After reading a lot of posts on T/A on guides I decided to hire a guide for 3 days whilst in Beijing. I agree that this is not necessary and you can do it yourself but I found the convenience of having a guide to translate, explain the sites and assist in transportation was extremely benefitial. The cost was insignificant at 200RMB per day. It certainly didn’t break the bank and the benefits outweighed the cost. The guide I used was Peter Zhao who spoke English quite well and he also had a great sense of humor. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
Day 1 We arrived quite late on this day and checked into the Joy Hotel and Apartments in Xidan. This hotel is attached to a multi level shopping centre which has a few floors of restaurants. It’s a very lively area and we were happy with the choice of hotel and the location. English was spoken at this Chinese Hotel. After checking in we headed off to Dong An Men Street Market where you can eat or just view all the exotic types of street food such as snake, silkworms etc. After wondering around this area we headed off to Shun Feng Wangfujing Fishing Village Restaurant which was across the road from this market. All I can say that the food was very average and that we were expecting more on our first night. This restaurant was recommended by a local we met at the market.
Day 2 We headed off with our guide and visited Tiananmen Square, Forbidden City Hou Hai Lake area ,and the very interesting Nan’luo’gu’Xiang street. As there was rain on and off that day we were slowed down and didn’t see all we wanted to see. We did have lunch at Dali Courtyard Restaurant to experience Yunnan Food and must say it was one of our best meals in Beijing. No wonder it it currently rated No 1 on T/A. Dinner was at Dadong Roast Duck in Wanfujing. The restaurant is upscale and not cheap but the food was delicious. We also wanted to try Quanjude so we could compare but unfortunately ran out of time.
Day 3 We headed off with our guide to visit the Mutianyu Section of the great wall. Peter was encouraging us to visit the Huang Hua Cheng section of the wall which is in a more natural state and requires hiking. A driver was arranged at 600RMB for the day. It was great value as we used the driver for probably about 10 hours that day. The wall was one of our highlights of our trip. We took the chairlift up and wondered around the wall for several klms and returned to take the toboggan down the hill. Peter then took us to a local Muslim Restaurant in the Sumer Palace area. The food was delicious cheap and fresh but my wife found it hard to eat much due to the very rustic environment. After lunch we explored the Summer Palace. In the evening we headed off to Ghost Street to check out the many 24 hour restaurants and the lanterns. The place was packed and buzzing but we never had a meal there.
Day 4 We headed of again with our guide and explored the Temple of Heaven. After this we headed across the road to the Pearl Market but ended up shopping next door where the prices were cheaper. We then headed off to Jinshan Park and had a great view of the Forbidden City. In the evening we headed off to the Sanlitum area to experience where the expats and young Beijingers party. This area was great and we had a meal and a few drinks at a pub.
Day 5 Shopping Day. We went to the Beijing Zoo Markets and the Silk St Market. We did quite a bit of shopping and got some good bargains at the Silk Markets. We knew we had to bargain hard and for example where the prices were starting off at 280RMB we were offering and paying about 50+RMB. That is how much the prices are inflated. Walk away if you are not happy with the prices and I guarantee they will call you back. Its not for the faint hearted. We had female sales girls chase us abuse us throw items at us if we didn’t buy. The girls at this place must be the most agressive on the planet. I found if you are not interested in a store you are walking past just avoid eye contact and keep walking. Dinner was at Bellagio Café in the Shopping Centre next door to our Hotel. Very good food here.
Day 6 We headed off to Tianjin Airport for our flight to Kl.
The places on our list that we wanted to visit which we never got to due to time constraints were Underground City,Benhai Park, Drum Tower, CCTV Tower and Lama Temple.
We also would have liked to have eaten at Bai family Mansion. We booked this restaurant on our last night but were too tired to go out and ate local to the hotel.
All in all a great trip and I loved Beijing. Will definitely be back.