Beijing Subway “Survival” Tips

 

The Beijing Subway has to be the quickest and cheapest way to get around Beijing and is clearly marked in English for travelers. At ¥2 per trip (unlimited transfers), Beijing subway is the cheapest subway system in China.

The subway is crowded most of the time in Beijing. If you are an older traveler, you may wish to consider taking a taxi or booking a private car tour, if you can afford it. If you are a person in a wheelchair, you could not even contemplate using this part of the subway because there are no provisions at all to cater to your special needs.

 

There is an unwritten code of behavior for travelling by subway in Beijing. It’s easy to pick it up though – follow these “survival” tips you can enjoy your subway ride:

1) Know the rush hours: Morning: 7:00AM-9: 30AM, Afternoon: 5:30PM-8: 30PM. There are mass amounts of people crammed into trains during rush hour. It’s also always wise to avoid L1, L2, L10 during rush hour or avoiding traveling at that time completely.

2) Allow passengers to exit before boarding. People always push their way out as it’s crowded, it’s difficult to try to push your way in through the crowd.

 

3) Get as close to the door as possible before you are due to get off. You don’t want to struggle at your actual stop and missing your station when your stop arrives. Saying ‘xià che!’ when approaching your stop can also help by letting people know that you will be getting off.

4) Stay a little close to the door if you’re going less than 4 stops. If you stay at the middle carriages it’s difficult to push your way through the crowd when your stop arrives.

 

5) Wait first in line for the next train if you are not rush. Check the indicator for the next train time before crushing into a crowded train. Sometimes an extra minute on the platform brings along a much emptier car.

6) Don’t stand on the left on escalators. Stand to the right, walk on the left. Don’t be the one who holds everyone up because they are standing on the left of the escalator.  Don’t stop and stand at the bottom of the escalator to check your map or look for the correct platform. Remember hundreds of people are being propelled towards you and they can not stop!

8) Don’t crowd around the doors on longer subway trips. Move to the center of a crowded train if possible as staying close to the door you could be pushed from every possible angle by the large amount of people getting on and off the subway.

 

9) Take your rucksack off. If you are wearing a large backpack or carrying parcels, take care that they do not interfere with the space of others. It is generally best to hold your backpack in front of you while travelling on subway, especially during times when services are particularly crowded.

10) Have your ticket ready on entrance and exit, so you don’t have to stop and fumble in your bag or purse looking for it, creating a traffic jam behind you!

 

11) Move down the platform as best you can during peak travel times.

12) Keep on moving. Don’t stop: When walking around subway stations, make sure you consider the people behind you. Don’t stop at the top of escalators or after ticket barriers as this stops the flow of traffic behind you.

 

Please be aware that during the peak hours most people are only interested in getting from A to B and usually travel at great speed with their heads down. Don’t take it too personally if someone is rude after they have just run in to you, just accept that their pace of life isn’t as peaceful as yours.

Nevertheless, if you have a problem understanding it, or are confused about making connections while actually using the subway, the station attendants and most locals will advise you of the direction you need to take: it is only a matter of you asking for help.

 


Panjiayuan Market Travel Guide

Panjiayuan Beijing map

Panjiyuan is in the southeast corner of the Third Ring Road, 18 Huaweili, Panjiayuan Lu, Chaoyang District. Below the map, A= Panjiayuan Flea & Antique Market


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Panjiayuan Flea & Antique Market Guide

Panjiayuan market is the biggest and most famous Flea & Antique Market in Beijing. This market began in 1992. It is a great place to visit if you want to people watch, look for antiques, pearls, paintings, local produce or to find unique souvenirs to take home for family and friends.

 

 

Panjiayuan Market Opening Hours

Panjiayuan market is free of charge. Open hours: Monday to Friday from 8:30am-6:00pm; Saturday and Sunday from 4:00am-6:00pm. Saturdays and Sundays are the only days when Panjiayuan market is really much of an attraction. On weekdays, it is open, but only a fraction of the shops and market stalls are open and selection is very limited.

 

 

On weekends, all shops & stalls are open until about 6:00pm, and many stay open longer, but some begin to shut down around 5:00pm – 5:30pm, or even earlier in winter. You can find everything you are looking for in one of the 4,000 shops & stalls: antiques, collections of pearls, paintings, photography, old and new jade, antique furniture, porcelain…Prices and quality vary widely, and everyone from the college student to the senator’s wife will find something to love.

 

How to Get to Panjiayuan Market

Getting to Panjiyuan by subway: Panjianyuan market is easily accessible by Metro. Travel east of the city center on the line 10 to Panjiayuan station. Get out from Exit B, walking left out of the station along the bridge for about 100 meters. You will walk through a small outdoor market area where vendors sell mostly beads and bracelets, before you reach Panjiayuan market entrance. The market is a fine walking destination from the metro stop.

Get out from Exit B of Panjiayuan stop.

 

Panjiayuan metro stop.

 

Walk along the bridge for about 100m.

 

Then you will see the main entrance of Panjiayuan market to your left hand.

 

Getting to Panjiayuan by car: If you reach the area by car or other means, and are unsure which way to go, just look for Panjiayuan bridge over the east third ring road, to the west side of bridge about 100m. That is Panjiayuan market. Most drivers know which area tourists want to go to, and will take you directly to Panjiayuan market entrance.

 

 

 

This outdoor market is open everyday. Stalls along both sides of the sidewalk are full of paintings, jewelry, dishes, furniture, and books. 

 

 

 

Every summer in Beijing (approximately from May until September) you have many little flea markets all over Beijing: of course it is smaller than Panjiayuan market. Panjiayuan is the perfect place to spend your Sunday afternoon in Beijing and you will be able to find good cheap antiques.


How to get to Jiankou Great Wall from Beijing

If you’re reading this, you are most likely planning to go to the most beautiful Jiankou Great Wall; But before you hit the brakes on your Great Wall Jiankou adventure, here’s some very good advice on how to actually get to Jiankou Great Wall from Beijing without smashing your piggy bank!

Option 1: getting to Jiankou from Beijing by pubic transport

Getting to Jiankou Great Wall from Beijing by public transport is a bit of a trek – take a 2.5 – 3 hour bus journey from Dongzhimen Outer (bus 936 or bus 867) to Yujiayuan (costs 12RMB), and then take a local bus (H25, cost around 8RMB) or taxi to Xizhazi Village then walk for 1 hour along the trail to reach Jiankou Great Wall.

Getting to Jiankou from Beijing by pubic transport would add to the sense of adventure. You need to change stations and find bus stops, go over read the signs, take a couple of minutes to digest where you are. If you have 1.5 or 2 days to explore Jiankou, this way is a good option for you on the cheap.

 

In the map below: (A) = Dongzhimen Beijing. (B) = Xizhazi village at Jiankou. 


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How to get to Dongzhimen Outer: take subway line 2 and get out through the B exit of Dongzhimen station and walk straight until the traffic light and make a left turn. The easiest way to find it is to go to the main entrance of Dongzhimen Outer bus transfer depot then walk ANTICLOCK WISE around the block until you get to the another bus station (20 – 25 minutes on foot).

 

 

You will see this screen when you get out of Exit B, then go straight until the traffic light and make a left turn.

 

Bus 867 /936 go directly from Dongzhimen Outer to Yujiayuan at Huairou. There are several Huairou stops on the route, make sure to get off at Yujiayuan stop. At Yujianyuan bus station take a local bus H25 or minivan to Xizhazi Village that takes 1 hour. Bus H25 bus terminates at the village.

Bus 936 on the road

 

 Get off at Yujiayuan (“于家园”)

 

 Take a local bus H25 or minivan at Yujiayuan station.

 

A Sinopec gas station on the opposite side of Yujiayuan bus stop.

 

Buses H25 from Yujiayun to Xizhazi leave at 11:30 and 16:30. On the return journey to Yujiayuan leave at 06:00, 11:30, 13:15 and 14:30. H25 sign at Yujiayuan is written in Chinese. 

 

How long is the journey by bus from Dongzhimen Outer to Yujiayuan at Huairou, and then from there to Jiankou Wall (Xizhazi Village)? It takes 1.5-2h from Dongzhimen Outer to Yujiayuan and the journey from Yujiayuan Huairou to Jiankou requires around 1 hour.

Option 2: book a tour to Jiankou from Beijing

If this is your first and most likely only trip to Beijing, and you don’t want to spend the majority of the day coming and going on pubic transportation, the best way to avoid the hassle and make the best use of a day of sightseeing is to take private tours that combine Jiankou hiking with Mutianyu toboggan ride.

Jiankou hiking with Mutianyu toboggan ride offer 2 versions: a cheap version – self-guided walk allows you to walk at your own pace and only leave transportation, navigation and logistics to us. It costs about 110usd (based on group of 2) for the whole day. This self-guided hiking tour is for those independently minded hikers and walkers who would like the freedom, flexibility and adventure of hiking on their own.

A slightly more expensive version- guided walk that includes the experienced guide to help your explore Jiankou on small group and will personalize your tour for you. It costs about 143usd (based on group of 2) for the whole day. (Leaving the hotel in Beijing at 8.30 and didn’t get back until about 5 or 6!) Jiankou is never busy and if you wanted a more ‘personal’ feel both types of tours are good option.


How to Choose a Great Wall Tour Company

Once you’ve decided a Great Wall hiking & camping trip you’re interested in, you will find dozens of companies offering Great Wall tours. The list of tour companies is really big and seems difficult to choose from. To save your time checking many websites, and send separate inquiry to each company, follow the five tips then you will make the right decision on who to go with.

How to choose a Great Wall tour company

Here are 5 things to look for in a good tour company:

1: Reputation

Look on travel message boards to see what others are saying about the business. Big, expensive tour companies might not always have the best reputations. Some little ones are just as good. After you find tour companies you’re interested in, find out what people thought of them and use what you find to further refine your search. Some companies might display comments online—like our Pinterest board devoted to handwritten reviews. Other sources includes feedback from customer comment forms. Link: Read real customer reviews of WildGreatWall Adventure Tours on TripAdvisor.

2: Cost Transparency

It’s not always true that you get what you pay for. Different tour companies run similar looking tours that seem to include the same activities but differ in price. The cheapest choice doesn’t mean the best value. There will be differences reflected in the price.

Does your tour include lunch? Does your tour include admissions to the section of the Great Wall you’ll visit? Or does the tour operator pick up and drop you off at your hotel? These are important questions to ask as you do your research. Some companies require you to pay additional money when the tour starts. Make sure you know whether there are any hidden fees to consider—before making a final purchase. Remember that cheapest on paper isn’t always best on the road.

3: Locally Owned and Operated

Did you know there are Great Wall tour websites that are based in other parts of the world? It’s true. In the age of the Internet, it’s easy for anyone anywhere in the world to operate a website that sells tours. Find out where the tour operator is located and ask “Is this a local company?” Companies that don’t provide an address are probably not local.

4: Group Size

Larger groups require larger buses, bigger ships, and more resources. Tour companies that have smaller groups tend to be much more mindful of the environment and the impact they are leaving. Plus, it’s a lot easier to meet people in a group of 9 than it is in a group of 40.

Our small groups mean you will get away from crowds, your guide will always be available and you can receive the personal attention you deserve. On each of our active Great Wall hiking tours, we focus on a different section of Great Wall, getting you out of the vehicle, and into the scenery, giving travelers a SHORT, SHARP adventure travel experience.

5: Local guides

Using local guides means your guides will know the land, its history, its people, and its unique culture. The guides should be a local or at least a long-term resident, know the local language, have travel experience.

At wildgreatwall.com, Your guides will lead your hike with their stories; answer questions regarding the particular hike and much more, help you explore wild Great Wall, find a suitable stopping place for lunch, and ensure that no hiker is left behind. You have your own local contact to ask for suggestions, ideas and opinions about restaurants, other activities and more.

If we are fortunate to have you pick us as your host for your Great Wall adventure, you can count on us to live up to all of the promises that we made.  It’s not just a holiday, you’ll learn more about the world and yourself!

Have fun and we hope to see you on the Wall!


How to pick a Great Wall Hiking & Camping Tour

 

Organized Great Wall tours can be especially great for first-time visitors unsure about setting out on their own. Guided or self-guided Great Wall tours can give people the time to adjust to the travel lifestyle. Without organized tours, many wild sections of the Great Wall are inaccessible.

If you decide to take a Great Wall hiking & camping tour, here are some aspects to consider when looking for in a good tour:

1. Decide how long you have to hike

A Great Wall hike can be a great adventure but it is not the sort of thing that you just show up and do. The first thing that you are going to have to do is to determine just how long you want to spend hiking on the Wall. Pick a Great Wall hike based on how long you should stay in Beijing Do you have the entire Sunday?  Or do you just have a few hours on a afternoon? There is a huge difference in the planning requirements for a day hike and those for a week trek.

2. Choose your travel dates

Sometimes you don’t get to choose your travel dates. Maybe you can only get a certain day off from work, or perhaps you are touring the Great Wall at a very specific time. Maybe you have that flexibility. At wildgreatwall.com, our tours are run daily departing from Beijing to make good use of your holiday.

3. Select a price range

Picking the right price range is important because otherwise you could miss out on finding the right Great Wall tour. However, you also don’t want to waste time looking at Great Wall trips that don’t fit your criteria because they cost more than you want to pay.

4. Determine your starting level

As the majority of our Great Wall hikers are here for the first time, our one day hike is suitable for all age groups with average fitness. Children under ten to senior citizens, have successfully hiked either from Jinshanling to Simatai West or from Jiankou to Mutianyu. Check out How difficulty is it to hike from Jinshanling to Simtai West for more details.

5. Pick your hiking location

Which section of the Great Wall you should visit depends on whether you prefer seeing the wall in its original state or a restored section? Does it bother you that you will be with thousands of other sightseers or prefer relative solitude? Would you like to go to a trekking tour, camp overnight on the wall. Check out the post –  Which part of the Great Wall you should visit for more tips.

6. Evaluate the cost of your tour

Ask where the money goes and how it is spent to find out if you are really getting the best value for your money. Moreover, make sure you ask if there are fees to pay when you get there, or at specific sites. Some companies require you to pay additional money when the tour starts. That cheap tour won’t be so cheap if you have to pay for everything while there. Read the post – What it costs to hike & camp on the Great Wall for more information.

7. Decide hiking solo or with a friend/group

I love hiking with a friend /group – it’s mobile meditation for me. Hiking solo can be dangerous should anything happen while you’re out on the trail; so if you’re a little more cautious, then I’d recommend buddying up with a friend or your significant other for your hike.  It’s the perfect bonding opportunity.

At wildgreatwall.com, If you would like to start or join a group, this Find a Hiking Companion Service we are offering will assist you. It is aimed at putting people in touch with other people who have similar Great Wall hiking & camping interests. Your notice can be put online and you would be informed as soon as other guests requested the same service.

Final Thoughts

We hope that this information will aid you in finding the best Great Wall tour to meet your particular active vacation needs. These seven tips should help you take the guesswork out of this decision process and make your Great Wall experience easy and enjoyable.