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Ancient and Modern Mix in Foshan City

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Rural Chinese Ferry

Terracotta Warriors, Xi'an

Ancient NanFeng Kiln, Foshan - China's Oldest Working Dragon Kiln

Chinese Art

Zhaoqing at Night - Seen from 7-Stars Lake and Crags

The Forbidden City, Beijing

Washing Clothes in the Li River, Guilin

Luxuary Night Cruise, Guangzhou

Girls Out Shopping in Hong Kong

Anne and Friend Practise Kung Fu in Foshan


Terraced Rice Fields, Yunnan Province

Tourists Cycling Along The River Li in Guilin

Local Fisherman of the Li River, Guilin. The Cormorant's are trained birds used for fishing! They can count up to 7 fish, after which time they will not dive again unless fed!

The Temple of Heaven, Beijing

The Great Wall of China

Guangzhou at Night

A Chinese Junk in Victoria Bay, Hong Kong

Latin meets Sino in this restaurant in Macao

Water Fountains Display - Zhaoqing
Tourist Guides for China
Comparison Tourist Guide for Beijing (September 2008)
General Comments:

This is a simple yet very detailed example comparing a Standard Tour of Beijing, with an itinerary we would find a lot more enjoyable. The comments are mainly from my own personal experiences during two visits to the Capital; augmented by advice from other foreigners and local contacts.

Our standard City Guides are very brief by comparison to below, but do highlight the most important information and personally recommended alternatives

Must Do's:
1. Carry your Hotel Business Card (In Chinese) at all times!
Ensure at least one for each person in your party

Standard Tours of Beijing:

These are hectic things, with virtually all your personal time already allocated for sight-seeing. Let's take a standard 5-day, 4-night tour of Beijing as prime example:

Day 1:
1. Arrive Beijing airport around 2pm.
2. Go to see The Temple of Heaven - worth a couple of hours
3. Go for dinner at an 'OK' restaurant somewhere?
4. Arrive at Hotel and go to sleep

Day 2:
1. Wake at 6am, have a Chinese breakfast (4* has a version of Western foods?)
2. 7am, get on charabanc for days tour
3. 7.20 arrive Tiananmen Square and get in long queue to see Chairman Mao's Mausoleum. Takes about 2-hours
4. Walk down Tiananmen Square to The Forbidden City. Enter. You have about 3-hours here, and it needs about 5 hours, especially if you want to see the museum and other side attractions. Some of your party will decide to queue and see the view from the Main Gate. This takes up to 1 hour. In the meantime you hang around wondering why your guide will not let you go off and explore? You now have only 2 hours left - except you don't know that. The rest is then a blur, and there is no time to take advantage of things such as: the English Language electronic guides (Excellent btw), or stay a while at places you like. When you reach the private gardens to the rear, you are dying for some water, and unless you brought your own - you will be forced to pay 20 times street price for a bottle. You then hustle out, only to be greeted by some very obnoxious hawkers (Mainly agents for illegal taxi's and private drivers) - make a quick exit across the square and slightly left to the pedestrian underpass
5. You are now in a Park with a large hill that overlooks The Forbidden City from the rear. It is well worth climbing up (Quite easy). Leave the Park after 1 hour or so
6. Back on the charabanc, and round the corner to see the lake with Beijing Mosque on the far shore. No time to see it up close though. Instead you are taken to see a large free-standing wall with dragons all over it. This is actually quite interesting once you understand what it is all about - but no electronic guides for this yet. It is about 2.30 pm now
7. Back on the bus - basically to cross the road and next stop is the Gardens of some Emperor. These are very nice, and included is a visit to an historical (Replicated) Tea House, complete with small sample of Beijing Opera. You have waitress service for teas and sticky cakes
8. You leave and have a short trek to the bus, which is great because there are a lot of interesting and artistic shops here. About 2+1/2 hours here in total
9. As you exit the small road into this complex, you guide will point out that just on your left, across a small canal, is a very good area for nightlife. Instead of partaking, you join the Beijing traffic
10. Next is The Silk Market (Street version) - which is a rip-off + major haggling. Don't bother, as everything sold there is a cheap Chinese copy, poor quality, and doesn't last. The stall-holders are also extremely pushy and may even grasp your arm to try and stop you leaving = very unusual for China!
11. Later we do a very weird street that is lined with stalls selling delicacies such a scorpions, live colourful maggots, and similar. We look, and adjourn to a local bar whilst the Chinese fill their boots
12. About 7pm you will arrive at another Chinese eatery. The food is free, and also runs to a couple of bottles of local beer
13. About 8pm, your coach will deliver you to a theatre and acrobatics display, which turned out to be superb, and one of the most extremely memorable experiences of my life! A must do!
14. Return to the hotel around 11 pm, with instructions to be ready early next morning. Great!
15. Later you may look at a map, and notice that virtually everywhere you went today is actually interlinked - so why not walk it? And why go to some ordinary and out of the way restaurant for dinner through Beijing rush-hour traffic, when the nightlife area looked very welcoming! I would revise this, and do the Acrobatics another time.
16. You are tired and go to sleep. I go out and see what the local streets have to offer - but that's another story!

Day 3:
1. Wake at 5.30am, go down for a Chinese hotel breakfast - Oppps! Not open yet! Later sleepy staff may look at you as if you are slightly crazy?
2. 6.15am, get on the charabanc for a trip to The Great Wall! Yippie!
3. 8am arrive at a cross-roads with a few building scattered around. Pull-up near a Chinese transport cafe, and enter for a free and very Chinese breakfast. Tip - the hard boiled eggs are a safe bet
4. You will notice no movement, and consider sampling some other delicacies from the menu - before deciding it is better to look around outside for a bit. After 40 minutes you are herded back onto the charabanc for a 1-minute trip to one of two local Jade outlets. The expensive one is more interesting and has displays of Jade processing, a free Jade examination of your personal Jade jewellery, and a very large shop. The other is more of a warehouse, but has interesting eateries and other outlets attached - which you aren't allowed to go to, in theory. You can actually specify which one you want to go to btw, and the coach will take you there
5. These are actually very good places to buy genuine quality Jade. You leave around 10am for The Great Wall!
6. Sorry - next is The Ming Tombs - a bit like a Chinese version of the Egyptian Valley of the Kings. You can only actually visit a couple of the tombs, and one will be selected for you. They are fine - as far as ancient tombs go...
7. Back on the bus - and the Guide tells you that you are now going to The Great Wall. Yippie!
8. Ah! But first you need to call at a local centre for Chinese medicine. Why? No sleeping it-off on the bus either. So go and suffer an hour of Chinese medicine sales, in Mandarin of course. You get a free consultation with a doctor, and treatments cost around Y250. If you have never experienced Chinese Medicine before, then the consultation is unusual - as all diagnosis are made via three fingers placed on your wrist - think pulses here. The results are often surprising, and for those with know maladies, always correct! Interesting...
9. And now for The Great Wall!
10. Nope! Now it is a Beijing Duck supermarket, which also specialises in sweets (Candy), nuts, and sticky buns. The vacuum packed Beijing Duck is worth buying + other stuff I suppose - if this is your thing?
11. It is now about 1.30pm, and I have just about given-up all hope of ever seeing The Great Wall. The Jade factory shops were actually worth a visit, and a little longer would have been great. The rest was nothing important at all
12. Gawd-Blimey! A little after 2pm we actually arrive at The Great Wall! I am very excited. I have been twice: One is the modern version, which is relatively flat and non-smoking. Durrr? This is ok-ish, but a tad boring actually. Magnificent all the same! The other version is the old wall, and this is mega! There is a ride to go up in, and a slide to go down afterwards. Excellent! I didn't even consider a cigarette, as the path was so steep - they even had ropes for you to cling onto whilst 'Walking up the steps'. More like mountaineering! Some of the steps here are 3 feet high! Everything excellent has a downside of course, and here it was Hawkers. Very invasive and not locals. They hang around the flat areas that have stalls with some interesting knickknacks. I basically couldn't be done with the hassle of it all - but left alone, I would undoubtedly have bought several things. Not sure they understand Brit's yet? However, I would definitely go to this version again = Fantastic experience!
13. I was very looking forward to the high-speed slide down the mountainside on the Chinese tea-tray affair, and it did not disappoint. Awesome!
14. Back on the charabanc about 6pm, and off to Beijing
15. We did enjoy another Chinese meal - somewhere? This time we had learnt to order our own beers on entry, and pay for them ourselves = excellent value
16. Back to the Hotel after 9pm, and overall, a thoroughly enjoyable day. The good news is we can lie-in tomorrow - as the coach won't collect us until 7.30am. Wow! I have a quick shower and change, as I have a Chinese 'Date' waiting

Day 4:
1. I awake at ? I haven't actually gone to sleep yet, but tuck into a hearty Chinese breakfast as I need the energy, then onto the bus for a quick nap. It pulls-out at around 8am
2. 9am and we are at The Summer Palace. There are actually two of these, and we are at The New Summer Palace. Keep-up. Must get some coffee...
3. This turns out to be one of the best places I have ever been. I love it! A hill with loads of Chinese Imperial stuff, massive buildings all over the plot, and a gigantic and very romantic lake complete with cruises. Wow! I included the side-museums in my second visit here, as you can only get tickets for them on the front door = weird - Here is China! We upset our Guide by doing this, but it was well worth it. We caught them up near the Marble Boat - a life-size Imperial boat, after getting some Nescafe coffee - ah, bliss! We were just in time to catch a backwater Jade sales shop. Great! The Party took 40 minutes here - then a frog-march over the hill with no time to stop, and outside to wait for the coach. We left with the impression this place was worth a whole day, and forget the Jade sales
4. Next was an excellent place that sells all manner of Crystal. I love this place, and am very happy to look at natural crystal 'eggs', and some remarkable cheap crystal sculptures. I do recommend you buy here
5. Back on the bus, and a stop at an ok Chinese Cloisonné factory outlet. This one was a bit tacky, but some are excellent, so you need to specify the 4* version, which also boasts workshops and production processes - all accompanied by higher quality wares. I do love Cloisonné, which is basically intricate enamelware; and I use it daily in my home.
6. Back on the charabanc and we are dropped at our hotel, it is now 1pm. We have the rest of the day free. We get a taxi and go back to the New Summer Palace to see it properly. It is excellent.
7. The Guide also arranges for us personally to visit a Chinese Silk factory en route, which is definitely unscheduled, and very good
8. The taxi back cost a couple of quid (£2) through rush-hour traffic
9. Later we share a couple of beers at a local corner street shop, and eat local + and have an early night. The days are just too long to enjoy the attractions properly. The worst part is, time spent at the actual attractions themselves is far too short
10. I will always remember 'One Night in Beijing' as being about the most excellent of my life

Day 5:
1. We had a late start and local stuff to do
2. You will have Olympic Park
3. Then off to the airport after lunch

Our Version:

As Westerners ourselves, we obviously have a very good idea what you are actually wanting. We usually recommend you take a standard tour package, because the basics such as flights, hotels, and transfers are cheap and sorted.

You can book a trip to The Great Wall from any hotel - this being the only attraction that requires a little planning, and most coach tours leave at 7am. It is very worth considering the services of a taxi or Private Driver for this = freeing up your day, and available (Limited) time in Beijing. Cost should be around Y300 for a short day. We can tell you how to enjoy the rest of your trip at your own pace; focusing only upon what you want to do

The rest of 'Our Version ' of Beijing follows below:

Day 1:
1. Arrive Beijing airport around 2pm.
2. Free transfer to hotel via method above (Acceptable), or use the Underground (Metro, Subway, Tube) if doing this yourself. Combine with City taxi's as required and only pay the meter charge
3. Arrive at hotel and relax + get a map and make plans
4. Options to see an attraction for a few hours include The Temple of Heaven, YongHeGong Buddhist Temple, and the Olympic Village - all near stations on the Underground network. The Olympic Village is also very near Tiananmen / Quinamen area
5. Check which evenings The Beijing Theatre shows the Acrobatics - usually alternate evenings! This is extremely worth seeing, and needs planning ahead. If available tonight, do it - otherwise do it tomorrow instead. This does affect what you do tomorrow daytime also. This plan is for the Acrobatics tonight...
6. The Acrobatics gig is located somewhere between YongHeGong and Quinamen, and very near the street that sells weird eats such as scorpions. More info soon I hope (Help!). It is worth a look at the weird foods, and then get tickets for the Acrobatics (If not already sorted). Once there, head for the main street and choose a restaurant you like. Head back to see the Acrobatics.
6A. If the Acrobatics is tomorrow, I suggest you see the Olympics Village (If this is your thing), and then head for Quinamen, go past the bus semi-circle, and dine at any restaurant that you like the look of - somewhere along the Northernmost main road headed East. Later, to your right (South), dive into an interesting looking back-street and haggle with local market street-traders and shop-keepers. This is real Beijing street-life! Vaguely head back towards the transportation hub at Quinamen, and stop for a beer at a local 'hole in the wall 'place! This area is like a warren actually, but quite safe and very interesting. If you don't like one bit, leave and move-on to another part or street-restaurant. I enjoyed a most memorable evening here - in a very nondescript place. The Landlord spoke Mandarin + a little English, but was friendly and outgoing. I spoke English and a little Cantonese + was outgoing and friendly. After a few minutes our joviality was augmented by a patron that spoke English, Cantonese, and reasonable Mandarin. The Landlord then phoned some friends to drop by, and we ended up having a party! A comedy of errors of course, and great fun! Here is China!
7. Afterwards head back to your hotel if sight-seeing is your priority; or head for 'Downtown' if you want clubs and nightlife. Streets local to your hotel are probably the best bet if tomorrow is busy, as you are near to your bed, yet can sample local beijing culture over a few beers - and leave easily when you are finished

Day 2:
1. Wake in time for breakfast, have a Chinese breakfast (4* has a version of Western foods?), or find a local MacDonald's / KFC - they are everywhere! You can always go to a 5* hotel for real and full English or International cuisine of course, and very cheap also. Now is a very good time to buy a lot of water and a packed lunch. Your hotel may provide this, or else a 5* will, or somewhere local will (Even another and more Western or presumably expensive hotel)
2. Say 9am, get a bus or Underground train to Quinamen, where there is a MacDonald's nearby, and excellent Chinese eatery underneath. Navigate the bus semi-circle Westward, and across the main road into Tiananmen Square itself. The Underground will leave you either in the square or on the road opposite, depending upon your choice of exit.
3. 9.20 arrive Tiananmen Square and look to the corner on your right + across the wide road, for an internet cafe. Further along on the right is an American Coffee place (Star bucks or Pacific Coffee House; or similar). To your left and across another wide road, near the top of Mao's Mausoleum, is a Bank with secure internal cash-point and English speaking staff. Buy some water at a local shop = Y2 per litre-ish. If you have not brought a packed lunch, buy something suitable around Quinamen - I am pretty sure there is a Subway Food outlet here? Take a stroll down Tiananmen Square - it is very big!
4. At the far end is The Forbidden City. Cross a very busy road via underpass, and find the ticket office to the left of the Main Entrance. Fee is around Y100, and there may be options for other internal attractions? Enter.
5. The Forbidden City is amazing, and once inside, you can queue for a view from the Main Gate above = very good if the queue is small. Further in are a long series of temple-like structures, but the English translations on plaques are a little weird. Once you understand Chinese Imperial culture they make sense, but best you stick with the electronic guides. The museum inside is definitely worth an hour or more, plus there are other important sights to the sides, depending upon your level of interest? Most of you will probably just go through the main walkways, and enjoy the gardens to the rear, which are worth exploring in greater depth. You can also 'cock-a-hoop' at the expensive drink counters and imbibe your own water :- )
6. You will have spent between 3 and 5 hours here, so make a quick exit across the square outside and go slightly left to the pedestrian underpass with determination to avoid the Hawkers. You are now in a Park with a large hill that overlooks The Forbidden City from the rear. It is well worth climbing up (Quite easy). Stop here for photo opportunities, and find a quite spot to enjoy your packed lunch. Wander around as suits, and leave the Park to your left after 1 hour or so = just follow the main path
7. Wander around the inter-connecting lakes, and following the main paths is easy and ideal - plus: generally head for the Mosque on the skyline. You should get there around 3 pm. After entry to this park near the Mosque, and subsequently doing what you will, take the shore path to your left. Near the exit and again on your left, it the Dragon wall.
7. At the exit look across the road:
7a. If your time is now 2 pm, then cross left to a dirt-track and walk half a mile to sample the delights of the Gardens of some Emperor. These are very nice, and included is a visit to an historical (Replicated) Tea House, complete with small sample of Beijing Opera. You have waitress service for teas and sticky cakes.
7b. If your time is now 6pm, then this is ideal to head to your right across the road, and into the nightlife area by the canal
If you get here around 4.30 or later, then there is probably not enough time to do the Gardens. However, as mentioned the section above, 'The Arty' shops here are excellent, so wander around up the dirt track - - until you think it is time to relax
8. Either way, you should arrive here around 6 or 7 pm, which is ideal. Early arrivals can usually claim outdoor tables overlooking the canal, as can very late arrivals (7.50, but not 8pm). Take your pick of the bars and restaurants in this area - they are very geared for Westerners, whilst some cross the Cultural boundaries and offer an excellent mix of Chinese, presented in Western style. The choice is yours
9. I have no idea when you will leave here: it could be very early, or extremely late. Enjoy, and remember the Hotel Business Card I mentioned at the very top of this page? You may really need it now!
10. You will arrive back at your hotel, by your own devices; and if you left the nightlife area early - then ideal time for a 'Body Massage', 'Foot Massage' (Highly recommended), or 'Hair Washy'; on the local streets near your hotel. They are excellent, but if you get a girl who seems to be using you as a punch bag, realise she doesn't understand how inflexible Westerner's bodies are - be firm, and forceful if necessary, and demand a relaxing massage. You will now be in a world where communications are reduced to simple mime. Make your point very exuberantly ... and smile!
11. Later you will reach your hotel - suitably chilled. Pleasant dreams

Day 3:
1. Wake at some hour and chose what you want to do for breakfast. This is probably your best day to do The Great Wall. If doing a local charabanc, you need to be on the streets and at the right place around 7am - normally either a local hotel car park, or the correct normal looking bus stop. We highly recommend you get hotel or local help for ordering a Private Driver for set fee per day - nominally Y300 for The Great Wall, but well worth paying Y500 for a whole day...
2. 6.15am, get on the charabanc for a trip to The Great Wall! Yippie!
3. Go directly to The Great Wall (Less hassle with migrant Hawkers), and I would personally do the old wall version. You can also do the new version if it suits you better - they are very close together. You can also tell the driver to take you to the other one if you end-up at the wrong one (Possible)
4. I would suggest you visit the Jade place(s) on the way back, and after the daily tour buses have gone through
5. If you start around 7am, you should be back in Beijing around late-lunchtime.
6. Go directly to The New Summer palace, and buy the ticket with all options, including side museums. You can safely dismiss your driver at this point = saving of Y200 for the day, but is it worth it? Up to you lol
7. Once inside The New Summer Palace, pat the strange dragon-dog-thingymagig, and head slightly left-ish for a Coffee and Chinese sausage on a stick. If you are not hungry, go left to find the museums area + associated Island bridge, pleasure boats and chill stuff. Alternatively, go straight-ahead, and follow the shoreline to the restaurants area, near the Marble Boat. Some great souvenir opportunities here also - but be careful and look in all the outlets before buying. Beyond the Marble Boat, and over a lovely Bridge, are garden areas not exploited fully, and very relaxing. Otherwise do the touristy bit, and then either head up-hill, or return to the very big worship building. Hidden away at the top are wonderful and typical Imperial Qing Empire private gardens and residencies. The lake is Man-made btw, as is some of the hill...
8. Whilst most will find this New Summer Palace a beautiful place; some may prefer to see an older version of Chinese Imperialism, as witnessed within the adjacent, and largely un restored Old Summer Palace
9. When finished, go back to the hotel and chill for an hour. Shower and change - then head for 'Beijing Downtown'! This has been a 'Mega-Day', and the night is just beginning - for sure!
10. Food first I guess, so hit the International restaurant area and take your pick, I went Chinese Beijing Style here, but you may prefer something more Western?
11. If you still want nightlife after an excellent meal, then get a local taxi on meter, and ask for 'Bar Street' or 'Downtown', or both lol. Enjoy Beijing hospitality
12. It is now about 1.30 am, or 3.30am, or perhaps later? ...and you still have your hotel business card, correct?
13. Go back to your hotel and have a great and peaceful sleep

Day 4:
1. You awake at ? You haven't got a clue have you! Eat as much as you can, and drink an awful lot of plain water. Have a nap
2. Well, this is now a 'Free-day' - as thanks to the Private Driver yesterday, you actually did two days in one. So lie in bed all day if you want to - your partner is now going shopping. Ouch!
3. Time to surface and do stuff...
4. There are actually some excellent places still to visit - but ones not on the usual tourist schedules: The Street of Masks, Tobacco Street, + a couple of hours at each of any attractions you may have missed
5. Get a prime table at any quality restaurant that interests you personally just before 5.45pm (All Chinese eat at 6pm prompt, and arrive early!)
6. This night is your own - although I have many diverse suggestions...

Day 5:
1. Finish your list of Beijing 'Must do', and bid farewell to a most wonderful City, and extra-ordinary people
2. Then off to the airport after lunch

This is a very different version of Beijing, and one we hope you will enjoy.
Beijing is fantastic, but there is too much emphasis on sight-seeing, sales opportunities, and little regarding nightlife, unless you push the clock and do it yourself after tour hours. I cannot complain about any of the food, but I would have preferred options to sample menus elsewhere. Beijing does boast some of the best Internationally renown restaurants in the world - including excellent French and Ukrainian cuisine, as well as Beijing Duck and other Chinese delicacies

Dedicate one day to The Forbidden City, at your own pace. Do adjacent Parks on foot, and end at the Nightlife area. Dedicate another day to The New Summer Palace, and have time to spare. Hire a Taxi or Private Driver for The Great Wall. Do Beijing nightlife and restaurants. There are also a few hidden gems

It is the ordinary people that make Beijing such a great city
Related Pages: Ten Tips      Independent Travellers     China Guides
This information is as supplied by the Chinese Embassy in UK, as dated 20th June 2008, and/or other reliable sources. Please check this information yourself as it may alter without notice, and whilst we try our best to ensure it is correct, please do not hold us responsible for any errors - this is intended as a simple guide only
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