Discover the Perfect Itinerary Through China: From Ancient Culture to Modern Marvels

Immerse yourself in the rich culture and breathtaking landscapes of China with our travel guide. From the imposing Great Wall to the atmospheric streets of Beijing, discover the diversity of this fascinating country. Explore ancient traditions, modern metropolises, and taste the flavors of Chinese cuisine. Our guide provides essential tips for a seamless journey through this impressive land. Be inspired by the unique charm of the Far East and uncover the hidden treasures China has to offer. Plan your travel adventure and be amazed by the beauty of China.

We visited China in January and traveled from Shanghai via Xi’An to Beijing in ten days.

Itinerary China

Reisroute China


Discover the vibrant heart of China with a visit to Shanghai, a city that harmoniously combines rich history with modern innovation. Located at the mouth of the Yangtze River, Shanghai is famous for its impressive skyline, historical structures like the Bund, and classic gardens. Immerse yourself in the lively streets filled with boutiques, eateries, and cultural hotspots. Whether you’re enjoying traditional Chinese cuisine, exploring the shopping districts, or admiring the breathtaking views, Shanghai offers an unforgettable travel experience. Discover this cosmopolitan gem and let yourself be charmed by the dynamism of Shanghai.

The ideal duration of your stay in Shanghai depends on your personal interests, travel goals, and preferences. Generally, it is recommended to spend at least 3 to 4 days in Shanghai to explore the main attractions and experience the city’s unique atmosphere. During this time, you can visit iconic places such as the Bund, the Oriental Pearl Tower, Yuyuan Garden, and the historic French Concession. Additionally, there will be ample time to enjoy the local cuisine, shop in bustling markets and modern shopping centers, and participate in cultural activities.

Shanghai - skyline


Explore the historic splendor of Xi’an, a city steeped in ancient culture and enchanting sights. Home to the famous Terracotta Army, Xi’an offers a fascinating journey through Chinese history. Stroll along the ancient city walls, admire the Big Wild Goose Pagoda, and taste local delicacies at the Muslim Market. With its rich imperial heritage and vibrant atmosphere, Xi’an is an essential destination for travelers seeking to experience the authentic charm of China. Discover the wonders of Xi’an and immerse yourself in the timeless splendor of this historic city.

The ideal duration of your stay in Xi’an depends on your interests and the sights you wish to explore. Generally, it’s recommended to spend at least 2 to 3 days in Xi’an to experience the main attractions. During this stay, you can visit the world-famous Terracotta Army, walk the ancient city walls, explore the Big Wild Goose Pagoda, and enjoy the culinary delights at the Muslim Market. If you have additional time, you can also visit the historic district of the Great Mosque and soak up the city’s atmosphere.

Xi'an - Terracotta leger
Xi'an - bell tower
Xi'an - stadsmuur


Discover the enchanting blend of history and modernity in Beijing, the capital of China. With iconic landmarks such as the Forbidden City, the Great Wall, and the Temple of Heaven, Beijing offers a rich cultural experience. Wander through the traditional hutongs, enjoy the culinary diversity, and experience the bustling atmosphere on Wangfujing Street. As a major cultural center and political capital, Beijing is a must-visit destination for travelers wanting to explore China’s profound history and contemporary splendor. Discover the treasures of Beijing and immerse yourself in this captivating metropolis.

Beijing has so much to offer that a stay of 4 to 5 days allows you to thoroughly experience the city and find a good balance between exploring landmarks and absorbing the local culture. During such a stay, you can visit iconic attractions like the Forbidden City, the Great Wall, the Temple of Heaven, and the Summer Palace. Additionally, you’ll have time to wander through the historical hutongs, explore local markets, and enjoy the diverse cuisine that Beijing has to offer.

Beijing - Verboden Stad
Beijing - Temple of Heaven
Beijing - Chinese Muur

Transportation during this itinerary

Transport to and within China is extensive and varied, allowing travelers to easily navigate the country. Here are some key modes of transportation.

China has an extensive network of airports, with international airports in cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou. From Dutch airports like Schiphol, many flights depart to major cities in China with various airlines. We flew back to Amsterdam Schiphol Airport from Beijing Capital International Airport with Finnair. A direct flight from Beijing to Amsterdam takes about 12 hours. There are also many domestic flights in China that efficiently connect cities. Airlines like China Eastern Airlines easily take you from one major city to another.

China’s high-speed train network is one of the most developed in the world. Fast trains connect major cities and offer comfortable and time-saving travel options. Major cities like Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou have well-developed metro systems that provide a convenient way to travel around the city. In addition, city and long-distance buses are available, but the use of buses may vary depending on the city and the quality of the road network. Taxis are also available everywhere in the cities and are relatively affordable. Make sure to use an official taxi and, if possible, have the address in Chinese.

Although it is possible to rent a car, driving in Chinese cities can be chaotic. Therefore, we do not necessarily recommend it. However, for long-distance travel between cities, a rental car can be convenient. In some cities, especially those with bike-friendly infrastructure, cycling can be an environmentally friendly and convenient option.

Always remember that it is useful to know some basic phrases in Chinese, especially when traveling outside major cities where English is less common. The transportation system in China is well developed and offers travelers the opportunity to explore the diversity of the country.

Beijing - Summer Palace

Overnight stays during this itinerary

During our three days in Shanghai we stayed in the Genting Star Shanghai hotel. This is a three-star hotel. The hotel is just a 10-minute walk from Dabaishu Metro Station. We stayed in an economy double room. The only thing we found a bit odd was the glass door between the bedroom and bathroom. Otherwise, the hotel was clean and the staff was friendly. A very good choice for our budget.

In Xi’An we stayed for 2 nights in hotel Ibis Xi’An South Gate. This three-star hotel is located in the Bei Lin District. We had a family room including breakfast for a very nice price. The hotel is within walking distance of the Xi’An city wall. The city center is also easily accessible on foot. The hotel was very clean.

During our last days in China we stayed at hotel Ibis Beijing Jianguomen in Beijing. This is also a three-star hotel, with the metro just a 5-minute walk away, making all the sights easily accessible. There are also plenty of restaurants and shops in the immediate vicinity.

Beijing - Verboden Stad
Xi'an - Terracotta leger

How much time do you need for this route?

We took 10 days on this route including the flights. We had enough time at all destinations to view all the sights at a leisurely pace. Below is an overview of the number of days we stayed at each location:

  • Day 1 – 4: Shanghai
  • Day 4 – 6: Xi’An
  • Day 6 – 10: Beijing

Do you have time to stay longer in China? Then we absolutely recommend adding Hong Kong to this route. We did this travel route through China after living in Hong Kong for 5 months.

Hong Kong

Discover the dynamic Hong Kong, a metropolis that harmonizes modern skyline and traditional culture. With its world-famous skyline, bustling streets, and culinary diversity, Hong Kong offers a unique travel experience. Explore Victoria Harbour, visit the vibrant markets of Mong Kok, and enjoy panoramic views from Victoria Peak. This international financial hub effortlessly combines Eastern and Western influences, making it a must-visit destination. Let yourself be enchanted by the energy of Hong Kong and discover the diverse attractions that this cosmopolitan city has to offer.

Hong Kong has so many diverse attractions that you can easily fill a week without having the same experience every day. Especially if you want to get a good taste of the atmosphere but also want to visit Ocean Park or Disneyland, we recommend planning at least a week. Do you also want to visit (the casinos in) Macau, then you need an extra day.

Curious about what there is to do in Hong Kong? Read all about the 15 best sights in Hong Kong here.

Hong Kong - skyline