I recommend a classic China itinerary for your first and only trip to China:
1) Beijing (3 days) – Imperial Chinese history
2) Xi’an (1 day) – Ancient Chinese history
3) Yunnan Province (7 days) – Colorful ethnic cultures and stunning scenery
4) Shanghai (2 days) – Experience the head-spinning modern China
Skip Hong Kong if you have limited time. You can always swing by on your next business trip.
Don’t do the Yangtze River Cruise unless it’s absolutely your thing. Too much time spent on board with hundreds of other western tourists, eating hotel food. Why come to China to do that?
Come back to my post to read about what to do if you have 3 days in Beijing and more.