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Ideas for relaxing side trip from Beijing

Ideas for relaxing side trip from Beijing

Old Feb 21st, 2016, 08:10 AM
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Ideas for relaxing side trip from Beijing

My wife and I will be headed to Beijing (flying in and out of Beijing) at the end of June. We'll be on the ground for 9 nights. While I usually like to spend more time in one place than is typical so that we have lots of time to wander and experience local culture, as well as see the sights, I think that that amount of time there may be a couple days too much.... even with taking a day to visit the Great Wall and whatever else is interesting outside the city.

So, I was thinking about taking a short side trip for a couple nights... For instance, a few years ago, we had about the same amount of time in BKK, and took a couple days to go to Koh Samui...

What are some suggestions for some relaxing places that are not too far from Beijing (maybe a couple hour flight, or high speed train)? It doesn't have to be a beach related place, but maybe somewhere where there is interesting scenery (mountains, rice paddies, tea plantations, etc.) and is just away from the city for a couple days...

We can either take the couple days in the middle of our 9 days, or do them at the end of the trip. Our flight out of Beijing doesn't leave until 6PM, so if our detour was flight related, we could be fine as long as there is a flight that gets back to Beijing by around 3PM or so, to give us time to get luggage, and check in to our outbound flight.

I appreciate all thoughts....
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Old Feb 21st, 2016, 08:29 AM
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Would you consider something like this?

http://commune.sohochina.com/en

I just saw it on TV on a travel show and am considering it for my own trip to China later this year.
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Old Feb 21st, 2016, 09:13 AM
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Maybe Chengde, the "Mountain Resort"?

You'll find some information about Chengde, and other locations you might consider, in my trip report.

Enjoy!
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Old Feb 21st, 2016, 09:55 AM
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When you include day trips out into the countryside, Beijing has more than enough to keep you busy for eight days.

Two hours' flying puts a vast amount of territory in your reach--so vast it's hard to comment. Not much of it would be rice or tea, however. That's further south.

Chengde is now hugely developed as a tourist destination (but where in China isn't?) but I'd second that as a side-trip with a different atmosphere, easily reached by bus or, better, train from Beijing, winding through mountains with glimpses of the Great Wall. Two nights is enough.

The Commune at the Great Wall is just a hotel complex, albeit an interesting one, but with very little to offer in the way of things to do, and gated to keep rural China out. There's a crumbling section of Wall that can be reached only directly from the site, with a short walk along it, and another short section within walking distance which has been heavily restored and is visited almost exclusively, and for about 15 minutes each, by Chinese tour groups.

For a rural experience sufficiently familiar with tourism to provide you basic comforts but still authentic you could consider an overnight at Cuandixia (Chuandixia--it was originally 爨底下 but simplified in the 60s to 川底下 but has now reverted to its original Ming dynasty name). A little rougher, and not as pretty, but reeking of historical authenticity and little visited by foreigners: Ji Ming Shan Yi. You can look these up, but more details available on request.

You could spend a pleasant half day walking along the Great Wall from Pan Long Shan to Jin Shan Ling, and stay near the Wall. Beijing Hikers (http://www.beijinghikers.com) often has guided walks in rural areas sometimes with overnight stays (expat levels of pricing, but well-run). Or see if William Lindesay is running one of his Wild Wall Weekends. These are less frequent now and sometimes run through third-party operators but see http://www.wildwall.com or contact him via there (very slow loading). A weekend at his cottage in a wall-side village is a considerable pleasure, if quite expensive.

There are plenty of rural temples easily reached by public bus for countryside day trips: Tanzhe Si, Jietai Si, Fahai Si, Cishan Si, and it's not difficult to do several of these together.
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