Beijing 9 days

Jun 24th, 2019, 07:23 PM
  #21  
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 25,409
Not only will a car in Beijing be expensive, you will likely be stuck in traffic. I, too, found a guide unnecessary and I have less Mandarin than kja because I am tone deaf.

For info on Chinese trains take a look at seat61.com.
thursdaysd is offline  
Jun 24th, 2019, 07:49 PM
  #22  
 
Join Date: Nov 2009
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Regarding your question about hotels, we stayed at the Hyatt Regency in Beijing, and it was pretty nice. It's in a really good location, and if you upgrade to the concierge level, the food there is quite good. We used taxis to get around the city, and the concierge at the hotel wrote out little cards with our destination, so it was quite easy. We used a hotel driver for our day trip to the Great Wall and the Ming Tombs, but it was pretty pricey. I would not recommend using a guide in China, however, my older son said he wished we had a guide for the Forbidden City only, as it is quite large and confusing to navigate. I would only use a guide for a specific site, such as the Forbidden City, if I were convinced that the guide is actually an expert on history, and not part of the propaganda machine, but I'm not sure if such a person exists.

In Xi'An, we stayed at the Grand Hyatt, and the concierge there arranged for his favorite driver to take us on two consecutive day trips. The concierge helped plan the itinerary, and the price was quite reasonable. The driver also picked us up at the airport, and took us back. The concierge also sent us to some really good local restaurants where we were the only tourists.
CaliforniaLady is offline  
Jun 24th, 2019, 08:18 PM
  #23  
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
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The prices we got for private cars and drivers were very reasonable though they were thru the companies my TA has access to. If you like I can try to find out for you.
In any case ultimately its your choice, your comfort level and your budget. Do whats best for you.

Last edited by jacketwatch; Jun 24th, 2019 at 08:21 PM.
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Jun 24th, 2019, 08:22 PM
  #24  
kja
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
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thursdaysd's point about traffic is a good one, IMO.
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Jun 25th, 2019, 01:51 AM
  #25  
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
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As for traffic we had some issues but overall it was pretty good in both Beijing and Xi'an. I would have thought it would be horrid too but our guides knew good times and routes.
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Jun 25th, 2019, 06:31 AM
  #26  
 
Join Date: Jan 2016
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A car and driver to the Great Wall (Mutianyu) is 600 to 800RMB (about US$100 to 125).
For the Forbidden City, there are guides offering their services at the entrance. You can also rent an audio guide. Other places in Beijing also have audio guides for rent.
CanadaChinaTraveller is offline  
Jun 25th, 2019, 06:59 AM
  #27  
 
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Originally Posted by CanadaChinaTraveller View Post
A car and driver to the Great Wall (Mutianyu) is 600 to 800RMB (about US$100 to 125).
For the Forbidden City, there are guides offering their services at the entrance. You can also rent an audio guide. Other places in Beijing also have audio guides for rent.
I don't recall exactly but that sounds about what we paid for a car, driver and guide.

I would highly recommend this show in Beijing too.

https://www.goldenmaskdynastyshow.com/
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Jun 25th, 2019, 10:40 AM
  #28  
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Posts: 396
Originally Posted by hendrenl View Post
My expectations are hopefullly a safe and easy location for my daugher and myself.
There are no safety issues in Beijing (other than air pollution, insane traffic, and rapacious overcharging by tour guides and tour companies). An easy location is simply one close to a metro station.

If you want to stay in four- or five-star comfort, then ignore all Chinese-run hotels and stay in a familiar brand, booking through the hotel's own website which usually will guarantee to offer the lowest prices. If you want something with more local flavour then stay in a siheyuan (courtyard) hotel. There are plenty of choices easily found on the Internet, ranging from those that work as hostels to those that certainly charge at five-star levels, although without necessarily offering the service to go with it. Booking from overseas in these cases will, however, see you paying more than you need to.

A tour guide is of no help to you (but often a great deal of help to him- or herself. If you want accurate historical and cultural background information you'll need to bring reading materials from home). For a more detailed discussion of the problem with tour guides, see here:

https://medium.com/a-better-guide-to...s-df5d9b0a6dca

There are Great Wall sites easily reached by public transport for a fraction of the prices mentioned above for a car and driver, and simply chartering a taxi yourself will bring prices down by at the very least a third, and as much as half, depending on destination.

For a discussion of some open Wall sections and a variety of ways to reach them, see:

https://medium.com/a-better-guide-to...l-a57b792050ce
temppeternh is offline  
Jun 25th, 2019, 10:56 AM
  #29  
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jacketwatch -- yes, my daughter and I will be in Dubai in January. We are planning to stop there and also run over to Abu Dhabi as I understand it is just about 1.5 hours away..... on our way to the Maldives for a pre-organized excursion with a friend of hers. Air Travel there seemed to give us an easy choice of a stopover in Istanbul or Dubai. I think we have decided UAE for sure. We spur of the moment bought these Beijing airlline tickets ....have not started on the January trip planning much due to our spur of the moment China decision. Thanks!
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Jun 25th, 2019, 12:03 PM
  #30  
 
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@Peter - good to see you posting. I was wondering about the post above about credit cards. i was just talking to friends who visited family in Shanghai earlier this year, and they said that US credit cards were pretty much useless. All the locals were using apps, but cash would still work. Any comments on that?
thursdaysd is offline  
Jun 25th, 2019, 12:45 PM
  #31  
 
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Originally Posted by hendrenl View Post
jacketwatch -- yes, my daughter and I will be in Dubai in January. We are planning to stop there and also run over to Abu Dhabi as I understand it is just about 1.5 hours away..... on our way to the Maldives for a pre-organized excursion with a friend of hers. Air Travel there seemed to give us an easy choice of a stopover in Istanbul or Dubai. I think we have decided UAE for sure. We spur of the moment bought these Beijing airlline tickets ....have not started on the January trip planning much due to our spur of the moment China decision. Thanks!
That sounds like it will be a ton of fun. I hear great things about the Maldives too. BTW I looked at average temps in Dubai for January and its mild compared to summer temps with highs in the low to mid 80's vs. 100 give or take in the summer.
We will fly to Delhi first so my wife can see her relatives, then go to Dubai for 5 days before embarking on a 7 day cruise which actually ports in Abu Dhabi among other stops. Then its back to Delhi for a few more day before going home.
I think getting some sort of app to help with Chinese is a good idea.
All the best. Larry
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Jun 25th, 2019, 01:50 PM
  #32  
 
Join Date: Jan 2016
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Originally Posted by thursdaysd View Post
@Peter - good to see you posting. I was wondering about the post above about credit cards. i was just talking to friends who visited family in Shanghai earlier this year, and they said that US credit cards were pretty much useless. All the locals were using apps, but cash would still work. Any comments on that?
My wife spent 3 months in China earlier this year and did not use cash or a card even once. Absolutely everywhere accept mobile payment, even beggars.
In my case, I only joined for one month and for tourists nothing changed. You need cash nearly everywhere as credit cards are only good for hotels and better restaurants. Same a before.
CanadaChinaTraveller is offline  
Jun 25th, 2019, 02:11 PM
  #33  
 
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If you don't have a Chinese bank account, and you don't have a Chinese phone number, how does mobile payment work?
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Jun 25th, 2019, 02:52 PM
  #34  
 
Join Date: Mar 2017
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If you want local, we stayed here in 2008. A long time ago but we keep referring friends to it and they keep loving it.

https://www.booking.com/hotel/cn/kellyscourtyard.html

xcountry is offline  
Jun 25th, 2019, 04:59 PM
  #35  
 
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Originally Posted by thursdaysd View Post
If you don't have a Chinese bank account, and you don't have a Chinese phone number, how does mobile payment work?
Then you can't use mobile payment. You pay cash.
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Jun 25th, 2019, 05:30 PM
  #36  
kja
 
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Originally Posted by xcountry View Post
If you want local, we stayed here in 2008. A long time ago but we keep referring friends to it and they keep loving it.

https://www.booking.com/hotel/cn/kellyscourtyard.html
Wow, that place looks great!
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Jun 25th, 2019, 06:12 PM
  #37  
 
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Hi Kja. It was ideal. Being in a hutong area really added to the experience. When I first reserved there there were only a few reviews on the Internet. That sure isnít true now.

Our PBS station is now showing a program on the events of Tiananmen Square. Itís the only place in the world I sometimes wonder if we were really there. Just a bit surreal.
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Jun 25th, 2019, 07:04 PM
  #38  
kja
 
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Originally Posted by xcountry View Post
Being in a hutong area really added to the experience. ...
I agree! And my siheyuan wasn't as nice as that one sounds.

I also agree about Tiananmen Square. Surreal, and inexpressibly sad.
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Jun 27th, 2019, 04:58 PM
  #39  
 
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Originally Posted by thursdaysd View Post
I was wondering about the post above about credit cards. i was just talking to friends who visited family in Shanghai earlier this year, and they said that US credit cards were pretty much useless. All the locals were using apps, but cash would still work. Any comments on that?
The situation with foreign credit cards has changed little. Frequent sightings of VISA and MASTERCARD logos doesn't mean that foreign versions of these cards are acceptable, and where foreign cards *are* acceptable it's a good sign that you'll certainly be paying a lot more than you need to for whatever you're buying (in souvenir shops typically many multiples more). Where ticket agencies actually accept cards there may be a surcharge of up to 4%. In the big hotels where credit cards are routinely accepted, there are now frequent problems with currency conversion. Either the choice of paying in local currency (and letting the card do the conversion) is ignored when you make it, or the choice is not offered, even though credit card companies require that it be so. Opting to pay in your home currency can cost you as much as 7% extra, stolen by way of a poor conversion rate. Services such as ticket acquisition (which you shouldn't be asking your hotel to do anyway) still require cash and cannot be charged to the room.

But WeChat wallet, part of the ubiquitous WeChat app found on the phone of every single Chinese, and a principle form of payment, can now be linked to a foreign credit card or debit card (this has been possible since 2018, in fact), opening mobile phone payments to foreigners. So the option to download that app and set it up to make sure it works before leaving home is also there. (Alerting your card company that you're doing that would probably be a good idea.) It is possible that the other main phone-based method of payment, Alipay, can now also be linked to foreign cards, but it is said that you have to have a Chinese bank card to link first, before adding a foreign one. So that will be of little use to most.

Lovers of privacy may like to note that WeChat reportedly (and entirely unsurprisingly) has a back door a mile wide which enables the Chinese government to see what else is on your phone and upload any kind of spyware it likes onto it. You may well take the view that you are of no significance to the Chinese government and so this is unlikely to happen. Others may prefer not to open themselves up to this possibility.

But credit cards, unless linked to one of the mobile payment systems, remain of as little use as they've ever been.

Last edited by temppeternh; Jun 27th, 2019 at 05:52 PM.
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Jun 27th, 2019, 05:29 PM
  #40  
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
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On Kelly's Courtyard, some caution:

My observation was that the volume of foreigners staying there had led to a number of bad habits, including a 15% 'service charge' which is just abuse really, and prices for other services needed watching, too. There are other courtyard hotels that are better priced (and more willing to bargain), and rather less cluttered, although Kelly's is charming and well-located for the Forbidden City and assorted sights on the western side of the city.
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