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Best way to solo Mutianyu Great Wall and Ming Tombs in 1 day

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Best way to solo Mutianyu Great Wall and Ming Tombs in 1 day

I'm looking for the best option to get to both these places in 1 day without knowing any Mandarin. I will need to book a coach bus or tour, and am confident I could book one to either of the places there and back, but getting from A to B to C and back to A might be tough to do on the spot only knowing English.

Would it be best to book a tour group ahead of time to do something like this instead of trying to save a few bucks and do it on my own? If so, could anybody recommend a tour company?

Edited: 14 August 2014, 15:39
Beijing, China
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1. Re: Best way to solo Mutianyu Great Wall and Ming Tombs in 1 day

Beijing to Mutianyu is not so hard and Ming Tombs to Beijing also straightforward....but from Mutianyu to Ming Tombs is not--you really need a private car or taxi to take you between those two points and that might be difficult to manage in real time out at Mutianyu (or nearby Huairou town) without Mandarin. I personally am not a fan of the Ming Tombs, but if you insist, this is one instance where as a solo traveler, the most cost-effective and fun way is going to be a tour. Then the trick is to find a good tour with some sort of quality guide and without shopping stops. Here's a good one from a great organization and IMO worth the money, though not the cheapest around: www.ccctravel.net/eventdetailbj.php…

Another option are hostel-based tours (can join even if you aren't staying there). Try Downtown Backpackers Hostel: http://www.backpackingchina.com/ and also www.leohostel.com ....though possibly their trips may not include the Ming Tombs. You may recraft your thinking and decide a day spent on a better Wall experience trumps a visit to the Tombs.

Dublin, California
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2. Re: Best way to solo Mutianyu Great Wall and Ming Tombs in 1 day

Another negative vote for Ming Tombs. Personally I'd skip it.

Sherbrooke, Canada
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3. Re: Best way to solo Mutianyu Great Wall and Ming Tombs in 1 day

Ming Tombs is not worth the detour.

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4. Re: Best way to solo Mutianyu Great Wall and Ming Tombs in 1 day

Noted. I will not be going to the Ming Tombs. Which wall do you recommend? I am a hiker so difficulty is not an issue. I don't mind spending the whole day devoted to the wall.

If you won't mind taking a look at what I scheduled so far. I would love some pointers of what I should add or take off. I've already freed up half a day by canceling the Ming Tombs. I also have not scheduled

Day 1

Arrive at 2:20pm

Walk around Tiananmen Square

-flag ceremony at sunset

Roast duck dinner

Day 2

Tiananmen Square

Forbidden City

Day 3

Climb Great Wall (which part?)

Day 4

Summer Palace

Hutongs

Day 5

Temple of Heaven

Lama Temple

Overnight train to Xi'an at 8PM.

Misc to fit in when time allows:

Beijing Opera

Edited: 14 August 2014, 17:18
Dublin, California
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5. Re: Best way to solo Mutianyu Great Wall and Ming Tombs in 1 day

Day 2 is kind of light. You may want to fit in the Drum Tower there. As for the Great Wall, read the first item under Top Questions on the right side of this page.

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6. Re: Best way to solo Mutianyu Great Wall and Ming Tombs in 1 day

What could I add on Day 2? I debated spending 4.5 days in Beijing, but friend kept telling me 3.5 days was not enough. I could always to 3.5 days in BJ and 2.5 in Xi'an instead of originally 1.5 in Xi'an.

Dublin, California
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7. Re: Best way to solo Mutianyu Great Wall and Ming Tombs in 1 day

Drum Tower, as I said.

Beijing, China
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8. Re: Best way to solo Mutianyu Great Wall and Ming Tombs in 1 day

Keep the current split of 4.5 in Beijing and 1.5 in Xi'an. Also, Mondays are when Forbidden City and most other museums are closed, so you may have to scramble days depending on when you arrive. I think most of your days are pretty light and more can be fit in. Assuming you will staying at a central hotel/hostel, I'd tweak this plan a bit to add content and productivity and ease-of-movement. You won't need a tour guide for the city parts but can manage well yourself.

Day 1 Walk around old Legation Quarter (adjacent to Tiananmen), Tiananmen, Qianmen. Flag ceremony if you want (remember ceremony is not a set time but follows the sundown per time of year). Duck dinner though if you're not starvingly hungry, move it to another day.

Day 2 --Forbidden City in morning, Jingshan Park (if not too smoggy, a good view), Beihai Park, hutongs around Houhai including the Drum Tower. Drum may still be under renovation and closed on inside throu Sept, check to be sure. Outside is good though. Lots of redevelopment and hutong clearing going on behind it though. Dinner eats in the Houhai or nearby Nanluoguxiang area.

Day 3--Great Wall all day. Since you're a hiker, I'd check out Leo Hostel's Ancient Secret Great Wall tour or Downtown Backpackers' Jinshanling-to-Simitai (all year) or Jiankou-to-Mutianyu (seasonal) hikes. Good value for money there for a solo traveler and the logistics are taken care of. Don't have to stay at either of these places to sign up for their tours.

Day 4--Summer Palace in morning. Lunch in the area then Subway Line 4 south to Caishikou station Exit D. There's a very old hutong area to the south that almost no tourists ever get to. Just to the west of that is Fayuan Si, an old, and still-active Buddhist Temple (no not like Lama Temple) and center of the Chinese Buddhist College. Walking distance further west of that is Niujie (Ox Street) Mosque (they love visitors BTW) and surrounding that is one of Beijing oldest Muslim communities, lots of Hui people. Interesting snacks and restaurants around here. A different slice of local Beijing a bit off the main tourist route. After that you can head to the Huguang Guild Hall for Beijing Opera. It's about 2 km from Ox Street so 25 minute walk, or a 5 min bus ride. Huguang's show is early...at 18:30 and lasts for an hour so you could dinner before or after it. (There's another BJ Opera show at Liyuan Theatre but it doesn't have the ambiance of the old Guild Hall). Be warned that BJ Opera is pretty unmelodious so make sure your ears understand the assault they will receive!

Day 5: Temple of Heaven then Lama temple. You should get an early arrival at the south gate of the ToH park (about 07:30) to watch the social activity before heading inside. Like you'll be done with that and Lama by about 13:00. At this point I'd go back to the hotel and grab bags then taxi over to Beijing West Rail Station and put stuff (except valuables) in Left Luggage. For the few hours you have to kill, there is some good stuff in the vicinity. Capital Museum can be reached by subway. Also White Cloud Temple (BJ's largest functioning Daoist Temple) and Tianning Si pagoda (BJ's oldest still existing structure from the Liao Dynasty). That will keep you busy for the rest of the day. For an 8 pm train assuming you have your tickets already, you don't need to be back at station until about 7 pm. If you want, you should be able to grab a shower at or around BJ West.

Days 2, 3, 4, interchangable with above caveat about FC closure on Mondays between Sept thru June except Ntl holidays. Try to time GW day for the most favorable (non-rainy, clear air) forecast.

9. Re: Best way to solo Mutianyu Great Wall and Ming Tombs in 1 day

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