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How to Plan a Trip to China from US

Planning your trip to China from United States can be daunting, especially for the first timers. You probably have no idea where to go, as there are so many things that China has to offer and so many destinations to explore. And you may also find it a challenging country because of the language barrier. Therefore, Top China Travel, one of the best travel agencies in China (founded in 1959), provides the step-by-step guide on how to plan China tour from United States.

Trip to China from USA

Where is China?

Where is China located in the world? China is located in East Asia, west of Pacific Ocean and neighboring 20 countries, including Japan, Korea, North Korea, Myanmar, Laos, Vietnam, Mongolia, Russia, Nepal, India etc.   

The Distance from US to China

According to the location of China and US on the map, we know that the distance between the two countries is 14719.06 km / 9146 miles / 7947.65 nautical miles.

Time Difference between China and US

China has five time zones, though, it uses UTC/GMT+08:00 as standard time, also called Beijing Time.

  • China time is 16 hours before Los Angles
  • China time is 15 hours before Salt Lake City
  • China time is 14 hours before Chicago
  • China time is 13 hours before Washington DC
  • China time is 18 hours before Honolulu
  • China time is 17 hours before Fairbanks

>> Read more about the time difference between China and cities in United States

location of China
Other Geographic Differences

United States

GPS Coordinates (DMS)

35° 51´ 41.9760'' N

104° 11´ 43.4400'' E

37° 5´ 24.8640'' N

95° 42´ 46.4040'' W


Average Elevation

1084 m (6,037 ft)

760 m (2,493 ft)

When to Travel – Autumn Is the Best Time to Visit China

Just like United States, China has diverse Climate types, thanks to its vast land and various geological environments. When you visit different parts of China, you can expect different climate and weather. The scenery of China is varied in different seasons. Generally, the peak months for tourism are April, May, September and October. >> Check China cities climate and whether & the best time to visit different destinations of China

Fall is regarded by most people as the best season to travel to China, when the weather is mild, neither cold nor hot, and there is little rain. Therefore, you don’t have to pack many clothes, and you need not worry the wet when biking or hiking around. 

Avoid traveling to China during National Day Holiday (widely known as Golden Week from Oct.1 - 7). You are also not suggested to go between late January and early February during China Lunar New Year Festival, mostly because the air/train tickets are in huge demand.   

How to plan a trip to China from USA

How to Apply for China Visa

For US Citizens, you are required to obtain a visa to enter China. You can submit your application in the Chinese embassy or consulate in your country. If you reserve a tour package with Top China Travel, we will send you the invitation letter to help you apply for China Tourist Visa. With a tourist visa (L-Visa), you can stay in China for no more than 30 days.

What is the requirement for US citizens travel to China? To apply for China visa, you need to present your China trip itinerary (both flight and hotel reservations), your passport that valid for at least 6 months, a passport photograph, and pay for the visa fee. >> Check the step-by-step guide to apply for a visa to China  

US Citizens can enjoy visa-free access to Hong Kong, and can stay for up to 90 days. If traveling to Macau, they can stay for up to 30 days without a visa. 

Read More:

China visa for US citizens

Entries Cities – How to Get to China from US

Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Hong Kong are the main entry cities for US travelers to China. But with increasing direct flights between US and China, by far (2017) Xian, Chengdu, Shenzhen, Jinan, Hangzhou, Qingdao and Changsha are also connected with cities of United States. So US travelers now have more choices on the gateway cities and travel routes. And if you plan a trip to China with us, you’ll find more flexibility.  

You can fly directly to Xian from Chicago, Denver, Las Vegas or Huston to visit Terra-cotta Army. Or make your way to Chengdu from Boston, Los Angeles or San Francisco by non-flights, and then have a close contact with the cute pandas. Furthermore, you may even find the easiest way to travel to Zhangjiajie from United States, thanks to the direct flight from Los Angeles to Changsha.
Non-stop flights to China from USA 

Direct Flights to China from US

Note: since the flight schedule and airfares are constantly readjusted, the below information provided is for reference only.

Departure City in US
Arrival City in China
Notes for Schedule
Los Angeles

Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Changsha, Jinan

Daily direct flights from Los Angeles to Beijing, Shanghai & Guangzhou

Beijing, Shanghai
Washington DC
San Francisco

Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chengdu, Xian, Hangzhou, Qingdao

Daily direct flights from San Francisco to Beijing, Shanghai

Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen

Daily direct flights from Seattle to Beijing, Shanghai

Beijing, Shanghai
Daily direct flights from Boston to Beijing
New York City
Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou
Beijing, Shanghai, Xian
Beijing, Shanghai
Tues., Thur., Fri., Sat., Sun.
Beijing, Shanghai
Beijing, Shanghai
Daily direct flights from Honolulu to Shanghai

Where to Go - Top China Destinations for US Tourists

Ameirican tourists find china a very different country from the Western world, the culture, history, landscape, cuisine…So surely a tour to China is unlike anything else you’ve ever experienced. If you are first time travelers to China, make sure you visit the top destinations, and see the must-see sights and landmarks. And if it is your second or third time to China, figure tour what you really want to see and have an in-depth visit.

China destinations for US tourists

Beijing, Xian, Shanghai & Hong Kong for People Planning on the First Time China Trip


Beijing to Xian and Shanghai tour is considered to be the most classic travel route of China. and many travelers would like to take Hong Kong as the exit city to fly back home or proceed to their next destination of Asia.

Beijing: Where the Great Wall and Forbidden City are located, It witnesses the glory past of ancient China, and therefore, a wealth of historical sites. Besides, the modern construction has brought the old city renascent vitality.

Xian: A city steeped in history, Xian is most famous for the Terra-Cotta Warriors Museum. And you should not miss the amazing Old City Wall either.

Shanghai: US travelers consider Shanghai one of the best places to visit in Asia, for this stylish metropolis has a lot to offer, both the old things and newly sprouted things.

Hong Kong: It is always regarded by world travelers as one of the tops destinations on earth, no matter you would like to go shopping, to enjoy delicacy or to experience the diverse cultures.

More Recommended Destinations for US Tourists

  • The best place to explore stunning Karst landscape
  • Li River is named as one of the 15 most beautiful rivers in the world by CNN
  • Enjoy the intoxicating countryside in Yangshuo and spectacular Longji Terraced Fields

Chengdu: Home to giant panda, it is popular among travelers also for the Leshan Giant Buddha, Scared Qingcheng Mountain, hot pot…

Trip to China from USA 

  • Zhangjiajie has inspired the great movie Avatar, hence it is the time for you to discover “Halleluiah Floating Mountain”
  • Take world’s longest cable car up to Tianmen Mountain
  • Try world’s longest glass bridge in Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon

Tibet: From our previous US clients, we know that many wonder how to get a trip to Tibet from US. Please be noted that all foreigners need to obtain a Tibet permit and join a group tour to Tibet.

Recommended Tour Packages to China from US

A guided private tour package is a high-value choice for American tourists to China. The team of Top China Travel have been devoted in tourism for over 50 years and highly recommended by our clients (check TripAdvisor reviews). US celebrities like ex-presidents George Bush, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, as well as Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, and basketball player Andrew Bynum of Lakers used to with us, and had a great time in China. See their travel photos

Here below we list four of our best-selling tour packagegs, which can be adjusted and customized based on your personal needs.  

8 Days Classic China Tour

Destinations: Beijing, Xian, Shanghai

Highlight Attractions: China Great Wall, Forbidden City, Olympic Park, Temple of Heaven, hutong, Terracotta Warriors, Ancient City Wall of Xian, the Bund, Oriental Pearl TV Tower, Yuyuan Garden

Why Recommended: Suitable for all, it is an exciting China historical & cultural tour for you to discover the essence of traditional Chinese culture and art, and also visit the world-class landmarks. 

Destinations: Beijing, Zhangjiajie, Mt. Huangshan, Shanghai

Highlight Attractions: Temple of Heaven, Mutianyu Great Wall, Palace Museum, Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, Tianmen Mountain, Yuyuan Garden, Oriental Pearl TV, Yellow Mountain, etc  

Why Recommended: Find 'floating Hallelujah Mountain' in Zhangjiajie and enjoy the stunning views on Mt. Huangshang. More to see by taking this tour including cultural sites and museums. 

11 Days China Tour to Tibet

Destinations: Beijing, Xian, Lhasa, Shanghai

Highlight Attractions: Forbidden City, Mutianyu Great Wall, Bird Nest, Terracotta Warriors, Potala Palace, Jokhang Monastery, Drepung Monastery, Norbulingka Park, etc

Why Recommended: You'll visit the top landmarks of China and explore mysterious Lhasa for the sacred temples and unique landscape. April to November is the best time to take the this tour. 

16 Days China Highlight Tour

Destinations: Beijing, Xian, Chengdu, Guilin, Hangzhou, Suzhou, Shanghai

Highlight Attractions: Great Wall, Summer Palace, Forbidden City, Terracotta Warriors Museum, Chengdu Panda Base, Yangshuo, Li River, West Lake, Lingering Garden, Tongli Water Town, etc

Why Recommended: Discover the best China has to offer: ancient wonders, royal palaces, museums, pandas, breathtaking landscape, skyscraper, Classical Chinese gardens, delicacy...

US Travelers' Reviews on Our China Tours

For decades, we have arranged China tour packages for numerous customers from United States, e.g. Mr. David Umulis (total 14 pax):

“Janet Chan of TCT organized a fantastic trip that started at the Dongxi border crossing with Vietnam into Nanning, the Chenyang Bridge with the Dong minority people. Then we went on to the Longji Rice Terraces with the Ping An Zhuang minority. Overall these first few days were fantastic from both a tour and educational perspective. Following these stops, we went to Yangshuo, Guangzhou, and Hong Kong. All the travel went flawlessly and the accommodations were great!” 

>> Read more

Travel Tips for US Tourists to China

Before your trip to China from US, you have to think over all those things needed to pack including documents required and suitable clothing. We also list the practical tips for your travel in China, which should make your trip more smooth and enjoyable. 

What to Pack: clothes, toiletries, the luggage suggestions, medicine, etc

Survival Chinese Frequently used Chinese words & expressions needed in China

Shopping in China: shopping tips & how to deliver things from China to US

Tips for special travelers, such as student travelers, solo women travelers, travel with a pet, senior travelers, disabled travelers

► US Embassy in China, including those in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chengdu, Shenyang, etc

Best Tours Recommended to you

16 Days China Highlight Tour

Beijing, Xian, Chengdu, Guilin, Hangzhou, Suzhou, Shanghai

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