Beijing tours within 2 half days?

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San Diego, CA
301 Posts
Joined Apr 2001
We would like to see the most popular sights in Beijing but want to know if there is enough time with our original flight/train schedule.

Our flight arrives at 10:40 am; one overnight at the Beijing Prime Hotel; taking the train right after noon to catch our cruise ship: will we have time to visit the Great Wall one of these half days, and the Forbidden City/T. Square the other? If so, which day would be best to go the Great Wall?

If this is not do-able, we will arrive a day early (but don't want to if not absolutely necessary).

I need to figure this all out before I book airfare. Please help!
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14,848 Posts
Joined Feb 2002
As someone who has been planning my trip to China for 3 years (it's a long story-read my other posts), unless you are flying first or business and can really sleep on the plane, you will be kind of out of sorts when you arrive. The jet lag is a killer going to Asia. Drink lots and lots of water on the plane-it does help.

My advice, since I have probably done as much research and talked to as many people as most TA's-in fact I have had two TA's in Phoenix throw up their hands trying to book my itinerary: Fly in a day earlier. You can do Forbidden City, etc. after you arrive. The next day, do the Great Wall. The Badaling section is the most visited (and the easiest to walk). Tours are easily arranged. But it is my understanding that it is about a 2-3 hour drive each way. So that kind of shoots the idea of trying to do it as a half day tour.

Please be prepared for the MASS of people at train stations, on the street, etc. From everything I have been told-nothing like the US, except maybe the NYC subway after a Yankee game. Patience will definitely be a virtue.

Please make sure you take wet wipes or waterless hand cleaner. There are a lot of VERY crappy toilets (squat kind) and no place to wash up.
Everyone has recommended that you wear a skirt, if you are anyplace where you will not have western facilities. Beijing is getting ready for the 2008 Olympics, so there are more and more westernized facilities, but you still run into the old stuff.

I still don't know whether I am cruising (visa problem) or land touring, but either way, I am spending 15 days in China. Mostly in Chengdu (to see the pandas) and Llhasa. But will arrive Beijing and spend three days there. I leave March 8, so will post when I get back.
Long Beach. Ca
435 Posts
Joined Jul 2002
greatam, Sorry to hear your Visa problem is not solved yet. Question about where are you getting the Visa for Llhasa? US or China?

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14,848 Posts
Joined Feb 2002
Hi Lisa,

Yes, January 15 is long past. The consulate (embassy) has had our passports for three weeks and we still have no word whether BEIJING is going to allow our triple entry visa. Talked to the American Embassy in Beijing and they state we should have it, BUT!!! Still waiting. Driving back to LA on the 18th. If it has not been processed by then, I will take the double entry visa and either do the Seabourn cruise from Hong Kong (twice the cost of Princess) or just do a land tour through Vietnam, Cambodia, and Thailand. May be doing that trip by myself as my DH has NO desire to go back to Vietnam. Once was enough.

Llhasa permit was arranged through CITS in China. CITS,to my understanding, is the large quasi-government owned agency. They go by many names-Chinahighlights, Chinatravel, etc., etc., etc. They are all run by the government. Same company, same procedures, different names. It is confusing, to say the least. But I think I have mastered most of it. Maybe I should become a TA for travel to Southeast Asia. See the info at the end about permits and groups.

I had to plan the whole thing-hotels, transfers, what I wanted to do, etc. Then they booked it for me. Otherwise, I got the "package" tour, with the "package hotels" and "package shopping, restuarants, etc".. There were certain things I wanted to do and they just didn't fit with the packages. For instance, I want to see MT. Everest. If I am that close in Llhasa, why not? So had to make arrangements to be transported from Llhasa to Nepal, then a quickie helicopter tour around Everest, overnight in Kathmandu (Bob Seger, here I come), then back to Llhasa for the plane to Chengdu for the panda preserve. I am not particularly interested in the monasteries and palaces in Llhasa, although I am going to Portola (sp?) Palace. A quick look, a few snapshots, and I am out of there. I just hope I can keep AMS (altitude sickness) at bay. I have had it once in Peru and my doctor tells me I can get it again more easily since I have already had it. Just going to take it easy the first few days. The helicopter provides oxygen, so that should make it easier. I am really looking forward to this trip.


How to get Tibet Permits in Hong Kong

Office of CITS Tibet in Hong Kong
add: the 2nd Floor of Yixing Mansion, No.118, Zhuangdun Road, Wangzi, Hong Kong
Contact number: 00852-29221028
Contact person: Danzeng
Working Time: 9:00-18:00 for the weekdays, 9:00-13:00 for Sat
- Updated: February 5, 2004

Can I travel to Tibet by myself

No. According to China's regulation, individual travel to Tibet is not allowed. You have to join a group and we can help you find one at any time.
Quebec City
219 Posts
Joined Aug 2003
Tours to the Wall usually are full day tours. If you are not too tired, you can walk from the Prime Hotel to the Forbidden City. I hear it is a 10 to 15 min walk. We will be staying there too after our cruise. I would definitely recommend stayin 1 or even 2 extra days. There is so much to see in Beijing. You can get very reasonable tour packages on some websites. I wouldn't take the train. For the trouble it is, you won't save a lot of money.
It would be a good idea to find two more people and get a private transfer. We are 4 and have a transer that costs 150$, making it 37.50 per person. The train cannot be that much cheaper.
Long Beach. Ca
435 Posts
Joined Jul 2002
Gina, We spend 1 month in Nepal in April 2001, trekking in the Annapurna region and did safari in the Chitwan National Park. We tried to get on the Everest flight twice in the 1 week period, both times the flights were cancelled due to cloudy weather, this was waiting 3 hours at the airport each time. So, be prepare that the Everest flight is not always possible. We did see the peak of Everest on the flights between Bkk and Nepal. Kathmando is very interesting to visit, don't missed out on the main attractions. We took Gingo tablets for AMS but acclimation (?) is most important to avoid AMS.

Thanks for the info for the Lhasa permit.

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Central Florida
29 Posts
Joined Jul 2010
It is reasonable to hire a car/driver in Beijing. We reserved one to take us to Temple of Heaven from our hotel, wait and then take us to the Bullet train station for Tangu(the closest city where taxis will take you to the port). For this 3 hour trip and we paid 200 RMB(about $32 US) for a full sized Audi no less. The day before we contracted for a van to Great Wall with Dropoff at summer Palace in a 13 passunger van for 1200 RMB. With 11 passengers the price was downright cheap. Of course we had to pay our own entrance fees and tipped the driver. The car rental company was Robert Car Rent and Benny was the dispatcher. They don't even require a deposit!
I looked up Robert Car Rent online and I could not find any complaints. It costs a little more but it saves time and the hassle of riding and transferring on the subway.