Chengde, Pingyao how many days?

Nov 17th, 2002, 10:45 AM
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Chengde, Pingyao how many days?

in an effort to finalize my itineray, I would be interested in your comments on these two locations in China.
I love art, architecture, museums, history, music.
Advice on travel to the two?
Nov 17th, 2002, 06:34 PM
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My husband and I spent about 2 1/2 days in Chengde. I'd say this was about the right amount of time. We spent almost an entire day seeing the summer palace and grounds, and the other time seeing some of the outlying temples. It got pretty tiring after a while - since a lot of walking was required and it was VERY hot at the time of our visit. We also went to 'club peak' - which is a rock formation and took a ski lift to the top. There are some earlier posts regaring Chengede, a search *might* turn them up (if the search function is working and if Fodors has indexed the postings). I have a trip report available - if you'd like it please feel free to email me at [email protected] and I'll send you a copy.
Nov 18th, 2002, 12:15 AM
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2 days in Chengde is OK.HAlf day in Summer Palace and half day in Outer Temples.4hrs journey.Try taking the morning train 8am and return 2pm the next day.
Nov 18th, 2002, 08:28 AM
Peter N-H
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I think the arrive one day, return the next policy is a little rushed for Chengde, although it's certainly possible to do things this way. The first afternoon can be spent at the Mountain Retreat, and then a day amongst the Wai Ba Miao (Eight Outer Temples). It's possible to return to Beijing on aircon minibuses faster than on the train, and these leave all day, so you can hop on one whenever you feel ready. When the Jing-Cheng highway is complete, the trip from Beijing's suburbs to Chengde will take little more than an hour, it's predicted.

Chengde has been trying to increase its attractiveness by rebuilding temples in the town from scratch, and refurbishing other out of town sights. The Shuang Ta are perhaps worth a quick visit if you've covered everything else, if only to note how cleverly the hideous green metal staircase (whose removal has been ordered already) is kept hidden in every publicity shot you ever see of the place.

Pingyao the town deserves a day at least, not just for the old banks, but for the backstreet mansions into which you can freely wander (and perhaps find yourself invited to sit down and have tea). You might like to go to the tiny airstrip just outside the northeast corner of the town (why isn't this mentioned in guide books?) where you may find a passenger bi-plane of some antiquity giving short flights over the town. The temple (name escapes me) just outside the walls, has some of Chine's finer statuary, and then you have the vast courtyarded mansions of long-deceased merchants to deal with, which lie in the countryside round about. The Qiao Jia Da Yuan, north of Pingyao, is the most famous. This was the location for 'Raise the Red Lantern'. But the Wang Jia Da Yuan, south of Pingyao is more than twice the size, and very elaborate. There are several others.

I'd spend at least one whole day in Chengde, plus a further morning and/or afternoon, and two whole days in and around Pingyao, plus another morning or afternoon.

Incidentally, according to some Hong Kong sources there are plans to move around half the town's populace, about 40,000 people, to outside the walls. No doubt back street mansions will then be rebuilt, and entrance fees introduced. Apparently the people are getting in the way of the beauty. Such are the side-effects of UNESCO World Heritage Listing.

Peter N-H
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