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ONLY 3 DAYS in BEIJING -BEST THINGS TO DO?

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Nov 4th, 2017, 05:34 PM
  #1
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ONLY 3 DAYS in BEIJING -BEST THINGS TO DO?

I am traveling independently and would appreciate some advise on best way to travel to and from airport to hotel in Beijing as well as best sights to see in 3 days. I’ve been told not to take any package tours so I want to try things on my own. Also any food advise would be greatly appreciated -I want to try local cuisine but am concerned I won’t be able to communicate but want to avoid “ tourist food”. Thanks for any help.
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Nov 4th, 2017, 08:26 PM
  #2
kja
 
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With only 3 days, you will -- as you realize -- need to be very selective. I wouldn't presume to know your interests well enough to choose a set of high-priority sites for you, but would instead advise you to consult some good guidebooks and make your own selections.

Beijing is, IME, quite easy to visit on one's own, even without speaking Mandarin, and you have an enormous range of options for foods that aren't intended for tourists. Depending on where you are staying, the subway from the airport might be easiest, but you can also take a taxi -- particularly if you are willing to spend lots of time sitting in traffic jams. ;-)

For excellent information about the city and your options for local foods, look for any guidebook (even an old one) that included Peter Neville-Hadley on the editorial staff.

Although my trip report is now rather old (2010), and China is now even easier to visit than then, you might find some useful information in my long, but searchable trip report -- the sections on Beijing are at the start and end of that trip.
http://www.fodors.com/community/asia...na-amazing.cfm

Hope that helps!
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Nov 5th, 2017, 04:32 PM
  #3
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Dear Kia, Thank you.
Great report. Just read It. We are in Hong Kong right now and will be heading to Beijing in few days. We spent almost a week in HK because my husband had lived here for 9 years many years ago.
I have 2 questions.
I am trying to figure out how can I hire a private reliable tour guide with taxi. You mentioned it in your report. I read some reports but cannot find anything now.
And what part of the GW would you recommend: less crowd , not very difficult.
Thank you.
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Nov 5th, 2017, 04:45 PM
  #4
kja
 
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The chances of hiring a private, reliable tour guide is extremely slim. Here's a recent thread:
http://www.fodors.com/community/asia...oct-1-2016.cfm
As I mentioned in my trip report, I hired that car and driver ONLY because I wanted to go to a specific place outside of Beijing that I could not reasonably get to by public transportation due to a temporary disruption of service. Honestly, I would NOT recommend a car and driver for anything else. My advice would be to choose what you most want to see and visit on your own, using public transportation -- which will also have the bonus of letting you see how Chinese people travel and interact with one another.

I'm glad I went to the Great Wall at Badaling, which may be the most crowded, but is also the easiest to reach -- and it is spectacular! Others prefer Mutianyu. Here's a thread that discusses some of the options, as well as transport into Beijing from the airport:
http://www.fodors.com/community/asia...ependently.cfm
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Nov 5th, 2017, 09:18 PM
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With three days your choices really are limited:

You'll doubtless want to spend one day on a trip to one of several officially open Great Wall sites, although you may be able to squeeze something else in, too, depending on the site chosen and method of travel. I'd go for somewhere a little less restored and visited, such as here:

http://bit.ly/2oLmnxv

And then it's hard to imagine visiting Beijing but not seeing the Forbidden City--note there there are certain technical problems around booking tickets at the moment--which is half a day to see properly. The other half could be spent in the vicinity, making your way south across Tian'an Men Square, visiting the National Museum, perhaps taking a walk through the former Legation Quarter or some of the hutong SE of the Forbidden City. See, for instance, the 'Forward to the Past' walk, and others described here:

http://bit.ly/2e0LMMy

Final day? Too much choice. But consider half a day on the combination of the Confucius Temple and Imperial College, Sōngtāng Zhāi, and Lama Temple, and for something completely different half a day at Dà Shānzi 798 Art District and neighbouring Cǎochǎngdì Art District. Details of all these can be found here:

http://bit.ly/2jldqHZ
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Nov 5th, 2017, 09:27 PM
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> I want to try local cuisine but am concerned I won’t be able to communicate but want to avoid “ tourist food”.

Just noticed this after the event. Unless you're in a tour group, 'tourist food' is quite hard to find in Beijing. The city offers the best of every single major and minor school of Chinese cooking, and you'll find very little resembling the pabulum called "Chinese" food at home.

But even the most everyday jiachangcai (home cooking) restaurants have picture menus these days, often with appalling English translations. If you take a smart phone with you Google translate or similar will help you with menus. And if all else fails you do what travellers have done since travel began--point at someone else's food.
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Nov 6th, 2017, 03:50 AM
  #7
 
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Well, try Wang Fu Jing street in the evening for World Famous tasty local food. Too bad really that Beijing has been so fully scrubbed clean of history. Now even the public street toilets have water.

Forget about seeing everything in a city of 25,000,000 people, or even the TOP TOURIST sites.
Ride the Subway, learn how long and how much personal stress to arrive your destination. Look around you, how many white folk do you see? Black folk? It's all about China in Beijing. IMO, forget about tour guides, with them you will only see fake smiles and greedy eyes. Good walking shoes fundamental in Beijing.
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Nov 6th, 2017, 08:32 AM
  #8
 
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If there's one place you'll find 'tourist food' it's on Wangfujing Dajie, sometimes with little tricks like higher prices on English-language menus--not that the street has much in the way of restaurants, although one or two of long history have moved into the distinctly un-historic shopping malls--unless you include diving into basement food courts of older department stores, aimed at the local office workers (but these are everywhere across Beijing). Eating almost anywhere else in Beijing a better choice.

For a large and really lively selection (before they re-re-develop it), most of it open 24 hours, go to Gui Jie, the slang local name for Dong Zhi Men Nei Dajie (and meaning not 'Ghost Street' as everyone claims, but 'Cooking Pot Street'--same sound, different character). Dong Zhi Men Metro Station and walk west. Two whole blocks lined with nothing but restaurants, from glitzy to basic, from Sichuan to Russian (but while in Beijing stick to trying proper Chinese food). Just stroll until you see something you like.

But eat in essentially almost any street or backstreet away from expat ghettos and the entrances to major tourist destinations and you'll do fine. There are various chain restaurants specialising in specific regional cuisines that can be found in shopping malls that are also worth trying, such as Yuxiang Renjia for Sichuan, Dong Lai Shun for Muslim hotpot, Haidilao for Sichuan hotpot, Zhong Ba Lou for Yunnan, etc. Try also the specialist Beijing snack market Jiumen Xiaochi, tucked away in a Shichahai hutong (address in characters for taxi drivers: 西城区后海孝友胡同1号(近宋庆龄故居)).
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Nov 6th, 2017, 12:09 PM
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The Great Wall is probably most folks idea of a 'must see.' I went to the SImitai section - very dramatic and we had the place to ourselves, but that was before they built a resort there. Jinshangling is supposed to be a great section as well. we devoted most of one day to the Wall, so we didn't plan on doing anything else that day.

In terms of food, it gets far more complicated than tourist vs local. There is also expat (local, but not Chinese) vs Chinese, and then there are certain items and entire branches of Chinese cuisine which are very hard to find outside of China. Where you live and what you already have easy access to might change what you should seek out.

Guizhou cuisine is mostly unknown outside of China. Three Guizhou Men is a fine place, get the fried ribs. It's an awesome dish, translation is on the menu.

The cuisine of the northeast of China (of which Beijing is a part) is called Dongbei - that is also mostly hard to find outside of China.

Finally, Xinjiang (Muslim) cuisine can be super delicious and difficult to find elsewhere.

cityweekend.com.cn/beijing will have listings in English about where to find these and other cuisines. Since it's in English, it tends to favor expat places.

For unfiltered info, dianping.com is a vast and thoroughly exhaustive website about food info in China. It has extensive photos, maps, etc.. It's in Chinese, but I use it with cut and paste and am able to find what I want even though I don't know Chinese.

Here is the dianping.com lisiting for Three Guizhou Men:

http://www.dianping.com/shop/5512894

Photo 311 of 1515 is the fried ribs.
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Nov 6th, 2017, 10:16 PM
  #10
kja
 
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FWIW, I spent about 6 hours in the Forbidden City. I would not characterize my visit there as particularly leisurely.
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Nov 7th, 2017, 05:18 AM
  #11
 
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Personally, I can't stand Wangfujing. Besides the fact that someone will try ro scam you every 100 meters, there is nothing to see there except other tourists walking around. It is a shopping area and not even one where locals go. The only time that I go there it is for the bookstore.
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Nov 15th, 2017, 09:34 PM
  #12
kja
 
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I had the same reaction to Wangfujing as CanadaChinaTraveller.
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Nov 16th, 2017, 07:44 PM
  #13
 
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Consider checking out the art scene in Beijing! You may visit: https://knycxjourneying.com/2017/06/...agram-beijing/ for more information, enjoy ~ @ knycx.journeying
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