China's culinary universe expands far beyond what Westerners experience as "Chinese food" at home. And the nation's diverse street foods reflect each region's unique flavors and traditions. On this food-focused adventure, eat your way through China's top four foodie cities, experiencing local specialties and delicacies every step of the way. Mix in must-see sights like Beijing's Great Wall, Xi'an's Terracotta Warriors, Chengdu's pandas, and Shanghai's Bund with night markets, wet markets, teahouses, dumpling houses, and street food galore. This brand-new itinerary is a true feast for the (culinary) senses!
Explore China through your taste buds at night markets, snack streets, and family-run restaurants across the country
Feast on Beijing Fried Sauce Noodles, Sichuan hotpot, Shanghai soup dumplings, and other specialties
Go beyond food culture -- experience the Forbidden City, Great Wall, Sichuan opera, and more!
Welcome to China! You are greeted at Beijing International Airport and transferred to your hotel. There will be one group transfer today. Bring your appetite, because in Beijing you can not only find local cuisine, but flavors from all corners of China including Sichuan, Cantonese, and more, as well as international food. Tonight's dinner is at an authentic Uighur restaurant, replete with a typical dancing show.
Tiananmen Square, one of the oldest and largest city squares in the world, stands adjacent to the world-famous Forbidden City, a UNESCO-listed collection of ancient, elegant wooden structures and magnificent courtyards in near pristine condition. Tour these free and forbidden spaces, then lunch on Beijing Zha Jiang Mian (Fried Sauce Noodles), famous across China. Next take a hutong (alleyway) walk and sample traditional local and regional dishes from around China. After exploring Houhai Lake, tonight immerse yourself in one of Beijing's incredible night markets - Wangfujing, Guijie, or Shichahai - for some epic street food.
Today is a day full of history, culture, and food. This morning drive to the Great Wall at Huanghuacheng - the only section that is partially underwater - for an easy hike along the Chinese icon. After lunch at a farmer's restaurant, catch a flight to Xi'an and transfer to your hotel. Spend the rest of the evening being whisked around Xi'an in a tuk tuk, trying the best food at places you wouldn't find on your own. End at a local brewery to try the only craft beer in Xi'an.
Behold one of the world's greatest archaeological finds: the Terracotta Warriors. More than 8,000 clay statues comprise an entire army - from foot soldiers to cavalry to generals, each unique and incredibly lifelike - sculpted 2,200 years ago. Leave this historical marvel and lunch over locally made Shaanxi hand-pulled noodles. Walk and bike atop Xi'an's ancient city wall, its stone parapets providing wide views over the city. Then explore the Muslim quarter, including the Grand Mosque, aromatic street food stands, and unique souvenir markets. Tonight enjoy a traditional dumpling feast for dinner.
Board a morning train to Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province, well known for its leisurely lifestyle, teahouses, and pandas - and spicy cuisine. Upon arrival, visit People's Park to observe typical local life here, sipping tea and shooting the breeze. Teahouses are part of the social fabric here - a place to meet, play mahjong, conduct business, and even get your ears cleaned. Later, watch a Sichuan opera - the fascinating art of Bian Lian, or "face changing". Performers usually wear vivid colorful masks, and they change from one face to another almost instantaneously. Dinner tonight is on your own to explore (or recover).
Transfer to the Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding, where you can get an up-close and personal look at these amazing animals. Next, let's eat! Graze upon Chengdu's great variety of street snacks as you stroll along food-laden Jinli Street, one of many food streets in this UNESCO City of Gastronomy. The epicenter of Sichuan food - known for intense, pungent, and spicy flavors - a must-try here is hotpot, which you'll have for dinner tonight. Hotpots vary by region, but Sichuan hotpot is the most famous for its spice and heat.
Fly to Shanghai, China's street food epicenter partly because of its compelling food culture rich with sweet, oily, seafood-heavy dishes. Stroll along the Bund, the waterfront promenade lined with early-1900s colonial buildings previously housing banks and trading houses. Visit the Old City of Shanghai to experience its local snacks including its famous xiaolongbao (soup dumplings). Explore the historical and trendy French Concession, with its tree-lined streets, unique boutiques, gourmet eateries, and Tianzifang, a cluster of restored lane houses turned into an arts and culture hub. The evening is free to explore solo.
Shanghai's wet markets - so named because of the wet floors from flopping fish and frequent rinsing - are stocked with all the fresh produce and live animals that hungry residents could ever cook up. Today browse dozens of wet market stalls, buy ultra-fresh fish and fowl, then haul your goods to a kitchen for a cooking lesson and enjoy your own cooking for lunch! Afternoon is at your leisure. Tonight take a walking tour of a family-run restaurant and a private home, watching our hosts prepare your soup dumplings. End at a local craft brewery for a farewell drink.
After breakfast, bid farewell to this culinary extravaganza of a country as you transfer to the airport for your departure flight. There will be one group transfer today.
MT Sobek has been leading guests on pioneering tours through China since 1980
Our local guides are experts with many years' of experience in China's complex gastronomy
Nourishing active travelers by introducing them to local dishes is an important part of how we have always traveled
Our expert guides and trip leaders are truly the key to our trips' success. Many are locals who live in-country year-round; others have made it their second home—all are passionate, enthusiastic and endlessly knowledgeable. Meet a few of the guides that might be on your trip.
Expertly guided street food experiences in Beijing, X'ian, Chengdu, and Shanghai, plus insightful cultural touring.
A blend of traditional and modern, boutique accommodations - all comfortably appointed and with friendly, attentive service.
May and September temperatures range from lows in the 60's°F to highs in the mid-80's°F. Rain is always possible.
Our MT Sobek representative will meet you.
No, we are not able to handle your visa, but we provide you with all the necessary documentation to handle it on your own or through a visa service.
Everything will be optional and there will be plenty of more common Chinese food so that anyone who does not want to eat more unusual items won't have to.
The group transfer will be scheduled for early in the morning, as we will need to depart 4 hours prior to flight time (it takes 1.5 hours to get to the airport).
Early arrival transfers are not included. Please contact your Adventure Coordinator to arrange a private transfer.
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