay in? Please feel free to ask your guide for recommendations for dining or places to see.

Hotel options:
Novotel Beijing Peace (4-star)
Crowne Plaza Beijing Chaoyang U-Town (5-star)

Day 2Beijing | Historical Marvels and Local Life
breakfast & lunch

Start your journey by walking through the largest world-famous square, Tian'anmen Square, and then arrive at the Forbidden City.

With countless houses, chambers, and halls, the Forbidden City was not only a royal residence but is a treasure trove for many cultural relics. Your knowledgeable private tour guide will bring the history to life for you.

Enjoy some Beijing cuisine for lunch. Afterward, take a short rickshaw ride in the hutongs and find out how the local people live their daily lives.

Tips to Tailor-Make Your Tour

Interested in folk arts? We can arrange for you to spend a couple of hours with a local artist trying out some old handicrafts, such as mask painting for the Peking opera, paper cutting, or Chinese calligraphy.

Feel free to let us know if you would like to add it to your itinerary.

The Forbidden CityThe Forbidden City
The Rickshaw in Hutong AlleysHutong Alleys
Day 3Beijing | The Great Wall
breakfast & lunch

Spend your morning at the Temple of Heaven, which was where emperors prayed for a good harvest. Arrive early to see the locals practicing martial arts and doing other activities that you may never see in your country.

After lunch, your time will be dedicated to the Great Wall. The Mutianyu section is an all-time favorite because of its close distance to Beijing, top ranking on TripAdvisor, and easy accessibility.

Usually, we recommend a round-trip cable car so that you can save energy to have a relaxing walk on the wall. We can also arrange a chair lift up and a toboggan back down depending on your preferences.

Tips to Tailor-Make Your Tour

For a unique experience, a visit to Simatai, the only Great Wall section that's lit up and open at night, is highly recommended.

If you love hiking, we can arrange a 2-hour, 4-hour, or even multi-day wild Great Wall hiking experience for you.

The Temple of HeavenThe Temple of Heaven
The Great Wall at MutianyuThe Great Wall at Mutianyu
Day 4Beijing to Xi'an | The Summer Palace and High-Speed Train
breakfast & lunch

The Summer Palace, as indicated by its name, provided the royal court with cool surroundings thanks to its lush gardens, beautiful pavilions and theaters, and a big lake for boat trips.

Make this morning a leisurely outing before you leave for Xi'an.

It is 1,075 kilometers (668 miles) between Beijing and Xi'an, and a bullet train journey cuts the commute from 15 hours down to 6 hours. Get on and enjoy the speedy yet steady journey.

A private car and a friendly guide will escort you to your hotel in Xi'an.

Hotel options:
Grand Noble Hotel Xi'an (4-star)
Wyndham Grand Xi'an South (5-star)

The Summer PalaceThe Summer Palace
The High-speed TrainThe High-speed Train
Day 5Xi'an | The Ancient City Wall and Terracotta Army
breakfast and lunch

In the morning, uncover the mysteries of an underground army that dates back to 206 BC at the Terracotta Army Museum.

Did you know that all the terracotta warriors were originally colored? The old paint has faded with time yet the craftsmanship still shines. You will try to make your own terracotta warrior inside a traditional cave dwelling.

After lunch, return to the city area and visit Xi'an City Wall, which has been guarding the inner city for 600 years.

Walking along the ancient wall provides a good view of the city. You can also rent a bike to cycle around the wall.

The Terracotta ArmyThe Terracotta Army
Make a Mini WarriorMake a Mini Warrior
Day 6Xi'an | Ancient Pagoda and Dumpling Making
breakfast & lunch

Pay a visit to the starting point of the Silk Road: Big Wild Goose Pagoda. Discover more of Xi'an and China's ancient history at Shaanxi History Museum.

Meet up with another family in town. They will teach you how to make dumplings on your own, which are just as good, if not better than, those from Manchu Wok or Panda Express.

Then head to the Muslim Quarter and wander through the alleys to taste the local Muslim cuisine.

The Big Wild GooseThe Big Wild Goose
Making Dumplings with a Local FamilyMaking Dumplings with a Local Family
Day 7Xi'an to Lhasa| Fly and Rest
breakfast & lunch

Your guide and driver will see you off at Xi'an. Catch the flight to Lhasa, which takes about 4½ hours. You will arrive in the holy region of Tibet in the afternoon.

Lhasa is at an altitude of 3,650 meters (12,000 feet) and you may experience altitude sickness. The rest of the day is for you to take a rest at your hotel.

Hotel options:
Thangka Hotel (4-star)
InterContinental Lhasa Paradise (5-star)

Day 8Lhasa | Drepung Monastery, Norbulingka, and Sera Monastery
breakfast & lunch

Start your Lhasa tour with Sera Monastery, comprising a great sutra chanting hall, a college, and 32 sections.

After lunch, you will visit Norbulingka, the living quarters of the Dalai Lamas before the reconstruction of the Potala Palace. It is also called Tibet's Summer Palace and it means "Jeweled Park" in the Tibetan language. With lovely plants in the garden, you may breathe more comfortably due to the extra oxygen.

The last Lhasa tour attraction for the day is the famous Drepung Monastery. Surrounded by the dark faces of mountains, its grand white buildings stand out, shining in the sunlight.

Drepung MonasteryDrepung Monastery
Sera MonasterySera Monastery
Day 9Lhasa | The Potala Palace, Jokhang Temple, and Barkhor Street
breakfast & lunch

Visit Jokhang Temple in the morning and you will see lots of devoted pilgrims prostrating themselves.

Barkhor Street is like a backstreet around Jokhang Temple. Walk clockwise and join the local people's kora (a circle for religion). There are many interesting shops in the street.

Enjoy a classic Lhasa tour visiting the Potala Palace, which is a symbol of peace and a great masterpiece of Tibetan architecture.

Ascend to this majestic palace and see exquisite murals, decorated statues, and antiques. The red and white palace buildings combined with the pure blue sky form the most iconic picture of Tibet.

The Potala PalaceThe Potala Palace
Day 10Gyantze | Yamdrok Lake
breakfast & lunch

After breakfast, you will be driven for about 2 hours to reach Yamdrok Lake, one of the top four Buddhist holy lakes in Tibet.

If the weather permits, we will prepare a picnic by the lakeside and you will have sandwiches, vegetables, and fruit while you enjoy the breathtaking beauty of the lake, which is decorated by many islands and natural resources.

Tips to Tailor-Make Your Tour

As a major waterbird habitat in Tibet, it's also a great place to see hundreds of swans and gulls in summer.

Lake YamdrokLake Yamdrok
Day 11Lhasa to Shanghai | Fly and Rest

You will take a long flight of 5 hours from the west of Tibet to the east of Shanghai. The flight will stop over in Chengdu or Xi'an.

If you are interested in giant pandas, it may be a good idea to extend your stay for 1 or 2 days in Chengdu.

Hotel options:
Sunrise On The Bund (4-star)
InterContinental Lhasa Paradise (5-star)

Day 12Shanghai | Shanghai Highlights and Bund Discovery
breakfast and lunch

During the day, your guide will show you different aspects of the prosperous city. To learn about the history of Shanghai, the Bund has witnessed the changes from the concession period in the Qing Dynasty to modern times.

To feel the city beat, stand at the top of Shanghai Tower and look around you — you may not believe this is China.

Half-Day Customized Icing-on-the-Cake Experience

After traveling in China for around 10 days, you might want to do something different at the end of your tour. Do you want to have some relaxation time? Do you have any unfulfilled trip wishes? In the magic city of Shanghai, your private guide will make your wishes come true!

Whether you want to relax, experience fashion, appreciate art, explore folk customs, or shop; from having fun in fancy bar to exploring an art center, trying nail beauty, testing your popularity in the marriage market, or just buying some lovely gifts, we will make it happen. Just tell us what you're interested in.

If you don't know what you want, just let your guide make the arrangements. You will not be disappointed!

Shanghai CuisineShanghai Cuisine
Day 13Shanghai | Departure

How time flies — your China adventure has come to an end. Your private guide and driver will see you off at the airport, assisting you with your flight check-in and luggage.

Review what you have seen and what you have felt, and keep it as a sweet memory.

Trip Notes

Every element of the tour above can be tailored. Feel free to tell us your ideas and we will be happy to make adjustments for you.

1. Extend the Tour

  • Suzhou and/or Hangzhou: add 1–4 days — water towns, gardens, the Grand Canal, and West Lake
  • Chengdu: add 2–3 days — a panda keeper program, have your photo taken next to a panda, and the Leshan Giant Buddha
  • Hong Kong: add 2–3 days — Victoria Peak, Hong Kong Disneyland, and a day-tour of Macau
  • Free days: Yangshuo and Shanghai are popular destinations to add one or more free days to explore on one's own.
  • More destinations: Zhangjiajie, Huangshan, and Tibet... Inform us of your interests and we will offer you some recommendations.

2. Accommodation

Various types of accommodation are available, including famous 5-star hotel chains, 4-star hotels in the best locations, good value 3-star hotels, or boutique hotels that reflect the style of the region. Whatever your accommodation preferences are, our travel experts will seek out and find the perfect one for you.

Most hotels in China allow at most three people in one room. If there are more than three people in your group, we will check if there is family room available or do our best to arrange interconnecting rooms or adjoin rooms.

3. Transportation

China is a huge country, so to make your travel experience more efficient, we usually arrange flights to connect your destinations.

China's high-speed rail network is a fast-paced way to travel. We recommend taking high-speed trains for journeys of less than 6 hours to interested customers — please tell us if you are one of them.

4. Meals

Lunches at popular local restaurants are included for you so you can taste authentic Chinese food. Your guide will assist you with ordering the dishes.

Vegetarian, halal, kosher, Indian, or gluten-free — all your dietary requirements can be taken care of by our experienced private guides. Let us know if you have any of these dietary requirements during your booking.

5. Tibet Travel Permit

You will need a Tibet Entry Permit. Its cost is included in the tour quotation. Send your passport and China visa copies to us 20 days in advance, and we will apply for your permit once you book a Tibetan tour with us.

Tour Price

FromUS3,309 p/p Based on a private tour for 2 people. Price varies depending on program, travel date, number of people and chosen hotel

Price includes:

  • Private air-conditioned business car with big windows and ample space
  • English speaking local guide
  • Activities, hotels, and meals listed in the itinerary
  • 24/7 helpline for while you are traveling
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1-to-1 Expert Planning

1-to-1 Expert Planning

Your tour will be tailor-made by your personal travel advisor — a destination expert. Every reply will be within 24 hours.

Personal Journeys

Personal Journeys

Enjoy your personal local guide and ride. Explore destinations at your own pace. Have unparalleled flexibility, which is impossible on a group tour.

Authentic Experiences

Authentic Experiences

Discover the hidden gems. Experience local culture by practicing it. Try new and exciting activities, and unveil the stories behind the sights and people.

Well-Selected Local Guides

Well-Selected Local Guides

Knowledgeable, enthusiastic, and attentive — your personal local guides will share interesting stories, insider information, and even create unexpected highlights!

China Highlights tailor-makes China tours to help travelers discover China their way. We're a passionate team of one hundred avid travelers who love to share our knowledge of China with those looking for a more authentic travel experience, more ...
China Highlights International Travel Service Co., LTD
Corporate Number: 914503003486045699
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