Discover the Essence of China with WildChina’s Signature Journey


If you’ve never been to China, now’s the time to go. If you have been before, now’s the time to go back. From the poetic karst peaks of Yangshuo to the futuristic towers of cosmopolitan Shanghai, the vast nation offers travelers an incredible wealth of experiences to enjoy. Head to the historic capital, Beijing, and explore palaces and temples, dine on divine duck, and conquer the Great Wall. Head to the home of the terracotta army, Xi’an, and wander through the unflinching army. Return east to take in the highlife in Shanghai, the bustling metropolis home to fascinating history, stunning architecture, and every cuisine you could possibly imagine.

Outside the cities, find epic, untamed landscapes that roll out across plateaus. This is a place for the curious, the world-wanderers and the wild traveler. Discover mountain-scapes that inspire movies, rolling hills terraced for tea, forests shrouded in mist, and rivers worth rafting upon. No matter what you’re looking for when you travel, China offers unforgettable experiences and the chance for that truly once-in-a-lifetime trip.

Get to the heart of China with this exceptional highlight journey for first-time visitors or those who just want to see it all again. Marvel at the many faces of contemporary China on this multi-sensory adventure.

Essence of China

Perfect for must-see attractions, history, food, and cultural immersion • 13 Days • From $7,050/person 

Day 1 – 2 • Beijing

Gaze across Tiananmen Square • Enter the Forbidden City, where emperors ruled for five hundred years • Hike up jingshan and take in a commanding view over the Forbidden City • Uncover a treasure trove of Qing Dynasty curios in the Temple Hotel • Get lost in Beijing's hutongs • Wander through the popular imperial neighborhoods around Houhai Lake and try some of Beijing's unusual local snacks • Savor a Peking duck dinner in one of Beijing's oldest kaoya restaurants.

Day 3 – 4 • Beijing (cont.)

Hike along the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall and gaze in awe at Ming-era watchtowers and fortresses snaking across verdant hills • Pop a bottle of champagne on top of a watchtower • Delve into the heart of Beijing's contemporary art scene at the 798 or Caochangdi Art District. • Start the day practicing taiji (tai chi) with a master in the Temple of Heaven. • Pick up unique souvenirs on Luilichang market street, known for its traditional Chinese stone dwellings housing, traditional craftwork, artistry, and antiques.

Day 5 – 6 • Xi'an

Gaze into the heart of Xi'an as you set out along the city's ancient city wall • View the proudly unflinching Terracotta Warriors • Learn about Xi'an's 1,300 year old Muslim community by visiting the Great Mosque • Experience Xi'an with more than just your eyes by sampling some of Xi'an's famous noodles and dumplings • Admire the countless terracotta figurines and burial objects of the Hanyang Tombs, the resting spot of a Han Dynasty emperor, from atop a glass walkway.

Day 7 – 9 • Yangshuo

Embark on a bamboo raft trip on the Yulong River • Enjoy the spectacle of Impression Liusanjie, choreographed by the mastermind behind the Beijing Olympics opening ceremony, in a natural amphitheater • Bike or hike through Yangshuo's enchanting scenery, with karst mountains and mist swirling around you • Walk through the ancient streets of Daxu, a town with a history dating back 2,000 years • Stop by a local's home and learn the art of making soy milk with nothing more than a stone wheel.

Option 1: Hike or bike along old country roads to the bucolic villages of Aishan & Moon Hill • Option 2: Learn how to cook like a local in a cooking lesson • Option 3: Partake in an ink painting lesson • Option 4: Learn the intricacies of Chinese characters in a calligraphy lesson • Option 5: Learn the art of tai-chi from a tai-chi master.

Day 10 – 11 • Shanghai

Experience a snapshot of local life by walking around Fuxing Park, a meeting spot for fitness dancers and tai-chi enthusiasts • Travel back to Shanghai's stylish 1930s as you stroll or take a vintage car ride through the tree-lined avenues of the French Concession • Explore modern art studios in the trendy, bohemian area of Tianzifang • Visit the Shanghai Museum, a veritable treasure trove of Chinese artifacts • Enjoy VIP seating at an ERA Acrobatics Performance that fuses Chinese acrobatics with modern technology.

Day 12 – 13 • Optional extensions

Option 1: Explore the old watertown of Tongli, known as the "Venice of the East" for the canals that wind their way between the town's Ming and Qing era buildings • Option 2: Visit the tea plantations, gardens, and temples of elegant Hangzhou • Option 3: Spend the day in the verdant and calming classical gardens of Suzhou. 

Featured Hotels

Sofitel Legend, Xian • The Sofitel Legend, Xi’an’s best hotel, is a modern escape decorated with luxurious art deco flair.  

The Peninsula, Shanghai • With an interior reminiscent of 1930s Shanghai, The Peninsula boasts luxurious rooms, restaurants, and a rooftop bar overlooking the Bund.

Alila, Yangshuo • Housed in a former sugar mill, the Alila Yangshuo exudes luxury and has breathtaking views of karst mountains and winding rivers. 

Mandarin Oriental, Beijing • This new, stylish hotel offers views over the Forbidden City, an expansive rooftop garden terrace, and the characteristic MO style of luxurious comfort.

For details on booking the Essence of China itinerary, get in touch with your Cadence travel advisor!