China in 7 Days: Highlights

Last week, I realised a dream of many years – to visit China for the first time. It was a fast paced express trip across three of China’s biggest cities: Beijing, Xian and Shanghai. I will be doing detailed blog posts about the trip in the coming weeks, but in the meantime, here are the highlights.

The Itinerary

Day 1: Beijing. Early morning arrival in Beijing, Visit to Yonghegong Temple and Wangfujing Shopping Street. Read more here.

Yonghe Temple

Day 2: Beijing. Visit to Temple of Heaven, Tiananmen Square, Forbidden City and Summer Palace. Read more here.

Temple of Heaven
Tiananmen Square
Forbidden City
Summer Palace

Day 3: Beijing. Visit to Great Wall at Mutianyu and 2008 Olympic Park. Overnight sleeper train to Xian. Read more here and here.

The Great Wall at Mutianyu
Olympic Park

Day 4: Xian. Arrival in Xian, Visit to the Terracotta Warriors, Xian City Walls, Bell Tower, Drum Tower and Muslim Quarter. Read more here.

Terracotta Warriors – Pit 1
Bell Tower

Day 5: Xian. Shopping in Xian Muslim Quarter, high speed train to Shanghai, night time visit to the Bund in Shanghai. Read more here.

Xian Muslim Quarter Shopping Street
The Bund in Shanghai

Day 6: Shanghai. Visit to Yu Garden, explore Old Shanghai,  day time visit to the Bund and Shanghai Acrobatics Show. Read more here.

Yu Garden

Day 7: Shanghai. Visit to East Nanjing shopping street, Pudong financial district, top of Oriental Pearl TV tower and late night departure from Shanghai. Read more here.

View  of Puxi  from Oriental Pearl TV tower (across the Hungpu river)

Trip Facts and Figures

  • Number of Cities: 3 (Beijing, Xian and Shanghai)
  • Number of Trains: 2
  • Distance Covered: 2400km
  • Number of attractions: 15

china map

Trip Highlights

The Great Wall: Of all the places we visited, this was without a doubt, my favourite. Stretching over the top of the mountains as far as the eye can see, it is a sight that must be seen to be believed.

The Great Wall at Mutianyu

Terracotta Warriors: Another attraction where no amount of photos, videos or TV programmes can do it justice. The detail on each of the statues and the sheer scale of construction is staggering. What surprised me most was the fact that what has been discovered so far is only a fraction of what lies underground, and also the painstaking work that has gone in to reassemble the pieces to the warrior figures.

Terracotta Warriors Pit 3
Terracotta Warriors – Statue of High Ranking officer

Lights of Shanghai: If Beijing and Xian are testaments to China’s glorious past, the lights of Shanghai indicate China’s bright future. The Bund at night looked every bit as vibrant as I had seen in photos, but even better was being at the top of the Oriental Pearl TV tower at dusk and seeing the city illuminate around us. Simply amazing.

View of Pudong from top of Oriental Pearl TV Tower
View of Puxi from Oriental Pearl TV Tower

(Partially) Self Guided Tour: After much research, we decided to do this trip as a semi-independent tour tailor made for us by The China Travel Company. We booked hotels, trains, transfers and several guided day trips to the biggest attractions with the company, but leaving enough free time to explore on our own. This gave us the best of both worlds – freedom from stress when it comes to getting around in a new place, but the flexibility to set our own pace and explore things on our own.

I would highly recommend The China Travel Company as we had a great trip with them. They are a small, family run independent company based in UK and put together great tailor made itinerary for us. They were really helpful, answering all my questions from the serious to the banal.  They also provided a fantastic guide book which covered everything from where to eat to how to take trains in China and everything else in between.  On the trip itself, all the arrangements worked very smoothly. The hotels and the tour vehicles were very good. All the guides were excellent. They were on time, helped with our bags, took our photos, and answered all our questions and went the extra mile.  (I have no affiliation with The China Travel Company, I just think they are very good.) 

Joining the weekly postcard with Two Traveling Texans

Two Traveling Texans



    1. It is a really interesting country – I’m aware we only scratched the surface with this trip! Hoping to go back for more! Thanks for stopping by.


  1. I haven’t been to China yet but my family have travelled to China a few times. My father was amazed by the terracotta warriors and he said the same thing too about the sheer size of the site, the amount of work involved in unearthing the terracotta warriors and reassembling them. Thanks for sharing the name of your travel agent – will take note of that in the event I travel to China some day 🙂 #TheWeeklyPostcard

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I have been to China twice and loved it. I visited Beijing, Shanghai, and Dalian. I really want to go to Xian and see the soldiers. I think the Great Wall was my favorite thing too, although I did also really enjoy the Forbidden City and the shopping. Thanks for sharing on #TheWeeklyPostcard.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s an army of terracotta warriors built by the first emperor of China for his tomb. The sheer scale (upto 6000 statues) is staggering. Lot of detail in each statue and everyone is different to the others.


  3. I visited China about 15 years ago. I’d love to return to Shanghai to see how much it’s changed in that time. TheGreat Wall was somewhere I had wanted to visit since childhood and like you I thought it was incredible. #Theweeklypostcard

    Liked by 1 person

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