Archive for the ‘Beijing Travel’ Category

How to Visit Forbidden City

Tuesday, December 4th, 2018
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Dear Travelers,

We’d like to have the following quick guide to be always updated for the benefit of new visitors visiting Forbidden City in Beijing. If you have any questions or anybody having used the piece finds necessary updates, please leave a message or feedback. Thanks!
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Plan your Beijing tours? Visiting Forbidden City ( The Palace Museum ) is no doubt one of your travel highlights in Beijing.  Then how to buy your Forbidden City entry ticket? When to visit? Which gate to enter? What’s the visiting line? How to beat the crowds?

Here we have a quick guide for you to grab some basic travel tips for visiting Forbidden City.

Tip # 01: Try to Avoid Weekends or Chinese Public Holidays
Forbidden City is a must see highlight for every first-time visitor to Beijing. Be ready for crowds of people visiting this complex. Try to avoid visiting  Forbidden City on weekends or public holidays.

On these tourist peak days, the hoards of tourists are thick. Many tour groups ( most domestic ones) seem to aggregate and move about with banners, and colored caps.

Very often you have to elbow your way to see and take pictures. We recommend you come here either early in the morning or in the later afternoon ( not too late to be allowed to enter the museum ) to beat the crowds, enjoy the Forbidden City as it once is before the masses turn up and ruin your photo opportunities.

Tip # 02:  The Entrance Gate and the Exit Gate to Forbidden City
There is just one entrance to Forbidden City, namely the southern gate, or Meridian Gate, also known as Wumen in Chinese. South of the Southern Gate is Tiananmen Tower and Tiananmen Square.

The entrance  to Forbidden City, namely the southern gate, or Meridian Gate

There is just one exit gate to Forbidden City, namely the northern gate, or Gate of Divine, also known as Shenwu Men in Chinese.

Kinder Reminder:
You have to enter Forbidden City from its southern gate and exit from its northern gate, which is officially set as a one-way south to north travel route. You cannot enter the Southern Gate and exit from the Southern Gate again; you cannot enter the Northern Gate.

How to get to the Southern Gate to Forbidden City?
There are three ways to reach the Southern Gate:
1) Walking to the Southern Gate from the south via Tiananmen Square under the famous Mao portrait;
2) Walking to the Southern Gate from the west via Zhongshan Park
3) Walking to the Southern Gate from the east via Donghuamen and the moat.

If you haven’t been to  Tiananmen Square, you should choose to walk from Tiananmen Square. This approach takes longer time due to the security check at the four square corners on Tiananmen Square.

Walking from the east or west to the Southern Gate would be fast and less crowded.  There are electric transfer carts to take you to the Southern Gate from east and west ( 2 yuan ). If you want to visit Forbidden City with only limited time, you can choose to go to the Southern Gate via east or west instead of walking through Tiananmen Square.

Tip # 03: Entry Ticket Information
Forbidden City accepts Master Card, Visa, and PayUnion cards for ticket purchase. You need to show your passport to buy your entrance tickets. Forbidden City Ticketing Purchase is based on real name policy.

Chinese citizens are required to buy the entrance tickets online in advance. But foreigners still can buy their tickets on the spot through “Passport Window” by the southern gate.

Gate of Supreme Harmony inside Forbidden City

So just go to Forbidden City earlier and line up to buy your ticket and don’t worry about the online ticket booking websites in Chinese.

April 1st – October 31 ( 8:30 – 17:00 )
Last Entry at 16:10
Tickets sold until 16:00
Entrance ticket:RMB 60

November 1st – March 31 (8:30 – 16:30)
Last Entry at 15:40
Tickets sold until 15:30
Entrance Ticket: RMB 40

There are some exhibits within the complex that require additional tickets to get access to the inside paid sights such as the Treasure Gallery and the Clock and Watch Gallery.

Treasure Gallery : RMB 10;
Clock and Watch Gallery: RMB 10

Note:
1. Forbidden City is closed for the entire day every Monday, except the Chinese national public holidays.
2. Forbidden City Ticketing Purchase is based on real name policy;
3. You need to show your passport to buy your entrance tickets;
4. Free of charge for children under 1.2 meters, each required to be escorted by an adult;
5. Special 20 yuan tickets are available for China’s elementary, middle school, and university students
(including foreign students studying in Chinese universities) with valid student I.D. or certified letter from school administrator (including students from Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan, excluding graduate and adult education students);
6. Seniors over 60 years old are entitled to half price by showing a valid ID or passport.

Tip # 04 View the Turrets of Forbidden City and its surrounding moat.
When touring Forbidden City, don’t miss visiting the magnificent turrets of Forbidden City and its surrounding moat. There are four beautiful turrets of the same structure on the four corners of Forbidden City.

The Northeastern Turrets of Forbidden City and City Moat

Each turret tower has nine girders, eighteen columns and 72 ridges. The two turrets on the northeast and northwest corners offer the best photo opportunities.

The turrets are inaccessible to visitors. People usually finish their visit to Forbidden and exit from its north gate. Then turn either right for the northeast turret tower or left for the northwest turret tower outside Forbidden City.

Tip # 05: Walk up to Jingshan Park ( A Panoramic View of Forbidden City)
Jingshan Park is not to miss, a visit during your tour in Beijing. Jingshan just sits across the north gate to Forbidden City. After finishing your visit of Forbidden City from south to north, you exit from Forbidden City’s north gate.

Jingshan Park

Exiting from the northern gate, raising your head, you will find a pavilion has three-layered eaves perched on a hill. The hill is called Jingshan Hill ( Coal Hill or prospect Hill).

Jingshan Hill is an ideal place to have a panoramic view of Forbidden City and Beijing as whole.  Click “Jingshan Park is not to be missed” for more information.

have a panoramic view of Forbidden City from the top of Jingshan Park.

Tip # 06: How to Get to Forbidden City?
How to Get to Forbidden City (Just north of Tiananmen Square )?

By Bus:
For going to the southern gate ( Wu men), take bus No.1, 10, 120, 126, 2, 20, 37, 4, 52, 59, 728, 802, or Te 1, to “Tian’an Men East”(Tian’an men dong). Or take bus No. 1, 10, 22, 37, 4, 5, 52, 728, 802, or Te1, to “Tian’an men West” (Tian’an men xi).

By Subway ( going to the south gate ):
Metro Line 1: drop off at Tiananmen West or Tiananmen East Station, walk north through the Tiananmen Tower (Gate of Heavenly Peace), and then you’ll find the Meridian Gate (south gate) to Forbidden City.

Metro Line 2: drop off at Qianmen Station and walk north through the Tiananmen Tower.

Parking for Private Car:
There is no parking outside the two entrance gates to Forbidden City. The following public parking lots are located in the vicinity of the Forbidden City:

*Outside the East Prosperity Gate (Donghua men)
*In the back street of Jingshan Park;
*In front of the Front Gate of Beihai Park
Visitors are encouraged to visit the Museum via public transportation.

Tip # 07: How to Leave Forbidden City After Visit?
The Transportation at the North Gate to Forbidden City is a bit chaos. It is a bit tricky to use the public transport back to your hotel or other attractions you continue to visit afterwards.

A little bit chaotic about the transport in the front of the north gate to Forbidden City when you finish your visit.

The North Gate to Forbidden City

After visiting Forbidden City and exit from its north gate, most of the visitors want to continue their day trips to other attractions or destinations in Beijing like Jinshan Park ( just opposite the north gate to Forbidden City), Wangfujing Street, Beijing Zoo, Summer Palace, Fragrance Hill, Temple of Heaven, Badaling Great Wall, Beijing Railway Station, Beijing West Railway Station, Beijing South Railway Station etc.

But some of them are totally bewildered by the transportation at Jinshan Front Street in front of the north gate to Forbidden City, which is inaccessible and blocked by fences on both sides of the road.

Please read the following travel information to help plan your further day trip:

Jinshan Park ( Prospect Hill or Coal Hill )    ( How to Visit Jingshan Park )
Jinshan Park is just opposite the north gate to Forbidden City, but you are not allowed to cross the street. To visit Jinshan Park ( Prospect Hill ), you are advised to use the underpass 20 meters in the west.

Beihai Park Beijing ( How to Visit Beihai Park )
This park is approx 800 meters west of the north gate to Forbidden City, just 10-minute walking.

Summer Palace ( How to Visit Summer Palace )
First take the underpass to cross the street and walk west to the Bus No.103 and get off at Beijing Zoo Station, then connect Bus 332 for Summer Palace.

Badaling Great Wall ( How to Visit Badaling Great Wall by train )
Walk westward and find the Bus No.5 and drop off at Deshengmen, then connect Bus 877 for Badaling Great Wall.

Temple of Heaven ( How to Visit Temple of Heaven )
Walk westward for 30 meters and take Bus 814 and get off at Dong Dan, Chongwenmen and Temple of Heaven.

Wangfujing Street or Beijing Railway Station  ( Wangfujing Street )  ( Beijing Railway Station )
Walk west for 30 meters and take trolley bus No.103 and get off at Wangfujiang or Beijing Railway Station.

Beijing West Railway Station ( Beijing West Railway Station )
Take the underpass to cross the street and Take bus 109 and get off at Xuanwumen, connect bus No.9 or 703 for Beijing West Railway Station.

Beijing South Railway Station  ( Beijing South Railway Station )
Walk west for 500 meters and take Bus No. 05 and get off at Qianmen, connect Bus 20 for Beijing West Railway Station.

Tiananmen Square or Subway Line 01  ( How to Visit Tiananmen Square )  ( Subway Line 1 )
Walk west for 500 meters and take Bus No. 05

How to take a Beijing Taxi ( Beijing Taxi )
Walk west for 50 meters and call a cab.

Taking a rickshaw at the north gate is a rip-off.
Don’t ever take a Rickshaw at the north gate of Forbidden City unless you feel like getting lost and extorted.

So if you visit Forbidden City by getting to a wrong gate (north gate), don’t use a local rickshaw to get back to the south gate, just walk to the right gate (south gate).

For the same reason, if you exit from the north gate after visiting Forbidden City, don’t use a rickshaw for your next place.

Tip # 07: Well Schedule Your Visiting Time
The Forbidden City is huge, covering an area of 72 hectares. Normally you should cruise through in two or three hours.

Plan this together with Tiananmen Square, Jinshan Park or Beihai park. Please keep in mind that Tickets sold until 15:30(November 1st – March 31); Tickets sold until 16:00(April 01 – October).

Tip # 08: Hire a Legal Tour Guide or Audio Guides
Forbidden City is much worth visiting, but unless you know the history very well, you should use a Beijing tour guide. You are not advised to use the tourist guides around the entrance. They are self-employed tour guides.

So, try to find a reliable travel agency for your tour guide services or the Recorded guide. The recorded audio guides: these are available for rent walking from south to north. There are many signs in English by each building. An actual book would probably better serve you if you want to understand what you are seeing.

Tip # 09: Dress for the Hot Weather
There are very few trees with little shade Forbidden City. It is super hot during the summer. So if coming here in summer, be ready to bring an umbrella for sun protection, bottles of water, and comfy walking shoes. Check Beijing Climate for more information.

Tip #10 Wear Comfortable Shoes
There are lots of outdoor areas so you can’t do a lot of hiding from the sun or rain. Wear your most comfortable shoes.

It’s a long walk! strollers and wheelchairs are available for free at the tourist guide service at both southern gate and the northern gate.

Tip # 11: Avoid Tour Vendors on the Street
There are some tour vendors at each entrance selling their excursions to the Great Wall. Just ignore all handouts that will be forced upon you. Especially bus tours.

They are all too good to be true, and you will be disappointed. See Top 10 Tourist Scams Beijing for more information.

Tip # 12: Be vigilant on Tea House Scam and Ticket Touts ( Top 10 Tourist Scams in Beijing)
A kind reminder that Tea House Scams and ticket touts could possibly pester you around Forbidden City area. Below is a trip report by a victim from Sri Lanka named Akalan:

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I wish I read this page 1 week earlier! I was a victim to the “Tea House” scam. The scammer, a lady was very clever. I came to the Tiananmen area and was going to buy the ticket to enter the forbidden city. A lady who was walking besides me casually said “Hello” and started a chat while walking.

In fact this was my 4th trip to China, but first trip to Beijing. Many a times many people, usually young ladies chatted with me and they helped me a lot. Even on the same day morning I went to the Great Wall and a young girl with good English walked with me. All those I met earlier were genuine people who just wanted to help a visitor to their country. Most of the time they did not even allow me to pay a bill, ticket price or taxi fare.

With that sort of experience, I had no suspicion on this woman. Still my priority was to get into the Forbidden city ASAP, as it was passed 3pm and I knew that the ticket sales would stop at 4 pm. This lady said that she would show me the “East gate” where I can enter without a long queue. Yes, there was a queue of people at the main entrance.

Simply followed her advice and she walked with me to “show” the entrance. On the way she said she is from Xi’An (a city I visited 1 month ago) and we had quite a good conversation on history, culture and languages. She also explained some history of the area.

She said her friends from another province are there and they will meet them in 10 min. If I can wait 10 min, they also can join me to go inside the Forbidden city.

While waiting for them, she suggested me to sit somewhere and have a tea or fruit juice. In fact after walking and climbing whole morning in Great Wall area, I was thirsty and wanted to sit and stretch my legs. So I agreed.

I tried to sit on some chairs laid outside, but she suggested to go inside – less noisy, less dust and air-conditioned!

I picked a Chinese tea and the scam began! You know the rest. Yes, she split the bill, still I lost a few hundred! Worst thing was that she took me to a gate, assuring that I could enter from there, but obviously there were no ticket counters. I had to get to an electric car. The driver charged 20, instead of 2, as he sensed my urgency!

He actually did not take me to the ticket counters, instead, he stopped somewhere and a woman approached me. She was telling me that the ticket counters are closed and she would sell a ticket to me for 100 ! I did not want to let some one rip me off for 3rd time, within 15 min. Finally when I found the ticket counters, they were closed! So I missed the Forbidden City!

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Tip # 13: Hail a Taxi on the Road
Please note that taxis are not allowed to stop either at the northern gate or south gate. Some people approaching you for taxi service after you finish your visit at the Forbidden City, may be black taxi drivers. Just avoid them and hail a taxi on the road.

Taxis are not allowed to stop at the northern gate (Shenwu men) according to the local traffic regulations. Visitors exiting from the northern gate need to walk further either east or west to hail a taxi or take a bus.

Tip:  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


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 line.

How to Get to Badaling Great Wall by Bus

Monday, December 3rd, 2018
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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 Badaling Great Wall by bus. If you have any questions or anybody having used the piece finds necessary updates, please leave a message or feedback. Thanks!
________________________________________________________________________

Plan your Beijing tour? There are three bus lines running between the downtown Beijing and Badaling Great Wall. So you have three choices for using public transport when you are going to Badaling Great Wall by bus.

Choice One: Taking Bus 877  ( Starting from Deshengmen Bus Terminal )
Operating Hours:
Deshengmen to Badaling Great Wall
06:00-12:00(Apr.1-Oct.31)
06:00-12:30 (Nov.1-Mar.31)
Badaling Great Wall  to  Deshengmen
10:30-17:00 (Apr.1-Oct.31)
11:00-16:30(Nov.1-Mar.31)

Driving Time:  One and half hours ( Non-stop )
Driving Distance: 60km

Bus Fare: 12 yuan ( Transportation card is accepted )
Deshengmen Bus Terminal Location: The compound below Deshengmen Arrow Tower
Badaling Bus 877 Terminal Location: in the parking lot ( Bear Park), about 700 meters southeast of Tower No.01 of Badaling Great Wall.

Choice Two: Taking Bus 919 Express ( Starting from Deshengmen Bus Terminal )
Operating Hours:
Deshengmen to Badaling
06:00-17:00
Badaling to  Deshengmen
6:00-17:00

Driving Time:  two hours ( 13 stops )
Driving Distance: 62km
Bus Fare: 13 yuan ( Transportation card is accepted )

Deshengmen Bus Terminal Location: The compound below Deshengmen Arrow Tower
Badaling Bus 919 Terminal Location: in the parking lot about 3 km northwest of Tower No.01 of Badaling Great Wall. Basically you need to connect the free shuttle going to Guntiangou Parking Lot ( near the cable car station of Badaling Great Wall).

Choice Three: Taking Public Tourism Bus No.01 ( Starting southwest of Archery Tower of Zhengyangmen Gate)

Operating Hours:
Qianmen to Badaling Great Wall:
Starting from the end of Flag Raising Ceremony to 11:00 am

Badaling Great Wall to  Qianmen:
09:00-17:00 (Apr.1-Oct.31)
11:00-16:30(Nov.1-Mar.31)

Driving Time:  One hour and 40 minutes ( Non-stop )
Driving Distance: 74km
Bus Fare: 20 yuan ( Transportation card is not accepted )

Qianmen Bus Terminal Location: southwest of Archery Tower of Zhengyangmen Gate ( South of Tiananmen Square )
Badaling Public Tourism Bus Terminal Location: in Guntiangou Park Lot,  near the cable station of Badaling GreatWall.

It is worth getting up earlier to catch an early morning bus for Badaling Great Wall, avoiding a possible snake of people on the wall.

How to get to Deshengmen Bus Terminal ( For Bus 877 and 919 express )
Several buses can bring you to the Deshengmen Bus Station. But the bus system in Beijing could be daunting even for the local Beijingers. It is advisable to take the Subway Line 2 to reach Deshengmen Bus Station. The the closest subway station to Deshengmen Bus Station is Jishuitan (积水潭) of the loop-type Subway Line 2.

You get off at the station of Jishuitan (积水潭), exit from the Exit A. Then walk along the sideway in the east direction for about 450 meters, soon you will see a high tower – the Deshengmen Arrow Tower. Deshengmen Bus Terminal is just below the northern and southern sides of the tower. The compound of Deshengmen Arrow Tower is within a roundabout.

So you have to cross a road to reach the bus station. Be careful crossing the road since the road has no traffic light at the time of my writing. By the way, on your 450-meter walk from the subway station of Jishuitan to the Deshengmen Arrow Tower, you will pass alongside the Deshengmenxi Bus Station (different from Deshengmen Bus Station) and you just ignore it!

You will be also distracted by some privately owned buses or mini-buses operated in the name of official Badaling-bound buses. We strongly suggest you take the official buses within the Deshengmen Bus Station for safety and reasonable price. Don’t be surprised if you find the queue in front of the bus 877 or 919 express could be very long, especially on the weekends or national public holidays.

Next, follow me to have a familiarization virtual tour of how to take a bus to Badaling Great Wall.  First take subway line 2 and get off at the stop of Jishuitang (积水潭) and exit from Exit A (northeast).

You will pass alongside the Deshengmenxi Bus Station.

You will pass alongside the Deshengmenxi Bus Station

After walking for about 10 minutes, you will see the huge Deshengmen Arrow Tower.

After walking for about 10 minutes, you will see the huge Deshengmen Arrow Tower.

Then you turn left and walk towards the northern square below the Tower. The compound of Deshengmen Arrow Tower is within a roundabout.

So you have to cross a road to reach the bus station. You have to be careful crossing the road since the road has no traffic light.Before getting to the Deshengmen Bus Station, you have to cross a road without traffic light.

 

Then you turn left and walk towards the northern square of the Tower

Then you turn left and walk towards the northern square beow the Tower

After crossing the road, you will get to the Deshengmen 919 Bus Station below the tower.

After crossing the road, you will get to the Deshengmen 919 Bus Station below the tower.

Here is the Bus 877 below the north side of the tower ready to go to Badaling.

Here is the Bus 877 below the north side of the tower ready to go to Badaling.

Have a close look at the Station Board of 877.

Have a close look at the Station Board of 877

 

Kinder reminder: You ‘d better take Bus 919 express instead of Bus 919 ( slow ). So there are two “919”, one express and the other slow.

How to get to Qianmen Bus Station for  the Public Tourism Bus No.01 going to Badaling Great Wall?
The starting point for  the Public Tourism Bus No.01 is located in the departure terminal for Beijing Tourist Dispatch Hub,  southwest of Archery Tower of Zhengyangmen Gate ( South of Tiananmen Square ).

Qianmen Bus Terminal is in the southwest of Archery Tower of Zhengyangmen Gate ( South of Tiananmen Square )

You can take the subway line 2 and get off at the station of Qianmen and exit from Exit C, then walk south for about 30 meters, you will get to the bus station.

Badaling Great Wall Basic Information
Badaling Great wall is one of the most gorgeous and magnificent part of the Great Wall in Beijing. The Badaling Great Wall is the well-preserved Ming Dynasty Great Wall with original appearance. Now it is divided into two sections – north and south starting at the Badaling Pass and Gate.

Most passengers prefer to hike the northern slope of Badaling Great Wall simple because the north part is more scenic and convenient with cable car and slide services in between.

But still some people like to hike the southern slope to avoid the crowds for better photo opportunities. If you hike the southern slope, you have to backtrack.

Ticket Price: RMB40 (Nov. 1 to Mar. 31); RMB 45 (Apr. 1 to Oct. 31)
Cable Car: RMB80 (single trip); RMB100 (round trip)
Toboggan: RMB30 (single trip);
Opening Hours:06:30-19:00 (in summer); 07:00-18:00 (in winter)
Hiking Time: Two Hours
Bus Route: Take Bus No.877 or No. 919 Express at Deshengmen, RMB12 for ticket.
S Train: Take S train from Beijing Huangtudian Railway Station and get off at the station of Badaling.

Taking Bus from Dingling ( Ming Tombs to Badaling Great Wall) or Vice Versa

If you’d like to go from Ming Tombs ( Dingling ) and Badaling Great Wall or vice versa, you can take the Bus 879 listed below:

1) Dingling Tomb ( Ming Tombs) to Badaling Great Wall

Fist Bus:8:00 am
Last Bus: 4:00 pm
Bus Fare: 9 yuan
The Bus 879 leaves every half an hour
The Bus 879 has 25 bus stops from Dingling (Ming Tombs) to Badaling Great Wall ( the last but the third ) taking about one and half hours, about 40km.

1) Badaling to Dingling ( 定陵):
Fist Bus:9:30 am
Last Bus: 5:30 pm
Bus Fare: 9 yuan
The Bus 879 leaves every half an hour
The Bus 879 has 25 bus stops from Badaling to Dingling ( Ming Tombs ), taking about one and half hours from Badaling to Dingling (定陵), the last bus stop ( about 40 km ).

Frequently Asked Questions
The most important fact is that the northern section of Badaling Great Wall is a loop route ( No.01 to No.12 Towers ) and you don’t have to backtrack. You can walk from Tower No.1 ( the main entrance )  up to the highest Tower No.08,then walk down to Tower 12 ( near the Bear Garden).

1)The Bus 877 is close the Badaling Pass, the entrance to Badaling Great Wall, the only main entrance. A 20-minute walk from Bus 877 to the main entrance.

2) The northern slope of the Badaling Great Wall is about 3700m long starting from North Tower No.1 up to the Northern Tower No.8, then down to Northern Tower No.12. The whole hiking takes 2-3 hours. Not everyone has the strong legs to hike all the 12 towers, so many passengers would take cable car up to the Wall (below Tower No.8 and Tower 9 ) to save their energy.

If you are in good shape, I suggest you hike all the 12 towers to digest the magnificent Badaling Great Wall on its northern slope instead of eating Instant food” by taking the cable car.

3) The cable car brings you up to the slope below both North Tower No.8 and Tower No.9. So from the cable car station on the upper slope, you can either hike to the Tower 8 or Tower 9. It is easier to hike up to the Tower 9 while it is a bit hard to walk up to the Tower 8. To hike up to the Tower 8, you have to climb over  a steep slope known as “Haohanpo” ( a real hero”slope ), or 好汉坡 in Chinese. Or you may just skip over it.

4) If you want to visit the Northern section of Badaling Great Wall, you can take the cable car up, then walk down: walk from Tower 8 to down to Tower 1, or from Tower 8 down to Tower 12. Or you can take a cable down. Also you can walk up to Tower 8, then take cable car down. One way cable car: RMB60; round trip cable car: RMB80.

5)  For the northern part of Badaling Great Wall, you can walk to the east from Tower 8 to down to Tower 12, then pass by the Bear Garden, then walk about 10 minutes back to the main entrance to the Tower 1, a loop route and you don’t have to backtrack.

See the Badaling Great wall Map below to check the Bus 877 Stop and Badaling Train Station and more. ( Click Large)

badaling_map

Important Notice:
You can also take a train to visit Badaling Great Wall. For more information, please see Badaling Great Wall Train.Hassle-free Badaling Great Wall Guided Tours
Don’t want to go the do-it-yourself route? No worries, We at Tour Beijing have some options for guided tours to Badaling Great wall.

Badaling Great Wall + Mutianyu Great Wall Day Tour
Badaling Great Wall and Underground Palace Day Tour
Badaling Great Wall + Forbidden City + Tiananmen Square Day Tour

10 Non-Touristy Things to Do in Beijing

Monday, December 3rd, 2018
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As a first-time visitor to Beijing, you probably rely heavily on travel guide books or online travel information, making obligatory pilgrimage to the must-see attractions such as Tiananmen Square, Forbidden City, Houhai Hutong, Lama Temple, Summer Palace and Mutianyu Great Wall.

But if you have already crammed these above-mentioned great sites into your travel plan, or if you want to escape the hoards of tourists and or if you want to mix with the locals and see the authentic side of Beijing, you still have many hidden gems to discover in Beijing.

These non-mainstream things are good alternatives to the classic must-see sights,  and equally significant in terms of enjoying and understanding the metropolitan city of Beijing.

Today, we’ve rounded up 10 of the non-touristy things to do in Beijing to get you started. Hopefully these off-the-track treasures are useful in planning your Beijing tour.

1. See the Whole of Beijing in Miniature
Before kicking off your visit to Tiananmen Square, why not start up a day of sightseeing by having a panoramic view of the city in miniature with vivid knowledge of the city you are going to visit.

Located just on the east of Tiananmen Square, Beijing Planning Exhibition Hall is designed to introduce the long history of the immortal city of Beijing, with 16,000 square-meter floor space distributed on 4 floor levels in the Hall, with 8,000 square meters for exhibits.

It has a large model of the entire Beijing metropolitan area, as well as multimedia exhibits depicting the history, present situation, and future of urban planning in Beijing.

Beijing Planning Exhibition Hall

Beijing Planning Exhibition Hall

Add: No.20 Qianmen East Street, on the east of Tiananmen Square in Beijing
Opening Hours: 9:00am – 5:00pm ( Ticket selling stops at 4:00pm )
Monday: Closed
Entrance fee: 30 yuan

2. Hike from Jiankou Great Wall to Mutianyu Great Wall
Most of international travelers would choose Mutianyu Great Wall when planning their trip to the Great Wall of China since it ranks as the Top 1 attraction in Beijing by Tripadvisor.

But it will be more gorgeous if you take a walk from Jiankou Great Wall to Mutianyu Great Wall instead of Mutianyu Great Wall only.

Jiankou Great Wall

Jiankou Great Wall

You don’t have to venture the most treacherous part of Jiankou Great Wall. There is a hiking trail skipping the risky parts of Jiankou, allowing you to appreciate the wild and original side of the Great Wall.  See Walk from Jiankou to Mutianyu Great Wall for more travel information.

3. Go to Poly Art Museum
Poly Museum is designed to develop and display traditional national culture and art, and to rescue and protect Chinese cultural relics lost abroad. The museum mainly consists of two parts of the exhibition: bronze and stone carvings.

Most of the exhibits have been retrieved from abroad, and a considerable part has especially high historical and artistic value as they are quintessence or the only existing versions.

It is a well hidden gem in Beijing. Just do not expect any large museum shop or souvenirs, this small museum is really about the collection itself.

Go to Poly Art Museum

Go to Poly Art Museum

Add: 9th floor New Poly Plaza, 1 Chaoyangmen Bei Dajie Dongcheng District
Opening Hours: Monday-Saturday 9: 30-16: 30;close on state holidays
Tel: 6500 8117
Admission: 20RMB
How to get there:
Metro: Take subway line 2 and get off at Dongsishitiao and exit from Exit D.

4. Take English Mass at St. Joseph’s Parish
Do you fancy the idea of going to church in Beijing? The every 4pm English Catholic mass on Sunday provides the wonderful lyrics, chords and melody at St.Joseph’s Church or Wangfujing Church in Beijing.

A large square outside the church is a public city park with 1.2 hectares, a good spot for wedding photos and Roller board skating. The square’s north end is adjacent to Wangfujing Street.

After attending church service, have a stroll along Wangfujing Street, rubbing with the locals and delved into the shopping and dining world. The part of the wangfujing Street (810m) has been transformed into a pedestrian street since 1999.

English Mass at St. Joseph’s Parish

English Mass at St. Joseph’s Parish

St. Joseph’s Church
Address: 74 Wangfujing St, Dongcheng, Beijing
Phone: +86 10 652406346 (English), or 65212162 (English)

Mass Schedule at St. Joseph’s Parish

English Mass Time
4:00pm on each Sunday afternoon

5. Take a Stroll Along the Outer City’s Southern Moat
Exiting from the northern gate to Forbidden City, you will find the city moat circling the exterior wall. There used to 4 kinds of moat systems in Beijing – the city moats for the Palace (Forbidden City), Imperial City,  Inner City and Outer City ranging from Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368), Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) and Qing Dynasty (1644-1911).

In 1950’s, Beijing’s moat system was still measured at over 40 kilometres. Today, parts of the inner city’s northern moat system, the outer city’s southern moat system, the imperial city’s moat system and the forbidden city’s moat system still remain, and the remaining moats total 31 kilometers.

Click “Where to do distance running or walking in Beijing?” for more information on the walking trail along the city moat.

The local governments have made great efforts in the recent years to protect and preserve the remaining city moats. A major preservation project for the city moats is still on the way, largely improving the walking trails along the banks of the city moats, especially on the Outer City’s Southern Moat.

Yongdingmen Gate Tower

Yongdingmen Gate Tower

Walking along the Outer City Southern Moat, you can feel the vibe of the metropolitan Beijing. Yongdingmen Gate Tower is a good starting point for a leisure and informative stroll along the city moat.

6.  Explore Less Touristy Hutong Area
“Hutong” refers to the vernacular buildings ( the old narrow alleys and courtyards ) and traditional residential areas in Beijing.

With the fast urban development of Beijing, more and more “Hutong” is torn down, either going through gentrification or making way for new modern buildings.

Explore Less Touristy Hutong Area

Explore Less Touristy Hutong Area

The people living in the real Hutong areas decrease, but currently still a decent proportion of the Beijingers live in crowded alleys and courtyard homes. Strolling though these hutong areas is an eye-opener for you to see a real Beijing.

The more gentrified Nanluoguxiang or Houhai hutongs are good choices for viewing the traditional life in Beijing. Another better alternative is the walk from Liulichang antique street to Dazhalan. See Old Beijing Walking Tour.

7. Walk through Dongjiaomingxiang (Dong Jiao Min Xiang)
Dong Jiao Min Xiang is a historic site worth your short stroll and glimpse of the European-style buldings left over by the late 19th century and early 20th century foreign powers.

Dong Jiao Minj Xiang ( or Dong Jiao Min Alley ) literally means “East Foreign Residents Alley”, which is the longest alley ( hutong ) in Beijing with a total length of 1550 meters.

Walk through Dongjiaomingxiang

Walk through Dongjiaomingxiang

In the English travel guidebooks, Dong Jiao Min Xiang is popularly known as Former Legation Quarter. It was once home to the former 11 foreign embassies including UK, France, Germany, Japan, the US, Russia, Italy, Spain, Austria, Belgium and Dutch.  See: How to visit Dong Jiao Min Xiang.

8. Be Immersed into Fayuan Temple
Most travel guide books would recommend you to explore Lama Temple, also called “Yonghegong”, the most important Lamasery in Beijing. Lama Temple was originally built as the residence of Emperor Yongzheng when he was still a prince.

After he came to the throne (Emperor Yongzheng), he changed his old residence into a temporary palace called “Yonghegong” in 1725. In 1744, his successor, Emperor Qianlong turned the palace into a lama temple. This Tibetan Buddhist Lama Temple is still popularly called Yonghegong.

Fayuan Temple

Fayuan Temple

Fayuan Temple is much older than Lama Temple, built in 645 AD during Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD). It is situated at the south of Jiaozi Alley in the southern downtown of Beijing.

It is not only the oldest Buddhist temple, but also the location for the China Buddhism Institution and China Buddhism Library and Relic Centre, as well as an important venue for nurturing young monks and Buddhism research.

Fayuan Temple
Entrance fee: 5 yuan
Add: East of the Southern end of Jiaozi Hutong, Xicheng, Beijing
Bus: Bus 6 and 109 and get off at Jiaozi Hutong or Metro Line 4 and get off at Caishi Kou and exit from Southwest Ext.

9. Have a Family Visit
While visiting the primary scenic and historical sites is your main purpose of your trip to Beijing, paying a visit to a Chinese family offers you a chance to better understand its people and their life.

Beijing Family Visit1

Beijing Family Visit

Family visit adds something interesting and meaningful to your leisure trip – chatting with family hosts, tasting home made lunch, getting a good feel of its people of China. See Beijing Family Visit for more information.

10: Haggle at Dahongmen Clothing Wholesale Market
This huge market, oft-lauded as the largest clothing market north of Yangtze River in China. It is located on Beijing’s south axis road starting from Muxiyuan (木樨园) on the south third ring road in the north to the northern bank of Liangshui River (凉水河北岸) , about 7  km south of Tiananmen Square.

Dahongmen Clothing Wholesale Market

Dahongmen Clothing Wholesale Market

The market is composed of 24 comprehensive markets covering clothing, shoes, hats as well as food, antiques and paintings jewelry, cultural and creative products. The most well-known markets include Dahongmen Clothing City (大红门服装城) and Dahongmen Shoes City  (大红门鞋城).

English is seldom spoken in the market, less popular than Silk Market. But it is worth venturing to explore the market if you have time and energy. See Top 10 Markets in Beijing for more information.

06611Tip:  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 guided tours to Beijing:

 

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


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.