Merry Christmas from Hefangkou Great Wall!

 

The holiday season is once again around the corner. It is a wonderful time for us to remember the friends and customers who make our jobs a pleasure all year long and keep our business successful. Our business would not be possible without your continued support.

So we’d like to take this moment to extend our personal thanks to you and our best wishes to you and your families from Hefangkou Great Wall. May your new year be filled with all the success and happiness you deserve. Merry Christmas from Hefangkou Great Wall!


Half-day Closing for Forbidden City

It is on several online newspapers that from January 1 to March 31 next year, the Forbidden City will be closed every Monday afternoon, expect for 11th Feb,(the Chinese new year) to protect the architecture and cultural relics.

The Forbidden City will be closed for half day on the following days:
January: 7, 14, 21, 28. Feburary: 4, 18, 25. (it will open the whole day on 11th, Feb). March: 4, 11, 18, 25.
The Forbidden City announced the museum will be open to the public from 8 am to 12 am and the ticket office will be closed at 11 am.

Forbidden City Travel Tips:

Forbidden City will transport you straight to the past. You don’t realize the magnitude of the Forbidden City until you are there. It takes about 2-3 hours to visit all the known places at detail. Here I got a few tips for visitors:

There is a quick bag check in the Meridian gate. You are allowed to take in water and other beverages. Audio guide is available in the Meridian gate, which has a map with lights on it to tell you once where you are in the Forbidden City. This is really helpful since it’s easy to get lost, especially when walking around the six east or west palaces. Picture taking is allowed in all parts except for the original-state halls. Generally the central axis is crowded withtour groups. Don’t neglect the side chambers and other areas, which have exhibitions on various aspects of the Qing court such as jade, jewellery, ceramics, calligraphy and painting etc, they are largely ignored by the tour groups.

Related Tours:  Jiankou Hiking plus Mutianyu Toboggan Ride                    
                          Gubeikou to Jinshanling Hike
Related Links:   How to Get to Ming Tombs and Sacred Way

Group / Bus Tour vs. Private Tour: Which is Better?

I like hiking in a small groups rather than large ones, although I’m also out a lot only with my wife. The problem with large groups is the pace they move at. For example, Mutianyu Great Wall opens at 8:30am. Tour groups arrive at around 10:30am when the attraction is at the busiest time. Independant tourists may get to Mutianyu on opening when it is quiet.

Although major attractions in Beijing have group tours window where they could buy group tickets a bit faster (group tours have a different line to get into attractions as well), you will have to stick with group timings. Group tourists are still at Mutianyu when it’s heaving while Independant tourists leave Mutianyu before lunch and have the rest of the day in Beijng. Although large groups can be good fun, in my opinion 10 is the ideal maximum for large groups.

With a smallish group, there’s more group bonding and people support each other, more personal attention and interaction with each other. Tour leaders can manage difficult sections more easily. Small groups has less visual intrusion into the environment, more interaction with local community and other tourists.

With a private guide, chances are your guide will be very knowledgable and you can time your visits to your interests, have all your questions asked and hopefully answered. You can spot a special sight or stop somewhere just for amoment of tranquility away from the crowds. Your guide can give you a lot of help with eating, getting around and shopping. Beijing traffic can be horrendous at rush hours, so plan your transit times effectively.

Bus tour might save a bit of money but they do so at the expense of rushing you from place to place, regardless of your individual interests. It can take quite awhile for them to do all the pick-ups (and drop-offs at the end) as the bus will stop at different hotels/hostels before leaving the city. Small group tour take you where you want to go, when you can go which won’t cost you too much (rather than share a tour guide with 20 others on the bus).

Semi-Independent travellers always have a handy guide book and have a bit of a sense of adventure. All in all, on the balance, I prefer small group tours or private tour to bus tour if I am not concerned about the difference in price when hiking Jiankou, Jinshanling,Simatai etc

Related Tours: Gubeikou to Jinshanling Hike
                          Jinshanling Simatai West Hike 
Related Link:   Simatai Reopen
Your turn

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