Beijing in December... Are we Crazy?

Oct 6th, 2005, 08:53 AM
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Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 125
Beijing in December... Are we Crazy?

As some of you might have read on a recent post, my husband and I are planning a Dec trip to China. We would like to start out in Beijing for about 5 days and work our way to Shanghai and then onto Hong Kong for new year's.

I've been reading the postings and the one from Marija seems to be the most informative however that trip was in September, I think, so is it unrealistic to think we could do similar things in December?

Any addtional suggestions (other than reading Marija's posting) for a trip like this would be great.
2seeds is offline  
Oct 6th, 2005, 10:11 AM
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I was in Beijing in December when it was the coldest December of 40 years. I survived and still had a wonderful time. Just make sure you bring very warm clothes and coat and long underwear. In general it should be about the same as NY or Chicago. Other places will be warmer.
glorialf is offline  
Oct 6th, 2005, 10:54 AM
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To answer your question - in a word ....YES!
BillT is offline  
Oct 6th, 2005, 11:01 AM
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Maybe I should have said that if you are going to say yes I'll need to know why?

Are the sites unavailable during the winter time?

Is it really unrealistic to think we might have an itinerary similar to Marija's in our timeframe?
2seeds is offline  
Oct 6th, 2005, 11:25 AM
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We took a trip to Beijing the December before last and loved it -- there were very few other tourists "off-season," which made us feel that we were getting to see what the city was "really" like.

It was chilly (20-35 degrees F for the most), but crystal blue skies. Properly dressed in coats, hats and gloves, we did everything that we wanted to do (spent every day out and about walking). It was a huge treat to see the Great Wall in winter -- we had a section virtually all to ourselves (which we hear never happens in tourist season).

WinterTravel is offline  
Oct 6th, 2005, 09:04 PM
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IMO you can easily do all the things which Marija listed in the Beijing portion of her report when you are there in December. It will just be colder. In some cases things will be easier as there won't be any crowds, i.e. the Hutong tour by bicycle rickshaw (your hotel can arrange this). She did not mention if she took the boat trip at the Summer Palace, that is one thing you could not do.

The flag raising at Tiananmen Square is kind of fun, goose-stepping soldiers and all. It is at sunrise, so in December you won't have to get up quite as early as Marija had to. Check with your hotel or for approximate sunrise times. It only takes 15 minutes or so. The flag pole is near the entrance to the Forbidden City (i.e. the Gate of Heavenly Peace). It is also a good opportunity to take pictures of Tiananmen Square at sunrise when it is relatively empty. After the ceremony, you can stop somewhere nearby for breakfast or coffee, and then you can go to the Forbidden City which opens at 8:30 am. (The Grand Hyatt is a few blocks down East Chang Ave and would be a good place for breakfast; at the head of Tiananmen Square with the Forbidden City across the street and in front of you, turn right and walk down this main street for 2 or 3 long blocks, hotel is on the right.) Chairman Mao is buried in a Mausoleum right in Tiananmen Square and you can line up to view the body which is sort of interesting and good people watching.

If you will be in Beijing on December 21, that is the Winter Solstice. There may be a ceremony at the Temple of Heaven which would be worth seeing. (There aren't any emperors any more of course, but traditionally this would be one of days that the emperor would have visited the temple and made offerings.) Ask around. The Temple of Heaven is interesting, but I would say this is something that requires a guide who understands the place or a detailed guidebook.

IMO you do not need a guide for the Forbidden City as the audio is good (I have had a guide twice and the audio twice and prefer the audio). A guide to the Summer Palace is helpful, I don't believe there is an audio guide, I could be wrong on that. You don't need a guide to the Great Wall, just a driver. I agree that the Mitianyu access point is preferable (about 1.5 hours from Beijing) over the Badaling (about an hour from Beijing); however in December this may not be such an issue. Cable car access is better from Mitianyu as well, it is a long walk up if you donít take the cable car.

Be sure to see an acrobatic performance one night, your hotel can arrange tickets, there are performances most evenings. There is a least one children's troupe, which is quite interesting. You can also see Chinese opera if that is an interest of yours.

A great place to go is the Hongqiao Pearl Market. It is not far from the Temple of Heaven and could be combined with a trip there. Once you get past the dried fish on the first floor, the top two floors (3rd and 4th if my memory serves) you will "pearls" and other jewelry. You can also find some "antiques" as well as copy Prada bags, etc on the second floor. Bargain hard, pay cash for a better price, and have fun. Most if not all the pearls are fake, some may be freshwater. But they are good fakes and for costume jewelry they are at very good prices.

The Ming Tombs are about the only thing in Beijing which I think are not interesting, and if you have to cut out anything, I would cut those. These are located about an hour outside Beijing and are usually done as part of a trip to the Great Wall.

The Fodors guidebook for Beijing will give you a good list of sights to see, or take a look at the "Destinations" guide put together by Fodors, click on Destinations above. You can also see restaurants reccos there.

If you want restaurant reccos, write back or do a search here. Please do not worry about the weather, as long as you are dressed warmly you will be fine. If you have a fur coat, I would definitely bring it for warmth and because no one wears cloth Mao jackets anymore so you have to keep up with the Chins in today's Beijing. . . .
Cicerone is offline  
Oct 7th, 2005, 07:18 AM
Join Date: Mar 2005
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Why pack a heavy winter coat when you can buy one there. Depending on your bargaining skills you can get a very nice, very warm winter coat for maybe $40 or less. I bought one at the Pearl Market. You still have to survive the taxi ride into town and to the market, but you shouldn't have to be outside for very long. You can leave it there or mail it back to yourself once you get to Hong Kong. The metro in Beijing is nice, though it doesn't go everywhere. If you stay near a station you won't have to walk outside as much.
carl170 is offline  
Oct 7th, 2005, 07:50 AM
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Thanks Cicerone and others! I posted a reply on the "duplicate" post about this same topic. My apologies but something is very weird with my computer.

Anyway, I will read over your suggestions and post again on this specific post with any questions.

Thanks again to everyone and sorry for the duplicate posts!
2seeds is offline  

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