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Beijing weekend trip - Chengde,.Datong or Mutianyu?

Beijing weekend trip - Chengde,.Datong or Mutianyu?

May 25th, 2014, 08:48 AM
  #1  
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Join Date: Feb 2013
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Beijing weekend trip - Chengde,.Datong or Mutianyu?

Hi, my husband and I will be in Beijing starting next week for 10 days visiting our son. We would like to escape the heat and pollution during the weekend and are considering the Summer Palace at Chengde, Datong and the great wall at Mutianyu. Which is higher in elevation (and hopefully cooler?) Most scenic/interesting? Easy to get to? Also, hotel recommendations near any of these spots? Any other suggestions are welcome!
AliceMiami is offline  
May 25th, 2014, 09:26 AM
  #2  
 
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Apples and oranges on several fronts.

Mutianyu dramatically nearer, and typically a day (or half-day) trip and not an overnight.

Datong and Chengde both cooler but the emperors didn't build their 'Mountain Retreat for Escaping the Heat' at the latter for no reason. Chengde prettier, although now with much nasty modern building, and more touristy.

Datong not as pretty, although undergoing thorough rebuild but with more to see that's truly ancient: Yungang Caves, several very ancient temples, Hanging Monastery, Wooden Pagoda. Chengde much more compact and its assorted Eight Outer Temples easily reached by taxi. Datong's caves reachable by bus, but otherwise a car has to be negotiated to reach both the Hanging Monastery and the Wooden Pagoda on the same day; or the CITS one-day tour depending on what route it's taking.

The buses to Chengde using the new highway are now quick and frequent, and there's an afternoon tourist train back that's a pleasant winding route. It takes about twice as long to reach Datong (six hours by train, from any of three different Beijing stations).
temppeternh is offline  
May 25th, 2014, 11:11 AM
  #3  
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Thanks so much for your helpful insights. Any hotel suggestions would also be really appreciated. Leaning toward Datong or Chengde.
AliceMiami is offline  
May 30th, 2014, 08:08 PM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
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I visited Chengde in 2004 and really enjoyed it. The park of the Summer Palace, the outlying temples, and Hammer Rock were all very scenic and pleasant. I particuarly enjoyed the Putuozongchen (Potola) temple (there was a tented area out front with food stalls serving tasty food with English picture menus) and Xumi Fushou, which is walking distance from there.

Pule Temple is near the start of the cable car up Hammer Rock so you can also combine those. I went up Hammer Rock in the afternoon, but I think the light for photography might be better in the morning (you could just about see Putuozongchen through the pollution haze). I also visited Puning temple and the other one nearby.

There's a free map of all the sights that you can pick up at any one of them. I used it to indicate to taxi drivers where I wanted to go. It was typically 8 or 10 RMB to any of the sights (probably more now) and the drivers were all pleasant, many of them women.

I stayed two nights but if I were to do it again I'd stay for three as there is such a lot to see and enjoy. I stayed at the Shenghua Hotel, which was pretty new then, but already showing signs of lack of maintenance. It was adequately comfortable, though, and the location is pretty good.

The road from Beijing to Chengde passes near the Simatai section of the Wall, so you could also visit that if you have your own wheels, or can cope with rural transport.

Mutianyu is a nice part of the wall, but it's a simple day trip--either by tour bus or private car.
someotherguy is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2014, 10:48 AM
  #5  
 
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Since 2004 Chengde's central square and its fringes have been substantially redeveloped. The route to Chengde passes four Great Wall sites, but access to most is from the original road through Gubeikou, not the new highway.
temppeternh is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2014, 11:00 PM
  #6  
kja
 
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temppeternh has given you excellent advice. While deferring to Peter, I'll suggest that if your goal is to escape pollution, Chengde may suit your interests better than Datong, which was the most polluted city in China that I visited in 2010. Maybe things have changed....
kja is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2014, 11:26 PM
  #7  
kja
 
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To be more accurate: When I visited China in 2010, I thought the pollution in Datong worse than the pollution in Beijing, which I thought worse than the pollution in Chengde.

I was glad to visit both Datong and Chengde, Datong for its incredible antiquities (which Peter lists above); Chengde for its fascinating palace, grounds, and outlying temples (and their facades).

You'll see fascinating things no matter what you decide.
kja is offline  
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