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One Week in China Need Help with Itinerary please!

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One Week in China Need Help with Itinerary please!

Hello! I've been using the site here gratuitously for the past few weeks compiling an itinerary of everything my wife and I need to visit while in Beijing for essentially one week. We are both 25 and active and have more time than money so we are trying to keep costs down as much as possible, but like Mark Twain said “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

I need help determining if I have the best sites grouped together or any better way to maximize our visit. We are planning on taking public transit everywhere and aren't too concerned about exact times. I would also like some input on good places to eat near where we will be each day so we can get a rounded experience. Since we have so much time we are already including a day trip to Xi'an because it's worth it.

We haven't really established a budget in the sense that we will spend what we need to spend, however we aren't as interested in paying 100 USD for a show, even though we would love to see at least one show. Our schedule is flexible and the days are not in any way set in stone. We also haven't booked our hotel but my wife has a conference starting Monday and she is being housed at the Yayuncun Hotel, located at No.8 Beicheng East Road, Chaoyang District, Beijing 100101, China.

Saturday July 19th

4:55 PM Arrive Beijing PEK

7:50 PM Overnight Train Beijing - Xian T 43

9:15 PM Backup Train T 231

Sunday July 20th

8:34 AM Arrive Xian

10:02 AM Backup Arrival

Terracotta Museum

Lunch on Defu Lane?

City Wall

Dinner on train?

7:00 PM Overnight Train Xian - Beijing T 44

Monday July 21st

8:29 AM Arrive Beijing

Check In Hotel

Lama Temple

Bell and Drum Tower

Lunch?

Houhai Lake

798 Art Zone

Nan luo gu xiang alley

Dinner?

Tuesday July 22nd

8:30 AM Depart Hotel

Tiananmen Square

Forbidden City

Jinshan Park

Lunch?

Beihai Park

Temple of Heaven

Dinner?

Wednesday July 23rd

7:30 AM Depart Hotel

Great Wall at jiankou

Dinner?

Thursday July 24th

8:30 AM Depart Hotel

Summer Palace

Lunch?

Beijing Zoo

Qianmen Street

Dinner?

Friday July 25th

8:30 AM Depart Hotel

Panjiayuan Flea Market

Lunch?

Silk markets

Wangfujing Pedestrian Street

6:00 PM Wangfujing Night Food Street

Saturday July 26th

Whole day empty so far!!

Sunday July 27th

12:00 Depart for Airport

Any assistance that I receive will be greatly appreciated, I'm hoping this trip will be one we never forget.

I have the itinerary and information about each destination in an excel spreadsheet, let me know if you would like to see that as well, my email is Logandouglasbrown@gmail.com

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1. Re: One Week in China Need Help with Itinerary please!

It will be very tight making that train, even assuming that your flight is on time. I would plan for the second one. Also, better book ahead, especially in July. Looking at these for tomorrow, T43 hard sleepers are sold out while T231 all classes are sold out.

On Monday in Beijing, 798 is not in that part of town at all. Actually it is not close to anything else. If you drop 798 on that day then you afternoon is very light.

Note that it is best to see the Temple of Heaven first thing in the morning for the people watching.

Panjiayuan is better on weekends. And the zoo...well...up to you. And I am not a big fan of Wangfujing.

Additional places to fill up your free time:

- whole afternoon at 798 (mostly free)

- National museum (free)

- Liulichang (not far from Qianmen)

- The Acrobat show if you want something not too expensive

- the Egg (NCPA)

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2. Re: One Week in China Need Help with Itinerary please!

Let me get this straight: you are proposing to fly TPAC, arrive in Beijing and clear Immigration, Customs, bags, etc. Make a mad dash across BJ traffic to Beijing West Station for an overnight train, spend a day in Xi'an then another consecutive overnight train arriving BJ Monday morning. Your wife has a conference. So it seems you will essentially get little to no sleep in a real bed between Friday night in the USA and Monday night in China. Right, great plan. NOT. Even if you are 25 and active.

On the logistics, I would never schedule an international arrival at PEK to a domestic train heading out of Beijing West. In this situation, I'd dump Xi'an plans and do something else. But if you must go, then FLY from PEK since you're already at the airport. There's a China Eastern flight departing 19:00 for a good price. Book it and a Xi'an hotel room and spend a restful night in Xi'an in a hotel bed rather than on a train. Your body will already be screaming for mercy from the TPAC and you will sorely be in need of rest. If you cannot afford to do this, then I think you're going to find that Xi'an will be a miserable blur rather than a good memory. Fly down, train back.

Normally, I would suggest that embedding Xi'an as an overnight trip should be done in the middle of a long week in Beijing to avoid misconnects to/from intl flights at PEK. But you say your wife has a conference starting Monday. Then again, with the sightseeing plan you've laid out, she's not going to be spending much time at the conference, unless the plan is for you to sightsee BJ solo. I can't tell if this is a constraint or not in trying to (re)arrange the daily plans. Or even if this conference takes up the entire week.

Train berths will have to be secured through an agent (for a commission) in advance of your arrival. Tickets go on sale 20 days ahead of departure and in July, you can pretty much count on sell-out situations.

I know none of this is what you want to hear, but blowing sunshine up your skirt isn't going to help you in the end.

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3. Re: One Week in China Need Help with Itinerary please!

Thanks for the great replies so far, I'm working on adjusting the schedule based on the information I've received. However I suppose I wasn't quite clear about some of the circumstances.

My wife is being flown to Beijing for a conference beginning on Monday July 28th, however they allowed us to move the flight up by a week to accommodate some time to see everything. As is the flight to Beijing is non-negotiable and they are providing hotel accommodations for her beginning the 24th we thought it would be best to do Xian before checking in to a hotel so we do not have to check in, check out, check in, check out etc etc and we pretty much figured that the cost of a sleeper on the train is comparable to the cost of a hotel for two nights and we're killing two birds with one stone.

I do like the idea of the flight + hotel combination but I can't see justifying the extra cost, however embedding the trip to Xian in the middle of the trip is perfectly viable and if you think that it will make for a much happier trip then we can plan on that instead. If you have any recommendation for which nights to put it between I welcome them, I'm thinking the 23rd to 24th since we will probably be moving hotels on the 24th anyway.

My wife and I are also not big into modern art so we will probably nix 798 all together but we like both the Acrobat show and the National museum. I Moved the Temple of heaven to the morning before the Lama Temple and shifted everything back by a bit to compensate and I added the national museum before going into the forbidden palace. As is, with everything shifted accordingly, I now have the Thursday that we return from Xian free with only checking in to the hotel on the list of things to do. A fun afternoon would work well here, maybe 798 that afternoon and the acrobatics show that evening? The revised itinerary is below, what do you think?

Saturday July 19th

4:55 PM Arrive Beijing PEK

Check In Hotel

Sunday July 20th

7:30 AM Depart Hotel

Great Wall at jiankou

Monday July 21st

7:30 AM Depart Hotel

Temple of Heaven

Lama Temple

Lunch

Bell and Drum Tower

Houhai Lake

Nan luo gu xiang alley

Tuesday July 22nd

8:30 AM Depart Hotel

Tiananmen Square

National Museum

Forbidden City

Lunch

Jinshan Park

Beihai Park

7:50 PM Overnight Train Beijing - Xian T 43

Wednesday July 23rd

8:34 AM Arrive Xian

Terracotta Museum

Lunch on Defu Lane?

City Wall

9:15 PM Overnight Train Xian - Beijing T 56

Thursday July 24th

10:35 AM Arrive Beijing

Deposit Bagage at hotel

2:00 PM Hotel Check In

798

Acrobatic show?

Friday July 25th

8:30 AM Depart Hotel

Summer Palace

Lunch

Panda house at zoo

Qianmen and Liulichang streets

Saturday July 26th

8:30 AM Depart Hotel

Panjiayuan Flea Market

Lunch

Silk markets

Wangfujing Pedestrian Street

6:00 PM Wangfujing Night Food Street

Sunday July 27th

12:00 PM Depart for Airport

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4. Re: One Week in China Need Help with Itinerary please!

You don't have time to visit the National Museum on Tuesday so you should put it on Thursday if you intend to 'nix' 798.

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5. Re: One Week in China Need Help with Itinerary please!

OK, now this makes more sense that the conference actually starts the 28th. In this case it makes more sense to structure the trip in Three Acts:

1) Beijing, staying at a better-located hotel than the one in Yayuncun (which is near the Olympic Park) and focusing on one group of sights.

2) Xi'an. I still think you should not try to do 2 consecutive train nights. Now that you have more time than was originally apparent, what would work is overnight train, Xi'an all the next day and overnight in an inexpensive hotel, guesthouse, or hostel, Xi'an also next day then overnight train back. Xi'an is worth more than one day and just the Terracotta Warriors.

3) Beijing, in hotel provided for your wife...which would be more useful for a second group of sights.

Here's what you do: Book a central Beijing hotel/guesthouse for nights of 19th, 20th, 21st. Book sleeper train tickets for the 22nd--my personal favorite is the Z19 dep 20:43 arr Xi'an 07:58. This will allow you to get pretty much the entire useable day in Beijing before you depart. You'll also take all your luggage (except for enough for the quickie Xi'an trip and valuables) to the new hotel to have them hold for your arrival, so you won't have to cart everything over to Xi'an. Advance book a place in Xi'an for night of the 23rd. You'll have most of the 24th in Xi'an and you'll call the Yayuncun Hotel in Beijing and let them know you will be delayed into Beijing and arriving first thing morning of the 25th. This shouldn't be a problem if the room is already guaranteed. Then take the overnight train Z20 back dep 19:55 arr 07:10. Go to hotel and check-in immediately. If you don't mind paying more for the train, then taking the bullet train G670 dep Xi'an North 18:00 arr BJ 23:33 (seat, not sleeper) is doable and get to your hotel between 00:30 and 01:00. Then you'll have pretty much all day 25 and 26. All total, it's enough for Beijing and I think a better balance.

If you want to go with this plan, then next step is to lay out the daily play-by-play.

Edited: 07 June 2014, 05:02
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6. Re: One Week in China Need Help with Itinerary please!

After re-reading your daily plans for Beijing, it's in pretty good shape for logistics, geography and timing. I would make the following suggestions:

a) Consider switching the Temple of Heaven/etc day to the 20th and the Great Wall to Monday the 21st. After flying in from North America, most people's body clocks have them wide awake at 05:00 in the morning. Use that to advantage and put the early starter on that first full day. Also, the GW on summer weekends will have more tourists on it than on weekdays. Even though Jiankou is not yet too touristed, it's not unknown. Note: this is a part of the Wall where you'd benefit from either taking a local as a "guide" or joining a small group going. So that might determine scheduling which day.

b) On the TofH day, get to TofH by 08:00, south gate where you can people-watch at the park before entering the TofH proper. Lama then lunch works. Then I'd walk first to NLGX, then over to Drum/Bell Tower (IMO, no need to go up and in), down the east side of Houhai then cross the main street to Beihai Park North gate, see that for a bit then return and exit back out the North Gate and cross back over to Houhai and explore the west side of the hutong area. Dinner there. July has long hours of daylight so you really have time to get a lot in, and the hutong areas on the west side of Houhai are at their best in late afternoon/early evening when all the locals are spilling out onto the street eating, chatting, etc. And the tourist/commercial part is there as well. This seems like a lot and it's a day with a lot of walking, but I'm over double your age and could easily manage all this exploration on a long July day.

c) 22nd I would start with an 07:30 walk-around of Tiananmen Square then Forbidden City when it opens at 08:30. I'd skip Jingshan Park unless you get lucky and the day is clear. Then go back to your hotel and check out (you may need to prearrange a late checkout for 13:00) and get a taxi up to Yayuncun Hotel. Their Bell Captain will hold luggage in their storage room for your arrival on the 24th (actually, the 25th!). Just don't leave behind critical papers or valuables. By now it will probably be around 14:00 and you should be able to maneuver with just daypacks with papers, change of clothes for Xi'an and minimal toiletries. If you're feeling up to the National Museum, you should be able to get there via subway by 15:00 and have 2 hours (enough, IMO) before closing time. Then grab some dinner and plenty of time to get to Beijing West Station by subway. Alternatively, you could go ahead and head from Yayuncun down to Wangfujing and walk around, have dinner somewhere. The Night Market gets set up and going by around 17:00 so you have plenty of time to see and taste....but I'd have dinner somewhere else, maybe the food court at Oriental Plaza. You'll need a decent dinner since the Z train won't be carrying a dining car due to departure time. You may want to find a place to shower before boarding the train....we'll have to work on that.

(d) Beijing part 2 on the 25th. From train station, get to your hotel in Yayuncun, grab luggage, and check-in. Your room should already be waiting for you. Then execute the Summer Palace and Pandas plan. I think you'll have time to see Liulichang and Qianmen. Subway around Line 2 to Dongsishitiao stop for Tiandi Theater and the acrobat show, starts at 19:10 so you have plenty of time to grab something to eat in Qianmen area or Theater area before the show.

(e) 26th Panjiayuan (best to visit about 09:00-noon). Silk Market if you must. Or better yet, take subway up to Sanlitun area for Yaxiu Market. Rest of day free for more shopping or something else.

(f) 27th, Sunday morning just relax or get some photos of the Olympic park Birds Nest and Water Cube.

If you're not into modern (Chinese) art, then 798 is not going to be worth your time and effort to get out there.

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7. Re: One Week in China Need Help with Itinerary please!

kvchina, I had missed the z19 and z20 trains and they look like a good idea, slightly quicker while about the same price. We were going for the same sort of three section plan you mention but we really aren't acquainted with the city so we have no idea which things are nearer which hotel. We've begun communicating with a hostel in the qianmen area for the first three nights. Though we would rather shift Xian forward a day to make use of all of the provided hotel.

Act 1

Forbidden City day

Temple day

Act 2

Xian

Act 3

Summer Palace day

Great Wall day

Shopping day

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8. Re: One Week in China Need Help with Itinerary please!

Yes, that works also splitting days 2/3. But you should put the Forbidden City day as the one where you will be departing to Xi'an (21st), not the TofH day since the time balance won't work. As for Xi'an, in addition to the TCW and City Walls, you should earmark the very late afternoon/early evening to be in the Muslim Quarter--fabulous street eats and atmosphere. You might want to consider going to the Shaanxi History Museum here and foregoing the National Museum in Beijing (I much prefer the former vs the latter). Possibly either the Little Wild Goose or Big Wild Goose Pagodas (again, I prefer the former but the latter is more famous and more heavily touristed). Xi'an has plenty more to offer so I'll let you research and be selective....and also keep in mind that Xi'an is also a big, spread-out city with less extensive and convenient public transport options compared to Beijing. It also has good eats.

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9. Re: One Week in China Need Help with Itinerary please!

Thanks! It's all starting to come together now. How does this look?

Saturday July 19th

4:55 PM Arrive Beijing PEK

Check In Hotel

Sunday July 20th

6:30 AM Depart Hotel

Temple of Heaven

Lama Temple

Lunch

Nan luo gu xiang alley

Bell and Drum Tower

Houhai Lake

Beihai Park

Hutong west of Houhai

Monday July 21st

7:30 AM Depart Hotel

Tiananmen Square

Forbidden City

Jinshan Park

Check out Hostel

Deposit bagage at hotel

Wangfujing Pedestrian Street and Night Food Street

8:43 PM Overnight Train Beijing - Xian Z19

Tuesday July 22nd

7:58 AM Arrive Xian

Check in hotel

Terracotta Museum

Shaanxi History Museum

Little Wild Goose Pagoda

Wednesday July 23rd

City Wall

Lunch on Defu Lane?

Little Wild Goose Pagoda

Great Mosque

Muslim Quarter

7:55 PM Overnight Train Xian - Beijing Z20

Thursday July 24th

7:10 AM Arrive Beijing

Deposit Bagage at hotel

Summer Palace

Lunch

Panda house at zoo

Qianmen and Liulichang streets

Acrobat Show

Friday July 25th

7:30 AM Depart Hotel

Great Wall at jiankou

Saturday July 26th

8:00 AM Depart Hotel

Panjiayuan Flea Market

Lunch

Yaxiu market

Sunday July 27th

Visit Olympic Park

12:00 PM Depart for Airport

Edited: 07 June 2014, 06:47
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10. Re: One Week in China Need Help with Itinerary please!

Beijing part works like a charm.

On the Xi'an part, your early arrival probably will be too early to check into a hostel so what I'd do is arrive at Xi'an rail station, grab some sort of quick breakfast, and then head out to the Warriors immediately since the public #306(5) buses leave from right out front of the station. By the time you see the Warriors then return on the bus, it should be about 13:30 so then head to your hostel for check-in. (Try to pick a place that's within reasonable walking distance of subway line 2 and you'll make your stay cheaper and less hassle.) Then subway to the Little Wild Goose Pavilion. Late afternoon subway up to Bell Tower and walk over past Drum Tower to Muslim Quarter and Great Mosque.

Next day start out with the City Walls--it gets REALLY hot in Xi'an in summer and you don't want to be up on the Walls roasting in midday or afternoon. There are a number of Gates you can use to get up on the Wall--the South Gate is probably the most well-known one and the best if you are interested in biking around the circumference of the Wall--opens at 08:00 I think. Biking takes about 1.5 hours and cost is RMB 40 for 100 minutes (single bike) or RMB 80 if you want a tandem for two of you. If it's not too smoggy, it's quite the view. After that, use subway again (plus a 10 minute walk) to the History Museum. You can get a snack or early lunch around there. Tip: go to the Ticket booth on the RIGHT (as you face the Museum) where you will be charged RMB 20 for the Special Exhibition (Tang Dynasty stuff + the regular museum collection) and get into the Museum immediately. The Left side ticket booth will have a long queue and is for free entrance but you must show passport and the wait can be an hour. Seriously avoid wasting your time and use the pay booth without the queue. Museum is worth a couple of hours. Nearby is the Big Wild Goose Paviliion so if you want to do that, you can. Lots of places to eat nearby, or get back to the vicinity of train station and find something.

Edited: 07 June 2014, 07:20
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