Great Wall of China is one of the Seven New Wonders. You must see it in China. The walls measure ca. 8850 km. 6250 km was built by people and the rest is natural barrier. The very first walls was built in VII century B.C. These days we can admire the fortifications built or reconstructed during Ming Dynasty (XV -XVI century).
There are a few fragments of the wall available for tourists nearby Beijing:
You can visit them during one day trip from Beijing.
The most popular and photogenic is Badaling. The disadvantage of it is huge number of visitors (more than 100 million people per year). The section is often closed due to security of vip visitors. The advantage of the Badaling is very good public transport connection. It is very ease and fast to go from Beijing to Badaling by train or bus. Perfect information how to get there you can find on the following web pages:
The other sections of Great Wall are not so popular and less tourists visit them but it is complicated to get there. Lonely Planet guide - China provides more information about it.
We visited Badaling on foot and the ticket cost 40 RMB. You can also go from the parking to the wall by sliding car - extra 30 RMB. In my opinion it is waste of money. It is short distance and it is ease to walk. I recommend to walk around section. You can start at the sliding car final station on the top and go to the right. At the end of the section there is a passage down to the parking. You can do it opposite direction as well. The wall is going up, down and turns. The floor is very slippy. Don't forget to take comfortable sport shoes with anti slipping soles. There are panoramic and gorgeous views from the towers, located every 100 meters. It takes almost all day to visit the site.
- the most popular attraction in the capitol. In 2013 entrance fee was 60 RMB + 40 RMB for audio guide - recommended. It takes all day to visit the site.Temple of Heaven Park
(35 RMB) was built in XVI century and rebuilt in XVII century. Emperors pilgrimage to the temple every year at winter solstice. They prayed and sacrificed cattle for good harvests.Summer Palace
used to be emperors' summer residence. There are 3000 buildings on huge area of 290 hectares but 70% of the park is a lake. Palaces, temples and pavilions are perfect examples of Chinese architecture. Oriental music and dancing shows are performed at the palace complex. There are two option of entrance fee. Combo ticket - 60 RMB almost all attractions are included. The second option is entrance fee to the park (30 RMB) and you can extra pay for preferred sites from 10 RMB to 20 RMB. In my opinion palaces and temples are worth to visit but you can skip exhibitions and galleries pavilions. The dancing and music show is included in both fees.Tian'anmen
- one of the most famous squares in the world. It must be at your short list. Mao Tse Tung's mausoleum was built at the square in 1977 and it is free to visit. Although you must be prepared to have very detailed security check and leave all your belongings like camera, small bag, mobile in deposit.Olympic Park
is very modern attraction of Beijing. It is wonderful illuminated in the evening, especially: Bird's nest, National Aquatic Center and Linglong Tower. There is also special wall with all medal winners of Olympic Games in 2008 in the complex.
Small Chinese town ( 0,5 million inhabitants) is famous of city walls. They were built in 800 B.C. and rebuilt several times later. The walls are 6 meters wide and 8 meters high. You can walk around them and enjoy panoramic view on old and new part of Ping Yao. There are many old buildings, tremendous examples of Chinese architecture, at old city. One day it is enough to see all attractions of Ping Yao but it is good idea to stay overnight in the peaceful town and enjoy sunset from ancient walls.
Combo entrance fee to the walls and all historical sites is very expensive: 150 RMB. The ticket is valid 3 days.
Don't hire a taxi or rickshaw to visit attractions. Old City is closed for road traffic.
Ping Yao is small town with limit train connections from/to Beijing or Xian. It is good idea to book train ticket a few days before departure.
Accommodation in Xian. Double room in Xian Zi Men International Youth Hostels costs 180 RMB, a bed in dorm 85 RMB. It is complicated to get there. Bus 603 takes you from Train Station to North Gate of City Walls. Get off and go straight (don't cross the wall). There is a street where you find the hostel at your right ( distance - 50 meters). You can go down the street on your left and find another hostel.
I think the directions will not be out of date in 2015. The subway is being built very fast in Xian and you will be able to get to the hostel by train.Xian Great Mosque
(25 RMB) is the oldest Islam temple in China. It is divided into four full of plants courtyards. There are many ancient pavilions, gates, platforms and halls. The most important builiding is the Mosque but only Muslims are allowed to go inside. Anyway I recommend the site and walk around Muslim district.Big Wild Goose Pagoda and Fountain Light&Sound Show
Following internet reviews we have not gone to Big Wild Goose Pagoda. It is better to watch it beautiful illuminated outside. You should be there before 20.30 and enjoy spectacular Fountain Light&Sound Show in a park next to the Buddhist temple. You can watch it on short movie:
Take a bus no. 609 from Xian Zi Men International Youth Hostels.Terracotta Army
To get there take a bus no. 603 to Railway Station (last stop). At the station find big information banner with a map of bus stops. Locate bus stop of 5(306) and go to the stop. It is ease to find it because there are many people waiting for the transport to Terracotta Army museum.
It takes about one hour to get to the destination. Get off at the last stop. Entrance fee was 150 RMB in 2013. You can visit 3 pits and Mausoleum of the First Qin Emperor. Transport from the pits to the mausoleum is included in the ticket.
I recommend to visit burial pits in the reverse order (3,2,1). You will see the best preserved warriors at the end, in pit 1.
You can hire a guide for 2 hours. It cost 100RMB-150RMB. Audio guides were not availabled in 2013.Han Jingdi Mausoleum
Emperor Qin took the terracotta army to the grave and Han Jingdi took all empire to giant tomb. You can see terracotta statues of eunuchs, servants, peasants, chariots and even local animal like pigs.
Entrance fee to the museum: 90 RMB. It is hard to get to Han Jingdi Mausoleum. First take a bus 600 from Xian Zi Men International Youth Hostels and go to the last stop. When you get off you need to go back 300 meter to crossroads with traffic lights. Pass the street and there is bus stop on your left. Check on the information board bus no. 4. If you can find it you will have to wait for the bus. According to a schedule there are 2-3 buses per hour. Finally you get in the bus and travel to the last stop.Paintbrush Street w Xian
This is perfect place to buy souvenirs and Chinese less or more shoddy arts. It is located very close to the Zi Men International Youth Hostels. Leave the hostel and go to Nan Dajia Street. Pass the street and go straight 50 meters and here you are. There are many art and souvenirs shops in the area. Don't forget to bargain and check prices in a few shops before you decide to buy paintings or any other items.
Luoyang Peony Festival is very famous in China. You can enjoy beautiful blooming flowers in April. Entrance fee to the park : 40 RMB and 15 RMB after 19.00.Shaolin Monastery
There are two option of visiting famous temple:
Both options are available at the bus station in Luoyang. If you decide to go on your own take public bus (17 RMB). It goes to many attractions around Luoyang. Before departure ask driver to stop next to the monastery.
Entrance fee is 100 RMB. The monastery complex is huge and it is good idea to take public electric vehicle (10 RMB) to go around all attractions.
Kung-fu show is included in entrance fee. It starts at 8.00, 9.00, 10.00, 11.00, 16.00, 17.00, 18.00 and lasts 30 minutes. It is better to be 15 minutes before the beginning and take good seats. You can watch short movie from kung-fu show:
Shaolin Monastery was built next to Shoshi mountain. There is beautiful panoramic view on the temple and mountains from the top. You can get to the top on foot or take cable car or chairlift. The cable car takes you to the most scenic part of the mountain.
End your Shaolin Monastery trip before 17.00. You can have a problem to go back to Luoyang after 18.00.Longmen Grottoes
It takes half a day to visit Longmen Caves. Take a bus no. 81 (1,5 RMB) from the bus station and go to the last stop.
There are 60 pagodas and 100 000 Buddha statues in the Longmen Caves. They were created from V till VIII centuries. The biggest statues are 17 meters and smallest ones - 25 milometers. There are an invaluable inscriptions in the caves as well. The most impressive part of the cave is situated on the west bank of a river.
If your time is very limited visit Longmen Caves and quit Shaolin Monastery.
This is huge city and symbol of modern China. Shanghai is not only skyscrapers but old city as well. Visit Yuyan garden in the old district. Beautiful Chinese style garden is not very big. You can go for a walk from old city to the Bund. In the evening skyscrapers of modern district Pudong are illuminated beautifully.
Shanghai Museum is free of charge and take you in a wonderful time trip of four thousands year of Chinese civilization. Audio guide is available in the museum.
People's Park is next to the museum. At the weekend there is very unique 'matchmaking market'. Parents looking for love - for their children.Suzhou
Venice of the East was very disappointing for me. Narrow and stinky canals with typical Chinese architecture around. I took some photos on the small bridges. Humble Administrator's Garden (70 RMB) is very ordinary. There are flowers in pots, not trimmed grass and trees in the garden. Yuyan garden was much more interesting in Shanghai.
Taian is the best base to climb to the top of one Sacred Mountains of China. Taishan International Youth Hostel (45 RMB for a bed in dorm and 190 RMB double room) was our accommodation. Bus K37 took us from high-speed railway station. We changed the bus at 'Old railway station' stop to K4 and went directly to the hostel. It is easier and faster to go the hostel by taxi.
You can visit food street in the center of the town. There are many local meals and snacks on the street. The prices are very reasonable.
Get up in the early morning to climb to the Tai Shan. First take a bus K3 and go to the last stop. You can start climbing from the bottom but the trail is next to the road or you can take a bus (30 RMB). If you take a bus you will pass along 1/3 of the way. Then you can go upstairs - 6000 steps up or take cable car to the top. I went up on foot. There are many food, devotional articles and suveniers stalls on the way. When you reach the top you can enjoy the beautiful panoramic view. There are many temples, shops and restaurants on the top of Tai Shan.
China Ancient Chariots Museum is 'off the beaten trail site' in Zibo. The trip to the museum was nightmare. We took a bus from Linzi and went to Zibo (2 hours). We went from bus station to the Museum by taxi in Zibo. China Ancient Chariots Museum is situated outside Zibo. There is no public transport and any taxi service next to the museum. We asked the driver to wait for us but he refused. We spent one our in the museum (40 RMB). There are 10 chariots with skeletons of horses in the museum. Probably the horses were buried alive. We left the museum and there was no taxi or any other public transport. We had to hitch at the highway. Luckily one car stopped and gave us a lift to the center.
Generally we spent one hour in the museum and traveled 4 hour in total. You need almost a day to visit the museum. I don't recommend to go there. If you are fascinated with ancient chariots take a taxi from Linzi railway station to the museum, ask a drive to wait for you, and come back by the taxi. It cost c.a. 300 RMB + 40 RMB entrance fee to the museum.