Most tour operators in the United States offer pretty much the same sites following the same routes, and thus most first time visitors to China either book a tour starting from Beijing and ending in Shanghai, or the other way around, which almost always will include Xian and sometimes Guilin. But a more unique option is to pick as a China tour starting point a city other than one of the two eastern seaboard giants. There are convenient flights to China’s west, namely to Chengdu, which other than being a jumping off point for entry into Tibet is a great starting point for numerous cross-China routes any which way one can look. One of those routes to consider is in southeasterly direction, from Chengdu traversing heartland of China and ending in Guilin. In between these two points one can include cruise on the Yangtze River, visit the ancient market towns of Fenghuang and Zhenyuan, the Dong and Yao villages of mountainous southwest Guizhou, then hike the Dragon’s Backbone terraces of Longsheng, before reaching the legendary karst formations of Guilin and Yangshuo.