17 Days Northern China Heritage Tour to Beijing Chengde Datong Mount Wutai Pingyao Xian and Shanghai

This 17 days luxurious itinerary takes you to explore the best of North China’s UNESCO World Heritages, for its thousand years-old cultural traditions, unparalleled architectural beauty, haunting mystery and colorful multiplicity. Travel from Beijing to Chengde, paying homage to the imposing imperial palace, gardens and the Great Wall, before exploring Shanxi Province for its wonderful Buddhist culture, grotto arts and UNESCO-protected ancient town. Then journey to Xian to witness Terra-cotta Warriors and later Shanghai to embrace the future of China.

Trip Highlights

  • Tour Beijing’s awe-inspiring imperial architectures
  • Witness the commercial culture of ancient China in Pingyao Old Town
  • UNESCO-listed classic Chinese garden visit
  • Soak up the intriguing mixed culture of Shanghai
  • Fascinating Buddhist temples and historic sites

Customizable Tour Itinerary

Nihao, welcome to China! Arrive in Beijing Capital International Airport where you are met by your private China Culture Tour guide and transferred to your luxurious hotel of a good location. Therefore you may explore China’s capital city on your own for the rest of the day.

  • Hotels: Beijing Aman Summer Palace, Beijing Double Happiness Courtyard Hotel, Beijing Fairmont Hotel
Great WallGreat Wall

Tour Beijing - China’s dynastic capital, where there are numerous ancient architectural wonders to be discovered. And some have entered UNESCO’s World Heritage Site List.

Stand in Tiananmen Square, the heart of Beijing, overlooking Chairman Mao’s Portrait hung on the Tiananmen Rostrum, where people witnessed the founding of New China in 1949. 

Then walk into the Imperial Palaces of the Ming and Qing Dynasties, or previously named Forbidden City, where 24 emperors used to ascend the throne. Initially built in 1406, Forbidden City covers an area of 720,000 square meters, with over 9000 rooms making up the world’s largest ancient wooden architecture groups.

Visit Summer Palace in the afternoon. With beautiful mountain and river landscape, the site of Summer Palace had been constructed as a royal garden ever since the 11the Century, and extended to an area of over 1000 hectares in the early 20th Century. A boat cruise is included for you to better explore Summer Palace.

Enjoy amazing Shaolin Kungfu or Peking Opera night show (optional).

  • Meals: Breakfast, Lunch,
Summer Palace with Dragon Boat CruiseSummer Palace with Dragon Boat Cruise

One of the first UNESCO World Heritages in China, sketching for over 21000km (13048mi) on the big mountains, the Great Wall of China is the greatest architectural project in the history of human civilization. Ascend Mutianyu Great Wall with cable car, to view the endless walls and the entire world.

Thereafter discover the old cultural traditions of Beijing when touring hutongs. Hutong is a vanishing scene as Beijing is now being built as an international metropolis. See elegant traditional quadrangle dwellings.

Optional dinner - Peking duck, which is a must-eat Beijing food dating to the Northern and Southern Dynasties (420-589)

  • Meals: Breakfast, Lunch,
Hutong rickshawHutong rickshaw

Constructed in 1420, the Temple of Heaven was where the Ming and Qing emperors annually feted heaven to pray for a good harvest. Admire the Qinian Hall, Huangqian Hall and other beautiful architectures of Temple of Heaven. We can also arrange you a Tai Chi class. With the soft Tai Chi moves, you can feel very energetic and refreshed.

Then enjoy a visit of Panjiayuan Antique weekend Market or Lama Temple. Panjiayuan has been a wonderful place for local antiquarians to search for “precious” and reaches its peak during the weekend. If don’t travel on a weekend, then go visit Lama Temple, the former residence of Emperor Yongzheng of Qing Dynasty, and later becoming the biggest Buddhist temple in Beijing.

Leave Beijing and head for Chengde (3-3.5 hours’ drive), which connected Central China to Inner Mongolia of the North in the ancient times.

  • Meals: Breakfast, Lunch,
  • Hotels: Chengde Imperial Mountain Resort
Temple of HeavenTemple of Heaven

The Mountain Resort of Chengde was built between 1703 and 1792 as an imperial summer palace. It is a masterpiece of Chinese classical garden by making full use of local landscape and traditional Chinese horticulture, thus known as the epitome of China's natural landscape.  

Right next to Mountain Resort is the Pule Temple, with a blend of ancient Chinese temple complex and Tibetan architectures. It is a symbol of national unity.

  • Meals: Breakfast, Lunch,
Chengde Mountain ResortChengde Mountain Resort

In the north of Mountain Resort, the hillside Putuo Zongcheng Temple is a replica of the Potala Palace in Tibet, thus known as the Lesser Potala Palace. With 60 building complex, it is the largest and grandest temple of Chengde’s eight outlying temples. 

Also visit Punning Temple, the largest Tibetan Buddhist temple in North China. Admire its magnificent architectures from its front courtyard of traditional Chinese style gates, halls, towers to the backyard of typical Tibetan architecture, including a group of buildings modeled after the famous Samye Temple in Tibet.

Drive back to Beijing.

  • Meals: Breakfast, Lunch,
Putuo Zongcheng TemplePutuo Zongcheng Temple

This morning, take a flight from Beijing to Datong, where the UNESCO protected Yungang Grottoes is located. Constructed between the 5th Century and the 6th Century, Yungang Grottoes is one of the largest grottoes in China and a world-famous treasure house of Buddhist art, with 252 grottoes and over 51,000 Buddha statues.

In the afternoon, visit the 11th Century Huayan Temple, a royal temple of the historical Liao Dynasty, destroyed in a war and reconstructed in the 12th Century. Then admire China’s earliest and best Nine-Dragon Screen Wall of a Ming Dynasty prince’s palace. It is 45.5m long and 8m high, with 9 dragons flying between the moon and sun and accompanied by various animals.

  • Meals: Breakfast, Lunch,
  • Hotels: Yunzhong Inn
Yungang GrottoesYungang Grottoes

Visit Hanging Monastery on Mount Heng, an ancient shrine of Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism as well. Built on a vertical cliff 60m above the ground and supported only by timber pillars for over 1500 years, Hanging Monastery is a real Chinese architecture gem.

Then visit the all-wood Yingxian Wooden Pagoda, the extant earliest and highest wooden pagoda in China and praised as one of the three pagoda wonders in the world, along with the Leaning Tower of Pisa and the Eiffel Tower.

Drive all the way to Mt. Wutai, which was inscribed on UNESCO World Heritage for both its ancient Buddhist heritages and gorgeous mountainous landscape.

  • Meals: Breakfast, Lunch,
  • Hotels: Wutai Mountain Marriott Hotel
Hanging TempleHanging Temple

Mt. Wutai is a Buddhist sanctuary dating to 68, and features magnificent mountain views. There are still 47 ancient temples of different historical periods built on different mountain peaks are well maintained, with tens of thousands of Buddha sculptures carved out of clay, iron, stone, wood, ceramics, embroidered on the silk or painted on the wall.

Especially visit Tayuan Temple, where the White Pagoda is located, and Xiantong Temple, known as the second oldest temple in China but now housing mainly the Qing Dynasty temple architectures.

  • Meals: Breakfast,
Mt. Wutai’s Temple ComplexMt. Wutai’s Temple Complex

Drive to Pingyao. Visit Jinci Temple in Taiyuan en route. It is one of the earliest royal ancestral temple gardens in China, with dozens of traditional Chinese architectures mainly constructed from the 7th Century to the 19th Century and a wealth of inscriptions, sculptures and other ancient Chinese artistic relics.

Arrive at the Old Town of Pingyao to travel back in time to visit a Ming and Qing Chinese county.

  • Meals: Breakfast, Lunch,
  • Hotels: Pingyao Hongshanyi Hotel, Pingyao Yide Hotel, Pingyao Yunjincheng Hotel
Jinci Temple in TaiyuanJinci Temple in Taiyuan

Previously an official’s residence, Wang’s Family Compound has been known as the best of China’s traditional dwelling house, with a total area of 250,000 square meters, including one main street, five alleys and six castles symbolizing dragon, phoenix, tiger, turtle and unicorn. Also appreciate its tasteful brick carvings, wood carvings and stone carvings.

Zhangbi Ancient Castle was an ancient defense project, built to make full use of its environmental advantage of steep hillside, with a 3-floor ancient tunnel and other historical sites such as ancient tombs and traditional theatrical stages.

  • Meals: Breakfast, Lunch,
Wang’s Family Compound Wang’s Family Compound

Originally built in 827 to 782 BC, the old town of Pingyao is one of the four best-preserved ancient towns in China. It was a China's financial center in the late Qing dynasty. And today Shanxi Merchants Culture can still be experienced everywhere in Pingyao. Walk along the Ming Qing Street to the Rishengchang Draft Bank to trace the history of ancient Chinese banking. Get in Pingyao Ancient City Wall, and then you can overlook the entire town.

Ride a high speed train from Pingyao to Xian, where the great Silk Road began and thrived.

  • Meals: Breakfast, Lunch,
  • Hotels: Sofitel Legend Peoples Grand Hotel Xian
Pingyao Ancient TownPingyao Ancient Town

The eighth wonder of the world, the Museum of Terra-cotta Army is built at the three burial pits of Mausoleum of the First Qin Emperor (259 – 210 BC). Pit one is home to the main force of chariots and infantry, with about 6,000 life-size terracotta warriors. Pit two is composed of chariots, cavalry and crossbowmen. Pit three is the command system of the army.

Inside Da Cien Temple, Big Wild Goose Pagoda was built in 652 to exhibit Buddhist classics obtained from India via the Silk Road. It is a masterpiece of Buddhist architecture in the Tang Dynasty and a must-visit sight in Xian.

At dinner time, savor different flavors of dumplings, the most popular Chinese food, and feast your eyes on beautiful Tang Dynasty Dance show.

  • Meals: Breakfast, Lunch,
Terracotta Warriors MuseumTerracotta Warriors Museum

View Xian’s past and present on its Ming Dynasty City Wall, the longest and best-kept in China. If you prefer, ride a bike for one hour to see its 18 city gates, gate towers hung with red lanterns and the Bell and Drum Tower of Xian.

Visit the Great Mosque of Xian, the most famous and largest Islamic mosques in China, with a blending of traditional Chinese architecture style. Then see Han people and Hui people live in harmony when rambling the Muslim Quarter, where there is also a wide spectrum of local foods and snacks to taste.

Fly to Shanghai - China’s most bustling city is also the major exit city for most international travelers.

  • Meals: Breakfast,
  • Hotels: Four Seasons Hotel Pudong Shanghai, Grand Central Hotel Shanghai, Grand Hyatt Shanghai
Xian Ancient City Wall bikingXian Ancient City Wall biking

Start Shanghai tour with a visit of Shanghai Museum, a fabulous ancient Chinese art museum with tens of thousands of precious relics, including bronze ware, ceramics, calligraphy, painting, etc.

Tour Yu Garden, located right next to the City God Temple. Built in the 16th Century, it is one of the finest examples of China’s traditional gardens with many exquisite and elegant ancient structures. Then roam the old streets of Yuyuan Market.

Later get to know Shanghai’s colonial culture on the Bund, where you can see an array of 19th Century colonial architectures. Across the Hupu River is the ultra-modern Lujiazui Financial District. Ascend Shanghai World Financial Center, one of the highest buildings in the district, for glitzy city view of Shanghai.

  • Meals: Breakfast, Lunch,
Yu GardenYu Garden

Around 1 hour’s drive from Shanghai city center, beside the Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal (UNESCO), Tongli Old Town in Suzhou is one of most famous water towns in East China, and a mix of rivers, wetlands and ancient building complexes. Take a boat cruise through Tongli. And visit UNESCO-listed Retreat and Reflection (Tuisi) Garden. It is small in size but very exquisitely designed and constructed, with all the essential elements of classical Chinese garden.

Make sure you don’t miss the amazing acrobatics show in Shanghai in the evening (optional).

  • Meals: Breakfast, Lunch,
Tongli Water Town by BoatTongli Water Town by Boat

Enjoy a transfer with your private guide and driver from hotel to the airport and board your onward international flight. China Culture Tour service ends. Farewell and safe journey

  • Meals: Breakfast,
Shanghai Pudong areaShanghai Pudong area

Price Includes

  • In-country transportationas noted in the itinerary.
  • Admission fees and activity expenses as noted in the itinerary.
  • Luxury or boutique hotels centrally located.
  • Meals in local restaurants as noted in the itinerary with complimentary drinking water.
  • Your own English-speaking guide service.
  • Your own chauffeur and vehicle service.

Price Excludes

  • International transportation.
  • Chinese tourist visa. (which enquired for most foreign passport holders)
  • Travel and medical insurance.
  • Meals, snacks, alcohol, etc. apart from those included in the itinerary.
  • Excess baggage charges.
  • Personal expenses.
  • Sights, excursions and activities not included in the itinerary.
  • Gratuities to guide and driver.


This tour is tailor-made and we can tailor to meet your reqeusts. Your personal travel consultant will contact you within 24 working hours!


CHINA OCTOBER - NOVEMBER 2019 We researched several companies and studied reviews on Trip Adviser before contacting who did a very China Culture Tour with an initial query. Right from the outset Grace who owns the company was excellent. She emailed detailed with pictures information and a suggested…read more details

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