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{China} Our 10-day Beijing and Xi An Trip Itinerary

OK, you’ve got about 10 days and you want to go to China. You know how to purchase round trip flight tickets from where you are to Beijing and back. Now what?

Well, here’s our 10-day trip Itinerary when we visited Beijing and Xi An last year (we went May 29th – June 8th, 2012). We hope this helps you plan your own trip to these two cities!


Day 1

Forbidden City (aka Imperial Palace), Mao Zhe Dong Memorial Hall, Tienanmen Square, National Grand Theatre

These are the must visits when you’re in Beijing. Plan to spend a day to cover these few attractions. They are all relatively close to each other, so you can walk or take a bus between these places. We opted to walk but was quite sore by the end of the day. Remember, walking “a block” in Beijing is probably equal to walking three or four blocks here in the US.

The Forbidden City aka Imperial Palace. A must visit if you’re in Beijing.

We love admiring the details that went into every single corner of the Imperial Palace.


Day 2

Great Wall of China – Mutianyu

We highly recommend Mutianyu part of the Great Wall to visit instead of Badaling (the more popular tourist spot). It was less crowded at Mutianyu and you get the option to ride a toboggan down the mountain!

Tobogganing down the side of the Great Wall of China at Mutianyu! (Photo courtesy of Bibi Stephy)

Toboggan ride down the mountain is an unforgettable experience!

Beautiful Great Wall of China. One of the Seven Wonders of the World!

Both young and old will enjoy the ride down! (Photo courtesy of Bibi Stephy)

Not too crowded at Mutianyu

It’s not your eyes or the camera. Parts of the Wall have shifted, some have sunk. This one’s sunken to the left.


Day 3

Summer Palace, Olympic Center and Bird’s Nest, Overnight train to Xi An

We recommend taking the local subway to get to all these famous attractions. It is convenient and you avoid the frustration of being stuck in traffic with the meter ticking when in a cab.

Also, get your train tickets to Xi An early to make sure you have seats. You may not get the tickets you need if you purchase it on the day you intend to leave. It’s a lesson from our personal experience. We actually had to move our train ride to Xi An a few days later since we could not secure the tickets we needed.

The Olympic Bird’s Nest! It was rather dark so we had to do a bit of HDR to capture the details of the design.

Day 4

Terracotta Warriors, Emperor Chin Shi Huang’s Tomb, Great Wild Goose Pagoda, Tang Dynasty Dumpling Dinner Show

Terracotta Warriors is a must see in Xi An. That’s actually the reason most tourists visit Xi An. In the afternoon, visit the Emperor Chin Shi Huang’s Tomb – It’s quite a drive out of the city, so do plan for time and cost for this.  In the evening, enjoy a Tang Dynasty Dumpling Dinner while you are entertained by various cultural dances. On hindsight, we probably would’ve been OK skipping the dumpling dinner.

Terracotta Warriors – the reason we visited Xi An!


Day 5

Bell & Drum Tower, Muslim Street, Tang Paradise, Fountain and Music Show near Big Goose Pagoda, Night Market near Central Mosque (behind Drum Tower)

We specifically enjoyed the Muslim Street. It is a maze of a market where various delicacies and food items can be found. We kept going back to this street night after night to try the different things to eat! You’ll need more than one night to visit and try the various food that’s available there. Of particular interest would be the noodles that Xi An is famous for – Bian Bian Mian, Lamb Cumin Noodles, Liang Pi (cold noodles). Also try their Mutton Paomo 羊肉泡馍 (Pieces of chewy bread in lamb soup) as well as Rou Jia Mo (meat sandwich.

Restaurants and street vendors line the Muslim Street.


Day 6

Xi An Circumvallation, Shuyuanmen (ancient culture street), Forest of Stele, Night Train to Beijing

We actually ran out of time and did not do the Xi An Circumvallation but we did hear good things about it. Rent a bike for about RMB20 and ride around the wall surrounding the ancient city. Then take a stroll down Shuyuanmen which is about 106m away from the South Circumvallation. Be prepared for a workout!

Again, make sure you have purchased your train ticket back to Beijing ahead of time.


Day 7

Qianmen Pedestrian Walk, Dashilar, Temple of Heaven, Hongqiao Pearl Market

In the morning, visit the Temple of Heaven. Try to get there before 9:30am – you’ll get to watch the locals do morning exercises like dancing, walking, tai chi etc… as you walk to the temple.

For those who love to shop, Qianmen Pedestrian Walk and Dashilar is a must. No motor vehicles or bicycles are allowed here. Hongqiao Pearl Market is similar to the Silk Market. Be ready to put on your poker face and put your bargaining skills to the test!


Day 8

Silk Market, Beijing Night Dance Show or Leisure

Be ready to bargain while at the Silk Market. We found that the prices were not very cheap as the vendors are used to many foreigners paying full price without really bargaining. A rule of thumb… we will always offer 10 – 30% of the offered price by the vendor depending on the item. Sometimes they take it, sometimes they don’t. Walk away and they might just hail you back and offer you the price you offered. The key is that you’re ready to walk away if you don’t get the price you want!


Day 9

Beijing Zoo (Panda bears), Lama Temple, Nanluoguxiang Hutong

Pandas. ‘Nuff said! But do get there early (before 9:30am to catch a glimpse of the pandas). They tend to sleep after being fed for the rest of the day.

In the afternoon, visit the Lama Temple (we ran out of time so didn’t get to visit), followed by an evening stroll down Nanluoguxiang. You’ll get to try various delicacies and food as you walk down Nanluoguxiang!

Panda Zoo. Get there early (e.g. before 9:30am) to see the pandas. If you go later in the day, they’ll be sleeping. Get a glimpse of them awake before their feeding time in the morning.

Day 10

Night market in Wang Fu Jing, Leisure day or catch up on any missed attractions

We love trying the various local delicacies at the night market in Wangfujing. We did not however try the “exotic” delicacies such as sheep penis and snakes! Would you?

Various delicacies at the night market in Wang Fu Jing! How about some snake or sheep penis for dinner. Anyone? (Photo courtesy of Bibi Stephy)


Arriving in Tianjin instead of Beijing?

Here’s some tips based on our experience in 2012 (Some things may change in the future, so do check with official sites of the train station for updated costs and directions):

  1. After arriving at Tianjin Binhai Airport, go to Gate No. 2, Domestic Exit and take the shuttle bus to Tianjin East Railway Station (cost: RMB10)
  2. As you enter the train station, the ticket counter is on your left
  3. You can get to Beijing by bullet train at a cost of RMB58. It’s a half hour trip on the bullet train that goes up to speeds of 330 kmph (~205mph)!
  4. The bullet train number starts with a “C” and there’s one every 15 minutes during peak hours and 30 minutes during off-peak hours.












  1. It’s best to eat hot meals and well-cooked entrees. Try to avoid anything that’s raw and water that is not bottled.
  2. We learnt that most restaurants do not offer ice when we were there.
  3. If you do buy bottled water, make sure the seal isn’t broken.
  4. Bring your own pack of facial tissue. We found the pre-moistened, scented facial tissues to be very useful while in Beijing (you can buy them at Watsons) to wipe off sweat, use in public toilets and to mask the smell of cigarettes around you!
  5. Although the subway is convenient in Beijing, try to avoid taking the subway during peak hours (7-9am, 6-8pm).
  6. We heard that winter is a good time to visit the Summer palace (September) – imagine gorgeous snow landscapes!
  7. Even though pollution was bad, we found that we were the only ones wearing masks. The locals must’ve gotten so used to it that it didn’t bother them. So be prepared to be the only ones on the street with masks on in Beijing!
  8. Xi An is famous for its noodles – Bian Bian Mian, Lamb Cumin Noodles, Liang Pi (cold noodles). Other local delicacies include Mutton Paomo (thick pieces of chewy bread in lamb soup) and Rou Jia Mo (meat sandwich).


  1. Meg
    May 31, 2015 Reply

    Yeah, definitely stick to the exotic fruits in Wangfujing! I got really good candy and fresh coconut there, and stuck to snapping photos of the seahorse and snake skewers, not actually having a bite.
    Meg recently posted..No Troglodytes Were HarmedMy Profile

  2. Marina January 12, 2015 Reply

    Amazing photos, thanks for sharing!

    I loved the Toboggan ride, that sounds very, very cool:-)

    But, I have to say No to the food..jejeje

  3. Arti
    February 26, 2013 Reply

    That seems like a fabulous itinerary!! Would love to visit China some day myself!
    Have a wonderful journey 🙂

  4. Deb February 14, 2013 Reply

    Oh Man! I should have done the toboggan down the Great Wall. We took the gondola instead. I’m kicking myself, that looks like a blast.

  5. Suzy
    February 3, 2013 Reply

    This sounds like a great itinerary, especially the toboggan down the mountain and seeing the Terracotta Warriors. I would love to do that someday.
    Suzy recently posted..Lucerne, Switzerland Wishes You Were HereMy Profile

    • Author
      Jeremy & Shirlene
      February 5, 2013 Reply

      We hope you get the chance to! Tobogganing down the mountain and the Terracotta warriors are our two favorites on this trip!

  6. Sofie January 31, 2013 Reply

    Thanks for sharing this. Haven’t been to China yet so will bookmark this for when I go!

    • Author
      Jeremy & Shirlene
      February 4, 2013 Reply

      You should definitely visit China at least once in your lifetime! Hope you get to go soon. Check out our other posts on Shanghai and hangzhou for more tips for your travel when you head over to China!

  7. Dean January 30, 2013 Reply

    Sounds like a really great trip! I’d love to visit China but I would like to go for a much longer time.

  8. @YapaNow January 30, 2013 Reply

    {China} Our 10-day Beijing and Xi An Trip Itinerary via @idelishTravel

  9. Saurabh Nagar
    January 30, 2013 Reply

    living in china since 3 years and never got to travel north, have plans to travel around august, this should help 🙂
    Saurabh Nagar recently posted..10 Movies That Will Inspire You To TravelMy Profile

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