Summer: Land in Beijing on 7/25/2023
Winter: Land in Beijing on 12/21/2023
When you land in Beijing, after you’ve made your way through Customs & Immigration and retrieved your bags, our local Heritage Tour guides will be ready and waiting for you in the terminal!
Depending on travel group size, your party may be picked up with several other parties, but once all have arrived safely, we will hop on our private vehicle to make our way to the hotel.
Tonight, celebrate your arrival in the heart of China and start getting to know your guide and fellow travelers! Try not to celebrate too late though…jetlag can be mean.
Hotel: Metro Park Lido
Meals not included today
“One is not a hero until they have conquered the Great Wall.”
Meals included: breakfast, lunch, dinner
A LOT of walking today, again. Wear comfy shoes and stay hydrated.
With the portrait of Mao Zedong hanging squarely over the entrance of this sprawling 440,000 sq. m. building, walking around Tian’anmen Square is quite the experience. The rectangular arrangement of the square echoes the layout of The Forbidden City, which we’ll visit directly after, but most of its styling and structures are Soviet-inspired. So much to say here, but suffice to say that you can’t visit Beijing without at least laying eyes on this Square and putting a place to the name.
The Forbidden City
2020 marked the 600th anniversary of the Forbidden City. Transliterated, China’s name for itself (中国) means, “The Middle/Central Kingdom”. Situated in the heart of this symbolic Center lies the Forbidden City, a foreboding and beautiful ancient palace fortress. Within these walls, 24 emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties ruled from their guarded home. Talk about social distancing, amirite?
Tucked within Beijing’s towering metropolis, the hutong are a slice of old Beijing that feels frozen in time. We’ll be ushered on rickshaws through Beijing’s hutong; centuries-old, tree-lined alleyways that are the soul of this sprawling city. For movie nerds like us, the nostalgia-filled hutong often inspire several rewatches of Wang Xiaoshuai’s Beijing Bicycle. (If you haven’t seen it, add it to your pre-Heritage Tour watch list.)
This is a fan favorite afternoon adventure and we think you’ll really love it. Best part? Stuffing our stomachs with a homemade lunch, hosted by a multi-generational family living within the hutong.
Meals included: breakfast, lunch
Bullet Train to Xi’An
Experience China’s famous maglev bullet trains as we take a 5-hour ride southwest to Xi’An. Fitted with WiFi, snack carts, rotating chairs, and boiling water dispensers for instant noodles, this is our favorite way to travel as we take in China’s scenery.
Once we get settled in hotel #2 (Grand Noble Hotel), we’re heading out to learn how to make dumplings! Xi’An is firstly China’s noodle capital, but their dumpling houses aren’t too shabby either. Put on your chef’s hat and get ready for some serious cooking and serious eating. Mm mm mm… deliciously, delightfully, delectable dumpling dinner.
Meals included: breakfast, dinner
Xi’An Ancient Wall
Once the long-reigning capital of ancient China (for over 2000 years!), Xi’An is one of the few cities in China whose imposing old city walls still stand! For the fitness fiends who haven’t found the Great Wall and Forbidden City stimulating enough, you can walk the entirety of the wall in under 4 hours or jog/bike it in 2 hours and imagine yourself to be a weather-worn and hardened modern-day sentry of the old city. I wonder what the Ming Dynasty rulers and guards would have thought if they knew we’d be riding our bikes on their city walls just 700 years later…
Terra Cotta Warriors
As one of the most famous archaeological discoveries in modern history, these subterranean life-size warriors number in the mind-boggling thousands, silently standing guard over the soul of the First Emperor of the Qin Dynasty (Qin Shi Huang Di), and China’s first unifier, for more than 2,000 years. You have to see it to believe it and even still, it’s hard to take it all in. Three huge “pits” are now open to the public to gaze upon the thousands of singularly unique soldiers. It’s hot, it’s crowded, and it’s so incredibly worth the hype. We’re history buffs, but even if you’re not, these stone armies are the strangest and most impressive window into China’s ancient past. Pick your favorite. We named our guy Bernard and his horse is Johnny Cash.
Xi’An’s Lotus Garden was rebuilt in the style of the imperial gardens of the Tang Dynasty (400 years after that emperor asked to share his tomb with an army of stony warriors). It is the first large-scale imperial garden cultural theme park in China to display the style of the prosperous Tang Dynasty and a beautiful park to have a peaceful evening stroll.
Meals included: breakfast, lunch
Bullet Train to Chengdu
Another bullet train, this time 4 hours even further southwest, through lush landscapes down to Chengdu, the Land of Giant Pandas!
Upon reaching Chengdu, we’re taking it easy. It’s been four days of non-stop adventuring and you deserve a breather. On the menu? Free time and a unique shopping opportunity at Jinli Ancient Street after a scrumptious Sichuan dim sum lunch. Enjoy tea at a local park and experience local Chengdu life. If you know how to play Mahjong, you’re going to fit right in!
Check into hotel #3: Tianfu Sunshine Hotel
Okay, so maybe not a full rest day, but you can’t miss a chance to catch a Sichuan opera performance! Sichuan opera is the birthplace of China’s famous mask-changing art, a secret skill passed down from master to disciple and used to shape characters in the art of Sichuan opera. Face changing’s slight-of-hand artistry follows each significant character to reveal their inner thoughts and feelings. Come for the cultural experience and stay for the magic.
Meals included: breakfast, lunch
Chengdu Panda Reserve
The Giant Panda Mecca. Prepare yourselves to be thoroughly heartwarmed and bewildered by these animated stuffed animals. Why are they so cute? How are they alive? Are they self-aware? Chengdu Panda Reserve will answer all of these questions and more.
Optional: Half-day volunteer program at Chengdu Panda Reserve which includes making “panda cakes” (made of bamboo, not of pandas…) and feeding pandas. Cost is approximately $180/person.
— After ample panda time and a tasty Sichuan lunch together, we’re headed to the airport for Guilin! —
Hotel #4: Guilin Bravo Hotel
Meals included: breakfast, lunch
Li River Cruise
The Li River runs through the one of the most breathtaking landscapes of China. Its banks are surprising hills, steep cliffs, and fantastic caves all lined with bamboo and osmanthus trees, and every new bend hits you with the sudden urge to paint and wax poetic. This is China’s most famous cruise for a reason. *The river is very still, so motion-averse travelers shouldn’t be too affected, but plan accordingly.*
Free Time & Shopping
We have a short break between disembarking the Li River Cruise and donning our chef’s coats for dinner. What better way to while away the time than some souvenir scouting for your favorite aunts and nephews?
Cooking Class & Dinner
It’s time to put those Chopped marathon rewatch lessons to good use because we’re eating what we’re making tonight! This hands-on, fully committed Chinese cooking class is a chaotic, fun time and a fantastic chance to learn how to cook authentic Chinese dishes the right way. Apologies in advance if you bite on an eggshell.
Meals included: breakfast, lunch, dinner
Elephant Trunk Hill
Elephant Trunk Hill (象鼻山) is basically Guilin’s mascot. This humble hill holds notoriety akin to that of Yosemite’s Half Dome in the U.S. and something about this special landmark is so peaceful and calming. Just a lil guy drinking out of the Li River, reminding everyone to hydrate or diedrate. He’s a true hero and one that has made his way into China’s most famous poems and songs.
Whether it’s due to the startling nature of Guangxi’s landscape or the calming flow of the Li River, the tea culture in Guilin is quite strong. Guilin produces several kinds of local specialties (or, should we say, “special teas?”), including monk fruit tea, longji tea, maojian green tea, osmanthus flower tea, and Li River silver needle white tea. For any tea-loving friends, this might be a great place to find a gift that will last them at least 5 years because they forgot it was in the cabinet, but it’s sealed air-tight and already dried so it’s probably still good right? Yes.
It’s hard to say goodbye with a mouthful of food, so we’re going to stuff ourselves silly and try our best to hold off the goodbyes for as long as possible. Don’t you dare cry. If you cry, we’ll cry. We’re empathetic criers. We also hate goodbyes. Get yourself another serving of noodles.
Meals included: breakfast, lunch, dinner
Summer: Depart on 8/3/2023
Winter: Depart on 12/30/2023
Time to go 🙁 We will take our final bullet train from Guilin to Guangzhou. (2-3 hour ride, southwest through some of our favorite landscapes)
Our trip fee covers departing from Guilin to Guangzhou. However, if your party needs to fly to a different departure city (Shanghai or Beijing, for instance), or you are headed to another province for a Birth City Tour, we will make appropriate arrangements for you and the ticket fee difference will be conveyed upon booking.
Each tour group is divided into smaller travel groups, around 8-12 parties per group (depending on the number of travelers), each with their own tour guide. This tour group and guide will be yours for the entire tour.
We try our best to arrange groups based on the age of the adoptee travelers. Tour groups will have staggered bus departure times, sightseeing schedules, and often different restaurants for group meals.
Yes, of course!
Please make sure to email firstname.lastname@example.org to make any travel group requests. The earlier that you make requests, the more likely it is that they will be honored. We try our best to honor every request.
Yes, of course! Please make sure to register together under the same profile. The email address provided upon registration will be used for all Heritage Tour correspondence, so be sure to pass information on to your travel companions if they do not have access to that email.
Of course you can! Our Heritage Tour opportunities are for everyone. Please spread the word! We would love the chance to help make your travel dreams a reality.
Certainly! If you need help with any additional trip bookings, we are happy to help.
Yes, you can, but please understand that unused tours are non-refundable and the cost of the Tour package is a fixed cost.
Please let us know in advance of your decisions so that we can confirm your preferences with your tour guide.
$3-6 or 20-35 RMB per day per person in your party for each tour guide. It is fine to tip in either USD or RMB currency. You should plan to tip $1-3 or 7-20 RMB per day per person in your party for tour bus drivers. To make tipping easier for your family, you can tip your guide & bus driver at the end of each city on the tour.
No, the Grand Tour starts in Beijing and ends in Guangzhou. We can help make arrangements for your party to fly back to Beijing. Since your Guilin-Guangzhou train is already included in the main tour costs, we can just charge the difference in airfare/ticket fare.
Your party can also fly home from Hong Kong or Shanghai instead of Guangzhou. The same price differential rule applies. Please contact our Heritage Tour department for more information.
China no longer requires a negative PCR test to enter China.
Wearing a mask is suggested at airports and train stations. In more crowded sight-seeing areas, some people still choose to wear masks, especially elders and kids, but it is not required. There are no more public COVID testing stations or daily requirements.
China has no specific immunization requirements for entering their country and the U.S. has no immunization requirements for re-entry. This includes no requirements for COVID immunizations.
We recommend that you ask your personal physician, a travel/immunization clinic, and/or the Center for Disease Control about any vaccinations requirement updates or suggestions.
CDC website for specific recommendations.
Each traveler will need:
- A valid passport with at least 6 months’ validity from departure date
- Chinese tourist visa (L visa)
- Obtain a Chinese tourist visa from a Chinese Embassy/Consulate prior to travel. For more detailed information on travel visas, please view our Visa Information page.
When it is time to apply for visas, we will send you a Letter of Invitation from China to include with your application.
Please check your passport and the passports of each individual in your travel party to verify that all expire at least 6 months after your tour dates.
Due to the unpredictability of international travel, we highly recommend that you purchase international travel and medical emergency insurance. Visit our Tour Resources section for more information.
All of the hotels we will be staying at have in-house clinics for any mild medical needs. For anything more urgent, our guides are able to take you to the nearest hospital, if needed.
For any prescription medication, it is recommended that they be kept in their original containers in case of emergency. Make sure that you pack amounts slightly more than enough for the entire trip and have a plan for the drastic time change. For more information regarding medications in your carry-on or checked bags please visit TSA guidelines.
Yes, all of our tour guides will try their utmost to help ensure that all meals are safe for any dietary restrictions. However, due to cultural and culinary differences in China, we cannot guarantee dietary accommodations and suggest packing snacks if food allergies are severe or if you are on a strict diet.
Please mention any and all food allergies, dietary needs, or health concerns on your registration form. This will help our guides better prepare.
We also have translated cards available for common allergies or physical conditions. Visit our Tour Resources section to find these under “Travel Tips”. If you would like a translated card that is not yet listed, please contact us.
For in-China flights:
- Checked luggage weight allowance: ≤ 44 lbs
- Carry-on size restrictions: 14in. x 19in. x 22in.
Plan to bring an additional $50-$100 if you are a heavy packer. You may lock your bag for in-China flights but you must leave your bag unlocked for your international flights.
For bullet train travel:
- Checked luggage weight allowance: ≤ 110 lbs.
- Carry-on weight allowance: ≤ 44 lbs.
- Carry-on size restrictions: 36in. x 36in. x 36in.
Your hotels on the trip will have laundry services available; however, with the quick speed of the trip, it can be challenging to get hotel laundry done in time. Plan on only being able to do laundry when you are staying at least 2 nights in a given city so that your clothes have ample time to dry.
Please keep in mind that hotel laundry services can be very expensive. Be sure to carefully review the laundry form provided by the hotel in regards to the price per item. There may be some opportunities to have your laundry done outside of the hotel in Chengdu and Guilin. These options could be cheaper. Your guide will be able to notify you if this service is available.
A $200/traveler deposit is required upon booking. This deposit is applied toward your tour total and is non-refundable except under extenuating circumstances.
Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about this deposit.
Unfortunately, we are no longer able to provide free trip coverage for adoptees traveling on a heritage tour.
Your tour fee does not cover:
- International airfares
- Passport and/or China Visa fees
- Tips or gratuity
- Suggested tip amount for Guide: $3-6 or 20-40RMB/day/person
- Suggested tip amount for Driver: $1.5-3 or 10-20RMB/day/person
- Additional $330 for single room occupancy in hotels
- Personal expenses, spending money
- Meals not included on the itinerary
- Approximately $20-$40/person/day for any lunch & dinner
- Any optional tour excursions
- Transfers between the airport and the hotel before or after the main tour itinerary
Beijing has two international airports, PEK and PKX.
PEK is located closer to the city and pickup and transportation is covered for this location.
PKX, Beijing’s newest airport, is located and additional 40 minutes outside of the city. Our transportation costs do not cover this distance and travelers will be charged an additional $15/person if requiring transportation and pickup from this location. If flying into PKX, please let us know.
Unfortunately, all orphanages have been closed to visitors since the pandemic. We hope the government will allow orphanages to reopen again soon. As of right now, orphanage visits have to be verified and approved on a case by case basis.
Let us know if you do want to visit your/your child’s orphanage on your birth city tour so that we can do some homework for you.
Same goes for visiting the CCCWA. Currently, it is not open to outside visitors, but we are hoping this changes soon.
It’s true that our Grand Tour is very go, go, go, but we have built in a rest day and several shopping and free time opportunities throughout our schedule. There’s just so much to pack into a tight 11 days!
Although it is one of our favorite cities to tour, we will not have any tour plans for Guangzhou on the Grand Tour itinerary. If you are hoping to stay longer, we are happy to help arrange any additional travel plans you are hoping to fit into your trip. Just contact us and we can discuss!
*Please keep in mind that orphanage visits are not guaranteed and will be at the discretion of the orphanage.*
For an orphanage visit, you will need:
- Orphanage Visit Application Form
- Adoption Registration Certificate
- Abandonment Certificate (Chinese version)
- Printed copies of Adoption Registration Certificate, U.S. passport, and Abandonment Certificate to bring with you to China.
Yes, to everything except the orphanage visit. Pending approval of your Orphanage Visit Application, our guides can contact the orphanage for you, but the go/no go decision is ultimately up to the orphanage.
Your Orphanage City Tour costs (including hotels, flights/trains, transportation, guide services, etc.) will be calculated specifically for your trip.
Yes! You can take a day trip to visit your/your child’s orphanage in Beijing, Xi’an, Chengdu, or Guilin while the group is traveling in each particular city. The additional cost of this would be approximately $200-$500 per family per orphanage visit.
- Day 1: Fly into the capital city of the birth province. Get settled and acquainted.
- Day 2: Drive to orphanage city/town, visit the orphanage, visit foster parents or finding spot (if information is available), stay overnight in the orphanage town or travel back to the provincial capital
- Day 3: Free day or sightseeing before flying back to Beijing to join the main tour OR flying to your departure city to fly back to the U.S.
Yes, this can be arranged for an additional fee.
Yes, this can be arranged in most cases. Please be sure to note this on your registration form. Again, you must first obtain permission to visit any orphanages in China.
Although gifts are not required as part of the orphanage visit, if you would like to bring a gift, you can consider bringing small toys, candy, school/art supplies for the children living in the orphanage. You may also consider inquiring with the orphanage about any needed items. If you would like, you can purchase what is needed in China.
Gifts/donations are strictly optional.