Author Topic: Beijing, China  (Read 641 times)

Offline rkg27

  • Dansdeals Gold Elite
  • ***
  • Join Date: Feb 2018
  • Posts: 126
  • Total likes: 9
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 1
    • View Profile
  • Location: NY,NY
Beijing, China
« on: August 23, 2018, 03:33:33 PM »
Trip Report Beijing, China
January 2018 Ė 7 days


We got our tickets through the Air Canada price mistake at $187 RT each which was really amazing, so we were already off to a good start.   
During the month of January the weather is pretty similar to NY temperatures so we packed for warm weather, we were pleasantly surprised that the temp was in the high 40ís-50ís the entire time and the air quality was great the entire time. 
When we arrived at EWR for our flight we immediately saw that our flight was delayed and that we would never make it to our connecting flight in Canada, luckily they rebooked us on a United flight that was direct only an hour later, sadly our kosher meals were not rebooked.  United luckily gave us vouchers for $80 to spend on food at their terminal where there is an abundance of kosher food options so we got sandwiches for our flight plus a bunch of granola bars and Israeli chocolate.
When we arrived in China, we waited on very long passport control lines, but they moved quickly enough.  We hired a car to pick us up from the airport through our tour guide who was great (besides the fact that he didnít speak any English, but this is pretty typical of all cab drivers in Beijing).   
We stayed at the Grand Hyatt for our first four nights all on annual reward nights and points, this hotel is a very nice level 4 hotel.  The only downside of this hotel was the fact that the beautiful pool was under construction (however they did upgrade us to a suite for this inconvenience).  Our overall stay was very enjoyable the hotel had nice amenities and is very centrally located for tourist attractions and sightseeing.
Day 1:
This was only a partial day that we spent recovering and then we went to Diniís restaurant for dinner.  Communicating with cab drivers during the entire trip was a very interesting experience, we used our phones and had some help from the staff at the hotel/Diniís.   We really enjoyed all of the meals at Diniís it is a little pricey but for the only kosher restaurant in Beijing it is very helpful.  We tried to get the more authentic options for meals; however they never had the dumplings that were on the menu.  They even made a birthday cake for my wife which was nice that they were able to do this. 
After dinner we were able to have a cab called for us by the manager of the restaurant through Didi and we were able to pay in cash.  We then went back to the hotel and got foot messages at a local place (kind of sketchy looking but was nice enough)
We hired a tour guide for our first two days in Beijing, this was well worth the cost ($450 all inclusive) this included a driver for the entire day, entrance fees to all sights, and a personal guide.  One of the best parts of this experience was not having to worry about planning these days and also having a personal photographer with us the entire time so we were able to get pictures without having to bother people all day long.  Our tour guide was named Skye,
Here are the best ways of contacting her:
Email: skyegao2008@gmail.com
MB/Wechat/WhatsApp/Viber/Imessage: 0086 18513503536
Facebook: Skye Gao,   https://www.facebook.com/skyegao
Website: http://beijingtourguide-skyegao.weebly.com
Tripadvisor Link : http://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g294212-d2369360-Reviews-Beijing_Private_Guide_Skye-Beijing.html

Day 2: Temple of Heaven, Tiananmen Square, Forbidden City, walk around in the hutongs.
In the morning we went to the Temple of Heaven, where the emperor did his annually pray for heaven, which in modern days serve as an important venue for big events. The local people do all kinds of morning exercises there.
We then visited  Tian'anmen Square, the world's largest public square. One of the really nice things about having a tour guide  allowed us to go in a special entrance where we were able to skip the line and security. We explored the sites around the square with opportunities to take some amazing photos and the option to go into Chairman Maoís tomb. Then we visited the magnificent Forbidden City, the largest Imperial Palace in the world. We spent a couple of hours wandering around the amazing imperial architecture and learn about the history and stories of the palace. It is pretty much all the same, once youíve seen one building from the outside youíve seen it all, but still amazingly worthwhile. 
We walked through the old hutong areas to see the daily life of the common ordinary people. The hutongs  were really amazing we took tons of pictures we got to see more of a sense how people in the city live and see what they do for fun, like ice skating on frozen lakes with chairs.  We ended our day by going to the Bell Tower and Drum Tower where we did a tea ceremony, this was very nice, but of course at the end they pressured us into buying overpriced tea. 

We ended our day at Diniís for dinner.

Day 3:  Mutianyu Great Wall, Summer Palace.
We had a car service arranged by our tour guide pick us up at our hotel for our 1.5 to 2 hours drive to the Great Wall. Mutianyu is one of the most and ideal section of the Great Wall. It is less crowded, but famous for the beautiful scenery all year around. We took the cable car up to the top since the chairlift was broken.  The wall was breathtaking and we spent a leisurely 2 hours hiking up and down the various sections exploring the Watch Towers and marveling at the construction, this was one of the most important places for having someone with us to take pictures since we it was pretty empty it was great to have our own private photographer.  We then took the toboggan ride back down which was really cool, but a little uncomfortable.

We then drove to visit the Summer Palace (which im sure would be very nice during spring/summer) this is where the emperor and his royal family spent their summer vacation. It is the biggest and best preserved imperial park in China. We went through here quickly probably under an hour.

At the end of the day our driver took us to the pearl market, our first dip into the shopping experience of Beijing (this seems to be the activity everyone recommends to us besides the sites that we already saw)  We then went to a suit maker near by that we found online.  The suit that I got there was very nice quality and well made.  The only problems with this place was that they over charged and were not flexible with the price  (1200 rmb), which most other places were, we also had to go back for a second fitting, but they did throw in a free tie and ended up delivering the suit to my hotel.  (if you want something cheaper I recommend talking to the Chabad rabbi he knows are the right people to talk to and the cheapest places/prices for everything that you might want to buy later on I got a second suit for 800 rmb and 2 custom shirts for 50 rmb each this is important to do early in the week since it takes a few days to get these items made) 

We then went back to Diniís for dinner. 

Day 4: Food Street, hike, and exploring the city on foot, night time acrobatic show and bar street

This was our first day on our own and we decided to take it easy, sleeping in and exploring on our own.  We were able to walk to the food street from our hotel which was off of a very nice pedestrian street.  This area has all of the stores you can find in America but for triple the price.  We walked through the food street which was very cool to see, but not for the squeamish.  We then walked to the park located behind the forbidden city which has a very nice hike/walk up lots of stairs to a beautiful city view.  After going to the park and taking lots of pictures we went to the area of the city with a few different temples, but didnít end up going inside we just walked around and enjoyed ourselves.  We bought some tea here for a much more reasonable price. 

We then went back to the hotel to switch to our new hotel the NUO hotel which is walking distance to the Chabad for Shabbat.  This hotel is beautiful 5 star hotel. The entire set up for the hotel is amazing, including the art throughout the lobby and the hotel rooms were also amazing.  I would compare it to my experiences at the park hyatt in NYC or the Mamila hotel in Jerusalem but for a fraction of the cost less than $150 a night.

We then went to Diniís for dinner before our evening show.  We went to the acrobatic show because everyone from our tour guide to our hotel recommended it (every place will sell you tickets make sure not to pay full price if you decide to go.  We personally really did not like the show it was a bad version of the balancing acts from Americas got talent in an ugly and uncomfortable theater.  From everyoneís recommendations for this show we expected a lot more and would not recommend wasting the money.  After this we went to the bar street, we thought this would be a nice way to end the night, but we didnít really ejoy it, there are people up and down the street yelling at you trying to convince you to go into their bars, we found some dive bar and went for one drink then left. 

Day 5: SPA Day
Friday was a day for us that we didnít want to do any touring we just wanted to relax; we did a lot of research and found a hot springs that was located about an hour drive outside of Beijing.  We got the hotel to order a cab for us and it was honestly not so expensive since we were already on the border of the city and closer to the location of the hot springs.  We went to the Jiuhua hot spring  -  jiuhua.com.cn this was probably the most cultural experience that we had in china and we really enjoyed it.  We were a little nervous about traveling that far outside of the city especially on erev shabbas. 

We went to Chabad for shabbas which was a very nice experience.  We met a lot of anglos and a lot of people traveling to china on the same air Canada deal, we definitely made a few líchaims to Dan for bringing us this trip of a lifetime.  Shabbas was also a good time to relax and also make sure that we had the full Beijing experience based on what everyone else had done.  We learned about the Chabad Rabbiís tailor that charges less, the best place to get watches, and what else we should do for our last evening and day in China. 

Day 6: Shabbat

On Shabbat we had a leisurely morning with davening starting at 10:30 and going until 11:30 after davening we had a very nice lunch and then we decided to go for a walk through an art city near the Chabad.  This was very interesting but not the easiest area to go to on Shabbat since there were  a lot of the exhibits that were either paid entry or electronic doors, so we cut our losses and went to take a shabbas nap. 

We spent motzei Shabbat at the silk market doing some more shopping and my final suit fitting.  We then had the Chabad tailor meet us at our hotel room at 11pm and then we had a nice drink at the rooftop bar of the hotel. 

Day 7: Beijing Zoo, Pearl Market, and Flight home

This was our final day in china, having seen all of the major sights we decided to go see the pandas at the Beijing zoo and then go to the pearl market for some final shopping.  The Beijing zoo has very cheap entrance fees, I think we paid $3 to go see the pandas which were really cute and worthwhile since you canít see pandas in NY.

At the pearl market (basically a mall with all knock offs) we honed our negotiation skills and made a bunch of purchases in total for our trip we bought: 4 purses, 1 watch, 1 silk scarf, 2 custom suits, 2 custom dress shirts, a new suitcase to bring home all of our shopping, and pearls for the wife.  I would recommend for negotiating is take the number they give you and offer back 1/10th of that price and go from there.  Typically everything that is sold in these markets (silk and pearl) is negotiable.   

We headed back to our hotel and went off to the airport.  At the airport we went to the Air China first class lounge which was a very nice area for us to hang out and have a drink before our long flight home. 

We again had delays with our flight on the way home, we missed our first connection and then our new flight got delayed several hours (sadly the lounges in Toronto were closed).

Overall this was an amazing vacation, we had a great time and loved ever part of the experience. 

Offline zow

  • Dansdeals Presidential Platinum Elite
  • ********
  • Join Date: Jun 2014
  • Posts: 2874
  • Total likes: 108
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 11
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
  • Location: BOS
Re: Beijing, China
« Reply #1 on: August 23, 2018, 11:44:56 PM »
Terrific report! We were also there in January, but only 3 days in PEK. 

Great memories. First yahrtzeit of the glitch is this weekend. 

Thanks for writing it up. 

Offline ludmila

  • Dansdeals Lifetime Presidential Platinum Elite
  • *********
  • Join Date: Aug 2012
  • Posts: 5164
  • Total likes: 268
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 0
    • View Profile
  • Location: IND
  • Programs: Hilton Diamond,Marriott Platinum,SPG Platinum.
Re: Beijing, China
« Reply #2 on: August 24, 2018, 01:28:12 AM »
Nice TR, thank you.
I was the Best,still the Best, and will always be the Best.
Pele Good,Maradona Better, George Best.