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Jinshanling/Simatai hike and Hong Kong restaurants

Jinshanling/Simatai hike and Hong Kong restaurants

Old Aug 13th, 2007, 01:51 PM
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Jinshanling/Simatai hike and Hong Kong restaurants

We would like to hike the Great Wall from Jinshanling to Simatai and are debating about whether to hire a car to drop us off/pick us up or go with a tour. Does anyone have any recommendations either way or know of a good tour company we could use? Our hotel offered to arrange a car at RMB1600. From what I read on this website, that is way too much.

Also, does anyone have any recommendations for dim sum restaurants in Hong Kong? I realize there are many great ones, but I’m interested in learning about anyone’s favorites. Thanks.
MandyThom is offline  
Old Aug 13th, 2007, 07:18 PM
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I would not take a tour to the Wall, as I am not a tour person and always like to do things on my own. Also, a tour in China almost invariably involves a stop someplace like a porcelain "factory" which is one guy painting a piece of china and 5 guys trying to SELL you a piece of china. I don't have a recent contact for your own driver, but I hope others do. I would not go through the hotel, or at least try to bargain with them. As you want to be dropped off and picked up in different locations, the price you were quoted may not be too bad; most people here are only using the driver to and from the same location.

As you want to hike, the only tour that might be good is some guide of guide to walk with you, have you looked around for that? A lot of the Wall is not restored and it would be useful, IMO to have someone with you to guide you through the rougher parts. I would suggest you try something like the Lonelyplanet website chat room board to see if people have reccos. Few people on this board have hiked any portion of the Wall, including myself. I have walked bits of it but at no great distance.

For dim sum here in Hong Kong, my assistant, who I consider an expert on all things Cantonese (hey, she is Cantonese) says that the Chinese restaurant in the Four Seasons has the best dim sum in Hong Kong. I have to say it is good, but is very expensive. I only go when someone else or my company is paying. For a splurge, go there.

Lung King Heen
Four Seasons Hotel
8 Finance Street, Central
Tel: 3196-8888

For good dim sum at better prices, try these.

West Villa Restaurant
Ground Floor
Gee Tuck Building
16-20 Bonham Strand
Sheung Wan
Tel: 2543-3990

This place supposedly has the best cha xiu bao in Hong Kong; and I have to agree. If you love your cha xiu bao (barbeque pork inside a steamed dumpling) like I do, this is the place. The dim sum is otherwise generally very good as well. Their almond cream is probably the best I have ever had as well. They have several other outlets, including one in Causeway Bay near Times Square and one in TST, addresses are below. I have only been to the Sheung Wan one. The decor reminds me of a mini-Marriott ballroom minus the chandeliers, don’t know how else to describe it. This is a very local place. They do NOT have English menus and the English of waiters is limited, so if you are not familiar with dim sum this may not be the best place to go. If you know what you like and how to pronounce it you are fine; another thing to do if you know what you like is to have your hotel write down your preferences in Chinese on a card and bring it with you. Otherwise, you might ask for a selection of dishes at their choice (but watch prices). The Sheung Wan location is in an interesting local neighbourhood, good for a look and then walking down to the “dried fish” street area or going up to the Graham Street and Hollywood Road areas. Directly across from the restaurant is a little pedestrian alley with stalls selling name chops.

Other West Villa locations:
First Floor, Lee Gardens 2, 28 Yun Ping Road, Causeway Bay Tel 2882-2110
18B Austin Ave, Tsimshatsui, Kowloon Tel 2368-8709

Maxim's Palace City Hall Chinese Restaurant
2/F, Low Block
City Hall, Central
Tel: 2521 1303

This restaurant is in the City Hall building, very close to the Star Ferry, and has a nice harbour view. They have carts, and is one of the few places left which uses dim sum carts. Very popular with locals and tourist. You would need a reservation, if you want a table by the window, ask when making a booking.
The Square
Exchange Square, Block 2
4th Floor
Tel: 2225-1163

According to my assistant, the second best dim sum in town. This is also run by the Maxim's people who operate the one in City Hall, but according to my assistant, this one is 5 star and the City Hall one is 4 star. I have eaten in both and will say that I think the food seemed better at the Square. I am not a huge fan of dim sum and my palate is probably not that refined so take that for what it is worth. The Square is much more elegant with polished wood floors, subdued lighting and a nice ambience, it is also a lot quieter as it is much smaller than the City Hall outlet. It does not have the carts. It has a harbour view, but I have to say that the view is not really as good as the one at City Hall. It is about the same price, maybe a tiny bit more than the City Hall one. It might be a toss-up as to which to pick, if you want the noisy cart experience (which can indeed be fun) then go to City Hall, if really really good food is a bit more important, then go to The Square.

Metropol Restaurant
4th Floor, United Centre
95 Queensway, Admiralty
Tel: 2865 1988

Also has the carts. Good food and good value. No views. It is across the street from Pacific Place Mall and easily reached by MTR or the Tram.

Pacific Place Mall
88 Queensway
Tel. 852/2845 4555
In a shopping mall at one end of Hong Kong park, not far from the Peak Tram, a good break for lunch. No carts, no view.
The Centrium
Upper Ground Floor
60 Wyndham Street
Hong Kong,
Telephone: + 852 3110 1222
Very sishi dim sum with the ladies who lunch in Hong Kong (known as "tai tais" which means "wife" but is used in a pejorative sense). The restaurant has a nice terrace.
Wan Loong Court Restaurant
Kowloon Hotel
19-21 Nathan Road

CLOSED. I add this because it was a huge favourite of mine and on this board and I don’t want people to make the trek over only to be disappointed....

Cicerone is offline  
Old Aug 13th, 2007, 09:49 PM
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Cicerone - I wonder if you've been to Luk Yu lately? I have not eaten there since I was a kid, and my dad and I were just thinking that we should go there sometime. He used to eat "shark's fin and rice" there often in the late 1950's.

[Luk Yu is arguably the most famous teahouse in Hong Kong. It's also infamous for its poor service towards non-regulars. And of course the high price.]
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Old Aug 14th, 2007, 01:08 AM
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1600yuan is too much for 2 persons to Great Wall at Mutianyu.you can hire a private car by your local guide,which not more than 1000 yuan for two persons.
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Old Aug 14th, 2007, 04:28 AM
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Thank you so much, especially Cicerone. I can't wait to get to Hong Kong to start eating!
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Old Aug 14th, 2007, 05:51 AM
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As Violet said, that is a rip-off price to get to Jinshaling! Check out the trips provided out of most of the Beijing hostels; not a tour, just the transportation, and you don't have to stay at the hostel to use them. (I'll try to find out the one my friends used and get back to you. I think it was Beijing Downtown Backpackers Hostel, located in a hutong.) And absolutely what Cicerone says about tours is very true!

However, I will say that you do need at least a taxi or car to take you out there. I went to Simatai with two Taiwanese friends who opted to try and take public transportation. We took a two hour-long city bus to Miyun; at the terminus, we were surrounded by the usual throng of shouting Chinese men trying to get our business - and it was no use trying to bargain them down. After 1/2 hour of my friends arguing with them, they only brought their price from 250 RMB to 200, round trip. My Rough Guide must have had a typo: it said pay no more than 20! Then it was a solid hour from Miyun to Simatai. Much better to just use one form of transportation, beginning to end.

When will you go? Keep in mind that the hike is 10K for the two sections of wall and it can be a lot in the heat and humidity. The wall in that area is breathtakingly steep, and beautiful.

Oh, and be aware of the local ladies who will attempt to assist you with steep parts of the wall, with the aim of getting you to buy some of their stuff. We actually ended up talking to two; they're local farmers, and climb the wall with tourists a few times a day - an amazing feat of athleticism in my book!

I haven't been to Hong Kong in ten years, but I'm glad to see that my favorite dim sum place, Maxim's Palace City Hall, still makes the list! (Thanks Cicerone!) It's a vast, minimally decorated room; we would get there mid-morning and most of it would be empty, just a person or two lingering over jasmine tea and the newspaper. My friend and I went three times in our week stay(!) - but the third time was a weekend and the line out the door and down the stairs deterred us, so we had to find a different meal. We did try other dim sum restaurants, but this one fit our mood and our wallet the best.
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