How to visit the Shilinxia Scenic Area

August 19th, 2019
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Plan your Beijing excursion to escape the bustle and hustle of city life? The Shilinxia Scenic Area (石林峡) is a good destination out of Beijing city to touch the unique stone ans rock formations in a 6-km long valley or gorge.

“Shilinxia” literally means “stone forest gorge”. The gorge is located in Diaowo Village at Huangsongyu Township of Pinggu District, 100km east of Beijing city proper.

Besides its official name as “Shilinxia Scenic Area”, it also has several different names such as “Jingdong Stone Forest Gorge”, “Pinggu Stone Forest Gorge” and “Jingdong Stone Canyon”.

The Shilinxia Scenic Area is only 10km to the north of Jingdong Karst Cave, both of which are part of Pinggu Huangsongyu National Geopark. Many travelers would like to put the two attractions together on a day trip.

To get to the Shilinxia Scenic Area, you may take the public bus 852 or 918 from Dongzhimen Transportation Hub for Pinggu District.

The Bus 852 is faster than Bus 918. Arriving at Pinggu District Bus Terminal, then you change for the local bus No.25 for the Pinggu Stone Forest Gorge or Valley.

For self-drive, just drive along the Jingping Expressway and get off at Pinggu District and follow the road sign leading to the Shilingxia scenic Area.

Entrance Fee for Shilinxia Scenic Area : 78 RMB
Children under 1.2 meters are free of charge
Entry fee for the glass sightseeing platform inside Shilinxia Scenic Area : 40 RMB
Cable Car (one way): 100 RMB
Opening hours: 8:30 – 17:30 (closed in winter season)
Add: Diaowo Village,Huangsongyu Township, Pinggu District

Enquiry: 69986123, 60987678 ( Beijing Tourist Information Center)
Complaint: 60987678
Rescue: 60987922

Travel Tips:
Smoking, campfires and barbecues are forbidden in the scenic area. Just follow the road sign and keep from unmarked areas.

The rocks in the Shilinxia Scenic Area is composed of marine sedimentary sandstones that dates back to 1.9 billion years ago. At that time, the canyon or the gorge was just a crystal basement consisting of metamorphic rocks.

Then like the whole area of Beijing, this area was attacked for the first time by the sea transgression in the history of geology, which lasted one billion years. As a result, the sedimentary rock like the sandstones came into being.

The sandstones in the Shilinxia was formed under a coastal environment. Well, follow me and enter the Shilinxia Scenic Area.

At the entrance, there is a signboard with a brief introduction to the Shilinxia Scenic Area and its 1 and half hour travel route.

To walk close to the entrance to the Shilinxia Scenic Area, you have to cross over a stone bridge leading to the final entrance.

cross over a stone bridge leading to the final entrance

A man-made huge rock-typed entrance carved with three big Chinese characters “石林峡” – the Shilinxia.

Once you are inside the scenic area, you have two choices to travel the 6km long valley – either walk on foot or you pay extra RMB50 to take a cable car up to the top of the Shiling Peak.

pay extra RMB50 to take a cable car up to the top of the Shiling Peak


Most travelers prefer to hike along the narrow (about 3 meters wide) valley to touch the greatness of the sandstone gorge.

Walking on the rock mountain road gives you a kind of adventure.

Walking on the rock mountain road gives you a kind of adventure.


A stream is winding down past the cracks of the rocks.

A stream is winding down past the cracks of the rocks.


This is the Shilinxia Peak (Stone Forest Peak). The peak looks like a forest of stones, hence the name for the Shilinxia Scenic Area.

Carry a giant rock on the back. Walking along the deep valley brings much romance to the couple.

Walking along the deep valley brings much romance to the couple.

A huge rock on the cliff

A huge rock on the cliff


Move on further in the gorge for a kind of adventure.

Move on further in the gorge for a kind of adventure.

400 meters high from the bottom of the cliff

The world’s largest glass sightseeing platform is open to the public starting from May 01,2016, attracting a consistent flow of visitors.

It stands on the highest point on the mountain in the scenic area.

The major Attractions in Pinggu, Beijing

1) Flying Dragon Valley
2) Bolitai Great Wall
3) Jinhai Lake
4) Pinggu Glass Sightseeing Platform
5) Jingdong Karst Cave
6) Huangsongyu Reservior
7) Diaowo Village

Hassle-Free Private Tour to Visit the Glass Sightseeing Platform
If you don’t want go the daunting do-it-yourself-route and prefer an organized hassle-free private tour to visit the glass sightseeing platform, no worry and we have the following options:

Beijing Family Visit Springtime Day Tour with Glass Sightseeing Platform 
Beijing Family Visit Summer Day Tour with Glass Sightseeing Platform
Beijing Family Visit Autumn Day Tour with Glass sightseeing Platform

Further Readings


Top 10 Attractions in Beijing
How to Visit Forbidden City
How to Visit Temple of Heaven
How to Visit Summer Palace
How to Visit Ming Tombs
How to Visit the Great Wall of China
How to Visit Tiananmen Square
How to Visit Hutongs
How to Visit Olympic Sites

Top 10 Markets in Beijing
Top 10 Shopping Malls in Beijing
Beijing Shopping

Wangfujing Night Snack Street
Qianmen Commercial Street
Beijing Huguosi Street

Any questions,  just drop a line.

 

Taking High Speed Train from Beijing to Xian

August 18th, 2019
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Dear Travelers

We’d like to have the following travel guide to be always updated for the benefit of new visitors coming to Xian from Beijing by high-speed train. If anybody having used the piece finds necessary updates, please leave a message or feedback. Thanks!
_______________________________________________________

Plan your Beijing Xian tour? Basically you may go visiting Xian from Beijing either  by flight or train.  Many travelers choose to take a  5-6 hour high speed train from Beijing to Xian or vice versa. We’ve rounded up some useful tips to plan your Beijing Xian tour by taking high speed trains.

1. The right train station for the trains from Beijing to Xian.
There are 4 major railway stations in Beijing, namely Beijing Railway Station ( the oldest one ), Beijing West Railway Station ( for the trains from Beijing to Xian, Lhasa and Kowloon), Beijing South Railway Station ( for the trains from Beijing to Shanghai and Tianjin) and Beijing North Railway Station ( for the S trains to Badaling Great Wall).

So you should choose Beijing West Railway Station for your train going to Xian from Beijing and back.

Beijing West Railway Station
Add: Lianhuachi Donglu, Fengtai District ( just south of Military Museum of the Chinese People’s Revolution)
Tel: 51826253
The trains departing from Beijing West Railway Station: Xian, Luoyang, Chongqing, Chengdu, Lhasa, Urumqi, Guangzhou and Kowloon.

2. How to get to Beijing West Railway Station from Beijing Capital Airport?
1) Taking the  Airport Shuttle No.07: Capital Airport Shuttle Bus to Beijing West Train Station

2) Beijing Capital Airport Express Train + Subway: Take airport express train and get off at its final station of Dongzhimen (东直门), interchange for Subway line 2 to the south and alight at the second stop of Chaoyangmen (朝阳门), again interchange for subway line 6 to the west and alight at 7th station of Baishiqiao South (白石桥南), then again interchange for Subway Line 9 to the south direction and get off at the second station of Beijing West Railway Station (北京西站)and start your train travel.

3) Taxi fare: about RMB 130 ( 40km ).

2. How to get to Beijing West Railway Station from the city center?
To leave or go to Beijing West Railway Station, taking subway is the most convenient way of public transportation since the subway line 9 passes by  Beijing West Railway Station.

With subway line 9, you are linked to other three train station: Beijing Railway Station ( line 2), Beijing South Railway Station ( line 4 ) and Beijing North Railway Station ( line 2 and 4 ). Check Beijing Subway Map for more information.

3. What does the main train building look like?
Beijing West Railway Station is a modern passenger station 90 meters at the highest  in a shape of “品” with an area of 510,000 sq meters constructed with 10 platforms.

The main building faces north and south with two squares – North Square and South Square. There are public buses in each square with the north square having more public transport. Basically we suggest go through the north entrance to the station. If you take a taxi, just ask your taxi driver to go to the north square instead of south square.

The main building

The main building with the north square

Both the first floor and second floor at the north entrance are designed for check-in. If you taxi to the station, your taxi driver will take you directly to the second floor for entry while arriving by public bus you will check through the  first floor.

4. How many daily high speed trains from Beijing to Xian?
Currently there are more than a dozen of daily high-speed trains going between Beijing and Xian. You are supposed to reach the station at least half hour before departure.

The following is part of the train schedule ( subject to change without notice ):

Train No. From Dep time To Arr Time                        First Class / Second Class
G651 Beijing West 06:58 Xian North 12:47                       824.5 / 515.5
G671 Beijing West 08:16 Xian North 14:16                       824.5 /515.5
G655 Beijing West 09:43 Xian North 15:37                       824.5 / 515.5
G673 Beijing West 14:35 Xian North 20:26                          824.5 / 515.5
G669 Beijing West 17:31 Xian North 23:00                          824.5 / 515.5
G25 Beijing West 18:55Xian North 23:21                                824.5 / 515.5
——————————————————————————————————————————–
Train No. From Dep time To Arr Time               First  Class  / Second Class
G652 Xian North 07:53 Beijing West 13:27       824.5          / 515.5
G672 Xian North 09:11 Beijing West 15:11        824.5          / 515.5
G656 Xian North 10:07 Beijing West 15:33       824.5          / 515.5
G88 Xian North 13:30 Beijing West 17:55        824.5          / 515.5
G666 Xian North 16:00 Beijing West 21:31     824.5           / 515.5
G674 Xian North 17:21 Beijing West 23:08      824.5             515.5
G90 Xian North 18:24 Beijing West 22:48      824.5            / 515.5

5. Ticket and Security Check at Beijing West Train Station
Either on the first or second floor there are several booths for ticket and security check.  Passengers are required to line up and go one by one with their tickets and ID cards or passports ready.

So don’t forget to bring your passport with you for the train ride.  Your luggage and bags will be X-rayed for security check.

Line up for ticket and security check

Line up for ticket and security check

5. Which waiting room ( or Platform )  for Beijing Xian High Speed Trains?
After having your luggage X-rayed and enter the main waiting hall,  you will see a huge electronic  train schedule board with real-time information on the trains in and out.   There are 10 platforms in Beijing West Railway Station with 1-5 for common trains and 6-10 for high speed trains.

Just match your train number with the waiting room number. Basically your waiting room leads to the platform for your train to Xian.

Normally your waiting room will be numbered “8” for the trains to Xian.  There are 13 waiting rooms inside the station. The waiting room No.8 is normally for passengers taking the trains to Xian.

 you will see a huge electronic train schedule board

you will see a huge electronic train schedule board

Walking through the long corridor and looking for the Waiting Room No.08 for Passengers taking high speed trains for Xian.

6. Any decent restaurants inside the main building?
There are some clean and quality cafes and restaurants available at Beijing Railway Station like KFC and McDonald. Luckily, your waiting room No.8 is close to MacDonald.

Your waiting room No.8 is also close to KFC.

KFC.

KFC.

And Starbucks

Starbucks

Starbucks

7. What about the waiting room and ticket collecting?
Make sure you are on the right waiting room.  The train staffer at the gate (Information Desk)  to your waiting room will double-check your train ticket for the right place.

The Entrancd to Your Waiting Room

The Entrance to Your Waiting Room

Each waiting room is marble-stone paved with air-conditioning  and ventilation system. On the front sides there is food and book stalls as well a cafe.

Each waiting room is marble-stone paved with air-conditioning and ventilation system

Each waiting room is marble-stone paved with air-conditioning and ventilation system

Check the electronic board to seat on the right row for your train.  Basically there are two rows of benches for each high speed train.  If you hold the pink-colored ticket, you seat and line up on the pink side; if you have the blue ticket, you line up on the blue side.

Purchased from a ticketing agent, a pink train ticket needs be checked manually while with a blue ticket bought directly from a train station, you need to have your ticket checked by swiping it on the machine by the gate.

Different passages for pink and blue tickets

Different seating areas for pink and blue ticket holders

You see people are lining up to have their tickets checked and enter the platform for their train.

 people are lining up to have their tickets checked

people are lining up to have their tickets checked

8. Get on the right car, compartment facilities and train speed
Usually it is quite a walk from the ticket check-in gate down to the platform and the  right compartment.  Just take it easy carrying or rolling your luggage down to the platform and locate the right car you are in.

Take an elevator down to the platform

Take an elevator down to the platform

Many passengers would stop and take some pictures of the train.  The train is sleek, thin and long with its head looking like a plane. The train is one of the design of CRH series. It is designed to travel at 350 km per hour.

However, the trains are only allowed to run at 300 km per hour due to the safety factor – keeping a required safe distance between following trains.

The train is sleek, thin and long with its head looking like a plane.

The train is sleek, thin and long with its head looking like a plane.

Manly there are two kinds of seats – 5-seat row ( second class) and 4-seat row (first class).  Some high speed trains have 8 cars and others have 16 cars.

There is a snack car on the train where you may have coffee, snacks and fast food. The inside of the train has a futuristic look as well with comfortable seats, wide windows, smartly dressed attendants and food service better than a plane.

It is easy to get on the train as the train is at a high level platform. And all the stations on route  are built with high level platforms. This males it so easy to handle your heavy suitcases onto the train.

The train is at a high level platform

The train is at a high level platform

A 5-seat row ( second class) car

A 5-seat row ( second class) car

A 5-seat row ( second class) car

Put your large suitcases on the luggage rack by the door in the linkage area.

luggage rack by the door

luggage rack by the door

9.  Train Speed

The train starts so smoothly that you won’t  feel you are moving. But once out of the train station, the train speeds up to around 300 km per hour. If you don’t look at the outside through the window, you won’t realize you are on a moving train. The electronic information board in each end of  each car showing the train speed  and  next station  stop.

All this is due to the elevated track that uses slab construction that holds the continuously welded rail. All the local traffic moves under the elevated track so there are no level crossings or underpasses.

All this is due to the elevated track

All this is due to the elevated track

Lunch can be bought  in the coach car from an attendant who supplies it from an airline type cart.

Lunch can be bought in the coach car

Lunch can be bought in the coach car

The slab non-ballasted tracks for high speed trains make the trains smoother and comfortable different from common trains on ballasted track.

The slab non-ballasted tracks

The slab non-ballasted tracks

Train tracks on a high level viaduct

Train tracks on a high level viaduct

Train tracks on a high level viaduct

9. Arriving at Xian
For the Beijing Xian High Speed Train, the Beijing terminus is Beijing West Railway Station, with the Xian terminus at Xian North Railway Station.  The major calling points are Shijiazhuang, Anyang and Luoyang on route.

Arriving at Xian North Railway Station

Arriving at Xian

Arriving at Xian

10. Go to Xian downtown by subway line 2
Arriving at Xian North Railway Station, it is both money-saving and convenient to take subway line 2 directly from the train station to the downtown Xian ( Bell Tower ).

Go to Xian downtown by subway line 2

Go to Xian downtown by subway line 2

11. Free shuttle Bus to the terracotta warriors from Xian North Railway Station
Once you arrive at Xian North Railway Station by high speed rail, you can take the advantage of the free shuttle going to Terracotta Amy.

For more information on the free shuttle, please check out the link: How to Visit Terracotta Army by Bus.

Note: There are some luggage deposit offices in the station to store your baggage.

Tip: Hassle-free Xian Guided Tours
If you don’t want to go the do-it-yourself route and prefer the hassle-free escorted tours,  here are some options for Xian guided tours:

Xian City Day Tour from US$69
Xian Terracotta Warriors Day Tour A from US$85
Terracotta Army and Song of Everlasting Performance from US$135

Xian 2 Day Tour Package from US$170 p/p
Xian 3 Day Tour Package from US$235 p/p

Further Readings


Beijing Xian High Speed Train Experience
Top 10 Attractions in Xian
Tips for Visiting Muslim Quarter in Xian
Tips for Visiting Xian City Wall
Tips for Visiting Shaanxi History Museum
Tips for Visiting Xian Bell Tower
How Visit Terracotta Army
How to Visit Daming Palace National Heritage Park
Top 10 Photography Spots in Xian
The Night View of Great Tang All Day Mall
Tips for Visiting Hanyang Tombs Xian
The Song of Everlasting Sorrow Show in Xian
Tips for Visiting Big Wild Goose Pagoda
Tips for Visiting Huaqing Hot Springs in Xian
How to Visit Mount Huashan
Top 10 Hostels in Xian
Best Time to Visit Xian

Any questions, just drop a line.

Tips for Visiting the Temple of Heaven

August 18th, 2019
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Map of the Temple of Heaven from www.willgoto.com

Plan your Beijing tour? Temple of Heaven is a big draw in Beijing. The name of the Temple of Heaven is a little misleading. It is more than just a temple, it is a huge park as well.

Inside the huge park, there is a lovely temple complex, which is composed of three main parts – Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests, the Imperial Vault of Heaven and Circular Mound Altar sitting along an axis from south to north.

Temple of Heaven is called “Tiantan Park” in Chinese, literally meaning “Temple of Heaven Park”. It was first constructed in 1420, the 18th year of the reign of Ming emperor Yongle. It was the place where the emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties would worship the god of heaven and pray for good harvest.

Tip # 01: Get up early to see and feel the locals in the park
Though everyday the temple and historical buildings within the park are open to the public from 8:00 till 17:00, the park itself opens at 6:00 till 22:00. Many local people have yearly tickets for easy access to the park. Get there about 7:00 or 7:30am, especially on a Sunday morning.

You will see local people, most of them are middle-aged or older people doing various kinds of light physical activity you can imagine, like singing, dancing, playing instruments, playing chess, practicing kung fu, tai chi… After 9:30 a.m. it will be slammed with group tourists and is barely worth the subway trip.

Practicing Sword, in Temple of Heaven Park,

Practicing Sword, in Temple of Heaven Park,

 
Tip # 02: Acquaint yourself with the historical buildings in the park
Be prepared for a guidebook or hire a Beijing Tour Guide for your life long trip to the temple complex in the park.Three historical buildings are not missed from north to south, namely the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests, the Imperial Vault of Heaven and Circular Mound Altar.

The Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests
:
where the emperors sacrificed animals and burned incense sticks to pray for good weather for the crops

the Hall of Pray for Harvest above the Wall

the Hall of Pray for Harvest above the Wall

The Red Stairway Bridge:
The historical buildings are connected by a 360 metre long raised walk called the Red Step Bridge (Danbiqiao), are arranged in a line forming a north south axis 1,200 meters long, and flanked by century-old cypresses in a spacious area.

The Imperial Vault of Heaven: A single gabled circular building, built on a single level of marble stone base. It is located south of the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvest. Inside the compound, a circular wall, an echo wall. where you can whisper something from one end and the voice will transmit to the other end.

Imperial Vault of Heaven under the sunset glow

Imperial Vault of Heaven under the sunset glow

Circular Mound Altar: Used to worship Heaven at the winter solstice where the principal construction is a large round marble terrace named the Circular Mound.

The distant view of the Circular Mound Altar under the sunset glow

The distant view of the Circular Mound Altar under the sunset glow

Tip # 03: Don’t miss the Cypress Grove
Always keep in mind that here is a huge park, a huge garden. Old cypress trees are worth having a close look.

Some of the cypresses are more than 600 years old. Dr Henry Kissinger, when he visited the temple, stated that while the USA could recreate the Temple of Heaven if it desired, it could not create the trees!

the Cypress Grove

the Cypress Grove

Tip # 04: Choose the right entrance
Originally the Temple of Heaven had only one main gate, which faced west, but after it was made a public park in 1949, entrances were also opened on the northern, southern and eastern sides.
So now it mainly has four gates – East, South, West and North. Both East Gate and South Gate are highly recommended.

East Gate: If you want to see the local people engaged in all kinds of morning activities, you are advised to enter the east gate since most of the morning activities are carried out around the east gate area.The East Gate entrance is also close to the subway line 05.If you enter the east gate, then your walking itinerary would be east gate – long corridor – The Hall of Prayer for Good Harvest – The Imperial Vault of Heaven – Circular Mound Altar – South Gate.

After your north – south tour of the temple, you may turn back and go out of the east gate and head to the Hongqiao Market across the road.

South Gate: Start your tour by entering the south gate, then walk along Danbiqiao raised way to visit Circular Mound Altar – The Imperial Vault of Heaven, The Hall of Prayer for Harvest – Long Corridor – East Gate – Hongqiao Market.

Tip # 05: How to get to the Temple of Heaven
If you visit the Temple of Heaven through the east gate, you take subway line 5 to Tiantan Dongmen Station and take exit A. The East Gate entrance is right there. For the public buses to the east gate, you may try bus 6, 35, 36, 39, 41, 43…

If you use south gate, you take a taxi or take bus 36, 120, 122, 800, 803, 958

Tip # 06: Aware of the daily opening time both for the historical buildings and the park itself

The park opens at 6am and closes at 8pm.
The historical buildings opens 8am and closes around 5:00pm like The Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests, The Imperial Vault of Heaven and the Circular Mound Altar. For the exact opening time in different seasons are listed below:

Gate:6:00-22:00
The main buildings inside the park
From March 1 to June 30: 8:00 – 17:30
From July 1 to October 31: 8:- 18:00
From November 1 to February 28: 8:00 – 17:00
Kindly reminder: Through tickets selling is stopped at 16:00

Tip #07 Two kinds of entrance tickets at Temple of Heaven
There are two kinds of entrance tickets – Entrance ticket for the park and through tickets for entering the park as well the three main historical buildings within the park.

Entrance Ticket:  An entrance ticket charges RMB 15 (April – November) and RMB 10 (December – March). With the ticket, you to get into the park, see local people do morning exercises.

Through Ticket: The ticket charges RMB 35 (April – November) and RMB 30 (December – March). With a through ticket, you can enter the park and go to visit the three areas in the park – Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests, The Imperial Vault of Heaven and the Circular Mound Altar.

Ticket Type Prices
  Entrance Ticket RMB 10 (December to March), RMB 15 ( April  to November)
   Half Price Ticket RMB 5 (December to March), RMB 8 ( April  to November) (students and seniors over 70)
Through Ticket RMB 30 (December to March), RMB 35 ( April  to November)(including the entries to the three areas – Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests, The Imperial Vault of Heaven and the Circular Mound Altar)
 Kids under 1.2 meters high  Free of Charge
Tip # 08: Dress for the Hot Weather
Though there are many trees in the park. all the trees are lined on the both sides of the north-south axis. So no single tree on your axis trip – Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests, the Imperial Vault of Heaven and the Circular Mound.

For summer time, be ready to bring an umbrella for sun protection, bottles of water, and comfy walking shoes. Check Beijing Climate for more information.Tip # 9 Wear Comfortable Shoes
The park is so huge.  You are advised to wear your most comfortable shoes. It’s a long walk!

Tip # 10  Hassle-free Beijing Guided Tours
If you don’t want to go the do-it-yourself route and prefer the hassle-free escorted tours,  here are some options for Beijing guided tours:

Beijing Highlight Day Tour from US$59 P/P
(Tiananmen + Forbidden City + Mutianyu Great Wall)
Beijing Classic City Tour from US$65 P/P
(Tiananmen + Forbidden City + Temple of Heaven + Summer Palace)
Beijing Excursion Tour from US$59 P/P
(Mutianyu Great Wall + Ming Tomb)
Beijing Hutong Highlight Tour from US$59 P/P
( Hutong + Rickshaw)

Mutianyu Great Wall Half Day Tour from US$55 p/p
Hike from Jiankou to Mutianyu Great Wall Day Tour from US$69 p/p

Mutianyu Great Wall Layover Tour from US$65 p/p
Beijing Highlight Layover Tour from US$75 p/p

Further Readings


Tips for Visiting Tiananmen Square
Tips for visiting Summer Palace
Forbidden City Travel Tips – The Palace Museum Travel Tips