I went on a similar trip you are planning 2 years ago in china. I started in Beijing - went there to Xi'an, Nanjing, Suzhou, Hangzhou, Guillin, Yangshuo, Lusang and ended in Hong Kong.
I went there with my girlfriend and we did very much photographing because that is our main interest. China is very relaxed and I never felt uncomfortable to walk with expensive gear in public and photograph people on the streets.
We didn't go on a organized trips in China, we made all arrangements as we went along and traveled between cities in buses, trains and airplanes.
We went from Guillin to Yangshuo on a boat and in Yangshuo we bought some daytrips at a local travel agency.
Let me know if you want any more info.
You can see some of my pictures from China by going to http://gudbjargarson.net
and select China on the menu.