Day 1- Fly to Beijing via Detroit. Arrive late that night, check into Holiday Inn Central Plaza.
Day 2 - Have hotel car service take me to the train station. Take the #2 bus to the Badaling section of the Great Wall. Have hotel arrange tickets to the acrobat show that evening.
Day 3 - Take taxi to Tiananmen Square, Forbidden City & Temple of Heaven. They are all together and under 5 miles from the hotel. Taxis are very cheap in China! Have hotel arrange tickets to the opera at Liyuan Theater inside Qianmen Hotel (FYI, tickets are 20-80 RM which is 3-10$s)
Day 4 - Check out of hotel but leave large roller bag in their holding area (just use carry on tote for a few days so I can be more mobile). Take taxi to Beijing Zoo, Panda Garden, and Beijing Aquarium which is less than 5 miles away. Take taxi to Beijing Bus/Train station for 20:28 soft sleeper trip to Xian.
Day 5 - Arrive in Xian at 8am. Take #306 bus from the station to the terracotta warriors. English speaking guides are available for $6. Take bus back to station then a taxi to the Sofitel Hotel and check in. Wander around local area and find someplace good for dinner.
Day 6 - Check out of hotel. Wander around Xian, try to make it to a section of the city wall. Make it back to the train station for 18:44 soft sleeper trip to Shanghai.
Day 7 - Arrive in Shanghai at 11:00 AM. Take taxi to Crowne Plaza Hotel and check in. Take taxi to Yu Gardens and walk around. Take taxi to Bund and make my way to Shanghai's New Heights bar to watch the sun set from their rooftop area.
Day 8 - Check out of hotel. Wander around locally, I will be in a college area, there will be lots of interesting things to see. Make my way to the train station again to make the 19:00 soft sleeper trip back to Beijing.
Day 9 - Arrive Beijing 7:00. Check back into Holiday Inn Central Plaza & pick up bag I left there earlier. Take taxi to pearl market and shop.
Day 10 - Use this Beijing day to finish up all the things I didn't get done in the first 4 days here. (Added- thanks for the comment!)
Day 11 - Meet up with my travel group in the AM so we can go our province together.
I've researched the hotels until I can tell you about them in my sleep. I choose each one based on Trip Advisor comments and their proximity to landmarks and the train stations. The only part of the trip that I feel weird about is being at the Bund at night alone. I will probably arrange a tour with a company that day. The reason I think I won't be going with a tour group the whole time is one, the cost. This trip is $2500 for a single traveler. I have it down as 1K on my own. And two, I don't do well with people telling me what to do and where to be...that is very bad in a tour group. Three - I also get impatient with other travelers who didn't do their home work and constantly ask me questions about where we are going. I always get those questions because I do a lot of homework before any of my trips and
If you could add 1 more day to this trip, what would you add? Any ideas?