Top 10 China tours 2023/2024 for first visits and returns: embark on a lifetime experience. Learn more
Top 5 China Itinerary Options in 10 Days (for First Timers) 2023/2024

Top 5 China Itinerary Options in 10 Days (for First Timers) 2023/2024

Written by Chris QuanUpdated May. 11, 2023

China is a country that offers a wealth of unique and unforgettable experiences for travelers.

With 10 days to spare, you could explore 3 or 4 cities. In this article, we'll provide you with five of the best options for a 10-day itinerary in China, including popular combinations and off-the-beaten-path destinations.

Content Preview

1. A Classic 10-Day China Itinerary for Couples and Families

  • Beijing ‒ Xi'an ‒ Guilin ‒ Shanghai

For first-time visitors, we recommend visiting Beijing, Xi'an, Guilin, and Shanghai. These four cities offer the best opportunities to explore China's rich culture and stunning natural scenery.

They are home to the cream of China's top attractions, including the Great Wall, the Forbidden City, the Terracotta Warriors, the Li River, and the Bund.

Map of a classic 10-day China itinerart

Days 1‒3: Beijing

Mutianyu Great Wall, BeijingMutianyu Great Wall

Exploring the top attractions in Beijing can be done in three days, including the Great Wall and the Forbidden City.

For an authentically-restored architectural experience and a less-crowded environment, we recommend visiting the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall.

For a special experience, we suggest a night visit to the Simatai section, which is the only part open at night. If you're looking for a romantic moment, we can arrange a sunset visit to the Great Wall with a romantic picnic.

If you love hiking, we can also arrange a Great Wall hike for you — Jinshanling to Simatai is best for hiking.

If you're traveling with kids and want to give them some cultural experience, we can arrange a family tai chi exercise in the morning with a master or you could learn Chinese calligraphy together.

98.8% positive customer reviews among 10,000+
Tour Review
May 2023, Ryan Corless
May 2023, Katha
Apr 2023, Lawrence
Apr 2023, Mark
Apr 2023, Mark
Apr 2023, Jonathan
Apr 2023, Pedro V
Apr 2023, Brenda Sarmanho

Days 4‒5: Xi’an

The Terracotta Warriors, Xi'anThe Terracotta Warriors

The top attraction in Xi'an is the Terracotta Warriors. To enhance your experience and gain a better understanding of the attraction, we have arranged a hand-made clay-warrior experience with local artisans. You'll learn about how the Terracotta Warriors were made 2,000 years ago and create your own unique warrior to take home as a souvenir.

If you're interested in traditional Chinese culture, we can also arrange a hanfu costume experience for you. Dress up in traditional Chinese clothing and take nice photos.

We also recommend a food tour to the Muslim Quarter or biking round the old city on the ancient city wall. These activities are suitable for both couples and families and offer a different way to experience the city's culture and history.

Start planning your tailor-made tour now. Your 1:1 travel consultant will reply within 1 working day.

Number in your group




Having a phone number, especially with WeChat/WhatsApp capability will improve communication efficiency.

I prefer to be contacted via:

Days 6‒8: Guilin

Yangshuo, GuilinOur family clients in Yangshuo

Guilin is famous for its stunning karst landscapes, and the Li River cruise is the best way to enjoy the spectacular limestone peaks.

If you like rural scenery, we highly recommend the Longji Terraced Fields in Longsheng, a county near Guilin city. It is also a good place to learn about local minority culture.

If you're looking for a family-friendly outdoor experience or a relaxed countryside atmosphere, we recommend visiting Yangshuo, the tourism-magnet town near Guilin.

There, you can go bamboo rafting, cycle around the village, and meet the local people. If your children like adventure, we could also arrange rock climbing or exploring a less-traveled cave.

If you're celebrating a special occasion, we could arrange a romantic riverside candlelit dinner for you.

Days 9‒10: Shanghai

The Bund, ShanghaiThe Bund

The Bund is the main attraction in Shanghai. Instead of just taking pictures of the landmarks on the Bund, we have designed an in-depth culture discovery tour. We would take you into the Bund’s old buildings, where you could touch and feel their charm and learn about the history behind them.

The rest of your time in Shanghai is flexible according to your preferences, whether it's shopping malls, spa treatments, or a visit to some of Shanghai’s iconic skyscrapers…

RecommendedTop family itinerary


Our tours are ready to be personalized. We can craft a trip based on your interests and needs. Just contact us.

2. A 10-Day China Itinerary with Pandas

If pandas are a must-see for you, and you want to get the most out of your 10-day first China trip, you should check out this itinerary:

  • Days 1‒3: Beijing
  • Days 4‒5: Xi’an
  • Days 6‒7: Chengdu
  • Days 8‒9: Guilin
  • Day 10: Shanghai
Map of a 10-day China itinerary with pandas

This itinerary is more varied, and adds a trip to Chengdu to see pandas.

We can arrange a Panda Keeper Program to let you observe them closer. In the program, you will clean the panda enclosures, see them being fed, and make their favorite cakes.

If you want to experience the laid-back lifestyle of Chengdu, go to People’s Park, where you can relax in a teahouse, see local people dancing and singing, and explore its interesting “marriage market”.

If you are interested in this itinerary, check out our 12-Day Beijing–Xi'an–Chengdu–Guilin/Yangshuo–Shanghai Tour.

Start planning your tailor-made tour now. Your 1:1 travel consultant will reply within 1 working day.

Number in your group




Having a phone number, especially with WeChat/WhatsApp capability will improve communication efficiency.

I prefer to be contacted via:

3. A 10-Day China Itinerary with Holy Tibet

If you have a passion to see Tibet on your first trip to China, then this itinerary is recommended for you. This itinerary covers China’s top cities (Beijing, Xi’an, and Shanghai) and the heart of Tibet — Lhasa:

  • Days 1‒3: Beijing
  • Days 4‒5: Xi’an
  • Days 6‒9: Lhasa
  • Day 10: Shanghai
Map of a 10-day China itinerary with Tibet

In this itinerary, besides visiting the top famous cities, you would go to Tibet. The four days in Tibet will allow you to visit its essencial highlights.

There, you could visit the famous Potala Palace, the emblem of Tibet. Go to Barkhor Street, where you can watch pilgrims doing their prostrating obeisances. And appreciate a different way of life in a Tibetan folk house.

If you want to explore more unique places in Tibet, you may need 2 or 3 weeks. See our 2-Week China Itineraries for Couples and Families (2023/2024) and How to Plan a 3-Week Itinerary in China (Best 3 Options & Costs).

RecommendedTop Tibet itinerary

4. 10 Days in China, including Hong Kong, for Families

If you want a more relaxed pace of travel, you could consider this combination. This itinerary is especially suitable for families with kids:

  • Days 1‒4: Beijing
  • Days 5‒8: Guilin
  • Days 9‒10: Hong Kong
Map of a 10-day China itinerary with Hong Kong

All these three destinations are kid-friendly. It not only covers the cultural experience like visiting China's top attractions — the Forbidden City and the Great Wall in Beijing, the itinerary also offers more opportunities to enjoy the outdoors with children in Guilin.

Hong Kong, an international transit hub, besides having many kid-friendly attractions, can also facilitate greater flight choices.

If you are interested in this itinerary, see our 10-Day Imperial and Scenic China Family Tour.

RecommendedThe best choice for foodies

5. 10 Days on the Silk Road — Explore West China

If you have been to first-tier cities like Beijing and Shanghai and want an off-the-beaten-track route this time, you could consider exploring the Silk Road:

  • Days 1‒2: Xi’an
  • Days 3‒4: Zhangye
  • Days 5‒6: Dunhuang
  • Days 7‒10: Xinjiang
Map of a 10-day China itinerary for Silk Road

In this itinerary, you will explore deeper into the West China to see its ancient caves, various landscapes, and learn about its minority culture.

From the starting point in Xi'an, you could visit the famous Terracotta Warrior and Big Wild Goose Pagoda, which has long been a landmark on the Silk Road route. In Zhangye, you would enjoy its unique danxia (‘red-cloud’) landforms.

In Dunhuang, you could see a section of the Great Wall built in the Han Dynasty era (206 BC – 220 AD), which is as old as today’s extant Great Wall gets and visit the most famous Mogao Caves.

For something a bit special, we could arrange a practical experience for gaining greater insight into the celebrated Buddhist cave art: recreating a Mogao mural on a mud slab with your own hands.

In Xinjiang, you could see the pure mountain views and learn about Uyghur culture and the architectural features of West China by visiting its old towns and bazaars.

Recommended Silk Road Tour

Costs for 10 Days in China

For a private tour in China, the average cost per day is about US$220–350 per person, including flights/trains within China, 4- or 5- star hotels, lunches, attractions, guides, and private transport.

Thus, a 10-day tour for two people would cost about US$4,500–7,000. A tour for a family of four may cost US$8,000–10,000 (kids under 10 get 30–50% off). These prices do not include international flights.

8-Day China Golden Triangle Tour
8-Day Beijing–Xi'an–Shanghai Private Tour view more

How to Travel around China

Air travel and high-speed rail are the main modes of travel and also the most convenient options for intercity connections. Almost every major city is connected by high-speed rail and an airport.

When booking with us, let us know your travel preferences, and we will arrange the best travel routes for you, seamlessly booking the flight/train tickets you need.

Tour China with Us

Whether you're interested in history, culture, or natural beauty, there's something for everyone in China. Let's create your dream trip! All our tours can be customized. Just contact us.

We are here to help you...
start planning your tailor-made tour with 1-1 help from our travel advisors. Create Your Trip

The China Highlights Experience

1-to-1 Expert Planning

1-to-1 Expert Planning

Your tour will be tailor-made by your personal travel advisor — a destination expert. Every reply will be within 24 hours.

Personal Journeys

Personal Journeys

Enjoy your personal local guide and ride. Explore destinations at your own pace. Have unparalleled flexibility, which is impossible on a group tour.

Authentic Experiences

Authentic Experiences

Discover the hidden gems. Experience local culture by practicing it. Try new and exciting activities, and unveil the stories behind the sights and people.

Well-Selected Local Guides

Well-Selected Local Guides

Knowledgeable, enthusiastic, and attentive — your personal local guides will share interesting stories, insider information, and even create unexpected highlights!

China Highlights tailor-makes China tours to help travelers discover China their way. We're a passionate team of one hundred avid travelers who love to share our knowledge of China with those looking for a more authentic travel experience, more ...
China Highlights International Travel Service Co., LTD
Corporate Number: 914503003486045699
Featured on