The Great Wall snaking over the horizon, impassive rows of Terracotta Warriors, sacred mountains, giant pandas munching bamboo… On a tailor-made vacation to China with Audley, you’ll see the highlights — and much more — your way. We’ll design your ideal trip with you, paying close attention to your interests, your travel style and your budget. Our China specialists know the country inside out and can lead you to experiences you won’t find in a guidebook.
Weave through frenetic city markets selling everything from jade trinkets to deep-fried locusts. Drink in Shanghai’s skyline from a rooftop bar. Hike through swirling, emerald-green rice terraces in the peaceful backcountry of Longji. Cruise the Yangtze, passing vast gorges that have inspired classical Chinese art and poetry. Eat your way around Beijing on a guided breakfast tour, or dine at a family home in Xian.
Buddhist monasteries and giant prayer wheels. Cooking classes in Beijing’s backstreets. Ming-dynasty walled towns. The towering limestone peaks of Guilin. What excites you? Travel at your own pace, in your own style, with the confidence that we’ll show you the best options, wherever you go.
Suggested China tour
This sample tour will give you an idea of what is possible when you travel in China, and showcases routes we know work particularly well. Treat this as inspiration, because your tour will be created uniquely by one of our specialists.
China and CambodiaView this tour
Suggested activities for China
Whatever your interests, our specialists will build activities into your trip that connect to how you want to experience China.
Victoria CruisesThe Yangtze River
There are a number of companies operating cruises on the Yangtze River, and Victoria Cruises is one of the best.View details
Yulong River Bamboo Rafting
Yulong River Bamboo RaftingYangshuo
Yulong River Bamboo Rafting
Guests are driven to the Yulong River to board a bamboo raft. This is extremely relaxing and offers superb views and photographic opportunities.View details
Located in the Haidian district in the north of Beijing, the Palace is a classical imperial garden embracing beautiful landscaped hills and lakes.View details
Why travel with Audley?
- 100% tailor-made tours
- Fully protected travel
- Established for over 25 years
- 98% of our clients would recommend us
Best time to visit
Our specialists advise on the best months to visit China, including information about climate, events and festivals.
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Useful information for planning your vacation in China
The official language of China is Mandarin Chinese. Among the enormous number of local dialects, large groups speak Cantonese, Fukienese, and Minnanhua. Inner Mongolia, Tibet, and Xinjiang, which are autonomous regions, have their own languages. In the countryside, strong regional accents, and local dialects (there can be many differences even within a single province) mean that even native Mandarin speakers can struggle to communicate at times.
The currency of China is the renminbi (RMB), more commonly known as the yuan. ATMs can be found in Chinese cities, though only Visa or Mastercard will be accepted in most of them.
While the use of cash is decreasing in China as payment apps like Alipay become more popular, it’s still possible to pay in cash or by card in many places. Your specialist and in-country guide can advise on what will be most suitable for your trip.
Chinese food is known all over the world and while visiting, you should try signature dishes from each region you visit. Ingredients and cooking styles vary across the country creating a complex symphony of dishes that can make eating out in China a highlight of a visit.
There are four major regional cooking styles with northern cuisine featuring dishes such as Peking duck, Mongolian hotpot, and shuijiao (boiled dumplings). Food in the east is rich, sweet, and often pickled, western cuisine such as Sichuan and Hunan food, is spicy, and often sour and peppery, while southern (Cantonese food) is most familiar to Westerners.
One of the best-known national drinks is baijiu, a fiery distilled rice wine. The local beer, Qingdao, is similar to German lager and there are also some good wines.
In general tipping is not expected in China, however, porters, waiters, and room attendants in international hotels will appreciate a small sum. It’s more common to tip guides and drivers and your specialist can advise on appropriate amounts closer to your travel dates.
For the latest travel advice for China, including entry requirements, health information, and the safety and security situation, please refer to the State Department website.
In China, you can stay in boutique hotels, historic mansions, simple guesthouses, or international chain hotels. The choice of places to stay in China’s cities is generally varied and includes luxurious urban retreats as well as sleek, modern hotels, while in more rural areas hotels generally have more local character.
For example, you could stay in a beautifully restored Tang Dynasty house in Hangzhou, a private villa in a lush garden in Lijiang, a small boutique hotel in Xiamen, or a simple courtyard house in Dali. Wherever you decide to go, your specialist will help you find the right place for each night’s stay, but for some ideas you can browse our collection of places to stay in China.
To see China’s cultural and scenic highlights including the Great Wall, Forbidden City, and Terracotta Army, you should go to Beijing, Xian, and Shanghai. Imperial treasures, historic city streets, and the expansive Olympic Park await in Beijing. Xian is home to a legion of life-size warriors carved to protect an emperor in the afterlife, and Shanghai’s juxtaposition of ancient and modern sees tradition and excess run side by side.
China is a vast country and you may also want to see pandas in Chengdu or the towering karst pinnacles and traditional villages around Guilin, take a hike along the Tiger Leaping Gorge, or follow ancient traders along the Silk Route. Your specialist will help you narrow down the options and plan a trip that covers all your interests.
Imperial cities, sacred mountains, temples, shrine, and markets — China offers a bounty of places to discover and things to do. Its finely tuned balance between age-old tradition and pioneering innovation combined with its rich customs and heritage make it a fascinating country to explore.
You can walk China’s Great Wall or marvel at the impassive Terracotta Warriors, visit incense-filled temples, or wander buzzing markets. You could discover the roots of China’s culinary prowess on a Shanghai food tour, walk the Dragon’s Backbone to the see the Longji rice terraces, or discover local life on a guided countryside bike ride.
Maybe you’d like to explore Beijing’s hutongs (backstreets), watch the sun set over Shanghai from a rooftop bar, or visit Ming-dynasty walled towns, or the historic markets of Hong Kong. China encompasses it all, and so much more.
It takes around 16 and a half hours to fly from the East Coast of the US to China, and around 14 hours from the West Coast.
The time zone in China is UTC+8 hours across the whole country. Daylight Savings Time isn’t observed.
The best way to get around in China is by rail or air. High-speed trains link all the main cities and are fast, efficient, and comfortable. For longer journeys, we can book internal flights, while for more local travel, a private driver-guide gives you the freedom to enjoy the sights and stay informed as you travel.
Improved infrastructure and increased political freedoms mean it’s also possible to combine a visit to China with overland travel into northern Vietnam. Speak to your specialist for more information.
A visa is required by all visitors to China. US citizens must apply for their visa through the Chinese embassy in Washington DC or the Chinese consulates in New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, or Houston.
You’ll need to book an appointment at least one month before departure but no more than three months before.
At the appointment, all applicants (excluding people under the age of 14 and over the age of 70 years old) will also be asked to submit fingerprints.
Your doctor can provide you with immunization advice for China, but you should also ensure you’re up to date with the recommended vaccinations for your home country. You can also check the recommended vaccinations by visiting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.
Your passport should be valid for a minimum of six months from the date you arrive in China and have at least two blank pages for your visa.