Beijing - 3 or 4 days?

Old Dec 12th, 2023, 06:57 PM
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Beijing - 3 or 4 days?

I'll be visiting China from early to mid April next year and am considering how many days (tossing between 3 or 4 full days) to stay in Beijing before traveling to Xi'an.

In terms of must-see/must-do attractions, these are on my list:
- Forbidden City
- Tiananmen Square
- Jingshan Park (for the pano view of the Forbidden City)
- Summer Palace
- Temple of Heaven
- Great Wall: Jinshanling to Simatai hike

Listed below are other attractions that have caught my attention but I'm unsure if I'll be that interested in or have the time to fit into the itinerary. Some advice on whether any of these are worth the time would be much appreciated
- Lama Temple
- Mao's Mausoleum
- Silk Street Market
- 798 Art District
- Various Hutongs

I was initially thinking 3 full days to cover off the "must-see" attractions at a semi-relaxed pace, with the option to add a fourth day if any of the other attractions above are worth the visit?

Last edited by ryanleewq; Dec 12th, 2023 at 06:59 PM.
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Old Dec 12th, 2023, 09:01 PM
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We stayed 6 days though our pace was relaxed.

We are avid theater goers and have dozens of shows from local suburban performances to the top theaters in Chicago. I encourage you to see the Golden mask performance as itís spectacular. You may want to add this to your list.

https://www.showbeijing.com/golden-mask-dynasty/about/
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Old Dec 14th, 2023, 06:50 PM
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The hike is a big activity, so you might need some extra time. I would prioritize Lama Temple over Jiangshang Park and Tiananmen Square.
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Old Dec 16th, 2023, 09:20 AM
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More time

I would have as much time as possible. The Lama temple is close to a metro station and easy to access. Hutongs too are certainly worth a few visits and try and see the hutong museum. The Capital museum is terrific too. The art district is not very interesting now and pretty commercial and a pain to get to. The metro is the best way to get around and fairly easy if you download an app. Silk street is just shops but fine if you want to buy things.
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Old Dec 18th, 2023, 08:39 PM
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Originally Posted by shelemm
The hike is a big activity, so you might need some extra time. I would prioritize Lama Temple over Jiangshang Park and Tiananmen Square.
Originally Posted by violets
I would have as much time as possible. The Lama temple is close to a metro station and easy to access. Hutongs too are certainly worth a few visits and try and see the hutong museum. The Capital museum is terrific too. The art district is not very interesting now and pretty commercial and a pain to get to. The metro is the best way to get around and fairly easy if you download an app. Silk street is just shops but fine if you want to buy things.
Thanks for the responses

This is a summary itinerary of what I have in mind for the 3 days, listed in chronological order. I will be starting my days early.

Day 1
- Tiananmen Square
- Forbbiden City inc. Palace Museum
- Jingshan Park
- Beihai Park
- Yan Dai Xie Street (not sure if I'll have time to squeeze this in)

Day 2
- Temple of Heaven
- Summer Palace
- Lama Temple
- Nan Luo Gu Xiang
- 798 Art District (if time permits since it is close to NUO hotel where I'll be staying)

Day 3
- Great Wall at Jinshanling (planning to hike from Zhuandoukou Pass to East Five Window Tower and leave through the East Gate, which I understand to be a 4-6 hour hike)

Any thoughts on pacing and whether I have jammed too many attractions into Days 1 and 2? If so, then I will seriously consider adding that fourth day.

I will mainly be using DiDi to get around the city as I've heard that it's the most convenient outside of rush hour?
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Old Dec 19th, 2023, 01:18 PM
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I think it is way too much in each day. You might fit it all in on the first day but will be rushing and missing things. Security slows everything down and so does traffic. The Forbidden city is huge, though most people seem to rush through the middle and not see either side, areas I found very interesting. It can also be really crowded which means you are often waiting to see things. Beihai park is terrific but also huge. I particularly love it in the evening when people are doing ballroom dancing. Jingshan park is quite different from Beihai park and worth a visit, but it will take some time. You will likely see other things as you go that you will want to see.

Day two seems impossible. The Temple of heaven is at the opposite end of town to the art district and traffic can be almost stationary at times. Itís also huge. And then to fit in the Summer Palace! If you did manage to fit those three things in one day it would be little more than Ďlíve been thereí but actually seeing and enjoying is unlikely. At least another day would help but you'll actually see more if you go to fewer places.

I think the best time to go to the Temple of Heaven, if you can organise it, is early in the morning on a Saturday when there are so many activities going on in the gardens, taichi, sword exercises. shuttlecock football, chess games, singing etc.

My first visit to Beijing, a long time ago, before all the traffic and when the city was smaller and less crowded, was only three days and we went everywhere on an organised tour. We saw many of the sites you mention, but quite superficially, and I didn't get an idea of Beijing til I had a longer visit many years later.

whatever you decide to do, I hope you relax and enjoy the trip. All the best.
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Old Feb 26th, 2024, 08:06 AM
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Originally Posted by violets
I think it is way too much in each day. You might fit it all in on the first day but will be rushing and missing things. Security slows everything down and so does traffic. The Forbidden city is huge, though most people seem to rush through the middle and not see either side, areas I found very interesting. It can also be really crowded which means you are often waiting to see things. Beihai park is terrific but also huge. I particularly love it in the evening when people are doing ballroom dancing. Jingshan park is quite different from Beihai park and worth a visit, but it will take some time. You will likely see other things as you go that you will want to see.

Day two seems impossible. The Temple of heaven is at the opposite end of town to the art district and traffic can be almost stationary at times. It’s also huge. And then to fit in the Summer Palace! If you did manage to fit those three things in one day it would be little more than ‘l’ve been there’ but actually seeing and enjoying is unlikely. At least another day would help but you'll actually see more if you go to fewer places.

I think the best time to go to the Temple of Heaven, if you can organise it, is early in the morning on a Saturday when there are so many activities going on in the gardens, taichi, sword exercises. shuttlecock football, chess games, singing etc.

My first visit to Beijing, a long time ago, before all the traffic and when the city was smaller and less crowded, was only three days and we went everywhere on an organised tour. We saw many of the sites you mention, but quite superficially, and I didn't get an idea of Beijing til I had a longer visit many years later.

whatever you decide to do, I hope you relax and enjoy the trip. All the best.
We are also going to Beijing and Xi'an too and are trying to nail down the itinerary. We think we're close and have been in touch with several guides for both Beijing and Xi'an and were also wondering if it might be worth just paying the extra money for a private guided tour to make the most of the time. At the same time, since there's so much packed in, I also don't want to feel rushed.

Would you suggest, with an itinerary like this, that we should consider a private guided tour for the entire time?
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Old Feb 26th, 2024, 12:28 PM
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A guided tour might work for you, certainly they will be better at fitting things in, but you will miss the incidentals that you come upon by yourself. The other thing you have to watch for with some is that they go to big shops that really waste a lot of your time. perhaps have a guided tour for a few things and go by yourself for others. You could walk to Behai park (it is open, and interesting, quite late in the day) from the Forbidden city and maybe start that day very early at the Temple of heaven, which you can get to on the metro. The Forbidden city is also close to the metro.

You can also get to the Summer Palace on the metro but a tour might work better. A tour would also work well for the Wall, but try to go early in the morning to avoid crowds. The art area is way less interesting than it was, and quite commercial, also a pain to get to. You could go to the art gallery, which is in the middle of the city, but it's limited. If you are going to Shanghai that's a better place to see art and there are many interesting galleries.

I would decide on the main things you want to see and concentrate on them, but leave time for a bit of a wander, especially along some of the hutongs. Of course it is a big city and you can’t go everywhere. Enjoy what you do see.
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Old Feb 26th, 2024, 12:51 PM
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Originally Posted by violets
A guided tour might work for you, certainly they will be better at fitting things in, but you will miss the incidentals that you come upon by yourself. The other thing you have to watch for with some is that they go to big shops that really waste a lot of your time. perhaps have a guided tour for a few things and go by yourself for others. You could walk to Behai park (it is open, and interesting, quite late in the day) from the Forbidden city and maybe start that day very early at the Temple of heaven, which you can get to on the metro. The Forbidden city is also close to the metro.

You can also get to the Summer Palace on the metro but a tour might work better. A tour would also work well for the Wall, but try to go early in the morning to avoid crowds. The art area is way less interesting than it was, and quite commercial, also a pain to get to. You could go to the art gallery, which is in the middle of the city, but it's limited. If you are going to Shanghai that's a better place to see art and there are many interesting galleries.

I would decide on the main things you want to see and concentrate on them, but leave time for a bit of a wander, especially along some of the hutongs. Of course it is a big city and you canít go everywhere. Enjoy what you do see.

Thanks! That sounds like a good idea. I was thinking that we would be selective about which places we do guided tours. Do you think Forbidden City is good to do as a guided tour or is audio guide going to be better for that and give us more flexibility? BTW: we are a family of four (myself, my wife and our two kids - 8 and 7). BTW: these private guides are not the larger group tour ones that include "shopping" AFAIK - they know that we're are only interested in the history and sights and don't want to waste time shopping or getting dropped at a tourist trap...well, hopefully

For Xi'an I think we want a guided tour of the Terra Cotta Warriors and mausoleum too. I wasn't quite sure if it's necessary for Big Goose Pagoda, City Walls, Muslim Quarters/Mosque, Bell/Drum Tower though. All those latter activities I was thinking maybe we should just do on our own... any thoughts on those?
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Old Feb 26th, 2024, 06:21 PM
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The tours seemed to me to go straight through the middle. I found the sites on the side quite interesting and less polished. I find the tapes or whatever they are quite good though I haven’t done one there. If the kids have already learnt a bit about it they are likely to really get into it.

in Xian I think it would be worth getting a guide for the Warriors When I went I found all the restaurants were fully booked by tours. Make sure you get to go to the on site museum too. Try to get to the Xian history museum which has lots of artefacts from the Warriors sites.

The other sites are all pretty easy to do yourself. The beautiful mosque is next to the muslim market and in the market, at night particularly, there is lots of great food to be had. The drum and bell towers are close together and at some times there are performances. You can get the metro quite close to the Wild Goose pagoda and there is quite a bit of stuff around it. Tripitaka in Monkey magic ( Journey to the West) is based on Xuanzang, a monk who supposedly went to India in the 7th century to get Buddhist texts then came back to Wild goose pagoda to translate them. His finger bone is on show there. You can walk the whole city wall, or just a section of it and don’t need a guide. You can hire bikes there too. Sounds like a great holiday.
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Old Feb 26th, 2024, 06:47 PM
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I used the audio guide for the Terra Cotta Warriors and found it excellent. I agree that one should include a visit to the museum. FWIW, it's Xi'an, not Xian.
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