My first trip to Asia this year was Shanghai and I added Beijing last minute. I didn’t have enough time to spend in Beijing but I wanted to make the most out of my visit. I took the last train from Shanghai HongQuiao train station to Beijing departing at 5:00pm and arriving Beijing roughly at 11:00pm. I will share my thoughts on the train experience on a later blog post. The Four Points by Sheraton which was the hotel that I stayed at in Beijing helped me accommodate my request of a private chauffeur that would take me to the top 3 tourist attractions that I wanted to go. The start up price I was offered for this was 1600yuan – if you have been to China before, you are well aware that you can always bring the price down, so I didn’t take their first offer and lowered it to 1200yuan, I felt like that was a reasonable price and we had a deal. At first, I thought it was going to be a taxi like vehicle but it ended up being a very comfortable VW with air conditioner, equipped with a lot of water and snacks, tissue box and a few other amenities such as hand sanitizers and towels. The driver was extremely friendly and attentive, he could barely speak english but he tried very hard to have a few conversations as we were driving around town.
My Vehicle in Beijing for the day.
- The Great Wall of China
- Forbidden City
- Temple of Heaven
I told the front desk to let the driver know that our first stop was going to be The Great Wall of China which was one hour and 30 minutes away from my hotel. I departed the hotel at 8:00am and arrived at The Great Wall by 9 o’clock. The driver was speeding like crazy which is normal in Asia. Once I arrived to the Great Wall, I went straight to the ticket office to purchase my ticket that cost me 45Yuan, the adrenaline of being in such a historic landmark kicked in & I couldn’t wait to climb a few thousands of steps towards hero’s peak.
- The Great Wall Of China experience.
Be sure to keep your ticket in hand as you will have to go through security zone and once cleared, you can put your ticket away. Admission ticket, reading the history of The Great Wall before entering.
Let the climbing begin – The Weather was cold and hazy but the sights were simply stunning
After I finished climbing up a few thousands of steps and finally made my way down from The Great Wall – It was time to head over to Forbidden City, which was about 40 minutes away from The Great Wall. Traffic seemed to very light that day and I was extremely happy about that. Asia traffic is no joke and when it’s bumper to bumper, you will be stuck in there for quite a few. The ride to Forbidden was smooth and yet again my cool chauffeur was speeding through the highways.
- The Forbidden City Experience.
Arriving into Forbidden City I could tell it was going to be jam packed by tourist – I was not able to enter the temple because the lines for admission were long and tedious. I decided to walk around the surroundings of it and see what it had to offer and soak up some of the vibe happening at the museum. If you are interested in entering the temple, the admission fee is 60Yuan & the recommended time for a visit is about 3-4 hours (yes it’s gigantic). Down below are some of the visuals and highlights during my walk around Forbidden City.
- Temple of Heaven Experience.
To finish up my day of none stop exploring and wonderful historic landmarks, we made our way to Temple of Heaven from Forbidden City which is only 25 minutes away. The traffic within the two landmarks was pretty busy during the afternoon around 1:30pm. However, we arrived there ahead of schedule and I was able to purchase my ticket to explore Temple of Heaven. I have to say this Temple has been one of my favorites that I have visited so far, the sights, the architecture, the Japanese music being played by the locals and the gardeners fixing the gardens of the temple by hand was mind blowing. The recommended hours to visit the Temple is 1.5 – 2 hours.
Here are a few admission fee options to keep in mind when visiting Temple of Heaven – I ended up choosing option #2 because I wanted to check everything from the temple and it was well worth it.
- Regular entrance fee (15Yuan).
- Combination ticket which includes the following: Entrance fee, Hall of Prayer of Good harvests, Circular Mound Altar & Echo Hall (35Yuan).
- Hall of Ceremonial Music and Hall of Abstinence (10 Yuan).
- Hall of Prayer of Good harvests, Circular Mound Altar & Echo Hall (20Yuan).
Visuals during my tour.
Bottom line, if you don’t have enough time in Beijing and want to visit the same landmarks that I visited, i highly recommend booking a private car chauffeur. It was the best decision I could have made. No rush, the driver waits for you, you pay him at the end when all the tours have been concluded and no tips are necessary. As a thank you for his great attention, I bought him lunch before taking me to the Beijing train station. I would like to visit Beijing again and visit a few other landmarks.
If you have visited Beijing before, what other tourist attractions do you recommend me and what were some of your favorites?
Best, John Carter.