Sep 24th, 2005, 07:04 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 17


My husband and I are stopping over in Bejiing for one night after a 14 day trip to Thailand before going home to Canada. We will be there from about 7 p.m. on Nov. 12 until 3 p.m. on Nov.13. We are staying at the Great Wall Sheraton. Since we have a short time, here are my questions: nearby the hotel that is not too expensive

2.any nfo about currency there will be greatly apreciated. i.e change money beforehand,can the extra be changed back at home?

3. how far is he forbidden city? Will we have enough time on Sunday morning to get here and get back to the airport?

4. Should we hire a driver on Sunday for a half day to see some of the city/sights?

Thanks in adavanc for any help tghat you can give me.

wanttogotothailand is offline  
Sep 24th, 2005, 07:11 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 17
Sorry I left out in my #1 question-an inexpensive place for dinner.

Also can anyone help me with info on transportation from the aiport to the Great wall Sheraton?

Thanks again
wanttogotothailand is offline  
Sep 24th, 2005, 08:02 PM
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I didn't go near that area at all, I'm sorry, but if I have the right address your hotel is not exactly central. However you should have no problem seeing the Forbidden City and a bit more during the morning of the 13th if you get an early start.

That's a Sunday, so although the FC will be pretty busy the trip shouldn't take too long (less than 30 minutes I would think). It will take upwards of a couple of hours to traverse the FC, so I suggest just taking a cab.

You might feel like some exercise before your flight home, so you could walk the FC south-to-north, then continue north through or around Jingshan Park then (west) across the road to Behai Lake for a coffee or whatever at one of the many cafes lining the west side of the lake.

Realistically there isn't time to do anything else much, as you'll need to be back at the airport at - what? 1 pm?

Just about anywhere you can flag down a cab and show the driver your hotel's card or room key, as long as the name and address are in Chinese. Avoid any cab that doesn't have the driver's licence with photo id on the dashboard, a proper dash-mounted meter and rates written on a rear window. You'll know the other kind because they tend to lurk around popular tourist hangouts and use pimps to round up business. They're not numerous by comparison with the legit cabs anyway.

Depending on traffic I think the airport should be no more than 30 minutes from your hotel and cost considerably less than 100 yuan (US$12).

You can withdraw local currency at an airport ATM. You'll need it for cabs, entrance tickets and the like and possibly dinner if you don't eat in the hotel. The hotel staff may be able to recommend a restaurant in the vicinity, but bear in mind that the Chinese tend to eat early, from about 6pm on, so your choices may be limited by the time you're ready to eat.
Neil_Oz is offline  
Sep 25th, 2005, 08:12 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 17

Thanks for the great info.

Can you confirm these two things:

Bejiing is a lot more expensive than Thailand.

I was also told NOT to change too much money for Bejiing because any leftover money cannot be changed back at home.

Are these two things true?

Thanks again
wanttogotothailand is offline  
Sep 25th, 2005, 09:00 AM
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 23,074
If you want 5* hotel and food at 5* restaurants, then Beijing is definitely not cheap. There are plenty of newly rich Chinese who can afford top dollars. But if you want to eat and stay cheap, you have lots of choices too.

The Chinese Yuan is not widely convertible outside of China and Hong Kong. Absolutely do not bring any back to the US. Few banks will take your Chinese Yuan here, and even if they do, it'll be at a horrible rate.

Spend it, or change it back to USD before you depart. In fact, don't change a lot of money to the Yuan when you get there. You're there for only a day, you don't need a lot of cash.
rkkwan is offline  
Sep 25th, 2005, 08:50 PM
Join Date: Aug 2003
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I can't compare Beijing with Bangkok, but we didn't find it particularly expensive. But then we haven't used a 5* hotel for a long time - at about US$60 our 3* hotel was fine (and I'm sure we paid more than we could have if we'd tried harder). The best meals we had, which were very good, set us back less than US$15 pp with drinks. As rkkwan says you can certainly pay a lot more, but you can pay a lot less too. We had some very good street stall lunches for a few dollars and often breakfasted in our room on foods bought at a nearby convenience store. As mentioned, cabs are very cheap.
Neil_Oz is offline  
Sep 25th, 2005, 11:15 PM
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 585
Whether or not you have enough time to do the Forbidden City really depends on YOU guys. How long do you usually take to look at something like that?? I know some people who have done the Forbidden City in less than an hour, and some take a few hours! So it just depends on how fast YOU go.

Another thing about the currency is don't bother looking around for the best exchange rate. One thing we discoverd about China is the rate is the same no matter where you, hotel, airport, etc.
BigJim is offline  
Sep 26th, 2005, 01:03 AM
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Not to be too much of a naysayer, but I think you are being a bit ambitious to think you can get see the FC on Sunday morning, AND get to and from your hotel AND get to the airport by 1 pm at the latest. (I would check with your airline as to when they recommend you check in, Beijing can be a real zoo for international check-in.) As noted above, your hotel is not located anywhere near the FC or the airport. The FC is gigantic and to appreciate it you need at least 3-4 hours. The gates open at 8:30 am which means you should be there at opening if possible if you want any chance of seeing a good bit of it. It is likely that on a Sunday it will be quite crowded with tourists, although in November there may not be a lot of western tourists there will certainly be PRC tourists, but in any event if it is crowded this will slow you down. If the weather is warm and/or sunny it will probably be very crowded. At a minimum, I would hire a car and driver and have him take you AND your luggage and wait for you so you can see the Tiananmen Square and hopefully some of the FC and then go right to the airport, I would not mess with backtracking to your hotel to collect luggage.

If you don't have a guide, the initial part of the FC will be confusing as you need to figure out where to buy your tickets and get the audio guide, so I would build in some time for this, also you will want to go up onto the Gate of Heavenly Peace and take pictures of Tiananmen Square. The audio guide is quite good, and I am not saying you need a guide but a guide would be very helpful in moving you along and buying tickets. You or the guide could arrange to have the car and driver meet you at the exit gates on the opposite end of the FC from Tiananmen Square so you do not have to back track all the way back to the entrance gates of the FC which is quite a walk.

Sights in Beijing are quite spread out so taking a tour by car in your limited time will not allow you to see much. If you don't want to hire a guide to the tour the FC, then get a car and driver and have him take you and your luggage to the FC. I would walk around Tiananmen Square which is huge and very impressive, go into the FC and up onto the Gate of Heavenly Peace and then decide if you have the time and the inclination to do more of the FC on your own with the audio and arrange to meet your driver and some pre-arranged time and place (as they cannot park in front of the entrance gates, it is a major road. A map of the Tiananmen Square are is helpful.) 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.

I would arrange a car and driver (and guide if you want one) through the hotel and put this on your room so you can pay it all by credit card and thus keep your foreign exchange to a minimum. You may pay a bit more than if you arranged yourself, but you don't really have the time to arrange for all this when you arrive. Can't recco a restaurant in the area, sorry. You may be better off just staying in the hotel as you may need to get an early start the next day.

Cicerone is offline  
Sep 26th, 2005, 02:57 AM
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No argument with Cicerone's advice, except to say that we had no problem finding the ticket sales office at the FC, which was where you'd expect it to be, nor organising audio guides. It all took just a few minutes - and that included dealing with the fact that we didn't have the cash deposit they wanted. We agreed that we'd leave our driving licences instead as security, and sure enough they were waiting for us at the other end when we handed in our audio gadgets.

If you do visit the FC, you can avoid the crowds for much of the way by striking out to either side of the main route. Most of your fellow visitors will be Chinese tour groups, who'll be following the route dictated by their guides, as do the foreign tour groups. That's the nice thing about travelling on your own.
Neil_Oz is offline  
Oct 4th, 2005, 08:36 AM
Join Date: Jan 2004
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I agree with the advice not to convert too much money - but you can exchange your Yuen into USD at the airport IF - BIG IF - you have an original receipt from the exchange office where you originally got the Yeun.

My husband didn't think keeping the receipts was important - I did! So, when he suddenly had all this currency left over and nothing to do with it...I came to the rescue and kept the USD for myself!
Grcxx3 is offline  

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