Archive for the ‘Hebei Travel’ Category

Best Travel Options Between Beijing and Chengde

Saturday, October 3rd, 2020
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While planning your Beijing tour, you may consider an interesting side trip to Chengde (承德). Now we are going to assist you in choosing the best travel options between Beijing and Chengde. There are three major ways of traveling from Beijing to Chengde – take the train, the bus and driving. We’ll help you analyse the advantages and disadvantages of each transportation option.

Chengde is an important scenic and historical city, only 250 km northeast of Beijing. Though it is possible for you to make a day trip from Beijing, we suggest you stay overnight to see its magnificent landscape and feel the  splendid culture and history behind it.

1. Travel From Beijing to Chengde by Train
There are 4 daily trains running between Beijing Railway Station ( one of the four major stations in Beijing ) and Chengde Railway Station (the only available station in Chengde). Of the four trains, only Train No.7711 starts from Beijing and ends at Chengde as its final destination while other three pass by Beijing and Chengde.

Beijing Chengde Train

We recommend you take the Train No.7711 (7:56 12:31) from Beijing to Chengde and the Train No.7712 ( 19:15 – 23:38) back from Chengde to Beijing. The train takes about 4 and half hours. You can buy your tickets online in advance or at any of the train stations on the spot.

Advantages: Safe, Comfortable and affordable prices ( US$ 8 – 15 depending different seats )
Disadvantages: Tricky to get tickets, longer train ride time, and only one direct train

2. Getting from Beijing to Chengde by Bus
The bus service from Beijing to Chengde is more frequent, an easy and afffordable option for travelers. The long-distance service for Chengde operates only at two of the bus terminals in Beijing – Sihui  Transportation Hub (四惠交通枢纽) and Liuliqiao Long-Distance Bus Station (六里桥客运主枢纽).

Sihui Bus Terminal

There are about 30 daily buses starting from Liuliqiao Long-Distance Bus Station ( first bus at 6:40 and last 18:20); 20 daily buses leaving from Sihui Long-Distance Bus Station (first bus at 7:10 and last 18:10). Just purchase your bus tickets in person at the two bus stations.

Liuliqiao Long-Distance Bus Station
Add: A1, Liuliqiao Nan Li, Fengtai District, Beijing

Sihui Long-Distance Bus Station
Add: No.68, Jianguo Lu, Chaoyang District

Advantages: Frequent and affordable prices ( US$ 15  )
Disadvantages: A bit tricky to get to the bus terminals, less comfortable than train

3. Driving from Beijing to Chengde

Beijing-Chengde Expressway

You can drive directly from Beijing to Chengde along the expansive expressway – Jingcheng Expressway. Jingcheng Expressway is 209.1km in length with 132.4 km in Beijing and 76.7 in Chengde. Its completion has made Beijing Chengde driving two hours, two hours less than previous old highway.

Its speed is minimum 50 km/h, maximum 120 km/h. The expressway has 6 lanes (3 up, 3 down) for sections closer to Beijing, 4 lanes for other sections. So you can hire a car with driver to visit Chengde and possibly you can make a day trip to Chengde from and back to Beijing by car.

Advantages: Fast, flexible and value-added if you travel on a small group to split the cost
Disadvantages: Expensive, possible congested traffic

4. Guided Excursions to Chengde from Beijing

Little Potala Palace

250 km northeast of Beijing lie two UNESCO world heritage sites – Eight Outer Temples listed 1994 and Mountain Resort listed in 1997 under the jurisdiction of Chengde, a prefecture-level city in Hebei province.

If you don’t want to go the do-it-yourself trip and prefer the hassle-free escorted tours,  here are some options for guided excursions from Beijing to Chengde:

Beijing Chengde 2 Day Tour by Train  Starting US$ 205 p/p
Beijing Chengde 2 Day Tour By Car or Van  Starting US$ 230 p/p
Beijing Chengde One Day Tour by car or van  Starting US$ 110 p/p
Beijing Chengde Jinshanling Great Wall 2 Day Tour   Starting US$ 215 p/p
Beijing Chengde Eastern Qing Tombs 2 Day Tour  Starting US$ 290 p/p

Further Readings


Best Time to Visit Chengde
Top 10 Attractions in Chengde
How to Visit Chengde in One Day
Chengde Outdoor Winter Activities

Any questions, just drop a line.

Top 10 Attractions in Zhangjiakou

Saturday, October 3rd, 2020
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Plan your Hebei Tour? Located in the northwest of Hebei Province, the low profile and often neglected Zhangjiakou (张家口) is now in the limelight, which is mainly caused by two factors 1) Beijing Zhangjiakou Highspeed trains have been put into operation; 2) Beijing and Zhangjiakou together  hold the 2022 Olympic Winter Games. It is worth a few day’s visit to the booming city.

220km north of Beijijng, Zhangjiakou was historically a vital north gate of Beijing with strategical importance. Zhangjiakou literally means “Family Zhang’s mouth” which refers to the ancient fortress by the Great Wall built by the commander named Zhangwen. His successor, Zhangzhen,also with the same surname of “Zhang” , opened a small mouth ( door ) in the northern wall of the fortress, hence the name of Zhangjiakou for the fortress.

Developed from a small garrison town, Zhangjiakou is now a booming city which administrates 4 districts and 13 counties. With Yinshan Mountain passing through, Zhangjiakou is geologically divided into two parts – the north high Inner Mongolian Plateau also known as “Bashang” and the south low and medium basin known as Baxia.

The word “Bashang” is often equivalent of grasslands. The north of Zhangjiakou boasts the cool and breezy grassland, which attracts numerous holidaymakers in summer. Baxia, or the basin in the southern area of Zhangjiakou gives birth to some of the China’s best skiing and snowboarding. Each winter skiing lovers flock here to stretch their bodies.

In addition to its natural resources, Zhangjiakou is rife with historical sites with the epitome of the Great Wall of China. Plan your Zhangjiakou tour? Zhangjiakou is easily accessed by plentiful rails and highways linking Beijing, Datong, Hohhot and other major cities in China.

We’ve rounded up the Top 10 Attractions in Zhangjiakou. Hopefully the Top 1o list will be helpful planning your own Zhangjiakou trip.

1. Zhangjiakou Great Wall
Zhangjiakou has a nickname of “Great Wall Museum”. Some experts say the most of the Great Wall we see in Zhangjiakou is the Ming-era Great Wall connecting the Wall on the east with Beijing and Datong on the west with a length of 1023km. Along the Wall there used to be fortresses, passes and horse markets. Dajing Gate is one of the four most important passes along the Great Wall of China, just north of Zhangjkiakou.

Dajing Gate at the Wall

Dajing Gate at the Wall

2. Zhangjiakou Ancient Fortress
Zhangjiakou Ancient Fortress, a former fortress in Ming Dynasty gave birth to today’ Zhangjiakou. The Fortress was built under the supervision of Commander Zhangwen in 1429.

The fort had a perimeter of over 2km, 11 metes high with two gates on the east and west. In 1460 an interior castle was built inside fort. It became a fortified garrison town where a large military forces stationed. Today the fortress is still perched in the city center of Zhangjakou, a showcase of Zhangjakou’s development.

Former Zhangjiakou Fortress

Former Zhangjiakou Fortress

3. Bashang Grassland
North of Zhangbei County in Zhangjiakou, Bashang is the nearest prairie destination to Beijing, located about 240 kilometres from northern Beijing. The special climate and geographical position at the junction of the Inner Mongolia Grasslands and the North China Plain give Bashang its unique natural landscapes and make it a popular destination for tourists visiting Zhangjiakou.

Bashang is one of the most ideal sites to escape the hustle and bustle in city life. Visitors can enjoy the beauty of the stretch of grasslands as well as riding horses freely on the grassland. In addition to that, activities like camel riding, shooting, archery and campfire parties are also available here.

Bashang Grassland

Bashang Grassland

4. Zhangjiakou Ski Resorts
The southern Zhangjiakou, or in the Chongli County, there are four famous ski resorts with international standard including Wanlong, Yunding, Duolemei and Changchengling.

Another ski resort under construction is known as Taiwu Four Season Ski Resort. Each year skiing lovers flock here from home and abroad. Up to 2020, the whole county plans to build totally 228 skiing trails of about 500 km long and 84 cableways.

Wanlong Ski Resort

Wanlong Ski Resort

5. Xuanhua Ancient City
Xuanhua is now a district of Zhangjiakou, but in the past Xuanhua was a fortified city defending Beijing to the west, popularly known as “The First City West of Beijing”.

Originally built in 888, it was repaired and reconstructed for many times in the successive dynasties. It is now well known for its Qinyuan Mansion, Zhenshuo Mansion and Ancient City Wall. You may have a birds’ view of the ancient city while climbing up Zensuo Mansion.

Xuanhua Ancient City

Xuanhua Ancient City

6. Jiminyi Ancient Post Station
Jimingyi is located in Huailai County of Zhangjiakou. Jimingyi ancient post station is the only remaining ancient post station in China which dates back to the Yuan Dynasty (1206-1368). It was a major transit post station on the route from Beijing to Datong, Shanxi Province, until 1913.

The ancient post station still retains its original layout. It is a square-shaped town with a 2 km long wall and two gates, one in the east and the other in the west. In recent years, the State has invested tens of thousands of yuan in restoration of the post station. The local government has set up the Jimingyi Relic Site Administration Committee to strengthen its protection of it.

Jimingyi Ancient Post Station

Jimingyi Ancient Post Station

7. Tianmo Desert
Tianmo Desert lies in Huailai County of Zhangjiakou, the nearest desert about 90km to the northwest of Beijing. Tianmo Desert is mainly composed of two magnificent snad hills – East Sand Dragon Hill and West Sand Dragon Hill, both average height of over 30 meters.

Hills, gobi, deserrt and lakes constitute a particular landscape. Standing on the desert, you will have a clear picture of the limpid Guanting Reservoir and the green Jundu Mountain. Entrance fee: RMB 30.

8. Chicheng Hot Spring
Located 140km northeast of Zhangjiakou’s city center, Chicheng is historically known as “First Hot Spring Outside the Great Wall”. Chifeng Hot Spring is nestled in the green valleys and hills abut 7.5km west of the county downtown.

The average annual temperature here  is between 12.6℃ and 26.1℃. People can enjoy warm spring without burning coal and have the comfort of the cool without fanning themselves. Among the verdant ridges and peaks with luxuriant trees, there are gurgling streams and dimly visible temples. Having a bathing in a warm spring pool is a good way to rewind yourself.

Chicheng Hot Spring

Chicheng Hot Spring

9. Little Wutaishan
Situated on the border between Zhulu County and Huixian County, The East Terrace of Little Wutaishan is 2882 meters high at the sea level, the highest peak in Hebei Province. Little Wutaishan resembles the famous Wutaishan, which is also composed of  five high terraces ( five peaks).

To differentiate itself from Wutaishan, it is named “Little Wutaishan”. Little Wutaishan features the landscapes of gullies, streams, verdant forests as well as rich historical sites. Little Wutaishan is a perfect place for fmilu outing and leisure activities.

Little Wutaishan

Little Wutaishan

10. Guanting Reservoir
Guanting Reservoir is located on the border between Huailai County of Zhangjiakou and Yanqing County of Beijing. It is the first large scale reservoir ever built since 1949 in China.

Perched between two mountain ranges, Guanting Reservoir is spacious in size with clear water. Its water resources mainly come from Yonging River. The reservoir plays an important role in flood protection, irrigation and electricity production. Now the reservoir has become a hot spot for holidaymakers, a great place for leisure and sightseeing travel.

Guanting Reservoir

Guanting Reservoir

Add on
Top 10 Attractions in Hebei 

Any questions, just drop a line.

Xiaohekou Great Wall

Saturday, October 3rd, 2020
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Are you interested in a Great Wall Tour? The Great Wall section extended west from Zhuizishan Great Wall is known as Xiaohekou Great Wall. Xiaohekou Great Wall is named after a natural village called “Xiaohekou” which literally means “a small river’s mouth”.

Xiaohekou Village is located within the administrative village known as Xigou Village in Yongan Town of Suizhong County in Liaoning Province.  Keeping on walking to the west from Xiaohekou Great Wall, you will get to Badaling Great Wall in Beijing while to the south, you will get to Shanhaiguan.

Xiaohekou Great Wall on the Great Wall east of Beijing

Escorted by our farmer turned guide – Lao Yang, we drive from Zhuizishan Great Wall westwards along a cement mountain road for about 9km, passing by Xiaohekou village and get to a simple parking lot in front of “the mouth of a dry river”, which is actually a narrow valley with a dry river spanned by a Great Wall pass – Xiaohekou Pass. Now the Great Wall pass  has been broken and damaged.

Now the Great Wall pass  has been broken and damaged.

Now the Great Wall pass (Xiaohekou Pass) has been broken and damaged.

Xiaohekou Great Wall was originally built from the year 1381 in Ming Dynasty with a total length of 8.9km. This section of the Great Wall has 36 watch towers, of which there are 12 towers have stone carvings in decorated design and style on the windows and doors.

Xiaohekou Great Wall was first discovered in July, 2004. Ever since there are more and more people coming to Xiaohekou including photographers, archaeologists, artists and normal travelers.

We walk through the broken Xiaohekou Pass (a small river’s mouth), turn left and climb up on a well built mountains slab paved road. 

Climb up on a well built mountains slab paved road

The wall is built of slabs

The wall is built of slabs

The first fort is over us, the largest on our hike up to the top. 

The first fort is over us, the largest on our hike up to the top.

Its east door is carved with beautiful flower designs.

Its door is carved with beautiful flower designs.

Its west stone door is also carved with decorative relief.

Its west stone door is also carved with decorative relief.

 

Inside the first floor of the bastion

Inside the first floor of the bastion

The officers stayed on the first floor while the soldiers on the second floor. A flight of stairs leading to the second floor of the fort.

A flight of stairs leading to the second floor of the fort.

We see unique battlements made entirely with masonry on the fort.

We see unique battlements made entirely with masonry on the fort.

The hole on the battlement is to hold a crossbow.

The hole on the battlement is to hold a crossbow.

Look down from the fort, we see Xiaohekou Village nestled in the valley by the mouth of a small river – Xiaohejou, hence the name of the village.

Look down from the fort, we see Xiaohekou Village

We continue to trudge up on a treacherous wall ridge up to the second watch tower.

We continue to trudge up on a treacherous wall ridge up to the second watch tower.

Xiao Hao, my colleague, is hiking in an opposite direction to the east instead of to the west where we hike.

Xiao Hao, my colleague, is hiking in an opposite direction

This is the second fort with its stone door also decorated with beautiful carvings.

This is the second fort with its stone door also decorated with beautiful carvings.


Let us have a close look at the decorative relief.

Let us have a close look at the decorative relief.

Standing on the second open floor of the fort, I snap a picture of the great wall ahead of us in the east.

I snap a picture of the great wall ahead of us in the east.

Xiao Hao is sitting on a dilapidated tower on the hill to our west.

Xiao Hao is sitting on a dilapidated tower on the hill to our west.

We don’t move further and turn back along the same mountain road back to the mouth of the small river – Xiaohekou.

back to the mouth of the small river – Xiaohekou

Then we drive to the nearby village – Xiaohekou Village. Most of the villagers are the descendants of the army guiding the Great Wall, who were from Yiwu, a town in southern China, which was the hometown of Qi Jiguan (November 12, 1528 – January 5, 1588).

Qijiguan is was the Wall’s architect in chief responsible for the building of the great wall from Beijing to Shanhaiguan. Qi’s army of guardians, joined by their families made the Wall alive with villages, fields, orchards and many of which survive to this day. Xiaohekou Village is one of them. which still keeps some traces in Ming and Qing dynasties.

 

Xiaohekou Village is one of them. which still keeps some traces in Ming and Qing dynaties

A Ming and Qing style bungalow house

A Ming and Qing style bungalow house