1 Week in China: A 7 Day China Itinerary and Travel Guide

1 Week in China: A 7 Day China Itinerary and Travel Guide

Wondering where to go in China when you only have 1 week in China? This 7 day China itinerary shows you how to see the most famous sights!

Having lived in China for more than a decade and also visited numerous times after moving away, I often take it for granted how much there is to see and do in China. China can be difficult to plan and visit, especially for people who don’t speak Chinese.

If you are thinking about going to China, you must have a lot of questions on where to go, when’s the best time to go, how you can get around, if you need to speak Chinese, etc.

This 7 day China itinerary will provide all the information you need to plan your 1 week in China vacation. In addition, check out my China planning guide to help with your China vacation planning. If you are staying more than 1 week in China (let’s say 3 weeks), check out my 3 Week China itinerary.

This blog contains occasional affiliate links, where I receive a small commission on sales of the products/hotels that are linked at no additional cost to you. In addition, as an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

7 Day China Itinerary Overview

Having 1 week in China is quite short considering how big and diverse China is. You will need to prioritize where to go in China based on what you want to see.

Best places to visit China for a first time visitor include Beijing, Shanghai and Xi’an. In this China itinerary I am not including Hong Kong or Macau since they alone will need at least 3-4 days and worth a trip alone for that region.

This one week China itinerary will be structured like this:
– 3 Days in Beijing
– 2 or 3 days in Shanghai
– 1 or 2 additional days in Xi’An or day trips from Shanghai

The itinerary below is simply a sample of how you can plan your one week in China and you should feel free to change things around and customize as you like.

Practical Things to Know Before Visiting China

  • China Visa: You most likely will need a China visa (L visa for tourists), especially if you are visiting from the US, UK, Australia, India, etc. You can read more about visa requirements and documents you need to apply for the visa on the official government website.
  • Chinese Currency: The currency in China is RMB (or CNY). You cannot use USD or Euros in China, nobody will accept them. You can exchange money at the airport and banks in China. You can also take out money from ATMs. If you are exchanging money at a bank, bring your passport.
  • Carry your passport with you: You should be carrying your passport with you at all times. They checked my passport even when I was entering a train station (they also checked everyone else’s ID).
  • China Sim Cards: You can get a sim card when you land from the Beijing or Shanghai airport. If you are in the city already, you can buy sim cards from authorized retailers. You need your passport with you to register regardless of where you buy the Sim Cards. The good news is that there is wifi everywhere in China!
  • Esim Cards in China: eSim is not a thing in China because Chinese phones (including iPhones) cannot use eSim. But if you are visiting from outside of China, you can actually set up eSim on your phone before entering China. My friend used this and she got it before she got to China. If you don’t want to go through the trouble of getting a physical sim card, you can try this eSim.
  • Credit Cards are not a thing: China is so advanced that people use QR codes to pay for everything. Nobody really uses or takes credit cards (you probably can at large hotels, with a fee). If you can, set up Alipay and WeChat pay before you go to China. You can use cash as people are obligated to accept cash, but they might not have changes to give back to you since, again, everyone uses Alipay or Wechat Pay.
  • Get WeChat: WeChat is life, you can do everything on WeChat, from paying to booking tickets to communicating with tours and hotels.
  • Don’t use Uber or Google Maps: those do not work in China. For Uber, you need to download Didi app (calls local taxis), and instead of Google Maps, use Baidu Map or 高德地图
  • Be prepared for the Great Fire Wall: You can’t get access to many western apps like Facebook, Instagram, etc. If you really want to get those, you will need to get a VPN on your phone, Astrill is a popular one, other ones include Lets VPN, shadowsocks, etc.
  • Public transportation is amazing in Beijing and Shanghai: subways are clean, fast and take you everywhere.
  • This is the best booking website for China for hotels and trains and attraction tickets.
  • China is extremely safe: I used to walk around at 2am in Beijing, super safe. You never have to worry about violent crimes in China.

Day 0 of 1 Week in China – Travel Day, Arrive in Beijing

Start your 1 week in China in either Shanghai or Beijing, it really doesn’t matter. Both Shanghai and Beijing have international airports with direct flights from major cities around the globe.

During this 7 day China itinerary you will end up flying in and out from different cities to save time. Generally speaking if you fly Air China (flag carrier airline in China) then most likely you will land in Beijing for a direct flight. If you fly China Eastern, you will land in Shanghai as they are based in Shanghai. This 7 day China itinerary assumes you land in Beijing and leave from Shanghai.

After landing in Beijing and going through immigration, take either a subway or shuttle bus or taxi to check into your hotel in Beijing.

Transportation Between Beijing International Airport and Beijing City Center

Just so you are aware, there are multiple international airports in Beijing! The two major ones you should know about are:

  • PEK: otherwise known as Beijing Capital International Airport. About 20 miles (32 km) from Beijing.
  • PKX: known as Beijing Daxing International Airport. It is about 30 miles from Beijing. It is currently the largest and most modern airport in the world.

Like any major city around the world, transportation in Beijing is quite convenient and people mostly rely on public transit unless you want to splurge on Taxis or private transfers.

PEK (Beijing Capital International Airport) to Beijing City Center

There are several options to transfer from PEK to Beijing, including:

  • Private Transfers
  • Airport Express Train
  • Airport Shuttle Bus

PEK Airport Express Train

The Airport Express Train is the fastest way to get to Beijing city Center from the Capital International Airport. It runs every 10 minutes and costs RMB 25 (~4 USD) one way.

The airport express train runs every 10 minutes and the journey takes about 20-25 minutes. Visitors can get on the Beijing Airport Express Train from Terminal 2 and Terminal 3.

From the terminals, the Beijing airport express train stops at 2 stations in Beijing, Sanyuanqiao Station and Dongzhimen Station. Sanyuanqiao Station connects to Subway Line #10 and Dongzhimen Station connects to Subway Line #2 and subway Line #13. Note that the RMB25 ticket is only between the terminals and these 2 stops. If you need to transfer to other subway lines you will need to pay the subway fare.

Read more about the PEK Capital International Airport Express Train here.

PEK Airport Shuttle Bus

Another option from Beijing Airport to the city center is to take the airport shuttle bus. The shuttle buses have destinations at Fangzhuang, Beijing South Railway Station, Beijing Railway Station, Olympic Village, Beijing West Railway Station, Wangfujing, etc.

The price for a one way ticket varies between RMB20 to RMB50, depending on your final destination. Usually the journey is between 75 to 90 minutes depending on traffic. These shuttle buses generally stop running around 8pm.

I would recommend taking the shuttle bus if your hotel is close to the drop off point or if you are a single traveler with a lot of luggage since you will need to take the luggage onto the subway if you take the express train.

Read more about the airport shuttle here.

PEK Beijing Capital Airport Taxi

In terms of ease and convenience, taxis would probably win this battle. There are taxis outside of every terminal at Beijing Airport.

The minimum charge is RMB 13 covering the first 3km, the rest of the trip will be charged at RMB 2.3/km. There are some other charges such as fuel surcharge, low-speed charge and stand-by charge.

Taxis are pretty much your only option if you land late at night. Read more about it here.

PKX (Beijing Daxing International Airport) to Beijing City Center

There are several options to transfer from PKX to Beijing City Center, including:

  • Private Transfers
  • Airport Subway
  • Airport Railway
  • Airport Shuttle Bus
  • Airport Taxi

The easiest and cheapest way to go from Beijing Daxing Airport to city center is by the Airport Subway. There are only 2 stations on this line. It costs RMB35 (5 USD) and you will need to transfer to other subway lines at Caoqiao Station to reach your hotel. You need to pay extra for the subway when you transfer.

The subway takes 19 minutes from the airport to Caoqiao Station.

Beijing Airport Railway

Another option to get from the Beijing Airport to Beijing City Center is to take the bullet train. It takes about 20-35 minutes to the Beijing West railway Station, from which you need to transfer to other subway lines to reach your hotel.

The bullet train costs 30 RMB (4USD) one way.

Beijing Airport Shuttle Bus

Another option from Beijing Airport to the city center is to take the airport shuttle bus. There are 6 bus lines to central Beijing and it takes about 80 minutes. It costs 40 RMB (USD 5.5) for a one way ticket. You have to buy tickets through WeChat App or at WeChat vending machines.

Beijing Daxing Airport Taxi

Airport taxis run 24/7 and taxis will be metered. The estimated cost from this airport to Beijing city center is 220+ RMB (30 USD+). If you are stuck in traffic it will cost more, and can take up to 90 minutes!

Where to Stay in Beijing

Beijing is a huge city and there are several areas you can stay in. For a first time visitor in Beijing I would recommend staying at one of the more touristy areas for ease of traveling and commuting.

Ultra Luxury Hotels in Beijing

Waldorf Astoria Beijing: This hotel is not only luxurious but also located in a really convenient location. It’s about 5 minute walk from the famous Wangfujing Pedestrian street, 10 minute drive from Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden city and also lose to the subway line #5 station.

Bulgari Hotel, Beijing: This hotel is super luxurious but also extremely close to Sanlitun, where nightlife happens.

Medium Range Hotels in Beijing

Novotel: I stayed at Novotel and loved it. The hotel had an amazing location and it took me no time to get to Tiananmen Square as well as Wangfujing. I would highly recommend staying here

New World Beijing Hotel: This hotel also has an amazing location: 15 minute walk to the Temple of Heaven and 10 minute walk to the subway station! If I were glad I stayed at Novotel last time, I would love to stay at this hotel next time.

Courtyard Hotels in Beijing

Part of the charm of old Beijing is the courtyard residences otherwise known as Siheyuan. Siheyuan is a historical type of residence in Beijing that used to host multiple families. In modern Beijing many of these Siheyuan became museums but many still are owned by private families with lots going on sale now (at a high price).

If you are interested in staying at one and explore Hutong then be sure to check out the following hotels:

Beijing Double Happiness Courtyard Hotel: Boasting ancient layouts and decorative pieces, this courtyard hotel is centrally located and offers an unique experience for anyone visiting Beijing.

Kelly‘s Courtyard Hotel: Located near Xidan, a vibrant and commercial area and they also offer bike hire.

How to Get Around Beijing

Beijing has an amazing and massive public transportation system, including the subway and bus. As a foreign tourist, it is probably easier to take the subway than the bus around Beijing.

You can pay for the subway, bus and train ticket using the “Yikatong card”, a transport card.

This transportation card is similar to the Oyster card in London, the Metrocard in NYC and the Octopus card in HK where you put money into the card and refill as necessary.

If you are spending 3 days in Beijing, you can get a 3 pay pass for 10 CNY for 18 rides. At the time of purchase, you need to pay a deposit of CNY20 but it is refundable.

Day 1-3 of 7 Days in China – Beijing

When you think about where to go in China I’m sure Beijing is probably No.1 on your list. To be honest, 3 days in Beijing doesn’t do it justice but if you only have 1 week in China and would like to see as much as possible, then it would be difficult to spend more than 3 days in Beijing.

In the following 3 day Beijing itinerary, I will include both VERY TOURISTY sites as well as less touristy and more trendy/local places in Beijing that you should visit. I don’t believe that just visiting the world famous places in Beijing gives you a good view into the lives of Chinese people.

Day 1 in Beijing Overview:

Tiananmen  -> Mausoleum of Mao Zedong (optional) -> National Museum of China (optional) -> Forbidden City (Closed on Mondays) -> Jingshan Park -> Hutong -> Bell Tower and Drum -> Nan Luo Gu Xiang -> Hou Hai Bar Street

Start your first day of your 1 week in China adventure in Beijing, the modern capital city of China.

Beijing is the political center of China and it is so important that in China, the only time zone in China is Beijing time (there is only 1 time zone in China). Beijing became the capital of China in 1421 by the Ming dynasty even though it had been the capital of China prior to that on and off.

Morning: Tiananmen (天安门) + Flag Raising Ceremony

Metro Station: Qianmen Station (Line 2) / Tian’anmen East Station (Line 1)

Looking at the map of Beijing, you might notice that Tian’anmen is pretty much in the center of the city so I suggest that you start your day as well as your 3 day Beijing adventure there.

Tiananmen Square is world famous for many reasons. The square is one of the biggest in the world. Visitors generally walk around Tiananmen square and take photos of the Tiananmen Rostrum, with a portrait of Mao Zedong right in the middle.

Every morning exactly at sunrise, there is a flag raising ceremony at Tiananmen where uniformed guards will march to the flagpole.

The whole flag raising ceremony lasts about 3 minutes and you want to get there about 10-15 minutes before it starts. There is also a flag lowering ceremony everyday at sunset. See the link here for the Tiananmen flag raising ceremony.

You can of course visit Tiananmen without the flag raising ceremony. Just remember that it is ALWAYS crowded at Tiananmen with both domestic and international visitors so going there early might work in your favor.

TianAnMen Square 1 week in China 3 days in Beijing

Mausoleum of Mao Zedong 毛主席纪念堂 (optional) (Closed on Mondays)

Hours: 8am – 12pm

The Mausoleum of Mao Zedong is where you can see the body of Mao preserved perfectly. There is usually a very long line to get in which is why I’ve never actually been.

If you decide to visit the mausoleum then you need to keep your bag/camera in the locker before you line up otherwise you won’t be able to get in. But you must have your passport with you otherwise you won’t be getting in either (yes China has a lot of very strict rules).

National Museum of China (optional) (Closed on Mondays)

Hours: 9am – 5pm

Situated at Tiananmen Square, the National Museum of China is perhaps one of the most important museums in China and in the world. It’s the 2nd most visited museum in the world after the Louvre in Paris.

The National Museum of China displays art pieces covering the span of Chinese history and many of the artifacts are not found anywhere else in China or in the world. I personally think it’s pretty cool to see the exhibitions if you are interested in Chinese history.

Afternoon: Forbidden City (Closed on Mondays)

Hours: 8:30am to 5pm (summer) or 4:30pm (winter)

Forbidden City is the most famous imperial palace complex in China and located right behind the Tiananmen Rostrum.

Since 1925, Forbidden City has been under the charge of Palace Museum and is now open to the public as a museum and it also has been declared a World Heritage Site. You will see collections of artifacts and art work through the palace museum as well as ancient Chinese architecture.

1 week in China 3 days in Beijing forbidden City

Budget at least 2-3 hours as Forbidden City is quite large and is usually very crowded.  I also recommend that you buy your tickets online ahead of time and bring your passport with you during your visit.

There is a limit of 80,000 tickets a day issued for the Forbidden City. If you are visiting during peak season you really should buy tickets ahead of time to avoid disappointments.

Beijing Forbidden City

There is a very nice afternoon tea cafe inside the Forbidden City. You have to go get a number and get a “return time”. I suggest you go as early as possible! The pastries all look super royal and unique. This is an experience not to be missed.

Forbidden City afternoon tea in China

Jingshan Park

Hours: 6am (or 6:30am in the winter) to 9pm (or 8pm in the winter)

Jingshan Park is an imperial garden directly north of Forbidden City. Generally visitors visit Jingshan Park after they exit through the North Gate of Forbidden City. Jingshan Park has a hill that gives you a bird’s eye view of Forbidden City.

If you can spare 30 minutes to an hour during your day in Beijing, then I highly recommend you stop by this park. There is a small fee (2RMB) to visit this park but I seriously think this is the best view of Forbidden city in Beijing.

Jing Shan Park View of Forbidden City

Hutongs in Beijing

Beijing is known for well preserved Hutong (alleys) and there are several famous ones in Central Beijing. Most of them are either south of the Mausoleum or near the Bell Tower and Drum area. See map above for locations of the famous Hutongs (I will also mention some in the sections below).

You can do a Hutong Walking Tour if you want to fully explore them, learn more about the history and why they are significant.

Bell Tower and Drum Tower (Gulou and Zhonglou)

Metro Station: Gulou Street Station (Line 2 & 8) or Shichahai Station (Line 8)
Bus Line: 5, 60, 107
Hours: 9am – 5pm
Entrance Fee: RMB 20 for Drum Tower & RMB 15 for Bell Tower

Beijing Drum Tower Bell Tower

The Bell Tower and Drum Tower were used for instruments back in the ancient times and later on they were used by the government to actually tell time. Each building has 2 stories and you need to buy an entrance ticket to visit and go upstairs.

In the Drum Tower on the 2nd floor there used to be 25 drums (24 small ones and 1 large one) but now there is only 1 large one remaining.

If you are visiting the Bell Tower and Drum Tower from Jingshan Park, you can technically walk there in about 30 minutes (blocks are very long in Beijing).

Evening: Nan Luo Gu Xiang

Nanluoguxiang (南锣鼓巷) is a Hutong near in the Drum and Bell Tower district. The alley is about 800m long and in recent years this alley has become a very popular tourist (and local) destination with restaurants, bars, shops, coffee shops, etc.

Apparently this Hutong now is the third most popular bar street in Beijing after Sanlitun and Houhai. Ideally you will visit Nanluoguxiang at night and have your dinner there (both western and Chinese restaurants available) and grab some street food and drinks along the way.

I really loved visiting this when I was in Beijing and I can’t wait to go back again. There is also a hostel situated near this Hutong called Beijing Downtown Travelotel that I would recommend checking out.

Houhai Bar Street (后海酒吧街)

Not too far away from Nanluoguxiang (~10-15 min walk) is the famous Houhai Bar Street. The Houhai Bar Street is situated next to the Shichahai Lake and a bunch of Hutongs.

This particular bar street combines both western and Chinese restaurants, bars, Karaoke, coffee shops and tea houses. It is said that there are more than 120 bars on the Houhai Bar Street and the most popular ones include Zone Bar, East Shore Live Jazz Cafe, Houhai #5 Bar Club, Sex and da City, Buddha Bar, etc.

Day 2 in Beijing Overview:

Temple of Heaven -> Summer Palace -> Yuanmingyuan Park -> National Stadium -> Wangfujing and Wangfujing Pedestrian Street

Morning: Temple of Heaven (天壇)

Metro Station: Tiantan East Gate Station (Line 5) & numerous bus lines
Hours
: 8am – 5pm or 6pm depending on the month
Entrance Fee: 10 – 15 RMB

Beijing Temple of Heaven China itinerary

Temple of Heaven was a sacred place where the emperors of China during the Ming and Qing dynasties worshiped the god of heaven and prayed for good harvest. It’s also one of my favorite places in Beijing because the architecture (including the colors and details) is just so pretty.

Temple of Heaven gets packed so I would recommend you either go extremely early or go near the closing time to avoid crowds.

When you go to Temple of Heaven early in the morning you actually will see a lot of old Chinese people playing Chinese chess, chatting or doing tai-chi along the Long Corridor (next to the East Gate) which showcases the authentic daily life of the local Chinese people.

Photography tip at Temple of Heaven: If you go early go to the back of The Imperial Vault to take photos. Since the place is circular you will still get a nice photo and all the other visitors will be too busy taking photos in the front of the circular vault.

Summer Palace (颐和园)

Metro Station: Beigongmen Station (Line 4) and numerous bus lines
Hours: 6:30am to 6pm (or 5pm) depending on the season
Entrance Fee: RMB30 (peak season) and RMB20 (low season). Book here.

Beijing Summer Palace China itinerary

Summer Palace is about 15km outside of the Beijing City Center and it is the largest royal park in China.

It was constructed in 1750 as a garden as a birthday gift to the emperor’s mother and later the Palace was enlarged by the Empress Dowager Cixi.

Unfortunately during the Anglo-French Allied Force invasion of China during the Second Opium War, Summer Palace was burned down and later restored. The park next to Summer Palace, Yuanmingyuan, shows the post-fire ruin due to the invasion.

You should plan at least a couple of hours to see most of Summer Palace; some of the most famous attractions at Summer Palace include Kunming Lake (you can boat on it), the Long Corridor and Longevity Hill.

There are restaurants and food vendors inside Summer Palace but of course the price is much higher than what you would pay for outside of the palace.

Beijing Itinerary China Summer Palace

Yuanmingyuan Park (圓明園 Old Summer Palace)

Metro Station: Yuanmingyuan Station (Line 4) and numerous bus lines
Hours: 7am to 6:30pm (or 5pm)

Yuanmingyuan Park is what’s known as the Old Summer Palace in Beijing. It was originally constructed in 1707 as an imperial garden and then expanded as the main imperial residence of Qianlong Emperor of Qing dynasty.

The Old Summer Palace was a combination of Western style and traditional Chinese style architecture and it was made up of 3 gardens, Garden of Perfect Brightness, Garden of Eternal Spring and Elegant Spring Garden.

However during the second Opium War in the early 1800s the British forces burned the Old Summer Palace (took 3 days) as a retaliation for the murder of some British soldiers. Even to this day, the burning of Yuanmingyuan is a tragic historical event that most Chinese people can never forget.

After the burning of the old Summer Palace, attempts were made to restore the Old Summer Palace but due to insufficient funding this was never accomplished except the restoration of the present day Summer Palace.

Tsinghua University & Peking University (Optional)

Tsinghua University and Peking University are the top two universities in China. Since China has so many people, it’s probably harder to get into one of these two universities compared to getting into the top universities in the US.

Both universities have a huge and beautiful campus. Since both are located relatively close to Summer Palace and Yuanmingyuan Park, if you have time during your 3 days in Beijing you should visit one of these two campuses to see what university and student life is like in China.

National Stadium (鸟巢 Bird Nest) & National Aquatics Center (水立方 Water Cube)

Metro Station: Beitucheng (Line 8 & 10) and Olympic Sports Center (Line 8)

Beijing Bird Nest National Stadium olympic

The Olympic Sports Center (the stadium, National Aquatics Center, etc) were either constructed or renovated for the 2008 Olympics. There is pretty tight security when you try to get into the proximity of the building so be prepared to have your bag scanned and checked.

You don’t have to pay to see the outside of either building but will need to pay to go inside. I’ve done a tour of the Bird Nest stadium and it was quite informative and fun but I’ve never been inside the Water Cube.

If you go at night the Water Cube will be lit up which is quite amazing. Overall if you have time (and energy) to visit I would say go for it as the architecture is fully impressive.

Evening: Wangfujing Street (王府井大街)

Metro Station: Wangfujing Station (Line 1) and numerous bus lines

Wangfujing Street is a very busy commercial street with tons of Depart Stores, small shops, restaurants, bars and cafes.

If you are looking to eat Peking Duck in Beijing, one of the most famous (and touristy) restaurants is called Quanjude Roast Duck Restaurant.

There are many branches of Quanjude in Beijing and it is one of the most established duck restaurants in China since it opened its doors in 1864.

A typical meal per person is about USD 30 and you should order both the Duck and the side dishes (made using part of the duck not used in the main Peking Duck preparation so you can order duck stir fry and duck soup, etc).

Note that most restaurants in China close pretty early, and this particular branch closes at 830pm.

If you want to try Chinese hot pot, there is a chain called Haidilao (海底捞) that is quite famous and popular in China on Wangfujing Street. Alternatively many visitors go to the Wangfujing Snack Street to try Chinese street food (some may involve fried insects). There are also pizza hut and McDonalds on Wangfujing Street.

Day 3 in Beijing Overview:

Great Wall of China -> Sanlitun

Half Day to Full Day – Great Wall of China

The Great Wall is one of the Seven Wonders of the World and you simply cannot say you’ve been to Beijing without visiting the Great Wall.

The Great wall was built in 220-206 BC by Qin Shi Huang, the first Emperor of China (who also united China). Many people died during the construction of the Great Wall, and over the years the Great Wall pretty much was destroyed by nature but many parts have been rebuilt.

Since the Great Wall is so long, there are different parts of the wall you can visit from Beijing and I will mention a few below:

Badaling

Badaling is the most popular section of the Great Wall because it’s the closest section from Beijing. Many tour buses go to Badaling (I would not recommend the tours).

Beijing Badaling Great Wall of China

Since it is the closest section of the Great Wall to Beijing, Badaling is where most of the crowd end up at. If you don’t want to battle through crazy crowds I would advise against going to this part of the Great Wall.

However if you have limited time and would like to visit Badaling, you can take a high speed train or local bus from Beijing to Badaling:

  • High speed trains take about 20 to 40 minutes, cost around 25 RMB (3- 4 USD). You take it from Qinghe Railway Station to Badaling Great Wall Railway Station.
  • Bus Line 877 from Deshengmen Bus Terminal, bus ticket is 12 RMB Travel time is about 1.5 hours (non-stop).
  • Tourist Bus from Qianmen to Badaling, takes about 90 minutes and costs 80 RMB round trip (or 50 RMB one way).
  • Bus Line 919 from Deshengmen Bus Terminal, bus fare is 13 RMB and it takes 2 hours (13 stops).

Mutianyu (Great Wall)

China itinerary Beijing Mutianyu Great Wall

Mutianyu is the most “pretty” and tourist friendly part of the Great Wall thanks to the restoration efforts. Mutianyu is slightly farther from Beijing than Badaling, making it less crowded and a better experience.

There is a cable car at Mutianyu that takes you up to Tower 14 and from there you can walk up or even hike to the Jiankou section of the Great Wall in 4 hours (10km/6 miles). The cable car costs RMB120 for a round trip and RMB100 for a one way trip.

You can take a local bus from Beijing to Mutianyu but it is not the most straightforward. For this reason, I would recommend taking a tour to Mutianyu instead and that is what I did.

Jiankou

Jiankou part of the Great Wall is by far a more dangerous and wild part of the Great Wall because it has not been maintained or restored. Because of the danger, this part of the Great Wall is not officially open to tourists although you technically can hike from Jiankou to Mutianyu in 4 hours.

Jiankou is also 3 hours from Beijing by public transit and requires several transfers. If you are very fit and want an unforgettable experience to have pretty much the entire Great Wall to yourself, read this guide and also this article to see the experience of one hiker.

Jinshanling

Jinshanling part of the Great Wall is one of the most popular place to visit for hikers and photographers. This part of the Great Wall is about 2-3 hours from Beijing, half of it is restored and the other half is wild so it’s a perfect blend.

You can hike from Jinshanling to Simatai, the only part of the Great Wall that is open for tourists at night. However there are some recent articles saying that the hike is closed.

There is also a cable car that can take you up to Jinshanlin. What’s more special about Jinshanling is that every year there is a “Run the Great Wall” marathon organized in this part of the wall and participants can run a full Marathon, half Marathon or 10K.

Evening: Sanlitun (三里屯)

Metro Station: Tuanjiehu Station (Line 10)

After you come back from the Great Wall and shower at your hotel, spend your evening in the popular Sanlitun district of Beijing.

Sanlitun is an area full of restaurants, bars, clubs, and international brandy name shops. The Sanlitun Bar Street is in the east side of North Sanlitun Street covering over half of all bars in Beijing.

Some bars are open 24 hours in Sanlitun and there are also nightclubs in the area where you will see tons of Ferraris and Lambos parked outside.

Other Things to Do in Beijing:

798 Art Zone

If you have additional time in Beijing during the day and you are an art lover, then you wouldn’t want to miss a visit to the 798 Art Zone.

798 Art Zone is an area with contemporary art galleries, bookstores, museums, restaurants and cafes that used to be factories during the Mao-era. Most galleries in 798 Art Zone are closed on Monday and they also generally close around 6pm.

Some things not to be missed in the 798 Art Zone include 798 Photo Gallery, Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, Chinese Contemporary, Springs Center of the Arts, Zhu Bingren Art Museum and Faurschou Foundation Beijing.

teamLab Massless

You may be familiar with teamLab as they are all the rage in Tokyo. But did you know that there is also one in Beijing?

This beautiful immersive art experience includes over 500 beautiful artworks displayed in a 3D space, where you can fully forget the outside world and immerse yourself in art.

You can expect to spend at least 1-2 hours at this teamLab. Purchase tickets to reserve your spot.

What to Eat During 3 Days in Beijing

Peking Duck

As mentioned earlier, Peking Duck is a Chinese delicacy. The duck is crispy on the outside and soft on the inside and you eat it by putting sliced skin and meat, together with slices of cucumber and scallion with bean paste inside a thin crepe.

Famous Peking Duck restaurants in Beijing include Quanjude, Bianyifang Roast Duck, Da Dong (super expensive/ high end Peking Duck restaurant), Siji Mifu, Li Quan Kaoya Dian, etc. In general each duck is between 150 – 300 RMB depending on which restaurant you choose.

Hot Pot in Beijing

Similar to Fondue, Hot Pot is a popular Chinese cuisine where you put beef, lamb, veggies and noodles (sometimes) into a boiling pot and cook the food yourself. You eat the cooked food with a bowl of sauce generally made with Satay Sauce, Soy Sauce, Sesame Paste, etc.

Hot Pot is especially popular for bigger dining parties as well as during the winter when it’s cold outside. Popular places for Hot Pot in Beijing include Donglaishun, Haidilao (mentioned above in Wangfujing), Hongyuan Nanmen Hot Pot.

Other Local Cuisine that you should try include Black Bean Paste Noodle, Jianbing, dumplings, Baozi (pork Buns), Breakfast from street vendors (Chinese donuts, etc).

Day 4 – 5 of 7 Days in China: Xi’An

After spending 3 days in Beijing, it’s time to move to the next city Xian on Day 4 of your 1 week in China. Xian is the terminus of the Silk Road and also the old capital city of China throughout Chinese history therefore it’s not surprising that Xian has many historical sites to visit.

Traveling from Beijing to Xian

Travel from Beijing to Xian first thing in the morning either by train or by plane.

There are over 20 direct flights from Beijing to Xian everyday and the entire journey takes about 2 hours. If you don’t want to fly, you can also take the high speed train from Beijing to Xian which takes about 4.5-6 hours.

Alternatively, to save time and money, I can also recommend taking the overnight train from Beijing West Railway Station at 8:40pm to arrive at Xi’an Railway station at around 8:30 am the next morning.

To book train tickets within China, I highly recommend using trip.com as it is one of the largest travel booking websites and even locals use it to book train tickets and hotels.

Xi'an China

Where to Stay in Xian

There is a famous historical area of Xian where you probably will spend most of your time, therefore I recommend that you stay in that area for easy access.

Medium Range Hotel in Xian

Xi’an is not very expensive compared to Beijing and Shanghai so you can stay at very nice hotels for a good price.

Grand Park Xi’an: Grand Park Xi’an is located right by Yongningmen, the Southern Gate of the Xian City Wall and a 15 minute walk from the Drum Tower and Bell Tower. It’s also close to the subway station making it super convenient to go anywhere.

Howard Johnson Ginwa Plaza Hotel: Very close to the Grand Park Xi’an, great location and price.

Eastern House Boutique Hotel: Located within the historical center of Xian, great price and location.

Budget Hotels & Hostels in Xi’An

Ancient City International Youth Hostel: Located within the historical center, close to the North Gate of the Xi’an City wall as well as the Muslim Street (for food).

Xi’an See Tang Hostel: Within the historical center, close to the South Gate of the city wall.

Day 4 Xi’An Overview

Terracotta Army -> Huaqing Gong -> Xi’An

Terracotta Army (兵马俑)

Tickets: purchase here

Many people come to Xi’An to see the world famous Terracotta Army, a collection of life-size Terracotta sculptures depicting the army of Qin Shi Huang, the first emperor of China in his tomb.

Terracotta warriors xi'an china

The sculptures depict army and scholars of various heights, facial structures and clothing in great detail as well as chariots and horses. Terracotta Army is located about an hour outside of Xi’an city center.

How to get to Terracotta Army from Xi’an

Bus 5 (306): Take bus 5 (regular bus 306) from Xi’an Railway Station from 7am to 5pm for RMB7 per person each way. Journey takes about an hour. Buy a ticket after you get on the bus. Don’t pay anything for anything before you get on as there are many “fake” Tourist Bus Number 5 in that area.

Free Shuttle Bus from Xi’an North Railway Station from 8am to 4pm to Terracotta Army. This is great for people who get off the high speed train in Xi’an. To get on the Free Shuttle, you will need to show the entrance ticket and railway ticket to get on.

Tour: you can book a tour that will take you to Terracotta Army, saving you the trouble of navigating public transit.

Huaqing Gong (华清宫)

Bus Stop: 306, 914, 915
Hours: 7:30am – 8pm

If you are visiting Terracotta Army and have time for a side trip along the way, then you can consider visiting Huaqing Gong (Palace), the ancient hot spring resort for the imperial family. There are numerous gardens, relics of hot spring, historical Chinese architecture and artificial lake at Huaqing Gong.

There is a love story between one of the Chinese emperors and his concubine at Huaqing Gong. There is a show every evening that depict their love story. If you don’t plan to stay to watch the show, then a couple of hours at Huaqing Gong should be enough. You can take Bus 306, 914 and 915 between Huaqing Gong and Terracotta Army.

Day 5 Xi’An Overview

Giant Wild Goose Pagoda -> Small Wild Goose Pagoda -> Xi’an City Wall -> Historical Center + Muslim Quarter + Yongxingfang

Giant Wild Goose Pagoda (大雁塔)

Metro Station: Xiaozhai Station (line 2) and walk 10 minutes or Dayanta Station (Line 3)
Bus: Numerous bus lines and tourist bus 6, 8, 9
Hours: 8am – 5pm
Entrance: RMB 60 to enter Da Ci’en Temple and RMB30 to go up the Pagoda

One of the most famous Pagodas in China, Giant Wild Goose Pagoda is located in the Da Ci’en Temple complex.

The pagoda was built during the Tang dynasty to collect Buddhist materials and study Buddhist scriptures from India. It had gone through numerous renovation and reconstruction due to war, earthquake and gradual decay.

During one period of time the Giant Wild Goose Pagoda had 10 stories but after the earthquake the Pagoda was reconstructed to the current 7 stories. There is a giant fountain (largest in Asia) in the North Square of Giant Wild Goose Pagoda that has a free synchronized performance with classical music everyday at certain times.

If you have time during your 7 days in China itinerary then definitely check out this Pagoda and the music fountain.

Small Wild Goose Pagoda

Bus Stop: Line 21, 402 etc
Hours: 8am – 6pm (Closed on Tuesday)

Similar to the Giant Wild Goose Pagoda, the small wild Goose Pagoda was built for similar purposes and also had to be reconstructed after the earthquake to its current 13 stories. It was named the Small Wild Goose Pagoda because it is smaller than the Giant Wild Goose Pagoda and built after it.

The Small Wild Goose Pagoda is also part of the Xi’an Museum which you can visit if you have time. However if you don’t have time during your 2 days in Xi’an then you can skip this.

Xi’An City Wall

Metro Station: Yongningmen Station (Line 2) for South Gate & Anyuanmen (Line 2) for North Gate
Bus Station: Multiple bus lines to all 4 gates
Hours: 8am to 10pm or 8pm depending on the season
Entrance Fee: RMB54

Biking on Xi'an City Wall china

The Xi’An City Wall is one of the largest and most well preserved city wall in China. It was a fortification back in ancient City to protect the city center within it. The Xi’An City Wall has 4 main gates where visitors can enter and there is also a moat surrounding the city wall.

The best way to see the Xi’An City Wall is to rent a bike to go through the entire wall, it takes about an hour. It costs about RMB 45 for a 2 hour rental. During the evening time the lanterns will be lit up and you will see many locals walking the wall to exercise.

Xi’An Drum Tower and Bell Tower

Located inside the Xi’An historical center (inside the city wall), the Drum Tower and Bell Tower are historical architectures similar to the one in Beijing. If you stay nearby, you can take photos of the towers from the outside.

Muslim Quarter

Xi’An has a large Muslim population due to its history. During the Tang dynasty, many Muslim merchants came to Xi’an (the then capital of China) via the Silk Road.

They mostly lived within the City Wall in the present day Muslim Quarter, which has now become a famous tourist attraction. Many people come to the Muslim quarter for its street food. The Muslim quarter is located behind the Bell Tower and many of the streets I outlined on the map are famous for street food.

If you don’t know what to eat, be sure to do a food walking tour of the Muslim Quarter!

Yongxingfang

If the Muslim quarter were popular among tourists, then the locals would actually spend more time in Yongxingfang, located near the east gate of the Xi’an City Wall. Similar to the Muslim Quarter, there are plenty of restaurants and street food in Yongxingfang one can choose from.

What to Eat in Xi’An

One of the best things to do in Xi’An for most tourists is actually to eat. Being the old capital of China, Xi’An cuisine is not only one of the oldest cuisines in China but also is a mixture of various influences such as Muslim influence.

The main types of Xi’An food include Halal food, dominated by noodles, breads and dumplings with strong flavors like spicy and sour.

Meat Burgers

China itinerary what to eat in Xian

The Xi’An meat burger is a very simple made of bread and pork (Muslim Quarter ones use beef instead of Pork).

This burger may look simple but the meat is generally cooked with 10-20 different types of spices. The meat is also chopped up into much smaller pieces when served with the bread which is slightly crispy on the outside. Cost of the burger is generally less than RMB 10 each.

Rice Noodle (cold noodle)

The Rice Noodle dish has a long history dating back to the first dynasty of China. Generally the noodle is made from rice flour and cut into thin but wide slices mixed with cucumber, garlic, cilantro, soy sauce, red pepper and other sauces.

Occasionally you can find one that’s mixed with sesame paste. You usually will find the rice noodle dish from shops that also sell meat burgers.

Lamb Soup with Flatbread

The Lamb Soup is perhaps the most famous food of Xi’An. The soup is made from Lamb and the customers (sometimes the restaurant does it) can tear apart the flatbread and put it in the soup to eat together. Besides lamb, some restaurants also offer beef soup, seafood soup, etc.

BiangBiang Noodle

The name “Biang” comes from the sound of making and eating the noodles. Unlike normal noodles, Biangbiang noodle is as wide as a belt and extremely long (1 noodle can fill a bowl).  The noodle is often served with potato, carrot, tofu, etc with hot chili pepper oil.

There are so many other famous dishes Xi’An is known for, this CNN article summarizes all the dishes quite well.

Day 6 – 7 of 7 Days in China: Shanghai

Shanghai is the largest city in China by population and perhaps the most prosperous and modern city in China. If Beijing was the political center of China then Shanghai would be the economic center of China.

2 days in Shanghai is barely enough to see and experience it and if you have more than 1 week in China I would actually recommend staying at least 3-4 days if not a whole week in Shanghai to properly explore.

Day 6 Shanghai Overview:

Arrival in Shanghai & Check in -> YuYuan Garden & Bazaar -> Lujiazui Area -> The Bund & Nanjing Road

Take the earliest flight from Xi’An to Shanghai to make the most out of your second to last day of your 7 days in China. There are over 20 direct flights from Xi’an to Shanghai everyday and the flight takes about 2 hours.

Alternatively, you can take an overnight train from Xi’an to Shanghai but the arrival time is usually around 11am and the overnight train can take up to 15 hours for RMB200. There is a high speed train that costs about RMB500 that takes 7 hours, therefore flying is probably the best option.

There are 2 airports in Shanghai: Pudong International Airport is a bit further from the city center and mainly serves international flights; Hongqiao International Airport serves more domestic flights and is slightly closer to Shanghai City Center.

How To Get to Shanghai City Center From Airports

From Pudong International Airport, you can either take subway line 2 all the way to the city or take the more expensive MagLev train toLong Yang Road station (龙阳路) then transfer to subway line 2.

From Hongqiao International Airport, you can take subway line 2 or subway line 10 depending on which terminal you land in.

Shanghai Maglev train

Once you get to the city center, check into your hotel and freshen up, it is time to explore Shanghai.

YuYuan Garden & Bazaar (豫园)

Metro Station: Yuyuan (Line 10 & 14)
Hours: Bazaar pedestrian area is open all day

YuYuan or Yu Garden is a famous garden inside the City God Temple. Even though the garden itself is famous, the surrounding area is a huge Bazaar with tons of stalls for food, restaurants and shops that attract both tourists and locals.

Shanghai itinerary Yu Garden

City Temple God Shanghai Yu Yuan

If you want to go into Yu Garden, the ticket price is RMB 30-40 depending on the season.

Shanghai China Itinerary Yu Garden
Inside Yu Garden

I personally think that you can skip the garden if you are tired of seeing Chinese architecture at this point. I highly recommend spending some time walking around the area instead. However, since there is a ticket needed to enter Yu Garden, it tends to be less crowded than the outside area.

Lunch in City God Temple Area (城隍庙)

If you haven’t already eaten, I recommend exploring the Bazaar in the City God Temple area and eating some local Shanghainese food.

Shanghai is known for soup dumplings (among other things) and the shop that every tourist visits at least once is called Nanxiang Soup Dumpling. Even though there are many soup dumpling shops in Shanghai, Nanxiang has been around for a very long time and there is always a line to buy soup dumplings.

Shanghai China itinerary Nanxiang Soup Dumpling
Nanxiang

There are many other street vendors selling drinks, sweets, etc in the Bazaar so spend at least an hour here to explore.

Shanghai soup dumpling from Nanxiang in City God Temple in Shanghai, China

Lujiazui (陆家嘴)

Lujiazui is the financial center of Shanghai and it’s located on the other side of Huangpu River. When you see photos of the skyline in Shanghai from the Bund, you are looking at all the buildings in Lujiazui.

Shanghai World Financial Center Observation deck
View from Shanghai World Financial Center Observation Deck

The Oriental Pearl Radio and Television Tower (Oriental Pearl Tower) is one of the most famous buildings in Lujiazui. However in recent years there are many new skyscrapers in Lujiazui and many of these new buildings have an observation deck.

I recommend going up to one of the observation decks in either the Oriental Pearl Tower, Shanghai World Financial Center, Shanghai Jinmao Tower or the Shanghai Tower (currently the highest one) for a panoramic view of Shanghai and the Bund. There are also shops and hotels in most of these skyscrapers.

Shanghai Oriental Pearl Tower for China Itinerary
Oriental Pearl Tower

Besides the skyscrapers, the Lujiazui area also has a number of restaurants near the river. You will see families and tourists hanging out in the Lujiazui Green Space area on a nice day or on the weekend.

The Bund (外滩)

The Bund is perhaps the most famous area in Shanghai and an area that you would see in any movies featuring Shanghai. The Bund used to be the financial center of Shanghai with a number of banks and trading houses located there.

Shanghai Bund China itinerary

However now the Bund is a tourist attraction with a feel of colonial relics the government decided to keep. During the day and night, both locals and tourists walk along the waterfront to enjoy the skyline view of Lujiazui.

Things To Do at the Bund:

Walk along the Bund: I personally think this is the best way to enjoy the Bund. There are numerous high end restaurants and hotels along the Bund.

The Bund Cruise Tour: There are 2 types of cruises you can take from the Bund. 1 type of cruise is from the Bund to Zhujiajiao cruise. RMB 2 min, takes 10 min. This is not really a tourist cruise but it is a cheap way to see the Bund from the Huangpu River.

The other type of Bund cruise is a tourist boat that leaves from Pier 16, RMB 80-150 for an hour.

Sightseeing Tunnel: Underwater tunnel between Lujiazui and the Bund with multimedia experience. However reviews online are not good.

Look at the Bund from Above: as mentioned above, a great way to have a panoramic view of the Bund is from above and this includes both observation decks and rooftop bars and restaurants such as Flair from Ritz Carlton, New Heights, House of Roosevelt, M ON THE BUND, Bar Rouge, etc

Shanghai rooftop bar Flair the bund
Flair rooftop bar at Ritz Carlton

Nanjing Road (南京路)

Shanghai Nanjing Road

Nanjing Road is a commercial street near The Bund. There are a lot of shops on the road and it’s perfect for walking around when you visit the Bund.

Keep in mind this is perhaps one of the most crowded roads in Shanghai, especially if you visit during a Chinese national holiday. Keep an eye on your belongings, watch your kids closely and brave the crowds.

Night River Cruise and Dinner

Finish your evening in Shanghai with a cruise tour to see the amazing architecture and historical structures on both sides of the Huangpujiang. You will also be fed a nice dinner on this cruise! You can check out the cruise here.

Day 7 in Shanghai Overview

Former French Concession -> Tianzifang -> Xintiandi

Former French Concession

Start your day in the Former French Concession area of Shanghai. This was a part of Shanghai that was given to France between 1849 to 1943.

Shanghai Former French Concession

This area was expanded in the 1900s and basically doubled in size. Even to this day, the former French concession area is a nice residential area with tons of cute restaurants, cafes and shops. One hallmark of the Former French Concession area is wide roads lined with London plane trees.

The buildings in the Former concession area are either colonial styled buildings or traditional Shanghainese buildings called Shikumen – old brickworks and big stone doorways.

Tianzifang (田子坊)

Tianzifang is one of the most touristy areas of the Former French Concession with lots of cute cafes, restaurants, and shops. There are several alley ways that make up this area and it has been redeveloped in recent years.

The architecture at Tianzifang is the traditional Shanghai shikumen housing with narrow alleys. Tianzifang became famous because several artists took up residence there and opened galleries and studios.

Afternoon Tea at Yongfoo Elite (雍福会)

There are several amazing afternoon tea places in Shanghai but my favorite is the afternoon tea at Yongfoo Elite in the Former French Concession.

Chinese afternoon tea

This Michelin Star restaurant itself is in the former British consulate so the setting is beautiful and shows the classic style of old Shanghai. They have both a western afternoon tea and Chinese afternoon tea. If you have time and want to experience what traditional Chinese afternoon tea is like, be sure to stop by.

Xintiandi (新天地)

Another famous and trendy area of Shanghai called Xintiandi is also located in the Former French Concession.

Unlike Tianzifang, Xintiandi has been developed into a modern and trendy shopping and dining center. The prices at most restaurants, bars and shops are rather high and this area attracts many expats as well as posh local residents.

Other noteworthy things to see in the Former French Concession include Fuxing Road, Fuxing Park, Site of the first National congress of CPC, Zhou Enlai’s former residence, Sun Yat-sen’s Former residence, Shanghai Propaganda Poster and Art Center, etc.

Other things to do in Shanghai:

As you may have noticed, I didn’t pack your last day in China with a ton of things, because I want you to have the flexibility to pick and choose what you want to do.

  • Check Out Museums in Shanghai: There are a number of art museums and spaces in Shanghai, so if you are into art, you should check out China Art Museum 中华艺术宫, Shanghai Museum 上海博物馆, Museum of Contemporary Art Shanghai 上海当代艺术馆 (inside People’s Park), etc.
  • Do a Food Tour: Shanghai has amazing street food and without a local, it is hard to know where to go. Even as a Chinese person, I need to do a lot of research on Chinese websites to figure out where to eat in Shanghai. Therefore, I highly recommend doing a local food tour to try some of the best dishes Shanghai is known for.
  • Kids’ Activities in Shanghai: If you are traveling with kids to China, you would be delighted to know that Shanghai is a great place to take kids. You can check out Shanghai Ocean Aquarium (上海海洋水族馆), Shanghai Science and Technology Museum (上海科技馆), free swimming pool at BFC (The Bund Financial Center), Century Park (世纪公园) with boat rowing, playground, etc.
  • teamLab Borderless: I am a big teamLab fan and if you can’t make it to Tokyo, you can still go to Borderless in Shanghai! This immersive digital art experience is really worth seeing at least once.
  • Shanghai Disneyland Park: Disneyland needs no introduction. Again, if you are traveling with children, this is definitely a must do (unless of course, you are from Florida or California, then just go to the ones there, although definitely more expensive than the one in Shanghai).

Optional Day Trip: Zhujiajiao Old Town (朱家角) or Xitang (西塘) From Shanghai

If you have more time during your 7 day China itinerary and want to get out of the city, then you should not miss Zhujiajiao.

Zhujiajiao is a well preserved ancient water town located a little under 50 km from Shanghai and can be easily reached by bus from several locations in Shanghai.

Known as the Venice of Shanghai, Zhujiajiao is beautiful with its canals and bridges and traditional Chinese architecture. I suggest going early to avoid crowds since it’s an easy day trip from Shanghai.

You can check out this tour to visit Zhujiajiao from Shanghai.

Xitang best day trip from Shanghai
Xitang at night

Another beautiful water town near Shanghai that I would recommend if you have more than 7 days in China is Xitang. Xitang is where one of the Mission Impossible movies was filmed. It’s a really nice place to explore, especially at night when all the lanterns are lit.

Check out my complete guide on how to visit Xitang from Shanghai.

Where to Stay in Shanghai

Shanghai is a big city but as a first time visitor, I recommend staying in the following area:

The Bund: The Bund is perhaps the most famous and visited area in Shanghai but it is also very convenient. If you want a beautiful view of the Shanghai skyline, I recommend staying at the Fairmont if you want a luxurious experience or Les Suites Orient for a more budget friendly option.

Xintiandi: Packed with shopping, bars and restaurants, Xintiandi is a great choice for anyone really. A few places to consider:  URBN Boutique Shanghai, The Langham, Andaz.

Where to Eat Soup Dumplings in Shanghai

Soup dumplings and fried pork buns are perhaps the most famous food in Shanghai. Soup dumpling, as the name implies, is a small bun with meat and soup (gelatin) steamed on bamboo steamers.

Fried pork dumplings are much bigger versions of buns with pork fillings pan fried to perfection. The best places to get soup dumplings and fried pork buns in Shanghai include Xiaoyang Shengjian, Nanxiang, Da Hu Chun, and the Taiwanese chain Din Tai Feng. All of these restaurants are marked on my Google Map above.

If you want to read more about street food in Shanghai, be sure to check out GirlEatWorld’s Shanghai blog. One restaurant she mentioned on her blog is Old Jesse, it’s a Shanghai style restaurant located in the Former French Concession. GO THERE! The food is very authentic and delicious, the location is also marked on my Google Map above.

This should conclude your 7 day China itinerary!

Best Tours to Consider For this 1 Week China Itinerary

You can totally travel through China without any tours. But if you are the type that likes things to be organized for you, then here are a few tours you can consider. Many of these are mentioned already in this itinerary, but to make things even more organized for you, here is the list:

Best Tours in Beijing

  • Mutianyu Great Wall: Mutianyu is one of the best preserved sections of the Great Wall in Beijing. This tour provides transportation service, a cable car to go up to the wall, and Toboggan.
  • Private Forbidden City Tour: Forbidden City is huge and it is the most important royal palace in China. There is a lot to know and see in Forbidden City, there are also many artifacts and historical gardens you should see.
  • Beijing Hutong Tour: Want to see those famous historical courtyards in Beijing? Take this tour to see the Hutongs as well as Bell and Drum Tower.
  • Beijing Airport Private Transfer: If you are landing late at night or just simply don’t want to navigate public transportation with large suitcases and kids, or if you have a large party, book a private transfer.

Beijing Attraction Entry Tickets

Places like Forbidden City cap the number of visitors every day, so it is essential to book tickets early. In addition, if you don’t have Alipay or WeChat pay, then you definitely want to book all the attractions before so you have less things to worry about paying.

Best Xi’An Tours

Best Shanghai Tours

Tips On Planning A Trip To China

China is not the easiest place to visit if you don’t speak Chinese. However this shouldn’t stop you from visiting China because it is truly interesting, historical and people are friendly. The only concern you should have while visiting China is where to go in China since it’s so big and diverse.

It doesn’t matter whether you are spending 7 days or 3 weeks in China, here are a few tips to help you plan your trip:

Decide what type of things you want to see in China. Is it the Great Wall? Is it the rice terrace? Is it the mysterious Tibet? Answering this question will help you decide where to go in China and when to go.

The best time to visit China is April to May and October to mid November when the temperature is more mild and it’s not crazy humid.

The worst time to visit China is during the summer and during national holidays like May 1 Labor Day, October 1 National Day, and Lunar New Year. During these holidays the entire country is off for at least a week to 10 days, and everyone will be traveling, making things extremely crowded.

You will most likely need a tourist visa to visit China

You will not have access to Facebook, Instagram, Google, Google Map, Gmail, Snapchat, etc. To access those websites and apps you use your foreign sim card with international roaming or get a VPN.

You should bring cash with you as most restaurants and shops still only take cash (or We chat/Alipay but you don’t have that).

Write down places you want to visit in Chinese on your phone or paper so in case you get lost, people can help you find the way.

Learning some basic Chinese phrases can make locals very happy and make things easier for you. But worst case, get a translation app!

Try street food, especially those with locals waiting in line. If you only see tourists waiting, it’s probably not that good!

You might get stared at but it’s normal, people are just curious about you and they are actually friendly.

Lastly, you probably need more than 7 days in China. In fact I think you need at least 2 to 3 months in China to see the most famous places. China is HUGE and a week or two can barely scratch the surface.

For more information on how to plan your trip to China, check out my detailed blog post here, including what apps to download, etc.

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