How to Spend a 10 Hour Layover in Beijing

 

6 Ways to Make the Most of Your 10 Hour Layover in Beijing

Layovers in Beijing can be an annoying hold-up in your trip, or they can be a fantastic way to see a new city without committing to a whole trip to a new country. Why not make the most of this opportunity to explore a new city? Below, we highlight a few of your best options for keeping yourself occupied:

Option 1: Have a Snooze at the Airport

Free

If you’re in desperate need of some shut-eye, don’t hesitate to take a brief nap at the airport. You’ll find the lounge far more conducive to resting than most airport settings.

Premier lounges also offer buffets, alcoholic beverages, and WiFi access. This isn’t the most exciting option for your layover, but it could provide the respite you desire.

Option 2: Escaping the City- Mutianyu Great Wall

If you’re eager to leave the airport but not quite ready to tackle the hustle and bustle of the city, look to the Great Wall of China as a highly memorable alternative.

If you have never visited Beijing before, the Mutianyu section, in particular, easily accessible from Beijing, is a good option for you.

As one of the Great Wall’s best-preserved areas, Mutianyu is home to several distinctive watchtowers worth checking out. This portion of the Great Wall also boasts a convenient cable car system.

You’ll probably be through Immigration and to transport in 2-3 hours. You should be back at airport 2 hours before departure to give you ample time to get through the immigration, security, and to boarding gate. That leaves you essentially 5 hours to play with, including transport to/from Mutianyu Great Wall.

For this you’d need to prearrange a private driver to pick you up at airport early in the morning, drive to Mutianyu and back to the airport for drop off.

 

Option 3: Looking For More Quiet Getaway–Huanghuacheng Great Wall

There’s a lot to love about Mutianyu Great Wall, but it can be unfortunately crowded at times. Depending on when your layover occurs, you may prefer the relative peace and quiet of Huanghuacheng.

Featuring a lot more ruins and a lot less development than MutianyuHuanghuacheng is particularly beautiful at sunset. Be sure to build at least four hours into your expedition to account for travel to and from the Great Wall.

Option 4: Take a Guided Tour of the City’s Most Notable Sites

With a little guidance, you can easily make the most of Beijing’s top tourist attractions–Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City.

At the famed Tiananmen Square, you’ll find the Gate of Heavenly Peace, which is perfect for photos. If you arrive at sunrise or sunset, you can witness the daily flag raising or lowering ceremonies.

After you explore Tiananmen Square, you stop by the Forbidden City, which is situated close enough to allow for a combined visit during your layover.

Keep in mind, however, that the last admission of the Forbidden City takes place at 3:30 pm in winter or 4 pm in summer — and the entire attraction is closed on Mondays.

If the Forbidden City fits into your schedule, you’ll encounter China’s most impressive imperial architecture.

 

Option 5: Enjoy the Art–Check Out 798 Art District

Sometimes referred to as theDashanzi Art District, this art zone brings a collection of decommissioned military factory buildings to life. Unique already due to their architectural style, these buildings house a thriving artistic community.

Contemporary galleries and edgy street art dominate the district, but the fun doesn’t end there. As you browse this vibrant enclave, you’ll also find brewpubs, cafes, and plenty of souvenir shops.

Option 6: Try Local Foods — Especially Peking Duck

Set aside time to enjoy at least one traditional Beijing dish. Peking duck may be your best bet. This local delicacy has often been imitated throughout the world, but it’s definitely at its best when consumed at home in Beijing.

Peking duck can be found at a few restaurants within and near the airport. If you have the chance to briefly leave the airport, however, you’ll want to try the dish at one of several fine dining establishments in the heart of the city. Keep in mind that some restaurants (such as the renowned Jing Yaa Tang) require visitors to alert staff to Peking duck orders at least three days in advance.

A Few Things to Note…

Beijing Capital International Airport is huge. You’ll see flights arriving and departing from just about every corner of the world. Just remember you’ll need to allow adequate time to get to your gate. As a transit airport, you will need to put your bags through a scanner before gaining entry to the lounge area.

From art galleries to the Great Wall, layover options abound in and around Beijing. There’s no need to limit yourself to the airport. Make the most of this opportunity to discover what, exactly, makes Beijing so special.

 

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10 Perfect Gifts For Great Wall Hikers

Ultimate Gift Ideas for Great Wall of China Hikes

Whether you are planning a trip to Beijing to hike the Great Wall over the winter or during warmer months, the experience can only be heightened by select hiking gear.

The Great Wall enjoys long stretches of easy-to-negotiate surfaces and rugged ones as well. That’s why making thoughtful outdoors gifts will show love and kindness when they are opened, and make your adventure even more pleasurable. These are 10 great gifts for Great Wall hiking.

1: Outdoor Watch

Wristwatches seemed to fall out of favor with the rise of smartphones. They’re making a comeback with hikers. A hiking watch is a smart investment when trekking the Great Wall of China, especially some of the rugged sections.

Products such as the Timex Expedition Shock Digital Compass deliver key features. These include hydration alerts, digital compass, thermometer, and others for under $100.

2: Hiking Shoes

Whether you stroll the Great Wall for a few miles to experience the breathtaking views or make an extended journey, the footing can vary. The ancient stone construction requires a solid hiking shoe to manage sometimes uneven pathways.

A high quality, lightweight product may be in order. Gifts such as the North Face Ultra 110 GTX and La Sportiva Spire GTX continue to be popular among hiking enthusiasts. They provide the lightweight comfort of a sneaker while delivering top-rated traction.

3: High-Quality Hiking Socks

If you take the advice of selecting a lightweight hiking shoe, then it would be wise to select all-weather socks. The sections of the Great Wall neighboring Beijing experience temperatures consistent with all four seasons.

Smartwool brands have been trending high in the hiking crowd. It’s the gift that keeps on giving comfy feet.

4: Wide-Brimmed Hat

There are two key reasons why hats are important when hiking the Great Wall. Keeping your head warm in late fall and winter is one. The other is the fact that you will be exposed to direct sunlight for extended periods.

Wide-brim hats are excellent gifts because they provide shade to the face and neck. They also look cool when hiking.

5: Trekking Poles

Safety is always job one when hiking. That’s why a set of lightweight poles makes a thoughtful gift. Key considerations when selecting trekking poles include carbide metal or steel tips because they make direct contact with the ground.

Comfortable non-slip grips are also important, and the overall weight should fall between 6-8 ounces per pole.

6: Sunglasses

Giving sunglasses to a friend or loved one for the purpose of hiking is a tad more complicated than you might think. Winter hikes on the Great Wall may include sunlight reflecting off miles of snow.

During the summer, the sun can be quite strong during peak hours. Those are glare factors to consider about light seeping in from above and below the frames. That aside, there are also rating essentials.

Considering the Great Wall is open with 360-panoramic views, consider UV protection and polarized lenses. This will deliver eye care and a crystal clear visual experience. Brands such as Sungod are trending as good values. Oakley makes highly durable hiking products.

7: Hiking Backpack

When choosing the perfect backpack gift for a Great Wall excursion, it may be wise to consider things such as distance, weight, and the person’s fitness. Lightweight backpacks can run under 2 pounds. But an average carry load can top 25 pounds.

Ask yourself: Does your loved one plan on trekking 20 miles or less than five? Pleasure walkers may be best suited to hyperlights that are common among college students. Ultralight backpacks are also adequate for day trips.

Overnight and extended hiking generally calls for the traditional full-length unit.

8: Outdoor Sunscreen

Regardless of when you enjoy the Beijing-area Great Wall, sunscreen is the gift that keeps on giving. It’s worthwhile to select a brand that delivers SPF 55 or higher for leisurely strolls and strenuous treks alike.

Consider a product with natural ingredients such as aloe or a convenient spray-on sunscreen.

9: Sleeping Bag

Choosing the perfect sleeping bag gift isn’t complicated. But high-quality products can be something of an investment. For instance, the REI Co-Op Magma 15 is a three-season sleeper that ensures comfort to 16 degrees Fahrenheit. It can be a tad pricey though.

For more moderate overnight treks on the Great Wall, big retail outlets carry brands such as Coleman that offer comfortable sleeping bags for under $25. The trick is to also give your loved one a sleeping pad to take the edge off the firm ground.

10: Headlamp

There’s a big difference between a good headlamp and an excellent one. You can probably purchase an inexpensive product that will serve a single hike. But headlamps have a certain “wow” factor that make them worth a modest investment.

There are good rechargeable products that deliver long burn times and are also stylish. Black Diamond makes some all-around products that are quite reasonably priced.

You could also go full pro-style with something like a Zebralight H600w and still spend under $100.

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Lighten the Luggage: Six Tips for Smooth Airline Travel in the Winter

Six Tips on How to lighten Your Luggage in Winter

Traveling during the winter months in the Northern Hemisphere means cooler temperatures. Heavier clothing, like boots and sweaters, must be crammed into the suitcase.

With many airlines charging extra fees for each piece of luggage and carefully monitoring the weight of bags, every step you can take to lighten the load will help. Here are six tips to pack sensibly yet travel comfortably for your trip.

Tip 1: Backpacks Are not Just For Kids and Teens.

They come in stylish designs and a variety of sizes. Many will fit under airline seats as a personal item that can be carried on at no charge, so you won’t need to pay for a carry-on bag.

Backpacks hold a lot but they won’t put as much strain on your back as lugging that heavy purse over your shoulder. Tuck your wallet in the backpack and put your empty purse in your checked luggage for when you arrive at your destination.

Do get a backpack with at least one outside pocket for items you will need frequently on the plane so you don’t have to root around like a dog digging up a bone when you need your lip balm.

If you plan to hike outdoors or even walk around a lot on your trip, this backpack will come in handy. Make sure to purchase one suitable for this type of use and not just one to transport your laptop.

Tip 2: A down Coat is an Excellent Lightweight Choice For Outerwear.

They come in a variety of styles for men and women. Hint: Women, sometimes the men’s version fits better, so head over to their department in the store if you’re not having any luck in yours.

Down jackets are rated for different degrees of cold, so be sure to study the description. One of the best features of a down coat is that they fold up very small. Stash it in your backpack and let it double as a pillow on your flight, or a tool to bop your kids if they misbehave.

Tip 3: Does Your Destination Have a Washer and Dryer?

Many hotels have guest laundry services and while it’s likely a tad bit pricey and you don’t want to spend your precious vacation hours washing clothes, it’s well worth the extra time if you can save luggage space.

If you’re using a house or apartment rental service and debating the prices of the properties, work the cost of being able to take a carry-on versus checked bag, if wearing your clothes several times means packing less. Not comfortable using public washers and dryers? Don’t worry, the high heat setting on the dryer will help kill germs.

Tip 4: Having a Way to Vent is Important

If the varying degrees of temperatures on a plane make you sweat and freeze within the space of five minutes, having a way to vent is important.

One way is to wear shoes you can remove and put back on quickly. These are called clogs, mules or slip-on shoes and another benefit of wearing these on the plane is that they generally take up more room in the suitcase than flexible footwear like tennis shoes. Save that extra luggage space for all your souvenirs.

Tip 5: Dehydration Doesn’t Just Occur During the Summer.

In the winter, you might not feel as thirsty as during warmer weather and forget to drink fluids. Having water on the airplane is a must, but it can’t be carried through security. Rather than pay for overpriced airport water, bring an empty plastic bottle to fill from a drinking fountain or from the bottle-filling station that many airports have right by the fountain. Worried about how clean that water is, or did you just watch the person ahead of you put their mouth way too close to the spout? There are a variety of self-cleaning and filtering water bottles on the market that will purify your water quickly. If you’re very tight for space, consider a collapsible water bottle.

Tip 6: Winter Benefits.

Winter weather means airport delays and the need to stay entertained without going broke shopping at the gift store. Instead of bulky books and a laptop computer, pack a tablet that can be used as an e-reader, or to play games, watch videos and browse the internet. Download as much as possible ahead of time so you don’t have to depend on the airport Wi-Fi.

Final Thoughts

With a little advanced planning, packing for winter airline travel can be streamlined to fit all the necessities, and still keep your luggage lightweight, easy to maneuver, and not add pulled muscles to your trip.

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The 10 Best Zoos in China

Get in Touch with Your Inner Animal at These Top Zoos in China

Travelers who make the journey to China anticipate an experience that blends ancient and contemporary cultures. The capital city of Beijing has captured the imagination of people around the world and icons such as the Great Wall, Forbidden City, and many others.

China also leads the world in fantastic natural zoo and aquarium habitats that visitors can experience. These are 10 must-see zoos and aquariums in China.

1: Beijing Zoo

Located at 137 Xizhimen Outer Street, Xicheng District, the Beijing Zoo is considered the largest zoo in China. It houses more than 450 animal species and upwards of 500 sea creatures.

All told, the Beijing Zoo is home to approximately 14,500, including pandas, elephants, leopards, gorillas, hippos, and dolphins. This ancient zoological experienced is set in robust and natural gardens and trees. Featuring running streams and lotus pools, it traces its roots to the Qing Dynasty.

2: Chengdu Panda Base

Located at 375 Panda Avenue, Chenghua District, the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding remains one of the most exciting zoological facilities in China. Giant pandas are considered a national treasure in China and are beloved creatures worldwide.

This non-profit facility is dedicated to furthering the population of this endangered species. There are reportedly only 2,000 giant pandas, and visiting the Chengdu Panda base offers a rare opportunity to see them in a natural environment.

3: Beijing Aquarium

Located at 137, Xizhimen Outer Street, Xicheng District, the Beijing Aquarium is considered the largest inland facility of its kind and covers upwards of 30 acres.

The aquarium features a wide range of displays that include Rainforest Wonder, Bering Strait, Whale and Dolphin Bay, Chinese Sturgeon Hall, Seabed Travel, Feel Pool and Ocean Theater.

4: Dalian Forest Zoo

Located in the Baiyun Mountain Scenic Area of the Dalian south coast, the forest zoo covers about 1,779 acres and is hosts more than 200 animals and 400 plant species.

The Dalian Forest Zoo is home to giant pandas, golden monkeys, kangaroos, and other rare animals. Beyond the unique opportunity to see exotic wildlife in a natural setting, the facility’s main attractions are the Rainforest Reptile Pavilion as well as performances held in the Gaiety Theater, and Elephant Behavior Pavilion.

5: Shanghai Zoo

Located near the Hongqiao International Airport on the outskirts of Shanghai, this zoo showcases upwards of 600 rare animals and 6,000 creatures in total. Its main wildlife attractions include giant pandas, golden monkeys, and South China tigers, among others.

6: Guangzhou Zoo

Located at 120 Xianlie Middle Rd, Yuexiu, Guangzhou, the Guangzhou Zoo spans more than 100 acres and ranks among the three largest urban facilities of its kind in China.

Home to more than 450 species and 4,500 creatures, the giant pandas, tigers, and lions are its main visitor draws. The zoo also features a beautiful Goldfish Garden, and animal performances entertain visitors.

7: Siberian Tiger Park

Located on the banks of the Songhua River northwest of Harbin, it remains the largest natural wildlife park for Siberian tigers in the world. Spanning more than 350 acres, the preserve was created in 1996 to protect this endangered predator. Visitors can safely view the king of tigers in its natural habitat.

8: Hong Kong Zoological and Botanical Gardens

Located on the Albany Road in the Central District of Hong Kong Island, this facility spans more than 13 acres and is home to more than 200 birds, 70 mammals, 30 reptiles, and 900 plant species.

Built during the late 19th Century, it houses species from around the world, including the American flamingo and Bornean Orangutan, among others.

9: Chongqing Zoo

Located 5 miles from the center of Chongqing City in the Jiulongpo District, this zoo covers approximately 111 acres and houses upwards of 230 species and 4,000 creatures all told. Rare animals include Yakin, argali, South China tiger, and clouded leopard, among others. There is also an amusement park for children.

10: Shenzhen Safari Park

The first zoo to feature uncaged wildlife in China, Shenzhen Safari Park spans more than 150 acres within the city’s metropolitan area. It features more than 300 species and 10,000 animals from around the world, including the national treasure giant pandas, golden monkeys, and South China tigers, among others. Visitors can also enjoy the adjacent amusement park.

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6 Tourist Spots to Avoid in Beijing

6 Tourist Attractions That Are Actually Not Worth the Trip

Beijing boasts a myriad of exciting and awe-inspiring tourist attractions, but not all necessarily warrant a visit. With so much to see and do — and limited time available — it behooves you to avoid the city’s less impressive destinations. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to determine which tourist attractions are most worth avoiding, particularly if you tend to gravitate towards spots off the beaten path. When in doubt, steer clear of the following:

1. Badaling And the Forbidden City on Chinese National Day

Many Beijing attractions need not be avoided outright. Rather, they’re worth bypassing on specific days, when the crowds are even larger than usual. Chinese National Day, in particular, warrants concern, as it typically delivers hordes of locals alongside the usual tourists. While the occasion technically involves a full week (known as the Golden Week) of festivities, the kickoff on October 1st tends to draw the largest crowds.

While the entire city of Beijing will be busier than usual on National Day, top attractions such as Badaling Great Wall and the Forbidden City may feel particularly overwhelming. If you’re willing to put up with crowds, you’re better off hitting up one of the city’s official celebrations, where you can at least take part in a memorable cultural occasion. If possible, plan to visit Badaling and the Forbidden City in late September, when the weather will be beautiful and locals will still be at work.

2. Panjiayuan Antique Market

The vibrant atmosphere of the Panjiayuan Antique Market lures in tourists eager to find unique souvenirs. There’s nothing necessarily wrong with walking around the market, where interesting sights abound. Think twice, however, before buying anything. Unfortunately, several of the market’s vendors are notorious for selling fakes — and passing them off as originals.

These can be visually impressive, but they also tend to be expensive due to their false designation as authentic. If you absolutely insist on purchasing something, resist the urge to buy it at face value. Bargaining is expected and will ensure that you aren’t completely ripped off.

3. Chairman Mao Memorial Hall

If you love waiting in line, you’ll be in for a real treat at Chairman Mao Memorial Hall, where the entire experience essentially consists of standing around impatiently. Your best bet for getting in and out in a reasonable amount of time involves waking up at the crack of dawn and arriving well before the attraction opens for the day. Otherwise, don’t be surprised if you wait well over an hour in line.

Once you finally make it inside, you’ll be afforded, at best, a quick glance at Chairman Mao’s resting place before you’re forced to move on. Blink, and you might miss it entirely.

4. Lama Temple’s Fortune Teller’s Street

The beautiful Lama Temple is absolutely worth visiting. The fortune-telling stores on nearby Yonghegong Street? Not so much. If you prefer to keep to yourself, you’ll be quickly annoyed by the many fortune-tellers who wander the area. They aren’t shy about getting in your face and talking about your future — and they’ll prove persistent, even if you’re in a hurry.

5. Blue Zoo Beijing

Also known as the Gongti Richina Underwater World, Beijing’s Blue Zoo provides up-close views of coral reefs, fish, stingrays, and more. You might even get to see a mermaid.

Unfortunately, the entire facility has a rundown feel that heavily detracts from the visual spectacle of the aquatic life on display. With a reasonable entrance fee, this might be acceptable. The Blue Zoo’s exorbitant tickets, however, justify higher expectations — which will definitely not be met.

6. Badaling Wildlife Park

The Badaling Wildlife Park may be home to a variety of creatures, but that doesn’t mean it’s an enjoyable place to visit. Unfortunately, the animals here spend their lives in very small — and often, very dirty — cages. Many of the animals appear to suffer from malnutrition and general neglect. Compared to other zoos, this location is downright depressing.

Don’t let this list discourage you. Thankfully, most Beijing attractions live up to the hype. That being said, you’ll find your visit most enjoyable if you dedicate your time exclusively to the city’s most impressive destinations. With a little planning, your trip can be just as wonderful as you’ve envisioned.

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