Are you searching “China itinerary 2 weeks” in anticipation of a return to open borders and travel adventures?
My goodness, so are we! Take heart and know you’re not alone because the entire ChinaTours.com team is so ready to throw on travel gear and get moving again.
We figured that if the hopeful among us are whittling down travel revenge lists to a top ten of destinations, we’re pretty certain the highlights of China will appear somewhere. And if that’s the case then chances are, you’ll want some good old-fashioned guidance on what to see and do, and importantly, how to see and do it.
In a country that is literally a trove of culture, history, and an incredible 56 UNESCO World Heritage sites, it’s a feat just choosing where and when, but take heart; we’re here for you. This blog, written especially for the avid travel researcher (yes, you who searched China itinerary 2 weeks, we see you!), will answer just about every question you’ve thought of, and then some, so let’s dive right in.
Do I need a Chinese visa and how do I get it?
Getting clear on your Chinese visa requirements is a very good place to start your adventure because let’s face it, visas are one of those tedious administrative hurdles that are part of international travel, and they are best dealt with right up front.
If you are planning a two-week holiday in China, you will definitely need a visa, and it will need to be arranged prior to departure. There are some exceptions to requirements for a Chinese visa, but these apply only to certain destinations and for specific periods of time. You can read more about transit visas and how they work here.
If your plans include a multi-city tour around the country or even a short tour to several destinations, you will need a China tourist visa, and it’s wise to get help to ensure your application is right the first time around. That’s where a knowledgeable travel consultant can help, saving you time as you navigate the ins and outs of the application process. Even choosing the correct visa can be a challenge, simply because there are so many, so we strongly advise doing your research.
This is why getting help is a good idea. You definitely don’t want to be left dazed and confused at your local China embassy or China Visa Application Service Centre when you realize you haven’t quite ticked all the necessary boxes. As you’d expect, getting the details right is essential, so enlist the help of someone who knows.
Our tip? Contact your local embassy for information.
|China Embassy in the USA||http://www.china-embassy.org/eng/|
|China Embassy in the United Kingdom||http://www.chinese-embassy.org.uk/eng/|
|China Embassy in Australia||http://au.china-embassy.org/eng/|
|China Visa Application Center||https://www.visaforchina.org/|
In the meantime, visit our China Tourist Visa page. You’ll find a mountain of information about all things Chinese visa-related.
Uncover more Chinese visa details here: https://www.chinatours.com/china-tourist-visa/
What’s the best way (or ways) to travel to China?
Now of course this is going to depend on where you’re traveling from, however, you might be very surprised to learn that it’s possible to make your way by land and sea.
It’s no secret that major airports in China are serious travel hubs, not just for domestic travelers, but for international visitors too, including those just in transit. Let’s just say that when it comes to traveling to China there are options – and lots of them.
As you’d expect, jumping on a direct flight to Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou from most countries is straightforward. There are even direct flights to other cities like Xi’an, Chengdu, and Kunming from the US, Europe, and Australia. This means you won’t be left languishing, waiting on that one weekly flight to start your two-week China holiday.
You’ve probably heard about China’s expanding rail network that is connecting all corners of the country. Not only is this a fabulous way to get around while you’re in China, it also makes it easy to connect up with rail networks beyond the border.
Fancy something a little exotic? Who doesn’t when they’re visiting somewhere new? Travelers from Europe can reach China by taking the Trans-Siberian train from Moscow. Likened to a steel ribbon across Russia, who wouldn’t want to start their China holiday soaking up a little luxury.
Proving train travel is definitely not a thing of the past, the Pan-Asia Railway Network, linking China (Kunming) to Laos (Vientiane), is anticipated to be operational by the end of 2021. Travelers can also travel by train between Beijing and Hanoi; a fantastic route that showcases the very best of expanse that separates these two countries. Plans are already afoot to join China and Bangkok, Thailand in the near future, so if train travel is your thing, there’s no shortage of options.
As for travel between cities, well, the sky’s the limit. There are over 50 flights daily between Beijing and Xi’an, more than a hundred between Beijing and Shanghai, and 40 between Shanghai and Xi’an. Keep in mind, however, that China’s airports are busy, making travel by train an appealing option. Travel times are not hugely different, you have the chance to see more of the country, and it is very affordable.
There are plenty of options for moving within and around a city too. Public transport by bus, train, and metro are immensely popular, and you can always hail a taxi. But our pick is traveling in a private vehicle with a driver who knows how to navigate the craziness that is the roads of China’s big cities, ensuring you arrive at your destination and make it back to your hotel safely.
Explore more travel China insights here: https://www.chinatours.com/china-travel-insights/
When is the best time to visit China?
This question is a bit like asking how long is a piece of string? Truthfully, you can visit China at any time of year and find the kind of weather you love, depending on your preference.
Geographically a northern hemisphere country, you’ll find autumn/winter months from September to February and spring/summer from March to August. It can get bitterly cold – think snow and ice castles like the kind Harbin is famous for – and tropically hot, as it does in Hong Kong and Macau. You will even find places where it’s hot and cold in one day, like the desert region in which Turpan is located.
It’s fair to say that the most popular tourist cities can be visited at any time of year, but it’s highly recommended you avoid traveling during important holidays such as Chinese New Year and the China National Holiday, both of which bring the country to a standstill as locals return home to spend precious time with family.
Plan your 2 weeks itinerary in China with these tips: https://www.chinatours.com/the-best-time-to-visit-china/
Food in a China itinerary
If food is your ‘thing’, expect to be dazzled and delighted by the incredible array of dishes that are representative of every palate and minority people in the country.
A food tour of China will expand your mind and blow away your taste buds. Every region has its specialties, and every city has its famous snack streets. Expect flavorsome, spiced delicacies for sale alongside the unique and unsavory.
While on tour, be sure to make a meal of every meal, starting with breakfast. Whether you’re a traditionalist at heart, or you prefer to go a little avant-garde while on the road, China can cater to your every dining need. There is huge diversity from back lane food carts to Michelin fine dining. Really, the choice is yours.
Keep in mind too that different cities feature different foods. Order the very best Peking Duck you can find in Beijing, a roujiamo (or two) in Xi’an, and mapo tofu in Chengdu.
Ready to indulge your inner foodie researcher? Start here: https://www.chinatours.com/chinese-food/
Shopping in a China itinerary
Now while we’re the first to say ‘no shopping tours’, it doesn’t mean we don’t love to gather up a collectible or two during our travels. In this department, China has much to offer, so if it’s beautiful, one-of-a-kind, a memory-evoking treasure you want, then we have secrets only insiders can share.
Yes, there are high profile and sky-high shopping malls that modern China is famous for; cathedrals to consumerism and every imaginable electronic, souvenir, and item of clothing. Amidst the glamor and glitz, however, you will find artisans aplenty too. Remaining true to the unique arts that have endured for millennia – calligraphy, silk weaving, porcelain, tea, jade, pearls; the list goes on – these fine arts still capture the hearts of those who hunger for something just a little special. If that’s you, expect to be fully laden on your return home.
For the complete lowdown on shopping, dive into the blogs below.
Accommodation in China
Hotels in China are a wonder. For a start, can you imagine that back in 1980 there were just 203 hotels designated for international travelers? Today it is a completely different story because accommodation has come a long way since the very rudimentary offerings that were available a little over forty years ago. Today there are a whopping 350,000 different accommodation options for those traveling from around the world, including 20,000 four and five-star hotels.
In terms of service, expect a standard that complements the accommodation. International and domestic brand five-star hotels equate to five-star service where nothing is too much trouble. At the other end of the spectrum in hostels and homestays, you can rely on a relaxed and down-to-earth vibe that provides an insight into life for locals; an experience that is often missed in the larger corporate alternatives. Keep in mind the price of inner-city hotels is a reflection of the location and the ease with which many of the city’s highlights and attractions can be reached. While it may not seem to be a significant detail, the location of your hotel can make a real difference to your overall travel experience. Our guides’ number one tip is to choose the best hotel that fits with your travel budget and make sure it’s located close to a subway line.
Want to know more about choosing accommodation in China? Dive in with this blog from our team on the ground: https://www.chinatours.com/hotels-china/
Beyond China Tours
Now we know China is a vast country, but what if your passion for travel means you want to use the opportunity by exploring the region beyond its borders? Well, there’s good news. China shares its border with 14 countries: Mongolia to the north; Russia and North Korea in the northeast; Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar, India, Bhutan, and Nepal to the south; Afghanistan, Pakistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan to the west. Maritime borders are also shared with Brunei, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, and the Philippines. Its location at the center of so many countries makes it an excellent launch pad to just about anywhere in the region. Travel by plane or train for the greatest comfort and speed and to make the most of your vacation. For example, flights or train travel to countries in Indochina can be taken from Kunming. If sitting on top of the world is your thing, jump in a car or board a plane bound for Lhasa or Kathmandu. Or if you’re after something a little more exotic, book a ticket on the Trans-Siberian, allowing you to travel from Beijing to Mongolia or even Moscow. There is virtually no limit on destinations, making your greatest challenge what to choose for your China itinerary.
Solo v. group travel: Which should you choose?
For some travelers, this is an easy question to answer based on well-established views and previous experience. It’s good to remember, however, that China is a country unlike any other, which is why you may want to consider your options, particularly on your first visit. A group tour is great if you’re limited on time and want to ensure you cover the absolute ‘must-see’ essentials. If you have a little more time on your hands and enjoy wandering off the beaten path – and your health and age permit – there is certainly plenty to keep you interested if you’re traveling solo. Backpackers can enjoy low-cost transport by train and the opportunity to mix it with locals, while those more interested in comfort will appreciate the flexibility, structure, and day-to-day care provided by a guide on a private tour.
Learn more about the benefits of private tours here: https://www.chinatours.com/china-private-tours/
Here’s more advice on planning a China itinerary: https://www.chinatours.com/how-to-plan-a-trip-to-china/
What’s the most popular China itinerary?
Okay, so we’ve covered a lot of information here, but what if that doesn’t answer the big question, What’s the most popular China itinerary? The magic number here is Two weeks! In this next section of the blog, we cover the all-important details about what to see, what to do and eat, and where to do it, city by city, based on our most popular 14 day best of China adventure
Check out the itinerary here: https://www.chinatours.com/tour/14-days-best-of-china-plus-yangtze/
Day 1 – 4: Beijing
|Must-see highlights||Forbidden City, Great Wall, Temple of Heaven, Summer Palace, Tiananmen Square, Hutongs|
|Food||Peking duck and any famous Beijing foods found on local snack streets|
|If you love a little culture||Lama Temple (Yonghe Temple), Confucius Temple and Imperial College Museum, National Museum of China, Beijing Capital Museum, Beijing Zoo, 798 Art Zone, Songzhuang Art Colony, and Peking Opera Museum|
|Experiences||● Live like a local: Visit local parks and join the morning Tai Chi class, take the bus or metro, or visit the local markets.|
● Ride a rickshaw through the hutongs or take a Great Wall hiking or camping tour
● Try a class: Indulge your senses at a Chinese cooking class, learn to make clay figurines, try your hand at calligraphy, kite-making, or a Peking Opera mask.
|By night||● Enjoy a drink: Visit the bars in Sanlitun or Shichahai|
● Enjoy a concert or show: Choose from Peking Opera, acrobatics, kung fu, and Beijing folk art performances.
● Take a night tour: See the city’s landmarks in a whole different light
|Shopping||● Bargain hunt: Search for a travel memento or kitschy tourist trinket by visiting one of Beijing’s many markets. Try the Hongqiao Pearl Market or the Panjiayuan Antique Market, shopping centers in Wangfujing, Xidan, and the Qianmen shopping precincts.|
Learn more about Beijing here: https://www.chinatours.com/beijing-tours/
Day 4 – 6: Xi’an
|Must-see highlights||Terracotta Army, Xi’an City Wall, Great Mosque, Muslim Quarter, Shaanxi History Museum, Big Wild Goose Pagoda|
|Food||Savor one of Xi’an’s famous roujiamo (Xi’an burger) and other famous street food found in iconic destinations like Muslim Street|
|If you love a little culture||Bell and Drum Tower, Small Wild Goose Pagoda, Xi’an Museum, Stone Steles Museum, Mount Hua, Famen Temple, Han Yang Ling|
|Experiences||● Enjoy a show: Xi’an is famous for its selection of entertaining shows. Among our recommendations are The Tang Dynasty Music and Dance Show or Song of Everlasting Sorrow).|
● Food tour or cooking class: If food is your ‘thing’, team up with a local guide who shares your passion by taking a local specialty food tour. And if you like to cook, then take a class and learn to make biang biang noodles, dumplings, or other dishes unique to this fabulous city.
● Craft a soldier: Make the master craftsmen who assembled the thousands of terracotta soldiers that are part of the Terracotta Army. A perfect activity for families and those who like to get amongst it.
● Appreciate local art: Join a local artisan and learn the ancient craft of paper cutting, Chinese calligraphy, or shadow puppetry.
|By night||● Sights at night: Want to double your sightseeing time? Visit some of Xi’an’s highlights at night. Be sure to include the Bell Tower and Drum Tower, City Wall, North Square of the Big Wild Goose Pagoda, and the Datang Everbright City on your list.|
● Market visit: Xi’an’s markets go well into the evening. Visit the Dongxin Street Night Market or the famous Muslim Quarter.
● Dine out: Xi’an’s bar and dining precincts are great destinations for food and entertainment, including live music. Stop by the South City Gate and spend time with the locals.
Learn more about Xi’an here: https://www.chinatours.com/xian-tours/
Day 6 – 9: Guilin and Yangshuo
|Must-see highlights||Reed Flute Cave, Li River, Yangshuo West Street, Longji Rice Terraces in Longsheng|
|Food||Make a beeline for Guilin’s rice noodles, Yangshuo Beer Fish, or sticky bamboo rice in Longsheng. Guilin also has its own selection of local food and snacks, so try these as you wander its old-style, relaxed streets.|
|If you love a little culture||Wander the area surrounding the impressive Elephant Trunk Hill and spend time learning about China’s historical contributions to science and innovation in Seven Star Park. In Yangshuo, take a drive through the idyllic countryside and see why the city’s backdrop is so famous when you look upon Xianggong Mountain and the expansive Yulong River.|
|Experiences||● Enjoy nature: Absorb the beauty of the local countryside with a bike ride through charming villages or a leisurely bamboo raft ride down the Yulong River.|
● Cook like a local: Join a cooking class that combines sightseeing, local ingredients, and the savoring of regional specialties.
|By night||● Night markets: Experience the liveliness of night markets in Xicheng Street, Zhengyang Street, or Yangshuo West Street.|
● Night show: Enjoy the famous show, Impression Liu Sanjie in Yangshuo, a performance involving local farmers that are staged on the water and showcase traditional local music, stories, and costumes.
Learn more about Guilin and Yangshuo here: https://www.chinatours.com/guilin-tours/
Day 9 -12 Yangtze River Cruise
|Must-see highlights||Fengdu Ghost City or Shibaozhai, Three Gorges (Qutang Gorge, Wu Gorge, Xiling Gorge), Shennong Stream or Shennv Stream, Three Gorges Dam.|
|Food||Enjoy the food onboard the cruise, with menus including both western and Chinese cuisine at breakfast, lunch, and dinner.|
|If you love a little culture||Depending on the cruise selected, you can also visit White Emperor City, Baiheliang Underwater Museum, and the 816 Underground Project.|
|Experiences||● Onboard activities: Relaxing in river cruising style by taking advantage of the Chinese culture lectures, morning Tai Chi lessons, or specialty cooking classes. The cruises also make stops for the open-air Three Kingdom show and Three Gorges Project Ship lift.|
Learn more about Yangtze cruises here: https://www.chinatours.com/yangtze-river-cruise/
Day 12 – 14: Shanghai
|Must-see highlights||Shanghai Museum, The Bund, Nanjing Road, Yuyuan Garden, Chenghuangmiao Bazaars, Shikumen Museum, New Spot, Former French Concession.|
|Food||While visiting the Pearl of the Orient, indulge in xiaolongbao (steamed bun) and other famous local snacks.|
|If you love a little culture||Shanghai has much to offer, so make a list. Be sure to include Jade Buddha Temple, the Shanghai Science and Technology Museum, Shanghai History Museum, Shanghai Urban Planning Museum, Shanghai Disneyland, Zhujiajiao Water Town, Shanghai World Financial Center, and the Oriental Pearl TV Tower.|
|Experiences||● Shanghai-style: Sit back and listen to a performance by The Old Jazz Band at the Peace Hotel|
● Dress in style: Channel your inner 1920’s Shanghai diva with a tailor-made Chinese Qipao or cheongsam
● Get married: Well, maybe you won’t, but a visit to the People’s Park marriage market puts a whole different spin on partner selection. Observe the way parents and grandparents ‘market’ their unmarried adult children to the best available option.
● Family-friendly: Shanghai caters to all ages, with families a special focus. Visit Shanghai Disneyland (fancy a night at the Toy Story hotel?); Shanghai Zoo (see cute pandas); Shanghai’s Wild Insect Kingdom; Shanghai Ocean Aquarium; the Bund Sightseeing Tunnel; and Shanghai Natural History Museum.
● Fulfill your need for speed: Climb aboard the Shanghai Maglev, China’s fastest commercial electric train or shift down a gear or two with a bike ride that traverses both old and new Shanghai.
|By night||● Join the fun: Relish the spectacle of the famous Shanghai Acrobatic Show, a Huangpu River night cruise providing views of the Bund, bars, and restaurants at Tianzifang or New Spot.|
|Shopping||Tea, pearl, silk, porcelain, and various kinds of hand-crafted items could very easily top your Shanghai shopping list. Apart from shopping centers housing international luxury brands, there are markets for fabric, antiques, glasses, and homewares that are worth visiting; not to mention countless boutiques with one-off mementos.|
Learn more about Shanghai here: https://www.chinatours.com/shanghai-tours/
Whether you’re a savvy traveler or a first time visitor to China looking for the best two week itinerary, doing your research is the best way to make the most of your vacation in this amazing country. Be sure to get the information you need on travel costs, including hotels, tours, food, and experiences from people who truly care about your holiday. Talk to the ChinaTours.com team. We’re travelers too, and we’re committed to helping you create beautiful travel memories that endure long after you’ve arrived home. We welcome online enquiries via direct contact, with responses delivered within 24 hours.