The Best of China

  • $2199
  • 12
  • Average Tour Review


Like a greatest hits album, our Best of China tour stands as a smarTours® classic. We carefully curated our attractively priced four-city itinerary to capture both ancient and modern China. You won’t miss a beat as you sample the architectural treasures of Beijing and discover the astonishing Terracotta Army in Xian. You’ll fall in love with the giant pandas in Chengdu and be fascinated by Shanghai, the Paris of the East. From the Great Wall to Yu Yuan Garden, China is a must-see, and our guides will spin a fascinating narrative about its history, culture and way of life as you experience this sweeping, storied destination.

Itinerary at
a Glance

  • 3 nights in Beijing
  • 2 nights in Xian
  • 2 nights in Chengdu
  • 3 nights in Shanghai


  • Tiananmen Square (Beijing)
  • Forbidden City (Beijing)
  • Summer Palace (Beijing)
  • Great Wall (Beijing)
  • Terracotta Army (Xian)
  • Tang Art Museum (Xian)
  • Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding
  • Jinli Street (Chengdu)
  • The Bund (Shanghai)
  • Yu Yuan Garden (Shanghai)
  • Suzhou Excursion (Shanghai)

Activity Level: Discoverer 

Your Tour

  • Round-trip airfare from San Francisco (New York-JFK available at additional cost)
  • Airfare taxes, fees & fuel surcharges
  • All intra-China flights and ground transportation
  • Accommodation at deluxe and first-class hotels
  • 16 meals: 10 buffet breakfasts (B), 4 lunches (L), 2 dinners (D)
  • Sightseeing tours as described in itinerary
  • English-speaking Tour Director and local guides

Tour Itinerary

Click the Day by Day itinerary above (or swipe on mobile devices) to see the experiences that await on each day of your tour.

Depart from the U.S.

Take off on a nonstop flight to Beijing. Airfare from the U.S. is included in your tour package.

Arrive in Beijing

After crossing the International Date Line, arrive late afternoon in the capital city Beijing, which so mesmerized the world during the 2008 Summer Olympics. You’ll be greeted at the airport and travel to your upscale hotel centrally located in downtown Beijing, within easy access to Tiananmen Square, the largest public square in the world. This evening, your tour director hosts a welcome briefing. Capital Hotel (or similar)


Today we’ll discover the Forbidden City, the largest ancient palatial structure in the world and home of 24 emperors throughout the Ming and Qing dynasties. It is a true architectural masterwork and home to the National Palace Museum. After lunch, we’ll see the Summer Palace, a former royal retreat and now a lovely park, where you might consider taking a scenic boat ride on peaceful Kunming Lake. We’ll gather for a welcome dinner hosted by your Tour Director tonight. B/L/D Capital Hotel (or similar)


Today, encounter one of the world’s wonders: the legendary Great Wall, which stretches nearly 4,000 miles across China and was built more than 2,300 years ago. After you take the cable car up to the Great Wall, you’ll have plenty of time to explore this UNESCO World Heritage Site, and take in the vistas. On the way back to Beijing, we’ll take a photo stop at the iconic Beijing 2008 Olympic Park, where you’ll marvel at the uniquely designed buildings (like the famous Bird’s Nest and Water Cube). And you won’t want to miss tonight’s optional outing, which includes a dinner…


Enjoy the morning at your leisure (perhaps seeing Tiananmen Square, a prime people-watching spot!). Or take an optional Hutong and Temple of Heaven excursion, where you’ll explore the city’s ancient back alleys via rickshaw before enjoying lunch with a local family in their home. The tour ends with a visit to the Ming Dynasty masterpiece, the Temple of Heaven. Later today, fly to Xian, ancient capital of China for 11 dynasties and historic gateway to the old silk trading route. B Grand Mercure Xian Renmin Square (or similar)

Xian & Terracotta Army

Ready to see one of the greatest discoveries of the 20th century? You’ll be amazed by the Terracotta Army, an afterlife (and life-sized!) army of warriors, chariots and horses built over 2,200 years ago to guard the tomb of Emperor Qin Shi. This architectural treasure was unearthed in 1974 after being discovered by local farmers. Fun fact: each of the 8,000 soldiers differs in gestures and facial expressions. Our next stop is the Tang Art Museum, where we’ll view intriguing exhibits and demonstrations of Chinese culture, including folk arts, ancient painting works and calligraphy. You…


Today we’ll board a high-speed train from Xian to Chengdu, the capital of the Sichuan province and once the capital of the Shu Kingdom, and check-in to our hotel. B Tibet Hotel Chengdu (or similar)


Today we’ll see one of China’s natural treasures as we visit the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding. As we learn about efforts to increase the giant panda population, we’ll have a chance to see these beloved creatures in settings that imitate their natural habitats. After lunch, we’ll take a leisurely stroll down narrow Jinli Street, where you’ll find traditional shops selling Shu embroidery, lacquer products, folk handicrafts, curios and calligraphy. Old-world architecture and folk customs harmonize with more modern cafés on Jinli Street. It’s a lovely spot to sit…


Today we’ll catch a flight to Shanghai, the “Paris of the East.” On the way to your hotel, we’ll catch our first glimpse of this dynamic city, which blends a seaport legacy with sleek 21st-century architecture. B Crowne Plaza Fudan Hotel (or similar)


We’ll start the day with an orientation drive and a stroll along the Bund, the bustling Huangpu River waterfront, followed by a guided walk through Yu Yuan Garden. Take a deep breath and enjoy the rockeries, pavilions and sculpture of this classical Ming Dynasty-era garden, which was created over 400 years ago to be a happy, tranquil place for the owner’s parents. The remainder of the day is free for exploration at your own pace. Two optional outings are available and recommended: a visit to Shanghai Tower and the famous Jade Buddha Temple, as well as dinner and a mesmerizing acrobatic…

Shanghai/Optional Suzhou Excursion

Enjoy a full day to explore Shanghai or join an optional excursion to charming Suzhou, often called “Paradise on Earth.” See optional tours for information about this outing, which includes a canal boat ride and garden visit. Gather with your fellow travelers for a festive farewell dinner at a famous local restaurant this evening. B/D Crowne Plaza Fudan Hotel (or similar)


Transfer to the airport for your return flight to the U.S. Your Best of China tour comes to an end as you land later today. B

Guided Tour Pricing

Price includes round-trip airfare from the U.S. (Land-only pricing available upon request.)

Depart Return Depart - Return Best Value Pricing - Reserve by Apr 30, 2021 Reserve after
Apr 30, 2021
Select Tour
2022 2022 w/ eCheck Discount Sale After Sale
March 1 March 12 Mar 1 -
Mar 12
$2,199 $2,299 $2,699 Book Now
April 5 April 16 Apr 5 -
Apr 16
$2,499 $2,599 $2,999 Book Now

Rates are per person based on double occupancy.
May – Aug 2021: Single room supplement is $499.
Sep – Oct 2021: Single room supplement is $549
Nov – Dec 2021: Single room supplement is $409
Mar 2022: Single room supplement is $439
Apr 2022: Single room supplement is $499

New York Departures:
Add $149 if departing from New York (JFK)
*Dec 22 Departure: Flights from New York-JFK not available.

Business Class Upgrade
SFO/Beijing/SFO add $2995. JFK/Beijing/JFK add $3395.

China visa fee not included

For more information on this tour, please contact us here or call us during business hours (Mon-Fri, 9:00am – 5:30pm EST) at 800-337-7773.

Reservations and Payments
Reservations can be made by phone (1-800-337-7773) and will be confirmed upon receipt of your non-refundable, non-transferable deposit, which must be received at the time of reservation. Deposits are $99 per person for all 2021 departures, and $300 per person for all 2022 departures. Full payment is due 90 days prior to departure. Baggage fees may apply. Space and prices subject to availability. Please see the smarTours Terms and Conditions for complete booking information.

Optional Tours Customize your trip with these optional tours.

You will need to decide and pay for any of the tours you wish to participate in while you are in Beijing. Payment should be made by cash (U.S. dollars). You may also pay with credit card (Visa or Mastercard only), but please note that a 4% service charge will be added automatically by the bank to the optional tour prices listed below. A minimum purchase of $150 is required if you wish to use your credit card. Once paid, optional tours are non-refundable. Optional tours listed below may not be available on all departure dates.

Evening Peking Duck Dinner Banquet and Kung Fu Performance

  • Beijing
  • From approx. $50 Per Person

Enjoy an elaborate Chinese dinner banquet. On the menu: the celebrated Peking Duck! Following dinner, attend the “Legend of Kung Fu” show, a special stage performance that blends music, martial arts and a moving story. The show highlights the fascinating Chinese martial arts, known as Kung Fu.

Full-Day Hutong (Old Beijing) & Temple of Heaven Tour with Lunch

  • Beijing
  • From approx. $65 Per Person

Go behind-the-scenes for an unforgettable tour of Hutong, the old city of Beijing. You’ll ride on a traditional three-wheel cycle (rickshaw) through the labyrinth that comprises this quarter. Walk along ancient back alleys and see where ordinary citizens live side-by-side with gracious old estates once owned by Beijing’s old aristocracy. After an included lunch with a local family, visit the Temple of Heaven, a masterpiece of architectural harmony and precision.

Dumpling Dinner and Tang Dynasty Show

  • Xian
  • From approx. $45 Per Person

On this evening outing, savor a delicious dumpling dinner, a local specialty. Later, delight in a spectacular folklore show featuring music, dances and costumes from the Tang Dynasty.

Afternoon Shanghai Tower and Jade Buddha Temple Tour with Lunch

  • Shanghai
  • From approx. $68 Per Person

After an included lunch, see architecture both old and new on a guided afternoon tour. The first stop is the Jade Buddha Temple, which houses exceptional Buddha statues carved out of a single piece of white jade. You’ll then continue to China’s newest, tallest building—the Shanghai Tower. The second-tallest building in the world (second to only the Burj Khalifa in Dubai), it has the highest observation deck. For an exhilarating experience, ride the elevator to a 360-degree pan-optic, doughnut-shaped room for incredible views of Shanghai and beyond.

Chinese Dinner and Shanghai Acrobats Performance

  • Shanghai
  • From approx. $55 Per Person

Savor a Chinese banquet before delighting in the amazing skills of this renowned troop during an evening performance.

Full-Day Suzhou Excursion with Lunch

  • Shanghai
  • From approx. $65 Per Person, including lunch

On this memorable excursion, journey by road to the charming canal town of Suzhou, often called “Paradise on Earth.” Here you’ll embark on a short cruise on the ancient “Grand Canal,” enjoy a walk through the old town and a visit to one of Suzhou’s most famous Chinese gardens. After lunch, visit a silk workshop to learn about silk production. Return to Shanghai late this afternoon.


Peggy M

Tour and guides were EXCELLENT!! Value for the money was EXCELLENT! I really feel I did see the very best of China, both in historic sights and interesting industries such as silk, pearls, jade and tea. Modern Shanghai waterfront was amazing. Food was average except for all hotel breakfasts were fabulous and the meal in the Hutong in Beijing with the family was excellent. AirChina food was awful.


With Smarttours, my wife and I booked a trip called “The Best of China”. The price of the trip seemed reasonable. However, they failed to warn about the cost of getting a Chinese visa. They recommended a company call CIBTvisa and we filled out the application and submitted our passports to them. From their website it appeared that the process would cost us about $250 per person. We just got our invoice and the total cost was $851. I feel like I have been sucker-punched. I am so angry. This rip-off has spoiled my excitement for the upcoming trip. I blame smart tours for not warning travelers of this cost. I don't know if CIBTvisa is typical of Visa services or not. I would hate to think that the other services out there could be worse. If you are thinking about going to China, just be aware of the Visa problem


Our guide was wonderful as well as the different guides who joined us in different cities. The hotels were exceptional.

Philip K

Apart from the China Air delay, which we now know was an unexpected weather difficulty, the tour, the tour guide, the daily guides and bus drivers were all first rate ( read-excellent). We certainly could not have ever done anywhere near as well on our own. a 5 -star tour experience!!

Jose R

Great tour‼️ The best tour guides, very helpful and insightful. I can’t wait to visit China once again.
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