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Beijing

Author meltwaterfalls
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#1 | Posted: 4 Aug 2011 09:44 
Right after a lot options ruled themselves out for various reasons I finally took the plunge and have booked tickets to South Korea (already a useful forum on that which I am sure I will be asking about soon), with a stop-over in Beijing.

So my questions are: Does anyone have any advice on the WHS in and around Beijing they would like to share.
It seems that the Peking man site doesn't really cut the mustard in a quick visit.

Also more generally are there any recommendations for good areas on the city to base myself in? I am pretty much in the dark on the place so any advice no matter how simple would be welcome.

NB. thanks to Solivagant for the information he provided on Mexico, sorry I didn't get to use it this time, but it is there waiting for my first Latin American foray

Author winterkjm
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#2 | Posted: 4 Aug 2011 16:43 | Edited by: winterkjm 
First how long is this stop-over in Beijing? Here are all the major cultural sites of interest in the Beijing area. As far as a base, I thought it best to be centrally located. I visited Beijing twice, both times staying relatively near to Tiananmen square (within 10-15 minutes by taxi or 1-2 subway stops) Beijing is a "ring" city. I think there are at least seven roads that now encircle the city. The center of the circle is Tiananmen square. The Beijing airport is 32km northeast from the center of Beijing

WHS
Great Wall (Far from central Beijing to the north and requires at least half a day, also depends on your choice of which section of the wall you want to see)

Imperial Tombs (Located about 50km north of Beijing, visit duration 2hrs)

Imperial Palace (Minimum stay is 2-3 hrs, though I would recommend longer to see the side sections of the palace, located in the exact center of Beijing behind Tiananmen square. You will also want to walk around Tiananmen square for at least 1hr)

Summer Palace (The site is very large and a minimum stay would be 2-3 hrs, it is not too far from central Beijing, around 45min away)

Temple of Heaven (Probably the easiest site to visit, located in central Beijing, visit duration 1-2 hrs)

Peking Man Site (located in Fangshan District, at least 75km from central Beijing)

Tentative site
- Pagoda, Library Caves and Stone Tablets of sutra of Yunju Temple (Also located in Fangshan district, 70km from central Beijing)

I have visited all the sites except the two in Fangshan district. Yunju temple and the Peking Man Site.


One Day Itineraries
*I think it is possible to visit The Great Wall and Ming Tombs together in one day, since they are both located north of Beijing.

*In central Beijing I think it is possible to visit the Imperal Palace, Summer Palace, and Temple of Heaven in one day if you start early. I think this would be a 7am - 7pm day though if you wanted to truly explore the sites and eat a meal or two!

*In Fangshan district it seems very reasonable that you could visit the Peking Man Site and Yunju Temple in one day.

Author Durian
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#3 | Posted: 5 Aug 2011 00:39 | Edited by: Durian 
It is possible to go to Chengde to see the wonderful palace and its nearby temples for 1 day trip by express bus, and if the high speed rail is OK for you, the line passed three WHS, Taishan, Qufu, and Suzhou, each site possible for one day trip. Also highly recommend is take night train to Datong for fabulous Yungang Grottoes and back to Beijing for day train.

Author meltwaterfalls
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#4 | Posted: 5 Aug 2011 06:45 
Thank you, just the sort of information I need to get started. I had completly missed that the Ming tombs were in the area as well, so I have already added 1 to my hit list.

Author joycevs
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#5 | Posted: 15 Aug 2011 16:14 
I took the bus from Beijing Hub of Tour Dispatch (office and buses leave from the South West corner of Tiananmen Square): they do a one day trip to the Great Wall at Badaling and one of the Ming Tombs so you can do two WHS in one day fairly easy.

I spent a few days in and around Beijing and kept an online diary. It's in Dutch, but if you use Google Translate you will somewhat get the idea (although it will look like spam from a Russian girl trying to marry you....). Use the link on the bottom right to go to the next page.
http://translate.google.nl/translate?js=n&prev=_t&hl=nl&ie=UTF-8&layout=2&eotf=1&sl=n l&tl=en&u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.reisverhaal.com%2Fday.asp%3Fdayid%3D498%26tripid%3D8%26tit le%3DDagboek&act=url

Also, good luck with Korea. I love Korea! The world heritage sites are not overwhelming but nice, but the people are great!
http://translate.googleusercontent.com/translate_c?act=url&hl=nl&ie=UTF8&prev=_t&rurl =translate.google.nl&sl=nl&tl=en&twu=1&u=http://www.reisverhaal.com/home.asp%3Ftripid %3D10%26rnd%3D712187740770&usg=ALkJrhhklFWd4KQ_6MuJXJpHVc0d45D2RA

Author winterkjm
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#6 | Posted: 15 Aug 2011 22:14 
I enjoyed reading your Korea travel log! Looks like you had a good trip. I was suprised that you visited Iksan!!! This is way off the tourist map, and is difficult to navigate (even for someone who knows basic Korean!) Though interesting the Wangung palace site is more important as an archeological site than for sightseeing, as very little is left. Mureuk Temple is amazing, but unfortunatly it is currently dismantled and being stabalized then put back together.

When I saw you visited Suncheon I was hoping you had a chance to visit Naganeupseong Town & Fortress, and the beautiful Suncheon Bay (Which is part of the Coastal Tidal Flat tentative site). These two places are very nice sites and easily reached from the center of Suncheon. Though since you visited in 2010, Korea's new tentative list was not yet completed. Nevertheless, I can see you already fit in alot of places within a short period of time!!! The green tea fields are definetly a highlight in Jeolla province.

I am curious what was your favorite WHS in Korea? What was the least impressive? Also which of the tentative sites that you visited do you believe has the best chance of inscription?

From your log I understood you visited:

WHS
Changdeokgung
Jongmyo
Ganghwa Dolmen
Hwaseong Fortress
Andong & Yangdong
Gyeongju
Seokguram & Bulguksa
Jeju

TWHS
Namhansanseong
Gangjin Kilns
Gongju & Buyeo
Iksan
Ondal Sanseong in Danyang (Part of the Central Fortress nomination)

This is very impressive for only about 3 weeks in Korea!

Author meltwaterfalls
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#7 | Posted: 16 Aug 2011 09:30 | Edited by: meltwaterfalls 
Thanks for the links joyce, gives me a good idea of what to expect. I see you went out to the Peking Man site, I am weighing it up against other options at the moment, but I quite like heading out to the more obscure sites that require a bit of navigating on local transport.

I have only had a quick glance at the Korea one, I'm sure I will come back and ask you guys some more on that. Though I see you were not so positive about the lay over at Charles De Gaulle, I have that new experince to look forward to as well.

Has anyone encountered other trips to the Wall that incorporate the Ming tombs as well. I think I will take one of those tours but was hoping to try and head somewhere other than Badaling.

Author joycevs
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#8 | Posted: 17 Aug 2011 16:34 
@winterkjm: My favorite WHS in Korea was Jeju do (Meltwaterfalls: take a few days for this island!). Least impressive were the Dolmen (after all, it's just a rock to see, and we have similar ones in Holland too).

When I visited Andong and Yangdong were still tentative, so I guess they had the best change to become WHS ;-) For the others, I don't know. I really enjoyed my time in Dangyang though (although the fortress wasn't very impressive). Iksan has a long way to go before it's ready for tourists visiting the WHS...

@Meltwaterfalls If I were you Peking Man would be the last one I would visit, it really is not that interesting. If you like going out to the more obscure places by public transit I would suggest you put this energy into visiting a nice spot on the great wall instead (the tour to the Ming tombs and Badaling is very easy if you want to see both, but Badaling is very touristy and there are nicer placers to see the wall. Although when you go with the tour I mentioned, you will be put in a bus with most likely only Chinese tourists, which is an interesting experience by itself...).

Author winterkjm
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#9 | Posted: 17 Aug 2011 21:56 | Edited by: winterkjm 
I would agree Jeju-do is the most impressive WHS in Korea. I stayed there for almost a week, beautiful place. The rock formations and waterfalls near Seogwipo are worth seeing. Ilchul-bong Peak is a must-see, along with Manjangeul Cave, and Hallasan National Park. I would also recommend taking a ferry to Udo Island close to Ilchul-bong and rent a scooter and explore the island for 2-3 hours. For Dutch travellers it might be interesting to visit Yeongmeori Coast in southwestern Jeju, where it is believed Hamel became shiprecked in the 17th century. There is even a replica of a Dutch ship! (pretty touristy, but interesting nevertheless) The yeongmeori coast is beautiful, but beware there are many water bugs all over the rocks!

As far as other WHS go in Korea it all depends on your interest. For me as someone who is planning to teach Korean history as a professor, all the WHS and tentative sites in the country are interesting. For the average traveller though, I think many might be bored by the Dolmen sites and Jongmyo shrine. Though as I said in my reviews, the Ganghwa dolmen is rather impressive in its size, but not all that exciting. Visiting the smaller, but numerous Gochang dolmens is a better visitor exprience overall. (also some interesting sites in and around Gochang) Jongmyo Shrine is a relaxing and peaceful place, but after visiting Changdeokgung Palace it becomes somewhat underwhelming.

It is important to remember Korea is by far the most Confucian nation in the world. Numerous sites around the country center around confucian ideals and practices. Though Confucianism originated in China, much of that heritage has been destroyed or lost, not so in Korea. Another important fact which is largely ignored, is that Japan was heavily influenced by Korea, particularly concerning Buddhism and pottery. In ancient times in East Asia, the basic order was China was the eldest brother, Korea the middle brother, and Japan the youngest brother. Unfortunately, the Imjin war in the 17th century destoryed most of Korea's huge wooden temples, palaces, and wooden pagodas. Moreover the Japanese colonial period was perhaps even more destructive, and finally Korea suffered under a disasterous civil war. Therefore, some sites in Korea only give you a glimpse into the splendor of the original site.

My favorite Korean cultural WHS are the Royal Joseon tombs (please visit more than one cluster), Gyeongju (go to Mt. Namsan), Seokguram, Changdeokgung, and Hahoe. For the tentative list, the Southcoast tidal flats (Suncheon Bay is amazing), Upo Wetland (best bike ride in Korea), Naganeupseong Town & Fortress (great place to explore and walking the fortress), Gongju (somewhat comparable to Gyeongju but with less remains), and Namhansaseong fortress (besides Hwaseong the most impressive fortress in Korea) are all worth seeing.

Author meltwaterfalls
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#10 | Posted: 13 Sep 2011 05:20 | Edited by: meltwaterfalls 
I don't suppose anyone has any information on buying train tickets online for China?

Basically I had a scout around and spoke to some friends and fancied a trip to Pingyao with an overnight train there and an overnight train back.

Everywhere I have tried seems unable to get a ticket for the return leg, and the prices seem drastically inflated (a 17 per ticket service fee for example).

I have tried the ones listed on the excellent Man in Seat 61 but it hasn't tunred anything up yet.


Also in mapping the tentative sites for Beijing I noticed it was the terminus of the Grand Canal (in line for 2014 perhaps?). There is a park set up at it's terminus where I think they held the Olympic rowing. So if time is on my side it may be a bit of a trip to get me thinking about when I can tick of a site as being visited.

Author joycevs
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#11 | Posted: 14 Sep 2011 17:07 
Don't know about online booking, but I always went to the station to get my tickets. If you're there a day before you can pretty much always get a ticket, except for the very busy tourist routes or on the weekends. Just get your ticket for Pingyao when you arrive at Beijing ( I assume you'll be there for a few days anyway)
Tip: when travelling by overnight train, try to get the middle bed when using hardsleepers (softsleepers are just as hard as hardsleepers btw)

Author meltwaterfalls
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#12 | Posted: 28 Nov 2011 12:36 | Edited by: meltwaterfalls 
Just thought I would post some details on getting to Peking Man site on public transport, as there wasn't anywhere that had a full run down when I was looking:

You will need bus 917.
Busses leave regularly (every 10/15 minutes) from Tianqiao Bus station (天桥) It isn't really a bus station it is just some bus stops on Beiwei Road, near the western gate to Temple of Heaven Park.
The precise stop is here (on map view, for some reason the satellite image is slightly out of synch)
There are a few bus stops with 917 on them but it is the one with just 917 no Chinese character after it that you are looking for.

The bus stop you are aiming to get off at is called 周口村路口 (Perhaps it is called Zhoukoudian Town Hall in translation, as that is where you are let off, but I am not sure about it's actual name) It is located here
It is about 1.5 2.25 hours on the bus depending on traffic. It goes on the highway for a long time, then pulls of and goes around little suburban towns. Zhoukoudian is where the mountains start to get really close, so keep an eye out the window and if the mountains are still a long way off you can have a doze.
Showing the conductor the name of the stop I needed ensured I paid the correct price (9 yuan) and also meant she, and the rest of the bus, could tell me where to get off.

From this bus stop you can wait for the small shuttle bus #38 to take you to the site proper, or it is about a 2km/ 20 minute walk. If you decide to walk just carry on the main road in the direction you have come from. The road bends to the right, goes straight and then bends to the left. The site is then just the other side of the little 'Olympic' square and railway tracks, though it should be obvious by this stage.

To get back it is just the same but in reverse. There was a taxi waiting outside that took me to the 917 bus stop (10 yuan, probably could be battered down, but the price was fine for me).
The 917 was a really regular bus. If one turns up that is full it is probably worth waiting for the next one so you don't have to stand for 2 hours. Though it is worth noting the service stops about 4-5pm so later in the day it may just be worth taking whatever comes.

The whole visit took me about 4.5 hours from my hotel which was near Tianqiao station.
It was a tiny adventure doing this under my own steam and people were so friendly to me it really made the trip worthwhile. So if you are in Beijing with some time to spare it is probably worth doing!

Author meltwaterfalls
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#13 | Posted: 13 Feb 2013 07:39 
Having just had a look at the latest review for the Peking Man Site it seems you can also get the 836 bus to Zhou Kou Cun Lukou (which seems to be the same Zhoukoudian Town Hall stop I mentioned above). The two bus routes seem to go the same way when I look at them on a map so I can't really work out what the difference is, perhaps the 836 is an express route?

It seems there is also another and perhaps simpler option now available with the extension of the Beijing Metro:
You can get the Fangshang Line to Liangxiangnanguan station. Then from there it looks like you can get bus 38 direct to the Peking Man site (if you wanted to show it to the conductor the stop is called 猿人遗址).

I'm not sure if that option works, but it could well be worth a go as an alternative. Happy hunting.

Author meltwaterfalls
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#14 | Posted: 31 Oct 2014 09:16 
Just to update this as Beijing has a new WHS since I visited. The Grand Canal inscription includes areas in central Beijing. The Nomination file (it is massive!) has very extensive maps and these are the bits inscribed (switch to Satellite view to get them to synch up).

The other part of the canal inscribed is out at Tongzhou. Oddly it isn't the part with the new canal park that seemed to have been specially landscaped to celebrate its up coming World Heritage status. Rather it is the stretch of the Tonghui river from the Ming era Baliqiao bridge along to the main river/ canal. This makes a visit much easier as you can get the Metro to Baliqiao station look at the bridge and head straight back if you wanted to.

Still I had fun going to the new park there is a lovely sculpture/ fountain on the ground that shows the course of the Grand Canal and the workers that built it. The visit also helped fight off jet-lag for a couple of hours!

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