China is a huge and diverse country and a lifetime might not be enough to explore it all. However, this shouldn’t discourage you, as this amazing country offers many travel possibilities for all type of travellers. We have spent one month travelling to China and we are very enthusiastic about it! After a great travel experience, Chine is at our top five favourite countries to travel <3
Due to this enthusiasm, many people have been asking us about our Chinese itinerary, so we decided to write this post and we hope to encourage you to pack your bags and go! 😉
Day 1-5: Beijing
Welcome to Beijing, the capital of China!
We took our first day in Beijing very easy, since we were flying from Toronto, Canada and had a huge jet lag. We enjoyed this day to have an extended lunch at the Quanjude Restaurant, famous for its trademark Quanjude Peking Roast Duck. It was the best meal we had in China! Very recommendable.
Our second and third day were only about sightseeing, visiting highlights as the Forbidden City, the Temple of Heaven, the Summer Palace, the Tiananmen Square, Beijing Bell and Drum Towers, Houhai Lakes and the Hutong area.
On the fourth day, we hiked the Great Wall. We chose a more adventurous path, the unrestored Huanghua Cheng section.
On our fifth day, we did some shopping at Joy City and Panjiayuan Market. In the afternoon we packed our bags and took a night train to Pingyao.
Day 6-10: Pingyao
Pingyao is a small ancient city in the Shanxi province and one of the best-preserved historic towns in China. With one-time admission ticket (valid for three days) you can visit about twenty attractions as the Rishengchang Draft Bank and the Confucian Temple. You can also walk on the City Wall, which is one of the “Three Treasures” of the country. Don’t forget to try the delicious Pingyao beef and lamb hot pot.
Day 10-11: Xi’an
We spent only two days – one night in Xi’an. With two days you can visit the Terracotta Army (go very early) and other highlights of Xi’an as the Giant Wild Goose Pagoda, the Fortifications, the Bell Tower and the Muslim Food Street. Xi’an is also a great place for shopping 😉
Day 12- 15: Jiuzhaigou National Park
Jiuzhaigou National Park is one of the most beautiful places in China, UNESCO World Heritage Site and World Biosphere Reserve. It’s located in the province of Sichuan, quite far from Xi’an but worth the long journey. If you are looking for an easy hike but yet stunning, this is the place. For pictures and more info on how to get there, check our blog post.
Day 15- 19: Chengdu and Le Shan
Chengdu is famous for being the home of the lovely giant pandas and for its relaxed atmosphere – you can see and feel that people enjoy life here. So did we! We enjoyed their great gastronomy and shops, nice walks through the Jin River and the popular People’s Park. At People’s Park you can taste a cup of tea at the famous Heming Teahouse while having your ears cleaned! Yes, you read it well 😉 In the meantime, witness the warm and welcoming Chinese people dancing, eating, singing, playing and celebrating life in the park.
Take one day to visit Le Shan (one and a half hour from Chengdu by local bus) and its Giant Buddha – a 71 meters high statue carved into the side of Mount Lingyun. It’s the tallest and largest Buddha in the world, quite impressive! Another point of interest is the Oriental Buddha Park.
Day 19-25: Dali
Dali is a true gem in the Yunnan province and it was one of our favourite experiences in China. Dali has got something for all tastes, either you enjoy nature (hiking and biking) or cultural activities. We stayed here quite “long” but we didn’t get bored. With four full days, you can hike up the Cangshan Mountains, cycle or rent an electric scooter to go around the Erhai Lake, visit the Three Pagodas, the Guanyin (Gantong) Temple and the Dali Museum and the City Walls in the old town.
Day 25-29: Lijiang and Tiger Leaping Gorge
Lijiang is a very famous tourist destination, World Heritage Site and gateway to Tiger Leaping Gorge, one of the deepest gorges in the world.
For pictures and more info about Dali, Lijiang and Tiger Leaping Gorge check our blog post.
Day 29-30: Nanning
Our trip to China came to an end and we left the country via Nanning Airport. Nanning is near the Vietnam border, four hours by train to Hanoi, handy if you are planning to visit Vietnam after China. Unfortunately, we didn’t have enough time to explore the “Green City” but we save it for our next trip to China, which we hope to happen very soon!
Before going to China you will have to request a visa, which is valid for thirty days. The visa requires an air ticket booking record (round trip), so a bit of planning is necessary.
Although most of the Chinese we met during our trip couldn’t speak English, it didn’t affect our travel experience. Thanks to the Chinese’s willingness to help, a good sense of adventure and some useful apps, our trip went pretty smoothly.
The four seasons are well defined in China, so plan your visit accordingly. Normally the spring and autumn are the best time to visit. We spent the there month of July and we were pretty lucky with the weather since it rained only two days, but we must say that it was very humid and hot. Try to avoid China’s major holidays, as the prices increase and transport and tourist areas get fully packed.
Chinese table manners are quite different than in Western countries. Learn more about Chinese eating etiquette here.