Some days ago we arrived back home after two weeks in China. Although two weeks seem a very short time to visit such a huge country, we have enjoyed a lot of those 14 days in China and have managed to discover some of the most important Chinese jewels. However, we are already thinking of a second visit to this amazing country, maybe to Sichuan, Yunnan or Tibet. Who knows… 🙂
We already shared in a previous post the itinerary that we had planned for this trip. Generally speaking, we followed our initial plan, but we had to introduce some minor changes due to the difficulty of getting tickets to enter the Forbidden City in Beijing and the train bookings. The agency that had been managing the train bookings for us told us some weeks before our trip that it was not possible to get tickets for the exact trains that we had requested. Fortunatelly, we had booked our accommodation with free cancellation in Booking.com, as we always do. This made us change our plans as per the nights that we would spend in Xi’an and Pingyao.
You can find in this post our final route and the first pictures that we share from our trip to China (we took more than 3,000 photos in just 14 days…). Hope that this itinerary may help to those planning a similar trip to one of the most varied and interesting countries in the world. From now on we will keep writting about our experiences in China to help you plan your trip in detail! 🙂
Day 1. Beijing: Tiananmen Square and Summer Palace
We arrived at Beijing thanks to a direct flight from Barcelona. We almost hadn’t slept, but in Beijing it was early morning, so we left our luggage in the hotel and headed to Tiananmen Square, the epicenter of Beijing and China itself. We were told that tickets to enter the Forbidden City were sold out, so we had to change our plans and visit the Forbidden City on Day 3 (Tuesday, since the Forbidden City is closed on Mondays). We spent the rest of the day in the Summer Palace and we had dinner in the surroundings of our hotel.
Day 2. Beijing: Mutianyu Great Wall, Lama Temple and Wangfujing
Due to the need to change our plans, we visited the Great Wall of China earlier than expected, just on the second day of our trip. There are several tranches that can be visited and we selected Mutianyu because it is not far from Beijing but it is not the closest one to the capital of China, so we arrived there quite early to avoid crowds. When back to Beijing, we had sufficient time to visit the Lama Temple and enjoy the food street of Wangfujing.
Day 3. Beijing: Forbidden City, Jingshan Park, Hutongs of Beijing and Qianhai Lake
We got up really early (again!) but we managed to get tickets to the Forbidden City before they were sold out. We devoted the entire morning to discover the huge Forbidden City and in the afternoon we got lost among the hutongs (ancient streets) of Beijing and the attractions that are placed in the north. Our dinner? Beijing roasted duck. 🙂
Day 4. Beijing: Temple of Heaven, Dashilar, Qianmen, Opera House and CCTV Headquarters and surroundings
The weather was not good that day. Under the rain, we explored the beautiful Temple of Heaven. Then, the weather improved and we walked towards the south of the Tiananmen Square (Dashilar, Qianmen). It was our last day in Beijing and we didn’t want to leave the city without enjoying of its modern architecture. Thus, we saw the impressive Opera House and we took the underground to the China Central Television Headquarters. We walked among skycrapers and had a mojito with views. 🙂
Day 5. Datong: Hanging Temple and Yungang Grottoes
We had spent the night from Day 4 to Day 5 in a train that had took us from Beijing to Datong, where our guide awaited in the train station. With her and two Catalan guys (what a coincidence) we visited the amazing Hanging Temple and the Yungan Grottoes, which are breathtaking. In the afternoon, another train took us to Pingyao.
Day 6. Pingyao
Pingyao might be the best preserved fortified city in China, so we devoted that day to walk around the city and climb the city walls. In the afternoon, we took a high speed train towards Xi’an.
Day 7. Xi’an: Goose Pagodas, Forest of Stone Steles and Muslim Quarter
At that point of the trip we must say that we were really exhausted. Lots of ours spent in trains, the hot weather… Our initial plan was to visit the Terracotta Army on that day, but we preferred to sleep a bit more and leave that hotspot for the next day. Thus, we decided to explore the city of Xi’an itself, with its Goose Pagodas, the Forest of Stone Steles and the vibrant Muslim Quarter (and its Great Mosque).
Day 8. Xi’an: Terracotta Army
Finally, the day had arrived. We fulfilled one of those dreams that are in every traveler bucket list. We spent the morning in the Terracotta Army Museum area and in the afternoon we were at the airport to take our flight to Guilin, in the south of China.
Day 9. Guilin: Day trip to Longji Rice Terraces
Guilin is the perfect place to stay if you want to explore the beautiful landscape of this area, including the Longji Rice Terraces and the karst mountains that inspired the scenery of Dragon Ball. We did the trip to the Longji Rice Terraces with a tour offered by our hotel. During that tour, we could also meet the Yao ethnic women which are famous because they don’t cut their hair and keep it long.
Day 10. Cruise from Guilin to Yangshuo
Our second day in Guilin, we took the cruise along the Li River towards Yangshuo. During the cruise, which lasts around 4 hours, we could enjoy the mountain views. Some travelers use to take a bus back to Guilin after spending some hours in Yangshuo, but we wanted to enjoy a bit more of the area, so we decided to stay in Yangshuo for two nights.
Day 11. Yangshuo
Our hotel, placed in the surroundings of Yangshuo, offered free bikes to all guests, so we took two of them and rode along the Yulong river for some hours, before relaxing in the hotel’s swimming pool. The views that we enjoyed during the bike ride were breathtaking.
Day 12. Yangshuo – Guilin (night train to Shanghai)
In the morning, we explored one of the karst caves that can be visited in Yangshuo. After having lunch, our hotel arranged for us a private transfer to the north train station of Guilin, where we took a 17-hour train to Shanghai.
Day 13. Shanghai: French Concession, Pudong and The Bund
We arrived at Shanghai at 10 a.m. and left our luggage in the hotel. We decided to explore the French Concession area (Tianzifang) and then we moved to Pudong. Later, we crossed towards The Bund, from where we could spot the lighting of the Oriental Pearl Tower and the rest of the buildings in Pudong.
Day 14. Shanghai: Shanghai Tower, The Bund, Yuyuan Gardens & Baazar and French Concession
Our last day in Shanghai (and in China too) we climbed to the second highest building in the world, the impressive Shanghai Tower. The views from the observatory were amazing. Afterwards, we walked around The Bund with daylight. We also had time to visit the beautiful Yuyuan Gardens and its Bazaar (including the City God Temple) and had dinner in the French Concession area (Xintiandi).