What to do to spend 10 days in China?
You want to go on a trip to China but you do not have much time? Wondering which is the best route to make the most of your stay in the Middle Kingdom?
So I will offer you an 10 days China itinerary. It will allow you to discover some of the most beautiful sights of the country.
So, what to do and see in China in 9, 10 or 11 days?
The program of your stay: The city of Xi’an and its famous terracotta army, the beautiful Zhangjiajie rock columns , the breathtaking views of Guilin and the Li River as well as Beijing and the Great Wall of China.
So, on the way to this 10-day China itinerary!
A little note before you start:
You noticed I did not mention Shanghai in this route. Indeed, for a 10 days China itinerary, I advise you to ignore Shanghai, a very westernized city, which is not really representative of the country. In such a short period of time, both enjoy the “real” China that has wonderful things to offer you.
If you still want to go through Shanghai, you can read my “2 weeks in China” itinerary and adapt accordingly (delete one of the steps of this itinerary).
Day 1-2: Xi’an and the Terracotta Army
Starting your 10 days China itinerary to Xi’an is a great idea for 2 reasons:
- You do not waste time at the airport and make your international flight with a Beijing – Xi’an
- The price of the domestic flight – Xi’an is much less when it is booked at the same time as your international flight as a connecting flight. You save money!
For your first day in China, you will visit one of the most famous historical sites in China: The Xi’an Terracotta Army.
Head for Xi’an Railway Station and take bus 306 to the Terra Cotta Warriors. The trip takes about an hour, and you have to get off at the terminus : you can not go wrong! It’s the same bus that will take you back to town.
The time to visit, may be to eat on site, and you will be back in town around 14:30 or 15h.
You will have time to go for a walk on the ramparts of Xi’an, starting from the south gate (the prettiest!). It is possible to walk there, or rent bicycles and go around.
At the end of the day, I recommend going for a walk on the side of the Great Wild Goose Pagoda, south of the city. You can also visit the park around, as well as the Great Tang All Day Mall, and its 1500m long avenue whose center is occupied by statues inspired by the history of the Tang Dynasty.
Right next to the pagoda, in the north, is the spectacle of the musical fountains of Xi’an, which is the largest in Asia, to see absolutely by night! The night performance takes place every evening at 20:30 or 21h in summer.
As I told you in my other itinerary article, I do not recommend eating in one of the food stands located in the park next to the Great Wild Goose Pagoda, it’s really not good! Go a little further north of the park, the food is of much better quality.
For your second day in Xi’an, head for the city center with the Bell Tower, which once marked the center of Xi’an City. Then continue to the Drum Tower, the other remarkable monument. You can visit inside the 2 old towers for 50 yuan.
At the foot of the Drum Tower is the entrance to the Xi’an Muslim Quarter, and its famous market where you can fill up the belly at any time. You MUST eat there at noon! Do not forget to taste the “Chinese Burger“ (Rou Jia Mo – 肉夹馍), which is Xi’an’s best-known culinary specialty.
In this area there is also the Great Mosque of Xi’an, which you can visit.
It is then time for you to go to the airport, to catch your flight to Zhangjiajie in the evening.
Accommodation in Xi’an
- The Silk Road in Chang’an Youth Space : I recommend this hostel located in the city center. Modern dormitory from 8 €, breakfast surcharge 4 €. Most: very friendly and roof terrace.
- Xi’an See Tang Hostel : Hotel very well located 400 meters from the city walls. Modern and bright room with refined decoration from 34 € per night, breakfast at 4 €. Most: beautiful terrace with glass roof on the roof to have lunch.
- Time Tunnel Designer Hotel : Luxury hotel located right in the art district of Xi’an, 30 minutes from the famous Museum of Terracotta Soldiers. Beautiful room with elegant design from 65 € per night, breakfast 8 €. The most: its design; complimentary metro pass, complimentary bath and mini bar in all rooms. The best value for money in the city, my favorite in Xi’an!
All Xi’an news is in my article: 3 Days in Xi’an with Top Things to Do
Day 3-5: Zhangjiajie National Park
The next stop on your 10-day China itinerary is Zhangjiajie National Park in Hunan Province. This is my favorite stop on this 10 day tour in China.
The site, very famous for its rocky columns (it has more than 3000!) Has also inspired the director of Avatar for the world of Pandora, the extraterrestrial planet on which the film takes place.
For this step, you will have the opportunity to stay in 3 different places:
- The city of Zhangjiajie, rather noisy and far enough from the park entrance, you can however consider this option if you want to be close to the cable car to the Tianmen Mountain. Personally, I do not advise you.
- The village of Wulingyuan, As it is located right next to the entrance of Zhangjiajie National Park, it is the best choice to visit it, while enjoying a quality hotel offer.
- In Zhangjiajie National Park : The only option if you want to photograph (or just see!) The sunrise is to sleep in the National Park. This is the most expensive option, and the hotels are rather rustic.
The city of Wulingyuan being more easily accessible than the Zhangjiajie National Park, I advise you to spend at least your first night, and therefore to stay in the park the other 2 days, if that is your plan.
To enter the park, it will cost you 250 yuan per person (about 30 euros). At this price, you will be entitled to a 4-day pass.
The Zhangjiajie National Park is really huge, I advise you to dedicate at least 2 days to visit it. For up-to-date information, do not hesitate to ask your hotel for details on the various excursions offered.
3 choices are offered for your last day in Zhangjiajie.
- Enjoy a 3rd day at the park
- Visit the Yellow Dragon Cave (Huanglong), a large cave illuminated with hundreds of colorful lights. It’s quite similar to the Reed Flute Cave that you can visit in Guilin, the next leg of your China itinerary.
- Go to the Tianmen mount, and its rock arch, very famous internationally, especially since wingsuit competitions have been organized.
However, I do not recommend going to Lake Baofeng, another major attraction of the region: it became tourist trap.
Xi’an Transport – Zhangjiajie
To go from Xi’an to Zhangjiajie, the best is to catch a flight in the evening. Thus, can spend 3 full days in the national park. Do not waste time, it’s important when you only have 10 days in China!
Flight time: 1h30
To book your flights or train tickets, the best is to go through the Trip.com website . This is the one I use, and it is on this website that you will get the best prices!
I strongly advise you to put Trip.com as a favorite now! It will serve you a lot when organizing your China itinerary.
Accommodation in Zhangjiajie
The best option, when you visit Zhangjiajie National Park, is to sleep in Wulingyuan City, near the entrance to the park.
- Yinshe Guesthouse: This is my favorite hotel and the best choice in the area! If there is no more room, you can try the Shuimu Nianhua Inn or the Pan Shan Yi Zhan, which also have very good reputation.
An experience to do too, especially if you like photography, is to stay in the park. It is ideal to enjoy the sunset and the sunrise! On the other hand we saw better comfort level ^^
- Zhang Jia Yi Xiang Ju Zhen Pin Ke Zhan is very well located and is a good choice.
- Dream PA International Youth Hostel is also one of the best accommodation solutions in the park.
You may also read this comprehensive guide to Zhangjiajie: What to do in Zhangjiajie?
Day 6-8: Guilin, Yangshuo and Li River
The night train will get you to Guilin, in Guangxi Province, in the middle of the morning (I’m talking about the details of the trip a little further down). Time to go to your hotel to drop your things, you can have a good meal in town and enjoy a little sightseeing. For this half day in Guilin, I also recommend you to visit the cave “Reed Flute Cave“, which is sublime!
For your 2nd day, you will go to Yangshuo, going on a cruise on the Li River! This is certainly the best way to discover the region and its karst peaks are internationally renowned. The landscapes are superb all along. It is a must in your stay in China.
The first step is to take the taxi to Zhujian Pier or Mopanshan pier, the starting points of cruises, located south of Guilin. The best is to take the first departure, the cruise between 4 and 5h. This will allow you to enjoy some Yangshuo and surroundings in the afternoon.
After dropping the luggage at the hotel, you can go to the Hill of the Moon (Moon Hill in English), one of the attractions of the Guilin area. To reach this arch in the rock, you will have to pay entrance fees and climb the 800 steps (about 20 minutes) that lead to it.
Another good plan for your afternoon may be to rent bikes in Yangshuo and walk along the Yulong River. This path offers truly sublime views!
For the cruise on the Li River, it may be wise to book it in advance. You can also check with your hoteland arrange a tour with a minibus that will pick you up directly in Guilin to get you to the boat. This is the simplest solution!
The next morning, you will have the opportunity to do one of the 2 activities mentioned above, or, what I recommend, to go on a bamboo raft trip on the Yulong River.
In the afternoon, you will have to head to Guilin Airport for an evening flight to Beijing, the next stop on your 10-day China itinerary.
Accommodation in Guilin
- Sky Palace Hostel : Nice 3 * hotel located on the banks of the Li River, near the area of 2 rivers and 4 lakes which is accessible by foot. The view from the roof terrace over the city is breathtaking! Bed in dormitory from 6 euros and double room from 24 euros per night.
- Aroma Tea House : This 5 * hotel is conveniently located on the edge of Banyan Lake, and offers lake view rooms. This is my favorite in Guilin for its unbeatable price / performance ratio: night in a double room from 55 euros!
Accommodation in Yangshuo
In Yangshuo, the best advice I can give you is to stay outside the city, because it’s very noisy! Excellent hotels, really quiet, are only 15 or 20 minutes by bike from the city center.
All the hotels that I propose to you are ideally placed : close to the moon hill and the pier to make Bamboo raft on the Yulong river.
- Pure Joy Resort : My choice for a budget trip to Yangshuo! It’s not fancy, but the rooms and bathrooms are very clean and the staff is lovely. Double room from 22 euros per night.
- Yangshuo Hidden Dragon Villa : Beautiful boutique hotel located 5km from Yanshuo City, quiet, and 15 minutes walk from the Moon Hill. Night in a double room from 47 euros
- Indape Hotel : This 4 * Hotel is located about 4km from Yangshuo City. It was a big blow during my stay in Yangshuo for the setting and the calm that reigns there! Overnight stay in a double room from 85 euros.
Zhangjiajie Transportation – Guilin
There are no flights at Zhangjiajie – Guilin at the moment . The journey is done by train and in 2 steps:
- Take the night train from Zhangjiajie to Liuzhou (about 11h trip)
- Then take an express train from Liuzhou to Guilin (1 hour trip)
the advantage is that it saves you a hotel night! I advise you to take the 1st class for the train, called “soft sleepers”
To get an idea of Guilin and its surroundings, I recommend you read my article: What to do in Guilin?
Day 9-10: Beijing and the Great Wall of China
Your 10-day China itinerary continues with the greatest classic: a visit to the Great Wall of China! Since you do not have much time, you will have to go on a day trip.
It is possible to visit several sections, and the best of it is undoubtedly that of Jinshanling. There are some much closer to Beijing, like Badaling, which is crowded with people. To push a little further and live the experience of the Great Wall in peace.
It is possible to go there by public transport, or to reserve a tour for the day. In any case, the trip from Beijing lasts about 2 hours.
Getting to Jinshanling by public transport: The easiest way is to go to the Wangjing West metro station and go to the nearby bus station. Then take the bus to Luanping and get off at Jinshanling Service Area. To reach the entrance to the section of the wall, which is about 2km away, there is a free shuttle that goes back and forth.
For your day in Beijing, I recommend you go for a walk on Tian’anmen Square, as well as visit the Forbidden City and the hutongs (old neighborhoods with charming little streets). These are Beijing classics, and the big advantage is that everything is easily done on foot.
It is unfortunately already time to take your return flight in the evening. But rest assured, I have already prepared many other China itineraries for your next trips!
How to get from Guilin to Beijing?
To go from Guilin to Beijing, there are several solutions
- The cheapest is to take the “normal” train. You will get between 20 and 27 hours but it will cost you only 30 euros! You will lose a day. It’s up to you to see if the economy is worth it!
- The best thing for me is to fly. There are some who leave in the evening from Guilin and allow you to arrive in Beijing center around 1:30 / 2am. You will not waste time and will be able to visit the city or to go to the big wall the next day! Tickets are around 85-90 euros.
- The last solution is to take the express train. It is as cheap as the plane, and you have more than 10 hours of travel. I do not advise you so.
Accommodation in Beijing
- Happy Dragon Hostel Courtyard Dongsishitiao : Hostel in a quiet area 150 meters from the nearest metro station and 3km from the Beijing train station. Bed in dormitory from 8 € per night, breakfast at 4 €. Very welcoming staff. Most: ideal location and English speaking staff.
- Shichahai Shadow Art Performance Hotel : Nestled in the heart of a hutong, in the historical district of Xicheng, close to the lakes. Room combining modernity and typical decoration from 57 € per night, breakfast buffet (very rich) included. Most: Free Chinese shadow show and opportunity to take a calligraphy or cooking class. Our big favorite in Beijing!
- Beijing Double Happiness Courtyard Hotel : Typical hotel located in a hutong near the center, a 20-minute walk from the Forbidden City. Very comfortable room decorated in the old Chinese style from 100 € per night, breakfast included. Plus: the hotel offers excursions at attractive rates.
- Legendale Hotel beijing : Hotel 5 * very well located near a metro station and the Forbidden City. This European-style palace is truly sublime, and the staff can not do enough for you! Overnight from 170 €. This is for me the best choice for a luxury stay in Beijing.
My comprehensive guide to Beijing will give you all the information to visit the city: What to do in Beijing?
10-day China Itinerary: Latest Tips
10 days China itinerary, it’s very short! This route is therefore quite physical, with no real break time, to maximize the number of places you can discover during your China itinerary.
You have of course the possibility to make it quieter, skipping a step and taking more time to discover Beijing for example.
If you have any questions about this itinerary or about China in general, please let me know in the comments.
Are you going on a trip to China? Read Also
- Discover all our articles on China: All articles on the Middle Kingdom are listed here.
- 10 Days Itinerary in China
- 2 Weeks in China: Ultimate Itinerary
- Beijing: 13 must-do and must-see things
- Shanghai: The 12 things to do and see
- Xi’an: Top 15 Things to Do and See