China Ancient City Tour

12 Days Beijing-Pingyao-Xi’an-Shanghai

If you’re interested in the ancient cities in China, how can you miss China escorted tours including ancient cities? Lasting 12 days and covering 4 cities, this China ancient city tour includes Shanghai escorted tours and Beijing escorted tours, which are the most attractive trip. From Beijing to Pingyao and from Xi’an to Shanghai, you will not only enjoy the time-honored attractions but also experience charming history. In Beijing, you will discover the beauty of traditional Chinese buildings, such as Tian’anmen Square, the Forbidden City, and the Summer Palace. In Pingyao, you’ll be enriched with the business development in ancient China. While in Xi’an, you will have choice to get close to history and cultural relics in Han and Tang Dynasty. In Shanghai, you’ll have a deep understanding of modern life in China. Booking a China escorted tour with China Tour Star, you’ll enjoy various Chinese beauties.

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Day by Day Itinerary
Day 1 Beijing Arrival
You will arrive in Beijing and we will take you to the hotel for a good rest

After arrival, your tour guide will wait for you at the airport and transfer you to the hotel. On your way to the hotel, you can enjoy the beauty of Beijing, where you start your Beijing escorted tour. Beijing, as the capital of the People’s Republic of China, is not only a national central city but also the center of politics, culture, international exchange, and technological innovation approved by the Stated Council. Beijing was once the capital of the six dynasties in history. In the more than 2,000 years since the Yan Kingdom (1044-222 B.C.), many palace buildings have been built, making Beijing the city with the largest number of imperial palaces, gardens, temples, and mausoleums in China, such as the Forbidden City.

Day 2 Beijing
Tian’anmen Square, Forbidden City, Summer Palace

After a delicious breakfast, you will go to visit Tian’anmen Square, which is the symbol of Beijing. Located in the center of Beijing, the Tian’anmen Square covers an area of 440,000 square meters with a length of 880 meters and a width of 500 meters. On February 12th of the first year of the Republic of China (1912), Empress Longyu issued an abdication edict in the name of Emperor Xuantong (Pu Yi) on Tiananmen Gate Tower. On October 1, 1949, the founding ceremony of the Central People’s Government of the People’s Republic of China was grandly held in Tiananmen Square, Beijing. In the afternoon, Mao Zedong solemnly declared to the whole world on Tiananmen Gate Tower that the Central People’s Government of the People’s Republic of China was established, pressing the button to raise the first five-star red flag of New China, and then holding a grand military parade. Then you will go to the Forbidden City (closed each Monday), a famous building in China. As the imperial palace of the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1636-1912) Dynasty, the Forbidden City is located at the center of Beijing, covering an area of 720,000 square meters. The buildings in the Forbidden City are divided into two parts: the outer court and the inner court. The center of the outer court includes the Hall of Supreme Harmony, the Hall of Zhonghe, and the Hall of Baohe, collectively known as the three main halls, where the emperors held grand ceremonies. The left and right wings of the three main halls are supplemented by Wenhua Hall and Hall of Martial Valor. The center of the imperial palace includes Ganqing Palace, Jiaotai Palace, and Kunning Palace, where the emperor and empress lived. There are six palaces in the east and west on both sides of the last three palaces, where empresses lived and rested.

After lunch, you will visit the Summer Palace, which is far from the Forbidden City. Despite its remote location, the palace will bring you the most enjoyable experience. As a royal garden, it is located in the northwest of Beijing, covering an area of about 3 square kilometers. Before Emperor Qianlong of the Qing Dynasty succeeded to the throne, four large royal gardens were built in the western suburbs of Beijing. In 1860, Qingyi Garden was burned by British and French allied forces. In 1888, it was rebuilt and renamed the Summer Palace as a summer recreation place for the royal families. After the reform and opening up, the cultural relics of the Summer Palace have been properly protected. At present, there are more than 40,000 cultural relics in the Summer Palace, including bronze, jade, porcelain, wood, lacquerware, painting and calligraphy, ancient books, enamel, clocks, bamboo, musical instruments, root carvings, miscellaneous items, and so on, covering almost all categories of Chinese cultural relics handed down from ancient times.

Tian’anmen Square
Summer Palace
Day 3 Beijing
Sacred Way, Juyongguan Great Wall

Today you will have a rich and meaningful journey. After breakfast, you will head northwest to the Sacred Way by car, which will take you one hour as the attraction is 45 kilometers from you. The Sacred Way was built in the early year of the Ming Dynasty and completed in 1540. At present, except for the damaged bridges and culverts, other tomb instrument facilities are well preserved. From 1989 to 1995, the Ming Tombs Special Zone Office carried out three large-scale protection projects and environmental improvement projects for the Sacred Way. There are 12 pairs of stone animals and 6 pairs of stone people standing around the sacred virtue monument pavilion in Chang Tomb. According to historical records, mausoleum stone carvings appeared in the Western Zhou Dynasty (1946-771 BC), but there were not many objects left of the Han Dynasty (202-220). After the Han Dynasty, it gradually appeared in large numbers, flourished in Tang Dynasty, and declined in the Qing Dynasty. These stone animals and stone people were called Shi Yiwei in ancient times and “stone statues” after the Ming Dynasty. Feudal emperors believed that after people died, they still needed everything in the underworld, such as clothing, food, shelter, transportation, and so on. Therefore, in the construction of the cemetery, it is necessary to reproduce the living scenes before death. Therefore, stone men and animals were erected on both sides of the sacred way in the cemetery, showing the dignity of emperors.

After lunch, you will visit the Juyongguan Great Wall, about 22 kilometers away from the Sacred Way. After driving northwest for 30 minutes, you will arrive at the famous attraction in China. It is an important gateway of the Great Wall and an important barrier in the northwest of ancient Beijing. However, this building, which was set up at the beginning of the Han Dynasty, experienced many vicissitudes and was seriously damaged, and gradually lost public attention. The restoration project of Juyongguan Great Wall, which lasted for 4 years and cost hundreds of millions of yuan, has been completed, and Juyongguan Great Wall was officially opened to visitors in March 1998. In Yuan Dynasty, Juyongguan was an important traffic avenue from Dadu (Beijing) to Shangdu (now Duolun, Inner Mongolia). As emperors often pass by, there are palaces, monasteries, gardens, and other buildings. The existing Yuntai Tower is the foundation of the cross-street tower built in the Yuan Dynasty. In the beginning, there were three Lama pagodas on the Juyongguan Great Wall, which were destroyed in the late Yuan Dynasty and early Ming Dynasty. In 1439, the Buddhist temple was rebuilt on it, which was named Tai’an Temple. The temple was burned down during the Kangxi period (1654-1722), and only Yuntai has remained since then.

Juyonguan Great Wall
Juyonguan Great Wall
Day 4 Beijing
Temple of Heaven, Hutong, Confucian Temple, Lama Temple

After breakfast, you will start your busy and attractive tour. The first attraction is the Temple of Heaven. First built in 1420 and rebuilt in the Qing Dynasty, the Temple of Heaven covers an area of 2,730,000 square meters in the south of Beijing. In the Ming and Qing Dynasty, the Temple of Heaven was a place where emperors sacrificed to the heaven and prayed for a bumper harvest. As the largest building complex offering sacrifices to heaven in the world, the Temple of Heaven has two walls, which are divided into an inner altar and an outer altar. The two altars are connected by a Danbi Bridge with a length of 360 meters and a width of nearly 30 meters, which is low in the south and high in the north. Danbi Bridge is flanked by a large area of ancient cypress.

After visiting the Temple of Heaven, you will move to the Hutong, which is a typical alley existing in Beijing. As a small street between the main streets, it is an indispensable part of communicating local transportation. According to the accessibility of roads, Hutongs are divided into dead ends and living hutongs. The former has only one opening, the end of which goes deep into the residential area and is interrupted inside it; while the latter connects two or more main streets. Besides, there are rickshaws in Hutong, so we can take the rickshaw to experience the charm of Hutong and the life in Beijing.

After lunch, you will move to the Confucian Temple, which is located in the Dongcheng District of Beijing. As a place where Confucius was sacrificed in the Yuan (1271-1368), Ming and Qing Dynasties, there are three courtyards and five buildings before and after Beijing Confucius Temple, including the Xianshi Gate, Dacheng Gate, Dacheng Hall, Chongsheng Gate, and Chongsheng Temple, which are arranged in sequence on the central axis. In the east of Dacheng Gate, there are stele pavilions, slaughter pavilions, well pavilions, and God kitchens; while in the west, there are stele pavilions, Zhizhai Institute and Shenku. The courtyard is paved with blue bricks and towering pines, which are most famous for stone carvings among many historical sites.

Then you will visit the Lama Temple which is located in the northeast corner of Beijing. Historically, the Lama Temple was first used as the residence of Emperor Yin Zhen, where his son Hong Li, the next Emperor after Yin Zhen of the Qing Dynasty was born and raised. After Hong Li became the emperor, this place was turned into the Lama Temple. For this temple, there are some special days. For example, September 22nd in the Tibetan calendar is the day to commemorate the Buddha’s return to the world. This day was also called “Heaven Falling Festival” or “Falling Festival”. On this day, monks should chant sutras for one day according to the usual practice, welcome Buddha back to the world, carry forward Buddhism, and save all living beings. Tibetan Buddhism believes that this day is the most special day of the year. In the Qing Dynasty, monks chanted sutras all day and night on Sakyamuni’s return to the world.

Temple of Heaven
Day 5 BeijingPingyao
From Beijing to Pingyao by train, Pingyao Ancient Town

After breakfast, you will go to the high-speed railway station to take the estimated train G627 08:05/12:03 to Pingyao. As the early departure time, you should get up as early as possible to pack your luggage and have a delicious meal. After arrival, your tour guide will wait for you at the station and then deliver you to the hotel, where you can have a rest and tasty food.

In the afternoon, your tour guide will organize a trip to the Pingyao Ancient Town. Pingyao Ancient Town, located in the middle of Shanxi Province, was built in the reign of Zhou Xuanwang and expanded in 1370, with a history of more than 2700 years. It also preserves the basic features of the county town in the Ming and Qing Dynasties and is the most completed existing ancient city in Han nationality areas of China. Pingyao is one of the birthplaces of Shanxi merchants. In 1824, Rishengchang, the embryonic form of China’s first modern bank, was born in Pingyao. Three years later, Rishengchang has set up branches in many provinces of China. In the 1840s, its business further expanded to Japan, Singapore, Russia, and other countries. At that time, driven by the exchange shops in Rishengchang, Pingyao’s bank industry developed rapidly. In its heyday, there were as many as 22 exchange shops here, which once became the center of China’s financial industry.

Pingyao Ancient Town
Pingyao Ancient Town
Day 6 Pingyao
Wang Family Courtyard, Zhangbi Ancient Castle

After breakfast, you will head north for a one-hour drive to Wang Family Courtyard, which is 50 kilometers from downtown. The Wang Family Courtyard is known as “Chinese Folk Forbidden City”, “Forbidden City in Shanxi” and “the first residence in China”, a master of residential buildings in the Qing Dynasty. The Wang Family Courtyard is both representative of Shanxi merchants’ culture in history and a model of residential buildings in northern China. At present, there are 123 large and small courtyards and 1,118 houses opening to the public, covering an area of 45,000 square meters.

After lunch, your tour guide will take you to visit Zhangbi Ancient Castle, which is located at the Zhangbi village. As it is 20 kilometers from the Wang Family Courtyard, you will head north for a 30-minute drive to this attraction. When you get here, you will notice that Zhangbi Ancient Castle is a rare ancient “castle” that integrates military affairs, residence, production, astrology, and religious activities in China. It is said that Zhangbi Ancient Castle was built at the end of the Sui Dynasty (591-618), which was first used to station troops, and then people gradually built houses in the castle. Amazingly, nearly 10,000 meters of tunnels have been dug underground in the castle, which runs through the whole castle vertically and horizontally, with a three-dimensional intersection and great capacity. The facilities in the tunnel are perfect, including stables, granaries, ventilation, and water supply, which were used for Tibetan soldiers in the past. There are also structures such as surveillance, command, attack, command, trap, gate, and so on, which are convenient for attack and military use.

Wang Family Courtyard
Zhangbi Ancient Castle
Day 7 PingyaoXi’an
Shuanglin Temple, from Pingyao to Xi’an by train

After breakfast, you will visit Shuanglin Temple in Pingyao. The Shuanglin Temple faces south, and the temple covers an area of about 15,000 square meters, which is divided into east and west parts. According to Buddhist scriptures, the Nirvana place of Buddha Sakyamuni is between the Shaluo double trees beside the Bhatti River in the ancient Tianzhu city. When the Buddha was under the double trees, he lay on the right side. After he died and ascended to heaven, the two trees on all sides blossomed with white flowers.

After visiting the Shuanglin Temple, you will end your trip in Pingyao and have savory food there. In the afternoon, you will take the estimated train D2519 13:18/16:26 to Xi’an. After arrival, your tour guide will wait for you and deliver you to the hotel. In terms of the Xi’an escorted tour, it is necessary to have a basic understanding of this city. Xi’an is one of the first batches of national historical and cultural cities announced by the State Council. More than ten dynasties have established their capitals here in history. It is one of the four ancient capitals in the world and one of the capitals with the largest number of dynasties, and the greatest influence in Chinese history. In 202 BC, Liu Bang established the Western Han Dynasty (202 BC-8 AD) and set his capital in Chang’an (Ancient name of Xi’an), taking the meaning of local Chang’an township and making his name “Chang’an”, which means “long-term stability”.

Shuanglin Temple
Shuanglin Temple
Day 8 Xi’an
Terra Cotta Warriors and Horses Museum, Xi’an Beilin Museum (Xi’an Stele Forest Museum), Ancient City Wall

After breakfast, you will go to Terra Cotta Warriors and Horses Museum. Terra Cotta Warriors and Horses are located 1.5 kilometers east of Qin Shihuang Mausoleum in Lintong District, Xi’an City. Terra Cotta Warriors and Horses are a category of ancient tomb sculptures. In ancient times, slaves were the accessories of slave owners before their death. After the death of slave owners, slaves were buried as sacrificial objects for slave owners. Terra Cotta Warriors and Horses are sacrificial objects in the shape of military horses (chariots, war horses, and soldiers). In March 1974, local farmers dug a pottery figurine during good drilling, then they immediately stopped work and made a report to the relevant departments. After identification by archaeological experts and scientific and technical personnel, it was identified as a Qin Dynasty object. It turns out that there are 3 huge Terra Cotta Warriors and Horses pits here. More than 8,000 terracotta warriors and horses have been sleeping underground for more than 2,000 years.

After lunch, your tour guide will take you to the Xi’an Beilin Museum (Xi’an Stele Forest Museum), the earliest museum in Xi’an. Mainly collecting, displaying, and studying inscriptions, epitaphs, and stone carvings of past dynasties, it remains a unique art museum in China. The Xi'an Beilin Museum's collection of stele stones is mainly housed in the Stele Pavilion north of the Beilin Square and in the first to seventh exhibition rooms. Among them, the "Shidai Filial Scripture", engraved in 745 by Li Longji, Emperor of the Tang Dynasty, and known as the "First Tablet to Welcome Guests", is one of the earliest collections to be moved to the Beilin Museum.

Then you will move to the Ancient City Wall, which is the largest and most well-preserved ancient city wall in China. The existing city wall was originally built in the Ming Dynasty with a total length of 13.7 kilometers. It was built in 1370 and completed in 1378 based on Sui and Tang imperial cities. The main function of city walls is for rulers to protect their safety and for military defense. The four-gate arrow tower in Xi'an city was built in the early Ming Dynasty, which is one of the important urban organizational systems of “triple gate” and “triple building”. Except for Nanmen Arrow Tower, which was destroyed by war in the early years of the Republic of China, the other three buildings are still well preserved.

City Wall
Terracotta Warriors and Horses Museum
Day 9 Xi’anShanghai
From Xi’an to Shanghai by flight

Today your trip to Xi’an is over, and your tour guide will take you to the airport after breakfast. Taking the estimated flight FM9202 13:00/15:05, your next destination is Shanghai. After arrival, your local tour guide will wait for you at the airport and deliver you to the hotel.

Day 10 Shanghai
Yu Garden, Shanghai Museum, Shanghai Tower, the Bund, Nanjing Road

After breakfast, you will visit the Yu Garden (closed each Monday) in the Huangpu District. “Yu” means “peace” and “stability”. Built in the Ming Dynasty, Yu Garden was originally a private garden with a history of more than 400 years by 2021. Pan Yunduan, the owner of the garden, started to build gardens on several vegetable fields to the west of Shichun Hall, the residence of the Pan family, in 1559. After more than 20 years of painstaking efforts, the Yu Garden was built, covering an area of more than 70 acres at that time, which was designed by Zhang Nanyang, a famous gardener in the Ming Dynasty who personally participated in the construction.

Then you will move to the Shanghai Museum (closed each Monday) which has a total exhibition area of 12,000 square meters. The cultural relics collection of the Shanghai Museum includes 31 categories, namely bronze, ceramics, paintings, calligraphy, sculpture, and so on. Shanghai Museum has ten special art exhibition halls, four special cultural relics donation rooms, and three special exhibition halls, which focus on reflecting the complete development history, complete system, rich collection, and exquisite quality of various art categories, enjoying a high reputation at home and abroad. Among them, there is a famous stone tablet of Thousand Buddhas, carved in the Northern Zhou Dynasty, with a height of 171cm, a length of 81cm and a width of 17cm. There are more than 1,000 Buddha statues engraved on this monument, and there is a large niche in the middle and upper part of the monument, with one Buddha, two disciples, and four Bodhisattvas engraved. The image of the Lord sits on a lotus seat, and there is a lion beside the lotus seat as a guard. Although the shape of these thousands of small Buddha statues is very small, the depiction of the characters in each small statue is extremely delicate, with fine carving of eyebrows, eyes, nose, and mouth. The portrayal of so many Buddha statues is related to the idea that everyone can become a Buddha advocated by Mahayana Buddhism.

After lunch, you will visit the Shanghai Tower. Shanghai Tower has a total construction area of 578,000 square meters. The main building has 127 floors above ground and 5 floors underground, with a total height of 632 meters, a structural height of 580 meters, and a base area of 30,368 square meters. The 118-story sightseeing hall in Shanghai Center is undoubtedly the highest sightseeing hall at present. Looking down from the sightseeing hall, you can see the roofs of the two tall buildings, the World Financial Center and Jinmao Tower. In the sightseeing hall, there is also an “air post office” and a “wishing tree”. Postcards can be written on the spot and delivered to the highest mailbox in the world, or handwritten wishing cards can be hung on wishing trees to send beautiful blessings to the world.

Then you will move to the Bund in the Huangpu District. Since 1844, the Bund has been designed as a British concession, which has the starting point of the old Shanghai concession area and the whole modern city of Shanghai. After 1840, Shanghai, as one of the five trading ports, opened to the outside world. In 1845, British colonialists seized the Bund and established the British Concession. In 1849, French colonists also seized the Bund and established the French Concession. Since the late 19th century, many foreign and Chinese banks have been established on the Bund, which has become the “Financial Street” of Shanghai and is also known as the “Oriental Wall Street”.

After that, you will visit Nanjing Road. Nanjing Road in a broad sense includes two of the top ten commercial centers in Shanghai: Nanjing East Road and Nanjing West Road. Nanjing East Road (including Nanjing Road Pedestrian Street) is mainly a cheap commercial area and a tourist area. There is a dark red marble screen at the east and west ends of Nanjing Road Pedestrian Street, which is inscribed by President Jiang Zemin personally with six characters of “Nanjing Road Pedestrian Street”. Completed on the 50th anniversary of National Day, Nanjing Road Pedestrian Street starts from Tibet Middle Road in the west and Henan Middle Road in the east. Don’t just shop when walking on the pedestrian street, you can take a closer look at the “four major companies”, namely Baiyi Store, Yong’an Commercial Building, Shanghai Fashion Company and No.1 Food Store, all of which constantly reflect the past and today of Nanjing Road, and the interweaving of tradition and modernity adds a different charm to this century-old street.

The bund
Nanjing Road
Day 11 Shanghai
Zhujiajiao Ancient Water Town, Jade Buddha Temple

After breakfast, you will visit Zhujiajiao Ancient Water Town, about 50 kilometers away from downtown in Shanghai. Therefore, you will drive southwest for about an hour to go to this attraction. Zhujiajiao Ancient Water Town is rich in tourism resources, including Shanghai Water Sports Ground on Dianshan Lake, an activity center with international modern water facilities, Oriental Land which is a youth extracurricular activity camp in Shanghai, Shanghai Sun Island International Club, and Shanghai International Golf and Country Club which are entertainment and tourism bases integrating business, vacation and leisure.

After lunch, you will move to the Jade Buddha Temple. The Jade Buddha Temple, located on Anyuan Road in Shanghai, is a famous Buddhist temple at home and abroad. It is named after two jade Buddhas enshrined in the temple. Jade Buddha Temple was founded in the eighth year of Guangxu in Qing Dynasty, that is, in 1882. In 1899, Master Huigen returned home, passing through Shanghai, leaving one sitting Buddha and one reclining Buddha. In 1918, Master Ke Cheng, the fourth abbot of Jade Buddha Temple, started construction on Anyuan Road and spent 10 years before and after building a new temple, where Jade Buddha Temple is located today.

Zhujiajiao Water Town
Zhujiajiao Water Town
Day 12 Departure
you will be transferred to the airport and fly back to your sweet home

Today your 13-day China escorted tour will be over. After breakfast, you can return to your room to pack your luggage and your tour guide will deliver you to the airport.

Author: Liu Shujun

Proofreader: Lexie

This tour ends here
Tour Map
City Five Star hotel list Four Star hotel list
Beijing Sunworld Dynasty Hotel Beijing Wangfujing Sunworld Hotel Wangfujing
Pingyao Pingyao Yide Hotel Pingyao Dejuyuan Guesthouse
Xi'an Tianyu Gloria Grand Hotel Xi'an Sunworld Dynasty Hotel
Shanghai Ocean Hotel Shanghai Courtyard by Marriott Shanghai Central
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