19 Days Southern China Natural Heritages: Shanghai Chengdu Jiuzhaigou Lijiang Shangri-La Kunming Guilin and Hong Kong

Few places on Earth boast as many UNESCO world heritages as China. Want to experience both the cultural treasures and incredible natural landscape on your China tour? Go and take this 19 days South China trip itinerary. Visit giant pandas’ sanctuaries, find serenity among Sichuan’s Buddhist and Taoist mountains, soak up the relaxing atmosphere in Yunnan’s Old Towns, and admire the rarely-seen scenery of South China Karst… it is a luxury tour of China, therefore you will travel in style and luxury!

Trip Highlights

  • Panda Volunteer Experience
  • Discover the uniqueness of China’s ethnic minority cultures
  • Explore Buddhist temples and mountains
  • Discover wonderous landscapes of the south
  • Explore UNESCO-listed classical garden in Suzhou

Customizable Tour Itinerary

Nihao, welcome to China! Arrive at Shanghai Pudong International Airport where you are met by your private China Culture Tour guide and transferred to your luxurious hotel of a good location. Relax at hotel or explore the surrounding areas on your own for the rest of the day.

  • Hotels: Four Seasons Hotel Pudong Shanghai, Grand Hyatt Shanghai, Grand Central Hotel Shanghai
Shanghai World Financial CenterShanghai World Financial Center

Around 1 hour’s drive from Shanghai city center, beside the Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal (UNESCO), Tongli Old Town in Suzhou is one of the most famous water towns in East China, and a mix of lakes, 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

Take a cultural tour of Shanghai, an ultramodern city actually with a history of 6000 years, according to the archaeologists. Today there are still hundreds year-old culture and art to be experienced. Visit Shanghai Museum, to appreciate the wonderful display of ancient Chinese painting, jade wares, ceramics, sculptures, and so forth.

Then ramble around the Yuyuan Market district, including an in-depth visit of Yu Garden, the best traditional garden in Shanghai, Bridge of Nine Turnings, and the old streets lined with different kinds of local specialty shops and food stalls.

Tour the Bund, used to be the foreign concession in the 19th-20th Century and witnessing Shanghai begin its thriving modern history. See the exotic building clusters in the Bund of Shanghai alongside Huangpu River. Then get across the river, here in the bustling Lujiazui district, ascend Shanghai World Financial Center, one of the highest building, for a stunning high-altitude view.  

Fly from Shanghai to Chengdu.

  • Meals: Breakfast, Lunch,
  • Hotels: Buddha Zen Hotel Chengdu, Fairmont Chengdu, Grand Hyatt Chengdu
Yu GardenYu Garden

Drive from Chengdu to Dujiangyan City, where the panda base is an important part of the UNESCO-protected Sichuan Giant Panda Sanctuaries. After the safety training and putting on working clothes, you’re now an honorary panda keeper for one day. Take good care of those adorable fur balls by cleaning their house, making them the cakes and biscuits and feed them. Meanwhile you will learn knowledge of giant pandas, e.g. how they live in the wilderness.

Besides observing them closely, you can also take photos together with panda by holding it (with extra fee).

  • Meals: Breakfast, Lunch,
Panda Volunteer ExperiencePanda Volunteer Experience

Have an easy walk up Mount Qingcheng, the place of origin of Taoism and one of the four great Taoist mountains in China featuring verdant forests and home to lots of cultural relics and historical Taoist temples.

Thereafter, wonder at the ancient Dujiangyan Irrigation System, originally built in 256 BC during China’s Warring States Period. It is the world’s earliest existing hydraulic engineering. After more than 2,200 years, it is still in use today.

Drive back to Chengdu and check-in to hotel.

  • Meals: Breakfast, Lunch,

Fly from Chengdu to Jiuzhaigou in the morning. Pick up and take a nature tour of Hunglong.

A true natural wonder in the world, Huanglong Scenic and Historic Interest Area is a paradise for rare flora and fauna, including giant panda and Sichuan golden snub-nosed monkey. Take in the breath-taking views by walking through or passing by snow mountains, virgin forests, valleys, waterfalls and the amazingly colorful lakes.

  • Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner,
  • Hotels: Sheraton Jiuzhaigou Resort, New Jiuzhai Hotel, InterContinental Resort Jiuzhai Paradise

After breakfast, enjoy a beautiful trip of Jiuzhaigou Valley Scenic and Historic Interest Area. The long zigzagging jiuzhaigou valley is of an average altitude of 30000 meters, and forms a series of forest ecosystems. The scenery is made of a series of narrow, cone-shaped karst formations and spectacular waterfalls. There are about 140 species of birds in the valley, as well as many endangered plant and animal species.

Fly to Chengdu.

Important notice: currently Jiuzhaigou is only partially open since the 2017 earthquake and is expected to be fully open after recovery. Meanwhile, as a result of the flight reductions, passengers can only fly into and out of Jiuzhaigou via Chengdu with night flight. So your tour to Jiuzhaigou is likely to be adjusted accordingly.

  • Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner,

Today make your way to Mount Emei Scenic Area, including Leshan Giant Buddha Scenic Area, which was listed as a UNESCO World Cultural and Natural Heritage in 1996.

The 8th-century Leshan Giant Buddha, also named Lingyun Buddha, is located on the east bank of Minjiang River. It is a statue of Maitreya, as high as 71 meters – the largest cliff carving statue in China. Take a short cruise on the river so that you can get a full picture of Leshan Giant Buddha.

Stay overnight at the foot of Mount Emei.

  • Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner,
  • Hotels: Century Sunshine Hotel Emeishan, Emeishan Huasheng Hotel, JZ Hotel Emei
Leshan Giant BuddhaLeshan Giant Buddha

Take the shuttle bus up Mount Emei, featuring beautiful views and home to a wealth of Buddhist relics and sites, including architectures, sculptures, ritual, music, and painting. Visit Wannian Temple, one of the oldest temples on Mount Emei, to see the tooth relic of Buddha, the bronze statue of Samantabhadra and Buddhist classics.

Then hike to Qingyin Pavilion, a fine example of Chinese Buddhist temple garden. Observe the wild monkeys around Wuxiangang parking lot. Take shuttle bus down to visit the Baoguo Temple. It is the first and most famous temple of Emei and the local Buddhist activity center.

Drive back to Chengdu

  • Meals: Breakfast, Lunch,
Mount Emei (Golden Summit)Mount Emei (Golden Summit)

In the morning, fly from Chengdu to Lijiang. Pick up and check-in to your hotel in Dayan Old Town. The UNESCO-listed Lijiang Old Town is a well-maintained ancient town inhabited by Naxi ethnic people for generations, and includes Dayan, Baisha, Shuhe and Black Dragon Pool. Relax at hotel and then you’re encouraged to have a leisure stroll through Dayan’s ancient alleyways, beautiful architectures, to experience Naxi culture, and enjoy the relaxing atmosphere.

  • Meals: Breakfast, Lunch,
  • Hotels: Banyan Tree Lijiang, Grand Hyatt Lijiang, Ivy Garden Resort Hotel (Lijiang Dayange)
Lijiang Old TownLijiang Old Town

Visit the amazingly beautiful Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, a holy mountain for local Naxi people. Ride a cable car to see the mountaintop prairie, valley, river, forests and glaciers. If you prefer, enjoy the show of Impression Lijiang staged in Ganhaizi Scenic Area of the snow mountain.

Then head for Baisha Ancient Town, more authentic and less-crowded than Dayan Old Town. Therefore you can experience a more traditional way of living of Naxi people. Admire the Lijiang Dongba culture relics – the Baisha Mural.  

Tour Black Dragon Pool to visit a Dongba Culture Museum, and see beautiful ancient pavilions and bridges, as well as Jade Dragon Snow Mountain reflected on the pool, creating Lijiang’s iconic image.

  • Meals: Breakfast, Lunch,
Jade Dragon Snow MountainJade Dragon Snow Mountain

This morning depart Lijiang and heard for Shangri-La. On the Way, enjoy the magnificent views of the First Bend of Yangtze River at Shigu Town. It is a big V curve formed when the Yangtze River stopped by a hill. Then stand amidst the breathtaking Tiger Leaping Gorge, one of the biggest and most famous gorges on Earth, and a paradise for nature lovers. You will never be tired of its sheer beauty and serenity.

Arrive in Shangri-La, more isolated and mysterious than most places in the world.

  • Meals: Breakfast, Lunch,
  • Hotels: Songtsam Linka Shangri-La, Songtsam Shangri-La (Lvgu) Lodge, Shangri-La Resort
Tiger Leaping GorgeTiger Leaping Gorge

Enjoy the morning by visiting the 17th-century Ganden Sumtsaling Monastery, which makes you feel you are amid an ancient Tibetan castle with golden-topped buildings, artistic decorated chambers and many cultural relics and works of Buddhist art.

Then experience the extreme serenity and take in sights at Potatso National Park, boasting a perfect eco-system of virgin forests, alpine meadows and rivers. You may encounter small cute wild animals like squirrels in the middle of the road. 

  • Meals: Breakfast, Lunch,
Ganden Sumtsaling MonasteryGanden Sumtsaling Monastery

This morning, visit the old town of Shangri-La, named Dukezong, a bustling commercial hub on the great Tea-horse Road, and inhabited by humble Tibetan people for over a thousand year. Walk on the slabstone paths to appreciate the Tibetan dwellings, walk the Moonlight Square and climb up Guishan Hill to see world’s largest prayer wheel.

In the afternoon, fly from Shangri-La to Kunming, named the “spring city” in China.

  • Meals: Breakfast, Lunch,
  • Hotels: Crowne Plaza Kunming City Centre, Intercontinental Kunming, Cachet Boutique Kunming Artime
World’s largest prayer wheel in Dukezong Ancient TownWorld’s largest prayer wheel in Dukezong Ancient Town

Today, have a visit of the Stone Forest (Shilin) UNESCO Global Geopark, part of South China Karst, with a forest of karst geology that began to form 300 million years ago. Wonder at the grotesque karst pinnacles, caves, bridges and waterfalls. And also you can experience the ethnic Yi traditions in Shilin County.

Thereafter transfer to the airport of Kunming and fly to Guilin, known as the most beautiful places to visit in China.

  • Meals: Breakfast, Lunch,
  • Hotels: Guilin Shangri La Hotel, Jolie Vue Boutique Hotel Guilin, Sheraton Guilin
Stone ForestStone Forest

Further explore South China Karst by taking a 4 to 4.5-hour cruise through Li River, embraced by ragged Karst peaks. Picture yourself boating on a Chinese landscape painting. If you’re lucky, you may see local fisherman fishing with cormorants. 

Go ashore in Yangshuo. Roam the bustling West Street, time-honor alleyways lined with snack stalls, souvenir shops, cafes, restaurants…

Thereafter, ride a bicycle or sit on your private vehicle to tour the countryside of Yangshuo. Soak in the amazingly beautiful surroundings of limestone hills, green vegetation, twisting rivers, vast farmlands stretching to ancient villages…

Enjoy Impression Liu Sanjie night show, performed in the outdoor with real landscape as the backdrop (optional).

  • Meals: Breakfast, Lunch,
  • Hotels: Alila Yangshuo, Yangshuo Banyan Tree Hotel, Yangshuo Mountain Retreat
Li River CruiseLi River Cruise

Drive from Yangshuo to Guilin. Explore Reed Flute Cave, the most spectacular karst cave in Guilin, featuring a grand, mystical underground palace of a series of stalactites and stalagmites, lighted up by gorgeous colorful lights.

Take high speed train from Guilin to Hong Kong, which is getting closer and closer with the Mainland, with bullet trains and Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge – world’s longest sea-crossing bridge.

  • Meals: Breakfast, Lunch,
  • Hotels: Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong, Grand Hyatt Hong Kong, JW Marriott Hotel Hong Kong
Reed Flute CaveReed Flute Cave

One of the busiest metropolises and one of the most popular destinations in the world, Hong Kong fascinates people with its free, laid-back atmosphere, numerous amazing shopping malls and wonderful foods. Enjoy yourself the free day in Hong Kong, relaxing and go shopping.

  • Meals: Breakfast,
Victoria HarborVictoria Harbor

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,
Lion dance during Chinese New YearLion dance during Chinese New Year

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

Karen from US

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